Meal Plan Monday: Weekend Getaway Edition

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Me and my best friends on a day trip to Rockport, MA this spring. They’ll be joining me on most of my weekend getaways this summer!

Vermont, Portsmouth, Portland, Newport, Portland, Nantucket, Vermont, Old Orchard Beach. That’s a summary of my weekend getaway schedule this summer (so far). Mind you, the summer consists of only 15 weekends (inclusive of Memorial Day and Labor Day) – so I’m keeping myself pretty busy. That seems to be the norm of New England summers – everyone escapes the city for a different destination. I guess we’re lucky that Boston is close to so many exciting places to visit – mountains, lakes, ponds, islands, oceans – everything you could want!

As much as I love to get away for the weekend, it does through a wrench in my meal planning. A weekend getaway leaves you with less time to grocery shop, plan your meals, and prep for the week. The last thing I want is to feel stressed coming back from a weekend away, so I put together a few tips to help with meal planning when you’re spending a weekend away from home.

Before you leave:

1. Freeze your leftovers so they won’t go bad over the weekend. Pay close attention to veggies and fruits that are most susceptible to going mushy while you’re away. Most vegetables will freeze well once lightly cooked.

2. Decide what you’ll eat on Monday. You might even go so far as to pack your breakfast or lunch in advance. It will alleviate the stress of transitioning back to your week after a fun summer weekend. My goal is to only eat out for one meal on Monday’s after a weekend trip – only if necessary!

Once you get back:

3. Grocery shop as soon as you can. If you can, stop at the grocery story on your way home. If that’s not possible, hit it up on Monday after work (after all, you already planned your meals for Monday anyway!)

4. Cut your budget by 30%. Since you’re only planning for Monday-Thursday/Friday, spend less on groceries so you have extra money for your trip. Cheaper items that still keep you full: beans, tofu, and brown rice.

5. Aim for 30 minutes or less. Since you won’t have much weekend time to prep, stick with meals that take less than 30 minutes to get ready. Quick to prep meals: salad, pasta, shrimp, and quinoa.

Enjoy your weekend getaways! Where are you most excited to visit this summer?

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Meal Plan Monday: May 12, 2014

DSC_0290I have to be honest – this week’s meal plan is a little weak. I’m coming off of a week of being sick (flu-like symptoms: chills, aches, cough, and extremely tired) so I’m not on my A game (I didn’t even make it to the grocery store this weekend!). My meal plan last week was completely thrown off, so I have a lot of leftovers in the fridge to try to salvage. So what I’m trying to say is, take this with a grain of salt.

Last night I made a one pot pasta, inspired by my girl Madde at The Collegiate Vegan. It is exactly what it sounds like – throw a pound of uncooked pasta, a bunch of ingredients (in this case, garlic, tomato paste, cherry tomatoes, onion, spinach, and olive oil) in a huge pot with 4 cups of water (I also used 1 cup of white wine) and let it cook away for 15 minutes. At the end – voila – you have a delicious pasta dish and only one pot to clean.

Tonight I’m going to make some sort of Greek-inspired dish with shrimp, artichokes, and feta cheese. These are all ingredients that were supposed to go into a salad last week that I never got around to making (due to the aforementioned flu-like symptoms). I might throw them all on top of some Israeli couscous or quinoa. I have some leftover green onions that I’m going to roast in the oven for some added texture.

Wednesday I’m digging some frozen spinach gnocchi out of the freezer, and then Friday I’m on my own. I might try to pull together some other leftovers from my fridge, or just give in and treat myself to a meal out!

 

Sunday

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
B English muffin w/ peanut butter Blueberry banana bread Blueberry banana bread Blueberry banana bread Blueberry banana bread Blueberry banana bread Scrambled eggs
L Egg salad sandwich One pot pasta Coworker’s going away lunch Greek dish with shrimp and artichokes Greek dish with shrimp and artichokes Leftovers or out Leftovers or out
D One pot pasta Greek dish with shrimp and artichokes Greek dish with shrimp and artichokes Pan fried spinach gnocchi Pan fried spinach gnocchi Leftovers or out

Leftovers or out

 

Snacks this week: Apples, yogurt protein shakes, popcorn

Grocery list: Nothing! All leftovers from last week

From the pantry, fridge, & freezer: Pasta, tomato paste, cherry tomatoes, onion, white wine, garlic, olive oil, shrimp, canned artichokes, couscous, feta cheese, green onions, spinach gnocchi, banana, blueberries

What’s on your menu this week?

 

 

Meal Plan Monday: April 28, 2014

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Happy Monday! This week I’m trying out a new trend from Plated, which is essentially a meal delivery service. They send a box of ingredients right to your doorstep to make “chef-inspired” recipes that you choose from their menu. The box includes just enough of everything you need and has instructions for how to cook the meal.

I have been so intrigued by this concept (Plated recently struck a deal on Shark Tank) and couldn’t resist when I saw they were running a promo for two free meals this week. So I took the plunge! I only had to pay for shipping which made it very affordable (just $20!). Based on the portions I received, I think I can make three meals out of each recipe – an even better deal. I’ll follow up later this week in a comment to let you know how I like it (follow me on Instagram @cooklikekayla for photos)!

Sunday

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Saturday

B

Banana & peanut butter

Cheerios with strawberries Cheerios with strawberries Cheerios with strawberries Cheerios with strawberries Cheerios with strawberries Scrambled eggs
L Brunch with the girls Plated Meal 1 Leftovers Plated Meal 2 Leftovers Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai Leftovers – TBD!
D Plated: Spice-Rubbed Steak & Roasted Carrots Plated: Mushroom & Gruyere Toasts Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai Plated Meal 1 Leftovers Plated Meal 2 Leftovers Cookout with friends (bringing kale salad)

Out with friends

Snacks this week: Bananas, apples, peanut butter energy bites, yogurt protein shakes, popcorn

Grocery list

  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Kale
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Carrots
  • Green onion
  • Cilantro
  • Bean sprouts
  • Lime
  • Peanut butter
  • Oats
  • Milk
  • Total bill: $29 (Including Plated = $49)

From the pantry, fridge, & freezer: Honey, shredded coconut, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, eggs, sriracha, peanuts, chicken

What’s on your menu this week?

Meal Plan Monday: April 14, 2014

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I’m happy to introduce my new blog feature: Meal Plan Monday! Twice a month, I’ll post my meal plan and grocery list for the week. I chose to post this on Mondays because 1) alliteration and 2) I usually grocery shop on Sunday (giving me time to prep and write the post). If any of these meals or ingredients intrigues you, let me know in a comment and I’ll try to post them on the blog or explain in a response. 

My meal plan for this week is below – I’m super excited to try to recreate a take-out favorite, Orange Chicken. I picked up some really great looking organic bok choy at the grocery store to serve it with. I’m also looking forward to spending some quality time with my roommates, catch up with a few friends from college, and see my Mom and sister this weekend.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
B Bagel with cream cheese Cheerios with sliced strawberries Cheerios with sliced strawberries Cheerios with sliced strawberries Cheerios with sliced strawberries Cheerios with sliced strawberries Bagel & scrambled eggs
L Sandwich  Spinach salad with roasted asparagus, beets, and goat cheese Spinach salad with roasted asparagus, beets, and goat cheese Spinach salad with roasted asparagus, beets, and goat cheese Orange chicken with quinoa and bok choy Orange chicken with quinoa and bok choy Mom & sister visiting
D Chicken pot pie Chicken pot pie Out with the roomies Orange chicken with quinoa and bok choy Leftovers Dinner with friends from college Mom & sister visiting

Snacks this week

  • Banana
  • Yogurt
  • Goldfish
  • Blueberry Kind Bars

Grocery list

  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Bok choy
  • Spinach salad blend
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Goat cheese
  • Chicken
  • Quinoa
  • Honey
  • Frozen vegetable mix
  • Chicken broth
  • Milk
  • Total bill: $46

What’s on your menu this week?

A Second Chance for Leftovers: Caprese Salad Two Ways

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I recently made a big win for leftovers. The photos above (which may look familiar if you follow me on Instagram) capture two caprese salads: on the left is a traditional caprese of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil topped with farro; on the right is a caprese minus the basil plus quinoa and a poached egg.  Both salads warranted #nofilter and were as tasty as they are beautiful. The traditional caprese was dinner on Tuesday and the poached egg caprese was brunch on Sunday.

A key component of my approach to home cooking is leftovers. Leftovers save time and money by allowing you to make multiple meals at once while taking advantage of bulk pricing. However, I understand that there are people in this world that are vehemently opposed to leftovers. If you are one of those people, I hope you’ll give leftovers a second chance (no pun intended) by trying these tips to keep things exciting:

1) Add a new ingredient every time. If you’re the type that will get bored of eating the same meal multiple times in one week, add new ingredients to the dish each time. With my caprese salad, adding a poached egg completely changed the dish. Add a handful of spinach to leftover pasta, throw some kale chips on top of soup, or steam different veggies every night to serve alongside chicken. I’m also a huge fan of throwing anything on top of a salad – including deli meat, meatballs, and even lasagna.

2) Store and reheat properly. I recently had a terrible experience with a leftover quesadilla that I attempted to reheat in the microwave at work. What was originally a crispy, melty veggie quesadilla ended up a greasy, soggy mess. In retrospect, I should have brought the ingredients (cooked veggies, shredded cheese, and a tortilla) separately and cooked them for the first time in the microwave, rather than reheating. A great dish can turn into a disaster if the leftovers are not stored or reheated properly (think soggy salads). In advance, think about how the leftovers will reheat and plan accordingly.

3) Consume in a timely fashion. When people think of leftovers, they imagine a forgotten container in the back of the fridge filled with an unidentifiable substance. Don’t let your leftovers get to that point – intervene by the one week mark. One week after the dish was originally prepared, either eat it, toss it or freeze it. If you need to, label your leftovers with a date to make sure they aren’t forgotten.

Caprese Salad

Cook ¼ cup farro according to package directions. Slice 1 beefsteak tomato into ¼ inch slices. Slice 2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese into 1/8 inch slices. Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices in an overlapping fashion on a plate. Top with farro, drizzle with ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar, and 2 basil leaves cut into ribbons. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $3.72, 474 calories, 11.5g fat,69g carbs, 26g protein.

Poached Egg & Tomato Salad

Cook ¼ cup quinoa according to package directions. Slice 1 beefsteak tomato into ¼ inch slices. Slice 1 ounce mozzarella cheese into 1/8 inch slices. Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices in an overlapping fashion on a plate. Top with quinoa and ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Boil 1 inch of water in a small saucepan. When the water is simmering, gently drop 1 egg into the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, keeping the water at a simmer. When the eggs white have cooked thoroughly and are opaque, remove the egg from the water with a slotted spoon. Top the salad with the egg and season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $3.09, 338 calories, 13g fat, 38g carbs, 21g protein.