2018 Monday Meal Plan: Week 8 (February 12-18)

Here we go again, another Monday.  Another shot at a week of well planned eating.  I feel the need to confess that although I come up with these plans weekly, I consider it a success if we have 80% compliance.  For example, last week?  I cooked all the things on the plan, but the order got switched, one cooking night became a takeout night and so on….but, I ate all the healthy breakfasts and packed good lunches for the kids all week, so I’m giving myself a gold star.  Really, I am.  I’m putting a gold star on last week in my planner (yeah, I use a paper planner, it’s so 1998 of me).  I even have a little sticker on it each week where I write the dinner for that night.  I can’t help it, I like fun pens, colorful stickers and paper.  Every time I try to go solely electronic it doesn’t work for me!

Breakfasts –

Some standbys this week.  I have been in the mood for yogurt, so parfaits again – this time with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries along with honey and almonds.  I also have some burritos in the freezer to pull out on the other days.  And on the weekend, my fave, avocado toast with eggs.

Blueberry and Yogurt Breakfast Parfait

Make Ahead and Freeze Black Bean and Cheese Burritos

Lunches –

I made these lentil bowls for the week.  I will add the avocado, egg and cholula right before eating.

Skinnytaste Lentil Bowls with Avocado, Hard Boiled Egg and Cholula.

Dinners –

Monday –  Soy Ginger Pork Roast (Crock Pot/Slow Cooker), brown rice and green beans.

Tuesday – leftover Slow Cooker Italian Beef turned into sandwiches with peppers and provolone, with a veggie tray on the side.

Wednesday – Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas.

Thursday – Pork Fried Rice using the leftover Soy Ginger Pork Roast (Crock Pot/Slow Cooker) from Monday.

Friday – Takeout/out or leftovers.

Saturday – We have a football game at 4, plus it’s a monthly extended family dinner, so for ease of prep and cooking it will be a make your own taco bar!  I’ll do ground beef and Crockpot Chicken For Tacos, Taco Salads, Nachos and more! and we will have tortillas, chips, salsas etc. to top it all with!

Sunday – Takeout/out or leftovers.

Here is a printable PDF of the plan with links as well, if you prefer to see this all on one page!


Posted in Breakfast, chicken, Dinner, Easy Breakfast, Easy Lunch, Freezer meals, Leftovers, Lunch, Make Ahead, Meal Plans, meal prep, pork, Quick Breakfast, Repurposed Leftovers, Slow Cooker, Southwestern | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 Monday Meal Plan: Week 7 (February 5-11)

I’m still having trouble with the fact that it’s already February – anyone else?  That cheesy saying about the days being long but the years being short….it is oddly true.

New format for this week, in addition to the blog post here, I’ve got a PDF of the week’s plan for you, in case you like something you can print for quick reference.  I also have a blank one HERE, if you like to print and make your own meal plan.

Breakfasts –

  1. Monday through Friday – Blueberry and Yogurt Breakfast Parfaits and hard boiled eggs
  2. Weekend – Avocado toast with fried eggs

Lunches –

My freezer is overflowing, so I pulled some leftovers out for this week and will supplement with leftovers.  Leftovers:

  1. Chicken and Corn Chowder (CrockPot/Slow Cooker)
  2. Pressure Cooker Lentil and Chicken Soup

Dinners –

Monday – Balsamic Chicken Thighs from Sugar Free Mom, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Tuesday – Chicken Chow Mein from Dinner at the Zoo (what a great blog name!).

Wednesday – Turkey Taco Bowls.

Thursday – No Boil Chicken Sausage and Pasta Casserole.

Friday – Leftovers, takeout or dinner out!

Saturday – Leftovers, takeout or dinner out!

Sunday – Slow Cooker Italian Beef.

Meal Plan PDF: Click HERE.

Posted in Baked Pasta, Breakfast, casserole, chicken, Dinner, Easy Breakfast, Easy Lunch, Freezer meals, Leftovers, Lunch, Make Ahead, Meal Plans, meal prep, Slow Cooker | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Slow Cooker Italian Beef

This is so simple I almost wouldn’t call it a recipe, and it’s great, because if you use enough meat, you get dinner twice.

Slow Cooker Italian Beef

  • 1, 2-4 lb flank steak (or chuck roast, or whatever cut of beef you enjoy slow cooked)
  • 2.5 c. beef stock or broth
  • 3 heaping TB of Italian seasoning blend
  • 1/2 of a 16 oz jar of whole pepperoncini peppers, with juice


  1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Stir lightly to combine seasoning with the liquid.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until meat is tender and shreds easily.
  3. Shred meat.
  4. Serve on sandwiches, over mashed potatoes, however you like!  I like to serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables the first day I make it, and turn the leftovers into a second dinner with sandwich rolls, grilled peppers and onions and provolone!


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2018 Monday Meal Plan: Week 6 (January 29 through February 4)

So it’s going to be February this week?  I literally had to check 3 times.  That just seems….wrong.  I mean, wasn’t it just Christmas?  Why is life rushing by so fast?  I mean, it’s basically 2019 now, right?  Oh whoops, that’s not really what this blog is supposed to be about is it?  You came here for meal planning ideas, not my own actual personal blog….okay, here it goes – but seriously.  The year is like practically over already.  For real.


I’m recycling and old non-traditional breakfast food here for the week (and to restock the freezer!)

Make Ahead and Freeze Black Bean and Cheese Burritos


A new recipe for lunches this week!  I’m pretty excited about this recipe.  I made 4 of these for the week and will supplement with leftovers or leftovers from the freezer.

Chinese Chicken Mason Jar Salads


Monday – I found (and made once before) a great recipe for Cheeseburger Pasta Bake, which I modified from the recipe appearing in The America’s Test Kitchen Make-Ahead Cook Cookbook (affiliate link), a cookbook I highly recommend!  We are having this with a veggie tray and ranch dip.

Tuesday – Chicken Enchiladas – I make mine really similarly to this SkinnyTaste Chicken Enchiladas recipe.  Except I don’t make homemade sauce.  I mean I have.  But it wasn’t better than the canned stuff….so, I only did it once.  Salad will be on the side on Tuesday.

Wednesday – Leftover night.

Thursday – Curried Chicken and Brown Rice with Red Peppers from the America’s Test Kitchen Make-Ahead Cook Cookbook (what?  It’s a theme this week) (oh yeah, affiliate link).  This one I follow right from the book, and I don’t see it anywhere online….but let me know if you have a great recipe for something similar!  It’s chicken thighs, brown rice, coconut milk and some other seasonings, all cooked together in the oven in one pan (great for easy clean up!)

Friday – Grilled flank steak with Black Bean and Corn Salad and a green salad.  For the flank steak, I just rub it with a mix of chili powder, cumin and brown sugar and either grill it or cook on my grill pan on the stove.  It just takes around 4-5 minutes a side for a 2-3 pound flank steak.  Then I slice it thin.

Saturday – 2nd leftover night.  We usually have 2 a week.  If there aren’t enough leftovers, we’ll get take out.  Or maybe go to a restaurant.

SundaySkinnytaste One Pot Fajita Pasta.  I made this one towards the end of 2017, and my family has requested its inclusion in the regular dinner rotation.  Which means I will make it Sunday and everyone will suddenly hate it, but I digress….

Happy February!?!!??

Posted in Baked Pasta, Breakfast, casserole, chicken, Dinner, Easy Breakfast, Easy Lunch, Freezer meals, Leftovers, Lunch, Make Ahead, Mason Jar Meals, Meal Plans, meal prep, Quick Breakfast, Repurposed Leftovers, salad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cheeseburger Pasta Bake

This recipe is inspired by one I found in the the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook – the Make-Ahead Cook (affiliate link), which I highly recommend.  So many great strategies for make and prep ahead meals that make getting dinner on the table on a weeknight so much easier.  And even my kids won’t be able to resist pasta that tastes like a cheeseburger, right?

Cheeseburger Pasta Bake


  • 1 lb of elbow macaroni or other small pasta of your choice
  • 2 tsp avocado oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • 2, 15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 c chopped dill pickles
  • 1, 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 TB Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TB dry mustard
  • 8 slices deli American cheese (not that wrapped individually cheese product!)


  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot.  Add pasta and cook, stirring often, until pasta just begins to soften, about 2 minutes.  Reserve 1 cup of cooking water, then drain.  Rinse with cold water.  Leave in colander.
  2. Add oil to pot and return to medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until oil is heated and shimmering.  Add onion and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add ground beef and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink.
  3. Stir in one can of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, pickles, Worcestershire and mustard.  Bring to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature (30 minutes).
  4. Stir reserved cooking water and pasta into cooked sauce; transfer to casserole or baking dish.
  5. Store: either cover the baking/casserole dish with a lid, or wrap dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
  6. Finish and serve: put oven rack in middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Uncover or unwrap dish and stir in second can of tomato sauce.  Replace lid or cover with aluminum foil and bake until hot throughout and bubbling around edges, around 30 minutes, stir halfway through baking.  Remove cover or foil, lay cheese slices evenly over top and bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Serve.



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Chinese Chicken Mason Jar Salads

It’s already heating up here in Phoenix, it’s like we didn’t even get the mild winter we usually get this year, so I’m sick of hot lunches suddenly, and craving a salad.  I came up with these for this week – you know how I love my mason jars (affiliate link) and plastic lids (another one), so they are back in the rotation!

Chinese Chicken Mason Jar Salads (Makes 4)


  • 1/4 c fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 c rice vinegar
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 3 TB grated fresh ginger or jarred minced ginger
  • 2 TB raw/turbinado sugar
  • 1 TB Asian chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TB sesame oil
  • 1.5 to 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (depending how much chicken you want per salad)
  • 1/4-1/2 a head of purple cabbage, equivalent of 4 cups, sliced thin
  • 1 c shredded carrots
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into matchstick size
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, sliced thin
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 c sliced almonds
  • 4 clementines, peeled and sectioned


  1. Whisk together orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, sugar and chili-garlic sauce.  Transfer 1/2 cup of this mixture to a large skillet.  Whisk olive oil and sesame oil into remainder of mixture and set aside. This will be the dressing.
  2. Bring orange juice mixture in skillet to a boil.  Add chicken, tossing to coat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking.  Transfer chicken to a platter or plate and let rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Boil pan juices until reduced to 1/4 cup and set aside.
  4. Shred or cut chicken into bite size pieces.  Add chicken and any accumulated juices back to skillet (off heat), toss to coat and allow to cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.
  5. Divide dressing among 4 quart-sized mason jars.
  6. Layer ingredients in jars as follows, bottom up:
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • bell peppers
  • green onions
  • romaine
  • chicken
  • almonds

Store oranges in a separate container until ready to serve.  I like to keep them in the top of the mason jar in little apple sauce cups – they fit perfectly there and don’t keep the lid from screwing on tight!  See pictures below.

When ready to serve, add oranges to jar, replace lid and give it all a shake, pour on a plate and dig in (or, as I’ve noted before, when you’re in a hurry, eat out of a jar on the go…..)

Posted in chicken, Easy Lunch, Lunch, Make Ahead, Mason Jar Meals, Meal Plans, meal prep, salad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Black Bean and Corn Salad

This is an easy weeknight side dish that is even better if you make it ahead!  I prefer to use beans cooked from dried to reduce sodium, but use organic canned (drained and thoroughly rinsed) when pressed for time!  We love this with grilled steak, fajitas or tacos!  It’s also great with some diced avocado added right before serving.

Black Bean and Corn Salad


  • 1 TB of olive or avocado oil
  • 2 TB lime juice
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp of minced canned chipotles in adobo (canned)
  • 1, 15 oz can or 1.5 c of cooked blacked beans (drained and rinsed if canned)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 1/4 c minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 c of frozen corn (defrosted) (I especially like corn that has been roasted for this – Trader Joe’s has a great one!)
  • Optional: diced avocado


Whisk oil, lime juice, green onions and chipotle in adobo together in a large bowl.  Stir in beans, bell pepper and cilantro.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 3 days.  Before serving, taste, and add salt and/or pepper if needed.  Add diced avocado if desired.


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2018 Monday Meal Plan: Week 4 (January 22 – 28)

These weekly plans/posts are making the year feel like it’s racing by!  🙂  It’s definitely keeping my nutrition on track though.


This morning I made egg muffins for the week.  Denver Omelet Egg Muffins.  I love these because I have breakfast done for the whole week, and they reheat quickly and easily.  You can also put one in between english muffin halves for a portable breakfast sandwich! I also made a few of these Blueberry and Yogurt Breakfast Parfaits this weekend and have one left.  I basically live for breakfast most days, but it has to be easy.  Here’s a post I did a while back with 5 Ideas for easy, healthy and fast breakfasts if the egg muffins don’t sound good.


I am going to make this soup today to have the rest of the week – I didn’t get to it/need it last week, so it’s a carry over from week 3!  Cooking Light Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup.


Monday – Sante Fe Chicken – I have an evening meeting, so this one is going in the crock pot/slow cooker for the family and the rice cooker will be doing double duty for the brown rice at the same time.

Tuesday – Beef Enchilada Stuffed Spaghetti Squash.  I’m excited about this one.  One of my favorite meals!

Wednesday – Leftovers, because it is a football practice night!

Thursday – Giant Turkey Meatball Parmesan.  My kids love this recipe from Skinnytaste. I’ll make a salad and maybe some pasta to go with.

Friday – leftovers for the kids, and date night out for us!

Saturday – Soy Ginger Pork Roast (Crock Pot/Slow Cooker) (so we may have Pork Fried Rice  on the plan early next week).

Sunday – Leftover clean out – if we don’t have enough leftovers, I might do a roasted chicken dinner.  Chicken, roasted potatoes and onions and carrots.  A green veggie on the side…..

Hoping I’ll have time next week for some new ideas/recipes!  What kinds of foods to you prep and plan ahead that your family loves?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Sorry for the lack of photos today!  Every time I try to add them the site freezes.  Maybe I’ll be able to edit later.



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2018 Monday Meal Plan: Week 3 (January 15 through 21)

We are going to be slaves to the calendar to some extent this week, with something keeping us busy most evenings.  Makes the meal prep and planning even more important!


Skinny Taste, one of my favorites for healthy ideas, posted this great 5 ingredient bagel recipe that I’m going to try for some make ahead egg, spinach and cheese sandwiches.  I got an air fryer (the NuWave Brio – affiliate link) for Christmas, but she also posted oven directions!


My freezer is absurdly full of single serving items right now, so I removed a couple, and will use dinner leftovers for the rest.  The ones I removed:  Turkey Taco Bowls and My Take on Korean Rice Bowls.


Monday – This is a pressure cooker night, because one kid has football practice and I am teaching a class for FIT4MOM Phoenix Scottsdale from 4:30 to 5:30.  So we will have this with a veggie tray made up of veggies I prepped yesterday: Pressure Cooker Lentil and Chicken Soup.

Tuesday – Oh look, another football practice…..seems like a good night for a crock pot/slow cooker meal.  I love this one, because it’s just pouring all the ingredients in the slow cooker and ignoring it all day.  It’ll just take me a few minutes to prep some add ins, and we are good to go:  Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Chili.

Wednesday –  I’m really hoping everyone still likes the Monday and Tuesdays dinners (they always have before!) because this is a leftover night.

Thursday – a no practice/no activity night, so we will have some fun and make Bee-Bim Bop together.  This is a Korean recipe we found in a children’s book when my oldest was a baby, and is a crowd favorite.  They love to help make it and build their own bowls.

FridayStuffed Peppers and a salad.

Saturday – Football is a late game, so we will grab something out.

Sunday – clean out the leftovers night!  If it seems like we don’t have enough, I may try this recipe for Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup from Cooking Light.

Have a great week!

Posted in Breakfast, chicken, Dinner, Easy Breakfast, Easy Lunch, Freezer meals, Leftovers, Lunch, Meal Plans, meal prep, Quick Breakfast, salad, Slow Cooker | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bee-Bim Bop

When my oldest son was a baby, we received as a gift the book Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park (affiliate link).  It’s a fun story book for kids, but also includes a great recipe for a family dinner my crew loves.  Which of course, as usual, I have tailored to my own specifications….the kids all love to help make this one and eat it too!  “Bee-Bim” means to mix everything together, which you do right before eating!

The kids love to help “squish” the meat, and are much more willing to eat a dinner they build themselves.

Bee-Bim Bop (serves 4-6)


  • 2 cups rice (uncooked, we use brown, but you can use whatever you enjoy)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 5 TB soy sauce
  • 2 TB sugar (or honey – or whatever sweetener you like)
  • 1 TB avocado oil (or the vegetable oil of your choice)
  • 1 TB sesame oil
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper)
  • 1 pound of tender, lean beef (I use sirloin cut into strips)
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 c. fresh baby spinach
  • 1 pound bean sprouts (we frequently don’t have these, as they are hard to find! I have substituted other sprouts or sometimes use broccoli slaw)
  • Any other veggies you’d like (we sometimes use broccoli slaw instead of the sprouts if we can’t find them)
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • avocado or other vegetable oil for frying
  • Go Chu Jang (Korean Chili Paste) (optional)


  1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or pot.
  2. While the rice is cooking, mix the garlic and chop the green onions. Mix together in a bowl with the soy sauce, sugar, oils, sesame seeds and pepper. This is the marinade for the meat.
  3. Slice the beef into very thin slices. Place in a bowl with marinade. (The exact instructions in the book read: “…stick your hands into the bowl, grab handfuls of beef, and squish it all around for 2-3 minutes. This makes it nice and tender.”)
  4. Break the eggs into a measuring cup and whisk together. Heat a nonstick frying pan. Pour about 1/4 of the egg into the pan and let the egg spread out into a thin layer. Cook for one minute on each side. Repeat until all the egg has been used. Cut the cooled “egg pancakes” into thin strips.
  5. Peel the carrots and cut into small sticks. Stir-fry over high heat until tender. (You can also buy the carrots that are already chopped into small sticks at the store)
  6. Stir-fry the spinach until tender, season with salt and pepper.
  7. Stir-fry any other veggies you are using.
  8. In a hot pan (I use a stove top wok) stir-fry the beef (in its marinade) until cooked through.

To Serve:

  1. Put bowls of all the different meal components on the table, so that everyone can serve him or herself.
  2. Start with rice in a bowl and add the meat and vegetables to the top.
  3. Add the egg.
  4. Adults or adventurous children who like some spice might enjoy adding some Go Chu Gang (Korean chile paste – affiliate link) as well.
  5. Mix it all together (“bee-bim” means “mix”) and enjoy.
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