Tag Archives: dinner

A Budget Friendly Meal Plan for Busy Seasons

There are usually two scenarios that find people diving head first into the world of meal planning — they need to save time or they need to save money. But at this point in the year, it often seems those two go hand and hand. We’re in the heart of the fall semester, activities are ramping up, and something about the waning evening sunlight makes it feel like a mad rush between the end of work hours and climbing into bed at night. There’s no time for planning and executing a healthy dinner on the fly!

Then you’ve got money saving. Ah yes, I feel you there. Maybe you spent a little too extravagantly on summer travel or plan to spend extravagantly on the upcoming holidays. Either way, there’s no room for extravagance in this in-between!

Enter the power of the stupidly simple meal plan…

Shopping List

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Bananas

Lunch

  • Bread
  • Lunch meat
  • Cheese
  • Salad
  • Salad Dressing

Extras (Snacks, desserts, and lunch add-ons)

  • Granola bars
  • Fruit (apples, oranges, berries on sale)
  • Crackers
  • Hummus
  • Peanut butter
  • Cookies

Dinner

  • Chicken
  • Rice
  • Stir-fry vegetables
  • Bulk frozen veggie
  • Pasta noodles
  • Ground turkey or meatballs
  • Pasta sauce
  • Tortillas 
  • Shredded cheese
  • Avocados
  • Refried beans or black beans
  • Green peppers
  • BBQ sauce
  • Hamburger buns
  • Chips

Meal Plan

Breakfast – Oatmeal or yogurt topped w/ bananas

Lunch – Sandwich or salad w/ 2 sides of choice (and/or any dinner leftovers)

Dinners – 

Monday/#1: Chicken stir fry w/ frozen veggie

Tuesday/#2: Spaghetti w/ fruit salad

Wednesday/#3: Quesadilla w/ beans and guac

Thursday/#4: Stuffed peppers w/ frozen veggie

Friday/#5: Panini and chips

Saturday/#6: BBQ chicken sandwiches w/ frozen veggie/fruit salad/chips (whatever is left)

Sunday/#6: Eat out

What meals are on YOUR stupidly simple meal plan? Here’s to a stress-free and money-saving AUTUMN!! 🍂 🍁 🍂

List 15: Recipes to Try

I started a LIST SERIES in Summer 2018 and decided to keep adding to it here and there. These posts are kinda like an introduction (or a reintroduction for those who’ve been with me since the jump!). A nice to meet ya, so glad you stopped by, now STAY AWHILE! Why lists? Because I love making ’em! Enjoy…

Things I’d love to cook/bake/eat…

Simple Sesame Noodles…for a different take on noodle-y comfort food.

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa…reminds me of those $1 rice packets I used to live on in college.

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread…I have a slight rosemary obsession.

Chocolate Almond Breeze Smoothie…super simple sweet treat.

Slow Cooker Veggie Pot Pie Stew…so I can set it and forget it.

Brown Butter Rosemary Orange Cornbread…I mentioned the rosemary thing, right?

Honey Peach Frozen Yogurt…a great use for all those Farmers Market peaches.

Honey Banana Smoothie…honey again? Yes. Local honey keeps the allergies at bay!

Broccoli-Cheddar Grilled Cheese…are you sensing another pattern? I like what I like.

Avocado-Bacon Breakfast Wrap…for making brunch at home.

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Cakes…love this as a meat alternative idea.

Chicken Schnitzel…always down for a schnitzel!

Tell me what recipes you’ve been yearning to try in the comments below! xoxo

[And in case you’re curious…

LIST 1
LIST 2 
LIST 3
LIST 4
LIST 5
LIST 6

LIST 7
LIST 8
LIST 9
LIST 10
LIST 11
LIST 12
LIST 13
LIST 14]

FIN! I’m retiring the LIST SERIES for now, but feel free to read through the archives. 😉 

Recipe: Greek Quinoa Salad

IMG_2209

Now that I live in South Florida, my taste buds always seem to be after Mediterranean and/or tropical flavors. Fresh and crunchy vegetables, tangy tastes of citrus or vinegar, that sort of thing. With that in mind, I thought I’d give ya a peek at my dinner plate from last night….

Thin pork-chop marinated in mojo sauce (cut into strips because I am a child),

Fluffy pita bread and hummus,

Creamy slices of avocado (which I topped with a ton of salt and pepper if we’re being honest),

And a heaping helping of Greek Quinoa Salad!

It super fit the bill and satisfied my cravings for a summertime-is-upon-us feast. Wanna know how to whip up your own Greek Quinoa Salad? Of course you do! It would be a perfect dish to make this weekend for work-week lunch prep or to pack along for a picnic pot-luck.

greek quinoa salad

What you’ll need:

– 1 cup quinoa

– 1 1/2 cups water

– 1 red bell pepper

– 1 green bell pepper

– 1 cucumber

– 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

– 1/4 cup olive oil

– 3 Tbsps apple cider vinegar

– salt and pepper to taste

And how it all comes together:

– Rinse quinoa and then place it in a saucepan on medium heat to toast for a few minutes and get rid of any excess moisture.

– Add water to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and cover the pot with the lid slightly off kilter (so as to allow some steam to escape). Let this simmer for 12-14 minutes.

– While quinoa is simmering, chop bell peppers and cucumber.

– Fluff quinoa with a fork, take it off heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

– Once quinoa is cooled, add it to a large bowl along with chopped vegetables and feta cheese. Note: To make this salad vegan you could replace the feta with olives as they both provide a salty flavor. Also, non-vegans who like olives (aka NOT ME) could have BOTH!

– To create the dressing: whisk together oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Then add this mixture to your salad.

– Serve room temperature or place in the refrigerator to chill.

– Enjoy!

greek dinner

Have any recipe ideas that might keep my cravings satisfied for the months of sky-rocketing temperatures ahead here in Miami? What have YOUR dinner plates been lookin’ like lately? Share below! 

No-recipe Recipes.

No Recipe Meals Collage

Do you have an arsenal of easy-to-prepare dinners you look to on busy week nights when you’re exhausted and frankly too lazy to make anything that meaningful? I definitely have my own rotation. When you’re trying to stick to at-home eating, whether for dietary reasons or budget, it’s important to recognize the barriers which will keep you from staying the course. For me, these barriers are time and effort. To combat, here are a few quick, no-recipe dinners I make to stay away from take-out and scarf down a home-cooked meal when ain’t nobody got TIME for the kitchen…

*Baked Potatoes- As soon as you get home from work, cut the top of a washed potato with a knife in a cross pattern, pop it in the oven, and go about your business for the next hour or so. Top with any combination of the following: butter, sour cream, cheese, salt & pepper, salsa, beans, avocado, chunks of deli meat, banana peppers, or capers. Note: This works for russet or sweet potatoes, though I have found sweet potatoes don’t need as much time in the oven.

*Omelettes- The key is to cook your eggs very slowly! Fill with cheese and veggies. Serve on top of greens, if you like.

*Spaghetti Bolognese- Heat up olive oil in a pan. Add garlic and onions, then carrots and celery, then ground beef and finally canned tomatoes and herbs/spices. Let this thicken for about 30 minutes while you cook some pasta.

*3 Ingredient Chili- 1 lb cooked ground beef + undrained can of beans + can of tomatoes OR jar of salsa if that’s what you have on hand and you like things with a kick = CHILI yumminess. I like to add in pasta because that’s just the sort of chili eater I am.

*Salmon and Veg- Grill a salmon filet on the George Foreman and top with a dollop of cranberry sauce. Serve with whatever vegetables you have on hand. If you’re especially famished, add some brown rice.

*Pancakes- If you use pancake mix it’s as easy as adding an egg or two and some milk to create a batter. For flair; mix in blueberries, walnuts, chocolate chip, banana or anything else your heart desires. Speaking of hearts, why not make your pancakes in the shape of a <3!

*Mexican Bagels- Toast a bagel and top with creamed cheese and sliced cheese. Stick this under the broiler to melt, then top with salsa and avocado.

*Pizzas- Buy store bought crust and top with combination of pizza sauce, cheese, and any and all leftovers you find in the fridge. Even easier? Pita pizzas! Just do the same but on pitas. They’re adorable!

*Chicken and sweet potato fries- Bake a chicken breast and serve with store-bought, frozen sweet potato fries. My favorite are the Alexia crinkle-cut kind.

And of course, ANYTHING on toast can become a meal if you believe hard enough!

What quick dinner recipes/no-recipes do you know by heart? How did they make their way into your arsenal? Trial and error? Grow up with them? Home Ec class? Share your favorites in the comments below!

 

YouTube recipes for Winter!

kitchen utensils edited

Now that we’ve had the pleasure of “falling back” and the sun is pretty much clocking out at the same time as I am, I’m all about hunkering down at home during the evenings with a warm meal. This Fall I’ve been on a pretty consistent dinner rotation of tomato soup, jacket potatoes and warm sandwiches. In an effort to spice things up a bit, I turned to YouTube for some inspiration. I’m ready to tackle Winter head on! (Is that snow outside? ARRGHH!) When it comes to recipes I want simple, affordable, and quick. I’m usually only cooking for 1 or 2 so I want bigger batch recipes to hold up as great bring-to-work lunch options. So, with Winter on it’s way into town, I bring you 11 recipes to try. Enjoy!

BREAKFAST:

Healthier Banana Bread by Light by Coco. My sister once told me that the best present to take when you’re visiting your significant other’s parents is a loaf of banana bread because that way, as they’re slicing it up the next morning for breakfast, they’ll think about how much they like you. I have no idea where she got that nugget of knowledge from. (Katie?) Anyways, maybe the magic of banana bread works in other ways too. Like if you bake this up for a weekend breakfast you’ll remember how much you love YOURSELF when you have some leftover slices for snacks all week long. Also, great way to use up those over-ripe lingerers.

Overnight Oatmeal (5 Ways) by The Domestic Geek.  I’m a fairly recent convert to overnight oats. I eat straight up, hot oats (with various spices and nut butter mixed in) pretty much all the time. In fact, I went 2 whole years where I ate them for breakfast every single day unless I was eating breakfast out. They’re cheap, filling and I just love them. BUTTT, in this Instagram-age, I also enjoy aesthetics. So a meal that gets made right in a Mason jar? I can be game for that. Not to mention, this version of oats is much more portable and is great if you’re running out the door and need to eat breakfast at your desk while you’re checking your e-mails.

LUNCH:

Curried Rice Salad by The One Pot Chef.  Maybe because The One Pot Chef is Australian but this definitely looks like something the cast of McLeod’s Daughters would chow down on. Perhaps Meg would whip it up for Terry after surfing for recipes on the web. Or maybe Tess used to make it in the big city and now has Jodi hooked on the stuff. Either way…SULTANAS! A good arvo meal if you ask me, mate. (If you’ve never seen McLeod’s Daughters that’s not my problem. IT IS YOURS.)

Veggie Oriental Noodles with Peanut Sauce by Joanna Soh. I have a bunch of friends who SWEAR by their vegetable spiral slicers…and not just the weird paleo friends. I like that this recipe doesn’t completely substitute veggies for noodles but uses both spiral cut vegetables AND soba noodles. If I was bumming about being at work for 4 more hours, seeing this colorful salad in my lunchbox would definitely cheer me up! Almost as much as listening to Joanna Soh’s Malaysian-British accent!

Broccoli and Arugula Soup by Gwyneth Paltrow. I’ve only tried this soup during my forays into Gwyneth Paltrow cleanses so I have no idea if my perceptions of taste were totally skewed but I thought it was AWESOME. The arugula made it really pepper-y and I always forget how much I like broccoli until I’m forced to eat it. I have a feeling this soup would warm you up and brighten your day…even if you weren’t already starving. I know I’ve mentioned it before but don’t hate on Gwynnie! 

DINNER:

Slow Cooker Chicken & Vegetable Coconut Curry by Sarah Fit. I’m a little crock-pot obsessed. And honestly, if you’re a working guy or gal and you’re NOT crock-pot obsessed than you need to get with the program. Fix everything up and leave it on all day while you’re away and dinner is waiting for you! Especially in the Winter, I want to limit my trips out into the cold. Suiting and booting up for Indian take-out? Not necessary. Leave it in the crock and FUHGETTABOUTIT.

Real Food Quiche by Lisa Leake.  I know I talk about breakfast for dinner a lot but YOU SHOULD HAVE BREAKFAST FOR DINNER. Once a week. Make it a thing. Rituals are awesome. Ok, ok, broken record over here. Quiche is a really easy meal to have in your repertoire and is a great excuse to turn that oven on for some extra warmth in your kitchen. Full disclosure: I’m WAY too lazy to make my own crust and typically just go the store-bought route but this video DOES make it look pretty easy to DIY. Maybe because a TINY CHILD MAKES IT! Oh, Lisa Leake you tricky trickster. We get it! Cooking is easy!

Vegan Chili by She’s So Mickey. I definitely crave big bowls of chili served with cornbread in the winter. While normally I would go the slow cooker route, this vegan chili is so simple the YouTuber explains how to make it in 60 seconds! Great for all my vegan sistahs out there…but really for anyone. Also, if you have a super hectic week this Winter and money is tight, may I recommend She’s So Mickey’s 21 Meals for $40 Part 1 OR Part 2. These would be super helpful for my babes in college or grad school.

SIDE:

5-Minute Whole Wheat Naan by Ashley (never) Homemaker.  Not the greatest video but Ashley’s blog is one of my very favorite’s for recipe inspiration…and naan is delicious. Because you know what you need in the Winter? CARBS! (At least I do.)

DESSERT:

Chocolate Souffle by Lo Bosworth.  Did you ever think when you were binge watching The Hills (for the second time) that Lo would go to culinary school in New York? I certainly didn’t. While her cohort L.C. has made quite the fame-fame name for herself in the ~*~Lifestyle~*~ world, I kinda prefer Lo’s IDGAF video tutorial approach. These souffles would be the perfect addition to an at-home date night. Pair with super full glasses of red wine, a cozy throw blanket and your worn copy of “When Harry Met Sally.”

Pumpkin Pie by Leanne Brown.  Maybe it’s because I’m an October baby but pumpkin pie is one of my all time favorite desserts! And BONUS it is pretty easy to make. Here, my cooking on the cheaps guru shows us how it’s done. Don’t you just love her???

Alright y’all, I hope you’re inspired to cook at home this Winter…or at least to sit in your pj’s and watch tons and tons of cooking tutorials on YouTube! What’s your favorite dish to make in the Winter? Do you have a go-to YouTube channel for yummy recipes? Let me know in the comments below!

Recipe: Avocado Toast

avotoast

I am of the belief that everyone should have a super simple meal they can make on the quicks that satisfies their unique palate. The kind of meal you can make when work runs late. The kind of meal you can make when you have somewhere more fun to be then in front of your stove. Basically, the kind of meal you can make instead of pulling up to a drive-thru window. For my mom, this meal is nachos. For a co-worker, it is omelettes. For me, it is putting things on top of toast. In college, beans on toast was a go-to dinner staple. Last year, I went through a big brie and pears on toast phase. And we’ve already discussed my favorite lazy summer meal! But now it is all about the avocado toast!

This recipe is inspired by the crayest health-guru of them all–Gwyneth Paltrow–with a few modifications by yours truly. This is literally the easiest thing you can make from her cookbook “It’s All Good” and I’m not exaggerating when I say it is crazy delicious. Let’s let Gwyneth wax poetic for a second:

“…but really it’s the holy trinity of Vegenaise, avocado, and salt that makes this like a favorite pair of jeans…”

What a lovable weirdo. And aren’t you intrigued??? Let’s get to it!

Ingredients:

whole-grain bread, preferably with some seeds in it to add a little extra crunch

Vegenaise, I know it sounds crazy but just trust me

avocado, I usually use ½ for 2 slices of toast but you do you

balsamic vinegar

freshly cracked pepper

Himalayan sea salt

To assemble:

Pop two slices of bread in the toaster. Slice your avocado. When the bread is toasted, spread it with some Vegenaise (Personally, I do not care for actual mayonnaise but I really like the vegan version so I can’t speak to whether this recipe would be good with the real stuff. If you’re inclined to give it a go than by all means…Gwyneth would not be as forgiving as I). Layer the avocado slices on top making sure to smoosh them down with your fingers a bit so they get down into the crunch of the bread. ; ) Pour a little balsamic vinegar over top. Crack pepper over everything. Sprinkle just a pinch of some pink Himalayan sea salt on the avocados. Voila!

What’s fantastic about putting things on toast as your go-to fast-food meal is you can pair with whatever you have in your fridge to round it out. This toast goes great with fruit salad, scrambled eggs, yogurt, chips and salsa, salad, steamed veggies–pretty much anything your little heart desires. Oh, and if you try it and love it? I told you so and you’re welcome.