A Healthy Way to Meal Plan Your Week

One of the greatest hindrances to healthy eating is a lack of planning! It’s simple math- if you don’t have plenty of healthy food options in your fridge and pantry- you won’t eat it. When there isn’t any food in the house, the tendency is to eat out, not make a run to the store. Having a detailed meal plan will help you save money and calories in the long run. Here are some tips to help you plan ahead and make the most out of your trip to the store!

Do Your Homework

Before you even begin thinking about your meals for the week, sit down with your calendar and figure out what nights you will be home and what nights you will be out. Check the forecast for the week. It might sound silly but it will help you get an idea of what you will be in the mood to eat on certain nights. For example, what sounds better than a warm bowl of hearty soup on a cold rainy day? Also, will you be having company at any point throughout the week? You will want to make sure you pick a meal that will accommodate various tastes and dietary restrictions. Finally, check sales at your local grocery stores. Many stores have weekly ads with a list of specials they are running as well as coupons you can use. Focus on your meats and fresh produce. This will help you save money and know what produce is in season!

Binge on Pinterest

Once you have an idea of what your week will look like, allow yourself some time to look for new recipes to try! Pinterest is a great resource for meal ideas. However, with literally thousands of recipes at your fingertips, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the options. For this reason, it is also a good idea to find a couple of food blogs that suit your tastes and check them on a regular basis. Try keeping things realistic when selecting new recipes. If something is far out of your comfort zone (both in taste and skill) - you are less likely to follow through with making it.

A Healthy Way to Meal Plan Your Week

Write it Out

Once you have selected your meals for the week- write out a clear schedule and keep it on the fridge for easy reference throughout the week. Work through each meal and determine what ingredients you will need and what you already have. Be sure to check your pantry for supplies. Nothing is more frustrating than being in the middle of meal prep only to find you have run out of a staple item like oil or flour! Create a detailed grocery list broken down into categories (meat/dairy/produce/dry goods) to make your trip a little easier and avoid overlooking an item.

Beyond Planning

Before you go to the store, clean out your fridge. Empty out those leftovers that have been sitting there for a week and get rid of old rotting produce. Not only will it open up space but it will help you know what you have available throughout the week. Next, after you have completed your grocery shopping, take a few minutes to prep certain foods. For example, wash and cut lettuce and other veggies to make salad prep quick and simple. Marinate any meat you may be eating in the next 2-3 days or freeze any foods that might go bad before you can eat them.

Following these simple steps will help you stick to a meal plan and avoid the temptation to eat out on a regular basis. Chances are, anything you are making at home (with fresh meats and produce) will be much healthier and less expensive than anything you grab on the go!

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Curried Lentil -Tomato Soup

Curried Lentil -Tomato SoupAs a kid, tomato soup and fall seemed to go hand and hand. As the weather cools off and ushers in all the festivities of the fall, a warm bowl of tomato soup with fresh cornbread or crackers sounds pretty good. With some easy adds and a little time, you can ramp up your tomato soup to a full on adult version while still appealing to the kids as well. Our recipe for curried lentil-tomato soup will feed a large family or leave you plenty of leftovers for quick brown bag lunches. This soup keeps extremely well in the refrigerator for several days. Make ahead and have a quick go-to soup all week during the cooler weather.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large sweet onions – about two cups chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 2 – 15 ounce cans diced or stewed tomatoes
  • 6 – 8 cups chicken broth (you can use vegetable stock if preferred)
  • One cup chopped carrots
  • 2 cups diced russet potatoes
  • ½ cup chopped celery (optional)
  • ¾ cup half and half
  • Sour cream and dried parsley for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium/high. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté for between three and four minutes.
  2. Heat the chicken broth in a saucepan until simmering.
  3. Add the sautéed mixture to a large slow cooker.
  4. Add the curry, ginger, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir.
  5. Add the chopped carrots, potatoes and celery.
  6. Add the tomatoes, and stir the mixture to incorporate all the ingredients.
  7. Add the lentils.
  8. Slowly pour in the chicken broth while stirring the mixture.
  9. Cook on low for six hours.
  10. Stir the curried lentil-tomato soup and add the half and half. Stir and let cook for another 30 minutes.

Serve this yummy curried lentil-tomato soup in shallow bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of dried parsley leaves.

Cornbread is a perfect match for this delicious soup. Here is a quick recipe for cornbread that will match up perfectly with your curried lentil-tomato soup.

  • Mix 1 cup of self-rising buttermilk cornmeal and ¼ cup sugar together in a mixing bowl.
  • Add two beaten eggs and ½ cup of milk to the cornmeal mixture and blend with a fork.
  • Add a small amount of water and blend again. Continue until you have a soupy mush consistency.
  • Pour two tablespoons of olive oil into an oven safe skillet and heat on the top of the stove.
  • Pour in the cornbread batter.
  • Heat on the stove until small bubbles start to appear.
  • Immediately remove from the stove top and place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees.
  • Bake for about forty minutes or until the cornbread is golden brown on top.

Soup and cornbread are a huge hit on chilly fall afternoons! This curried lentil-tomato soup and cornbread will be an immediate hit with friends and family.

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Fried Rice with Sweet Soy Sauce

Fried RiceFried rice is a favorite food of many people. However, few people feel comfortable preparing fried rice on their own. They reserve this delicious dish for when they visit their favorite Chinese restaurant or Japanese Steakhouse. You can make fried rice at home. This is a delicious recipe for fried rice with sweet soy sauce that will compliment both chicken and shrimp or can be served alone with some radishes and water chestnuts on top. The most difficult task is to make the rice. Pay attention to the package directions to prepare your rice. You don’t need salt or chicken broth for the rice as the soy sauce and vegetables will flavor it well. Try our fried rice with sweet soy sauce for a restaurant quality treat that you can easily make at home.

Ingredients for Rice

  • Two or three tablespoons peanut oil
  • Four cups cooked rice (prepare according to package directions)
  • Four eggs (well beaten with a dash of salt and pepper)
  • Three shallots, finely chopped
  • One chili pepper, sliced and deseeded
  • Two garlic cloves, crushed
  • One lemon or lime, halved

Ingredients for Soy Sauce

  • ¼ cup soy sauce (you can use low sodium soy sauce)
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

  • Heat one tablespoon peanut oil in a large sauté pan or WOK.
  • Pour in the beaten eggs and stir until just set. Remove and set aside.
  • Add the rest of the peanut oil and reheat the pan.
  • Add the shallots, pepper and garlic and sauté for three to five minutes.
  • While the shallots, pepper and garlic are cooking, add the soy sauce, brown sugar and ginger to a small sauce pan and heat on medium, stirring occasionally, until the brown sugar melts.
  • Add the prepared rice. Turn with a non-stick or wooden spoon to incorporate the ingredients and brown the rice. This will take about four minutes on medium/high heat.
  • Add the eggs to the rice and chop the eggs while turning the rice until the mixture is well blended. Tip: Use the flat side of the spoon or a spatula to mash the rice down in a repeating motion after you have the egg mixed it. This will help the rice brown evenly.
  • Add the soy sauce mixture and stir.
  • Squeeze the juice of half a lemon or lime into the rice.

Serve the fried rice with sweet soy sauce with a splash of lemon or lime on top along with a little chopped basil and cilantro. For added scrumptiousness, make an extra portion of the sweet soy sauce to use as a dressing for some pan cooked shrimp or chicken.  Add a tablespoon of peanut oil to a skillet and heat on medium high. Then add some shrimp (peeled and deveined) or chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes. Cook until done (shrimp will be pink and chicken should be 165 degrees internally) and finish off with the sweet soy sauce. Serve this on top or to the side of the rice.

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Crock Pot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken Noodle SoupDoes chicken soup really help a cold? Or is that just an old wives tale? According to a study done at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties which can negate some of the miseries of a cold.

Going back hundreds of years, chicken soup was regularly used for its medicinal properties leading to its moniker of “Jewish Penicillin.”While testing shows chicken soup does have an effect on colds, no one is quite sure how it works or why. If it helps allay some of the misery of a cold, who cares how or why?

Fall is upon us and it’s time for our beloved soups and stews. Try one of these awesome Crockpot soups for the cold season. Imagine how this will smell when you walk in the door from work and your whole house smells delicious! And you don’t have to have a cold to enjoy them.

Lazy Crockpot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Prep time on this is 15 minutes and cook time depends on your Crockpot setting - 3 to 4 hours on high or 8 to 9 hours on low, and serves 8.

This recipe will work perfectly with store-bought rotisserie chicken, frozen skinless boneless chicken filets, or a whole roasted home cooked chicken.

This recipe calls for 4 cups of chopped chicken. If using a whole chicken, remove the skin and chop the meat.

Place the chopped chicken in the bottom of the Crockpot; then add 1cup of diced onion, 1cup of diced celery, 1cup of diced carrots, and 1?2 cup of frozen peas.

Stir in 4 (14 ounce) cans of low sodium chicken broth, 2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic, 2 teaspoons of fines herbs (chervil, chives, parsley, and tarragon), and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook on high 3 to 4 hours or low for 8 to 9 hours. Stir in 2 cups of cooked egg noodles before serving.

Crockpot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

This one is seriously simple. You could easily put this together before work; cook on low for 6 to 8 hours and come home to an amazing dinner.

Add to your Crockpot 1 pound of uncooked boneless skinless chicken thighs, 1 (8oz) can of drained mushrooms, 3 cups of chicken broth, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of ground black pepper. Cook 6 to 8 hours on low (cut cooking time in half if cooking on high).

Remove the chicken from the cooker and shred with two forks or chop, then return the chicken back to the Crockpot and add 1 cup of heavy cream and 4 oz of home-style Amish egg noodles and cook on high for 15 minutes or until noodles are cooked.

Both of these soups can be put together and frozen. For the Lazy Crockpot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup, add all but the egg noodles to a gallon zipper bag and freeze. In the morning run the bag under warm water for 30 seconds to loosen up the ingredients, plop in your Crockpot and cook per the directions. Add the cooked noodles at the end as per the recipe.  For the creamy soup, do the same – add all ingredients to the freezer bag except noodles and cream, run under warm water for 30 seconds and place all in your pot and add noodles and cream after cooking.

These are both so easy, especially if you make and freeze for later, that they can easily put into monthly dinner rotation once, or even twice.

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5 Quick-Fix Dinners You Have to Try

Have you ever arrived at your home late in the night feeling all tired, hungry and sleepy? Having been in such situations myself, I've learnt that no matter how tired or sleepy one is, going to bed on an empty stomach can be quite a nightmare. That's where speedy cum quick-fix dinners come in. Preparing them is so easy such that, you can have a superb dinner ready in less than ten minutes! Here are 5 quick-fix dinners that you have to try:

Chicken with Rosemary Butter Sauce

Making this dish requires five main ingredients - boneless and skinless chicken, white wine, whipping cream, butter and minced rosemary. Begin by heating a large skillet over medium heat, adding butter and then the chicken. Each side ought to be cooked for five minutes. When ready, remove and transfer to a plate. Next, add wine into the pan and let it cool over medium low heat. After a minute or two, add whipping cream and wait for it to boil. Then, reduce the heat and wait for the sauce to thicken. Finish off by stirring in more butter and rosemary. The sauce can then be served with chicken.

noodle soup with shrimp

Noodles with Shrimp

The key ingredients needed for making this delicacy include a packet of ramen noodles, peeled and deveined shrimp, chopped green onion, cilantro and peanuts, trimmed snow peas, shredded napa cabbage and water. Begin by putting ramen soup mix, chopped green onion, cilantro and water in a medium sized saucepan and bringing it to boil. Then, add the snow peas and noodles and wait for them to cook for a minute before adding in the shrimp. Continue cooking for an additional two minutes. When done, transfer to a bowl and top with chopped peanuts and shredded cabbage.

Red Pepper and Parmesan Tilapia

This dish requires that you have a few tilapia fillets (one per person), crushed red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese, egg substitute, salt and pepper. In one bowl, mix cheese, pepper, pepper flakes and Italian seasoning. In another, put egg substitute. Start by dipping your fillets into the egg substitute and then the cheese mixture. Using a baking pan that's been coated with cooking spray, place the fillets in and let them bake for 10-15 minutes at 425 degrees.

Bread Pork Chops

When making these chops, you'll need boneless pork loin chops, an egg, milk, crushed saltine crackers and canola oil. First, mix the milk with the egg inside a small bowl. Then, in another shallow bowl, put the cracker crumbs. Now, take the pork chop, dip it in the egg mixture before coating it with cracker crumbs. To create a thick coating, pat the crumbs. Lastly, pour your canola oil into a large skillet and cook the chops for 10 minutes (five minutes per side).

Pan-Seared Trout with Italian-Style Salsa

To make this dish, you'll need trout fillets (you may also use salmon, tuna, trout, tilapia or catfish), Italian style salsa, ground pepper, salt, olive oil and lemon slices. Start by sprinkling the fillets with salt and pepper and searing them in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat for about four minutes (2 minutes per side). When done, top the fish with some salsa and garnish it with lemon slices.

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