Meal Plan: March 1-March 7

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

Pretending it's spring
Pretending it’s spring

March 1-March 7

Happy March! Even though we’re still getting snow, March is confirmation that spring is, in fact, on its way. Thank goodness. Over it.

I started a new job last week, hence the severe lack of recent posting. The mental exhaustion that comes with a new job takes me by surprise every time. Hopefully soon I’ll be in the swing of it and will have more time and energy to try out new recipes. For now, we’re a little bit more survival focused.

Total cost: Roughly $111

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $3.96

Breakfast

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

Meal Plan: February 22- February 28

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

Too cold
Too cold

February 22- February 28

I spent the last week in a frozen tundra, or at least that’s what it felt like. Cincinnati got a ton of snow and ice over the week, and Josh was gone the whole time, to Florida, no less. It’s like a slap in the face.

To properly deal with the frozen wasteland around me, I stayed bundled up in layers and curled up under a blanket on the sofa for pretty much the entire time. The salad I had planned on eating? Discarded after 2 days because the thought of eating cold things while surrounded by cold things was less than appealing. Instead, I just kept reheating variations of leftovers to keep me warm and well fed.

Sometimes, even the best meal plan is no match for the weather.

Better luck this week!

Total cost: Roughly $132

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $4.71

Breakfast

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

Meal Plan: February 15- February 21

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

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Our Valentine gifts now involve pieces of furniture

February 15- February 21

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day! We wound up being really busy on Saturday so we had a belated day of celebratory food on Sunday. We rarely go out on Valentine’s anyway because most restaurants have fixed menus that are A) underwhelming, B) overpriced, and C) not good for someone with an allergy to both dairy and nuts. It’s nice being able to relax at home anyway.

Josh is really busy this week and doesn’t need much food from me, which means I actually did buy two different kinds of nuts this week! It’s a record. I was tempted to buy a big block of cheese as well, but decided not to go too crazy. I’m sure I’ll find a way to use some of the cheese remnants in our fridge at some point in the week. In the meantime, I’m going to eat raw brownies with pecans and wash it all down with some almond milk. Bliss.

Total cost: Roughly $110

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $3.93

(Belated) Valentine’s Day

Brunch

Dinner

Rest of the week

Breakfast

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

 

Hot Cacao (For One)

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Some days, you need a treat. The weather has been cold for too long, the sun is shining for the first time in days and you know it won’t last so you try to soak in every ray, and you need something warm to wrap your hands around while you sit in an awkward spot on your dining room floor because it gets the best sun. This is life.

It’s great.

Also great? This hot chocolate. It’s full of good ingredients, takes just a few minutes on the stove to be complete, and is best served in one of your favorite mugs, hopefully with a really good memory attached to it. I chose the mug we bought on our honeymoon in Scotland. It gives me all the good feels.

Mix and match the ingredients of the drink. Switch out for whatever milk you like. Taste and add more sweetening if you like it super sweet. It should make you happy.

Hot Cacao

  • Roughly 1.5 c. milk of choice (I filled my mug with homemade coconut milk and poured it into the pan)
  • 2 tsp. raw cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup, or to taste
  • Small pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. maca (optional)

Whisk together the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat, until lightly simmering. Pour into a pretty mug. Done.

Meal Plan: February 8- February 14

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

Failed dough. Our house is just too cold and drafty these days for yeast
Failed dough. Our house is just too cold and drafty these days for yeast

February 8- February 14

Our meal plan system has come a long way over the years, and we’ve been really happy with what it looks like. The past few months have included some really big changes in what our life looks like though, and we decided to start possibly shifting the meal plan to reflect that.

When we started out, Josh was working full time retail, which means some nights, all weekend, and limited time for him to eat during the day. I was working a full time M-F job, and we managed to find a balance that worked for us.

These days, Josh is now working in an office, M-F, with weekends off (HOORAY!), plus a fair amount of travel. I’m at the house all day, and while I can spend more time cooking, cooking and cleaning up the kitchen can take a good chunk out of my day, every day. This gets especially old when Josh is out of town. I want to eat a delicious, healthy dinner, but all of that work just for myself is less than appealing. On top of that, since Josh is now sitting at a desk all day, he needs a few more healthy snack options so he isn’t tempted to run downstairs to the cafeteria and grab a cookie. The struggle is real.

SO… we’re going to be messing around with our meal plans for a bit, especially for the weeks that Josh is traveling. We’re excited to see how it all works, even if it does make for a little more work on Sundays. I’ve tried to break things down to better list everything that got done yesterday, and how it will work through the week. One of the benefits is that we can grab produce that’s on sale that isn’t featured in the online sales flyer. Hopefully this helps us mix things up a little and helps keep some costs down.

Speaking of keeping costs down… this week would have been a lot more reasonable if somehow we hadn’t had to restock maple syrup ($20!) and olive oil. Ugh. Oh, and we bought beer. Because.

Total cost: Roughly $143

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $5.11

Breakfast

  • Homemade granola- double batch, with homemade coconut milk (add a couple of dates, cinnamon, vanilla, and pinch of salt to the basic recipe) and frozen berries/bananas- All prepped Sunday

Lunch

  • Reset button salad- make extra quinoa, plus chopped fruit (oranges, mango, and starfruit, all on sale)- All prepped Sunday

Snack

  • Leftover snacks from previous weeks, plus chopped vegetables (carrots, red bell pepper (sale) and cucumber) and tahini lemon dressing for dipping- All prepped Sunday

Dinner

  • Roasted chicken and vegetables- make stock with carcass
  • Curried butternut squash soup- with homemade stock, makes enough for 2 meals
  • Quinoa bowls- 2 meals- quinoa and roasted vegetables (acorn squash, sweet potatoes and broccoli), topped with sesame sauce- All prepped Sunday. Can also use leftover roasted chicken and canned black beans/chickpeas to bulk up as necessary

Sunflower Seed and Date Bars

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There was a time period that I was seriously obsessed with the LARABAR. It was the perfect thing to grab as I as running out the door in the morning, and easy to eat while driving (oops).  I loved the flavors, and there was enough variety that I didn’t have to worry about burning out on one.

However, the price, while not exorbitant, was still enough to make me feel a little guilty for not just eating breakfast at home, and I was usually hungry enough that I really wanted two of them anyway, so I stopped buying them. It didn’t help that poor Josh couldn’t eat them either, since nuts are a key ingredient.

Time passed, and I started to learn how to use seeds in place of nuts, and the glory of dates, and I kept stumbling across recipes for homemade date and nut bars. Josh thought they all looked good, so I set out to make one to suit our tastes and his allergies.

I succeeded.

Sunflower Seed and Date Bars 

Bars

  • 1 1/2 c. raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 c. pitted dried dates
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Frosting

  • 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • Pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp. maca (optional)

Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper, leaving a little overhang. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the seeds and pulse a few times to start breaking them down. Add the dates and salt, pulse a few more times, and then process for a good 2 minutes. If you notice any large clumping happening, break it up with a spatula.

After the two minutes, the mixture should look very crumbly, but will hold together in you squeeze a little in your hand. Scatter the chocolate chips over the mixture, replace the lid, and pulse until the chocolate has broken down a little and is well dispersed through the mixture.

Pour it all out into your prepared baking dish and press down firmly with your hand until it’s solid and even.

Once the mixture is pressed into the pan, it’s time to make the frosting.

In a small pot over low heat, combine the remaining chocolate chips, coconut oil, salt, and maca (I love the flavor). Keep the heat on low and stir often, until the chocolate and coconut oil have completely melted and become smooth and glossy. Pour this over the top of the date and seed mixture, spread evenly, and let harden in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

To slice, carefully lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang, and cut into 8 or 10 bars (depending on how big you’d like them). Keep in the refrigerator and enjoy cold.

Meal Plan: February 1- February 7

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

Mocha from our favorite coffee shop
Mocha from our favorite coffee shop

February 1- February 7

Happy Super Bowl junk food hangover day! Josh and I both woke up this morning still vaguely full from the ridiculous amount of food we ate yesterday. Since Josh is a die hard Patriots fan, you can imagine the amount of screaming and shouting and jumping up and down that happened last night. I was happy to eat a lot and watch the halftime show and marvel at how long I’ve had a crush on Lenny Kravitz, and how he’s still gorgeous. The man has hardly aged.

I have a feeling that next week’s meal plan is going to look a little different, because I’ve about reached my limit of of heavy winter food. I’m not a cleanse person at all, but the next few weeks might look a little bit closer to one. We’ll see. Until then, I’m going to eat some more cozy food, be thankful for one of my favorite lunch salads, and rejoice that I was able to find a place in Cincinnati that sells my favorite brand of fresh ramen noodles.

Total cost: Roughly $141

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $5.04

Super Bowl

  • Crispy oven sriracha wings- The sauce is great, but it’s really her method that amazed us
  • Brown sugar pie- Tried a recipe per Josh’s request. Tasty, but so ridiculously sweet that I won’t be making it again. Should have stuck with salty honey pie
  • Roasted broccoli- I needed at least a little green

Breakfast

Lunch

Snack

  • Sunflower seed and date energy bars (recipe to come)

Dinner