Do you find yourself pinning a bunch of great looking recipes on Pinterest, but then never get around to actually making them? Do you want an easy way to streamline menu planning each week? Then this post is for you.
I don’t know about you, but the weeks that I actually take some time to make a menu plan go so smoothly compared to when I don’t. It is a great feeling to know exactly what foods I plan on making each week, and it saves so much money in the long run, as it keeps me from quick grabbing food on the go or running to the grocery store several times a week. When I know the recipes I am going to make, and make a grocery list to make sure I have the groceries on hand, then making meals actually becomes an enjoyable process!
Pinterest is a GREAT way to not only find great recipes, but to simplify the menu planning process.
Most of the recipes I use are either on my blog or on Pinterest, and I am always wanting to try at least one or two new recipes a week. Using Pinterest for menu planning helps me to easily find and gather recipes from both sources.
I simply made a board titled Recipes To Make This Week.This is where I will gather ONLY the recipes that I plan on making that week. I then go search my own New Nostalgia board and New Nostalgia Food board. This is like my own personal recipe box. My blog is full of recipes that I love and use often, so it makes sense for me to pull from there first. I then go to my Recipes: Menu Plan board. This board is where I pin recipes that I am craving, or recipes I find that look so good that I want to make them ASAP. The last place I search for fun recipes is among all my other Recipe boards, that are sorted alphabetically according to food/cuisine type.
Put ‘must make soon’ type recipes in your Menu Plan board
Put ONLY recipes you are committing to make for the week in your Recipes: To Make This Week board.
Once I have all of my recipes for the week gathered on my Recipes To Make This Week board, I then make a grocery list by clicking on each one and making sure I have all of the ingredients on hand. If I don’t have it, it goes right on my grocery list.
I use the Reminders list app on my iPhone, I type the list, then go check my cupboards, speaking to Siri to add anything I am missing. I also use Siri if I am out and about and remember something I need to add to my list…this is especially helpful when I’m in the car! I simply say “Reminders Grocery List” and she will then ask me what to add to that specific list, I answer, and she adds it for me.
It saves paper and I can access it on my laptop and on my phone. I usually do this while at home on my computer, but the beautiful thing about this is I can do it all on my phone while sitting in my car waiting for my kids! I can access all my Pinterest boards, and gather ingredients I need on my Reminders app. It is such a timesaver.
I do not get so detailed as to assign each day of the week its own meal and recipes. I just gather a few meals, snacks, & breakfasts, enough to get us through the week. My mood can change each day as to what I feel like eating, so I try to just have a handful of recipes that make pretty balanced week. To do this, I am purposeful to keep in mind a variety of meals.
We have had a membership to Sam’s club for a few month’s now. I enjoy having one, and have found that I stick with just a few main staples when I go. Our Sam’s club is located right by our church, so I stop there on the way home from church each week. I am amazed at how just these few food items really help make healthy eating easy, and get us through the week.
As far as food goes, it is not easy finding healthier options at Sam’s club, but it is possible, and they are adding more and more organic options, which makes me happy.
As far as our eating goes, I am finding we have settled into a ‘perfectly imperfect’ way of eating. It has to be all about balance for us, and as much as I would love to be feeding my family only whole, unprocessed, organic, and all homemade food; it just isn’t doable. It has felt good to let go of perfection and embrace balance, and at times, convenience.
I also have compromised with my 3 daughters as they have gotten older. They have certain requests and I try to hear them and learned I can’t force them to eat exactly what I would like them to. A good example of this is the bread above. I would love them to eat the super grain bread, as it is organic, no preservatives, and has a ton of amazing omega’s and power seeds in it. They will eat this bread as toast or french toast, but for their daily lunchbox sandwiches they prefer the softer, Oatnut bread.
Another place I compromise is with lettuce. They prefer the crunchy iceberg garden mix, but I prefer they eat power greens like spinach and kale. We meet halfway and I mix the two almost every evening as we eat a green salad with almost every meal. It helps that Sam’s sells the iceberg garden mix for only $1.99 a HUGE bag. I use the kale medley in salads, smoothies, and soups. This container is really large and it is always fun to find ways to finish it by the end of the week!
The veggie tray is another area I have chosen convenience over perfect, organic veggies. This tray is loaded with vegetables, has delicious great ranch yogurt dip (which keeps my girls very happy and crunching on their veggies) and is a steal at $9.99. Most grocery stores sell them for $12-15 and only have about half of the veggies in it. I set this tray out after school almost daily, when appetites are most hungry and they are ready to snack. I often will grab it at dinner and chop the veggies up even further to throw on our salad. So easy!
Oh, how I wish those grapes were organic, but they are pretty seasonal so we are enjoying them for this season. They are amazingly sweet and are great for my girls school lunches and snacking.
The Garden Veggie Straws are a hit with my girls in place of greasy potato chips. There is nothing healthy about them, but they satisfy any salty, crunchy cravings and are a step up from chips. The bag is huge and lasts the week, even when using in lunches and for evening snacking.
I often make my own granola bars, but lately have been buying this box of Organic Cascadian Farms Granola bars. The girls like them a lot. I also will buy a box of KIND granola bars from Sam’s, which are my favorite.
What do you buy from Sam’s club? What foods do you compromise on when it comes to convenience?
There are several things I do at the beginning of the week to make sure we can easily access healthy food and snacks during the week. I try to get the grocery shopping done on Saturday or Sunday, which really helps make me feel ready for the week. I especially do this during the school year, when I need to make sure we have all that we need to pack school lunches and have healthy after-school snacks.
1. When shopping, keep foods as clean and pure as possible.
Avoid packaged foods with mile long ingredient lists. We eat packaged foods in our family, but I make sure I buy them from stores that promote more healthful ingredients, like Trader Joes or our local health food store. For example, if you look on the package of Trader Joes chocolate chip cookies, it is familiar ingredients I would use here at home to make chocolate chip cookies. I like that I know what they are and can pronounce them. This is not the case if I were to buy packaged cookies from a regular grocery store, unless maybe if they were in the specialty organic foods section.
Making food homemade as much as possible just tastes better and you are in charge of the ingredients. The freezer salsa in the above picture was made with our homegrown tomatoes and tastes so good!
2. Buy organic…or not. Know when to compromise.
Most of the time I buy only organic fruits and veggies, but lately, to get my kids to snack on more vegetables during the week, I have been picking up this tray of already cut up vegetables and dip. It is from Sam’s and the dip is a ranch greek yogurt dip. Yes, I would love it to be organic, but it is not. Sure, the yogurt dip has some ingredients that are not so clean and pure, but I’m ok with it. It is only 9.99, it is super convenient, and it gets a ton of vitamins and phytonutrients into our bodies. We eat it up every week, and I often will chop some of the veggies up even further to throw on our dinner salads. Eating healthy is not about eating perfectly. Compromise is ok.
3. Hard boil some organic eggs.
I’ve been doing this at the beginning of every week & it is a great way to get added protein into the body. I often find my girls with the egg slicer out, ready to snack on a protein rich hard-boiled egg. I also love throwing them on top of our dinner salad for added flavor, texture & protein.
4. Make some tea.
At first glance, caffeinated tea might not seem like the best healthy option, but it really depends what you are comparing it to. It is SO much better than grabbing a coke, whether diet or not, and does not have added sugar, artificial colors, or dreaded artificial sweeteners. Tea also has antioxidants which other sweetened beverages do not. I usually try to buy my tea organic but right now I’m crushing on this Tazo Iced Blushberry Black Tea.
Get rid of the pop, get rid of the Kool-aid. Drink tea! I make a big pitcher at the beginning of the week and it lasts quite a few days around here. It makes a nice change from typical plain water.
4. Keep lots of leafy greens on hand.
Here is another purchase I make from Sam’s at the beginning of each week. The container is huge and the price is right. I have a salad many times for lunch, and if not, I throw these greens into a green smoothie. I also try to make sure we get some sort of leafy green salad with every dinner, so a big package is a must around here. I’m very happy that Sam’s usually gets fresh shipments in daily, so the date on the package gives us a good week to eat up our greens. Tonight we will be topping taco’s with these greens.
5. Go nuts with nuts.
I really like having lots of nutritious nuts on hand during the week, and I really like storing them in mason jars. Putting them in a jar shows them off a bit, and makes it super easy to grab and start snacking. I also like how easy it is to just unscrew the lid and sprinkle them onto our salads. I have a big crush on cashews right now, and top almost every salad I make with them. Who needs croutons when you have crunchy cashews?
What are some ways you start your week off to help with healthy eating throughout the week?
I’m all about being perfectly imperfect lately, and serving my company leftovers is a great example of embracing the imperfect and reaping quite perfect benefits.
About a month ago I had my Mom over for lunch. I love having her as I know her favorite foods and flavors. I know she loves meatloaf and sweet potatoes which we actually had for dinner the night before, I also knew that one of her favorite flavors is coconut, which ended up being the perfect topping for our sweet potatoes!
We had a wonderful lunch together, and although she knew most of the meal was leftovers, she enjoyed it and we had precious time together.
So let’s talk leftovers. At first I felt weird serving my company leftovers, but then I thought about my favorite deli at my local health food store, and realized everything they serve ‘to -go’ would be considered a ‘leftover.’ The have a glass case with a wonderful selection of foods, and I know that all of their foods are fresh, but not all are made exactly that very day.
I know there are some people who really dislike leftovers, but I love them. I love the ease of just reheating food and enjoying a hot meal that was easy to just heat and eat!
Just about everything we ate that day for lunch would be considered a leftover. Even the wine I served was a bottle that was opened the night before, but one that my girlfriend and I did not finish, so I served it with our lunch. Why not?
The meatloaf, beans and sweet potatoes were all made for our dinner the night before. Even the salad was tossed the night before. The cheesy bread was a asiago cheese bagel leftover from breakfast that we split, since there was only one and limiting carbs is always a good thing. A simple sliced apple was a great way to round out our little lunch. Can you tell that my Mom and I don’t mind our food touching? I purposefully used small plates to make the lunch look filled out and hearty.
Nuts were the appetizer and cupcakes that my lil’ one made the night before was dessert. A few little touches like lemon in our water and fun napkins made the table look special.
I don’t know about you, but if leftovers looks and tastes like this lunch did, I’m all for reheating food and offering it to my loved ones.
What about you? Do you use leftovers? Would you or do you use them for entertaining?
I’m off track with my meal planning, and boy, do I miss it.
I never have had an elaborate or complicated meal plan that I followed, but I would sit down once a week, figure out the meals I wanted to make and make a list of the groceries I would need before grocery shopping. I have not been doing that lately, and it sure shows when it comes time to make dinner.
I’ve decided to get back on track, and have come up with a bit of structure to help me in that. I know I need to keep things super simple right now in order to succeed, so I came up with some broad categories that will help guide my meal planning and keep our menu well-rounded.
You will notice in the below meal categories that we have added meat back into our diet. There are several reasons why, but the main reason was how hard it was to get all the nutrients and protein my girls needed without having meat in our diet. They are much more picky of eaters than I am, and it was super hard to find enough plant protein foods that they would eat. I believe for my own personal health and cancer history that less meat is most healthy for me, but my focus this year has been brain health, and I became convinced that my growing girls and their beautiful brains needed more nutrition than what our vegan diet was providing. Because of this, I added fish, organic chicken, and organic grass-fed beef, and organic eggs back into our diet. I buy our eggs, beef and chicken local, organic and farm-fresh, which makes it much more expensive, so we still eat much less meat than the average household.
I buy enough meat for us to have one meal of ground beef, chicken and fish. That takes care of 3 meals of the week. We love having breakfast for dinner, so that makes 4 meals…throw in a vegetarian meal and some sort of easy pasta dish, and that makes 6 meal categories. I’m not worrying about having a 7th meal category, as there are always leftovers and we order in food once a week for our Friday family nights.
“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Aloha, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #myAloha and #AlohaMomenthttp://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV”
Do you feel it? Do you feel the New Year coming?
Our Christmas celebrations just started this evening, and let me tell you…my family can COOK! We celebrated with my Mom’s side of the family & we partied pot-luck style. I am sitting here feeling full and happy—and ready for the New Year.
I’m ready for the fresh start that the New Year brings–especially in the area of health.
You all know I live a pretty healthy lifestyle, but every year without fail, by the end of the year and all the holiday celebrations, I have let my MOST healthy habits slip a bit. I still am eating pretty clean and healthy, but I feel off-balance. I am not paying as much attention as I typically would to getting the nutrients I need and making sure my diet is balanced. There are days when I have too many carbs, other days I wonder if I had enough protein, & getting those superfood and greens in happen some days, but some days not.
Usually I would wait until the New Year to evaluate where I am at and be more mindful of my health, but not this year! I’m starting NOW! This does not mean I can’t enjoy the holidays and all the great food it brings, but it does mean that I want to be purposeful about getting all the good, nutritional stuff in my body FIRST so that the not-so-good-for-me stuff does not affect me as much. If I am full of nutrition, I have less room for the junk.
Here are some of the best ways I have found to fill up with nutrition:
1. Start with a smoothie.
I know, I know. You have heard it a million times…but there is a reason why smoothies are so popular. They are so versatile and such an easy way to get fiber, protein, superfood, greens, veggies & fruits into the body. They are also really appealing to eat in the morning or as a snack, which are 2 times of the day that it really counts to fill yourself full of nutrition. I am excited to share with you a new favorite product called Aloha that I have been using in my smoothies…keep reading!
2. Make SURE you are getting enough protein.
We eat a lot of plants in our family, and even did quite a long stint with going vegetarian as a family. We have recently added a bit of animal protein back into our diet, as I found it pretty hard to get my kids to eat enough plant protein, but it is only a couple of times a week and I am very picky about where the meat comes from. I have made friends with our local farmers to get that good, grass-fed, organic meat. BUT plant protein is still my first choice, so we still eat lots of beans, quinoa, greens and use plant protein powder in our smoothies.
That new favorite product I mentioned above? It is called Aloha protein powder and I am super excited about it. I was instantly drown to this product when I read that one of the main ingredients is plant protein from pumpkin seeds! I am familiar with whey protein, soy protein & pea protein–but this was the first time I have heard of pumpkin seed protein in a protein shake product. It made me excited because I know how stinkin’ healthy pumpkin seeds are for you, and I have been trying to find ways to incorporate their goodness into our diet.
If you are going to eat carbs, make sure they count by being whole grains & full of fiber. The fiber will slow down the digestions of the carbs, which in turn keeps the blood sugar stable. Carbs are needed for fuel and energy, but they should not make up the bulk of your meals. If the majority of your plate is white or yellow with pasta, bread, mac n cheese, white rice; then some changes need to happen. This is what was happening in my family when we ate vegetarian. I found that we were unbalanced and eating too many carbs. Some carbs are good and needed, but make them count by making sure they contain fiber.
4. Drink your fill of water before indulging in other drinks.
Lets face it. The holidays are full of calories, so a great way to cut empty calories is by being mindful of your liquids. Holidays bring egg nog, amaretto coffee, hot cider, hot cocoa, and all kinds of fun, festive drinks. Go ahead and indulge, but drink a nice big glass of water before you do. The water will fill you up and you will be satisfied with sipping more slowly on all those empty calorie drinks, and you will go for refills a bit less often.
5. Eat breakfast
It’s a given. If you eat a good balance breakfast, you will not be as hungry and over indulge the rest of the day. You will find that your concentration will be so much better if you start out the day with good nutrition.
6. Eat plants. Vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Plant food is full of phytonutrients & antioxidants–all those amazing things that snuff out inflammation in our bodies and protect us from disease. Plant food is filling, so if you are getting your share of plants, you will be full and less likely to overindulge. That fried onion topped green bean casserole? It does not count! Watch for those recipes that add junk on top of your veggies & avoid them or take a smaller serving. If there is a raw vegetable platter and dip at those holiday parties, have some dip–but dip dainty–don’t scoop!
A quick nut tip: Did you know that if you have a palm-full of almonds 20 minutes before a meal, that it will curb your appetite and you will in turn eat much less? It is a great trick. I often grab a handful while I am making dinner.
7. Take a Multi-Vitamin.
I know little pills can in no way do what plant food can do, but I do believe they are a great ‘fall-back’ or a ‘just -in- case’ you didn’t get all of the vitamins and minerals you might need through food during the day. I am learning more and more just how important certain minerals are for digestion & brain health & energy & clear skin & shiny hair &…well…the list goes on and on! Just one deficiency in one type of vitamin or mineral can really throw one’s health off.
A protein smoothie is a great way to accomplish a lot of the tips above, all in one swoop.
I have tried many, many types of protein powders and have even reviewed some here on the blog, and let me just say, they keep getting better and better! Aloha Protein Powder has for sure given protein powder a powerful improvement, and after using it for the last couple of weeks, I personally won’t have to look any further for a protein powder. It is by far my favorite. It tastes amazing.
It is a plant-based protein and uses superfood components. It is made with organically grown and wild-harvested ingredients and is tested far beyond government regulations. It made responsibly both socially and ecologically.
The nutrients in the powder are made with whole foods, and has a complete amino acid profile, with no added chemical amino acids, vitamins or minerals. Each serving provides 18 grams of plant-based protein! It has no sugars & no fillers which is super important to me, especially the filler part. I cannot stand buying a protein powder and later learning that most of my money went towards fillers!
The plant protein comes from Sacha Inchi Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds & Peas. I like that!
Let me just list the ingredients for the Vanilla Protein Powder and see if you are as impressed as I am:
That ingredient list makes me very happy. Short, sweet, recognizable & quality ingredients.
The Chocolate Protein Powder ingredients are just as impressive, and uses fair-trade cacao. The chocolate is my favorite. When I tasted the powder for the first time, what hit me what that it did not have an after-taste or a weird texture. I am hooked.
My favorite flavor is the chocolate. My favorite way to use it is by blending it with almond milk & adding a spoonful of peanut butter. OH. MY. YUM.
The Aloha website has a ton of recipe ideas if you want to get more creative with the powder.
Would you like to try it out for yourself? Do what I did and sign up for a free trial . The trial is 14 days with the benefits of becoming auto-enrolled into the monthly subscription –while supplies last. You will pay a small bit for shipping, but I am telling you…it is well worth it!
I don’t know about you, but it seems like after every holiday I am so very eager to get back to clean eating and taking care of my body.
Holidays are great for living in the moment and enjoying food, fellowship, friends and family. We eat differently during the holidays than we do everyday, and in our family that is ok as they are the perfect place for enjoying treats we don’t indulge in very often.
Today is the 5th of July and we had a great 4th of July celebration, but boy did I come home last night not feeling very well! I woke up with a sugar hangover and a bit of gall bladder pain which happens every time I have too many fatty foods.
Time to get my eating habits back to normal and get my body moving & feeling better!
It is so reassuring that walking is amazing for you. I am not a runner due to the joint pain I mentioned above. I love to take my earbuds, stick my favorite podcast into my ears, and walk the neighborhood. Look at all the goodness a simple walk brings!
I can’t tell you how much I love my Shaklee! I took these supplements all through cancer treatment and surgeries. I know they are key to helping me heal and feel my best. Added perk? My nails grow so long and strong when I am taking them faithfully.