October Meal Plan

At the beginning of this month I sat down and pulled out all the recipes for stews, roasts, breads, soups, all the cozy meals I could find. We went to a neighbor’s orchard and picked a ton of apples thinking I would be baking yummy cakes and pies all month long.

Well, the universe had other plans for me and my entire oven broke early in the month. No stovetop, no oven, nothing. After discovering the part to fix the oven would be around $1000 and with plans to renovate our kitchen and invest in a range next year, we decided to just buy a basic oven to get us through what is hopefully a little less than a year. It will be delivered today and I am looking forward to having a fully functioning kitchen again!

I have to say that I not only made do these past few weeks, I made a lot of great food! I put my slow cooker and instant pot to big use and was thankful for my electric skillet. I thought I would share my favorite resources and recipes in case you ever find yourself without an oven or just want an easy meal to cook up this fall!

The cookbook I used the most was SkinnyTaste’s One and Done. I want to say that I really loathe the name of her blog and I actually hate sharing it, but her recipes are so great. They are flavorful and she has a lot of vegetarian options. This book has sections that focus on the instant pot, slow cooker, grill, dutch oven, one sheet meals, and the air fryer.

I found Half Baked Harvest’s blog earlier this year and have had a lot of success with her recipes. Sometimes they seem like a lot of work, but they are always flavorful and family approved. I have simplified a few of hers with good results in the past. Here’s a link to all her Instant Pot and Slowcooker recipes. I also love how easy it is to save recipes on her site!

From the New York Times, I love this method of cooking ribs in the Instant Pot (like I’m never going to make them any other way!)

Chris spent all day Saturday smoking a brisket. We tried once before and the results were meh, but this week I’m happy to report we have a delicious brisket to eat on until our new oven arrives! Then I hope to have lots of apple desserts to share with you! And when all else failed, we just lit a fire in the chiminea and made s’mores. Hope you enjoy the picture I got of Sam getting his first real s’more!

September Meal Plan

Since school is starting and weeknights get filled up with music lessons, homework, and early bedtimes, I thought I would jump back into my minimal meal planning. This concept is one I learned from Miranda Anderson over at Live Free Creative and if this sounds good to you I highly suggest checking out her mini course!

The idea is simply that we repeat the same meals every week. I’m leaving weekends open because those are the days I like to experiment and play around in the kitchen. I also set these up as monthly plans just so we don’t get bored or so if there’s something new I want the kids to try I can keep mixing it up!For me these meals must all be simple, have a vegetarian option, and be something all 5 of us like to eat. Here’s what I have planned with links where I can! (NY Times Cooking links require a subscription, but you can also do a free trial period and search out recipes. I find all of their recipes to be really good and worth subscribing for!)

Mondays: Two Corn Chowder with Green Chili and Scallions This is an easy instant pot meal from Milk Street and I love that it hits that balance of end of summer flavors with a hearty soup for cooler nights. I buy crusty bread to go with this one and send leftovers with Chris the next day for lunch.

Tuesdays: One Pot Rice and Beans. Easiest way to cook quick rice and beans, I just omit the onions for the kids. Usually I add in protein that was grilled the weekend before- steak or chicken- and add a lot of topping so everyone can build a bowl or taco however they like. Charlie especially loves to have this the next day for lunch too!

Wednesdays: Sheet Pan Spicy Roasted Broccoli Pasta Really easy and hearty and you could add in whatever vegetables your family likes to eat. This one has toasted cumin seeds but those would be easy to substitute with something else or leave out all together depending on tastes and what you have on hand.

Thursdays: Chana Masala I honestly don’t know where my chana masala recipe is from, but this one looks good and there are a lot of Instant Pot versions out there (do you notice how much I love my instant pot?!) I serve this over white rice with naan bread and everyone likes it!

Fridays: Pizza night! Lately we’ve just been ordering in and have our Domino’s preferences down to a tee. Feels like a nice treat after cooking all week and gets me excited to bust out the grill for the weekend!

March Menu Plan

I have been following a minimalist meal plan the past few months (I got the idea from Miranda at Live Free Creative!) and it has been such a game changer for how I feel about feeding my family every day. I love to cook, but the task of menu planning, grocery shopping, and keeping up with differing dietary needs has been draining me this past year. Now I pick 7 meals for the month and we essentially eat the same thing every week.

At first I thought this would be boring, but changing it up monthly helps us all from getting sick of any of the recipes. Also, on days I have a wild hair and want to try something new, I actually get excited about cooking and have a lot of fun in the kitchen. The monthly plan just saves me so much energy in the long run and has made me not dread meal time.

This month’s meals are:

Monday: Manicotti. I will share my recipe for this later this month! It’s really easy and a great family meal!

Tuesday: Chicken tacos. I plan on cooking the chicken in the instant pot with some seasonings and shredding it up to use throughout the week (Sam loves shredded chicken!). I also always have beans and rice and lots of veggies so everyone can build their own taco.

Wednesday: Greek Pita Pizzas from the Well Plated Cookbook

Thursday: Sheet Pan Sticky Ginger Sesame Chicken and Crispy Brussels Sprouts from Half Baked Harvest. I plan to add some other veggies for my vegetarian and serve it all over rice.

Friday: Pizza night! I love to make my own pizzas. The kids’ usually just want cheese on theirs but I play around and make different ones for Chris and me!

Saturday: This no knead bread and stew. Saturdays are usually ski days so I make the stew the night before (basically using whatever I have in my fridge!) and warm it up Saturday night.

Sunday: On toast! Basically leftover night, except with yummy bread from the night before to put things on.

Do you have any tips and tricks for how you meal plan? I’ll be using Tuesdays to share cooking and food here on the blog this month and will be reporting back on any recipes from this month that become our favorite!

One Dip, Three Ways

Raise your hand if your tired of feeding your family three meals a day. Me! Me! Me! I’m raising my hand! Why does everyone eat so much? More than anything I’m tired of thinking about food and prepping the food. So I thought I would share this easy dip. It makes a ton and I was able to use it a number of ways throughout the week. I love when I can cook once and enjoy again and again!

Artichoke Spinach Hummus Dip

3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 15 oz cans drained, but I’ve been making my own during lockdown and they are really easy to do in the instant pot and you can buy them in bulk!)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup Tahini

3 garlic cloves (or more! I like it super garlicky)

1 teaspoon cumin

1teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

salt and pepper to taste

Stop right here and you have a yummy hummus! 

3 cups packed spinach (or kale or whatever leafy green you have on hand)

one can of artichoke hearts quartered

Combine all the ingredients until the spinach (so basically hummus!) until smooth. Taste for flavor and add more garlic/salt/lemon juice as needed. Then add the greens and artichokes and pulse until it’s as chunky or smooth as you like. Add in a glug of olive oil if things seem too dry. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and then enjoy it these three ways.

Eat it as Dip! Ok, this one might kind of be cheating but this is a great snack. I put it out with pita chips and veggies one afternoon and it was a hit.

Put it on a wrap! Wraps are my new favorite way to use up leftovers. This spread gives a lot of flavor and makes whatever leftovers you use (we had roasted veggies) taste a little more special. It would be good on a sandwich too!

Toss veggies in it and throw them on the grill! Lately, every time we grill I chop up a variety of veggies and season them and throw them in the wok. Roasted veggies are delicious on their own and then are easy to use throughout the week in different ways. I tossed these veggies with the last of the dip and it was a great seasoning!

Cookbook Recommendation

I have had the hardest time getting enthusiastic about meal planning and cooking. Normally I love to cook, but lately I’ve been annoyed that people in my family keep expecting food! For meals! The nerve!

I recently checked out this cookbook from the library and after making a few dishes from it that were huge hits, decided to buy it. It’s now my go to cookbook so I thought I’d share it!

It’s the Skinny Taste One and Done Cookbook and it’s full of one pot recipes. What makes it unique is that it’s grouped by the type of pot you use. There’s a section for Instant Pots, Slow Cookers, Air Fryers, Sheet Pans, Skillets, and Dutch Ovens. There are also directions given for each recipe on how to modify the recipe if you don’t have that specific piece of equipment. (For example I don’t have an air fryer but there are directions on how to cook the same recipe in your oven.)

All the recipes I’ve made have been fairly simple, not too many ingredients that I don’t already keep on hand, and most importantly, have been hits with everyone in the family. Skinny Taste also gives all the caloric, ingredient info (hence the name) and I know that’s important to people too. I also like that the portions aren’t massive. Each recipe seems to comfortably feed my family of four (Sam’s not quite at table food yet!) with maybe one portion left over, if that.

Anyway, I plan on using this cookbook a lot this summer to keep life simple and thought I’d share it with you! Let me know if you have any favorite cookbooks for this time of year. I prefer a hard cover cookbook, Pinterest gets too overwhelming for me! Plus sometimes flipping through the pages gets me inspired and not hate meal planning quite so much.

 

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