Meal Planning Monday – Easy, Elegant Cooking On A Budget

Today’s post is by Sheri Ann Richerson of The Experimental Homesteader.

Planning your meals ahead of time takes the guess work out of dinner preparation and saves a lot of time. It is frustrating to start to prepare a last minute meal and realize you have to make a trip to the store before you can start dinner. My goal with this Meal Planning Monday that Christine invited me to write is to provide recipes that taste great, are easy to make and encourage you to try your hand at creating a week’s worth of home cooked meals no matter how busy you are.

I have provided seven days’ worth of great recipes that were tested in my own kitchen. They are truly easy to make, delicious and nutritious. Feel free to alter these to suit your family’s tastes and needs.

Monday ~ Essence Of Root Beer Slow Cooker Pork Roast Recipe – the side suggestion is simple roasted carrots and potatoes cooked in an oven with a touch of sea salt, garlic, black pepper and rosemary.  This roast is out of this world. It takes a lot of ingredients to make it but you are going to love it. Double the recipe and invite guests over to show off your cooking skills. I chose the side dish I did because truly the roast is the talking point and I did not want to take away from the incredible flavor of the roast with a side dish that would steal the spotlight.

Tuesday ~ Swerve, Honey And Maple Syrup Pork Roast – side suggestion of baked potato and Baked Maple Bacon Green Beans.  I paired these two dishes up because they both use maple syrup. These green beans are fantastic. In fact, I am constantly asked to make the green beans. I used fresh green beans for the recipe. I have seen ones in packages in the stores that are ready to eat if you don’t want to mess with snipping the ends of the fresh ones.

Wednesday ~ Easy Homemade Lasagna – I created this recipe because I cannot stand onions or mushrooms. If I want to eat lasagna, I have to make it myself – and this recipe tastes great, is easy to make and the leftovers heat up wonderfully in the oven or microwave. I like to pair it with homemade garlic bread and a simple salad. I make my own garlic butter. I use real butter – brought to room temperature, garlic powder and dill weed. I add about a teaspoon of each to about ½ stick of butter, mix well and set the butter aside. By the time the lasagna is done, the flavors in the butter have mingled; I spread it on the bread and toast the bread in the oven.

Thursday ~ Chocolate Cranberry Eye Of Round Roast – side suggestions are corn seasoned with sea salt, butter and black pepper along with Bow Tie Pasta In A Creamy Sage Sauce – The roast is very flavorful – and you do not know the chocolate or cranberries are in there. Make sure you have the ingredients on hand for this recipe. The C-Spice I used was homemade. The cranberry balsamic vinegar I purchased. Be sure to read over the ingredient list and check your supplies before planning this meal so you have everything you need on hand and ready to go.

Friday ~ Raspberry Pork Chops – - side suggestion of Velveeta Shells and Cheese, Spicy Flat Italian Beans – I love Raspberry Pork Chops and intentionally can raspberry vinegar during the peak raspberry season so I have it on hand for this recipe. You can use store bought raspberries. Alter this recipe as necessary but do try it. The flavors mingle well. The Spicy Flat Italian Beans I have not seen locally other than at the farmers market. Green beans may work but I have not tried this personally.

Saturday ~ Spiced Fried Chicken – side suggestions mashed potatoes with gravy and Easy Coleslaw From The Garden – I love fried chicken. I make the seasoned flour up ahead of time and it keeps for quite a while in the refrigerator or freezer. I included the recipe for the side of coleslaw but you can buy the supplies at the store if you prefer. Since I grow a garden, cabbage and carrots are plentiful here. The one thing I would recommend sticking to is the type of salad dressing I suggested. It really is the best I have tried.

Sunday ~ Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

I had never made my own chicken pot pie before I made this one and I have to tell you it was well worth making from scratch. It is now a staple in our home and frankly I don’t want the pre-made kind from the store after tasting my own. I found that I really like a little more thyme in mine than what I used in the recipe.


•1 can chicken breast (10 ounces)

•32 ounces of chicken broth

•1/2 cup matchstick carrots

•1/2 cup sugar snap peas, chopped

•1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

•1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour

•4 Tablespoons butter

•1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt

•1/4 teaspoon pepper

•1/4 teaspoon thyme

•1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

•drop biscuit dough (I made the dough
using Jiffy Baking Mix.)



1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.

2. Chop up sugar snap peas.

3. Add peas and carrots to the melted butter in the skillet and cook for three to four minutes.

4. Add in the chicken – including the juice.

5. Continue to cook for one to two minutes while using a spatula to break the chicken into smaller chunks.

6. Add the salt, pepper, garlic and thyme. Stir to combine.

7. Sprinkle the flour on top of the chicken mixture. Allow it to sit for one minute to absorb the liquid and then stir to combine it.

8. Add about 1/4 of the chicken broth and stir in into the mixture.

9. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken.

10. Add half the heavy whipping cream, stirring to combine it.

11. Continue cooking the broth until it begins to bubble and thicken.

12. Add half of the remaining chicken broth.

13. Continue cooking over medium heat. Again, you want the broth to thicken.

14. Add the rest of the heavy whipping cream. Continue cooking.

15. Add the remaining chicken broth and cook until the mixture is slightly thick. You don’t want it runny, but you don’t want it too thick either as it will continue to thicken in the oven.

16. While the pot pie mixture is thickening, make your drop biscuit dough. You can use any recipe you like for this. I used a combination of water, milk and Jiffy baking mix.

17. Once the chicken, vegetable and broth mixture is thick enough to suit you, pour it into a baking dish.

18. Drop spoonfuls of the drop biscuit mixture on top of the chicken, vegetable and broth mixture. It will sink – do not worry about this.

19. Place the baking dish into the oven and bake at 400 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes.

20. When you remove it from the oven allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Cut and serve.


Sheri Ann Richerson is a leading pioneer in the self-sufficiency movement. For the past 19 years she has been living, teaching, and promoting organic gardening, natural health and self-sufficiency through all forms of media. Her bestselling books include “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Year-Round Gardening,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving & Starting” and “101 Self-Sufficiency Gardening Tips.”

For more information, please visit her writing website at, her gardening and homesteading website at or subscribe to the Experimental Homesteader podcasts on iTunes.