Meal Planning Monday ~ Blessed are the Flexible

          Change is in the air in the Luken household!  On February 29th, I left my job of twelve and half year with the family business to strike out on my own and devote myself full time to Strong Tower, LLC.  I will be teaching my Coupon Workshops and Meal Planning classes at churches and businesses in the Greater Cincinnati area, doing financial coaching, and writing more e-books!  It’s very exciting for me to be able to do what I love – helping people save money and get out of debt – as my career.

            Even though this is a great change, our normal routine is going to be thrown out of whack.  My husband, Nick, works second shift.  I would typically cook dinner at night for myself and pack the leftovers as his lunch the next day.  Since I will be working from home, will we have our dinner for lunch, before he leaves for work?  I’m not sure, but we’ll figure it out!

            Changes such as an adult child leaving for college, a baby being born, a spouse changing work shifts, or the kids being out of school for the summer can disrupt your usual schedule and wreak havoc on your Meal Planning activities.  But they don’t have to.  One of my favorite saying is, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape!”  The best thing to do when dealing with a change like this is to sit down and figure out the best way to alter your meal planning to accommodate it.

            If you’ve got a baby on the way, you’ll probably want to do some freezer cooking in advance, so that when your bundle of joy arrives, you can spend the first several weeks bonding instead of worrying about what’s for dinner.  If a child leaves home for college, you may need to adjust your recipes so you’re not cooking as much food, or just freeze the leftovers so nothing is going to waste.  If you’re in grad school, maybe you enlist your spouse or high school son or daughter to cook and meal plan.  I did this for my mom when she was getting her Master’s Degree in Social Work and I was a sophomore in college.  It was a one-year accelerated program.  Needless to say Mom was busy and stressed!  We refer to that as the year of role reversal – I was the “mom” and she was the “daughter.”  But that was the year that I really developed a love of cooking, shopping, and planning out meals.

            So, I encourage you to remain flexible and be creative when change comes your way!  The beauty of meal planning, practical stockpiling, and freezer cooking is that you will be prepared with plenty of options when faced with changes to your dinnertime schedule.  Here’s what my meal plan looks like this week.  

 

Monday ~ Bean & Sausage Stew.  This hearty stew is quick and easy to make.  Leftovers freeze very well.  Serve with some crusty bread.

Tuesday ~ FFY, Fend For Yourself!  I have a hair and nail appointment this evening. 

Wednesday ~ Turkey and gravy with mashed potatoes.  

Thursday ~ Chicken Tacos.  I use ground chicken instead of beef.  Low fat and very tasty!

Friday ~ Greek Chicken Salad.

Saturday ~ Turkey Sausage and Perogies.  Mrs. T’s Perogies were on sale recently at Meijer, so I stocked up!  I fry them in a little butter with some onions. 

Sunday ~ Family Dinner.  We are having Nick’s family over for dinner.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to make a double-batch of spaghetti and meat sauce or beef stew.  I have everything on hand to make either, so I may not even decide until that day!

 

Bean & Sausage Stew (Modified from Real Simple magazine)

1 Tbs Olive Oil

12-oz turkey smoked sausage, sliced ¼ inch thick

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 19-oz can of white kidney beans, drained

1 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained

1 14.5-oz can of chicken broth

4 cups of fresh spinach (or 1 cup cooked spinach)

¼ tsp. each of salt and black pepper

 

            Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium low heat.  Add the sausage and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 3 minutes.  Turn the sausage to brown the other side and add the garlic, cooking about 2 minutes.    Add the beans, broth, and undrained tomatoes.  Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer.  Add the spinach to the pan and cook until wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.