Meal Planning Monday ~ Changing Gears

This week’s blog post is by Christine Luken.

Summer is my favorite season and I’ve been in denial about its departure the past few weeks.  But now that the kids are back in school, temperatures are cooling down, and even a few leaves are beginning to change, it’s undeniable that fall is right around the corner.  As sad as I am to see the end of summer days filled with golf, pool time, and picnics, I’m ready for a change.  So it’s time to shift gears into fall (my second favorite season, for the record) with my meal planning.  Here are some of ways I’ll be switching things up.

  • More Baking – I miss baking!!  I love baking cakes, muffins, granola bars and cookies, but during the sweltering Kentucky summers, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven and burden my already overtaxed air conditioner.  When I bake, I usually make double batches and freeze leftovers.  This means that on busy mornings, I can just pull out a couple of chocolate chip zucchini muffins out of the freezer and pop them in the toaster oven or microwave.  My freezer is pretty bare of baked goods right now, so I’m anxious to restock.  When I was on vacation in Michigan, I bought some freshly ground cardamom at a spice shop for my Plum Cardamom Cake.  My co-op had some super ripe organic plums which I pureed and froze last month just for this cake.  (See recipe below.)  And with pumpkin season around the corner… My kitchen is going to smell fantastic!


  • More Soup –  I love homemade soup when the weather starts to cool down.  It’s relatively easy to make and leftovers get frozen in individual portions for weekday lunches.  I stopped buying canned soup last year due to the cost and the salt content.  Once a month, during the fall and winter, I would make a huge pot of soup or chili with the intent of freezing most of it.  Check out my blog post “More Soup for You!” for my favorite soup recipes!

  • More Casseroles and Pasta – I was so excited to add back casseroles and other hearty pasta dishes that require the oven to my September meal plan!  Pizza Casserole, Eggplant Rollitini, Firecracker Casserole, and Turkey Stroganoff will be served at my table in the very near future!  The great thing is that most of these also freeze well (with the exception of the stroganoff due to the sour cream) so I’ll be putting some homemade frozen dinners in my stockpile.  I’ve been collecting recipes on Pinterest to try as the weather cools off.  This Mexican Chicken Casserole is on the top of my list!

So, how do you change gears when it comes to meal planning this time of year?  If you’ve fallen off the meal planning wagon during the summer, now’s the time to jump back on!

Plum Cardamom Cake  (Modified from original recipe in The Cake Mix Doctor Cookbook)

  • 1 package of white cake mix
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of fresh, peeled and pureed plums
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 Tbs. of Domino Light (or ¼ cup of sugar)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside.  Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Blend with an electric mixer for 2 to 3 minutes, until the batter is well combined.  Pour batter into the Bundt pan and smooth with a spatula.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until cake is golden and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes.  Run a long, sharp knife along the edges of the pan and invert the cake on a serving platter.


  1. I wish I was better at meal planning. I do change my cooking based on the seasonal fruits and veggies avaialble.

  2. I have never been a meal planner I usually never have all the items for a recipe that i want to make and I have to make several trips to the store for 1 meal I could not imagine for the whole week.. I wish I could meal plan though…

  3. Alecia says:

    I get excited when the temps drop because it means I can start baking without heating up the house. I am 100% with you on the more soup thing. I love all kinds of soup bust especially super hearty thick filling recipes

  4. My husband and I have been trying to plan our meals out better each week, as well. It’s definitely too easy to get used to eating out over the summer, when life is so busy with vacationing and interrupted schedules. While we don’t have kids, our goal for fall is also to bake more and enjoy more healthy meals at home.

  5. Cyndie says:

    I wish I would plan for meals for a week instead of a day

  6. I love cooking too, but I do not like soups. I really wish I did, but they are just not my thing. I can do French Onion, but everything else is so blah

  7. Ave says:

    I wish I had more time for baking! I have so many great recipes pinned, but not much time. Sadly, here the temperature does not change much. But we get some rainy days once in a while, so I can experiment with different recipes.

  8. Meal planning is definitely getting harder in our house because we are just so busy. I like the idea for more soup though. I can’t wait for colder weather.

  9. Malia says:

    I need to find more casserole recipes, I don’t really know of many. I also want to start meal planning.

  10. I’m a huge fan of the portion and freeze for later way of doing things! I’m definitely trying that cake. It sounds different from anything I’ve tried!

  11. Joanne says:

    We like soup also and have started making our own organic stock. It’s still hot here in Florida though – it won’t start to cool down until after Halloween.

  12. Kristin says:

    mmmmmmmm…mexican chicken casserole!! Looks like I’ll have to make that one! scrumptious!

  13. I don’t think I’ve ever tried cardamom before but this sounds good!

  14. What a great Meal Plan I always Meal Plan as well, takes no time at all but keeps us all in line and makes dinner time much simpler… Your Plum cake sounds amazing and I will give it a try, been wanting plums all week, so that recipe came in perfect timing

  15. These are perfect for this time of year for me. I definitely do a lot more baking and casseroles are on my table often as soon as the weather gets cooler! I really love the soup recipes too! Thank you for sharing!

  16. brett says:

    I’m working on meal planning. I get so excited when cooler weather comes and we can start having soups and stews and casseroles!

  17. Sophie says:

    I am freezing and canning like nuts right now. I always make more soups in the fall too.

  18. Corinne says:

    Fall is my favorite season because of the crisp, clean air and the moderate temperatures. My second reason is because it is my favorite cooking season because of all the reasons you stated. Baking is my favorite cooking method and it’s such a relief to use my old friend again after a summer of grilling.