Meal Planning Monday – No Time to Cook Dinner?

         Everyone seems to be in a hurry these days, with schedules packed to overflowing – business meetings, soccer practice, girl scouts, softball leagues, to name a few.  I know that my schedule is packed for the upcoming week.  I have a 4 PM work meeting on Monday (which I doubt will be over by 5 PM!), a Financial Coaching appointment on Tuesday evening, golf lessons with my Mom on Wednesday, outreach with my church group on Thursday, and a painting class on Saturday.  Whew, I’m tired just thinking about it!
          I know many of you are just as busy, too.  Some people think because they are so busy that they can’t do Meal Planning and end up eating a lot of junk and fast food on the go.  Wrong answer!  Meal Planning is most valuable to the people with the least amount of time!  By investing a small amount of time into Meal Planning, you will save time, money, and energy.  Plus you will have healthy dinner options for you and your family.  
          First, be mindful of your family’s activity schedule when meal planning.  I actually put these activities and appointments on my meal calendar.  This way I will know to schedule easy, quick meals on these busy days, and save more labor-intensive recipes for leisurely days and weekends.
          Second, try some freezer cooking on your leisurely days, so you’ll have a few home-cooked meals in the freezer just waiting to be popped in the microwave or oven.  The easiest way to do freezer cooking is to double a recipe and freeze half of it for later.  This works great with soups, stews, chili, and casseroles.  
          Third, use convenience foods to your advantage.  It used to be that convenience foods were pretty unhealthy, but not anymore!  I frequently use plain frozen vegetables, 90-second whole grain rice, and pre-mixed salads to round out my meals and save on time.  I frequently find coupons for these items which saves me both money and time!  There are also some fairly healthy frozen dinners on the market now (I like Kashi and Lean Cuisine Spa Entrées), which I use on my busiest days, rounded out with a salad or some fruit.
          Finally, it is perfectly fine to eat out and take a break from the kitchen from time to time.  I have several local restaurants that I like to frequent for great food that is reasonably priced and won’t put a dent in my healthy diet.
So, what’s on the Luken Meal Plan for this week? 

Monday ~ Polish Sausage, Mrs. T’s Perogies, and mixed veggies.

Tuesday ~ Financial Coaching Appointment.  I probably won’t get home until after 7 PM, but I will still eat a good dinner, Turkey Slices and Gravy.  I use Louis Rich Carving Board turkey and heat it in a skillet with a jar of turkey gravy and a small can of mushrooms (drained).  I serve it over instant mashed potatoes or Uncle Ben’s 90-Second Whole Grain Brown and Wild Rice, with a side of frozen veggies cooked in the microwave.  This hearty dinner takes less ten minutes to make.

Wednesday ~ I start my golf lessons tonight!  I will have a Lean Cuisine and a salad.

Thursday ~ I have outreach night at my church, so I will stop for dinner at either Panera or J Gumbo’s for a cheap and tasty meal.

Friday ~ Fish Tacos, my new favorite meal!  (See the blog archives for this recipe.) 

Saturday ~ Grilled steak and chicken with boiled potatoes and green beans.

Sunday ~ Beef Stew in the crockpot.  Crockpots aren’t just for the winter!  They are great time savers all year round, plus they won’t heat up the kitchen the way an oven will.

Beef Stew in the Crockpot

1 pound of stew beef cut into bite sized pieces

5 medium sized potatoes, diced

1 cup of sliced carrots

2 ribs of celery chopped

¼ cup of onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ bag each of frozen corn and frozen peas (save the rest in a freezer bag for the next batch of stew).

1 can of beef broth

1 small jar of beef gravy

¼ cup of flour

1 teaspoon of paprika

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of pepper

2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce

1 bay leaf

Place the stew beef in a plastic zipper bag with the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper.  Close and shake the bag to evenly coat the beef.  Pour into the crockpot.  Place all other ingredients on top.  Stir and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.  Use a crockpot liner for easy clean up.


  1. Kimberly Vanlandingham says:

    Yummy recipe for the stew! Hey, love that chair in your new office space at home! It looks so comfy!!