Meal Planning Monday ~ Frozen Dinners

           

 

           Sometimes there is just no time to cook and having a frozen dinner is a valid alternative to the fast food drive-thru.  This does not mean you are a failure as a mom, wife, or a meal planner!  I just stocked up on some Healthy Choice Steamers at Kroger this week.  They were on sale as a part of their Mega Sale, so after coupons I paid between $1.25 and a $1.50 apiece.  I try not eat packaged frozen meals for lunch or dinner more than a few times a week. 

            Although certain frozen meals sound healthy – “only 300 calories!”  – many have too much sodium and sugar, and not enough protein and fiber.  I was surprised the other day when I discovered that the Kashi Sweet & Sour Chicken entrée I had just finished had 25 grams of sugar!  In contrast, Kashi’s Chicken Florentine only has 1 gram of sugar.  If you didn’t know, a teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams, which means there’s over 6 teaspoons of sugar in the Sweet & Sour entrée!  (Yikes!  That’s a lot of sugar for something that’s not dessert!)

            I always make sure that I check the labels to see that I’m getting no more than 600-700 mgs of sodium (you should get no more than 2,100 mgs per day, and some people with health issues should get less than that.)  I also want to make sure that I’m getting 15 grams or more of protein, which ensures that my energy stays high and I’m not hungry an hour later.  I try to pick varieties made with whole grain pasta or brown rice. 

            However, the best frozen meal is the one you make yourself!  This is why I am such a big advocate of freezer cooking.  This way YOU control how much salt and fat goes into your meals.  Just double or triple your favorite recipes and freeze the leftovers in individual serving sizes.  I was wiped out after my trip to Kroger on Friday, so I was happy to have a container of turkey chili to heat up when I got home.  I made homemade chicken soup on Saturday and have several containers in the freezer for future meals.  I’m curious – what’s your favorite (store-bought or homemade) freezer meal?

Here is my Meal Plan for this week:

Monday ~ Meatloaf.  I’ve been searching for the perfect meatloaf.  This will be the third recipe I’ve tried this month.  I’ll serve it with mac and cheese and cauliflower.  I might make two meatloaves and freeze one.

Tuesday ~ Black Bean Soup.  This is a super-easy soup to make, and the leftovers  can be frozen!  (See recipe below.)  

Wednesday ~ Fend For Yourself Night.  I’ll be teaching a class this night, so I’ll either have a Healthy Choice frozen dinner, or maybe one of my freezer cooking meals.

Thursday ~ Coconut Crusted Tilapia

Friday ~ Dinner out with my friend at my favorite Chinese Restaurant, The Oriental Wok!

Saturday ~ Beef stew in the crock pot.  If there are any leftovers, they’ll get frozen as well.

Sunday ~ Oven Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and green beans.  My sister-in-law, Emily, makes her mashed potatoes with a tablespoon or two of ranch dressing in them.  I tried this the other night and it was fantastic!  (Add the same amount of milk and butter that you usually do.) 

 

 

Easy Black Bean Soup

1 can of black beans, drained

1 can of refried black beans

1 can of chicken broth

1 cup of salsa

Shredded cheddar cheese

Crushed tortilla chips

Chopped cilantro, optional

Low Fat Sour Cream to garnish, optional

 

Heat the salsa in a medium-sized pan over medium.  Bring to a gentle boil and let the salsa simmer for 3 – 4 minutes.  Add the black beans, chicken broth, and refried black beans.  Bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat to low.  Allow soup to simmer for 10 minutes.  Ladle soup into bowls and top with shredded cheese and crushed tortilla chips.  Add chopped cilantro and sour cream if desired.

Meal Planning Monday – Farmer’s Market

 

            This week’s post is by Leah Kelley.

            I love my local farmers market.  Not only am I getting farm-fresh produce but I’m also supporting my local farmers.  With such a wet spring it took a bit longer for the produce to make it to the market, but it’s finally here.  I thought I’d share a few of my favorite recipes that use the veggies and fruits I pick up at the market. 

 

Monday ~ Zucchini Muffins with Streusel Topping

 

Tuesday ~ Cucumbers and Tomatoes with Italian dressing and feta cheese

 

Wednesday ~ Fresh Tomato and Corn Salsa and Guacamole with Homemade Corn Tortillas Chips

 

Thursday ~ Vegetable Bolognese with Eggplant, Peppers, and Zucchini

 

Friday ~ It’s Girls Night Out, so no cooking for me!  The hubby and kids will have leftovers.
Saturday ~ Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, I stuff them with spinach, tomatoes, garlic, and red onions.  Then I top them with Mozzarella cheese.

 
Sunday ~ Family Movie Night.  We make a pizza at home and watch movies we rented from the library. My girls get so excited they get to help make the pizza.  I highly recommend trying it if you have kids.
Thank you to www.GoodCheapEats.com  for the recipe!

 

Vegetable Bolognese (Adapted from Martha Stewart)
6 Tablespoons olive oil

1 eggplant, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound ground beef

14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juices

3 cups tomato sauce

1/4 cup red wine

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

In large stockpot, heat 4 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Add eggplant and cook, stirring, over medium heat for 6 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Add remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil and heat.  Add onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and garlic.  Cook for 7 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add ground beef and cook until cooked through, stirring often.  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, red wine, and oregano.  Add water if too thick.  Adjust seasonings.  Bring to bubble.  Reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.  Serve over pasta.