I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Meal planning and cooking every single week is the worst.
I used to dread dinner every night because I hadn’t planned ahead and didn’t know what we were going to eat until about 30 minutes before, which usually equated to eating out or eating unhealthy meals.
Then, I got my act together. I started forcing myself to meal plan for the week ahead on Sunday afternoons. I plan, place my order on Walmart Grocery, then pick up! I don’t even have to get out of my car (which is even better for those often lazy Sundays).
I shared some other meal planning tips here, but in this post I want to share some super simple and delicious recipes to add to your weekly meal repertoire. Who doesn’t love easy, mostly healthy, delicious recipes? And there is absolutely nothing wrong with re-using the same recipes again and again and again. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
E A S Y R E C I P E S
White Chicken Chili – Thanks to my coworker for sharing this one! We tried it this weekend and it was so delicious and easy. I think the surprise ingredient that took it to the next level was the Cream of Chicken Soup. We topped with jalapenos and shredded cheese.
Southwestern Stuffed Peppers – This is great with black beans and rice, but can also be paleo if you cut those two ingredients and cheese out of the recipe. As you’ll see in the recipe, I used to cut the peppers in half long ways, but now I just cut the top off and stuff it all in. We eat it with lots of delicious salsa and avocado.
Crockpot Chicken Verde – We do this one a LOT because it’s so simple and versatile. Are you ready for the recipe? Put chicken in a crockpot and top with salsa verde. We prefer World Table Roasted Salsa Verde from Walmart. And that’s it! That’s all you do! Put it on low over lunch and it will be ready by dinner. This is great over rice, with veggies or in tacos.
Make-Your-Own Quinoa Bowl – Lately I’ve been on a quinoa kick. Cook your quinoa on the stove or in the rice cooker, then add whatever you want. I literally pull all options out of the refrigerator and Husband and I fix how we like. He tends to go towards mexican-style – beans, chicken, salsa, cheese. I tend towards mediterranean – banana peppers, kalmata olives, tomatoes, arugula and a delicious greek tzaziki dip I found at Walmart. What’s great is this is also perfect to pile into a mason jar and take to work for lunch.
One-Pan Balsamic Chicken – This one is super healthy and pretty much paleo – chicken, asparagus and tomatoes. You could mix the sauce up a little bit if you prefer more sweet or more spicy, but overall very easy (one-pan!) and delicious. We make this every other week.
Greek Pork Chops with Squash and Potatoes – This one is our new favorite! I found it in Southern Living, and every time I make it Husband comments how good it is. Again, one-pan! Sometimes we use potatoes, sometimes we just stick to squash and zucchini.
Pepperoni Rolls – Okay this one is totally unhealthy and we do not make it often, but it is so so good. This would be a great alternative to ordering pizza one night or is perfect as a heavier appetizer for a party. We put jalapenos in ours and serve with warm marinara as dipping sauce.
What is your easy go-to recipe?
I’ve done Whole30 twice now, and it’s worked both times. I lost weight, and felt better in so many ways. But here’s the thing – it’s not practical.
Both times after I stopped Whole30 I went back to my old eating habits. Sure it took a few weeks, but it happened. I made some healthier choices overall, like eating more veggies and drinking more water, but I still ate crap way too often. And I realized, I can’t just keep doing Whole 30 every 3 months and thinking it’s going to stick. What’s that definition about insanity?
So I’m here to share with you the new plan that Husband and I developed and are starting together this week.
We love Whole30 aka Paleo and how it makes us feel. However, we know it’s not practical to eat healthy 100% of the time, yet don’t have enough self control to say “we’ll eat paleo majority of the time” without any specific guidelines.
I remember my friend Samantha telling me (via her friend Jillian Michaels) you should use the 80/20 rule for eating healthy – 80% healthy, 20% not. If there are 21 available meals to eat in a week that means 4 of those can be cheat meals. These are numbers I can work with. That sounds totally doable, right? That means I could eat 1 cheat meal Friday, Saturday and Sunday and still have 1 left over to use during the week. I don’t feel restricted like I can never eat pizza or ice cream again, but I have guardrails in place.
We also set up a few other rules – unhealthy snacks or desserts count as 1/2 a meal; if you don’t use ANY of your cheat meals for the week you get to spend $X (still undecided) on something you want, like new clothes, shoes, etc.
This is in our kitchen, and should be updated accordingly via the honor system. And if I needed any extra inspiration about looking good in a bathing suit, I can see how many days until vacation we have. (yay!)
What do you think? The hope is that this will help us turn healthy eating into a lifestyle instead of just a fad or a diet.
Have any other tips or ideas to share? I’ll keep you updated on how it goes!
Typical New Year’s Resolution: Go on a diet. Lose Weight.
My New Year’s Resolution: Be more conscious of what goes in my body. (And hopefully losing weight will happen more naturally)
I’ve started making small changes in my diet. The biggest one being no more diet cokes every day. I’m not saying no more diet cokes forever, because I think having one every now and then is fine (like with mexican food – yummm) but definitely not one every day. I’ve only had 2 in the last month and I’m feeling just fine. Granted, I am drinking more coffee now because I still haven’t crossed that no caffeine hurdle BUT I’ve started drinking black coffee – no milk, no sugar, just black. Without those coke chemicals like aspartame, I already feel better about what I’m putting in my body – water and coffee.
The food is harder. Figuring out what to eat 3 times a day is hard enough, but then trying to make it healthy?? Ugh. I honestly have no clue what I’m going to do when I have kids. Feeding two is enough.
Lately though I’ve been inspired to eat healthier (and easier) with make-ahead meals.
B R E A K F A S T : E G G, S A U S A G E + P O T A T O B U R R I T O S
I have been vowing for months to make these make-ahead breakfast burritos via momadvice.com. Husband and I are not good at eating a solid breakfast. I typically just grab a Kind bar and maybe some fruit, maaaybe, if I eat anything at all. He sometimes eats yogurt. Then by lunch I’m so hungry I’m ready to eat anything and everything in my path. Not a good start to the day.
I needed something quick to grab, filling and fairly healthy. I’m not an egg eater at all (hard boiled eggs make me want to vomit), but when mixed with a bunch of different flavors (specifically mexican flavors, like huevos rancheros) I like them enough. I know they’re a good source of protein so I found this recipe great for breakfast. We’ve already gone through two rounds of these in just a few weeks. They’ve become our staple breakfast or sometimes lunch, and they are delicious. You can also change them up however you like!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- salt & pepper
- 1 lb Italian Turkey Sausage — if you haven’t tried this, it’s what totally makes the recipe!
- 9 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ½ pound shredded cheese of your choice
- 18 tortillas, soft-taco size (8-inch)
- To roast potatoes, preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Drizzle diced potatoes with oil and season with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Toss the potatoes together to evenly coat in oil and seasonings, and spread out into a single layer on the parchment. Roast until browned on the bottom and tender, about 20-25 minutes.
- Brown your sausage. Once it is cooked through, set aside in a large bowl.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream (or milk substitute) and pour into the sausage skillet. Cook over medium heat until just set, stirring as needed. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine, and transfer to the bowl with sausage.
- Make an assembly line – tortilla, cheese, followed by a small handful of potatoes and a scoop of the egg/sausage mixture. Roll the tortilla up.
- For freezing, place burritos on a wax- or parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer until firm, at least an hour. Transfer to large freezer bags and keep frozen for up to one month.
- For reheating, place a frozen burrito in microwave for 35 seconds on each side.
L U N C H : M A S O N J A R S A L A D S
I had been seeing this trend for a while now and thought it looked amazing, but it wasn’t until a friend posted on Instagram pictures of her salads for the week that I decided I had to try it. It is SO simple and so customizable. There are literally thousands of ideas for different salads on Pinterest. I decided to make mine with no meat, but you could easily add in canned chicken if you wanted.
What’s so great about the salads is that the dressing is in the mason jar. You don’t have to have a separate container for dressing. You just grab the jar and go.
Tips for layering:
Start with the dressing of your choice.
Add the hard veggies that you don’t mine getting soaked, like tomatoes, peppers, carrots.
Add the second layer of veggies or protein, like beans, cucumbers, artichokes, olives.
Add the meat here if you want.
Add the cheese, I like feta or a little gorgonzola.
Add the lettuce, my preference is spring mix.
I keep a bowl and fork at my desk at work, so then all I have to do is pour it out, mix it up a little and it’s a great lunch full of veggies!
What are your favorite make-ahead meals?