Meal planning this week was mostly about eating leftovers and using fresh produce that needed to be eaten. We did our last major grocery run on 1/02/22 so after a couple of weeks some of our produce was looking like it would go bad. I am also remembering why I am not so good at meal planning. We are very last minute with our meals most days and never know how much of something will get eaten the first night. Our kids tend to eat a lot some weeks and then not very much the next and it is hit or miss whether or not our particular eater will try something we make. All of this makes it hard to plan out meals but we are working on it and hopefully with practice we will get better at it.
We cooked way too much food the first couple of weeks of January so there were tons of leftovers to use up this week including this broccoli cheese casserole from last weekend. Although this casserole was very tasty, my daughter preferred other leftovers and didn’t eat much of it. It was also super not good for you with tons of cheese and butter so we probably won’t be making it again anytime soon. We are trying to eat healthier and unfortunately gluten-free noodles don’t freeze very well so we had to eat it all this week. This did however use up some of the ham and broccoli that which was great.
Can you see a theme here? I ate a lot of eggs and pears for breakfast last week. The pears were part of the produce that needed to be eaten before it went bad and I am trying to keep up with my protein in the morning. Eggs are one of the quickest ways to get protein in first thing in the morning. Over easy eggs are my favorite but sometimes I like to eat scrambled eggs with a little bit of mozzarella mixed in. One of the things I have been trying to do is eat something fermented or pickled at a meal or two a day. This week it has been pickles and Spanish queen olives. Usually I would have had kimchi as well but we are out and it takes a while to make more. The baby bell cheeses also need to be eaten up since the kids lost interest in those after eating about 2/3 of them. Why am I not surprised?
So I must confess on Friday I broke down and went to the Franz Bread Outlet near me and went a little bit overboard on bread. I went on the way home from picking up lunch kits from our local school. In case anyone didn’t know, The FDA has approved free lunches and breakfasts for all kids age 1-18 in the U.S so if you are experiencing food insecurity and do not know about this program I would encourage you to look up the different school districts in your area and see how they are providing them. We go to a neighboring district because the pickup times work better for us. Some schools will only provide a days worth of meals and others will provide meals for 5-7 days at a time. We only get them occasionally when the kids are home since the kits include lunches that kids can make themselves which is super helpful for those weeks when the kids are home and the adults are working. The variety they provide has also helped our particular eater find new thing they like so I love that as well. Please see the below links for more information:
I stopped at Franz because I wasn’t feeling so hot and I realized I didn’t have any gluten-free bread that I could toast. Have you ever been to a bread factory just before lunch when they have super fresh bread 4/$5.00 with a free loaf for every $10 you spend? I did and I went a little bit overboard. I was just going to get gluten-free bread for me and bagels for the kids but they had so much fresh bread I went a little crazy. Keep in mind that I can’t eat any of it since I am gluten-free. All of it was $1.25 each. Such a steal! I got a variety of bread, rolls, English muffins, bagels and one single pack of donuts for the kids. 8 items of gluten filled joy for $10 and then a loaf of gluten-free bread and a pack of gluten-free bagels for me for another $11.00 plus the lady gave us three free items off of the free rack and a pack of animal cookies for my daughter. It was a crazy amount of bread for only $22! I put most of it into the freezer, gave some to my oldest daughter and we opened up the bagels to make pizza bagels for lunch. We won’t need to buy bread for a very long time!
I was feeling very run down last week with lots of work stress and just general stress from everything going on in the world right now. One of my go-to comfort meals is some gluten-free ramen with leftover vegetables, fresh tomatoes and seaweed. This week I ate some steamed broccoli, tomatoes, grated carrot, seaweed and I added an egg while the noodles were cooking. Usually I add some kimchi to this as well but we need to make more. I love the saltiness of the ramen in the middle of the day. I have a hard time getting enough salt but lately I have been working on it and I have found that a salty lunch really works well for this. This is a pretty big bowl of soup to and it keeps me full until dinner time which helps with the afternoon snack cravings.
On Saturday we were invited over to my mother-in-laws for lunch and she made us so much yummy food! My favorite was this tofu soup which was super simple but flavorful. She sent some home with us so we also had it for dinner as well. We are super spoiled because she sends us food all the time (even during the pandemic she would randomly drop it off) and all of it is delicious. My kids love her homemade Pho best of all. They eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every time she cooks it! We had some hesitations about going over there since Omicron is spreading fast but she lives alone and everyone is vaccinated so we decided to go. Our kids are tested for Covid at least once a week and they have been negative the whole time. My husband and I have been mostly isolating with the occasional quick trip to the store so our risk was low. It was kind of strange because the kids had a blast just getting out of the house and playing with different toys for once. They are old enough now that we were able to let them play in the front yard while the grownups talked in the kitchen too which is so amazing.
The pantry cleanout item I am the most proud of this week was the gluten-free crumb cake I made on Friday. I have pulled this box out of the pantry many times over the past four months or so and then put it back so it wasn’t cluttering the counter. I have no idea why I never made it but now that I have I can say it was pretty good! Next time I will swirl the crumb topping in more but otherwise we loved eating it. I am pretty proud that I finally used up an item I had been trying to use up for months. Phew.
Another item we needed to eat up was some fruit I bought for fruit leather and the grapes my daughter insisted she would eat. Newsflash, she did not eat them all as we had hoped. On Saturday I cooked up the pears, blackberries and a couple of apples on the stove until they were tender. I blended them up and put them in the dehydrator with some washed grapes and now we have fruit leather! My son loves fruit leather and this is an easy way to make it without all of the plastic packaging. I am going to get a recipe up on the blog for fruit leather soon! The grapes are still drying as I write this since they take a lot longer to dry but hopefully the kids will eat them. I know better than to buy grapes at Costco since we never eat them but I was hopeful as always…
I should probably give an update on the items I used up this week from my goal last week. For one, the dish soap ended up not cleaning anything to save it’s life so we ended up throwing it out. I am sure it was too old to work any more. We ate up the craisins, ate and made fruit leather out of the pears, made the crumb cake, ate some peanuts, and some of the One bars so overall I would say we did a great job. My focus was on fresh produce and leftovers for the second week of January so overall we did pretty well.
Goal items used up this week:
- Fresh produce: pears, blackberries, broccoli (one meal left), rainbow carrots (we ate tons of these)
- Snack items: lentil crackers, veggie straws, peanuts – regular, One bars, fruit cups
- Meal type items: None
- Dried Fruit: dried cranberries
- Junk: Crumb cake mix, Halloween candy my son eats a piece or two for dessert every night
- Fridge/freezer items: fancy chocolate – still lots left, spinach bites, ham, cheesy broccoli bake, tomato sauce
I filled in our meal plan for the rest of the week last night. I have not started on this week’s since I was cleaning this morning instead of cooking. I need to look through the pantry and fridge and see where we are at for the week which I probably won’t get to until tomorrow honestly. My husband is making some sausage tonight or maybe tomorrow so that will also affect what we eat for the first part of the week. I may do a mid-week post on how things are going but I have a feeling this will be another weird week. Things I know we need to eat up are listed below.
Items to use up January week 3:
- Fresh produce: cabbage, broccoli (one meal left), rainbow carrots, potatoes, tomatoes
- Snack items: peanuts – regular, One bars, fruit cups
- Meal type items: oatmeal (not gf), pancake mix
- Dried Fruit: strawberries, raspberries, apple chips
- Junk: Halloween candy – still
- Fridge/freezer items: fancy chocolate, sausage, steak, Pho, mashed potatoes, Baked Alaska, cookie dough
Looking at this list I realized we have cookie dough in the freezer along with most of a Baked Alaska that I don’t remember when we started. We should probably eat that this week. The cookie dough will probably be fine for next week but the Baked Alaska really needs to be eaten. I know I have soup in the freezer that we should work through but one of the issues I am having is that other people are not as on board with eating up older items as I am and I end up eating it for every meal. Does anyone else have that issue? As soon as I make room something else fills it’s spot. I am hoping that by focusing on planning out our meals this month we will get better at using things up though!
How is your meal planning going this month?
Recipe links from the blog: