In July, Taylor made all my dreams come true when he finally agreed to buy a minivan (#thisis30something)! Taylor and I have been driving around our itty bitty sedans (Hyundai Elantra and Mazda3 respectively) since 2006/2007 and also, the most spoiled millennial part of it is that our parents bought us the cars. That’s right, in our 10 years together, we have never had a car payment. A new minivan would certainly change all of that plus the fact that I am determined to maintain this car 100% better than I maintained Eddie the Elantra.
When I stayed at home, I dabbled in meal planning (after some heavy peer pressure from my friends), but once I took on a full-time job, Taylor and I both went back to the way things were i.e. lunches out and separate meals cooked post bedtime. On July 27, 2016, when we signed our lives away to our 2nd biggest monthly payment, I became a determined meal planner.
Every Saturday I sit down with my coffee and Pinterest and start planning the upcoming week’s menu. Every Sunday I grocery shop. Every morning I prep the night’s dinner. And finally, every evening Taylor puts the final touches on my morning prep work and voila, dinner is on the table and lunch in the fridge for the next day (and if we’re lucky, 1 container in the freezer for the future).
A few weeks ago, I invited my friend (a former meal planner peer pressurer) and her family over for a soup night. After a few jabs and laughs about the fact that I, indeed, can use the kitchen for the function of cooking, this new blog segment was born.
I will post the previous week’s menu, my review of the recipe and any alterations I made to the recipe. Most of my meal plans include 4-5 cook days and 2 days of “DO IT YOUR(damn)SELF” because mama needs a day off. Let’s start with the week that inspired this segment:
Monday: Best Ever Meatloaf
Tuesday: Hawaiin BBQ Chicken Wraps
Wednesday: Baked Ziti with Ricotta
Thursday: Chicken Marsala Casserole
Changes/Additions and Reviews
- Skinny Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Nixed the homemade tortilla strips and used the GIANT bag of Mission Tortilla Strips from Costco
- Salt. Salt is your friend. Add it. Add some more.
- Used canned corn
- To the side of my slow cooker, I had a bowl of sour cream, a bowl of cheese and a bowl of rice to be added to the soup.
Survey says: It’s a winner! I may have fattened up the recipe a bit with the addition of rice, but it was a hit!
- Chicken Tortellini Soup
- In place of cutting up onions, carrots and celery myself, I used a frozen Mirepoix mix from Kroger and a frozen bag of carrots.
- Have you ever used frozen spinach? It smells funny. I used a bag of fresh baby spinach instead and sauteed it with the carrots, celery and onions.
- Kroger’s frozen tortellini is a STEAL! A 16oz bag runs around $3 and is just as delicious as the budget buster, Buittoni.
- Did you notice this recipe doesn’t call for chicken? Well I do! I added about 1 cup of chopped up rotisserie chicken (purchased at Costco because nothing beats their price!).
- As the liquid boils down during cooking, I continued to add water so that it would be less stew-y and more soup-y. Those are words, trust me.
Survey says: Oh my damn, it’s delicious! It was warm and filling and fantastic. Make this soup now.
- Best Ever Meatloaf
- I had Orange Marmalade on hand so I used 1/4 cup of that instead of Apricot Preserves. Use what you’ve got folks!
- I added about 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese to my meat mixture.
Survey says: Better than my mama’s! I’ve made this meatloaf a handful of times over the past few years. It’s moist (sorry to the readers that just cringed!) and flavorful. A really easy dish to prep, but unfortunately the cook time is lengthy.
- Hawaiin BBQ Chicken Wraps
- Sauteed the red onions
- I added crushed pineapple and barbecue sauce to my sauteed red onions and let the sauce marry together.
- I’m obsessed with Costco’s uncooked tortilla wraps by Tortilla Land. I wrapped my meat, cheese, lettuce, and sauce combo in these wraps and threw it on the skillet to brown on each side.
Survey says: Good enough. Taylor and the kids were a fan but I was criticizing my pineapple to sauce to cilantro ratio most of the time. I will give it another go with some different additions.
- Baked Ziti with Ricotta
- Salt. Salt with wild abandon my dear readers!
Survey says: I was so excited to have a meatless meal to serve to the family (because hello, it’s cheaper!), but when asked what would you change, Taylor’s response was: I would add ground beef or ground sausage. Duly noted, babe.
- Chicken Marsala Casserole
- I used instant rice instead of long grain and it was just fine.
- Salt. Salt. Salt. Salt.
Survey says: Chicken Marsala-anything holds a special place in our hearts because it was the first meal I ever made Taylor. I was so excited to try out an easier version by one of Taylor’s favorite FoodNetwork folks (like seriously, I think there was a time she was on his Top 5 list). It was a very good dish and super easy to throw together in the morning, but it really needed salt.
I am trying to be better about snapping pictures before hangry hands get ahold dinner so excuse the next few picture-less menu plan posts!
*Please note that I love all these wonderful bloggers/chefs/moms just trying to get dinner on the table who work hard to concoct these recipes and share them with world.