Tag Archives: pork

menu monday: meal planning 101

I’m bringing back Menu Monday and adding a new series of posts with it. A big part of my goal over the next ten weeks is to get a good handle on food, especially coming out of the holidays and some stressful times. I LOVE planning, routine, and process, but I know not everyone else does. I thought if I can share some of what I do to make healthy eating work for me I’ll both keep my self accountable to my goals and help friends and family as well. I frequently get questions about what I eat and how I manage cooking, so here’s the beginning of a look into my meal planning and prepping OCD.

I’m starting with Meal Planning 101. Keep in mind, this is what works for me and I change things up when I find it’s not working. Take what you want from it but make it fit your life.

1. Figure out how your week works. In my family, there are two adults and a puppy who doesn’t eat people food. My husband travels frequently during the week and we often have social plans on the weekend. We both organize our weeks Monday through Sunday, but I’ve learned that doesn’t work for me for menu planning and instead I use Saturday though Friday. I find that I waste less food because I usually know our weekend plans better if I’m planning just a few days before, not the weekend before.

2. Plan early. I try to plan my menu on Wednesday or Thursday. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does it gives me ample time to get shopping done before the menu kicks in. ANY planning is better than no planning, so work with what you have on any given week.

3. Think about the individual week. This is what my menu plan looks like when I start (I recently switched from paper to a GoogleDoc – we’ll see how it goes). I highlight the nights it’s just me eating in blue (this is made up for this example, I’m smart enough not to post that I’ll be home alone on the internet) and the nights we’re going out in yellow. Normally I wouldn’t do the yellow, but since my current goal is to eat dinner out no more than twice a week, it makes it easier. For this week I also added that I want to make brunch on my birthday and try something fun. Include social events or make note when you might need to feed extra people.

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4. Know what you have on hand. I have an inventory of meat in my chest freezer so I know what’s available. I also start with adding the veggies that I have on hand. I add both ones leftover from the previous week and what I know will be delivered in my CSA on Friday morning. Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 5.15.41 PM

5. Be reasonable. As you start to add meals, be reasonable. This is the number one thing that will make you successful or not. I will cook longer, fun meals on the weekend, but if I’m cooking on a weeknight I have a twenty, maybe thirty minute max. If I get home and find I have 45 minutes of prep with another 30 minutes of cook time, I’m totally calling for Indian.

6. Mix it up. Try to add a little variety, without going crazy. I try to make sure I’m using different meats as well as mixing the leftovers throughout the week so I don’t end up eating the same thing for lunch and dinner one day. Also include a mix of new recipes and tried and true ones. I generally plug in my breakfasts first as they are the easiest – something on the weekend then I eat the same meal all week at work. Next I do my big meals on the weekend, then fill in leftovers for lunch and weeknight dinners. Last I include easy meals to fill in any empty lunches or dinners. I delete the veggies as I add them to meals. Ideally I use them all, but if I don’t I leave the heartiest ones (beets, yams, onions) until the next week. Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 5.21.45 PM

7. Set yourself up for prepping. Once I’m done with my plan (I suppose you could do it as you go, I just don’t), I set myself up to be successful. First, I write down the cookbook and page number of every recipe or save a link in my bookmark bar if it’s online. Then I list out what days any items needing to defrost should be moved from the freezer to the fridge (another reason you want to start a few days earlier than your plan starts if you can). Last I make a prep list. I do as much as I possibly can over the weekend.

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8. Make a shopping list and keep it with you. Now that I’ve gotten in the habit of mid-week meal planning, I have a few options for when I can go grocery shopping. As I’m adding each recipe to my list, I add the ingredients I don’t have to the Groceries Reminders list on my computer. This syncs with my phone, so if I find myself with a few extra minutes I can go do my shopping. Typically I do it Friday after work, but sometimes I manage to get it done earlier since I have the list on me.

And that’s how someone who loves to plan creates a weekly menu. I’ll be posting mine again on Mondays, so feel free to just steal it if you’d rather. This might seem overwhelming, but on a week where I don’t have much time to deal with this, it takes maybe 15 minutes. On a week where I have a lot of time, I love to sit with a cup of coffee and browse recipes for as long as I can.

Coming up over the next several Mondays:

  • How I prep food for the week
  • Crockpot meals
  • Easy weeknight meals
  • Meals that freeze well
  • Portable breakfast and lunch ideas

Recipes listed above that are available online (for the rest, get yourself a copy of Well Fed and Well Fed 2):


Paleo Bites – 5/18/2011 & 5/19/2011

I’ve gotten a little behind in my posting. Mostly because I didn’t take very many pictures since I’ve eaten leftovers all week. Yesterday I started the day with a new breakfast meal. It’s hard to see in the picture, but they are pancakes of a sort, with egg, spinach, pork, and coconut flour. I used ground pork from my meat CSA and the Breakfast Seasoning spice from Penzey’s. Oh. My. Gosh. I can’t even tell you how good that seasoning is and how sad I am that there is sugar in it and I can’t knowingly order it again. Back to the pancakes – they were okay, but a little dry. Not sure if I overcooked them or if that is just coconut flour. I’ve never cooked or baked with it before.

For lunch I had pulled pork with a sweet potato that I baked the night before.  A little later, I was still starving so I ate the rest of the pulled pork. For dinner I had leftover pork mixed with broccoli slaw (just shredded broccoli and carrots I buy from TJs) and topped with guacamole and salsa. I also had a cup of chicken broth to keep the germs away. I went for a run (first time in I don’t know how long!) and managed 3.4 miles! After picking the love up from SFO I had one small “pancake” before going to bed.

Breakfast this morning was the same as yesterday, but I am finally back to decaf-only black coffee. Phew. Took a few weeks, but I like it much better this way! For lunch I had some blackened cod that was in the work freezer from last week. I also had 1/2 of a giant sweet potato and two broiled zucchinis. I ate a Larabar in the afternoon out of pure hunger. I really don’t think they taste good at all. I’ve been drinking a ton of water lately and feel really good. I’m much less snacky in the afternoon.

For dinner I created a 10 minute TJs meal. I sliced up and threw a package of spicy jalapeno chicken sausages in a pan, added a can of organic diced tomatoes and threw in half a bag of spinach. It wasn’t the most amazing thing ever, but it worked and there are leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

I have quite a few fun meals planned for the weekend, not to mention a lot of sleep and hopefully a lot of time out in the sun.

Paleo Eats 5/10/2011

20110510-095158.jpgI’ll start with last night’s dinner since that it when I got back on the wagon. I got home from work late but had plenty of weekend leftovers. I dropped my bags, changed in to my trusty yoga pants, and went out for a 30 min walk. Once I got back I reheated Thai basil spiced meat from lunch on Sunday (recipe not worthy of a link) and mashed cauliflower from dinner on Sunday. While they reheated in the toaster over, I sautéed enough kale for dinner and today’s lunch. I’m close to perfecting my kale recipe and will post soon. I also finished the mass amount of dishes left from my Sunday cook-a-thon.


For breakfast this morning I quickly scrambled two eggs with a handful of spinach using a dollop of bacon fat. I added salsa and guacamole to the top and a side of jalapeno sauerkraut. I stopped by a most convenient coffee shop, Java Detour drive-thru, and ordered a medium decaf with cream. Unfortunately that will be my last trip as I found out that they have only half and half, not heavy cream. More motivation to find a grass-fed/raw source of heavy cream and save money with making my coffee at home.

Very unfortunately, there was a fatality on the way to work this morning and my normal 25 or 30 min drive took an hour and 45 minutes. I dug into the snack I had brought for the afternoon – a hard-boiled egg and sliced apple.


For lunch I had leftover pulled pork from Sunday that I made with a 3 lb pork shoulder from my meat CSA. The pork was really easy but needed about 8 hours of unattended cook time. The BBQ sauce was Paleo and had a great tangy flavor. The rest of the leftovers are in the freezer for next week as I’ll be in Seattle this weekend and won’t be cooking. I had the pork with the remaining mashed cauliflower and sautéed kale from previous meals.


The afternoon lulls hit and, combined with an annoyance at work and lack of my afternoon snack, I gave in. I had a diet dr. pepper and two hard-boiled eggs. It’s always after the first bite that I remember how awful the conventional, overcooked eggs I can pick up at work taste. I recognized while drinking my nectar from the gods what exactly I was doing. I was bored, tired, frustrated and this was a fix. At least I stopped it there and didn’t let that trip up become an excuse for whatever I wanted the rest of the day.

Since it’s Tuesday, after a quick 25 minutes walk to clear my head from the day (tired of getting home so late and having to do with short walks and no real workouts), I made the paleo version of Taco Tuesday. I’ve been experimenting with lettuce types since I eat lettuce wraps at least once or twice a week. Butter lettuce has replace romaine for now. I topped my tacos with guacamole and salsa and served kale on the side.

Hopefully once I upgrade to an iPhone 4 at some point the pictures won’t be quite as bad.