Meal Plan Foundation

I said in an earlier post that I would share a little bit about how I plan nutritious meals with a simple foundation. And my weeks can be are crazy. We have five kids, life moves very fast around here.

mealplan

Here’s a weekly plan–notice the base. I rotate through almost the exact same breakfasts and lunches every week, and I have one master list of dinners that frankly, I don’t stray from often. Sound boring? Nah. Refer to the chicken soup post; many meals I make have a counterpart with different flavors or ingredients. This means I can keep my grocery lists each week more or less the same. It’s all about continuity and keeping a base of items in the cupboards, fridge, and freezer. I do change up meats/cheeses/vegetables, or swap a breakfast for another day’s plan to suit our tastes.

Sunday:
Fruit (frozen peaches and blueberries) and yogurt
Tuna salad on whole grain crackers with veggie sticks (carrots/celery/peppers)
Grilled chicken with red potatoes and salad (romaine, corn, bell pepper, cucumber, shredded carrots, grape tomatoes)

Monday:
Fried egg on whole grain English muffin with smashed avocado
Grilled chicken and salad (leftovers!)
Beef stew (carrots, celery, onion, turnips, beef broth, beef, rosemary, thyme, pepper, salt) and salad (more leftover salad)

Tuesday:
Oatmeal with raw flax seeds, raisins, unsweetened shredded coconut, cinnamon, pecans, drizzle of maple syrup, splash of almond milk
Leftovers with fresh veggies
Bean and rice bowls with avo, fresh salsa, monterey jack

Wednesday:
Blueberry scones (or muffins, homemade) + milk + fried egg
PBJ + Veggies (I will eat a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, PBJ is for the littles)
Teriyaki Chicken Bowls over rice with roasted broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, red onion (sauce: 1c light sodium soy sauce, 1 c chicken broth, generous squeeze of honey, ginger, garlic, chicken in crock pot)

Thursday:
Scrambled eggs with cheese and a green veggie, whole grain toast
Tuna sandwich with an apple and fresh veggies
Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese with shredded chicken, roasted broccoli

Friday:
Yogurt, fruit, granola
Leftovers or Turkey sandwiches
Salsa verde enchiladas with shredded chicken, corn tortillas, light cheese, avocado, salsa, beans and rice

Saturday:
Waffles and Fried Eggs
Leftovers
Chicken Soup of some kind with homemade bread

Snacks:
Hummus with veggies (carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery)
Whole grain crackers with goat cheese and a piece of fruit
Handful of pecans (or other nuts) and fruit
Smoothie: One overripe banana (I keep them in the freezer), 1 C unsweetened almond milk, 2TBSP nut butter, dash of cinnamon, small splash vanilla, a scoop of oat flour (BEST. Tastes like dessert!)

And secret? We eat some things that are not entirely healthy, but it’s food that makes my family so very happy. You’ll probably be able to figure those pretty quick. I often skip them (like waffles or french toast) in lieu of the healthier items from other days. And when I do indulge in that mac and cheese, I eat a bowl full of roasted broccoli first to take up some space in my belly.

It has taken me many years to have  a happy, healthy relationship with food. I think it will be a lifelong journey. I’m coming to appreciate it; I know each bite gives me valuable fuel and nutrition for my body. Again, I do not count calories or whatever fancy food/diet trend happens to be about at the moment. That has always harmed my idea of food, and so I stopped. I eat in moderation, I eat as many vegetables and fruits as I can (and only the ones that I like!), I try not to eat too much at once, and I allow myself to eat whatever the heck I want one day a week and enjoy it. These things take time to develop to match your lifestyle and to meet you where you’re at. Don’t overhaul everything at once. But perhaps that’s a post for another day. 🙂

Chicken Soup

Make maintaining your healthy life easy with simple go-to meals you can build on. Chicken soup of just about any kind is one of my favorite comfort foods. Start with a simple soup base:

1/2 chopped yellow or sweet onion
4ish cloves garlic, minced

Sauté these in your soup pot, onion first 4-5mins, then garlic for one minute. Add:

1 32oz container of organic chicken broth (Fred Meyer’s Simple Truth Organic is usually very close to the same price as non-organic!)

A few chicken breasts (yes you can throw them in frozen, you’re welcome)

That’s it. From there I decide what I’m in the mood for. Do I want a Mexican style soup? Season with a teaspoon or two of cumin, one of chili powder, a dash or two of Mexican oregano. Add black beans, corn, fire roasted tomatoes, hatch chiles, top with cilantro. Bam. Dinner in less than an hour. 

How about minestrone? Yes please. Season with rosemary, thyme, oregano, celery seeds, a couple dashes of red chili flakes. Add diced tomatoes, white beans, red potato, celery, carrot, zucchini, chopped kale, go crazy with the vegetables. (Be forewarned, this may be your new favorite.)

Want a simple, hearty soup? Season with turmeric, a few chili flakes, pepper. Add sweet potato, black beans, carrots, corn, and hot chilis if you like it spicy. 

Feeling adventurous? Try it with sweet potatoes, 2/3c natural peanut butter, and sriracha to taste, topping with cilantro and eating it over brown rice. Honestly, the options are nearly endless.

Simmer the chicken and harder vegetables, covered, for 30-45mins in a stock pot or Dutch oven, adding the softer vegetables toward the last 15-20 mins, and shredding the chicken with two forks at the very end. 

What’s your favorite chicken soup recipe?