Monday Meal Plan #34

Happy Monday!! I hope you had a fantastic weekend, and all the mothers had a lovely Mother’s Day!

Weekend Recap

Saturday was a cold and rainy day here. I accompanied my daughter to a friend’s roller-skating birthday party, then made a quick Target run later in the day.

Yesterday, my husband picked up breakfast sandwiches for us, and I opened presents over coffee. I got a gift certificate for a massage and a facial at a local spa, plus some cool flower bulbs that I may have mentioned wanting… My husband gave me the same massage/facial package two years ago, and it was absolute bliss. In fact, it was so relaxing that I fell asleep during the facial, and woke myself up with a snort! #mortifying

We also went to the library for a llama program, walked around Saratoga, and – most gloriously¬†– I wasn’t responsible for preparing a single meal all day!

The Week Ahead

My daughter and I have a pretty standard week coming up. Her school’s art show is Tuesday evening, and she has gymnastics class Thursday evening. My poor husband is traveling a good bit for work this week – Monticello, Syracuse, and Fulton are the highlights – so he’ll probably be home late most evenings.

Spring has finally remembered that it started almost two months ago, and we’re expecting lots of sun and highs in the seventies and eighties most of the week. I’m going to take advantage and plan to get outside as much as possible. I have to start conditioning my bales for my straw bale garden, do a little more work in a flower bed, and try to get ahead of the weeds. I’ll also be walking and/or running every day, since last week’s cold and rainy weather kept me inside a lot.

This Week’s Meal Plan

I’ve felt a little lazy for having our meals planned for me by Blue Apron and Hello Fresh – or cooked and delivered for me by 9 Miles East! – these past few weeks, so I decided to kick it old school and plan, shop for, and cook all of our meals this week. ūüôā Here’s what’s for dinner at my house:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #33

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Weekend Recap

It was an unseasonably cold weekend here in upstate New York, and this trend looks like it’s going to continue for the next week or so. I would’ve gladly traded the random seventy-degree days in February, for consistent, seasonable temperatures now!

Despite the chilly temps, I went for my third run slow jog on Friday. While it may not be pretty, I’m confident I’ll be able to survive my first 5K, coming up next month.

On Saturday, we ran a few errands, including picking up my car from the mechanic. I’m very happy to report that the air-conditioning is finally working. I’m less happy to report how much it cost to get it back in working order…

Saturday night, our daughter had a sleepover at a friend’s house. My husband and I decided to take advantage of the night alone, and went out to dinner. We ate at a fish restaurant,¬†then went for a short walk. Since we had shared the chocolate globe dessert, we needed all the extra steps we could get!

Sunday was particularly chilly, so after picking my daughter up from her sleepover, I spend most of the rest of the day reading the paper and my current book, in sweats.

The Week Ahead

It’s going to be another quiet week for my family. My daughter has a Brownies meeting after school today, and gymnastics Thursday evening. She also has a friend’s birthday party on Saturday, for which I have to pick up a gift this week. (Speaking of which, I’ve officially transitioned from buying birthday presents for children, to gift cards. It’s easier than trying to figure out what they (a) want, and (b) don’t already have. Do you¬†do this too, or do you think it’s too impersonal?)

Since I continue to enjoy the¬†meal deliveries from 9 Miles East, I decided to get another one this week. I opt for the Meal Plan Plus, which includes a four-serving entr√©e, a soup, several salads, and two servings of grilled veggies with quinoa. The food lasts us all week, making it money well-spent in my book! **If you live in the Capital Region or the Boston-area and are interested in trying the 9 Miles East home meal delivery service, contact Adam (Adam@9mileseast.com), let him know that Amy from My Upstate Life sent you, and you’ll save $10 on your first order.**

I’m also trying a different meal kit delivery service this week, Hello Fresh. I’ve had success using Blue Apron in the past, but unfortunately it doesn’t eliminate the need for me to prep the ingredients and cook them. (Yes, I hate cooking that much!) My sister has tried both Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, and she found the latter to be simpler and to require less prep. I decided to give it a try using her referral code, which saved my $40 on my first order. As a result, I’m getting three, two-serving dinners for only $19.95. If you’d like to try Hello Fresh for a similar deal, just use this link.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

This post contains affiliate links, which helps support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #32

Happy Monday, and happy May!! I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Weekend Recap

It’s that time of year again – I’m on summer break from my job. As it does every year at this time, the student traffic in our office has dropped way off, so Thursday was my last day of work until September.

On Friday, I went for my first run slow jog in about three years, since – in keeping with one of my goals for 2017 – I’m running three 5K races this summer and fall. It wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I also finished reading The Lowland, which I enjoyed a great deal.

Friday night, we attended my daughter’s play at school. It was done with the Missoula Children’s Theater, which sends two directors to the school, along with all of the materials needed for the show – scripts, costume, scenery, and more. The kids rehearse every day after school for a week, then put on two weekend performances of the show. It’s a very impressive undertaking! My inlaws came up from New Jersey for Saturday’s show, and spent the rest of the afternoon with us.

Yesterday was freezing here! My daughter and I joined several other girls from her Brownie troop at a tour of an equine therapy farm in our area. The other moms and I spent three, chilly hours outside, while the girls toured the farm, did crafts and a trust-building exercise, and planted seeds. I also fell in love with this absurd-looking creature:

The Week Ahead

We have a pretty quiet week this week. My daughter starts a new gymnastics class on Thursday evenings. It’s not ideal timing, since the class runs from 7:00 to 8:00, and she usually goes to bed at 8:30 on school nights. She’s very excited about it, though, and since the end of the school year is in sight, I decided to give it a shot.

Because I enjoyed my first meal delivery from 9 Miles East, I decided to get another one this week. I opt for the Meal Plan Plus, which includes a four-serving entr√©e, a soup, several salads, and two servings of grilled veggies with quinoa. The last time I ordered it, the food lasted us all week, making it money well-spent in my book!¬†If you live in the Capital Region or the Boston-area and are interested in trying the 9 Miles East home meal delivery service, contact Adam (Adam@9mileseast.com), let him know that Amy from My Upstate Life sent you, and you’ll save $10 on your first order.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at our house this week:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #31

Happy Monday!! I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

Weekend Recap

We had a pretty low-key weekend at home, with mostly nice weather. On Saturday, my husband spent a lot of time working outside on projects – re-seeding the back grass and building a fire pit were his big ones for this weekend. I spent a little time working on my own gardening projects, did a few indoor chores, and ran a couple of quick errands.

The fire pit my husband built

Yesterday, my daughter and I spent some time at a playground with friends. The weather was beautiful, and she and I both had a great time catching up with good friends.

The Week Ahead

This week, it’s back to school for my daughter, and back to work¬†– Tuesday and Thursday – for me. It’s going to be a long week for my daughter, because she’s participating in her school’s Missoula Children’s Theater production. Essentially, this traveling theater company spends a week at the school, and the kids who participate practice the show after school every day, then put on performances on Friday evening and Saturday. My in-laws are coming up for the day on Saturday, to attend the play.

My other commitments this week include: having our septic tank pumped, getting my hair cut, grocery shopping, dropping outgrown clothes off at the children’s consignment store, and a visit from the exterminator to check the status of our mouse bait stations. A week full of non-stop excitement, huh?

In keeping with one of my goals for 2017 – find a way to hate meal planning and cooking less – I’m trying a local meals to-go place. A couple of days a week, they offer specials on family dinners. This week we’re trying the ziti with meatballs and sausage, plus salad and bread.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

  • Monday: Shrimp stir fry w/ peanut sauce and jasmine rice
  • Tuesday: Leftovers
  • Wednesday:¬†“Mama’s Ziti To Go” from Augie’s To Go
  • Thursday:¬†Leftovers
  • Friday:¬†Picking up pizza before my daughter’s play
  • Saturday:¬†Post-play dinner out with my in-laws
  • Sunday:¬†Risotto (from Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking) w/ peas and asparagus

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #30

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic weekend, and a lovely Easter, if you celebrate.

The Weekend Recap

Our family’s weekend basically started on Friday, since my daughter was off from school, and my husband’s office closed early. My daughter took a spring cupcake decorating class that afternoon, then we met my husband at the mechanic to drop off my car for some work (oil change, replace snow tires with all-seasons, inspection, and check why the A/C isn’t blowing cold air). We picked up Indian food for dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant, on the way home.

On Saturday, my daughter had gymnastics in the morning, followed by an egg hunt, and then a cookie decorating class (at the same place as the cupcake class). Afterwards, we returned to the mechanic to pick up my car. The good news: it passed inspection,the oil change was completed, and they think they know what’s wrong with the A/C. The bad news: the edges of the all-season tires were so worn they wouldn’t pass inspection, and the A/C fix can’t be completed for a least a week. The new summer tires will go on then, too.

We went out to brunch on Sunday, checked out some Easter festivities, then chilled out at home. I went for a nice, long walk, while my husband did some yard work. Rain (briefly) moved in late in the afternoon, so we watched the movie Sing, which the Easter Bunny brought our daughter.

The weather was great all weekend, and it was so wonderful to be outside again – walking, relaxing, and gardening. I LOVE this time of year!!

The Week Ahead

It’s school spring break week here, so my daughter and I are both home all week. We have a few things planned, including a playdate, pedicures, a program at the library, a cooking class with her Brownie troop, and an afternoon at the office with my husband (for her). I’ll add a playground trip or two, when we have some extra time to fill.

In keeping with one of my goals for 2017 – find a way to hate meal planning and cooking less – I’m trying a local meal delivery service** this week. We’ll be getting an entr√©e that should be enough for two dinners for my husband and me, plus a couple of salads and a soup. I’m very excited about this!!

This Week’s Meal Plan

  • Monday:¬†“Chicken” tagine, (I requested the vegetarian version, since I strongly dislike poultry), and kale Cesar salad from Nine Miles East**
  • Tuesday: Leftovers
  • Wednesday: Spicy peanut noodles from Simple Vegetarian Pleasures (This didn’t happen last week.)
  • Thursday (evening swim lesson): Leftovers
  • Friday: Sheet pan steak and veggies
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Grilled fish with roasted asparagus (Pending the grill getting cleaned in time…)

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

**The lovely people at Nine Miles East meal delivery service are offering My Upstate Life readers $10 off their first delivery (new customers in the Albany and metro Boston areas, only)! Just contact Adam (Adam@9mileseast.com), and tell him Amy from My Upstate Life sent you!**

Frugal Real Food Meal Plans

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #29

Happy Monday-ish, okay, Tuesday night! I hope you had a fantastic weekend – or at least you did something better than I did…

Weekend Recap

I had my first colonoscopy on Monday. If you’re unfamiliar with the procedure, there’s a lot of “prep” involved. Essentially, you consume only clear liquids the day before, then empty your digestive tract with the help of over-the-counter medications. My procedure was scheduled at 7:30am on Monday, and I had to arrive an hour early. Because you’re sedated (thankfully!) you need someone to drive you home afterwards.

Since my husband was with me at the hospital, my parents came up to stay with our daughter and get her on the school bus Monday morning. They arrived Saturday afternoon, and had lunch with us at our house. We then spent some time walking around at a local park. For my last supper, we ordered take-out from one of my favorite local restaurants, and I got my clear liquids ready to go for Sunday.

The weather was gorgeous on Sunday, so we took our daughter to the farmers’ market for an egg hunt, then my husband took her to a playdate at a park. I headed home and went for a walk, then started my prep. The rest of Sunday I was locked in my bedroom by myself, where I caught up on a lot of reading. (I finished this book, which I really enjoyed.)

The Week Ahead

Between getting up at the crack of dawn, my procedure, then waiting for the sedation to wear off, I was pretty out-of-commission on Monday. I work Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and my daughter has a swimming lesson Thursday evening. Her spring break week starts on Friday, and we’re spending the Easter weekend at home. We’ll be going out for Easter brunch on Sunday, at a place we’ve gone several years in the past.

A chilly Easter two years ago

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

Beekman 1802

This post contains affiliate links, which helps support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #28

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic weekend!

Weekend Recap

Late last week, my daughter got hit with a stomach bug. Although being sick is never fun, we got off pretty easy this cold-and-sickness season. In past years, she’s had a cold every few weeks, October through March. This year, she had only one or two colds early in the season, and this has been our family’s only stomach bug of the year. I haven’t been sick at all, and my husband had only one, horrendous cold. (I’m knocking furiously on wood as I type this!)

Fortunately our daughter was back to normal on Saturday, and she was able to attend a friend’s birthday party that afternoon. My husband and I took the opportunity to go out for lunch and walk around downtown Saratoga. At lunch, I had a delicious burger, and because my no added sugar month was over, I was able to enjoy it with a bun! (You can read what I learned and experienced during my month without pleasure sugar,¬†here.) While downtown, we spent a little time in Saratoga’s fantastic, independent bookstore, where I picked up the book I’m now reading, The Lowland. That evening, I binge-watched season two of The Fabulous Beekman Boys.

The weather was sunny and warm-ish yesterday, so I went for a walk, and spent some time looking for signs of spring in our yard. While blooms are still a ways away, some bulbs are definitely sprouting! I also had some straw bales delivered for this year’s straw bale garden. I planned to only plant eight bales this year, but the farmer from whom I purchased the bales only sells them in groups of 15. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll plant veggies and herbs in all of them. If not, the extras will be used for mulch and compost.

The Week Ahead

This week, I’m working two days per week at my regular job, and potentially a third day at another job. (I was recently contacted by someone I know in the career center at a different liberal arts college in my area, and asked about filling in for someone who has gone on maternity leave. That position may or may not start this week.)

My daughter has swimming lessons Thursday evening, and my parents are arriving for a visit on Saturday. The purpose of their visit is to get my daughter on the school bus Monday morning, since I have my dreaded colonoscopy early that morning, and my husband will be accompanying me to that torture event. As a result, I’ll be fasting and “prepping” on Sunday. (I think I’d rather give up sugar again, quite frankly.)

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

  • Monday: Turkey meatloaf from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (didn’t happen last week) and stuffing
  • Tuesday: Leftovers
  • Wednesday: Pasta with tomatoes, spinach, and cheese
  • Thursday: Leftovers
  • Friday: Curried rice with shrimp from Real Simple Easy Delicious Meals and roasted veggies
  • Saturday: Takeout or dinner out with my parents
  • Sunday: Everyone else is on their own, since I’ll be “prepping”

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #27

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend!!

Weekend Recap

I had a lazy weekend (mostly) at home. On Saturday, my daughter had a two-hour shift of selling Girl Scout cookies at a local Stewart’s shop. Unfortunately, temperatures were in the low thirties, and it alternated between snow and rain. Such dedicated girls! I stayed for a half hour at the beginning of her shift, but left when she informed me that it was time for me to go.

After my husband and I picked her up, we headed to the mechanic to pick up his car, which was in for new brakes, spark plug replacement, snow tire removal, and inspection. (Cha-ching!) On our way home, my daughter and I delivered a few orders of GS cookies to our neighbors.

Yesterday, my daughter had a GS party at our town hall, and she and I delivered the remainder of our cookie orders on the way home from that. I also did some reading, a few chores, and a lot of relaxing.

The Week Ahead

It’s the start of the spring term at the college where I work, so I’m heading back to work this week. Unlike at the college where I worked in NYC, student traffic in our office drops of dramatically this term. As a result, I’m scheduled to work only two days per week through the end of April, and possibly a few weeks into May. Most weeks – including this one – I’ll be working Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

My daughter is starting about a month of Thursday evening swimming lessons this week. Since we’ll be getting home at dinner time, I’ll be planning either slow cooker or leftovers dinners those nights.

And I’m particularly excited about next Saturday, since my no added sugar month will be over! I’m counting down the days to when I can start enjoying eating again…

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Blue Apron Review

One of my goals for 2017 is to find a way to make meal planning/cooking dinner less distasteful. I view both meal planning and cooking as necessary evils, and I almost always dread doing both of them. With my goal to at least partially overcome this in mind, I decided to give Blue Apron a try.

What is Blue Apron?

Blue Apron is an ingredient and recipe delivery service. Users select meals for their weekly delivery, and all necessary ingredients – plus illustrated, step-by-step directions – are shipped to them. (Shipping is free.) Although they still have to cook their meals, users don’t have to search for recipes or shop for the ingredients.

Blue Apron users choose either the 2-Person Plan or the Family Plan. The 2-Person Plan includes three, two-serving recipes per week, at a cost of $9.99 per serving. Family Plan users can choose to receive either two or four, four-serving recipes per week, at a cost of $8.74 per serving.

Even though my daughter rarely eats what my husband and I eat for dinner, I opted for the two-recipe Family Plan. Because I dislike cooking so much, leftovers nights are very important to me. Opting for four-serving recipes seemed like a good way to ensure that we had leftovers of each recipe.

Our Blue Apron Meals

I tried Blue Apron for three weeks, and these are the meals I chose to receive during that time period:

  • Cod and Tomato Stew with Garlic Croutons
  • Sicilian-Style Bucatini With Cesar-Style Salad
  • Shrimp Etouffee with Tomatoes and Arborio Rice (A very close second favorite meal)
  • Creamy Beef Ragu & Elicoidali Pasta (My least favorite meal)
  • Pork Chops & Miso Butter with Bok Choy & Marinated Apples (Both my and my husband’s favorite meal)
  • Salmon Piccata with Orzo & Broccoli (The salmon didn’t happen, but the orzo and broccoli were delicious)

What I Love About Blue Apron

  1. Minimizes my meal planning. Rather than having to rack my brain to come up with our weekly dinners, I simply log into my Blue Apron account, and choose from the recipe options available for each week.
  2. Fancy-ish meals. I like to keep my recipes nice and simple, to minimize the amount of time I have to spend cooking them. The Blue Apron meals are more “restaurant-style” than what I would usually make.
  3. The meals are delicious. I would describe all of the meals I received as good to very good. In fact, there was only one that I probably wouldn’t order or make again.
  4. Grocery shopping is done for me. All of the ingredients needed for each recipe are shipped directly to my doorstep each week.
  5. The recipes cards. The recipe cards are illustrated, and include clearly written, step-by-step instructions. I especially like that the ingredients are bolded within the instructions, making them easy to locate in context.
  6. Clear labeling. The ingredientpackaging is clearly labeled, and I never had to wonder what something was.
  7. Great customer service. I had a problem with the quality of the primary ingredient (salmon) in one of my meals. I sent an email about it to Blue Apron customer service and received a full credit for that meal the following day.

What I Don’t Love About Blue Apron

  1. Lack of recycling information in box. Each shipment contains a lot of packaging: every ingredient comes in a plastic bag or container, there are several plastic ice packs, and a foil¬†liner contains everything. There’s no recycling information in the box, but it’s available online – with a little scrolling. Everything is recyclable, but not necessarily accepted by customers’ recycling providers. (For example, mine does not accept plastic bags.) Fortunately, users can request a USPS shipping label from Blue Apron to return all of the packaging to them for recycling.
  2. The fish arrives partially frozen. In all of my shipments, the fish was partially frozen when I removed it from the package. On my work days, I start cooking dinner soon after I get home, and I had to build in some time to thaw the fish before cooking it. Of course, I prefer that the fish arrive partially frozen, than warm.
  3. Cost. Is this the cheapest way to cook dinner? No. Users pay for the convenience of not having to plan and shop for their meals. I’m sure that some of the meals I make myself cost less than $8.74 per serving, but that’s probably not the case when they feature fish and/or better cuts of meat. So while I could make dinner more cheaply, Blue Apron is not particularly expensive.

Overall, I’ve been very happy with Blue Apron. Yes, I would prefer that each box contained a little genie to do the cooking for me, but short of that, it’s a great solution. Want to give it a try? Click below to save $30 on your first offer.

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #26

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic weekend!

Weekend Recap

Saturday morning, we all went to my daughter’s gymnastics class at the Y. Immediately after it ended, we got on the road to visit our good friends who live a couple of hours away from us. All four of us were in grad school in NYC at the same time during the late 1990s (gulp), and we’ve been friends ever since then. (Technically, the two husbands have been friends since they met in middle school in the 1980s…) We had lunch and dinner at their house, and spent hours talking about politics, parenting, money, and lots of other light topics, then drove home after dark. (A huge thanks to my husband who stayed awake behind the wheel, while my daughter and I dozed for much of the ride!)

Sunday was a lazy day at home for me. I read the paper, did some random chores and paperwork, played Connect Four with my daughter, and quite possibly set a new personal low for fewest steps ever recorded in a day by my FitBit.

The Week Ahead

It’s spring break week at the college where I work, so I’m off again this week. We don’t have any major commitments this week, other than a swim test for upcoming lessons for my daughter on Thursday evening, and picking my husband up at the mechanic, after he drops his car off for service on Friday evening. It’s a decent drive, so we’ll probably stop for dinner somewhere on the way home. On Saturday, I’ll be accompanying my daughter while she sells Girl Scout cookies at a local Stewart’s shop during the afternoon.

This Week’s Meal Plan

I didn’t like any of the Blue Apron options this week, so I’m on my own for meal planning and grocery shopping. Luckily, I found this cookbook I’d forgotten about, and I’m trying a few recipes.

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

  • Monday: Lasagna with broccoli and three cheeses (from Real Simple Dinner Tonight: Done!)
  • Tuesday: Leftovers
  • Wednesday: Quiche (from the freezer) with frozen veggies
  • Thursday: Leftovers
  • Friday: Dinner out on the way home from the mechanic
  • Saturday: Quinoa with mushrooms, kale, and sweet potatoes¬†(from Real Simple Dinner Tonight: Done!)
  • Sunday: Salmon with rice and garlic spinach

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!