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

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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?

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Monday Meal Plan #25

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic weekend! Did you remember to spring forward? It’s the only night of the year that I’m more than happy to sacrifice an hour of sleep.

Weekend Recap

It was a fairly quiet weekend at home for my family. On Saturday, my daughter attended our area’s Girl Scouts Jamboree. Each year has a theme, and this year it was the countries of the world. Each troop had a country, and at their table they had a craft or activity related to their country. My daughter’s troop had Madagascar, and they did face-painting in the style that’s common there, where it serves to protect the skin from the sun and mosquitos. While not painting faces, they visited other troops’ tables. France, where the troop served samples of chocolate mousse, proved to be particularly popular.

I spent the morning with my daughter at the Jamboree, then met my husband for a lunch date at Cantina. Selecting a meal that had no added sugar was surprisingly difficult, since their tortillas were all tainted with it. (Get the scoop on my no added sugar month here.) I ended up settling on the vegetarian burrito, without the tortilla. And I passed on the delicious pre-meal chips and salsa, which was particularly painful for me, since their chips are some of my favorites.

Yesterday, my daughter had a birthday party at a family activity place in our area. It was a bittersweet party, since the birthday girl is a very close friend, and she’s moving to Hawaii at the end of this week. It’s going to be a sad and difficult week for my girl, as she counts down to the final goodbye to her friend. It’s breaking my heart to see her so sad, especially since there’s nothing I can do to make it easier for her…

The Week Ahead

I’m off from work this week and next week, for finals and spring break weeks. (Read more about my work schedule here.) My daughter has a Brownies meeting after school today, and we’re expecting snow on Tuesday, although the anticipated accumulation amount keeps changing. I suspect my daughter will have a snow day, since the last total I saw called for 8-12 inches during the day, and another 1-3 inches overnight. She already has the day off on Friday, for a planned district professional development day. If her troop’s Girl Scout cookies order is not delayed – it’s scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, along with the snow – I told her we’d go to my office and deliver my coworkers’ cookie orders. She’s never been to my office, and has recently expressed a lot of interest in coming to work with me. This seems like a good compromise.

Next weekend, we’re taking a day trip to visit dear friends from our NYC days. They live a couple of hours away from us, and we only get to see them a few times a year. We don’t have any plans for Sunday, yet, but let’s hope the snow has already started to melt by then!

This Week’s Meal Plan

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

  • Monday: Pasta alio e olio (from Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking)
  • Tuesday: Slow cooker pot roast (This didn’t happen last week.)
  • Wednesday: Salmon piccata with orzo and broccoli (from Blue Apron)
  • Thursday: Leftovers
  • Friday: Pork chops & miso butter with bok choy and marinated apples (from Blue Apron)
  • Saturday: Dinner at our friends’ house
  • Sunday: Sautéed shrimp and veggies with rice

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

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Monday Meal Plan #24

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Weekend Recap

We had a relatively quiet weekend at home. My in-laws came up from New Jersey for a visit on Saturday. They took us out to lunch at PJs, a yummy local BBQ spot, then we retreated to our house for coffee and time together. When the weather is better, we usually walk around Saratoga with them, but since Saturday’s high was 16 degrees, no one wanted to be outside for a moment more than necessary!

We didn’t have any plans for Sunday, but my husband came up with the idea to take our daughter ice skating at Empire State Plaza in Albany. It was pretty chilly on the Plaza, but my husband and daughter got some good skating in. (Since I clutch the wall for dear life and end up stiff the next day as a result, I opted to be a spectator.) After skating, we went to Druthers for a late lunch/early dinner. I love the food at Druthers, and my burger (without a bun this time for my no added sugar month), did not disappointment.

The Week Ahead

This is week ten of the winter trimester at the college where I work. Week ten is the last week of classes, and the student traffic in the career center has slowed to a near-trickle. (Who’s thinking about their resume when finals are looming??) This is also the last week I work, before having two weeks off – finals week and spring break week. I’m working Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week.

This Week’s Meal Plan

What’s for dinner at your house this week??

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Monday Meal Plan #23

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic weekend!

Weekend Recap

We had a really fun weekend! My daughter and I picked my husband up from work a couple of hours early on Friday, and we got right on the road to Massachusetts. Yesterday was my sweet and adorable nephew’s first birthday, and my sister and brother-in-law had his birthday party on Saturday. My parents had already arrived when we got there, so we got to catch up with everyone over dinner on Friday. My daughter and the birthday boy’s big brother get along amazingly, despite a nearly three-year age difference. Whenever we get together, the two of them immediately disappear and immerse themselves in imaginary play, Legos, and other fun stuff.

The “winter one-derland” birthday party was very cute, and I had a very nice time chatting with some of my sister’s friends. There were a handful of “bigger” kids in attendance, and they seemed to enjoy playing together both inside and out.

Yesterday morning we hung out with my family, before getting on the road home. On the way, I finally finished reading, The Case Against Sugar. It took me a long time to get into this book, but I found the last third very compelling – and frightening!

The Week Ahead

After February break last week, it’s back to work and school today. I’m working four days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. This means I won’t be able to get to the grocery store until Friday, so I decided this would be a good idea to use a $40 credit I have, and give Blue Apron a try. Other than that, my in-laws are coming for a visit on Saturday.

My month-long, no-added-sugar challenge starts on Wednesday. While I think this will greatly impact what I do and don’t eat in March, it won’t have too much of an impact on our dinners, since they don’t often contain much added sugar. (Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be a whole different story, though…)

This Week’s Meal Plan

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

  • Monday: Quiche w/ frozen veggies
  • Tuesday: Cod and tomato stew w/ garlic toasts & aioli (First Blue Apron meal!)
  • Wednesday: Sicilian-style bucatini w/ Caesar-style salad & oven-toasted croutons (Second Blue Apron meal!)
  • Thursday: Leftovers
  • Friday: Pork tenderloin w/ roasted sweet potatoes
  • Saturday: Vegan black bean fajita veggies w/ rice
  • Sunday: Leftovers

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

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Monday Meal Plan #22

Happy Holiday Weekend! I hope you’re enjoying a lovely, long, Presidents’ Day weekend!

Weekend Recap

What fabulous weather we’ve had here in upstate New York this weekend! With highs in the 40s and 50s, and more snow gone every time I look out the window, it’s feeling very much like spring is coming.

On Saturday, my husband and I took our daughter to her gymnastics class at  the Y, then we checked out an estate sale for some bargains. I’m late to embrace estate sale and garage sale shopping, but I now think they’re a lot of fun. (Maybe this has something to do with me being over 40??) My husband got a large Christmas wreath and two small paintings for $2, and I scored a box containing two glue guns and a bunch of new glue sticks for $1, plus a box of lovely, vintage Christmas ornaments for $10.

Yesterday, we went to a state park to attempt snowshoeing for the first time. (One of my goals for 2017 is to try three new activities.) The sun was bright, the temps were warm, and the snow was more like slush. I don’t know much anything about snowshoeing, but I have a feeling these were not ideal conditions. We lasted for ten minutes, all of us feeling like the snow shoes were too heavy and made it difficult to walk. I knew we were done when my daughter fell, stepped out of her boot while getting up, and put her foot down in the snow. I guessed she would be complaining about her cold foot within two minutes, and that ended up being too generous of an estimate.

After a quick Target run, we brought some food home for a late lunch. Immediately afterwards, I headed out for a long walk, to atone for my Five Guys consumption. I haven’t been out for a walk in months, and it was gorgeous and felt great!

The Weekend Ahead

School vacation week starts today, so my daughter and I will be home all week. As someone who will stay glued to the couch and in her robe all day without a planned activity, I try to schedule one thing per day during school vacations. This week’s activities include a “day of beauty” – hair cuts and manicures – for the two of us, ice skating with friends, and a tour of a local grocery store with my daughter’s Brownie troop. Friday afternoon, we’re heading to my sister’s house in Massachusetts for my nephew, Charlie’s, first birthday party on Saturday. We’ll stay with them until Sunday morning, and the following Monday, it’s back to school and work.

Weekly Meal Plan

Since I’ll be home all week, I don’t have any excuses not to cook. (Rats!) Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

  • Monday: Spaghetti with shrimp scampi (from Barefoot Contessa Family Style)
  • Tuesday: Leftover scampi w/ sautéed spinach
  • Wednesday: Panko-Crusted Salmon (from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?) w/ roasted sweet potatoes
  • Thursday: Black beans and rice (A request from my Chipotle-loving kid)
  • Friday: Away for the weekend!!
  • Saturday: Away for the weekend!!
  • Sunday: Probably picking up a pizza on the way home

What’s for dinner at your house this week??

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Monday Meal Plan #21

Happy Monday!! It’s looking like a real winter wonderland here, after we received about a foot of snow yesterday…

Weekend Recap

On Saturday, my daughter participated in a Harry Potter-themed engineering program at the local high school. My husband and I took advantage of some time on our own, and went out to brunch. Afterwards, we spent some quiet time at home reading, and even took a quick nap!

After we picked our daughter up, we all went to the library to borrow some DVDs in anticipation of being snowed in all day on Sunday. We happened to be at the library while Buck, a therapy dog, was listening to kids read, and my daughter eagerly signed up for a slot.

Buck, the therapy dog, is a great audience!

As predicted, we spent all of Sunday at home, watching the snow fall. (About a foot in total.) I did some chores, read the paper, and made some progress on my current book, The Case Against Sugar. It’s a little slow-going, but educational. I’m looking forward to reading something a little lighter, next.

My husband and daughter spent some time outside, building a snow fort.

The Week Ahead

This week is off to a love-filled start! My daughter’s Brownie troop is having their Valentine’s Day party after school today, and her class as their party tomorrow morning. She still loves for me to attend these types of events, and while they’re not always a barrel of fun for me, I know she won’t always want me there with her.

I was supposed to work today, Wednesday, and Thursday this week, but because our school district had a two-hour delay today, I ended up not going in today. At 6pm on Thursday, I’m bringing my daughter to a registration meeting for this year’s Missoula Children’s Theater this performance at her school. (They’re a professional theater group, and they spend a week rehearsing afterschool with the kids who participate, culminating a weekend play performance.) With the registration meeting scheduled for the super-convenient time of 6pm, we’ll be picking up a pizza on the way home.

This Week’s Meal Plan

  • Monday: Leftover lasagna soup w/ baguette
  • Tuesday: Chicken cutlets w/ garlic spinach (One of my least favorite things to make, but, my Valentine loves them…)
  • Wednesday: Leftovers
  • Thursday: Pizza and salad
  • Friday: Leftover pizza and salad
  • Saturday: Roasted salmon and Brussels sprouts
  • Sunday: Roasted pork tenderloin w/ red cabbage

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

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