I was on Pinterest for a brief moment today and found this menu planning idea. While I loved the concept, I do like to plan more than 4 meals per week and I wanted something a bit more colorful and fun.
So, I set about to create my own menu planner. The one below is a screen shot of the one that I made. Read the rest of the post because I have a surprise for you at the end.
I love the idea that you can write your dinner meals across the top and then you write your grocery list for each meal underneath. Then you take the list/meal plan to the grocery store with you. When you are all finished grocery shopping, you can put the list up on your fridge. I love this idea.
So often I make a meal plan and a separate grocery list only to lose both of them before we actually make any of the meals that I have planned. It’s one piece of paper which saves me from double work. Did I mention that I love this idea?
The other benefit I see to this is that daddy knows what meals I have planned for the week, while he is shopping, and can add any appropriate extras or compensate accordingly as he shops.
Since I thought you might like it too, I have created a free printable for you. Let me know me what you think in the comments.
What’s For Dinner FREE DOWNLOAD [Download not found]
How do you do your meal planning? Do you have a favorite routine?
We are trying to think outside the box and be more creative with our meals. Today is a perfect example. We cooked chicken breast up, but had no idea what do with it.
Enter the bag of spicy cheese in the freezer, the leftover tortilla shells in the fridge, the cut up peppers, the cut up onions, the bags of chicken bouillon give to us just today, and you have easy enchiladas.
We loosely used this enchilada recipe as a base for our dinner and put our own spin on it. And I have to say it was so yummy. The only thing I have to add is that next time we need to double the recipe. Yes, there will be a next time.
I would love to show you a photo, but I can’t take any pictures because my camera took a swim in a muddy kiddie pool when a child (who shall remain nameless) decided to reenact the story of Noah’s Ark with his Lego figures. More on that coming soon. but for now, go make some yummy enchiladas.
I would love to hear how you make your enchiladas. Share the link to your favorite enchilada recipe in the comments. If you don’t like enchiladas, what do you do with your chicken?
Before the twins, Zion and Hosanna, were born (they turn four in six days) our family went on the gluten-free, casein-free diet to help our oldest son, Elisha, who has autism, with his behavior.
The diet was challenging. The learning curve was steep. I had no idea what was really in some of our foods (and we don’t eat that many “weird” foods), until I started seriously reading labels.
We stayed on the gluten-free, casein-free diet for about two years. We saw great improvements in our son’s behavior and everyone else’s too.
Then along came our twins and…
Allergies and Eczema
We discovered, in the first year of her life, that our daughter, Hosanna, was allergic to dairy, eggs, and nuts. She had severe eczema and other issues related to her allergies. It was an obvious choice to me that we dropped the gluten-free, casein-free diet in favor of a diet free of her allergens.
Side note: Moses is allergic to mushrooms and shellfish, so those are out too.
Okay, so are you with me so far?
We were gluten-free, casein-free, but then we turned dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, shellfish-free, and mushroom-free. Try and come up with some fun (and frugal) breakfast ideas. I dare you!
We were told that if we avoided her allergens as completely as possible for at least two years, we could attempt to bring them back in. My daughter, Hosanna, is nearing four now and we have recently added back in dairy to the whole family. She does okay if we have it in moderation, but lately she has had some strange new eczema patches. And now our oldest son, Elisha, is having behavioral issues again.
Side note: While we have tried adding in the dairy and the egg (in baked goods only), I will NOT attempt this with the peanut/nut allergy. With the nut allergy, I would rather further testing to see if she still reacts.
Gluten-free, Casein-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Shellfish-free, and Mushroom-free (What’s For Dinner?)
My husband (Jonah) and I have been discussing our options. I am convinced that the food has something to do with Hosanna’s eczema outbreak as well as Elisha’s recent behavior. I was leaning towards going back on the gluten-free, casein-free diet, as well as staying away from all the other allergens, but the thought scares me.
Since we know that dairy (casein) is the biggest culprit for Elisha, we decided to start by eliminating that first and see how we do. The first 3-6 weeks can often be really bad if he goes through a withdrawal from those foods, so we can only pray for grace.
If we have success, we will stop there and just remain dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, mushroom-free, and shellfish-free. That is a mouthful and it’s no wonder we don’t eat out much.
Planning And Preparation
If we don’t have as much success as we would like, we will continue on and remove the gluten as well. This is a much bigger job and will require more planning and preparation on my part.
All of this means that I must be much more on top of planning meals. I must be going back through my recipes and pulling out the ones that I created based on old war recipes and new vegan ones (thank you Google). I am excited, nervous, and ready for change with our food in the hopes that we see benefits for our family.
I have discussed the changes with my husband and the two middle boys, but not Elisha. I wanted to just go ahead and quietly implement the changes at the end of the month and see if we could sneak them in without him noticing. Here’s hoping he is not a frequent reader of my blog.
If you are dealing with food allergies, feeding a large family on a tight budget, or otherwise challenged in the kitchen, I would love to hear your comments.
We bought a giant roast this month. When I say giant, I mean G-I-A-N-T! The man behind my husband in the line at the grocery store asked who we were feeding with our half a cow. It’s just the seven of us (and my parents), but we shop for a month.
On the Large Family Good Eats menu this week are all things roast beef. I am open to more suggestions and ideas (in the comments).
Beef Stew – onions, cooked beef, peas, corn, green beans, with rice
Beef and Broccoli – beef, broccoli, rice
Pizza – with onions, beef, peppers, olives, mushrooms (for those that can eat them), and homemade pizza dough
Beef Stroganoff – beef, gravy, and fettuccine noodles
Fajita Casserole – Beef, peppers, olives, fajita spice/sauce, with noodles or rice
If you need ideas for your menu this week take a moment and visit my Beautiful Food board on Pinterest.
We have a busy week ahead of us, so it was important to me that I take the time to figure out what our food was going to be for the week. This post is how I hashed all of that out. Come along for the ride.
I was realizing tonight that I need to dig through the pantry and freezer and figure out what food we actually have and think about ways to use it up.
We tend to shove stuff in the freezer and forget about it. Note to self: label bags before you put them in the freezer.
Does anyone know what kind of pen works on a bag that is going in the freezer?
I stumbled onto this post recently about a pantry challenge and decided that it was just what we needed, mostly to clean out the freezer, fridge, and pantry. I went to the blog tonight to read the post while I was writing this post and discovered there is only one day left in the pantry challenge (here is the Pantry Challenge Log). It was still inspiring to me.
There is more stuff in the freezers, pantry, and fridge but these are the things that stood out to me (other stuff could very well have been hiding).
Freezer here I come:
box of sausages
bag of cooked sausages
3 bags of shaved roast
2 bags of falafels (Do they go with tzatziki sauce?)
1 bag of corn
1 bag of peas
bag of chicken patties (that no one likes, ugh)
2 boxes of tart shells
several litres of cream
random bags of weird food
Pantry organization is on its way. The shelves are looking messy and the food needs to be arranged in some kind of logical manners which shouldn’t take too long. Okay, the organizing will wait until tomorrow, I need to get this post finished.
Pantry here I come:
several bottles of salad dressing (Ranch, 1000 Islands, Caesar)
4 boxes of stuffing
several bags of rice
giant cans (4L each) or grapefruit, olives, tomatoes, carrots, etc.
random bags and bottles of strange things
And last but not least, I peaked in the fridge and found some goodies that are still edible. Yes, I need to clean that out, it’s about that time.
Fridge here I come:
a large turnip
a large cabbage
onions (I know they don’t belong in there, but I didn’t put them in there)
tzatziki sauce (Oh, let’s buy or make some pitas.)
and the usual or unusual condiments (HP Sauce, Ketchup, Mayo, Mustard, etc)
Soups For Lunch
We have figured out breakfast, but that is another post (coming soon). I would love to incorporate more soups into our lunch menu. My friend Tonya wrote an awesome series about 10 Days Of Warm Winter Soups. They look so yummy. I even started a Soup Pinboard on Pinterest.
Speaking of Pinterest (you are on Pinterest, right?)
You can check out some of my food related boards on Pinterest:
I have something important to talk to you about today.
Something very important to me.
Grab a coffee or tea and settle in to read because you are going to be here for a while (this is a long post compared to most of the ones that I write).
Many of you that read here don’t know that I am severely over weight.
Well, you know now (and you still love me just the same, right?).
When I look back on childhood pictures I was a pretty average size compared to everyone else, nothing that a little exercise couldn’t have fixed, but I always thought that I was really fat (it’s all about perception of yourself).
None of my adult life has been lived at a normal weight. This weight came with me from childhood and multiplied. It has not been a fast gain, but a slow gradual increase. Let me try to explain.
Here Is My Story
After my first child (Elisha) was born eleven years ago, I required surgery for a 3rd degree tear which took a a long time to recover from.
Then came another child (Moses).
Then my first miscarriage.
Then another child (Malachi).
Malachi brought with him a gift for me in the form of symphysis pubis separation from about month six in the pregnancy. This included a great deal of pain, reduced movement, no lifting, etc. After his birth I had a uterine prolapse which brought with it more no lifting. During this pregnancy, I also had a bad fall (straight down on my behind) which brough with it a back injury and a great deal of pain.
Another fall (straight down on my behind again) a few years later and it was discovered that I had new and old compression fractures on my spine as well as osteoarthritis in my lower back.
It was around this time that we discovered our oldest child (Elisha) had ADHD and Autism (and was highly gifted). This brought with it a complex set of challenges including avoiding crowds or environments that we couldn’t control for him to minimize behaviour and sensory outbursts. He also has ongoing sensory issues with food which are enough to drive me crazy.
Then two more miscarriages.
I took a chance and started to work on my weight. I worked really hard. I was just getting started and I lost a few pounds fairly easily.
Then I got pregnant with the twins.
I had no back pain during the pregnancy (I think they realigned my back for me) and not too much back pain after. I was not allowed to lift during the pregnancy and ended up on bed rest during the last week of my pregnancy. Then I had a c-section which was a very painful and slow road of recovery for me.
For the last three years, I have spent many hours each day (and night) breastfeeding my twins, which I love, but it has involved a lot of sitting.
The truth is, I have not actually struggled with weight loss for most of the last 12 years. I have not even tried to lose weight (except once or twice). I have been satisfied. I eat when I am hungry, stop when I am full, and not much in between.
My weight gain has not been all about food. I don’t believe that I am overweight because of a consistent pattern of overeating. I believe that I am overweight because I don’t eat enough of the right foods and I am not as active as I should be. Pain has been a major contributor to inactivity.
I have not always been inactive. I used to play baseball, bike ride, and swim when I was much younger.
I have been relatively healthy for my weight. I don’t get sick very often (usually), but I do deal with chronic pain and arthritis on an almost daily basis. The old fractures in my spine, from a few falls, flair up when the weather pressure changes.
I got Strep Throat in January and was finally able to knock it out after three rounds of nasty antibiotics. Then, I had a knee injury in February that has limited my mobility for almost 4 months.
That knee injury is what made me say, enough is enough.
I don’t want to be overweight anymore.
My body is falling apart. I need to fix it before I can’t.
I have made a decision.
I have been thinking about it long and hard. I have been weighing the pros and cons (no pun intended). I have been discussing it with Jonah.
It is time.
There are only two more years until I turn 40.
I don’t want to enter my 40′s severely overweight, obese, supersize.
There are so many things that I can’t or don’t enjoy because I am overweight.
I have lost weight before – and I know how to do it - for my body. I just need to do it.
I am ready.
I want to go into the next 40 years at a healthy weight.
Digging Deep To Find Myself
If you know me in any way shape or form, you know that I love people. I love chatting and making friends. I am an out going person. I don’t think I come across as insecure and self consious, but I could be wrong.
The online community has been an amazing way for me to really be who I am without worrying about what people think about how I look. This is freeing. (Thank you to all my online friends for taking the time to get to know the real me!)
Last week, I pulled out my walking videos and I sat and watched them to see which one I wanted to start with. I actually sat and watched the workout. My husband didn’t understand why I was sitting and watching them, but I needed to watch it before I committed to doing it. Whatever works, right?
When Things Don’t Go As Planned
One day this week, I was wanting to have my daily coffee time with my hubby and then do my walking video, but the twins decided they wanted to have a nursing nap. Then they slept on my bed while I did school with the big boys.
I was sitting thinking before dinner thinking about some things that I wanted to write in my journal. I was also thinking about wanting to do the walking video.
I decided to get up and do the video instead of writing about how I felt about doing the video (making positive changes).
Starting Simple, Pushing Hard
I had already made the decision that I would only attempt the warm up – about 5 minutes, but I ended up walking the whole mile.
Did you hear that?
I walked a whole mile (about 13 minutes)! I haven’t done that in 3 years.
There will always be something that I can use as an excuse to keep me from exercising. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought and I even ended up walking the whole mile.
My First Walk
Now, I have to tell you a story about that actual walk. I have not put on the walking video since before the twins were born, so the big kids have never really seen me exercise before.
Elisha (11) was encouraging and jumped right in with me and then proceed to finish three more miles after I finished my one. I was so proud of him.
Moses (9) stood and watched us for a bit and then proceeded to the basement to inspect the ceiling and came back to report that we were cracking it from our exercise. That and his pacing back and forth between Elisha and I, was a bit distracting, but I didn’t stop.
Malachi was oblivious on the computer in the basement.
Zion was off playing somewhere.
And sweet Hosanna, you know what she was doing? She was kicking my bum from her place on the couch. She thought it was very funny to gently nudge me with her feet every time I got close enough.
Another night this week, I was determined to push past my physical pain and walk anyways. I told my self that I HAD to do the warm up, but I didn’t have to do the mile if I didn’t want to. I knew that once I was up and moving that I would most likely finish the mile, which I did.
This walk was character building for me. Daddy had come home from a long walk with some of the kids, so we were having a late supper. I had wanted to get my walk in before the meal was served, but it didn’t happen.
I did it anyways.
So there I am, the entertainment for dinner.
Walking video on, doing my thing.
Kids are moving all around finding seats, getting seconds, etc.
Our living room simply is not big enough for that much excitement.
Zion, bless his heart, spilt his water all over the crummy floor (that didn’t get vacuumed after lunch) where I was trying to walk.
So now I am walking on wet crumbs. Yummy.
I did try to move to another area of the floor just as the one mile ended. Isn’t that always the way it goes.
I can’t afford to eat properly
I don’t have the energy to exercise
I don’t have the time to exercise
I am too tired
There cannot be any more excuses for me. I am working through all the excuses. There will always be some excuse that I could use, but I am making the choice not to. There are no more excuses.
There will always be excuses, but what I do inspite of the possible excuses that I could use will show me what I am made of.
I need to change my mindset. I think changing my mind is going to be the hardest thing. I need to work past excuses.
My Top 3 Excuses
it’s too hard
I think those three have to be my top 3, regularly used excuses and I will be diligently watching for them to come up and pushing through them.
But I Did It Anyways
I was hurting before my workout – but i did it anyways
I was tired before my workout – but I did it anyways.
I was thinking that the work out was too hard – but I did it anyways
Thinking About Tomorrow
I don’t want to be sitting here 2 years from now (turning 40) and still be in the same place as I am now. Overweight, in pain and tired all the time.
What is my excuse and what can I do about it?
What can I choose to do to be more active?
How can I change my life?
My Goals Right Now
walking one mile once per day (working up to 3 times per day)
drink more water (I love water with lemon)
increase my vegetables (I really do love vegetables)
make all my food colorful, tasty, and fun to eat
How Am I Doing Wih My Goals?
I have walked 4 days in a row now, and 1 day a few days before that.
On the water front, I was doing well until we ran out of fresh lemons. And now I am going back to – no excuses – and drinking it anyways. (We have lemons again now, too).
I have been doing really well on increasing the veggies. We have been adding salad greens and extra veggies to every meal. I have even been replacing some starches with low carb veggies.
Right now I am also trying to focus on making everything that I eat be colorful, really yummy, and extremely enjoyable.I am making an effort to make eating more of an experience. I am trying to focus on color and flavor so that I am not just cooking anything, but really taking the time to think through the food choices.
Choosing A New Path, One With No Excuses
I was thinking last night that changing my whole life is not going to be an easy task and I will need to push harder through times when I want to make excuses.
I’m not telling you
it is going to be easy,
I’m telling you that
it is going to be worth it.
I printed out that quote above to hang on my wall and I will be printing out this scripture too.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
This Is Who I am Now
I will be completely honest with you. When I saw these photos for the first time, I wanted to cry. We don’t have a full body mirror in the house and I only ever get to see my face in the bathroom mirror (or the odd photo). It is time for change.
Are You Coming Along For The Journey?
This is a whole journey to discover who I really am. You are welcome to tag along if you wish. I would love the company. I can assure that it won’t be pretty. It will actually be quite messy most of the way. There are destined to be good days and bad days and maybe some in between, but in the end it will all be worth it.