“Spicing” up Dinner

I officially started meal planning this week.  It was a loooooong time coming.

It came on the heels of several weeks where my husband, 1 year-old son, and I had the same 5-6 things over and over again.


I was in a cooking rut – my desire to cook was non-existent and as a result, we had pasta, grilled chicken or take-out more times than I would like to admit the last few weeks.

After reading a few great healthy cooking / lifestyle blogs and seeing how delicious the food they were cooking sounded – and looked – I decided to start menu-planning and try out some of the recipes. (Sweet Tooth Sweet LifePeas and CrayonsMeals and Miles, and Victoria Runs, are only a few of the many I have found.)

9 Benefits of Menu Planning:
1. Save money on unused food that gets thrown away
2. Save money on last minute trips to the local deli
3. Save money by ordering-out less
4. Add variety to meals
5. Eliminate the daily spike in stress levels (around 3pm) due to:  What are we having for dinner?
6. Maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet
7. Give my family something to look forward to each day
8. More order in my life (dinner is ready and on the table at the same time each night)
9. Expand my 1-year old son’s palette

My goal is to plan FIVE dinners each week.  I will be leaving one night open for leftovers and the other night as a toss-up (we may decide to order, go out to eat, or go over my mom’s for dinner). Not every dinner has to be something new (or a gourmet meal) – but I’d like to try to cook at least TWO new meals each week.

In order to keep myself honest, motivated, and on track with this plan, I will be blogging each Monday about what I cooked last week as well as sneak peek of what I have planned for the following week.  If there is an fun, interesting or extra yummy recipe that I found, I will share it with you!

Do you meal plan?  
Any good recipes you want to share?  


I got the idea of blogging about what I ate from Peas and Crayons website – she hosts a What I Ate Wednesday  weekly forum where readers post everything they ate for one day of the week!  I LOVE this but decided to tailor her idea a bit since I am focused on spicing up dinner (at the moment)!!!

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    26 thoughts on ““Spicing” up Dinner

    1. We should start a recipe swap.. I have discovered a lot of good ones I
      would love to share….

    2. Pingback: What My Family Ate Last Week | nycrunningmama

    3. I definitely meal plan to avoid serving the same things all the time. A favorite in our house is Skyline Chili Spaghetti. The main ingredient, Skyline Chili, is a favorite from my hometown Cincinnati and I think it is what makes this meal. I have never tried it with another variety of chili, but it can be done, I guess. Spaghetti, chili served on top, and shredded cheese. Delish! Kids go back for thirds =)The only problem I have is getting family to send me some chili in NH!

    4. I try to meal plan in a way. Every Fri/Sat I look up a few recipes I think will taste good for me and will possibly play out well for future posts. However I don’t always get leftovers for the whole week OR I love it so much I eat it up so what I’ll do is keep some “staples” on hand. Such as having chicken, pork and steak I can defrost and throw on the foreman along with some veggies. Or I keep pasta and sauce on hand. A mix of repeat and new/variety

    5. I try to meal plan each week but I always end up making the same things every week! My daughter is so picky and my hubby is on his own plan for a body building show. I’m looking forward to seeing some of your meals! You’re right though…meal planning does save money!

    6. we meal plan per couple days, just depends on my husbands training schedule. I know, so spoiled, eh? haha. But i love cooking and planning so thats the nerd in me. Yours sound perfect, leftovers are the best!

    7. Good luck with your planning efforts! I just started using a weekly meal plan to prevent the panicked what do we eat feeling. It’s worked out great. I have a buffalo chicken sandwich recipe for your slow cooker. Place 4 chicken breasts, half a bottle of wing sauce, and half of a ranch dressing seasoning mix in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Shred the meat, place on good crusty bread and top with crunchy cabbage or lettuce. One meal done!

    8. I used to be so good about meal planning, actually trying to get back there myself. I find it can be fine, so trying to remember myself of that instead of just making whatever. Although that is normally how I am.

    9. I have been trying to meal plan to save money and try different recipes. Good luck!!!

    10. Man, this happens to me every single winter. I go to a cookbook, randomly flip it open to a new recipe, and roll with it.

      If I’m feeling lazy we’ll do taco nights – you can always change those up. Spicy chorizo ones, ground turkey, ground beef, shredded chicekn or even fish. By the time you add all of the extra goodies, throw a side of rice and black beans down, you’re good to go!

    11. Let me know what you come up with. I need more meals in my repertoire. We love to make pizza, eggplant parm, pasta with sauteed veggies, pan seared salmon..

      • Ohhh…The pasta with veggies sounds delish! Do you have a recipe for that!??!
        We are big fans of pizza and eggplant parm too =) Both are my mom’s recipes – DELISH!

    12. I meal plan loosely–do one grocery trip on Sunday and get stuff for a handful of meals.. then eat them on the nights we feel like them. The plan usually includes a Mexican dish, an Italian dish, a slow cooker dish, and then whatever else sounds good. I am like you, and plan five and wing the other two.

      • I really enjoy the slow cooker – I try to do that on days when I know I’m going to be busy in the late afternoon and not have the time! My hubby is Mexican – I definitely need to start incorporating more Mexican dishes into the menu (it’s very Italian heavy ! )

    13. I have been planning meals for a few years for all the reasons you listed. I try to factor in a beef, chicken, pasta, pork and fish each week. One of those is usually something that can be done in the slow cooker. I am always fixing new recipes, but that is because I love to cook. Most of them are from Cooking Light or Williams Sonoma. Have fun with you new plan.

    14. I meal plan, based mostly on what’s on sale, and what new recipes I read on blogs, I usually try one or two new recipes a week, and rotate between animal one day, vegitarian the next day.

    15. I used to meal plan and have really fallen off the wagon. Need to get my act back together. Can’t wait to see your plans and recipes ’cause you know I’ll be “borrowing” them. ;o)

    16. I don’t menu plan..I just whip up whatever I have around
      I never know what my schedule or daughters schedule is so hard to plan but I always have stuff at home to make :)

    17. I’m stuck in a HUGE rut which also includes super-expensive takeout. I made a commitment to cook for the past two weeks while my husband was away for work, and we succeeded with only one pizza night. My daughter cooked one night, too! So far, so good. I’d love to plan more to get more creative. Thanks for the inspiration! xo

      • I’m learning that if I bookmark recipes I find during the week on the computer then come saturday evening, it’s much easier to just pull them up. I used to have no direction so to sit down and figure out 5 meals was tough. Sounds like you are on a good roll too!

    18. I have been meal planning for several years now, and I can’t imagine NOT doing it now! I’d be lost. We are lucky to have so many great recipes out there floating around from great food bloggers! Enjoy your new plan.