Sticking to a Meal Plan…FAILURE!

This is the final post in my effort to Stick to a Meal Plan.

The verdict? Failed!

I mentioned in the previous post that my daughter has been sick with the flu. Well, they are dropping like flies around here. My son has missed the last two days of school and my husband woke up this morning with the same symptoms as the kids, but he struggled through his day and came home and crashed…done…sick as the rest of them. I’m the last one standing.

If I was a good Mom and Wife, I would have made chicken noodle soup from scratch for the lot of them. But, as we’ve established, Martha Stewart, I am not.

My son actually requested fast food tonight. My daughter is on the mend, having had the plague since Monday. It’s a beautiful evening outside on the MidAtlantic Coast tonight. So, instead of having my husband bring food home since he was crushed, my daughter and I walked to the nearest fast food place, and I even picked up a can of soup for my husband at the grocery store on the way (which he didn’t eat, by the way).

So, if we’re talking healthy, nutritious, homemade meals for my family, then I guess I achieved about an 80% this week (cooking 5 out of 6 nights, unless you count Tuesday night when only half the family got fast food – then we’re talking about 65%). Not exactly failing, but not really passing either.

I’ll keep trying, because I know I can do it. My husband has always said that our kids should be helping more with dinner. Maybe this could be a way to bring them into the fold? Or is that just my way of cheating? Hmmm…I’m not sure.

Thanks for following along.

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Second Attempt – Sticking to a Meal Plan

My last couple of posts have been a bit of a public confession: I have a horrible time Sticking to a Meal Plan. Fast Food is my nemesis. I hate to cook. But I’m trying it again this week – I want to prove to myself that I can stick to a meal plan. We’re almost at the end of the week. Only one more meal to make, and like the Little Engine that Could, I’m chugging along telling myself “I think I can, I think I can.” But only time will tell. Here’s how it’s gone so far:

SundayHope’s End Stew was a success! Though it’s hard to mess that one up, unless I just don’t make it. I used cubed stew meat, baby carrots, and russet potatoes, and a new (as in new to us) wine that we found called Hope’s End. I’m not a connoisseur by any means, but I would use the wine again for stew, and not so much for accompaniment. It’s a smooth wine that goes down easy, but doesn’t have much bite to it, if that makes sense. But the stew was yummy and smelled great cooking!

Monday – I made my own version of Pan Seared Pork Chops, Checker’s Frozen Seasoned Fries, canned green beans, mushrooms sliced and fried in the pork chop pan with minced onion. After I’m done cooking all but two of the pork chops and the mushrooms, I then cooked two pork chops for my husband along with the sauerkraut. He is the ONLY one who likes sauerkraut, though my 13 year old son was willing to try the sauerkraut again, but said that Dad could have it all.

Tuesday – My daughter came home from school on Monday with a fever and sore throat, and by Tuesday morning, was in full-blown flu mode. She didn’t have much appetite. I only had enough Leftover Stew for 2 people, and I didn’t feel like going to the effort to boil more potatoes to stretch the stew into enough Hash for 4 people. So, my husband brought home fast food for my son and I, and I reheated the stew for my husband and daughter. I guess you could say I was only HALF successful that night.

Wednesday – I had Bible Study, and my husband had to pick up poster board for my son (that he forgot about until the last minute) on the way home from work, so I didn’t cross paths with my husband before I left for my meeting. Dinner was my emergency cans of Progresso Creamy Chicken Soup and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. He was happy to reheat the leftovers and do the few dishes.

Thursday – Instead of Chicken and Soy Veggies, I opted for Chicken Fritz over mashed potatoes with canned green beans and cottage cheese. At this point, BOTH kids were sick with the flu, and they both asked for Chicken Fritz. In hindsight, Chicken and Soy Veggies would have been much more nutritious, but we did just have the Soy Veggies last week. Chicken Fritz should be made with leftover chicken, but I started from scratch with an uncooked chicken breast. A cooking hint: if you use leftover chicken for Chicken Fritz, make sure not to cook the chicken too long to avoid drying it out and ending up with Chicken Fritz Jerky.

So, Friday is the only day left, and Spaghetti and Ravioli is what I’ve got planned. I can do that, right? I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Another Attempt at Sticking to A Meal Plan

If you’ve been following along this last week, I’ve been trying to stick to a meal plan for a whole week. As I mentioned in the first post, I can make a meal plan, I just have trouble sticking to it as The Results post showed. Fast Food is my nemesis. My relationship with food is a healthy one, relatively, but my relationship to cooking is like dating the wrong guy over and over again: someone is bound to get hurt and it’s not going to be pretty.

After a disappointing trial last week, I thought I’d give it another go. So, without further ado, here’s the plan:

Sunday: Red Wine Beef Stew or as I’ve renamed it Hope’s End Beef Stew after the wine that we used. The original recipe is from The Food Network, though I don’t use green beans as the recipe calls for since my family is not a fan, and I cut the recipe in half as it is a portion for about 10 servings. I only have 4 mouths to feed. With the time change, dinner was on the table a little late, but we made it. Day one? A success! And there are leftovers for later in the week.

Monday: Pan-Seared Pork Chops, Rally’s frozen seasoned French fries, green beans, sautéed mushrooms (for my daughter and I) and sauerkraut (for my husband).

Tuesday: Hash from the leftover stew. I’ve never made this exact recipe before, but it’s similar to the one I usually make, and didn’t include green peppers. I’ve also never added milk to the drippings before, so I may try it. It sounds sort of yummy.

Wednesday: Teriyaki Chicken and Soy Veggies. Now I know I just made this last week, but I still have two chicken breasts in the freezer that didn’t get used last week. Besides, everyone likes it and it’s the healthiest way I know to stretch a couple of chicken breasts to feed a family of four. Here’s a helpful hint (trust me, when it comes to cooking, I don’t have many): when you slice up your chicken breast to prepare to cook them, slice the breast laterally first (making two more thin breasts), then slice it up in long thing pieces for pan frying. I’ll do anything to save a buck.

Thursday: Spaghetti and Cheese Ravioli. Nothing fancy here, and no recipe. Just good old boiled spaghetti, packaged ravioli, and sauce from a jar. I’ll probably pick up a baguette on my way home from work to accompany the meal and make some side salads.

Friday: On Fridays, everyone generally heads off in different directions, so dinner is quick, and I usually fall into the fast food trap. But I’m prepared this week. I picked up a few cans of Progresso Creamy Chicken soup that was on special and I’ll make some drop biscuits on the side.

So, with a little luck, and hopefully a lot less chaos than last week, I’ll make it through this time.

Let me know if you try any of the recipes.

The Final Results – Sticking to a Meal Plan

If you’ve followed my last two blog posts, you’ll know that I’ve been trying to follow a meal plan. You can find the first post here where I lay out the meal plan, and the second post here with my halfway through the week update. This post is the final results.

The first half of the week went fairly well. I fought off my weakness for fast food and managed to follow my meal plan through Wednesday.

And then Thursday hit.

My husband hurt himself at work, not seriously, but enough that he went to urgent care. He avoided stitches, but now has an index finger bandaged from knuckle to tip. We have taken to calling my husband “Stubby” because we’re that kind of family.

One of my children also had a situation at school that unfolded through texts between me and said child while I was at work and my husband was bleeding at urgent care. Said child begged to come home from school, but since I don’t drive, and my husband was not available, that child was stuck at school to wait out their circumstances. I felt like a horrible mother. I couldn’t find anyone in my back-up tribe and considered Ubering it to pick up said child. But I wasn’t completely convinced the situation warranted checking out of school early. Plus, I would have had to leave work early, leaving my co-worker to finish the shift alone. Needless to say, I was stressed trying to juggle circumstances that were beyond my control.

So, I caved. Fast food won out on Thursday night.

Then came Friday. I started the day confident and ready to recover from the night before. But my other child had a last minute invitation to a friend’s house for a get-together. Of course, the child’s get-together was for dinner, which meant we would be on the road when I should be cooking. The other child needed something at Target too. So, we piled in the car, drove one child to the get-together, and took the other one to Target. As we were leaving the shopping mall where Target was, it was about an hour past dinner and everyone was hungry. It meant I would still have to cook when we got home, making for an even later dinner. And that’s when it happened: the neon beacon of a fast food restaurant conveniently located at the exit of the mall luring me in to take advantage.

I broke! Fast food TWO DAYS IN A ROW!

But here’s what I learned: I know I can follow a meal plan…until a wrench is thrown into my plan. Then I scrap the whole thing. A lot of it has to do with stress for me. When I’m overwhelmed, thinking about cooking stresses me out even more. I shut down and take the easy way out. I think it’s because I am such a planner, that I’m not the most flexible person. I like things to be predictable, and when they aren’t, I stumble a little and have a hard time recovering quickly.

But I’m not giving up. At least I know why I do what I do.

So, I’m going to try again this week for a meal plan. Only this time, I’m going to plan a couple of quick back-up meals for when things don’t go as planned. Maybe a couple of cans of soup and a can of refrigerator biscuits that can be heated up quickly. Or maybe cook and shred a couple of chicken breasts ahead of time, so that I can throw together a salad.

I’m not giving up. My family’s health is at stake.

What’s your favorite fast go-to meal? Any suggestions?

Update – Sticking to a Meal Plan

My last post was called Sticking to a Meal Plan. I find it easy to make a meal plan, but hard to stick to one.

I know we’re only halfway through the week, but I thought I’d give you a quick update as to whether I can stick to my meal plan.

Sunday – Day one was a success! Minestrone Soup and French bread was the bomb! It was easy to throw together and simmer on the stove while I relaxed until it was time to serve. The meal went well and everyone actually ate it, and I had leftovers for another night or lunch. A side note, the recipe calls for vegetable broth of which I had none, so I substituted with chicken bouillon. It turned out just fine.

MondaySpanish Chickpeas and Rice…I originally had this scheduled for Tuesday, but realized that my avocado (for the guacamole) was ripe, so I moved it up a day. I hadn’t made it for a while and forgot that it works best if you prep everything before you start. So, after turning the stove off briefly after I added the rice to the onions and garlic, I was back on track. I also forgot how good this dish is! Serving it with guacamole, sour cream and tortilla chips is a must. The kids like to use it like a topping for their tortilla chips. That’s fine with me…however it makes it to their bellies.

Tuesday Soy veggies, teriyaki marinated chicken and steamed rice. I don’t normally make rice two days in a row, but I made an exception since they were different styles of rice. The Soy Veggies recipe calls for frozen mixed veggies, but I prefer fresh veggies. I use broccoli, sliced baby carrots, sliced red onions, and tomatoes sliced in quarters. The soy veggie recipe is one of my favorites. I also make them with steak and baked potatoes. They make a great topping for the baked potato. I have to admit, it was my day off, and I was tempted to call the hubby for take-out, especially when my 13 year old asked if we could get fast food for dinner. Fortunately when he asked, the veggies were already in the oven, much to my son’s disappointment. (Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of this one)

Wednesday – I was weak again. It was a long day at work, and I’ve been fighting a cold or something, because I came home from work wrecked. I texted my husband at 5pm asking for fast food, but he didn’t answer my text…or the second one. Apparently, he had a really busy day too. I was hoping that he somehow saw the text before he left work and picked something up. He did not. My daughter had an after-school activity where she had pizza, so she wasn’t hungry. So, we had enough Minestrone Soup leftovers from Sunday’s meal to reheat. I added an extra cup of broth and a cup of pasta, and voila…dinner!

Two more days to go. We’ll see if I can make it!

Sticking to a Meal Plan

Given the choice, I’d rather not cook at all. It doesn’t bring me joy (unless it’s brownies and I get to lick the bowl) in the way that I hear a lot of women describe. Feeding my family, for me, is just part of my job, like dusting or vacuuming or the laundry. It isn’t that I’m a horrible cook, I’m just not “into it.” I just don’t like to do it.

I can easily plan a week of meals thanks to Food Blogs and Recipe links. But sticking to the plan…ahhh, there’s the rub.

Fast food is my weakness. I know it isn’t good for us, any of us. And I hang my head in shame admitting how often I beg my husband to “just pick something up on the way home.” There are so many other things I’d rather be doing than preparing a meal for a family of four that will spend two minutes at the table after I’ve just spent at least 30 minutes in prep and cook time.

But our budget, and our health, is telling me that I MUST do it. So, I’m going to try, once again, to make it through the week without dipping into the “fast food cesspool of convenience.”

I thought that maybe if I announce the plan publicly, and then blog the results, that I’ll “peer pressure” myself into keeping to my plan. Maybe a little public accountability (or humiliation, whichever the case may be) is what I need.

So, without further ado, here’s the plan:

Sunday:               Minestrone Soup and bread

Monday:              Soy Veggies, steamed rice and teriyaki chicken (Chicken marinated in Kikoman’s Teryaki glaze)

Tuesday:              Spanish Chickpeas and Rice service with guacamole garnish and tortilla chips

Wednesday:        Rigatoni with Italian Chicken– this is a new recipe to me. We’ll see how the fam likes it.

Thursday:            Chicken Fritz over mashed potatoes with green beans

Friday:                 Pancakes (because you have to live a little)

That’s the plan. I may switch things around a bit, depending how the week goes with snow days, work, and the unexpected. But I’m going to try my best. I have to…because my family is depending on me.

Wish me luck! I’m going to need it.

How about you? Do you have trouble sticking to a meal plan?

I Really Hate to Cook

I don’t use the word “hate” lightly, but when it comes to making dinner on a nightly basis, it’s the perfect word to use.

Unless we’re talking about baking a box of Duncan Hines brownies or a batch of chocolate chip cookies made from a tub of Tollhouse Cookie Dough, then I don’t want to make it.

All the meal planning websites and menu organizing tips won’t inspire me to actually put food to pan and cook the fool thing. Even the best meal kits services won’t help me find the motivation it takes to prepare a healthy meal for my family night after night. Now if it showed up at my door, ALREADY COOKED, then THAT would be a service I could get used to. But not a service I can afford.

And yet, somehow, I feel like I am all alone on this.

I want to WANT TO cook, if you know what I mean. I WANT to feel the desire to provide for my family. It isn’t that I’m a bad cook necessarily. My food is edible. No one has ever complained of food poisoning from eating one of my meals. I can follow a basic recipe. I can even time things so the side dishes finish at the same time as the main dish. So, it isn’t that I’m a terrible cook, or that I don’t know what I’m doing.

I just DON’T WANT TO. I know…I’m whining here. But I really can’t get past it.

When I met my husband, my mother-in-law bragged to me that all three of her boys knew how to cook, clean, iron, and even sew on a button. In fact, on our second date, my husband made me a beautiful pot roast dinner from scratch.

If I was a smart woman, right then and there, I should have pretended that I couldn’t even boil water. Then we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now, because then he would be the one cooking dinner. He’s better at it than I am. It’s a fact. (Messier, but better). But he is the main bread winner and works full time, so it isn’t fair that I ask him to cook as well. He has enough responsibility. I can’t ask him to cook when he gets home from a long day at work.

It’s become a running joke with his co-workers when I text him at 5:45 asking to pick up dinner (usually fast food). They hassle him to no end.

When I go to the grocery store, I buy for the whole week, including leftovers. But by Wednesday evening (if not before) I’ve lost all motivation to prepare any of it.

I don’t know what is wrong with me!

I’m not depressed, I’m not stressed out (unusually), I’m not even particularly lazy, except when it comes to cooking every day.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to get motivated to cook dinner, I’d love to hear it. Or if anyone would like to commiserate, I’d love to hear that too.

Thanks for listening.