Meal Planning Made Easy [Free Printable]

Taking the stress out of meal planning with these free printables

Well folks, the struggle is real, since our toddler now demands real food, our days of grabbing a frozen meal or ordering take-out / going out have dwindled down. Too much salt for the little one. And let’s be honest, going out with a toddler can be a tiny bit stressful.

Gone are the days that I’d go meet a friend out for sushi, then have a date at whatever restaurant, and then maybe eat something at happy hour at a bar. All that was left to do was fill the other nights with something edible, be it cereal or some delicious meal, for which I had all the time in the world to cook and eat. Now there’d better be food on the table at 6pm or Leo turns into an ankle biter. He’s in a phase right now where most things are just disgusting to him and he winds up eating a slice of toast but we continue to offer everything we eat. Then, every few days he’ll surprise me and mow down whatever we’re eating. It’s super random.

Meal Planning for Our Family

So I’ve been doing the grown-up thing and been making an effort to plan out what we’re going to eat each week. I can only handle so many days with a sudden panic attack at 5:30pm, no clue what to cook and no ingredients on hand. Mom-ing is tough enough as is.

My trusted planner has a section for weekly meal planning, which takes away that panicky moment (so long as I actually went grocery shopping!) but that still leaves the question, what the heck should we eat this week?! I consider myself a foodie so eating the same 10 or so rotating meals is really unsatisfying for me.

Meal planning is a breathe with Sannipanni's Planner and the cute printable from this blog post.

Alas, I’ve come up with this little system that seems to work well for us. I pick meals based on these categories: salad, pasta, something made on the grill, seafood, breakfast for dinner, something made in the crock-pot, and global cuisine. Since I don’t feel like cooking every day (because it’s ridiculously hard to do that when your toddler wants to hug your legs and I’m lazy by nature), my meal plan for the week always includes leftovers. You bet. I also shuffle the meals around as the week goes by or say, screw it, and we go out or pick something up. But the list helps. Tremendously!

Shutterfly had a promo for free magnets and that motivated me to turn this informal list of meal categories into a magnet for my fridge. I designed these graphics (yay, your choice of color!) and thought I’d share in case someone else struggles with meal ideas, too. They truly are pretty good inspiration for me when it comes to picking meals for the week.

A dish will often immediately come to my mind when I think about grilling or Asian or Tex-Mex food (“global cuisine”). If I still struggle, I grab my magazine recipe collection or search on Pinterest. Checking what’s on sale that week helps, too.

So here they are, my little meal planning helpers! Download (right click and “Save Image” or hold down long on your iphone and save to your camera roll) and print or turn them into a magnet. Happy cooking and I hope they’ll keep your family from going hangry!

Easy meal planning: Every day pick one of the categories to spark your meal inspiration!

Easy meal planning: Every day pick one of the categories to spark your meal inspiration!




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American Football & My Awesome Super Bowl Dip Recipe

Whether you love football or not, it’s hard to escape the excitement that surrounds the big NFL championship every year. Not having grown up with American football (we play football that actually involves feet back home…) lots of people are surprised by how much I have gotten into football (the American version). What started out as a game of two lines of dudes wrestling, then falling down, then getting up again only to wrestle some more has turned into something that gets me excited quite a few Sundays and even Saturdays on occasion. I love going to games and tailgating and I’ve been an avid fantasy football coach for a few season now, too. Basically, you pick players and their performance in real life gives you a score in your fantasy league. It’s really fun (or equally as agitating) playing with my friends.

Me roarrrring during a Panthers game

So, while I was sad our Carolina Panthers did not make it very far in the playoffs this season (sooo proud they made it to the playoffs at all though!), I am excited about this weekend’s match-up. We watched “The Book of Manning” (you can watch the whole Book of Manning here! How cool!) the other day and after that I am now totally rooting for the Broncos. It’d be nice for their former Panthers coach, too.

My traditional thing to bring to Super Bowl parties is my “Green Bay Packers Hot Bean Superbowl Dip”. I named it after the winners of that year’s Super Bowl… Go figure now I’m getting married to a Green Bay fan. This year I am also bringing fun bingo sheets that you can download for free here.

Sandra’s Hot Bean Super Bowl Dip

– 8oz cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
16oz refried beans
0.5 packages of taco seasoning
a few drops of hot sauce
2 TBS parsley
0.25 cups cut green onions
16oz Mexican shredded cheese mix

1. Heat your oven to 350F (175C)2. First mix sour cream and softened cream cheese.
2. Then mix everything except for half of the shredded cheese in.
3. Put mixture into a baking dish (I use an 8x12in dish).
4. Top with remaining half of the shredded cheese.
5. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is starting to brown.
6. Serve with corn chips!

I always have to take a ton of lactaid to eat this but it’s sooooo good, totally worth it! Nom nom!

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I Declare Pimento Cheeseypendence!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHappy Independence Day! One of my fondest Independence Day memories is a trip to Pawley’s Island with two of my girlfriends a few years back. It was the weekend  the bartender got fired for giving us too many free drinks. Wonderful beach time, fun shopping and frat boys asked us what year we’d graduate from college (thank you SPF for keeping us looking fine and young).

It was the weekend I was introduced to pimento cheese. I’d eat a sandwich for lunch, one for snack and maybe one for dinner. I was totes hooked! Later that year I discovered I was lactarded and the worst thing for any lactose intolerant person or people in their vicinity 😉 is soft cheese. Sayonara pimento cheese. 🙁

Untillllll I found a recipe in Rachael Ray magazine the other day that didn’t use any cream cheese at all. Hey hey, fancy that!! It asked for cheddar cubes, which I can easily get lactose free (thank you Cabot’s Cheese!!!) I added some jalapeños for good measure and always have some pickles as a side.

Pimento CheesePimento Cheese
● 3/4 of a block of cheddar, cubed
● 1/2 a glass of pimentos, drained & chopped (ca 4oz)
● 3 heaping table spoons of mayo
● ca 10 jalapeño slices, chopped (optional)

Throw cheddar into food processor and process until somewhat of a paste. Add rest of ingredients and pulse until everything is mixed well.
I like mine best on fresh bread but it should be awesome on burgers, too. Guten Appetit y’all!

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Express Stuffed Peppers – (You Might Be A Foodie If….)

… the first thing that comes to your mind after cooking an amazing dish is to preserve the memories recipe in a blog post for future reference.

I was craving stuffed bell peppers tonight but honestly after a stressful day at the office and shopping at Target (9 more days until our cruise!!) I really didn’t want to wait an hour and a half until I could pull a meal out of the oven. Seriously, like that’s a week night option!! Sure I could have gotten some frozen instant version of stuffed peppers but I’m trying really hard to avoid Barely-There-Cuisine type uber-engineered meals with a 55 ingredients chemicals list.

So if you are looking for an easy, somewhat healthy and most importantly fast stuffed peppers recipe, you might like what I came up with. I cooked the following in under 30 minutes and even had my living areas vacuumed and the kitchen cleaned up before I sat down with my plate and a glass of Shiraz.

  • Always a good staple on hand, I freeze ground beef/pork in quarters of the rectangular packs. Defrost 2 of them or use fresh if you specifically shop for this meal. (I think that would equate to ca 1/2 lbs of ground meat)
  • I had a set of three bell peppers ($1.99 at ALDI, $3.99 at Target (Just saying)) and I washed and beheaded them and got rid of the seeds.
  • Place the peppers open side up in a microwavable dish and add a cm of water to the dish. Microwave on high for 3 minutes.
  • Combine raw ground beef, ca 1/2 cup or instant rice (the one that takes 5 minutes to boil), 14oz of tomato sauce (1/2 a big can), garlic powder (I used ca 1 tablespoon but you could easily crush 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic and use those), red crushed pepper flakes (I used way too much! Hello mouth on fire! Try 1 tablespoon or substitute with paprika and black pepper), a bit of salt and a dash of sugar. Now, I’m thinking if you don’t have enough ground meat or rice on hand you could also easily use bread crumbs as filler.
  • Fill the now a little softer bell peppers with the mix. Cover and microwave for 10 minutes. Ding! Food is done! Don’t burn your hands or lips!

I’m going to unstuff the left-over peppers and add some more sauce so they’ll heat up better for lunch. Definitely making them again!

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