How I Eat

How I Eat: Have a Starting Point and Eat Your Leftovers

Welcome to How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People. (If you missed it, click over to read more about this series on The Pajama Chef.) This series is meant to inspire readers (and myself!) with tips and tricks for meal planning and getting dinner on the table. Whether you’re cooking for one or a crowd, I firmly believe that good food shouldn’t be sacrificed just because life is busy.

How I Eat, Wendy: Have a Starting Point and Eat Your Leftovers

Today’s feature on How I Eat is Wendy, the blogger behind A Day in the Life on the Farm. Wendy lives in Michigan with her husband–and fun fact: she’s a retired cop! I love reading about her adventures in the kitchen and am excited to share her meal planning insights with all of you!

Tell us about yourself. Who are you cooking for? What else influences how you get meals on the table?

I am retired and suffering from empty nest syndrome. Having been used to cooking for a crowd, it is hard for me to cook for just 2 now. I have learned how to plan and repurpose leftovers into meals all week long.

What meals do you plan?

  • Dinner

In a typical week, approximately how many meals per week do you plan to eat at home or prepare to take with you (e.g., to work or school)? No shame… curious minds want to know! For this, I would include any food purchased at the grocery store (e.g., rotisserie chicken, bagged salad mix, etc.) but not takeout.

  • 16-18: I eat out 3-5 times per week, maybe a few days for lunch or so.

What is your basic meal planning method?

Being a food blogger really dictates my menus. I belong to a lot of different blogging events. I write each event on a calendar along with everything else that is going on in my life. Once a week I sit down and make a Weekly Menu. I look to see what events I have in the next few weeks and how I can incorporate those events into my meal planning. For example: this week I am having a dinner party for my family that lives up north. On the menu for that evening are items that will be blogged during five different events. Minestrone (Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project), Borscht Salad (Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project), Chicken Alfredo Lasagna (Comfort Food), Black Forest Bundt (Bundt Bakers). I will serve a Sauvignon Blanc with this meal to write about for my Wine Pairing Weekend group.
Any leftover soup will be used for lunch during the week along with bread that will be written about in the Bread Bakers group. In the off chance that there are any other leftovers they will also become lunch….or breakfast, if there is cake left. You can do that when you are retired and not trying to set a good example for the kids!!
How I Eat, Wendy: Have a Starting Point and Eat Your Leftovers
The above is just one night’s meal but, of course, we don’t eat like that every night. The rest of the week might look like pot roast one evening that is turned into pot pie for another dinner and hot beef sandwiches for a lunch. Or perhaps a roasted chicken that is served with mashed potatoes and a vegetable one evening, turned into chicken and dumplings for another meal and then tossed with pasta for a third meal. When there are only two of you (and a toddler, occasionally) you can often get three meals from one original dish.

What are your favorite weeknight meals?

I kind of answered that question during my explanation of meal planning… but here are a few!

How I Eat, Wendy: Have a Starting Point and Eat Your Leftovers

How I Eat, Wendy: Have a Starting Point and Eat Your Leftovers

What are your “no-brainer” meals? Or what meals do you make when there’s “nothing” to eat?

I always have pasta in the house and we are carb addicts. Pasta is a great foil for practically anything you have on hand. Open the refrigerator grab out those last few mushrooms, that last handful of spinach and that quarter of an onion. Saute them up in olive oil and some seasonings, toss in your cooked pasta and dinner is on the table in less than half an hour.

Do you use any tools to help you create your meal plan and/or execute it?

I do use tools ie: my calendar, my vast collection of cookbooks, internet searches which usually lead me to allrecipes.com and searches of other food blogs. I also post my Weekly Menu each week on my blog.

What is your best advice for someone who is just starting to meal plan?

Have themes for each day of the week. Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Fish Friday, Soup Saturday, etc….having designated days gives you a starting point. Also try to incorporate those leftovers into the plan or else you will find yourself throwing away some unknown green fuzzy item when you open your fridge. That leftover rice from Tuesday and leftover pork from Wednesday makes a kick butt fried rice dinner on Thursday with the addition of some frozen mixed veggies.

Anything else you want to add?

I just want to thank Sarah for including me in this fun little project. I love the food blogging community.

How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People - a new series on thepajamachef.com inspiring YOU in the weekly routine of meal planning!

Thank you, Wendy! I love your advice to just have a starting point. Whether you do themed days like Wendy suggests or just plan to cook on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, a starting point can help you accomplish your goals!

Connect with Wendy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for more inspiration.

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How I Eat, Dallas: Simple, Veggie Based Meals for Dinnertime Success
How I Eat

How I Eat: Simple, Veggie Based Meals for Dinnertime Success

Welcome to How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People. (If you missed it, click over to read more about this series on The Pajama Chef.) This series is meant to inspire readers (and myself!) with tips and tricks for meal planning and getting dinner on the table. Whether you’re cooking for one or a crowd, I firmly believe that good food shouldn’t be sacrificed just because life is busy.

How I Eat, Dallas: Simple, Veggie Based Meals for Dinnertime Success

Today’s feature on How I Eat is Dallas from Day By Day Masterpiece. Dallas and I found each other’s blogs online a long time ago, and we actually met up for coffee when she was in grad school at Purdue, in my hometown of West Lafayette, Indiana. She’s so sweet and I can’t wait for you guys to meet her!

Tell us about yourself. Who are you cooking for? What else influences how you get meals on the table?

I’m a 30-year-old newlywed who is building a business as an author, blogger, teacher and writing coach. No two days are the same and both my husband and I often get home in the evenings right around dinner time, so preparing ahead is key for us! My husband loves meat but I have gradually convinced him more and more of the deliciousness of hearty veggie meals. We generally eat meat only 1-2 times a week. Eating healthy, fresh food is so important to me, which is how I got into blogs like The Pajama Chef! My husband and I are also trying to save money to pay off student loans, so limiting our meals out has been a big help.

How I Eat, Dallas: Simple, Veggie Based Meals for Dinnertime Success

What meals do you plan?

  • Lunch
  • Dinner

In a typical week, approximately how many meals per week do you plan to eat at home or prepare to take with you (e.g., to work or school)? No shame… curious minds want to know! For this, I would include any food purchased at the grocery store (e.g., rotisserie chicken, bagged salad mix, etc.) but not takeout.

  • 21: I make all my own food and very rarely eat out.

What is your basic meal planning method?

I keep it simple– I use a whiteboard on our fridge.

How I Eat, Dallas: Simple, Veggie Based Meals for Dinnertime Success

What are your favorite weeknight meals?

One of my favorite things to do is throw a bunch of veggies, beans, maybe a grain like barley or some pasta, broth and spices into the crock pot in the morning, and then when I get home that evening a nourishing soup is waiting. I call this “Kitchen Sink Soup” and it’s a great way to use up leftovers or veggies on their last legs! (Note from Sarah: here’s a recipe for something similar if you need some measurements. But soups like this are SO forgiving!)

What are your “no-brainer” meals? Or what meals do you make when there’s “nothing” to eat?

I love simple meals like scrambled eggs, salads, soups and veggie-filled pastas.

Do you use any tools to help you create your meal plan and/or execute it?

  • Meal planning whiteboard or chalkboard
  • Home meal delivery service (e.g. Blue Apron or HelloFresh)
  • Freezer or batch cooking
  • Weekend meal prep

Is there anything you would like to elaborate on from the previous question?

We only use Blue Apron every 6 weeks or so, as a special treat. It’s a fun date night to cook together and try new recipes! I like to make big dishes– crock pot soups, chilis, casseroles– and freeze a large portion so we always have leftovers ready to go in the freezer for busy days.

How I Eat, Dallas: Simple, Veggie Based Meals for Dinnertime Success

What is your best advice for someone who is just starting to meal plan?

Little by little can really add up! You don’t have to jump into the deep end right off the bat. Even taking 15 minutes at the beginning of the week to sketch out a brief plan for your meals– even just one meal a day– can really help you feel so much more prepared and less stressed, not to mention healthier!

Anything else you want to add?

Thank you for asking me to participate! 🙂

How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People - a new series on thepajamachef.com inspiring YOU in the weekly routine of meal planning!

Thank you, Dallas! I love your encouragement to start simple. Little changes can add up to big results! Freezing large portions of big meals (like chili) is so helpful. We do that too! I think I need to give Blue Apron (or something similar) a try for date night–you’re the second guest on this series who has mentioned that. Sounds so fun!! Please check out Dallas online–she’s a wonderful writer! And she also shares tasty treats from time to time. 🙂

Connect with Dallas on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more inspiration.

How I Eat

How I Eat: Relying on Staples to Make Cooking for Two Easy

Welcome to How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People. (If you missed it, click over to read more about this series on The Pajama Chef.) This series is meant to inspire readers (and myself!) with tips and tricks for meal planning and getting dinner on the table. Whether you’re cooking for one or a crowd, I firmly believe that good food shouldn’t be sacrificed just because life is busy.

How I Eat: Relying on Staples to Make Cooking for Two Easy

Today’s feature on How I Eat is Colleen from Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice. Colleen is a Virginia food blogger who specializes in serving her recipes for feel-good southern comfort food with a side of sarcasm and a little bit of cat hair thrown in for good luck. Colleen and her adorable yet extremely neurotic Bengal cat Brenna are known for their not always successful, but often dare devilish food endeavors in the kitchen together. Things don’t always go as expected, but in the end there is always a delicious recipe that will make you wish the two of these girls were your neighbors, because not only do these two love to share their story, but they love feeding anyone who should just happen to stop by for a visit. To learn more about Colleen and Brenna, or just to find a delicious recipe for mouth watering cookies, flaky southern biscuits, sinfully delicious deviled eggs, or numerous other scrumptious treats you’ll just be dying to try, please stop by Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice for a visit.

Tell us about yourself. Who are you cooking for? What else influences how you get meals on the table?

Most days I cook for two people, me and B.O.B. Bob, however, I do have people over often fairly regularly, which gives me the opportunity to cook larger meals.

What meals do you plan?

  • Dinner

In a typical week, approximately how many meals per week do you plan to eat at home or prepare to take with you (e.g., to work or school)? No shame… curious minds want to know! For this, I would include any food purchased at the grocery store (e.g., rotisserie chicken, bagged salad mix, etc.) but not takeout.

  • 14-15: I eat out almost everyday.

What is your basic meal planning method?

My best meal planning method doesn’t exactly involve having a plan other than always making sure certain staples are in our house to create last-minute meals.

What are your favorite weeknight meals?

Breakfast for dinner is a real favorite. Salads with anything and everything thrown on top are a huge hit too. Soup, however, is the ultimate weeknight meal…it can be made ahead and takes very little time to heat up. My Soup Saturday Swappers page has links to several soup recipes perfect for weeknight meals.

What are your “no-brainer” meals? Or what meals do you make when there’s “nothing” to eat?

Grilled cheese, scrambled egg soft tacos with whatever fixings we have on hand, and grilled sausages are a real favorite with our neighbors when we get together as well because we can defrost them in a few minutes.

Do you use any tools to help you create your meal plan and/or execute it?

  • Freezer or batch cooking
  • Weekend meal prep

What is your best advice for someone who is just starting to meal plan?

I find that I do most of my cooking on the weekend when I have more time.

How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People - a new series on thepajamachef.com inspiring YOU in the weekly routine of meal planning!

Thank you, Colleen! Your reminder that having a meal plan doesn’t always have to be super formal is so important. If you can keep staples of your favorite ingredients on hand, dinner can be so easy! Relying on staples is key. And I love having people over too–it’s fun cooking for a crowd on occasion. Thanks for your perspective on meal planning!!

Connect with Colleen for more inspiration via Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.

How I Eat

How I Eat: British Master Chef Cooking for Two

Welcome to How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People. (If you missed it, click over to read more about this series on The Pajama Chef.) This series is meant to inspire readers (and myself!) with tips and tricks for meal planning and getting dinner on the table. Whether you’re cooking for one or a crowd, I firmly believe that good food shouldn’t be sacrificed just because life is busy.

How I Eat, Simon & Leslie: British Master Chef Cooking for Two

Today’s feature on How I Eat is my friend Leslie’s husband, Simon. Simon is from Scotland and while I’ve only known him for a few years, I’ve known Leslie since we were in third grade… 25 years ago. Gah. I feel old. Simon has quite a bit of culinary experience, as you’ll soon learn, so I hope you enjoy this post!

Tell us about yourself. Who are you cooking for? What else influences how you get meals on the table?

I (Simon) am a 30 year veteran Master Chef of Great Britain. I am currently setting up a patisserie business with my wife called Gosling’s. Dinners depending on my daily routine usually take 30 minutes from scratch though I do plan in advance our meals. We use cheaper cuts of meat which saves us alot of money, something I can take advantage of by shopping on a Sunday when supermarkets have the best deals. Because I have extensive knowledge, I am able to plan my menus as I shop.

What meals do you plan?

  • Dinner

How I Eat, Simon & Leslie: British Master Chef Cooking for Two

In a typical week, approximately how many meals per week do you plan to eat at home or prepare to take with you (e.g., to work or school)? No shame… curious minds want to know! For this, I would include any food purchased at the grocery store (e.g., rotisserie chicken, bagged salad mix, etc.) but not takeout.

  • 7 or less: I aim to make a meal at home once a day.

What is your basic meal planning method?

Buy your food first than plan the menu.

What are your favorite weeknight meals?

We love slow cooker items, maybe some ribs,  jambalaya, chili con carne. I make fresh tortillas, salsas, Indian food,  Thai fishcakes, sometimes meatballs… it really depends.

How I Eat, Simon & Leslie: British Master Chef Cooking for Two

What are your “no-brainer” meals? Or what meals do you make when there’s “nothing” to eat?

Pancakes–whether savoury or sweet, or sometimes French toast. Pita filled with falafel.

How I Eat, Simon & Leslie: British Master Chef Cooking for Two

What is your best advice for someone who is just starting to meal plan?

Always shop first. Buy one protein per day and work your menu around that protein, i.e. chicken wings (Monday),  short ribs (Tuesday), etc. You’ll find yourself better prepared and more money in your bank.

How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People - a new series on thepajamachef.com inspiring YOU in the weekly routine of meal planning!

Thank you, Simon, for sharing your culinary expertise with us! Great advice to work your menu around a protein. It’s also interesting to hear that “no-brainer” dinners cross cultures as well… breakfast for dinner is a hit for many Americans as well! Also… when can we come over for Thai fishcakes?!? 🙂

How I Eat, Simon & Leslie: British Master Chef Cooking for Two

Connect with Simon and Leslie’s new business, Gosling’s on Instagram. If you’re in Central Indiana, be sure to check them out! 🙂