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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