Simple Meal Plans & Real Life – March 10

We’ve been working behind the scenes on some exciting new additions to the Weekly Meal Plans.  I can’t wait to share with you, but I’m not quite ready yet.  I will say, I think you’re going to love it!

Last week started off with snow and ice and ended with highs in the upper 50s.  Crazy Kentucky weather!  Our dinners ranged from newly created recipes to simple things like pancakes and sausage.  We also had grilled cheese and tomato soup for one meal, which tasted great on a snowy day.

Simple Weekly Meal Plans

If you’ve been looking for a way to save time on menu planning, you’ll want to look into getting our Weekly Meal Plans.  All the organizing and thinking is done for you.  No grocery list making or side dish planning needed.  I love using these and when I don’t have to do any recipe creation, this is my preferred way to shop and cook.

Here’s a sneak peek at this week’s meal plans.  When you join the Weekly Meal Plan list, you get the grocery list and printable recipes with side dishes included.  You can find out more about how to get the meal plans for yourself by clicking here.

Traditional Plan

Slow Cooker Plan

1. Maple Apple Chicken 
2. Refried Beans without the Refry ( For bean and beef burritos)

Real Life and a New Weekly Meal Plan – May 27


Happy Memorial Day!

I shared this photo on Instagram and Facebook the other day.  This is how the Weekly Meal Plan grocery lists look now that they’re color coded.  Happy!

I didn’t shop until Monday, because I was in Disney World for a conference last weekend.  I printed the Slow Cooker plan for this week.

And then, I never used a slow cooker during the week at all!  I find that I do a lot of improvising and changing things with the meal plans.  But it is so much easier to do that when I’ve shopped with a list and have a plan of what to fix.

Here’s how I made it work this week:

Monday was shopping day.  By the time I got home with the groceries, it was too late to make anything in the slow cooker.  The plan had  “Pork with Chinese Sauce, stir fry veggies and rice” for one night.  I decided to use chicken tenders instead of pork and cook it on top of the stove in a skillet instead of the slow cooker.  Quick and easy.

It was a beautiful evening for backyard games.


On Tuesday, I meant to put Slow Cooker Meatballs on to cook in the morning, but forgot all about it.  I decided to bake the meatballs in the oven instead.  Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and salad.

Tuesday afternoon, I took Meredith wedding dress shopping.  We were really just scouting things out until she gets back from her summer in China.  She wanted to get an idea of what’s out there for dresses, but she ended up finding a dress she liked.  It needs significant alterations, so those will be done when she gets home in August.

Wednesday, I failed to load up the crockpot again.  I’m the most distracted person ever!  I got busy working on other things and looked up at 5pm and realized the boys would be leaving soon for youth group.  They leave at the same time every week, and every week it takes me by surprise.  I was going to make one of our favorite 15 minute meals, but it has no meat and the boys balked at that.  So I fixed Southwest Chicken and rice instead.  Not on the plan, but I had all the ingredients and it was a quick fix.

Thursday, I planned to load up the slow cooker with ingredients for African Pulled Beef Sandwiches.  I forgot.  Again!  Instead, I made a quick dinner of Tony’s Tilapia, cauliflower and cream cheese smashed potatoes.

I was a bit frustrated over an issue with one of the kids while I was make dinner.  I might have gotten carried away with the Cajun seasoning in the heat of the moment.  The fish was a little spicy!

It’s now Friday (I’m writing this post a few days early), and we’ve got plans to eat out with friends.  The kids are staying home and having hot dogs, while the adults go out.  Oh the joys of having older kids!

Sometime over the weekend, I’m determined to fix some of the other slow cooker meals on the menu this week.  Saturday will be a perfect day for the African Pulled Beef Sandwiches.  Jim is planning to ride in a long bike ride and he’ll be hungry afterward.  And I’ve got several recipes to create and photograph for a client, so a slow cooker meal will come in handy.

I’d love to know how you improvise your meal plans.  Leave me a comment and let me know how it works (or maybe, doesn’t work!) for you.

Here’s a sneak peek at this week’s meal plans.  You can find out more about how to get them delivered to your inbox by clicking here.

All Slow Cooker Plan

Italian Seasoned Salt Chicken in the Slow Cooker
Complete Barbecue Chicken Dinner in the Slow Cooker
Slow Cooker Meatballs and Spaghetti Sauce,
Easy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
Pork w/ Chinese Sauce (stir fry, sweet and sour, general tso’s, etc.)
African Pulled Beef Sandwiches in the Slow Cooker with Yogurt-Mint Sauce
Easy Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream Cake

Traditional Plan

Complete Barbecue Chicken Dinner in the Slow Cooker
Breakfast for dinner! Scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, biscuits, bacon/sausage, and fruit
Orange chicken 
Chicago Style Pizza Pot Pie 
Red Sauce DiPaola 
Sloppy Cubanos 
Easy Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream Cake


Real Life and Meal Planning – New Plans for May 20



I actually shopped with a real, printed grocery list this week!  After several weeks of not using the Weekly Meal Plans due to recipe development, crazy schedules and traveling family members, it was good to get back to shopping with a plan.

I chose the Traditional Plan for May 13, since I did my shopping for that week.  And we stuck pretty close to the menu too.

I shopped on Saturday.  Have I ever mentioned that I’m a speed shopper?  Especially in the grocery store, I don’t waste any time.  I grab that cart and I’m off!  If I can get through Walmart and home again in about an hour, I feel like I’ve really won.

Saturday evening, there were just two of us home at dinner time.  I knew others would be coming in later though, so I grilled 8 burgers.  We had sweet potato fries with them.  It tasted so good, like summertime.

Sunday was Mother’s Day.   Jim talked about taking us out to dinner, but our youngest daughter started running a fever on Saturday night.  And honestly, restaurants are pure craziness on Mother’s Day anyway.  I decided to make Crockpot Chicken Fajitas, but instead of using the crockpot I used my cast iron Dutch oven.  One of these days soon, I’m going to do a post on this pot.  I got it in December and I love it!  Best of all, it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.  I got a deal at Walmart.

I also wanted to make guacamole to go with dinner, but the avocados weren’t ripe yet.  So I googled “how to ripen an avocado fast” and came up with a method for doing so in the oven.  Chalk that up to too-good-to-be-true.  It didn’t work and we ran past the store after church for riper avocados.

There was a frost warning on Sunday night, so we had to tuck the strawberry plants under covers.


On Monday, I grilled chicken tenders outside.  I grilled a whole 3lb. bag and froze the extra.  I love having cooked meat in the freezer. It makes cooking so much faster.  I did a quick no-time-marinade, and doused the frozen chicken with Italian dressing before grilling.

We took a walk after dinner.  It was beautiful outside!

The grill ran out of gas just as the chicken was finished cooking.  Perfect timing!



Tuesday, I battled a migraine. Yuck.  We had an easy dinner of mac & cheese and steamed broccoli.  I also created a new ice cream recipe Tuesday afternoon that I can’t wait to share with you.  Look for it this Wednesday.

Wednesday, my son reminded me that it was youth group night. Normally, my oldest son drives them to church, but he’s been in NYC this week.  So it was up to either Jim or me to do the driving this time.  This also made me realize that I’m losing my driver for next year.  My son, who just graduated will be living at home.  But he won’t be going the same places as my younger son any more.  I’ll be back to chauffeuring and finding carpools.

I’m writing this post on Wednesday evening and I haven’t decided what we’ll eat yet.  It will either be Garlic Lime Tilapia or Enchiladas.

Thursday is laundry and packing day.  And Friday, I’m off to Walt Disney World for the Food Blog Forum Conference!  A long weekend in one of my favorite places with some food blogger friends sounds fun to me!

Here’s a sneak peek at this week’s meal plans.  You can find out more about how to get them delivered to your inbox by clicking here.

Traditional Plan

Homemade Baked Beans in the Slow Cooker with hot dogs
Grilled sandwiches 
Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese 
Peanut chicken 
Pork Lettuce Wraps
Spanish Steak and Onions with roasted potatoes and asparagus (steak marinated in sliced onions, vinegar, and olive oil)
Frozen Mocha Marble Loaf

All Slow Cooker Plan

Garlic Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes in the Slow Cooker
Homemade Baked Beans in the Slow Cooker with hot dogs
Sweet and Sour Pork Chops in the Slow Cooker
Easy Meatball Subs
Pesto Tomato Ravioli (using cooking method from Ravioli in the Slow Cooker)
Cube Steaks and Gravy in the Slow Cooker
Lemon Cheesecake Dessert


Real Life and Meal Plans – And a New Weekly Meal Plan Feature!

I’m so excited about this new feature of the Weekly Meal Plans.  Last week, I mentioned that I accidentally threw away my grocery list, which had the menu on it.  This week, I was able to print off our new Display Menu and hang it on the fridge.

I can’t even tell you how many times I checked the Display Menu to see what I should be cooking for dinner that night.  It’s so handy and beats looking it up on the computer (not that doing that is hard or anything, but…).

Last Sunday, we celebrated Easter.  I have a fantastic pineapple dessert recipe that I’m going to share with you tomorrow.  It was a great way to top off our Easter dinner.  Along with all those peanut butter eggs – yum!

We had to do our egg hunt inside this time, since it was raining.  My mom says that if it rains on Easter Sunday, it will rain 7 Sundays in a row after that.  It was looking like rain earlier, but it’s been sunny most of the day.  Here’s hoping she’s wrong about that!

Yes, that’s a little plastic cupcake instead of an egg.  Cute, huh?  And if you look closely, you can see our basketball goal hanging on the front door.  We’re classy like that.

On Monday, I put meatballs in the slow cooker.  I served them on garlic bread like open face meatball sandwiches.  So good!

On Tuesday, my son had soccer practice and the others were in and out around dinner time.  I pulled a quick meal together of chicken tenders in the skillet and broccoli.  Not on the plan, but I had all the ingredients in the fridge.

Wednesday, the boys had youth group.  Somehow, I’d gathered nearly 3 dozen eggs in my fridge (not from hens, just the grocery).  I decided to make an easy dinner of French toast and bacon, that would also use up the stale bread in the bread drawer.  Quick and easy.

Thursday is a busy day for us.  The kids all have classes and I also help at one of the homeschool groups.  I almost always load up the slow cooker with dinner so it’s ready and waiting when we get home.  This time, I tried a new idea for Teriyaki pork chops.  Recipe coming soon.  It was a hit and easy too.

Friday night brought more soccer practice.  I pulled together Chicken Tortilla Soup for dinner, but opted to cook it on the stove top instead of in the slow cooker.

Yesterday was grocery day again.  I printed off this week’s Traditional Menu.  I like to shop as fast as I can, and having that list ready to print and shop makes it all easier.

Last night, we went out to dinner with friends.  It’s so good to have time to catch up.  We left all the kids at home with pizza.  If you’ve got little ones and still have to line up a baby sitter, hang on!  It won’t be long before you can leave them on their own for a while.

Here’s a sneak peek at the menus for this week.  If you want the complete grocery list, side dishes, cooking tips and all delivered to your inbox, check out the Weekly Meal Plans page.

All Slow Cooker Menu

  1. Smoky Chipotle Chicken Tacos in the Slow Cooker
  2. Round Steak with Vegetable Gravy in the Slow Cooker
  3. Open Face Slow Cooker Meatball Sandwiches
  4. Chicken Tortilla Soup 
  5. Beef Teriyaki with Pineapple 
  6. Chicken Curry in the Crockpot
  7. Cherry Oat Bars

Traditional Menu

  1. Baked Potato Soup
  2. Italian Sausage Enchiladas 
  3. Gluten free BLT pizza 
  4. Pork Chops topped with Pineapple, Green Pepper, and onion
  5. Honey Apple Ham 
  6. Bowtie Pasta with Feta and Lemon Pepper Chicken
  7. Cherry Oat Bars

Weekly Menu + Grocery List – Year 3 Week 52!

This menu marks 3 full years worth of menus available on the site! You can find all the past menus by going here. I’d love for your help sharing this resource.  Feel free to pin on Pinterest or share on Facebook or tell your friends if you like the menus.

Next week, I’ve got a giveaway to celebrate finishing up the third year of free menus.

But for now, let’s talk about this week’s menu.  The Lemon Pepper Tilapia recipe can be cooked either on the grill or in the oven.  If you choose oven, bake it at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes.

The Cranberry Nut Bars are fantastic, so simple looking, but so delicious.  They do make quite a few though.  If you have extra, you can pop them in the freezer for later.

As always, you get 6 dinners and 1 dessert.  Serving suggestions are included in bold on the recipes and in curly brackets on the grocery list.

Here’s what is on the menu this week:

Swiss Macaroni and Cheese with Smoked Sausage, favorite green veggie

Slow Cooker Beef Teriyaki with Pineapple, rice

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings with Gnocchi, salad

Pepperoni Pizza Pasta, salad

Lemon Pepper Tilapia with Veggies on the Grill (or in the oven), baked potatoes

Beef and Black Bean Taco Bake, chips and salsa, salad

Cranberry Nut Bars

To print, click here: menu year 3 week 52

Weekly Menu + Grocery List – Year 3 Week 50

I spent a good bit of last week in Tennessee at my oldest son’s last soccer tournament.  We had a great time watching soccer, touring Mayfield Dairy, eating ice cream, shopping the Russell Stover candy store, eating at Mo Mo’s BBQ.

Now soccer season is officially over.  Bittersweet, because we enjoyed time with the other families and, of course, watching our son play.  He’s a senior so this was the last of his high school soccer career.

This week’s menu has some really good quick meals and a few ways to stock your freezer too.  I like to double the Mini Deep Dish Pizzas and freeze them for lunches or snacks.  And the Pumpkin Biscoff Monster cookies make plenty for the freezer.

As always, you get 6 dinners and 1 dessert.  Serving suggestions are included in bold on the recipes and in curly brackets {} on the grocery list.

Cheater Chinese Chicken over rice

Mini Deep Dish Pizzas, salad

Chicken Philly Sandwiches in the Slow Cooker, french fries, carrot sticks

Cottage Pie, favorite steamed green veggie, Warm Cinnamon Apple Sauce with Toasted Marshmallows

Mexican Beans and Rice, salad, chips and salsa

Ham, Broccoli and Cheddar Soup, Cheddar Chive Biscuits

Pumpkin Biscoff Monster Cookies

To print, click here: menu year 3 week 50

Weekly Menu + Grocery List Year 3 Week 49

This week’s menu has some of my favorite recipes.  Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas and Brown Sugar Chicken and Sweet Potatoes are two recipes we love.  It’s hard to go wrong with a slow cooker, especially when the food is delish!

Chicago Style Pizza Pot Pie is a treat.  And it reminds me of an outing in Chicago with a friend, when we got to go to the restaurant that makes real pizza pot pies.  Amazing and worth the trip.

And Frito Candy!  Such a hit every time I make it.  The recipe comes from Cookie Madness, I just doubled it so it would last longer than 5 minutes in this crowd of sweet lovers.

Easy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas, tortillas and fixings, chips & salsa

Brown Sugar Chicken and Sweet Potatoes in the Slow Cooker, favorite green veggie

South of the Border Skillet, salad

Chicago Style Pizza Pot Pie, salad

Bowtie Pasta with Feta and Lemon Pepper Chicken

All Veggie Vegetable Soup, Cheddar Muffins

Frito Candy

To print, click here:  menu year 3 week 49

Weekly Menu + Grocery List Year 3 Week 48

This week seems to have a theme of honey, but I promise that all the recipes taste very different from each other.

As always, you get 6 dinners and 1 dessert.  (Funny that there’s no honey in the dessert.)  Serving suggestions are included in bold on the recipes and in curly brackets {} on the grocery list.

Tomato Basil Chicken Soup, garlic bread, salad

Honey Lemon Pepper Salmon, baked sweet potatoes, favorite green veggie

Honey Hoisin Chicken, rice, favorite green veggie

Honey Dijon Pork Chops and Apples in the Slow Cooker, spinach salad, Cheddar Chive Biscuits

Chipped Beef Gravy over Cornbread, fresh fruit

BBQ Chicken with Southwestern Cornbread Stuffing, favorite veggie

Tuxedo Bars

To print, click here:  menu year 3 week 48

Free Weekly Menu + Grocery List – Year 3 Week 47

The menu this week could be a great opportunity to stock the freezer.  Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells make enough to freeze a pan and have a pan to eat.

Both the Reuben Calzone and Mel’s Diner Chili will freeze well.  You’ll need to double the ingredients for these, if you want to have enough to eat once and still freeze some for later.

And, of course the Cheddar Chive Biscuits are great to put away in the freezer.

Here’s the full menu for this week:

Reuben Calzone, Quick Cole Slaw

Skillet Chicken, Peppers and Tomatoes, salad

Mel’s Diner Chili, Cheddar Chive Freezer Biscuits

Salmon Patties, Mac & Cheese, favorite green veggie

Crockpot Cantonese Sweet and Sour Chicken over rice

Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells, salad

Hot Fudge and Caramel Chocolate Poke Cake

To print, click here:  menu year 3 week 47


Free Weekly Menu + Grocery List – Year 3 Week 46

I think this is a perfect menu for fall.  Pumpkin Chili, Apple Cider Cake and some other foods that fit the season as well.

As always, you get 6 dinners and 1 dessert.  Serving suggestions are included in bold on the recipe and curly brackets {} on the grocery list.

We’re in the middle of a month long series called 31 Days of Cooking Short Cuts for Cheaters.  Click that link to find the other posts so far in this series.  Being able to print a grocery list without having to plan a grocery list is a huge short cut for me each week!

Pumpkin Black Bean Chili in the Slow Cooker, Cheddar Muffins

Baked Chicken with Summer Vegetables in the Slow Cooker, angel hair pasta, salad

Loaded Baked Potatoes with Homemade Cheese Sauce, salad

Garlic Lime Tilapia, baked sweet potatoes, favorite green veggie

Honey Cashew Pork Stir Fry, rice

Beef and Black Bean Taco Bake, salad

Apple Cider Cake

 To print, click here:  menu year 3 week 46