Friday, February 5, 2016

Once a month meal planning - February

And on to February! I planned this out super early because I knew that the last thing I'd want to do the weekend we were moving was handle a massive grocery list. I did, however, manage to convince myself to hit the grocery store on February 1st for our big shop and I was pretty impressed with myself because what I wanted to do was lie in bed and order take out (full disclosure - we did go out with friends on Monday and then order take out with them on Tuesday, so we're not exactly starting this month off strong but when your dear friend is only in town for a few days, you take advantage).


I stuck with my basic formula for this month, with weekly lentils and crock pot meals and I'm still hitting the sweet potato bolognese pretty hard. I keep thinking one week I'll realize I'm sick of it but it hasn't happened yet.

Recipes for this month:

Lentil and garlic sausage cassoulet - new to me recipe, only making a 1/2 batch because otherwise we'd be eating it forever. I couldn't find slab bacon so I got a small piece of pork belly instead. Maybe that's the same thing, now that I think about it?

Cashew nut chicken - Using the other half of the sauce that I froze last month (next time I might make a triple batch of sauce - it was so lovely to just dump everything together in the morning).

Spiced butternut squash, lentil and goat cheese salad - new to me, looks so good.

Crockpot beef stew - just realized I don't have the recipe for this posted anywhere. My mom always made it growing up and it's super easy. 1 lb beef stew meat, a couple potatoes, some carrots, some celery, all roughly chunked, 1 can of V8, 1 tbsp of sugar, 2 tbsp minute tapioca, ~ 2 tsp salt, cooked in the crockpot on low for 8 hours. I always consider looking for a fancier recipe, but this one never fails and it is so easy.

Canal house lentils - new to me, looks simple and delicious. Skeptical about the eight servings, though. In my experience, a cup of dried lentils usually equals four servings. Maybe it's meant to be a side dish?

Chicken enchilada soup - always.

Black lentils with caramelized onions - but just once this month.

Sweet potato and black bean chili - again, using up the odds and ends of the spiralized sweet potatoes. Last month I couldn't find ground chipotle so I just used some canned chipotles in adobo sauce (not a whole can! they are spicy) and it was delicious. I froze the other half of the can so I can do it again this time around.

Sweet potato bolognese - again, no real recipe. It's just 1/2 lb ground beef, 1/2 lb hot sausage, 1 jar marinara and 2 large sweet potatoes that have been spiralized. (spiralizer post is here).


The worst part of this for me is figuring out the grocery list with this many meals in the mix, but I assume I'll get better with that. I just jot down the ingredients for every meal, then consolidate them on a single page, keeping them roughly divided into categories (produce, meat, canned goods, etc). I check the pantry to see what I have and cross those things off. I usually then split the list into what I need from each store, but this month I lost energy at that point and it was fairly well divided anyways. I get my produce from Jons (best produce prices + selection around here) or the farmer's market, meat from Whole Foods, odds and ends from TJs or the regular grocery store. What surprises me is that once I get it all boiled down and consolidated, the major shopping trip really isn't that huge or that expensive! With perishable produce I also note down the week I need it (and make a note on my actual meal planning sheet), so that I can just get it that week.

I don't know - is my scribbled out grocery list the weirdest thing I've ever posted? Maybe next month I'll remember to take a picture before I write all over it and wad it up in my bag to take it out to multiple stores.

Previous once a month meal planning posts - January planning and January execution.


  1. Thanks for these posts, they are really inspiring to me. I'm pregnant with my second child and I'd like to try this method for the first few months after they arrive.

    The Spiced butternut squash/lentil/goat cheese salad is the #1 favorite meal in my household (husband and 2 year old both devour it). The next two favorite lentil dishes are:

    They are both really good!

  2. You are my hero! I'm doing well with weekly planning but may try this. Thanks for sharing your recipes, too!

  3. I LOVE these posts - I'm obsessed with meal planning at the moment and really like seeing how other people plan their meals.

  4. I have always loved your blog and these menus are really helping me manage our daily 3 hr commute and avoiding eating out every other night because it's "easier." Thank you!

    One of my favorite things I've learned re: salvaging a can of chipotles in adobo is to blend the whole thing and store it in a jar in the fridge. It keeps forever and then have it on hand whenever you want to add a spoonful to anything you think needs smoke/heat.

  5. Question about the baked potatoes: We have been getting into having baked potatoes for dinner but I'm feeling like the regular fixings (butter, sour cream) are not making this meal remotely nutritious, duh. What are you putting on your baked potatoes to make it have more nutritional value? I'm trying broccoli this week to see if that adds anything....

    1. We almost always use full fat greek yogurt instead of sour cream, which I love just as much (D still thinks sour cream is better). I'll sometimes use a little cheese but usually we stick with a ton of yogurt, and then add some steamed broccoli (chopped up pretty well) or some mushrooms that I saute quickly. I try to always serve a salad on the side so that we're getting some veggies in there. I haven't been as good about veg lately as I should be. : (

    2. Full fat greek yogurt? That sounds great. The mushroom is a great idea too, never thought of that. We are trying it out tomorrow night, so hopefully it sticks! Been really inspired by the weekly meal planning, feeling like I might try the month long plan. You may have said this in a previous post, but are you prepping/cooking all of your meals at the beginning of the month too or prepping/cooking as you go? Thanks so much!

    3. I definitely prep/cook as I go along! I've seen the once a month cooking plans and I'm so impressed by them, but I don't have the freezer space for that. The only prep I do at the beginning of the month is to portion out the meat I'll need for each recipe and freeze the portions individually so that it's easy to pull out each week. And if I'm making the cashew nut chicken, I always double or triple the sauce and freeze the extra so that the next month I don't have to get out the food processor and make it again.

  6. God you are beautifully organised.


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