Because life is better when you are happy!

Category Archives: Meal Planner

Time to make me some dinner! The kids are happily playing in blue sand (because it’s more fun when it’s blue) and this is on my kitchen counter, saying, “We’re ready for whatever you have in mind.”

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What I have in mind is…Roasted Beet Risotto with Walnuts & Swiss Cheese*!

I know the title of this is going to turn you off. I mean, roasted beets??? Who eats beets? I know I never had before this recipe. I’m a little embarrassed to say, I wasn’t entirely sure what they looked like. Turnips, radishes, beets…they all run together for me – probably because I never really eat any of them. All root vegetable connoisseurs feel free to mock me.

After a quick google search and some deep breaths, I took the dive and tried this sucker out.

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OMG. This is delish. Like…just stop squirming about the idea and TRY it. You won’t regret it. Even my husband, who is bit more of a reluctant pescatarianism than myself, has asked that this recipe stay on the regular rotation.

First of all, get that oven preheating to 450° F and peel and chop those beets into wedges. You can buy a bunch of beets (about 4 small ones) for around $1.75 – depending on the time of year you buy them. This recipe calls for about 7 beets, so this is a $3.50 investment in beets. I know, it’s a little intimidating to put that kind of stock in something like beets.

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They have the consistency of a sweet potato, so it’s a good thing they’re small or I would be struggling with the chopping part. I know…chopping food is not my strong point. Word of warning: beets excrete (yeah, probably shouldn’t use that term for food, but…) they EXCRETE purplish red juice everywhere when you cut into them. If you aren’t careful, it will look like a massacre happened in your kitchen so don’t make this shit in your wedding dress or anything! Toss them with a couple teaspoons of olive oil and salt and pepper, then pop them in the oven and forget about them for about 26 minutes.

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Now for the risotto.

You will need 1 1/4 c. Arborio rice for this. Arborio rice is a short-grain rice and is super yummy. Seriously, don’t use some basic white rice. It will not come out right. You can find this at any grocery store.

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Sauté the rice in about 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high heat for about two minutes. You just want to toast it a bit. You will start smelling toasted rice deliciousness and this is a good indication you can move onto the next step. 

Add 32-oz vegetable broth, 1 1/4 c. water and 1/4 t. salt. It will look super watery, just keep stirring it every once in a while and soon it will turn into delicious creaminess, about 20 minutes.

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Once the rice is nice and creamy, add about 2 ounces of the cheese. You can use whatever the heck you want, but I recommend the Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss Garlic and Herb. There’s a reason this cow is so happy.

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Go ahead and add about 1/4 teaspoon pepper and mix everything together. You just made risotto! Congrats! Now it’s time to make this dish pretty!

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Put about a cup of the risotto into a bowl. Top with the roasted beets. Did you forget about them? Pull them out of the oven! Sprinkle some toasted walnuts on top and decorate with some fresh parsley if you want. You are done! My mouth is just watering thinking of eating this. Yum!

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If this doesn’t make you want to try it…well…maybe beets aren’t for you.

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I am a pretty health conscious eater.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t crave and even give in to those less than healthy choices at times; however, I have found that on a tight budget, planning meals ahead that are healthy, yet also delicious, helps remove the temptation to eat the bad stuff while also keeping more money in my pocket.  This 2 week meal plan is focused on healthy eating.  That being said, there are things about these recipes that I tweak to make them even more healthy (like lessening the salt for instance).  The download at the bottom of this post is a printer friendly version of all the recipes in their…mostly original state, followed by a grocery list and a list of things you should make sure are in your pantry.  Warning: most of these recipes do not contain meat unless it is of the fish variety.

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I put an asterisk in front of the meals that are quick and pretty easy in case you want to rearrange the order into something that works better with your weekly schedule.

Sunday:  Great Grain Burgers w/ sweet potatoes and steamed cauliflower

Monday:  Spaghetti with Vegetarian Meatballs, green beans, and whole wheat rolls

Tuesday:  “Kidney” Pie

Wednesday:  *Teriyaki Shiitaki Mushrooms w/ Brown Rice and Sesame Broccoli

Thursday:  *Spicy Shrimp Wraps

Friday:  Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Saturday:  Veggie Pizza

Sunday:  *Cashew Chicken becomes Cashew Mixed Veggies

Monday:  Satay Prawns w/ Brown Rice

Tuesday:  Potato and Bean Casserole

Wednesday:  Frozen crockpot meal prepared ahead (Sorry, you’re on your own for tonight!)

Thursday:  Fettuccini w/ Argula and Corn

Friday:  *1-2-3 Hash Brown Pie

Saturday:  All-in-One Spaghetti Frittata

Here is the download for the recipes and grocery list!

2 Week Planner Fish & Vegetarian Complete

Tidbits and other remarks:

For the Vegetarian Meatballs:  The vegetarian meatballs are a bit of a time commitment, but they make a lot of meatballs.  I usually freeze half of the batch and cook the rest that night.  That way, it’s less work and it also means I’m only buying spaghetti noodles, sauce, and sides next time we eat this.

For the “Kidney Pie”:  The filling for this pie should be made the day before.  I usually make the filling at the beginning of the first week, freeze it, and then save it for the second week so that it’s less work later.

My grocery list estimates what it costs me at my local grocery store as well as my local taxes.  You can alter this to fit your area.  As you can see, it costs me a little over $50/week for food!  However, I allow myself an additional $25 to cover refilling my pantry and other miscellaneous items that I need.  Because there’s only three mouths to feed (one of them a very little mouth), we are able to eat the leftovers the next day to save the additional expense of buying lunch.

Health benefits of the Shiitaki Mushroom:  it is thought that shiitaki mushrooms are beneficial in fighting the development and progression of cancer as well as lowering cholesterol to name a few good things.  Here is a link if you want to know more about this delicious food!

This is a recipe that goes along with my first “2 Week Meal Plan”.  You should feel privileged.  This recipe has been handed down through my family and it is oh so good!


1 lb hamburger (I use turkey to make it a little healthier)

1 egg

1/2 c. chopped onion (chop a whole onion, freeze the rest for another day!)

1/4 c. flour

1/2 t. baking powder

1/4-1/2 c. milk (enough to make it thin)

1 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

Thoroughly mix all ingredients.  Drop by small spoonfuls onto hot skillet and fry, turning once.

Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

Serves 4

3/4 lb. chicken, cooked & cut into strips

1 1/2 c. broccoli

1 1/2 c. cauliflower

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 c. mayonnaise

1/2 c. cheddar cheese

1 t. lemon juice

1/2-1 t. curry powder

1/8-1/4 t. cayenne pepper

1/2 c. slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 375.

Place chicken in 8 inch square pan.  Top with cauliflower and broccoli.  Combine soup, mayonnaise, cheese, lemon juice, curry, and cayenne; spoon over vegetables.  Sprinkle with almonds.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.  Stir before serving.  Serve over rice.

This is a yummy recipe I got from a friend that has become a staple in our family.


1lb chicken, cubed

1/2 container sour cream

1 can cream of chicken soup

2 bags Ritz crackers (I use the off brand), crushed

1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted


Preheat oven to 350

Cook chicken in skillet until done.  Mix together sour cream and cream of chicken soup.  Stir in cooked chicken.  Put in the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 pan, or whatever you have.

Mix butter and crushed crackers together.  Sprinkle over your chicken mixture.

Bake 15-20 minutes in the oven.

Serve over rice.  Sprinkle top with crushed red peppers if you like.

Here’s my first attempt at sharing a two week meal plan.  First of all, to stick with my $80/two week budget, I make sure that I have my pantry stocked at all times with the things that I will be using on a regular basis.  Some of these things, like chicken, I buy in bulk when they’re on sale at my local grocery store.  I can get boneless chicken breasts for $1.5/lb this way!  Here’s what you want to make sure you have in stock for this two week meal plan:

mayonnaise, lemon juice, minced garlic, beef bouillon (I use Better Than Bouillon), ketchup, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, garlic powder, milk, butter, onions, chicken broth, chunky PB, honey,  soy sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, canola oil, sesame oil, paprika, chicken, rice, italian dressing, teriyaki sauce, ground ginger, flour, baking powder, chili sauce

Below is the two week meal plan.  The recipes will be linked.  If the recipe does not have a link, it’s on my blog under recipes.

Sunday:         Creamy Chicken Curry

Monday:       Garlic Chicken Poutine

Tuesday:       Vegitarian Meatloaf

Wednesday: Chicken Enchiladas II

Thursday:     Date Night (Cooks need a night off and some time with hubby!)

Friday:           Baked Chili Dogs

Saturday:      Chicken Divine

Sunday:         Thai Shrimp and Noodles

Monday:       Janpanese Noodle Stuff

Tuesday:       Frigadeller w/ sweet potatoes and green beans

Wednesday: Chicken Tettrazini (I don’t add peas, so if you want them, be sure to add it to your grocery list!  And I just use home cooked chicken breasts rather than a rotisserie.  It’s cheaper!)

Thursday:     Date Night

Friday:           Amish Casserole

Saturday:      Indonesian Peanut Chicken  (I use boneless chicken breasts for this recipe.)

And here is the grocery list.  I figured in the cost at my grocery store and our city’s taxes, so your total may be different than mine.

broccoli (12oz) x2 2.76

cauliflower (12oz) 1.38

cream of chicken soup x3 3

cheddar cheese 2 slivered almonds (1/2 c.) 1.3

french fries 2

16 oz cottage cheese 2

dry onion soup mix 1.12

cornflakes cereal 2

green onions 0.6

rotel tomatoes 0.7

cream of mushroom soup 1

sour cream 2

12″ flour tortillas 2.8

hot dogs 1

hot dog buns 1.2

can of chili 1.3

ritz crackers 1.3

Rice noodles or Shanghai noodles 1.5

fresh ginger root 0.2

carrots 0.72

Spagetti noodles x2 2.16

ground turkey x2 4.24

sweet potatoes  2

green beans 0.6

tomato soup 1

peanuts 3

red pepper 1.8

8 oz whipping cream 3

mushrooms 0.6

Parmsean cheese 3

Subtotal 53.28

Taxes 4.662

Total 57.942

Good luck and hope you enjoy!

One easy way to save money is to plan ahead. I know this is hard to do now a days with as busy as we make ourselves, but here’s where I come in! I can’t satisfy all variety of taste buds, but your welcome to copy off of my weekly meal plan, or rather biweekly meal plan. We have a biweekly budget of $80, which feels extravagant even for me! So if you can swing it, this will fit into that budget. If you can handle more than that, by all means, buy the steak!