Monday, August 11, 2014

In the real world...

In addition to providing some reviews of all of the recipes we tried as part of our July meal plan, this month I am also providing you all with an idea of what happens in the NMOTB household after the meal plan is created (as promised.)

When people visit us and see our monthly meal plan hanging on the fridge, the follow-up question is usually, "So, do you actually stick to it?"  My answer as always been, "Well, yes.  Within reason."

But, this month I decided to actually keep track of the subtle changes we made to have a better answer for people.  Sometimes the changes we make will be to the actual meal (i.e., We have a salad instead of asparagus because I didn't see any good asparagus when I went to the grocery store) and sometimes it will be a change to the calendar because of unforeseen social engagements, travel plans that change, or simply that I just don't feel like cooking dinner.  It seemed like the changes in July were more related to the latter because it ended up being an exceptionally busy month.  In looking back, it still appears that the correct response to that FAQ is, "Well, yes.  Within reason."

July 7
Meal Plan - Beef Lo Mein using this recipe.
Reality - Beef Lo Mein using THIS recipe.  
The first recipe used beef boullion which I didn't feel like buying just for one recipe, so I did a little more Pinteresting and voila!

July 8
Meal Plan - Buffalo Pork Chops; One Pan Fettuccine Alfredo; Green Beans
Reality - Dinner with my husband's boss
We had planned to order pizza later on during this same week, so instead I just pushed back all of the meal plans by one day and we enjoyed socializing with my husband's boss at a local eatery we'd been hoping to try.

July 12
Meal Plan - Pulled Pork; Grilled Corn; Potato Wedges
Reality - Too tired to cook
I would say this happens about once a month. I plan a big meal and then realize it isn't going to work given everything else I have to accomplish on that day.  This day was TIH's fourth birthday party, so by the time we got home I didn't want to do anything.  I'm not sure what we ended up eating, but I didn't cook it!

July 13
Meal Plan - Grilled Shrimp with Mustard Sauce; Baked Potatoes; Sauteed Brussels & Corn
Reality - Pulled Pork; Grilled Corn; Potato Wedges; Cole Slaw
We pushed the meal from July 12 back onto this day and invited friends over to share it with us!  It was absolutely delightful to have everyone over and the meal was enjoyed by everyone!

July 17
Meal Plan - Stuffed Peppers; Bread; Salad
Reality - Homemade Pizza; Salad
This was TIH's birthday and he specifically requested pizza for his birthday.  Since we'd done our fair share of dining out over the course of the month already, we opted to make it ourselves.  Served with a nice slice of birthday cake, of course.

July 18
Meal Plan - Grilled Brats; Cole Slaw; Tator Tots
Reality - Snacks
Here was another example of not really being in the mood for a big meal or wanting to cook it.  Instead, my husband swung by the deli and got a few snacks (wings, cheese & crackers, etc.) and we ate that.

July 19
Meal Plan - No meal plan - having visitors
Reality - Stuffed Peppers; Bread; Salad
My husband's parents were visiting and we weren't sure how long they would be staying in town, so we weren't sure if we would be cooking for a crowd or dining out.  When we found out they were heading home early, I went ahead and moved up the meal plan for July 17 to this day.

July 25
Meal Plan - Steaks; Grilled Vegetables; Baked Potatoes
Reality - Steaks; Grilled Vegetables; Baked Sweet Potatoes
The sweet potatoes just sounded better when I was grocery shopping!

July 26
Meal Plan - Spinach & Mushroom Smothered Chicken; Carrots; Pasta
Reality - Had dinner with friends
You know me, I can't miss out on a social opportunity.  We can have this meal some other time!

July 31
Meal Plan - Breaded Pork Chops; Cous Cous; Sauteed Asparagus
Reality - Going Away Happy Hour
A very good friend and colleague is starting a new job with the next school year, so I spent the evening sharing memories over cocktails and moved this plan to August.  Great way to get a headstart!


As you can see, I wasn't too great with the picture taking this month, but we did try a lot of great new recipes.  Some of which I'm happy to say will for sure be making return appearances on future meal plans.

Grilled Fish - (not pictured) We initially planned to cook this on the grill, but decided to go with the oven at the last minute (took about 20 minutes at 400 degrees; my oven generally cooks slow.)  My husband had tilapia instead of salmon, but this delicious marinade worked very well with both.  We left the fish in the marinade for 30 minutes before cooking it.  I think it would be great grilled, so definitely worth a try!

Beef Lo Mein - SO GREAT.  In addition to being very tasty and enjoyable for the whole family (TIH included!), it was exceptionally easy to put together.  A friend of mine also said she tried it with chicken, so this recipe is adaptable to a variety of tastes (would probably be great with extra veggies or tofu as well, if you are so inclined!)  This recipe will be added to the regular rotation without a doubt!

One Pot Fettuccine Alfredo - I love me some fettuccine alfredo and I even have a great recipe I've honed over the years - but this is PERFECT for an easy weeknight side dish.  Sure, cream sauces aren't the healthiest dish in existence, but this is DEFINITELY better than something I would make from a box (which I've been known to do in a pinch.)  These meals that come together in one pan are obviously my new favorites.  I've already put this on our current meal plan!

Grilled Shrimp with Mustard Sauce - (not pictured) Great method for brining and grilling shrimp.  The mustard sauce was just "eh."  I would have rather had a spicy cocktail sauce or a tarter sauce or really any other kind of sauce.  The sauce itself wasn't bad, it just didn't really do much for the shrimp.  Now we actually have a method for grilling shrimp now - we've done it before, but it was all kind of lackluster.  Glad to have something in my arsenal that works!

Lemon Shrimp with Parmesan Rice - (not pictured) I think I did something wrong with this recipe.  For starters, it could have been that I used a boil in a bag rice brown rice instead of the rice recommended for the recipe.  The shrimp itself was great, but paired with the rice it was sort of a gummy mess.  My husband didn't seem to hate it as much as I did, but we both agreed it just wasn't our favorite recipe.  Worth giving it a shot if you can learn from my mistakes, but I'm not sure we'll be trying it again.

Spinach & Mushroom Smothered Chicken - (not pictured; not attempted) This is the second or third month in a row that we haven't gotten to this dish.  I swear it sounds delightful to me, but we keep scheduling it on days that it gets cancelled.  We'll get to it someday.

Cheesy Chicken Orzo - (not pictured) This was touted as "Grown Up Mac & Cheese," but really I think I would have liked mac & cheese from the box better.  We tried to doctor it up a bit by adding some spices and hot sauce, but it just wasn't really anything special.  It's a shame because I was really looking forward to it!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Pin me!