Meal planning...

So, today is my chore day catch up on EVERYTHING day! Here's my to do list:
1. Eat three healthy meals!
2. Find new healthy dinners to cook for my husband, as I am running out of new ideas and he gets tired of me cooking the same things over and over again.
3.Get my workout in!
4. Clean the house! Get all the clean dishes put away, sweet the kitchen and living room
5. Clean our fish tanks! One of them has this algae thats taking over one whole side. I think its time I took some of that off - we are having trouble seeing our fish! But, I'm glad that the tank is healthy enough to sustain growing plants!
6. Fix our bed
7. Clean the bathroom, INCLUDING the tub.

So - that's my list! So far, I have finished 1/3 of number one :) For breakfast I had oatmeal heated with water, almonds and craisins with a cup of Tazo Zen Green Tea. I am also working through number two, but had to take a break, which is why I am blogging now! Yesterday I went to the library and found some cook books to look through.When I saw Rachel Ray's cookbook, I had to get it! If I could cook something different every night, my husband would be in heaven! Well - I mean I cook something different every night, but sometimes I repeat things twice in a week, even though the taste is different, like I'll make baked chicken breasts on Monday night and then make chicken noodle soup on Thursday night. But sometimes, it's really hard to come up with new recipes and new ways to use the food we have! So - that's why I got the new recipes! I have already found a few recipes I am going to try from Rachel Ray's book, but I have about four other recipe books to look through.

 I also found this cookbook and was super excited to look through it...
But.. I found out something very new and interesting! This book claims that when you heat vegetables and fruit (also nuts and other "raw" foods - basically all things grown in the ground and nothing else) above 116 degrees F, they lose all their nutrients and active enzymes. So, in this book, the authors, Peter and Beryn Daniel use a food dehydrator to cook EVERYTHING! It was quite an interesting cookbook to read through, and I was able to take a few recipes out and tweak them so I would be able to use them without buying an expensive dehydrator. Although - I would love to try cooking with one sometimes if we ever become millionaires. :)

Then, my next cookbook was more right up my alley.
This book had all whole foods recipes with lots of vegetables and whole grains. So I am currently in this book, copying MANY of the recipes and figuring out when I will make them. One of the things that have been in each of these cookbooks ingredient lists is Tamari and Tahini. According to Google search, Tamari is a "variety of rich, naturally fermented soy sauce".. intersting. And Tahini is a "middle eastern paste made from ground sesame seeds." So, I might have to go buy some small bottles of those, we'll see.

My next recipe book is one specifically designed for creating meals for one or two people, which is exactly what i need. I have gotten pretty good at changing recipes to fit what we need, but its nice to not have to do all that math in my head! I haven't had a chance to look through this one, but I am excited to once I get through my other books.

Lastly, I have a book of super simple and easy meals...

I got this book because recipes for college students are always super quick and usually somewhat in the "comfort food" region. The first thing I always look at when looking through recipes is the recipe list to see what the ingredients are. If I find anything in there that I don't want to eat or feed my husband, I think about what healthy alternative could replace it, and if I think of something, then I check to see if that replacement would taste ok in the recipe. I also have to figure out if the texture will change, how much the taste will change, etc. So, this cookbook will be a nice reference for quick easy meals, but I plan on needing to spend extra time in this one making sure my meals are healthy! I actually am cooking dinner tonight out of this cookbook - Chicken Breasts with Rosemary. It's super simple, and healthy, so a winner on all ends! I had to do some replacing, but everything is super easy to replace in this recipe!

Once I find all the recipes I want to use out of these books, I type them all up into my "My Pepperplate" website. I have an app on my phone and Nook to refer to when I need to use the recipe. Then, I figure out all my meals for the week based on the items we have bought for the week, or what we have in the house. Sometimes, I just need to do some grocery shopping anyways, so I meal plan around similar items making our grocery bill smaller. Other times we just have a lot of odds and ends in the freezer and pantry that I want to use up. This week, it's kind of in the middle.
Then, I write each night's meal on our homemade dry erase board in the kitchen so my husband can see all the meals I have planned and if he wants something switched out, then he can just tell me. It's also nice for me to see what I have planned in advance so I can take things out of the freezer or plan how much time I will need to make that certain meal.
Then, once I get all my meals worked out, I figure out what I need to pick up from the grocery store, if anything. Then I make my list, and head out to the store!

Anyways, that gives you a quick idea of my meal planning strategies! It takes me a few hours to get everything ready and worked out, but once it's done, I know that I have a plan and don't need to stress about dinners during the week. Whenever I don't meal plan, I always end up regretting it because I run out of food or don't have a dinner planned and we end up having macaroni and cheese out of a box or something like that.