(Photo Courtesy of the Walt Disney Company)
Ya’ll, I am riding the high of the successful meals from last week. If you recall, I made one completely new meal (Keto Buffalo Chicken Soup) and revisited a family favorite (Pernil Pork) in my efforts to introduce new entrees to our meal plan.
I am thrilled to report that both meals surpassed my expectations. My expectations were that I would explode my kitchen and I did not do that, so hurrah! I’ve probably mentioned, but before my marriage, I did not cook. Like, could not boil water did not cook. I was level 0. And then here is this nice man I married who has very specific dietary needs and I am all, “So, we could do a Trader Joe’s freezer meal?”
Mr. B was patient with me, but I had to step it up, and fast. I experimented with any recipe I stumbled upon, regardless of skill level, familiarity with ingredients, or any basic culinary knowledge. I was fearless! And for the most part, I did okay. Sure, the Artichoke Chicken Bake was waaaay too creamy, but it was a lesson learned about the creaminess of cream. And sure, I could have used a teensy bit less salt in that Oven Baked Fried Chicken, but who doesn’t love salt? Iodine is a necessary component of a healthy diet. Overall, the lessons I learned far outweighed the minor imperfections of the meals I made. I grew in basic competence and confidence. Until the day of the Teriyaki Chicken.
Emboldened by my recent success with our newly acquired crockpot, I vowed to make at least one crockpot meal a week. I was teaching full time, so crock pot meals alleviated a certain amount of stress. I did everything the recipe said. I double checked my ingredients. Double checked my time. I was good to go. Out the door and some hours later I would have another culinary masterpiece to serve to my adoring husband. Just call me June Cleaver.
When I came home that afternoon, all appeared well with the meal. I patted myself on the back, and spent some extra time “plating”, a term I recently heard on my new favorite show MasterChef. Finally, it was dinner time and the moment of truth arrived. Mr. B and I took our first bites at the same time. And I gagged. To this day, I do not know what happened. The chicken was rough, coarse, and tough. The teriyaki sauce had somehow turned into garbage sauce. The vegetables were somehow overcooked and undercooked. I burst into tears, and my darling husband comforted me through bites of the worst meal he had ever eaten. He ate his entire plate. When he was done, he gave me a kiss and emptied the rest of the crockpot into the garbage. Ladies, marry a man who appreciates your efforts and wordlessly cleans up your messes.
Since Teriyaki Chicken day, six years ago, I have tended to stay in my comfort zone. It wasn’t until I started writing these meal plans post that I realized what level of repetition of menu had fallen into. I know a little bit more about food now, and have a better understanding of the mechanics of cooking. Still, I was nervous this past week, anxious that my efforts would result in another culinary disaster. But hey, success! Twice! Just the confidence I needed to try some more new recipes this week.
Meal Plan 1/11-1/18
- Breakfast- Whatever Fruit is Left Over Salad and Trail Mix
- Lunch-LO Pernil Pork with Baked Apples
- Dinner- Red Chile Pork Enchiladas
*Ya’ll, first off, the Pernil Pork was delicious. Second off, there was so much of it left. I was having flashbacks the Great Christmas Leftover Week. So several meals are being made this week with the leftover pork. This saves me some money, as I am using less protein than I planned. Red Chile sauce is one of my favorites, and super easy to make. All you need is chicken stock, red chili powder, and some basic spices. If you are wanting to try adding some Latino flavor into your meals, this mild sauce is a great starter option. Pair it with chicken and cheddar jack for an easy Latino flip on Chicken Parmesan. Smother some eggs and potatoes for a delicious Huevos Rancheros. It’s a super versatile sauce and, lucky for me, goes great with pork.
- Breakfast-Scrambled Eggs with Bacon
- Lunch- LO Red Chile Pork Enchiladas
- Dinner- Blue Cheese Buffalo Chicken Salad
*Remember last week when we had so many buffalo meals because I had to use that sauce and I was getting my money’s worth? Well this week we are having so many buffalo meals because I am obsessed with that sauce and it is all I want to eat. Sweet Baby Ray’s did not pay me or promise me more sauce to tell you that. It’s just so good, I had to share. I will be writing them a letter to let them know how much I appreciate their fine product. And then I will go buy 100 more bottles.
- Breakfast-Mango Clementine Smoothies and Trail Mix
- Lunch- Blue Cheese Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas and Sliced Mango
- Dinner- Pork Noodle Soup
*The last of the leftover pork. I’ve got a killer Chicken Soup recipe. I figured with just a tweak or two it would adapt well to pork. Since pork and chicken are both white meats, they tend to be very similar in terms of texture, which makes substituting them a breeze. The taste profiles are slightly different, so you want to accommodate that with your spices. (Side note, don’t I sound so fancy right now? Don’t be too impressed, it’s all the MasterChef I’ve been watching the last 6 years.) For this recipe, I’ll substitute red chili powder for paprika, oregano for thyme, cayenne for black pepper, and keep the salt and garlic as is. Making it all up as I go, folks. Gordon Ramsay would be proud. I hope.
- Breakfast- Cereal with Bananas
- Lunch- LO Pork Noodle Soup
- Dinner-Zucchini Lasagna
*Okay, new meal alert! I attempted something like this a few months ago, but chickened out at the last second and just did a pasta bake. Phewf, I feel so much better getting that off my chest. But this time, it’s the real deal. I have the cheeses, I have the zucchini, and I’ll be using both ground turkey and sausage from the freezer. I’ve read that zucchini produces a lot of water, so it’s best to cook before you start layering with sauce and cheeses. Other than that, proceed as you would with your favorite Lasagna recipe. Wish me luck!
- Breakfast-Homemade Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
- Lunch-LO Zucchini Lasagna
- Dinner-Buffalo Chicken Tenders with Garlic Wedges
*Sometimes putting Homemade in front of something gives it the air of hard work, like I have been slaving all day over a hot stove to bring you a homemade meal. And sometimes, that is the case (I’m looking at you, Thanksgiving Turkey) but not always. Homemade oatmeal, for example, is very simple. It goes like this. Buy oats. Boil water and salt. Put in oats. Cook them. Add flavors you like, vanilla, cinnamon, shredded apples, blueberries, sugar. You want to get crazy, you serve it with a little milk and a drizzle of maple syrup. What I like about it being homemade is that I know every single ingredient in there. For this special diet family, that’s a huge bonus.
- Breakfast- Ricotta Cheese with Honey and Mango
- Lunch- LO Buffalo Chicken Tenders with Garlic Wedges
- Dinner-Bacon Apple Chicken Thighs with Carrots
*Okay, we all have that friend who makes healthy eating look so easy. My version of this friend, let’s call her Frebecca, posted a picture of what I thought was ice cream with blueberries labeled, “Easy, healthy, and delicious.” And I was like, “Erm, no, girl. That is ice cream.” And was all, “LOL, silly Kristen B., it’s ricotta cheese!” And I was like, “Gimme.” So when I had to buy some Ricotta for the Zucchini Lasagna, I figured we would give this ricotta cheese with fruit a try. It’s as easy, if easier, than cereal and more Type 1 friendly!
- Breakfast- Cheddar and Asiago Omelets with Blueberries
- Lunch- LO Bacon Apple Chicken Thighs
- Dinner-Stuffed Chicken Primavera with Carrots
*When I first started this whole ‘new meals in 2018’ journey, I was slightly skeptical of having to buy for my meal plan, as opposed to buying what was on sale and then planning the meals. I was worried many of my ingredients would be a one and done situations, and thus not a great value. Imagine my delight when I came across with Stuffed Chicken Primavera recipe and realized that I had all the ingredients purchased for other meals. Seriously, imagine my delight. I was delighted!
- Breakfast- Scrambled Eggs with Baked Apples
- Lunch-LO Stuffed Chicken Primavera
- Dinner- Dealer’s Choice
* Leaving Thursday night dinner open, per usual. Thursday is the first day of the new sale cycle at my store, and meats are often clearanced out that day. I like to leave Thursdays open on the off chance I find some great clearance deals on meat and I can use it right away. Another new meal for 2018!
If you are struggling to escape your comfort zone meal wise, I feel you. I know it can be hard to try new things for fear of failure. Just remember, whether you are making new changes towards health and wellness, injecting some variety into your menu, or teaching yourself the basics so you can save money, your efforts are appreciated by your family and you are doing an awesome job. Promise.
Do you have a Teriyaki Chicken Incident in your life? Tell me all your cooking disasters in the comments!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey three years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!