June 12, 2019

Recipes lately and a meal-planning rut

I am 110% in a meal-planning rut. I jokingly say that this has gone on since I got pregnant.* Pre-pregnancy, I really enjoyed planning meals, cooking, baking...even the grocery shopping! As is documented on many years of this blog, food is a thing I like to make.

Somewhere in that first trimester a year and a half ago, even though I wasn't sick and wasn't tired and had generally no excuse, I just stopped with all of that. I just stopped caring about it. Something about it stopped appealing to me.

Fast forward to life with a newborn, I didn't care either. We ordered pizza at least once a week last summer/fall and now, living in a new house and a new state and having an almost-toddler crawling around, I still don't care.

I can count on one hand the number of times I've baked something in this house and we've lived here since the middle of January.

I do the Walmart pick-up for groceries. I hate taking two hours out of any given day to shop if I don't have to do it.

We like to eat generally healthy meals for dinner (my day-long habit of snacking is another story), so I just rotate through the same 5 to 10 meals. I'm being generous by estimating that as high as "10", by the way.

When I don't feel like cooking, I make a salad kit, roast some potatoes in olive oil, and make a piece of fish or salmon for Scott.

Either that or a salad kit and a frozen pizza (we like CPK pizzas), and this has become my Friday go-to.

When I do feel like cooking, I'll use that precious afternoon nap time to chop ingredients.

Sometimes I'll put something in the crockpot, but I always make sure I double the recipe so I can get two meals out of it (one to freeze), and that takes pre-planning.

It's not that I don't have time. I just don't prefer to use whatever time I DO have doing meal prep/planning/cooking.

So here's what I normally make these days...

+Some sort of healthified pasta. Like this Gnocchi Vegetable Skillet. Or I just make the veggie mixture and toss it with linguine or penne.

+A sheet pan meal. Chicken sausage, potatoes, broccoli, chickpeas, etc.

+Crockpot salsa chicken. I put it into quesadillas or over rice or quinoa.

+Chicken taco bowls. I make taco meat with ground chicken and add black beans and corn and chiles and eat it over rice or quinoa.

+Easy curries. Like this chicken one.

+In the winter, I did a lot of soups. I make enough to freeze so we can get 3 or 4 dinners out of it. Chicken tortilla is my favorite but I also make beef vegetable.

I think that might be about it, to be honest.

I started realizing I had a problem with this (and that it wasn't getting better post-baby) when Scott came home from work and said This is a nice surprise when he realized I'd actually made dinner because he'd be expecting a piece of salmon and a salad.

A change I've made from the past is that I do buy a lot of pre-made sides like wontons or veggies or sweet potato fries, just because I don't have time to make side dishes or extras, necessarily. Another change is that I really try to incorporate more than one vegetable in each dinner.


Can you help? 

Seriously. I have no idea how to get this "I want to cook dinner" feeling back, but being able to add to my arsenal would be MORE than helpful right now.

What's your absolute favorite go-to dinner? 

*While we're talking about weird pre/post-pregnancy changes, I don't even care about chocolate anymore. Nothing about it seems to appeal to me. It's been that way for like a year and a half now.


  1. I get in ruts, too. One thing that helps me is to think what I would order at a restaurant and recreate it.
    Pinterest sometimes helps, checking out cookbooks from the library helps, theme nights help: pasta Monday, Mexican Tuesday, Fish Wednesday.
    Here are some easy ideas that might work but I’m not sure what you like?
    Ham, green beans, mashed potatoes
    Sloppy joes on Texas toast, baked beans, green veg (I’ve been loving my frozen okra on cookie sheet lately)
    BBQ on Texas toast or bun, some form of potato, green veg or side salad
    I’m planning on doing a summer meals post soon!
    Amy - Coffee and Cocktails at the Casa

  2. I'm no help--two of the dinners I made in the last week were variations of stir-fry meat and veggies (one was black pepper beef and bok choy, the other was chicken, peanuts, and zucchini) and rice...and Angel loved them and I couldn't eat them at all (rice in particular is a no-go these days...super helpful while living in Asia).
    We mostly rotate through varieties of the same meals. I like making a big crock-pot of pork shoulder, usually seasoned for carnitas, and then serve it up in tacos, quesadillas, or sandwiches. Shredded meat and tomatoes are two of Cyrus's favorite foods so that works out pretty good. I do that about every other week, or at least once a month.
    I don't make pasta often at all because I kind of hate it. We do rice + meat + veggie stovetop sorts of meals pretty often, except when I get way too tired of making food I can't eat.
    My homemade fried chicken and mashed potatoes is my favorite "treat meal" that I make at home--love it, but don't want to make it too often. Omelets for dinner sometimes, with tomato, onion, cheese, pepper filling. Or a nice crockpot chicken chili.
    We could also do with some more variety in our meals! We don't have an oven, so that takes out a lot of the things I used to make when we lived in the states.

  3. I am struggling SO MUCH in this area. & I think this is why my weight is up so much too - when I dont plan ahead, its just grab & eat EVERYTHING!!!! I need to start venturing around Pinterest & get a plan going.

  4. I keep meaning to make a more varied range of meals but end up doing the same few things on rotation. Winter was mainly soups/broths with the occasional curry or sometimes chilli. I also do a lot with couscous/bulgur because it's quick and easy. To be honest a piece of salmon with salad would be a change for us 😆

  5. Girl! I was in SUCH a meal-planning rut, too. I actually signed up for something called eMeals. It's an app-based meal plan system. It's $60 for the full year and creates meal plans for tons of different preferences. I love it because I can export a grocery list for grocery delivery and completely simplify everything!

  6. I'm not going to be any help. My meal planning/prepping rut is equal to yours. I just feel meh about making anything these days. My wallet and waistline are NOT happy. I had a free year of eMeals when I first started blogging. It's nice for ideas, but like cookbooks or online recipes, I almost never made the meals. But... it does have some good ideas. I might need to revisit it.

  7. Hello! First off, I just love your blog :) I've actually been reading for quite some time and see a lot of similarities in us haha! I am a mom to three little ones (all girls - ages 7. 5 and 2) and also have been in a meal-planning rut for about a year now. Part of it is we are so busy in the afternoons/evenings, part of it is we are all snackers so no one is super hungry at dinnertime, part of it is my kids are super picky, and part of it is I also just don't care. I think meal planning is overrated, unless it's something you NEED to do to save money or something you genuinely enjoy, which of course some people do! But I will say lately my "go to" is making ground turkey taco meat (ground turkey, onion, red pepper, taco seasoning) and adding it to salads! So good! I also sometimes add cauliflower rice and shredded carrots to the meat when it's almost done cooking to sort of fill it up and make it last longer haha!

  8. I have been majorly struggling with meal planning too. Honestly the fish/frozen pizza and salad is something we do a lot, and I’m glad it’s not just us! We do meatball subs a lot too. I throw frozen meatballs and a jar of Prego in the crockpot. Then put them in a bun with cheese. So easy and good. I started making sheetpan nachos, and that’s delicious too. We eat tacos a lot, too. Also quiche.


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