Meal Planning

A friend of mine has asked me to blog on meal planning and more specifically what we have for dinners.  I can honestly tell you that its nothing special and sometimes very simple and I’m more than happy to share with you.

I use a meal planning and shopping app which is available for iPad & iPhone http://www.menu-planner.com/ and have been meal planning (dinners only) for more than a year now.  We find it really essential in eating well.  What we have found on the odd week that we haven’t meal planned is that we feel unorganised and end up eating badly and feel much better when we get back into routine, after all we all like some sort of routine in life.
At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter how you meal plan, it may be a scrap of paper that you pop up on your fridge or an excel spreadsheet that you careful plan with.

I will list a handful of our essentials, hubby and I are creatures of habit and don’t deviate from our favourites very often.  Something else to remember is that once a  week we have takeaway, these days it’s a healthier version of what it used to be and I will also share those options below:

Salt & Pepper Tofu w Salmon
This one is really easy, we buy 200 grams of pre-packaged smoked salmon and a 300 gram pack of Non-GMO Silken Tofu http://www.morinu.com/tips/tofutips_nongmo.aspx.
I cut the tofu into cubes and dust in a mix of rice flour, cayenne pepper and sea salt.
There are 2 options for the tofu, you can pan fry with coconut oil (or whatever you have on hand) or you can bake in the oven with a spray of coconut oil.
I serve this with chopped spring onion and red chilli and a side of fresh chopped fresh tomatoes/cherry tomatoes.

Roast Chicken
I buy a whole chicken from Aldi most weeks, it’s a great mid-week dinner.
I spray the chicken with a small amount of coconut oil and sprinkle with rice flour.  I then bake in the oven at 170-180 degrees until cooked.  I buy a 1-1.5kg bird and it generally takes approx. an hour in the oven.
Cut veges (Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, Carrots & sometimes Cherry Tomatoes) are then bake for approx 45 mins with a sprinkle of coconut oil.
I serve with gravy.

Spaghetti Bolognese (Low calorie version)
Make your pasta sauce however you like.
We typically use either pork or chicken mince these days, browned with onion, garlic, carrot & maybe zucchini depending on my mood.
I add in canned tomatoes and a pinch of stevia, salt & pepper.
The reason why this dish is low-calorie is because I use Slendier Slim Pasta http://slendierslim.com.au/products/pasta.html which is a fabulous low-fat version with 125 grams generally being under 15 cals which means we can have a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
I have tried to freeze and defrost slim pasta and it doesn’t work well so best to have fresh

Omelette
Generally Friday is a day we have an easy dinner.
A few eggs whisked and cooked in the pan.  There are several toppings we use for this one.
Leftover chicken and a bit of cheese
Smoked salmon, capers & a couple of small pieces of Bocconcini
A small potato chopped and cooked before hand makes a wonderful topping.

Pork Chops w Cheats roast veg
This one is simple.
Pan fry your pork steaks or chops in a pan with a little coconut oil
Chop veg (for us that’s pretty much the same as the roast chicken meal (sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot) and steam in the microwave) we have a sensor cooker and it takes about 7 mins
We then finish these in the pan whilst the meat is resting.
Serve with your favourite sauce or gravy
Another variation to this meal is to serve with fresh dry slaw and tomatoes

Vegetarian Burgers
Toast your favourite rolls
I buy the pre-made vegetarian patties from the supermarket but if you can make your own the better you can tailor them to your taste
Beetroot relish (instead of butter), avocado, lettuce, tomato etc
Add whatever you like on a burger but try to keep it healthy
and NO you don’t need chips with a burger.  If you like chips then think about making your own sweet potato ones and baking them in a little coconut oil

Wraps or Taco’s
We always have wraps in our cupboard and something we love to put in wraps is chicken or pork mince.  We also use beef or chicken strips from time to time.
Add your favourite vegetables remembering that roasted or steamed pumpkin or sweet potato is a great addition.
One of our favourites is beef wraps with mushrooms and pumpkin.
Add your favourite sauces to taste.

Fish & Chips
Wow, we do things differently these days.  I can’t think of anything worse than a grease stricken piece of battered fish.
We buy either fresh or frozen fish, lightly coat in rice flour and pan fry.  Sometimes adding a cut up squid tube and always with home-made sweet potato chips, tartare & sweet chilli sauces.  Yum yum!

Marinated Chicken & Salad
I used to buy a portuguese chicken coating from the supermarket before I realised how many ingredients were in the pack so now we make our own coating.
We chop some spring onion, garlic & chilli and marinate the chicken for 30mins – 24 hours depending on our time.
Once cooked we pop it on our favourite salad greens (lettuce, tomato, capsicum, cucumber, coleslaw) and top with a little balsamic glaze

Homemade Pizza
I make the pizza dough following the instructions on the box of http://www.lighthousebaking.com.au/category/products/bread-pizza/
Our pizzas are also a lot different these days.  We don’t have a lot of cheese, we still have meat but the non fatty variety.  It’s not a salami filled pizza but more so lean chicken and a bit of bacon, add some capers, cherry tomatoes, Bocconcini, sun-dried tomato or capsicum and bake in the oven.  Delic!!

Takeaway options
So as I mentioned above, like a lot of things in our diet so has changed out takeaway options.
I don’t think we would ever step foot in a KFC store again, yes, sometimes we will stop at McDonald’s but will always go for the healthier options of wraps without mayo and or cheese and will not have the chips with a meal, always getting water over a soft drink.  Hungry Jacks seems to be on the worser side of calories so we will steer clear as well.
Our healthier options these days will consist of a steak sandwich or burger from a local takeaway shop, a Thai option or maybe a healthier curry with only a little bit of rice.  We steer clear of the butter chickens and will go for a tomato based curry over those made with coconut milk.  Generally on takeaway nights I will have a much healthier lower calorie lunch to compensate for a slightly higher calorie nightly meal.
The KFC option would consume my total daily calories in an entire meal where as the steak sandwich or Thai beef salad are a much better lower calorie option.

Share some of your favourite meal options in the comments below, we are always looking for new favourites

Jaime xx

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