meal planning, july 12-18

We have a few birthdays coming up this week, which is really exciting! We have been keeping meals SUPER SIMPLE with lots of grilled meats and vegetables. This week will be no different.

Friday: Shrimp fajita pitas — this is a really simple recipe and I will try to post it. We’ve been doing a lot of chicken/shrimp fajita pitas and they’re a big hit with everyone in the house. We will likely serve this with Greek yogurt ranch dip.

Saturday: Grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and grilled asparagus & zucchini.

Sunday: My birthday! We originally planned to go into Boston but the high is 86 and it’s supposed to be sunny, so we may hit the beach and do dinner someplace local (probably TexMex).

Monday: Probably more fajita pitas but this time with chicken; more raw vegetables.

Tuesday: Shrimp scampi — this is a recipe my MIL gave me. It has spinach, roasted red peppers, and uses chicken broth.

Wednesday: Black bean crunchy tacos and raw vegetables & beets.

Thursday: Thursday is my husband’s birthday, so we are lining up a sitter and going out to a nice date-night dinner.

meals, june 10-13

We spent the weekend at my in-laws’ house, celebrating my BIL’s 50th birthday. It was a busy weekend but everyone had a good time and it was quite the celebration. It’s been a bit chaotic because my husband was traveling last week for work. He came home Friday, the kids did their chores and we decided to leave on Saturday morning so that I could take a yoga class and regroup after a week of solo parenting without my typical schedule and before a weekend with the in-laws. We stayed until after lunch today; then we all loaded back into the car (Brutus, too) to drive the five hours back home.

This is a short, busy week of meal planning and we are still in the school year, so school lunches are still necessary.

Tonight, we are going to order delivery when we get home. I think we will try to keep things healthy with salads — we have a $15 coupon for GrubHub and, frankly, after a day of traveling, it seems like the best possible day to use it.

My school lunch definitely goes down hill by the time June hits. We have a few corn tortillas that I’ll use for quesadillas and some meatloaf my MIL left in the freezer. Otherwise, I’ll likely pack salads for the kids and just keep things super simple. Breakfasts are basically on par with lunches — we have a few frozen breakfast sandwiches and mini muffins; I’ll probably get back to making smoothies to go with these just to round them out nutritionally/ensure there are some nutrients besides sodium…

Monday night, We are going to recreate CAVA’s bowls — rice, romaine, chicken, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta, hummus, banana peppers, and tzatiki. We will serve this with Joseph’s oat flour pita. Should be good.

Tuesday night, we are going to do nachos. 3 has a 9-hour clinic appointment and I’ve been stressed out for WEEKS over it. I know that he and I will be exhausted and I figured we could either order food or make something convenient and comforting. I’m opting for the latter to try and at least nourish our bodies after such a stressful day. We will make nachos with shredded cheese, jalapeños (for us, not the kids), black beans, tomatoes, and salsa with some plain Greek yogurt to top is all off.

Wednesday, I’m concerned that I’m just going to be spent still from Tuesday’s appointment and will be craving comfort foods. (I’m basing this off of every single clinic appointment we’ve had. So, I’m just planning on leftovers/nachos.

We have a date night and it’ll be nice for us to get out of the house. We are hoping that the weather cooperates and that we can just make Greek salads from the week’s leftovers and head to the beach to enjoy them. We will make the same for the kids — we have some chicken in the freezer specifically for days like these so that we can grill it in a hurry and have a quick, healthy meal on hand.

meals, june 1-6

After a VERY long weekend of indulgences (cupcakes, brown butter rice krispy treats, orange cake), it’s time to get back on track.

Yesterday, I had: a string cheese; two boiled eggs; cherries; SmartPop cheddar (1c); and some water. We did bunless Bubba burgers (+cheese) on the grill tonight with lettuce, tomato, pickles & Primal’s thousand island dressing, plus grilled corn on the cob and raw vegetables/salads. They really hit the spot.

Today, I had plain Greek yogurt with 1t honey, strawberries, and almonds for breakfast and for lunch, boiled eggs, string cheese, honey wheat pretzels, and a nectarine. We are making shrimp scampi with EVOO, red pepper flakes, garlic (lots and lots of garlic), chickpea pasta, artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, and grated parmesan for dinner.

For the weekend, we will do egg & cheese English muffin sandwiches for breakfast; followed by grilling a whole chicken Saturday and serving with grilled potatoes, beets, and salad and then on Sunday, grilled chicken and Bolocco-inspired buffalo chicken bowls for dinners. These are a big hit — rice (Banza chickpea rice), chicken, Noble’s buffalo sauce, celery, carrots, lettuce, and tomato. My husband and the kids like bleu cheese dressing on theirs; I typically opt out of it.

I wanted to keep meals simple next week, so I’m planning turkey sandwiches for weekday lunches alongside salads; chickpea pasta with tomatoes, spinach, red wine vinegar, and parmesan or homemade fish sticks, Annie’s mac & cheese, and raw vegetables for dinners. Nothing really exciting. We may head to Chipotle one night to mix things up a little but stay on the simple path.

We have a birthday party coming up and with the end of the school year to-do, this is just easier to maintain. I plan on using this planning idea through the summer — lots of vegetables to have salads, bowls, and pasta and a few packages of meat to grill when desired seems like the best way to go about things.

staycation: a review

My husband and I had a great staycation in the city of Boston for Memorial Day weekend. My in-laws came down to visit with the kids & dog and we took the train in on Friday afternoon. We didn’t plan much (a couple meals, a race & yoga, and a Red Sox game), which really made it relaxing — hello, daily afternoon naps.

My phone was on DONOTDISTURB the duration of our trip. I texted only a few times with friends while my husband was running his race or getting ready for bed (and when my cousin got engaged!). Taking the train instead of driving relieved some stress and let us start our trip off with ease; though, admittedly, it was not easy carting around our suitcases, so we took a taxi home.

I kept a partial log of the restaurants and the foods we tried. In my mind, I’d write restaurant reviews but in reality, I’ll just give a quick one-liner with recommendations.

We stayed at StayPineapple. It was a cute boutique hotel between the South End and Back Bay areas. We could walk everywhere, which was the best for us. The room was small and definitely wouldn’t be for everyone but we liked it.

Friday, we tried Myers & Chang for dinner. The sweet & sour brussels sprouts were my favorite. We also ordered the wild boar dan dan noodles — I’d not had dan dan noodles since my time in Wuhan and was excited to try them; the verdict: Very spicy but delicious; I’d have preferred less meat in mine. We walked to Flour near our hotel after dinner and I got a brown butter rice krispy treat — my life has been forever changed.

Saturday, I introduced my husband to hot yoga. He was a real trooper — I could tell he was struggling but he made it through! Afterwards, we tried Tatte — their haloumi & sunny-side egg sandwich with tomato is basically all I ever need for breakfast for the rest of of my life. We had breakfast in the Public Garden and then walked to the Seaport to get his bib for the Run to Remember. Afterwards, we stopped at Taiyaki NYC to try the ice cream; their cones are more like soft waffles with red bean. We split the beach, please and it was a nice, light treat.

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We then ventured to Bartaco for lunch. Admittedly, I LOVE Bartaco — I tweeted them until they put a restaurant in Boston, so we try to visit when we are on that side of town. I had the grapefruit-mint agua fresca (non alcoholic) and it was so light; I want to make this at home. My husband and I spit a few duck, shrimp, chorizo, and falafel tacos, their chopped salad (my favorite), and their salsa & guac trio. It was all delicious. We’d walked nearly eight miles by the time we reached our hotel; took naps; and then got ready and headed out to dinner. We chose MoonBar for wine and some snacks (raw oysters, smoked swordfish dip with crackers, halibut crudo, and the most amazing grilled squid salad I’ve ever had). We knew we’d need something a little more substantial later, so we returned to Tatte and got sandwiches: My husband got the Turkey BLAT  and a sandwich cookies while I opted for the mozzarella sandwich and a slice of their orange cake. Delicious.

There’s a recipe book of mine that has a smoked fish dip and I’ve been curious about it. I can’t wait to make this at home now. The dip we had was really good, so I am tabling the recipe I have for a beach-date night.

On Sunday, my husband ran a half marathon and I went to yoga. We got back to the room and got ready for brunch: Brownstone was up. It was okay; I’d probably choose a different place next time, as there weren’t many vegetarian options and I was feeling very meated-out at that point. Their pancakes were good. After brunch, we took naps and then got ready for dinner in the North End. My husband snagged a reservation at Nico.  We went to Nico on our second date and it’s one of our favorite restaurants in the city. We went all out — drinks; the beet salad with whipped ricotta, honey & roasted pine nuts; their burrata salad with prosciutto, tomatoes & artichokes (a recipe I recreate at home OFTEN), and then my favorite dinner — their rigatoni with artichokes & sausage. I didn’t really eat the sausage and in retrospect should have asked for it without. My husband had their chicken parm and liked it too.

On Monday, we had plans for the 4PM Red Sox game. We ordered delivery for breakfast from Trident. My husband had the breakfast burrito and I made my own eggs benedict with tomatoes and spinach. We hadn’t been to Trident in a while and their food was just as good as we’d remembered. We had some snacks at the game (nachos) and then stopped at CAVA on the way back for some grain and greens bowls.

We ended our trip on Tuesday with more rice krispy treats from Flour, breakfast at the Friendly Toast (we both built our own omelettes — mine had asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, and goat cheese — YUM!) and sushi at Red Lantern for dinner.

It was a great trip and a time to just walk around and enjoy the city and each other. We walked A LOT. At the most, I logged 8.2 miles (Saturday) and at the least, 2.9 miles (Friday). We didn’t take the train or a taxi anywhere after we got there and before we came home. It was nice to be unplugged, too. I need to put my phone on DO NOT DISTURB and forget about it more often. Overall, a great time. I look forward to our next one!

 

 

staycation

My husband and I booked a hotel in the city and are heading in after work today. We have dinner reservations tonight, a half-marathon (for him) and lots of yoga (for me, though he’s going to come to a class or two as well), brunch, and a baseball game planned.

I. Cannot. Wait.

Our last overnight trip together was a weekend away in December 2018; we stayed at a hotel in Pittsburgh last summer over vacation but went down with the kids and then met them the next day for a baseball game, so it’s not the same level of kid-freeness.

Anyway, I won’t be planning any meals this week but am looking forward to recapping the restaurants and getting back to swing of things next week!

 

water park adventures

My semester ended on Monday and on Wednesday, 3 and I packed our bags and drove to Great Wolf Lodge. It was interesting trip for a few reasons:

  1. We drove to Fitchburg, an area I’d never been but in our journey to get there, we passed Shirley, MA. Five years ago, my husband and I put an offer and deposit on a lot to build a house in Shirley.

    WHAT. WERE. WE. THINKING?

    When you get off of the exit, you’re greeted by a giant tractor store. I know that there was a lot going on during that time and it is beautiful out there in the country. All I kept thinking as I drove past was how miserable I’d be if we’d ended up there. Sure, we’d have a beautiful home that we’d designed, but that’s where things would come to a stand still for me. I am happy we ended up in our beach town, able to walk to the ocean (and bonus, we designed our current kitchen last summer when our floor caved in, so – there’s that).

  2. We drove past the town where my son was born and spent the first year of his life. I was definitely feeling emotional passing those exits. I’ve only ever been to that town for his disclosure meeting, pre-move-in visits, and our court date when his adoption was finalized.
  3. My son was excitedly talking about our “abventure” and then I looked back and he was out cold asleep. What a little trooper. He managed to get in a 40 minute nap on our 70 minute drive, so he was all ready to roll when we got into the water park.

Great Wolf Lodge is HUGE! I parked on the other side of campus and when all was said and done, we walked nearly three miles before we even got to the water park (granted, I ran 1.5 in the AM and we did walk the dog before we left).

We went to our room, moved the car, got changed, and then went to the water park. What fun! There are two sides of water park at the GWL in Fitchburg. We spent a few hours on one side where 3 ran and played and swam. He went down a water slide over and over and over and just laughed and laughed, having the best time.

I love that I get to see the world through his toddler eyes. He was just having such fun and as a result, so was I. After our water park time, we showered and went to dinner and then to bed. It was a busy day and I wanted to be well-rested for the following.

The next morning started off okay — we went to breakfast; 3 ate a small feast; and then we went to the other side of the water park. He didn’t care as much for this side, so we only spent a little while there. We went back to the room after a bit, changed, went to the balloon animal activity where 3 got a purple monkey on a green tree balloon.

We walked around, got dessert and then pizza, and then went back to our room for naps and some HGTV. 3 was pretty exhausted at that point, so we took it easy the rest of the night. Friday morning, we got up, had breakfast, and got on the road to head home. I had my Friday 5k to run upon our arrival and figured 3 could use a nice, long nap… actually, it seemed we BOTH needed a nice, long nap. I put 3 down and decided to lay down myself; two hours later, I awoke, got my 5K in, and got ready for dinner.

We ended our adventure with a trip to one of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurants as a family. All-in-all, it was a great couple days and a nice way to kick off the end of the semester. I am still waiting for consistent warmer weather, though I will say, this weekend’s preview has been lovely!

meals, may 17-24

Because 3 and I planned our first adventure, I’d already figured on burgers for Friday but I’m thinking I’d prefer a lighter fare, so I’m switching things up a bit.

I have been feeling a bit defeated that my weight isn’t going down at the pace I was planning. I’ll have periods where I’ll drop and then plateau and it’s frustrating. My body is definitely changing composition (thanks, yoga) and I’m fitting into clothing differently (and clothing that previously was too tight to wear), which is great but that number is just not moving. I know that I should be grateful for the endurance I’m building (and I am) and that my running pace is decreasing — I am definitely seeing all types of non-scale victories but that doesn’t help me not dwell on the number.

I’ve been reading that people who are healthiest tend to eat the same things over and over. I have been doing this, largely, but I think I’m consuming far more meat products that I’d prefer. I used to not eat meat at all and now it’s center stage in all three meals, basically.

This week, we are going to mix things up a bit: open-faced breakfast sandwiches and refried bean tacos for lunches during the week and then grilled meat and salads for dinner. I am hoping this brings more of the balance I’m looking for and won’t require so much day-to-day cooking on my part. I have been getting A LOT of chicken kebab salads from a local place (it’s a nice .75miles r/t walk) and I like that they serve pita with their salads, so I think I’ll grab some of those for us to have with ours to really round everything out if we want to add a little more substance. I also think I’m going to roast some baby potatoes as an alternate carb option.

My husband and I are going away next weekend for a few days, so it’ll be nice to see how this works and if it’s worth our while when we get back from our long weekend trip.