Monday, October 13, 2014

{Video} Trader Joe's Haul and 2 Week "He Said, She Said" Meal Plan

I'm married to a meat eater... is this relationship doomed?

OK, so that sounds a bit dramatic.  But, more and more I'm reading about people struggling with meal planning... and way too much time and money spent at the grocery store, now that their partner, spouse, kids, or even they, themselves have moved over to a plant-based diet.  And believe me, it's usually the cook in the house that suffers the most.  And by suffer, I mean double time, and double the dishes in the kitchen.

I stopped eating meat about 3 months ago, for no particular reason except that I lost the taste for it.  And I've never looked back, and have already reaped many of the benefits of a plant-based diet.  But my husband did not... and who am I to judge, or make him fend for himself in the kitchen.  Because, let's face it, Taco Bell and tuna sandwiches can only get a person so far.

So I decided to sit down and map out some ways to satisfy our "He Said, She Said" diets, and it has actually worked. I've spent less time than I ever have in the kitchen (seriously, we're talking 23 years of marriage) with far less dishes.  And the best part? We're both eating healthier... even my husband now asks for, and truly enjoys his rainbow salad with "nibbly bits" (raw sunflower seeds and dried cranberries) every single day.

He Said, She Said Meal Planning Tips

1, Make whole grain and vegetable dishes the main attraction, and the meat an extra. Not only will you save money, but you'll start to enjoy the feeling of being able to eat more.  And not feel as bloated, weighed down, or sleepy, like you would with a heavy meat-based meal.

2. Look for a Trader Joe's in your area. I especially enjoy purchasing their frozen chicken breasts and fish. This makes it easier to grab what you need to make a "He Said" meal, without worrying about meat going bad, or depending too much on leftovers.

3. Rotisserie chickens are a "He Said" eater's best friend. Chicken can easily be added to just about any "She Said" meals like rice or quinoa, tacos, pasta dishes... the list is endless.

4. Check out your grocery store's sale flyer each week, and buy meat that can be used for several "He Said" meals. His favorite is pork tenderloin, which we often find on sale BOGO at Harris Teeter. The first night I roast it, then the next few nights it can be used in sandwiches, quasadillas, or our favorite- stir fried rice.

5. Make your "She Said" meals based around what's in season. Not only will this save you money (buying in-season produce) but you can also support your local farmers.  Don't have a farmers market nearby? Most grocery stores purchase some of their produce locally or regionally, so look for the signs.  Much better to buy produce from a few hours away, rather than across the country... or from another country.

6. Purchase a variety of vegetables each week for your "He Said, She Said" salads.  Once a week, I wash and cut up many of the vegetables ahead of time like beets, broccoli, red and orange peppers (don't buy the green ones- they're actually unripe peppers), red cabbage and fennel.  And don't forget your "nibbly bits" which are my favorite part... raw pumpkin seeds (make sure and buy raw) and dried cranberries (low sugar is not always better- look at the ingredient list).  I also add clover sprouts, but make sure you buy from a reputable company that tests each batch for any harmful bacteria.

7. Make up a few salad dressings each week, and keep them in the fridge.  I rarely buy dressings at the store these days (except my husband loves Briannas "strawberry" dressing). By making them myself, I can control the ingredients, and the sugar... and they take minutes to make.  My favorite is olive oil, apple cider vinegar (make sure it has the "mother"), Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper.  Simple shake it all up in a mason jar, keep the leftovers in the fridge, and you're good to go for the week. 

8. Keep it Simple.  Long gone are the days where I made complicated dishes that left my kitchen a major mess.  Try to incorporate as much raw produce as you can into your diet (which only needs a knife and a cutting board).  And for the "He Said" dishes, look for recipes that utilize one pan... like a baking dish, a cookie sheet for roasting, or even foil, for the simplest foil baked fish, etc.  Once you learn some simple and delicious recipes (like those below) you'll realize just how much better tasting, quicker... and cost effective preparing food at home can really be. 

He Said, She Said 2-Week Meal Plan

Week 1

Monday- (H) Pork Tenderloin (S) White Bean, Leek and Asparagus Salad and a side salad
For the pork, trim off any extra fat and place in 9x13 pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and Greek seasoning. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until an internal temperature of 136 degrees (USDA says 145 degrees). Let rest, and then slice.

Tuesday- (H) Pork Quesadillas with Balsamic Onions (S) Roasted Root Veggie Quesadilla with Balsamic Onions and a side salad
For both quesadillas, peel and cut into chunks whatever root vegetables you'd like, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper, and I like to add the zest of a lime for some extra flavor. Roast at 400 degrees until caramelized, around 25 minutes. 

For the balsamic onions, thinly slice a sweet onion and add to a hot skillet with about 1 Tblsp. oil. Cook for a few minutes until translucent, and then turn down heat to medium low. Add in about 2 Tblsp. balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt and cook until the vinegar is reduced, about 20 minutes.

For the "He Said" quesadilla, place a small amount of oil in a skillet and once heated up add in a tortilla. Top with roasted veggies, sliced leftover pork, balsamic onions and goat cheese. Then top with another tortilla.  Once the bottom is nicely browned and starting to crisp, turn over and brown the other side. For the "She Said" quesadilla, follow all the steps except leave out the pork.

Wednesday- (H) Citrus Soy Glazed Sirloin (S)

Thursday- (H) (S) Broccoli and Carrot Fried Rice
For the "She Said" meal, add in the broccoli and carrots before the meat, and serve. Then for the remaining stir fry, add in the meat for the "He Said" meal.

Friday- (H & S) Leftovers

Saturday- (H) Salsa Chicken (S)
For the salsa chicken, simply defrost the chicken (or use fresh), trim off any fat, and wipe off any juices. Place in a greased 9x9 baking dish. Spinkle the chicken with a bit of salt and then top with your favorite jarred salsa. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (depending on thickness).

Sunday- (H) Leftover Chicken in the Taco Salad (S)

Week 2

Monday(H & S) and a side salad

Tuesday- (H & S) Butternut Squash Chili and a side salad

Wednesday- (H) Tuscan Chicken Artichoke Bake over rice or quinoa (S) Rainbow Salad with Spicy Balsamic Lime Vinaigrette
For the chicken bake, defrost 3 chicken breasts (or use fresh) and cut into bit size pieces. In a greased baking dish add in the chicken pieces in one layer. Salt and pepper. Then top with a can of chopped tomatoes (drained) and a can of artichoke heart quarters (not marinated, and drained). Pour in enough chicken broth to come about half way up the pan. Sprinkle all with Greek seasoning (I use quite a bit). Serve over cooked rice or quinoa.

For the salad- use the veggies listed in the recipe. Or make a rainbow salad including all your favorites... one of every color!

Thursday- (H) Leftover Chili (S)

Friday- (H) Leftover Chicken Artichoke Bake (S) Leftover Cauliflower Salad

Saturday- (H) (S)

Sunday- (H & S) Leftovers

Enjoy! And please check back for future He Said, She Said meal plans and recipe ideas.

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