Week one was definitely a learning experience, but I did lose 1 1/2 pounds! One of the lessons I came away with is that the only way I am going to be able to keep on track is by planning out my menus for the week. Without that, there would have been too much temptation to just grab something or even run through the drive-through at a fast food place. Kitchen scales make the planning much easier by taking the guesswork out of portion sizes.
This is a simple Excel spreadsheet that is easy to set up. I start by filling in any activity I have going on a specific day (the red in the center column) so I know how much time I will have to cook on that day. I usually eat the same breakfast, so I only plan lunch and dinner. I eat my main meal at lunchtime, and then a light meal for supper. (It will probably be the other way around for most of you.) I am careful to plan for leftovers, both so I don’t waste food and also because it means I don’t have to prepare another meal. I use the right-hand column to list anything I need to buy, and try not to make more than one trip to the grocery store each week.
Now just because I planned all the meals for the week doesn’t mean that is what I ate. I stuck pretty close to the plan for most of them, but forgot to get the fresh ginger for the Asian Ground Beef & Rice on Wednesday, so I used some of the ground beef to make a hamburger (without the bun), and had some kale salad as a side. I was much later getting home on Thursday than I anticipated and didn’t have any rice cooked so I ate a sandwich. Kayte had some Eggplant Parmigiana leftovers on Friday, so I ate that for lunch and had the tuna salad for supper. The point I am making is that although having something planned is great, it isn’t set in stone. Maybe you are just not in the mood for what is on the plan for that day, or life happens, so switch it with one of the other days or eat something else.
Well, enough about the planning – let’s get on to the food! Here are six suggested meals for the coming week:
Baked Spiced Chicken – 8
This is for 2 drumsticks with skin and bone. Use a chicken breast with skin and bone instead for 7 points
(it is much tastier when baked with skin and bone). Roll raw chicken in whatever your favorite mixture of spices is (chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, etc.) until completely coated so that you can’t see the raw chicken. Think the old-fashioned Shake & Bake, my favorite way is to dump spices into a gallon freezer bag and shake with the chicken. (Johnny’s garlic spread
from Costco is one of my favorites.) Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, turning halfway through, or until done. The spice mixture will form a crunchy crust (don’t be afraid of the chili powder, it isn’t that spicy). Round out the meal with salad with light dressing (2 points)
and/or fruit. Add-ons for family could be baked or mashed potatoes, rice, bread and dessert.
Steak – 3 Lean steak is surprising low in points (this is figured for 3 oz.). Serve with small baked or boiled potato topped with 2 tablespoons light sour cream and chopped onions or chives (4 points) and roasted veggies or a salad with light dressing (2 points). Add-ons for family could be crusty bread and dessert.
Pork Cube Steaks – 9 This is for 4 oz. of lean pork, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic & onion powder, and paprika, coated with flour or masa harina (my favorite), and fried in 1 Tablespoon oil (it cooks fast, do not overcook). Serve with crudites (raw carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, etc.) fruit, or a salad with light dressing (2 points). Add-ons for family could include rice, potatoes, bread and dessert.
Baked Salmon with Garlic & Dijon – 9
The recipe can be found here
. This is for a generous 6 oz. of salmon. Serve with a side of roasted veggies or a salad with a squeeze of lemon juice instead of dressing for no added points or add a light dressing on the salad (2 points)
. I prefer to use parchment paper instead of foil to line the baking dish. Add-ons for the family could be rice or potatoes, bread and dessert. (Thank you, Lauren, for the picture and recipe.)
Pesto Pasta & Roasted Veggies – 9 This is a recipe from Kayte that she put together with items she had on hand and she says it’s a keeper. Roast a variety of veggies (she used red peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts and carrots – use whatever you like, the more the better), combine veggies and cooked rigatoni or pasta of your choice (2 oz dry weight per serving) with a little feta and 1 tablespoon of pesto per serving and mix well. Pasta is high in points, so the goal is to minimize the amount of pasta and maximize the veggies. Keep in mind that the veggies shrink quite a bit during the roasting process, so use at least twice as many as you think you need.. Add-ons for the family could be cooked chicken or other meat, bread and dessert.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew – 8
The recipe can be found here
. A great dish for a busy day. Prep the night before, refrigerate and start slow cooker before heading out for the day. Nothing is better than coming in to a house filled with a wonderful aroma and dinner ready to serve. It doesn’t really need anything as a side, but is good with 6 whole grain crackers (3 points), 1 small slice cornbread (4 points), or a biscuit (41 grams, 3 points).
Add-ons for family could be any of the above sides or crusty bread and dessert. Update: I made this and found it a bit bland. I added a can of fire-roasted tomatoes to the leftovers and it was really good. I will definitely make it again and add the tomatoes at the beginning of the cook time.
You may have detected a theme here in the first two posts. I am trying to post a recipe for chicken, beef, pork, fish, meatless, and slow cooker each week. I am working a two more posts, one that will focus on last minute meals when you have run out of time and/or energy, and another one on some good veggie side dishes that add few or no points. Fruit is always a great add-on that doesn’t add points as long as it doesn’t have added sugar.
Here is a previous post in this series: