Meal Plan Monday 11.09.15

meal plan monday 110915It’s not yet midnight here in Portland, Oregon, which means it’s still #MealPlanMonday. This week, as we do most weeks, we’re focusing on turning dinners into leftovers and getting the most bang for our buck. Since breakfast, lunch, and snacks are all recurring items or staples (eggs, oatmeal, leftovers, etc), I didn’t add anything to the plan specific for them. So, here’s our week of dinner:

We’ll hold Saturday in reserve and see just how those leftovers have fared before putting anything specific on our meal plan. Since we usually go shopping on Saturday, we plan that meal on Saturday.

*Side note: if you follow us on Facebook, you’ll see that we ended up having the Carrot Soup on Monday instead of on Sunday. We ended up having pancakes for dinner on Sunday, and pushed the rest of the meal plan back a day. Sometimes life happens. I’ve already gone through and updated our plan for the week by pushing everything back, but, I did this after I had taken screenshots of our plan to share.

Do you plan your meals as much as we do? Are you still using pen and paper?

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Even before adding small children to the mix, meal planning while traveling was a thing we did. We’d prefer a suite with a hot plate or small stove, pack some groceries and a chicken salad for the road, and go off on our adventures. Road trips included a fully stocked cooler and a healthy dose of a fear of the food making it to our destination. Sure, we saved money that opened up budget for activities instead of sustenance. We also got to eat a whole bunch more than stale bagels and cereal that dispenses from bulk bins for breakfast. But, we missed out on local flavor and stressed out more about food surviving the trip more than necessary.

If only we had had the {IMH} Digital Meal Planning Board at the time.

Even when traveling and cooking in limited kitchens or in a microwave and a coffee pot (which, yes, can be used for more than coffee), our food is based on real, whole foods: vegetables, fruits, fats, and proteins. It’s the easiest way for me to avoid a migraine, and cuts down on expense quite a lot. But buying food to prepare while on the road is a bit of a headache. It’s easy to forget items you keep at home all the time – salt and pepper key among them.

Here’s where the {IMH} Digital Meal Planning board was the biggest part of our vacation plans that was missing. Just as before, I could have planned out all of our meals – including noting when we’d eat out or eat with friends or family we were visiting. Armed with a fully prepared shopping list, including all the seasonings from home we would need but might forget to pack because, well, we always have salt and pepper in the house, our treks from home would have been simpler and more manageable, with fewer unnecessary items purchased and only two trips to the grocery store: one before leaving for road snacks and one upon arrival for food for our stay.

We went on these vacations long before the advent of short-term rentals that come with a full kitchen. We relied on hotel suites with two burner stoves or even motels with a coffee pot and a microwave. Now, the thought of easily finding and renting a room or a suite with access to a full kitchen through AirBnB, VRBO, or, my local favorite Guest One, the possibilities of meal planning and vacation are truly endless.

How do you manage your meals when away from home?

Meal Planning on Vacation

{IMH} and Guest One can take care of all your meal planning needs while staying in comfort in Portland, OregonVacation brings about several logistical and planning stress points. With more and more people sticking to a specific diet or meal plan, we thought we’d start taking that stress away. Recently, we teamed up with Guest One, a short-term rental service based in Portland, OR, to help their guests take care of all of their travel meal planning needs. With homes in Portland, Salem, and more areas to come, Guest One provides an invaluable service to both its guests and home owners. Heading to the area soon? Stay in style with access to a full kitchen and the area’s restaurants. Because leaving home doesn’t have to mean changing or deviating from your diet for even a day.

Headed to Portland, Oregon soon? Reach out to Tiffany at Guest One to start planning all of your vacation needs. Headed somewhere else but still interested? Reach out to us directly and we’ll give you the tools to plan your vacation meals.

{IMH} and Guest One can take care of all your meal planning needs while you stay in comfort in Portland, Oregon

Print Your Plan

A little while ago, we were asked if the {IMH} Digital Meal Planning board could print the schedule to paper, so the paper could be displayed in a family command center.

What a perfect idea, I thought. The app needs to do this. I turned to the developer and told him.

A few hours later, and I had what I wanted.

The schedule now has a “Print This,” button right next to the date. Clicking the button will create a PDF that can be printed to good old fashioned paper and put where it’s most useful for you.

Ready to check out this feature? Subscribe today!

Recipe Tags

Your personalized tags.
Your personalized tags.

Tags keep your Recipe Collection organized. They also assign a recipe to specific meal. Beef stew, for example, is usually a dinner item, while sandwiches or my favorite Adult Bentos are great lunches. Adding these tags (dinner, lunch) to a recipe tells the meal planning board to put the recipe under that meal in your collection.

Place a comma between tags. This recipe didn't have very many, so I added a few to help sort it better.
Place a comma between tags. This recipe didn’t have very many, so I added a few to help sort it better.

Recipes can have multiple tags, and can belong to multiple meals. Just place a comma between each tag. Want to add a tag to a recipe later? Just type the tag in there, hit save, and it’ll appear in there the next time you look at the recipe.

Besides sorting by meal, just what do these tags do? For one, they start

A sample listing of recipes tagged with "Egg."
A sample listing of recipes tagged with “Egg.”

to show you what you eat. The tag cloud up there will show you your top ten tags (you can tell we eat a fair bit of chicken, vegetarian meals, and sweet potatoes). It does more than that though. Click on a tag, and you’ll head to a listing of every recipe with that tag. It’s much like the meal tabs, but more specific to the recipes you love, and how you think of them. Or, say you know you have a bunch of eggs you’d like to use up, but you don’t want the Faux Croque Madame. Click on the “egg,” tag to head to a listing of recipes tagged with “egg” in your collection. See a tag that inspires you more? Click that tag to head to a listing of recipes with that tag in it. Tags could even be used to sort out a family member’s favorite meals by using the name of the family member. Favorite holiday or gathering meals could also be tagged as such.

All recipe collections have some level of organization. Whether that’s a box with cards kept roughly in alphabetical order or, a cookbook sorted by meal and main ingredient (or even by season), there’s some sort of organization. The {IMH} Digital Meal Planner gives you all of these levels of organization. Even better, you personalize your organization to what works best for you.

How will you organize your Recipe Collection?

 

Quick Start Guide

Ready to get started meal planning? Here’s the short version to get you started. Ready?

Login. Your username and password will be sent to you in an email within 24 hours of your payment processing. If it’s been that long, you might check “Purchases” in your inbox or your SPAM folder. Head to http://app.insertmealhere.com and give the program your credentials. Welcome!

Your Recipes

A preview of the recipe collection, which is always customized to the user.
A preview of the recipe collection, which is always customized to the user.

The {IMH} Meal Planning Board journey starts with recipes. To add your first recipe to your collection, click the “Recipes” button. On the top left, you’ll see a link to “Add a Recipe.” Click the link, and enter your recipe in the form. Check out a full guide to the Recipe Collection for more details. Or, take a tour here with this Facebook Live.

Your Plan

A simple, sample schedule.
A simple, sample schedule.

Your Meal Plan is based on the recipes you have in your Recipe Collection. Now that you’ve added a recipe, you have the ability to add it to your plan. Click the form on the left to select a day and a meal to add the recipe to your plan. Click save. Select the “Schedule” up at the top menu to see your recipe in action on your meal plan.  I’ll take you through this step-by-step  in this Facebook Live too.

Your Shopping List

A sample shopping list, sorted by store section, based on a meal plan.
A sample shopping list, sorted by store section, based on a meal plan.

Now that you’ve got a recipe and a plan, you can build a shopping list. Click the “Shopping List” link at the top menu and select “Add New Shopping List.” Tell the {IMH} Meal Planning Board the day you plan on going shopping and the last day covered by your shopping trip. The program will pull all the ingredients in your recipes into a new list. To sort this list by section, click “Sort by Section.” Want to watch a video all about this? We did a Facebook Live right here.

Of course, there’s a fair bit more to the {IMH} Meal Planning Board this. But, this will help you dive in and get you started. Check out more in-depth information here.

The Shopping List

A well-designed meal plan can keep you organized and keep you on track for any meal-related goals you may have. But, when you head to the grocery store, you have t know what to buy, and how much, in order to successfully implement your plan.

Enter the Shopping List.

A sample shopping list in action. This list is built off a meal plan.
A sample shopping list in action. This list is built off a meal plan.

When your plan is set up, click the Shopping List button on the main menu and start building your list based entirely on your plan. Click the “New Shopping List” button on the top left of the screen. Now let the program know the day you intend to go shopping and the last day the shopping trip will cover in your plan. Click “Save,” and take a preview of your shopping list.

Build your new shopping list with your parameters.
Build your new shopping list with your parameters.

Controlling Your Shopping List

Keep your shopping list organized with the controls at the bottom of the list.
Keep your shopping list organized with the controls at the bottom of the list.

From here, it’s all about control. Use the controls at the bottom of the list and next to the actual items to edit your list. At first, your shopping list will be sorted by alpha. However, you can also sort your list by Section. But, before you do, you’ll need to add Store Sections and Add Items to those sections. Start by “Adding a Store Section.” Common sections may include produce and the butcher. Your sections may be based on what you buy or where you shop: for example, our favorite grocery store has a bulk section, and we don’t buy much from the middle, so we call this “Condiments,” in our controls. When you have your section(s) set, you can add items to your sections. Click “Add Item to Store Section,” select the section, and type the item as it appears on your list. Yes, this process is tedious, especially at the beginning. But, it goes pretty quick. And, each week, you’ll find yourself adding fewer and fewer (if any) items to sections. Sort your list by section using the link at the top left: “Sort by Section.”

In our house, there are certain items that need to be purchased every week: milk, eggs, bacon, and yogurt are the main ones. We add these to meals, eat them as snacks, drink them, and just generally think having them around is a good idea. Click the double-circle icon next to any item to add it to your repeating items list. This item will show up every week, whether it’s in a recipe or not. To review your repeating items, Click the “Repeating Items” in the controls.

Each item itself can be controlled as well. Delete items you already have in the pantry (salt comes to mind) with the trashcan icon. Use the check mark to edit an item, to say increase or decrease the quantity based on what’s already in the pantry. And, as mentioned above, have an item show up every week by clicking on the double circle icon.

Need a new list, or a list for just one day? Click on “New List” and set your parameters, and go!

You can make a new Shopping List by using the controls or the link on the top left of the list, whichever you prefer.
You can make a new Shopping List by using the controls or the link on the top left of the list, whichever you prefer.

 

 

 

 

 

Ready to head to the store? Don’t forget to take your list with you. You can use the list right inside the Meal Planning Board. Or, use the “Print this List” link right next to the “Shopping List for…” title at the top of the list for a clean, printer-friendly list. Head off to the store confident you have everything you need right in front of you, and that nothing will be left behind at the store.

Quinoa Meatballs

Whew. It’s been a while since we posted a recipe. This one became a fast favorite as soon as we made it: Quinoa Meatballs. We got the inspiration from similar meatballs at Wholefoods, already prepared. Though they were tasty, the ground chicken that was used to make them was too dry for our liking. With a prescription for ensuring to include fat in my diet, opting for low-fat options just isn’t a good idea for me. So, we re-vamped what we ate.

The base recipe is pretty simple, with a ratio by volume of 50/50 ground pork to quinoa. It’s not an exact science, so if the ratio is a little off, not to worry. But, do err on the side of the meat being the higher ratio. Finely diced vegetables and a bit of parsley add flavor. And a couple of eggs add depth and richness as well as bind everything together.

These meatballs are pretty easy to change-up. Make it Asian with ginger and/or galangal. Simmer the meatballs in a lemongrass and coconut milk broth for a Thai influence. Go to Italy by adding rosemary and oregano to the meatballs themselves and serve them with a lovely marinara. Or head to Northern Europe with a cream broth. Toss in some nettles, borage, savory, or even spinach for extra greens. With a little imagination, these little meatballs can carry flavors from anywhere.

These rich, full meatballs are adaptable to other meats as well – ground chicken or turkey if you’re concerned about fat content, beef, lamb, bison, or a combination of meats. Just keep the ratio of ground meet to quinoa at or close to 50/50, and don’t forget the eggs. Keep in mind too the fat content of the meat itself is important. A leaner meat will result in a dryer meatball. Especially if the meatball is dry, you’ll want to serve the meatball smothered in a sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste

Make It

Combine ingredients together with hands or other preferred method (if using a small kitchen appliance, keep in mind the heat from the appliance may melt the fat in the meat). Roll meatballs to desired size (I recommend about 2 tablespoons per meatball). Brown on all sides in a skillet on medium-high heat and transfer to a 350F oven for 10 -15 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve on their own, smothered in something delicious, or with a dipping sauce on the side.

This recipe will be available as a public recipe on the {IMH} Meal Planning Board. Start your meal planning bliss today!

Your Meal Plan

What’s a Meal Planning Board without a plan? The heart of the program rests inside the Schedule. The recipes in your Recipe Collection build up your Plan, and your Plan will build your Shopping List. Friday isn’t quite over year. Let’s go through this feature, shall we?

Add your Recipe to your Meal Plan by selecting the date and meal you want to eat the food.
Add your Recipe to your Meal Plan by selecting the date and meal you want to eat the food.

First thing’s first: getting a recipe on to your meal plan. Head to the recipe you want to put on your plan. On the left hand side, select the date and meal the recipe should be on your plan. Then click “Save.” You’ll head back to your Recipe Collection automatically. Click on “Schedule” to see your plan in action, as it starts to shape up.

A sample, simple schedule with dinners for a week.
A sample, simple schedule with dinners for a week.

Your plan can be as detailed or as simple as you like. Here, you can see a simple plan that shows dinner for a week. Our own meal planning is centered around dinner, with leftovers building up lunches as well as subsequent dinners. In this sample Plan, the Bride’s Mole is built off of a roast chicken from the previous week, and the Cubanos on Friday are built off of the roast from Friday.

Scroll through weeks by clicking the "Next," and Previous" week buttons.
Scroll through weeks by clicking the “Next,” and Previous” week buttons.

You can do quite a bit more in your Schedule than take a look at what’s laid out for the week. Skip ahead to the next week or back to the previous week by clicking on the “Next,” and “Previous” buttons.

View all the recipes for a single meal.
View all the recipes for a single meal

 

 

 

 

Or take a look at a single meal by clicking on the specific meal. Whether you have one recipe, 10 recipes, or something in between for that meal, all the recipes show up in one spot for easy reference while cooking.

 

 

 

Remove an unwanted recipe from your plan.
Remove an unwanted recipe from your plan.

When you need to make a change, you can delete a recipe from your Plan by  clicking on the trash can next to each recipe in your plan. But, before you click that delete button, if you’re just trying to move the recipe to another day or meal, drag the recipe from the old to the correct location in your plan.

Your Customized Recipe Collection

Fridays are all about features. Each week, we’ll highlight a different feature of the {IMH} Meal Planning Board. Is there a feature you want to know more about? Leave a note in the comments or shoot us an email. This week’s feature is the Recipe Collection. It’s a place for all of your favorite recipes to call home. Click on “Recipes” to head to your collection.recipe list

 

What good is a list thoadd a recipeugh without items in it? Click on the “Add a Recipe” link at the top left to go to the form to add your recipe. Try not to be too scared here. I’ll walk you through all this white. The title is perhaps the most important, because it can’t be changed later. Each box is a place to put the corresponding description. Number of servings will become important in the near future with an upcoming feature that’s in testing. The “Component Title” is itself a neat little feature: this allows you to add multiple components to a single recipe (such as a chocolate drizzle that goes over a cake). It’s all one recipe, but, there are a couple of different components. This will keep them separated for you. Ingredients have to have a name in the “Ingredient” column. I know I never put a quantity or measure in “salt and pepper” in my savory recipes, as it’s “to taste,” (I put that in the “instructions” column – see below).

 

Perhaps my personal favorite aspect of the recipe collection is the source information for each recipe, down at the bottom of the form. This lets me know where I got the original recipe from, be it a website, a book, or a friend. It’s also a great research tool when diving in to multiple, similar recipes, as the true source can be traced.

When your recipe is entered, click on “Save.” You’ll head to a screen that will allow you to tag your recipetag list so you can find it later. Here’s the tag “Ham” in action, to your right. You can also add notes on this screen. Click on “Save” again, and you’ll head back to your Recipe Collection.

 

When you’re in your Recipe Collection, click on a recipe to view it. The recipe below is a simple gallette I cobbled together one night. In here, you can see how the recipe is tagged and diets that it fits inside of (when applicable). You can also add the recipe to your plan. Just give it a date and a meal and click on save. Add a new tag right from this screen as well. You can also edit the recipe (except for the name; remember when I mentioned to pay attention to that, yeah, not potato is forever spelled wrong in this recipe – a fix to that will be coming at some time in the future).recipe card

The recipe itself appears to the right, with ingredients and instructions all right where you’d expect them to be. Underneath the recipe is a section for notes. I use these to make notes on things I might want to change as I’m testing and using a recipe. Eventually, if and when I use the same changes multiple times and am happy with them, I’ll incorporate the note in to the recipe itself.

Whew that was quite a bit. I love keeping all the recipes we try, and the ones that are and have become family favorites, in one spot. I don’t flip through dozens of cookbooks anymore to try to find that one cucumber soup I made that one time. I also don’t have to hope a blogger didn’t take down a recipe that used to be up in favor of publishing it in a book that I haven’t purchased (yet). I keep the original source right there in the recipe, and get to keep all my notes. Though the cards don’t get stained by the food they make, which I admit I kind of miss, they’re always legible and grease stains don’t smear out ingredients.

*Note: all screenshots are from version 1.0.3, which was released in July of 2015. As the Meal Planning Board evolves, the exact look of the program may change slightly, though the functionality will remain the same. Rest assured that we’ll update with new screenshots when there are major changes.