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30 Day Simple Meal Plan Challenge Week One: Use Pantry Staples

This week’s focus in the challenge is using what you’ve already got! (in your pantry, freezer, or anywhere you keep food in your house)

In trying to plan this weeks menu for the 30 Day Simple Meal Plan Challenge, I realized that I have so much food in my pantry and freezer that just sits there week after week.

First, I looked in my pantry (and freezer) and tried to just mentally process what is in there.

pantry staples Then I realized that this wasn’t going to work.  I’m one of those kinds of people who has to write it down!

pantry staples list Once I saw the list of everything we had right in our own kitchen, I got to planning!

This week’s menu:

Monday: Crock pot roast with carrots, potatoes (roast from freezer)

Tuesday: Baked spaghetti made with homemade spaghetti sauce and lean ground beef, salad (had all the ingredients on hand to make spaghetti sauce)

Wednesday: Crock pot cranberry chicken (will be posting recipe!), brussel sprouts, sweet potato (had all ingredients on hand except the boneless skinless chicken breasts)

Thursday: Easy Mexican Casserole, salad (using canned beans from pantry)

Friday: Homemade pizza  (have all ingredients to make homemade pizza dough on hand + olives and cheese)

(we never know what our weekends will hold, but we will stick to the plan of not eating out!)


What do you have in your pantry?

How to Use What is On Hand

  1. Write it down!  I know it sounds simple, but I spent a while this weekend going through all of my canned goods, dry goods and even freezer items and wrote it all down.
  2. Organize it.  As I was going through my pantry, I kept finding yet another can of tomato sauce that I didn’t realize I had because it was wedged between cans of beans!  If you have it organized, you can find what you need a lot easier.
  3. Plan some meals that use these items.  I know this seems like an obvious one, but if you just pick some meals that use these items you have, you will buy less groceries this week!

Having a plan will help us in this first week of the 30 Day Simple Meal Plan Challenge.  Remember, keeping it simple will enable you to stick to it and be successful!

What staples do you have on hand and what do you plan to do with them?

{Linking up to Life Made Lovely!}

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Simple Menu Planning

white chicken chili

Today is Labor Day, and we are going to celebrate with a not-so-typical meal.  But I cannot wait!

Simple menu planning is so key for busy families to be able to eat at home and spend time with each other across the kitchen table!  Eating healthy does not have to be complicated.

How to Simplify Your Meal Plan (without compromising nutrition)

1. Focus on fruits and vegetables.  They are full of fiber, nutrients, and color.  And don’t feel like you always have to buy fresh.  Frozen fruits and veggies are an easy and inexpensive way to get more of these superfoods in your diet!

2. Eat leftovers.  Leftovers are the only way I survive in the kitchen.  Thankfully, my husband likes leftovers and often takes them for lunch the next day.  Some meals are better the next day than others, but oftentimes I will make a big pot of chili and that’s what we’ll eat for lunch throughout the week.

3. Use the crock pot. That wonderful kitchen tool can save you so much time and can allow you to make one pot wonders that include meat and vegetables!

4. Make a nutrient-packed smoothie for breakfast. I actually will sometimes do this for lunch on the days I don’t work, but most people probably prefer it for breakfast.  My Vita-mix allows me to throw in all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and even whole flax seed for a vitamin-packed meal.

My Weekly Meal Plan


Lunch: Leftover White chicken Chili

Dinner: Spinach and Strawberry Salad (with grilled chicken)


Lunch: Turkey Sandwich on Alvarado Street Complete Protein Bread (flourless with sprouted grains) with light mayo and side of grapes

Dinner: Angel hair pasta with pesto, feta and tomatoes (made with homemade pesto)


Lunch: Leftover angel hair pasta with pesto

Dinner: Balsamic chicken with brussel sprouts and baked potato


Lunch: Turkey sandwich with baby carrots and low fat Ranch dressing

Dinner: Spaghetti (made with homemade spaghetti sauce from the freezer) with salad


Lunch: Leftover spaghetti

Dinner: PIZZA NIGHT!  Homemade pesto pizza!!

(Linking up at Menu Plan Monday!)

I’d love for you to share what your favorite simple meals and simple menu planning tips are!  Leave a comment below!




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Simplify Your Life

I’m busy, are you?

Oh, the ever-elusive dream of perfect balance, simplicity and order.

Maybe that’s why I love the Real Simple magazine.  The cover always looks…well, simple.  All the colors match, they are organized and they all have a certain “look.”

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