I’ve been thinking that a follow-up type post would be a nice companion to my menu plans. I do my best to follow the plan, sometimes swapping days here or there or skipping a meal as we end up with more food in the fridge than anticipated. So this follow-up will tell you if I stayed on track as well as how new recipes turned out. In case you missed my May menu plan, you can find that here.
5/1 We started the month out with a leftovers night. Of course, when I looked in the fridge at lunch time, there was not much left to clean out. We usually eat dinner leftovers for lunches; I guess we did a good job of it this week! But I did find enough leftover vegetables to make a side salad, some strawberries, cheese slices, and we also had some bread that a friend baked, so naturally I made grilled cheese. It was really good grilled cheese too – the bread had beautiful air bubbles and as the cheese melted it permeated the whole sandwich.
5/2 I made a big trip to Aldi and stocked up for the week. For dinner I made my Southwest salad with the cilantro-lime vinaigrette I linked to in my May menu plan with the rest of the bread from the night before. Unfortunately I forgot about the pepitas, so my salad was just black beans, pinto beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, salad greens, and pepper jack cheese. Sometimes I add chicken but for a number of reasons that did not happen on this day. The dressing was pretty good, although I kind of wish I added another lime.
5/3 Pizza night is basically my favorite night of the week. Lately I’ve been making most of it with red sauce and the rest as a white pizza with olive oil and garlic. The most recent batch of sauce I made turned out especially delicious, I think because I threw in a bit more onion than usual.
5/4 My husband chopped up all of the vegetables for this stir fry earlier in the day. I also cooked the rice ahead of time, so dinner came together in about 15 minutes, including the time to mix together the sauce. I love meals like this! I used my mini food processor to mince the ginger to make things go a little bit faster. I almost purged that mini food processor a few months ago, because it is kind of loud and I wasn’t using it. I have been trying to use it again more recently, and it does work well for small jobs, plus it takes up a lot less space in the dishwasher. We will see if I keep using it. Anyway, I used my wok for the stir fry (instead of the frying pan or sauté pan which I have used in the past) and it was fantastic. I love how quickly it heats up and how much food it holds – the curved sides kept all of the food in the pan. The sauce did thicken up very quickly in the wok (like in less than 30 seconds), so next time I think I would cook the broccoli for a minute or so longer and then add the sauce.
After dinner, we indulged in some chocolate covered bananas. My 4-year-old helped me prepare the bananas for the freezer by cutting them into halves and inserting the popsicle sticks. We did this after lunch because the recipe says to freeze them for at least 3 hours ahead of time. After dinner, I put toppings onto small plates (sprinkles for the kids, chopped peanuts for the grown-ups) and melted the chocolate. I did not entirely understand how this process would work, so I’m going to spell it out here for anyone else who might need it. The chocolate instantly cools on the frozen banana, so you need to work *very* quickly to add your toppings. I melted the chocolate in the microwave and I wish that I had just left it in the bowl. Putting it in the glass just made it harder to coat the bananas, and that made it harder to get the toppings to stick. I think I also ended up with a thicker coating of chocolate than is ideal, because the shell kind of fell off of the bananas before we finished eating them. In the end they were creamy and refreshing, but a little bit hard for my young kids to eat.
After the kids went to bed, my husband and I did a bit of meal prep for the month. First we prepped the pork for the slow cooker and stuck that in the fridge overnight. Then we worked on prepping chicken for the month. I started with the Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs – I just mixed together the marinade in a gallon-size freezer bag and added the chicken. Next I seasoned a bunch of chicken breasts (6!) for salads with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and ground mustard. My husband marinated 3 more chicken breasts for the Asian Chicken Salad. While the marinade was working, he trimmed and chopped the chicken for the Orange Chicken, and put that into a bag for the freezer. We baked all of the chicken breasts on two half-sheet pans using this method. Once it was cool enough to handle we sliced it, divided it into quart-sized freezer bags, and set it in the fridge to cool before freezing it. It is such a great feeling knowing that all of that prep work is already done. As long as I remember to defrost everything I will be in good shape for the rest of the month 😀 .
5/5 I had high hopes for Maple Jalapeño Pulled Pork Tacos – they were really easy to put together. Unfortunately that is the best thing I have to say about them. As I mentioned, I do not usually make pork except for bacon, and I guess there is pork in the meatballs I make. These tacos were kind of dry and the seasonings were not really sufficient. Too pork-y for me (I know, what did I expect??). My husband liked them, although to be fair, he will eat almost anything. I think I will stick to smoked pulled pork.
5/6 Monday night eggs! My husband got home early and cooked dinner for us 🙂 He even got a little wild and put parmesan in the eggs – delish! The green vegetable du jour was frozen peas.
5/7 The kids and I made resurrection rolls after lunch. I adjusted the recipe to match the temperature and cook time on my package of crescent rolls. These were a lot of fun, even if half of them did kind of explode.
I intended to put some leftover pork into the quesadillas for dinner, but as I already mentioned I was less than thrilled with the pork, so I just made plain cheese quesadillas for me and the kids. My husband did have some pork in his (he also ate some pork for lunch for a few days; the rest is in the freezer for another day). It was a pretty simple dinner but really immensely satisfying. Thin asparagus is light-years better than thick asparagus, am I right?
5/8 This was supposed to be our leftovers night, but there was not enough left in the fridge to just reheat some plates (really not a bad thing as far as I’m concerned). When this happens I like to do pancakes for dinner, and we happened to have buttermilk in the fridge, so dinner was buttermilk pancakes and fresh pineapple. Not bad for an empty fridge!