This Week's Eats: Week 5 | Feeling Burned Out and New Local Eats

This week I burned out and hit a wall after working long hours. We made it through the first three days of the week before giving up the meal plan and giving in to eating out. Throw in a weekend of activities and the Super Bowl and the week of planned meals was a wash. Life happens and there are worse areas of life to get off track. Am I right?! 

Here's how our week panned out:

Monday

Breakfast: pancakes

Lunch: grain bowl salad. This week I switched from kale to arugula to keep things fresh. 

Charlotte's Lunch: almond butter on whole grain, cheese, carrots, ham, and almonds.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-jan29

Dinner: leftover beef stew and grilled romaine lettuce salad.

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: pancakes.

Lunch: whole wheat chicken nuggets with a side of garlic french fries

Dinner: pan seared scallops over a bed of quinoa and arugula with a side of parsnips.

scallops-quinoa-arugula

 

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: pancakes. 

Lunch: grain bowl salad 

Charlotte's Lunch: Nutella on wheat bread, cheese, carrots, almonds and fruit gummies.

bento-box-toddler-lunch-jan31

Dinner: Marcella Hazan's Bolognese. SO GOOD. Served on snowflake shaped pasta, per the toddler's request.

bolognese-sauce-on-snowflake-pasta-from-trader-joes

 

Thursday

Breakfast: bagel with cream cheese.

Lunch: leftover bolognese

Dinner: we were craving Chinese food so I found a new spot in the University area called Inchin's Bamboo Garden. It's a franchise/chain and it was only their fourth day being open. The food is good but a little expensive for the area, which is okay because we lack "upscale" restaurants near us. It was clean and the service was good. I'm going to wait a little to give them another try, they need to work a little bit on developing and deepening the flavor profiles of their dishes. 

Here's what we ate: wonton soup, beef hot garlic, and fish creamy chili oil.

wonton soup

wonton soup

beef hot garlic

beef hot garlic

fish creamy chili oil

fish creamy chili oil

 

Friday

Breakfast: breakfast tacos from Babalu at Creative Mornings.

Lunch: Five Guys at the mall food court. Don't judge.

five-guys-burger

Charlotte's Lunch: Nutella on whole grain, cheese, carrots, almonds, and apple slices.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-feb2

Dinner: Hot wings and potato skins at Three Monkey's, our favorite neighborhood bar. What?! We're working on our Super Bowl bodies. ;)

three-monkeys-harrisburg-nc-potato-skins
three-monkeys-harrisburg-nc-hot-wings

 

Saturday

Breakfast: Bojangle's.

Lunch: lots of delicious bites at a friend's baby shower.

Dinner: homemade fajitas.

 

Sunday

Breakfast: bagels

Lunch: The Dumpling Lady's dumplings and noodles. 

dumpling-lady-charlotte-nc-catawba-brewing

Dinner: Super Bowl grub at two different parties. #mypantsdontfit

 

We're not on any specific (restriction) diet but after this week we may need to do a hard reset to get back into a healthier eating groove.

 

 

This Week's Eats: Week 4 | Haberdish and Chopt

We started this week strong: a large batch of pancakes to get us through several mornings and meals with tons of flavor. Then everything came to a halt on Wednesday when I woke up with my left eye swollen shut. Turns out being sick for two months straight can cause your eyes to get "sick" too. Thankfully, some of the meals earlier in the week yielded enough leftovers to sustain us till the end.

Barrel Aged Black Manhattan | Haberdish

Barrel Aged Black Manhattan | Haberdish

 

Monday

Breakfast: pancakes

Lunch: Chick-fil-a. Don't judge.

Charlotte's Lunch: the usual suspects... almond butter sandwich on whole grain, cheese, carrots, apples, and fruit gummies.

toddler-lunch-2018-01-29

 

Dinner: Martha Stewart's Arroz con Pollo. This is one of my favorite recipes that I make over and over again. Sadly, I didn't get to eat it because it wasn't ready before I had to leave. I had to rush to get to Hygge for a Skillpop class. That salad I didn't eat after yoga came in handy.

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: pancakes.

Lunch: Arroz con Pollo.

Dinner: black pepper beef with bok choy on jasmine rice. We would eat this dish weekly if it was up to my husband.

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: pancakes. 

Lunch: grain salad 

Charlotte's Lunch: Nutella on wheat, cheese, carrots, almonds and crasins.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-2018-01-30

Dinner: an easy pasta sauce I call "Damsel Pasta" because I was introduced to it by Jacey of Damsel in Dior. I love this dish because it easy, flavorful, and we almost always have the ingredients on hand to make it.

 

Thursday

Breakfast: Eggo waffles with various nut butters.

Lunch: ham sandwich.

Dinner: leftovers

 

Friday

Breakfast: Eggo waffles with various nut butters.

Lunch: Trader Joe's Butter Chicken from the freezer section. It had the perfect amount of spice but not enough rice. Definitely inspired me to make it from scratch in the near future!

Charlotte's Lunch: almond butter on whole grain, cheese, carrots, fruit gummies, and ham.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-2018-01-26

 

Dinner: Haberdish. I love Haberdish. I could eat there every week and not tire of it.

Hushpuppies

Hushpuppies

Okra, Fried Chicken, Trout, Mac & Cheese

Okra, Fried Chicken, Trout, Mac & Cheese

 

Saturday

Breakfast: cereal and Eggo waffles.

Lunch: Chopt! Because I haven't had enough salad for the week. :)

The current destination salads are inspired by Vietnam so obviously I had to try them (hashtag I'm a Pho addict)! I tried the Vietnamese Meatball Noodle Bowl and it was delish. Husband went with the Mexicali salad and the kid devoured the Mexican Chicken Soup. 

VIETNAMESE MEATBALL NOODLE BOWL: Warm lemongrass turkey meatballs, chilled rice noodles, pickled hearts of palm, English cucumbers, crispy shallots, cabbage & herb blend, SPICY TAMARIND VINAIGRETTE, A DRIZZLE OF SRIRACHA, and A WEDGE OF LIME. | c/o CHOPT

VIETNAMESE MEATBALL NOODLE BOWL: Warm lemongrass turkey meatballs, chilled rice noodles, pickled hearts of palm, English cucumbers, crispy shallots, cabbage & herb blend, SPICY TAMARIND VINAIGRETTE, A DRIZZLE OF SRIRACHA, and A WEDGE OF LIME. | c/o CHOPT

Mexican Chicken Soup | c/o Chopt

Mexican Chicken Soup | c/o Chopt

Dinner: leftovers and Trader Joe's chicken and dill pelmeni.

 

Sunday

Breakfast: made another huge batch of protein packed pancakes that will last us a couple of days.

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: giant batch of "clean out the fridge, freezer, and pantry" beef stew. Yum!

 

I've been getting into a routine of completing all of our meal planning and shopping by Friday so that the weekend can be reserved for prepping and relaxing. I'll let you know if that makes life easier and less stressful or it turns into a chore with a self imposed deadline that will be difficult to keep up with... like blogging about what we eat on a weekly basis. ;)

 

 

This Week's Eats: Week 3 | Snow Day and All-You-Can-Eat Sushi

This week our meal plan was derailed a bit because of the snow "storm" that hit our area on Wednesday. And when I say derail, I mean we got cabin fever after being "stuck" at home for only one day. Nevertheless, we managed to cook all the meals we planned on cooking so this week was still a win.

harrisburg-nc-snow-january-2018

 

Monday

Breakfast: whole grain Eggos with Nutella. 

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: Barbacoa chicken breast in the slowcooker. I used our favorite recipe that calls for beef but it worked great with chicken. It was a good way to clear out our freezer and use up leftover chipotle peppers in adobe from last week's Barbacoa tacos dinner.

barbacoa-slow-cooker-chicken-breast

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: Eggos. Are you sensing a pattern here?

Lunch: leftovers from Monday's dinner.

Charlotte's lunch: a paired down version of her school lunch. She wasn't feeling well and asked for a "cat sandwich with almond butter" and I obliged. She didn't even touch it.

toddler-lunch-cat-sandwich-ikea-plate

Dinner: Marcella Hazan's Bolognese. It was my first time making bolognese sauce and it was amazing and has earned a permanent spot on our meal plan. 

I didn't have time to eat at home because I had a networking event so I ate a poke bowl at Poke Cafe instead.

Sushi rice base with ahi tuna and salmon tossed in spicy rayu sauce topped with edamame, scallion, jalapeno, masago, radish, and tempura crunch.

Sushi rice base with ahi tuna and salmon tossed in spicy rayu sauce topped with edamame, scallion, jalapeno, masago, radish, and tempura crunch.

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: bagels with cream cheese.

Lunch: leftover bolognese with noodles.

Dinner: NY strip with mashed potatoes and green beans. It was snowing when Brandon was grilling the steaks outside. File this under things we never thought we'd do in the south.

 

Thursday

Breakfast: Eggos with various nut butters.

Lunch: leftover bolognese with noodles.

Dinner: Domino's pizza and red wine with friends.

 

Friday

Breakfast: bagels with cream cheese.

Lunch: grilled cheese and spicy tomato soup from Sunflour Baking Company. Hashtag delicious.

sunflour-bakery-harrisburg-nc-grilled-cheese-spicy-tomato-soup-lunch

Dinner: all-you-can-eat sushi at Mr. Tokyo. Spent $22 on three premium rolls, a hand roll, four pieces of sashimi, a yellowtail appetizer, and BBQ squid. I had to be rolled out in a barrel. You can read all about it here.

all-you-can-eat-sushi-north-charlotte-nc-mr-tokyo

 

Saturday

Breakfast: bagel with cream cheese and a pistachio rosewater latte with oat milk from Trade and Lore enjoyed by me while trying to cram one week's worth of work into two hours. Cereal for the husband and kid.

pistachio-rosewater-latte-oak-milk-trade-and-lore-noda-charlotte-nc

Lunch: Trader Joe's chicken and dill pelmeni for me, pasta leftovers for Charlotte. Mr. K's for the husband.

Dinner: a pretzel with beer cheese from Dilworth Grille paired with a Juicy Jay IPA for a pre-dinner snack followed by dinner with the fam at Harrisburg Family Restaurant.

beer-cheese-pretzel-dilworth-grille-charlotte-nc

 

Sunday

Breakfast: a huge batch of protein packed pancakes that will last us a couple of days.

Lunch: A little bacon burger from Five Guys for me (I had a meeting in SouthEnd and didn't have time to eat at home), Hawthorne Pizza for the fam and in-laws.

Dinner: loaded baked potatoes and grilled Caesar salad. 

 

I feel like we ate out a lot this week and I hope to curb that next week, which is shaping up to be pretty busy. Our meal plan reflects our busy schedule with easy to manage meals that yield plenty of leftovers. Here's to hoping that we won't have any more cancelled school or crazy weather giving us have cabin fever!

I'm also researching food photography gear to improve the photos that I post for our weekly updates. I have the camera and the lenses but it's the lighting that I find challenging, especially since it gets dark so early during the winter.

What are you favorite lighting tools for food blogging?

 

This Week's Eats: Week 2 | Pivot!

The second week of January felt much busier than the first so I was extra thankful for having planned out our weekly dinners. Our original plan was to plan and prep on Sunday evening but we decided to invite friends over for dinner to watch the Panthers game so we had to pivot.

pivot-friends-gif

We were originally going to make fajitas but I did not want to stand at the stove for an hour while everyone else had fun. Thankfully, we have a Harris Teeter next door so I picked up a larger piece of beef and pivoted to Chipotle Barbacoa slow cooker tacos. It's one of my favorite things to make because it's super flavorful and only requires 20-30 minutes of hands on time. Less hands on means more time for margaritas! (And sadly more time to watch the Panthers lose in the playoffs.)

chiptole-barbacoa-tacos

 

Monday

Breakfast: whole grain Eggos with Nutella. 

Lunch: spicy chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-a (because we didn't meal prep the night before and I didn't want to skip yoga in the morning to do it).

Charlotte's Lunch: almond butter on whole wheat bread, cheese, baby carrots, strawberries, almonds and crasins.

clm-toddler-bento-box-lunch-jan-8

Dinner: oven roasted salmon, sauteed spinach, and rice. Everything but the rice came out of the freezer. It was quick and easy and allowed me to have time to plan and prep for the rest of the week.

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: whole grain Eggos with Nutella.

Lunch: organic whole grain chicken nuggets and sweet potato tater tots.

Dinner: black pepper beef with bok choy on jasmine rice. This dish is in heavy rotation in our house right now. It's so good!

black-pepper-beef-with-bok-choy-blue-apron

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: banana and a granola bar for me, Cheerios for the husband and kid.

Lunch: grain salad bowl that I devoured in the car between yoga and picking up Charlotte from school.

Israeli cous cous, oven roasted chicken breast seasoned with Trader Joe's 21 Spice Salute, kale, crasins, diced apples, chopped almonds, kale, feta crumbles, and Green Goddess dressing from Trader Joe's. 

grain-bowl-salad-trader-joes-aldi

Charlotte's Lunch: almond butter on whole wheat bread, cheese, apple slices, organic gummy fruit snack, almonds and crasins.

toddler-lunch-bento-box-jan-10

Dinner:  slow cooker "clean out the veggie drawer, freezer, and pantry" beef stew. 

clean-out-fridge-stew

After Dinner: book club grub highlights included freshly baked bread with butter and jam, meat and cheese with crackers, and monkey bread (that my friend Ashley made) that was the perfect sweet ending to the day. 

monkey-bread

 

Thursday

Breakfast: whole grain Eggos (do you sense a pattern here?) with almond butter.

Lunch: grain salad bowl for me, quesadilla for the kid.

Israeli cous cous, oven roasted chicken breast seasoned with Trader Joe's 21 Spice Salute, kale, crasins, diced apples, strawberries, chopped walnuts, kale, feta crumbles, and Green Goddess dressing from Trader Joe's. 

thursday-grain-salad

Dinner: leftovers for the fam, noms at Yafo Kitchen for me at a blogger event.

We were treated to beet hummus, Brussels sprouts, and pickled vegetables at Yafo. I also ate my weight in laffah and washed it all down with a cucumber, lime, mint, and prosecco cocktail.

shannons-quinoa-salad-yafo-charlotte

 

Friday

Breakfast: my breakfast consisted of a meat stick snack from Trader Joe's and a vanilla soy latte from Starbucks. 

Lunch: free pie from Blaze Pizza. I don't typically stand in line for free food but I just happened to be next door, I was hungry, and I've been wanting to try Blaze for months. Kind of worked out perfectly. The pizza was delicious and I appreciate the fact that you can put as many toppings as you want without paying extra.

The toppings I chose were fresh mozzarella, Italian sausage, salame, spinach, onions, roasted red peppers, and balsamic glaze. 

blaze-pizza-concord

Charlotte's Lunch: Nutella on whole wheat bread, cheese, apple slices, cucumber, organic gummy fruit snack.

toddler-lunch-bento-box-jan-12

Dinner: Caribbean food catered for my dear friend's birthday party. We had jerk wings, mac and cheese, corn, and black beans. 

 

Saturday

Breakfast: vanilla soy latte and a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks for me, cereal and birthday cupcakes for Charlotte.

birthday-cupcakes-fairy-cats

Lunch: sopa de pollo for mom and a half chicken with quinoa salad and plantains for me from Viva Chicken.

viva-chicken-half-chicken-quinoa-salad-plantains-sopa-de-pollo

Dinner: a beautiful and delicious Cuban spread at my lovely friend's birthday party. Not pictured below: yummy sangria and a tres leches birthday cake!

cuban-birthday-dinner-spread
cuban-birthday-party-dinner-plate

 

Sunday

Breakfast: banana for me, breakfast quesadilla and eggs for the husband and kid. 

Brunch: I had the pleasure of trying out Legion Brewing's brunch with beer pairings. It was delicious and you can read all about it here. For now, here's a picture of the Maple Canyon Waffle.

So. Good.

maple-canyon-waffle-legion-brewing-brunch

Lunch: Brandon and Charlotte ran some errands while I was at brunch and landed at Culver's for lunch. 

Dinner: shrimp scampi with angel hair pasta.

shrimp-scampi-nytimes

 

We did a great job sticking to the dinner plan this week, especially with a week filled with evening events and a weekend packed with birthday celebrations. Next week I only have one evening event and our weekend is free. We have a lot of chicken and pasta dishes on deck so we'll see how well we stick to the plan!

 

What was on your menus this week?

This Week's Eats: an Intro

taking a bite out of meal planning

taking a bite out of meal planning

One of my goals this year is to be more mindful of what we eat, to spend less on food, and to reduce our food waste. "How?" You ask? By planning ahead and sticking to it, focusing on using everything in our overstuffed freezers and pantry, and meal prepping on the weekends.

We've been dabbling in weekly meal planning for the last few months but haven't done a great job at sticking to the plans. May be it's because I was in a cooking rut. May be the plan wasn't flexible enough. Or I've been sick. Or life just happened and we were too spent to deal with cooking.

So, with our goals and past failures in mind, here's how we're going to stay accountable: by sharing what we eat on a weekly basis. I hope this inspires you to try meal planning and prepping, reducing waste in the kitchen, and may be saving a bit on your groceries!

 

A little bit about our grocery shopping habits:

We do most of our grocery shopping at Aldi and supplement our grocery list with trips to Trader Joe's, Harris Teeter, and Earth Fare. I tried couponing a few years ago and it turned out to be a total time suck. If anything, we ended up spending more because we had to purchase multiple quantities or we bought things we didn't really need. Also, most of the items we buy are fresh (outside aisles) or private label and there are hardly any coupons available for those items. We try to buy animal proteins that are natural or organic as much as we can so the plan is based mainly on available deals/discounts that week. 

Our weekly menus are toddler friendly and dinners yield at least one leftover lunch.

Click here for a look at the second week of 2018 and let me know what you think!

 

Do you meal plan? What are you favorite go-to receipes?