Menu Plan Monday - A Snowy Week Ahead

For those who don't know, I live in Northern Virginia. Just "outside the beltway", yet right in the middle of "we-have-no-earthly-idea-what-to-do-when-it-snows" land. Remember how last year President Obama made news by mocking the fact that there were a couple of inches of snow on the ground and his girls got a snow day? That's where I live. Thankfully, even though I love the snow, we don't get a lot of it. Except for this year. We got another 8 inches of snow over the weekend (made completely worse by the fact that they were only predicting 1-2), and it is supposed to snow Tuesday night and over the weekend. The bread-milk-toilet paper people are out in full force (in addition to freaking out when it snows, people panic when snow is in the forecast, and stock up on bread, milk, and toilet paper...really). So I'm planning easy meals this week that will also be nice and warm on the cold snowy days. :)

Our menu plan for the week...
Monday: chicken enchiladas (these are from Let's Dish, but if you're going to make your own, we really like this recipe from Rachael Ray)
Tuesday: spaghetti, rolls, salad
Wednesday: taco salad (a healthier way to eat tacos...I put a handful of tortilla chips in the bottom of a bowl, put a scoop of meat on top, a sprinkle of cheese, and then handfuls of tomatoes & lettuce and some black olives)
Thursday: Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches (Let's Dish), oven fries, salad
Friday: out for dinner...if it doesn't snow!
Saturday: Chicken picatta (I use the recipe from the Dinner Doctor cookbook)
Sunday: Super Bowl Sunday...we'll probably hang out with friends and order pizza

Menu Planning Monday

You know how some people live places where the weather follows a predictable pattern? I am not one of those people. It was cold and rainy yesterday (it hovered around 45 all day), and we woke up to rain today. Except that it was 60 out. Now it's 62 and sunny. And it's supposed to snow on Friday. Welcome to Virginia - if you don't like the weather, wait a few hours. I pay attention to the weather when I plan my menus for the week. In the summer we like to grill, and when it's super cold out I like comfort foods. And there's nothing better on a cold snowy day then making a pot of soup. So what to do in weeks like this? Make everything from the freezer that we planned on making but never did the past few weeks. :)

My menu for this week:
Monday: shrimp crepes (Let's Dish), green vegetables
Tuesday: prosciutto wrapped chicken, egg noodles, green beans
Wednesday: turkey noodle casserole (this is so delicious - it's the best version of turkey noodle casserole I have found, and is not just yummy, it's really quick and easy to make!), salad
Thursday: chicken minestrone ragu (Let's Dish), rolls, salad
Friday: out for dinner :)
Saturday: not sure what we will be doing Saturday...having dinner with the in-laws or out with friends...either way, we won't be home!
Sunday: chicken cordon bleu, wild rice, green vegetables

Step 1 - Getting it Written Down

So, for me, the first step in getting my healthcare organized is to get it all written down. It's easy, and it's great to share for Works for Me Wednesday.

I learned long ago that the first step is to make a list of every medication I take. It was simple to do, and I have a copy now saved on my computer, AND a copy in my wallet. Hopefully the only time that the one in my wallet will be used is when I go to the doctor and they ask what I am taking. (you know, they always do that, and I always give them that look like "what, I'm supposed to remember these things?") I'm not posting a picture because I don't really need the various asthma medications I take out on the internet, but you get the idea. :) I also have, in big letters on the top of my list, the fact that I have drug allergies. Just in case that there was ever an emergency, it's somewhere on me, and someone else could find what I am taking and what not to give me.

The second thing I did today to get myself organized was to put the refill dates for my prescriptions on my calendar. I use the auto-refill service at Target, so I don't have to call them in, but I do have to remember to pick them up. I sometimes get an automated call, but not always, which was how I managed to miss one last week. Now I can see when it's time to swing by Target on the way home. One of the best parts of my neighborhood is that I live down the street from Target, so I can easily stop by or even walk if the weather is nice.

Any other things that I should write down to get my healthcare organized? Next stop...tackling the stack of receipts!

Mission #9 - Healthcare

With so much talk of healthcare reform the past few months, it's no surprise that my own healthcare is at the front of my mind lately. Aside from hoping that healthcare reform passes for my own personal benefit, I often think about how lucky my husband and I really are. Sure, our health insurance isn't great. And I get mad every time I think about the fact that they only cover some of my asthma medications. But at least they cover some of them. And I only have to pay the co-pay - it's hard enough to pay $50 for an inhaler; I can't even fathom what it's like to have to pay the list price on these medications each month. But I digress. Keeping my own healthcare organized is tough - REALLY tough. I have a number of medications that I take daily, so I am the Target pharmacy regularly enough that they know my name. The receipts are everywhere, and this week, for the first time, I actually managed to miss picking up a prescription, and didn't realize it until I had both an empty bottle and no new one on the shelf.

It's not just prescription medication that needs to be organized. Over-the-counter stuff litters my medicine cabinet, my linen closet, and my dresser; it's hard to know what we have, and, if we do have it, where it is.

So Mission #9 is tackling my own healthcare - my prescriptions, my receipts, my get the idea. Because this mission is a little broader than some of the others, I'll be tackling it in stages. Stage #1 - prescription receipts. See the Target bags piled up on my dresser? That's not a staged picture - it's what is actually there right now. All of the bags that have been emptied into my nightstand or medicine cabinet and are now waiting for me to do something with the receipts inside. Why are the receipts so important? Well, if your healthcare costs reach a cetain percentage of your income, you can deduct them on your taxes. I keep my receipts so I can track my spending. And we are lucky enough to have a flexible spending account through my husband's job, so I submit all of the receipts monthly to be reimbursed.

Wish me luck...

Menu Planning Monday

It's that time of the week again to plan meals. I don't know why, but I feel like this is one of the hardest things to do every week. It's like I sit down to plan out what to make for the week and the part of my brain that decides what we're going to eat shuts down. Sigh...if anyone has any tips for making this less difficult, I would love to hear them! Anyways, we'll be home for dinners most nights this week, though the weekend is up in the air. My in-laws will be in town, so chances are good that we'll have dinner with them at least once or twice (especially over the weekend). But I don't know. I've planned dinners for the weekend that stay frozen until I cook them so that if we're home I have something to make, but it won't matter if we leave them in the freezer another week.

This week's menu, in conjunction with Menu Plan Monday at
Monday: lasgana (I use the recipe on the back of the Barilla no-cook noodles box and it's always a huge hit!), French bread, salad
Tuesday: Greek turkey burgers, (the recipe calls for ground chicken or lamb, but I use ground turkey breast to make it a little healthier. I also make them much smaller...I use 1 lb of ground turkey breast for 4 burgers) Greek salad, potato wedges
Wednesday: Chicken Mug Pie
Thursday: Chicken Cordon Bleu (we never made this last week), wild rice, green veggies
Friday: Prosciutto-wrapped chicken (Let's Dish), egg noodles, green veggies
Saturday: Shrimp crepes (Let's Dish), salad
Sunday: Chicken Minestrone Ragu

Mini Mission: Organizing Your Grocery Shopping Trip

My mom thought I was crazy years ago, when I explained to her that I organize my grocery shopping list. She couldn't see why I would take the extra time to do it, when I could just take my jotted down list (or, in her case, a list in her head) and hope for the best. Then, Wegmans opened. For those of you outside of the New York-Pennsylvania-Virginia corridor, Wegmans is no ordinary grocery store. For one, it's a destination. You can eat at a high end restaurant within the store, browse their wine store, and buy cheap pasta sauce all at the same place. It's huge - much larger than our usual grocery store - and with giant carts and wide-eyed newcomers, a plan is a must. But even if you aren't blessed with Wegmans (or a similarly large grocery store), organizing your grocery shopping saves you both time and money. In conjunction with Works for Me Wednesday, a few tips to get you started.

First, I plan out my meals for the week. If you look at the past few posts, you can see that I try to mix up what we eat, and that we eat the majority of our meals at home. We pack our lunches 4-5 days a week, and I eat breakfast at home (and my husband packs his breakfast as well). A great tool that I recently discovered is "The Eat Sheet" at You can also do this on a piece of scrap paper, but I really liked the one sheet format. Anyways, as I plan out my meals, I keep a running list of items we will need to make each dinner. You can see how there are several items with a question mark - things that we'll need but I think we might actually have in the house (I'll go back and check later). Then I add in other things - stuff for lunches, items from our upstairs list (we keep a white board on our fridge to write things that we're running out of so we don't forget to pick them up), other things that we need for the week.

I don't stop there. As I said before, my grocery store is huge, and without a plan you can spend hours in there. Heck, even WITH a plan it takes me nearly an hour to grocery shop! So an organized list is a must. From my first list, I make a SECOND list. Yes, really. This is the list that I actually take with me to the store. I put my first list in the order of the aisles at the grocery store. This took me a few months to perfect - I had to remember the order of the aisles (and the order in which I like to shop...dry goods, produce, meats, dairy, frozen foods...try to keep the stuff that needs to be refrigerated out of my cart until the end), but now that I know the order, it's pretty simple. (yes, that is my actual list from this's so wrinkled because it made it home at the bottom of one of my bags!)

How much time does it save me at the store? It's hard to say, because I've been doing it for years now. But it's easily 20-30 minutes. (it takes me 5-10 to rewrite the list in order, and I would rather spend that time on my couch instead of standing in the crowded grocery aisles) It also saves me money on two accounts. First, I only go in the aisles I need, so I buy very few impulse purchases (a huge problem at a store like Wegmans). Second, I can look in advance for coupons. I buy a lot of store-brand items (which don't have coupons), but for things that do have coupons, I can look in advance for them.

Saving money AND time? Now that's some serious motivation to be organized!

Warm Meals for a Cold Week Ahead

I don't know what it's been like where you live, but here in Northern Virginia it's been freezing. Literally. We're used to the occasional day where it drops below freezing, but not like this. It's been frigid for weeks now, and, in spite of my best efforts to eat healthily, all we really want to eat are comfort foods. The good news? Broth based soups are actually quite healthy. And when you load them with vegetables and pair it with a loaf of crusty's perfect for a cold night. So we're going to have a few nights of soup this week (and, lots of soup for lunch...I actually love canned soup, and am a huge fan of the Progresso Light soups!). So, in conjunction with Meal Planning Monday at, our meal plan for the week is...

Monday: chicken minestrone ragu (Let's Dish...yes, we're eating this again this week - I made 4 servings of it last month!), rolls, salad
Tuesday: mushroom & barley soup (a new recipe for us, but it looks SO yummy!!), rolls, salad
Wednesday: chicken cordon bleu (we love this version - it's quite delicious, and quite healthy!), wild rice, green veggie
Thursday: shrimp scampi with linguine (Let's Dish), salad
beef roulade (Let's Dish), baked potatoes, green veggie
Saturday: pasta with prosciutto & peas (a Rachael Ray favorite), salad
Sunday: going out - we're seeing Eddie from Ohio with friends and will be eating there!