(My grocery buddy. He was really enthusiastically saying “Cheese!”)

Oof. It’s been busy.

. . . The (mostly) good kind of busy, though. We’ve had playdates and seen grandparents and turned Charlie’s room into something that actually resembles a child’s living space. We’ve done laundry, paid a few bills, and even managed to watch a couple episodes ofSupernatural.

Miraculously, throughout all of this, we’ve actually been eating meals cooked at home. I’m pretty amazed, myself. Although last night we ordered takeout, it was purely by choice and not as a result of “not having anything good to eat.”

How could this possibly have happened? I actually have all of our meals planned through October 18th.

Seriously, this is almost newsworthy. Maybe it’s not. But, whatever, I’m pretty proud of myself. Anyway, I thought that since I had them all written down, I might as well post my meals in case someone out there needs a little inspiration. Like I’ve done in the past, I’m simply writing down the meal’s name and the ingredients needed, since almost all of my recipes are available online. I’ll post a link to the ones I can, and give a quick description of the recipes that mainly live in my brain. I’ve started the board “Meal Planning Booyahs” on Pinterest, if you’re interested in following it. I’ll use that board to only pin the recipes I’ve successfully made and will make again. As always, please comment or email me if you want anything in more detail!

This is what was initially planned for last week . . . Due to things like unforeseen amounts of leftovers, some recipes got moved into the next week, but, oh well. This was the plan:

Kale and Kielbasa Casserole
1 Onion, Butter, Potatoes, Polish Sausage, Kale, Flour, Milk, Cheese, Dijon Mustard, Garlic, Salt, Pepper, Thyme, Nutmeg, Breadcrumbs

I used Pepperjack cheese in this, and thought it gave it a nice kick. I also would suggest boiling the potatoes and blanching the kale the day before, as this took A LOT longer to make than I had wanted. It was really, really good, though, so I’ll definitely be making it again. I also didn’t use all of the sauce, as the blogger said it was really soupy. And, holy crap, I just realized as I typed this list that I forgot to put in the Dijon mustard. Somebody make it with the mustard and tell me how it goes.

Eggplant Feta

1 pkg. Whole Wheat Spaghetti, 1 pkg. Feta Cheese, 1 can/jar Spaghetti Sauce, 1 Box Trader Joe’s Breaded Eggplant Cutlets, Garlic Bread of your choosing

Super easy, really tasty. I bake the eggplant till it’s almost done, then spoon a little red sauce on each cutlet. (You could totally do this with chicken, too.) Then I sprinkle some feta cheese on each and throw it back in the oven till it’s melty. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce and put the eggplant on top. Put it in your mouth. (After it’s cooled a little.)

Orange Chicken and Fried Rice

1 bag Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken, 1 bag Trader Joe’s Chicken Fried Rice

Totally a “cheater” meal. Just prepare according to package directions and chow down. You don’t have to use Trader Joe’s stuff if you don’t want to or don’t have access to it. I’m sure you can find similar frozen Chinese meals in the grocery store, but TJ’s doesn’t have any MSG or nasty preservatives in it.

Copycat Olive Garden Chicken & Gnocchi Soup

Olive Oil, Butter, Flour, ½ and ½, Milk, Celery, Onion, Carrot, Garlic, Chicken Broth, Cooked Chicken Breasts, Packaged Gnocchi, Spinach, Salt, Pepper, Dried Thyme, Nutmeg

This turned out AWESOMELY. (Apparently, “awesomely” is totally a legit word, as Word did not give me the red line. Sweet.) It fed me, my Mom, my Aunt, my Dad, and Paul . . . and we ate out of big bowls. This meal will go a long way. The blogger suggests using Rotisserie chicken, but I just baked boneless, skinless chicken breasts and shredded them. I accidentally bought a pint of ½ and ½ instead of a quart, so I subbed in a pint of milk to make up for it, and I don’t think it suffered at all (not to mention added significantly less calories).

Like I said, our week changed a little bit, so I only ended up using four of the things that were initially planned. I don’t want to post anything I haven’t made recently, so I’ll update you guys after next week’s round is done. This week’s menu seems to have used a lot of packaged foods, but it’s not the norm . . . it’s just how it worked out this time. I find that I have the most luck if I plan a couple “semi-homemade” meals along with all of the scratch-made stuff.

We’ve got to be realistic, right?