Mostly-Healthy Monthly Meal Planning on a Budget: Meal 1

Working one day a week in the salon and the other seven six at home being Mommy, I have decided to tackle a new project called “Mostly-Healthy Monthly Meal Planning on a Budget”.

What, you ask, has possessed me to plan meals a month in advance with grocery lists included?

No one else has! That’s why. At least not that I can find. Sure, there are plenty of “how to’s” on budget-making. There are recipes like crazy, of which I am definitely taking advantage! I, however, decided it was time someone did the research on prices and recipes, and made it accessible online. So, if you find this helpful, please share with your friends and family. Some of my favorite reads and most helpful information usually comes from an article someone has sent me directly, knowing I’d be interested.

So, here we go. I have compiled my favorite list for the month all in one place.

Side note: I will give you links to the original recipes I have found, but the creative side of me will probably always find a way to tweak them here and there.

Side Note 2: I like to cook and take pictures of what I make, but I’m a mom and a hairstylist, not a chef or photographer, so the pictures will be taken from my iPhone and will look cooked at home not from a fancy restaurant.

This is the beginning of the month so those of you reading now will be going on this journey with me as I try these recipes out for the first time. At the end of the month we will have a solid list of mostly-healthy meals, their recipes, and all the prices for really affordable meals.

I say, “mostly” because let’s be honest, it’s a month worth of food, and I can only do so much quinoa and salad. I need a good burger, some pasta or homemade pizza every now-and-again.

My first meal is a Enchilada Quinoa Bake.

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Since starting the Dave Ramsey Plan two years ago, every month we have a certain amount allocated in our “Grocery” envelope. This worked really well for us…and then I got pregnant.

Either my brain cells are being sucked through the umbilical chord, I’m eating more, my toddler is eating more, or well, let’s be honest all-of-the-above.

I do my weekly grocery trip on Mondays, and by Saturday we’re scrapping for options. I pride myself in being a decently organized or at least “planned” individual, so this dilemma is getting a little a lot on my nerves. Even when I buy more food we end up just eating more during the week. This month I’m putting an end to this ridiculousness!!!

I’m so grateful Baby Girl likes healthy food, unlike my munchkin who made me eat beef and cheese my whole pregnancy, so I get to actually plan healthy meals.

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I may feel like an Oompa Loompa, but we don’t all need to look like one.

Since the beginning of the month fell at the end of this week, and I already did my shopping with last month’s budget on Monday, I started off simple, inexpensive, healthy, and made some adjustments to this Quinoa Bake Recipe I found on Pinterest.

It will also serve as leftovers, since the boys need dinner when I’m gone at work.

Rest assured, we will be living in the reality of “leftovers” nights. Like I said, this is true “Meal Planning on a Budget“.

Because I’m being really strict on this budget thing, this meal, I omitted the chicken because I haven’t done my monthly Costco-stock-up on proteins yet.

So here’s what I did to whip up this yummy meal:

Quinoa Enchilada Bake and Avocado Cilantro Lime Spinach Salad

I Cooked quinoa and pinto beans during nap time. You can use canned beans, but we had just bought a huge bag of pinto beans, so I substituted these for the black beans in the original recipe.
*quinoa and bean instructions at bottom

Ingredients:
-2 cups uncooked Quinoa (4 cups cooked)
-2 cups uncooked pinto beans (use 4 cups cooked or canned)
-Small can mild Green chilis (I can’t do too spicy of food, so by all means, go for the gusto. If you like spicy get the large spicy can!)
-2 10 oz cans Enchilada sauce
– 1 cup grated Jack cheese
– 1 Avocado
– Cilantro to taste
-Olive oil
-Salt
– 1 teaspoon Chili powder
-1 teaspoon Cumin

-In large skillet add cooked quinoa, beans, green chili peppers, enchilada sauce, chili powder, and cumin.
-stir occasionally over medium heat 10-15 minutes

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-top with grated jack cheese
– put in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes
-turn broil on and turn cheese golden brown (Don’t walk away from broiler, it only takes a couple minutes and you don’t want burnt cheese!! That’s gross!)

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– remove from oven
-plate it up
– top with avocado and chopped cilantro
-serve with your favorite side. Mine was this salad. Next time I might add buy some tortilla chips cause we like different textures in our meals.

Avocado Cilantro Lime Spinach Salad

-bunch of baby spinach
-8-10 cherry tomatoes (quartered)
-1/2 avocado
-fresh feta cheese (as much as you’d like)

-Enjoy!!

In case you missed it the first time:

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*Cooking the Quinoa:
2 cups uncooked Quinoa
3 cups beef broth
1 cup water

-Heat olive oil in sauce pot, add quinoa and stir over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes.
-add liquid and stir
-when it starts to get small bubbles, turn down heat to low and cover
-after 20 minutes remove from heat

Cooking up some yummy Beans:
3 cups dry pinto beans
1/2 yellow onion
8-10 cups water
1-2 tsp salt

-rinse beans
-sauté onion until soft
-add beans and enough water to cover completely
-bring water to simmer, turn down heat to medium low and cover
-check every 20-30 minutes and add more water as necessary (beans should always be covered but not drowning)
-cook until they’re soft (all beans vary in cooking time which is why canned are so much easier, but you can’t beat the flavor if you’ve got the time!)

Next, I’m making Lasagna Roll-Ups, but I’m adding meat.

Stay-tuned for the updated recipe and pictures of my experiment.

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