Meal planning–which is different than meal prepping, has changed my life completely and has made it better both physically and financially. Rather than cooking all of my meals for the week on Sunday and then putting them into containers to eat throughout the week, I just plan what I’m going to make throughout the week and make a concise grocery list. By being organized about what I’m going to eat and buy, I rarely waste food and save a lot of money.
Every Sunday I meal plan for our family. I start by pulling out my cookbooks to get inspiration for the meals I will cook during the week, then I take a look at what I already have in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer and finally, I make my list. I usually only plan meals Monday-Thursday because by the end of the week I’m tired and want to go out for dinner or we might have plans.
Once I’ve decided on what I’ll be cooking for the week, I make my list and try to organize it by where each item is located in the store. For example, I put all vegetables together, all meats and fish together, etc. By doing this, I can clearly see what I need from each area so I don’t end up at the register and realize I have forgotten the zucchini I need for my meal one night.
I started getting passionate about meal planning when I moved to Houston seven years ago. First and foremost, I had gained 15 lbs. from eating out too much and I was also looking to save money because I pretty much made no money at my first job in Houston, Neiman Marcus. Through meal planning, I actually learned to cook pretty well and it has become a hobby and passion of mine. Meal planning really saved us during the first months of the pandemic because I was able to get creative with what food we did have and make really delicious meals.
I think it’s essential to have a plan when you go to the store. I don’t have a lot of free time so I don’t want to have to go to the store multiple times a week. By making a well-thought out list, you can save yourself a ton of time and money by not buying things you don’t need or forgetting things you really do need.
The best part of meal planning is that once you’re done with the shopping, all of your hard work is over for the week (in terms of food.) There’s no last-minute stress about what you’re going to make or do for the family because that’s all done…you just have to cook it!
Happy cooking, friends! I hope you all have a happy and healthy week ahead of you!
Chicken Night has become a staple in the McAshan household during quarantine. I originally got the idea from our country club in Houston–every Thursday night, the club had “Chicken Night” where they would have a buffet of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, Mac and cheese, fried okra and gravy. When we moved to Austin at the beginning of quarantine, I decided to make a *somewhat* healthier version of Chicken Night at home.
I make two versions of chicken for our Chicken Nights–Honey Chipotle Chicken and Honey Garlic Chicken. I serve both our favorite salad from HEB. When I make the Honey Chipotle Chicken, I serve it with Mac and cheese and when I make the Honey Garlic Chicken, I serve it with Basmati rice.
Although these aren’t the healthiest meals ever, they are comfort foods that my husband enjoys and having a staple each week for dinner makes my meal planning a lot easier.
The chicken recipes are pretty much the same other than the flour mixtures and sauces. To prep my tenders, I set up an assembly line starting with the pounded tenders, buttered sheet pan and three bowls for dipping the chicken in–starting with the flour mixture, the lightly beaten eggs and finally the panko.
Happy cooking friends, I hope you enjoy Chicken Night as much as we do!
If you would have asked me a year ago what my favorite thing to do was, I would have instantly answered, “going out to dinner!” I love trying new restaurants and cuisines, but lately, I prefer cooking at home. I’m not sure whether its because of COVID or our new puppy, but I love being at home so our date nights have transitioned from going to our favorite restaurants to cooking at home as a family.
When I saw Alex posting about this meal last night, I just knew we had to make it. Last year, my husband and I spent some time in the French countryside and ever since, I have such a new appreciation for chicken. The recipe Alex shared was inspired by the Cajun Chicken entree at Le Bilbouquet…one of my all time favorite restaurants. I’ve never had this dish in the restaurant, but I definitely will next time I go!
For our date night, we started off with a little cheese board when Will got home from work. I kept it pretty simple, but used my favorite ingredients. Central Market makes my FAVORITE crackers, the rosemary crostini crackers…they are a game changer so I started out with those, selected a basil pesto goat cheese and a blue cheese, peppered salami and holiday grapes to round out my board. I like to drizzle local honey over my blue cheese because I think it gives it a really nice balance.
Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken with Oven Frites
by Alex Snodgrass – The Defined Dish
Pan Roasted Blackened Chicken
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 lbs boneless, skin-on chicken breasts about 1 1/4 pounds
1 tablespoon avacado oil
1/2 cup dry white wine substitute chicken broth plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon arrowroot starch
1 garlic clove minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or whole 30 use ghee
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes or 2 large potatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
in a small bowl, combine the salt,pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, paprika, rosemary, and oregano. Set aside.
Pat the chicken breasts dry and season the skin side with half the spice mixture.
in a medium oven-safe skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Carefully lay out the chicken breasts into the hot skillet skin side down. Cook without moving until the skin is deep golden brown and very crisp, about 6 minutes. While cooking season the second side of the chicken with the remaining spice mixture. Carefully flip the chicken breasts and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until cooked through, or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breasts registers 150 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and set aside, reserving the pan juices in the skillet.
In a medium bowl, combine the wine, chicken broth, and arrowroot and whisk until the arrowroot dissolves. Set aside.
Pour off all but about 1 teaspoon of the fat from the skillet and place the pan over high heat. Add the garlic along with the wine mixture, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook, stirring until the sauce is reduces by two -thirds, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add butter and the lemon and allow the butter to just melt. Stir to combine. Taste the pan sauce and season with more salt and pepper, if desired.
Slice the chicken breasts and serve on individual plates. Spoon plenty of pan sauce over the slice chicken and serve with the oven frites.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scrub the potatoes well, then cut them lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide fries.
Place the fries in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper until evenly coated.
Spread the fries across the prepared baking sheet in a single layer (you may need two baking sheets to ensure they are in a single layer and have plenty of room to crisp up).
Bake in the oven until potatoes are golden brown all over and crisp, about 30 minutes (and no, you do not need to toss during the cooking time at all).
This dinner was amazing!! My husband and I both loved it and were pretty impressed with just how good it was. The chicken was full of flavor and moist, the oven frites were excellent ( I roasted mine for about 45 minutes because I like them extra crispy) and we loved the salad!
What are y’all doing for your date nights this week?! Leave me a comment and let me know!!