Menu Plan Monday: July 6th

And…we’re back!

I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday weekend! We had a great time at my parents’ house in the country. We played in the garden, swam in the lake, fed horses, had a campfire, and slept in a tent. And, as with any successful holiday, we ate more junk food than any Annie’s devotee should ever admit to. It was fun while it lasted but we are definitely trying to ease back into our healthier eating habits. I went for more real food and super easy prep with this week’s menu.

I hope you find some dinnertime inspiration!

Steak + veggie foil packets: These veggie packets are really easy to make! Just dice whatever veggies you like, toss with olive oil and seasonings, wrap in foil, and place the packets on the grill for a few minutes until the veggies are tender.

Summer spaghetti: grilled veggies + pasta + butter garlic sauce + fresh basil: Fresh basil as in, all the fresh basil I can pick. My little herb garden is already over flowing- a very happy predicament!

Sweet and Sour meat balls + rice + green beans

Taco salad + creamy taco salad dressing + homemade guacamole + tortilla chips

BLTs + veggie tray + homemade ranch + chips

Sriracha lime chicken salad + peanut sauce: I made this salad several weeks ago and it was delicious! I subbed in a homemade peanut sauce for the dressing and loved it! Highly recommended!

Pizza Night

Have a great week friends!

Menu Plan Monday: June 22nd

Here’s what we are having for dinner this week! I hope you find some inspiration!

Buffalo Chicken Salad: This is an adult favorite but it is really spicy. To make it kid friendly I either save out some plain chicken before I add the sauce, or I bake up some (healthy-ish) chicken strips from Perdue or Applegate brand. No battling, no mom guilt. I call that a win.

Grilled Chicken + Strawberry Mango Salsa + rice: I love, love, LOVE this salsa! It gets bonus flavor points this week courtesy of some garden fresh basil!

Grilled brats + marinated veggie salad + chips

Chili Lime Chicken Tacos: Fair warning, if these turn out anything like the photo, I will be Instagram-ing them. Pretty food is my favorite food!

Pizza Pasta Salad

Tortilla roll-ups + fruit + chips: I might try making these with bacon. How bad could that be?

Pizza Night

Have a great week!

Menu Plan Monday: June 15th

Things to know about me this week:

1) I have declared a one-woman war on the squirrels who insist on digging in my flower pots. I know some people are like “oh, come on, they are so cute”, but as I confessed here, I am a flower hoarder and I take their transgressions seriously. It. Is. ON. (By the way, if you know of any squirrel repelling tricks besides sprinkling nutmeg and cayenne pepper on the soil or yelling at them through the window like a crazy lady, please let me know)!

2) I haven’t put laundry away in a week. Its clean and folded semi-neatly in baskets in the laundry room. Other than some inconvenient, towel-clad runs through the kitchen to get to our clothes, I don’t see any major problems with this so it might continue for some time.

3) My older son will be turning five in a few short months and he might as well be turning 25 as far as my emotions are concerned. We are in the process of getting him signed up for karate (or “kung fu” as he calls it), swimming, and preschool. He is basically a grown man. (I really want to type all the sad face emojis. But I won’t. I will share why in a later post).

So, clearly, my life is full of serious issues right now. That may or may not be why I felt compelled to include a dessert in this week’s menu. Nothing solves problems like eating dessert on the patio, while you watch your kids play, defend your plants from squirrels, and pretend like you really have your house keeping act together.

Or something like that.

Here is what’s for dinner this week:

Peach Pie: Yes, peach pie is first. Life is short, people.

Crock pot Cashew Chicken + steamed veggies + rice

Simple Italian Shrimp + steamed broccoli + garlic bread

Taco Salad + chips + guacamole

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

Burgers + fresh corn + watermelon

Creamy Chicken Mushroom Soup

Pizza Night

Have a great week!

Menu Plan Monday: June 8th

It’s going to be a tasty week!

I am really looking forward to this week’s menu because I planned two nights featuring my obsession with that bottle of spicy orange goodness: sriracha!

Recently when I told a group of people that I would like to just squeeze it straight out of the bottle into my mouth, they (being normal people who don’t obsess over spicy condiments) assumed I was joking and laughed. Totally not joking though. I love the stuff and I am so excited to try the sriracha lime chicken salad this week!

Not a fan of heat? Maybe you would like my other obsession: cilantro. The steak tacos with cilantro chimichurri sound amazing!

Whatever you like, I hope you find some dinner time inspiration!

BLT’s + German cucumber salad

Grilled Steak Tacos + cilantro chimichurri

Rotisserie chicken + rice + steamed broccoli

Egg rolls + sriracha mayo

Grilled brats + chips + watermelon

Sriracha Lime Chopped Chicken Salad

Pizza night

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week!

Menu Plan Monday: June 1st

Here are my dinner plans for this week!

Sweet and sour meatballs + rice + broccoli

Chicken taquitos : The crockpot does a lot of the work for you on this one!

Asian noodle salad : This is my favorite meal EVER! Change up the veggies however you like, just don’t change the dressing- it is soooo good! SO good!

BBQ ranch chicken salad (see this post for a super easy homemade BBQ ranch recipe)

Burgers + veggie sticks + chips

Grilled chicken and veggie foil packets


Have a great week!

Homemade Salad Dressings & Dips

This week there will be no menu plan Monday. Its a pretty devastating situation, I know. I apologize. There are two reasons why there is no menu plan this week:

1) Our central air is awaiting the repair man. We are incredibly spoiled and really start to melt if the temperature in the house gets above 72 degrees. (It’s a little sad, I know. But once you have air conditioning you can’t go back)! So I am avoiding cooking in the house until this situation is fixed.

2) We have a lot of family get-togethers this week so someone else will be doing the cooking a few of the nights.

On the nights I do cook, I will grill chicken or some burgers to have with salad, or even just throw together a sandwich platter with some fruit and veggies on the side. Not a super exciting menu plan.

But I am a creature of habit so in the spirit of Menu Plan Monday, I thought I would share a few of my favorite dip and salad dressing recipes. If you don’t make your own salad dressing, I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s super easy and it tastes so much better than store bought!

Here are some of my go-to recipes:

Comeback Sauce: This is great to have on hand as a dip for chips, fries or veggies. It is even good on sandwiches or a salad dressing in a pinch.

Caesar Salad Dressing

Creamy Balsamic Dressing: Deliciously different! Full disclosure, Hubs isn’t too impressed with this one but I loooove it!

Burger and Fry sauce: This is so easy yet so delicious! Just whisk together mayo + ketchup + mustard + grill seasoning,  and use to top burgers and as a dip for fries.

Ranch Dressing: After reading a few different recipes, I created my own version that I can whip together really quickly. The measurements aren’t exact, I just add seasonings until it tastes like ranch!

Here is the basic outline (measurements are approximate):

Whisk together 1 cup mayo + 1 TBS vinegar + 2 TBS milk

Add in 1 tsp onion powder + 1 tsp garlic powder + 1 TBS dried dill (Lighthouse brand is my favorite) + a pinch of salt and pepper

Whisk together and taste to check seasonings. Add milk to thin if necessary.

Want to try something new? Add in a few tablespoons of BBQ sauce for BBQ ranch!

I hope you give these recipes a try! Also…let me know if you have a great Italian Vinaigrette recipe. That is the one thing missing from my repertoire!

Have a great week!

Menu Plan Monday: May 18th

Here’s what is for dinner at our house this week! This week’s menu is a mix of summery favorites and cozy cold-weather meals….which is actually pretty seasonally appropriate at the moment! *laugh, laugh,….sob….*

Grilled brats + corn on the cob + watermelon + chips

Pizza pasta salad

Crockpot Chicken and Potatoes (recipe below)

Chicken wild rice soup

Taco salad

Cheeseburger casserole

Pizza night

Crockpot Chicken and Potatoes recipe (courtesy of my lovely mother-in-law)!

Take three chicken breasts and cut them into bite sized pieces, cut up a few potatoes, leave the peelings on, cut up a bunch of fresh green beans. Stir them together in crockpot. Sprinkle a package of Good Seasons Italian Seasonings and cut up 1/4 cup of butter and sprinkle over the top. Cook in crockpot for 6-8 hours on low.

I hope you found some dinner inspiration! Have a great week!

Menu Plan Monday: May 11th

This week’s menu is a blend of family favorites and new ideas. I hope you find some inspiration!

Black Bean & Chicken Taco Pizza: I have never tried this recipe but with all the Cinco de Mayo excitement last week,  I have been craving taco pizza like crazy! I am really looking forward to trying this!

Copy Cat Panera Bread Potato Soup + BLT’s

Burgers + fruit + chips

Egg rolls + sriracha mayo + orange slices

Hawaiian meatballs + rice + green beans: Another new to me recipe, I think it sounds like an easy and tasty change from the ordinary!

Spaghetti + garlic bread

Pizza night

Have a great week!

Menu Plan Monday: May 4th

The past few weeks have been busy and full. Not with crazy running around but just lots of fun, springy things. And while it has been a great time (I mean, there was birthday cake involved at one point, obviously things haven’t been too rough!), I am also starting to feel the need to take things down a notch, simplify, and get life back on a more even keel.

To help me regain a sense of balance, this week’s menu features lots of simple and healthy meals. I also included some breakfast ideas because a solid breakfast always helps me feel ready to tackle the day, and I thought you might appreciate those ideas too. I hope you find some inspiration here! Have a great week friends!

Lemon butter salmon + steamed broccoli + rice

Grilled chicken + veggie foil packets (This is very simple if you have never tried it. Just dice veggies, dress with olive oil and seasoning, wrap in foil and grill until tender).

Chicken noodle soup

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Roast chicken sandwiches + sweet potato fries + sriracha mayo

Simple Spinach Parmesan pasta (Full Disclosure: I will probably make a buttery garlic spinach sauce for me and also make a spaghetti sauce to keep the peace with the men in my life. The sauces are both easy and I don’t have to share the buttery, spinachy goodness. Everyone is happy)!

Pizza night

Breakfast Ideas:

Blueberry Banana Baked Oatmeal

Beginners Luck Green Smoothie (my boys and I really love this)!

Clean Eating Blender Coffee

Menu Plan Monday: April 27th

Here is what’s for dinner at our house this week! After a few dreary days, I am excited to get outside and grill in the sunshine! Can we  talk about grilling for a second? Honestly, I used to be a little afraid of our grill.  I guess all the propane and potential for uncontrollable flames were intimidating to me. The last several years though, I started learning how to use it (without starting anything on fire!) and now I am a convert. Great flavor, less clean-up, more time to enjoy playing outside- what’s not to love?! If you are nervous about grilling, I promise if I can do it, you can do it too! I hope this week’s menu plan gives you some inspiration!

Sloppy Joes + oven fries + veggies sticks

Chicken taco salad

Grilled brats + watermelon + chips

Vegetarian Burrito Salad Bowls (see below)

This is one of those “recipes” that was created out of necessity. By “necessity”, I mean I started making fajitas and then realized we were out of steak and wraps. Please tell me I am not the only one who does stuff like that…! Happily, this meal became a favorite. There are no hard and fast rules, just marinate and grill whatever vegetables (and meat if you like) you normally would for fajitas. When cooked, serve over a blend of greens and cooked rice. I like to add purple cabbage for color and crunch. For the vegetarian version, we add in black beans for some protein. Top with cheese, pico, ranch, cilantro, whatever you like!

Shake ‘n’ Bake chicken + crockpot mashed potatoes + steamed broccoli

Balsamic Steak and Pepper kabobs over rice

Pizza Night

Need more ideas? Is there a menu plan you particularly liked?  Check out The Lively Cottage on Pinterest! Click the Menu Plan board to see all of my previous posts in one (pinnable) place!

Overwhelmed with menu planning?  This method helps me a lot!