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Meal Planning Made Easy

Saturday, January 12th, 2013
chef marshall o'brien on fox9
By: Chef Marshall O'Brien

Thanks for tuning in today! 


You'll find recipes from today's segment below, enjoy!  

Start the new year off right with a simple meal plan. As with any New Years resolutions, take it in small steps. There are numerous meal plans available online, free or paid, the choice is yours. Keep it simple and figure out what works best for you based on your comfort level and skill.  

A little planning and effort now, will save a lot of time later, so dedicate part of a day on the weekend to shop and prep and cook for the following week. 

For my meal plan in the winter I usually make somekind of some or all of the following: a casserole style dish, soup(s), prepped vegetables to be roasted or sauteed, a pot roast of beef, or chicken to eat through out the week. This week I'm making:


1.) Broiled dijon chicken – Enjoy it with the roasted vegetables, top it on a salad, add it to a sandwich or wrap, make savory tacos, or put it on some pasta or rice.

2.) Roasted Autumn Vegetables – Eat as a side with anything, To reheat put them as you did on a sheet pan in the oven, ot warm up in a frying pan. 

3.) White chicken chili  – Great as is with crusty bread, a sandwich or a green salad for dinner.  Freeze part of it to enjoy later.

4.) Butternut squash soup – Eat for lunch with a sandwich, or enjoy it as dinner.  Freeze part of it to enjoy later.


For fun and successful meal planning, keep these tips to keep in mind: 

1.) Planning leads to better meals, so a plan is key.

2.) When grocery shopping, do not shop hungry otherwise you'll stray from your plan.  Also, try to shop the perimeter as much as you can because the fresh whole foods will be there. The highly processed foods are always in the isles.

3.) Buy in bulk when possible, portion and freeze, if appropriate.

4.) Use similar ingredients to make different meals. For example cook a whole chicken and eat part of it that day, then use part of for a soup.

5.) Cook once, eat twice or more. There's nothing with have the same thing for dinner two or three (or four) nights in a week. 

6.) Freezing fresh fruit and vegetables –Generally frozen fruits are great for smoothies and most veggies are perfect for and soups or as roasted or pan fried.  Simply clean fruit/vegetables as normal, peel, if needed, cut into bite sized pieces, place on cookie sheet, single layer and freeze over night. Once completely frozen store in air tight container or zip-lock freezer bags (remove as much air as possible to avoid freezer burn) in freezer until ready to use.

7.) Freezing meat/fish – Portion meat/fish, tightly wrap each piece (a chop, filet, breast, thigh, ground, etc.) in plastic wrap, (remove as much air as possible to avoid freezer burn) then put in zip-lock baggie, date, and store in freezer. Eat within 3 to 6 months.
8.) Freezing cooked grains and beans – Simply cook your grains and beans (lentils too!) as you normally would, then cool. Once cooled, store in a sturdy zip lock bag or air tight container, making sure all the air is out and freeze until later use. These will be perfect for soups, pancakes, and more. Will last about six months or more.
If you have kids, get them involved! Planning, shopping and cooking can be great experiences for your children to learn from, I share more here.



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