One of the best things we’ve done recently is learn to plan our meals for the week.
Every Friday afternoon during my lunch break, I take my full hour and plan my main course for the week. I then go through the recipes and make a list of ingredients. I’ve been getting creative on pairing things together that make sense or that I can cook a lot of the same time.
Sean and I also have a deal to help supplement his lunch money. I’m fortunate that my work has a cafeteria so I can supplement leftovers with fresh fruit, salad, or other snacky things with whatever leftovers I bring to work. Sean’s money is generally just for meals out, which we all know is not cheap. So to help with that, he picks out on item, and we meal plan for this as well. He then has at least four lunches that he can bring to work and his lunch money either supplements those meals or he gets to have one bigger meal out.
This week’s menu:
- Sunday: Tomato Soup Mac and Cheese
- Monday: Chili’s Copy-cat Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Tuesday: OMG Chicken
- Wednesday: Turkey burgers
- Thursday: Bubble-up Pizza
- Friday: Date night!
- Saturday: Chicken Squares
The tomato soup mac and cheese was inspired by this recipe by A Local Choice. I’m really partial to my mom’s original recipe for Mac and Cheese, so I used the inspiration for the liquid ingredients to make my own:
- 2 Tablespoons Butter/Margarine
- 2 Tablespoons Flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 can of tomato soup
- 10 oz. of milk
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (optional)
- 8 oz. of shredded/cubed cheese (I usually use a mixture of cheddar, monterey jack, and whatever else I might have on had that sounds good — even velveeta!)
- 2 cups pasta, cooked al dente and drained
- 1 Tablespoon bread crumbs
- Parmesan cheese
- Melt the butter/margarine in a sauce pan.
- Add the flour, salt, pepper, and ground mustard into the melted butter to create a rue. (Emily Note: I SUCK at this. I usually combine all of the theses ingredients and add in about 1/2 of it and then wait until the next step to add the rest. But if you’re a rue master, but all means, follow as directed!)
- Turn the heat to a medium-low. Add in the tomato soup. If you’re like me, add the rest of the flour mixture.
- Use the tomato soup can to measure out the amount of milk needed. Add to the sauce pan. If you like, add the garlic in now.
- Now, slowly add in the cheese. I’ve found to get a good melt without a bunch of cheese lumps, just add a little bit of cheese at a time, let that melt, and then add a little more. Slow and steady makes for extra smooth mac and cheese sauce!
- Add your cooked pasta to the sauce pan (I prefer radiatori over elbow macaroni — lots of nooks and crannies for the sauce to get into)
- Pour into a 9×9 baking dish. Top with bread crumbs, parmasean cheese, and paprika on top.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes — the top should be golden brown and bubbly.
- Enjoy! And wow. You will!
PS: It’s even better with a glass of white wine!
What are you cooking up this week?