Menu Plan Monday ~ Jan 30/12

Hello friends!  I hope you are all doing well.  I’m a hobbling mess and experiencing shooting pains with a sciatica problem that is acting up big time (one of those things that never went away after pregnancy).  I even had to break the cane out this week as I figured that was less embarrassing than falling down flat on my face.  Anyone have any suggestions for me?  I did go for massage but even that didn’t seem to work this time like it has in the past.  So frustrating.

So how about we get into our menu plan stumbling block right away.  Many people think menu planning is way to rigid an activity for them.  They don’t understand how menu planning can be flexible if necessary.

Stumbling Block: 

Menu planning when things don’t go as planned

First of all it’s totally going to happen, let’s just get that out of the way.  I don’t think anyone who menu plans sticks to it precisely ever single week.  So please don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself veering of course every once and awhile.  After all, that’s the beauty of menu planning!  Menu plans are not meant to make your life more complicated, menu plans are designed to help you simplify life and give you one less thing to think about each day.  If some days you don’t stick to your menu plan exactly, it’s really not the end of the world.

Some of the things that can happen:

  • you forgot to thaw the meat
  • you end up being busier than expected with less time to cook
  • you just didn’t feel like eating what was planned that day
  • your husband surprised everyone by taking you out to eat (who’s going to pass that up!)
  • friends invited you over for dinner at the last minute
  • you decided to let your kids eat potato chips for dinner (and for five minutes I was the best mom in the whole wide world!)

Menu planning allows you to go with the flow, it provides so much more flexibility than people give it credit.

What you can to do to compensate:

  • on really busy days switch one day with another simpler day.  You already have the ingredients in the house so flip flopping is easy to do.
  • scrap the meal altogether and remind yourself why the next time you create a menu plan….recipe was too complicated, took too much time, etc.  Learn from this experience.
  • Move a missed meal to leftover day (to use up ingredients that might spoil) and put any leftovers away in the freezer for the following week.
  • Quickly plug the list of ingredients you’d originally planned to use into the advanced search field of your favorite recipe site (mine is Taste of Home) to come up with an alternative meal you think you might enjoy more.
  • If ingredients will keep, simply move that recipe to the following week

Don’t sweat it!

So this is the week my 29 Day Organizing Challenge starts.  If you haven’t read about it and think this might be a challenge you are up for, be sure to check out my challenge page by clicking the button below.

Last week I made this Apple Dumplings recipe and I have to tell you that they were absolutely delicious!  I even cut the sugar mixture in half and used the reduced fat croissants (shhh, nobody tell Janelle!) and they were still to die for.  It would make an awesome potluck or company dessert.  Wish I’d remembered to take a picture for you but we ate them too fast 🙂

Have a great week everyone!

My Menu Plan:

Monday:  Sausage & Peppers with Rotini Pasta

Tuesday:  Skillet Tacos

Wednesday:  Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken served with rice and broccoli

Thursday:  Leftover buffet

Friday:  Quick Homemade Pizza

Saturday:  Double Chocolate Waffles with Berry Sauce

Sunday:  YOYO (you’re on your own!)


Menu Plan Guidelines, banner selections and recipe helpers are here.

More family favorite recipes here.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Filed under: Menu Plan Monday


53 Responses to Menu Plan Monday ~ Jan 30/12

  1. 1
    Rita says

    Being busier than I expected seems to be my holdup these days. Thanks for hosting!

  2. 2
    Susieqtpies says

    Thanks for hosting. I linked up and am giving you a big fat Pin on Pinterest under my menu planning board! Have a great week. Susie

  3. 3
    Lynn says

    So sorry that you are not feeling well. I hope it gets better soon. And great tips about menu planning. We all have weeks where things don’t go as planned and you just have to adjust.

  4. 4
    Miz Helen says

    Good Morning Laura,
    I am going to try your Apple Dumplings, they look great. Thanks for hosting and have a wonderful week!
    Miz Helen

    • 4.1
      Laura says

      They are so good, enjoy!

  5. 5
    Jeri says

    I would be lost without meal planning and rarely do I have a week were all goes as planned – but that’s life. I feel like my menu plan is like a map. Even if there are a few detours, at least I know how to get where I’m going.

  6. 6
    Stephanie's Mommy Brain says

    I was asked just yesterday “But how do you know what you’ll FEEL like eating so far ahead of time?” I explained that a menu plan gives me flexibility. It’s a suggestion not a law. So I sometimes swap meals around or make one of my go-to meals that isn’t on the menu. A meal plan gives me freedom and flexibility!

  7. 7
    Amy @ A Little Nosh says

    It’s pretty rare that I COMPLETELY stick to my menu plan, but it does help with my organizing process and grocery shopping at least.

  8. 8
    [email protected] says

    I use a rice bag on my hip when my sciatica is acting up (also from pregnancy). It’s warm moist heat that helps alleviate some of the pain. I hope you get to feeling better soon!

    I love how my menu plan works for me, but I have a friend who uses it even more loosely – she just puts up meals on a wipe off board and cooks whichever one fits t heir schedule that night – but the family knows that these are the meals coming this week. It’s a little less formal than I can manage, but it works really well for them.

    • 8.1
      Laura says

      Yes thank goodness for hot bags that is for sure!

  9. 9
    Cindy says

    Good morning,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your sciatica issues. Mine was bothering me quite a bit and then I started to do Yoga, a few weeks ago. It rarely bothers me now, so maybe give that a try?? I think all the stretching has helped.

    Thanks for hosting and I hope you feel better soon!!

    • 9.1
      Laura says

      Yes I definitely need to do more stretching. Thanks Cindy!

  10. 10
    Tiffany says

    I hope you feel better soon. That’s miserable to deal with.

    • 10.1
      Laura says

      Thanks Tiffany, I’m hoping it doesn’t last much longer.

    • 11.1
      Laura says

      Thanks Trish!

  11. 12
    Firesparx says

    Thank you for this! One of my personal organizing stumbling blocks is the idea that if I can’t do the task completely and perfectly I won’t even start it. This is what has been holding me back on menu planning. I find the weeks that I menu plan, I look forward to cooking (I enjoy cooking, especially since that means hubby cleans up). But I’ve been frustrated at times when I have wasted fresh ingredients.

    I find what works best for me is to plan 5 meals for the next 7 days, but don’t necessarily assign them to a specific day. That way if a last minute dinner date pops up, or we get lazy, then it’s not as big a deal.

    • 12.1
      Laura says

      That’s a great way to do it.

    • 12.2
      Cathy says

      Thats exactly what I do too – I have a list of meals, andall the ingredients but no ‘day ‘ assigned. I like to think of myself as a free spirit, artistic type (or at least a wannabe). 🙂

  12. 13
    Gaby @ Tmuffin says

    Oh my goodness, I feel like I have so many things to say! Double chocolate waffles for dinner? Wow. That makes my mouth water. And the apple dumplings sound amazing!

    About menu planning… my post this week is about going off the wagon for one reason or another! I often forget to thaw stuff out. Or I forget to factor in leftovers, so one meal on my menu plan gets scrapped. And for the days that I just have too much to do, I try to keep basics around: pasta with sauce, grilled cheese sandwich fixings, stuff to make eggs and pancakes…That way I can whip up something quick if I need to. But that’s also what I love about cooking a bunch on Sundays. I almost always have something in the freezer that can be warmed up relatively quickly (like burgers) too!

    And on to your sciatica pain…I had the same problem with my pregnancies. It got so bad during my second pregnancy that I had trouble moving. I went to a chiropractor about 5 times, but it only helped until I resumed my poor posture (while driving, sitting in my chair at work, etc.). So I ended up going to a craniosacral therapist. It was AMAZING. Google it. It sounds like all kind of woo-woo-new-age-nonsense, but it was the only thing that worked for me.

    • 13.1
      Laura says

      Will definitely check that out, thank you!

  13. 14
    Lucky says

    I hope you feel better!

    • 14.1
      Laura says

      Hopefully soon!

  14. 15
    Kate @ Behind the [Kate]ball says

    Thanks so much for hosting each week. I went and pinned the slow cooker honey sesame chicken–it sounds soooo good!!

    Way back in the day, I completed a program for massage therapy (and then barely used it professionally). I remember learning that sometimes sciatica symptoms can be caused by the piriformis muscle–which is a really deep muscle in your bum, under your glutes–being tight and putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. When I was pregnant and experiencing those symptoms, I would grab a tennis ball or nerf-type football and sit on it. It definitely provided relief, when in the right spot–which, for me, is in the middle of where the back pocket of my jeans hits. I hope this helps and you get to feeling better soon!!!

    • 15.1
      Laura says

      You know I think that’s why massage didn’t work for me this time. It was someone I hadn’t been to before and she only massaged the area where the pain is (lower back) which didn’t seem to help. My old massage therapist (in my old town) used to do an awesome massage on that piriformis muscle you mentioned and gosh did that help. Will have to keep looking for a MT that understands sciatica in my new town. I’m going to buy a tennis ball today, thanks!

  15. 16
    Barb @ A Life in Balance says

    I wish I could offer advice about the sciata other than gentle stretching. I hope you feel better soon!

    I just put together my monthly menu plan for February. Sure life happens, and that’s fine. Usually, I make final tweaks on Sunday to the week’s plan. I also look at what I need to prep each week to make sure the plan happens. If it doesn’t work, I have a few fall back meals in the freezer just in case, or I’ll swap meals.

    I’m so happy to see your organizing challenge for February! I started decluttering after the holidays but health issues got in the way. I have a pile of stuff for Goodwill in the basement plus I need to tackle different areas of the house. One of the things on my list is making checklists for the kids like one for homework time so I don’t have to keep reminding them about what they need to do.

  16. 17
    Wendy @ Celiacs in the House says

    Talk about the world’s best mom, those waffles would get me that more than chips! Sorry to hear you’re feeling poorly.

  17. 18
    Miranda says

    Feel better soon! Hope you’re getting help to follow through with your menu plan :).

    • 18.1
      Laura says

      Thank goodness for my daughter who is my supper sous chef! 🙂

  18. 19
    The Mommy says

    I experienced horrible sciatica with my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies (and in between). I tried a chiropractor with little success during my 3rd. Then in between my 3rd and 4th I saw a physical therapist for something totally unrelated (weak hips/bursitis) (no, I’m not 75 years old) and she found that my core was extremely weak. After I found strengthening exercises for THAT, my sciatica pain disappeared. No joke. If you don’t do any kind of strength training that’s where I would start. And, just like menu planning, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Pilates and resistance bands are what work for me but there are tons (literally) of different programs that will help. Hope you’re feeling better soon!

    • 19.1
      Laura says

      That makes a lot of sense and I definitely need to concentrate on this for sure.

      • Trisha says

        Definitely a strengthened core will cause sciatica pain to completely go away. Haven’t had any relapses on my sciatica pain as long as I keep running, walking and doing core exercises. When I stop all of these for an extended period of time (say a month or two), it definitely comes back. A lazy way to strengthen your core is lots and lots of walking–wearing a pedometer is a big motivator for me to make sure I get in all my steps each day. Once your sciatica is feeling better, you can start doing core exercises–plank exercise is a pretty easy core strengthening exercise that doesn’t take much thinking or concentration. In time, your sciatica problem should go away and stay away if you keep at it.

  19. 20
    Jessie G says

    Hey Laura- not sure if it is an issue with my cache but when I visit and click on the tab for menu planning and Meal Plan Monday– it still only shows Jan 9th as the most recent post there. I have had to go through my google reader the last couple of weeks to get to the most recent menu plan monday post. Just thought I would let you know. Thanks for hosting and the great reminders to just go with the flow and tips on how to do that! PS LOVED your real you youtube video 😉

    • 20.1
      Laura says

      If you hit refresh in your browser when on my site, it will update. Sorry about that, not sure why it’s happening but I had my designer check it out and she did a few things to fix it. It doesn’t sound like it is though unfortunately.

  20. 21
    Tammy says

    I hope that you feel better soon! I thought that I had a sciatica problem after having my 2 boys, but when I finally went to the dr. after 5 years about it, my pelvis was out of alignment making my left leg 1/4 in. longer than my right. After 2 months of PT, I’m doing much better and am re-aligned, but I still have pains when I do more.

    Great tips, Laura!

    Jan. 29th – Salad & crudités served
    S – Grilled cheeseburgers, beans, peaches, Rice Krispie treats
    M – Vegetable beef soup (in freezer)
    T – Leftovers
    W – Stuffed bell peppers or Johnny Marzetti
    Th – Hot dogs, corn, fries
    F – Leftovers
    S – out – GC

  21. 22
    Sonshine says

    Great tips! One thing that I do is write my menus in pencil so that I can erase and change meals around when necessary.

    The things that mess up my menu plan is forgetting to thaw meat and a change in someone’s schedule.

    Thanks for hosting! It is good to see that you are still hosting this every Monday! I have been out of the “saddle” of posting menus for about a year and am trying to get back into doing it because I seem to stick the menu better and have less stress in working in the kitchen. 🙂

  22. 23
    [email protected] says

    Oh No, hope you feel better soon. I have been planning my meals for a couple of years now but I used to plan for two weeks. Which honestly was a lot of work and stressful. After finding your blog I started planning for a week at a time which makes shopping easier.
    I am ready to start the 29 day challenge

    • 23.1
      Laura says

      So happy to hear that!

  23. 24
    Cheryl (Copperswife) says

    So sorry to hear about your Sciatica problems. Hope you’re pain free and feeling better soon!

    • 24.1
      Laura says

      Thanks Cheryl!

  24. 25
    Food on the Table says

    This is a great post on the flexibility of meal planning. I also make sure that a lot of things can be frozen – just in case I didn’t stick to my plan!

  25. 26
    jamie says

    great post… your menu sounds really yummy this week.

  26. 27
    Cathy says

    I’m totally steeling the YOYO bit! Of course, we’ve always had YOYO, but now I have a much cooler term for “go away and leave mommy alone night”. 🙂

    The other one I always pull out of my hat on those Stumbling Block days – is “Breakfast for Supper” kids think its planned (& wonderful) and it takes a total of 10 minutes to whip up french toast. 🙂

    & I’m very sorry to hear of your sciatica. Thankfully I didn’t get sciatica. That makes my 1size bigger feet seem okay now.

  27. 28
    Bridget says

    Thanks for hosting! I love menu plan Monday! It makes me look forward to my week of meals

  28. 29
    Carol @cdm-arewethereyet says

    laura – hope you feel better soon! I always do my menu planning for the whole month at one time. It might take a little more time at the beginning of the month but it sure saves time in the long run. Also, if I don’t feel like fixing something this week – I always have next week (or even the following week) to look at for something that I do want to cook. Plus, I only do “big” grocery shopping once a month. I also find that we eat a more varied diet since I don’t fix the same meal twice in the month! What is not to love about saving time, money and your sanity!

  29. 30
    Martha says

    Laura, so sorry to hear you are suffering with your sciatica problem. My husband has huge issue with the same so I know how painful and debilitating it can be. Sure hope you are feeling better soon! I am still on the menu planning band wagon but haven’t been posting my plans on my new blog.

    I’m thinking about doing your February challenge but not sure if I can dedicate enough time with my outside of the home work schedule to be able to finish the one final room that still needs work – major work since it’s nothing but a storage room now. Either way I will promote your challenge 🙂

  30. 31
    Rona says

    You have a great menu planned! Enjoy your week.

  31. 32
    Jamie @ Thrifty Veggie Mama says

    Thank you for hosting. Sorry you are not feeling well. Have you tried physical therapy? That was my job until I quit to stay home with my kiddos and write about food! Sciatic issues was one of the most common diagnoses we would see.

  32. 33
    S @ No Ordinary Mess says

    Thanks for hosting this – I am learning so much!

    As for the sciatica, I am hugely sympathetic. I second the tennis ball. I even have one at my desk at work. I would also recommend seeing a women’s health PT to help strengthen your core and hip muscles (and correct any alignment issues) in addition to a good massage. I struggle with this also and definitely notice an increase in symptoms if I don’t keep up with my ‘exercises.’ Hang in there and I hope you find some relief soon!

  33. 34
    Queen of the House says

    Thanks so much for a great post…things often don’t go as planned around here, but it is nice when they do, and I have my plan in place! 🙂

  34. 35
    Shanna says

    Two tennis balls!! I put one on either side of my spine starting at the top and lay down on them and wiggle and dig them in. I do the whole glute area and the hams and calves too if I have time.It is better than in some ways than a real massage because you can apply more pressure to your liking and sort of let the ball “sink in” farther to get those deep down muscles. When I first used a tennis ball to fix my own back pain I told my husband “I wanna marry this tennis ball it is soooo awesome!” I also go to the chiro when something slips out of place, but the tennis balls relieve the muscle pain and spasming.

  35. 36
    Melodie says

    I had the same problem after pregnancy thought it was my sciatica until I finally went to physical therapy and my pelvis was rotated. She “popped” it back in place and no problems since. Might want to check and see if thats whats wrong with you.

  36. 37
    Sharon says

    I arrived at the site looking for menu planning tips and stumbled onto this post. I, too, have been dealing with sciatica for the past six weeks or so. It started out as a tight piriformis which was causing stabbing pain in my glute muscle. I went for a regular massage (which was a bit aggressive) and I think it triggered the following bout of sciatica–sharp, shooting pain down my leg into my foot with some tingling and numbness in my toes. I’m going to PT which involves a lot of stretching and core strengthening exercises. It’s worse for me in the mornings. Once I get moving it eases up and some days by evening it’s not bad. Now it’s more like a medium level ache below my right glute and down the outside part of my leg, so it has improved.

    At home, I have started doing more core strengthening exercises and have been working with a dvd called “Viniyoga – Therapy for Low Back, Hips, and Sacrum.” I think it helps. My physical therapist said not to do any flexion moves (bending forward) though since that seems to flare it up. I also think the tennis ball helps. Good luck! I hope you’re feeling better and get more relief soon.

    I’m looking forward to checking out your site more and checking out the menu planning tips!


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