November Meal Plan and Thankfulness

Not to get all churchy on people, or anything — this is a completely nonreligious, ecumenical blog — but yesterday the visiting pastor at our church had some words of wisdom during the Children’s Moment that I think are worth passing on, as we enter the month in which we talk about thankfulness (as if it should be disregarded the rest of the time!).  She said to the kids, “It’s called a treat because you haven’t done anything to earn it and you don’t have to have it.  And when you get a treat in your life, remember, the person who gave it to you didn’t have to give you anything.  Nobody has to open their doors on Halloween night and give you candy — they could shut off their lights and hide in the cellar!  So when they do open the door, and they do give you a treat, that’s a moment for you to stop and be really thankful.  Be thankful that they gave you something you didn’t earn.  Be thankful they chose to share what they have with you.  And then go home and think about all the other things you have that people gave to you not because they had to, but because they wanted to.  And be thankful for those things.”

She went on and made some religious connections, but the message was clear, and it stuck not just with me but with L.  He drew a picture in Sunday School and told the teacher that it was his family — “because they’re a treat and I am thankful for them.”  (Ready?  All together now: Awwwww.)  I mention all of this not only because it’s adorable and thought-provoking and worth sharing, but because in this month of November, I know we’ll all be focusing on gratitude with our kids and, hopefully, within ourselves. I’d like to challenge us all to think each day of three “treats” in our lives for which we are thankful, and to think of one “treat” we can share with others.  If you’re up for it, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section throughout the month or on my Twitter feed.

And now, something for which I hope we’re all thankful: The November Meal Plan!

Monday, 11/1: Spitfire shrimp (with a less-spicy batch for the kids) and veggie quesadillas
Tuesday, 11/2: Slow cooker — Mom’s spaghetti bolognese, salad, veggie rolls
Wednesday, 11/3: Chicken pot pie with pumpkin crust (made with leftovers of our Sunday roast chicken), fruit platter
Thursday, 11/4: Mom and Dad in town — Meatloaf with tomato-bacon relish, cheesy noodles, roast veggies
Friday, 11/5: Fend night
Saturday, 11/6: Pork chops, sweet potatoes, salad, sugar snaps
Sunday, 11/7: Mom and Dad’s choice
Monday, 11/8: No-fuss chicken, yellow rice, veggies
Tuesday, 11/9: Slow cooker — chicken sausage and pepper sandwiches, fruit platter
Wednesday, 11/10: Homemade pizzas, salad
Thursday, 11/11: J.’s request: Simple salt-and-pepper salmon, potatoes, veggies
Friday, 11/12: Fend night
Saturday, 11/13: Pork tenderloin with sundried tomato stuffing, couscous, salad and veg.
Sunday, 11/14: Butternut squash lasagna, salad, homemade bread
Monday, 11/15: Turkey tamale pie, avocado salad, fruit platter
Tuesday, 11/16: Slow cooker — honey-mustard chicken sandwiches, veggie platter, crispy potato rounds
Wednesday, 11/17: Breakfast for dinner (may do baked eggs and fruit cobbler)
Thursday, 11/18: Ravioli with marinara, salad, homemade bread
Friday, 11/19: Fend night
Saturday, 11/20: Steak and mushroom pie, green salad, roast veggies
Sunday, 11/21: Cioppino, garlic bread, vegetable antipasto platter
Monday, 11/22: Pistachio-crusted chicken with DIY salad platter
Tuesday, 11/23: Slow cooker — Chicken soft tacos with guacamole and rice
Wednesday, 11/24: Tuna artichoke panini, fruit platter, veggie chips
Thursday, 11/25: Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, 11/26: Fend night
Saturday, 11/27: Cheeseburgers, sweet potato fries, fruit
Sunday, 11/28: Salmon and rice strudel, salad, roasted veggies
Monday, 11/29: Sweet potato bisque and sandwiches
Tuesday, 11/30: Slow cooker — pork and black bean chili, baked multigrain chips, avocado salad

Happy November!  Leave recipe requests, questions, etc. in the comments!

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7 Responses to November Meal Plan and Thankfulness

  1. Blanca says:

    Chicken pot pie w/ pumpkin crust sounds yummy! Do you make the crust from scratch? I couldn’t find a recipe for it on your blog.

  2. Blanca says:

    Even though I didn’t ask the question, it was definitely something I’ve been meaning to ask you. I haven’t had time to sit down and digest all your posts as I’d like to. I need to definitely find a way to stretch my money. I don’t set a budget nor plan, which ALWAYS hurts me in the end when I’m wondering where all my money is going and why I find myself w/o creativity for the week or days where I have absolutely no idea what to make for dinner. I suppose making three meals a day gets quite exhausting. I work from home and the little one stays with me. What also doesn’t helps is the fact that I don’t have extra freezer space. I have a tiny freezer, which is attached to the fridge. In addition, when I don’t plan ahead I get really frustrated that I have to wait 2 days for my meats to defrost in the fridge or way too long submerged in cold water–by way too long is defrosting at 5pm!! I tend to over work and then realize “oh, shoot, dinner!”. Also, I have a picky eater–my husband! In addition, the man eats out every day during lunch. He’s in sales so he normally has lunch meetings w/ clients. I’ve tried way too many times to make him take his lunch, but he’s never in the office to eat it. So when he gets home all he wants to eat is an orange or cereal. Very frustrating when you’re making meals…but at the same time there’s more leftovers, which could stretch for lunch or goes uneaten since no one wants to have it again.. I need to dedicate to planning ahead and using my Sundays to cook what can last in the fridge if I have no freezer space. What do you do about the days you don’t feel like eating or serving what you planned to for that day?

    • Hi Blanca! Thanks for the questions! I’m going to answer them early next week. Sorry to keep you hanging, but I’m taking a little time off to spend some much-needed time with my husband and be “unplugged” for a few days. Stay tuned. I’ll take care of you, I swear! 🙂

  3. Nina Vincent says:

    I came upon this blog well after you started so I may have missed something in previous posts…That being said…How do you plan a month’s worth of meals without knowing what is on sale in any given week? Most of my meals are planned around what’s on sale. Yes, I may buy extra to freeze for a later time but certainly not a month’s worth.

    • It’s a delicate balance, Nina. Basically this question refers to meats, since everything else we eat tends to be homemade/shelf-stable/etc. What I tend to do is buy my meats whenever they ARE on sale and freeze them, and I do a couple of things to help mitigate that: 1) We do have 2 freezers, so that helps tremendously; 2) I tend to use the same cuts of meat in almost all of my recipes, so I’ve got some versatility; 3) If I’m making something for which I don’t have the meat on hand and it’s not on sale, which does happen often, I have a decision to make. I can either substitute a different cut, which I frequently do, and sometimes with surprisingly successful, wonderful results; or I can make the decision to buy the meat at full price and find another way to even the budget out. What I find, though, is that planning the month in advance has HELPED with budgeting because you’re never going to buy the whole month’s worth of meat at a time, but being able to look at a sale and know that you’ll definitely use that pot roast in 3 weeks means you can snag it RIGHT NOW at the best price. Also, it’s worth mentioning that we have committed to trying to eat meat that’s responsibly farmed and contains no antibiotics or hormones, so we’ve had to change our habits to avoid the 99 cent/lb specials on chicken at the grocery store. We have committed to spending more on meat and less on other items (doing almost everything from scratch helps there, as you know), so often I’ll stretch the meat by planning vegetarian meals for other nights (especially in weeks where we’re going to splurge on something like lamb, which is always expensive) and by using LESS meat in every recipe, doubling the vegetables, and adding a platter of fruit and some homemade bread to the table to fill everyone up without breaking the bank. This is a lengthy answer, I know, but it’s a really important question. Last week, we spent $20 on a whole week’s worth of meat for the family, all purchased at Whole Foods, if that gives you any indication of how things work out.

    • Oh, and one more thing, Nina — if you think of the meal plan as a guide, not a hard and fast rule, what you can do is say “I don’t have the freezer space to store xyz for three weeks, but chicken is on sale right now and there’s a chicken dish on the menu late this month — I’ll swap them out.” Does that make sense? It does take some getting used to. I recommend that people really start with 2 weeks and work up, which is what I did. I’ve been doing this for 5 years now so it is automatic at this point, but it’s not always intuitive when you’re starting out.

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