two-week healthy eating meal plan: february 2014
Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! Regardless of if your single, attached or anything in between, I hope you have an amazing day full of love. Craig and I are keeping it low-key this year, partly because we’re getting yet another snow storm today. Granted, even if we weren’t getting snow, we’d probably stay in. We’re so boring. And we like it.
My gift to you lovelies on this holiday is another two-week meal plan! Last month’s plan was a big hit, and it’s inspired me to keep coming up with these plans each month. I’m desperately hoping that this is the last month of real winter weather, so to honor that, I’m including lots of hearty, cozy and comfy meals. Just maybe, we’ll be grilling and having picnics by next month’s menu. Maybe?
If you’re new to my meal plans: below you’ll find two-weeks of ideas breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners (including links to recipes). I’m a big fan of meal prepping, so this menu assumes that you’re willing to devote a little bit of time on a weekend afternoon to prepping some recipes in advance. Trust me, a few hours on the weekend can add up to big time savings during the week! To help along with your meal prepping, you’ll find a Food Prep section at the beginning of the menu that lists out what preps you need to make. And at the bottom of the post, you’ll find a free printable menu for you to print out and hang up on the fridge for easy reference. Don’t forget to pin this post so you can easily reference the recipes throughout the two weeks.
The key to making my meal plans run smoothly is meal prepping. This keeps healthy, prepared foods right at your fingertips without depending on processed, convenience foods from the grocery store. I do my meal prepping on Sunday evenings, but any day of the week that you can carve out a few hours is a great time to do it. Here’s what foods you’ll need to prep ahead of time for each week:
- Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies—stash these cookies in a zip-top bag in the freezer once they are cool. They’ll keep for the entire two weeks (and even longer). I recommend doubling the batch if you’re a family of two or more. When you’re ready to eat, wrap one or two in a paper towel and then microwave on high for 30 seconds to warm.
- Homemade Fruit on the Bottom Yogurts—feel free to streamline this by using low-sugar jam and store-bought yogurt. Or, if you find a good deal on single-serving yogurts at the store, sub those in.
- Herbed Egg and Turkey Cups—you can mix these cups up with all kinds of different flavors. Try ham slices with cheddar and chives!
- Hard-Boiled Eggs—HBEs are an amazing, all-natural, protein-packed, grab-and-go snack. We make up (at least) a full dozen of them ever week.
- Whole Grain Waffle Mix—You can either just make up this mix, and stop there. Or, if you’re feeling particularly over-achiever-y, go ahead and warm up your waffle iron and make a big batch of waffles while you’re doing food prep. When they’re finished, stash them in a zip-top bag in the freezer, and then they’re ready for a trip in the toaster on a busy morning. Take that, Eggos.
- Greek Quinoa Salad—This salad is one of my absolute favorite vegetarian main dishes. Quinoa is one of the few vegetarian sources of complete protein. It’ll stash in the fridge for 4-5 days, so make a big batch and eat on it during the work week.
- Black Bean Burgers—These are great for both quick lunches and quick dinners. Just go ahead and bake as the recipe suggests, then as soon as they cool, freeze them in a zip-top bag. To heat them up, nuke on high for about a minute.
- Salads-in-a-Jar—Its not a food prep day in our house without making a whole bunch of salad jars! Make both side salad sizes (pint jars) and full-meal sizes (quart jars) when you prep. In the full-meal sizes, make sure to add some sources of protein—chicken, tofu, beans, quinoa, etc.
- Coconut-Pistachio Stuffed Dates—These are a great snack for when you’re craving something sweet. They’ll stay fresh in the fridge for a week or more, so stock up.
- Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies, Homemade Fruit on the Bottom Yogurts, Fruit—Short on time? This is a great grab-and-go breakfast. And the whole grains in the breakfast cookies will keep you full for hours.
- Herbed Egg and Turkey Cups, Fruit, Whole Wheat Toast with Peanut Butter—I like to mix up my breakfasts between sweet and savory. These turkey cups are one of my favorites for when I’m craving a savory meal to start off.
- Apple-Date Steel Cut Oats—Don’t think you have time to make steel cut oats? Wrong! I make mine in the rice cooker (it does the work while you’re getting dressing, putting on makeup and getting ready) or you can make it overnight in the slow cooker.
- Orange Pom-Berry Smoothie, Hard-Boiled Eggs—Whipping up a quick smoothie is a great way to get lots of nutrients fast in the morning. This smoothie is so packed with flavor, you could add in a big handful of spinach and you’d never taste it.
- Whole Grain Waffles with Peanut Butter, Cinnamon and Apple Slices—You can either make your waffles from scratch on a more leisurely morning, or pull some pre-made waffles out of the freezer and pop it in the toaster.
- Egg, Bacon and Cheddar Cheese English Muffin Sandwiches, Fruit—It’s hard to beat a classic egg sandwich. I like to serve mine on whole grain English muffins, but feel free to sub in bagels or whole wheat bread.
- Pear and Cheddar Breakfast Quesadillas—These sound totally weird, but the combo of sweet and savory is to-die-for.
- Greek Quinoa Salad, Whole Grain Crackers—This salad is an all-in-one meal. You get whole grains, you get complete proteins, you get veggies, you get healthy fats. I like to serve it with a handful of crackers for a little crunch.
- Black Bean Burgers, Salad in a Jar (side/pint size)—Skip the drive-thru and instead pack your own, super healthy burger. Pack your favorite burger toppings (I like cheese, lettuce, and tomato) in separate container and stack on your burger once it’s warmed up. Eat it with a whole grain bun, or without.
- Salad in a Jar (full/quart size), Whole Grain Crackers—Make sure to pack in lots of proteins and healthy fats into your full-meal salads in a jar. If you just use veggies, you’ll probably be hungry an hour later (which is never fun).
- Soup in a Jar, Salad in a Jar (side/pint size)—You’ll be making a number of soups for dinners over the course of the next two weeks. Leftover soup makes a perfect lunch! Just fill up a pint Mason jar with your soup and another pint jar with your salad, and you’ve got a great lunch. Bonus, take the lid off, and the soup Mason jar can go straight into the office kitchenette microwave.
- Leftovers—Learn to love ‘em! You’re going to be cooking 14 different dinners over the course of this two-week plan, you’re bound to have delicious, healthy, ready-to-eat leftovers for lunch. Embrace ‘em! Promise me you won’t let all that delicious food go to waste, k?
- Ants on a Log—Kids and adults alike love these. Fill celery stalks with peanut butter and top with raisins. Crunchy, creamy and sweet! Plus, the fat and protein in the peanut butter goes a long way to help your belly feel satisfied between meals. You can also sub in cream cheese or another nut butter if peanut butter ain’t your thang.
- Veggies with Hummus—Dipping carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, and cucumbers into hummus is a great way to get in some veggies and some protein. Just watch your hummus portions! Those dips add up fast. I like to measure out an amount of hummus into a bowl instead of dipping straight from the container. You can also make your own hummus and adjust it to be lighter by going easy on the oil.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs—You can’t beat the protein and grabability of a hard-boiled egg.
- Coconut-Pistachio Stuffed Dates—Around 3pm, do you start seriously craving a candy bar or a donut or something else sugary? If so, these dates are perfect. They’re a great way to get a natural boost of sugar. I like to pair a few of them with a mug of hot tea.
- Fruit—Fruit is the original grab-and-go snack! Make sure you stock up on your favorites at the store. Grab some fresh pears, apples, bananas, clementines, or whatever else fruit looks good to you and reserve it just for snacking.
- Air-Popped Popcorn—You might be used to salty, buttery movie theatre popcorn, but the plain air-popped stuff is actually remarkably flavorful and at only 30 calories per cup, a great filling snack! It’s also crazy cheap. A bag of kernels runs about $2 and will last you forever. Don’t have an air-popper? No worries, just put 1/4 cup of kernels in the bottom of a small brown paper back (think lunch size), fold the top down, lay flat in the microwave and microwave at 100% for 2-4 minutes, or until the popping slows down. For a special treat on movie-night, you can also make homemade movie theatre popcorn.
- Creamy Vegan Carrot and Apple Soup, Whole Wheat Garlic Knots—These knots will stash in the fridge for a few days, so make up a batch and save the leftovers for other soup nights. To reheat, just pop in a 350° oven for 5-10 minutes.
- Baked Falafel Lettuce Wraps—This is one of my favorite Meatless Monday meals! If you’re missing the bread factor, serve it with some warm pitas and hummus as a side.
- Zuppa Toscana, Whole Wheat Garlic Knots—This soup is a little more decadent that a lot of the other meals on this list, so serve it on day when you need the extra calories (maybe after a big family hike on a Saturday morning).
- Lentil Sloppy Joes, Sweet Potato Fries—Who doesn’t love sloppy joes? This meatless dinner is a definite crowd-pleaser.
- Broccoli, Cheddar, and Potato Soup, Salad—An oldie but a goodie recipe. It’s a creamy, thick, cozy soup that feels like it’s packed with cream, but it’s actually really light—under 300 calories per serving.
- Portabella Cheesesteaks, Roasted Brussels Sprouts—This weeknight dinner is in weekly rotation at our house. It takes about 30 minutes total to make the cheesesteaks, which happens to be the perfect amount of time to get carmelized, roasted Brussels sprouts.
- Slow-Cooker Fall-Apart Chicken, Cheesy Cauliflower and Farro Bake—Never made a whole chicken in the slow-cooker? Well, you should. The end result is tender, juicy and it literally falls off the bone.
- Drunken Beef Stew—I love one-pot meals, and this is a favorite in our house. You can also make this in the slow-cooker for a yummy weeknight dinner. Grab a piece of whole wheat buttered bread to sop up the leftover gravy in the bowl.
- Shrimp and Cheddar Quinoa with Bacon, Salad—Rushed for time? This dinner comes together in 15 minutes. You might not even have time to put the salad together!
- Cheesy Baked Penne with Spinach and Italian Sausage, Salad—This casserole is a great comforting dinner for a snowy Saturday evening.
- Homemade Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust—Customize this pizza to suit your family’s likes and dislikes. Our favorite combo: pineapple, feta and bacon. Yum! We have pizza once a week in our house.
- Leftover Night—Each week, schedule in a leftover night. If you haven’t used up your leftovers for lunches, now is the time to clear out that fridge. Bring out all the 1/2 cups of this and one serving of that, heat them up and let everyone pick their poison. Today is also a great time to freeze and meals that you have a lot leftover.
- Dark Chocolate Squares—You can buy individually wrapped dark chocolate squares or break a full-sized bar into squares for individual servings. These squares are a great way to add a little bit of a treat to your workday lunch.
- Gingered Hot Chocolate—Spring is (hopefully) coming soon, so make sure to get in your fill of hot chocolate now.
- One-Minute Peanut Butter Cake—This is one of the most popular recipes on my blog, and for good reason! You can go from no-cake to cake in under two minutes. And it’s got inherent portion control!
I’ve also put this menu plan into a printable for you to download and hang up right on the fridge for easy reference (and make sure to Pin this post so you can access the recipes easy on your smartphone or tablet when cooking in the kitchen). I went ahead and slotted the recipes into the standard workweek format (so longer, more time-intensive recipes on the weekends), but feel free to mix it up if your schedule isn’t typical. If this doesn’t work for you, you can at least get an idea of how I’d pair everything together, and use it as a base to make your own menu (maybe using this blank menu planner).