If there is one thing that is perpetually on my list of Things to Get Better At, it would be meal planning. I always go to the grocery store and buy the same old, same old ingredients to make the same old, same old meals – not having any specific plan for the week (Maybe I have one new or specific meal in mind.) I rarely decide on what I’m going to make until it’s time to get started making dinner. Sometimes this is fine, other times it feels very boring.
I’ve written about this many times before, so I’ll shut up now, but I think the problem is that I’ve never found a meal planning system that works for me. I’ve tried the old fashioned approach with a notebook and pencil and grand plans of keeping up with it – but I always end up falling off the meal planning wagon, and then I’m laying there in the mud eat the same old turkey chili again.
Feeling very stuck in a dinner time rut one day last week, I went browsing Pinterest for different meal ideas with my same old, same old ingredients that were already in my fridge. I ended up creating a For Dinner This Week board, and I have to say, it worked really well! I stuck with every meal I pinned, and since I knew what I was making each night, I’ve been able to do most of the prep work in the morning hours when I’m already putzing around the kitchen anyway, making dinner come together even faster.
In short, having a plan was awesome, I don’t know what my problem is. I’m feeling hopeful that this Pinterest gig is going to help me stay on the wagon. Social Media: it’s what’s for dinner.
Part of my motivation is having a reason to have my dinner time act together. My reason? After nearly 8 years of being a full time stay home mom, I’m about to go back to work! (As a birth doula and prenatal yoga instructor, I can’t wait to share how this all came together… more details soon!)
One of the meals I had planned for this week was stuffed peppers, and although I didn’t go with the exact recipe I pinned, I still knew what the general plan was. I ended up winging it with Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers for dinner last night and they turned out great! We were going to be out of the house all afternoon and I knew I wouldn’t be in the mood for doing a bunch of dinner prep by the time I got home, so I made the stuffing in the morning and had very little left to do when the dinner hour approached.
When I make stuffed peppers, I cut the peppers in half – as opposed to cutting the top off and filling an entire pepper.
After stuffing 4 pepper halves, I had about half of the stuffing left over and could have filled 4 more pepper halves (so you could plan on 4 peppers total if desired…) but I only had two peppers left, so two peppers it was.
Two out of three kids were fine eating the stuffing and preferred it “unstuffed” anyway, so it all worked out in the end.
(2 out of 3 because my darling middle child wouldn’t eat anything like this even if I bribed her with a meal plan of cotton candy for a year.)
Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers
1 – 2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp turmeric (optional)
1 tsp coriander (optional)
1.5 c black beans (or a 15 oz can, rinsed an drained)
1 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
2 c water
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
salt to taste
2 – 4 peppers, stem, spines and seeds removed, cut in half
shredded cheese for topping if desired
Saute onions, pepper and garlic in oil until soft, add spices and coat all vegetables well. Allow to cook for 5 minutes or so before adding beans, quinoa and water. Cover and allow to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until quinoa is soft and cooked, stirring occasionally to be sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add chopped spinach (and a little more water if needed) and simmer for another 5 minutes or so, until spinach is soft and reduced in size.
Your stuffing is complete! At this point you can begin stuffing peppers, or choose the option behind Door #2 and transfer it to a storage dish until you’re ready to make your well planned dinner!
Preheat the oven to 350, prep and stuff peppers in a baking dish. Top with a shredded cheese if you like (I used colby jack) and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
Give them about 10 minutes to cool and set before serving.
Delicious, healthy, vegetarian, gluten free – game, set, match, my work here is done! Until dinner time tonight, that is – but I’ve got a plan! It’s all good.