The Vanderhorst Family

The Vanderhorst Family

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Meal Planning and Recipes

I've had a couple people ask about meal-planning and some recipes that I make, so here ya go! **HUGE DISCLAIMER** I realize that I am no expert at cooking, and I do not claim to be a super-domestic lady who makes everything from scratch, and I'm not an expert at meal-planning when it comes to freezer meals, canning, etc. These are seriously the basics and it has worked for me. I also realize that I am a stay-at-home mom full time which means that I have more time to go grocery shopping and cook on my hands than others (trust me, I was not this good about cooking when I had a job or was going to school), and I realize that I only have one child who isn't mobile yet, thus making life a lot easier than most other moms out there. These are just some tips that have worked for me. Enjoy :)

First is meal planning: Now, lest you think I'm totally organized and on top of it--think again! Seriously, the only reason why I meal plan for the week is because I only want to have to go grocery shopping once during the week. In our apartment complex we live in a building that isn't close to any of the parking lots, which means it's a pretty long walk from the car to the apartment, which means that I only want to make one trip a week of carrying groceries and my rapidly growing baby boy at the same time.

When you think of meal planning for the week it can sometimes get over-whelming, but here are a few tips.
1) I stole this from my sister-in-law, Emily, who does the same thing. She writes out the menu for the week and keeps it visible in the kitchen. This has really helped me because it is a quick reference of what I will be making that night instead of figuring out what I'm making for dinner last minute. It also makes it easy if I want to switch things around last minute I have options readily available and I know that I already have the ingredients to make those other meals. Here's an example of what it looks like.

 Also, since it's just Grant and I eating, we have lots of leftovers not only for Grant's lunches, but also for dinner. It's good for your mental health to have one or two nights a week where you say you're just going to do leftovers for dinner. If you have a larger family, you can make more of each dinner if need-be (usually recipes feed 6-8 people).
2) I pull out the recipes for that week and make a list of everything that I need, and then also add to the list anything I might need for Andrew (more formula/diapers), or anything for breakfast (cereal/milk/fruit), and then any basics that are needed (usually for us it's bread, milk, fruits, vegetables, lettuce, and toppings for salad). I know it sounds like a lot and that it will be really expensive, but we've been able to stay well within our budget for a couple reasons. First, I try to make it so our recipes for the week use similar ingredients, and I can buy things in bulk. It is a lot easier to stick to a grocery list that has been well thought out than it is to try and mentally go through your kitchen at the grocery store.

Now for some recipes: These are staple recipes that have been tried and true in our house. I try to cook at least one new thing a week, but these recipes are delish!

Saucy Meatballs: This is a Vanderhorst tradition and has been my father-in-law's favorite dish for decades, and probably Grant's favorite dish.

You need:
1 lb hamburger
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs (I just put in Italian seasoning with crushed up crackers)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 soup can full of milk
1 pt. sour cream

Mix hamburger, egg, bread crumbs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Form into 1-inch balls and fry in pan or on a flat grill until cooked through. For the sauce, mix cream of chicken soup and milk in a sauce pan over medium heat. Continue stirring until smooth. Be sure that the soup and milk mixture isn't boiling when you put in the sour cream or else it will curd up if it is too hot. Mix in sour cream, and once the sauce is smooth, add the meatballs and simmer for a few minutes. Serve over cooked white rice.

Sweet Pork: This is the easiest and quickest recipe you will find for sweet pork ever, and it is delicious.

You need:
6 lbs of pork roast
16 oz of salsa (I usually blend the salsa in the blender to make it smooth)
1 can of cola or Dr. Pepper
2 cups of brown sugar

Cook meat in a crockpot that is 1/2 full of water overnight on low. Drain off the water, de-bone the meat and cut into thirds. Mix together the sauce ingredients and put back in crockpot with meat another 5-6 hours on low. Shread meat with forks and leave on low until ready to serve. Serve on rolls or salad.

Crockpot Orange Chicken: Again, easy recipe that is delicious!

You need:
1 cup of BBQ sauce
1 cup of orange marmalade
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
4-6 chicken breasts

Put it all together in a crockpot and cook for 5 hours on high. Serve over rice. (Yep, it's that easy!)

French-Dip Sandwiches: Kind of an easy spin-off of actual french dip sandwiches. What can I say, I'm not gourmet by any means. I'm all about quick and easy that also happens to be delicious.

You need:
1 lb of thinly sliced deli roast
Provolone or Swiss cheese
2 packages of Pillsbury refrigerated rolls
1 package of Au Jus mix

Take the rolls out of the packages and flatten out the rolls into triangles. Put a slice of deli-roast and cheese on each roll, and then roll it back up. Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown. Serve with the Au Jus and enjoy!

These are just a few to get you started, but I'll post more recipes as I find them. If you go to this blog, you can also find a ton of easy, cheap, delicious recipes!


  1. Great tips, Bekah! I'm definitely going to use some of these :)

  2. Love this! One quick question... for the Saucy Meatballs-when you say 1 can of milk... do you mean a can of condensed milk or literally a can filled with milk? I was a bit confused. Looks delicious though!

  3. Way to go Bekah! Thanks for the encouragement and recipes, I am going to give that crockpot orange chicken a try!