Meal Planning Tips & Techniques

I’ve seen some pretty impressive meal planning posts lately

like this
or this
or this

there are tons of ideas out there…just search “meal planning” on pinterest and you’ll find endless hours of creativity and organization. Mine is pretty basic but I’m taking the food approach rather than the crafty approach. Maybe I’ll get on that later ;)

Since I’m only meal planning for two of us, my set up is pretty basic. We have relatively busy lives but we know what is coming up for the week. I used to just have in my head what I wanted to make and when that would be. I had elaborate plans for leftovers but that was just living in my head too. It made me feel like I was the dictator, like Mr. J’s tastes were at my whim, and like I was running the show.

Now that we’re homeowners, I’m being a grown up and mapping out the week for all to see. It is helpful for us because it gets us both on the same page, saves money, eliminates extra grocery store trips, and helps for lunch-packing-planning. Mr. J has taken to bringing lunch everyday so having a plan we both know.
3 Bite Rule meal planning

Step one: figuring out what to make
I usually meal plan on Saturday or Sunday mornings. I see what is going on (i.e. Mr. J playing hockey, me working late, one or both of us going out, etc). I think of a few things I’ve been itching to make and fill in the gaps with easy throw together meals (think salads or burgers or eggs). Not every dinner is special or blog-worthy: thus why I created the What I Ate series). I usually have a list of ideas to try. I get a bunch of food magazines, I subscribe to a lot of blogs, I scour restaurant menus all the time, and Pinterest is always a great source too. I tap into these sources while watching food network or combing through my lists/ideas. I sort of attempt to vary the categories or foods so that we don’t have pizza 3 times in one week or burritos/tacos/enchiladas all in a row.

ex: If I have a pizza topping idea up my sleeve that might be Monday, and Thursdays are usually quicker/lighter meals before Mr. J plays hockey so falafel wraps might be that night. Now I need something for Tues & Wed. Maybe burgers sound good because it’ll be hot on Tuesday with my fav oil/vinegar coleslaw. We haven’t had anything Mexican in awhile so maybe that’s a good use for leftover ground meat after making Wed’s burgers. Now that becomes Tuesday’s plan. Mon & Wed have leftover capabilities for lunches the following days so I’ll add salad or sandwich stuff to the list for the days after a dinner without leftovers (i.e. I’m never gonna eat a burger I cooked the night before for lunch).
3 Bite Rule Meal Planning

I have some more planning tips I share later. How do you plan meals?

Roundup: Birthday Boy’s Favs

Today is Mr. J’s birthday. I looove birthdays (as seen here and here). He isn’t as into birthdays as I am, but luckily he humors me. I’m super jazzed about the dinner I thought of for tonight (stay tuned). Hopefully it works!

In honor of his birthday I’m giving you a little collection or list of some of his favs! Happy birthday Mr. J!

He liked this Thanksgiving Sandwich I made recently (yes, no timely connection or anything)

thanksgiving_sandwich_close_590_390

And he surprisingly fell for broccoli & cheddar soup in breadbowls
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and he was into these Greek Meatball Wraps
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and the guy loves his Chinese food
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He embraced Neapolitan pizza when we were in Italy on our honeymoon. We’ve recreated since then and I perfected it…I dare say.
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He loved this Balsamic Citrus Chicken though the photos don’t do it justice.
chick_plate_590_390
I hope he has a fantastic birthday. He’s amazing beyond words and deserves it. He has suffered through some of my mishaps and willingly eats pretty much anything I make. He patiently waits for me to photograph his meal before taking a bite and is my biggest supporter…blog and live-wise. The pup and I have lots of fun surprises for him!

Check out his amazingness here on his guest blog.  Better yet, check out his blog here! Go ahead, leave him a comment for his birthday!

Bites This Week

Want a preview of what’s to come on The Three Bite Rule this week?

You can see some high-end caramel corn
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you can whip up an unexpected pumpkin dinner
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and who can forget dessert?
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Stay tuned!

1st Blogaversary

Happy Blogaversary to The Three Bite Rule!

Can you believe The Three Bite Rule is a year old today?!?! Wow. I cannot believe it’s been 365 days with 139 posts and 667 photos and lots of techie learning along the way. This year has been full of changes, travel, our wedding, job changing, new kitchen equipment, and so much more.

In celebration I’d love to make some goals for year 2 of the blog and extend some awards.

Goals for year 2:

1 – Some behind the scenes growing up and some website changes: I need a better archive system/recipe index; biz cards; pinterest follow icon; and to finally figure out why my tweets like to repeat. I’m sure there are some other items that need tweaking too.

2 – I would love to improve my photos…I’m sure you’d love that too! I desperately want a kitchen with a window but in the meantime I need a better lighting set up. I got an amazing camera but the lack of natural light and too much yellow light annoys me when photo editing. Stay tuned.

3 – More guest posts: come on down! (email emily@thethreebiterule.com for details)

4 – Get a bit better about prepping posts further in advance. Ever notice they appear at 7:30 or 11:30? Well, I’m spilling the beans that no, I’m not hitting “send” before/during work. I schedule them to appear.

5 – More Giveaways. Scratch that. Some giveaways. Wouldn’t that be fun?

6 – More restaurant recreations, more food round ups, more food/drink related crafts, & more unusual stuff.

7 – Move to a house with real kitchen unlike my current apartment kitchen which drives me nutty. Then all my new kitchen toys can come out to play!

8 – Preview of coming attractions so you can get excited before I even post ‘em!

9 – Host more often so I can share with others and learn more from different tastes.

10 – Be more creative.

Now, for some superlatives:

Party Animal: Mac & Cheese Taste-Off
This was my favorite party of the year. I was blown away that we had 10 entries! Wow! Delicious! I was too busy having a wonderful time to take many photos. You get the idea though, right?
mac&cheese_290_200

Best Dressed: Tangy Asian Wings
I was happy with the photos of these and thought these were the best looking plates.
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Most Likely to be Famous: Life Savor Fundraiser Event
This meal was so memorable. I loved all the courses, the wine pairings, how the restaurant really went all out, and all the choices.
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Biggest Meal Surprise: Ranch Chicken Burgers and Apple Slaw
I was surprised how amazing this meal was. I mean I knew it would be good but I was bowled over! I hadn’t made a burger inside before and it was a really pleasant surprise.
ranch_burg_plate_290_200

Biggest Flop: Baked Orzo Flop
This dish was just sad and it didn’t even taste better than it looks. Bahh.
orzo_baked_290_200

Most Likely to Succeed: Calzones
Calzones are my signature dish and always seem to be a success!
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Proudest Moment: Meatballs
I hadn’t made them myself before but totally should more often…especially given my beef-less life!
meatballs_baked_290_200

Best Supporting Actor: Butternut Squash Risotto
For Valentines Day at home I made some bbq pork ribs and butternut squash risotto. This side dish was sooo good. As Rachael would say…yum-o!
butternut_risotto_290_200

Thanks to everyone who reads, comments, follows, subscribes, and supports me and The Three Bite Rule!

Love Lists

I love lists. I’ll admit it. Most people do.

I keep my daily to-dos at work as a running word-doc to avoid all the paper. My life to-dos are spread between 4 apps, shared google docs with the hubby, and the occasional post-it or white board note. I keep a grocery list on a shared app which was a genius invention even-though we rarely shop unplanned without coordinating with one another.

I think my lists make me more accountable and it’s just so fun to cross stuff of of there! Here a new list…probably the first of many. I define fall as pre-December.

Fall “To Cook” List:

  • Pumpkin Pancakes (I made them as waffles a long time ago) <find it here!>
  • Some sort of stew (I’m thinking maybe lamb & lentils?)
  • An annual apple crisp attempt (that won’t ever compare to my mother’s) <find it here!>
  • stuffing (I don’t like to call is dressing so stuffing is what I’ll make!)
  • some sort of cranberry cocktail (when I relocated our liquor I unearthed lots of cranberry vodka)
  • rosemary cashews (I made these in August but didn’t blog ‘em…addicting) <find it here!>
  • risotto (I bought some in Italy!) <find it here!>
  • coconut shrimp (just want to make it…it doesn’t have to be summer, right?) <find it here!>

Most are thematic but if I just need an excuse or when inspiration is lacking, I’ll be back…and I’ll be checkin’ stuff offa there! Have any recipes you suggest for these?

Stay tuned!

I’m baaaaaack!

I’m baaaaaaaack! I didn’t forget about you. Life just got away from me and between honeymooning, jet lag, seeing friends and family without a wedding focus, a trip for work, and not feeling so hot, I’ve been slow to get back to life. It all caught up with me after NYC kicked my butt. The pup can attest that the apt looks insane and I haven’t been cooking regularly. It’s craziness.
I have lots of fun to catch you up on. Here are some teasers you can just sit on the edge of your seat for:1) I’ve tried to get crafty…with a food/drink focus
2) A blue Le Creuset made it’s debut in my kitchen
3) Mr. J falls for sangria in Spain and I swoon over Paella
4) We could get used to 3 course meals all the time
5) birthplace of pizza was a pizza dining adventure
6) 2 words: chili cookoff
7) It’s time for crockpots, apples, and pumpkins ohh my!

I feel terrible that it has been so long, but never fear, I’m back. I am trying not to feel guilty since I do this for myself and it’s not like it’s my job or I’m letting any sponsors down (cough, cough:sponsors-welcome;cough).