I’m happy to announce that this week’s meal plan is being sponsored by “Together Counts”.
You all know that I’m one of the Together Counts Energy Balance Ambassadors (for a second year! Yay!). As a refresher, Together Counts is a national program that is committed to helping reduce childhood obesity by 2015. They try to inspire folks to have a healthy active life though the concept of “energy balance”–balancing the calories you take in with the energy you put out. They encourage both eating healthy meals together as a family and balancing that with doing physical activity together as a family.
Note: The organization is made up of more than 200 retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, restaurants, sporting goods and insurance companies, trade associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and professional sports organizations.
Since every week I do a meal plan this is a perfect opportunity to meld together the idea of planning your meals and planning your activity! My goal is at minimum to include 3 meals that we eat as a family and on those days plan 3 energy burning activities that we can do together as well.
So what do I have to think about this week:
1. The weather is back down to “normal” NY summer temperatures for late July: Mid 80’s with chances of thunderstorms. That means for meals I will want to plan things that don’t heat up the kitchen too much (remember, we don’t have AC) and for being active I’ll want to plan on things that won’t overheat us-either by choosing “cool” activities like swimming, or by planning our activities during the cooler portion of the day.
2. The kids are still in our town’s summer camp in the mornings-that means they have to be out the door at 9 and are back around lunch. To add to the chaos I had to squeeze in running errands in Binghamton (30 min away) yesterday afternoon and the kids have Vacation Bible School from 6-8:30 every night this week. That’s going to make it a bit harder to plan. I also need to go blueberry picking and check on the blackberries up on the land. Nature doesn’t care if I’m busy-when the berries are done, they are done.
3. I was admiring my canned vegetables in the basement and realized that I still have many cans of green beans on the shelf-and my fresh beans are getting ready to produce in a couple of weeks. I might want to eat some of those.
4. In the refrigerator I’ve got beets, beet greens and a zucchini that I picked a few days ago that need to be used shortly. I have some chicken that I purchased on sale. I also pulled a meaty ham bone out of the freezer that was taking up a bunch of space and tossed it into the fridge to defrost.
5. The garden is continuing to produce. There will be more zucchini shortly, I’ve got cabbage and mizuna that need to be used soon and I’ve got beets and rat tail radishes that are in full swing.
6. Princess really wants to help cook a meal this week-she picked out “chicken and vegetable crepes”.
Taking all that into account here is my game plan:
Monday: Sub Sandwiches
Activity: none planned
Monday was hectic-camp in the morning, chores at the house then run into town for errands. I knew that we’d be cutting it close and have to drive right to VBS. That meant dinner on the road! Rather than running through a driv-thru and eating calorie dense fast food we opted for healthier sub sandwiches from the grocery store.
Tuesday: Grilled Fish, Grilled Zucchini, Marinated Green Beans and Couscous
Activity: Swimming at the town pool together and walking as a family to VBS instead of taking the car
I never did make the grilled fish last week-sometimes the best laid plans and all that. So it’s defrosted in the fridge. I’ll grill it (either in a basket or on some tinfoil) mostly to keep the smell and the heat out of the house. Since the grill will be fired up I’ll also grill the zucchinni. I just love it sliced and tossed with olive oil and chili oil, then grilled till soft. Mmmm. The beans will be some of the canned ones downstairs-the kids are not fond of canned beans plain, but if I marinate them in a vinaigrette then they are acceptable. The couscous is pretty much an instant pasta to make-I can whip it up just before dinner in the microwave without adding any heat to the house. This is my fish meal for the week.
For activity we will head over to the town pool in the afternoon. Instead of staying on the sidelines while the kiddos play, I’ll get in and play with them a bit and then do some laps (which not only is healthy for me but models good exercise behavior for the kids). When it’s time for VBS we’ll make sure we leave enough time to walk down instead of using the car.
Wednesday: Chicken and Vegetable Crepes with Beets
Activity: Berry picking and walking to VBS as a family instead of using the car.
Princess wants to make Chicken and Vegetable Crepes. We already have the chicken, and the rest of the ingredients should be from things on hand (I may steam the beet greens and use them in the crepes along with the more common things like carrot, onions etc). I will boil and slice the beets for a side dish-we like them just as is with a bit of salt.
For activity we will head up to the land right after lunch and spend some time as a family picking the wild blueberries and any blackberries that are ripe. It’s always a good time to be out in nature and chatting as a family as we work. When the kiddos are done we’ll let them have some time to run down to the creek and play. We should be home in plenty of time for Princess to make dinner with my supervision and help, and still be able to walk down to VBS instead of taking the car.
Thursday: Bean, Ham and Greens Soup with Biscuits
The white beans (from the pantry and soaked overnight), ham bone and some greens from the garden (beet, mizuna or whatever else takes my fancy) will go in the crockpot in the morning with some onion, garlic and bullion to make a soup. I might even plug it in down in the basement to keep the house cool. I’ll whip up some biscuits right before dinner when it’s starting to cool off. This is my bean meal for the week.
I don’t have something active planned in for Thursday. We will be taking the car to VBS since we are giving an older volunteer from our church a ride. We may be able to fit in swimming at the last moment (the kids love to swim and the pool is close) but between some work deadlines I have and the kids being committed to activities for the full morning and then the bulk of the evening I just can’t squeeze in a “planned” activity.
Friday: Homemade Cheese Pizza!
Activity: Swimming at the town pool together and riding our bikes to VBS as a family.
Using the Pizza Hut Crust Clone recipe of course. This is my meatless meal for the week.
For activity we’ll hit the pool again together, and then for a change we’ll leave early and take a bike ride around town ending at VBS.
Saturday: Venison & Vegetable Kabobs with Rice
For the kabobs I’ll chunk up some of the venison from the freezer and we’ll grill it with onions, pepper etc. (note: I like to do several kabobs entirely of meat, then one with all the onions, another with the peppers etc–it avoids the “gee the pepper is done but the onion is still soft” problem.) I’ll make rice in the rice cooker for it to be served over. This is my venison meal for the week.
For activity we’ll have the kiddos come out and help with the garden. There is weeding, picking, and planting to be done. We all get out, get some fresh air and sun. The tasks get done, they learn about both nature and where their food comes from. They also get to see that they are a valuable part of the family and that what they do can be of help.
Sunday: Leftover Buffet or Stirfry
Activity: Walking to church and back as a family.
By Sunday we should have lots of dibs and dabs of food left-so we’ll have a “buffet” night where we warm it all up and put it all out and everyone can pick what they want! If by some strange chance everything gets eaten during the week then I’ll do a Stirfry with veggies from the garden, the leftover rice from Saturday and some pork in the freezer that I cooked and froze.
For activity we will walk to church, which we try to do in good weather. The church is about a 1/2 mile from the house, so we just need to wear decent shoes and leave ourselves enough time to get there!
You’ll notice-my”activities” aren’t huge, complicated, expensive things. You don’t have to go rock climbing or drive an hour to hike a mountain in order to be active as a family. Walking instead of driving, swimming, going fishing, gardening, even having a pillow fight can be active endeavors. Don’t let the idea that it has to be “big” keep you from being active. Little fun is still fun!
So what do you think? Can you start adding in activities in to your weekly plans?
Are you interested in learning more about menu planning? Check out my post “Why Plan a Weekly Menu” .
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Together Counts. All thoughts and opinions are my own.