Kale and Roast Chicken Salad with Homemade Ranch
This protein-packed salad has been keeping my crazy hunger at bay! It's crunchy, has a little acidity, and is a great choice for either dinner or work lunches.
Hello, friends! It’s been a while. I’ve been a little busy. Our twin baby boys were born January 28, and our lives have changed quite a bit since that day! Being a family of four is definitely an adjustment, but it’s a good one. Dave and I have always loved a good project – and raising two boys at the same time is *definitely* a project.
This past week was my first week back at work. Dave has been back to work for a while now, and he let me know ahead of time that the fatigue of working *and* taking care of babies would hit me like a ton of bricks. And it does – a couple of times a day, in fact! Our kids are great sleepers – they wake up once during the night and usually go for 6+ hours at a time, which feels like magic after the every 2-3 hours during the first weeks of their lives. But still, this week I found myself going for that extra cup of coffee at 3 p.m., and being very ready for bed by 9 p.m.
That said, it’s great to be back at work. And I decided that it’s time to be back at the blog as well.
Dave and I split the housework and cooking – though I think Dave is taking on more than his fair share while I’m breastfeeding, and we’ve always taken a very laid back approach to cooking. But with both of us working, midweek trips to the grocery store seem like they will be pretty rough. So we decided to try a meal plan, with a single day on the weekend where we shop once at Fred Meyer and once at New Seasons.
I was a little worried about whether we’d like being on such a firm plan, because we enjoy getting inspired and being able to turn on a dime and make a new thing for dinner. But this week was great! It was so helpful to only shop once with so much else going on. We have the twins in cloth diapers, so that involves a lot of laundry that we need to do every two days or so, and then we have to pack them a full day’s worth to go to daycare, along with milk. And, we did make a couple of changes along the way to the menu, to make sure we used some leftovers from the weekend and didn’t make new food that we didn’t need. Here’s what our first week looked like (yes, I made a spreadsheet!):
We used a few freezer items that we made before the babies arrived, and a couple of favorites from cookbooks we own, Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem and Ivy Manning’s Instant Pot Miracle: 6 Ingredients or Less. Tuna melts are our official “backup” dinner – we always have tuna, cheese and bread on hand. The shredded beef tacos in the photo above are from Ivy’s Instant Pot book – they are a favorite of ours and they only get better after a few days in the fridge. As you can see, I have packed big, high protein snacks for mornings and afternoons at work – hashtag breastfeeding twins. It ain’t gonna happen with a normal amount of calories. I basically eat like Michael Phelps right now.
The two major changes we made were eating leftovers on Monday night instead of a frozen pizza, and more leftovers instead of the tuna melts on Thursday night, because we still had some hanging out. Not wasting food and saving money is another big part of this effort 🙂 Our roast chicken from Sunday night also provided more meals than we expected.
So, this is what I’ve come up with for next week. Dave made muffins this morning and we’ll be eating those for the first several days. After they are gone, we’ll switch to toast or breakfast tacos. For lunch, we’ll use our freezer stash for half the week and we’ll meal prep a noodle bowl with chicken for two days of the week. Today we’ll prep all the components for a cobb salad, use some freezer bounty on tuesday, and Instant pot some taco mac from Ivy’s book on Wednesday (and eat it Thursday). If no social plans arise, we’ll thaw some salmon from the freezer and have it with pasta Friday – that one is a great backup since it’s 100% freezer and pantry items.
It’s only been a week, and I’m curious to see if we keep this up over the long term. The first week went well enough that I think we’ll definitely do it for the first several weeks back at work for me. We’ll see what the future holds. Do you meal plan? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks.