Category Archives: Meal Planning


Chore Charts/Menu Planning Take Two

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Gretchen's Menu Planning

Entrust your efforts to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3 (GW)

By: Gretchen Speer

Is it just me or is time FLYING by these days!  We moved into a new house last fall.  (For a funny little story about settling in click here🙂 )  While I have had time to get us unpacked and somewhat settled, we are still a little out of whack where our routines are concerned.  After months of chasing my tail trying to keep our house clean it finally dawned on me that I had not done new chore charts for the kids since the summer.  I knew I wanted to try something a little different that I had done before, and after looking through my office this is what I came up with:

182Frames I found on clearance at hobby lobby for $2.99 a piece, card stock, stickers from the dollar isle at target, dry erase markers, and of course, a sharpie.

These came together in just a few minutes since I knew what chores I wanted each kid to have.  For some ideas on what chores work best for what aged, and how to implement them here is my chore charts post from last year.






Since I had four of these frames I decided to make a menu board too.(Eventually my littlest will need one, but not yet!)  My kids, and my husband,  are always asking me what’s for supper.  It drives me a little bit crazy, so I was hoping this would remedy that.  For the most part they refer to the menu board now, and if they ask me I just point to it:)  I still like to plan my menus two weeks to a month at a time, but I do like having this weekly one up to remind me daily what I’m fixing.

180For some more detailed help on menu planning and grocery shopping, click here.  For a more in-depth menu planner click here.

If you are wanting a quick easy chore chart and menu board these are definitely worth a try.  My kids have done really well with them.  Actually, they have done better with these than they did with the ones I was making before.  I think simple is better for now. 🙂


Leftovers Don’t Have to Be Boring: Part 2 (Chicken)

“She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.”  ESV Proverbs 31:15

By: Jennifer Mullen

Continued from Part 1

This post is not as extensive as part one, but I want to show you how you use leftover chicken in a couple different way.  Disclaimer: in our home, we could eat Mexican dishes every meal.  These two meals and snack may not seem different to you, but they are different enough to us that it is not boring.

To make the seasoned chicken you will need:

  • 2 chicken breast
  • 1 can of chicken broth
  • 1 packet of McCormick chicken taco seasoning

Combine the three ingredients in a crock pot and cook for 6-8 hours on low.  Shred the chicken one hour before it is done so that it can fully soak in the flavors and juices. (I plan on using this as a base to make a chicken soup someday when I figure out what I want to do.)

Here is what we can do with two chicken breast:

Monday Night- Chicken Tacos:

  • shredded chicken
  • taco shells (We use Mission Blue Corn and Flax Seed soft taco shells)
  • toppings (cheese, salsa, lettuce, black beans, etc.)

When I was in weight loss mode, we would have these once a week. With very little cheese and sour cream, the calorie count is 200 calories per taco.

Also, my kids don’t like chicken so we open a can of re-fried beans and make them bean burritos.

Midnight Snack of Chicken Nachos:

My husband plays basketball one evening a week with some of the guys from church.  When he gets home, he enjoys a plate of nachos with some of the leftover chicken and re-fried beans.



Tuesday Night- Chicken Enchilada Pie:

  • shredded chicken
  • cheese
  • soft tortillas (We use Great Value flour tortillas)
  • Kraft Philadelphia Cooking Cream- Santa Fe Blend
  • 1 can of drained and rinsed black beans
Combine the cooking creme and chicken.  Coat pie pan with cooking spray. Layer starting with the tortillas, then chicken mixture, black beans, and cheese. Top with a tortilla, some cooking creme, and cheese.  Cover with foil.  Cook at 350 degrees until warm and bubbly.  Remove the foil for the last five minutes of cooking.

I put this together while cleaning up on chicken taco night.  I can pop it in the oven for a quick dinner the next night, or I can freeze it for later.

Again, because my kids don’t eat chicken I saved back some of the black beans and served cheese quesadillas with a side of beans and rice to them.


Also see: Leftovers Don’t Have to Be Boring: Part 1 (Beef Dishes)

Related Mosaic of Moms Articles: To see Gretchen’s three-part series on meal planning complete with helpful tips, grocery lists, and menu templates, start here.

Leftovers Don’t Have To Be Boring: Part 1(Beef Dishes)

“She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.”  ESV Proverbs 31:15

By: Jennifer Mullen

Today I am going to share with you how I repurpose leftovers to make completely different meals.  I will focus on beef options in this post, and on Friday I will focus on chicken.

This was my menu for the fourth week in October:

I prepared my lettuce and veggies on Sunday night so that we could have a salad as a side for any meal we wished and have lettuce for our burgers.  Also, I went ahead and washed my fresh fruit so that it was ready for meal time as well.  Most of these meals can be prepared ahead of time to help with the evening stress load.

Monday: Pasta Bake

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 can of pasta sauce
  • pasta
  • mozzarella cheese
  • pepperoni


Brown the ground beef.  Add sauce.  Cook pasta until al dente and drain.  Combine pasta and meat sauce.  Top with pepperoni and cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is bubbly.  (I put it together during nap time and then pop it in the oven 30 minutes before dinner time.  This allows more family time in the evening instead of being stuck in the kitchen.) Usually enough for our family of four to have leftovers for the kids the next day.

Tuesday: Pot Roast and Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 pounds of chuck roast
  • 1 packet of dry onion soup mix
  • 1 can of beef broth

In a crock pot place your roast then pour the soup mix on top.  Then add beef broth and water until the roast is covered.  Cook on low for 6-8 hrs.

Because cooking is not my thing, I normally have my husband pick up mashed potatoes from KFC on his way home from work, but I had potatoes left from the potato soup I made the week before. Plus I thought I better put my potato masher that I bought to make applesauce to good use! (See the post on applesauce here.) We had a can of veggies and salad as sides.

Wednesday: BBQ Sandwiches

  • leftover roast beef shredded
  • great value BBQ sauce
  • hamburger buns

Combine the leftover roast beef and BBQ sauce in an oven-safe bowl.  I do this the night before as I am cleaning the kitchen after eating the pot roast.  That way I can pop it in the oven just before dinner. Works great for busy nights with lots of activities. Cook at 350 degrees until warm.  Serve on hamburger buns. Add fresh veggies and fruit or a can of baked beans.

*For another idea for a recipe using pot roast, see Gretchen’s recipe for Italian Au Jus Sandwiches.

Thursday: Grilled Hamburgers

Simply grill four hamburger patties and serve on the leftover buns from the BBQ sandwiches.  Add chips, fresh veggies, and fruit.

Because we have two kids under five years, the kids spilt a burger.  That leaves one patty to be used as the hamburger on the pizza for Friday night.

*If you would rather have turkey burgers, click here to see Gretchen’s recipe.

Friday: Homemade Pizza

  • pizza dough of your choice
  • cheese (leftover from Monday)
  • pepperoni (leftover from Monday)
  • hamburger (leftover from Thursday)
  • can of pizza sauce (If I were a little more organized I would have used the same sauce as Monday.)

The kids loved building the pizza.  We enjoyed it during our family movie night.  We added canned peaches and fresh baby carrots (and some chocolate!).

For this week-long worth of recipes, you will need the follow:

  • 2 pounds of hamburger meat
  • 1 chuck roast
  • 1 package of pepperoni
  • onion soup mix
  • 1 can of beef broth
  • shredded mozzarella
  • hamburger buns
  • pasta
  • potatoes (milk and butter too)
  • pizza crust
  • pizza sauce
  • pasta sauce
  • fresh fruit and veggies

A little planning can help keep your meals interesting and keep leftovers from going to waste.  This will also help your grocery budget!  Check back on Friday to see my chicken ideas.

Related Mosaic of Moms Articles: To see Gretchen’s three part series on meal planning complete with helpful tips, grocery lists, and menu templates, start here.



Lazy Lasagna

 I’ll refresh tired bodies; I’ll restore tired souls.  Jeremiah 31:25 (The Message)

By: Gretchen Speer

A few years ago a friend of mine shared this recipe in our MOPS newsletter.  I was really excited to try it because we love lasagna, but I was all for an easier version!  This recipe is perfect for those days where you’re gone all day swimming, and want to come home to a meal that is already prepared.  Pull some pre-made garlic bread out of the freezer and you are all set!  I like using my crockpot more in the summer because it keeps me from having to turn the stove on-which causes our air conditioner to work even harder.

In my menu planning post we talked about cooking up extra ground beef to pull out of the freezer for later.  Having some already cooked ground beef in the freezer is about the only thing that could make this recipe even easier!

Doesn’t look fancy, but it tastes great!









Lazy Lasagna-in your crockpot!

Makes 8-10 servings


1lb. Ground Beef

12 0z. Pkg egg noodles

32 oz. Jar spagetti sauce

8 oz. mozzarella cheese-shredded

16 0z. cottage cheese


1. Brown beef and drain grease

2. Cook noodles according to package directions

3. Stir spagetti sauce into ground beef

4. Layer one-third of the sauce/beef mixture into the bottome of slow cooker  Top with half the noodles, followed by half the cottage cheese and half the mozzarella.

5. Layer in half the remaining sauce followed by all the remaining noodles and cheeses.  Top with rest of sauce.

6. Cover and cook on low 3-4 hours.

Make it Healthier Options:

  • Use whole wheat penne intead of the egg noodles.
  • Use reduced fat or 2% mozzerella cheese.
  • Use 93/7 beef or ground turkey instead of the beef.
  • Use low fat cottage cheese.
  • Instead of using pre made garlic bread, make your own(see recipe below).


Healthier Home Made Garlic Bread

Here’s what you need.









Whole wheat hot dog buns

1 tsp.Italian seasoning

1 tsp. Garlic powder

1 TBS. Parmesean cheese

1/4 cup olive oil


1.Preheat oven to 400

2.Open hotdog buns and lay them on the baking sheet with the inside facing up.

3.In a small bowl mix the olive oil, italian seasoning, garlic powder, and parmesean cheese.

4. Brush onto buns.                                     

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Plate it up!




Grocery Shopping

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Gretchen's Menu Planning

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways.  You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.”   Psalms 128:1-2

By: Gretchen Speer

I hate getting home from the store only to realize that I have forgotten to get something-especially if it’s something we are going to need the next day.  This has happened to me enough that I now take my grocery list very seriously.  I am posting my personal list from excel today.  I do all my shopping at two stores, but if you have more than a couple of stores you shop at consider making a list for each store.   My personal list is designed around how I walk through the store’s, I’m all about efficiency!

6 Tips for Grocery List Success:

1) Go through your menu and count how much you need of each item.  I usually start with meat, then produce, and then side items.  (Example: 9lbs ground beef, 2 bags chicken breasts, 2lbs ground turkey, 2 zucchini, 2 squash, 2 red onion…..)

2) Check the Pantry.  Don’t leave something off of the list because you are pretty sure you have it.  Find it and make sure you have enough for the recipe.  I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to grab the bread crumbs, just to find that the container is almost empty.

3) Check your calendar.  Look to see if it’s your kids turn to bring snacks to school, or if you have signed up to bring snacks to bible study.  Were you planning to host a playdate or take a neighbor a special snack?  Spare yourself an extra trip to the store and put those items down on your list now.

4) Double check.  I don’t suggest doing this at the last-minute, because you want to really be able to take a minute and make sure you have considered everything.  Remember the point of this whole process is to save you time and money, but it won’t work unless you really make sure that everything you need is on your list.  This would also be the time to look through your coupons and pick only the ones you need for your list.(well, and maybe that coupon for the dove chocolates, you might need that one..)

5) Stick to the List.  I am tempted all the time to change my menu once I get to the store, but any time I’ve done that I will end up short of something I need.  Also, in the interest of saving money, stick to what you have put on your list.  Remember, you have already carefully considered what you need on this trip.

6) Have a quick list.  For quick trips to the store in-between your big shopping trips you might want to create a must haves list, and keep it in your purse.  This is a list of things that your family uses everyday and running out can send you running to the store.  Even if I’m just going to pick up a prescription, I still grab most of these items while I’m there.  I never waste a trip to the store!  Here is our family’s must haves:

Skim Milk, Apple Juice, whole wheat bread, cottage cheese, eggs,waffles, fresh produce, diapers,  and wipes

I hope all this has been helpful.  The important thing is to do what works for your family.  Whatever that is, a little bit of organization goes a long way!

Gretchen’s Grocery List- PDF

Gretchen’s Grocery List- Excel

Related Articles:  A Little Bit Goes A Long Way and Gretchen’s Menus