Healthy Cooking and Meal Planning

If you know me, you know I’m not the meal planning type of girl. That was until my new hubby asked if I could put together a shopping list for a week of dinners. I had no idea what to put on it. I usually just went shopping whenever I needed something, but since most of my staple food was either left in Colorado with family or the non-perishables were still buried in boxes, I had to come up with a plan (and buy a bunch of stuff that you probably already have in your kitchen).

I was thrilled when this plan ended up being 5 nights’ worth of dinners for a family of four under $100! Since we have a bad habit of going out to eat, the thought of making a meal for under $20 for all four of us (when even the cheapest restaurant will run at least $40) was thrilling!

And the best part… they’re all relatively HEALTHY meals! WOO HOO!

So here it is…

Shopping List:

  • Whole Wheat Linguini
  • Whole Wheat Rotini
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • Black Olives
  • Large Can Stewed Tomatoes
  • Small Can Black Beans
  • Small Can Pinto Beans
  • Small Can Kidney Beans
  • 2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 4 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • 10 1/2 Ounce Can Low Sodium Beef Broth
  • 19 Ounce Can Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 4-6 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 8 Onions
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • 1 Jalepeno
  • 3 Muli-Colored Bell Peppers
  • 2 Large Sprigs Basil
  • Green Onions
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Packet Low Sodium Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Packet Dry Onion Soup
  • 2 Packets of Chili Seasoning
  • Oregano Leaves (Dried)
  • Bay Leaves
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Onion Powder
  • Baking Powder
  • Flour
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Colby Jack Cheese
  • Provolone Cheese
  • 3 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 3-4 Pound Eye of Round Roast
  • 1 Whole Chicken (or some frozen chicken breasts)
  • 1 Beer
  • Hoagie Rolls


One-Pot Tomato Basil Pasta

Tomato Basil Pasta

(Courtesy of MyFridgeFood)

  • 12 Ounces Linguini Pasta (Whole wheat to make it fit my diet)
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes with Liquid
  • 1 Large Onion, cut in julienne strips
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano Leaves
  • 2 Large Sprigs Basil, chopped
  • 4 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese for garnish


Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, in a large stock pot. Pour in vegetable broth. Sprinkle on top the pepper flakes and oregano. Drizzle top with oil.

Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated – I left about an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot – but you can reduce as desired .

Season to taste with salt and pepper , stirring pasta several times to distribute the liquid in the bottom of the pot. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese.

French Dip

French Dip

(Courtesy of The Redhead Baker)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3- to 4-lb eye of round roast
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 Medium onions, cut into ½-inch thick rings
  • 1 packet dry onion soup mix
  • 1 (10 ½-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 (12-ounce) beer
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 12 French rolls
  • 12 medium slices provolone (mild or sharp)


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season both sides of the roast with salt and pepper. Sear the roast in the pan, about three minutes per side.

Lay half the onion rings in the bottom of the 5 quart slow cooker. Place the seared roast on top of the onion rings. Sprinkle the contents of the dry onion soup packet on top of the roast then layer on the rest of the onion rings.

Pour the beef broth and the beer over the roast. Cook on low heat for 6 hours. Shred the meat with two forks.

Preheat the broiler. Split the rolls and brush each side with melted butter. Place them buttered-side up on a baking sheet. Broil until golden and crusty, about 3 minutes.

Place a slice of provolone on each roll, then top with the shredded beef and onions. Serve with some of the cooking broth in a small dish for dipping.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

(Courtesy of Rebekah’s EaTs & TrEaTs)

Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 Whole Chicken – Neck, gizzards, and livers removed. (Or I just use chicken breasts)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Long Celery Stocks – Chopped Fine
  • 5 Thin Carrots – Peeled and Sliced
  • 4 Tbl. Dry Chicken Flavored Vegetable Base.(canned Chicken broth will work as well)
  • 1 Tsp Onion Powder

Homemade Noodle Ingredients:

  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour (You may use more or less than this depending on the size of your eggs – Your dough should be stiff enough to roll out!)
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions for Soup:

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and let simmer for several hours until the chicken is falling off the bones. Remove chicken and continue to cook broth and carrots. (You will need this to be boiling to drop your egg noodles into.) At this time you may need to add more water with base, or broth. De-bone chicken and add back to pot.. be very careful…VERY HOT! Replace lid and let it boil for a few minutes. Prepare and cut egg noodles from recipe below and drop into the boiling pot. Don’t worry if they sink they will float in a minute. Stir after dropping every few handfuls in. Cover and let cook for another 20 or so.

Directions for Noodles:

Roll out on floured board – making sure to flour both sides to prevent sicking. Roll up loosely! Cut in 1/4 inch pieces and add to boiling soup. Cook at least 20 min in a boiling broth to insure proper cooking.

Enchilada Pasta

Enchilada Pasta

(Courtesy of Number Two Pencil)

  • 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of a small onion, diced
  • 1.25 pounds of taco seasoned ground turkey meat or 1.25 pounds of lean ground beef and packet of low-sodium taco seasoning
  • 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 19oz can of red enchilada sauce
  • 8oz (about 2 1/2 cups) of dried rotini pasta
  • 2 cups of freshly shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • Green Onions
  • Black Olives


  1. In a large skillet or sauté pan, sauté garlic and onions in olive oil over medium low heat until softened.
  2. Add ground turkey meat and cook, breaking meat up with a wooden spoon until browned.
  3. Once turkey meat is cooked through, add pasta, chicken broth and enchilada sauce to pan.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduced heat to low and cover.
  5. Cook on low, with pan covered for about 15 minutes.
  6. Then remove lid and let simmer for additional 5 minutes until pasta is tender and sauce has reduced.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of cheese.
  8. Top pasta with additional cup of cheese and melt under broiler for a minute or tow, or place lid back on pan and let heat from the pasta melt the cheese.
  9. Garnish with black olives and green onions.


(Courtesy of Crystal Ferry – Me!)

  • Large Can Stewed Tomatoes
  • Small Can Black Beans
  • Small Can Pinto Beans
  • Small Can Kidney Beans
  • 1-2 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 1-2 Packets of Chili Seasoning (one for each pound of beef)
  • 1 Jalepeno
  • 3 Bell Peppers
  • 1 Onion


Chop the onion, bell peppers, and jalepeno (more seeds = greater heat) and sauté them in a pan of olive oil. Brown the meat and add chili seasoning. Add the meat, veggies, and cans of tomatoes and beans to a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours. This can also be cooked on higher heat in either a slow cooker or a pan on the stove for 1-2 hours.


I hope you will find these recipes enjoyable, healthy, easy to make, and budget friendly!

~ Thankfully Exhausted

All Access Accountability

Alarm Clock

Today I begin a journey of 60 days of full and utter accountability. My life will be an open book where I will showcase my struggles and achievements; and through the help of the products I so heartily endorse I hope there are more achievements than struggles.

The past two months of my life have been a whirlwind of awesomeness. McDreamy and I reunited after my 109 steps to get over him obviously failed. We eloped and are now living in Iowa, the land of corn.

ElopedI miss my Colorado for a variety of reasons, but we are enjoying this new adventure in our lives… well, most of it. The one place that hasn’t enjoyed it is my weight. I’ve heard of baby weight, the freshmen 15, menopausal weight gain, and many others, but I had never heard of marriage weight. Seriously, I had no idea that going from being a single mom to a happily married woman would wreak so much havoc on my steadily slimming body. Now, several pounds heavier than I was just a short month ago, I am jumping in with both feet, full submersion, as I reverse this crazy cycle.

Now, I want to ask you a favor: Can you please help keep me accountable? I am going to be posting regularly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and occasional blog posts about my journey. If you have a moment, can you visit one of these outlets and if you see I haven’t posted something by noon on any given day, will you call me out on it? Or if you see something you think I’m doing well, will you tell me so?

My Motivation: 

  1. We have a vacation coming up in November to a swimsuit-wearing place. ‘Nuff said.
  2. I have signed up to be in a PiYo Commercial which requires me to complete the PiYo Program in 60 Days. Since I’m starting today, August 11, 2014, I will be finished with my program on October 9, 2014 just before the deadline for the “after” pictures!
  3. I am actively trying to build my Beachbody business and I want people to be able to get to know me so they feel more comfortable having me as a coach, joining my team, and participating in my challenges.
  4. I want to inspire others to change their lives. Whether this be through one of the programs I sell, one of the challenge groups I manage or through another avenue, I want others to be inspired.
  5. I want to help end the trend of obesity and help people to achieve their goals and enjoy a healthy fulfilling life.

My Plan:

  1. PiYo – I will be focusing primarily on PiYo for my workouts.
  2. 21 Day Fix eating plan – PiYo and 21 Day Fix have very similar eating plans (almost exact) and since I’m so familiar and happy with the 21 Day Fix eating plan, I’m going to be using those cute colorful containers!
  3. Shakeology – a non-negotiable for me. Absolutely necessary for my overall health and weight loss goals.

My Goals:

  1. To be comfortable wearing a swimming suit on our vacation.
  2. To be consistent at least 90% of the time.
  3. To have a visibly dramatic change in my before and after pictures.
  4. To grow my business by 45% in 60 days.
  5. To lose at least 30 pounds.

Thank you all for helping me to stay accountable. I will absolutely need your encouragement throughout this process!

~ Thankfully Exhausted