Meal planning

Do you ever take the time to meal plan for your family? My husband and I find it to be beneficial when we are feeding more than just the two of us, we meal plan. When we are getting bored of the usual stuff, we meal plan. Now that my focus is to eat better, healthier foods, we meal plan. Part of eating healthier is eating with your eyes…..meaning to eat what is visually appealing. Most of the recipes we have picked are very visually appealing.

So we typically shop and therefore plan for a 2 week time frame. I will say that often when we plan on this magnitude, meals will last for longer than 2 weeks. Pretty much ever meal we make we have left overs and eat it at least twice, if not more, unless it is something we modify to accommodate just the two of us.

When we have the kids with us, we meal plan to the day, with flexibility as needed. When it is just the two of us, I usually just list our options and we go through them as we see fit. I do try to pay attention to what options need to be made sooner, rather than latter, due to ingredients that are perishable.

Here is our meal plan with recipes and comments. Please enjoy.

1st is a drink recipe that my husband found for me. I read so much about pineapple and it’s health benefits, however I have never been a fan of pineapple. My wonderful husband looked up this recipe and I have already tried a glass of it and I really like it a lot.

Skinny Sparkling Mint Pineapple Lemonade

When looking for the sparkling lime water, be careful, the bottles of flavor water sometimes have added ingredients that some avoid for health reasons. We ended up getting some cans of lime Perrier because it doesn’t contain additives or artificial sweeteners. For the lemonade we used Simply Lemonade, because it’s my favorite. If you are asking yourself what the benefits of pineapple juice are that made me want to find a way to drink it, here is a link with some

These 1st 2 meals are vegetarian. Having vegetarian options is important to me, because I feel like we depend too much on meat to eat sometimes, and I know my body likes the break from meat. Vegetarian meals are healthy, and also sometimes a struggle because my husband isn’t a big vegetable fan. Thankfully I have pinned several that he is willing to try.

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Flautas

Caprese Calzones

This next recipe is a favorite. I love chicken pot pie, and everyone who has tried this version loves it, too. We have decided that we like pie crust for the top instead of the puff pastry. Also, we have often done this and made 2 smaller dishes and put one in the freezer for later use.

Amazing Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

We tend to eat a lot of chicken. It is inexpensive and healthier. Some day we hope to raise our own chickens. This recipe is easy because we always have chicken on hand to cook and we have the ingredients because of other things we are making. That is the single smartest thing I can relay to anyone wanting to meal plan, seek recipes with similar ingredients to keep your grocery bill in check. I might add that I am excited to try this, too. (Instead of avocado, we will be using guacamole.)

Avocado Caprese Skillet Chicken

Simple Beef Stroganoff
Beef Stroganoff is a favorite of mine. I requested that we use cubed beef (stew meat) instead of hamburger, and I also love mushrooms (my husband doesn’t) so I grabbed some for this and for salads. We have tried several stroganoff recipes, I can’t recall my opinion on this on in particular.

This is an easy chicken recipe that everyone should try at least once. I bet you will love it, and so will your family. My husband LOVES pepper jack cheese, so since I am allowed creative differences in recipes, he is too. We use pepper jack slices in place of the Swiss.

SWISS CHEESE CHICKEN: A Must-Have Meal for Your Freezer & Food Storage!

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

I love Mexican City Tacos at our favorite restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa, Tequila Mexican Restaurant Facebook Page. And here on my favorite app for finding good food and coffee, Yelp….Tequila Mexican Restaurant on Yelp. Just a note on making these, I am not sure why or where my husband decided that we needed Beef Flank Steak or Carne Asada to make these. Where we shopped didn’t carry Carne Asada and Flank Steak is pricey. We did find some finely cubed steak, so that is what we picked up.
Authentic Mexican Steak Tacos

Tilapia is something we eat frequently. Fish contain good oils, and are healthier than meat. Salmon, Whiting, Shrimp, and sometimes Scallops help break up meat eating days along with our vegetarian nights. Finding new ways to cook a usual food is important to keep from burn out. That is what we are doing here, trying a new twist.
Panko Crusted Tilapia

Ginger Honey Garlic Chicken Tenders (hubby uses this recipe for pork chops, instead of chicken)

Pork Chops have a funny story in our house. Many years ago I mastered pork chops. What that means is that I cooked them perfect, juicy and never dry. That being the case, my nephew and niece love my pork chops, my daughters love them, my step children love them and so does my husband. It used to be the one thing my husband would concede the kitchen to me to make. Yes, my husband does the cooking in our home because he loves to cook and make good food for us and our family. I taught him how to make pork chops the way I do, and he does a really good job at them. This honey garlic recipe has become a favorite. It’s a nice change from just fried pork chops. Also, ginger has the benefit of helping ease pain from arthritis, so it’s great that it’s in this recipe.

My husband loves desserts. I enjoy them too, but could live without them most of the time. We agreed that this year we would not be so dependent on the box mix desserts and would focus on making more from scratch. This has resulted in several fruit cobblers, which are always enjoyable. There will be a peach cobbler made at some point.

Cherry Bread

My husband loves cherries, so when this came up in my Facebook feed I just knew he would want to make it. It is very good. He put the icing on when it was still too warm, so he ran off. I told him just to set the extra icing aside and use it on the pieces as we eat it.

Banana Bread Bottom Cheesecake

I LOVE banana bread. I make great banana bread. It is a family favorite and never last long once it is made. This recipe combines banana bread with another favorite of mine, cheesecake. I am really looking forward to trying this one. Here is a great tip when it comes to bananas for banana bread, invest in some freezer zip lock bags and when your bananas turn brown, peal them and put them in the freezer zip locks and put them in the freezer. Once you have enough to make banana bread, then thaw the bananas and use them and the juice from them in your recipe.

We also have Salted Caramel Brownies on the list.

The next two (likely 3) weeks we will be eating very well. In addition to these great recipes we will be enjoying loaded salads and other healthy snacks and meals. Thank you to all of the bloggers who have pinned these recipes and blogged them or shared them to Facebook. I hope that you enjoy and are inspired by our meal plan. I will gladly share my thoughts on menu items if anyone has any questions, comment here or hop on over to my Facebook page and comment. My Facebook Page

The Crab Shack Tybee Island

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The Crab Shack is where my husband and I went for dinner our first night on Tybee Island after spending some time sitting on the beach under the full moon and enjoying the ocean we headed to get some food. It was late at night so we got to experience the restaurant oasis in the most wonderful way. The outside is decorated with lights and it looked rather magical.
Mask Lights

There are some really neat creatures that hang around on the outside of the place. gator Big gator

And when the whole restaurant isn’t in use, they bring out some pirate gear for purchasing. pirate gear

There are two thrones for a pirate king and queen, I suppose. thrones

Since we were on vacation and celebrating our birthdays and anniversary, I opted for a strawberry daiquiri that tasted amazing and gave the option for having it in a keepsake glass to take with us. strawberry daiquiri

They feature their own sauces and the shrimp sauce is the BEST shrimp sauce I have ever tasted. Sauces

Speaking of shrimp, my husband seems to very much prefer breaded shrimp. He doesn’t usually like shrimp cooked any other way. We ordered some fresh boiled shrimp (we know right where it comes from) and some deviled crab. The shrimp still had the legs and shell on, and my husband had to ask how to take them off to eat it. I happily showed him and he caught on fast and we really enjoyed the shrimp so much that we ordered a second helping. Fresh shrimp is AMAZING and so worth going to the ocean to experience.
Deviled Crab and boiled shrimp Second helping of boiled shrimp

For dessert we shared this awesome piece of key lime pie. key lime pie

The inside of the place is decorated with lots of neat stuff on the walls, too.
Big Turtle Shell Big Lobster

Being their late at night, we received excellent service and our food was fast and delicious.

We checked out the birds they have that are located just behind the gift shop (that was unfortunately closed, but we went back the next day).
Bird bird 2 bird 3 And Yoda protects the birds Yoda

Right outside the bird building there is this neat little piece….20160916_222954

Also the little gators are harder to get photos of at night… gators at night

After visiting The Crab Shack at night, we just loved the place. We talked with a lady who was also staying at Tybee Island Inn Bed and Breakfat and she felt that it was a real touristy place and not that great. We did go back the next day for lunch and experiencing it in the light of day definitely does give the more touristy place vibe. And the food and service wasn’t as good as the night before.
seafood loaded nachos shrimp po boy

I didn’t care for my shrimp po’ boy and my husband’s nachos were just okay. The inside is interesting. Lots to see. Inside scenery

The gators are a lot easier to see during the daytime. You can purchase stuff and feed them with little fishing poles if you like. Lots of people seem to enjoy doing this.
gators more gators

The place doesn’t have the same magical feel during the day. daytime outside daytime outside

All in all, it is a very neat place. I recommend going when they aren’t busy to get the best service. Seeing it after dark when it’s all lit up is a must. And the boiled shrimp is wonderful.

Our Marietta Diner experience

13620387_10208575548119238_7078179393967254984_nFor Starters You get complimentary bread and spinach pie.


13620914_10208575549719278_7854240500642679876_n  Food Network’s Guy Fieri likes the place.

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My husband got the seafood bisque that is only available on the weekend and is so very worth it, and a salad. I got a Greek chicken soup and a Greek salad.


13606585_10208575551599325_6751592283655684051_n     Seafood Lovers treat that I enjoyed so very much. 13645153_10208575551319318_8723187020441516542_n Salmon Monte Carlo is what my husband enjoyed.

With all the food consumed while there we got dessert to go. I got the napoleon to compare to my former boss’s yummy dessert. 13669745_10208575560119538_3124623285817867899_n13659024_10208575559279517_3024159012061959304_n

My husband got the key lime pie. It was a huge piece of pie.


If you would like more information about the Marietta Dinner, you can find it here at their website

Okay, here is my actual review: The restaurant was rather busy, even later in the evening on a Friday. Although there were a lot of people waiting, their turn over is fairly quick, and we only had to wait about 15 minutes to get a table. In the heat of July, most restaurants are freezing cold from the AC blasting, not this one. In fact, it was a little warm in there, probably due to the amount of people they can get in the place. It is a very large restaurant with lots of seating, that was consistently filled while we were there. Our waiters name was Jordan, and he was a very nice and helpful young man and rather attentive, other than the 10 minutes that he seemed to be nowhere around, I don’t know what the story was with that.

The complementary spinach pie was barely warm, and not all that tasty. The bread was warm and yummy. Dinners come with both soup and salad. The seafood bisque that my husband got was very yummy. So worth the weekend crowd for this alone. My seafood lovers treat was fantastic. The scallops were cooked perfectly, moist and not dry at all. The whole thing was a 10. My husband got stuffed salmon, which he enjoyed. The amount of food you get is crazy. I highly suggest that unless you have a bottomless stomach, when you go plan to share a meal, instead of getting individual ones. This will save room for dessert and save you some on the bill.

We got dessert to go, to enjoy at a later time. I got a Napoleon, because I hadn’t had one in forever and wanted to compare it to the best I have ever enjoyed. Sorry to say that Marietta’s Napoleon couldn’t hold a candle to my former boss’s masterpiece. The key lime pie was a huge piece and very good. Thankfully my husband shared with me.

Over all, the Marietta Diner was a great experience. It’s not somewhere we will go to often. You get a ton of food and good service. Splitting a meal would be a great idea and save on the check. I will say that although it’s on the higher end for price, they definitely deliver more than any other high end place I have ever eaten. Their menu is huge, I have no idea how they pull off such great food with so much variety in what they cook. My husband and I are fans of chief Ramsay, and both commented that he would think their menu has way too many options. All in all, I would recommend going and experiencing this diner, it’s menu claims it is ranked #1 in Georgia and #3 in the country, and it just may be that good.


Hard Rock Cafe, Atlanta, Georgia

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to visit a Hard Rock Cafe. I don’t recall when, where, how or why this desire started for me, it just has been with me for as long as I can recall. Our recent trip to Atlanta, Georgia provided me with the opportunity to fulfill that desire. Let me first say that parking cost a lot in downtown Atlanta. We parked a few blocks away and walked to the restaurant, ate our lunch and then walked back to the car. We paid $10 for the time we were in the parking garage, which amounted to a little over an hour. I strongly recommend doing some research about parking, or using the MARTA to get to where you want to go.

Elvis’s jacket and Harley

About Elvis

Elvis on his motorcycle

Elvis’s baby blue Harley

Elvis gun

Elvis boxing


John Lennon

Hard Rock Cafe is all about the atmosphere, and it is very neat to be surrounded by all of the Rock & Roll memorabilia. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am an Elvis Presley fan, which explains all of my Elvis memorabilia pictures. I have a friend who is a big Beatles fan, so I snapped a few pics for her enjoyment. We skipped the gift store, although it looked like they have a lot of neat stuff to offer.

International burgers menu

part of menu

dessert menu

In my opinion the food is a little on the pricey side, at $15+ for a burger and fries. They were featuring their world tour burgers when we visited, so I enjoyed an English Breakfast burger.

English Breakfast burger

My husband enjoyed the Legend burger.

Legend burger

The up sell of the specialty fries was worth it. All in all, the food was rather good–although there was some of the white of my egg that I scrapped off because it wasn’t all the way cooked. We could have gotten away with ordering one burger and fries and splitting it and it would have been enough food for the both of us. They have a rather impressive dessert menu, too, which we decided to pass on.

The check topped out at just over $40. I recognize that in a Hard Rock Cafe you are paying also for the novelty. It is not somewhere that we will visit again, just the two of us. But if we have friends or family in town who want to visit, we will go back with them. Now I can check it off of my list, and note that it wasn’t as impressive as I had long hoped.

Huey Luey’s Mexican Restaurant and Margarita Bar

Huey Luey’s is a Mexican restaurant and margarita bar. They serve a wonderful and full Tex-Mex menu. They have several margaritas that are $5 daily. We don’t drink very often, so we skipped the margaritas, but if we were in the mood for one, this would be a great deal. There are several flavors to chose from.

Keep them on your list of places to visit for your birthday, because on your birthday you eat for free. They also have a VIP club that you can join to have savings text to your cell phone. We ended up visiting on a Tuesday, so we took advantage of the Taco Tuesday special of $2 tacos.

Our meal started with the usual tortilla chips and salsa. The chips were light and wonderful and the salsa had the right amount of spice to it, for which I was thankful, as my allergies had my sinuses a mess. We added the jalapeno ques o dip and it was very good, too.

I enjoyed the following tacos: carnitas, shrimp, steak & grilled chicken. The carnitas was good, the grilled shrimp was wonderful and the chicken and steak could have used a little something extra with them….some of the table side guacamole that was recommend (but read too late) would have been wonderful to go with them.

My husband ordered a shrimp, 2 beef & a streetcar brisket. His order was a little mixed up, as they only brought him one beef, but the young man who brought his food quickly corrected it and brought him a beef taco. It wasn’t until eating left overs that he realized his order also included a chicken taco, which he didn’t order….but I enjoyed it.

The atmosphere was very nice. I really liked their lighting. The lanterns all over are a really nice touch. Our waitress was Buffie and was just as sweet as can be. 🙂

For dessert they have a pretty good offering. Although the brownie in a skillet would be my usual choice, we decided to try something different and went with the chocolate chimichanga. It was a little tough to cut, but was worth the trouble. It was very good. We split it and we both like it.

Our total was $31.13, which was very affordable. We will definitely be returning and look forward to trying some of the other things on their menu.

They have locations in Hiram and Acworth.

This Is It! BBQ & Seafood, East Point, Atlanta Georgia

Our first full day in Atlanta was Monday. We visited the warehouse and met the people that my husband will be working with. We spent some time looking at places. At the end of the day were were slightly discouraged. We did see a place that we really liked, but the landlord wouldn’t even consider pets. And if my dog isn’t welcome, then neither am I. After our day we didn’t really feel like driving very far, if at all, but we wanted to experience some Atlanta food. We were fortunate that there was a restaurant that filled our requirements that was just a short walk from our hotel.

This Is It! BBQ & Seafood was an interesting experience. Our first impression was that it was a buffet type of restaurant, as that is how it appears to be set up. And it kind of is. You go to the counter and order your food as you walk along the line, but they make your main course fresh and then assemble your plate and bring it to you. We were a little skeptical. It seemed a little pricey for what you were getting….and then there was a lady complaining when we got to the register to pay. We paid, took our number and found a table and sat down.

Our waitress brought our drinks and any condiments we needed and we waited. It seemed like we waited a long while, although it was no more than 15 minutes. When they brought our food, we became impressed. I ordered the 2 whole catfish meal with sweet potato souffle and green beans & delicious cornbread. My husband ordered the white fish and shrimp meal with baked beans and coleslaw. My first reacting was that they weren’t messing around, it really was whole catfish on my plate. And it was so moist and delicious. As you can see by the pictures, we ate it all–emptied our plates. And you get a lot of food. Our first impression was blown away. Our taste buds were awed and our tummies were very happy happy. The food was wonderful and we will visit them again.

So if you are in the area and looking for some good soul food, my husband and I both will recommend that you try This Is It!

Thumbs Up Diner in College Park, GA

Thumbs Up Diner College Park, Georgia

Thumbs Up menu

We started our Georgia food experience at Thumbs Up Diner in College Park, Georgia. It was recommended multiple times when searching for good eats in the Atlanta area. It was as advertised, great food.

The inside of the diner has a great feel to it. Brick walls, seating at the bar area and on either side. Great blues/jazz music playing to complete the feel. They only take cash, but provide an ATM inside for card holders to access cash, with a $2.00 fee. The wait staff was nice and provided our first look of shock and awe about us being from Iowa.

I ordered the Yukon Omelette, which had salmon, spinach and cream cheese inside. I opted for their fresh made multi-grain biscuit, which was a wonderful choice. It was nice and dense feeling yet had light and fluffy texture and was very yummy with their homemade peach jam on top. (When in the peach state, one must eat the peaches.) Coupled with a small glass of apple juice. The whole meal was wonderful. Not a bite left on my plate when finished.

My husband ordered the Denver Omelette with toast and enjoyed their homemade blackberry jam with it and a glass of O.J. The blackberry jam was good, too.

My husband stuck his head in the kitchen to let the cooks know that our food was wonderful.

This is a place that I am certain we will visit again. If you are in the Atlanta area, especially if close to the airport, you really should stop in to Thumbs Up Diner and enjoy some good food in a great atmosphere.

Thumbs Up Diner