Monday, September 15, 2014

...Meal Plan Monday...Slow Cooker Cheesy Rice and Chicken

Okay.  Pretty random, right?  Here it is...September.  I haven't actively blogged since May.  May.  I have no words.

Well, not really.  I do have words.  I just haven't sat down to get them out.

I finally get a few extra minutes to sit and get the words out, and what do I write about?

My dinner.

My dinner?  Seriously?

Well, yes.  Write about what you know, they say.

So I will start with what I know best.


Sure.  I know a lot about a whole lot of other {seemingly unimportant} things, but I am going to start out with food.

My goal {and we all know how good I am at sticking to GOALS} is to meal plan each and every Monday.

Thus, the title of today's post...Meal Plan Monday.


So, I will go over my plan and what were hits and misses each and every week.

Hold back your excitement.

Of course, I will still get the words out about all sorts of love of all things Disney, Disney travel advice and announcements, Origami Owl doings, my struggles {with just about everything under the sun}, my triumphs, my family, my son, my work, and all of the other stuff that make up just another day in my little world.  I am also trying to use prompts when I am stuck, take more personal photos and be more ACCOUNTABLE for what is going on.

Without further is the first "Meal Plan Monday" post...

 So, I took two months off this summer.

I did not work the extended school year program in preschool.  I took the summer off.

I am an hourly employee of the school district, so this meant that I went two months off without pay.

I watched Little Man's best friend and best friend's little sister {have I mentioned them before?  I can't remember.  I will have to check} so I brought in a little bit of income while I took the summer off, but that income barely covered the extra money that I spent on groceries to feed two extra children, and the extra money that I spent to entertain two extra children.

I kept telling myself that I didn't do it for the money, because I really didn't.  I did it so Little Man would have a close friend to bond with over the summer.  All in all, the summer was a success...Little Man is still friends with his BFF...but that is for another post.  I am supposed to be writing about food.

Long story short, I had no idea how much of a difference my income made in the grand scheme of things...until I didn't have it.  We did okay for the summer, but things started to get tight right about back-to-school time {August 6th in these parts}  I traveled to Phoenix for the second Origami Owl "O2 Experience" {more on that in another post} and just the general expenses associated with BTS.  Supplies {oh, the supplies!} and Cub Scout fees and soccer fees and new clothes, and on and on and on...oh, and Big Daddy was out of work for two weeks early August.  He took some vacation/personal time from the district {we are both employed by the same school district} but he was completely out-of-commission from his part-time job.  I didn't realize just how much we relied on that little bit of money each week {more the consistency of a weekly check, as opposed to a twice-monthly check}

So, here it is September, and I feel like I am playing catch-up.  Not to worry, there is money in savings...the lights are on...the water is running...the fridge is full...

Kind of.

I realized that we are kind of food hoarders.  Like a full fridge and freezer of "nothing to eat".  So, while making a dollar stretch, I used what I had and made do.

I began to meal plan, and let me tell you.  It is kind of liberating.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate, hate, hate to cook.  Hate it.  I find no joy in cooking.  I do it because I have to.  I have to cook because I have to feed my son.  If it were just me, I would exist on chocolate Teddy Grahams and Diet Cherry Coke.

I know this, because when I lived on my own, this was exactly what I had on hand in my kitchen when I met Big Daddy.  I ate *one* McDonald's Cheeseburger (.89 Cast Member rate at the time) for dinner every night on my lunch break.  I slept through breakfast {I didn't get home until around 1am from work, since I worked until midnight} and grazed for lunch {hence, the Teddy Grahams}

Again, I digress.

Since I have been watching money, I didn't want to stop at a Drive-Thru when we didn't have to.  We managed to eat a lot of what we had on hand.  Since then, I find meal planning easy.

Heck, with Pinterest, it is even easier than easy {is there such a thing?}

So, I sat down on Thursday evening {since I try to shop on Friday when Big Daddy gets that part-time paycheck} and planned out meals for the week...I got a lot of inspiration from  I stumbled upon the site from Pinterest.  Here is what the week looked/looks like...

Friday - cheesy chicken pasta {frozen from a bag, that I had on hand}  We actually had Pizza Rolls.  I have no shame in admitting this.  I was tired, and we had soccer practice.  We were hungry, and they were quick.

Saturday - Slow Cooker Bean and Corn Chili.  I have all of the ingredients for this, but we had cheesy chicken pasta {see above} instead.  I was gone most of the day, and didn't get the Crock Pot ready.

Sunday - Slow Cooker Pizza Pasta.  We had spaghetti and meatballs, instead.

Monday - Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli.  We had Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Rice, instead {recipe to follow}

Tuesday - Slow Cooker Spaghetti Pie.

Wednesday - Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie.

Thursday - Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Rice.  I made this today.  Huge hit.

What meal planning has taught me is to be flexible.  As you can see, we might not eat what I planned on the night I planned it.  I have things like chicken tenders, spaghetti {and pizza rolls} on hand at all times.  Might not be the healthiest, most balanced meal...but sometimes, I just want quick.

It doesn't have to be perfect!!!

Today, I made a variation of Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Rice. I had all of the ingredients on hand {thanks to my meal planning, I had shopped for everything on Friday}.

I used...

four *frozen* boneless, skinless chicken breasts
one cup frozen, chopped onion {I HATE chopping/cutting/dealing with onions!}
one can cream of chicken soup
one box Zatarin's Yellow Rice mix {I had "Family Size" on NOT use one this big!}
about half a box of chicken broth
about three tablespoons *real* butter
one bag frozen broccoli florets
a whole buncha shredded cheddar {pretty exact there, right?}

My variation: I sprayed the bottom and sides of my Crock-Pot with cooking spray {HATE the stuff, but we had it on hand and I was in a hurry} and placed the chicken in, completely frozen.  I added the onion and spread the soup on top.  Here is where I deviated from the recipe as posted.  I poured the box of *dry* Zatarain's on top of the soup.  I added about half the box of broth after that.  I figured the moisture from the chicken, onion, soup and broth would keep the rice soft.  I added the butter for good measure.  The rice DID stay soft, but there was SO much of it {because it was a "Family Size" box}  Next time, I will stick with a regular size box.  I set the Crock-Pot on low for eight hours and let it be.

Well, I went to work so I had no choice but to let it be.

I set it at about 10 am, so it would be wrapped up at 6 pm, which was perfect because I am off work around that time.

Except for today.  Both of my kiddos {I work as an assistant for two special needs preschoolers} left before 4:30!  Unheard of!

We got home about 4:40, and I checked on the deliciousness {it smelled divine!}  All looked good, I gave it a little stir {mainly to moisten the excess rice} added the frozen broccoli and enough cheese to cover it all.  I put the lid back on, and let it cook, figuring it had about an hour and twenty minutes left.  I ended up letting it cook for about an hour.  I left the chicken whole, and served it in bowls.

I am NOT a photographer, so I am using the photo from  Gives you the idea.

photo source:

This made a LOT of food.  Little Man and I each had a nice sized bowl, with plenty left over for Big Daddy.  I will definitely add this to our regular rotation.  It is pinned on my "'s what's for dinner..." board on Pinterest.  It is little, but still growing!  Are you on Pinterest?  If so, give me a follow...almost 3,000 followers can't be wrong!

{I just *adore* Pinterest!}

Love to All.

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