Meal Planning in the Real World

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What a surprise to wake up this morning and find that I got a mention on the latest episode of the Catholic Momcast! Thanks, Danielle and Allison!

If you’re visiting from there and are looking for the recipes, you’ll find them at my cooking website, CookAndCount.

My recipes are not “just for diabetics” but I include nutrition information with each one, so that families like mine who have someone with special nutritional needs can find out what they need to know before they cook. These are simply recipes that my family enjoys. I hope you find some new favorites among them.

Here’s a little info on how I do meal planning:

I divide a sheet of paper or page in my planner into 3 columns: type of recipe (easy, meatless, takes all day) / name of recipe (and source, if it’s not mine) / groceries needed.

Then I go through my recipes and sometimes take a peek into the recipes I’ve recently printed out from other websites (I have a whole crate of these, with folders … I may have a problem).

I ask family members if they have any requests.

Then I fill in the “name of recipe” column with the meals I want to make for the next week or two. (Sometimes I get really organized and go for a whole month, but it’s been a while.)

I categorize the recipes, so I know what I have to work from – that makes it easy to choose in the morning (or the night before) based on what the day is going to bring. If I have 3 meetings for work, I’m not going to be picking a labor-intensive “takes all day” recipe. That’s when I want to go for something quick and easy, which gets its own category on my recipe site!

Finally, I look at each recipe and take note of any ingredients I’ll need in order to make those. That becomes my shopping list.

Minus the description column, here’s my menu plan from earlier this year.

Thanks for visiting – let me know which recipes you plan to try!

Peace and all good,


Copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz

#SmallSuccess: On the Menu

Thursdays at begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

T.S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruellest month.” But T.S. Eliot was never a soccer mom whose Kid was also involved in community theatre–during soccer season.

I’m doing more driving now, just for one child, than I did when I had 3 kids without drivers’ licenses at home.

I saw October coming and it wasn’t going to be pretty. It was, however, going to be predictable. I had schedules for rehearsals, performances, soccer practices and games, a whole month in advance.

So I did something I haven’t done in quite a while–not since TheKid was involved in his first community theatre productions, way back in 4th grade. I made a meal plan for a whole month. Christine does this all the time, and it was her mention of it that made me realize that this was something I needed to do.

A previous year's meal plan calendar on my trusty clipboard.
A previous year’s meal plan calendar on my trusty clipboard.

I use pencil for a reason, because things DO happen. I filled in (in pen) the commitments on the calendar so I’d know when it wouldn’t be a good idea to make a new recipe that requires several hours of simmering. Then I got busy filling in the blanks with the dinner plan.

not so spicy peanut chicken

I hung up the menu on the inside of one of my kitchen-cabinet doors. I check it in the morning to find out what to defrost. I tried to put items that use similar ingredients together–so the stir-fry that contains red bell peppers was planned in the same week as the sausage-and-pepper sandwiches. This way, nothing would be wasted.

We’re only 2 weeks into the month, but that plan has saved my bacon. It’s been one less thing to stress over.

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800

The show closes in 10 days and soccer has only 2 or 3 more weeks to go. November should be easier. But I’m going to make the time to put together a meal plan anyway. These past 2 weeks have shown me just how worth it this effort is.

Share your Small Successes at by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!


This month I’m joining all the cool kids in the #Write31Days adventure! I didn’t pick a keyword or a theme, because just getting something written for all 31 days is challenge enough for me right now.

Monday Recap: July 4, 2016

It’s the first Monday of the month, so I’ve gathered up links to the work I’ve done in other spaces.


sunflowers in a hurricaneBook Notes: Sunflowers in a Hurricane. My review of a new novel by Catholic author Anne Faye. Terrific characters in this one; it’s a great summer read.



QOW Summer ice creamQuestion of the Week: Ice Cream Edition. Just for fun–what’s your favorite ice-cream flavor?



find a real friend in JesusBook Notes: Find a Real Friend in Jesus. Gary Zimak’s new book, Find a Real Friend in Jesus, is full of friendly, personal advice from someone who is so invested in his faith that he can’t help but share it with others.


QOW-for-FI-351x185Question of the Week: Summer Reading. Our question of the week: How do you handle summer-reading assignments with your school-age children?

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QOW-for-FI-351x185Question of the Week: Summer Activities for the Kids. Our Question of the Week: do your children participate in summer activities, such as sports, camps, or VBS?

Full Cycle coverBook Notes: A Novel for Fathers and Sons. This Father’s Day, consider giving a father-son gift: a novel that fathers and sons can enjoy together. Full Cycle by Christopher Blunt is just such a book.


mahi burgers (3) c T smallMeatless Friday: Mahi Burgers with Grilled Pineapple. For your Meatless Friday meal, I introduce a healthy and delicious burger alternative: mahi burgers with grilled pineapple.

Mercy OTEM IGWhat My Daughter Has Taught Me about Mercy #OTEM. I examine the lessons I can learn from my impulsive daughter, who never hesitates to take action when others are in need.


At Cook and Count

Pineapple-salsa CPineapple Salsa: a picnic-worthy side that goes with just about anything you’ll be grilling up this summer!



fuego box 1 FBA Spicy Father’s Day Gift for Foodie Dads: my review of a deliciously spicy combination of ingredients from Fuego Box.

Monday recap 2016 edition

Monday Recap: March 2016


book notesBook Notes: Jeff Cavins’ When You Suffer. Cavins maintains that suffering has a purpose. It can help us grow in grace, to grow closer to Christ–if we choose to allow that to happen.

Is There a Cure for FOMOTech Talk: Is there a Cure for FOMO? I admit that my use of some social media can border on the compulsive. What do you do to alleviate your fear of missing out?

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easterfire 2012 for FIEaster Vigil: Bring Your Family to the Fire. Are your children too wiggly to handle the whole Easter Vigil? I suggested that you start slowly–by bringing your family to the fire.

At Cook and Count

There’s been lots of international cooking this month!

Irish Soda Bread, just the way my mom makes it

Blueprint- Chicken Fettuccine VegetablesBlueprint Recipe: Chicken Fettuccine with Vegetables



irish tea brackFor St. Patrick’s Day: Irish Tea Brack




pierogi lasagna (13) CMeatless Friday: Pierogi Lasagna



File Mar 16, 4 31 09 PMWaterford Rolls based on a recipe from the region where my Granma was born



arroz con pollo (2)cOne-Pot Cooking: Arroz con Pollo. Certainly not authentic, but definitely delicious.


corned beef hash (1) T CCorned Beef Hash, a frugal “breakfast at any time of the day” dish


asparagus tart (1) cFabulous Appetizers: Asparagus Tart is fancy enough for company and can be made ahead

At Dynamic Women of Faith

true radianceBook Review: True Radiance by Lisa Mladinich

#SmallSuccess: UNproductive


Thursdays at begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

I’m supposed to be taking the week off from work (and I’ve managed to do that, about 95% of the way). It feels weird. I think that’s partly because I work from home, so it’s really always there, on the same desk as my planner and notebook with my household stuff and personal projects. So walking away is us your planner (3)One thing that made it a little easier to put my feet up this week is that asthma has been kicking my butt. I’m finally noticing that the cough is starting to let up. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours just sitting on the couch with a decaf and a novel that I didn’t have to read for work or a book review or anything. Just a novel, to read for fun. It’s not the world’s most fantastic novel by any means, but it’s not challenging to read and that’s what I needed.

I picked up TheKid’s summer wardrobe this week. He has plenty of T-shirts but none of his shorts or swim trunks fit him, so it was off to Target:

Shorts: any color as long as they're tan. He's more flexible when it comes to swimwear.
Shorts: any color as long as they’re tan. He’s more flexible when it comes to swimwear.

I also invented an appetizer. Noms.

asparagus tart (1) c

And while we’re talking food, this grilled Provolone and caramelized onion on rye with whole-grain mustard was amazing.

grilled provolone onion mustard rye

Share your Small Successes at by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

#WorthRevisit: Meatless Edition

During Lent, Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays as well as on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, when we also fast. Here’s how that works.

There’s more to Lenten meals, though, than fish sticks. No offense, Mrs. Paul, but you’re not our only option when it comes to feeding our family meatless meals.

Lenten Meals 2015

Your Lenten dinners don’t need to be extravagant, but there’s no reason that simple can’t also be delicious and healthy (well, as healthy as mac & cheese with crab can possibly be…)

Over at my cooking blog, Cook and Count, I’ve set up an easy link for you to access all the meatless recipes included there–and I’ve linked to the Meatless Friday recipes as well. I’ve been contributing meatless recipes to CatholicMom since 2013, when Lisa Hendey graciously let me run with the ball in the cooking department.

And for the Almsgiving part of Lent, don’t forget to put aside the money you’ve saved by serving a simple, meatless meal on Fridays and donate it to CRS Rice Bowl or other organization that serves the hungry.

Speaking of CRS Rice Bowl, you’ll find me and 4 other CatholicMom bloggers in the CRS Rice Bowl Recipe section this year, sharing our experiences of cooking their recipes with our families.

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

Monday Recap: December 7, 2015

Monday Recap-What I've been writing


fish tacos (4) c t for FI

Meatless Friday: Fast Fish Tacos

Here’s a crowd-pleasing recipe for fish tacos that’s quick to put together. Don’t save this dish for summertime! Fish tacos make a quick, light meatless meal that you can enjoy all year ’round.

book notes

Book Notes: Roland West, Loner by Theresa Linden

I reviewed a novel that’s a perfect gift for the teen boys in your life: Roland West, Loner. This novel packs plenty of mystery and suspense, along with a healthy dose of the Communion of Saints.

At Cook and Count

Giant PB oatmeal cookies T C

Cookie Time: Giant Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies

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chicken marinara mushrooms capers (2)C TChicken Marinara with Mushrooms and Capers

#WorthRevisit: My Favorite Nonfood Thanksgiving Tradition


Thanksgiving is all about the food in so many ways. But really, it’s all about tradition.

I was one of many who responded to a tweet by @CatholicFoodie, in which an innovative pepper-stuffed turkey recipe was shared, with this: “Thanksgiving, for me, is about Nostalgia Food. New recipes will be saved for another day.”

Nostalgia Food and tradition. That’s Thanksgiving in a nutshell. And here’s a tradition my sister and I have. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. From 2007:

My sister cooks Thanksgiving dinner at her home every year. My family attends every other year, and in the off years we spend the holiday with TheDad’s side of the family. Usually I cook, and they all come here–though there have been exceptions, like the time Pop was in the hospital. That year I cooked it all and brought it to my brother-in-law’s house and finished making the dinner there, since they lived closer to the hospital, and the adults visited Pop in shifts throughout the day.

When you cook Thanksgiving dinner you have to get up early. There are a lot of details to take care of, and a big turkey does take a while to stuff and cook. So my sister and I have developed our own little tradition. Whether it’s our year to visit her home, or the “bye year” as she calls it, we spend part of the early hours of the morning on the phone. Even if we’re at her house, she’s got so many guests and is so busy that we don’t get to talk much. So we enjoy our Thanksgiving phone call.

I’ve got nothing to cook this year but I’m up early anyway. The coffee is brewing, and I just got an email from my sister telling me that she’s awake, and that those participating in the annual Great Pheasant Hunt will be leaving at 5:45, so I’m welcome to call anytime after that.

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

Monday Recap: November 16, 2015

Monday Recap-What I've been writing

There’s been a whole lot of cooking going on this week at Cook and Count, with plenty of new recipes–plus some Tech Talk and a Small Success at CatholicMom. And don’t forget my Sunday Series for Diabetes Awareness Month.


conquering twitter in 10 minutes a day coverTech Talk: Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes a Day

Your Twitter account isn’t going to grow itself. If you’d like to learn to use Twitter to better promote your business, organization or project, try the lessons in Katharine Grubb’s new ebook, Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes a Day. I road-tested the advice in this ebook and described the results.



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Standing in once again for the usual Small Success hostess.

At Cook and Count

double choc mm cookies T C (8)

Giant Double Chocolate M&M Cookies

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Roasted Vegetables with Apples

pork chop cider mustard roasted veg (6)T C

Pork Chops with Apple Cider-Mustard Glaze

Giant sugar cookies with sprinkles (8)cT

Giant Sugar Cookies with Sprinkles


Frugal Fridays: DIY Spice Blends

measuring devices (1)c

What’s Different about Cooking for Diabetics?
The answer just might surprise you!

Monday Recap 10/12/2015

Monday Recap-What I've been writing

A lot of writing happened in this space last week–not so much in the others.


Catholic Church app logoTech Talk: All the Catholic News, All in One Place. I reviewed the new free app from the USCCB. The Catholic Church app is packed full of national and international Catholic news and many other resources.

At Cook and Count

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