Menu Planning with Whole Food Ingredients:  And my new eBook, A 5 Week Guide to Whole Food Based Dinners

Menu Planning with Whole Food Ingredients: And my new eBook, A 5 Week Guide to Whole Food Based Dinners

On Friday, I soft-launched my very first menu planning eBook, to family and friends on social media, called A Five Week Guide to Whole Food Based Dinners. The responses that I received made me cry at my kitchen table. Within minutes of posting that my eBook was available for purchase, I began receiving comments thanking me for taking the time and effort to create something like this. Quotes like:

“Melanie, our schedules are so opposite and hectic right now and we don’t eat the best- so I’m hoping this helps me to buckle down, prep, and get some good (& delicious) habits down! Thx again- I’ll let you know how everything turns out xo.”


“You rock! Just purchased and I can’t wait to try them! Thanks so much for putting your heart and soul into sharing these but more importantly helping others.”


“Mel – these recipes look amazing!!! I adore you, and love supporting you… but in this case, I’m also truly looking forward to a bit of a break from menu planning. You’ve got me covered for the next 5 weeks!”

I was being flooded with heartfelt love, support, and gratitude for my work, all the while feeling the same for my customers and friends, exploding with gratitude for their business and support.

The truth is, I’ve been menu planning for myself and my family for years, probably since Lyla was born almost 8 years ago. I learned that if I wanted to eat and feed my family healthy meals on a budget I would have to be organized in the kitchen, especially with all of the one million and ten things that I attempt to balance in a week’s time.

So, I guess you can say that I’ve become really good at Menu Planning and it’s kind of my art. It typically takes me less than 30 minutes to plan a week’s worth of dinners for myself and my family and put together a grocery list. I menu plan every weekend when I have some downtime, and usually, ask for suggestions from my girls and Hubby. I try to stick to somewhat of a formula each week and that makes my job simple. On Sundays, I typically make a heartier dinner, an entree with a couple of homemade sides, like Turkey meatballs with zucchini noodles and salad. Mondays in our house, we go meatless, so I’ll whip something up like a veggie stir fry or black bean tostada. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I might do a crockpot meal followed by a soup on the next day. On Thursdays, we eat leftovers or something simple, and Friday, my husband, Cole, makes home-made whole wheat pizza. I used to make it but got my privileges revoked once the children started dropping bombs like “Daddy makes better pizza than Mommy”. What?! That’s all it took for Cole to take over the pizza making tradition with a smirk of pride on his face. I don’t even eat pizza since I’m gluten free but my mouth waters on Friday’s, ugh.

As a Health Coach, my goal is always to get plenty of fruits and veggies into our days and cook with whole ingredients as opposed to processed foods, and it’s something I’m passionate about sharing with others.

Once my menu is set for the upcoming week, I start a grocery list of all of the items that I know that we don’t have at home. I check the fridge, and pantry so that I’m not buying duplicate ingredients, because who needs more than one bottle of dried oregano at a time? I type out my list under the Notes app in my iPhone so that I can check it off at the grocery store as I add the items to my shopping cart. If you’re really good, you can also menu plan around what’s on sale that week at your local grocery store. This is especially helpful if you’re a seafood fan but want to dine on a budget.

I have a pretty good handle on what foods my kids will try, what they’ll eat and love, and what’s an absolute no-go, and this helps me plan for modifications accordingly. Every recipe can be altered to suit someone’s desires or needs. There is flexibility when it comes to menu planning and that’s a point I really want others to understand. You can adapt menu plans to fit your schedule and cook as many or as little days as you can.

The goal of my eBook, A 5 Week Guide to Whole Food Based Dinners, is to simplify healthy eating and cooking for everyone. I completely understand the challenges of having a busy schedule and feeling unprepared when it comes to dinner time, and then compounding all of that when your sweet yet inquisitive and hungry child or spouse, for that matter, loudly asks “What’s for dinner tonight?”, and you haven’t a clue. My goal is to take the guesswork out of menu planning for you. With my eBook, you can choose a few recipes that you would like to try over the course of your week. You should assign them to whichever days of the week allow time for home-cooked meals, and then prepare a grocery list based on the ingredient list.

In my eBook, you’ll find 5 weeks’ worth of menus. Each weekly menu features 5 different dinner options, including some light modifications for picky eaters. You’ll find over 25 recipes, of whole food-based dinner options, and sides. I’ve included grocery lists at the top of each week as well. I did not include nutritional content in terms of calories, points, or grams of fat, carbs etc. because I think the most important component of healthy eating is choosing recipes that feature whole fresh foods. I want to change the dialogue from “how many calories can I eat tonight” to “how many veggies and superfoods can I pack into this meal?!” So of course, if this menu planning guide peaks your interest, click on the link above to “Buy My eBook” and plan on eating some upcoming dinners based on whole fresh foods.

Your Life, Your Choices

Your Life, Your Choices

Over the weekend I took part in a New Year’s Eve Mala/Burning Ceremony at a local yoga studio, Ishine Yoga in Huntersville, NC. The Mala practice consists of 108 sun salutations and is intense and very rewarding. I walked into the studio on Sunday with a fear that maybe, just maybe, registering for this event wasn’t the best decision. I was fearful that my body would not be able to complete all sun salutations consecutively, fearful that I would look foolish when I couldn’t, fearful of what that room had in store for me…the unknown. I had contemplated using the excuse that I had severe nasal congestion and this might throw me over the edge. But I had already made up my mind, just as I had for the two Spartan races I did back to back two years ago, and many other somewhat fearful things in the past. The choice was mine and one that I had intentionally chosen, so there was no turning back or relinquishing in fear.

During the Mala, my mind went into a meditative place, very specific thoughts poured through me and I was given the inspiration to write this post. The movement of my body continued to flow with my breath for two and a half hours and I honestly cannot even tell you physically what I was feeling or experiencing. Emotionally some beautiful things came up. I received confirmation that the courage and power are within me to have the successful career and life that I so desire but I’d have to stop playing small and being shy and fearful. Sadness and tears streamed from my eyes as I thought of the oppression that my mother and female ancestors have faced because of their lack of choices and opportunities in life. Feelings of love washed over me and it became extremely clear to me that I would commit my future to working with women, working to empower women to live their best and most fruitful lives. Teaching women to honor themselves, their minds, bodies, and souls, and know that their power is in their choices. To teach them that every day we have a choice to rise and lift our minds above negativity and lift up our circumstances in love. We have the choices that many of my ancestors did not. Choices to grow our knowledge and wisdom, choices to better our health and the health of our families, choices to exercise- not for what our bodies will look like, but for what our minds will feel like, choices to rise above petty bullshit to love and support one another, choices to leave the bad relationship, to get the job to support ourselves, to right our wrongs and release our victimized ways of thinking….we have choices, and choices are equivalent to power. We are not victims of our circumstances and we are only as “stuck” as our thoughts and fears.

And yes, all of that came out of the Mala practice. It was an amazing experience that I highly recommend everyone try at some point in their lives. It gave me clarity and hope and the intention of relinquishing my fears in 2018. I posted on social media earlier this week that 2016 was the cocoon, 2017 was the caterpillar, and 2018 is the butterfly. I know this to be true in my soul. It’s time to spread our wings and fly. 🦋 Happy New Year to all!


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