Meal Planning Simplicity


**Warning: this is a long post! With lots of pictures! ~smile~

This week’s Meal Planning Simplicity (making the most from time spent in the kitchen) is focused mainly on ham & beans. I bought a 6# boneless ham from Costco…

I chopped it all up at one time…

I also cooked up a large pot of beans. I used a mix of red & black beans. I cooked about 10 to 12 cups of dried beans in my large 14qt pan. I had enough beans to use in a couple different bean meals during the week and was able to freeze 2qts of beans for future use (one bag is being used this week).

After the beans were cooking and the ham had been cut up I went ahead and cut up a couple large onions for use during the week. I cook with a lot of onions and it was nice to have them chopped up and ready to go as I needed them for the rest of the week.

Here was my plan of action:

Using the cooked beans I made a batch of chicken tortilla soup…

Chicken Tortilla Soup
2lbs boneless, skinless, chicken (thighs or breast will work), defrosted and cut into bite size pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2T olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
4 to 5 cups cooked beans (with a little of the bean broth)
2 cups frozen corn or 1 can of corn (approx. 14/15oz size), drained
2t chili powder
1t cumin
1t salt (or to taste)
1 cup salsa
1 can diced tomatoes
8oz cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks
1 cups milk
~Sour cream and cheddar cheese for topping soup, optional

In a large stock pot sauté chicken and onions until the chicken is no longer pink and the onions are soft.

After the chicken and onions have cooked add chicken stock, frozen corn, chili powder, cumin, salt, salsa and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and let simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.

Add cream cheese and stir to melt. Add milk, heat until hot, but not boiling.

Put a handful of crushed tortilla chips in a bowl, cover with soup, top with a dollop of sour cream and a little cheese and serve.

Print Recipe:

On the next night I used the beans to make Bean Stew. This recipe tasted amazing… but looked really, well, kind of ugly.. LOL.. The bean broth that I added gave the potatoes a blah color.. in the future I intended to rinse off my beans so this does not happen.. so don’t let the finished picture scare you too much… I promise it tastes very good and my family ate it up!!

Bean Stew
2lbs hamburger, sausages, or ham
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups cooked beans
2quarts chicken stock
1 16oz bag frozen veggies of your choice
1lb new potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces
1T worchestershire sauce
Salt & pepper, to taste

This can be done in a dutch oven and baked or on the stove top in a large stock pot. Begin by cooking your hamburger and onions first (if you are using ham then cook up the onion in a little oil first to soften it and then add ham). Now add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. If you are making this in a dutch oven then cover and put it in a 325 oven and let bake for a couple of hours (or until potatoes are soft). If doing on the stove top, cover and reduce heat to a low simmer and let simmer until potatoes are soft (1 hour or so would be my guess).

Print Recipe:

Here are the ingredients all mixed and ready to go in the oven (I used my dutch oven for this .. and it looks pretty here!)…  I used some chicken sausages that needed to be used up for this. But any type of meat will work, hamburger, ham, chicken, etc..)..

The finished product….

So you see what I’m talking about.. ha, ha

As for the ham, I was able to use if for 3 meals. You may be able to get more meals out of it depending on the number of people you are serving. I’m serving dinner to basically 6 adult sized appetites, so do keep that in mind.

The first ham meal was Crockpot Maple Brown Sugar, Pineapple, Bean & Ham over Brown Rice. This, hands down, is the simplest meal ever!! It would also make a fantastic Crockpot Freezer Meal (just put all ingredients in a gallon size ziplock bag and freeze).

Crockpot Maple, Brown Sugar & Pineapple Ham over Rice
3 to 4 cups cut up ham
4 cups cooked beans, drained of any juices
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1T soy sauce
1 can (14/15oz) pineapple chunks – do not drain

Combine all in crockpot and cook on low for 5 hours. Serve over brown rice.

Print Recipe:

Because all of my ingredients were cut & cooked and ready to go it took me just a few minutes to toss it all into the crockpot….

The second one was ham & cheese bread (made like my pepperoni bread recipe only substituting ham and cheddar cheese for the pepperoni & mozz cheese called for) and split pea soup. This was a winner with my family as well..

The last recipe I made was Ham & Noodle Casserole. Another good one!

Ham & Noodle Casserole
10oz pasta of your choice, cooked & drained
1 medium onion, chopped
2T butter
8oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup (or so) milk
1 ½ to 2 cups cut up ham
1 cup sour cream
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Salt & pepper, to taste

In a frying pan sauté onion in butter until soft. Add softened cream cheese and stir to melt as well as you can. Add milk to thin to a sauce like consistency (a little thicker than gravy would be). Transfer this to a large mixing bowl and add cooked pasta, ham, sour cream, and 1 cup of the cheese and salt & pepper. Put all in a 9x13 pan and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

I served this with a large green salad.

Print Recipe:

I liked this plan because a little extra time spent in the kitchen on one afternoon saved me time during the busy week.



  1. Thanks for the ham recipes! I still have some cut up frozen ham from Christmas and these will be perfect!
    Great ideas for easy meal planning and prep.

  2. I just can't thank you enough for your delicious recipes and home keeping tips! Thank you for being a blessing (and I can't wait to try the ham and pineapple recipe)

    1. Cary the ham/pineapple one was delish.. Next time around I plan to turn that one into a crockpot freezer meal.. or 2.. :) If you try it let me know what you think!

  3. Thank you. I have been reading your blog for years. It is the only one that I have stuck with through years of internet. I am always blessed and consider you a friend. I like the idea of buying a large ham and doing this.

  4. I love your website! Do you remember a few years back when you made a menu for five weeks? You were trying to stock up and only go grocery shopping once a month. I still have that menu plan printed out and I always come back to and use it over and over. Thank you so much for the many many things you have taught me over the years. Ozark Mama


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