Back-to-school meal making with Longo’s (5 meals under $100) and a giveaway!

MakeAheadWeeklyMenuFallMadeEasy on eatlivetravelwrite.comSo, how are we all faring with back-to-school/work/reality aka end of summer? Has this week caught you by surprise or did you spend a little bit of time on the weekend prepping meals or even batch cooking so that you don’t have to worry about meal time during the week?  Believe it or not, even though I don’t have kids, if I don’t want to be stressing about “What’s for dinner?” on my way home after work, I need to do a little pre-planning as well. Especially in the first few weeks of school, I’m often so exhausted that I can barely think let alone come up with something nutritious for dinner!

So when Longo’s asked me if I’d like to review their “Make Ahead Weekly Menu” – basically a “cook on Sunday, prepare all your weeknight meals in one go” type scenario – I jumped at the chance!  Even better – the meals were developed by Longo’s food expert (and, full disclosure – my friend, Emily Richards who has worked with my Petits Chefs a few times, so I knew they would not only be tasty but also nutritious and fuss-free. In short, perfect for the first few weeks of school.  As a bonus, this meal plan has you making 5 meals under $100 (excluding pantry staples like olive oil, rice etc…) – meaning dinner time will be easy, nutritious and budget friendly!

Longo’s provided me with the groceries to make this meal plan via their (and my!) ultimate time saver – the Grocery Gateway online delivery service.  Neil and I have been using Grocery Gateway since 2000 (!) because Neil doesn’t like to grocery shop at a big supermarket (unless he’s travelling and then it’s deemed “interesting”) and I don’t drive, so for heavy or bulky items (cat litter etc…), it’s perfect.  Over the years, they have expanded their online offerings to include local, organic produce and meats too so if we need to, we can order items like that as well.  We do a lot of produce (and now, meat) shopping locally in our neighbourhood, but we still swear by Grocery Gateway for many items (and must be one of their most loyal customers!).  With weekend (and now Sunday) deliveries, it’s my secret weapon in being organised to cook for this blog! I love that you can fill your grocery cart online through the week as you think of items (or as you plan meals or dishes you want to cook) and choose for them to be delivered on Friday evening or Saturday morning so you’re ready to get cooking as soon as the weekend starts!

Emily’s recipes and  instructions on how to shop once and eat all week are designed to help ease the back-to-school juggling act for parents but even non-parents Neil and I found it incredibly useful just for the two of us.   Emily’s step-by-step plan, includes a grocery list (and a check list of pantry staples) and instructions for making a few of the larger components on Sunday then basically assembling and/ or reheating dishes during the week.  I took advantage of the long weekend get together with friends to assemble a few more of the dishes on the weekend than the plan calls for but basically, by spending just a couple of hours in the kitchen on a Sunday, I was set up for the week (and beyond – since most of the recipes serve 4-6 people, we have a lovely lot of leftovers of some of the dishes in the freezer!)

On the menu for the week:

Monday – Meatloaf Patties with Baked Creamed Spinach and Roasted Lemon Cauliflower

Meatloaf patties, baked creamed spinach and roasted lemon cauliflower on eatlivetravelwrite.comTuesday – Baked Tilapia with Mushrooms and Tomatoes with Confetti Rice

Baked Tilapia with mushrooms and tomatoes and confetti rice on eatlivetravelwrite.comWednesday – Potato Cauliflower Frittata

Potato cauliflower frittata on eatlivetravelwrite.comThursday – Shepherd’s Pie “Poutine” (shepherd’s pie with cheese on top of the cubed, as opposed to mashed, potatoes) with Nappa and Pear Slaw

Shepherds pie poutine on eatlivetravelwrite.comNappa and pear slaw on eatlivetravelwrite.comFriday – Chicken Chili

Chicken chili on eatlivetravelwrite.comAll sorts of good, real food that I imagine would be great for those feeding a family as well. I know the boys in my cooking club would love to help  with and/ or eat at least one component in each of these meals so if your kids are at the stage where they can help with food prep, why not involve them too?

The grocery list was actually the first thing I looked at when I was offered the chance to test these meals. What I found was a lot of foods that are common to most pantries, fridges and freezers with a few really smart shortcuts in there.  Jarred salsa in the meatloaf, shepherd’s pie and chili, frozen spinach instead of fresh, pre-made breadcrumbs, dried herbs, pre-mixed steak spice, jarred broth and canned tomatoes all feature on the shopping list and whilst many people prefer (or have the time to) make such items from scratch, I think the point is, if you don’t have time, it’s ok.  You can still make a nutritious, mostly from-scratch meal using a few shortcuts.  I mean, I certainly use all sorts of shortcuts in my kitchen and I think the intention here is to get people cooking again in a way that feels “do-able”. There was nothing difficult or too challenging in the recipes themselves – mostly figuring out the timing and the order in which to do stuff but Longo’s have you covered there with precise, concise instructions as to what to do, when (down to “Thaw chili for tomorrow night”). I mean it’s catering to real life. To busy people who want to cook for their families but who are juggling a million and one things. This type of plan makes it not only do-able but also starts you thinking about ways to better plan meal prep time on weekends.

On Sunday, I spent a couple of hours in the kitchen (and admit I didn’t start out as organised as I might have been so it might have been less time had I planned it better) and had basically prepped Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s meals (or the majority of components that could be prepped ahead of time). The instructions were easy to follow and the way the “Sunday Prep Plan” is laid out will have you thinking of how you can cook and organise your prep time in the kitchen differently. I had at least 3 dishes in the oven at all times (cleverly planned so most things cook at the same temperature) and though it was hot in the kitchen, it got a lot of the prep out of the way in one hit.  I spent a bit of time (maybe 10 minutes) prepping Tuesday’s dinner (on Monday!) but apart from that, my “meal prep” during the week has involved re-heating things or assembling quick components (slaw, rice). Bonus? The leftovers (would not happen for a family of four since that’s who the meals are targeted at, though I have found the portion sizes generous).  Each recipe includes nutritional information and a costing per person (most expensive meal? Chicken chili at $5.30 per serve).

And the food itself? Tested by a variety of people who all pronounced every component excellent. I’ll definitely be making most of these again soon (or at least versions of them) and I’ll of course, be using the time saving and organisational tips in my own kitchen prep.

I was really very impressed with this menu. From the dishes themselves, to the easy-to-shop with grocery list, the helpful and easy-to-follow plan for prepping the meals on a Sunday, it’s really well laid out and clear, even for someone with less experience in the kitchen. It’s easy enough that kids would be able to help with many of the steps and it definitely gets you thinking about being smart with prep time and multi-tasking – in turn, helping you be more organised and more likely to shop for and cook meals in advance so you are set up for eating well during the week. I am a planner myself but tend to get as far as planning blog post food or assignments I am working on without looking at the big picture (“Oh dear, I seem to have only baked desserts this weekend, what will we eat during the week?” kind of thing!) so this opened my eyes to actual real “meal planning” as opposed to planning to make random dishes which, as a whole, are disjointed and don’t work together for a complete meal plan.  This showed me just how very useful advance-planning a week (or even a few days) can be in order to preserve my sanity through a busy work week!

What are you waiting for?

Fall Made Easy by Longo's on eatlivetravelwrite.comGet your copy of Longo’s experience magazine online here or download the app for iPad here.


A Longo’s $100 gift card giveaway

That’s right – in order to experience the Make-Ahead Weekly Menu for yourself, Longo’s has generously offered a $100 gift card* for one lucky eat. live. travel. write. reader!

How to enter:

There are 2 ways to enter (maximum of two entries per person for the duration of the contest).

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me your tricks for back-to-school meal prep.
2. Tweet the following message: Enter to win a @LongosMarkets $100 gift card on @eatlivtravwrite ! Details: then come back to leave a second comment letting me know you did.

Eligibility and contest rules:

* Longo’s store locations where the card can be used can be found here.
– No purchase of any product necessary for entry.
– Winner will be chosen randomly (using from all qualified entries on Wednesday September 10th 2014 after 6pm EST.
– Winner will be notified via email Thursday September 11th 2014.


Disclosure: I received compensation and groceries in return for reviewing this meal plan. Longo’s has not reviewed this material before publication. All opinions are my own.




30 thoughts on “Back-to-school meal making with Longo’s (5 meals under $100) and a giveaway!”

  1. Great meal ideas! Shepard Pie Poutine sounds delicious! A must try indeed!

    “Sunday prep plan” in our household has been common for years but done on Saturday instead.. With 3 kids on the go everyday and multiple activities…a reduction in kitchen time is an absolute must!

    Here is what saves us time…

    Grocery shopping is a FUN family date for everyone!!!!!! Great learning experience for the kids.

    Prepare snacks, as well as meal plan for the entire week and shop accordingly. We use frozen veggies on occasion to save time. Variety of fish/meats prepared and seasoned for each day in freezer bags (buy skinless, boneless to reduce prep time). The butcher shop even chops our meat according to size so less to do when we get home.
    Fresh fruits/veggies washed, diced and storage in containers for kids to enjoy healthy snack immediately after school. Cooking time is less than 30 minutes each day. Eating on the go at times.. in the minivan 🙂

    Prepare extra large serving sizes, remaining portions is used for next day lunches for everyone (including the kids-no need to worry about making lunches). Warm, healthy food for kids in a thermos beats sandwiches any day!



  2. Love this post! Recipes from Emily Richards always work. I love that they are family friendly too.

    My best tip for managing family mealtimes is cook once, eat twice,.

    How to make it work:

    1) Plan to have dinner leftovers. Make extra food that can be used for lunches or dinner the next day e.g., use barley in soup one night and use it as a salad base for lunch the next day.

    2) Always make one weekend meal that is freezer friendly. Double up on the Sunday night chili and freeze extras. Every week you’ll have one cook’s night off.

    Hope you don’t mind me sharing some links to meal planning resources I’ve developed. I figure the more ideas we all can share the better!

    Meal Planning Made Easy :
    My Menu Planner:

    Bravo for Longos for championing this!

    Carol Harrison, RD
    Nutrition Consultant

  3. I tweeted out the Longos contest link. If I win I’ll donate the money to my daughter’s school for food-based education programs!

    Carol Harrison, RD

  4. Such great ideas! I love the poutine shepherd’s pie! I can sub crumbled tofu & beans for my vegetarians! My trick is to make several components of the meals and bagged lunches on Sunday as well. I also LOVE the slow cooker! Soups, brown rice and steel cut oatmeal are all cooking away either overnight or while the kids are at school. I did notice that Grocery Gatweay is now doing Sunday Delivery!! That will make Sunday prep day all the easier for this car-free family!

    • I can’t win, but my best tip: “Find a blogger who needs to cook many dishes on a regular basis.”

      Saves time, and ensures you eat healthily!


  5. Hmmmmm – now WHERE did I store those Grocery Gateway login details????

    Must be time for me to put in another beverage order (I’m sure it won’t matter I don’t have a visit planned) 😉

  6. I make big batches of food of the weekends. I freeze some and make multiple items with the rest. I often using a variation of dinner leftovers for lunches the next day. I find that if I vary the contents of my children’s lunches, fewer lunches come home half-eaten. No waste here! 😀

  7. My girls aren’t in school yet but dinner time is still overwhelming with a toddler and 6 month old. My “trick” to making dinner a bit easier to handle isn’t anything unique or fancy. Simply buying meat in bulk when on sale and prepping it (ie trimming the fat off chicken thighs, then marinating it) and freezing so that I just pull it out of the freezer and cook.

  8. I would have to say that freeze your meals (portion sizes for each day for the 5-day school week) and thaw when ready to cook

  9. A Make-Ahead Weekly Menu would be so helpful! Mini pitas are my tip to putting leftovers to good use. Meals with leftover chicken, beans, salad, roasted vegetable, hummus, etc. all make good mini sandwiches for school lunches.

  10. Weekly meal planning makes it easier to plan when busy back to school routines and activities kick in ..also freezer meals ..make frozen meals ahead

  11. I buy what I need the weekend before the school week and buy what is on sale! I know exactly what I am going to make in the morning for my son so I am not scrambling in the morning. I like to make his snacks and lunches in the morning because it’s fresher.

  12. Plan out the entire week’s meals on Saturday & shop for all the ingredients. Then make bigger portions of dinners so that you can have leftovers at lunch.

  13. I prep everything for the week when I get home from the grocery store. Fruit is washed and placed in easy to grab containers. Veggies are washed and cut, separated into containers to grab when cooking. Meat divided into freezer bags, and marinade added if needed. Helps make dinner time easier!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.