Menu Planning & Ham Chowder

I don’t make weekly menu plans, but I secretly admire those who do. Menu plans appeal to my love of organization, much like this pantry of canned goods.

However, I wanted to show you what a week of meals looks like at my house. So I wrote down a week of meals like a journal. You can use it as a menu plan, or let it be an inspiration to you for the beauty of leftovers :-)

As you can see, I rarely make a single batch of anything. I double most of my recipes so we have leftovers. It saves me so much time and energy.

Also, you can see a theme running through this week’s meals — beans! I save so much money buying dry beans and using them in my cakes, breads, and more. Plus, soaking dry beans and cooking them yourself makes them much easier to digest than canned beans.

Planning your menu for the week starts the weekend before, and for this week in particular it starts with cooking lots and lots of beans. But when you realize that this meal plan is for four people, you see that it isn’t really so many beans per person.

Saturday: Soak 7 cups of dry Navy Beans in enough water to cover the beans, plus three inches.

Sunday: Strain the soaking water and simmer the beans in enough fresh water to cover, plus about two inches. Simmer beans for about one hour.
Store half of the cooked beans in the fridge and freeze the other half for later in the week. (Beans usually last about four days in the fridge.)
Bake Coffee Cake for breakfast Monday and Tuesday.

(Recipes below that are made with beans include: Coffee Cake, Ranch Dressing, Szechuan Bean Burgers, Buckwheat Soda Bread, Ham Chowder (recipe below), Walnut Brownies, and Cherry and Almond Scones.)

One week menu plan for four people:

Monday: Coffee Cake (one batch serves us for two mornings), Salad with Ranch Dressing, Paprika Chicken (double for leftovers)

Tuesday: leftover Coffee Cake, Easy Oven Omlette, Szechuan Bean Burgers (double for leftovers)

Wednesday: Smoothies from this ebook, leftover Szechuan Bean Burgers, leftover Paprika Chicken

Thursday: German Pancake, Buckwheat Soda Bread from this cookbook of mine with Eggs in Ramekins, Ham Chowder (double for leftovers, recipe below)

Friday: Smoothies from this ebook, leftover Ham Chowder, Chicken Mole (double for leftovers) from this cookbook of mine, Ali’s Creamed Kale, Walnut Brownies (double for leftovers)

Saturday: Cherry and Almond Scones (double for leftovers) from this cookbook of mine, Elana’s Quiche (double for leftovers), leftover Chicken Mole, leftover Creamed Kale and Walnut Brownies

Sunday: leftover Cherry and Almond Scones, Turkey Wraps (double for leftovers), leftover Quiche


Ham Chowder (photo above):

Puree in high power blender or food processor:
2 cups Navy Beans
1/2 cup cashew pieces
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups broth

Set aside.

Saute for about ten minutes:
1/2 cup onion
1/2 cup celery

Add to onions and celery:
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Saute about five minutes more, being careful not to burn the garlic

Add the puree to the onions, celery and garlic.
Also Add:
6 oz chopped cooked ham
2 cups broth
2 cups Navy Beans

Simmer (without lid) about thirty minutes, stirring periodically.

1 tsp Herbamare

Thickens as it cools.


♥, Kelly

Other questions? See my FAQ page here.

Kelly is the author of The Spunky Coconut blog, and three cookbooks. She lives in Boulder County, Colorado, with her husband, three daughters and Boston Terrier Follow Kelly on Twitter and Facebook.


23 Responses to Menu Planning & Ham Chowder

  • That pantry looks like my grandmother’s. While I only have 6 jars of homemade chutney I canned in my pantry, I do love my menu plans. I may not always follow them exactly, but they keep us on track and the pantry always has ingredients for a quick, healthy gluten-free meal. I was eyeing some navy beans in the pantry and thinking about making some soup. Your recipe looks pretty tasty.


  • Laura says:

    I love the cashew pieces incorporated into the broth to thicken the soup. Can’t wait to try it, sounds amazing!


  • Kim says:

    You are an inspiration! I use a lot of leftovers, too, but I feel like you take it to another level. You seem so organized that I’m finding it hard not to believe that you don’t meticulously menu plan. I hope that some of your organization can rub off on your readers (like me)!


  • Wendy, I *dream* of a pantry like that one :-)

    Laura, It is so nice and thick – gotta love cashews :-)

    Kim, Thank you! I don’t feel especially organized, but I’ll take the compliment :-)


  • Hallie says:

    What a post, Kelly! Definitely inspirational. And oh how my heart flutters at the sight of that pantry. :)


  • Okay, Kelly. You have totally inspired me! I am going to copy your menu plan for next week. It looks awsome. And your coffee cake is one of our favorite breakfasts around here, so that will be a great way to start out the week next week. And I will be making this awesome sounding ham chowder for sure, as well. A great way to use up the rest of my bone broth before I make my next batch!


  • what a coincidence! i just soaked my first batch of beans yesterday to make baked beans…it is way, way cheaper, and healthier since dried beans aren’t soaked in sodium in a can….so i can see myself getting way into dried beans….
    new to your blog, and i am enjoying it!


  • Wow-I have never thought of adding in cashews when making a ham chowder. I bet it really helps make it super creamy!


  • Thanks so much you guys! :-)


  • Natalie says:

    Oh YUM YUM YUM!! Yay! A cream soup without cream. Seriously, I am so excited to make this. Thanks for the info on soaking beans. Mine have not worked out when I have tried but need to try again.


  • We live on leftovers! I’m a weekend cook, so the entire work week is filled with leftovers in lunch boxes and on dinner plates. Thanks for linking to your favorites so I can try them out! xoxo


  • Maggie Savage says:

    I love this little peek inside your kitchen! It’s so smart, and I am totally going to get so much better about prepping my own beans. I tend to be lazy and go the canned route as of late. No more! Thanks Kelly. Love your soup too. So nutritious. We like putting cashews in our soups too. So good for our little kiddies. Thanks for a great post Kelly. xo


  • Amber says:

    Hi There Kelly,

    Great tips indeed! And I’m loving that ham chowder recipe!! Drool.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Be Well,


  • Laurie says:

    Love the idea of this blog! Could you link to articles in your website or others when nutritional claims are made so we can check it out? For example – I’m really curious why canned beans are harder to digest than soaked and cooked. Aren’t they both cooked in the end? And don’t the beans soak in broth in the can? So it’s confusing but interesting to me and I’d like to see data, not theory, as to why. Thanks so much!

    Good luck with this blog!


    Amy Green Reply:

    @Laurie, When I come across something that puzzles me and isn’t fully explained in an article I Google it and do some research of my own. Not all information that our contributors use in their articles is online. Many have been to nutritional schools or have done a great deal of study on their own that may not be easy to find on the internet.

    I know that canned beans, except for Eden Organics, all have BPA in the can liner. That’s something I’d like to eliminate from my diet. Also, I found info in an article that says that soaking beans before cooking helps remove carbs our bodies can’t digest. You might read this:

    Thanks for stopping by TBP!


  • Thanks Amy!

    Laurie, I studied with a naturopath and nutritionist for years, and she taught me that soaking and cooking your own beans made them easier to digest. I don’t know if I ever asked her why, I just filed it away with a lot of other information :-)


  • Shannon says:

    Sounds yummy! Any thoughts as to whether this would work in the crockpot? I thought I would add the sautéed veggies, cashew/bean cream mixture and the rest of the ingredients before heading off to work. Will 10 hours on low be too much? Thanks!


    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Shannon, I think it would, but I haven’t tried it myself. I think a shorter time might work, like maybe the four hour setting.


    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Kelly Brozyna, P.S. It you aren’t home to turn the crockpot off, you could buy a timer that would turn it off for you. I’ve been meaning to get one myself :-)


  • Tess Masters says:

    LOVE that board Kelly! AND your menu planning ideas.
    I am so thrilled to be a part of TBP with you.
    Your blog is just AMAZING!


  • Bean Queen! You have inspired me again, ha! Umm, and you are so with it. Oh to be so organized and plan-y ahead-y. Super duper post!!



  • Sarah Rosney says:

    I am making this recipe now…it’s simmering on the stove! Can’t wait to try it! As always, my life would be so incomplete without your recipes! What an inspiration you are!!!!! :)


  • Mars says:

    Kelly! This was really amazing. Everyone loved it and begged me to make it again asap! I prepped a lot of it ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator. When it was time to eat, all I had to do was saute the onions and garlic, add to soup and simmer. While it simmered I cut and cooked our side veggies. Thanks!


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