8/8/2022 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgThis week is going to be a hot one. We’ve been super cooling the house, and running fans as much as we can. In addition to the heat, it’s been humid- overall I’m not a fan of this weather.

As a result of this weather forecast, we’ll be eating a lot of food that doesn’t require the oven.

Summer break is wrapping up, however, we’ve got all sorts of adventures planned, you can check out some of our adventures here.

I didn’t do much meal prep for this week, just some grocery shopping for produce ($25 worth of salad kits, and fruit), and cutting up fruit yesterday. When it’s hot, the kids don’t eat much beyond popsicles and snacks during the day.

No CSA boxes until the weather cools down and I can be home when the boxes are delivered. With the heat and the lack of shade on my patio, if we aren’t home when it’s delivered, some of the more delicate foods can spoil.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately, the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. This is really helpful for the summer when for some reason, kids are starving all the time.

Dinner: I’m planning for a week of cool foods, with very little being cooked in the oven. I may use the toaster oven as needed.

  • Monday: Chicken nuggets, Buttered noodles, fruit, cheese & crackers

  • Tuesday: Salad, hummus & flatbread, fruit

  • Wednesday: Corn dogs, fruit, salad

  • Thursday: Protein Shakes, fruit

  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday:  Leftovers
  • Sunday: Salad, quesadillas, fruit

August Sprouts Farmers Market Monthly Freebies!

Sprouts is hooking us up and helping us stay healthy! Every month on the Sprouts app in the Digital Coupon section, there are between 4-6 free items (they are marked “SAMPLING PROGRAM”).

Quantities are limited on the app, so if you are interested in any of these, I recommend that you add these coupons (by opening the Sprouts app, click on digital coupons, and click on each coupon in the lower corner where the little green circle is) to your app ASAP.

Not all Sprouts locations will have these freebies, so I suggest trying larger Sprouts locations in your area.

These are full-sized freebies- not small sample-sized products. they are located in the store with the other products of the same type.

Not all accounts will receive all the same products.

8/1/2022 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgThis weekend was a busy 48 hours. Martial arts, mental health appointment, birthday party, tie dye prep, and I got up early yesterday (thanks to the kids) and spent a few hours prepping and roasting veggies, making sweet rolls, and reorganizing the fridge and freezer.

Summer break is here! We’ve got all sorts of adventures planned, you can check out some of our adventures here.

This week is going to be leaning a lot on the prep I did yesterday and a few casseroles in the freezer. I’m hitting up the grocery store for just a few things we need, and I should be able to stay out of the store the rest of the week.

No CSA boxes until the weather cools down and I can be home when the boxes are delivered. With the heat and the lack of shade on my patio, if we aren’t home when it’s delivered, some of the more delicate foods can spoil.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods. I received a few more coupons over the weekend, so I’ll visit Sprouts sometime this week to pick up the new foods. I’m focusing on snacks and treats from Social Nature.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately, the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. This is really helpful for the summer when for some reason, kids are starving all the time.

Dinner: I’ve got a couple casseroles/freezer meals this week, and other than that we’re eating easy and quick stuff so I can spend time playing, coloring, building legos, and swimming, which is the plan for the week.

  • Monday: Chicken nuggets, Buttered noodles, fruit, cheese & crackers

  • Tuesday: Chicken Alfredo bake, roasted veggies, salad

  • Wednesday: Salad, quesadillas, fruit

  • Thursday: Chicken Pesto Lasagna, fruit, salad

  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday:  Leftovers
  • Sunday: Baked mac n’ cheese, salad, fruit

Managing a Household with Neurodivergencies (ADHD, ASD, etc.)

Earlier this week my friend Sam posted on Facebook, “Neurodivergent Friends what are some tools you use with others that help you with daily life, communication, relationships?”

A few friends posted that they needed help with meal prep, day-to-day stuff, and as y’all know, that’s my bag, baby!

Both my kids are Neurodivergent (ADHD/ASD and ADHD), and their dad has ADHD (combined type/ C) and because of that, we’ve had to make some adjustments to our daily life and how we function. And while our processes and schedules may not work for everyone, hopefully, these tips give you some idea and hope if you need it.

Some of these directly affect/benefit the kids, and some make my life easier, which in turn makes their lives easier.

Having an accurate(ish) pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory. I have made my own sheets in the past (using Canva), but the ones from Organized Home are great.

Meal Prep and meal planning (this includes using Dream Dinners once every few months). This frees up time each night to read, hang out, bathe, and get kids ready for bed.

Meal Prep can be as easy as cut up veggies, fruit, pre-portioned foods, and easy meals or side dishes prepared in advance that only need to be heated up to avoid wasting money eating out because “there is nothing to eat”. Also having one night for take-out. And I have a whiteboard that lists our meal plan for the week- I try and post it weekly on Instagram.

The Snack Box- I also organized our fridge and pantry to be more ND-friendly. Stuff that should be eaten (healthy food like fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt, etc.) is at kid eye level in clear packaging and is labeled (I use expo markers on my Rubbermaid containers), and I have a “Snack box” in the pantry that is available 24/7 for hungry faces. It’s got individually portioned shelf-stable snacks and meal components. And on days when I am too tired/rushed to cook we have “Meal of snacks” where I serve a variety of snacks on old-school sectioned cafeteria trays- fruits, veggies, crackers, cheese, cookies, and a drink (juice or iced tea is a hit).

We have a list of snacks on the fridge so the kids know what there is to snack on. It is a visual list (I drew it), and when we are out of specific items, I cover the picture with a piece of posit note.

Calendars– in the kitchen, and one in each bedroom. I update them weekly, plus the grownups use the calendars on their phones and we have a shared family calendar. Kids get reminders each day in the morning and afternoon of any appointments or events that will take place during the day. The visual and auditory reminders really help cement the appointment in their mind.

Visual reminders– next to the front door at eye level there is a sign that reminds us we need: cellphone, wallet, keys, and garage door opener. It’s laminated.

Visual schedule– this is mainly for the kids. I drew up a daily schedule using words and pictures. I wrote a post about it here.

Lists– Everyone has a “Care tasks” list each week that includes appts, returning borrowed items, and tasks to do throughout the week. You can read about my weekly Care Tasks here. 

Larger font digital clock with day of the week, date, and what part of the day (morning, afternoon, evening, night). The kids can read a clock, but it can take time to engage their brains and count by 5’s, but the “old people clock” as it was marketed on Amazon helps them instantly and helps a lot with the “is it time for xxxxx yet?!?!”

Using your phone to stay on top of details- I saw this on Facebook in a group and I’ve started doing this. If you have an iPhone, there is a notes section in each contact. I’ve seen them used to keep track of favorite fast food at various restaurants, favorite foods/drinks, clothing sizes and brands, favorite colors, birthdays, and anniversaries. It’s such a game changer.

The fidget/stim box– we have a plastic box full of fidget/stim toys for everyone to grab when they need to focus. And everyone has some in their room too. This includes headphones to cut down on loud sounds (I buy the landscapers kind from harbor freight). We have 3 pairs in the house and two pairs in the car. For those not familiar- fidget toys can help calm the body so the mind can focus.

Some favorites include pop-its, hand strengthening eggs, fidget cubes, fidget spinners, stretchy tubes, pop tubes, and stress balls (the kind with Orbeez are super satisfying). Amazon sells really great fidget toys mutli-packs.

Medication Boxes- We refill our medication boxes each week (both AM and PM).  The three of us take our meds together each morning at breakfast time. Our medication boxes live on the kitchen counter, along with our pill minders: Jon Cena and Skeletor.

Stuff has a place– The kid’s shoes and backpacks are always by the door during the school year, ready to be cleaned out and refilled each night. My car keys and purse live in the same spot, the pool key has a special spot. The extra toilet paper and paper towels are always in the same spot (under the front bathroom sink). These are just a few examples of the ways that we remind ourselves and create routines. Creating routines can give us a sense of normalcy and be calming.

The Family Binder– One last thing that doesn’t directly “help” the kids but helps the family, especially in times of emergency is the family binder. I’ve had one since 2010 in various incarnations. I have a really old post about it here.  It’s basically my brain in paper form. It’s got all of our important papers, insurance info, important phone numbers, policy numbers, warranty information, receipts for expensive/valuable stuff, copies of most recent IEPS, copies of diagnosis paperwork, lists of everyone’s meds, doctors info, etc. Think of it as all the info you’d need if you lost power for an extended period, your house burned down, or there was a tornado.

There are a lot of other things that we do in our home to help the kids- keep them safe, regulated, and happy. The stuff listed above is just a small sample. Everyone’s home runs differently. And this was and continues to be a lot of work. The examples above are continually changing, and evolving in our home, and are a combination of 11+ years of hard work, learning, and failing. Some of this stuff I did to try and get organized in my late 20s, even before I was married and had kids.

 

 

7/25/2022 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgSummer break is here! We’ve got all sorts of adventures planned, you can check out some of our adventures here.

This week the big kid is off each morning to Home Base Ranch. His class goes there throughout the year, and I thought it would be good for him to go this summer as well. Thanks to our caseworker at TMI, we got this camp funded for him. Regional Centers are supported to fund recreational activities for their clients, but that process was a disaster.

Despite having no voice and feeling run down, I went grocery shopping this morning. I started with a pickup order at Target (I had a gift card), then hit up Grocery Outlet (where I got the majority of the groceries for the week), and stopped into 99 Cents Only, but that was bust. All of the produce was overpriced and in really gross shape. Next, I hit up Vons. They are having a sale on Taylor Farms salads this week, and I really like them. I also grabbed grapes and strawberries.

No CSA boxes until the weather cools down and I can be home when the boxes are delivered. With the heat and the lack of shade on my patio, if we aren’t home when it’s delivered, some of the more delicate foods can spoil.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods. I’ve got a few coupons to redeem for snacks and treats from Social Nature this week.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately, the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. This is really helpful for the summer when for some reason, kids are starving all the time.

Dinner: It’s hot, I am relying on our crockpot and cold foods a lot this week.  I’m trying to keep the oven off. With the cost of food going up, you may notice that a lot of the food we are eating

  • Monday: Nuggets, fruit, cheese & crackers

  • Tuesday: Moosie’s Pot Roast, rice or noodles, veggies

  • Wednesday: Salsa Chicken, Rice, Beans, Salad (Didn’t end up making it last week)

  • Thursday: Protein shakes, fruit salad

  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday:  Leftovers
  • Sunday:   Cinnamon rolls, eggs, fruit

Family Recipe: $100 Brownies

This is an easy, decadent recipe that impresses guests.

Inspired by a friend’s brownie recipe that once fetched $100 at an auction, this dessert will disappear before your eyes. These brownies are so rich, so don’t forget the milk or cuppa Joe.

 

$100 Brownies

Ingredients 

  • 1 brownie mix 
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Melted butter
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (your favorite variety)
  • 1/2 bag (about 6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Directions:

  1. Mix up the brownie recipe per directions in the box. Substitute milk for water, and melted butter for oil in the directions. Use eggs as directed on the box.
  2. Bake brownies as directed.
  3. As soon as they are down, remove them from the oven and immediately top with peanut butter and chocolate chips.
  4. Allow PB and chips to melt atop the hot brownies, about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Using a silicone spatula, carefully mix and spread PB and melted chips to form and even layer a top the brownies.
  6. Once brownies have cooled to room temp, store them in the fridge for at least 1 hour prior to serving.

Makes 18 small brownies- these are very rich, and a little goes a long way.

Substitutions:

  • If you are Gluten Free, substitute your favorite GF brownie mix.

Dream Dinners: Save Time & Savor Summer with a July Mini Bundle!

It’s that time again! Time for a Dream Dinners Bundle Sale!

Summer is all about making memories, so we’ve put together a bundle of under-30-minute meals to maximize your time in the sun.
Order in the next 72 hours to get eight medium-size meals from our July menu for just $180*. Spend more time by the pool and less time grocery shopping and meal prepping this summer!

The July Mini Bundle includes:

  • Kentucky Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Fries
  • Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwiches with Onion Rings
  • Coconut Shrimp with Tropical Chili Sauce
  • Orange Asian Chicken with Garden Vegetable Rice
  • Turkey Florentine Burgers
  • Charred Honey Lime Grilled Chicken
  • Backyard BBQ Chicken with Corn Medley
  • Creamy Tortellini with Bacon and Peas

A Medium Meal feeds 2-3 adults (honestly, it’s usually 3+ in our house), so you’ll be getting 16-24 restaurant-quality meals for $180!

This offer is only available for a limited time

Contact your store by Friday, July 22nd at 9am to place your order.

Our local store here in East County is La Mesa, run by Marsi and her friendly staff! Store Email: lamesaca@dreamdinners.com  Store Phone Number: 619-460-6800.

7/19/2022 Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgSummer break is here! We’ve got all sorts of adventures planned, you can check out some of our adventures here.

This week’s post is a little different. In addition to the usual info and links, I wanted to address something that’s been very in our faces a lot lately: inflation and the struggle to purchase enough groceries on a budget.  In the city I live in there are two large major chain grocery stores: Vons, and Food 4 Less. There’s also a Grocery Outlet, Sprouts, and a target which has some food but honestly, I probably couldn’t shop there for everything (their produce selection leaves a lot to be desired),

Because of this, I have to shop at more than one store to get everything on our list and stay within our budget.

Saturday I went to Vons, because I had a $10/$10 coupon that was expiring soon. And I will always take $10 in free groceries. I decided to spend it on produce because we’re not getting our CSA box right now. I figured $10 probably wouldn’t go too far, so I checked all of my apps to see if there were any deals or sales or cashback on products. There were a couple deals within the Vons App (free bell pepper, salad kit personalized price) that I took advantage of. 

So here is what I got: 

  • 2 lb box of Strawberries 
  • 4 Bananas 
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 large bag Kale Salad 
  • Eclipse Dairy Free dessert

I had a coupon from social nature for Eclipse dairy-free dessert, and there was an Ibotta offer as well. So, not only was it free, but I got $3.50 back

Overall, this trip to the grocery store cost me $.89 after the Ibotta rebate, $10/$10 coupon, and coupons/deals in the app. 

I am trying to be more cost-conscious when it comes to going to the grocery store. And if you know me in real life or follow me for any amount of time you know that I’m already pretty frugal. We will be primarily eating out of the pantry/freezer this week, I have a few dream dinners left that we will be making for this week, and I will also be taking advantage of the few cupboard meals that we keep on hand. I made chicken soup in the crockpot over the weekend, and that will be good for at least two or three meals for the whole family- probably lunches.

No CSA boxes until the weather cools down and I can be home when the boxes are delivered. With the heat and the lack of shade on my patio, if we aren’t home when it’s delivered, some of the more delicate foods can spoil.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately, the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. This is really helpful for the summer when for some reason, kids are starving all the time. The kids get free lunch at summer school too!

Dinner: We finished our last Dream Dinner last week! I’ll be ordering more next month once the new menu comes out. I’m trying to get us to eat together as a family more often and get the kids into eating more fruits and veg, so you’ll notice that our meals are pretty simple this week.

  • Monday: Nuggets, fruit, cheese & crackers

  • Tuesday: Buffalo Chicken quesadillas, veggies, fruit, chips

  • Wednesday: Chicken Corn Chowder, Sourdough bread and butter

  • Thursday: Peach Bourbon Chicken, Green Beans, Noodles or Rice

  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday:  Leftovers
  • Sunday:   Salsa Chicken, Rice, Beans, Salad

Recipe: Chicken Corn Chowder

This is a super easy recipe! I made this on Saturday night to be served this week (and some went into the freezer for future meals).

We had a rotisserie chicken, so I made the stock from scratch and used some of the rotisserie chicken meat, but that’s optional. You could use canned broth/stock and canned chicken if you wanted.

You may have most of these ingredients on hand!

Chicken Corn Chowder

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 cups corn (I used corn from a past CSA box that I had roasted, removed from the cob, and froze for later use), canned or frozen corn is great. If using canned, rinse the corn before using
  • 1.5 cups chicken, cooked and chopped into bite-size pieces (You can use canned chicken, drained and rinsed, or rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 cup whole milk (or 1 can evaporated milk)
  • 4 cups chicken broth/stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup mashed potato flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1t. Poultry seasoning

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, melt butter and saute onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add corn to the pot, stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and cook over low for 10-15 minutes, allowing the soup to thicken and heat throughout.
  4. Remove the bay leaf prior to serving.

Serve with green salad and popovers.

Dietary options:

  • For dairy free, use your favorite cooking oil/spread and non-dairy milk.
  • For vegetarian options, omit chicken (or use your favorite meat-free chick’n alternative), and use veggie broth in place of chicken broth.
  • This recipe is naturally gluten-free.

 

7/11/2022 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgSummer break is here! We’ve got all sorts of adventures planned, you can check out some of our adventures here.

Summer school started, and I’m back on campus helping teachers and kiddos for the next two weeks. Then the big kid is going to equestrian camp for a week- he’s stoked.

This weekend we delved deep into our summer to-do list. I cleaned the garage, and pictures were posted on Instagram.  We also washed, dried, and put away ALL of the laundry, it was an insane undertaking.

The kids and I went to Costco late last week for our quarterly stock-up trip- Trash bags, toilet paper, paper towels, and of course we got a rotisserie chicken. It’s featured a bit in this week’s meal planning.

No CSA boxes until the weather cools down and I can be home when the boxes are delivered. With the heat and the lack of shade on my patio, if we aren’t home when it’s delivered, some of the more delicate foods can spoil.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods. I received a few more coupons over the weekend, so I’ll visit Sprouts sometime this week to pick up the new foods. I’m focusing on snacks and treats from Social Nature.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately, the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. This is really helpful for the summer when for some reason, kids are starving all the time. The kids get free lunch at summer school too!

Dinner: We finished our last Dream Dinner last week! I’ll be ordering more next month once the new menu comes out. I’m trying to get us to eat together as a family more often and get the kids into eating more fruits and veg, so you’ll notice that our meals are pretty simple this week.

  • Monday: Buttered noodles, fruit, cheese & crackers

  • Tuesday: Beef kebabs (from Costco), rice, salad, pita bread

  • Wednesday: Chicken broccoli casserole 

  • Thursday: homemade chicken soup, grilled cheese

  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday:  Leftovers
  • Sunday:  Breakfast for dinner, I’m hoping for waffles or omlettes.