2/24/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI forgot to push PUBLISH yesterday. OOPS. Well, last week I juggled stuff around and only posted the meal plan on Instagram. I may go back to that in the future, I’m not sure. I post on Insta about once a day, so not a lot, and I promise it’s not a feed full of perfectly polished, curated pics. It’s usually me, the cat, or craft projects pics taken with my iPhone 4S. Yes, I have a 4s. It still works, it’s a little slow (and small), but if it ain’t broke…

Back to the meal plan- I did a quick grocery trip on Sunday to stock up mostly on kiddo lunch goodies. I picked up a couple items we had run out of, like cream cheese and milk.

While rummaging through the freezer I found what I think is veggie soup, but we’ll find out once it thaws. Whatever it is, it’s for dinner tonight! This is a reminder to label the food in the freezer.

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 update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day: You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

Breakfast: I’ve gone back to a protein shake or coffee with a scoop of protein powder and a few pumps of Sugar-Free Syrup for me, and pancakes or something along those lines (Dave’s Killer Bagels are also a popular request for breakfast) for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch. Usually on pizza day.

I’m fixing to make a big fruit salad today- We’ve got a lot of fruit and I don’t want it to get funky.

  • Monday: Leftover Fritatta and fruit
  • Tuesday: Vegetable Soup (or whatever I took out of the freezer)
  • Wednesday: Chicken Soup, Grilled Cheese sandwiches
  • Thursday: Casserole (I’m thinking about Chicken Tetrazzini)
  • Friday:  Pizza & Fruit
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday:  Beans, Rice, and Cheese bowls (with roasted peppers and onions)

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

1/20/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgLast week’s veggie prep really has us all set for a week full of yummy dinners! I’m hitting the store this afternoon to buy some stuff for kid’s lunches, and a few things that will round out meals for the week. My shopping list includes:

  • AP Flour (Probably a 10 or 25 lb bag- it will last for a while)
  • Avocados
  • Cheddar Cheese (block to be cut into pieces for kiddo snacks)
  • Milk
  • Coffee
  • Juice boxes
  • White Sugar/Raw Sugar (for baking)

Everything else on the menu for this week is made of stuff that we have on hand. Thanks to Brooke from Crying Out Loud for sharing some of her yummy goodies from her Porch Light box this week too.

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 update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day: You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

IMG_9133.JPGFor dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. We’ve got a bunch of stuff in the freezer, as I’ve been portioning out 2-3 adult-sized entree portions from several meals a week and freezing them for later meals.

  • Monday: Chicken Chili topped with cheese, cornbread, and strawberries
  • Tuesday: Fritatta and green salad
  • Wednesday: Veggie Loaded Pasta Sauce and pasta
  • Thursday: Pancakes, sausage, & eggs
  • Friday:   Grilled Cheese and Soup
  • Saturday: Home made pizza
  • Sunday:  Leftover fiesta!

 

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

 

12/2/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

We survived Thanksgiving break. Now it’s back to school, and back to work!

I did not go to the grocery store last week, other than to pick up milk. So last night I hit the store to stock up- The pantry was pretty bare. I ran out of flour- and for someone who bakes a lot.. well, I was pretty shocked.

This week we’re relying on a couple meal prepped items from the freezer, they come in so handy, especially on Mondays when we have so much going on. The big kid has a 2-day research study this week- he’s so excited!

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 update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

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 love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. We’ve got a bunch of stuff in the freezer, as I’ve been portioning out 2-3 adult-sized entree portions from several meals a week and freezing them for later meals.

  • Monday: Chicken Fajita bowls with rice, beans, grilled onions and peppers
  • Tuesday: Baked Ziti & Steamed veggies
  • Wednesday:  Butter Chicken, jasmine rice, and green salad
  • Thursday:  Soup (we have a couple kinds in the freezer), Grilled cheese sandwiches, and apple crisp
  • Friday:  Breakfast for dinner: Corned Beef Hash, poached eggs, toast, and fruit
  • Saturday:  Pizza time (also salad will be served)
  • Sunday:  Pulled Pork, baked potatoes, steamed veggies

I had someone ask me how we always have enough of anything for leftovers. I always cook enough of the main dish for 6-8 servings, that way we have leftovers for lunches later in the week or leftover night. And really when you make stuff like soup, it’s hard to make a batch of soup that only feeds 4 people.

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

Frugal, Tasty Meals with Dinnerly!

To facilitate this review, the awesome folks at Dinnerly provided our family with 3 meals (4-6 servings each). I received no financial compensation to write this review- All opinions are my own.

I’ve reviewed dinner/meal kits before, and my complaint is always that they are so expensive, upwards of $10 per person, per meal. At that point, I better be going out to dinner, and I am not washing dishes! Secondly, the meals are usually not child-friendly, especially if you have a kid on the spectrum (like we do), who also happens to be a vegetarian.

Enter Dinnerly! At $4.49 per adult-sized serving, Dinnerly is so much less expensive than other meal kits. But how? digital recipe cards instead of paper, fewer ingredients per dish (which means less chopping and cleaning), simple packaging, and no fancy marketing campaigns.

The big kid and I looked at the website and he chose two meat-free recipes, and I chose one with meat.

  • Mediterranean Meatball Stew with Carrots & Couscous
  • Coconut Curry Ramen with Snow Peas & Jammy Eggs
  • Baked Squash & Kale Risotto with Parmesan

recipeWhat I really like is that the recipe tells you what is in the kit for your recipe, and what you will need from your own kitchen (and trust me, it’s nothing special or fancy).

The directions are great for those who don’t have a lot of cooking experience. My 8-year-old was able to read the steps and follow them. He helped me cook the Risotto, and he measured, stirred, poured, and ripped up the kale into bite-sized pieces.

The 4-6 adult-sized servings are pretty generous, by the way. With every meal, there were closer to 7 servings. I always serve side dishes with the main dish. Most nights we had salad or some kind of veggie side dish. When we had ramen, I picked up a bag of pork potstickers from 99 Cents Only for the grown-ups, and also made a miso dressing coleslaw. If you want to stretch meals further, I suggest adding sides, or maybe sneaking in some extra veggies (I added 1 cup of peeled, diced crook-neck squash to the Mediterranean Meatball Stew).

77338343_10157525827121061_589263684740579328_n
Tamari Sauce for Ramen

Some of the recipes needed a little “kick”- especially the ramen- so we added ginger, red chili flakes, and a bay leaf to the broth. BUT, since everyone has different levels of spice tolerance, Dinnerly Kits are a great place to start if you want to explore different flavors and cultures without having the buy a bunch of new and/or different spices. For example, the ramen kit comes with two of these cute little packages of Tamari sauce. I did clean one of them out when I was done and now it’s in the kid’s toy kitchen.

Everything is pre-measured and ready to go, even the spices. This is another reason I love Dinnerly- It cuts down on food waste.

75557570_10157525826901061_3062456495460319232_n75443029_10157525826876061_5954310997228388352_nThe veggies are all super fresh and ready to be cut up! The risotto came with two little cubes of parmesan cheese, that my 8-year-old grated and sprinkled like a pro!

I made the Mediterranean Meatball Stew with Carrots & Couscous and took it to a friend for a night in. It was cheaper, healthier, and tastier than stopping to grab takeout. It was so tasty and filling.

If you want to check out Dinnerly, they have been nice enough to create a promo code just for my readers! The code to use at check out is hewesfamily15, and it’s active through the first week of December and only valid for first-time users. The coupon code is worth 15% off! To get started, visit Dinnerly here.

I think Dinnerly would also make a great gift for a family that just has a baby,  or someone who might need a little love.

75462238_10157525826711061_4997532587376246784_n
Butternut Squash & Kale Risotto
75429695_10157525826651061_6446603043503865856_n
Coconut Curry Ramen
76730116_10157525827111061_8430036417018593280_n
Meatball Stew and Cous Cous

4 Fresh, Healthy Smoothie Recipes Kids will Love!

37f39aabb6da4ee265e271d175c59991.jpgWe have smoothies a lot. It’s a good way to get fruit and/or veggies into the kids without any fuss.

It’s important to have a good blender that can handle fruits/veggies and ice. I love our new Calphalon Blender. I received it through one of my review programs.

We also have reusable shake straws– they are perfect for thick smoothies.

Here are the four recipes that my kids love!

Copycat Strawberries Gone Bananas (from Jamba): 1 cup apple juice (or milk), 1 frozen banana, 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

The Big Orange Smoothie: This one is the big kids’ favorite and is a version of one of his Jamba Juice favorites that is no longer on the menu. 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup frozen peaches, 1/2 c. frozen mango pulp, 1/2 cup chopped carrots, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

Green Berry Surprise: The surprise is the spinach. You can’t see it or taste it! 1 cup water & a scoop of protein powder (Or milk of your choice), 1 cup frozen berries, 1 frozen banana, 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

Tropical Freeze: 1 cup juice (I like to mix orange and the pineapple juice from the can if you used canned pineapples until it’s 1 cup), 1 frozen banana, 1/2 c. frozen mango pulp, 1/2 cup pineapple,  1/2 c. frozen peaches, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

The nice thing about smoothies is that you can use fresh or frozen fruit or veggies, any kind of juice, it’s all up to you!

Liquids:

  • Milk: Dairy, Oat, Hemp, Soy, Almond, or other nut milk. Your Choice.
  • Juice (Apple, Orange, and Carrot are popular)
  • Water and a scoop of protein powder
  • Water

Some of our favorite fruits include:

  • Bananas (I peel and slice overripe bananas and put them in ziploc bags, so they are ready to use!)
  • Strawberries- 99 Cents Only and Dollar Tree both stock 12 oz bags of strawberries. If you can’t find them in season, this is a great alternative.
  • Peaches- I usually buy them frozen.
  • Mangoes- 99 Cents Only sells Mango pulp, which is just the good parts of mango formed into a brick and frozen. I love mangoes, but I hate peeling and slicing them.
  • Mixed berries- 99 Cents Only sells mixed berries, which is usually strawberries, blueberries, blackberries.
  • Pineapple- Either canned in its own juice or frozen chunks. Frozen Pineapple is good straight out of the bag. Fresh pineapple is a lot of work to process just to turn into smoothies.

Tasty Veggies we enjoy in our smoothies:

  • Carrots- I usually chop them up small so they are easily incorporated.
  • Spinach- It blends in well and isn’t noticeable.

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear what your favorite smoothie flavors are!

 

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9/30/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

I bought a few things yesterday to sort of “round out” what we’ve got on hand, and I think I’ll hit up Sprouts on Wednesday for Double Ad Day to get produce, but other than, we’ll be eating a lot of the stuff in the freezer I recently meal prepped this week. I don’t feel really great (Big kid brought home the new germ du jour from school and it’s felled us all).

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, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

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

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: Soup, Grilled Cheese sandwiches, green grapes
  • Tuesday: Aunt Linda’s Mess (It’s a skillet casserole)
  • Wednesday: Baked potatoes with vegetarian chili (from the big batch of vegetarian chili I made last week), green salad.
  • Thursday: Pizza Night
  • Friday:  Date Night!
  • Saturday: Leftover night
  • Sunday:  Taco Salad (recipe will be posted later this week)

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

Stockpile Cooking: Yummy Strudel Pumpkin Muffins

Screen Shot 2019-09-15 at 7.35.48 PM.pngAs part of my “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” mantra, I’m trying to bake more out of the cupboard. It helps us use up what we’ve got on-hand, and it’s also a lot healthier than buying store-bought muffins.

While I was digging in the very back of the cupboard, I found

These muffins were amazing. The recipes makes 1 mini muffin pan (24 mini muffins), or regular sized muffins.

 

Low Fat Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour (you can also use whole wheat flour, or a 1 for 1 gluten-free flour blend if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup flax meal (You could also use almond meal if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 can canned pumpkin puree (approx. 30-ish ounces)
  • 3/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 3 oz. container of fat-free Greek vanilla yogurt (or use 3oz. of fat-free plain Greek yogurt and 1 T. vanilla extract)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk (whatever kind you like)

DSC00551.jpgStrudel topping

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room temperature butter
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup Flour (you can also use whole wheat flour, or a 1 for 1 gluten-free flour blend if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger

Directions:

Muffins-

  1. Mix dry ingredients together, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the wet ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth and combined.
  3. Add dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredient mixture and mix until smooth and combined.
  4. Pour batter into greased muffin tins (or use cupcake liners).

Strudel-

  1. Mix all strudel ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Option one: Spoon about a tablespoon of the strudel onto the uncooked muffins right before putting to the oven.
  3. Option two: Fill the muffin tins halfway with muffin batter, drop in the strudel mix, and top with more muffin batter to make strudel surprise muffins.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

 

 

 

Easy Jam Recipe: No Canning Needed!

Screen Shot 2019-09-12 at 10.53.44 PM.pngOn Wednesday, I found myself with a bunch of very ripe berries.

2 cups of strawberries

2 cups of blackberries

1 cup of raspberries

1/2 cup of blueberries

Ok, so that’s a weird amount of berries, and seeing as how there were dead ripe, the only thing I could do besides freeze them is to cook them up and make jam!

Making “freezer jam” as it’s usually known is pretty easy. No pectin needed, no jars, no canning. It’s dead simple.

Ready?

58991692874__64627D9C-5188-4F97-8BB7-004AF9B084F7.jpgIMG_7126.jpg

Ingredients

Equal parts chopped ripe fruit and white sugar (or you can use Splenda for baking)

Directions

  1. In a large pot (like this one) coot fruit over medium/low heat, stirring frequently, until the fruit breaks down, about 20-ish minutes
  2. Add sugar/sweetener, and stir until it has melted and the mixture is glossy and thick.
  3. Pour into a refrigerator safe container with a lid. Once the mixture is room temp, store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
  4. Spread the jam on anything!
IMG_7127.jpg
After it cooked down, it made about 2 1/2 cups of jam

And for those who are wondering, this is easy enough that kids can help make this, but I don’t recommend that kids do it alone. Molten fruit and sugar can cause a very painful burn on the skin.

Three Easy Recipes for Curbing Food Waste!

About 40% of the food in the US is wasted– That is from the fields to your fridge. Pretty sad, right?  40% seems like a lot, and it is- if you break that down, on average, the typical American family throws away over 25 lbs of food per family member each year!  Throwing food away is throwing money away.

Here are some simple, frugal recipes that can help you curb the food waste in your home.

To curtail my family’s food waste, I cook mostly from scratch.  When it looks like fruit or veggies are about to go bad, I turn them into something.  Recently, I made spicy Pomodoro sauce when the tomatoes at my parents’ house were starting to look squiffy (we were house-sitting for them).

 

Mom had left 6 tomatoes in the fruit basket and they were starting to get soft.  I took them home and pulled the tomatoes and half of a sweet onion I had put in the freezer just a few days ago. The sauce was easy to make!

 

Spicy Pomodoro Sauce

Makes about 4 cups of sauce

  • 11 fresh, whole ripe tomatoes (they can be frozen)
  • 1/2 chopped large sweet onion (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon butter (or olive oil if you are vegan)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1T. Basil (dried)
  • 1 T. Oregano (dried)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon (a pinch) of crushed red pepper flakes.

 

  1. Saute onions in butter until clear, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook on low, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
  3. Add whole tomatoes (it’s ok if they are frozen), cover pot and simmer on medium for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes start to fall apart.  Stir every 10 minutes or so.
  4. Add herbs.
  5. Simmer for 1-2 more hours.  Sauce will be chunky. Break up tomatoes as much as you’d like with a potato masher or a stick blender. Add Red pepper flakes about 30 minutes prior to serving.

Serve sauce on pasta of your choice or on a bed of lightly sauteed spinach.  If you don’t like your sauce spicy, omit the red pepper flakes.

 

86ed9fe0ab9a414c3c58b748e8ea6560.jpgAnother recent “from scratch” dish I made was strawberry syrup.  We’ve been getting a lot of strawberries lately, but last week, we didn’t get around to eating them all before they became a little squishy.

I hulled and chopped them up and tossed them into the freezer, in a bag with other chopped up hulled strawberries that were dead ripe.  The bag was getting full, so Saturday evening, I decided to make strawberry syrup for our Sunday morning pancakes.

I used my mom’s recipe for homemade pectin free jam and just didn’t cook it as long. You can substitute in any other fruit you prefer, except pineapple, kiwi, mangoes, bananas, or coconut (those fruits lack natural pectin and the mixture won’t thicken).  This is best with berries.

Strawberry pancake syrup

Makes about 2 cups

  • 3 cups chopped ripe fruit (can be frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups of white sugar (do not use Splenda or honey)
  • 1/4 cup of water
  1. Add all of the ingredients together in a pot, cook on medium, and stir every 5-10 minutes to keep the sugar from burning.
  2. Once it has boiled and the fruit has thawed (if working with frozen fruit), mash up the fruit with a potato masher.
  3. Turn the heat to low and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture looks glassy.
  4. Remove from heat, pour into a container with a lid. Once cooled,  you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

The mixture will be slightly chunky, and not as firm as jam, but a little more substantial than pancake syrup. This is also good on ice cream or pour a few tablespoons into plain Greek yogurt.

There are a lot of great dishes you can make from scratch anytime- you don’t need to wait for the veggies or fruit to start to turn!

We make applesauce from scratch at least 3 times a month.

Applesauce in the Crockpot

It’s Simple! Peel and chop apples (whatever quantity and variety you have on hand), toss them into the crockpot with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water and let it cook for 4-6 hours. Hot applesauce is the BEST!

I’d love to hear about how your family combats food waste. If you are looking for additional ideas, check out my post about food waste in 30 minutes here.