Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I’m home from Influential Summit, and boy, did they load us up with snacks and goodies! Our snack cupboard is full, and I’ll be putting together a big box of goodies together and post a giveaway later 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.

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: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. 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 a protein shake for me and the Mister, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

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.

This week is going to be a little different tan usual. With Mr. on the cleanse, we’ll be eating a lot of whole foods/vegetables raw, and an old family friend steel cut oats will be coming to breakfast.

  • Monday: Leftover night! We’ve got leftover cheese enchiladas, pizza, and some homemade applesauce
  • Tuesday: Homemade chicken soup – I’ll post the recipe tomorrow!
  • Wednesday: Cheese and Veggie Quiche! I’ve got so many eggs!
  • Thursday: Grilled Cheese sandwiches, Green Salad
  • Friday:  Date Night (dinner out, but I’m not sure where)
  • Saturday: Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry with Cauliflower Rice
  • Sunday: tri-tip, baked potatoes, roasted veggies

 

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week?

Advertisements

First Week of College, and Beyond!

b6f6f1732d17e562c91f423e089bd0b7

I survived the first week of college! After ::cough 17 years cough:: a long time, it’s quite an adjustment getting back into the swing of studying, doing homework, and all of the other things that go into being a mom, wife, blogger/Influencer, and special needs advocate for my big kiddo.

I wanted to share with you some things that have helped me, and the family adjust to the change.  It’s just two classes, but that’s 10-12 hours a week of studying, reading, and homework outside the classroom, and that time comes out of the time I previously spent with the kids, working on the blog/social media, petting the cat, ya know, mom stuff.

Bitty is now going to preschool two days a week. Our city’s Parks and Rec department has a drop off preschool two days a week. It’s approximately $150 for 8 weeks, which is a great price, and she is in a class with 13 other kiddos her age, several of them she knows from her daily visits to the local YMCA Child Watch. While she is at preschool, I have three hours to work on school work. It’s amazing to be able to read and work on my homework in peace. If you need a few hours to get work done, check your local Parks and Rec department for this type of preschool.

Family: As someone who has family nearby, having my family able to help out with school pick ups and therapy drop offs, it is a Godsend. My parents, brother and sister-in-law have really stepped in and helped us with the kids and house. Last week Miss Sally (my car) needed new front and rear brakes, and two new tires. Thanks to my Sister-in-law, niece, and my parents I didn’t have to walk home with Bitty (5 miles with a 3 year old- No thanks) or call an Uber.

Schedule: As a family, we have a shared calendar on iCal, in which I put all of the kids appointments, weekly commitments, birthdays, deadlines. In addition, I also have a calendar (this one) in the master bathroom on my cork board. Yes, I have a cork board in the master bathroom next to the vanity, so we can see whats on the schedule for each day.  Having everything in the palm of my hand (on my phone), and in a place that is visible to us (calendar) has really helped keep us focused and on task.

Remembering my Skill-Set: I’m not reinventing the wheel here. To maximize my productive time, I make sure to use my previously honed skills: Meal Planning, Meal Prep, setting out everyone’s clothes the night before, making lunches the night before, organizing areas of the house to help us get out of the house in the morning on time.

So while you may see less blog posts until I get in the full swing of it all, but I’m still posting on Social Media like a madwoman.

I want you all to know that it doesn’t matter what your age, if there is something you want: College, new job, more time with your family, vacation.. Do it! Change can be scary, but believe in yourself and have a plan! It might be rough at first, but stick with it.

Enough motivational speaking from me, I have homework to do!

Talk Back: What have you done recently that moved you out of your comfort zone?

Recipe: Pasta Free Lasagna

img_3880WHAT? Pasta free lasagna? Are you nuts? I know that’s what you are all thinking, but bear with me.

I know so many people are sticking to their New Years Resolutions of eating healthy, but they are longing for the warm, cheesy, rich gooey-ness of their favorite comfort foods. Mr. just finished a 10 day cleanse, and we are slowing adding things back into his diet. He missed cheese, so I set to find a recipe that contains cheese that I could make a little more healthy by omitting some of the other things that he isn’t quite ready to add back in (meat and lots of heavy carbs). I did make spaghetti to go on the side, but you can skip that if you want.

We had a bag of yellow squash in the fridge, so I decided to make lasagna using the squash in the place of the lasagna noodles.

With this recipe, you can add as many veggies as you want. I opted for mire poix (I had bags of it prepped in the freezer), garlic, shallots, tomatoes, and little pieces of the squash that I chopped into bite size pieces. These were the neck or end that I couldn’t cut into planks. I recommend that you use what you’ve got on hand that you really like. You can add ricotta between the layers, but I skipped it because we didn’t have any, and Mr. isn’t ready to add eggs back in yet (if you’ve never made lasagna before, the ricotta filling is a mixture of egg, Parmesan cheese, and ricotta).

img_3875This recipe makes a big 9×13 inch baking dish- There will be leftovers!

Pasta Free Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 4 yellow or green crooked neck squash (zucchini), cut into planks, Reserve remaining pieces for sauce
  • 1 jar sugar free pasta sauce (or use your favorite)
  • 2 medium onions or 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 can (approx. 14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 T. Italian seasonning
  • 2 T. Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup parmesaen cheese
  • 2 cups Italian blend cheese
img_3884
Dinner is served (salad not shown)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large stock pot, saute onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil until onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Add garlic and shallots, reduce heat. Cook until garlic and shallots are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Burnt garlic is gross.
  4. Pour wine over veggies and scrape any yummy brown bits off the bottom of the pot. This is called De-glazing the pan. Those brown bits are full of flavor.
  5. Add pasta sauce, herbs, and both cans of tomatoes (diced and paste). Cook on medium for 15-20 minutes. If you want, you can simmer the sauce on low for as long as you want. Make sure to stir frequently and put a lid on the pot.
  6. Add reserved squash bits to sauce. They will cook quickly, so you need to add them last.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Ladle sauce in the bottom of the 9×13 baking dish, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.
  9. Cover the sauce with planks of squash, then layer cheese, and sauce.  repeat until the pan is full- the top layer should be cheese. If you like lots of cheese, use more than the 2 1/2 cups listed above.
  10. Cover pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350. after 20 minutes, uncover pan and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly.
  11. Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  12. Serve with salad and a small portion of whole wheat pasta. I made whole wheat pasta and topped it with a dollop of Chef Shamy Garlic Butter. It’s amazing.

Variations: This meal is already vegetarian and gluten free. If you are vegan, use dairy free cheese. I cannot promise it will be as gooey and delicious, as I’m not familiar with how dairy free cheese cooks.

If you just gotta have meat, start by sauteing 1 lb of ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, or turkey), then continue the recipe as written.

Money Saving Tips for Going Back to College!

collegeSo after a few year s(cough cough), I’ve gone back to college to finish up my AA and get ready to transfer to a CA State University.

Like any endeavor in my life, I’m trying to do the college experience on the cheap. Here are a few ways you can save money while going to school:

Start out by completing a FAFSA. That’s a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Regardless of your family income or situation, you should fill it out. You never know what kind of loans, fee waivers, or grants you may be eligible for. I was able to get a Governor’s Board Fee Waiver, which paid for my classes. All I had to pay was the Health Fee (which is $20).

amazonprimeAmazon Prime has a discounted program for students. The first 6 months are free (Courtesy of Sprint, and just $6.49/month after that. That’s 50% off the regular price.

You can rent your textbooks online, Amazon rents textbooks. Your local school library may also have short term checkout of some textbooks. You may have to ask the librarian for more information.

If you need a new computer, Apple offers a discount through Unidays. I’m still in the middle of setting my account up, but it looks like Unidays partners with hundreds of retail partners.

School supplies are always cheaper if you buy them off campus. I like to shop for school supplies at Dollar Tree, they have lots of great stuff all year long.

A list on online retailers offering discounts can be seen here, courtesy of Dealhack.

Once school starts, get a Student ID card.

Beyond saving money at on tuition, books, and supplies, your student ID may give you discounts out in the world! College students who meet some criteria may also receive a discount on your automobile insurance, cell phone bill, even fee free banking products.

Movie theatres, museums, local attractions, and restaurants sometimes give students discounts, make sure to check before you go.

Talk Back: What’s your favorite Student Discount?

 

Free Sample of Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee!


unnamed.jpg
Do you buy coffee at make at home, but maybe you haven’t tried Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee?

Check out this sweet Freebie!

Choose one of the following:

  • Original Blend Coffee
  • K-Cup Pod Pack (1 Original Blend + 1 French Vanilla)
  • K-Cup Pod Pack (1 Original Blend + 1 100% Columbian)

Note: As variants deplete, screens will automatically adjust to show only the remaining samples.

 

I ordered my sample! I can’t wait for it to arrive.

Affected by the Government Shut Down?

4cad5a265dc46a2ca38b1727137b1b6e.jpgI know there are so many families in San Diego that are affected by the government shutdown. I wanted to post a small round up to try and help those who may need help with groceries, clothes, or help with paying bills.

Food: Here is a post about San Diego, CA area food banks, food pantries, and produce distributions. You can also call 211, or visit the 211 website. They have tons of great recourses, including information on housing, utility assistance, and transportation.

Utilities: For those of us in San Diego County, SDG&E has several ways you can save money on your power bill. I’ve gone over a few here.  SDG&E also has information on their site specifically for furloughed Federal employees.

We switched to Time-of-Use pricing a few months ago, and combined with being more mindful of when and how we use power:

  • Turning off lights during the day and opening the shades/curtains
  • Turn your thermostat up.
  • Doing laundry and dishes before 4pm or after 9pm
  • Using Smart Plugs and using OhmConnect to help us conserve power actively during times when there is extra demand on the grid. You can learn more about OhmConnect here.

Clothing Resources: Here are a few resources that can help you with clothes. There are clothing swaps all over San Diego County.

Pet Resources: The San Diego Humane Society is offering free pet food (cat or dog) for furloughed Federal employee. Per their Facebook page: “We will offer free pet food to federal employees affected by the government shutdown Monday, Jan. 14 through Friday, Jan. 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at all three of our campuses. Two bags of pet food will be provided to each family who can show proof of federal employment. All pet food will be available on a first come, first served basis while supplies last. You can help by sharing this post, donating on our website (https://bit.ly/2AJJtcN) and/or by donating dog or cat food at any of our locations.”

2019 Upcoming Clothing Swaps!

IMG_4703

It’s that time again- Clean out the closets and dressers and get swapping! I love clothing swaps- it’s a great way to get gently worn clothes and other goods (I love looking for linens and new accessories), and get rid of the clothing your kids have outgrown.

The Skyline Swap is scheduled for March 30, 2019. I’ve got it in my calendar and I’ve started the bag of clothes to swap! It costs $2.00 to get in, kids under 12 are free.

Naomi’s Closet is located in Santee, and they provide clothing and toiletries to women in need.

The Sonrise Church in Santee has a clothing swap too! One for kids clothes, and another for women’s clothing. Miss Charity’s Closet & Little Blessings Boutique 2nd Saturday of every month at 9:00 am Contact Charity Murphy for more info clmurphy71@gmail.com

Not strictly clothing related, there is the San Diego Really, Really Free Market. They also meet about once a quarter in various areas around town.

Also not strictly Clothing Related, but one of my favorite give back orgs is the Buy Nothing Project. There are chapters all over the US, and we have a few here in San Diego.

If you are looking for a group that hosts clothing swaps more frequently, check it out the Thread Bumpin’ Meet up Group. They host a monthly swap in OB area.

Trendy Trade hosts events all over the West Coast at various times throughout the year.

Don’t forget Freecycle. Do a quick google search for Clothing swap + the name of your city.

And Finally, the Closet of 54th isn’t a clothing swap per se, but they do help those in need with new to them clothes. They are open once a few times each month. You can find them on Facebook. They are located at the Calvary Lutheran Church, 3060 54th Street, San Diego, CA. Contact The Closet at thecloseton54th@gmail.com.

 

Talk Back:  I’d love to hear about other San Diego area clothing swaps that you know of! Favorite swaps and/or what your best score has been!