11/18/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I didn’t make the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes I had hoped to make last week, but I am eyeing them for this week’s baking, in addition to chocolate chip cookies (always the kiddos favorite).

This week is starting off with a trip to the YMCA for yoga and some time at child watch. There is a lot going on over the next few weeks around here, so I’m trying to get us into a new routine with meal planning and getting more exercise for all of us.

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. Last week I did a lot of veggie prep and I’ve got a bunch of bags of veggies in the freezer for meals this week.

  • Monday: breakfast for dinner: Everything bagels with various toppings (options will include scrambled eggs with cheese, avocado slices, bacon crumbles, sliced sharp cheddar, cream cheese), and smoothies.
  • Tuesday: Leftover Kale and Butternut Squash Risotto from Dinnerly (It made a HUGE amount). This time I’ll be adding bacon crumbles and serving it with fresh rolls.
  • Wednesday:  Chicken fajitas with onions and peppers, rice, and refried beans (quesadillas as the main dish for my vegetarian kiddo)
  • Thursday:  Veggie Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Friday:  Date Night (Dinner out- Woo)
  • Saturday:  Pizza time (also salad will be served)
  • Sunday:   Leftovers, as per usual

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?

Healthy, Frozen Fruit Pops!

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It’s summer and my kids would eat popsicles 24/7 if I let them. Most commercial popsicles (or as they are sometimes called, frozen dessert confections) are full of sugar and artificial ick. A few months ago my dad bought me a package of Zipzicles on Amazon. Zipzicles are long, skinny zip top freezer bags that can be filled with whatever you’d like and frozen. Think DIY Otter Pops.

What I really like is that you can be creative, use what you have on hand, and create healthy and fun treats with your kids.

Here are two recipes that the kids and I came up with. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this pictures recently.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 7.46.47 AMMixed Berry Pops

Makes about 12 pops

  • 2 cups mixed berries (use whatever you have, I used 1.5 cups of strawberries and 1/2 cup blackberries)
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 t. honey

Place all ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. Use a small funnel to fill the zipzicle pouches. Place all Zipzicle pouches into a cup or larger zip top bag and place in freezer. Ready to serve in approx 4-6 hours, or as soon as frozen solid.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 7.46.35 AMTropical Pops

Makes about 20

2c frozen bananas
2c frozen Strawberries
1 pkg frozen mangoes
2c Orange Juice
Blend together, pour into Zipzicle pouches ( I use a funnel). Store in freezer until it’s time to consume.

They are so good, and no extra sugar is needed, because the bananas are so sweet.

Next, I think we’ll be making Bachelor Mousse treats. I think it will freeze well, and everyone loves fudgsicles!

For your convenance, Zipzicles can be purchased here (affiliate link), but you can also find them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

What would you put into your Zipzicles?

Gardening: Fun for the whole Family!

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watering and talking to the bell pepper plant.

Henry loves to garden. He loves planting seeds, watering, talking to the plants , and harvesting the fruits and veggies (even if he isn’t too hip on eating them all-yet!)

I think that it’s because of our heritage. My Maternal Great-Grandfather was a farmer in Minnesota.

Since we live upstairs in a condo, we don’t have 40 acres to plow and sow. So, like many urban farmers, we turn to container gardening. I have a growing Pinterest Board dedicated to container gardening, and I encourage you to join it!

Here are a few ways that we were able to start our garden on a budget:

  • I kept my eyes peeled on Craigslist free section for pots, I also put feelers out on social media for anyone getting rid of pots. That’s how we scored an awesome clay pot for our wild flowers!
  • We purchased heavy duty plastic pots at 99 Cents Only. They have a great selection of basic gardening tools, pots, planters, and tomatoes cages- all for $1.49 or less!
  • I found a great deal on seeds at Dollar Tree. I was able to pick up this box of seeds for only $1.00!  I only used part of the box, since we don’t have a lot of room for our flowers. In addition to American Seed brand, they also had some Burpee brand seeds!
  • Most gardening stores are having sales right now- check out your local shop and see what kind of plants are on sale! We picked up a huge bag of soil, organic tomatoes (complete and in a planter with a cage), Green Bell Pepper, a 6 pack of strawberries, and a lavender bush for less than $50.  We opted to purchase some plants in addition to seeds, just so Henry doesn’t lose interest in our garden (waiting for a tomato seed to grow into a bush is mind-numbing).

We are saving money on water too! Whenever it rains, we get out our rain buckets and collect as much as we can. It usually is only a few gallons, but we are able to use that water and not turn on the tap.

If you are new to gardening and aren’t sure what to plant or where to plant, check out Sunset Magazine’s Climate Guide. It will give you the ins and outs of when and what to plant. Luckily here in San Diego, it’s pretty temperate all year, so we can plant a lot of different plants.

Some of you may be wondering why we are growing wild flowers and lavender, since neither will produce any food. Well, no food for us, but food for bees! Without bees to pollinate the flowers on our fruit and veggies plants, there would be no food for us to harvest and enjoy! I try to plant flowers each year to entice the bees to visit our garden!

Our Garden Stones!
Our Garden Stones!

Last year we hand garden stakes with the names of our crops written on them. The sun faded them in no time. This year, we opted to do garden stones. I found a great project on pinterest and changed it up based on our needs.

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IMG_3957We were recently gifted with two HUGE boxes of craft supplies and they contained these really cool wooden Whirligig/spinners (kinda like these). All we had to do was paint them! We quickly painted them up and added them to our planters!

I think gardening is a wonderful project for any family. It can be as small as a tomato plant on your patio, or as big as renovating your backyard to have a mini-farm! Gardening teaches kids about the life cycle of plants, and how to care for something else. I think it’s important that everyone know where food comes from, and how hard it can be at times (especially when you are waiting for it to ripen), so that we don’t take for granted our food.

Talk Back: I’d love to see your gardens too! Please comment with a photo, or let me know what you are growing!