It’s Back! Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I cleaned out the pantry last week. There was a lot of weird/unusual stuff- Thanks to my food blogging/cooking endeavors. I also went through the fridge and tossed a bunch of condiments that were of various “vintages”.

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. There is going to be some traveling this week, so I’ll be relying more on my freezer stash.

  • Monday: Table5 Pizza and Fruit Salad
  • Tuesday: Chicken Tetrazzini with brocolli (Hooray for 1 pot meals)
  • Wednesday: Pesto Pasta bake (it’s a new recipe I’m working on- if it turns out well I’ll post it later this week).
  • Thursday: Grilled Cheese sandwiches made with Chef Shamy Garlic Butter and sharp cheddar cheese, Homemade Tomato Soup.
  • Friday:  Stir fry veggies and cauliflower “rice”.
  • Saturday: Spanish Rice casserole- Sausage, Spanish rice, and veggies.
  • Sunday: Leftoverpalooza, or breakfast for dinner.

And I’ll be making some cookies with Kodiak Flapjack mix (Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies), and at least one batch of Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins.

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week? 

Review: Hen in a Hurry

In October, I was offered a sample meal box from Hen in a Hurry. It arrived towards the end of the month, and I was stoked. We’ve been making our way through the meals. 

Hen in a Hurry is an awesome new frozen family meal Delivery service. Hen in a Hurry was created in the small kitchen of the popular Greensboro, North Carolina eatery, Iron Hen Cafe. By customer request, the idea of Hen in a Hurry came to be. They love organic and locally grown, but make exceptions for some farmers and producers. Meals are precooked and flash frozen so all you have to do is heat it up. All subscriptions are no commitment – pause or cancel at whenever you want!

We Received 4 meals to try out: 

-Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo with Fire Roasted Vegetables
-Pesto Zucchini Noodles with Fire Roasted Vegetables
-Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Pepper with Loaded Cauliflower
-Fresh Garlic and Turkey Meatloaf with Grilled Green Beans

The meals arrived frozen in a large styrofoam box. They were packed with dry ice, and when they arrived, most of the dry ice had evaporated, but the food was frozen like a rock!

We had the Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Pepper with Loaded Cauliflower first. The directions give you the option to cook them in the microwave or the oven. I microwaved the peppers, which was a mistake. All of the cheese melted and turned into a puddle of fat in the bottom of the tray.  No problem! I put the peppers into a baking dish and sprinkled some Italian cheese blend on the top and put them under the broiler for 3 minutes. Dinner was saved.  The only thing that was missing was there were no onions in ours, so I had to grill some up separately and add them to the top before serving. 

And I’ve got a coupon code and deal to share with you!  You can chose which plan works best for your family. And this makes a great gift!

  • (30) Individual Meals – Subscription for a month – Regular Price: $315.00 – Deal: 45% off ($141.75 off) 1st months subscription Use Code: 45offFamilyGuide             
  •  (7) Individual Meals – Subscription for a week – Regular Price: $99.00 – Deal: $40 Off 1st week’s subscription Use Code: 40offFamilyGuide
  • (4) 4 days a week- Family Meals – Includes a side and entree for a family of 4 (16 total meals) – Regular Price $96 – Deal: $25 Off 1st week’s subscription Use Code: 25offFamilyGuide
  • (6) 6 days a week – Family Meals – Includes a side and entree for a family of 4 (24 total meals) – Regular Price $132 – Deal: $35 Off 1st week’s subscription Use Code: 35offFamilyGuide

To get started:

Visit Hen in a Hurry and pick one of the advertised subscriptions. During checkout set up your account and then enter in the promo code associated with the deal you choose. Easy peasy!

USE CODE “SHIP4FREE” TO GET FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $100.

And remember, all subscriptions are no commitment – pause or cancel any time. Orders placed by 12 Noon EST on Thursday will be shipped the following Monday afternoon.

I received these meals in order to facilitate this review, I received no financial compensation and all honest opinions are my own. Thanks to US Family Guide and Hen in a Hurry for this opportunity.

Versatile Chicken Meatball Recipe!

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This recipe is dead simple! We don’t eat a lot of red meat, and I’m not a huge fan of ground turkey, so I was hoping to find some way to concoct an awesome meatball recipe.

After some trial and error (ok- it was one batch that was weird and dry), and tastings with various sauces, and here is the final tasty result!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground chicken (I use Foster Farms)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 small onion diced small
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped small
  • 1 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1 T. dried parsley
  • 2 T. olive oil

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the ingredients, except the olive oil.
  2. Once all of the ingredients are combines, shape the meat mixture into small balls. Place small balls on a plate or cookie sheet and place in the fridge or freezer for 20 minutes, until firm.
  3. Once firm, fry in olive oil in batches until cooked through.
  4. Meatballs can be topped with a favorite sauce and served right away, or store in the freezer in an airtight container for up to a month.

This recipe makes between 12-20 meatballs depending on how big (or small) you make the meatballs.

These meatballs are great with BBQ sauce, spaghetti sauce, even as Swedish meatballs!

Meal Planning 110: Batch Cooking

file6951293850756.jpgOk, so I’ve discussed Meal Planning here, and I try to post our weekly meal plans on Mondays, but I’m sure you’ve wondered if/how I actually do it.

One of my secrets is that I try and do meal prep and batch cooking once every few weeks. For us that means:

  • Setting aside an hour or so after grocery shopping to clean the produce, and prep it in single serving containers (they are reusable, don’t worry) if they are for lunches or snacks. Little bags of carrots, or grapes are both popular in our house.
  • I make my own smoothie kits too- cut up over ripe bananas and other fruits and put them into single servings ziploc bags.
  • Make frozen veggie bags too: I cut up onions, carrots, and celery for mire poix bags. They are the perfect base for most dishes, especially soups.  I also cut up fresh brocolli, cauliflower, bell pepper strips. Whatever I bought that we’ll be using in recipes.
  •  Depending on what is on the menu for the next week or two, I’ll prep some of the proteins.  I try to buy large packages of proteins, and re-package them with herbs and seasonings perfect for meals. Mostly chicken, because we don’t really eat all that much meat. Sometimes I’ll even prep ground beef into hamburger patties. This afternoon, I made chicken meatballs. I’ve included the recipe below.
  • Once the veggies are prepped and bagged, and the proteins are prepped and bagged, I get a bigger zip top bag and place everything needed for one meal into it, write on a sticky what it is, put the sticky on the bag and pop it into the freezer. Then we are all set to get cooking!
  • I try and prep a few crockpot meals as well. Salsa Chicken, Moosie’s Pot Roast are two great options. Crockpot freezer meals are perfect  for those mornings when you know you’ll want a hot meal after work, but won’t be in the mood to cook.
  • I also like to break up large packages of cheese, like I did here. Less waste, and we’re less likely to eat all of the cheese quickly.
  • Making baked goods. I prefer to make muffins, brownies, and cookies at home, that way I can control the amount of sugar that the family consumes.  I also add little healthy things: milled flax seeds, pumpkin, bananas. I try to do healthy swaps that aren’t really noticeable. This is a favorite cake in our house. It’s also great as muffins too. This time of year I also like to make Pumpkin Donuts too. YUM.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 10.12.05 PM.pngAll of these things make meal planning a lot easier. Having ingredients already chopped, proteins mixed with seasoning, even snacks pre-packaged and set in a specific area of the kitchen.

I use a plastic Sterilite Basket to pack most of our shelf stable snacks that go into our lunches. I frequently skip buying large containers of pre-packaged snacks unless they are a better deal. If you notice, the goldfish are in Ziploc bags. The kids bring them home and I reuse them. But I only reuse them for more snacks.

I have a second shelf that stores all of our crackers (saltine, Ritz, graham, etc.) and puffed rice rolls, we eat those at other times besides lunch, but I grab them and pack them into individual containers or plastic bags for lunch as well.

Not shown are the lunch drinks which I have to keep hidden from the kids so they don’t drink them all after school/on weekends. I have a cache of goodies in the fridge and free to have in our lunches: fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese sticks, milk boxes, and bottles of water to choose from.

This “hack” aka pantry shortcut keeps my time making lunches a lot shorter, and I can spend more time with my kids!

Recipe: Ground Chicken Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 of a white onion, minced
  • 1 /2 Teaspoon of each: Salt, garlic powder, pepper
  • 2 T

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients (except oil) in a large bowl until well combined.
  2. Divide mixture into 12-20 balls and roll between your palms until uniform in size.
  3. Place meatballs on a cookie sheet or plate and stash in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Heat oil in large pan, fry meatballs in batches, and drain on a paper towel to blot out any excess oil.
  5. Once meatballs are cool to the touch, place them in a freezer safe container with a lid or zipper top bag. Store in the freezer.

I like to make several bags of meatballs, and I put as many in a bag as we need for one meal. For us, that 6-8 large meatballs- about the size of a cutie tangerine.

These meatballs are great because they work with a variety of sauces and cuisines.

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about some of the ways that you use batch cooking and food prep to make your life easier! What is your favorite time saving kitchen “Hack”.

Meal Plan Monday 9/24/18

stemarie_1650skitchen

Hey, did you know that today is National Punctuation Day? To celebrate, let’s use some exclamation points, and get started with our meal plan for the week!

I’ve gotta goto the grocery store this week, so this is based on what little we have on hand. I’ll be buying more meat, fresh fruit, and veg, and some pantry staples that have dwindled. The menu may changed based on what I find while I’m out shopping.  I’ve been doing a lot of shopping at 99 Cents Only, Grocery Outlet, and Aldi’s lately.

Breakfasts are usually the same for us: 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.

Monday: Homemade frozen pizza, carrots with yogurt dip, and green grapes

Tuesday: Cheese enchiladas, beans and Cauliflower Rice (99 Cents only has had Bird’s Eye brand lately and it’s really good!)

Wednesday:  We are going to an event and dinner is included- I’m not sure what it will be

Thursday: Egg scramble with veggies, bacon and cheese (I’m hoping to use up whatever veggies we’ve got on hand- usually bell pepper, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and shallots).

Friday: I really want soup, so I’m thinking Colonial Chowder and I’ll make biscuits to go with it.

Saturday: I’ve got a corned beef in the freezer, so I’m thinking I’ll pop it into the crockpot Friday night and let it cook all night (recipe here), and I’ll make corned beef sandwiches for us to take along with us when we head up to Brick or Treat at Legoland.

Sunday: There is a mother and Son bowling event that evening, so hubs and Bitty Bird have to fend for themselves, that means: Leftover night!

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

Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

So, I know it’s Tuesday, but we were at Legoland yesterday for the opening of the Deep Sea Adventure. I need to get back to meal planning for the week because without it, I’m getting lazy!

Breakfasts are usually the same for us: 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 buy 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, I plan on making a couple pizza crusts, and put them in the freezer in individual bags so we can have pizza whenever we want without having to call Dominos. I also plan on doing some meal prep this coming weekend for the coming week.

Monday: we had Jack in the Box on the way home from Legoland. We left later and got home even later.

Tuesday: The kids asked for Pancakes, so I whipped up a batch. For them, I just made regular pancakes, for Mister and myself, I made pancakes, but put a slice of bacon in batter after it’s poured onto the griddle. Yum.

Wednesday: BBQ at my parents house. It’s a potluck, and we’re bringing corn to grill, and a tasty green salad. There will be fried chicken, salads of all types, baked beans, and a brownie sundae bar!

Thursday: Pulled Pork. Onions, yellow bell peppers, carrots, celery, garlic, shallots, bay leaves, and about a cup of La Victoria Salsa Verde Pineapple Salsa, All cooked with a pork tenderloin roast. I’ll be starting it Wednesday night.  In the morning I’ll shred the roast with two forks, and vent the lid to cook off the excess moisture.  By 5 PM, the meat will melt in our mouths. I’ll be serving it with tortillas, rice, bans, and a green salad.

Friday: Leftovers, I’m guessing, or maybe quesadillas. Friday is usually date night, but it’s tech week for Mister’s play, and he opens Friday Night.

Saturday: Home Made Pizza- I’ll probably bust out a few extra crusts at the same time to freeze.

Sunday: Lemon Garlic Spaghetti Squash casserole– I’ve got 4 small spaghetti squash that need to be baked! I’m going to try cooking them in the crockpot- I saw a post on Facebook about it a few weeks ago and I saved the video.

What are you having this week for dinner?

 

Chick-Fil-A Cow Appreciation Day is coming!

Are you ready? Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A is coming up on July 10th! The kids love it, so we are prepping to go. You can check out my past post here with how you can DIY a quick costume with stuff that you may already have around the house.

It’s easy to score a free Entree at Chick-Fil-A on 7/10/18:

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Anyone who goes into Chick-Fil-A wearing any sort of cow apparel will receive a free entrée on July 10th.

Children wearing anything cow-like will receive a free Kid’s Meal.

I’ve been saving the treats (I’ve got a free fries and a free fruit cup, and a free White Peach Tea Lemonade) on my Chick-fil-a app to use on the same day- So lunch will be free for all of us.

I’ll be posting pics of our adventure on Instagram, I can’t wait to see yours as well!