10/12/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays, but yesterday was a busy day (swimming reservation at the Y, a special needs conference, and lots of playtime), so I didn’t have a chance to post.

It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

I’m hitting up the store this morning for some last-minute items that I thought we had (note to self: Do not put empty cereal box back in the cupboard). I’m thinking about making a batch of cookies today to have a sweet dessert for the kids.

Thanks to some local deals, offers, and the school lunches the kids bring home, I have been able to keep our grocery budget to $60 per week for the past 3 weeks! It’s amazing. The extra money is going into our holiday savings account.

If you have kids between 2-18, check with your local school to see if they are offering free lunches and/or breakfasts. You can also check the USDA Website– but it might be a little out of date.

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.

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. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being. The big kid has lunch at school, so it’s whatever he chooses from the lunch box in the cupboard, plus some fruit and juice or milk. Since the little girl is in the morning cohort at school, she has lunch at home. Buttered noodles, yogurt, apple slices, and a popsicle are her go-to lunch.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:   Salsa Chicken and veggies ( I didn’t end up making it last week like I had planned)
  • Monday:  Entrees & Salad
  • Tuesday:  Chick’n nuggets (vegetarian nugs for our buddy) and fruit
  • Wednesday:   Sausage and Peppers in the Crockpot, noodles, and veggies
  • Thursday: Chicken Tika Masala, rice, veggies
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

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

10/5/2020 Weekly Meal Plan!

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays, but yesterday was a busy day, so I didn’t have a chance to post.

It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

I didn’t have a chance to shop over the weekend, so this morning after school drop off, I’m hitting up Food4Less for a few things. I stocked up on fresh fruit last week (there was a produce giveaway locally, and that filled both fruit bowls). Big Kid has requested home made apple sauce, so I’m going to make it this morning as well as Kodiak Chocolate Muffins.  The free school lunches that our school is providing gives us some yummy stuff the kids like (baby carrots, milk, and apple slices to name a few), and the stuff that they don’t care for or contains meat we share with some of our friends who have kiddos that aren’t able to stop and pick up free lunches.

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.

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. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being. The big kid has lunch at school, so it’s whatever he chooses from the lunch box in the cupboard, plus some fruit and juice or milk. Since the little girl is in the morning cohort at school, she has lunch at home. Buttered noodles, yogurt, apple slices, and a popsicle are her go-to lunch.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Leftover Extravaganza
  • Monday:  Entrees & Salad
  • Tuesday:  Pancakes and fruit
  • Wednesday:   Patty Melts made with Veggie Burgers
  • Thursday: Salsa Chicken and veggies
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner  (I’ve been itching to make blueberry waffles with vanilla ice cream)

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

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

9/28/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays. It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

As I posted on Instagram yesterday, the big kid and I hit up Sprouts and Food4less yesterday to pick up produce and a few others things (milk and butter) to round out what we already had on-hand. The free school lunches that our school is providing gives us some yummy stuff the kids like (baby carrots, milk, and apple slices to name a few), and the stuff that they don’t care for or contains meat we share with some of our friends who have kiddos that aren’t able to stop and pick up free lunches.

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.

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. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being. The big kid has lunch at school, so it’s whatever he chooses from the lunch box in the cupboard, plus some fruit and juice or milk. Since the little girl is in the morning cohort at school, she has lunch at home. Buttered noodles, yogurt, apple slices, and a popsicle are her go-to lunch.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Leftover Extravaganza
  • Monday:  Entrees & Salad
  • Tuesday:  Bean, Rice, and Cheese Bowls (I’ll post the recipe this week)
  • Wednesday:  Kofta Meatballs, Rice, Salad, Hummus
  • Thursday: Cheesy Ravioli and Veggies
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner (Probably pancakes, eggs, and fruit salad)

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

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

Slow Cooker Recipe: Sausage and Peppers!

This recipe is dead simple and so tasty! The best part is you can use any kind of Dinner sausage you want. We used Italian Sausages (made with pork), but you can use whatever you like (including veggie sausages if you are meatless).

You can use fresh or frozen peppers and onions (Yes, you can buy frozen peppers and onions at the store- They are often branded as “Fajita Mix”), it’s really up to you.

And you can load your yumminess onto a hoagie roll, top with cheese and chow down, or top a bed of pasta or Zoodles- It’s really up to you.

The best part is this recipe makes a lot, so there are always leftovers!

Sausage and Peppers Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Package Dinner Sausages (Italian or your choice)
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 20-ish ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 T Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In your slow cooker, combine all the ingredients.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. Turn up to high, remove the lid and cook for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Serve on a roll/bun, on pasta or zoodles.
  5. OPTIONAL- Top each serving with cheese.

9/13/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

 

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays. It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

Tomorrow the big kid goes back to physical (in person) school. The Special Education classes are going back first, and they get the entire campus to themselves for about a week. Big Kid is super excited to see his friends and show off his new masks. He has a new hand sanitizer for his backpack too.

I’ve been picking up school/lunch snacks over the past few weeks and hiding them in the back of the cupboard, so we are all set for tomorrow!

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.

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. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being (Peanut butter sandwiches and baguettes toasted with garlic butter are high on the list as of late). I may make up a cheese pizza and serve that for a few lunches during the week with apple slices (or apple sauce), cheez-its, and milk (as well as some sort of dessert- I picked up a box of Ghiradelli Brownie Mix at Costco a few weeks back, and I’ve been making a pan of brownies once or twice a week. My secret is to use milk and coconut oil instead of water and vegetable oil).

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Sausage & Peppers (in the crockpot)
  • Monday:  Salad and Avocado toast (We have a bunch of avocados)
  • Tuesday:  Bean, Rice, and Cheese Bowls
  • Wednesday:  Chinese takeout (I have coupons)
  • Thursday: Pizza Night (pizza and salad or fruit)
  • Friday: Breakfast for Dinner (Probably pancakes, eggs, and fruit salad)
  • Saturday: leftover fiesta

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

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

Crockpot Chili Recipe (GF, Vegan, Vegetarian)

bb7aaf49c1b99f67342c1e2ba108e792.jpg
Easy, Delicious, and Healthy!

I realized the other day when searching for my chili recipe on my blog so I could share it with someone on Facebook, that I have not posted my chili recipe, ever! Which is weird, because I make it at least once a month.

What I love about making chili in the crockpot is that you can use either fresh, frozen, or canned veggies, it really depends on what you have in your house, and what your budget is.

Because I get vegetables and fruit twice a month at our local co-op, frequently I will have fresh vegetables that I have diced or prepared and put into Ziploc bags to store in the freezer. It ensures that we have nutritious vegetables with no additives at our fingertips throughout the month.

Another great thing about this chili recipe is you can make it vegetarian, you can put meat in it, or you can make a vegan! This recipe is naturally gluten-free.

Slow Cooker Chili

  • One large onion diced
  • Two bell peppers, diced
  • 3 cups tomatoes. You can either use canned tomatoes, or if you have fresh tomatoes available you can quarter them.  No need to peel or seed them.
  • Two cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 T. Avocado oil
  • 1 pound of meat (optional) I usually use ground pork, but other good choices include ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, or bite-sized pieces of stew meat. If you want a meat substitute, I like these crumbles from Beyond Meat.
  • One can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3T chili powder
  • 1t cumin
  • Salt and pepper as needed

Optional, but delicious:

1 cup corn niblets. If you use canned corn, drain and rinse it prior to adding.

If you do not care for black or kidney beans, you can swap in Northern beans, or navy beans.

Directions

  1. Personally, I like to brown the meat on the stove prior to adding it to the slow cooker. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch Oven, heat avocado oil and brown meat until thoroughly cooked/browned.
  2. Add onions and peppers, cook until onions are clear and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, and cook, stirring often until garlic is fragrant about 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. If your pan has a lot of brown food remnants on the bottom, I recommend taking 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid (you can use water) and pour it in the pan stirring and scraping all the yummy brown stuff off the bottom. This is where all the flavor lives.
  5. Pour all of the ingredients from the pot into your slow cooker.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, place lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

I love serving chili with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

This recipe is incredibly versatile.

If you don’t have fresh onions and peppers, you can grab a bag of fajita mix out of the freezer (which is pre-chopped onions and bell peppers).

If you don’t have fresh tomatoes (which let’s face it a lot of us don’t) you can use canned tomatoes. You can use whole canned tomatoes you can use diced, you can use chopped, whatever kind of tomatoes you have in your cupboard.

Use whatever kind of canned beans you have on hand. One time I made chili and I used chickpeas! And it turned out delicious!

If you don’t have cumin and chili powder in your cupboard but you have chili seasoning, use that instead.

I find the chili is a great go-to meal for when you are at the end of the month, and you are low on funds but you have lots of canned goods and frozen veggies.

If you were strapped for time, you don’t have to brown your meat, you can just put it in the crockpot and pour all the other ingredients over top, cook it, and let it cook. Just make sure to break up the meat (if you’re using ground meat) with a spoon prior to serving.

My Favorites: Fall Edition

3248cbb979d7dd67ba2905675f2c0e18.jpg

For some of us, fall means changing leaves, cool weather, and busting out sweaters. For those of us in the South West, it means nothing has changed. EXCEPT: Santa Ana Winds, and fire danger is LIEK WHOAH.

None the less, there are some things that to me mean that fall is here! And here are just a few of my favorites:

Torani Sugar Free Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup– I love this stuff, especially in hot coffee with a little half and half. It’s like a cinnamon dolce latte but without the big price tag.

This stuff is also pretty tasty in oatmeal too.

And a bottle this size will last a few months.

24oz_Cup_Plain_WM_IcelandicCreamSkyr-400x400.pngSiggi’s Plain Skyr Whole Milk (Yogurt)– This stuff is THE BEST yogurt I’ve ever had. I love Greek Yogurt, but it’s got nothing on Siggi’s. It’s thicker, richer, and creamier than any other yogurt. It’s a great substitute for sour cream, and when mixed with fruit and granola (Like this stuff from Bear Naked– which is another one of my new favorite things), it’s heaven.

Slow Cooker Liners– Fall usually means that your Slow Cooker/Crockpot gets a lot of use. Nothing sucks more than scrubbing crusty stuff off the bottom of a slow cooker.

Enter the Slow Cooker Liner- it makes clean up soooo much easier. It’s kinda like a baking bag, but less crinkly.

Santa Ana winds and fire danger. Not fun for the environment. Also, not fun for people. The hot dry air makes your skin dry, it makes your lips chapped and cracked. UGH.  My favorite product hands down to combat the dry weather shenanigans:

Bag BalmIt’s awesome for your hands, feet, and lips. Slather some on your feet, cover with some cotton socks, and hop into bed. The next morning, your feet will look and feel a million times better.

 

Talk Back: What are some of your favorite items this fall?

If you click on any of the links above, I may receive a commission for items purchased. Commissions cover costs associated with running the blog. If you want to know more about our use of affiliate links, Please check out our Disclosure Page.

Hearty French Beef Stew Recipe!

Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 9.11.47 AM.png
Who needs a filter when you’ve got steam?

Earlier in the week I made beef stew. It was so good that I had a hard time waiting the full 10 hours until dinner  to dish myself up a bowl! I cooked it on the stove, but it can definitely  be cooked in a crockpot after the initial browning of the meat.

I based my recipe on my mom’s boeuf bourguignon recipe, but I omitted the bacon, as we didn’t have any in the house.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups white onions, diced
  • 3/4 cup each carrots and celery, diced
  • 1 cup white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (tops only, stems may be discarded or saved for a later use)
  • 2 T. Air Dried Shallots
  • 1 T. Minced Garlic
  • 4 T. Butter or Olive Oil (your choice), divided
  • 2 lbs. Stew Beef, cut into bite sized pieces (chuck roast works great)
  • 1/2 c. AP Flour
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 Bottle Red Wine (approx. 4 cups), your choice.
  • Spices: 1 Bay leaf, 1 T. French Tarragon, Pinch Rubbed Sage, 1 T. Thyme, Salt, Pepper

Directions:

  1. In a Large Stock pot, melt 2 T. butter/heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Cook on medium/low heat, stirring occasionally until onions are clear and veggies have sweated.
  3. While veggies are cooking, rinse meat and toss gently in AP Flour to coat.
  4. After veggies are cooked, scoop out of pot and set aside, add remaining butter/oil, and brown beef over medium heat.
  5. Add cooked veggies back in and stir/scrape browned bits off the bottom and sides of pot.
  6. Turn heat up to medium/high and add in about half the wine. Scrape off as much of the browned bits off the bottom and sides as you can as the wine cooks.
  7. Add remaining wine, stock, and herbs. Cover pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. If you wish, you can transfer everything to a crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  8. Serve with hot, buttered bread, and a green salad. It is soooooo good. If you have leftovers (hahahaha), it is great re-heated and served over rice or buttered noodles.

 

Crockpot Chicken Stock recipe!

Wondering what to do with the carcass of the rotisserie chicken from last nights dinner? Got in the fridge, with a little meat clinging to the bones? Here is an easy recipe that makes delish stock and a great bowl of soup!

img_9952
No rotisserie chicken? You can use your thanksgiving leftovers! Just save the bones and make sure they have SOME meat on them!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter, or olive oil, your choice
Two onions peeled and chopped
Four cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
Five stocks of celery cleaned and chopped
2 cups carrots chopped
4 bay leaves
One chicken carcass with at least 2 cups of meat still on the bone (chicken needs to be cooked, they were rotisserie chicken is perfect for this.)
10 cups of water
salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large sauce pan or skillet melt butter or poor oil. Add all chopped vegetables except garlic.
  2. Sauté on low for approximately 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
  3. Once onions are translucent, add garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  4. Pork cooked veggies into slow cooker, top with chicken carcass, Bailey’s, salt and pepper, and water.
  5. Place lid on slow cooker, and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours.
  6. Turn slow cooker off, and allow to cool to room temperature.
  7. Strain solids off, using a colander or assistive. Discard the solids, leaving behind rich, fragrant, delicious, homemade chicken stock.
  8. Stock will need to be seasoned, most likely with additional salt and pepper, and any other spices you would like. I like additional spices like Rosemary, and basil.

To turn into delicious homemade chicken soup, add 1 to 2 cups additional chopped cooked chicken (or turkey) meat, any veggies you would like, and 1 cup uncooked noodles.

Cook on low to medium for 20 minutes to half hour, or until pasta is cooked to your liking. This makes approximately 8 cups of broth, and approximately 6 to 8 servings of soup.img_9953

img_9954
Bay Leaves!

Recipe: Crockpot Shredded Chicken

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 1.51.25 PMThis is a total time saver! I do this twice a month. It really saves time when it’s time to cook dinner. And on those days when you are just going going going, it’s nice to know that you’ve got something easy and tasty waiting for you!

It’s so easy, All you need is a crockpot, a food scale, and two forks!

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs of chicken, whatever is on sale (I used chicken breasts- bone-in with skin)
  • 1 c. broth or water
  • Seasoning to taste- I use a little dehydrated onion ( I like this one from Penzey’s), a little garlic powder, and a little pepper.

Directions:

  1. Cook in the crockpot on low 6-8 hours. Allow to cool.
  2. Shred it with a fork (removing bones and skin).
  3. Grab ziploc bags (I like the snack size ones), our Digital Kitchen Scale, and a glass bowl. I use a measuring cup to scoop the meat (and juices) into the glass bowl, but I am measuring by weight.  The measuring cup is just my scooping tool of choice.
  4. Place the glass bowl on the scale, then turn the scale on- I only want to weight the food, not the glass bowl.
  5. After I weigh the chicken (into 4 ounce portions), I pour it into a snack size ziploc bag, seal it (and squeeze out the air), and put them in the freezer.

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 1.55.43 PM Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 1.55.58 PMThen when it’s time to make quesadillas, chef salad, or pretty much any time we want chicken (Hubs like to top his frozen entrees, like this one with a little bit of chicken for added protein), just grab a bag and defrost it in the microwave!

Frequently, I’ll get a larger Ziploc bag and measure out 2 cups- this is just enough for a casserole. Just defrost, mix in the other ingredients and cook!

I also like to make and portion out ground turkey cooked with black beans and fajita blend frozen veggies flavored with Taco Seasoning. It’s great on salads, quesadillas, or in chicken broth for a quick tortilla soup!