Oct 152017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

A lot has been happening here lately.  Not in the canning or freezing portion of life, but life in general.  After a few months off of my normal cooking methods, I am slowly getting back into making some of our favorites, and some of the more attention and time consuming meals.

I have also been able to try a few new recipes with the goal of saving time and using what we have on hand.  Thankfully, most of the ‘new’ stuff has been well received by over half of the household population.

A few of the meals are planned such that my husband eats something different than the rest of us:

  • He likes to have salads. My kids are not huge lettuce fans.
  • My kids like chicken, fish, and pre-made meatballs.  My husband does not.
  • I can tell my kids, “This is what is for supper. I am not making something else.”  And they eat it.  My husband, well, he can always make himself a sandwich later.

This means a few times a week my husband has salad and the kids and I eat something else.  It works for us at this time.

But what if we had really picky eaters?  For reasons I am not happy about, my kids really like food and have few dislikes.  Some of the things they do not like, we can work around fairly easily.  Others, well, eggs are eggs and we have them at least once a week.  “Sorry, Kid, that is what is for supper tonight.  Would you like cheese melted on it?”

Katie, from Kitchen Stewardship and Kid Cook Real Food, has a FREE online event later this week if you have kids who are pickier than mine (usually are).

Raising Adventurous Eaters: 7 Proven Strategies to End Mealtime Madness and Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy Food (even if they’re picky!)

Katie Kimball, who is a teacher and mom of 4, will show you:

  • 7 Proven Strategies to Make Family Mealtimes Peaceful (even if you have picky eaters) Plus The Surprising Reason Some Picky Eaters Have More Going on Than Just Food
  • 3 Choices to Give Your Kids That Will Make Healthy Food a Reality in Your House — but They Still Think They’re in Control
  • 2 Way-too-common Ways Parents Sabotage Dinner Without Even Realizing it
  • Why the MS90 1-and-Done Snacktime Rule will be your new best friend
  • The Biggest Mistake Parents Make when inviting their kids into the kitchen…and how to avoid it.

Are you ready to experience a family dinner that everyone enjoys – even the adults?

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The training has 3 times to choose from so it’s even easier to get there:

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* Saturday, Oct. 28th, at 4PM Eastern (1PM Pacific)

It will be recorded and signing up is the only way to get the replay!

Nov 092016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

mocha muffins with chocolate chips in pan 2

The upcoming weeks are going to be crazy, even more so than the past few weeks.  With a complete change in our schedule happening … actually, each of the next three weeks are going to have completely different schedules from each other and from our regular ‘normal’… I decided to look for ways to make some of the meals easier on us.  This will help save time and guarantee that there is something ready to eat, even if we are in a time crunch.

This morning found me making 3 batches of zucchini muffins.  The result was 16 dozen muffins.  Yeah, a bit more than I thought they were going to make, but it also used up the 12 cups of shredded zucchini I found in my freezer from the 2013 gardening season.  Oops.

The first batch were dark chocolate zucchini muffins with cinnamon chips; the second batch were dark chocolate zucchini muffins with butterscotch chips; and the third batch were milk chocolate, coconut zucchini muffins with peanut butter chips.  Their textures differed depending on the liquid left in the zucchini.  All ended up really delicious and prompted spontaneous, “You are the best cook in the house, Mom.”  I welcomed the comment, though as this time I am the only cook in the house. 🙂

eggs shells from omelette mixes ready for compost pile

 

As if baking muffins was not enough, I also grabbed the partially used bag of hamburger muffins ($1.09), wedge of brie cheese ($1), and some eggs ($0.39).  Cooking up the eggs, I made egg and cheese sandwiches, placing them into individual bags.  These can be grabbed in the morning, reheated, and eaten.  They would also make great after school snacks. Their price came out to less than $0.50 each.

Speaking of school, last week I picked up a container of cheese sandwich spread ($4), 2 containers of soft cheese ($2 each), a container of lunch meat ($1.50), and a loaf of bread ($1).  Add to this group was the box of crackers I already had at home ($2.50).  Within 10 minutes I had over two weeks worth of sandwiches for school lunches, with ingredients left to spare.  The 2 containers of soft cheese were paired with crackers, while the cheese spread and lunch meat were used to make sandwiches.  This decision has made the putting together of George’s lunches so much easier.  A few of the sandwiches have also been grabbed for after school snacks.  (My kids tend to eat a lot, and they are not even teenagers yet.)

There have also been a few nights where I have done something very out of the normal for us – we went out to eat instead of cooking at home.  We are not an eating out family, especially during the week.  90%+ of our meals are home cooked, by me.  However, I have given myself grace and taken advantage of kids-eat-free nights, or using punch cards from places that result in a free entree, or other such deals.  Last night, I took the kids to Denny’s kids-eat-free and let them choose their own drink.  They did not care so much about the total, but thought it was awesome to have hot chocolate instead of just water to drink.

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Whether you find yourself preparing meals ahead at home or searching out ways to save money while eating out, planning ahead can save you money. It can also make life easier when other things, for good reasons and bad, strive to make it harder.

What are some of your favorite ways to make your life easier in the area of meal preparations?

Dec 012014
 

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

If you have been looking at taking your meal planning to the next level, or even looking to begin planning, I would highly recommend Plan To Eat.  It is not too late to take advantage of their once a year sale on subscriptions.  Today is the last day, though, so do not wait too long.  (You can also purchase these as gifts for someone on your list.)

Ingredients for Chocolate Chipotle Chili

The meal plan for this month and this week did not exist this morning, hence no early posting of said meal plan.  Instead, this week’s meal plan was written up while waiting at the tire store.  This month’s meal plan will have to come at a later date.

That being said, these were meals I knew we had the majority of ingredients in the pantry already.  Today’s chili meal came about because I realized, while sitting in the tire store with my car up in the air, that I had not sat out the pizza dough to rise.  Sometimes that is how the menu plan rolls around here.

While the photo above shows all the ingredients for the chili, I was able to pull already chopped onion out of the fridge, peppers from the freezer than had been diced and frozen earlier this year, as well as previously cooked beef and beans out of the freezer.  It made the making of the chili go very quickly as I just dumped and brought  to a boil.  This saved me from the easy way out – eating out for lunch.  I love it when earlier preparations save me money later.

Breakfast:

  1. Visiting Family
  2. Shakes
  3. Eggs, Toast, Fruit
  4. Peaches and Cream Oatmeal
  5. Shakes
  6. Creamy Oatmeal with peanut butter
  7. Croissants, eggs, bacon

Lunches:

  1. Visiting Family
  2. Chocolate Chili, crackers
  3. Salad
  4. Sandwiches (croissants, salami, cheese, tomato, onion)
  5. Breaded Pork Chops, beets, peas, rice
  6. Beef Stew, corn bread muffins
  7. Steak, Au Gratin Potatoes, vegetables

Supper:

  1. Eat Out (traveling)
  2. Dutch Pancakes with fruit
  3. Sandwiches
  4. Pizza
  5. Salad
  6. Tomato-Lentil soup
  7. Falafels, side salad

croissant breakfast

Linked up with OrgJunkie.

 

For more ideas also check out This Week For Dinner.

 

Also check out Confessions of a Homeschooler’s December’s Monthly Meal Plan.

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Sep 092014
 

Free E-Book of Superfood Breakfast Recipes

 

Good morning, my wonderful Readers!  I opened my inbox this morning to find this wonderful deal, a FREE ebook containing 10 Superfood Breakfast Recipes.  As you know, I love trying new recipes.  Breakfast is not often a meal I try new recipes for, as we have gotten into a groove.  For Raspeberry Coconut Quinoa, though, I will probably make an exception.  🙂

  • Gluten-free
  • Refined sugar-free
  • Vegan-friendly

And delicious, too boot.  What more could you ask for?

To get these recipes, click 10 Superfood Breakfast Recipes and enter your email address.  That’s it. Simple and easy.

Have a great morning!

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Jan 142013
 

Photobucket

I know the above image is a button, but it is also so very true.  My days feel less chaotic if I have a meal plan.  Makes sense when meals happen 3 times a day, every day.  It is a big part of the frame work to having some structure.

With the new year, I have also been wanting to get back to monthly meall plans.  I have a document on the computer, the same format that is used at Confessions of a Homeschooler, for montly meals plans.  It seems I have been posting them here without updating it the last few months.  My hope is to have this month finished with meal planning by the end of this week, update the past months, and plan for next month.  The last two parts of that are related as I hope to be reminded of meals we tried and liked, but haven’t eaten recently.  Those will be added to next month’s meal plan as I come across them.

Recently I mentioned monthly meal planning to someone.  Their response was, “I cann’t do that.  I never know what the week will hold.” I understand.  Some weeks the meal plan goes out the window and we fall back to spaghetti, salami sandwiches, tomatoe soup and other very easy meals.  That is okay.  For me, the point of a meal plan is:

  1. to make sure all the ingredients I need for a meal are on hand
  2. to give me a plan so we don’t end up eating the same thing for lunch/supper twice a week (this might be okay for some of you, but it doesn’t go well for some in my household)
  3. to have an idea of 30 lunches and 30 suppers at the beginning of the month, or 7 lunches/suppers at the beginning of the week

It is not a strict plan.  I am okay if things get moved around, added, deleted or nixed.  Even if you only can plan breakfasts, that is a great place to start.  You are already 33.33% of the way there.  If you are already doing that, try planning three main meals this week.  If that still seems too daunting, forget the planning part and just make a list of all the meals your family likes to eat.  At least you would then have something to refer to when thinking about supper.

If you look at my menu plan below, you may notice that lunches are much larger meals than supper.  This is intentional.  My husband is able to be home for both meals and has the preference for lunch to be the larger of the two.  I haven’t been great about making suppers lighter meals, but am working to improve in that area.

Breakfast:

  1. Crepes, fruit, bacon
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs, toast, fruit
  4. Rusks, coffee, tea
  5. Shakes
  6. Oatmeal or grits
  7. Eggs, bacon, fruit, toast

Lunch:

  1. Eat Out
  2. Red lentil soup, corn bread muffins
  3. Salad
  4. Spaghetti
  5. Sweet-n-Tangy pork chops, barley
  6. Sweet and sour chicken, rice
  7. Steak, fried potatoes, creamed spinach

Supper:

  1. English muffins, jam, cheese, salami
  2. Bacon, tomato, onion sandwiches
  3. Curry beef, cous cous
  4. Hummus, cucumbers, carrots, etc.
  5. Tomato soup, croutons, grilled cheese
  6. Toast, fruit, tea
  7. TBD

How is your meal plan coming this month?  Do you normally do one or is this something new for you?

 

Linked up with Healthy Branscoms

Also check out Confessions of a Homeschooler’s January’s Monthly Meal Plan.  If this is a new concept to you, take some time to think it over.  Imagine only having to sit down once a month to menu plan, rather than 4 or 5 times.  It worked for me, perhaps it will do the same for you.

 

Jul 302012
 

 

Not only is this officially the last week of the month, but it also starts a new month in the middle of it.  If I thought the last full week of a month was hard to plan, this is the one instance that is harder.  The one thing that makes it easier is if I have sat down and made up the menu for the upcoming month.  Then it isn’t near as hard.

I used to just repeat meals in the order that we ate them the month before.  This may have been okay doing it for one month, but it didn’t work repeatedly.  We like more variety than that.  Even if we do have similar meals each month (spaghetti, hamburgers, salad, etc.) there are new ones thrown in that help create the variety we crave.

Turns out that this is the week of new crock pot meals.  I have used it twice so far and wonder why it is I haven’t done more. The majority of the recipes are from a cookbook I got from the library.  There is also a corresponding website that you can check out – A Year of Slow Cooking.  So far one has been a hit and the other may be with a bit of tweaking.  Actually even the one we really liked got a bit of tweaking, but doesn’t almost every recipe?  Each family is different and some prefer more of a particular taste than other.  For example, tonight we had Black Bean Soup.  My husband thought it needed a bit of lemon juice to it to add some tartness.  Tasted great afterwards(probably did before too, but my husband appreciated the addition) and will be a repeat for us.

Breakfasts:

  1. Crepes, fruit, meat
  2. Overnight Grits (from the crockpot cookbook, but doesn’t seem to be on the website)
  3. Eggs, toast, fruit
  4. Pumpkin muffins
  5. Shakes
  6. Eggs, toast, fruit, meat

Lunch:

  1. Eat Out
  2. Chicken with Chipotle Lime sauce(cut with ketchup and some honey), red peppers and corn; peas, rice
  3. Salad
  4. Rolled Steak, Tomato Curried Potatoes, beets
  5. Chili, cornbread
  6. Minute Steaks, roasted potatoes, peas, beets
  7. Beef curry, rice, bananas, tomato slices (?)

Supper:

  1. Church event – supper included
  2. Black Bean Soup (cut in half to fit my crock pot), rolls
  3. Ribs (in crock pot as I will be home late), leftover tomato salad
  4. Small Salad
  5. Toast, tomatoes, cheese, tea
  6. Cabbage Rolls
  7. Pizza, homemade
Jul 272012
 

Chili, of any variety, lends itself to freezer cooking very easily.  You can easily multiply it.  There is no worry about the contents becoming mushy.  It is easy to stretch.  And there are lots of varieties.

Now, if you are in the areas of the country currently experiencing triple digit temperatures, chili is probably the last thing on your mind.  Did you know it doesn’t have to be eaten hot?  You could put this in a crock pot, cook all day, cool off, freeze, then pull out to use as a cold or cool soup.  As it is, I’m anticipating fall.  This pot will provide me with four meals.  That means it will be another four or five months, assuming we eat chili once a month, before I need to make chili again.

I also plan on making some Turkey and Black Bean Chili later in the month using the same method of cooking and freezing.

I made this particular recipe the same day I made the Red Wine Marinade Sirloin Steaks.  That recipe was so easy I decided to keep going.

That day I decided to make Chocolate Chipotle Chili.  The picture above shows the ingredients I used.  Many were the same as what I had used.  There were only a few I had to put away and a few I had to take out.

Also, I substituted several things in this recipe.  It actually calls for pinto and kidney beans, neither of which we like.  Black beans are our preferred bean, so that is what I use.  There was a random can of pintos hanging out in the pantry so I took the  opportunity to use it up.

Another substitution was home canned crushed tomatoes for diced ones.  Since I canned up many jars of crushed tomatoes last year, I have decided not to buy diced tomatoes.  There hasn’t been much of a difference in the recipes.

The meat had been browned the night before, while making spaghetti.  So, I skipped that step in the recipe and went right on to dicing the onions and red peppers.

Dicing onions used to be a dreaded cooking chore, until I came across a blog that showed me how to do it.  How is it that I never learned, or maybe it was that I just didn’t retain the knowledge, how to chop and onion?  Anyway, not it is so easy I can do them quickly and it is actually fun.

Diced onions and red peppers got added and cooked.  The rest of the ingredients were added.

We also tend to like our chili with less liquid, so I didn’t add all the liquid I was directed to.  It also got cooked down a bit.

When it was fully cooled, I spooned it into freezer bags, labeled and froze.  Bags with liquids like these I lay flat to freeze.  They store easier that way.

Remember, when labeling add the meal that is inside, any heating/cooking/thawing instructions, and the date you froze it.  Sometimes I will add the amount that is in there.  As I’m not sure how many cups of chili are in each, I didn’t add this bit of information.

Jul 232012
 

I always find the end of the month harder to plan for menu wise.  I’ve used all my regular recipes and am not sure about new ones.  I really have to look through the new recipes to find some to try that were not at the top of my list.  Sometimes the spaces left open get filled with meals that were planned for the beginning of the month but did not happen for one reason or another.  I can’t count on that happening though.  There were a few months I did.  It turned out those were the months were all the meals happened like they were supossed to and I was left with a week filled with empty slots.

Below is what I had planned for this week – HAD being the important word there.  This past weekend, my husband informed me that he would not be home a lot for dinner due to stuff at work.  He wasn’t even sure if he would be home for lunches.  Well, this simplified things a bit.

Breakfasts:

  1. Crepes
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs, toast, fruit
  4. Muffins
  5. Shakes
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Eggs, toast, fruit, meat

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. Pizza
  3. Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
  4. Chicken with Chipolte Lime Marinade, rice, Pineapple Cucumber Salad
  5. Turkey and Black Bean Chili
  6. Zucchini, Tomato and Lamb Lasagna – may use ground beef or other ground meat instead of lamb
  7. ???

Supper:

  1. Rosemary chicken, smashed potatoes – This is our final try with this recipe.  I finally found some ground rosemary to try.  The first time I used rosemary leaves.  It was a disaster.
  2. ???
  3. Salad
  4. ???
  5. Sandwiches, fruit
  6. Leftovers
  7. ???

Further more, I also realized that I have spent most of my budgeted grocery money.  A little clarification there, I budget less than my husband thinks it should be at.  This is good as I usually come in under what he has.  I forget what he says the budget says, but I always remember “my number”.  Silly? Yes, but it works well for me.  Given that my dear husband is not going to be home a lot for meals, that we have items in the fridge, freezer and pantry to eat, and that there were several meals missed other times this month, I made the executive decision to redo my plan for this week.  See, isn’t that easy to decide when you are the one in charge of the menu and no one else would have known any different?

So here is the “new” menu, that you wouldn’t have known the difference about if I hadn’t told you:

Breakfasts:

  1. Remainder of French Toast, rusks, coffee (we ran out of maple syrup, so no crepes)
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs, toast, fruit
  4. Muffins
  5. Shakes
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Eggs, toast, fruit, meat

Lunches:

  1. Eat out (Sunday)
  2. Chicken and lentil burgers, carrot sticks, sliced tomatoes
  3. Spaghetti
  4. PB&J, carrott sticks, bananas
  5. Rosemary chicken
  6. PB&J, carrott sticks, sliced peaches
  7. Church picnic

Supper:

  1. Peanut butter and honey sandiwhes/cheese, tomato, salami sandwiches, carrot sticks, tomato slices, chips
  2. PB&J, cheese slices, tomato slices
  3. Chicken, sauce, rice, and peas
  4. Noodles and sauce
  5. Date night/ Leftovers, chese slices, apple slices
  6. Pizza
  7. Chipotle Chili and cornbread

 

 

Jul 162012
 

Did your husband ever say, “This is not at all how my mom made it?”  Mine hasn’t for the most part.  There was one recipe however that even I said tasted SO much better when my mother-in-law made it.  Try as I might, I could never get the recipe to turn out.  The texture was all wrong.  The flavor was missing.

Then while visiting a few months back, she had me help with the recipe.  I followed step by step what she told me to do, then wrote it all down.  I now follow those steps, even though there are a few I know I could probably adjust.  However, I’m not taking a chance, no matter  how minute the changes would be.  The first time I made it after coming back from that visit my husband exclaimed, “You did it.  It tastes just like her’s.  We should go visit more often.”  Considering that it takes an airplane ride, at this time, to visit her I don’t foresee weekly visits happening any time soon.

There was another recipe of her’s, rusks, that I’m still working on.  I think I know what I am doing wrong, but will have to make it again to find out.  As it is somewhat of an involved recipe and we still have some left over, it will be a month or so before I make it again.  What I did learn with the recipe is that she and I are different cooks.  I follow the recipe.  If it comes to baking I can kind of feel my way and make adjustments.  If it has to do with cooking, well, I follow the recipe to the ‘T’.  My mother-in-law tends to be more of a free cook.  She takes a recipe and tweaks it. A bit more here, a bit more there.  Take this out, add that. However, she doesn’t write that down.  So, when she gave me the recipe for rusks, for example, and I followed it they came out nothing like her’s.  When I got a chance to watch her cook, I wrote down all the measurements, or as close as I could guess, for what she actually did.  The next time I chanced making them, they were much closer to what she made.

Now, as those have nothing to do with this week’s menu, I will post what we are actually eating this week.

Breakfasts:

  1. Pancakes, fruit, meat
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs, toast, fruit
  4. Scones
  5. Shakes
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Eggs, toast, fruit, meat

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. Meatloaf (from freezer), begetables, couscous salad
  3. Salad
  4. Cilantro Buttermilk Skirt Steak
  5. Grilled Pork Tenderloin with apple ginger sauce
  6. Chicken & Lentil Burger, Cucumbers with lemon and basil
  7. ?????

Supper:

  1. Tomato Soup, croutons
  2. ???
  3. Ribs
  4. Pasta shells with no-cook tomato sauce
  5. Sandwiches, fruit
  6. Leftovers
  7. Rolled Stuffed Flank Steak

What does have to do with this week’s menu is that the meatloaf, while taking several steps to make it very much worth it.  The recipe will actually  make two loaves for us.  I wrap and freeze the one, or more, that we are not using.  It is a different recipe than I grew up on.  However, I like it better.  Sorry, Mom.

Jul 092012
 

The Elegant Steak Dionne, last week, was a good recipe.  It was a new one for us that turned out to be so easy and tasty.  I made two.  One went straight into the crockpot and one went to the freezer.  You dump the ingredients in the freezer bag, add the meat and freeze.  When you are ready to use the recipe, thaw overnight and place the contents in a crockpot.  So easy.

Freezer meals have quickly become a favorite of mine.  I did not do much with these until last winter.  I had heard how great they were, but thought it was just hyped up.  Boy was I wrong.  I will admit it.  I was wrong.  Not only are the meals already made, but the time savings is great.

To show you just which recipes are able to be made ahead and froze, and also to demonstrate their presence on my menu plan, I will put an * by the freezer recipes this week.

Breakfasts:

  1. Crepes, fruit
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs, toast, fruit
  4. Strawberry Bread and cream cheese spread
  5. Shakes
  6. Eggs, toast, fruit, meat

Lunches:

  1. Eat out
  2. Spaghetti
  3. Salad
  4. Pizza
  5. *Sweet and Tangy Pork Loin
  6. *Grilled Flank with green onion ginger chimichurri
  7.  Spicy pan fried steak with noodles

Supper:

  1. Beef curry, rice, bananas
  2. *Salisbury steak, rice
  3. Toast/sandwiches, tea
  4. Sandwiches, fruit
  5. Leftovers
  6. ????

Also, a friend of mine asked if I had ever tried homemade pizzas.  I had not mentioned it here, but the pizzas on my menu are mostly homemade.  I do buy the dough as a frozen dough ball, from GFS, add my homemade sauce and toppings.  We like the flavor more, the size is larger than we get at the store, and they cost less than a frozen pizza.  There is a bit more time involved.  However, this would be less if I didn’t add so many toppings and as much sauce as I do.

After buying flank steak last week, for this week’s menu, I will for sure be watching ahead for sales after this month if we find we like the recipe.  It isn’t exactly on the budget friendly side.  Okay, not a all.  The first store I found it at, it cost $6.99/lb.  Any suggestions for a substitution?

What is on your menu this week?  Have you tried something new that you liked or perhaps something you decided was not quite to your liking?  Please share.