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Making Meal Preparation Easy

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Freezer Cooking, Recipes, Tips | 2 comments

I have a few friends who are expecting babies in the next couple of months. It’s really exciting to be pregnant at the same time as my friends. After talking to one of my sweet friends over the weekend, it got me thinking about meal preparation and things to have on hand when sweet babies arrive.

Those first few weeks are quite exhausting and typically cooking isn’t high on the priority list but filling our tired, recovering bodies with foods that are not as nourishing (i.e. fast food and processed foods) can delay recovery and not provide us with the energy we desperately need. So, I’ve complied some of my favorite recipes on my blog and from around the web to share with you all.

Whether you are having a baby soon or want to simplify some areas in your cooking routine, then this is post is written just for you! Having a few on hand items in the freezer will make meal prep easier.

Freezer Chicken

Chicken 

Having cooked diced or shredded chicken on hand helps you prepare lots of meals in no time. Add fresh vegetables for essential vitamins and beans for added protein. Protein is an essential nutrient for repairing our bodies, so gobble it up! Here is a list of my favorites recipes and meal ideas for diced or shredded chicken.

Chicken Broth

If you roast a chicken, used the carcass of the chicken and make homemade broth, its really easy. I often make mine in the crock pot. I throw in all the ingredients add water, seasonings and 4 hours later: broth! Store in ball glass jars and freeze. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator or in a large bowl with warm water for 3o to 45 minutes. Having homemade broth on hand, not only saves you money but you’ll have tasty soups without any additives or preservatives. Here are a few recipes we love:

ground beef

Ground Beef

We love having a little meat in our meals. Having cooked ground beef on hand allows me to make up casseroles, pizza, pasta, salads, and mexican dishes in no time.  Just to name a few! You can read how I make it here. Once again, more fabulous recipes listed below:

Homemade Refried Beans

Beans

One way of saving money on beans is to make them yourself. It takes very little effort and making them this way is simple and easy.

Beans are great for  tacos, casseroles, salads, wraps, sandwiches, dips and more! Oh and you can make your own refried beans! If you want to decrease the amount of meat in a meal, adding beans to the dish deliver a protein packed punch and help keep you within your grocery budget.

Blueberry Breakfast Sandwich

Breakfast

I could honestly eat breakfast for all meals of the day.  Here are some of my favorite freezer and quick breakfast recipes! Enjoy

Honey Corn Bread Mix Simplymykitchen.com

Baking Mix

Laura at Heavenly Homemakers (one of my favorite blogs) has a fantastic baking mix. She has quite a few recipes to share too! I highly recommend checking it out! This recipe is going in our freezer!

Freezer Cookies

Dessert

Every household needs dessert in the freezer, right? Well here is a couple cookie recipes for you. Enjoy

And there you have it, some of my favorite make ahead and freezer cooking recipes. I hope that this assortment of recipes help you prepare ahead for your family!

Have a lovely day!

What quick, easy or freezer meals do you have to share? I’d love to hear!

 

 

 

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Planning Meals for Busy Weeks

Posted by on Jan 23, 2013 in Menu Planning, Tips | 1 comment

If you are like me, on occasion you have a week that has more then the usual tasks that need to be completed. This week is one of the those weeks for me. So I set out to make a plan of what needs to be done and what can wait. There is one thing that can’t wait and it’s our source of energy and nutrtion – food!

Today, I want to share just a couple practical ways you can plan ahead for busy weeks when it comes to meals.

IMG_2264

#1. Write out a menu

I know, I probably sound like a broken record because I’m constantly encouraging you all to menu plan, but if you know you are going to have a busier then normal week, sit down for 20 minutes. Write down 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 5 dinners. Alternate the breakfasts and lunches to keep it simple and plan one dinner night to be a left over buffet.

#2. Make meals you know, “Off the top of your head.”

This is probably not the week to plan on making a brand new recipe that takes a lot of time. Stick to recipes that are quick and ones you know very easily. This week I did just that with my menu plan. I was able to make 4 of our meals in one hour because I knew the recipes well. So, stick to your favorite easy recipes!

#3. Buy some of your meals pre-made

I know you might be thinking, “No way. There is all those unknown ingredients. I can’t feed my family that” or “Pre-made meals cost to much for my grocery budget.” My solution buy brands you love and believe to be a healthy meal for your family. Maybe a roasted chicken from the deli or soups prepared in the store. Do a pre-made salad and store made soup. I admit, this week I bought lasagna and ravioli to keep it simple for myself. I rarely buy these so I consider it a treat and it would have cost more if we went to a restaurant.

#4. Prepare mulitple meals at once.

I mentioned early, I made four meals in one hour.  I did roast and shred a chicken the day before but that being said prepping the chicken to be roasted and shredding the chicken once cooled only took 20 minutes. Therefore, on Sunday, during my usual dinner prep for that nights dinner, I was able to make Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights dinner at the same time. One BIG mess but 4 lovely homemade meals!

Although, we can’t beat the weeks that are just full of action, but with just a little planning ahead you’ve got dinner covered! :)

What tips and tricks can you share when it comes to prepping for busy weeks? Share in the comments!

Sharing today at Tip Me Tuesday, Women Living Well and The Better Mom.

 

 

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On The Menu and Finding Joy in Meal Planning for Christmas

Posted by on Dec 17, 2012 in Menu Planning, Our Menu, Preparing for the Holidays, Series, Tips | Comments Off on On The Menu and Finding Joy in Meal Planning for Christmas

We are just one week away from Christmas! It has certainly come up quite quickly.

Christmas Menu

 

Photo Credit

Menu planning for the Christmas season can be quite fun. There are lots of new recipes to try or traditions to carry on. Today I want to share three ways to enjoy meal planning this Christmas.

#1. Family Traditions

Growing up, we celebrated Christmas Eve at my grandparents. From as long as I can remember, our menu consisted of: deli sandwiches on croissants, shrimp with shrimp cocktail, veggies platters, deviled eggs and spinach dip. For dessert each year we enjoyed chocolate cherry and vanilla raspberry trifle. When thinking about your family traditions, what have you done in the past? What you like to serve this holiday? How can you make it memorable for your family?

#2. Ask your family

I know this is a recurrent theme, but I believe asking your family is essential to baking and cooking for them. If you are going to spend time preparing meal for them, ask their input. I’m pretty sure they love being asked what they like. If you have multiple children that have their individual favorites, make one item they would love to have over the Christmas season. Better yet make their favorite side dish or meal idea with them. And of course take pictures of your time together.

#3. Be creative with displaying your menu. 

Display your menu similar to what you’d find at a nice restaurant or wedding reception. Using this idea, bring it home by writing out your menu in a fun and memorable way. Write it on a chalk board or using a fancy font on pretty paper or have your children write it out on a paper plate.  Either way get creative and make it fun. After Christmas is over you may want to include this menu in a scrapbook with all the pictures you take from this Christmas season. A memory in the making for future years to look back on. I found a few ideas for you here, here and here.

Cherish this year’s Christmas season friends! It’s a beautiful one to remember.

Here is our menu for this week.

Breakfast

Lunch

  • Left overs x 3
  • Tuna Melt and veggies
  • Grilled Cheese and Soup
  • Sandwich and fruit
  • Quesadilla and veggies

Dinner

What is your favorite food to enjoy during the Christmas season?

Sharing today at Menu Plan Monday. 

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October Menu Plan

Posted by on Oct 1, 2012 in Menu Planning, Our Menu, Tips | 4 comments

Happy Monday Friends!

I hope you all had a great weekend!  Ours was a mix of relaxation and getting ready for our busy month ahead.

One thing I wanted to try this month was monthly meal planning. I spent some time reading about monthly meal planning and at first I became discouraged with the idea.  For me, it was overwhelming to come up with 30 breakfasts, lunches and dinners.  But after I found Confessions of a Homeschooler‘s October meal plan it gave me a starting point.

Here are three things I learned this weekend about monthly meal planning:

#1. Have a theme

After checking out Simple Mom’s blog on menu planning for the month, I saw that she did a theme for each day of the week.  This month I decided to do the same thing. I picked the themes based on what days would work best for making those meals.

  • Sundays – Pasta
  • Mondays – American
  • Tuesdays -Mexican
  • Wednesdays – Something Easy
  • Thursdays – Crock Pot
  • Fridays – Pizza
  • Saturday – Something New

#2. Have a go to list of recipes

I found out the hard way (half way through menu planning) that if I just wrote down our favorites, requests from my husband and recipes I’d like to try – it would have saved me a lot of guessing work when it came to planning out so many meals.  I organized my list by category of: breakfast, lunch and dinner in a Google document.  Since I do a lot of online recipes I was able to attach links to each recipe title or write the page number from the  cook book I planned on using.  This list can continue to grow throughout the month of October in hopes that come November I have a good list of recipes without having to spend hours (literally) trying to figure out what to cook.

#3. Ask for help and seek resources

I asked my husband what he would like on the menu to help give me more ideas.  I also asked him to help me with our little toddler so I could focus on planning our menu.  I couldn’t do it with out my sweet husbands help!

If you want more information on menu planning my favorite resources are: Money Saving Mom (menu planning worksheets), Simple Mom (menu planning basics), and Organized Junkie (recipe organization).

Well these are the three things I learned this weekend when menu planning for the month. If you’d like to view our monthly menu click here.

Menu this week

Breakfasts

  • Muffins, fruit and hard boiled eggs x2
  • Cottage Cheese, fruit and toast x2
  • Oatmeal Casserole
  • Waffles and fruit
  • Breakfast Casserole

Lunch

  • PB & J and veggies
  • Grilled cheese and veggies
  • Lasagna Cups
  • Left Overs
  • Bean and Cheese Burritos
  • Quesadillas

Dinner

  • Chicken parmesan and penne pasta
  • Hamburgers and red potatoes
  • Enchilada Pie and salad
  • Grilled Rosemary Chicken
  • Meatball subs
  • Homemade Pizza
  • Dinner Out

Freezer Cooking/ Plan Ahead

How do you menu plan? Weekly or Monthly? What are tricks and tips that help you do it easily?

Sharing today at Organized Junkie.

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Developing a Menu Plan Routine

Posted by on Aug 15, 2012 in Menu Planning, Tips | 3 comments

Since having my son, I’ve learned that having a routine  is the best way to keep me organized. When I have a routine – I’m able to plan ahead, be effective and purposeful.

Menu planning has not always been my favorite household chore.  I’d much rather organize my pantry or clean kitchen floors. I know thats probably weird, but it’s true.  I find a lot of joy in organizing and cleaning. Therefore, developing a routine for menu planing was extremely helpful for me and posting it every week keeps me accountable!

If you don’t have a routine already or you want to get back into the swing of things, today I have 3 tips for you to develop a menu plan routine.

#1. Pick a day and time. 

Last summer I read Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews. And ever since, I have been using her method for prioritizing my time. I learned there are some variables of time that I can’t change, but for the time that I can prioritize, I just had to tell that activity when it was going to be done. That meant meal planning has to be done at least once a week, on Thursdays (most of the time) and I needed at least 60 minutes to complete the menu. (I write my menu plan post durning this time, this is why it takes me at least 60 minutes.)

But for you what day of the week works best for menu planning? What time of that day would be the convenient?  Try to stick with your routine consistently for a month.  Crystal from Money Saving Mom, has mentioned on her blog that it takes at least 4 to 6 weeks to develop habit successfully.  Be flexible, if after a few weeks that time or day is not working, no worries, try a different day or time!

#2. Pick a place to menu plan. 

I love spending some quiet time making my menu. My den is the perfect place. I have my computer, cookbooks and magazines all in one place.  And of course my comfy office chair, a sweet treat and some water is the perfect way to spend an hour menu planning.

What place in your home is convenient, comfy and enjoyable to plan your menu?  Use that space weekly to plan your menu. Plus it’s a great way to enjoy that room of your house you might not use as much! :) 

#3. Write down your routine.

I know it might sound silly, but write down 3 to 5 steps you would do to develop your routine. Then keep your routine in a visible and organized place.  I keep my routine in my home binder. I know: nerd! :-) But it works for me!

Here is my routine:

  • Print grocery list.
  • Inventory pantry, refrigerator and freezer for items on hand.
  • Grab a snack and water to take to the den.
  • Gather cookbooks and recipes from magazines.
  • Devote 10 minutes to searching Pinterest or Blogs.
  • Write out menu and grocery list

Remember find what works best for you!  These are just three ways that have helped me develop a routine.  It’s not rocket science, it’s menu planning. Make it fun, make it enjoyable and make it your routine! :)

What tips can you share that help you stick to menu planning each week? 

Sharing today at Women Living Well

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