Ragu remixed

This weekend we harvested a ton of vegetables for our little garden. A few of you have asked what I consider to be a little garden, well our backyard is an acre big but my little garden is only 4 feet by 8 feet so relatively little compared to the size of our yard. We are hoping to expand it next year by another 4×8 feet. to grow more zucchini and less cucumbers. We have had so many cucumbers this year that I don’t think I want to eat cucumbers or grow them for a really long time.

We made a batch of Zucchini noodles or “Zoodles” this week and I recently learned that you can spiralize potatoes so I can going to try it out next week.

Anyways I made some ragu from the tomatoes and peppers from the garden.

Need: 1 lb of ground beef, sliced and diced peppers (3 total),sliced mushrooms, and homemade tomato sauce. You also will need your zoodles.

Cook your ground beef then strain out the fat, add in your seasonings (black pepper, sea salt and paprika). Add in your peppers (yellow and green) and mushrooms. Then simmer in your homemade tomato sauce. Lightly blanch your zoodles into the meat mix for about 3 minutes so that they don’t get soggy.

 

No Campfire Needed

This past week was National Campfire Day so we celebrated with S’mores! An easy and delicious treat made over a campfire consisting of marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers.  Well, we don’t have a fire pit in the backyard or live near a camping ground so I made s’mores in the oven. Its quick and easy and you can enjoy them all year round.

Need: 1 sleeve of graham crackers (cinnamon is my choice), 3 packs of chocolate (milk, Hershey’s) and big marshmallows.

start by heating your oven to 350 degrees and layering your oven safe dish. Layer down graham crackers (suggestion pre break them into squares), chocolate, marshmallows, and then grahams again and cook it for about 10-15 minutes or the marshmallows become soft and gooey.

Zucchini & Corn Chowder

Wow, what a week it has been and its only Tuesday. I feel like the days go by so quickly and before you know it, it becomes mid-week. Crazy!! Any who, this past week of meal planning I used some old recipes and tried out a new recipe from another blogger. Let me tell you, truly amazing.  I pinned it to my pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/mealprepmomma/ under my “Garden Eats” tab. My garden has been blooming all week; tons of tomatoes, onions, my bell peppers are almost ready, and zucchini! Hence the making of this soup, Zucchini and Corn Chowder.

I wanted to find something to utilize all the things growing in my garden. Katya has a great soup recipe that I followed almost to the tee but used a few different ingredients and steps along the way. Zucchini and Corn Chowder is so easy to make and makes about 8 mason jar servings!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter (changed)
  • 1/4 cup precooked and diced bacon (changed)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion, about ½ large onion
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped (1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 package baby carrots (changed)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium (1 lb.) russet potatoes, diced into ½-inch cubes (changed)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bag frozen corn (changed)
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced into ½-inch cubes (changed)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Paprika, to serve, optional (changed)

The only reason I changed the recipe is because these items I already had laying around my house. You can stick to her recipe and I am sure it will be just as yummy.

Steps I used (original recipe attached)

  1. In a large heavy-duty bottom stockpot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add bacon, onion, celery, carrots, garlic; cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring couple times, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes, water, and bay leaf. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer, then lower the heat back to medium and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the potatoes are halfway cooked.
  3. Add zucchini and corn; season with salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for additional 8-12 minutes or until the vegetables are completely tender.
  4. Discard the bay leaf and then transfer 2 cups of chowder to a food processor or blender; puree until smooth. Stir the mixture back into the pot. Add half and half and cook just until heated through. Taste for salt and pepper.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of paprika, optional

 

Stuffed peppers

Having your own garden is amazing and we are reaping the benefits this week from it. The overgrowth of tomatoes, basil, onions and cucumbers are amazing! I feel like the cucumber lady, I harvested 14 this weekend! I am going to have to come up with all different types of cucumber recipes. I mean what does one do with 14 cucumbers? Suggestions, anyone? Well last week when my mother in law was in town we bought a ton of bell peppers at Sam’s Club and had a few leftover. We aren’t huge pepper eaters so I tend to stuff them. I grow them in my garden but they aren’t big enough to stuff yet. Anyways stuffed peppers are easy to make and are great to make ahead. the next post will be about homemade tomato sauce which I used in this recipe.

ingredients:

  • 4 bell peppers cleaned
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/2 lb of ground beef
  • 1 cup homemade tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • spices: rosemary, sea salt and ground pepper930818DE-8CDB-48E1-8000-AC362CF011EE

steps:

  • cook rice according to package (2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice, boil water, add rice and then cook until water is gone)
  • cook ground beef in a skillet until cooked through 80% of the way then drain.
  • add seasonings
  • mix rice, ground beef and tomato sauce together
  • spread sauce on the bottom of your pan to prevent sticking
  • fill peppers 3/4 of the way
  • top with cheese
  • bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until peppers are soft.

 

Lasagna

Wow, this week has just flown by and somehow it’s already Saturday night. Where does the time go when caring for a newborn? Any who,  Jellybean is growing like crazy (almost a month old) and let me cook today so that was nice. Todays lunch of the week is Lasagna. Most of the supplies I had laying around the house: noodles, Italian sausage, rosemary (from the garden), pasta sauce, garlic and onion. Just had to buy cheese, ricotta cheese and mushrooms. I think that’s everything! I like lasagna, you can make it in large quantities and it freezes nicely. I cut my slices rather large to serve 8 but I have been able to serve 12 out of it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box lasagna noodles (I picked whole wheat)
  • 1 lb of Italian sausage
  • 1 pkg whole mushrooms, diced
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1.5 pkgs of shredded mozzarella
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 1 large sprig rosemary

instructions:

  • cook noodles according to box
  • dice mushrooms, onions and rosemary and set aside
  • brown Italian sausage
  • once browned add mushrooms, onions and rosemary and cook for 3-4 minutes
  • spread sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 pan
  • layering
    • sauce in pan
    • noodles
    • sauce
    • filler
    • ricotta cheese
    • mozzarella cheese, repeat from noodles on….

Cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

I choose two veggies to serve it with. The cucumbers came from our garden!

Enjoy your lasagna and let me know if you made any moderations!

 

Tomato Basil Salad Remixed

There’s nothing wrong with the classic tomato, basil and mozzarella salad but I love to reinvent old recipes. Do you have a favorite recipe? Have you ever tried to remix it? I think of the tomato basil salad as a staple for the summer. Though it really hasn’t felt like summer around here, more like spring with all the rain we have been getting. Either way my garden is thriving.

I posted my little garden when we first moved in at the end of April and now being the end of June I can’t believe how much it has really changed. I have picked cucumbers a few times and I am now waiting for all my tomatoes to turn red! (pasta sauce recipe is in the future). My green peppers are almost ready to pick and my basil and rosemary are huge!

 

Back to the basics….

Remixed recipe:

  • handful of cherry tomatoes (cut into halves)
  • basil (from my garden) thinly chopped
  • mozzarella, I prefer the balls but they only had the cube (chopped if cube of cheese)
  • 1 cucumber, cubed
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • ground pepper to taste
  • handful of arugula

toss together and enjoy! I mixed in some olive oil to coat it lightly but you can use any dressing you want, mix it up!

It’s all about breakfast

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well in my world I eat breakfast twice, so it must really be important. The first time I eat is usually around 6:00 am before I give Jellybean (our daughter) her bottle. After breakfast #1 is breakfast #2 around 9:00 or so. Breakfast #1 is quick and easy. 1 cup of oatmeal with a sprinkle of dark brown sugar, cinnamon, 1 tbsp brewer’s yeast and some craisins (dried cranberries).  This helps me get my morning going. I feel energized to get what I need done and get Jellybean back to bed before her next feeding. It also some mornings gives me the energy to meal prep like I did Friday morning.

On the menu this week, veggie hash with scrambled eggs and bacon. Also on the menu, egg bake sandwiches. Let’s start with the sandwiches which are fairly easy. My husband (who I have yet to nickname) enjoys fast breakfast in the morning that he can eat in the car.  All you need is biscuits, eggs, spices, protein, and cheese.

Egg bake: 6 extra large eggs and spices whisked together and poured into a 9×13 greased dish. bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. side note: I use a glass to cut even portions.

 

You can bake your biscuits at the same time, I used regular Pillsbury Grands. I wait for them to cool before assembly. Also we had leftover, already cooked sausage patties that I defrosted from the freezer.

Assembly, biscuit bottom, 1/2 sausage patty, piece of cheese, egg cut out, top biscuit. YUM!

Next, sweet potato and veggie hash. So Meijer had their monthly buy 10 get the 11th free sale so I stocked up on broccoli, sweet potatoes and peppers (mine are still growing in the garden).  I cut up everything and put it on a pan and bake it!

Veggie Hash:

  • 2 small or 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 broccoli crown, chopped
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • olive oil

Heat oven to 350 degrees, dice and mix veggies in a bowl all together. lightly coat with olive oil and stir, pour onto baking sheet (line with parchment paper, easier to clean). bake for 20-25 minutes, serve!

While you wait for your veggies to cook, cut 4 strips of bacon and cook them up in the frying pan. Set aside in a paper towel when done. Drain grease and use same pan for your scrambled eggs. Whisk 3 eggs together (you can do more but I only had 3 eggs left) and pour them into your pan, make sure you add sea salt and ground black pepper.

I served our Sunday breakfast with some arugula (its my favorite green).

2CDC438C-3B0C-4CD2-9F86-FCA3AC8E227CRemember that breakfast is the most important meal and whether you eat breakfast once or twice like me, its important not to skip it. Eat your breakfast and have a great week. Stay tuned for the tomato and avocado salad that I will be making later this week, my tomatoes are almost ripe!

Chili…In a Jar

Our little one finally decided to show up. After 26 hours of labor, Baby girl aka Jellybean graced us with her presence.  After a week off of meal planning and sorting back through our lives (aka getting used to having a newborn around), I feel the urge to come back here and blog about meal prep. Some may think I am crazy but I am only making lunch this week. We have been blessed by different people in our church who have brought us meals after Jellybean was born. I also wasn’t sure when she would come so our freezer is completely stocked with crockpot meals and easy to go meals.

Freezer go to:

  • Trader Joes: Brown rice, veggie and/or steak burritos, veggie stir fry
  • Crock pot meals: chicken Fajitas, Lemon pepper chicken, orange ginger chicken, honey lime chicken, Hawaiian chicken
    • remember when I bought all that chicken at Aldi’s for super cheap, well that was the chicken I used to make all these freezer meals. Each bag has 4-6 portioned controlled servings to feed us for 2-3 days.
    • you take a bag out of the freezer the night before, place it in your crock pot and cook it on high for 4-6 hours.
  • Schnucks or any grocery store:  Freezer veggies

Anyways, this weeks lunch is about Chili. Chili is something I make on the regular (seems like an oxymoron, its 94 degrees out today), but my chili isn’t thick and heavy. Its pretty light since it is a vegetable broth base.

Here’s the recipe, remember you can modify it however you would please to.

Making chili (serves 8 at 1 cup each):

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • low sodium black beans
  • dark red kidney beans
  • chili beans
  • light red kidney beans
  • petite diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • vegetable broth
  • spices: sea salt, chili powder, paprika, ground pepper
  • garlic, 2 tbsp

I added 1 tbsp of sour cream and 1/8 cup of shredded cheese.

Instructions:

  • brown meat and add spices
  • strain out fat (important!!)
  • add garlic
  • next in a strainer/colander, strain your beans and tomatoes. The chili beans I add straight into my pot without straining. make sure you rinse your tomatoes and beans.
  • add vegetable broth
  • cook on low for 10 minutes

Next, grab your measuring cup and measure about 1 cup of chili into bowls or mason jars.  Then add your toppings, I added 1 tbsp of sour cream and 1/8 cup of shredded cheese. For a side, mixed fruit in its own container!

YUM!! below you will find the nutritional information! Enjoy your week everyone and to all the Fathers and Father figures, Happy Father’s Day!

Chili Nutritional Information

Just another week

So I wrote this post before having the baby, lets see if it publishes before or after the baby comes. I decided to keep it simple again this week, sorry not sorry but I am 40 weeks pregnant and am pretty impressed with myself for still meal prepping. Breakfasts this week include hard boiled eggs for me and egg bake for my husband, if he’s lucky I will throw some shredded cheese over the top! I am making one lunch box consisting of a turkey cheese dog, strawberries or grapes and some kind of veggie.

So breakfast, the most important meal of the day (I think of breakfast snack to be the most important for me.) Since I no longer can sleep like a regular person, since I am growing a human who likes to keep me awake all through the night, I usually have breakfast at 6:30 in the morning. It usually consists of cereal because I usually crawl back into bed afterwards. After my morning nap (currently not working) around 10:00, I have my morning breakfast snack. This for me will be a hard boiled egg, 1/2 an avocado and some hot sauce. It is Keto friendly for all you crazy Keto loving people. My husband on the other hand, he leaves for work at 7:30, right before I lay down for my morning nap. His breakfast though boring will consist of an egg bake or casserole.

For my egg bake, they really aren’t that exciting but I use 8 organic cage free eggs. I first coat my dish with olive oil. Some people prefer coconut oil to cook their eggs but that’s another allergy for me. I also pre-scramble my eggs in a different dish. I layer, potatoes, seasonings, eggs, bacon and a sprinkle of cheese.  I divide it among 6 containers! (note: I buy eggs in the 18 pack not the 12 pack). The eggs I buy come in the 18 pack cost me $4.99 so lets say $5, I used 8 eggs for my husband and 5 eggs for myself. The rest of the ingredients I already have at my house except for the potatoes which were on sale for $1.99. NOTE: I have done this recipe before in a previous week. If you cant find it, please let me know and I will send it to you.

Moving on to my lunch boxes. I will go ahead and use those 3 compartment containers like I used last week. They are amazing! Lunches this week will consist of Oscar Meyer turkey dogs (they are on sale!), sliced cheese, strawberries and grapes which are also so cheap this week and some kind of veggie, probably mini carrots (I did sprinkle dry ranch dressing over the tops of my carrots). We don’t consume a lot of bread so the turkey dog will be bunless and the cheese will stand alone. I know once again my jokes are hilarious.

Dinners, another easy subject because who knows if there will be a baby or not. Corn on the cob last week was 6 for a dollar, we still have some left so I will be using that over the weekend to go with our nice and starch filled meal of fried chicken ($1 per leg) and bob evans mashed potatoes that I already have in my freezer. So long story short for dinner 1, just need to buy the chicken! Winner, Winner, we are having some chicken dinners.  Dinner 2, also easy to make is cheddar ranch chicken.

Cheddar Ranch Chicken:

  • Chicken, I usually use 2-4 breasts depending the size
  • 1 pkg of hidden valley dry ranch mix
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of cheddar cheese (depends how many breasts you use)
  • cooking spray or parchment paper
  • baking sheet

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven for 350 degrees
  • mix dry ranch mix and cheese together in a low bowl (I usually will use a pie dish)
  • coat chicken with mixture
  • lay chicken onto baking sheet, either use parchment paper or cooking spray between the pan and the chicken
  • sprinkle excess of “mixture” on to the chicken
  • cook on one side for 15 minutes then carefully flip chicken and cook for another 15 minutes
  • serve with a veggie

So, I am serving mine with some arugula, I like the bitterness and some raw veggies.

Dinner 3 was supposed to be spaghetti this week. I will include the recipe but there has been a change in plans. Thursday I am getting induced, yay for being 41 weeks pregnant. So I told my husband I am not cooking and we are going out! Dinner 3 has nothing to do with chicken!  It’s a classic, also easy on the pocketbook and on time is spaghetti like my mom used to make. Do people still know what a pocketbook is, if not look it up and enlighten yourself. It’s probably a term your grandparents use.

Spaghetti like my mom used to make:

  • 1 package of spaghetti noodles
  • 1 small package of ground beef
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce
  • mushrooms, side note I like fresh but growing up my dad liked the canned mushrooms better for this

instructions:

  • cook pasta according to the box (my mom and I used to have spaghetti fights and pretend the spaghetti were swords)
  • while waiting for the water to boil and the pasta to cook work on the beef
  • cook the beef in a pan (I like to add in some fresh rosemary from my garden, sea salt, pepper, and a little paprika)
  • while everything is simmering slice your mushrooms and throw them into your meat mixture
  • drain your pasta when its done cooking and place it into a mixing bowl.
  • coat your pasta with pasta sauce to keep it from sticking together
  • add in your meat mixture with a slotted spoon so you don’t get all the grease in and enjoy.

It can be served with some homemade or store bought garlic bread. I do not recommend making ahead of time, its better fresh and warm.

Garlic bread made easy:

  • 1 loaf of French bread
  • soften butter
  • garlic powder
  • parsley or rosemary

instructions:

  • heat oven to 375 degrees
  • cut loaf of bread in half long ways like a hot dog
  • spread soften butter on the inside of the bread
  • sprinkle garlic powder over the butter
  • chop the rosemary or parsley and sprinkle over the top
  • cook for 8-10 minutes

That’s everything for this week, unfortunately you read correctly I am getting induced. There will be no post for next week, sorry beautiful people. Until next time, happy meal planning!

Side note: If you enjoyed my blog, make sure you follow me to stay up to date and grab some recipes that may appeal to you. You can find past recipes in the “recipes” tab of the main screen. Check out what else my blog has to offer as well.

 

Waiting for baby…

So much has happened in the month of May so far! We are almost all unpacked thank goodness but mostly I have learned that there’s so many things I can no longer do being 39 weeks 6 days pregnant (due date May 31). I can’t move furniture or take lots of trips up and down to the basement. I am just ready for this little lady to get here already!  Hopefully, she comes soon so we can have some sort of order to our lives.

Many of you might not know this about me, on top of being a meal blogger/prepper, I own an etsy store. I sell cute little things like hair bows, headbands, and piggy banks and just started to branch out and sell things for boys like neckties connected to onesies. If you have any interest in what I sell/make check out the sales at bowsandpiggys.com. If you have any questions for me please don’t hesitate to contact me off of the webpage or shoot me an email at bowsnpiggys@gmail.com.

Enough of a side note, I am ready for this little lady to join us. My husband and I have been waiting patiently and I am now getting exhausted over every little thing! I was hoping not to make it to 40 weeks (aka 10 months) but she might just want to hang out in here. I also wanted to inform you, I probably won’t be posting as much when she first arrives. I have made 7 different freezer meals for my family and I to eat for dinners and I am hoping my husband will make healthy lunches for us if I leave out the recipes.

Fingers crossed she comes soon and I can get my root canal on time!

 

Steals and deals

This week I have found some great sales. How many of you love a good bargain?  Do you search through different sites to find the best ones? Do you make your list and check it twice? Every Wednesday the newspaper with the weekly circulars come to my house. I briefly look through them before deciding what I am going to make for the week.

This week for me is all about prepping for the baby. I follow “Clean Monday Meals” on Instagram and she talks about all these meals you can make ahead of time. She provides a list of ingredients and how to cook them after they have been in your freezer. Well I am sure after this little one comes the first thing I won’t want to do is cook a meal for my family, hence freezer meals. I am excited to try some of them out and I promise I will let you know how they go.

Anyways back to the great deals:

Aldi has family pack chicken breasts for $1.69/lb. When you are meal prepping you try to find the cheapest meat products as well as the most cost efficient for your family. So I don’t eat a lot of meat, my husband is the meat eater but I will eat ground turkey and chicken on the regular. That’s why you will notice a lot of my recipes I find other ways to get protein without having to consume meat products.

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Also found some great deals at Schnucks today. They have avocados for $1.00 each and they are ripe. They also have boneless pork butt for $1.19/lb. Boneless pork butt is another thing I can put in the freezer and cook at a later date. I will preseason it since its hard to season when frozen and then cut it into pieces for faster cooking time. I prefer to cook mine in the crockpot.

Make sure you check your weekly circulars to find the best deals for your family. I know it takes time but in reality you save so much. This week I stayed under budget yet again!

5 breakfasts + 10 lunches + 10 dinners + 7 freezer meals = $80.00

A freezer meal baggie feeds us 4 times (which means it has 4 servings or 2 days worth), so that’s 28 additional meals! So think that’s 53 meals at $1.51 a meal. You can’t even eat out at that cost!

Share with me in the comments some of your favorite places to shop and score great deals! Happy bargain shopping and have a great Memorial Day!

How to be successful

So in an earlier post I wrote how to meal prep, well while this one is similar it focuses more on how to be successful in your meal prep. I have already talked about organization and how to plan your week in Meal Prepping. How I meal prep but everyone is a little bit different. There are a few steps on how to be successful that I found useful when I was first starting off.

  1. Pick the day you want to prep — a lot of my friends who meal prep, prep their meals on Sunday. Since I go to church every Sunday I prefer to prep Saturday mornings. It gives me the sense of being done with a big item on my list. Meal prepping isn’t easy, but it really does help if you stay organized and build it into your weekly routine.
  2. Know your numbers — FIRST you need to figure out how many meals you are going to make. Are you just making lunches and for how many people? Are you going to be brave and make all your meals ahead of time, I am talking breakfast, lunch and dinner? By knowing how many meals you need to make along with how many people you need to feed will help you when you sit down and work on that shopping list of yours. SECOND what’s your daily intake? Are you cooking just to make your life easier or are you cooking for a purpose? “Cooking for a Purpose” is more about watching your carb intake as well as your protein and caloric. When our little one comes, we are switching back to the “Low Carb” lifestyle.
  3. Be basic, it’s okay — sometimes fancy foods sound more appetizing, let me tell you this, they don’t always hold up the best. If you are only meal prepping once a week like I do are those bacon wrapped dates really a good idea if you prepped Saturday morning and its Thursday at lunch time? Sure they may have been awesome still on Wednesday but come Thursday they are horrible. Remember to pick things that are easy to cook and hold up well.
  4. Go shopping — now comes what I like to call the fun part: grocery shopping. I like to look for the best deals, yes I am that girl. I make my list then I look through my circulars and mark on my list of ingredients where I can get the best deals and where my coupons will be most affective. Then I make a new list of the items I need at each store. This is where those numbers we talked about earlier come into play. I also like to think of it as a game, the better deal I can get the more money I can save. The more money I can save, the better date night we can have! If I set my budget at $100 for the week and I only spend $60, there’s $40 we can use towards an awesome date night or even put aside and use towards a weekend day trip!
  5. Invest — I know sometimes we don’t want to spend the money on food containers, mason jars or even a lunch box. If you are going to meal prep and you don’t work from home, I highly suggest a good container. I suggest these ones: Meal Prep Containers with 3 compartments.  They are great, they are portion sized as well as dishwasher/microwave/freezer safe.  We also use the 16 oz Wide Mouth Mason Jars. These are great for tacos in a jar, salads and holding things like homemade dressings, pasta salads, etc. I love the mason jars because they are compact and I don’t need to buy a lunch box, a plus is that they don’t take up a lot of space in my fridge.

If you are interested in learning more about these 5 steps,  please visit this site. Body Building is where I found a lot of my information when first starting out. I like to give credit and link sites where and when it is due.

Meal Prep Storage

Food storage is essential in meal prepping especially for my family. With a baby on the way, I want to make sure that we can still eat healthy with minimal runs to the grocery store. As you saw in my last post, I talked briefly at the bottom about food storage. Food storage can mean different things to different people but as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), we are instructed to have some sort of food storage.

“Build a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet. One way to do this is to purchase a few extra items each week to build a one-week supply of food. Then you can gradually increase your supply until it is sufficient for three months. These items should be rotated regularly to avoid spoilage.”

So every week when I look through my circulars, I see if there’s anything we can stock up on that we are running low on. The big items for us are canned beans, pastas, crackers, canned fruit, freezer veggies and if meat is on sale I place that in the freezer as well.

Another way to go about food storage is canning your own fruits and veggies from a garden. Our garden isn’t big enough to can from, but it helps us cut down our spending at the grocery store.

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I hope this helps those looking to meal prep and give them an idea on what they can do for food storage in the long run. Happy searching for great deals!

Busy Weekend!

Wow, Friday has been extra crazy. We are celebrating my husband’s big 3-0 this weekend and since its going to consume most of my Saturday and I refuse to meal prep on Sunday (day of rest), I meal prepped for the week today! The song should really go “just another manic Friday” instead of Monday. (the song is by the Bangles, if anyone is interested). Anyways, that’s my side tangent. I have been trying to take more pictures on my glorious iPhone 6s, one day I will update, so that you can see more of the products I use as well as get a sense on what I buy at the grocery store. #toopersonal, sorry but not sorry! Also fair warning, this post has 3 recipes in it so be patient because it’s a long one!

Anyways, lets start with breakfast; it was made in the oven so it was the first thing I made. I got the inspiration for this recipe from a nanny friend of mine who makes this for her nanny kiddos a lot. Let me tell you working as a nanny for the past 2 years before moving away and not being able to nanny anymore (because I am super pregnant) was one of the best decisions of my life. I met some really wonderful people and made some lifelong friends!

Back to breakfast, its a casserole and it makes 8 servings depending on how big you slice them or how thick you like it.  So grease up that casserole dish (9×13 and I like pam) and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

I love simply potatoes, one because they are easy and fit perfectly in the pan and two because I am now lazy and don’t feel like grating potatoes anymore. The next picture is the only spices I use in the recipe, followed by the process.

Casserole ingredients:

  • 1 bag simply potatoes
  • spices: I like paprika, sea salt and pepper (note all of my recipes use sea salt)
  • 1 cup or one large handful of chopped spinach
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 cup (roughly) of bacon bits (from Sam’s club)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (this one is Colby jack)
  • 5 eggs, whisked (I prefer cage free organic brown extra large ones)

Instructions:

  • preheat oven for 350 degrees, grease a 9×13 casserole dish (mine is a pyrex)
  • spread potatoes evenly across the bottom
  • shake on your spices (I use about 1 tbsp for each)
  • spread your diced onion
  • next comes the spinach and the bacon bits, then mix it all together!
  • add your whisked eggs, make sure they are spread out evenly
  • sprinkle your cheese accordingly
  • place in oven and forget about it for 35 glorious minutes

See below for finished product!

Now that I have set my timer and forgotten about the amazing smelling breakfast in my oven, I move on to the easy part one of lunch making, another thing to forget about, boiling water!

Lunches this week, I did warn my husband are a little lame. I am quite lucky because he doesn’t care and he would rather have me relaxing at 38 weeks pregnant, but oh well! So fill up a pot and turn on that stove because we are about to get our boil on. Steak alfredo in a mason jar!

So water is on the stove waiting to boil, what can I do in the meantime, measure out my sauce. Again, I prefer to cheat and buy store bought. It’s amazing and easy so I measure out the serving size and pour it into the mason jars. Next I pulled out my steaks (use whatever protein you have laying around your house, we just had a lot of leftover steaks from a different night). Chop them up into cubes, at this point your water should be rumbling so you can add in your box of linguine pasta and let it boil for 9-11 minutes (you will have some leftover pasta, can anyone say dinner tonight?) then chop up the veggies you want to use and wait for the pasta to finish dancing.

Ingredients from bottom to top:

  • 1/4 cup alfredo sauce
  • 1 cup of linguine pasta (you can use spaghetti if that’s what you have)
  • cubed steak to your liking (or any protein)
  • diced broccoli and diced snap peas or any veggies you have in your home
  • my husband doesn’t like tomatoes so I only put cherry tomatoes in mine!

Now your timer should be going off for your oven, make sure you test it like you would a cake and make sure your knife comes out clean when you stab into it. Alright your going to have to let it cool for a while, so let’s make some wraps.

I lay my 6 wraps on the counter, spread some of this amazing spinach artichoke dip on it (if you like mayo better, use that) then I lay down the cheese. I like the thin slices you can then have more than one slice, I will use two since the wraps are so big. Following the cheese is your protein. Today deli ham was on sale so that’s what I went with, you can use turkey and I am sure that would be just as yummy in your tummy. Now I roll them and cut them in half and place them into lunch size baggies. They will be served with a side of pretzel thins and some fresh fruit.

Ingredients:

  • wraps or tortillas
  • a spread, I like the spinach dip from Sam’s club but you can use whatever tickles your fancy for the week (make sure you look at the nutrition label and follow the suggested serving size)
  • cheese, 2 slices depending on the size of your wrap
  • 5 pieces of lunch meat. I picked ham because it was what was on sale but again cater to your likes and wants

Since we are having the party on Saturday, I am hoping (fingers crossed) for leftovers so I don’t need to prep as much for dinners. There will be a post about the BIG 3-0 and the great recipes I will be using, so until next time, stay strong and eat good food!

Meal Prepping

A lot of people have asked me what goes into my meal prepping. Well first I start with my weekly chart, I promise its not as scary as it sounds. I start by drawing out a table with the meals I will be making and I give myself a budget. (see chart below) Since there are only 2 of us and I make 90% of our meals I give us a budget of $100 a week, which I usually only spend 2/3 of. I make about 30 meals a week for us and they cost us roughly $3.33 a meal each, which you can’t go out and eat for that.

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Every week I make 10 breakfasts, 10 lunches and meal prep 3 dinners (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) so I can just throw them together. I do all of my grocery shopping on Fridays, I am fortunate enough to pull that off since I am on leave for work, 38 weeks pregnant! I tend to cook Saturday morning, we eat leftovers for lunch and then splurge and go out Saturday nights. My cooking time, if I plan accordingly usually will take me anywhere from 2-3 hours. Recently, closer to 3 hours because I get tired more quickly.

After I make my lists of what I need for breakfast, lunch and dinners I look through my weekly circular ads. I do a majority of my shopping at Schnucks and Meijers because those are my options. You can grocery shop anywhere you can find the best deal. I have found the produce to not be as good at Walmart but each Walmart is different. I always check online to if the store has a rewards program because often times they have online coupons associated with them which saves me time from clipping.

I then head to the grocery store and pick up everything I need and unload it into my fridge. I then strategize a list of what gets cooked when. I know I sound like a crazy person, but this is the only way I can be most time efficient. I plan out what can cook at the same time, usually starting with all my oven items first because roasting veggies takes the longest. Then I do all of my stovetop and the rest of my food chopping. I move a lot while getting everything prepped but like I said the more efficient I am with my timing, the more gets done.

Side note on food storage: if there is something on sale for a great deal like canned beans for 59 cents a can I will stock up on them as well. I will post more about meal prep food storage later.

 

 

 

Reinventing Leftovers

As promised, here is the recipe for leftovers from the Mother’s Day post.

Recipe for Reinventing Leftovers:

·   leftover pasta (about 1/2 the package)

·   leftover ground beef

·   4 cups of left over cheese

Additional ingredients needed:

·   2 cups of Fat free or 2% milk

·   2 tbsp flour

·   3 tbsp butter

·   seasonings: paprika, sea salt, pepper

Instructions:

1. add 1 cup of milk to a sauce pan on your stove along with the 3 tbsp of butter

2.reduce heat and slowly whisk in the 2 tbsp of flour, keep whisking until it is smooth and you don’t see flour clumps

3. add the rest of the milk (1 cup in) on the low heat and continue to whisk (keeping the heat low will help prevent the milk from curding)

4.bring temperature back up to medium and bring it to a soft boil (this allows it to thicken up a bit)

5. add in your cheeses (4 cups total) I used leftover cheddar and Mexican cheeses

6.add in your spices/seasonings about 1 tbsp of each

7. mix in your pasta and ground beef

8.let it warm up and lower the heat so your cheese sauce doesn’t burn

9.Serve with a veggie!

Party foods from Mother’s Day

Last week was Mother’s Day and since our little one decided she still isn’t ready to come out, we invited some of our family over. There were some great deals on fruits and veggies, especially corn on the cob at the local grocery store. We served fruit salad, pasta salad, corn on the cob and a meat (which my husband grilled).

Lets start with the corn on the cob. After shucking all the corn, 8 ears, I placed them in a big pot of cold water and turned on the stove.  The cold water tends to not have as many minerals in it like zinc, chlorine, etc. causing your food not to absorb it. I place a lid on the put and walk away so I can do the next thing. Though once the water starts to boil, I only let the corn boil in there for approximately 10 minutes so it doesn’t get over cooked. Then make sure you remove the corn from the water because even if you turn off the flame the water is still hot and cooking your corn. No one likes soggy ears!

While the corn is cooking, I chop up all my fruit and all my veggies and get my pasta onto the stove as well. Cold pasta works best for pasta salad so as soon as it’s a la dente, I place it in a colander and run cold water over it.

Recipe for Pasta Salad:

  • 4 mini cucumbers (they were on sale for $1 for the pack)
  • head of broccoli (also on sale for $1)
  • 1/2 of the cooked pasta (saved the rest for meal prep during the week)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 cup of bacon bits (I buy the big bag at Sam’s Club)
  • Right before I serve it, I add the salad dressing. You can use any dressing you like, we prefer the olive oil and vinegar ones, about a cup will do, as long as everything gets coated.

Wondering what I did with that left over pasta? Well I reinvented my leftovers. We had leftover meat from the taco jars, then the left over pasta and some leftover cheese.  A recipe will follow at a later date.

The fruit salad was quite easy and quite delicious! I cut up these massive strawberries I bought earlier in the week at Sam’s Club and added in some blackberries. I then squeezed a little lemon juice and grated some lemon over the top to give it a little zing!

Hawaiian Chicken

Over the weekend we had Jellybean’s baby blessing. There is just something about going back home that I will never miss. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, my husband is from the Central Illinois area and something about going home and being with your family is absolutely the best. My in laws, brother and sister in laws and my family all joined us for this joyous occasion. After the ceremony where they blessed my sweet baby and gave her a name in our church and added her to our records we feasted on yummy salads, cheeseburgers and banana cake. I am thankful for my family and the love they show me.

It brings me back to a movie I watched with my husband recently, Lilo & Stitch and how in Hawaii family is everything.  My husband served a 2 year mission in Hawaii through our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and I am always looking for great things to make that make him think of the wonderful time he had while serving.

This week brings me to Hawaiian Chicken. Its something I have made in the past that I know he enjoys and its easy to whip up as meal preparation and serve for lunches during the week.

ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 can of diced pineapple (you can use fresh, it just wasn’t on sale)
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • BBQ sauce of your liking (I like sweet baby rays)
  • sea salt and pepper

Cook the chicken until browned then add in Sea salt and pepper. Then add in the pineapple and green onions. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add in the BBQ sauce.

I added roasted zucchini and 1/4 cup of brown rice to the meal and called it lunch. Enjoy!

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Breakfast or Dessert, you pick!

There is always something so comforting about cinnamon rolls. Not sure if its the way they smell when they bake or the nostalgia I get when eating them. I think back to college when cinnamon rolls were cheap and you could get a pack and cook them up and eat them either for breakfast or as a late night dessert when studying. I was reminiscing about college (GO EIU!!) with my husband a few days ago and I was thinking back to my late night study sessions with friends and how on the weekends we would try different things with ordinary meals. That’s when we discovered cinnamon roll waffles. Yes, its really a thing and super easy to make. You buy a roll of cinnamon rolls at the grocery store, I prefer Pillsbury but any will do. you individually separate them out and you roll them out with a rolling pin until flat. Then comes the fun part, you place them in your waffle maker and then serve with that delicious warmed up frosting. We added some homemade strawberry rhubarb jam and called it breakfast. img_0585.jpg

Chicken Salad

This week I called my mom to find out how she always made her chicken salad. We talked on the phone for a little while before Jellybean woke up from her nap. I will take any suggestions people have on getting a newborn to nap anywhere other than on me. Its getting a little ridiculous (at least she sleeps in a crib at night). Anyways, I remixed her classic recipe and made it my own.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pink lady apples, cubed
  • 1 bunch of green onions thinly sliced
  • 4 stalks of celery thinly sliced
  • 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken, cubed (I used the other half for dinner this week)
  • 1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
  • 1 and a little cups of mayo
  • sea salt, pepper and of course paprika

Mix all ingredients together! Easy and super tasty.

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Ratatouille

Boy, oh Boy! What a crazy week its been. How is it already August? We are getting ready for a baby blessing in our home which is a very important part of my church. Wondering what a baby blessing is? The purpose of a baby blessing is to recognize the birth on the official records of the church, ask God for special blessings for the baby, and for the family to celebrate their new addition. The Priesthood Blessing is a sacred and special time for a Mormon families and gives a blessing and a name for the church. So our Jellybean will get her name recognized in our church.

Anyways, back to Ratatouille. It’s simple and easy to make and I used all the veggies from my garden or from the farmers market (I don’t grow eggplant but maybe next year).

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • a 3/4-pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 2 small zucchini, scrubbed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1.5 cups of homemade sauce
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, sea salt and pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced finely
  • 6 leaves of fresh basil sliced thinly

Directions (serves 6):

In a large skillet cook the onion and the garlic in 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and heat it over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the eggplant and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened. Stir in the zucchini and the bell pepper and cook the mixture over the moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the jalapeno, paprika, the salt, and pepper to taste and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the basil and combine the mixture well.

I served my ratatouille with whole wheat spaghetti. I thought it was amazing but my husband didn’t like it. We learned that he doesn’t like eggplant, wish I had learned that before making this recipe.  Anyways, try it out, I really enjoyed the recipe and I think you will to!