Weekly Menu: Easy Staples

standard October 9, 2017 Leave a response

Now that my sweet baby is 7 months old (where has the time gone!?), we are venturing into the world of solid foods and all the mess that comes with it. I expected the food mess. I was not ready for the scheduling mess and kitchen disaster and mental load that came with it. Do we now have to have family dinner at 5:30? How do I feasibly DO that when I work until 5 or 6 most days? What can I make that a vegan, a meat lover, and a baby can all eat without making 3 different meals? And how, logistically, do we handle cooking, eating, cleaning up, bath, and bed time all in the span of an hour and a half? Ugh. Mamas who have gone before me, wear your crown. And wear it proudly.

I feel like I JUST got into the easy routine of baby in bed, then 20-30 min prepping dinner with minimal effort or cleanup, relaxing on the couch, and bed by 10. Now dinnertime feels like a stressful scramble, and once baby is in bed, I have all these hours free. What do I do? Work? Clean? Read? Go to bed early? It’s a whole new open world of evening free time that I somehow forgot about.

ANYWAY, back to dinnertime. Most meals we eat, I can easily take part out and prep for baby, and add meat if needed for the husband. My main issue came from the fact that most of our meals I had already premade and frozen, so cooking parts separately were a little difficult. I am slowly on a quest for baby and family friendly meals, similar to what I used to make way back in the old days of the blog when I was still figuring out how to feed just the two of us and actually cooking all the time. And while I will not be going back to cooking from scratch every day, I am figuring out what meals work best in a pinch, are easily modifiable, and can keep everyone happy and full. Here are a few favorites we are enjoying this week.

  1. Back Pocket Stir Fry with Noodles // My go-to pantry staple from Pinch of Yum
  2. Butternut Spice Risotto // A fall favorite.
  3. Roasted Root Vegetable Rice Bowl // Add peas and tofu for extra protein and a little color.
  4. Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce over Sweet Potatoes and Rice // A hearty easy dish from Cookie + Kate
  5. Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon // One of my best recipe discoveries from pregnancy. This dish also freezes beautifully.

More family meal adventures ahead! And probably some plant-based Baby Led Weaning recipes as I start getting more adventurous on the baby food front.

Have a delicious week!

 

Weekly Menu: Freezer Favorites Round 2

standard September 11, 2017 1 response

Before having my first baby earlier this year, I spent a few weekends stocking up my freezer with breakfasts, entrees, snacks, and smoothies to get me through the 4th trimester with as little cooking as I could. And I am back to report that it was the BEST. DECISION. EVER. If you’re pregnant and reading this, carve out a weekend and cook and freeze all the things you can! Especially things other people can heat up for you. No cooking. No dishes. And no greasy takeout. (YES, takeout has a much-needed place in this season, but especially with breastfeeding, all the nutritious, filling foods you can get are so needed to keep everyone healthy and happy).

Now that my freezer is empty again, I am back to share how I’ve gotten even more efficient at this process, with prep instructions to help anyone tackle this seemingly daunting task in just one weekend. I got almost 2 months of meals made in under 8 hours and for less than $150. And now I’m ready to get through a super busy work and holiday season.

Recipes

Pick 2 breakfast dishes. Add 2 smoothies. Throw in a sweet treat. And then 7-8 entrees that work for lunches, dinners, singles, or a crowd. The more versatile the better. Here is what I made this past weekend:

  1. Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins
  2. Baked Oatmeal Cups (whip up your favorite oatmeal recipe and bake in muffin tins vs the stove for easy single servings to reheat)
  3. Pumpkin Berry Smoothie Bowl
  4. Autumn Glow Milkshake
  5. Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
  6. Vegan Enchiladas Verde
  7. Spanish Quinoa & Chickpeas
  8. Cannellini Bean & Broccoli Rabe Meatballs
  9. Peanutty Stewed Blackeyed Peas & Collard Greens
  10. Back Pocket Stir Fry with Noodles
  11. Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat
  12. 1 Pot Lentil Dal
  13. Tofu & Broccoli Curry

Prep 

  1. Make a grocery list. Take stock of what you already have in the pantry and fridge. Shop for all the ingredients you need.
  2. Divide the list in half.  Set aside 3 hours over 2 days or one giant 6 hour day to cook.
  3. Read all the instructions. Soak beans, chop veggies, marinate, freeze, thaw, etc according to recipes. You don’t want to be stuck with dried beans that need soaking overnight when you’re about to cook the recipe.

Plan

If you’re tackling everything in one day, write out an order of operations sheet. Which things get dumped into a pot and left to simmer, allowing you to work on something else in a similar time frame? Which items can cook at same temperature and go in the oven together? What takes the longest and should be started first? What gets put in the slow cooker first thing in the day? If you write out a list and make things one by one, it will make everything go faster and run more smoothly.

Make sure you have freezer containers ready to go. I like to store everything in single serve containers, because most recipes I eat alone when the husband is traveling. Or he wants a separate meat dish, and we can just thaw what we both want without having a whole casserole dish of something sitting in the fridge going to waste. These containers stack great, fit in tight spaces to maximize your freezer, and are super cheap, so if they break or get lost or stained, you don’t feel bad about tossing them. Freezer bags are also a great option for smoothies, baked goods, breakfast burritos, etc.

Most of the dishes I made work well served over a grain, so I also cooked up giant batches of rice and quinoa and froze in single servings. Quinoa cooks rather quickly, but the last thing I want to deal with on a busy night is 45 minutes of brown rice simmering on the stove. You can buy precooked frozen rice, but a bag of dried rice is so cheap, I just add it to my batch cooking list and make my own.

Follow Up

You can either label each dish or make a list of what you’ve made and keep it near the freezer so you can check items off as you eat them. I find this makes it easier to always know whats left without digging through everything.

Now you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your evenings again!

 

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Friday Favorites: August

standard August 25, 2017 Leave a response

I never really thought about meal planning before having a baby. I just did it. I enjoyed it, I got lost in however long it took to find recipes, write down ingredients, shop, prep, cook. Nowadays, I only cook on Hello Fresh nights. Unless its pasta or salad. My time is way too precious now, especially with running a small business. But my freezer stash is almost gone, I’m getting bored with my staple meals, and trying to slowly regain a piece of my old self in this new season.

Meal planning is meant to make our lives easier, not harder. Prepping on the weekend should make weeknights less stressful. Having a game plan should make the weekend planning less of a chore and more of an adventure. So where the heck to we start? I’m going back to the beginning and following these easy tips. And then starting with these fun, flavorful recipes.

Neat:

  1. Favorite Meal Prep Recipes: Summer 2017 // Three easy, repeatable options for busy summer days.
  2. 10 Ways to Make Healthy Eating Easier and More Fun // Eating well should be a lifestyle, not a chore.
  3. The Case for Meal Planning // It is possible to follow your body’s hunger cues and still prep and plan ahead.
  4. 5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me 5 Years Ago About Meal Planning // It can be quick, manageable, and even fun.
  5. Meal Planning Tips for a Healthy Vegan Diet // Ready, GO!

Nutritious:

  1. Corn and Green Bean Tomatillo Tacos // I cannot think of a better way to end summer.
  2. Cashew Coffee // WHY haven’t I thought of this before???? Amazing!
  3. Thai Quinoa Salad with Sesame Peanut Sauce // All the best things in one bowl.
  4. Hummus Heaped with Tomatoes and Cucumbers // Refreshing and filling.
  5. Autumn Glow Milkshake // Embracing the fall season in these 100 degree days.