Meal Planning

As mentioned here, I use Plan to Eat to meal plan.  My goal each week is to make sure that at least 80% of our meals are whole food recipes.  I get most of my ideas from pinterest – sometimes I have to manipulate things because of food allergies or because I am trying to make a recipe a whole food meal.

On Plan to Eat, I put meals in for each day, but when the meals are made ahead, I really don’t have to know more than 24 hours what meal we are going to eat. This week (and really into next week) I made:

Cilantro Lime Chicken – This is one of our favorites!  Sometimes we eat it over lettuce as a salad.  Sometimes over rice as a burrito bowl and sometimes we eat it as a burrito.  If I am overly ambitious, I will make these homemade tortilla shells.  The only difference is that I add a can of diced tomatoes.  Personally, we use all organic ingredients in this recipe – you obviously don’t have to.  With the leftovers, I make taco soup – just add a can of low sodium chicken broth and a can of rotel tomatoes with green chiles.

Taco meat – I use this taco seasoning but I add 2 TBS red pepper flakes.  My kids LOVE tacos so I try to always have taco meat in the freezer.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Spaghetti with Turkey Sausage – This is a new recipe for us.  I made the sausage and mix all the ingredients today.  I poured it in the crock pot and put it in the refrigerator.  I wasn’t sure if it would freeze well, so we ate this tonight.  We will also had a salad with veggies from our garden.   The girls had a bread that I made in the bread maker today.  They LOVE warm bread!  This tasted good, but I actually had to let it cook longer than the recipe said – the pasta wasn’t completely done.  I also added 1/2 cup of water about halfway through – I thought the noodles needed a little water to speed up the process.  Oh, and I used homemade spaghetti sauce instead of a jar of store bought.  For future reference, I will cook the noodles separately.  Once I mix in the noodles, I will pour it in an 9  x 13 pan and put it in the freezer.

Chicken, Broccoli, and Potato Bake – You will see that the recipe actually calls for green beans.  I have made this with green beans and it was great!  Everyone loved it.  We are having dinner with my sister, her boys, and my mom one night this week.  My nephew, Will, is the best broccoli eater so I decided to switch things up and put broccoli in it for him.  I don’t put the butter on top – instead, I drizzle 3 TBS of olive oil.  I also use a homemade Italian dressing mix.

Honey Lime Chicken Skewers – I cut the chicken up into pieces the right size for skewers.  Then I put the chicken in a ziplock freezer bag and pour the marinade on top.  I threw it in the freezer.  We will eat this with rice and maybe some grilled pineapple. No Peek

Beef Tips – This recipe comes from a combination of recipes.  Ingredients:  2 lbs beef tenderloin tips (I actually use beef stew meat this time), 4 ounces fresh mushrooms (sauteed), 1/3 cup of this mix, 1 cup of water, and this dry onion soup mix.  Mix everything together and put it in a 9 x 13 pan and put it in the freezer.  Put it in the refrigerator the day before.  The day of – put it in the over for 3 hours at 300*.

Spaghetti sauce – I make spaghetti sauce almost every time I cook ahead.  I mix it up and add lean ground beef to half of it.  I freeze it in about 4 containers (if I am not using it right away) – 2 meatless and 2 with meat.

We will also have homemade pizza at some point.  My brother passed along a pizza crust recipe that he loves and is really easy.  We love this because we can all have sections of pizza to put on our own toppings.

Snacks for the week –

Pumpkin Protein Bars – I know I am a sucker for anything pumpkin, but I LOVE these!  2 changes that I make – I don’t like to use artificial sweetener, so I use 1/4 cup of honey.  I also add 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips.  I know both of these things add some calories but I feel like I am getting a treat this way!

Turkey Muffins – Kevin and I both eat these with a side of homemade marinara.

No Bake Energy Bites – My friend, Nhung, passed along this recipe.  Our kiddos have the same food allergies so she is fantastic about passing along recipes that she knows are safe for Daphne.  I used sunbutter – and these are delicious!

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins – We love these muffins!

I made some vanilla blueberry snack bars – the girls ate them, but I thought they smelled nasty.  Something about the combination of sunbutter and blueberries – bleh!

I really hope to be consistent and cook ahead once every other week or once a month.  We’ll see if I can keep it up as the school year continues!

Staying on Track

This is the first post that will be tagged under my “healthy living” category.

I want to share a couple of websites that I use to help us stay on track with our eating.

For us, the best way to stay on track is to meal plan and grocery shop based on that plan.  I like knowing ahead of time what we are going to eat than to plan things at the last minute based on the food that is in the house.  The website that I use is called Plan to Eat.  You can try it for free for 30 days.  You plug in your meals and your groceries are automatically added to the grocery list.  You can also add recipes (typing them in yourself of uploading them). Then when you plug the recipe under a certain day, the ingredients are automatically added to the grocery list.  The only negative that I found is that there is no app.  There is a mobile site, however, and that works fine.

We also use Grocery IQ.  If for some reason I am handwriting  our meal plan, then I add the groceries to the Grocery IQ app.  Kevin will also add things he needs or notices we have run out of so we always have an ongoing list.  This app allows you to create different categories based on the stores where you shop.  Kevin often stops at Trader Joes or Whole Foods on his way home from work – this app helps make his stops more efficient.

I love the blog 100 Days of Real Food for meal  and snack ideas.  This mom does a great job of posting kid friendly meals and snacks that requires all whole food ingredients.  Some of our favorite recipes from here are: muffins, cereal/granola, and tortilla shells.

Also,  if you are not on Pinterest, try it! I have a lot of friends who eat healthy, clean foods that they pin.  I have one friend, Nicole, who categorizes the dodos she pins under “Recipes I’ve Tried and Liked” and “Recipes I Want to Try.”  I love this because I know of a lot of people who have had Pinterest recipes flop. I like knowing st hat someone I know has been successful at certain recipes.  Nicole also usually mentions whether or not her boys like the recipes. This is extremely helpful for moms! (The link above actually takes you to Nicole’s food blog.  She does a fantastic job of adding new recipes and letting you know what changes she made and whether or not the boys like the food. Check it out!)

I also recommend using My Fitness Pal. This is basically a calorie counting website, but has a lot of other great features (however, I would suggest getting your calorie range from another site, My Fitness Pal assumes you will add in all your extra activity – but, really, who has time to add every little thing outside of exercise).  My boot campers use this website and many have been very successful in adapting healthy lifestyle habits.

There are a bunch of other websites that I use for help/ideas, but these are my favorites.  What websites/apps do you use to help with healthy recipes or to keep your eating on track?

Muffin Tin Tuesday

Since the girls go to MDO on Mondays, we had Muffin Tin Tuesday. I had just read this and decided to copy her idea and do a Children’s Literature Muffin Tin. As previously mentioned, the theme around here has been farms. Really, is there and easier theme for putting together a lunch? It was a good one to start with. We read Big Red Barn and The Little Red Hen.

The girls had toast, vegies, ranch (I’m sure you will notice ranch in almost all of our muffin tin meals), mozzerella cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and apples.

Next week will be a little trickier – elephants. I guess we will have to find out what elephants like to eat.

Muffin Tin Monday

I have been wanting to do muffin tin Monday for awhile now – just hadn’t done it. Is there anyone left in blogland who hasn’t done muffin tin Monday? I first about it here, and she saw it here. Then I saw it here and here.

So now it is our turn.

Starting in the upper left-hand corner: turkey, string cheese, ranch, carrots and cucumbers, blueberries, Club snack sticks.

Norah thought this was quite fun and ate everything except the turkey. She did remind me, though, that when mother’s day out starts we will have to have muffin tin Tuesday. Smart girl.

Lucy thought is was fun, but still didn’t eat much more than normal – chowed on her cheese, one carrot, a cracker or two, and basically licked the section with ranch. Lucy also emptied out one section so she could put her cup in it instead (my picture of this did not turn out).