Archive for the ‘Meal Plans’ Category

Make-Ahead & Freeze Your Thanksgiving Meal

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Make-Ahead & Freeze Your Thanksgiving Meal from MomAdvice.com

These make-ahead holiday dishes are my favorites & I love that I can have our holiday feast prepped in our freezer. These recipes, decorating ideas, and hostess gift ideas are the perfect things you need in your arsenal for a perfect day!

It’s that time of year again where I show you how incredibly awesome it is to prepare your Thanksgiving meal ahead and pack it away in your freezer for the big upcoming feast.

Over the years I have tried so many recipes to share with you and today I want to show you my foolproof technique meal for creating a delicious meal right from your freezer and to your table that will taste like you cooked it that very day.

Before we dive into all the recipes, here are a few items I recommend having in your arsenal to make your meal preparation day easier and to actually create room for all of these delicious dishes.

Make-Ahead & Freeze Your Thanksgiving Meal from MomAdvice.com

Ninja Cooker For Preparation & Buffet

This item is definitely a splurge item, but has paid for itself over and over again for me. The Ninja Cooker has two functions on it (Stovetop & Slow Cooker) that allow you to brown meat inside of it and then switch to slow cooking. It also has a Buffet setting that is perfect for using on Thanksgiving Day to keep your dishes warm.

I can’t recommend this gadget enough and consider it to be a smart holiday investment.

Did I mention it is nonstick?

DREAMY!

Ziploc Freezer Bags For Food Storage for the Big Day

I love, love, love Ziploc Freezer Bags for their stackability for storing our food for the big day.

I use these to package up my stuffing and casseroles to help me pack more in my freezer without taking up so much space like a disposable pan would.

Make sure you reach for the freezer bags and not the regular ones though to prevent freezer burn.

When in doubt if something will hold, always double bag!

Chinet Bakeware For An Elegant Freezer Meal Spread

Since I freeze my feast for Thanksgiving Day, I love the ease of stacking (and clean-up) when it comes to disposable pans.

Chinet makes ones that are nonstick and I have found them to be a bit more durable for transporting from oven to table.

Since they are made of paper, the first time I used them I was a little scared how my food would turn out, but I have had great success with these and find them to be an affordable alternative to foil pans for Thanksgiving Day.

If you want to keep things looking nice, these casserole baskets (less than $10 each) are a clever trick I use to disguise a disposable pan.

Make-Ahead & Freeze Your Thanksgiving Meal from MomAdvice.com

Pie Cutters For Glamming Up Store-Bought Pies

If baking pies isn’t your thing, consider buying a little pie dough and adding a personalized touch with an inexpensive set of decorative pie cutters.

You simply roll out the pre-packaged dough, cut out a piece with the pie cutter and press to make a detailed impression on the top.

Transfer these delicate details to a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake as directed.

Add a glossy shine with a little egg or sprinkle sugar & cinnamon on top to add a little flavor.

Between this and a glammed up whip cream or quick topping, your store-bought pies will be a fabulous addition to the dinner table.

Carry-Out Dishes For Packing Leftovers

Sharing the leftovers is not only a nice gesture for your guests, but it makes sure that all the dishes get eaten.

I use my takeout pho containers when packaging food up for myself, but these Fitpacker containers would be lovely to share and let your guests take home food or to prepare a few lunches/dinners for your own family for the week so you can really put your feet up!

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes To Try

Cheddar Apple Pie Dip from MomAdvice.com

Appetizers

Bacon Ranch Cheeseball– Need I say more?

Spunky Spinach Dip– A delicious combination of spinach, salsa, & cream cheese. Serve with carrots and tortilla chips for dipping

Cheddar Apple Pie Dip– Prepare until the point of baking. Freeze for the big day.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip– AKA Crack Dip, as it is so lovingly referred to in our house.

Slow Cooker Chex Mix

Gluten-Free Meatball Sub Appetizer

Gluten-Free Meatballs– Bake & prepare sauce. Freeze separately for the big day. Warm up on the stove top and then skewer with baby mozzarella balls.

Sugar & Spice Nut Mix– Would also make a great hostess gift if you aren’t making the meal!

Cranberry Spread– Tangy and a delicious dip to pair with crackers.

Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole

Sides

Green Bean Casserole– Panko with homemade mushroom cream sauce- it’s divine!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes– I always double batch this recipe because these are the best mashed potatoes you will ever eat.

Brandied Orange & Cranberry Sauce– This is the best cranberry sauce I have ever eaten- truly!

Buttery Bread Machine Rolls– This foolproof recipe makes storing a bread machine worth it! Be sure to read this article for lots of bread machine tips!


Make-Ahead Gravy

Make-Ahead Gravy Recipe– Finding out I could make this early last year saved me so much time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Cranberry Cornbread– Bake & freeze for the big day!

Make-Ahead Apple, Sausage, & Sage Sourdough Stuffing

Gluten-Free Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Stuffing follow these directions for freezing!!

Slow Cooker Turkey for Thanksgiving Turkey

This turkey isn’t a make-ahead recipe BUT did you know you can cook it in your slow cooker?? Follow these instructions to save some space in your oven for the big day!

Not having a lot of guests? Give this easy method a spin. If you only like white meat, you can double or triple one of these for about the same price (and save the hassle of carving- boom!)

Not up for cooking the turkey? Check out this easy option you can have delivered to your doorstep from Amazon Prime!!

Fancy Up Store-Bought Pies

Desserts

Store-Bought Pie Tricks– Wow, your guests with a few easy details

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

All-Butter Pie Crust– Prepare and freeze discs of dough

Cranberry Crunch Pie Topping

Cranberry Crunch Pie Topping– Store wet and dry ingredients separately for the big day

Spiced Whipped Cream– Make-ahead and store in the fridge for the big day

No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes

No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes– A promise of all the good treats to come this holiday season

Not cooking? Here are a few of my favorite hostess gifts

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Candles

Mini Pie Hostess Favor

Mini Pie Gifts

diy trophy toppers (free gift tag printables)

Microwave Peanut Brittle

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle

diy vanilla chai tea mix

succulent terrariums (even a sweet small one in a thrifted tea cup!)

Sugar & Spice Nuts Mix

Sugar & Spice Nuts

Knitted Sweater Cozies

Knitted Sweater Coffee Cozies

Wine Hats & Scarves

Wine Hats & Scarves

Neon Paint Dipped Spoon Set

Paint-Dipped Spoon Sets

Free Thanksgiving Printable

Thanksgiving Decor, Crafts & Entertaining

Woodland Thanksgiving Table + Free Printables

DIY Thanksgiving Centerpiece

DIY Table Runner for All Seasons

Decorating & Food Advice for the Perfect Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving Feast

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

How to Entertain the Kids on Thanksgiving Day

How to Set the Perfect Thanksgiving Table

DIY Chalkboard Food Label Frames

I hope these ideas inspire you! If you are looking for a great turkey recipe, be sure to check out this Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast or just use this simple technique for a small crowd to prepare a boneless breast! Happy holidays, friends! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though! 

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Simplifying Your Holiday Gatherings

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

You will love these strategies for hosting memorable gatherings without the stress.

I’ve got everything from cooking shortcuts to decorations that transition through the seasons to your perfect playlist! 

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Now that Halloween is behind us, it is time to start thinking about all of those upcoming holiday gatherings. Hostess duties can often feel stressful and overwhelming, don’t they? That is why I’m excited to be partnering today with Honeysuckle White to share some fresh ideas for hosting your next gathering without the stress.

I learned that if I wanted to connect with my friends and family that I often had to be the one to step up to bat and offer to host. I have discovered, over the years, that so many people feel intimidated by hosting and are often self-conscious of things like undone house projects, their limited cooking abilities, or not feeling like they have that perfectly sized space for the ideal gathering.

The thing is, our own intimidations rob us of precious moments with those we love and the people that REALLY and GENUINELY love us will always, always be thankful to you for creating space in your home and day for them.

That is, truly, why I am excited to share that Honeysuckle White recognizes how precious our time is and wanted to take out that intimidation factor by providing a brilliantly easy turkey product that will make gatherings so much easier on busy moms.

Even better?

You can order it right through Amazon.

And, ladies, I KNOW we all have Amazon ordering down pat! (*ahem*)

Say hello to the world’s easiest holiday dish, the NEWS Honeysuckle White Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast “Turketta”, inspired by the flavor profile of porchetta!

I gave ordering one of these a spin and really was surprised how well-seasoned and easy this was to execute for my Friendsgiving gathering this week.

In your package (that arrives right on your doorstep!)  you will get one of these beautiful roasts that serve approximately 4-6 people.  The packages arrive frozen and you can thaw it for an ASAP gathering or you can tuck this in the freezer for a future meal.

The bird is perfectly seasoned, boneless (no carving- woot, woot!), and requires just a simple quick sear on the bottom and baking.

This isn’t the only option you can have delivered. They also are offering Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast, a Honeysuckle White Fresh Traceable Whole Bird Turkey, & the Honest Turkey Whole Turkey.

Even better, for a limited time offer, MomAdvice readers can get 15% off using my coupon code 15MOMADVICE.

I can really get behind this company and the work they do with farmers, especially after having the opportunity to tour one of the farms.

The company is committed to raising their turkeys without growth-promoting antibiotics and no added hormones or steroids.

They also are committed to supporting independent family farmers to provide family farm-raised turkeys.

I don’t know if you know this, but my great-grandpa was a farmer and that is why that commitment and their true love for these families really warms my heart.

Now that you have the turkey covered, here are a few other ideas for a simple gathering of great friends and great food!

Send Out a Small Invite

I have done loads of large gatherings, but I find the best gatherings are often the intimate ones with just a couple of close friends so you can really catch up.

A friendsgiving need not be a large gathering and the invitation does not need to be a formal one.

Text invitations are perfectly acceptable, especially during such a busy season.

Also, allowing mamas to bring kids is a blessing to the mom (who won’t have to cook) and to you (to get to love on your friend’s beautiful kiddos especially since your kids are tweens/teens and you now have to FORCE YOUR LOVE on them).

 

Keep the Sides Simple

Roasted vegetables are an easy side that can be prepared a day in advance.

In fact, storing your carrots and potatoes in water overnight will yield a much crisper roast than if you cut them up immediately.

Toss your prepared vegetables in olive oil, kosher salt, and your favorite dried seasoning (I’m a thyme girl!) and roast them at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

Love perfectly roasted potatoes?

Cut baby potatoes in half and put the cut side down on a cookie sheet that’s been lined with aluminum foil and is lightly greased. You will get a perfect roast every time AND they are so good that my kids call them mom’s french fries.

It goes without saying, but lining the cookie sheets with tin foil or parchment paper squares is also an excellent way to cut down on dishes!

Skip the Baking

Thankfully, there is no need to bake since we have so many delicious options for desserts that are already made and available for purchase at our local markets.

You can still make these purchased desserts feel really special though with quick homemade touches.

Spicing up your whipped cream, adding crunchy toppings, or adding details with pie cutters or an embossing rolling pin (made from refrigerated pie dough) are all fun ways to make pies feel special and more homemade.

This post offers 5 strategies for making store-bought pies feel special that I think you will find REALLY helpful for the holidays and even an idea for packaging up mini pies as a parting gift at the end of the night.

replicate my table with this easy tutorial

Think Evergreen When It Comes to Home Decorating

In the blog world, evergreen content is king. It means that we really focus on creating timeless pieces that can be shared over and over again and always feel relevant.

This is the SAME WAY we can approach our decorating. Purchase or DIY things that are neutral and can be used over and over again throughout the seasons. A bit of faux greenery, a roll of kraft paper (DO buy this– it’s such a affordable investment for decorating and gift wrapping), white plates, and loads of candles are perfect for ANY occasion.

Adding simple seasonal touches, like the small bundles of sage I gathered with cotton twine feel very Martha-y, but cost only a couple of bucks to pull off.

Stop pulling out and storing seasonal bins and buy a few items that you can use over and over and over again.

You can’t imagine the stress you will relieve yourself of!

Set the Mood

Before I go, I have one more fun fact for you…I used to be a glorified D.J. for my college’s radio station.

Music is essential to me like breathing and food.

Growing up, I played the violin, sang in the choir, did musical theater, and had parents who were crazy about music too.

I am also the one that hogs the microphone if you karaoke with me.

To me, a solid playlist for special occasions is oh-so-necessary.

Don’t have time to make one?

How about if I shared mine with you!

Also, as a thoughtful introvert, I have included three goodbye songs at the end that you can feel free to boot those up after the meal when you just need to retreat to your Snuggie and Netflix.

Hopefully they catch on..I know, “CLOSING TIME,” is a very, very subtle exit song!

I have embedded it here for you so be sure to bookmark this awesome post and give me a follow for more fabulous dinner music.

Now hurry on over to order your turkey and don’t forget to use my coupon code 15MOMADVICE to snag your 15% off!

this post contains affiliate links

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 6)

Monday, October 26th, 2015

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 6)

It’s another delicious week thanks to a day of preparations. I’ve discovered audiobooks are so great for these days because I feel like I am accomplishing two things I want to do at once! Thanks to our library partnering with hoopla, I have been able to really take advantage of this freely through my library card.

I hope these meal ideas have been inspiring to you and your family!

Approximate Time for Preparation- 3 hours plus clean-up! 

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 6- see previous weeks here)

Roasted Turkey Breast (for sandwiches)- I roasted this while I chopped the other food!

Homemade Pizza Sauce (I stole one from our freezer this week!)

Pizza Dough (I bagged the dry ingredients for my homemade pizza)

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup (soup base prepared minus the noodles)

Grapes (removed from the vine, but I didn’t rinse so they don’t get moldy!)

Brown Rice (four cups)- (NEW TUTORIAL!!)

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Italiano (prepped & bagged)

Chopped Romaine Hearts (for salads & turkey sandwich topping)

Spaghetti Sauce

Pumpkin Pancakes (mixed dry ingredients & jotted down wet ingredients needed on packaging)

Chicken Lo Mein (ingredients chopped and bagged separately & sauce prepared in a separate container)

Green Beans (trimmed) & Mushrooms in separate bags- planning to roast them like this

Chopped Carrots & Celery (I store these in water)

Green Smoothie Packets (I use this recipe and froze the strawberries, bananas, and fresh spinach in packets for the morning.)

Meal Plan

Breakfasts- Green Smoothies

Lunches- Leftovers , Turkey Sandwiches, Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

Dinners-

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 6)

Weeknight Roasted Turkey Sandwiches With Shoestring Oven Fries, Carrots, & Celery

weeknight_chicken_lo_mein_1

Weeknight Chicken Lo Mein, Brown Rice, With Steamed Edamame

greek soup finish 1

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup, Salad (tossed with red wine vinegar, olive oil, & oregano),  & Grapes

Pot-Roast-Italiano-748388

Pot Roast Italiano, Balsamic Roasted Green Beans & Mushrooms, With Roasted Potatoes

pumpkin_pancakes_1

Pumpkin Pancakes, Chicken Sausages, & Orange Juice

Pizza

Homemade Pizza Night

momadvice-make-ahead-meals (1 of 1)

I hope you enjoy this make-ahead feast inspiration! Happy Monday, friends!! xo

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 5)

Monday, October 19th, 2015

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 5)

They say it takes 30 days to make something a habit. If that is the case, I am so proud to have made it through my first month of make-ahead meals. Our activities schedule has slowed down considerably, but I still saw the value in it this week. I am able to put in more work on the site and I also am squeezing in more time to read thanks to the preparations that I have made for the week. Overall, I still am finding lots of value in it, especially in our family’s dining out budget.

Have you used Mint before to track your spending? If you aren’t sure how much you are spending on the different categories in your life, you can link your bank account to it and it will compartmentalize all of the areas of your spending for free. You can look at little pie charts at where you money is going and it can be incredibly enlightening especially when it comes to your food budget. It is through this program that I am able to see what a benefit these preparations have been for us and managing my other spending in the process. I’m a big fan especially of the email alerts when spending is out of hand. Especially when you are on vacation (GULP!) and the alerts are flying- ha!

Let’s get cooking!

Approximate Time for Preparation- 3 hours plus clean-up! 

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 5- see previous weeks here)

Carnita Meat (prepped the seasoning mix ahead in a container to pour over the pork in the morning)

Homemade Pizza Sauce (I stole one from our freezer this week!)

Pizza Dough (I bagged the dry ingredients for my homemade pizza)

Roasted Chicken (NEW TUTORIAL!! for salads & wraps)

Grapes (removed from the vine, but I didn’t rinse so they don’t get moldy!)

Brown Rice (four cups)- (NEW TUTORIAL!!)

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili (had this simmering away while I prepped)

Chopped Romaine Hearts (for tacos and side salads)

Spaghetti Sauce

Brussels Sprouts (trimmed)- to be made into Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Broccoli (chopped and bagged)

Cracker Barrel Chicken Tenders (triple-batched the tenders and put in a bag to marinade)

Chopped Carrots & Celery (I store these in water)

Chopped Bell Peppers

Green Smoothie Packets (I use this recipe and froze the strawberries, bananas, and fresh spinach in packets for the morning.)

Meal Plan

Breakfasts- Green Smoothies

Lunches- Leftovers , Chicken Wraps or Salads, Pumpkin Chili

Dinners-

Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Carnitas

Monday- Gluten-Free Carnitas with Tortilla Chips (we also created rice bowls from our prepared rice)

Grilled Chicken Tenders

Tuesday- Cracker Barrel Style Chicken Tenders, Brown Rice, & Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Wednesday- Spaghetti Night, Steamed Broccoli, & Grapes

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili

Thursday- Homemade Pumpkin Chili & Grilled Cheese

Spinach, Tomato, & Mushroom Pizza

Friday: Homemade Pizza Night

Saturday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

Sunday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 5)

I hope you enjoy this make-ahead feast inspiration! Happy Monday, friends!! xo

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 4)

Monday, October 12th, 2015

make-ahead-meals (1 of 1)

I hope you all had a great weekend! Since we had a wedding to attend last weekend and my daughter is starting her Nutcracker rehearsals, weekends are no longer working for me to get these meals ready for our week.

My make-ahead day has now moved to Wednesday (with a grocery day on Tuesday). Since I got started so late though, I had a hard time capturing a picture so I apologize for this week’s blurry image, but I hope you will find these make-ahead ideas inspiring!

Once again, we still have not dined out as a family and my husband & I only logged in one meal last week out so I am really thrilled how much this has improved our entertainment budget. Thanks to this great audiobook this week, I didn’t dread this task as much as other weeks, and moving this to a day while the kids are at school also helped it not feel so chaotic in the kitchen. Is it easy? No. Am I thankful all week long? You bet.

Approximate Time for Preparation- 4 hours plus clean-up! 

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead

Pulled Pork (had this in the slow cooker while I made the rest of the dishes)

Homemade Pizza Sauce (I stole one from our freezer this week!)

Pizza Dough (I bagged the dry ingredients for my homemade pizza)

Roasted Chicken (NEW TUTORIAL!! for salads & wraps)

Grapes (removed from the vine, but I didn’t rinse so they don’t get moldy!)

Brown Rice (four cups)- (NEW TUTORIAL!!)

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup

Italian Meatloaf (minus breadcrumbs for a gluten-free loaf, pulled this one from the freezer!)

Gluten-Free Meatballs

Caprese Pork Chops (marinated in pesto and sliced the mozzarella for topping)

Baked Hard Boiled Eggs

Brussels Sprouts (trimmed)- to be made into Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Sliced Mushrooms & Green Beans (trimmed & stored in separate bags)- planning to roast them like this

Slow Cooker Chicken Italiano

Chopped Carrots & Celery (I store these in water)

Green Smoothie Packets (I use this recipe and froze the strawberries, bananas, and spinach in packets for the morning. This week I added some blueberries that were on sale!)

Meal Plan

Breakfasts- Green Smoothies or Hard Boiled Eggs & Fresh Fruit

Lunches- Leftovers or Hard Boiled Eggs, Chicken Wraps or Salads, Chicken Noodle Soup

Dinners-

Pulled_Pork_Stuffed_Sweet_Potatoes-1

Monday- Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Fresh Fruit & Chopped Veggies

5_Ingredient_Caprese_Pork_Chop-Header

Tuesday- Caprese Pork Chops with Balsamic Roasted Green Beans & Mushrooms, and Brown Rice

Gluten_Free_Chicken_Noodle_Soup_Header

big_batch_toasted_cheese_sandwiches_1

Wednesday- Chicken Noodle Soup with Big Batch Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Pizza

Thursday- Homemade Pizza Night

Roasted_Brussels_Sprout_1

Friday- Italian Meatloaf With Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Saturday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

Sunday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

make-ahead-meals (1 of 1)

I hope you enjoy this make-ahead feast inspiration! Happy Monday, friends!! xo

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The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 3)

Monday, September 28th, 2015

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 3)

When grocery day used to come, it would be the day of trashing perfectly good food that would have been perfectly delicious if I ever would have gotten around to cooking it. This week we threw away a little celery and some hard boiled eggs for the entire week of wasted food. If I questioned if making the food ahead was worth the effort, this helped me understand LOUD AND CLEAR that this family needs this to save money and waste less.

We also did not eat out this week (other than a work engagement my husband had) so that is two weeks in a row that I have felt more in control of our family finances.

That is NOT to say that I did not drag my feet this week. This takes a ton of effort and I started this incredible book and it pained me every minute I was away from it. The reward though is that I will have loads more time to read this week with ZERO guilt because I am ahead of the game this week.

I’d love to hear if you tried anything from our make-ahead ideas or what your favorite make-ahead dish is. I am sure I am going to be needing some new recipes soon!

Approximate Time for Preparation- 4 hours plus clean-up! 

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead

Homemade Pizza Sauce (double batched- popped one in the freezer)

Pizza Dough (I bagged the dry ingredients for my homemade pizza)

Roasted Chicken (NEW TUTORIAL!! for salads & wraps)

Blueberries & Strawberries

Brown Rice (four cups)

Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Cantaloupe

Baked Hard Boiled Eggs

Chicken Enchiladas (stored sauce in a separate container)

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches

Brussels Sprouts (trimmed)- to be made into Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Sliced Mushrooms & Green Beans (trimmed & stored in separate bags)- planning to roast them like this

Broccoli- to make into Microwave Lemony Broccoli

Slow Cooker Chicken Italiano

Chopped Carrots & Celery (I store these in water)

Green Smoothie Packets (I use this recipe and froze the strawberries, bananas, and spinach in packets for the morning. This week I added some blueberries that were on sale!)

Meal Plan

Breakfasts- Green Smoothies or Hard Boiled Eggs & Fresh Fruit

Lunches- Leftovers or Hard Boiled Eggs, Veggies, & Fresh Fruit, or Stuffed Green Pepper Soup with Salads

Dinners-

Monday- Roasted Chicken Wraps With Broccoli or Salads (Topped With Berries, Balsamic Dressing, Slivered Almonds, & Chicken)

Tuesday- Chicken Enchiladas, Brown Rice, & Tortilla Chips with Salsa

Wednesday- Italian Beef Sandwiches on Hoagie Rolls with Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Fresh Fruit

Thursday- Chicken Italiano served over Brown Rice Pasta with Balsamic Roasted Green Beans & Mushrooms & Fresh Fruit

Friday- Homemade Pizza Night

Saturday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

Sunday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

make-ahead-meals-1

No more cooking for this girl ALL WEEK- YAY!! Happy Monday, friends!! xo

 

 

 

 

 

The MomAdvice Make Ahead (Week 2)

Monday, September 21st, 2015

The MomAdvice Make Ahead Meal Ideas

The first week of my make-ahead feasting went so well that we didn’t even eat out once last week despite a grueling activity schedule! I will be sharing make-ahead tutorials as I have lots of techniques to share with you about how we are accomplishing our make-ahead feasts! Today you can catch my tips for hard boiled eggs in the oven!

Since we have another crazy week (who doesn’t it?), I wanted to share what is in our fridge this week.  I hope this can help inspire you for making ahead a few dishes for your week too.

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead

Fresh Berries (Strawberries & Blueberries)

Chopped Broccoli (to be made into this easy Microwave Lemon Broccoli  for a side)

2 Pounds Taco Meat

4 Cups Brown Rice (for taco bowls)

Chopped Lettuce (for tacos/taco bowls)

2 Italian Meatloaves (Prepared minus the breadcrumbs to make it gluten free. I popped one in the freezer for another week!)

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken (I cooked the chicken and have the sauce set aside in a separate container for warming)

3 pounds Roasted Chicken, sliced (for wraps & salads this week)

2 dozen Hard-Boiled Eggs Prepared in the Oven

Chopped Carrots & Celery (I store these in water)

Green Smoothie Packets (I use this recipe and froze the strawberries, bananas, and spinach in packets for the morning)

The MomAdvice Make Ahead Meal Ideas

No more cooking for this girl ALL WEEK- YAY!! Happy Monday, friends!! xo

The MomAdvice Make Ahead

Monday, September 14th, 2015

The MomAdvice Make Ahead

Wow, I can’t believe our family’s Choose Your Own Adventure trip has finally been fulfilled! It was such an incredible vacation (equal parts busy and equal parts R&R)  that I’m looking forward to sharing more about it with you this week! In the meantime, I have been knee deep in laundry, grocery shopping to replenish the very empty fridge, and I have been doing some food prep this week to try to get ahead.

I hope to try and doing a little making ahead each week since our family life has gotten quite busy between dance lessons, cross country meets/practice, and instrument lessons.  I shared this photo on Instagram and had a few people ask me how I made certain things for the week so I thought maybe sharing it here so you could not only hold me accountable (something I can always use), but I hope it might inspire you to get a little ahead during your busy weeks!  I must say that Shutterbean has been such an inspiration to me in this department-have you read this post on make-ahead planning? I also love to follow along with her hashtag to think of new ideas that I can do ahead in my kitchen!

The biggest thing for me is my desire to decrease the amount of food waste we have in our house. If things are pulled together, frozen, and incorporated into our dishes, there is less chance of those items going to waste in our home.

For me, it’s also less about menu-planning and more about thoughtful preparations that can be pulled together for the week ahead whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For menu-planning advice, I’m An Organizing Junkie is a pioneer for Menu Planning Mondays where you can gather so much good stuff each week and you can start brainstorming what you can make ahead for your meals each week.

Here is what I got ready for our crazy activities week!

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup (Prepared minus the noodles- I like to make them fresh so they maintain their consistency)

Spaghetti Sauce (double batched)

Chopped Broccoli (to be made into this easy Microwave Lemon Broccoli for a side)

Roasted Green Beans (prepped and thrown in a bag for the week)

3 pounds Roasted Chicken, sliced (for wraps & salads this week)

1 dozen Hard-Boiled Eggs (I used this oven baking method with really good success. I also kept the shells on the eggs for storage because they keep for one week like this and it keeps bacteria away!)

Chopped Carrots & Celery (I just chopped these up while chopping up the celery and carrots for my soup)

Pot Roast Italiano (prepped and thrown in a bag for the week)

Green Smoothie Packets (I use this recipe and froze the strawberries, bananas, and spinach in packets for the morning)

For a couple of hours of cooking and prepping, I’m hoping we can stay on track with our family’s eating this week!

Let me know if this helps you and if you would like me to continue sharing these ideas with you! xo

 

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5 Quick Fix Dinner Ideas with Jessica Fisher

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Jessica Fisher is the force behind both Life As Mom and Good Cheap Eats, where she shares budget-friendly, family-centered recipes and ideas. She has been a friend of mine for many years and I so admire all the work she does to create family meals on a budget! I’m so excited to have her contribute to our Meal Planning M Challenge with some great dinner ideas straight from her new cookbook!

5 Quick Fix Dinner Ideas from Jessica Fisher on MomAdvice.com

What to Do When You Don’t Know What’s for Dinner?

It’s happened to all of us: 5 pm rolls around, tummies start to rumble, and you find yourself staring into the vast cavern of your refrigerator, wondering what’s for dinner. Your impulse might be to say, “There’s nothing to eat. Let’s go out.”

For most of us, this isn’t entirely true. There’s nothing easy to make to eat, but there’s probably actual food in the house. So, what do you do? Do you give in to the impulse and pay for overpriced burgers and fries? Or do you exert yourself, as Jane Austen would say, and cook something up?

I’m going to make the case for the latter and go so far as to say, “Suck it up, Buttercup. You can do this in 30 minutes or less.”

Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated — or longer than your favorite TV show. If Agent Coulson and his team can catch the bad guys and acquire major super powers in 60 minutes, you can make dinner in half that time.

Consider these 5 quick fix dinner ideas that taste great and won’t break the bank:

Beans and rice – A rice cooker can produce perfect rice in 20 minutes. Opening a couple cans of beans, shredding cheese, and mixing up some salsa might take you another ten. Between the two of you, you’ve got the makings for a great supper that’s filling as well as economical. This Chicken-Cilantro mixture will be the piece de resistance.

Lotsa pasta – Pasta is the go-to choice at my house. My kids can smell boiling noodles from a mile away. They’d be satisfied with butter and parmesan, but in just a few minutes, I can whip up a broccoli cream sauce that they gobble down with gusto.

French Bread Pizza from Good Cheap Eats

Piece’a pizza – It might take an hour or two to proof traditional pizza dough, but we can have a great pizza dinner without the wait. Using French bread, pita bread, lavash, or tortillas for the base, I can create custom pies in just a few minutes.

Wrap it up – Keep tortillas on hand for quick sandwiches and burritos. Frozen chicken tenders cook quickly; just pull as many as you need from the bag. Throw on some shredded cheese and vegetables, and drizzle with your favorite sauces. Or go meatless with something like these Green Chile Burritos.

Cobb Salad from Good Cheap Eats

Salad’s on – I’ve got an 11-year old boy who will eat Caesar Salad until the cows come home. If I keep those ingredients on hand, I’ve always got a dinner he loves. Explore the world of salads and find those that really make your heart happy. Cobb? Tostada? Pasta? Cole slaw? Use those as your go-to’s, stocking those ingredients as pantry staples. Add a cooked meat for the carnivores in your midst. You’ll eat fresh in no time at all.

Need more inspiration for a quick fix?

Good Cheap Eats by Jessica Fisher

I spent a year researching how to make dinner quick, easy, and healthy. My findings are stuffed into Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes (or Less!).

My new cookbook provides over 200 recipes that feature real food, real quick. With over 100 time-saving tips, you’ll eat for a day (or a month), as well as learn how to adapt your own kitchen skills to economizing time and money.

Dinner time doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or stressful. You’ve got the skills; you just need to know how to use them to your advantage. You can totally do this!

What’s YOUR favorite quick fix?

 

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

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3 Challenges & Solutions to Meal Planning for My Family

Monday, August 17th, 2015

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Meal Planning Challenges & Solutions

Sometimes I think my family is out to get me. I mean, surely they can’t be so obnoxious without some planning or plotting! Could they be this difficult naturally? All at the same time? Without coordinating their attack on my patience and sanity?

These are the thoughts that bombard me several times a week, almost always in regard to dinner.

DINNER. They want it every single day. Every! Single! Day! And do they want the same things? NO!

Sigh. Okay, fine. They’re probably not out to get me. But I bet I’m not the only wife/mom/home manager to feel that way – especially around dinnertime! So in case you also struggle with picky eaters or busy schedules or lack of motivation (oh, just me?), I thought I’d take a look at three of the challenges – and their solutions – I face to meal planning for my family.

1. Time

Every Sunday night my husband and I have the same conversation. It goes like this:

Me: Heavy sigh.
Him: What’s wrong?
Me: Nothing. Just thinking about everything I need to do.
Him: Can I help you?
Me: No. I just need more hours. Could you give me more hours?

Poor guy. He just wants to snuggle on the couch and watch another episode of Blue Bloods with his wife, and here I am mentally reviewing my to-do list and trying to figure out how to get it all done – no – get ANYTHING done. Because I often feel like the repetitive but necessary tasks of everyday life take up 90% of my time, leaving me very little margin for new ideas, extra projects or defrosting my refrigerator.

So when I think about making a menu and a corresponding grocery list, it feels overwhelming. I mean, REALLY. Who has three hours to sift through all those yummy recipes I’ve pinned and clipped over the years to find five or six meals to make in the coming week? And then to choose sides to go with it? And look in the pantry and fridge to see if we already have any of the ingredients? And THEN make a list?

Gah. It seems so much faster, in the moment, to just hop in the car, drive to the store and buy what I think we need for the week. Except . . . you know just as well as I do . . . that does not EVER save me time. Or money. Or that precious commodity: sanity. Going to the store without a plan never results in the right combination of food for a week of meals! I KNOW THIS! So, how do I resist the temptation to do it anyway?

Easy. I don’t make a new menu every week.

I have a few basic meal plans that I can rotate, based on categories for each day. (e.g. Monday is something grilled because my husband has more time that day, and Wednesday is something fast and easy because my daughter has piano lessons that night.)

And those new recipes I want to try? I remember that I’m not actually Betty Crocker and limit myself to one or two a month. Because seriously, our family favorites are favorites for a reason. (And, honestly, my family would happily eat tacos every single week for the rest of our lives.)

Speaking of tacos, I know a lot of people who use theme nights for the meal plans. So Monday is Italian night, Tuesday is Mexican night, etc. Sometimes I do this, too – although sometimes it’s to remind us not to have Mexican three times a week.

2. Preferences

“Preferences” seemed like a nicer way to put it than, “Picky eaters.” But that’s really the issue, isn’t it? One of the things we say often in my house is that different people like different things. I started this to help my oldest daughter understand that just because someone likes green or football or country music or tattoos or Minecraft, they aren’t weird. They just like different things.

But for the love of sweet potatoes (which some of us like and some don’t), finding food that all four of us like gets harder every day! And while I am NOT a short-order cook, I do want all my people to get enough to eat. So where’s the balance?

My solution for now is to cater to their wishes – sometimes. I know what they like (until they change their minds again), so I plan to fix those foods and those meals often.

But sometimes I want to fix and serve something that one or two of them don’t like. And in those cases, we always have peanut butter and bread (if it’s the main dish) or cup of peaches and applesauce (if it’s a side dish). I’ll let my daughter replace one of our foods, but then she has to make do with the others. So if she doesn’t want green beans OR rice, she has the choice of which one to “choke down” and which one to replace with fruit. That’s our compromise.

As for new foods or new recipes, everybody has to try a few bites. And in the case of new recipes, we take a vote after giving it a try. If the majority (or at least the parents) like it, then we add it to the rotation. If not, well, at least we tried!

3. Motivation

Last but DEFINITELY not least is the biggest challenge of all in my house: motivation. I have to confess: sometimes I’m just lazy. Or busy. Or tired. Or ALL OF THE ABOVE! And the last thing I want to do is think ahead or make one more list. Especially after a week that’s included a bombed recipe or forgotten plans or unexpected dinners out.

But all I have to do is a little math to get myself back on track. I know how much I spend on groceries when we’re planning and cooking meals on a regular basis at my house. So a quick calculation of how much we’ve spent on fast food and take-out when I’ve slacked off will cure my lack of motivation REAL FAST.

Plus, I know that we eat a lot healthier when we eat at home. And sure, I might not have to do dishes, but my trash can (and dining room table) is overflowing with Styrofoam cups and paper bags! Yuck.

Staying mindful of those realities – and remembering my easy meal plan solutions – helps me plan meals for my family (and stay sane while doing it)!

What challenges do you face when meal planning for your family?

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