Meal Plan Monday: Sept 9-15

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? The hubs and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary on Friday with a very sick baby. Poor G was miserable all weekend long, but appears to be mostly back in good spirits now. Hopefully we’ll go out to dinner this coming weekend instead.

photo by Hannah Bergman

photo by Hannah Bergman

Today marks the first day of the first full week of school. Last week was all about establishing routines, procedures, and expectations. This week I’m adding in more academics, while still practicing what we’ve established. It is mentally exhausting! Hopefully we’ll get in our grove soon so I can start attacking my curriculum. I have a lot to pack in this year!

I’m happy to be participating in Racheal and Deneene’s meal plan link up again. Being organized at school is something I excel at. I’m trying to bring my structured work-self home a bit, and be better about meal planning. Thanks for helping me be accountable ladies!

Running with Racheal

* (L) indicates leftovers

** (F) indicates a freezer meal (read my method here)

Monday – black bean burgers with zucchini chips

Tuesday – (L) taco Tuesday with Sunday’s wild card menu item: pot roast tacos with horseradish sour cream. I added garlic, cilanto & lime juice to the horseradish sour cream and was quite pleased with the results.

Wednesday – (F) Mustard lime chicken with red wine pasta and zucchini

Thursday – (F) paleo mini meatloaves and quinoa with roasted zucchini and carrots

Friday – (L) pot roast burrito bowls over zucchini cilantro lime rice

Saturday – dinner out for our belated celebration

Sunday – wild card

Workouts will be walking, elliptical, and painting. I did not meet my 12 mile goal last week (only clocked 6), which I’m okay with. The first week was too tiring and overwhelming to stress about such things. I’m going to be more on top of things this week though!

Oh, and if you have a moment, pop by my friend Jill’s blog – The Pinspired Mama. She just started it, and it looks great! I’m going to add some of her recipes into next weeks meal plan for sure!

What should I make this weekend for my wild card menu item? Something in the crock pot would be awesome since we’ll be painting all day.

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Chicken Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Burritos [for the freezer!]

This morning I ran to Safeway and scored a great deal – 50% off organic eggs! I paid $3.98 for two dozen organic eggs. Insane. That’s cheaper than just one of my favorite breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks.

Even though I’m still exhausted from my big freezer meal prep, I knew I needed to whip these bad boys up into some back to school breakfasts. I made 8 breakfast sandwich middles with 8 of the eggs (recipe soon), and 8 breakfast burritos with another 8 eggs. I still have 8 left to whip into something else fun. Maybe French toast sticks, or egg muffins, or a fritatta…the possibilities are endless.

chicken sausage egg & cheese breakfast burritos

Ingredients

8 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup diced onion

1/4 tsp salt

dash fresh ground pepper

3/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice

1 pound chicken breakfast sausage

8 tortillas, preferably Tortillaland (you can find these amazing tortillas at Costco)

Directions

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Preheat oven to 350. In a medium size bowl mix eggs, milk, onion, salt & pepper. Pour in an greased 8×8 baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Add shredded cheese to egg mixture and stir well. Bake 5 minutes, stir again, bake 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, brown the chicken sausage. Once eggs and sausage are done, mix together in a large bowl. Spoon evenly between 8 tortillas and wrap burrito style, folding in the ends as you go. Flash freeze on a cookie sheet & store in a gallon freezer bag. You can also wrap them in parchment paper, followed by a piece of aluminum foil for easy portability.

To heat, microwave on high for 1 minute 30 seconds.

Enjoy!

And don’t forget I’m pairing up with Jenn at The Wannabe Housewife for a $100 cash giveaway! Enter through the rafflecopter below 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

What is your favorite breakfast burrito mixture?

Freezer meal stock up (+ giveaway)

This is technically round 3, but I promised, and never delivered rounds 1 & 2. How long can I blame these sorts of things on being a new mom? Does the grace period wear out when G turns 1? If so, I am squeezing another 5 weeks out of that excuse!

The cost

A lot of food we buy is organic (dairy, meat, and the dirty dozen for sure), so that does up the cost a bit. But overall I think we spent about $200 between Costco and Safeway (use the Just4u app!), and wound up with 18 freezer meals, all of which will give us plenty of leftovers. Probably 36-45 meals total. This breaks the price per meal down to roughly $4.40 per meal. Not too shabby, and cheaper than my soy latté this morning. On the day of, some of the meals will require add ons like cooking some quinoa, or making a salad, but nothing over the top price or money wise – maybe $50/week for produce, yogurt, milk, and other staples as we run out (less in the summer).

Picking recipes

This go round I mixed in some tried and true freezer meals with some new ones. Most meals made in the crock pot can be turned into freezer meals. They are my favorite kind because they are quick and easy, for the most part. You just dump, seal, and freeze. I also love making yummy marinades for meat – they are perfect for the grill. And finally, casseroles are a good standby. The ones I pick are more time consuming than most, of course.

For freezer meal inspiration I have a pinterest board, pick and choose recipes from Once a Month Meals *(OAMM, formerly Once a Month Mom), and use tried and true family favorites. My burlattas have actually been featured on the Once a Month Meals 2011 November menu too!

*I haven’t done a full OAMM menu yet, however, because I’m not a fan of tangy sauces, and am not a huge meat eater. So customizing a menu to my own taste is something I take the time to do. But if you aren’t picky about that sort of thing, OAMM is a GREAT freezer meal resource!

The method

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First I compile my favorites and newbie recipes. I make a grocery list (sorted by area of the store), and create a word doc for directions. For a big cooking day I try to chop all my veggies the day before during G’s nap. This doesn’t always happen, but makes the process smoother. The next morning I’ll throw chicken in the crock for shredding (pretty much all my menus require some shredded chicken – it’s best with some taco seasoning thrown in the mix), and get to filling freezer bags (either ziploc gallon size or foodsafe bags for our vacuum sealer) with my dump and go meals. Then I attack the casserole dishes one by one. I’ve attempted making more than one at once (i.e. making pasta while sautéing the ground beef/Italian sausage mixture and rolling enchiladas), but I usually miss a step with something, or forget to throw in an ingredient or two. So I figure it might take a bit more time to focus on one at a time, but haste makes waste, right?

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After I do my dump meals I flash freeze the casseroles before vacuum sealing them. Flash freezing is very easy – I just make a flat space in my freezer, lay a cookie sheet down, and then place whatever meal I need on top of the cookie sheet. After 45 min to an hour I can usually vacuum seal. Some things take longer (like the pulled pork, I needed to wait for the Dr. Pepper to freeze a bit more before sealing otherwise the liquid would all go out of the bag). Sometimes I leave them all night, it just depends on what comes up and gets in the way of the process!

We generally eat 1-2 freezer meals a week, and cook 1-2 times. Once I have a full freezer I often will double recipes once a week, and freeze the second half. That way I don’t have to do big cooking days – which can be really difficult with a little one. Once the freezer starts to get low I start looking for inspiration again. Also, some of my girlfriends are getting into freezer cooking and we swap meals. I’m trying to rope more friends in, as swapping can really add to the variety of your freezer.

This rounds recipes – all were doubled

** indicates a tried and true recipe

Dump & go crock pot meals:

Mustard Lime Chicken – can be baked or grilled. I doubled and will probably cook in each style to decide what I like best for the next go round. I suspect grilling will win!

Chicken & Dumplings** – I’m looking for a non-condensed soup version if anyone has a recipe suggestion. Though this one is really tasty. I used the Cascade Farms Organic peas/carrots/corn blend for the veggies because it was 50%. Score! Not having to chop veggies is priceless for bulk cooking days!

Pulled Pork**- this one was tripled because of the cut of meat we bought, and it is SO tasty! I’d like to find a recipe that doesn’t use soda, but Dr. Pepper is pretty magical, so I guess I can handle it every once and a while.

Pesto Ranch Chicken Thighs – an easy crock pot meal to serve over rice, quinoa, or pasta.

more time consuming & casserole style meals:

Cream Cheese Spaghetti **-  I’ve made this with spaghetti, ziti, and fusili. I like the fusili the best. I do half (local, organic) ground beef and half Italian sausage. Do not attempt to add mushrooms! I tried last go round and the filling was way too watery. Doubling the onions and bell peppers works though. And do not neglect the French fried onions at the end of the cooking process. I’d never eaten a French fried onion before this meal, and man, I was missing out!

Paleao meatloaf – I made this with Italian Sausage, instead of ground pork. I have no idea of that is paleo compliant, (probably not!). I’ve never made meatloaf before, can you believe it?!? I actually rarely cook meat, I’m more of a chicken or fish kind of gal. But this recipe was super easy, and allowed me to finally use the almond meal I bought at Trader Joe’s forever ago and forgot about. Also, you top the meatloaf with bacon. And as we all know, bacon is amazing. I also made these in silicone cupcake liners so I could pop them out when frozen and just pop 3 or 4 in the oven at a time. If I get adventurous this week I might make some mashed potatoes and freeze them in the silicone cupcake liners for single servings as a side for these meatloaves. Which would totally ruin the paleoness of this meal, haha.

Avocado chicken enchiladas – This was made the following day after the chicken had cooled & was shredded. I added a small onion (diced) to the sauce. I filled my tortillas (purchased from a local Mexican restaurant for a more authentic taste) to the brim. I think one enchilada will be a substantial meal, so this should yield us 7 meals.

The verdict

We’ve only had one of the freezer meals for this round so far, (pulled pork), and it was a total keeper. We had pulled pork sandwiches one night, and used as taco filling another night. We still have plenty leftover too!

And exciting news, I’m pairing up with Jenn at The Wannabe Housewife for a $100 cash giveaway! Enter through the rafflecopter below 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are your favorite freezer meal recipes or freezer meal websites?

MPM: freezer love

When I was growing up, my mom always froze any leftover vegetables at the end of each dinner. Once we had a 4 cup container filled to the brim, my mom would make a big batch of soup. Just like Miss Smart, my mom didn’t like food to go to waste. The soup never tasted the same, and this is probably where my creativity in the kitchen started.

(source)

After graduating from college and starting my first job, I began to make a big pot of soup every Sunday. I followed the same principal of throw in whatever veggie you have, along with a grain and protein of some sort, and I would eat it down all week long. By  Thursday afternoon I was sick of whatever soup I had created, but I was single and broke, so I quickly got over my bored taste buds.

(source)

A few years passed and I finally revisited the idea of freezer cooking. Aside from my staple frozen pizzas, lean cuisines and mom’s frozen vegetable soup, I didn’t have much experience with freezer meals.  But I am so happy my friend Alanna introduced me to freezer cooking. She probably doesn’t even realize she did this, but I thank her nonetheless.  A year and a half I was browsing her blog and ran across her cooking day recap. I was transported to Once a Month Mom* and quickly fell in love with freezer cooking.

*my friend Kelly writes the whole foods menu!

This week’s menu plan is chock full of meals that were either pulled out of the freezer, or will be made in double batches,freezing half for later consumption.

Meal Plan Monday

Monday

Curried Split Pea Soup and scallion bread

Tuesday

Grilled Ahi, Caprese salad, brown rice

Wednesday

Spinach gnocchi with homemade pesto

Thursday

Chicken and Black Bean Burlattas

Friday

Turkey burgers and zucchini sticks

Saturday

Lasagna rolls

Sunday

Zucchini White Bean Soup (subbing yellow squash)

 

Have you eaten any of the meals in this week’s meal plan?

The return of Fashion Friday

I let Fashion Friday slip and slide all the way down the summer black hole. But now that I’m back to work full-time, it has resurfaced. The soaring temps + lack of functioning windows (or a/c for that matter) left me searching through my closet for clothes that would keep me cool, yet would still be teacher-appropriate. Tuesday

Dress: Max Studio, Wedges: Clarks (similar)

Wednesday

Dress: Ann Taylor Loft, Cardi: Nordstrom Rack, Shoes: Dansko (I finally broke down and bought some comfort shoes. Not the cutest, but oh, so comfortable!)

Friday

Denim bermudas: Ann Taylor Loft, Ruffle shirt: Banana Republic, Wedges: Clarks. Sidenote: look how sad Rilo is that I’m not spending all day with her 😦

I have to say, Clarks and Danskos are perfect teaching shoes. I had my doubts, but I’m glad I purchased both pairs. This week has included some rather long days, and even longer nights. Comfortable shoes are a must! (I explained this to my kiddos during my I-PICK lesson, they agreed 🙂 )

I’m easing back into my old routines of picking out my outfit and hanging it the night before, packing my breakfast and lunch, and making multiple days meals at once. I wasn’t able to fully organize my first week back, but I’m hoping to be completely back in my normal routine next week. This weekend I plan to make a few freezer meals/drinks I’ve been storing in my pinterest account:

Pumpkin Spice Latte on a budget

Guacamuffins

Homemade egg Mcmuffins

Slow Cooker Freezer Meals!

Also check out Megan’s Slowcooker Butternut Squash, Zucchini, and Sausage Stew!

No bake granola bars

What have you been pinning, or have you pined after, lately?