3/21 Meal Plan

I am so excited to share my first meal plan! I unfortunately have to start this off by admitting that I am an imperfect human. I completely forgot to photograph one of the meals! My mom brain completely spaced it, but even though I will not have a photograph of what I made, I promise it was delicious! Also I am working on my food photography, so bare with me while I try to figure out how to make the photo’s look as delicious as they taste😝

Just for a little recap of how I do this…. I try to only cook 3 nights a week, leftovers are KING. If you don’t like leftover I think you are crazy! It is a homemade meal, made with love, that is already cooked! I plan 3 dinners, 1 adult lunch prepped for the whole week, and breakfast is a wild card. I want to note that I’m only cooking for a family of 3 so you may need to adjust proportions for your family. Part of how I plan the sides for my dinners is that I buy a weekly produce basket. The photo bellow is what we got this week. It is always a mystery what we are going to get, but it keeps us from always having the same thing. If you can find something like this where you live I highly recommend it! Also I try to incorporate a vegetarian/vegan meal into our week, it is one small way we are trying to improve our environmental impact.


What is on the menu…..

  • (Lunch)Quinoa salad, with garbanzo beans, corn, and Mexican seasonings
  • Italian sausage and white bean soup
  • Thai butternut squash curry
  • Grilled chicken teriyaki

The shopping list …..

Bellow you’ll find a full shopping list for the recipes bellow. Many of the items are pantry staples so you likely wont need everything on the list.


Quinoa Salad

8 lunches

Lets start with lunch! This quinoa salad had a surprisingly punchy flavor with minimal ingredients. I got the recipe from Shelly Food Spot and you can find the Original recipe here….https://www.shellyfoodspot.com/quinoa-salad-recipe-with-corns-and-chickpea/#mv-creation-35-jtr

I altered the recipe a bit to make it work for our meal prep. I also substituted the tomatoes with red bell peppers because Kyle hates tomatoes, and added pumpkin seeds for a little extra crunch. A trick for making your quinoa or rice taste special is to cook it with chicken stock instead of water! So yummy! Bellow I will list the altered proportions for this recipe.


  • 1.5 cups of quinoa (follow package instructions for cooking, but substitute broth for water if you want)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro/coriander
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1 can sweet corn
  • 1 bell pepper/ 1/2 cup tomatoes
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 full lemon
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)

Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup

https://www.saltandlavender.com/italian-sausage-white-bean-soup/

This made 4 adult meals 2 toddler meals

This soup has quickly become one of our favorites. It is so simple to make and super tasty. It takes 45 minutes to cook, but the hands on time is about 20 minutes. There are a couple differences for Asher’s bowl, the first being that I did not give him any bacon. It can be a choking hazard for young children so watch out for that. You’ll also notice that Asher’s portion also has peas. Frozen peas have become a hack for Asher’s meals. He is very sensitive to the temperature of his food, adding frozen peas is a really quick way to cool his dinner down, and he loves them! For this dinner I also made the unbelievably easy bread. Which is not necessary but is definitely delicious. You can find the recipe here…. https://turtlelion.com/2021/03/20/unbelievably-easy-homemade-bread/

Thai Butternut Squash Curry

https://www.chiselandfork.com/thai-butternut-squash-curry/#wprm-recipe-container-4092

This made 6 adult meals 3 toddler meals

Now it’s time for a imperfect human moment. When making my shopping list I misread the recipe. It calls for red curry paste and yellow curry powder. Well I bought both as paste. Good news is that it turned out delicious so either will work! This curry had a mild spice which did not bother Asher. If your child is super sensitive to spice you could mix in a spoonful of greek yogurt to cool it down. The store was also out of butternut squash so I substituted it for sweet potatoes. Mine is garnished with cashews, lime, and some roasted asparagus (a produce basked add on). Asher isn’t a big fan of asparagus but I did give him a few pieces to try out of my bowl to try to broaden his taste buds.

Grilled Chicken Teriyaki

https://dashofhoney.ca/en/the-best-grilled-teriyaki-chicken/#wpzoom-recipe-card

This made 4 adult meals 2 toddler meals
Here is the meal I forgot to photograph!😢This recipe was simple to put together, and super delicious! The recipe calls for chicken thighs, but we had breasts so that is what we used. The chicken needs to be marinated for at least 30 minutes, but you could easily do this the night before. The best part… the marinade becomes the sauce! I initially wasn’t going to make the cucumber salad, but we got a cucumber in our produce basket. I am so glad I did! It really made the flavor more “grown up”. We served the chicken with steamed broccoli, and a roasted cauliflower rice. The recipe has a really yummy sounding coconut rice, but since we had rice with the curry I opted for a lower carb option.

Cauliflower rice

Step 1-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Roughly chop the cauliflower then quickly pulse the cauliflower in the blender until it reaches a “rice” like texture. Pour the cauliflower onto a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper

Step 2- Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, toss at around the 10 minute mark. You’ll know it’s ready when it is slightly golden.


There you have it, a weeks worth of healthy family friendly meals! I hope you give this a try, if you do please leave a comment bellow. I’d love to hear what you thought of these recipes, and if there are any suggestions to make this easier to follow. Happy eating 🙂

Unbelievably Easy Homemade Bread

When the pandemic hit I, like everyone else, started baking everything I could think of. At that time of course bread was all the rage, and I wanted to give it a try. That being said, I like baking that has immediate pay off. So the idea of working on a bread for like 24 hours was not really up my alley. Then I stumbled upon this no-knead french bread recipe from Inquiring Chef. It is so easy I believe ANYONE could pull it off. It is only 5 ingredients, only takes 2 hours, and has about 15 minutes hands on time! You are definitely going to want to try it!

I will post the recipe below but be sure to check out all the recipes the Inquiring Chef has to offer! They have more than bread, but that is what I have focused on so far. I have also tried their focaccia and dinner rolls, delicious!

https://inquiringchef.com/no-knead-french-bread/


The ingredients:

  • Flour- The recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but I had bread flour so that is what I used. I have also used AP and it works great.
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Yeast
  • Water

Combine flour, yeast, sugar, and salt into a bowl. If you have a scale it can speed up your flour measurement, but it is not necessary.

Add the water, heated to whatever temperature your brand of yeast recommends. Mine suggest between 120-130 degrees. Then you simply mix until the ingredients are fully combined. I usually use a flexible spatula and then my hands at the very end. This dough is VERY sticky!

Scrape down the sides, and cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. I read on one of the Inquiring Chef’s recipes to place it in the oven with just the light on. It gives off a tiny amount of heat which works great!

After 45 minutes it will have doubled in size! At this point you need to decide if you are making 1 or 2 loafs. I usually just make 1, but the original recipe makes 2. If making 2 use a knife to split the dough in half.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured baking sheet, the parchment paper is optional. Now it is time shape it the best you can into a loaf. The dough is still VERY sticky! Mine never end up super tall. Then you cover it again and let it rise for another 45 minutes. You’ll also now pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.

After 45 minutes it will likely have doubled in size again. If it has spread out but not up, this is normal.

At this point you will take a sharp knife or scissors to slice the loaf across the top. I also like to sprinkle it with everything bagel seasoning, but this is optional! Pop it in the oven for 25 minutes.

Ta-da! You just made an unbelievably delicious homemade bread! We love to have this bread with homemade soups, I use it for avocado toast, and it’s also delicious just with some butter and jam! YUM!


No-Knead French Bread

By the Inquiring Chef- https://inquiringchef.com/no-knead-french-bread/


Ingredients:

  • 4 cups/ 500g all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp fast acting yeast AKA “instant yeast”
  • 2 cups water
  • Optional: everything bagel seasoning

Equipment:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Sheet pan
  • Optional: food thermometer
  • Optional: parchment paper

Step 1- Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.

Step 2- Add water, heated to the temperature your brand of yeast recommends. Mix until just combined. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Step 3- Dough should have doubled in size. If making 2 loafs split the dough in half here. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured baking sheet, and shape the loaf. The dough will be VERY sticky, so do the best you can. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees

Step 4- Dough will have about doubled again. Likely it will have spread out and not up. Take a knife or scissors and slice a few times across the top of the dough. If using, sprinkle the everything bagel seasoning across the top. Bake for 25 minutes.

Step 5- Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!


I hope you try this recipe out, it has become a staple in our house! Don’t forget to visit the Inquiring Chef, and If you enjoyed this post please bake, like, share, and enjoy!

Worlds Best Homemade Play-dough….Seriously!

In my many years as a nanny, I have tested out so many different types of homemade play-dough I could not count them! They are usually fine, but are dry, don’t have the right consistency, or after a couple days end up moldy! Recently a friend of mine sent me a link from Mother Could with tons of kid recipes including this play-dough! It feels like play-dough, they claim it will last up to 6 months, and after letting it sit for a few weeks I swear it even smells like play-dough! The blue batch pictured above is about 1.5 months old and is still in great shape! I will say that it leaves your hands with a slight floury feeling, but it easily washes off. So far every recipe I have tried from this list has been amazing! I will post the recipe bellow but I also recommend you check out all the recipes they have to offer. I am certain I will be sharing more of them in the future. https://mcusercontent.com/39d416d85bf7961fbbb56da88/files/8362431a-3bf8-4593-9568-dd71d5ba7505/SENSORY_RECIPES_2020_SMALL_FILE_SIZE_PDF.pdf


Play-dough Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour + more for kneading
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 TBSP cream of tartar
  • 1 TBSP oil
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • food coloring

Equipment

  1. Large bowl, possibly a few if making different colors( each batch is quite large you may consider reducing the recipe by half if making many colors)
  2. A pot to boil water

Step 1- Add flour, salt, and cream of tartar to bowl and mix.

Step 2- Add oil, and mix the best you can.

Step 3- Add food coloring to the boiling water. This will ensure your color is evenly distributed. Add it to the bowl

Step 4- Mix until a dough forms and begin to knead until no longer sticky. At this point I dumped mine out onto the counter with small amounts of flour at a time and kneaded until the consistency was right. Let it cool down a bit before you play with it.

Step 5- Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months! (I’ll report back if this claim is true once we get there!)


I hope you try out this play-dough recipe! If you enjoy it please share and comment bellow, I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

Bubble Bubble Toddler Trouble

This bubbly activity is sure to excite your little one! So simple to put together, and would be fun for kids of all ages! We originally tried this activity for Asher’s 1st birthday. We were all locked down in quarantine, but still wanted to make it special. This was just the thing! We also tried it just a couple weeks ago, added some trucks which blended the colors in the most amazing way! I could also see this used for older kids making potions or even a foam fight. I followed the recipe I found at Hello Wonderful, you can follow the link or find the recipe bellow.

https://www.hellowonderful.co/post/rainbow-soap-foam-sensory-play/


Soap Foam Recipe


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup tear free baby soap/ bubble bath
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 TBSP flour*
  • Food coloring

Equipment

  1. large mixing bowl
  2. hand mixer/ kitchen aid with whisk attachment

Step 1- Add all ingredients

Step 2- Mix until super foamy, and dump into where ever you are going to play!

Step 3- Repeat for other colors


Notes:

  1. The flour is optional. If you are worried about it clogging your drains you can totally leave it our but the bubbles won’t hold as long. I avoided this worry by playing in these bubbles in a large storage tub and dumping in the trash after.
  2. If you use large amounts of food coloring it might dye your child’s skin. Obviously not harmful, but something to keep in mind.
  3. If you have a kid who eats everything, you can also make the foam from the liquid in a can of garbanzo beans! The bubbles are not as stable though. You can find a recipe here https://kidactivitieswithalexa.com/en/taste-safe-foam/#zrdn-recipe-container

I hope you try this activity out, it is seriously fun! If you do please share and leave a comment below. I’d love to hear how it went!

Vegan Graham Crackers

I am So excited to share my adaptation of Served From Scratch’s graham crackers. I started making the original recipe for Asher a few months back and they are DELICIOUS, but I don’t eat any dairy. They were so hard to resist so I decided to try making them vegan. These graham crackers are sweet with a little hint of salt, way more flavorful than store bought. I hope you bake, love, and share!

Be sure to check out the original recipe here! https://www.servedfromscratch.com/homemade-graham-crackers/


The ingredients Equipment

  • Graham Flour/ Whole Wheat Flour – I have been unable to locate any graham flour. It is basically a special whole wheat flour, so I substituted it for a plain whole wheat and it works great.
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Brown Sugar
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Coconut Oil
  • Mollasses
  • Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • Vanilla Extract
  • A Large Bowl
  • A Pastry Cutter/ Fork
  • Rolling Pin
  • Baking Sheet
  • Parchment Paper

First you add all the dry ingredients, and gently mix. I used a fork to do this.

Next add the room temperature coconut oil. Using a fork/ pastry cutter press the coconut oil into the dry ingredients until you achieve a sandy texture.

Once the sandy texture is achieved add the remaining ingredients. I usually start with 3 TBSP of coconut milk. As I mix the the dough I decide if it needs 1 more TBSP. The dough will be a little crumbly but you want it to hold together when pressed.

Once the dough is holding together, pour it out onto a lined baking sheet. I like to put a second piece of parchment paper on top while I roll it out. Begin rolling it out trying to make it as square as possible.

Roll until it is 3/8″. If there is lots of cracking around the edges, simply break pieces off and roll them back in to fill the large cracks. When baking the edges get super crisp, so I try to make them as smooth as possible. At this point you are going to cover and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350

After cooling, remove from the fridge and cut. I use a pizza cutter and ruler to do this. This could definitely also be accomplished with a knife. The ruler is totally unnecessary but it does make them all uniform and pretty. Then using a fork poke those signature holes into the crackers. Now it’s time to bake for 20-25 minutes.

You’ll know they are done when they are browned around the edges. Place on a cooling rack and let cool until you can easily handle them. I find they are easiest to break apart when they are slightly warm. Break apart and enjoy! When they are fresh they are slightly chewy and crisp up over the next few days. Store them in an airtight container on your counter.


Vegan Graham Cracker Recipe


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups graham flour/ whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 TBSP room temperature coconut oil
  • 4 TBSP molasses
  • 3-4 TBSP full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment

  • A Large Bowl
  • A Pastry Cutter/ Fork
  • Rolling Pin
  • Baking Sheet
  • Parchment Paper

Step 1.-Combine all dry ingredients into a large bowl, and gently mix together.

Step 2- Add the 6 TBSP room temperature coconut oil. Either with a fork or pastry cutter, press the coconut oil into the dry ingredients until a sandy texture is achieved.

Step 3- Add the molasses, 3 TBSP coconut milk, and the vanilla extract. Begin to combine the dough. I mix with a fork and eventually finish with my hands. Mixing with a kind of pinching motion. You want the dough to be crumbly, but still hold together when pressed. If it feels like it needs a little more moisture, add 1 TBSP of coconut milk.

Step 4- Dump dough out onto a lined baking sheet, cover with a second piece of parchment paper and roll out into a square about 3/8″ thick. If you have large cracks around the edges, I would break pieces off and fill in those cracks. Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 min.

Step 5. Pre-heat oven to 350

Step 6- Remove from fridge and cut into squares. I use a pizza cutter and a ruler to cut into 2″ squares, but this is not necessary. They can be cut into any size. Then poke those signature holes into each cracker using a fork.

Step 7- Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are brown around the edges.

Step 8- Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Once cooled enough to handle, break apart the squares and enjoy! Store in an air tight container.

My Meal Planning How To

Meal planning can be daunting and sometimes hard to figure out where to start. Here is my guide on how I plan our meals for the week!


Lets start with where I search for recipes. My go to is http://www.foodgawker.com

It is like Pintrest, but only for food blogs! I seriously look here for everything from cocktails to desserts. It’s a great way to search, store and find food inspirations. This is also a great place to search for recipies if you are trying to follow a certain kind of diet. We’ve tried paleo, keto, vegan, and the Mediterranean diet. Foodgawker has it all!


Everyone loves home cooked meals, but the idea of cooking 7 nights a week is definitely overwhelming. My secret is that in my house, leftovers are king. Leftovers get a bad rap, but in all honesty as a busy mom leftovers mean a night off! And lets face it, some food actually taste better the next day!


Ok here comes the good stuff, the meal breakdown. For breakfast we kind of fend for ourselves. Kyle usually eats some kind of overnight oats, or eggs, and I am an avocado toast fanatic. Asher eats pancakes, oatmeal, eggs, or the occasional bowl of cereal + a serving of fruit. For lunch I meal prep lunches for Kyle and I for the whole week. This requires a dedicated amount of time up front, but ultimately is worth doing in the long run. Usually it is some kind of quinoa salad. Asher often has a grilled cheese, PB&H or sometimes mac and cheese + a serving of fruit and veggies . Now dinner is where the planning really comes into play, and where we all eat the same thing. I try only to cook 3 times a week. So the rhythm might look like Monday- cook, Tuesday- leftovers, Wednesday-cook, Thursday-leftovers, Friday- cook, Saturday-leftovers, and Sunday-family dinner/take out. This rhythm has really worked for me since becoming a mom, and I hope it might work for you! In the future I will post exactly what the plan was for the week, with pictures, links, and everything you’ll need to know to do it yourself!

My Must Have Activity Supplies

Lets face it, most of the time when we want to do an activity with the kids, it is on the fly. Here are a few of my must have activity supplies that I always have on hand.


  • I always have basic craft supplies like pipe cleaners, various sizes of popsicle sticks, feathers, and lots and lots of pom-poms! They are great for crafts but they come in handy for all kinds of activities. I bought a large craft supply kit that had all of this stuff in it for less that $15. I also recommend getting the jumbo pom-poms that are 2″ in diameter. They are so squishy and fun to hold, and much to big to be swallowed.
  • Painters tape! Useful for so many activities! It holds things down perfectly, and it’s easy to pull off without leaving a sticky mess.
  • Corn starch!!!! This pantry staple has become a necessity in our house. It is useful for messy activities and science experiments. Seriously useful to have on hand.


The other things I recommend are these plastic storage containers. You will see pictures of Asher sitting inside this big one all the time! It is a lifesaver with messy activities. The mess mostly stays inside the container, it’s easy to pickup off the floor when we are done, and easy to wash. It fits perfectly under Asher’s crib for easy out of the way storage.

I also recommend a couple of the smaller containers with lids. It allows me to prepare the activity up on the counter, and easily transport it into the larger bin. Then and when you are done simply pop the lid on and remove from your child’s reach.

Toddler Activities That Take Less Than 5 Minutes to Set Up

As a busy mom I look for activities that are super easy to set up, have zero mess, and will keep my toddler busy. Here are five activities that take less than five minutes to set up! If you enjoy these please play, love and share!


Pom-Pom Push

This activity is so simple, but takes the foresight to hold on the egg carton. Simply poke some holes in the back of the carton and pick out some pom-pom’s that fit through the holes. I have also seen this done with Q-tips. 

Warning: If your toddler puts everything in their mouth like mine does, keep an eye on the pom-poms as they are a choking hazard. 


Toy Rescue

This activity can be done with any small toys (action figures, bath toys, plastic animals animals) . I used cars because Asher is a car lover. I placed them on a fabric cutting mat, but they could easily go onto the floor or table. Simply tape them down and let your child at it! Great for fine motor practice.



Toilet Paper Stack

An activity to use your toilet paper hoard! Asher knew just what to do when I pulled these out. He immediately started stacking and knocking them over. Such fun!


Ball Spider Web

Make a web out of tape, I used painters tape but you could use packing or masking. I put the web between our kitchen island and other countertops, but you could easily do this in a doorway. Stick balls, pom-poms, or whatever else you want to it! I also brought out our laundry basket so Asher could put the balls in after he pulled them down.


Tape Pull

Similar to the toy rescue, I taped down popsicle sticks, and pipe cleaners to Asher’s high chair tray. This was the perfect activity to keep him busy while I cooked dinner!