What We’re Eating 4/24-5/2

Hey! I know it’s been a hot second since I’ve updated the good ol’ blog, but frankly I’ve been feeling uninspired and I don’t want to post when I have nothing to write about! That being said, I’d like to get back into the habit of sharing our weekly meal plans to help inspire you in the kitchen! I’ll be sharing what we are eating and how I try to make each meal a little healthier. As you hopefully know by now, my husband has a strong love for calzones, so every Friday we will continue to eat them until we are sick of them. I doubt that will happen!

This week we are eating:

  • Burrito bowls  — We don’t add the cheese and skip the corn salsa. What is so great about these tasty bowls is you can customize them however you’d like and they still taste fantastic.
  • Thai Chicken Meatballs — Serve these up on top of brown rice and with roasted broccoli. I try and lighten these up a bit more by using light coconut milk and whole wheat breadcrumbs.
  • Asian Salmon — I know I’ve shared this recipe before but it is worth sharing again! It comes together quickly, which makes this an easy weeknight meal. Serve with quinoa or brown rice on the side for some complex carbs.
  • Calzones — Made with this whole wheat crust. Pick your toppings and stuff them in the crust and bake! Our favorite toppings are mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and turkey sausage. And cheese, of course.
  • BBQ Chicken Salads — Does this salad scream summer, or what?!
  • One Pan Lemon Chicken with Brussels sprouts and butternut squash — The sauce makes this dish!

 

What are you eating this week?

My Favorite Weeknight Meals

I have a mountain of recipe books (thanks family!). I have pinned countless recipes on my Pinterest page. But for some reason I like to come back to some of my favorite weeknight dinner meals over and over again.

Some of the reasons why I come back to the same ol’, same ol’ recipes is because of a couple of things:

  • Ease – I have to be able to whip up the recipe quickly, or be able to prepare it ahead of time. With crock pot meals I’m able to chop up everything the night before and before I head to work all I do is dump the ingredients in the pot and turn the crock pot on! Trust me, you want to make sure you turn your crock pot on. I’ve come home to raw food before and it’s as disappointing as you think it is.
  • Healthy – or mostly healthy. Gotta have a punch of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. I might have to add these on my own whether it be adding a veggie, subbing brown rice for white rice, or adding in some avocado.
  • Adaptability – Don’t have an ingredient on hand? No problem. It won’t make or break the recipe.
  • Husband approved – Mitchell has only disliked one meal I’ve cooked our entire marriage, so we are a-okay in that department… for now. 🙂

Here are some of my favorites:

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon | iowagirleats.com

 

What are your favorite go to meals?

Making the Most of Your Farmer’s Market Trip

Happy Friday, folks!

One of the things I look forward to on the weekend (besides being outdoors & spending time with family) is going to the local farmer’s market! The market located in my town is absolutely beautiful. There are so many sights and sounds to enjoy and it reminds me why I love Bloomington so much.

Follow me on Instagram @mollymarie4

Going to a local farmer’s market can be particularity overwhelming at first but once you know how to approach the market, you’ll be a shoppin’ pro in no time. Here are some of my tips to make your trip a little more stress free.

1.) Go early. Beat the crowds and avoid the dreaded “Out of ____” signs. By going early you can snag a great parking spot and be able to take your time strolling through each of the unique vendors without the mass amounts of people.

2.) Be prepared to pay for parking. Now that our town has enforced parking meters, I always bring extra quarters with me to easily slip into the meter and get to the market.

3.) Bring reusable bags. Oh dear, when I first went to the market I noticed a ton of people carrying them around with their fresh produce in tow — I felt so out of place! Bringing your own bags not only helps the environment, but also helps reduce cost on the farmer’s side.

4.) Bring cash — specifically small bills. Most vendors don’t have a credit card swiping machine, so bring cash! Small bills are extremely helpful and you’re able to give the money to the vendor quick and sneak out of there.

5.) Compare shop. I absolutely love gawking at the beautiful produce laying out to purchase so we always do a once over of all the vendors and scope out what we might want to buy and then compare prices from other vendors. For example, last week Mitchell wanted bacon (gotta love my husband!). Well, one vendor had a pound of bacon for $9, and to our surprise, we found another vendor that was $7 a pound! Save two bucks on bacon? Yes please!

6.) Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to approach the vendor! They are more than happy to answer questions about what the grow and how they grow it. Last week, we did some investigating into the different types of cherries. The vendor even let us sample them before we bought them so we knew exactly what we were buying.

7.) Enjoy! There is nothing better than being able to buy fresh produce, meat, and cheese knowing that it was produced near by. I’m not lucky enough to have a garden in my small yard but I sure am lucky enough to be able to buy from farms that are located right in southern Indiana.

What are some of your favorite farmer’s market tips? Do you shop at your local market?

Of possible interest:

A Well Stocked Refrigerator

Last time we chatted, I talked about having a well stocked pantry to be able to prepare healthy, home cooked meals. Today, I’m diving into the refrigerator! Just like having a well stocked pantry, it is as equally important to have a well stocked refrigerator. Let’s get to it!

fridge

1.) At the top of my fridge, I keep all of our leftovers. By placing them at the top, it reminds me that I have already prepared food ready to eat at any time. This is especially helpful when I am hangry (hungry+angry). Next to the leftovers, I’ve been keeping my proteins up there as well (like chicken or fish), which I totally realize is not ServSafe standard, but again, it reminds me what I have available to cook.

2.) On the middle shelf I keep most of our dairy products. Mitch is lactose intolerant so we have lactose free milk on hand and I drink unsweetened almond milk. Milk is not a staple in every fridge but I certainly keep it in our house for a lot of breakfast meals. Mitch normally eats homemade granola (made by yours truly) and I occasionally whip together a smoothie for breakfast. Yogurt is also stored on this shelf, again for basically for the same purposes. I keep greek yogurt in the fridge because I use it in everything. When we have tacos, it’s used as sour cream. When I make a cream sauce for dinner, I use greek yogurt instead of extra cheese. Oh don’t be fooled by the non-fat kind of yogurts. Go full fat-it’s worth it. We also store eggs on this shelf. Eggs are so versatile, I use them every day in some way, shape, or form.  The small drawer on that same shelf also carries one of my favorite dairy products… cheese! Even though Mitch is lactose intolerant, we still eat cheese just because some cheeses are actually naturally lactose free or low in lactose. We also keep bacon in this drawer because, well, bacon.

3.) The bottom shelf is for our large lunchboxes. We pack our lunch almost every day. It saves us money, and our waistlines will thank us in the future. I also keep weird odds and ends on this shelf like salsa, chipotle peppers, olives, capers, sriracha, and pizza sauce…a little of everything! These “little of everythings” help boring meals go to great meals in seconds.

4.) The bottom drawers are filled to the brim with produce. I have certain staples I buy every week like bananas, apples, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms. All of these items are relatively low in cost but contain a decent amount of nutrients. Sometimes I have weeks when I throw together “clean out the fridge” salads so nothing goes to waste. But trust me, that doesn’t happen often!

5.) The side of our fridge door is a hodgepodge of condiments. I have a whole shelf dedicated to nut butters that is unfortunately not pictured. Another side pocket contains what I like to call “The Summer Fixins”. It holds ketchup, mustard (dijon, spicy, regular), and worcestershire sauce. On the very top left corner of our fridge, we store the butter. You never know when you might want a fresh batch of cookies. 😉

6.) Finally, the last shelf at the very bottom of the drawer contains beverages. Everything from champagne, to OJ, to craft beer. Oh and sparkling water because I just can’t get enough of it.

There you have it! A sneak peak into our fridge. I didn’t include the freezer because frankly, it’s very boring. All we keep in there is frozen fruit, ice, and sometimes frozen fish.

What do you keep in your fridge?

A Well Stocked Pantry

Today I’ve decided to share a little piece of my home with you all! My pantry. I know, it doesn’t sound too exciting but I’ve always believed if you keep good food in your house, you will eat good food. I typically try and limit junk food in our house and keep things on hand that are healthier to snack on and cook. Our pantry is no where near perfect, but I think it’s a good start. By having a well stocked pantry I can pretty much cook up anything at the drop of a hat, which in turn, keeps us from picking up take out or going out to eat.

pantry

To store food, I use baskets I picked up from Target. I also try and make sure every product has a home by using jars with reusable lids. By doing this, the food product stays fresh for longer, and eliminates wasted space. You all know how big some boxes can be and I cannot stand how much room they take up!  The shelves are labeled by number for your convenience.

1.) Paper products and K-Cups. This top shelf is my least favorite. It’s actually really hard for me to get to so I don’t keep much there.

2.) Brown Basket: Oils- coconut oil, olive oil, tahini paste, and nut butters (I can never have too many jars of peanut butter).  I roast a lot of vegetables so olive oil is amazing to have on hand. Coconut oil is used for granola and sauteing as well. Nut butters are non-perishable so I stock up when it’s on sale.

Tan Basket: Dry goods- this includes brown rice, whole wheat pastas (I have way too many types!), quinoa, and panko bread crumbs. There are also oats stored on the very far right hand side. Again, these are all non-perishable items and really easy to cook when I’m in a pinch for dinner. Oats are great for about everything. I use them in breakfast foods, like granola, pancakes, and homemade snack bars.

3.) From left to right- baking items. This includes baking soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla, dried fruits, chocolate chips, etc.  I am always baking up something on the weekends. Whether it be breads or even an occasional sweet treat. The middle basket includes nuts, popcorn, flax seeds, & chia seeds. These are all wonderful extra ingredients to have on hand to make snack bars or trail mix. The far right basket contains flours- whole wheat, bread, and white(OMG! 😉 ) and more oats (seriously, it’s a problem). I make a lot of food from scratch, specifically pizza dough and breads, so I always make sure I have many types of flour in the pantry.

4. From left to right- vinegar, all the vinegars- red wine, apple cider, white, balsamic. Vinegar is so versatile; I use them in salad dressings and marinades all the time. I also keep unique oils in this bin as well. I have sesame oil as well as flavored olive oils. The middle basket contains spices. Yes, that whole entire basket is spices. I also have a spice rack on my counter. I cannot get enough. Spices elevate the flavor of so many bland and boring foods – I’m looking at you, chicken breast. I make my own taco seasoning every time we have tacos. By doing this, I’m avoiding a lot of added preservatives and excessive sodium. Oh and did I mention it’s cheaper?! (Tip: if you live in Bloomington, go to Sahara Mart. They have the cheapest prices in town!) Finally on the right, I store canned goods. I typically buy low sodium chicken or vegetable stocks, coconut milk, tomato paste, and beans. I also have chicken noodle soup on hand because you never know when you’re going to need that!

5. The bottom shelf and floor are typically for snack foods and breads. Mitch loves chips and salsa so I always have tortilla chips on hand as well as some whole wheat crackers. We also have protein powder, whole wheat tortillas, and whole wheat breads. This shelf really changes depending on the week and what’s on the menu. The floor (not pictured) stores sparkling water, onions, and potatoes in respective baskets or containers.

Now that I’ve I’ve shared our pantry with you, I’ve gotta know, what are some of your “must have” food items in your pantry?

What We’re Eating, 5/6-5/12

Before I jump into this week’s meal plan, I thought I would give you a quick little recap of how my half marathon went. Spoiler alert: I didn’t beat my PR but I still finished in 1:55 and some change.

I went into this race with a goal of just to finish (which is always my #1 goal in a race) but in the back of my mind I really wanted to beat my personal record (PR) of 1:51:24 set in October 2014 on a VERY hilly half marathon. I knew I could run this race faster because this race course is flatter than a pancake. So flat in fact it almost gets a little boring. I tried so hard to hold onto my pace but for some reason, the heat was getting to me. At about mile 9 or so I really started to feel pretty bad. My stomach was not settling and eating my fuel seemed like a chore. I could barely swallow my fuel, let alone water. The last few miles seemed to take FOREVER. I stopped and walked more than I care to admit. I was so elated when I looked over into the crowd on the last mile and saw my husband and father waving me on to finish. Another one for the books! Not my best race, but sometimes you don’t have much control over other external factors and I just did my best to listen to my body and slow down when I needed to.

Okay okay, enough about running! I know what you came here for… this week’s meal plan! I hope you enjoy this one. One of my favorite summer recipes is included in this plan- the chipotle quinoa salad. It makes enough for the whole Russian army (as my Grandma Phyl would say) and is so wonderful for work lunches! The skillet shrimp recipe is one that’s an oldie but a goodie. I learned how to make this recipe my junior year of college, when I really started to care about what I ate.

Here’s what we’re eating 5/6-5/12:

What are you eating this week?

Tips for Meal Planning

Meal planning… what is it?! My definition of meal planning includes planning meals eaten throughout a period of time. In my case, I plan my meals about a week in advance. I find produce doesn’t last much longer than that, if at all! I love meal planning. My type A personality thrives on it. I come home from a long day at work and know exactly what I’m eating for dinner. I also think meal planning really helps keep my husband and I healthy. I plan specifically dinners because our house runs on leftovers.

I’m sure some people probably hate cooking, but for me, I truly enjoy spending time cutting vegetables, or searing lean proteins. I almost find it therapeutic after a long day. I first learned how to meal plan when I was was growing up. My mom had everything planned out and would tackle the grocery store with a list in hand organized by aisle. Now, that’s how I plan and go through the grocery store, too (thanks Mom)!

Here are some of my favorite tips to keep meal planning fun and enjoyable:

1.) Keep it simple: Have a few go-to meals that you know you are going to love and enjoy. My husband loves calzones. I think I have made them every Friday night since we’ve been married (which means we’ve eaten way too many calzones). I also love making fritattas. I made (and still make!) these all the time because it is cheap and a quick way to get a decent amount of protein and a chunk of veggies.

2.) Get inspired: Sometimes I really lack when it comes to coming up with meals. If that ever happens, I flip through my latest Food Network magazine or pull up Pinterest for a quick burst of inspiration.

3.) Check the forecast: Yes, you read that right. The weather. It helps me plan nights that we might be able to grill out. Let’s be honest, BBQ chicken doesn’t taste quite as good when it’s made in the oven. Also, who craves a salad on a rainy day? No one. Soups and comfort food make their appearance in our household on those days!

4.) Plan your shopping day: I try to avoid going to the grocery store more than once a week. That’s how you can really end up spending lots of extra money on food you might not even need. This tip can also tie into days sales are taking place. Pay attention to those ads that you receive in the mail. They can help you plan your menu and save money at the same time based on what is on sale.

5.) Organize the list: Like I mentioned earlier, my mom listed every item by order of the aisle. By doing this, you avoid overbuying and food waste. I absolutely hate wasting food and sticking to the list made from your meal plan will eliminate both of those problems.

6.) Stock your pantry (and your fridge!): Have the essentials on hand at all times so you can create a meal with minimal fuss. Bon Appetit has a great list to check out. This list probably varies by household depending on what you eat.

7.) Prep: When you get home with your meal planning grocery stash, prep what you can! I love chopping up veggies, (this is a huge lifesaver for me as veggies are my grab and go snacks for the week), throwing proteins in marinades, making salad dressings… the list goes on! You future self will thank you.

So, what are we eating this week?

Meal plan for 4/21-4/28

Hopefully some of these tips can be helpful to you and maybe give you a little inspiration to start planning on your own!

Do you menu plan? What are some of your favorite recipes? Share below!