Tag Archives: meal prep

Batch Cooking on the Whole30: Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

After a couple weeks in the trenches, my biggest tip for navigating a Whole30 is to be prepared. It’s so important to have meals and foods in mind that you can turn to at a moment’s notice. That way you won’t hit the drive-thru or reach for the non-compliant convenience foods stashed in your pantry.

One of my go-to, make-at-the-drop-of-a-hat dinners for as long as I can remember is spaghetti. But, on the Whole30, a quick perusal of my grocery shelves put a kink in that plan. Most jars of pasta sauce contain sugar. So, stashing a few jars for quick week night meal solutions? That’s out for the time being.

Next best thing? Batch cooking my own! Here’s how I did it…

What you’ll need:

2 lbs of ground beef
3 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
2 onions, diced
1 10oz package of frozen spinach
2 Tbsp EVOO
3 tsp of minced garlic
1 tsp of lemon juice
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder

    

And how it all comes together:

– Heat your oil in a skillet over med-high. Add onions and cook until translucent.

– Add ground beef and cook through. Once the meat is no longer pink, drain the fat and add it to your slow cooker.

– Add the rest of your ingredients and give it all a good stir. Leave it to cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 8) and stir a few times throughout to make sure the spinach is well dispersed. (Sneaky micronutrients!)

– Serve over zoodles and sprinkle with nutritional yest! Save the rest for the freezer and pull it out the next time you need dinner in a pinch. Enjoy!

P.S. Other Finding Delight recipes

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mid-week round-up

Hello there! How’s your week so far? Chet and I finished watching season 7 of Shameless, and are happily making preparations for a mini-vacay to Delray Beach. Also, I got my oil changed this week. Is it weird how much I love drive-thru car maintenance? (It’s just so convenient to stay in your car!) Hope the rest of your week is as awesome as you, and here are a few links for your Wednesday enjoyment…

Mini home makeovers that won’t break the bank.

Related: Brighten your living space with these style accents.

This book of essays sounds hilarious.

20 dinners you can meal prep on Sundays.

The one thing that even CHEAP vodka is good for.

Fashion, faith, and the feminization of Catholic Ireland.
“The material culture of girls’ lives — particularly what they wore, and what that meant — can reveal much about their surprising agency in the patriarchal past. First Communion dresses, past and present, reflect status, wealth, and a commitment to faith, but they also tell us much more. They remind us not to dismiss as ridiculous or frivolous the material lives of girls and women.”

The sleazy and spectacular history of malt liquor.

I’ve been wanting to get more creative with essential oils. These blends seem like a good place to start!

Have you had Big Easy Bucha? I’m obsessed.

Guy reports co-worker to HR because her period made him “uncomfortable.”

Pet brothers from other mothers!!

Microsoft Paint, used throughout childhoods since the 1980’s, has been marked for death.

A warning, a crusade, and a public reckoning at the University of Florida.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — Pokemon Hunting  and My Dream Living Room in 10 Easy Steps

mid-week round-up

yarn-rainbow

Back from Louisiana and back for another mid-week round-up. What has everyone been up to? While our trip to Lafayette was book-ended with sadness (we found out Chet’s grandfather passed away while we were en route and attended his funeral on Monday); visiting with family, eating amazing Cajun food, and sitting in the sun for a couple afternoons at a music festival were just what we needed. Now we’re strapping in for a quick week with plenty to do. But before productivity takes over, here are a dozen links to enjoy…

Add this Apple Cider Sangria to your autumnal drink rotation.

A DIY centerpiece for maximum Halloween ambiance.

The racist and sexist history of keeping birth control side effects secret.

Breaking down an effective Sunday meal prep.

A fast-food journey from Hamburger University to celebrity-filled Hollywood parties.

Remembering when Melrose Place became a conceptual art project.

This book looks fascinating.

Arguing is easy; persuasion is hard.

How to walk around the world without leaving New York.

Actually, many inner cities are doing great.

A fascinating experiment in gender mainstreaming.

The opposite of a muse.

My Three Favorite Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes

happiness depends on breakfast

I love breakfast. It is my favorite meal of the day and I could eat breakfast foods morning, noon, and night. (Sometimes I do!) I also really enjoy eating my breakfast in bed while I read the news and check my emails. According to Downton Abbey this is a luxury I shouldn’t be afforded until after my wedding day. But Downton be damned! I like to live by the quote above instead — All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. Can I get an AMEN? Wanna know what can make your breakfasts even MORE leisurely than consuming them propped up amongst a mountain of pillows? (Yes, having it served on a tray by your ladies maid would be grand but that’s not quite what I was thinking…) Making them ahead of time! I’m an oatmeal girl through and through but sometimes it’s nice to have a few other options on hand to switch things up. Especially when those options cut down on the time spent away from my quilt! Here are a few make-ahead breakfast recipes that will have you dining like a Crawley in no time…

Freezer Breakfast Burritos. Breakfast Burritos are one of my favorite things on the entire planet. Having a stash in the freezer at all times is obviously the best way to live your life. To make them, just throw some veggies (like bell peppers, onion, spinach, or whatever you have on hand) into a pan for a minute or so. Beat your eggs and add them to the pan and scramble on up. Add black beans and salsa to warm. Transfer your egg mixture to a bowl and let it cool a little. Finally, grab some tortillas and plastic wrap/aluminum foil. Add a couple scoops of egg-y goodness to the tortilla, sprinkle some cheese on top if you like, and fold and wrap. Place the individually wrapped burritos in a tupperware or freezer bag and pop ’em in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat, unwrap and microwave for 1-2 minutes (flipping once).

Choco-Coconut Overnight Oats. This is the most decadent breakfast in all of the land. So rich, so creamy, so…in a mason jar. How could you go wrong? All you do is add the following ingredients to a jar: 1/2 cup of oats, 1/2 cup of milk of choice, 3 Tbsps coconut greek yogurt, 1 Tbsp cocoa powder, and 1/2 a banana-mashed. Stir everything up and put a lid on it. Pop it in your fridge and let it sit at least overnight (but up to 3 days). Note: If you don’t have coconut yogurt you can substitute plain yogurt + shredded coconut + sweetener of your choice.

Banana Blueberry Soft Serve. Ok, so this one is sort of cheating because you still have to use your food processor in the morning but stick with me…it’s worth it. All you’re gonna do is make little baggies (or small tupperwares) with 1 1/2 banana and 1/4 cup of blueberries and throw them in the freezer. Then in the morning throw the contents of the bag in your food processor with a splash of milk and give it a good whiz until you reach a soft serve consistency. Scoop the mixture out into a bowl and add whatever toppings you have on hand (like granola, sliced almonds, chia seeds, or fresh fruit). Admittedly, this is my favorite dessert at the moment but who said your leisurely breakfast can’t include such luxuries?

Which would you choose? xoxo

Meal Planning for Beginners in 7 Easy Steps

Think you’re too broke, too lazy, or too culinary clueless for meal planning? Think again! Follow these 7 steps and you’ll be well on your way to an easy week of meals.

1. Choose 2 breakfasts.

Select two breakfast options. One will bear the brunt of your breakfasting so you’ll want to choose something that’s quick, filling, and economical. I don’t think anything fits that bill better than oatmeal but of course toast, smoothies, or cereal are great options as well. The other breakfast is more of a treat. When it comes to the broke, lazy, and clueless categories listed above; I fall into the lazy camp. So a treat for me would be greek yogurt with a few toppings (like granola and fruit). It takes even less time to prepare than my ol’ work-horse oatmeal but it’s also not as cheap. Therefore, I would choose it as my secondary option. You could of course get fancier with pancakes, omelettes, or whatever you like. But just stick to two for the week!

2. Pack your lunch.

Plan to bring your lunch along to work or school. This will keep you from dipping into your pocketbook for restaurant or cafeteria fare but will also make sure you have a healthy option on hand. You can control your food’s ingredients if YOU are the one who prepares it. Below is an example of a work-week’s worth of lunches. Think of your packed lunches as a puzzle with three parts:

  1. An entree – like a salad or sandwich
  2. A fruit or veggie side
  3. Something extra to help keep you full – like a protein or healthy fat

work lunch meal plan

3. Use leftovers whenever possible.

Incorporate leftovers from your dinners into your lunches whenever possible. Salads are great for this. Throw some leftover taco filling on top of some greens and veggies and you’ve got a taco salad! Or include a smaller portion of the protein or veggie you had for dinner as one of your side items.

Weekend lunches are more of a free-for-all without a set plan. Dedicate these meals to eating up the rest of your leftovers! Or if you’ve done a really great job on using them up throughout the week, take the opportunity to treat yourself. (More on that below!)

4. Plan a week of dinners and REPEAT.

Now I know this might seem crazy. But if you fall into one (or all) of the broke, lazy, and clueless categories then consider how helpful this may be. Choose 7 possible meals that you can cycle through week after week. Perhaps this sounds limiting but I really believe in decision fatigue. Especially where the daily 4 o’clock “Oh God, what am I gonna have for dinner?” question is concerned. Why not make it easy on yourself? Now I’m not saying you pick 7 recipes and make those recipes to the LETTER over and over for the rest of all time. Select meals that allow you to expand or simplify as needed. Meals that allow you to switch it up when you want to or stick to old, tried and true favorites when you’re exhausted and over it. Let’s go through the examples below…

dinner meal plan menu

  • Spaghetti – This is a dish I can make with my eyes closed so it’s perfect for Monday nights. If I feel like switching it up I can use my spiralizer to make zucchini noodles or I can switch out the ground beef/turkey for veggies. I could make meatballs or a traditional bolognese or even a lentil bolognese. I can have the spaghetti with a big salad or breadsticks or even a caprese.
  • Beans & Rice – I can alternate between a Cajun style and a Cuban style. I could do baked beans and switch the rice out for toast. I can serve any of these with a side of whatever veggie is on sale or in season.
  • Breakfast for Dinner –  Scrambled eggs with fruit and toast or biscuits. Blueberry waffles or pancakes with bacon and yogurt. The possibilities are endless (and cheap) and everyone has their favorites when it comes to breakfast.
  • Tacos – You can do hard tacos or soft, tacos in a bowl (ie. haystacks), or everything served over chips instead of in a shell. Taco salads for a healthier spin. Keep them vegetarian or do them with pork, chicken, ground beef, or fish. There’s no paying extra for guac when you’re at home. Just whip some up!
  • Pizza – Topping choices galore so pick your poison! If you’re feeling especially not into it, pick up a frozen pizza or a pre-made but uncooked number from the deli at your grocery store. Or make it yourself. OR make it yourself on top of pita bread or bagels. Wanna up your veggie intake? Serve some crudites with ranch or hummus for dipping as a side.
  • Mac & Cheese – You might be feeling some comfort food on Saturdays. Mix butternut squash into the sauce or add peas. Make it super kid friendly with hot dogs or elevate it with bacon and caramelized onions.
  • Dinner on a board – Super easy and no cooking involved. A perfect way to ease into a new week. Think: Salami, cheeses, grapes, cornichons, crusty bread, etc. Yum!

You don’t have to use these meals/ideas. Create your own! And you can always switch them out or around as needed just in case you get bored or want to expand your horizons.

5. Find a few snacks that suit you.

Better to be prepared than suffer later! Just like with breakfast you’ll want to choose a few options for the week. I like to choose one that’s customizable and economical, like popcorn. Super cheap and you can make it sweet, savory, or spicy for whatever you’re feeling when the snacking urge hits. Then I like to choose another option that’s quick and filling. This is what you’ll pull out in case you’re HANGRY. My go-to for this is Lara bars but any sort of throw-it-in-your-bag snack would work. I also like to keep some bananas or baby carrots on hand for something healthy to munch on.

6. Commit to making one dessert item a week.
You can munch on whatever you make all week, serve it to unexpected guests or save it to bring with you to an event or for someone’s birthday at work. No need to get crazy… think: chocolate chip cookies, brownies, no bakes, simple cupcakes, fruit pies or crumbles. I share Michael Pollan’s belief that if you make it at home it’s probably not all that bad. Let’s not kid ourselves. You’re gonna want dessert. So, plan for it, make it at home, and then enjoy!
peanut butter chocolate no bake recipe
(recipe via Food Network.)
7. Treat yourself.

Finally, find ways to “go out to eat” that don’t involve the full-on dinner, drinks, and dessert rigamaroll. Complete restriction is a recipe for failure. Here are some ideas:

  1. Treat yourself to a nice coffee on the weekend over a good book or the newspaper.
  2. Treat yourself to an after-work happy hour drink for a catch-up chat with a co-worker or friend.
  3. Treat yourself to a supermarket lunch on Saturday afternoon. Think: salad bar, sushi, or a deli sandwich. Maybe even grab a cookie from the bakery or a fresh piece of fruit. Wash it down with your favorite drink.
  4. Treat yourself to an evening walk around your neighborhood that involves a quick stop-off at the ice cream parlor.

Choose one or two of these indulgences each week and you’ll find yourself much more capable of sticking to your plan.

Alright, over to you guys. Do you meal plan? Any tips you would add to this list? 

Recipe: Apple Pie Oatmeal

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Today, I thought I’d share a really simple crock-pot recipe that you can make with items you may already have on hand! It allows you to cook a hearty breakfast WHILE YOU’RE SLEEPING which is basically sorcery in my eyes. This recipe makes 6 servings which is a perfect hot meal for one family OR if you’re a household of one, like me, you can set and forget on Saturday night, enjoy a no-fuss breakfast on Sunday and then mason jar the rest up! You’ll have oats ready to go for the rest of the work week. Just microwave and GO! Crock-pots essentially allow for the laziest meal prepping imaginable…and that’s why I love them.

What you’ll need…

– 1 cup of steel cut oats

– 3 apples, diced

– 1 cup of apple juice

– 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

– 4 cups of water

IMG_0677
Before the water was poured in!

and how it all comes together…

Put all the ingredients into your crock-pot and set on LOW for 7-8 hours. Wake up in the morning and serve up a bowl! Top with walnuts, more cinnamon, honey, nut butter, or anything else your heart desires. Store extra in containers in the refrigerator for easy meals all week.

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What’s YOUR favorite crock-pot recipe? Do you meal prep to make the work week easier on your self? I would highly recommend it. Your time is precious, doll! 

Eat Drink & Be Mary

Recipe: Banana Nut Baked Oatmeal

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As I’ve probably mentioned before in a post or two, oatmeal is my go-to breakfast. When I was super poor (-er than I am now), I read the cost breakdown comparing oatmeal and cereal and was like, “Cool. That’s sorted…nothing but oats from here on out, girly.” And then proceeded to eat nothing but oatmeal for breakfast for the next two years. I’m surprised I can still stomach the stuff, honestly. BUT I JUST LOVE IT. In an attempt to mix up the mix while also saving some precious morning minutes, I thought I’d bake up a batch of these oatmeal bars! They taste just like the oatmeal-y goodness I’ve grown to know and love but they’re pre-portioned and prepped for meals on the go! Plus, just like a bowl o’ oats, you can tailor these bars however you see fit and throw in whatever add-ons or spices. Here’s how I made mine…

What you’ll need: 

– 2 ripe bananas

– 1 egg

– 2 cups milk of of your choice (I used vanilla soymilk)

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 2 cups rolled oats

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp cinnamon

– 1/4 cup or so of dried fruit and/or nuts (I had some of the individual-sized packets of Go Raw Trek Mix from Trader Joe’s so that’s what I added in. Full disclosure: I smashed it up with the bottom of a coffee mug to break the nuts down into pieces which I’m sure my downstairs neighbor was SUPER in to… but whatayagonnado?)

and how it all comes together:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a bowl, mix together your wet ingredients, including; 1 banana, 1 egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Use a whisk to mash the banana up and stir.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together your dry ingredients, including; oats, baking powder, cinnamon and dried fruit and/or nuts. Make sure the baking powder is fully incorporated throughout.

4. Now combine the wet and dry ingredients and give everything a good mix.

5. Grease a square 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan and pour the mixture in, making sure everything is level and smooth.

6. Slice banana number 2 on top and sprinkle some cinnamon over everything.

7. Pop that bad boy in the oven and let it do it’s thing for 30 minutes.

8. Serve with greek yogurt, fresh fruit, peanut butter, almond butter…whatever your little heart desires! These bars microwave great for a warm, satisfying breakfast without the work.

I sliced my batch into 9 pieces–1 I ate straight away for a snack, 4 I packaged individually in ziploc bags for breakfast/snack on the go purposes, and 4 I packaged in pairs in tupperware as a bigger lunch serving. They’re safely tucked away in the fridge and ready to go! Meals made easy!