Tastefully Tuesday - Meal Planning for a family of four and a recipe!

I was recently disheartened by the amount of food I threw out when I cleaned my refrigerator.  I had obviously made too much food with leftovers people did not want to eat, including myself.  I decided it was time to stop flying solo when it comes to meal planning.  

I have an 8 year old, a 4 year old, and a husband. This month I asked them to give me four meals they want to eat.  It can be the same meal every single week or four different meals.  My husband basically said stir-frys were something he'd been wanting and my 8 year old said macaroni & cheese was on her list as was breakfast for supper (pancakes and bacon).  After some discussion with her we decided adding salmon patties to go along with the macaroni and cheese was a good idea although my 4 year old will not eat the salmon patties.  ugh!  I am doing my best to not expect everyone at the table to be happy with the food because that just sets me up for failure.  So here is the week's menu:

The Cherry Chicken Stir-Fry is basically just cooking up some chicken breasts and throwing in some bell peppers and broccoli.  After that is all cooked I just add some cherry zinfandel grill sauce until it has enough to my liking.  I let the sauce cover all the meat and veggies and keep it warm for just a little bit.  Then I serve it over jasmine rice (always our rice of choice).  

I tend to make new recipes all the time but I do have a recipe box full of recipe cards of meals we have tried and liked.  From time to time I make a Kielbasa sausage, potato and green bean bake.  It's super simple so I'm sharing the recipe with you.

4-6 small potatoes chopped into bite-sized pieces 
1 lb. (1 package) of your favorite Kielbasa type sausage cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can of green beans (lately I've been using some french style beans I found in the refrigerated section of Sam's club - they look kind of fancy and taste better)
1/4 C butter
1 T lemon pepper or seasoning of your choice (I like to use a basic seasoned salt a lot)
1/4 C shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spread the chopped potatoes and green beans out in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan. Mix in cut sausage.  Cut pats of butter evenly over the mixture and sprinkle with lemon pepper.  Cover with foil.  Bake for 50 minutes.  Place cheese over the top to melt.  

*If you are in a hurry you can cook the potatoes in the microwave until they begin to soften, then put them in oven with everything else for a shorter amount of time.  It works but you lose a bit of yumminess so I recommend baking it for 50 minutes.

Having a Master Meal Plan listed on my refrigerator has been a great helper.  On the left I have listed meals I have all the ingredients for.  On the right I have listed meals I want to make or are missing just one ingredient or something.  It's in front of me to remind me to choose future meals based off of this list.  The list in the middle is vegetables I have available.  This master list is actually saving me a lot of time.

Meal planning takes constant tweaking especially for a family.  How do you meal plan?  What is working for you?  

Food on the table month after month - the simple way!

I can't sit on this any longer...I'm so excited to introduce you to 
After checking out the details of WHAT Simply Dinners is, let me spell out for you just some of the benefits of this program.  

What are the benefits of Simply Dinners?

- No more stressing about dinner! Did you know that 81% of working parents don’t know what’s for dinner by 4:00 PM? Simply Dinners solves this daily stress!
- You’ll save money! Say goodbye to those last minute fast food, pizza shop and grocery store trips! The savings just might astound you!
- Your family’s taste buds will jump for joy! If you’ve become bored with your cooking, chances are your family might be bored eating it!!
- You’re going to enjoy preparing these meals! Whether you love or hate cooking, these recipes will be a joy to prepare and will be super simple!
- You won’t be without our seasonings! Each month you will receive at least one seasoning and they will be restocked in future “Simply Dinner” deliveries. These are an essential kitchen staple that our clients can’t be without!
- You will build a library of easy-to-prepare meals! You will have simple, family favorite recipes at your fingertips!
- You’ll be bringing your family to the dinner table! Memories will be built as you enjoy your “Simply Dinners!” Don’t forget the fun table topics provided monthly!

And guess what?  You deal directly with me - your friendly Holly!  

Here are the 1-2-3 basics:

1 - On the 25th I process your credit card payment.
2 - On the 25th I place your order
3 - On the 1st of the month I email your newsletter which includes:
  • 8-10 easy-to-prepare recipes, 
  • a shopping list, 
  • quick cooking tips and 
  • family table topics to make your dinners delicious, simple and fun!
Get started today!

Email me or call me (number listed in blog heading) to let me know you are interested and supply delivery and payment information by April 24 (I'm extending the deadline one day).  Don't forget that the cost never exceeds $50, unless you order additional items to be delivered with your month's order.

I love helping families make life more simple!  

De-cluttering tips

1. When you discover something you've forgotten you own, discard it.  If you've already managed to live without it, you must not need it.

2. Quick decision-making is key to letting go of clutter.  As you evaluate each item, ask:

  • Do I like this?
  • Do I use it?
  • Do I have a place to keep it?
3. If your initial reaction is 
  • you'll never wear it
  •  you don't have room for it
  • you'll probably never use it - then let it go.  

4. Sort and de-clutter before buying organizing products.

5. Store things where you use them. 

How I packed with carry-ons for a week at the beach.

I believe getting away from your normal life from time to time is healthy. I have been fortunate to be apart of a bi-yearly girls week at the beach.  No men, no kids.  Just goofy life-long friends spending a week in beauty remembering who we are.  It is life-giving.  

This year I couldn't find as good of a flight deal as I needed so I decided to not check luggage for the first time ever.  I knew I'd save $50 by challenging myself to pack lightly.  So I did and these are the little bags I used.  
I was gone eight days. The fact that we went in March this year - the longest winter ever - made packing exceptionally difficult.  Swimsuits and shorts take very little space, as do sandals, but this rainy, chilly week called for layers of clothing and more than just sandals.

The key to my success was a lot of thought and two compression bags.  I got mine from Clever Container and I can order them for you (they are great for camping!)
In each bag I had a few outfits and a swimsuit.  I chose clothing that worked well together.  Once I decided between a black base vs. a brown base of clothing my choices became easier for me.

I brought my favorite sandals, a pair of plaid tennis shoes, and I wore a pair of BOBs that are easy to travel in and kept my toes from freezing on the plane.  They were also easy to take on and off through security.

As for jewelry, I wore one pair of earrings that would match everything and I wore my favorite "all purpose" bracelet.
I put one compression bag inside each carry-on.

I had to have travel sized liquids (toiletries) so those were small.  I put them all in 3 ziptop quart sized bags and kept them at the front of the bags to get through security easily.  I borrowed hairspray and a hair dryer from one of my friends who checked her luggage.

I shopped while I was there.  I bought a few shirts and chose small gifts for my family.  I went to the post office and bought the medium sized Priority Mail box and filled it with the gifts and a few articles of clothing (swimsuit included) and had it shipped home.  That was cheaper than checking luggage.
Packing lightly took a lot of thought but I didn't miss oodles of choices.  Living with less was best.  We had a small washer/dryer at our condo so I could have gotten by with even less but I did wear everything...except my swimsuit.  It was too cold.

So that's how I packed lightly and had a great time with my girlfriends.  I feel relaxed and rejuvenated even though so much has happened since I returned home.

How about you?  Do you have tricks to packing lightly?  Compression bags and planning were the key to me.  What about getting away? Do you do it? Where do you go and for how long?

Solution: filing papers

Do you have a tough time keeping up with your piles of paper?  When space is super limited piles of paper make it difficult to enjoy your space, let alone difficult to find important documents when you need them.  For many people the office sits in the corner of a bedroom, a kitchen, or a dining room and piles of paper messes up the entire vibe of the room.

A solution? An ottoman file storage.  I found this one at BallardDesigns.com.  It comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
This has wheels, so even if you have a big filing project to work on you can do it any room you please.

Solution: jewelry organization

Are you having difficulty just getting dressed and out the door in the morning?  Edit your wardrobe and organize your jewelry.  
Finding the right place for your accessories are key.  Maybe the best thing for you is to display your jewelry right where you get dressed - inside your closet.  This jewelry organizer from Clever Container is thinner than a garment bag and doesn't take up much space.  Jewelry gives you that polished look and helps you look more pulled together.

Want one?  Email me and I can order one for you. This particular piece swivels so there are a total of 48 pockets!  It's quite durable too!

Do you forget about pieces of jewelry because of how they are currently "organized?"
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