Let's Talk Food

8.20.2017

My brother and I have this thing going where we randomly text each other photos of what we are eating for dinner. We do it maybe one or twice a week just for fun, and it is crazy how often we are eating very similar things! Pizza, tacos, chicken... it's not uncommon for us to have cooked a similar meal. I don't know what that is about, but it amuses me.

I used to post more recipes and food-related things on the blog, and I thought I'd bring it back and share a few of our weekday staples and meal prep tricks. We eat at home the majority of the time and probably 2-3 times a month get takeout or go out to eat.

Breakfast


Since I've been on maternity leave and now working from home for a bit, I have had more flexibility (read: more time) to make breakfast for R in the mornings! She has been really into eggs lately, and she likes to watch me make scrambled eggs. She "helps" stir them and adds cheese, and it's really fun. A typical breakfast these days looks like this: scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese + fruit. Usually blueberries or strawberries, whichever is cheaper to buy when I'm at the store.


When I don't feel like making eggs or don't have time, I heat up a freezer muffin for R with a side of peach slices. I just buy the bags of frozen peaches and heat up 5-6 slices in the microwave for her. You can find 5 of our favorite healthy muffin recipes in this post. The vegan blueberry muffins are probably her favorite, and I think they are yummy too!

If we aren't having either of the above, she's probably eating Cheerios + a banana. Another freezer breakfast meal you can do is pancakes or waffles. On the weekends sometimes I will make a batch of pancakes or waffles. We'll eat some for breakfast on Saturday, and I will freeze the rest to eat during the week. It's the same concept as frozen pancakes or waffles you buy at the store but probably cheaper (although I haven't done the math on it).

Dinner

Sometimes dinner is much more involved than other days; it really all depends on how much time I have and how tired I am. There are days when we eat hot dogs or mac 'n' cheese, so it isn't always glamorous over here, but sometimes mac 'n' cheese hits the spot, and I'm not ashamed.

Thankfully, cooking is something I enjoy most of the time, although life with a newborn and a toddler necessitates that we find meals that I can cook quickly. There are a few recipes I haven't made in a while even though they are favorites, because they are more involved. I only have two recent dinner photos on my phone, so I will share those and then talk about a few other meals we've had recently!

You can find all the recipes I've shared on the blog here.
^^^ Tortellini w/parmesan cheese + carrots and okra + potatoes + salad

In the refrigerator section of the grocery store, you can find packaged tortellini for $5. We try to keep one or two packages in our fridge and pair it with a veggie and salad. For a long time we ate the tortellini with marinara sauce, but I discovered that I actually prefer it plain and just topped with shredded parmesan cheese.

We use whatever veggies we have on hand (especially if they are about to go bad!), and I cook them all basically the same way: chopped with salt, garlic powder, and olive oil in a cast-iron skillet until tender. I do also roast veggies in the oven, but lately I've felt like chopping veggies for the skillet takes less time, so that's what I prefer at the moment. 

Here's a post I wrote about how to cook fresh green beans, and here's one on how to cook fresh brussels sprouts. Fresh veggies are so yummy, and cooking them doesn't have to be scary!
^^^ Marinated chicken + asparagus + salad + Hawaiian rolls

This meal we had just last week, and it took me 30 minutes from start to finish (minus the hour of marinating time). I cut a boneless chicken breast into tender-size pieces and marinated them with a bottle of Italian dressing. I spread asparagus on a cookie sheet, drizzled with olive oil and tossed with salt + pepper and roasted in the oven @ 400 degrees. While that was cooking, I heated up a cast-iron skillet with just a bit of olive oil and cooked the chicken until done. The asparagus took maybe 15 minutes. You will know it is done because it's easily speared with a fork. Don't cook it too long, or it will get stringy.


Other Dinner Favorites

Cheeseburger Macaroni and Chicken and Rice are two meals in our regular rotation that are delicious and take almost no time at all to make, especially if you have pre-cooked ground beef and chicken in your freezer already. This is probably the single greatest meal-prep trick that saves me so much time when I need to quickly come up with something to eat. I cook 4-6 chicken breasts in the crockpot with some chicken broth and seasoning and then shred it in my Kitchen Aid mixer and freeze it in 1- and 2-cup portions.

Recently we have also eaten tacos (SO quick to make if you have pre-cooked ground beef in the freezer), spaghetti with meat sauce (I like to make my own crockpot pasta sauce because it's so much tastier and healthier!), and grilled turkey and cheese. To make tacos go farther, I add a can of black beans and a can of Rotel.

I use the crockpot a lot. Here is a post with 6 easy crockpot meals that we have made in the past. The beef roast with carrots and the paprika pork are two we especially love!

I do try to always add a veggie with our meal if I can, even if a lot of the time it's just steamed frozen peas or corn. We eat a lot of sweet potatoes, a lot of rice, a lot of pasta, and a lot of chicken. If we had to go on a no-carb diet, we would die. Literally die. Also if we had to cut out cheese. Also, meat. Basically what I'm saying is that we EAT ALL THE THINGS. Come at me, PETA.

I am great about meal planning in some seasons of life. Right now I am in a season where I plan out a day or two in advance and that's all I can handle. I feel like I do a good job creating meals out of random things we have in the fridge and freezer, and rarely do I end up throwing away food that has gone bad. We cook large portions and eat leftovers a lot, and I am mildly obsessed with freezing food for later.

I'm happy to answer any questions about other things we eat or how we do things. If you are interested in what our grocery bill looks like or how we budget for food, you can go here and read the posts listed about food budgeting (there are five).

What is your favorite easy weeknight recipe? What is your favorite vegetable?

13 comments:

  1. I love knowing what people are cooking and making for dinner! It's great to have inspiration from someone who makes realistic dinners that aren't complicated or super fancy.

    I expected to cook a whole lot less during this newborn phase than I've been doing. Having a well stocked freezer and fridge have helped as well as a relative idea of what we can easily throw together. The skillet Hamburger Helper is a STAPLE here as well as anything from Costco: roasted chickens + veggies + mac and cheese, orange chicken (frozen section) with quinoa and roasted broccoli, shredded chicken breast with BBQ sauce, and veggie beef soup. I'm starving all the time, so I'm not as picky as I used to be about dinner. Calories are calories and I need them!

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  2. Yay for talking food! We still have people from church bringing us meals and after that ends we still have a freezer full of food that I made before Baby arrived to eat. But eventually I'll be back to cooking again. I've always loved to cook so I'm hopeful that it will still be something I enjoy even with a baby in tow. Of course, I have so many meals still in our freezer that she might be 3 months old before I actually have to cook again, ha! With all that said, I'm not sure what cooking or "normal meals" looks like for us now that we have a baby. I like to think that I'll be making all our normal favorites, but I imagine that I'll be trying to make more quick meals. I appreciate all your tips here!

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  3. I seriously love your food posts. I feel like thats weird, but I always need new ideas because I feel like I prepare the same five meals for the boys on rotation. I've never even thought to serve tortellini plain, but I think both my boys would love that!

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    1. Yes, for some reason I like it plain so much better!

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  4. You don't have to do the math on the homemade frozen waffles. It's way cheaper to make them yourself.

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  5. Thank you for the fresh ideas!! I am supposed to be making my meal plan for the week, but instead I am reading blogs, so I feel like I am not really procrastinating by reading your post! I want to try your tortellini idea. That would be delicious. I like to make a big batch of something and then eat it throughout the week. For breakfast, I've been doing smoothies with protein powder, which is super easy. For lunch, I've been making salads which is also easy. I've been roasting veggies like asparagus and mushrooms and then putting them in the salad, which makes it seem heartier. I love to make soups, too. I'm still working on getting my dinner recipes in rotation since Nick used to cook most of our dinners. One easy meal I love to make: http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2010/01/thomas_kellers.html

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  6. We had some of those tortellini last night! Here are Ava's steps to eating tortellini. 1. Find out we're having tortellini and lose her mind. 2. Keep crying. 3. Agree to take a bite in order to have more tomatoes. 4. Smell it. Say it smells yucky. 5. Take a nibble of just the shell, no filling. 6. Say she likes it. Ask for tomato. 7. Ask what's inside. Do not accept "tortellini filling" as an answer (she doesn't like cheese). 8. Finally eat a bigger bite. 9. Act like she's dying. 10. Finish one tortellini and act like an Ironman finisher.
    Every. Time. I kid you not. I keep fixing it in hopes that she'll learn to eat it with less drama.

    I found whole wheat frozen waffles and have justified the possible increase in expense as more time I have to convince Ava to eat her tortellini.

    Love the idea to marinate in Italian dressing! I already need to go back to the store 🙄 so maybe we'll try that this week.

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    1. hahaha. That is hilarious. Probably not for you, though ;)

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  7. I LOVE posts like this. I need all the help I can get when it comes to meal planning. I worked all weekend and so supper on Sunday night ended up being a handful of corn nuts and some veggies and dip because I hadn't made a plan and couldn't think of anything else in the 10 minutes before Game of Thrones started haha

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  8. We've been terrible about meals lately because of all the travel and the house selling stuff. I haven't been able to grocery shop and I haven't wanted to dirty up the kitchen. I can't wait until I can get back to cooking!
    I've NEVER had okra, but now I want to try it!

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  9. Ha ha, we love all the things too and are not ashamed!

    I love your food posts--they always give me good ideas. I'll admit that I've never really thought to freeze my own homemade waffles before---I make them pretty frequently, but I've always just refrigerated the leftovers and made sure we eat them within the next day or two. I think I like your way better and will have to try it out!

    My quick meals:

    - Raven loves avocado toast in the morning (just mashed up avocado with a little salt on toast, sometimes with a fried egg on top) or my creamed eggs recipe, which is on my blog.

    - For dinner, we make a hamburger casserole all the time (also on my blog), pasta (always a win), and frequently do breakfast-for-dinner if I'm feeling lazy. I also live and die by my favorite quick dinner of melted cheese on corn tortillas with sliced avocados and a little hot sauce added on top. So quick and so delicious!

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  10. I love food/meal posts! Definitely going to be trying some of these. My go-to meal lately has been putting bell peppers, red onion, and chicken cut into thin strips on a cookie sheet with olive oil and taco seasoning. I just bake it till it's finished and then we either eat it over salad, rice, in burritos, whatever we're in the mood for. It's also great for leftovers and I can make into a few different meals!

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  11. i am so with you re: carbs. i think i have some form of carb for every meal. i would never want to do low carb. as for meat, well, i don't eat too much of it but i do eat it some times. i was going to ask about the tortellini because i've never had it plain. pasta sauce is my favourite part of pasta though, so... i probably wouldn't give it up or try it plain. which tortellini do you get? i know kroger isn't all over the country (right?) but my kroger has $2.99 big bags of tortellini in the freezer section, it makes like 3-4 meals for me depending on what i have with it. sometimes i throw chickpeas and veggies in there, sometimes just pasta sauce. sometimes i eat hot dogs & mac n cheese and i am also not ashamed, if KC ate either of those things i bet we'd eat it all the time, but he doesn't, so they are only when a) i have them in the fridge/pantry and b) he's eating a frozen pizza.
    i love love love love seeing what people eat, especially, you know.. normal, busy people eating realistic meals. not that pinterest isn't realistic but most of the time it's just too much for me.
    as for vegetables, we eat a LOT of beans in my house - black beans and whatnot. zucchini is a great veggie to chuck in meals though, like grated or chopped you can't really taste it. i love sweet potatoes on the side but i hate dealing with actual potatoes (i buy them in the frozen section, but i can only find them at target). also, it's really popular to have pumpkin on the side with like potatoes at home, like when you have a roast or something. i ate a lot of it when i was home in june so i've been craving it here but haven't made it.
    sorry for the novel of a comment :)

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