During the summer I find there are many days when it is too hot to cook. While I could do just fine grazing on things, I have kids that need meals. So what is a mom to do?
Crock Pot Meals
I have learned to love my crockpot! This thing does wonders when I don’t want to turn on the oven. I have done the freezer cooking, making a month’s worth of meals in one day and just pulling them out as I need them.
While I love the freezer cooking, I strayed from that for a bit. My husband is asking me to get back into it, so that is a goal for me this month. I still use the crockpot, even without the freezer cooking. This is huge to making yummy meals when the heat is up outside.
Who doesn’t love to grill during the summer? We love to grill a lot! Last summer I think 3-4 meals a week came off the grill. It is nice to keep the heat outside and still have some great foods. We have learned that you can make many things on the grill. We have experimented with all our proteins, so there is no need to be stuck with hot dogs and hamburgers. My son is currently begging me to make him a portabella mushroom cap on the grill!
This can use anything you want. You can use lettuce, add in grilled proteins, croutons, and anything else you want. There are noodle salads. My only problem with this is that it uses boiling water. One thing I don’t like doing during the summer is adding more humidity to my house. I will prepare noodle salads on cooler days and served them when the heat comes up in a day or two.
This is one of the items that we use all year, but it is really helpful during the summer. Leftovers can be warmed up in the microwave. I don’t always like the microwave, but it does come in handy when I want to keep the heat down in the house.
How do you keep the heat down and still feed your family in the summer months?
I am a huge fan of comfort food. Food that brings back memories of great times. This last week I made a meal that brought back a lot of memories from my childhood, Hobo Hotdish.
Hobo Hotdish is a meal that my great-grandparents would make every time the family got together. We would have it on random Sundays when we got together after church, or on holidays when we would gather to celebrate. It is a simple, cheap meal that would feed a crowd.
I have a family cookbook, one were we have put together all the family recipes so that we will always have a way to make some of our favorite foods. It was in this cookbook that I pulled out the recipe for Hobo Hotdish. I made a few alterations to the meal, using what I have learned through cooking and what I had in the house, but the main recipe is still the same.
2lbs. ground beef (I browned and drained mine first)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
3 cups sliced carrots
3 cups sliced raw potatoes
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can water
Grease the bottom of a casserole dish (I used a 9×13 pan). Crumble the ground beef on the bottom of the dish. Add the salt and pepper. Layer the vegetables in the dish. Combine the soup and water in a small bowl and mix well. Pour over the casserole. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 1 to 2 hours.
This made enough food to feed our family of six a full meal with very little leftovers. If it was made as a potluck meal, I could see it going further. It gave us our meat and veggies in one dish without the need for added sides. And everyone was full!
What is one of your favorite comfort foods that you can remember from growing up?
I know, I know, it is a holiday week why should we worry about menu planning? Well, the holiday is actually on Saturday and Sunday, so you will still need a full 5-day menu planned for this busy week!
Last year I was busy planning freezer meals that kept my freezer stocked full of all the yummy goodness! This year, while I still have some freezer meals, I have mostly frozen meat in the freezer and all the fixings in the pantry. I can still simply throw all the ingredients into the crockpot in the morning and forget it, but I miss my freezer meals. I hope to refill the freezer after the new year!
Meatball Monday! I only say this for today. Meatballs are far and few between. Ray Ray does not like them yet everyone else loves them. So, we find fun ways to eat these, so Ray Ray can put his off to the side. Right now, I have a bag of these big yummy premade meatballs that my mom grabbed for me. They are restaurant quality and we LOVE them! This week we are going to be making Baked Spaghetti. (In place of the ground hamburger, we will be using the meatballs.) We like to call this Spasagna, yes Spaghetti and Lasagna mixed together. This is one of the meals that Ray Ray will eat the meatballs with, so we will see.
Every Tuesday is always Taco Tuesday. This Tuesday is no different. We will be following the same recipe we have always been using and can't wait to keep up with this tradition!
I really want a good pulled pork sandwich, so why not make one right here at home! I am excited to try this Root Beer Pulled Pork recipe! How could this not be good? I hope it turns out as good as it sounds!
A few weeks ago, Daddy had a deer fly into his window. Yes, it was a great thing. Only, we got some venison meat out of the deal! It has been awhile since I have made anything with fresh venison and I am looking forward to making this Venison Cheeseburger Soup! Cheeseburger Soup just sounds amazing in and of itself, but being we are in the middle of winter, and rich, creamy soup sounds amazing!
Friday Pizza Night! This is something that comes and goes. We love to sit around pizzas and hot wings. Well, mommy and daddy enjoy the hot wings. We find a good deal on the pizza in town and make it here in the pizza oven. With the busy weekend ahead of us, this seems to be a fitting end to the week.
I have no plans for Saturday or Sunday. Well, actually Sunday morning I do plan to make this Easy Breakfast Casserole. We love to make it every Christmas morning. This is something that we can throw in the oven when Gaga stops over, by the time we are done with the present opening this is ready to eat! What a great plan!
What are you eating this busy holiday week? I would love to hear some of your favorites!
I love freezer meals. My family loves freezer meals. I love having food on hand for the busy crazy days that happen and I love knowing that even when I am crazy busy my family will eat a healthy homemade meal. While I have sat down, stared at Pinterest for hours, and made lists for the whole freezer meal shopping trip, I have had the chance to review the MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy and I love the simplicity of this membership!
What Is It
Erin Chase is known for her $5 Dinners and how easy it is to make a meal plan, shop for it, and have yummy meals in your house. She took this one step further and has made MyFreezEasy for those of us who love to have meals on hand without all the prep the day of the meal. Not only that, but she knows that every house has a different menu they like and she is striving to make the freezer meals adaptable to everyone!
I was so happy to have the chance to take a look at the Premium Annual Membership to MyFreezEasy and was surprised by all of the options that are available.
The Basic Membership Plan gives you access to:
Traditional Plan – 10 meals: a mix of different types of meals
Gluten-Free Plan – 10 meals: completely gluten-free including sides
Slow Cooker Plan – 10 meals: all freezer to slow cooker style
Clean Eats Plan – 10 meals: all “clean ingredients”
20 Meals Plan – 20 meals: a mix of different types of meals
All Chicken Plan – 10 meals: all recipes using chicken breasts/chicken thighs, so you can get the chicken on sale and stock your freezer
All Ground Beef Plan – 10 meals: all recipes using ground beef so you can get the ground beef on sale and stock your freezer
All Pork Chops Plan – 10 meals: all recipes using pork chops or pork tenderloin so you can get the pork on sale and stock your freezer
These recipes are super awesome and will let you fill your freezer up. The nice thing, Erin will make sure that each month you have a new rotation of recipes so that you and your family will never be bored with supper time!
But here is the kicker, you will not just get the recipes and be left to fend for yourself.
Each month you will also get:
Well organized shopping lists arranged by grocery store section so you’ll save TONS of time instead of walking back and forth in the aisles
Assembly details – including how to prep the ingredients, then load up the meals into bags and trays – you’ll know exactly what to do and when to do it to make this your quickest cooking experience ever
Printable Labels for your meals’ bags or trays – don’t worry about getting Curry Chicken confused with Pork Chop Primavera – you’ll know exactly what’s what!
Highlights videos with tips and tricks for the recipes in each plan – this makes the recipes confusion-free and SO easy to follow
Instructional assembly video for the meals in the Traditional Plan – you’ll learn this method and never have freezer burned sadness again
Dairy-free modifications on all recipes
Gluten-free modifications on all recipes – don’t worry about figuring out proper substitutions because we’ve done the work for you.
How We Used It
Now, that was just the basic membership. I was able to explore further with the Premium Membership. What does that mean? I got to explore Erin’s library of recipes and pick and choose what I wanted to make for my freezer stocking day. I was able to see what would work better for our family, pick a different serving size, and get the same benefits of the shopping list, assembly directions, and printable labels. What more could a freezer cooking mom ask for?
When I do my freezer cooking adventures, I love to include my mom. We plan the meals that we are going to make and go to it. We split the meals and the cost, so I didn’t get the 10 meals each time, I also only paid half the price. Although paying full price with 10 meals at home would not discourage me one bit, it is just how we have always done it.
Using MyFreezEasy is different than what we have done in the past. We didn’t have to sit down separately and plan our meals and hope that we weren’t picking the same ones. We spent an afternoon just looking at the choices we had available. Not only that but looking at an already planned menu was perfect! We loved having the option to change this up to fit our eating styles. Once we finally looked at most of them, we started picking the ones we wanted to make for our shopping trip. I printed up the recipes, shopping lists, and assembly directions. The next day we were off to the store.
We did our shopping and came back to my house. This is where we prepped everything. This usually took us a few hours and we had a huge mess after we were done. While it was nice to have meals stored, the aftermath took forever to clean up and we didn’t have any fun with this. But using Erin’s MyFreezEasy, we had all of our meals made up in no time. Both of us commented numerous times how quickly it was going and the aftermath, well, there really wasn’t one. It all fit into one dishwasher load, and that included extra dishes from previous meals.
After it was all said and done, we had 12 meals, 6 for each house, made and ready to go for the week. Do you know what that means? I don’t have to stress about what the family will be eating this week. I have a menu planned for the whole week and I don’t have to do much more planning other than to pull the meals out of the freezer on the right day.
What We Thought of It
This program has been a time saver for us! We cut our time in half, and still came out with meals we loved to eat and the kids loved to eat! Erin even went as far as filming herself making the monthly selections to show you how it can all be done. These monthly videos show us how it can be done and that it is just as easy as it sounds.
Not only have we been able to make a freezer full of meals, but Erin gives us the option to make this meal tonight and one to freeze for later. This has been an awesome time-saver. I loved making the Sloppy Dogs for supper and having a second serving in the freezer for another night. This meal is just as it sounds, a Sloppy Joe on a hot dog, similar to the Chili Dog. This was a well-loved meal in the house!
If you have ever thought about making freezer meals, but the whole process scares you, you need to head over and take a look at MyFreezEasy and see just how easy it really can be. With this site, there is no excuse for why you can’t fill your freezer full of meals. And to have the prep time being under an hour, this can be done during nap time and you have nothing to worry about.
Overall, I love MyFreezEasy, and I have done the old fashioned way to freezer meal planning. I dread ever going back to the old way of filling my freezer. We were just one family to have the chance to review this plan. Head on over and check out the other reviews, and don’t forget to give some love to Erin and her MyFreezEasy!
It is Tuesday, do you know what that means? Well if you are in our house, it means that you are having tacos for supper tonight! We started this tradition about 4 months ago and we enjoy it. This is the only day of the week that we have the same thing every week. Normally we don't do this, but this meal we just can't seem to stop.
So what is it that makes us want to do the same thing every Tuesday? Well, you know when you have that favorite restaurant with your favorite food? You could eat there all the time? Well, we found a recipe that makes our tacos so crave-able, they remind us of our favorite taco place. The only thing, we don't have to load up the kids and travel for 20 minutes. We don't have to spend as much, and we don't have the in restaurant meltdowns! Yes, we have our restaurant food without the restaurant!
I found my favorite taco recipe right here, but I have done a few Hopkins updates to it. First of all, I fry the hamburger up at lunch time and drain it. I add in our favorite taco seasoning and just a half a cup of water extra, as needed. Yes, I follow the back of the package for adding water, and will add more as I see it is needed during the cooking process. Yes, I cook my taco meat and finish it up in the crockpot! Trust me, you need to try this in your house.
So, how do you make your Taco Tuesday tacos? Have you tried the crockpot method?
It is the start of another week. Another week means another menu plan for the week. This week I again plan to use my freezer meals to help me provide yummy, healthy, real meals for my family with little to no prep each day from me!
This soup is DELICIOUS!! I can say this because I have been eating it all last week! We have made this more than once because everyone in the house will eat it and it has everything we need, protein, veggies, and flavor! You can add potatoes, but we did without and loved it. Serve this with some biscuits and a nice side salad or just plain.
I have yet to find a tortellini recipe that I don't like. This is sure to live up to the standard. I had two of these, but one went across the road to a new mom with a baby in the NICU. She is a tortellini lover and says that this is a hit. I am taking her word for it and looking forward to this with a ceaser salad on the side.
I have always wanted to try Chicken Chili, so when my mom (Gaga Bebe) made this for the freezer, I was stoked! Wednesday is our busy day and it is the one night we don't eat together so finding a meal that can sit in the crockpot is awesome. This is that meal for us. We plan to have some breadsticks with this and mommy wants another salad (everyone else is tired of salads now).
I personally love fajitas and to have them in the crockpot sounds like heaven! Thursday is the second busiest day of our week. With this meal there is no prep involved, other than throwing it in the crockpot and eating it! I can't wait to try this, as I have heard great things about the idea of cooking these that way. I can't wait to try this one out!
The last time we had this we used real rosemary, this time we are trying dried rosemary. I am super excited to try these again as they were delicious the first time. I will be serving this with some mashed potatoes and a vegetable.
I love having all the meals prepped in one day and just heating them up the night that we need each one. This makes it very easy to feed the meals that we need to eat each day. I love using my crock pot, like this one. It makes it so nice! And these liners make the clean up even more easier (is there such a thing?)! Do you do any freezer cooking? What is your favorite recipe?
~ Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliated links which mean that if you purchase from the links provided I may be compensated a small commission, as always thank you for your support!
Now, if you have read my previous post, you know that I have been having fun with freezer meals. Freezer meals have allowed me to have a home cooked meal for my crew of mouths with little to no prep each day. I just need to make sure to take the food out of the freezer in enough time to let it thaw out before I need it.
Now, even though I have all this food in the freezer and I can just pick and choose a day or two before, I like to have a plan. I like to space the types of foods out, not too many chicken or noodle meals in a row. To do this, you need to have a menu plan. I want to share mine with you for the next week.
Tonight we are cheating. We are not having a freezer meal tonight; daddy is grilling us some steaks tonight!
After a few months of freezer cooking, you find a favorite. We have a favorite. This freezer meal recipe comes into the rotation every time! If you have not tried the Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Roast, you are missing out on a wonderful meal! Now here is the thing, we use a boneless roast, that dang bone keeps poking out of the bag and making a mess of our freezer meals!! We usually add a frozen veggie, like green beans and some mashed potatoes with this.
Another favorite freezer meal that we have come up with, Chicken Pesto! This recipe is super simple, super cheap and EVERYONE in the house loves it! When does it happen that everyone loves the same recipe? Well, when they do, you keep making it! We shred the chicken, add some angel hair pasta and a salad on the side. Such a great meal!
Beef Tips with Gravy, now this alone sounds delicious! This over some egg noodles and roasted broccoli on the side. The noodles are loved by everyone, and the creamy beef by most. That is enough for me!
Salsa Chicken is the freezer meal on the menu for tonight. This is another simple recipe. It is Saturday, we don't like to do much on the weekend, so tonight we will shred the chicken and serve this with some tortilla chips. We really love the ones from Aldi, under ½ the cost of name brand with the same taste, who wouldn't love them!?
Sunday, oh Sunday. This is a great day for a late breakfast and a super simple supper. We are going to try a new one this week. We are adding Sweet Sriracha Meatballs for the big ones and regular meatballs for the littles. This served with some finger veggies and ranch sounds like the perfect snacky supper. Oh, wait is it the Super Bowl today? J
Tonight is a Monday; we are "lazy" on Mondays. Tonight we are going to do some Black Bean Taco Soup tonight. Now my kids will be upset because it is not Tuesday, but I really don't care. They love this soup and I will just have to make some yummy garlic toast to go with it. This recipe says to split this half, we did not do this and for a family of 5 ½ there were no leftovers!
Have you tried any of these recipes? Do you freezer cook? I would love to hear from you on what your favorite meals are! Leave me a comment below!! (please J )
Do you have a picky eater in your house? That one child who will only eat read food, but not green? Or the one who won't eat veggies and just fruit? There are many different stages of the picky eater, and sometimes it is not a picky eater, but a growth spurt or something more.
We have gone through the many stages of a "picky eater" in our house with all the kids. But they haven't been just picky. Moe Man has a texture issue. This has nothing to do with the actual food, but the way he was raised the first 5 years of his life. I have had to readjust my thoughts from the get go with him! This has made it easier to for me understand the other kids when they went through their phases. Right now Baby Girl is in the middle of this stage. At least with her I know she can outgrow it, where Moe Man may have to deal with this for some time.
Little Miss is the child who has given me a run for my money! She started out as a dream eater. She would eat anything and everything. She went from nursing straight to table food and skipped the baby food stage. But when she turned 2 years old, she stopped. Just quit. She would only eat hot dogs, chicken nuggets and fruit snacks. This child taught me that the saying "They will eat when they are hungry" is not a saying you tell a parent who is worried about the food that is, or isn't, going into their child!
Ray Ray has been the good eater. I don't think he has ever had an issue with food until recently. His deal right now is no chicken nuggets. He will do chicken tenders, but nuggets are out of the question! Now this kid is the kid who NEEDS sautéed mushrooms on his t-bone steak, so I will deal with the chicken nugget issue!
Now, how in the world do you "make" your child eat their food? First off, you don't make them eat anything! They won't. No matter what you think, you won't be able to make them do it. But there are some tips on how to help them change their minds about what they do and don't eat. We have tried all the tips, some of them work for one child and not the others, some worked for all the kids. It really depends on the child. You are their parent and you are the only one who knows your child the best.
After reading that book, we made some new rules for our house. Each child has their one "no-no" food. The one food that they really don't even want to take one bite of. This food is not decided upon at the beginning of each meal, not in the middle of the meal, this is something that mom and dad have taken notice of. We have sat down with that child and talked to them about it. This is Ray Ray's chicken nugget. Little Miss has her green peppers that she won't touch. This is fine by me. This is the one food per child that I will make something different for them.
Now, we also have set meals and snacks. The kids don't get to just run to the snack cupboard and grab a snack when they want to. We like to try and space the meals and snacks out so that when the important meals come along they are hungry. We aim for a snack no later than 2 hours before the next meal. Water is fine, but the actual food has to be timed just right. This has helped us, and them, to be ready to eat a real meal and not be full from the snacks.
Now, just because we know that not all kids are the same, I want to tell you want else we try to do. We are members of the "one bite" club. This club is only for those of us who will try one bite of all the foods on our plate at every meal. Now this works well with the keep having them try the same food more than once. Just like when they were babies, you need to keep trying those foods more than once before your child can really know if they like something or not.
I like to have the children at the table. Even if they don't plan on eating what you make, I still make the kids sit at the table with us. We are a family and I expect them to sit with the family at the table for supper. But to make it fun, once or twice a month, sometimes more, I allow the kids to make the Hopkins Restaurant come to life.
What does this mean? Well, the kids plan a menu, from beginning to end. They also need to plan the ingredients, and shopping. They work together to print up a menu, they decide who has what job between the server, cook and dishwasher (I make them all work together, but one person has a name each time). When I give them the chance to be in control of the food, they seem to enjoy eating it more. Funny how that works!
While all these are wonderful ideas, I know that not everyone will work with every child. How to do you help make sure that your picky eater gets to eat?
*Affiliate links may have been used in this post. That doesn't change anything for you, but does help keep this site up and running. Thank you!
Oh no, it is 3 PM and you are hungry. It is too late for lunch, but too early for supper. You need something, something filling that will keep you full so that you can keep going until the next meal. Something that will give you energy and fill you up. What do you choose?
There are many different things that you could choose. Now, the tricky part…something healthy, and something the kids will love at the same time! Well, I have decided to share with you our top 10 favorite healthy snacks!
This snack has been an all-time favorite for us! I love to put all the supplies on a plate and let everyone get dirty making their own. The littler kids love being able to make their own snack!
Yes, nuts, peanut, walnuts, cashews, etc. I love the taste of them. They are filling and healthy at the same time. You can get a wonderful trail mix collection or just eat them plain. There is even a website for all you nut fans, Nuts.com has some wonderful healthy snack options for you to grab and go with!
3. Homemade Granola Bars
Why wonder about what you are eating in the granola bars. Make your own! There are lots of different ways to make your own granola bars, but we love these no bake options, and the kids can help out with the making of them.
4. Peanut Butter with Fruit
It doesn’t really matter which kind of fruit, apples, bananas, whatever you want. That protein in the peanut butter will help you get full and the fruit is just yummy and healthy!
5. Ham and Cheese
We love to add some crackers and make our own snacks this way. A simple cracker, ham slice and cheese slice and we are good to go. This is an easy to pack treat for when you are on the go.
6. Greek Yogurt or any Yogurt with Fruit
The kids love yogurt. I am still trying to get them to like the taste and texture of Greek yogurt. The Greek yogurt has more protein, which will help fill you up and keep you fuller longer. This, added with some fruit is an excellent snack.
7. String Cheese
We love these easy to grab snacks! This is a great snack to bring with in the cooler. You can easily wrap some meat around cheese for some extra protein, or just a fun way to let your kids play with their food!
8. Veggies and Ranch
So, this is one of the only ways my kids love vegetables. I know, it might now be the healthiest, but we use low fat ranch and it is not an everyday snack. But it sure is nice when we do have it! Carrots, celery and even broccoli taste yummy. Broccoli is the favorite here because we can make the “trees have snow” on them!
We love smoothies. They are easy to make and adding some peanut butter is an easy way to add protein to them. When we find fruit on sale, or have it given to us from grandparents, we like to freeze it to use in smoothies. They are so yummy!
10. Hardboiled Eggs
This right here is Ray Rays all-time favorite. He would eat these all day every day if I let him…only I don’t. It just isn’t healthy. Trust me, it’s not…
What are your favorite go to snacks when that 3 PM slump hits? I would love to add some more ideas to our list!