Back to work

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Going back to work after kids is a necessary evil for a lot of moms. Either financially, or for career reasons we get pulled back into the workforce. Sometimes kicking and screaming, and sometimes secretly a little grateful for the break. For me I had always known I would return, just not how. Too much in student debt and a love for my job just can’t be argued with. Initially, I wanted to return only part time but when I found out this wasn’t possible I tried to put on my big girl panties and prepare for going back. I still hated the idea of leaving the kids full time but had limited options. Continue Reading »

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Weekly Meal Plan – Autopilot

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As I struggled to once again put my daughter to bed last week I noticed that my brain has become permanently impaired. I was staring at her pj’s and seriously considering changing them because the last time she wore them she was up all night. Was this an omen, was there something about these pj’s she didn’t like? Unfortunately, I have been blessed with a sh*t sleeping baby and it’s taking its toll. Continue Reading »

Weekly Meal Plan – Change is good

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My sister and I were talking tonight about the challenges of adapting to life with kids, especially if life doesn’t fit into a 9-5 package. It got me thinking of the difficult shift we had to make when Hubbers started working away. It required some serious adaptability and planning to keep on top of things and at times it has felt pretty overwhelming. Thankfully, we are pretty adaptable and I pray that organization is a skill that can be learned at any age.

We were also discussing how easy it is to start eating like crap if you aren’t prepared. Continue Reading »

Weekly meal plan – Fortunately, unfortunately

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My mom and I have a game we play and I’m going to share it because I think it’s the best way to describe this last crazy week. It’s called fortunately/unfortunately and it’s played like this…

Fortunately, my mom came to visit me this week… unfortunately, the house was a disaster and the kids were nuts so nobody slept.
Fortunately we both really like tea…
Unfortunately, my son barfed all over the car on an outing… Fortunately, it was only once.
Unfortunately, my washing machine broke so we had to take laundry to my dad’s every second day… Fortunately, my mom was super generous and helped us get a new one.
Unfortunately, it still won’t be here for another 3 days making it 2 weeks without a washer…Fortunately the weather is so amazing I’m just letting the kids run around naked cutting back on laundry.
Fortunately , my stepsister came into town with my niece for a visit…unfortunately, I had to share her so I barely got to see them.
Fortunately, my husband came home a day early this week…unfortunately it’s week three of solo parenting and I was completely pooped so I probably wasn’t there
Fortunately, it was our son’s third birthday party on Sunday and we all had a blast…unfortunately, he was so wired that he was up until 11pm about 2 hours past when we were still functioning. Continue Reading »

Weekly Meal Plan – Feeling Springy

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I love Spring on the Island. People believe it rains here all the time but really it is a gorgeous time of year. I start itching to get outside and suddenly have more than enough energy for everything. Especially projects, I started some seedlings with the little guy for our mini garden and I’m working on my herb planters for the front deck. The next projects are our community garden plot that we are trying out this year and repainting an old picnic table in the backyard. Now I just need the rain to clear a little more (okay it does rain here a fair amount) so that we can tackle it all.

My other favourite thing is the growing anticipation I feel for all the lovely produce I know is soon to come. I get just giddy thinking about all the yumminess that we are going to enjoy. I think it’s my most inspired time of the year for new recipes and ideas so I’m sure I will have tonnes to share.

Hubby is away three weeks this time so I’m still going with the extra easy theme for meals. I also decided to switch things up this week. Since I started this blog I shared the menu I was planning on making for the week. Mostly this worked but if I had new recipes I was tweaking it made it hard to get them up in time so I was often having to add extra meals and in short was creating more work for myself. This week I am going to share last weeks meal plan. This way I have all the recipes done and ready and I can include what we had for breakfast and lunches as well. I think overall this will work out a lot better.

Monday

Breakfast – Cheerios with sliced bananas

Lunch – Cream cheese and jam hearts w/ cut veggies
I was being cute and used a cookie cutter to cut heart shapes out of bread and then spread a layer of creamcheese on each side with a dab of jam in the middle

Dinner – Pesto veggie quesadillas
On a whole grain tortilla spread about a tbsp of your favourite pesto. Add diced tomato, slices of bell peppers, mushrooms, artichokes and whatever veg your family likes. Top with a layer of cheese and a second tortilla. Cook in a large pan over medium low until both sides are golden brown and the cheese is melty gooey. I served these with plain yogurt and salsa for dipping

Tuesday

Breakfast – Waffles
When my hubbers is in town I make a massive batch and then freeze what we don’t eat. They turn out perfect in the toaster and I know exactly what’s in them. For this batch I had diced up cooked sausage thrown it into the batter. It made them a perfect breakfast and tasted delicious!

Lunch -Picky plates
Basically this is a plate of whatever’s in the fridge in little bits. I used: crackers, slices of cheese, some sliced deli meat, cut apple, pickles, red pepper and cucumber. My son loves getting a little of everything

Thanksgiving Grill Cheese

Thanksgiving Grill Cheese

Dinner – A grill cheese version of Thanksgiving
I made grill cheese with sliced deli turkey and a spread of cranberry sauce with white cheddar. They were awesome. On the side I had roasted carrot, potato and sweet potato fries, so it was like a thanksgiving dinner minus the 10 million hours of work.

Wednesday

Breakfast – Eggy Bagels
I found these little whole wheat bagels at Superstore and used them for a cute little breakfast sandwich. I cut the bagels in half and placed a slice of cheese on the bottom half. Then the bagels were toasted in the oven getting the cheese melted. I made scrambled eggs and then layered the eggs on top of the cheese with a slice of tomato.

Lunch – Tuna sandwiches with strawberries

Dinner – BLT salad with pesto chicken
I used chicken tenders and rubbed a few tbsps of pesto on them then quickly cooked them on the bbq. While they were cooking I crisped up some sliced bacon, diced a tomato and opened up my salad greens. It made a great yummy salad that took 15 minutes and was devoured by my bacoholic son.

Thursday

Breakfast – Waffles again

Lunch – Ham sandwiches and cut veggies

Dinner – Chicken tacos
My wonderful other mother had us for dinner and she even made the tortillas. I plan on learning this skill as they are a zillion times better then any I buy. The tacos were filled with cooked chicken, diced tomato, grated cheese, lettuce and a little hot sauce for the older folk

Friday

Breakfast – Breakfast burritos
Scramble a few egg then in warmed tortillas (unfortunately not home made) layer the eggs with grated cheese, lettuce and tomato. A great breakfast to take on the go too.

Lunch – Mini bagel sandwiches with sliced apples

Dinner – Pork cutlets with garlicky lemon past and steamed broccoli
The pork recipe will be up in a few hours. I used a spaghetti noodle cooked al dente (still has a bit of bone, my hubby would say). Once drained I added a tbsp of butter, 1 clove finely diced garlic, 1 tbsp lemon zest and 3 tbsp plain yogurt or sour cream. This was a huge hit with the littles

Saturday

Breakfast – Cheerios with sliced banana

Lunch – Leftovers

Bhan mi burger

Bhan mi burger

Dinner – Banh Mi inspired burgers with salad
A banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich loaded with flavour. I took inspiration from this and made a pork burger that is unique and inexpensive

Sunday – Bagels with cream cheese and fruit slices

Lunch – Tuna sandwiches

Dinner – I had a memorial to attend an hour away so unfortunately dinner was on the road but Daniel had a lovely stir fry at Oma and Opas:)

So that’s what we ate last week. Easy healthy meals that I was able to get to the table despite the two kids running/crawling around being crazy. A feat I am pretty proud of. Hope these ideas make your week a little easier and I’d love to hear about how you feed your crew. I also share some of these meals that aren’t quite a recipe on my Facebook page My Weekly Dish. You can “like’ me to get recipes, posts and quick meal ideas

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Family Meal Plan – 30 minute weeknight meals

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Life has returned to as normal as it gets around here. The hubster is back to work and the kids and I are settling into our own little groove.

It’s been a month since I started this blog and I’m moving into the fifth week of meal plans. So far it’s been a great experience. It’s re inspired me to cook and try new things, and it’s been an interesting process to try to bring my thoughts into a coherent focus to share with everyone. I’ve made a few updates to posts over the last month to reflect some of this refocusing and I hope what I’ve shared so far has been helpful in feeding your friends and families in way you can feel good about.

So…here’s this week’s plan. No plans for the evenings but with the way timing is working out I have only about 30 minutes to get dinner on the table. This week’s plan is all quick, healthy and yummy dinners for 30 minutes or less, except for Sundays.

Weekly Meal Plan

Monday Night

Vegetarian breakfast burritosNo recipe required, just scrambled eggs with bell peppers, mushrooms and green onions, served in warm tortillas and topped with shredded cheese, lettuce, avocado and salsa. Served with sliced apples

Tuesday Night

Indian Spiced Sloppy Joes We eat a lot of chicken so I’m going to use extra lean ground beef in replace of the ground chicken. It works just as well in the recipe and it gives us a little chicken break

Wednesday Night

Chicken Tikka Masala PastaI made my Roast Chicken earlier in the day while the kids napped if you are shorter on time a rotisserie chicken could work just as well. This is an Indian inspired pasta that has all the yummy flavours of Tikka Masala in 25 minutes.

Thursday Night

Chicken Caesar wraps In a large bowl toss together: chopped romaine lettuce, 2 diced tomatoes, diced red pepper, green onion and your favourite Caesar dressing. Place in wraps, with sliced chicken layered on top. Serve with oven fries. Cut a baking potato into wedges and lightly coat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake in a 375 oven for about 25 minutes.

Friday Night

Bacon, Leek and a fried egg pizzaI made this the other day for photos and to get the recipe down and it was probably one of the best things I have eaten in a long time. The creamy leeks and the egg add a rich, luxuriousness to this dinner.

Saturday Night

Leftover NightI know I need to clean out the fridge so we’ll use what’s there and make a feast of it. I’ll probably make a salad too.

Sunday Dinner

Creamy vegetable, chicken and tortilla casseroleThis is a favourite of my dad’s so I’ll make him happy with this yummy casserole. It’s easy to put together and can use precooked chicken for a busy Sunday. I’ll serve this with a green salad and a lime dressing. In a small container with a lid combine the juice of half a lime, 2 tbsps olive oil, 1 tsp honey, a smooshed clove of garlic and salt to taste. Shake it up and dress your salad.

One more week of meals with six under 30 minutes. If you would like to create your own meal plan or are looking for more information check out my meal planning guide.

Family Meal Plan week 1

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It’s a low key week with my sister coming at the end of the week for a visit from Kelowna, (maybe she’ll bring wine?). My husband is taking time off to spend it with us so I don’t need to plan leftovers or lunches and I’ve reused a few ingredients to cut down my grocery list. Plus I get one night off for sure.

This is the first meal plan I’m posting so if you have feedback on the format, or ideas on any part of this post I want to hear from you.

Monday Night

Salad and ChickenRotisserie chicken on a tonne of veggies and greens. I love Organic mesculin greens and topped with tomatoes, peppers, carrot, cabbage and chicken it’s a yummy, easy dinner. I am a bread lover so I would serve this with warm foccacia too.

Tuesday Night

Fish TacosThis is my grocery shopping day so I like a fast dinner. My hubby’s pick this week is fish tacos. I use fish sticks (don’t look at me like that). You can get fabulous, multi-grain, sustainably fished options as well as the good old fish stick. Chopped cabbage, cilantro, and lime cream (equal parts sour cream and plain yogurt with a squeezed lime and a bit of salt) top it off. Serve on flour tortillas and dinner is done by the time the fish is cooked.

Wednesday night

Pulled chicken sandwichesUse left over. or rotisserie chicken and coat with your favourite bbq sauce in a saucepan over med-low heat, (I have an amazing bbq sauce recipe I’ll share over the summer!). Make a quick coleslaw with shredded cabbage, grated carrot and a dressing of roughly 2 spoons mayo, 1 spoon vinegar, a sprinkle of sugar and salt. Place the bbq’d chicken on a bun top with coleslaw and voilà, pulled chicken sandwiches.

Thursday Night

Breakfast nightThis week we’ll have fried egg sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, bacon and maybe avocado if they’re nice looking. Served with fruit salad too.

Friday Night

Italian Sausage PizzaI’ve started buying Naan and using it as individual pizza crusts. I have full intention of making crusts but haven’t had time to experiment with them yet. My favourite toppings right now are pesto, Italian sausage (I like the chicken version), and sautéed peppers and onions, topped with a little stringy mozzarella. It’s like sausage and peppers but better and on pizza, so amazing!

Saturday Night

Masala sloppy Joes –  Indian takeaway meets the sloppy joe. Delicious and lots of veggies mixed in.

Sunday Night

My sister will be in town so I know I’ll be invited to dinner at my parents.

That’s it. One weeks worth of easy, healthy dinners you can happily feed to your family. If you haven’t read it yet my post on meal planning explains some of the basics on how I plan our dinners.

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How to Meal Plan for Your Busy Life

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My best friend got me into meal planning. She started because she doesn’t care about food and hated having to think about what to make each night. This was a completely bizarre concept to me. First, I don’t think there is anything other then my hubby and my kids that I love more then food. Second, it seemed like a lot of work that would ruin my creative mojo when it came to cooking. But grocery shopping each night, eating out when I got lazy or busy and throwing tonnes of food away really started to add up and I decided to give it a try.

I now feel like I have a pretty good handle on it and I am hoping I can share enough that you can use my experience to make your life a little easier. Please feel free to riff off of these ideas and I’d love to hear how it all works for you and your family. If however, after you have read this you realize this is never going to happen, don’t despair. I will be posting my weekly menu with linked recipes (as I write them) so you can just use mine.

Here are my tips for making meal planning a part of your weekly adventures:

1) What does your week look like?
First, I try and think about my week ahead. If there are days that are going to be rushed or busy I want to make sure I have quick and easy meals. I look for days I might not have to cook or have to cook more. We usually have dinner with my parents once a week so I need to either plan for a crowd or I get a night off. The day I do our grocery shopping can be a long one (or feel like it) if I have both kids with me so I always try to make sure I have an easy dinner that night.

2)Lunches and leftovers
My husband does not like sandwiches. He’ll eat them out of necessity but he would rather have leftovers any day. I try to take this into consideration and plan on a dinner that gives us guaranteed leftovers every second night. This way he can rotate between what he loves and sandwiches if he runs out, but we never get a leftover backlog. I can also use leftovers in other dinners or freeze them for another night. I love opening my freezer to leftovers I can pull out for an easy dinner. It feels like I just won an hour of free time!

3)What do you already have?
When I first started meal planning I was so gung-ho I would look to cookbooks and the internet before my pantry and fridge. This meant stuff didn’t get used and I was spending more on new, fun ingredients rather then using ones I already had. Trying new things is awesome but having a fridge full of condiments, expensive cheeses and random vegetables is only good if you are planning on cooking with them more then one night. Instead, now I try to use anything from the fridge that didn’t somehow get used up and check the pantry for that forgotten treasure hiding in the back.

4)Mix it up
I find a combo of new recipes, family faves and mindless meals works best. We all have recipes that we can make without a second thought and I use cookbooks, blogs, Pinterest and friends to find inspiration for new meals. Life is just easier with the occasional pancake dinner or fried egg sandwich thrown in too. So far only my hubby contributes suggestions but I’d like to think the kids will want to participate when they’re older. I’ve also seen some deadly looking meal planning organizers on Pinterest and one day I’ll make one…maybe… probably not.

5)Reuse ingredients
If I can I try to find dinners throughout the week that use similar things. It cuts down costs and time too. A roast chicken early in the week can be made into soup or a chicken pizza for another night. Cabbage for tacos can be tossed into a salad. This has been something I figured out later then sooner, but I now always try to keep it in mind. Funny how easy this sounds and yet it took me years to get this one figured out.

6)Have a backup plan and be flexible
No matter how well I plan or organize my meals, life happens and it doesn’t always work. Sometimes a grocery store doesn’t have what I need or something else is on sale for a way better deal. “Talia, you can’t control the world”, has been a message that the universe and my mom keep telling me. So I accept that things happen and then roll with it. I either try to alter my recipe a bit or go with a backup plan. These are usually easy and made from ingredients that I keep on hand. Home made or frozen pizzas, sandwiches with veggies and breakfast can all be made quickly . If you know you have a quick backup plan at home it eliminates the need for an emergency fast food stop and gets you off the hook.

7)Have a Theme, Formula or Template
It’s hard coming up with new ideas all the time. Some weeks you’re tired, the weather sucks and the last thing you want to do is try to be super creative. I use a rotation of sorts to help me stay inspired and get new ideas on the table. Here’s a what the inside of my head kind of looks like:

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Pick a theme, chose your protein and then add your flavours. If you’re not someone who loves to cook or feels inspired, using the themes alone and then finding recipes that fit works just as well.

Once you get the hang of meal planning it becomes a natural part of the week. It takes me only a bit to do and it saves moolah. We rarely eat out and when we do its for a treat or special occasion, I almost never throw food away because its gone bad and I love knowing what’s for dinner without having to stress last minute.