*blows off the thick layer of dust that has settled on this old thing!*
*taps the microphone* Is this thing on? Can you hear me? Good.
Well friends, you asked, I've answered. Many of you have asked me to write down sample menus for our family, as well as recipes and tips for how to make life in kitchen quicker, smoother, and more healthy. I decided this was a perfect way to resurrect my forgotten blog. But first a few disclaimers.
*I can't promise this will happen every week. Life moves fast. Five boys are a lot of kids. I like to sleep eventually, contrary to what some of you think. I'll do my best, but no promises.
* I am by no means a healthy food nut, and so I am sure some of you are going to look at some of the things on this and go, "wait a gosh gahl darned minute, that is just loaded with...." You're probably right. My goal in life is simply to do the best I can to raise my family with healthy, balanced options. Sometime we eat junk food, heck sometimes we even eat hot dogs (okay, well they eat hot dogs, I think they are gross!). But what you will find here, is my honest, self educated attempt at arming my family with balanced and healthy approach to eating.
*If you know me, you know I'm all about keeping it real. If you're looking for one of those picture perfect mommy blogs about gourmet food you have happened upon the wrong page. Nor am I a believer in the mentality that, 'keeping it real' means intentionally trying to appear as though I'm what would happen if Chelsea Handler popped out a couple kids and had to try not to kill them. (have you read any of her books? If not, stop reading this right now and go pick some up from your local bookstore. Trust me, you'll thank me!) I see so much pressure in the world of parenting to measure up to some unspoken bar, and if we don't then we view ourselves as failures. Ladies and gentlemen, that is just not so, and it has always been my goal in writing about life and motherhood to show people that life has ups and downs, and that it is never as perfect as the well framed, whitewashed moments we see on instagram, but it's in those un-'instagramed' moments, that we can find our joy.
Still with me? Great, then I guess it's time to get on with the show.
Here is a list of meals that we are having this week around the good old Carleski house.
Almost always oatmeal. Not that exciting, but when you're a boy who never stops going you need fuel. Oatmeal is fuel!
Lunch: (we at home eat the same thing that is packed for the day. Since most stuff is pre-prepped it makes lunches go a lot fast at home, when little kids straight out of preschool are hungry and not very patient.) Also it should be noted that my kids take water to drink with all lunches. one of the quickest ways we cut costs was getting rid of sugary lunch drinks.
Monday: Black bean and rice and cheese on a whole wheat wrap, carrot oatmeal muffin, string cheese, and grapes
Tuesday: Hummus and veggie sticks (green peppers, carrot, mushrooms, and celery), oatmeal apple cinnamon muffin, mixed nuts, cheese cubes
Wednesday: Vegetarian BLTs grapes, Muffins
Thursday: Tuna and crackers, pineapple slices, carrot oatmeal muffin, string cheese
Friday: Whole wheat pasta salad (pasta, cucumber, red peppers, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes and shredded mozz cheese, with some lemon juice and EVOO to sprinkle over it) banana, carrot sticks, and oatmeal apple cinnamon muffin
Weekends: we tend to eat left overs from the weeks suppers
Monday: Vegetarian Lasagna, whole wheat french bread, sliced fruit
Tuesday: Steak (special grown up dinner) hearty winter soup (kids),
Wednesday: Vegetarian Shepard's pie, Tarragon fruit salad
Thursday: Sour cream enchilada, lime cilantro rice, spinach salad
Friday: Pizza Night
Saturday: Black Beans and rice, home made tortilla quesadillas, grilled mixed veggies.
Sunday: Clam Chowder and Salad
Snacks: Fresh fruit. (if you noticed a rather conspicuous lack of fruit mentioned in my supper menus, it's because they have it mixed into their oatmeal, and fruit is almost the exclusive snack around our house. Hungry between meals, grab and apple, peel an orange or chew on some berries.
Food prep tips: I will spend one afternoon (normally Sunday) laying out all my ingredients for the week, and assembling. Your two best friends will become your 9x13 pans, and a food processor. I know they are costly, but if you don't have one, save your pennies and make it happen. Getting my first food processor was what finally made me realise I could do this kind of planning/cooking.
*I make all the muffins first, and for a week I generally need 3 dozen for my brood. If you skip the electric mixer and use a giant bowl you can make the whole batch at once, instead of making three batches in your kitchen aid. And it's muffin mix, so it's not hard to stir.
*If you are using pasta or non crock pot rice that week for kids lunches or frozen dishes, while the muffins are in the oven, cook the pasta. This week we have lasagna noodles, and pasta for the pasta salad, and rice for mondays lunch and Thursdays supper. This week I will also cook the potatoes for the Shep. Pie now too.
*While the noodles and muffins are cooking, wash all your veggies for the week. And start chopping things up in your food processor. You can use your food processor during this step to shred all your cheeses too.
Next Lunch prep:
I assemble as much of the kids lunches next as I can. Example: This week, I ended up shifting some meals around and since today we are not having black beans and rice, I won't have any precooked for the kids lunches tomorrow. I will have to use canned beans instead.
So put the bean, rice, and cheese in a tupperware, wrap up whole wheat wrap for each kid, grab a muffin, a string cheese, and a clump of grapes, and then I put them all together in a group on the fridge shelf. That way when I go to pack the lunch box, all I have to do is take the bundle of stuff and put it in the box for that day.
Same can be done for the hummus lunch (put the hummus from your big container into a mini tupperware, and put your veggies in a mini tupperware. Put your mixed nuts into a little snack bag, collect the rest together in one spot on your fridge shelf.
BLT lunch is ideally made at time of packing, but you can cut and cook stuff ahead of time and the wrap it all separately for them to assemble at school.
I buy mini tuna can and cracker kits at the store, so grab one of those, put your pineapple slices in a tupperware and again, gather all the rest of the lunch into a clump in the fridge you can just grab to pack.
Pasta salad assemble pack into a tupperware ahead of time, and put lemon/EVVO into a mini tupperware they can add at school. And I bet you can guess what I'm going to tell you to do. Gather it all, and clump in fridge to put in box when it's time to pack it.
Assemble your lasagna.
Assemble your soup base (chopped veggies, potatoes and seasonings go into the soup pot and then put the lid on it. The day you eat it, all you have to do is pour in your veggie stock and then put it on the stove to cook.
Mash your potatoes and assemble Shepards pie.
Cover and seal everything with tin foil and label with a sharpie.
Throw in freezer.
You'll notice that means there is still some prep each night, like adding the lime juice and diced cilantro to the rice on Thursday, or tossing a salad or slicing some bread. In the case of the black beans in rice, you'll need to throw those in the crock pot either the night before, or first thing in the morning. And for us Pizza night is always over at my inlaws, and I am lazy and we eat clam chowder either from the can or from the frozen Mo's base.
Really my advice is, give yourself time. I can get this all knocked out pretty quickly because I have found a rhythm to the routine, and my brain has become used to cooking in this fashion. Also, you may find that a different set up works best for you. This was purely my making it up as I go, and I still change and try new things to make it faster/cheaper/healthier.
Tomorrow I will post recipes for this week (which is actually a really boring week, I was kind of in a funk when I planned it!)
I'd love to hear your stories from giving it a try, either here in the comments or on Facebook!!