Deliciously easy weekday meals

Deliciously easy weekday meals

Making meal plans is easy.

Following through with them? Not so much.

When you’ve got a busy household your weekdays can get away from you and it’s time for dinner before you’ve finished your last cup of (now cold) coffee.

But making dinner doesn’t have to be hard, there’s so many deliciously easy meals out there. Here’s my favorite, super easy meals for busy nights.

Tuna Alfredo

Ingredients

  • 2 cans tuna
  • 16 oz fusilli noodles
  • 16 oz jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Spray 9×13 casserole dish with cooking oil
  3. Mix Alfredo and milk in a small bowl
  4. Pour a thin layer of milk mixture on bottom of pan
  5. Fill pan with noodles
  6. Add peas and tuna evenly across noodles
  7. Pour the remaining milk mixture on top
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until noodles are tender

Hamburger stroganoff

  • Ingredients
    • 1 pound ground beef
      16oz egg noodles
      2 cans cream of mushroom
      1 cup milk
      1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

    Method

    1. Brown the beef in a skillet
    2. Add in the mushrooms until cooked through
    3. Stir in the milk and cream of mushroom
    4. Add noodles and cook until tender

    Cheesy bacon wrapped chicken

    Ingredient

    • Chicken breast (I used 2 large ones)
    • Bacon (2 slices per breast)
    • 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice
    • 8 oz cream cheese
    • Optional: minced jalapeños

    Method

    1. Preheat oven to 350°
    2. Soften cream cheese if needed, mix in a boil with shredded cheese and jalapeños
    3. Halfway fillet the chicken, so you can stuff it with cheese
    4. Stuff with cheese
    5. Wrap with bacon
    6. Bake in a casserole dish for 40-45 minutes, until chicken reaches 165°

    Turkey cabbage stir fry

    Ingredients

    • 14 oz cole slaw mixed
    • 1 pound ground turkey
    • 2 TBS soy sauce
    • 1 Tsp ginger
    • 1 Tsp garlic
    • Optional: sriracha

    Method

    1. Brown the turkey in a skillet
    2. Add in garlic and ginger
    3. Stir in cole slaw and soy sauce
    4. Cook until cole slaw looks good
    5. Top with an appropriate amount of sriracha

    Taco Salad

    Ingredients

    • 1 pound ground beef
    • Taco seasoning
    • Spinach (2 cups per serving)
    • Tomato (1 per serving)
    • Avocado (1/2 per serving)
    • Shredded cheddar (1/2 cup per serving)
    • Tortilla chips
    • Sour cream
    • Salsa
    • Other options: olives, cilantro, corn, black beans

    Method

    1. Brown the beef in a skillet
    2. Add taco seasoning as per package instructions
    3. Chop or slice veggies as desired
    4. Layer your salad: tortilla, beef, cheese, spinach, tomato, avocado, other toppings, then sour cream and salsa

    How to Create Your Own Rotating Meal Plan

    How to Create Your Own Rotating Meal Plan

    “What’s for dinner?”

    “I don’t know, what do you want for dinner?”

    “I don’t know, what are my options?”

    “Whatever you want, just tell me.”

    “Spaghetti?”

    “We don’t have any noodles…”

    “Chicken.”

    “What kind of chicken?”

    “I don’t know, chicken fettuccine?”

    “Still don’t have any noodles.”

    “Baked chicken then.”

    “It’ll take too long to bake, it’s already 7:30.”

    “Pizza?”

    “Okay, pizza.” 

    How many times have you had this conversation in your home? I refuse to believe it’s just my husband and I who have this back and forth of never knowing what to have for dinner. 

    I can be incredibly indecisive. It’s a main character trait of mine. So asking me to choose dinner at a moments notice feels like a life or death decision. Too much of life is already complicated and difficult, why are we letting this simple decision ruin our night?

    No more. Never again. 

    Are you ready to always have an answer to this question: “what’s for dinner?”

    Are you ready to not only KNOW what’s for dinner, but to be prepared with all ingredients on hand after only ONE weekly trip to the grocery store?

    Are you ready to create a life changing meal plan that’s going to save your family time, stress, and money? 

    I’ll be honest, creating this meal plan initially took me a couple of hours over the course of a few days – but I also didn’t have anyone walking me through the process.

    I’m all about this new concept of paying it forward – to YOURSELF. 

    Put in maximum effort right now, so you can chill later, knowing that “what’s for dinner?” is already taken care of. 

    Here we go. 

    STEP 1 – Brain dump your meals. 

    Write out a list of every meal you know your family already likes and the ones you’ve been wanting to try out. Any meal you can think of, just write it down. 

    Need some ideas? Here’s a list of some of our favorite meals plus links to all recipes!

    • sub step: if you’re trying to eat healthier or follow a specific diet, cross off every meal that doesn’t work for your diet. Think outside the box though, there may be a lot of meals that don’t work for YOU, but still work for your family and can be modified by plate. For example, tacos may not work for a carb free diet, but it’s just as easy to make a carb free taco salad with most of the same ingredients. Keep those sort of meals in your plan. 

    STEP 2 – Structure your week. 

    Pull out your calendar or planner and look at your week. Be realistic with your time and your energy when you consider this: what sort of meals can you make each day? 

    If your day is chaotic and full of errands, you probably don’t want to make an elaborate meal. You’ll likely only have enough energy and the time to make a 30 minute, 1 pan meal. 

    If you’re home all morning but gone the rest of the day, until dinner time, then a slow cooker meal is more realistic for that day. 

    If it’s a day when the whole family is home, that’s probably a good day for a more difficult meal. 

    STEP 3 – Plug it all in.

    (Use my printable rotating meal plan template)

    Now just assign every meal to a day. Don’t over plan though. Only plan 4 or 5 days of meals each week. This gives you 2 or 3 nights each week where you can fill it in weekly, go out for dinner, have a frozen pizza, or left overs. 

    You might like to add variety to your weeks based on protein, meal type or ethnicity of the meals. Check out my Easy Weekly Meal Planning post for more info on how to do that.

    I only plan for Monday – Thursday and Saturday. I leave Friday, as that’s often a date night out, and Sunday for left overs or pizza. 

    SEASONAL MEAL PLANNING

    In a month or two I will go through my meal plan, and replace cold weather meals with burgers and sandwiches for the Summer. 

    You can see my 6 week meal plan right here!

    Now you know how to create a killer meal plan. Share with the people you love, so they can too!

    How I Overcame Dehydration While Breastfeeding

    How I Overcame Dehydration While Breastfeeding

    Breaking Rule #1

    Any breastfeeding mama will tell you, the number one rule of breastfeeding is to drink plenty of water. But sometimes that’s not always possible. Sometimes you try to drink water but you still get dehydrated. Sometimes you get a stomach bug or food poisoning and you can’t keep water down.

    So what do we do then? How do we overcome this dehydration and still nourish our baby?

    This is what I was faced with last week. I took my still breastfed 1 year old to visit my sister in San Diego. I bought a fancy cheese and fruit platter from the commercial airline, and I got a mild case of food poisoning.

    I spent an entire day running to and from the bathroom, trying to nap in between episodes. But when did I make time to be a good mom? My boy was so good to me, he watched me vomiting over the toilet, and immediately clung to me for hugs when I stopped. He climbed up and snuggled with me on the bed and napped with me more often than he normally would have.

    I felt like I was being a good mom through it all because he was being such a good son. But I wasn’t. He ate three puree jars and snacked all day, but I wasn’t making sure that he drank enough milk. I only breastfeed him now when he asks, since his main source of nutrition is in solids. I didn’t realize all day that he never asked to breastfeed, and I didn’t make sure that he drank enough milk from his cup. Bad mom.

    The vomiting stopped in the evening, but the damage was done, for both of us.

    I woke up to small boobs. The smallest they’ve been since I got pregnant. They were empty. Totally empty. It was heartbreaking. It was more heartbreaking when I realized that my boy didn’t breastfeed the day before, when I realized that he hadn’t had many wet diapers. I’d only brought 6 diapers with me for the trip and in 24 hours, I still had two left… I almost went to the ER right then, but decided to give myself 24 hours to remedy his dehydration myself.

    My sister took us to the grocery store to get some supplies. I was going to need more diapers, Gatorade, water.. All that good stuff to fix these issues. I was determined to get my baby hydrated, wetting plenty of diapers and breastfeeding again in the next day. And I totally did.

    Here’s how we home remedied our dehydration and loss of milk supply.

     

    Baby first.

    babyy

    Always baby first, any mom will tell you that. If your baby is acting differently, refusing to eat or drink anything, then please seek medical attention immediately. If it’s just lack of wet diapers and diarrhea, you’re probably good to give yourself 24 hours to remedy the situation yourself, like I did.

     

    Milk

    I know many of us would love to exclusively breastfeed, but in a case like this, it’s going to hurt your baby a whole lot more to be stubborn here. If you’re dehydrated, you need to give your infant formula – unless you have immediate access to donor milk, which would always be ideal and wonderful, but we don’t always have access to donor milk, so formula it is.

    My boy is a year old, so we try to give him almond milk, but sometimes he doesn’t like it. When I can’t get him to drink that, I mix a little Pediasure with it to sweeten it up and add some vitamins.

     

    Pedialyte

    If your baby is anything like mine, he hates water. Pedialyte was a great way to get him hydrated and he loved the fruity flavor. We don’t normally give him juice of any kind, so it was a special treat that he was excited for.

     

    Purees

    *Only recommended for babies 6 months and older.

    Even if you have an older infant or toddler who is eating true solids now, pureed fruit or applesauce are great mealtime options when baby isn’t feeling well  – especially if your little is refusing other foods. Focus on fruits with a high water content, like applesauce.

     

    Bottle

    If you’ve been trying to cup train your baby off the bottle, this is a time to put that on hold. I was lucky that my son accepted his sippy cup because we only cut out bottles a week earlier. I was prepared to go buy him a new bottle though, if he hadn’t taken to the cup so well.

    Just keep in mind that it’s okay to give a bottle if it’s the only way your little will drink. There’s no harm in waiting another week to start cup training.

     

    *Three wet diapers is a bare minimum for a 1 year old to have in 24 hours. 6 or 8 is ideal. If your baby isn’t showing any signs of improvement or is refusing food or drink or acting abnormal in any way, please seek a medical professional.

     

    Restoring Your Milk Supply

    milk

    After baby is well-hydrated and accepting other milk alternatives, it’s time to get yourself back in order. Yes, you can work on both at the same time, just make baby the priority, of course.

     

    Water

    Water is your new best friend. Drink it. 100 oz in one day. It’s not easy, you’re going to start hating the taste of it after awhile, but it’s absolutely necessary.

    water

     

    Blue Gatorade

    What is it about the blue one? I don’t know, but hundreds of women swear by it and nearly every article out there about helping milk supply suggests it. I made it my goal to drink 2 32oz bottles of it. But of course, this and water started to both taste awful. I decided to mix things up and switch out a gatorade for a 28oz bottle of Orange Body Armor. It really helped to break up the monotony.

     

    *My particular method for getting through all this liquid was 2 16oz water bottles, ½ gatorade, 2 water bottles, ½ Body Armor; repeat.

     

    Mother’s Milk Tea

    This tea is amazing for helping your supply. Drink three cups of it a day, one with each main meal. Let it steep for 10 minutes to get the most out of every cup.

     

    Protein Bars

    Protein is so important to your milk supply. If you’re not fueling your body, your body isn’t going to create fuel for baby. Protein bars are an easy way to know you’re getting protein in. Of course, meats, beans and veggies are the best way to get in the best forms of protein, but after a stomach bug or food poisoning, you’re lucky to be holding anything down.

     

    Oatmeal and Ground Flaxseed

    This is a great meal to start and end your day with. I like to add butter and brown sugar to mine, especially if I’m not feeling well, it makes it a nice treat.

     

    Offer the Breast as Often as Possible

    Your body isn’t going to make any milk if it doesn’t think it needs it. So offer the breast to baby every chance you get. It can be helpful to massage the breast while trying to breastfeed as well.

     

    Power Pump!

    I wish I’d had my pump with me, because this would have really sped things up. Power pumping over stimulates that breasts into thinking they are way behind in milk production – and in this case, they are! It’s a great way of boosting supply and only takes a few minutes every couple hours. Check here for more info on power pumping, nipple stimulation and the science behind it all.

    milky

    The Easy Way to Meal Plan.

    The Easy Way to Meal Plan.

    Planning our family meals ahead of time has changed my life and my grocery trips. I don’t bother planning breakfasts or lunches because it’s so much easier not to. I make sure I always have the basics on hand though. For breakfast: cereal, oatmeal, bagels, bacon and eggs. For lunches: bread, meat, cheese, mayo, chips, fruit, veggies, snacks, yogurt.

    For dinner, I do plan out at least 5 meals each week, and have two nonperishable options (pasta or a frozen premade meal). And if I truly want to be successful with my plan, they are not locked in with a specific meal for a specific day. I do write them as if they are, but I am always open to changing things up midweek, and you should be too. Things happen, and sometimes its best to make adjustments. Don’t be too tied down to your plans that they start hurting more than helping.

    As a guide there are two options for an easy way to meal plan.

    Regionally Inspired or Protein Based.

    An example of Regionally Inspired would be 

    • Monday – Italian
    • Tuesday – Mexican
    • Wednesday – Soup
    • Thursday – Chinese
    • Friday – European
    • Saturday – Mexican
    • Sunday – US

    The other option is Protein Based

    • Monday – Chicken
    • Tuesday – Beef
    • Wednesday – Bean
    • Thursday – Chicken
    • Friday – Fish
    • Saturday – Beef
    • Sunday – Pork

    Then you just plug in the recipes. I always ask my hubs for one or two requests for what he’d like to eat in the next week, and I try to pick at least one new recipe from the Pinterest board full of recipes that gets otherwise ignored.

    I went ahead and pre-plugged in some recipes that actually work for BOTH these meal planning guides.

    • Monday – Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
    • Tuesday – Beefy Enchiladas
    • Wednesday – Taco Soup
    • Thursday – Gen Tso’s Chicken
    • Friday – Fried Tilapia and Fries (Fish and Chips)
    • Saturday – Taco Salad
    • Sunday – Pork Chops

    This is where I really set in my plans. Go through and assign sides to each meal. I usually try to have a leafy green salad and vegetables with each meal.

    Now is where you will really start to feel like you have your life together; use this meal plan to write your grocery shopping list. Review each recipe and check your pantry and fridge to make sure you get everything you need. This way you should only need to go grocery shopping once this week – I usually go on Mondays and make sure to get everything I need for dinner because we only have a Safeway nearby and I hate their prices; its a 15 minute drive to any other grocery store and that’s just not worth it if I forgot to get milk. Preparedness is key.

    Remember to use your meal plan as a guide, not a rule. It is designed to help alleviate stress, not increase it.

    mealplan2