Meal Planning

Do you meal plan?

I do every 2 weeks. I like to plan ahead. I don’t plan what meals are going to be for what nights or anything… but I plan and shop for 10 dinners (sometimes 1 or 2 extra recipes that have similar ingredients to others that I’ve shopped for in case I change my mind) and then I shop for lunches and breakfasts etc for those 2 weeks at a time.

That is why a lot of the things I talk about I say “thaw”. I don’t usually buy and then cook meat the next day. I don’t usually buy fresh and cook THAT day. It’s very rare that that happens. I don’t like to run to the grocery store every day. I’ve got kids… kids that are impatient and don’t love the grocery store. I personally don’t like the germs that come with the touching of the shopping carts!  Ew.

So, every 2 weeks I’ve got my pinterest board that I go thru, delete the ones I’ve already made my own, and re-pin ideas for the next couple of weeks.

Here is my weekly planning board:

If you don’t like the online route for meal planning, you can go the route of a paper pad: Knock Knock What to Eat Pad

OR a magnetic white board for your fridge! I’ve done this in the past! Magnetic Meal Planner

My husband and I also just started using the app: “Out of Milk”. You can scan the UPC code on some items so that it can be REALLY specific if you husband needs to pick something up for you! You can specify store, items, how many, average price, and whether or not you have a coupon for it. It also gives you an alert for whats on sale in the area! It’s a very helpful app, and I have it open as I shop so that I only buy what I planned to purchase. It helps keep me from purchasing anything impulsively!

Also, have you ever heard of Mvelopes? There are 2 versions. There is the cash version, and the debit card all online version. The online version, at has a free version and it tracks all of your swipes on your debit cards and credit cards! It helps you budget and track your spending. It will even give you a graph that shows you percentages of where you spend your money! Crazy huh? We took a Dave Ramsey course at our church and it was recommended. I’d say check it out if you’re looking for something to help figure out where all that $$ is going! 🙂

Tonight my husband is still not home and it’s 8p. Sometimes he gets home early, and sometimes he gets home late! I did not feel like cooking a big whole dinner just for myself.. and also did not feel like making dinner at 8p. So, tomorrow is the day a recipe will come!

So, how do you meal plan? What are your tools?? Or, do you just wing it at the grocery store?? Let me know!

And now, for the quote of the day:

C.S. Lewis

Taco Tuesday!

So it’s Tuesday and my husband requested… what else… tacos! HA!

So, since THAT isn’t a new recipe, I’m going to post ideas, tips, thoughts and pics of ideas for Taco Tuesdays for you!

Low Carb Taco Tuesday:

She used CHEESE for her taco shells! Check out her blog!

And… have you SEEN these?! We have some. As many tacos as we eat in our house, these are a necessity!

They are: TacoProper Taco Holder

Hysterical huh??

Ok… this one Rasta Imposta Taco I’ve gotta consider getting John for no reason… hahahahahaha!

Or this book… a TACO cookbook!!! Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails, and More

As far as tips go, I’d have to say… why not have a “Taco Tuesday” and a “Macaroni Monday” and a “Wings Wednesday” etc… At least occasionally. It’s easier on the cook, and fun for the people eating! Traditions are a PLUS and also something to look forward to. Maybe the first week of each month, or quarter you can have a “Spirit Week” where it’s a themed dinner meal. How easy to plan for that huh??

So… that’s the post for today! I promise tomorrow will be WAY more recipe like… I’m shopping tomorrow!! WOOHOO!

IF you have any recipe requests, ideas, or want me to makeover or under a recipe… let me know in the comments or send me a quick email!!

Tomato Paste… in a tube! (And other quick tips)

Ok, so in a few of my recipes, and recipes that I’ve seen, it will call for a tablespoon or two of tomato paste. Then you’re usually left with a dilemma… what do you do with the rest of the tomato paste? Put it in the fridge usually. Then, you have to make sure you use it within 5-7 days or it starts to mold! Then, you’ve wasted food and money! I do not like do not like doing either of those! So, my tip for this is something that I saw on “The Chew” talk show, and then FOUND at Trader Joe’s (only one of my favorite stores EVER!)


It’s in a reclosable tube! What?! Am I Right?! How exciting is this? Now, those of you who are chefs are probably thinking, “um, that’s been around forever”… but this is new to me and I’m ecstatic! This is gonna be great!
Also, did you know they have tubes of fresh herbs? They do! Basil, cilantro, parsley, etc. So, if you need a couple of months to use up herbs in things like guacamole and pasta,  try those! They are still fresh and taste fresh, but last so much longer! Sometimes my herbs are bad within 5 days!
Remember my tip about onions! Slice them, put them in a freezer bag and freeze the leftovers!
Canned condensed soups… don’t use them if you don’t have to! It’s soooo easy to make a creamy base! Butter, flour, milk or cream… and then chicken or veggie broth! Seriously! That’s it! I keep all of those in my pantry or fridge at all times! Then you just add mushrooms or chicken or whatever base you want! I’ll make it soon to post on the blog. Then, you have a natural and organic food base that you know where it all came from! Chicken broth is easy to make too! After Thanksgiving I make Turkey broth and saved it in glass jars in the freezer! I made some awesome soups with it!
Any questions or tips you want to know about? Ask! Send me an email or ask a question in the comments and I’ll do my best to respond and even possibly make a post out of it!

Good luck cookin’!

Tips and Tricks!

So, things have been crazy around here lately! It took me forever to get my meals planned, and actually get out to go grocery shopping! UGH! So, due to that, there has been a shortage of posts… oops! So, for this post I am going to explain different cooking terms, give definitions and a couple of kitchen “tips” to make foods turn out the way that you want them! Sound good?? Ok!

So, lets start out by defining cooking terms. This is something I have slowly learned through cooking shows… so, lets define!

To make it easy, I got it from here:

When a recipe says to cook the pasta: Al dente: Pasta cooked until just firm. From the Italian “to the tooth.”

There are times when you are cooking meat, such as turkey, and you want it moist. People use the term Baste: To moisten food for added flavor and to prevent drying out while cooking. Basically taking the juiced from the pan and occasionally putting back over the meat.

When we say to “beat” an egg… this is what we mean: Beat: To stir rapidly to make a mixture smooth, using a whisk, spoon, or mixer.

When making pesto, to keep the pesto green, you can do this to the basil and spinach: Blanch: To cook briefly in boiling water to seal in flavor and color; usually used for vegetables or fruit, to prepare for freezing, and to ease skin removal.

Bouquet garni: A tied bundle of herbs, usually parsley, thyme, and bay leaves, that is added to flavor soups, stews, and sauces but removed before serving.

If you are one to sear your meat before cooking it in the crock pot,… you are actually braising!! Who knew right?! Braise: To cook first by browning, then gently simmering in a small amount of liquid over low heat in a covered pan until tender.

How do you broil?? In the OVEN! 🙂 Easy! Broil: To cook on a rack or spit under or over direct heat, usually in an oven.

What do I mean when to brown or sear? Brown: To cook over high heat, usually on top of the stove, to brown food.

Do you ever wonder what it means when something is blackened? Here ya go! Blackened: A popular Cajun cooking method in which seasoned fish or other foods are cooked over high heat in a super-heated heavy skillet until charred, resulting in a crisp, spicy crust. At home, this is best done outdoors because of the large amount of smoke produced.

This is something that I do not usually use, but it is popular because it has a long shelf life: Bouillon: A bouillon cube is a compressed cube of dehydrated beef, chicken, fish, or vegetable stock. Bouillon granules are small particles of the same substance, but they dissolve faster. Both can be reconstituted in hot liquid to substitute for stock or broth.

Caramelize: To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown. You can also do this with onions… with the same end results in color.

When baking, if the term “cut-in” is used, here is the definition: Cut in: To distribute a solid fat in flour using a cutting motion, with 2 knives used scissors-fashion or a pastry blender, until divided evenly into tiny pieces. Usually refers to making pastry.

Chefs use this term a lot.. and it adds a lot of flavor! Deglaze: To loosen brown bits from a pan by adding a liquid, then heating while stirring and scraping the pan.

When making fried food, this term is used a lot: Dredge: To cover or coat uncooked food, usually with a flour, cornmeal mixture or bread crumbs.

If I say use the chicken/turkey/beef drippings it means: Drippings: Juices and fats rendered by meat or poultry during cooking.

Ever wonder what starting your dish on fire is called??? (When it’s ON PURPOSE!!???) Flambé: To drizzle liquor over a food while it is cooking, then when the alcohol has warmed, ignite the food just before serving.

And… another baking term: Fold: To combine light ingredients such as whipped cream or beaten egg whites with a heavier mixture, using a gentle over-and-under motion, usually with a rubber spatula.

Poach: To cook a food by partially or completely submerging it in a simmering liquid.

Reconstitute: To bring a concentrated or condensed food, such as frozen fruit juice, to its original strength by adding water.

Reduce: To decrease the volume of a liquid by boiling it rapidly to cause evaporation. As the liquid evaporates, it thickens and intensifies in flavor. The resulting richly flavored liquid, called a reduction, can be used as a sauce or as the base of a sauce. When reducing liquids, use the pan size specified in the recipe, as the surface area of the pan affects how quickly the liquid will evaporate.

Saute: From the French word sauter, meaning “to jump.” Sauteed food is cooked and stirred in a small amount of fat over fairly high heat in an open, shallow pan. Food cut into uniform size sautes the best.

Those are just a few terms. If you have another one that you’d like me to define and give an example of, please let me know!!!

Ok, now tips:

Shrimp: I have found that the best way to get the BEST tasting shrimp is to bake it. It just always comes out evenly and perfectly cooked for me. I start out with thawed UNCOOKED shrimp, peeled and deveined. Wonder how to do it on your own?

I always use Ina Garten’s recipe for shrimp. She is the one I followed to get the perfectly cooked shrimp. I sometimes adjust it a bit, but I always use the temperature she says, and I adjust the time based on how large the shrimp are. I’m not the only one either! Other blogs follow her great ways too!

Here is Ina Garten’s original recipe showing it:


I have found, after trial and error, that my steak always turns out best when I start out by searing it on the stove (or browning) and then finishing it in the pre-heated oven for a certain amount of time until it reaches my desired temperature. Always. If I try to make it on the stove top only, it is usually either under done or over done. Just from my observations.

Mashed Potatoes:

Want them the most creamy? Add sour cream and whip them either in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer. Seriously… whipped and delicious!


I have found that sauteing or roasting vegetables keeps more vitamins and color in vegetables (even from frozen) than boiling them. Try it!

Want me to post other tips or tricks?? Ask me!! Comment below and I’ll do my best to find them!