Meal Planning (or “How to Keep Most of Your Groceries From Going Bad”)

Hiii (*waves nervously*) Let’s kick this off with the confession that I am not a foodie or a chef or a professional meal planner. I’m a newbie who still let’s the milk go bad and forgets to use the bananas before they’re squishy and grey.

Alright. Now that my credentials are out of the way…

*In between starting this post and finish it I went through our pasta cabinet and threw out so much expired food. Pasta, graham crackers, panko breading. Not a few months expired… years. Please note: All of that was purchase pre-meal planning. #oops

Toward the end of last year I started meal planning for our family of two. At the start of 2017 I made the lax resolution to meal plan every week. Surprisingly, I’m actually carrying this out with moderate success. A fellow blogger (Carolann, I think?) suggested I talk about my methods. So I thought, ‘Sure! Why not?!’

To be frank, I’m not even 100% sure I do this right. Critique me if you feel so inclined. I have thick skin; I can handle it.

Step 1

Pick three meals for the week.

Three?? But Audrey! Surely you’ll starve!

Fear not, my friends. We utilize the luxury of takeout and/or dining out at least once a week. (*cough*still working on budgeting*cough*)

Honestly, though. On Fridays we’re usually out with my parents and on Sundays we typically have dinner at my grandparents. Mix in one night of take out and fill that fourth night with leftovers and we’ve got three days left for home cooked meals.

… perhaps I’m not so qualified to write this post.

Stick with me, friends. Pick three meals from anywhere. I usually search Pinterest. Sometimes it’s not a recipe meal- sometimes it’s just burgers and veggies on the grill. It doesn’t matter… it still counts.

Ok. Got your three meals? I’m going to play along here and pick three, too.

  1. One Pan Sausage & Veggies (+ egg noddles with butter #healthy)
  2. Chicken Fajita Pasta (so good!! if this isn’t one of your 3 you should change that)
  3. Steak & veggies on the grill (+ mashed red potatoes left over from meal #1)

Step 2

Make a grocery list with the ingredients you don’t have.

can we ignore the “egg noddles”? oops

Now double check your kitchen for the ingredients you might actually have, but you put on the list anyway because you weren’t sure and you were too lazy to go look in the cabinet to check. (Oh. Just me? ) Cross those ones off.

Step 3

Go grocery shopping. I prefer Sunday afternoons because for some reason it’s a ghost town at the market but everything is all stocked for the week.

Obviously if there’s an afternoon NASCAR race this gets bumped to Monday night (which becomes the takeout night).

Step 4

Prep stuff if you feel so inclined.

Often I do not.

This is a good time to figure out WHEN you’re eating your meals. I don’t like to keep asparagus or steak too long so we’ll have those on Monday or Tuesday. If we don’t plan to make something until the weekend or we get busy and have to skip a meal I throw the appropriate meat in the freezer.

Boom Bang Ba-Da-Done.

the chicken fajita pasta… seriously- SO good

Some amateur tips:

  • if you never go out to eat plan for four nights
  • if you have a super busy week aim for two nights and make enough for leftovers
  • this doesn’t include lunch… and if you eat leftovers for lunch, go with 4 meals
  • make that Chicken Fajita Pasta… you won’t regret it

Was that even helpful…? Hahaha. Honestly, I never meal planned before this year but now that I do it’s pretty easy to stick with. This is probably a good gateway to meal prepping, too, but I don’t wanna demand too much of myself…

So tell me… do you meal plan? If so, what am I doing wrong? 🙂 If you don’t plan does this make you want to…?

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Add It To My (Super Random) List

By skipping Mondays I lose my opportunity to recap my weekend. If you were curious, I had a good one 🙂 Fun fact: I spent every weekend in February out of town. First Cleveland, then San Antonio, then Columbus, and then Cleveland again last weekend. Some trips for business, some for pleasure. This weekend Kayla and I visited Aubrey and her fiance Alyssa because Aubs is recovering from surgery and we went up to celebrate her transformation and keep her company. (You can follow her story/creep on her here. She’s #InstaFamous)

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In an attempt to stay hip and trendy I’m trying to keep track of the fun link-ups that go on in the blog world. I managed to jot down the schedule for the Add It To My List link-up with Lauren and Bre, so here we are.

Firstly, these three products were recommended by other bloggers:

I’m easily influence by others… I went out and bought this stuff immediately because I was in the market for some quality polish and comfy shoes for work. (The polish remover is cruelty-free & I needed that toiletry in c.f. form.) All three have my seal of approval!

Bamboo bedding…
Two years ago my grandparents gifted K and I some bamboo bedding. GUYS- we fell in love with it immediately. They’d bought it from Marshalls, so obviously I’ve never come across it again. Then last week this idiot (me) remembered Amazon exists and I have a Prime account. So I ordered some sheets. (How many pairs of sheets do you have for your bed? We have two. I always have to be on my laundry A-game, especially when I peel the sheets right before vacation and make the bed for the dogsitter, then come home and remember that now both sheets are dirty and I’m too exhausted to do laundry.)
I digress. Bamboo sheets are the softest and most comfy sheets ever. Go get some.

On to another random thing…

Go make this recipe:

One-Pan Veggies & Sausage

sausage-bake

I made this last week and it was a hit (with all two of us). It’s crazy simple- the “hardest” part was chopping all the veggies. We had rice with it. (I also made Brussels sprouts separately because they looked so good at the store and K doesn’t like them so I couldn’t mix them in. But then he ate some so…. that was a minor victory in my kitchen.)

(I’m pretty sure I took this recipe and another one (this!) from Nadine’s Pinterest!)

. . .

This fall K and I are planning to visit Disney. I’ve been there a handful of time, but I’ve never planned the trip. (I was a child and/or a band student on prior trips.) Kyle has never been to the happiest place on Earth, so I’m hoping to show him a good time. I’m looking for tips, tricks, and advice right now. I know how to “do” Disney, but any reminders or travel tidbits would be helpful. 🙂

Enjoy these last two days of February!

signatureEat, Drink, and Be Lauren

Holiday (or any day) Recipes link-up

Today I’m linking up real fast with Julie & Jacqui to share some quick, easy, smaller-portion recipes for those spending the holidays with a smaller crowd- think one to three people. I don’t usually do recipe posts, but these are go-to ones for me that come in handy when you’ve got some leftover ham or chicken and you’re hurting for a side dish.

Honey-Glazed Carrots

In a pan melt about 2 tablespoons of butter. Add a handful of baby carrots- essentially as many as you’ll want to eat because this doesn’t keep well. Drizzle honey over carrots. Sprinkle a small handful of brown sugar over carrots. Mix. Cook until carrots are soft, stirring occasionally (~15 min). Serve immediately.

. . .

Smashed Potatoes

This one comes from the talented Pioneer Woman herself. Salt the water & boil some red potatoes until they’re soft (~12 min). Only boil as many as you’ll eat… I typically consume two or three. Remove from water and place on an oil-drizzled cooking sheet. Smash the potatoes twice in a crisscross pattern, flattening them and making a mark/breaking the skin. Brush each potato with melted butter and sprinkle generously with kosher salt (and maybe add a seasoning of your choice- rosemary, thyme, etc.) and bake at 450 degree on the top rack for 20 minutes. Done!

. . .

Roasted Veggies

You can roast anything, guys. Here are two of my favs, both roasted at 425 degrees:
Cauliflower – Cut up some florets, toss on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil, sprinkle some thyme, season with salt and pepper, and stick them in the oven for 35 minutes. Pull ’em out, sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese and toss, then slide them back into the hotbox for 10 minutes.
Asparagus – Toss the stalks in some olive oil, teriyaki sauce, and soy sauce. Put some foil on a baking sheet, spread the asparagus out so it’s not stacked, sprinkle some garlic powder over it, and roast those puppies for 12 to 15 minutes. SO GOOD.

. . .

Viola! Super hard to mess up and super yummy to eat!

Checkout the link-up for other tasty recipes!

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Friday Favorites: Dough Co.

Happy Friday ❤︎ Things got pretty serious on Wednesday so I want to spread some joy & change the mood around here today…

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This week K and I wandered out of our comfort zone and popped into a new local eatery:
Dough Co. Doughnuts & Coffee.

Dough Co 3

Right off the bat I will admit that I am a doughnut snob. There is only one place (out of ±10) around here that makes me crave those glazed amazing circles of fried goodness. Still, I walked into this industrial-looking brick bakery on Wednesday afternoon with an open mind. Luckily, I also had an open nose: the smell was delicious!

Dough Co Doughnuts and Coffee

. . .

Dough Co 2

The lunch menu wasn’t expansive, but you won’t hear us complain about the quality! K ordered a croissant with sausage, egg, and (American) cheese; I had a round with the like, except bacon instead of snausage 🙂 Are you wondering what a “round” is? I had no idea when I ordered it… Turns out it’s like a burger bun- except it’s fried dough, like an un-glazed doughnut.
AH. MAY. ZING.

Dough Co 4

In addition to the made-from-scratch sandwiches, we also had blueberry cobbler coffee and doughnuts! K got a Long John (cream stick) with Bavarian cream and I had half a dozen doughnut holes. (Om nom nom… my weakness! ❤︎ ) Guys…. I have never had a taster doughnut hole. It was sweet and soft and fresh. I almost cried. You know how some doughnuts leave a waxy feeling in your mouth? These left no such residue; just a few thousand happy taste buds begging for more.

We will most definitely be back 🙂 If you live in the area (or if you happen to be passing through Ohio on I-77) you should most definitely swing by Dough Co. Doughnuts and Coffee.

Dough Co 5

B O N U S
Check out Ben Rector for your weekend jams! (Thank you to my husband for introducing me to his music!)

That’s all she wrote! What are your plans? Have a great weekend!

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Halloween Party Prep

Happy Friday, everyone!!

Are you ready for the true Halloween Queen to emerge? I don’t think your ready for this jelly…

Just to recap, if you’re in need of a couple’s/group costume check out these recommendations.
If you’re going solo this year, consider these characters!

K and I have decided to go with separate costumes this year (GASP!), even though I’m putting them both together. So as a sign of good faith, I will reveal my costume…

halloween_costume

Merida from the film Brave! Remember we’re have a Pixar-themed Halloween Party next Saturday? Last year we had a party (and I blogged about it here and here) but there wasn’t a theme. I’m very excited for this year!

Since the party is in one week I’m in total list-mode. I have my to-do list, my food & drink list (and the corresponding shopping list), and a decorations list. Today I wanted to share some Halloween treats with you!

Creamy Pumpkin Fluff
This is the easiest snack to make! You simple mix a 15 oz. can of pumpkin, a 5 oz. box of instant vanilla pudding (powder), a 16 oz. container of cool whip, and 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkin spice. Chill that for a few hours and carve out a little pie pumpkin as a dish!

Top it all off with cinnamon. You can dip apples, Teddy Grahams, vanilla wafers, or regular graham crackers!

halloween_party_prep
Picture & recipe courtesy of Carolina Charm

Puking Pumpkin
I cheat and use store-bought guacamole with my puking pumpkin, but really the pumpkin himself is the best part of this appetizer. I like to use a pie pumpkin because it’s the perfect size! The trick is to make the eyes look squeezed and the mouth big and open. Here’s a pattern for you!

halloween_party_prep

Adult Beverages
My mom is pretty good at picking out yummy seasonal adult beverages (even though she rarely indulges). One year she bought me a yummy apple pie liqueur and other year she gifted me pumpkin pie!

fultons_harvest_liqueurs

Straight from the Fulton’s Harvest website, here are some of the yummiest recipes!

Great Southern Pumpkin
2 oz. Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur
1 oz. Honey Flavored Bourbon

Honey Apple Crisp
2 oz. Apple Pie Cream Liqueur
1 oz. Honey Flavored Bourbon

Dutch Apple Pie
3 oz. Apple Pie Liqueur
1 oz. Butterscotch Schnapps
1 oz. Vodka

They also have a yummy pumpkin pie ice cream recipe that I’ll be trying out soon! Check out all their recipes here!

This weekend K’s brother is getting married so all my party prep will have to wait! I’m looking forward to a family-filled weekend and some delicious cake!

What are some of your favorite Halloween recipes? What are your weekend plans?

-Louise

My Friday Fall Favorites

Keeping with the fall theme, today I’m offering up three of my favorite things about fall!

Honeycrisp Apples
In the days of my youth I knew not the difference between a peach and an apricot. Nowadays I’m like a pro. (Kidding. I think the difference is the fuzz. Is there anything else? They’re like the same thing.) A few autumns ago Erica and I went to an apple orchard in Amish Country and I learned the difference between honeycrisp apples and all the rest. The difference is HC apples are the tastiest and the others are average. That’s really all you need to know. I love munching on the sweetness of a honeycrisp apple! Go try one if you haven’t yet!

aples

Sweatshirts
When I wear one of my million sweatshirts my husband likes to inform me that the 90s called and they’re pretty peeved that I still have their sweatshirt. To this I say, “Poppycock.” In high school I loved my hoodies, but as a young adult on the verge of average adult on the verge of soccer mom (love this hair cut), I can’t get enough of the good, ol’ fashion, non-hooded sweatshirt. I prefer wearing scarves and hats with the basic design of this beefed-up long sleeve shirt. I like that it makes me feel vintage. I like that they’re in style for now. (And when they fall out of style I’m staying strong and holding on tightly to my Lion King crewneck and my Gryffindor alum sweatshirt!)

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Outside
When I was a kid my dad and I were members of the YMCA program Indian Princesses. (Yellow-knifes forever!) This meant that we met monthly with other dads and daughter to make crafts, have fun, and bond with our dads. Twice a year we did a weekend campout at a YMCA camp, one in fall and one in spring. I will always remember these weekends with a smile. First of all, all my best friends were in Indian Princesses. Secondly, our activities consisted of canoeing, bonfires, horse back riding (not a highlight), fire-cooked foods, hot chocolate, guitars around a fire, late nights, sneaking around, cute & sometimes-scary rituals, and staying up way too late, getting sick, and coming home covered in mud. We also had a super serious water balloon fight each year. (Seriously, I was almost abducted once by an enemy tribe!) This is before 10 and 12 year olds had cell phones, so we were totally disconnected from home/internet. This was a weekend away with our dads who pretty much let us get crazy dirty and lost in the woods (when they weren’t with us canoeing, hiking, or also getting lost). Fall has always been my favorite, possibly because of Indian Princesses & my dad. I love being outside in October. I love sitting around a blazing outdoor fire. I love looking up and seeing nothing but a moon and a million stars.

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So those are my favorite things about fall (plus pumpkins, scarves, boots, warm drinks, the colors, mums, gourds, apple cider, cool air, open windows, marching band, Halloween, Thanksgiving, frost, leaves, bare trees, four wheeling, hiking, haunted mazes, parties, festivals, my birthday…. ).

What’s your favorite part of fall? Do you have any fall date nights planned? Maybe a trip to see some changing leaves?

-Louise

Change of Palate

A long while ago I made this post about adulthood and the reality of it verses my childhood perceptions. Piggy-backing on that, there are some foods that I HATED as a kid that I now rely on really enjoy.

Let me first say that I am not a picky eater. I love veggies and fruits. I can count on one hand the things that I won’t eat (ham, peas, lamb, peppermint patties, kiwi). I’ve tried snails, alligator, turtle, and weird fruits in India. For the most part, I really enjoy food. Luckily, my palate has changed and there are new foods that I now enjoy as an adult!

| AVOCADO |
When I was a kid I can remember my mom cutting, scooping, and slicing one of these on a plate. Maybe it was the green. Maybe it was the squishy texture. Either way, I decided it was icky. Fortunately, I’ve totally changed my mind and now I love this baby-poop snack! I’ll eat it alone or on a sandwich or in guacamole. Nom nom nom.

| COFFEE |
I feel like it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t drink coffee as a kid… Then I would’ve been a hyperactive, angst-y child. My mom would’ve loved that! As I mention previously, my love for coffee developed in college. Or maybe I just needed an excuse to collect mugs… Whatever. As long as there is a 3:1 coffee-to-milk ratio I’m a happy lady.

| ALCOHOL |
As a kid I wasn’t much of a drinker. (Kidding. Well, I’m not. I didn’t drink. But I also wasn’t allowed. Obviously.) Anyway, my dad would let me try his beer every now and then and I’d wrinkle my face and make a “bleech” sound. Then when I was 15 I thought it’d be cool to smuggle wine coolers to a friend’s house. First of all, alcohol was still gross to me at that time. Secondly, I got caught. Thirdly and most importantly, the sense of “badass-ness” you get from smuggling alcohol fades real fast when you realize it was just wine coolers. #teenagefail

| EGGS |
I’ve never actually disliked eggs, but if I have too many I throw up. My family tried to keep eggs from me but now, as a mature, intelligent adult, I can eat all the eggs I want! (And then throw up.) Around Easter K gets very frustrated with me and my arguably avoidable upset tummy…

| COOKED CARROTS |
I don’t know when or why this changed, but once upon a time I hated cooked carrots and now I’m cool with them. Raw carrots were always good in my book, but now their cooked cousin is acceptable to my taste buds. (Actually, raw carrots make my tongue itch. Is that normal?)

. . .

*For the record, I was referring to coffee when I said “rely on” and alcohol when I said “really enjoy.” Just clarifying.

Are there are foods you’ve come to enjoy as you’ve matured? Does anyone actually like peas? What’s a food that you’ll never like, no matter what?

-Louise