Weekly Grub + Protein-Packed Any Day Pancakes

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? We had a lovely weekend that included a lot of activities and some much needed relaxation. At one point on Sunday afternoon, I was lying in bed with coffee and a homemade mini pop tart, the sun was coming through our window and I was doing some work on the computer. It was absolutely wonderful.

I didn’t do much meal prepping last week and I definitely noticed the difference. I enjoy looking in the fridge on Monday and seeing stacks of Tupperware filled with prepped food ready to be cooked or eaten. I don’t enjoy looking in the fridge on Monday and thinking, “Crap I still need to get that ready for dinner.” Yesterday I spent some extra time prepping the following recipes, so we can have quick and nutritious meals all week long:

  • Breakfast for the Week: Salmon and Asparagus Frittata + Sautéed Kale + Avocado
    • Mix 1 can of salmon, 8 eggs and 1 bunch of asparagus (chopped) in a bowl. Sprinkle in salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pour in a greased 8×8 dish and bake at 350 degrees. I can’t tell you how long to bake it, because I forgot to set a timer and also completely forgot I put it in the oven. Luckily, I smelled it before it overcooked. Cut into 4 squares for a quick, ready to eat breakfast!
    • Remove kale leaves from stems and chop. I like sautéing these fresh each morning.
  • Sunday Dinner + Weekday Lunches: Lasagna with Eggplant and Zucchini Noodles
    • Prep: I cooked the sauce in the slow cooker all day, so I could just assemble the lasagna on Sunday night.
  • Monday: Fish Tacos + Sautéed Bell Peppers
    • Prep: Make coleslaw and slice bell peppers on Sunday.
  • Tuesday: Jalapeno Steak Salad
    • Prep: Make dressing, marinade and defrost steak on Sunday.
  • Wednesday: Leftover night! I’ll defrost something from the freezer.
    • Prep: Defrost on Monday.
  • Thursday: Cracklin’ Chicken + Twice Baked Cauliflower Casserole
    • Prep: Defrost chicken on Monday and chop cauliflower on Sunday.
  • Friday: Pizza Night out!
    • Prep: Agonize over where we want to get pizza from 😉
  • Snacks
    • Cashew butter (make on Sunday) + fruit
    • Beef jerky + pumpkin seeds

Protein Packed Any Day Pancakes

img_0307.jpg

Typically, I only consider making pancakes on the weekend. It involves taking out many different ingredients, some of which are in the powder form. This means that there will inevitably be a dusting of flour on my countertops when I’m done preparing them. I don’t need that on a weekday. However, these one-bowl, relatively mess free pancakes come together quickly and only make enough for 1 serving. Therefore, you don’t have to stand over the stove flippin’ cakes all morning. Also, as much as I love real pancakes, they don’t have the amount of protein I’m hoping for after a strenuous morning workout. I have no idea what the exact amount of protein these pancakes have, nor do I care enough to figure it out. However, I do know that these pancakes keep me full for hours and make me very happy. That’s all that matters to me.

I just throw these ingredients together and hope for the best. Last time I did measure some of the more important ingredients, like baking powder, but please be flexible and add whatever you like! There are tons of variations of this recipe and the general concept has been flooding Pinterest for a while. After many trials and errors, this is what I’ve learned:

  • Use a ripe banana, like you would use for banana bread. If you don’t have a ripe banana, don’t fret! Simply slice up the banana and microwave it for a minute. It will caramelize and become much softer.
  • The 2-ingredient egg and banana pancakes don’t do it for me. I think adding baking powder and protein powder makes them more pancake like.
  • Cook them low and slow and use oil on your pan! Coconut oil gives them a lovely flavor.

Serves: 1 (4 small pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ scoop of protein powder (I use vanilla protein powder. You can add more if you want, but I think the protein powder flavor takes over the pancakes.)
  • ½ tsp. almond or vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Mash banana and add in egg. Whisk until well combined.
  2. Add in remaining ingredients and whisk until well combined.
  3. Heat a skillet on medium-low and coat skillet with oil.
  4. Drop ¼ cup of batter at a time onto the skillet. I can usually get 4 pancakes, but it will depend on the size of your banana and eggs.

Cauliflower Mash…that’s Actually Good

Please don’t let the title of this post fool you. I am head over heels in love with cauliflower. Who knew this boring, white, wart like looking veggie could be so versatile? Cauliflower has really blown up in the last couple years. Purple cauliflower? Might as well be the new kale. Have you seen how gorgeous that stuff is baked with some curry powder and turmeric? Simply irresistible.

fullsizerender-12
cauliflower to potato ratio
img_0154
veggies covered in broth and water

With all that being said, I do believe cauliflower has some limitations. I am not convinced that it can be an adequate replacement for pizza crust. Rice? Yes. Pizza crust? Get outta’ here.  I was on the fence about this whole cauliflower mash idea too, because I made a really crappy version once. Imagine little, tasteless cauliflower lumps. Gross. I recently had a revelation and the cauliflower gods spoke to me as I prepared what I humbly consider, the best cauliflower mash ever.

img_0155
food processor magic

I went to visit my mom and brother after work last week and my mom told me she had a cauliflower mash recipe from Cooking Light that she wanted to try. I was weary based on my prior experience with cauliflower mash, but I decided I’d keep an open mind. As I read the recipe, I immediately noticed it said to peel the potatoes. At that moment, I decided to go rogue. I love mashed potatoes with the peel, because I enjoy the texture and the peel has nutritional benefits. Plus, Kevin wasn’t there (peel hater), so the peel was staying on and I was creating my own recipe.

img_0156
it looks like real mashed potatoes right?

Things that make this cauliflower mash delicious:

  • It uses 3 golden creamer potatoes. I’m sorry to offend you cauliflower purists, but I think this little addition does wonders for the consistency. If you haven’t made mashed potatoes with only golden creamer potatoes, do so now (or maybe after you try this recipe first). The creaminess is life changing.
  • Cook the cauliflower and potatoes in broth and water mixture. This adds great flavor to a rather bland vegetable.
  • Reserve some of the cooking liquid to add back into the mash. This is one of the best tricks I ever learned for mashed potatoes and also works great here. The starch in the liquid helps bind everything together and adds flavor.
  • Puree in a food processor or high powered blender. No exceptions. I would never do this with pure mashed potatoes, because it makes them gummy. Luckily, it creates a smooth, velvety texture with cauliflower.
  • Add some fat. We are taking away most of the carbs in this recipe, so we need some fat to make this palatable. I went with a trusted trio: whipped cream cheese, parmesan cheese and butter.

Now, remember when I posted a few weeks ago about my lack of patience for food photography and inability to measure food when I cook? I genuinely tried here, because I care that much about this recipe. However, I don’t think my “I’m only doing one take “photos really do this justice. Also, please know that all of these measurements are estimates. I tried to use a tablespoon and got frustrated, so I used my finger to get the cream cheese out. Clearly, I’m all about that food safety. Germs make us stronger right?

fullsizerender-13
Dinner! Cauli mash, meatballs and salad.

Really Good Cauliflower Mash Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped (use the ends and everything, no food waste here!)
  • 3 small, golden creamer potatoes
  • About 2-3 cups chicken or veggie broth
  • 3-ish tablespoons whipped cream cheese
  • 3-ish tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pat of butter
  • Loads of garlic- about 4-5 cloves (We like it strong, so definitely decrease it if you don’t enjoy the garlic in your nose feeling.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried or fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup of cooking liquid, reserved

Instructions

  1. Put the cauliflower and potatoes in a pot. Add the broth then add water until it covers the veggies. Toss in some salt for extra flavor.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Cook until cauliflower and potatoes are fork tender.
  3. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking liquid then drain the veggies.
  4. Add the veggies to the food processor with the garlic, whipped cream cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, parsley and reserved cooking liquid. I added this little by little to make sure it didn’t get too liquidy. Puree until velvety smooth.
  5. Add mixture back to the pot on low heat and add in the pat of butter. Let cook for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently. Adjust the seasonings, pat yourself on the back and enjoy!

I almost forgot, go Pats!

img_0144

 

My Meal Planning Mentality

Recently, I was asked to write a full post about meal planning and the steps I usually take to make sure we have mostly nutritious, homemade meals throughout the week. Everyone approaches meal planning differently, but I have found this routine to be the most efficient and doable for us.

  1. Find a method that works for you. I used to write everything down, but now I use Google Drive to record our meal plans. I created a template that I insert the meals, sale items and grocery list into weekly. I love this method, because Kevin can also see the meal plan whenever he wants, and I can access it from my phone for grocery shopping. I’ve had way fewer “Crap I forgot the list moments!” since I started using this method.
  1. Start small. When I first began meal planning, I only planned my dinners. I was in grad school, so I had a more flexible schedule when it came to breakfast and lunch. Eventually though I realized that life would be a lot easier if I also had a plan for breakfast and lunch. Since I already had the hang of planning dinner, adding two more meals wasn’t that overwhelming. For breakfast, I just plan a few options for the week then determine what I eat based on how I am feeling and what my morning schedule looks like. For lunch, it usually depends on if we have leftovers from dinner. In case we don’t, I also make sure to buy salad ingredients, so I can throw together quick veggie packed lunches the night before.
  1. Set a budget. I love grocery shopping and could easily do some serious damage and spend countless hours perusing the aisles. However, I also enjoy saving money, so I go into the store knowing how much I want to spend. Our grocery budget ranges from $60-$75 weekly. This is guaranteed to cover our breakfasts, lunches and dinners Monday-Friday and breakfast during the weekend. Lunch and dinner during the weekend are a wild card depending on our schedules. I usually spend about $60 on my main grocery haul then we may run to the store for other odds and ends throughout the week, which occasionally pushes the budget up to $75. My breakdown is about $15/protein sources, $20/fruits and veggies, $10/dairy products and $15/for odds and ends, but it really varies based on what we already have.
  1. Look at your schedule. The first thing I do is check our schedule for the following week and plan our meals around our lives. It seems intuitive, but I didn’t do this when I first started and there were multiple times I would have a lengthy recipe planned for a night I was in class till 8pm. It was not ideal.
  1. Shop your kitchen first. I despise throwing food away and buying food that I already have, so I always scan our pantry, fridge and freezer before writing down the items I want to buy from the store. I try to plan my meals around these ingredients, rather than picking a meal that requires that I buy a ton of new ingredients. This helps save money and reduces food waste.
  1. Check the ads. I am pretty sure there is some techy app for this, but I still love the good ole’ grocery ads and look forward to their arrival every Wednesday. One time we didn’t receive the ads on our normal day, and I was convinced Kevin was pulling a prank on me. He’s smarter than that though and knows not to mess with me and my grocery ads. My point is, the grocery ads are gold. You will save a ton of money if you base your weekly meals on the sales. I also use the ads to determine when I will stock up on certain items. Once you have your sale items that you want to buy, add them to the list of food you already have in your kitchen.
  2. Choose your meals. This is likely the most difficult and time consuming part of meal planning. You could easily spend hours looking up recipes. We have developed a pattern that helps me save time choosing our meals.
    • Make a bigger, versatile meal on Sunday and/or Monday. My cooking motivation is at it’s peak during the beginning of the week, so I try to make bigger meals that give us lots of leftovers I can use for lunches or in other meals throughout the week. It usually involves some sort of meat, a plethora of roasted or grilled veggies, potatoes or a grain.
    • Theme a night. Let’s be real, sometimes you just get tired of meal planning. We’ve found that having a themed night makes the process more exciting. We go through different phases and are currently on “Restaurant Meals” (Kevin’s idea). Once a week we are trying to recreate our favorite restaurant meals at home. This is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and learn new cooking techniques!

      FullSizeRender (2).jpg
      Our first restaurant creation was one of Kev’s favorites- Philly Cheesesteak!
    • Know your tendencies. By the time Thursday night rolls around, I could really care less about making some fabulous meal. I want to be in and out of the kitchen in 20-30 minutes. I’ve learned to only plan very simple meals like salads, omelettes, sandwiches, etc. on Thursday nights. If I had something extravagant planned, we would likely end up at a restaurant.
    • Making balanced meals that fit your needs. Personally, I don’t like eating big dinners. I prefer to eat a larger breakfast and lunch to fuel my body throughout the day. Kevin, on the other hand, prefers the opposite. In order to meet both of our needs, I make ½ our meal veggies (and sometimes fruit), include a meat or seafood for protein most nights then have a quick grain source for Kevin like pita bread, naan or rice, if he wants it.
  1. Go shopping! For me, this is the most enjoyable part of the whole process. The important part here is to stick to your list. It is so easy to throw that random item in the cart that you don’t really need. Doing this multiple times will lead to me blowing the grocery budget. My strategy to combat this is to do one lap around the store only getting the items on my list, then I allow myself to go back and get those spontaneous items. Usually, my basket is so full at this point and my arm feels like it is going to fall off, so I just decide to go checkout. (Side note- Use a basket if you are only shopping for 1 or 2 people. You will buy less and get an arm workout.)

So, about 1000 words later, you have some insight into my meal planning mentality. While it does take more time than calling for takeout, I believe it is worth it in the long run. It saves us money and ensures that we are eating a more balanced diet.

Want to chat more about meal planning? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below!

 

Weekly Grub + a Few Questions to Ask Yourself at the Grocery Store

People frequently ask me, “Would you eat this?” I would like to set the record straight, I will eat pretty much anything. However, I like to make sure the things I eat on a regular basis are nutritious and make me feel good. Also, I am not a registered dietitian nor do I have any formal nutrition training. My food knowledge comes from a pure obsession with all things food, doing my own research, and experiencing my own trials and errors in the kitchen.

IMG_6239
Sunday Salad Picnic

My favorite response to this aforementioned question is, “Well, what’s in it?” This usually takes people by surprise. They may rattle off the daily value of fat listed or how many carbs there are, but that’s not what I really want to know. I want to know what is actually in the food. What am I actually putting in my body? I don’t think the food label should go ignored, but I think the ingredient list tells us a lot more. This is why I ask myself the following questions when choosing what to put in my body:

  1. How many ingredients are listed? The fewer the better.
  2. Can I pronounce the ingredients? If I can’t, then it probably isn’t something I want to nourish my body with on a regular basis, because it’s likely a preservative, chemical or something formulated in a laboratory. 
  3. If I had the time, effort, skills and ingredients at home, could I make this food? Let’s be honest, sometimes we just want food to be prepared for us. We can’t always make everything homemade, but we can buy premade food with whole ingredients. I see whole ingredients as foods that are not processed or very minimally processed. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and eggs are whole foods and would be considered whole ingredients, in my book at least.  
  4. What order are the ingredients listed? Ingredients are listed in order of weight, so if sugar is listed first then there’s more sugar in that food than anything else. Sugar has a lot of disguises too, don’t let them fool you.
Hidden Sugars
The many names of sugar.

At this point I have a pretty good idea what the food label will tell me before I even look at it. One things to look out for is sugar alcohol, if it’s listed then the product will likely be low in sugar. But don’t be fooled, that’s only because they used sugar alcohols instead of sugar or a natural sweetener. I’ll pass. It’s easy to be obsessed with the numbers on the food label. How many calories, how much protein, how much fat? Let’s ask ourselves instead, how much real food?

FullSizeRender (4)
Buffalo Chicken Tacos + Coleslaw

This Week’s Grub:

  • Sunday: Strawberry, avocado and goat cheese salad with pretzel bun croutons
  • Monday: Buffalo grilled chicken tacos + coleslaw
    • I had leftover grilled chicken last week, so I threw it in the freezer. I took it out tonight and tossed it in some buffalo sauce for a super easy and delicious dinner!
  • Tuesday: Kalua pork taco salad
    • Rub a pork shoulder with pink himalayan salt and throw it in the slow cooker with a few pieces of bacon, whole garlic cloves, garlic powder and liquid smoke. Set on low for 12 hours. AH-MAZING.
  • Wednesday: Brinner! I need to restock our frozen waffle supply.
  • Thursday: Zucchini stuffed enchiladas with leftover pork
  • Friday: Out!

Questions for you:

  • Do you read the ingredient list? If so, what do you ask yourself?
  • What are you eating this week?

The Weekly Grub

 

This is going to be a relatively short post, because I’m pooped. I had all these intentions to write this post on Saturday and even plan out a blog content calendar. How official does that sound?! Well, it didn’t happen. We decided to grill fish tacos with some friends and watch the March Madness games instead. I think we made the right decision. Kevin convinced me to join the bracket this year by using $10 from his Venmo account for my registration. Little did I know that my technique of choosing schools in places I would like to go and those that I have affiliations with would actually lead to me possibly winning some money. Games are a lot more fun when money is on the line. Go Tarheels! 

IMG_6184.JPG
Relaxing Sunday evening= Backyard fires + s’mores

We stayed out late last night (aka past 10pm), so I woke up exhausted this morning. For some reason though, I thought I had plenty of energy, enough to take white lightening (my new bike) on an adventure to Winters to meet my mom and some of her friends for brunch. I went from lying on the couch in PJ’s to biking down a country road. About 20 minutes into the ride, I was questioning my spur of the moment, probably not smart decision. Once I got over that hurdle, I had a lovely ride with beautiful spring scenery. You want to know what’s not fun though? Eating fruit and toast while everyone else enjoys eggs Benedict, breakfast tacos and other delicious plates, because you are worried you might puke while biking home. Let’s just say the hour long ride back was a little slower, which gave me plenty of time to enjoy the wildflowers 🙂

IMG_6176
Luckily I remembered to take my allergy pill before the bike ride.

When I first started meal planning and prepping, every Sunday I would make a separate dish for lunch the following week. Eventually I got sick of spending 2-3 hours prepping in the kitchen on Sunday, especially when the beach was right down the road. Now I make about enough food for 8 people for Sunday dinner and use the leftovers in various ways for lunch or even dinner all week long. This saves way more time and usually money as well, because I can buy the meat and veggies in bulk. Now that grilling season is back, this method has gotten even easier. Tonight I grilled an assortment of vegetables that we can use in salads, bowls or pasta this week. I enjoy meal prepping this way, because it allows you to be more versatile with leftovers. I personally can eat the same thing day in and day out, but I understand that other people might think it’s very boring. Some of my favorite meals to make tons of on Sunday are: stuffed sweet potatoes, casserole like dishes (spaghetti squash lasagna), slow cooker meats for bowls, zucchini stuffed enchiladas, kale salads (the kale holds the dressing really well) and fajitas.

This week’s grub:

  • Sunday: Grilled veggie and feta salad + burgundy pepper pork
  • Monday: A’s Opening Day game! We are grilling burgers at the park. 
  • Tuesday: Crab cakes + salad
  • Wednesday: Garlic parmesan chicken wings + roasted broccoli & carrots
  • Thursday: Cauliflower alfredo fettuccine with kale (I’ve wanted to try this for a while, so I will let you know how the sauce turns out!)
  • Friday: Leftovers creation

Questions for you:

  1. What did you do over the weekend?
  2. Do you have a method that makes packing lunch easier for you?

 

The Weekly Grub

Monday is on the horizon and the Sunday Scaries have officially started to kick in. We had another eventful and restful weekend filled with lots of rain! On Saturday we traveled to the bay area to take our nephew to Bass Pro Shops. We were supposed to go to the zoo, but the weather had different plans for us. Live animals and taxidermy animals are pretty similar right? This was our first outing with a toddler and I am proud to report that we didn’t lose him. Actually, everything went really smoothly and we had a ton of fun! For those of you that are wondering, no this does not mean we are planning to have kids anytime soon. Today started with a long walk, meal prepping, cookie making and relaxing. Now we are hunkered down, ready to welcome the next storm with french onion soup, salad and wine.

FullSizeRender_2
Slow cooker caramelized onions ready to be turned into french onion soup

 

I believe, hands down, the hardest part about meal planning is deciding what to make. There are countless options and Pinterest is turning me into the most indecisive person in the world. “Oh that looks yummy! But wait, look at that recipe!” Given that I immensely enjoy cooking, it’s no surprise that I also like reading about cooking techniques, recipes, the newest trends, basically the whole shebang. This means, however, that my inbox is constantly full of emails with the subject line “MAKE THIS.” For a while, I tried to make multiple new recipes a week, but that turned out to be exhausting and expensive.

IMG_6008
Cookies for homemade ice cream sandwiches

The exhaustion part didn’t irritate me as much as the price of constantly trying new recipes with different ingredients. You see, I’m quite the frugal grocery shopper. I shop the ads and try to buy only what is on sale. This doesn’t mean I don’t care about the quality of what I’m purchasing. It’s actually quite the opposite. I use the ads to inform me about what high quality food I can afford that week, then plan my meals with those ingredients, instead of letting a recipe dictate what I’m purchasing. We all know how that 10+ ingredient recipes can really add up on the grocery bill. Therefore, I make a list of what’s on sale then use that to guide my recipe search, so I know I only have to buy what’s on sale.

IMG_5984
Uncle Kev and his pal

I should also note that most of the time I don’t use recipes. When I first started cooking I relied heavily on recipes, but have since learned to just do what feels and tastes good. I will look for inspiration, but usually end up making something that fits our needs and tastes. If it’s my first try making a certain recipe, like the mojo cuban pork we are trying out this week, then I look at some recipes. However, I find that I enjoy the experience most when I don’t use recipes and just let my creativity take the lead.

FullSizeRender
Goat cheese and fruit salad

On the other hand, not using recipes also makes it really easy to get in a rut. As much as we love roasted vegetables and meat, I don’t want to make it night after night. Therefore, I find that trying 1-2 new recipes a week is a good balance for me. I usually try to schedule these meals on nights that I know we don’t have much going on in case it takes longer than expected.

FullSizeRender_3
Fitting in some movement between storms

A final idea to make your meal planning easier is a method we frequently try- theme nights! Last December and January, when the winter weather began, we began doing a Tuesday Night Soup of the week. I would keep my eye out for soup recipes throughout the week, or we would simply make a soup we were craving. If you’re new to meal planning or in a recipe rut, I highly recommend setting a theme for each night to cut down the time it will take to decide what to make. Once you know what type of dish you’re making, you can look for recipes that use whatever ingredients are on sale that week. For example:

  • Sunday: Pasta
  • Monday: Meatless
  • Tuesday: Tacos
  • Wednesday: Salad
  • Thursday: Stir fry

Now, for what I know you’re really interested in- this week’s grub:

  • Sunday: Slow cooker french onion soup & salad
  • Monday: Cuban mojo marinated pork with roasted beets and carrots
  • Tuesday: Salad with leftover pork, mango, cucumber, goat cheese and onions
  • Wednesday: Pesto baked salmon and asparagus
  • Thursday: Leftovers (we have a late night flight to San Diego for a wedding for two amazing people and lots of fish tacos)

Do you have any strategies that help you find recipes? Do you have a specific search engine that you use? I’d love to hear what works for you!

The Weekly Grub

Happy Monday! Another weekend has come and gone, but that just means there are many more weekends to look forward to! We had another wonderful weekend filled with family and friends. I enjoyed my Saturday morning yoga and farmer’s market routine before we celebrated my mom’s birthday at Berryessa Brewing Company. There was a live band, games, beer and delicious barbecue food. Basically everything you need in life. On Sunday we purchased a patio table to get our backyard ready for hopefully many barbecues. We also went on a bike ride and did some meal prep to make our week smoother.

Ok, let’s get to the meal planning part. Today I am here to profess my undeniable love for the freezer to you. I think this obsession started at a young age. You see, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, so the closest grocery store was about 45 minutes away. We only went grocery shopping once or twice a month, since piling kids into the car to go to town was probably not the most fun activity for my mom. But when we shopped, oh did we shop. We piled coolers into the truck then spent hours in town filling those coolers, but always made sure to make it home before the ice cream melted. We always had an extra freezer in the laundry room that was full of meat, bread, leftovers, treats…basically anything you could freeze. It was never fun when you realized you had to get something from the bottom.

You may have noticed that a lot of the meals in my first  meal planning post included a few items from the freezer. I no longer live in the middle of nowhere. In fact, there is a grocery store less than ½ mile away that we frequently walk to. However, I still use my childhood lesson in freezer storage today. Is that bread about to go stale? Freeze it. Leftovers? Freeze ‘em. Great meat sale? Buy a ton and freeze it. Mushy avocados? Freeze ‘em. FREEZE EVERYTHING! I actually made wine ice cubes the other day, because I knew, much to Kevin’s dismay, that I wasn’t going to finish the bottle of wine. They were delicious in sparkling water. Bottom line…the freezer is your friend people, use it.

As much as the freezer does reduce food waste and helps you save money, it can be a deep dark hole. It’s very easy to forget what is in their, how long something has been in there and where it is. This is where organization comes in really handy. Here are some tried and true freezer tips and strategies:

  • Use clear storage containers to group certain items together, so you can still see through the container and take it out easily when you need to look for something. I use this method for our grain products, leftovers and meats.
  • Store things you use frequently or want to remember you have on the door. This is where I keep our veggies, fruit, homemade treats, and random bagged items like leftover sweet potato puree.
  • Store leftovers as individual servings in Tupperware containers, for easy and fast meals. I made Kevin his favorite cheeseburger pie a while ago, but he didn’t want to eat all of it as leftovers. He told me he put the last slice in a container and put it in the freezer for later. My heart skipped a beat.
  • When you freeze liquid leftovers like soups it helps if you add the contents to the Ziploc bag then lay it flat on baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer. Take it off the baking sheet once it is frozen and you have flat and skinny bags of soup that are easy to store.  The bags fit well vertically in a container.
  • Ice cube trays are a great way to keep individual servings of sauces. For example, I make big batches of pesto then freeze it in ice cube trays, so we can just grab a cube when we want to add pesto to something. I also love making huge batches of caramelized onions in the slow cooker and freezing onion ice cubes.
  • Keep a list of what you have chillin’ in the freezer. When you do your meal plan, consult the list to see what you can use from the freezer. Also, when someone tells you there’s nothing to eat in the house, tell them to go look at the freezer list. You will likely win that battle. 
  • Frequently clean your freezer. Not only does this make it nice and shiny, but it induces those “oh yeah, I forgot about this” moments.

Want to know what we are eating from the freezer this week? Here’s our plan:

  • Sunday: Spaghetti squash lasagna (sauce from freezer) + arugula salad
  • Monday: Sliders (ground beef from freezer) + avocado (freezer) + sweet potato fries (freezer)
  • Tuesday: Roasted sausages, cauliflower, mushrooms and potatoes
  • Wednesday: Blueberry, walnut and goat cheese salad
  • Thursday: Salsa chicken (from the freezer from a slow cooker meal) & veggie quesadillas (tortillas from freezer)

What do you like to freeze? I would love to hear about your freezer obsessions!