Meal Planning Is A Choice

Hello there.

If your anything like me you never seem to have the time to prepare a decent healthy meal. I’m so glad you came.  I remember raising my family and working full time and I was exhausted at the end of the day.  I’m sure you are too.  Well, I have good news.  It is actually easier than I thought. I only wish I started earlier but that is ok.

I would like to introduce myself.  My name is Brenda.  I was born in 1961 which makes me currently 56 years old.  When my kids were in grade school, I was a stay at home mom and was able to take the time needed to provide decent meals.  They weren’t always the healthiest, but certainly not garbage food either.  As soon as high school hit, I started working full time and my whole life changed.  I was exhausted after work so often my husband (at the time) started making the meals.  They were always delicious but rarely the healthiest.  We both gained a lot of weight.  I never complained because I certainly didn’t have the energy to start cooking after work.  I travelled a hour to work and an hour back.

Continue reading

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Carolina Barbecue Sauce

Carolina Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients

2 cup mustard

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ cup light brown sugar

1 ½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup water

4 Tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. soy sauce

4 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. liquid smoke

Preparation:

In a large pot, add granulated and brown sugar.

Next, add the chili pepper, black pepper and red pepper flakes.

Following the spices, you’ll add the yellow mustard

Finally, pour in the vinegar. You do NOT add the soy sauce, butter or liquid smoke at this time.

Mix the above ingredients well. Simmer over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

After the sauce has cooked for 30 minutes, it’s time to add the soy sauce & smoke.

You’ll also add the butter at this time.

Return to heat and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Sauce will thicken and be a sweet – spicy flavor.

Yields 4 ½ cups

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Pressure Cooker Pulled BBQ Pork

Pressure Cooker Pulled BBQ Pork

Pulled pork is a form of barbecue made from a pork shoulder (sometimes called a butt roast) or a mix of pork cuts. It is typically slow-cooked, a full 8-12 hours, using a smoker or slow-cooker so the meat becomes tender enough to be “pulled” into small pieces.

Pulled pork recipes vary greatly from one region to the next. Where some regions prefer to serve their pulled pork with a vinegar-based sauce, other areas of Canada prefer their sauce to be tomato-based. And still some areas prefer no sauce at all.

While we are certainly fans of all varieties, the one thing we dislike is waiting two days to eat! Thus, our recipe for pressure cooker pulled pork – the kind you can prepare, cook and eat in under 3 hours.

Pork Shoulder / Butt Roast

Ingredients

4-5 pound pork shoulder (butt roast)

2-3 Vidalia onions

5-6 garlic cloves (1/4 cup minced garlic)

3 cups of water

2 Tbsp. cooking oil

¼ tsp. Salt

¼ tsp. Pepper

*Note: More garlic and onions are shown than needed. Each garlic head (as shown above) will contain multiple cloves within it.

Preparation:

On the stove top, over medium-high heat, add the oil to the pressure cooker. Once the oil has heated, add the pork shoulder and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the bottom side is brown.

Using cooking tongs or grilling forks rotate the pork shoulder so that all sides brown evenly.

While the meat is cooking, peel your onions and garlic. One garlic head should contain 5-6 garlic cloves so you can buy one head and use however many cloves you get out of it as we have here.

Once peeled, slice the onions. Thickness isn’t a concern as they will break down during cooking.

Once the pork shoulder has been browned on all sides, add the onions and garlic. Add the salt, pepper and water.

Depending on the size of your pork shoulder and the pressure cooker you’re using, you may need to adjust the amount of water you use. You want enough water to cover about 1/3 – 1/2 of the pork shoulder.

Caution! Do not overfill your pressure cooker. Read the instructions that came with your model to determine how full it can be. Typically, it should be no more than 2/3 full to allow plenty of room for steam to build.

Attach the lid to your pressure cooker and bring the ingredients to a boil. Once you have a steady steam coming from the steam valve, flip the petcock closed or if yours is separate, set it on the steam valve.

At this point, you may need to reduce the heat as you don’t want it to continue to build pressure. You just want it to maintain the pressure is has.

Now it’s time to start the timer. You need to pressure the meat for about 1 hour. Remove from heat and allow it to slowly cool down and drop the pressure.

Once cooled, open the pot and drain the juices – reserving about ½ cup.

Place the meat on a platter or cooking sheet. Remove any remaining onion and garlic pieces or simply mince and add them back to the pan.

Using two forks pull the meat into shreds, discarding the bone and excess fat as you go. When finished, return the meat to the pressure cooker.

Reserve ½ cup of the Carolina BBQ sauce for those who like extra sauce on their sandwich. Pour the remaining sauce over the meat and mix well.

If the mixture seems a little dry, add some of the reserved juices to moisten.

Since the meat will have cooled while being pulled, you may want to warm it and the sauce over medium heat. Alternately, you can let it simmer over low heat until ready to serve.

Toast a dinner roll, hamburger bun or two slices of Texas toast or French bread. Heap each roll with pork. Add an extra dollop of BBQ sauce and/or coleslaw and enjoy.

Yields 8-10 sandwiches or servings 

Alternative Uses:

Pulled pork, while excellent as a sandwich, can be used in a variety of ways.

Prefer your meat sliced instead of pulled? No problem! Cut back the cooking time to 40-45 minutes and it should slice rather than shred.

Serve with or without sauce as a stand-alone meat alongside mashed potatoes and gravy.

Eliminate the sauce and create a delicious pork and apple sandwich using Swiss cheese, lettuce, sliced onions, tomato and granny smith apples.

Instead of using our Carolina BBQ sauce, try it with a Cantonese Char Siu Sauce for a sweet, savory finger-licking alternative. Serve with steamed rice. 

Using Leftovers:

Not that we expect having any leftovers, but in case you do, you can easily use the meat (with or without sauce) for making taco salads, carnitas or enchiladas. Serve over steamed rice or cooked pasta.

If you haven’t added sauce, you can make breakfast burritos, pulled pork hash, omelettes.

Create any number of casseroles from it such as a shepherd’s pie, lasagna, or put a layer of meat on the bottom of a casserole dish and top with cornbread mix or diced potatoes.

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3 Week Diet

3 Week Diet Plan

Once we get the hang of being a healthy meal planner, it can open doors to many possibilities.  It takes a lot of discipline to conquer this and stick with it.   I know for a fact that I am feeling a lot better. My routine of making my lunches and suppers a head of time, allows me to pick better choices of what I am putting in my mouth.   Click Here!

I am very slowly losing weight but I don’t exercise much.  I know I should and I probably will in the near future but for now, I am still working on my healthy meal planning.  Every one learns at a different pace.  Lately I’ve been putting a protein in my meals and vegetables but cut out the rice or potatoes.  I have always had meat and potatoes all my life and believe me, it was hard to change that but I did and now I don’t even care if I have potatoes or rice.  I am still eating them, just not everyday anymore.  So that alone made a huge difference.

A friend of mine (Courtney), is way a head of me.  She and I are trying to support each other.  It is a really good idea to have someone to help you stay on track.  She now has a very fine tuned routine with her meal planning however, she also wants to lose weight fast.

She told me about this product she bought online and that she loved it.  It came with a money back guarantee so she wasn’t worried about the investment.  She just bought it about 3 days ago and apparently you can lose between 8 – 16 pounds in 3 weeks.  She said that I should get it too.  I’m not ready yet and maybe you are not either.  However, for those of you who are doing really well and are really faithful healthy meal planners, maybe you might be interested.  I’ve put the link below.  She is going to tell me how it works for her and if you decide to try it, I’d love to hear from you too!

Any ways, anytime I hear of good products from friends or family, I’ll be sure to let you know.  If and when I do try this diet, I’ll take pictures every week to show you my results or if you are not shy, you can send them to me and I’ll put them on my site to help others who want to be healthy meal planners.  They kind of go hand in hand.  Once we get really good at meal planning, we are then in better control of what we buy and eat.

Until next time, please stay well.  If you have any questions, suggestions or tips, I’d be happy to reply.  Just leave a comment below.

Brenda

Click Here! Click here to start your 3 week diet and good luck!!

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Creamy Asparagus Pasta

 Creamy Asparagus Pasta

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 4 teaspoons mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon dried tarragon
  •  1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook till almost done about 9 mins. Add asparagus and continue cooking until the pasta and asparagus are just tender. Drain and return to the pot.
  2. Whisk milk, mustard, cornstarch, salt and lemon pepper in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for about a minute or two. Whisk in the milk mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tarragon, lemon zest and juice.
  3. Stir the sauce into the pasta-asparagus mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sauce is thick, creamy and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup Parmesan. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top with the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan.

Got this recipe from a friend online.  Made it tonight.  It is so delicious.

Enjoy

Brenda

 

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Lunches For Children

Which is Healthier for Children?

Parents in some areas of the country were surprised to learn of a new regulation when their children returned to school last year. Rather than being given the option to send their children to school with a lunch prepared at home, they were informed all children would be eating lunches prepared at school. For some, this decision has raised concerns.

What has caused some school districts to require families purchase school lunches? And is the lunch provided at the school really that much better? Below are some ideas to consider, both for and against allowing children to bring lunches from home. Continue reading

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Childrens Brain Food

Your Child Needs These 5 Brain Foods Now!

Read a lot of information about brain food.  So fascinating.  I know it is hard but as parents we have to think of creative ways to get healthy food into their bodies.

The fast paced lifestyle of today’s parents makes it difficult to find the time to think about what their children are putting into their bodies. Often breakfast is a pop-tart eaten on the way out the door, and lunch is whatever the school is serving that day.

The truth is that children have to have proper nutrition for optimal brain power. If we expect them to do their best in school, then it’s our responsibility to give them what they need to live up to our expectations. Think of it as providing the right tools for the job. Here are some key sources to achieve that goal.

Glucose

The number one necessity for the brain is glucose which comes from starches, carbohydrates, and sugar. The brain can’t store glucose so it must be replenished during the day. If you can’t get your child to brown-bag a lunch, at least send them off with a snack bag containing raw carrots, dark, whole wheat bread, walnuts, rice cakes, dried fruit or a whole grain bar. And in a note for parents, if you’re having difficulty remembering, learning new things or concentrating, you are probably depriving your brain of these vital sugars. Continue reading

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Food Containers

Kinetic 55043 22-Piece Glassworks Series Food Storage Container Set, Clear

Food containers are a huge part of your healthy meal planning. These are my favorite.

Just love the way they snap and seal.  They are perfect for fridge, freezer, oven or microwave.  Lots of different sizes to help keep your meal organised.

You’ll need them so that you can have your prepared cut vegetables, your casseroles, salads, desserts, boiled eggs, homemade dressings or anything else your creative mind comes up with.

These have really good reviews on Amazon.

  • BPA-free and FDA approved
  • Set includes 5 rectangular glass containers and 5 plastic lids: 2-14oz, 2-30oz, 1-54oz. Set includes 2 square glass containers and 2 plastic lids: 1-15oz, 1-35oz. Set includes 4 round glass containers and 4 plastic lids: 2-13oz, 2-28oz
  • Patented locking 4 tab lid with silicone seal helps food stay fresh up to three times longer
  • Oven safe up to 450-degrees Fahrenheit without the lid; microwave safe without lid attached
  • Refrigerator and freezer safe; dishwasher safe, top shelf recommended for lid

Excellent value.  Well worth the investment.

Some lesser quality plastic containers contain BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.

So now that you have your containers, your grocery list, time to hit the grocery store.  Some of us hate grocery shopping.  It isn’t my favorite thing.  The good news is because we know what we are making for a week and what we’ll have to get, we should be in and out of the store in no time!

Yes, we are making progress.

 

 

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What Is In Your Kitchen?

Open your fridge

If you’re not sure where to start with planning your meals, you can make it easy by taking stock of what is in your kitchen. Take note of everything in your pantry and refrigerator, write it down, and see what meals you can make from those ingredients.

Mother and daughter in the kitchen

This should be a good start.  You’d be surprised how many recipes you can make just by looking at the ingredients you have already in your fridge and cupboards.

What I often do is go to google, type in a few of the ingredients and voila, lots of recipes to choose from.

Try to find recipes that have most of your ingredients.  Use up as much of your food you already found.  Once that is done, make a list of all the ingredients you don’t have and need to buy at the grocery store.

If you know you will be pressed for time, try to think of meals you can make ahead of time or that can be made in the slow cooker all day while you are at work. Continue reading

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Slow Cooker

Healthy meal planners often use a slow cooker.

Here are some reasons to use a slow cooker to help you plan healthy meals.

  • You can buy less expensive cuts of meats and they will turn out tender.
  • Crock pots are cheaper to run than your oven.
  • Healthier because all the juice from your vegetable are also in the pot and not poured down the drain.
  • So easy to operate.  Put your ingredients in, set and leave it alone for a couple of hours.
  • Less heat in the summer time compared to your oven.
  • Most recipes are super tasty.
  • Clean up is a breeze.  Just let the pot soak in hot soapy water for awhile.

This is a must have in your home if you are  healthy meal planners.  There are thousands of recipes online.  Again, do a search for what you already have in stock so maybe the only thing you’ll need is the meat.

Please, leave a comment below about your awesome ideas with slow cookers or share links to recipe sites you have tried.

 

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Planning Ahead

Planning Ahead

The first thing you should decide is exactly how much meal planning you want to do, in regards to how many days or weeks to plan ahead of time. This really depends on you and a number of factors should be considered. Think about how much time you have for meal planning and prepping, how often your family likes to switch up recipes, and realistically what you can spend at the supermarket for planning these meals.

You should also consider how much room you have in your refrigerator and freezer. Planning for 3 weeks ahead of time is fine for the schedule, but you might not be buying food for this long if you don’t have somewhere to put everything.

When you are just starting out, try to plan for just one full week and see how it goes. This should include all meals and snacks your family will eat for that entire week, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts.

It includes meals you will prepare at home with leftovers, lunches your kids and you will bring to work or school, and any extra items you need, such as bringing brownies to the local potluck or any other special occasions.

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Cash Back On Your Grocery Reciept

Yes, that is right.  

Cash back from your Grocery Store

I am all about passing on information I have found to help someone else out.

Every time I go shopping I check to see on my app what I need and if that item has cash back.  If yes, I take a picture of my receipt and that is it.  The app verifies I bought that product and that is it, the app puts the money into my app account. Once it reaches $20.00, you can cash out.  Here is the website to download to your phone.

https://www.checkout51.com/

Totally Free

Enjoy

Brenda

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Let’s Begin

Meal Plan & Prep For Busy People

If you are like me and I’m sure a lot of people, you have such a busy life, that making homemade, healthy meals each day is a constant struggle. Instead of just giving in and going through the local drive-thru or ordering pizza, throwing a frozen one in the oven, why not give meal planning and meal prepping a try? Here are some things to know about each of these options to help save time, money, and still prepare healthy meals each day for your family.

Continue reading

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