7.23.2014

A Guide to Packing Lunches & How to Avoid Smashed Sandwiches

Having grown up in a very progressive (ahem hippie) and environmentally friendly community, brown sack lunches weren't exactly the norm but we still had our fair share of disposable, plastic baggies and convenience single serving food items in our lunches. Smashed bananas and sandwiches were a right of passage every kid experienced, right up there with leaky thermoses and forgotten permission slips or library books (we didn't have homework...told you it was hippie).  These days, sack lunches (aka disposable lunches) are reserved for special occasions such as field trips and off campus events.

When packing lunch for my two to eat at school, I use Easy Lunch Boxes  - they only have two pieces (less things for them to lose!), provide great portion control and keep the foods well separated. They fit perfectly into the insulated generic lunch boxes I pick up every summer at Target (tip - buy each kid TWO identical lunch boxes in case of spills or forgotten lunch boxes for back up purposes!).  If I need to make smaller compartments, I use silicone muffin cups or the Easy Lunch Box minis which are perfect for sauces and sides.

When I do have to send a completely disposable lunch, here's a little trick I learned on Pinterest.  I wish I could remember where I saw this so I could give the original pinner credit- it's brilliant!


Take an empty berries clam shell and use it as a lunch box.  Since this will not be in an insulated lunch box, I send a frozen water bottle as an ice pack.  I line the clam shell with a napkin and put the drink(s) at the bottom then layer with the sandwich at the very top so it does not get smushed.  The berries (not my favorite choice for a disposable lunch but my son's pick) are also at the top next to the sandwich with nothing on top of them.  In today's clam shell my son received two drinks, a sandwich, a carrot, a serving a mixed berries, a fruit leather a pack of pirates booty and a granola bar.  Enough (hopefully) for morning snack and lunch.

*this is not a sponsored post.  I LOVE Easy Lunch Boxes and the opinions expressed are completely my own.  I was not compensated for this posting.

7.20.2014

Meal Planning ~ July 20

It's oddly overcast and almost humid in Los Angeles today.  Almost like "June gloom" came a month too late or autumn is trying to sneak in a few months too early.  I have a batch of Guinness braised short ribs in the slow cooker for dinner tonight which match the weather perfectly.  We're trying to capture every last bit of summer, hold on tight and not let go.  School starts up again the second week in August, it's just around the corner and I'm not ready.  Last week, we road tripped to Arizona with Matt's mom and grandparents for a four-generation desert vacation and we'll do one last summer hurrah to the beaches of Mexico with my parents the week before school starts.  This week, we're soaking up time with friends, a few more days of camp and lots poolside grilling. 


Monday - Grilled Chili Honey Lime Chicken

Tuesday - Miso Glazed Salmon

Wednesday - Spaghetti & Meatballs

Thursday - Crock Pot Thai Peanut Chicken

Friday - Hamburgers

Saturday - Sausages

Sunday - Family Night Out

with our chill, lazy schedule for the week, we might not stick to eating these exact things on the prescribed night but this is what I shopped for and I hate wasting food. Whether it's eaten on the originally planned order or not, it will be made (or frozen)... I hope.



6.23.2014

Meal Planning Monday - June 23rd

I'm a little late to the crock pot/slow cooking world.  While I have been meal planning and cooking four to five nights a week for more years than I care to count, I didn't purchase my first crock pot until after Jamie was born.  Christine, the amazing instructor of my Mommy n' Me class  asked everyone what we had for breakfast that morning (mind you it met at 11am).  Most of us shrugged and mumbled something about a quick piece of toast, cold slice of leftover pizza or handful of cereal. She reminded us the importance of eating healthy, nourishing meals and rattled off some quick, no excuse recipes that were good for us, helped with our milk supply and would eventually make a great solids for our babies. Crock-pot oats very quickly became a staple in our breakfast rotation.  Sadly for years, that was pretty much the only thing I used our crock-pot for.

Recently, Pinterest has been full clean, lean, summery crock-pot recipes.  I love how easy it is to throw some protein, seasoning and veggies in and let dinner simmer away all afternoon long.  The oven and stove stay off keeping the house nice and cool.  I try to use my crock at least once a week.  So far, all the recipes we've tried have been fabulous.  I'm hoping to keep the streak alive with tonight's tacos.

Monday - How Sweet It Is's Crockpot Short Rib Tacos
Tuesday - Disneyland if the kids aren't wiped after camp OR One Pot Pasta (thank you to everyone who shared their recipes on facebook!) if we stay home
Wednesday - One Pot Pasta or Breakfast
Thursday - potstickers, steamed rice, broccoli
Friday - salmon, grilled artichokes, couscous
Saturday - Dinner A Love Story's Turkey-Spinach Meatballs
Sunday - out

6.09.2014

Meal Planning - June 9

With one kid already on summer vacation and the other wrapping up school this week, it's it's time to transition to our summer schedule and routine...Looking forward to more grilling and crock pot meals and less time in front of the stove or turning on the oven.

Matt requested an old standby for tonight's dinner and I'm looking forward to cleaning up the dressing a little bit and trying out avocado oil instead of canola or olive oil. The salmon recipe is one we ate a few weeks back and absolutely loved.  Lastly, we'll be trying out something new from Damn Delicious. So far everything of hers has been amazing.

Monday - Chinese Chicken Salad
Tuesday - out for Matt's birthday
Wednesday - miso glazed salmon, couscous, broccoli
Thursday - Damn Delicious' BBQ Pineapple Chicken Tacos (chicken will be cooked in crockpot)
Friday - Date Night!
Saturday - TBD from the freezer
Sunday - Father's Day

5.27.2014

Meal Planning - May 26th

I hope everyone had a nice, relaxing Memorial Day weekend.  We stayed local, spending lots of time with friends and being outside. In addition to swimming and a trip to the beach, we also went to our local organic farm to pick fruit and veggies and visit the animals.  Our kids love going to Underwood and we love reminding them where their food comes from.  We find they are more likely to try something new if they harvest it and help cook it.  We came home with pickling cucumbers (anyone have a good pickle recipe?), beets, strawberries, and romaine lettuce.

My sister and mom get into town on Friday so we'll be doing some fun, touristy outings during the weekend and next week is the last week of school.  The school year has seriously flown by!

Monday - dinner at a friends
Tuesday - Miso Glazed Salmon, green beans, salad (using the romaine we got at the farm).
Wednesday - grilled turkey burgers, grilled zucchini, tomato mozzarella salad
Thursday - sausages, broccoli, quinoa
Friday - probably takeout.  Jamie has his final baseball game of the season right at dinner time (seriously, who sets the schedule???)
Saturday - Dodgers Game
Sunday - Disneyland

5.12.2014

Meal Planning ~ May 12, 2014

I hope all the mamas out there had a fantastic Mother's Day!


Matt and I got home on Friday after being in Europe for a week.  We are so fortunate that Matt's work provides him the opportunity to speak at international events and that our moms will watch the kids so I can go with him.  It's amazing how visiting other countries and exploring their markets reawakens my creativity and desire to get into the kitchen.  We ate our way thru Paris and Barcelona.  Steak frites, wine, cheese, Iberico ham, baguette, more wine, more cheese, ridiculously fresh fruit... While absolutely scrumptious, I think I ate more bread and glutenous foods during those seven days than I have in the last year.  Needless to say, I came home with a lovely "wheat belly" which needs to go away as promptly as possible.  I'm sluggish, bloated, uncomfortable and know its a direct consequence of the foods we ate.  No regrets, just time to get back on track.  At least I'm lucky enough to know what my triggers are and how to reset my system.  

Monday - Serious Eat's Toasted Sesame Ginger Salmon, roasted sprouts, tomato and burrata salad.  The kids had a little couscous for their starch/carb

Tuesday - flank steak tacos - over salad for me, with tortillas, beans and rice for Matt and the kids

Wednesday - Breakfast for dinner ~ pancakes and bacon and eggs (almond or banana protein pancakes for me, buttermilk for the kiddos)

Thursday - grilled sausages, green beans, and sauteed onions and peppers

Friday - grilled turkey burgers, artichokes and tomato & burrata salad

Saturday or Sunday - PF Chang's Style Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps (we'll eat out the other night)

Extras - chocolate chip muffins for the kids lunches/snacks
a big Waldorf inspired chicken salad for my lunches, served in lettuce wraps
sweet potato crust quiche with spinach for breakfast (trying this crust)!

4.28.2014

Meal Planning Week of April 28th

Like so many of us these days, I'm usually on my laptop or smart phone constantly, never going more than a few hours between checking email, texts, and updating social media... These past two weeks, I was forced to partially disconnect.  The kids' spring break coincided with Pesach and Jamie's birthday and my parents came to visit for nine days.  Meal plans became suggestions and and we were going with the flow.

Zoe (finally) went back to school today and I can get back to some structure.  If you haven't noticed, I'm big on schedules, planning, and routine.  I loved having my kids home for two weeks but I think we were all going a little crazy by the end.  They crave the structure and routine that we provide them just as much as I need the predictability. That said, there is only going to be a few days of "normal" this week before Matt and I leave town for a week and the kids will get spoiled by their grandmas while we're gone.  Oh well, at least I get four days of (semi) sanity.

Monday - Dinner A Love Story's turkey spinach meatballs (hopefully there will be leftovers for the kids to eat next week)

Tuesday - Taco Salad

Wednesday - Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sliders, salad

Thursday - Chicken Apple Sausages, sweet potatoes, broccoli