Category: Organization Strategies

Organization strategies for home, work, travel, and life.

Quick Meal Prepping

Quick Meal Prepping

Quick Meal Prep
meal plans

The weeks are flying by here in the Midwest which is just fine with us. We’re loving the cooler weather which allows us to keep the windows open and have fresh air breezing through the house all day.

Of course, since I work from home I’m the one who gets to enjoy the majority of time in our new space. Everyone else is running from one activity to the next and falling asleep on the couch in the evening.

Weeknight activities on the calendar often mean we’re grabbing dinner later or we aren’t all eating at the same time. When this happens I often switch to simple meals that are easy to prep on the weekends and heat up later in the week.

Here’s My Quick Meal Prep Strategy

Step One

Take stock of your ingredients on hand. This week in addition to what is pictured I have Satay sauce in the fridge, fresh peppers, and frozen zoodles.

We always have frozen chicken breasts and ground chicken on hand as it’s the main meat we eat.

Pull out all the items you will need to touch for each meal (in this case it’s basically opening cans) and place them where you will see them.

This serves two purposes:

  • It prevents you from running to the store because you think you don’t have something
  • It reminds you to actually use the ingredients you have in your house

Step Two

Consider your options. I make Satay two different ways but they both start with cooking frozen chicken breasts in the Instantpot with some diced onion until they are ready to shred. I also know that I’m going to want to serve the Satay over brown rice for our boys who prefer that to zoodles.

I organize my meals in Plan to Eat. The search functions in this system allow me to quickly find recipes with similar ingredients. You can do the same thing in Pinterest, but I find that it’s hard to keep track of the tried and true recipes we actually like in Pinterest, so once I know we love it, I add it to Plan to Eat.

I now have a few options:

  • I can double the amount of chicken and rice for another meal this week
  • I can double the amount of chicken and rice for Satay at another time
  • I can double the amount of chicken and rice and turn it into something else for a meal later down the road

In all of these circumstances, it takes me very little additional work to double the amount of food I prepare. The clean up is the same, and I will have another meal at some point that I don’t have to make. It’s a win-win-win.

Step Three

Always account for leftovers, but always have a backup plan. With teenage sons in the house and a husband in football season, there are days when I cook what I consider a huge meal and end up making myself a salad while they polish off dinner and make themselves sandwiches.

Then there are weeks where end up with extra food in the fridge from this event or there is an activity where they also provide dinner. Thankfully, breakfast for dinner is always a hit in our house and the boys are old enough to make the pancakes if I’m not finished working for the day.

Prep Work

This week was a very simple prep week. I put chicken and onions in the Instantpot and then shredded them and divided the cooked meat in half. One container went into the fridge and the other into the freezer.

  • I cooked 2 cups of brown basmati rice and placed the rice in a glass container in the fridge.
  • I cooked the taco meat and placed in a container in the fridge
  • I also mixed up some muffins and gluten-free scones from box mixes to bake for breakfasts while waiting for the rice to cook.

Bonus Chicken and Rice options:

  • Chicken and Green Salsa bake
  • Chicken “fried” rice
  • I can use the chicken in quesadillas or in risotto
  • I can use the rice in stuffed peppers
  • I can save for another round of Satay

I’ll likely go with the first options because it’s family favorite and it uses up a bunch of ingredients I have on hand right now. But I’ll see mid-week what our food consumption is looking like before making a final decision. If I do go with the green salsa bake it’s likely to make next week’s meal rotation.

Thanks to Pampered Chef steamed veggies are the only additional prep work I’ll be doing each night as I pull dinner together. In total including clean up, this took about 90 minutes thanks to an empty dishwasher and minimal need to chop veggies.

Breaking Down the Full Menu Week 1

Saturday/Sunday: Gluten-Free Chicken sausages, pork sausages from the local butcher and brat burgers make up the protein. Mashed potatoes, salad, and steamed broccoli will round out the menu for both nights.

Monday: Gluten-Free Satay sauce, Shredded chicken breasts, brown basmati rice, zoodles, diced green peppers, chopped peanuts, pineapple, steamed broccoli. (Make Your own Bowls)

Tuesday: Tacos (Ground beef or chicken because I happened to have both) black beans, corn tortilla chips and guacamole as a side dish. Served with apple slices and plums

Wednesday: This is date night so Ordell and I will eat out. The boys eat something quick. This week it’s chicken patties and fries and probably apples.

Thursday: Leftovers were addressed above in Step Three

Friday: Game Day is always different. Usually, the boys eat something at the field with the coaches and I grab a salad at home. Sometimes they will eat something from the concessions.

Saturday/Sunday: My preference is always to head to the farmer’s market and find something fresh to create. Our market runs all year long and we are members with a local rancher so we receive a discount.

Breaking Down a Full Menu Week 2

weekly menu

This week meal prep was divided into 2 parts. When we got back from the Farmer’s Market we had breakfast sausage and pork shoulder to thaw.

Saturday morning I made Chicken and Green Salsa bake (minus 2 chicken breasts added later that evening) with leftovers from the previous week’s dinners. I also made broccoli slaw, prepped a salad, and spent a little time Clorox wiping out the fridge drawers and shelves.

Saturday evening I made a breakfast casserole for mornings this week while I was cooking the potatoes and pasta for Saturday dinner.

Once the chicken was cooled I finished compiling Tuesday’s salsa bake and placed it in the fridge along with the breakfast casserole.

Saturday: Grilled Chicken, Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese, Roasted Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli, Salad. I had Ordell Grill up several extra chicken breasts 2 for Tuesday’s dinner, and some in anticipation of having leftovers.

Sunday: Ordell smoked up a pork shoulder (pictured above) we had leftover roasted potatoes and broccoli and pineapple from satay last week. We also had broccoli slaw and baked beans.

Monday: weekend leftovers

Tuesday: Chicken and Green Salsa Bake, tortilla chips and queso. I’ve linked the original recipe that my family loves. Every time I make this skillet is slightly different depending on what I have on hand. I find this is the perfect recipe to help use up leftover ingredients.

Wednesday: leftovers for the boys and date night for us

Thursday: baked fish, broccoli, fries (I give myself a break with one boxed meal a week. My kids love these Gordon Skillet Crisps which bake up great on stoneware. I’ll make myself baked salmon (gluten-free) to have over a salad and Ordell will usually have a little of both.

NOTE: Thursday is the first meal that I’ll have to do more than pull a dish out of the fridge and heat up some veggies.

Friday: Game Day! (Homecoming)

Saturday: Grilling Burgers we picked up at the Farmer’s Market last weekend

Note: Use my Plan to Eat referral code for a discount!

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

Welcome to the Neighborhood

One of the most challenging parts of establishing yourself in a new community is making connections with doctors, insurance agencies, realtors, dentists, auto repair and more.

Of course, word of mouth is helpful in some situations, but what if the recommended people aren’t accepting new clients or your insurance doesn’t cover the care you need? Thankfully there are more and more websites set up to help you narrow down or expand your search results and gather online recommendations.

Medical Care

Here’s a great article from WebMD on how to use medical doctor rating and review sites.

They recommend 3 sites as trustworthy and I’ve included a 4th:

Healthgrades.com

At Healthgrades, better health gets a head start. We help millions of consumers each month find and schedule appointments with their provider of choice.

With our scheduling solutions and advanced analytics applications, we help our health system clients representing over 1,500 hospitals across the country to cultivate new patient relationships, improve patient access, and build customer loyalty.

RateMDs.com

RateMDs provides information, reviews and ratings on everything from the cleanliness of hospital and care center facilities, to physician knowledge, as well as giving patients the ability to share their own personal experiences.

The rating platform and doctor search allow you to locate specialists in your area and get informed through other patients’ experiences and testimonials. Whether you’re looking for a new Family Doctor, General Practitioner or you’re seeking a specialist like a Dentist or a Neurologist, we’ve got you covered.

Vitals.com

Vitals obtains information and data from a wide variety of sources both public and private. These include medical boards from all 50 states, federal websites, hospitals, doctors, surveys, business alliances, and third party affiliates.

We do not edit any of the comments or rating selections of doctors or practices. Vitals does reserve the right to remove from public posting any comments which may be deemed offensive, malicious, inappropriate, sexually explicit in nature, or not made in good faith.

CareDash.com

CareDash launched in 2016 after our CEO and Founder, Ted Chan, noticed two troubling trends: healthcare provider review sites tended to cater to and attract patients of a higher socioeconomic status and many existing sites accepted financial compensation in exchange for the removal of negative reviews.

Childcare

This is one of the biggest stressors for two-income families. Do you need before and aftercare, all-day care, or part-time in-home care? It’s challenging to know until you find a job, and then you will need something right away. Some areas have waiting lists and extremely expensive options or restrictive hours.

Some websites to search include:

Other options to consider are:

  • Call local churches and see if they have mom’s day out programs or can recommend someone
  • Contact local colleges and see if you can post a job
  • Contact home school groups and see if any high school-aged students can flex their schedules
  • See if someone is looking to do a sitter share option
  • See if you have a remote work facility with daycare
  • Call the park district and YMCA (especially for summer and before and after school care)

Drycleaners, Plumbers, and Haircare

When it comes to finding reliable care these days the best thing you can do is check customer reviews. A word of caution. If you only see glowing reviews I’d question if negative reviews are being removed somehow. It’s impossible to always satisfy every customer. At the same time, when you see a one-star review take the time to dig a little deeper.

Working in digital marketing I’ve seen time and again where a customer is angry that they didn’t get their way on a bill or they expect they should have received something for free and they retaliate by leaving a less than truthful Google Review. Hopefully, the business owner is doing their due diligence and has responded with the full truth.

Here’s a list of places to consider when looking for reviews on businesses:

  • Google My Business Page
  • Facebook Business Page
  • Yelp
  • BBB
  • Angie’s List
  • A local website that features businesses such as a macaronikid.com local site.

Apps

Have you heard of Nextdoor? This app is great for connecting with neighbors and alerting them quickly to things such as “hey we’re having a garage sale!” or “there is a random bike in my driveway” 🙂 It’s also helpful to know who lives around you when you forget that neighbor’s name again.

Need to purge or fill a house? Check out Freecycle not only is this trendy, but it will save you money and save the environment!

Kiwi allows instant online background checks.

The sooner you establish these things the quicker you will learn about your community and begin to feel your way around. You never know, you may be able to flip the script and tell someone something about a doctor or dentist yourself!

Favorite Free Resources

Favorite Free Resources

favorite free resources

I’m a sucker for a good freebie. But the thing is there are a lot of things out there that say they are free, but then you try to sign up and it turns out you are only getting a free trial. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite free resources. One note: you may need to include your email address.

Crafts:

Check out these adorable free crochet patterns at Crochet and Craft with Me. The Moss Stitch and Washcloth pattern are my favorite.

I love a quick hand embroidery project and Wild Olive has some of the most creative ones out there. She offers a monthly free pattern in both cross stitch and hand embroidery perfect for quick projects.

Wooly Simply has your beginner knitting patterns covered. Everything from scarves to hats.

Digital Marketing

Canva is my go-to for creating images for my website and social media.

Luna Pic this site is great for cropping images into circles, ovals, and other shapes

When it comes to finding stock photos that aren’t copyrighted it’s best to go to websites that are set up for just these things. Here’s a list of my favorites:

https://pixabay.com/

https://www.pexels.com/

I recently switched from MailChimp to HubSpot for Email Marketing and I’m THRILLED. You can check out my new newsletter by signing up here. While you’re there check out my freebies too!

Looking to make a video out of a blog post? Check out Lumen5

Boomerang allows you to schedule emails to send directly from Gmail. This is a great feature for you night owls who don’t want the time stamp to indicate your working hours.

Audiobooks

Christianaudio.com offers a free Audiobook every month. Some of the recent downloads have included Love Lives Here by Maria Goff and Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman.

Check out your library to see if you can access Audiobooks through the Libby App or Hoopla as well.

eBooks

Amazon isn’t the only place for free eBooks. Christianbook.com, BookBub, Free-eBooks.net are all great resources. Check with your library for access to lending through Overdrive, the Libby App and Hoopla for eBooks as well.

Calculators

Need to convert a recipe? Checking your BMI? The Handy Everyday Calculators link has everything you can think of and more. Financial calculators, Unit Conversions, and Cooking Conversions all in one link and all for free.

Bible Study Resources

There are a lot of ways to find theological opinions online, but that doesn’t mean they are all equal. A few I consistently rely on include:

She Reads Truth

IF: Equip

Bible Gateway