What Does Laura Think About the Instant Pot?

I think I might be the only person left on the planet who doesn’t have an Instant Pot. If you didn’t have one before, you surely got one for Christmas. Me though? I didn’t ask for one; didn’t get one. I’m the weirdo who still cooks everything the “old fashioned way” – in my crock pot, on my stove-top, and in my double oven.

instant pot

Am I anti-Instant Pot? Absolutely not. Research tells me they are healthy to use, and according to everyone (on the planet) who has one, they are fantastic.

So what in the world is wrong with me? Why don’t I have or even want an Instant Pot?

I liken my Instant Pot mindset to the way I feel about a Bread Machine. Great as they are, I never wanted one of those either. Why? Because I’m so used to making bread without one that I don’t have to think about how to make bread any more. I just do it. So if I got a Bread Machine, I’d have to actually read a manual and relearn how to make bread and while surely this learning curve would only take about 20 minutes, I just can’t wrap my brain around the endeavor without feeling overwhelmed.

Some things just don’t make sense, but inside my brain, it all makes perfect sense, so do try to understand. Making bread “the hard way” is easier than making bread “the easy way” because the harder way is easier for me. There. That ought to clear things right up.

I believe the same is true with the Instant Pot. I’ve heard I could cook hard boiled eggs in an Instant Pot in a shorter amount of time than it takes to boil them on the stove-top, but I’ve decided that by the time I figured out how to do it the new way, I could already have my eggs boiled and made into Deviled Eggs, amen and amen.

Perhaps I’m being dramatic. Perhaps I should just admit my abhorrence of owner’s manuals. Perhaps I’m set in my ways and I’ll turn into one of those grandmas who can’t handle change and never gives in to the latest and greatest that promises to make my life better.

Oh my goodness. It’s happened. I’ve become my grandma.

Indeed, my grandma hated air conditioning (can you imagine?) because she was so used to going without it that she didn’t know how to use the window unit her kids installed for her comfort. So she either left it off on 102 degree days, or she turned it on but still left all the windows open so the hot air had to compete with the cold air.

Heavens, what would Grandma have done if we gave her an Instant Pot?

There may be hope for me, and maybe one of these days I’ll go ahead and give an Instant Pot a try. (This one looks promising. Any thoughts? Recommendations?)

No doubt, I’ll love it once I’m used to it. I will admit that it really does sound great (owner’s manual notwithstanding). But in the meantime, I declare that the hard way is easier. If you are an Instant Pot owner, now’s your chance to talk some sense into me…

Simple Oven Fried Chicken

Oh look. It’s another post about chicken. It’s like we just can’t get enough.

fried-chicken2

My men-filled family loves fried chicken. Who doesn’t?

I used to stand at my electric skillet every couple of weeks frying a bunch of chicken legs, and I’d make a pot of mashed potatoes, use the chicken drippings to make gravy…oh I’d go all out. I did it because my family loved it and I love them.

It’s not that my family doesn’t still love fried chicken and it most certainly isn’t that I don’t still love my family. But at this point in my life, spending over an hour cooking one messy meal just isn’t something I can do. We’ve missed the fried chicken, for sure. But we all like it when Mama can use her nice words, so in a joint effort to keep me sane, no one has complained too much.

I finally decided to experiment with Oven Fried Chicken, though I didn’t see how it could possibly be as good as “actual” fried chicken. My family all agrees that it’s not...quite as good as actual fried chicken. But when the alternative is NO fried chicken, all six of us rally behind this and appreciate its simplicity and goodness.

Simple Oven Fried Chicken

Simple Oven Fried Chicken
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 8-10 bone-in chicken
  • 1 cup flour (any grain you like)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon parsley flakes
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
Instructions
  1. Place butter in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Put dish in oven as it preheats to 400 degrees. The butter will melt as the oven preheats.
  3. In the meantime, mix flour, garlic powder, salt, parsley, and paprika in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Shake to mix.
  4. Put chicken pieces into the bag, seal, and shake until the chicken is well coated.
  5. Place prepared chicken in the dish of melted butter, giving each piece plenty of space for more even cooking.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 50 minutes, turning chicken after the first 25 minutes of bake time.

simple-oven-fried-chicken

You might be wondering, as you look at the pictures above, “WHERE are the mashed potatoes??!” Where, indeed. But we went through all this a few days ago when I admitted that I’d broken up with mashed potatoes after years of happiness. We’ve agreed to remain friends, but for now, when I make this Simple Oven Fried Chicken, I stick with simple sides that take no effort. (I mean, if I don’t have time to make fried chicken, I surely don’t have time to make mashed potatoes.)

I guess it could be said that now that I’ve discovered this Oven Fried Chicken recipe, I’ve also broken up with “real” Fried Chicken. (Don’t worry Fat Bombs. I’ll love you forever. XOXO.) But at least this Oven Fried Chicken is the next best thing so we can keep our kitchen life simple and eat our chicken too.

Here are more Simple Recipes you’ll love!

Truly, all of these recipes are ridiculously easy, good, and nourishing.

If you haven’t joined Simple Meals yet, you are missing out on SIMPLE becoming even MORE SIMPLE! (It’s actually possible. I do the work for you!) Check it out here. Get an full Simple Meals Planning Packet in your inbox every single week!

728x90

The Time I Got Attacked About Mashed Potatoes

It’s funny what people will say on social media. I find it especially humorous when I say a brief statement, link to a post, then people react to my words without clicking over to actually read the post.

Here’s what I shared on Facebook a few weeks ago:

facebook-mashed-potatoes

My intent with this Facebook post was to share some ways to cut back on our time in the kitchen. To share some easy recipes to make kitchen life easier for busy families. Everyone wants to hear about this, right?

But before I knew it, people were commenting, “What’s so hard about making mashed potatoes?!” and “Sounds like someone is too lazy to do their dishes!”

Lazy. Yes, that’s definitely it.

For the record, I didn’t actually feel attacked about my mashed potatoes. The comments were barely negative and most people shared nice comments. People like to share their opinions, and sure, sometimes their words can seem to come out a little harshly. I’ve grown a thicker skin through the years. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but mashed potatoes? Naw.

One thing I learned is this: Some people truly don’t find it difficult to make mashed potatoes regularly. I think this is fantastic. Bring on the gravy.

As for me? The thought of making mashed potatoes often, during this season in my life, truly does cause me stress.

Through the years, I’ve pared back and pared back and pared back on my kitchen duties. My family eats more food than ever, and at the same time, I have less time than ever to devote to cooking and cleaning.

Making mashed potatoes truly is easy – I get that. But for me, right now, they are hard. They create more dirty dishes than I’m willing to add to my already overflowing sink. They make extra steps in putting together a meal – and seeing as we are stepping all over ourselves trying to keep up with life – they are steps I’m not able to take right now. I guess we could say that with everything else I’m juggling right now, I’m not able to also juggle a pot full of potatoes. (Go ahead though. Try and picture it.)

I can do a simple main dish along with salad and steamed veggies. That’s it, and I love it. This is easy, doable, and nourishing and doesn’t require the boiling and the mashing nor any effort on my part to keep the mixer from spraying potatoes all over my cabinets and floor. (Clean cooking is not my gift.)

Someday maybe I’ll get back on the mashed potato train. Or not. I kind of like this new “keep the meals simple and good” lifestyle. This is what Simple Meals is made of. This is why so many of us love it. (Here’s a shameless plug to say, “You should totally join Simple Meals if you haven’t already. Do that here. I’ll give you $10 off.)

I’ll save the mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. I’ll stick with baking potatoes because they are easier and less messy and more versatile.

7 Ways to Use Baked Potatoes

 

How about you? Have you given up on mashed potatoes like I have, or are you a mashed potato champion?

How I Killed Two Birds With… a Chicken?

Remember how my 3-year old used to call the “kitchen” a “chicken?” What in the world – that kid turned 17 this week. He doesn’t get his words mixed up much anymore, though at times he makes up his own words (I have no idea where he gets that). I find him to be more endearing than ever. Rest assured, he’s got the kitchen-chicken thing figured out by now.

justus31

As you all know, I enjoy the occasional opportunity to focus on chicken. (See also: God is Bigger Than a Free Range Chicken and How to Fend Off Mean Roosters.) So here I am finally with a new post about poultry.

I didn’t actually kill the two birds I’m writing about today, as the dearly beloved had already found themselves beheaded and plucked and stashed safely in the back of my freezer. The point of this post is actually to share how cooking a couple chickens to make broth ended up saving me a significant amount of time and made about six full meals for my family. Thus, I feel like I killed two birds with one stone; but what I actually did was knock out a lot of pending work with the effort I put into cooking two birds.

You see now where I got the title for this article. It’s easy to see that being clever is what I do second best after securing my family’s need for sustenance. So back to the chickens…

chicken week 1

I had two smallish birds in the freezer, so I pulled them both out and put them directly into a large pot of hot water with a bunch of vegetables. (Note: I’ve found that there is no need to thaw the chickens before making the broth. It’s all part of keeping life simple, being efficient, and killing two birds with one…well. You get it.)

The chickens and veggies and water all worked their magic for several hours on my stove until they turned into the liquid gold I’d been hoping to create. At this point I pulled all the chicken off the bones. Then I blended the mushy vegetables until they were smooth, and stirred them right back into the broth that had been created. I then tossed all the chicken bones right back into the pot with a fresh batch of water and vegetables to make another round of broth. (We call this getting the most out of your chicken bones, or rather, killing more, or perhaps fewer, birds with two birds. Try to keep up.)

When all was said and done, I had three gallons of rich chicken broth, which, if I do it right, will make 5-6 meals for my family or to share with others as the needs arise. In addition, I had a 9×13 dish full of cooked chicken to use in those meals or in others.

chicken week 3

I guess we could say I killed more than 2 birds with my birds, seeing as I had more than 2 meal options available to me after my broth making efforts.

A couple days later I cooked rice directly in some of the broth (to give it great nourishment and flavor!) and stirred together a big dish of Cheesy Chicken and Rice. I used the remaining cooked chicken to make a pot of Shredded BBQ Chicken (which is seriously as easy as dumping bbq sauce into the cooked chicken and stirring it – let’s not make life hard).

potato_soup

With the rest of the broth, I will make batches of Potato Soup, Chicken Soup with a Kick, and 20-Minute Taco Soup.

So cook yourself a couple of chickens to make broth, then use the broth and chicken to make a handful of other great dishes for your family. You, too, can kill a lot of work with a couple of birds and have a whole lot of meals to enjoy with your family.

At this point I’m wondering why I don’t have an entire category on my site dedicated entirely to Chicken. (See also: On Thursday I Killed the Chicken and Chickens and Cowboys.)

cowboys

This was taken six years ago when Malachi was only six
and I was still in my 30’s. What in the world?

What are your favorite dishes to make with broth and chicken?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hey! Lilla Rose is running a 41 hour sale. Check it out here!

41hoursale_1 (2)

20% – 40% Off Select Limited Releases and
Free Shipping for Retail orders over $60!

Offer Ends Friday February 17th at 11:59PM (midnight) Pacific

Care to Know How Often I Wash My Hair? (Plus win a $50 Lilla Rose Gift Certificate!)

I’m sure you’ve all been wondering how often I wash my hair. Just like you’re surely curious the frequency of how often I pull out a fresh tablecloth or shake out my bathroom rugs.

No? Don’t really care that much? I don’t blame you in the least. But I do feel it’s worth mentioning that I’ve trained my hair to need very infrequent washings.

laura4

 

Photo credit to my oldest son, Asa. For the record, he took this on a day I washed my hair. :)

Certainly no head is created equal, so what works for me may not work for you. I’m just happy to have developed a lower maintenance hair lifestyle. I mean, back when I washed my hair every day, my hair thought it needed to be washed every day. Or, is it possible that I just thought it needed to be washed every day but it really didn’t? Maybe I was just in the habit of washing it every single morning without even considering the need to actually do that.

Either way, as the years have gone on, I’ve either gotten lazier or I’ve started to actually pay attention to what my hair actually needs. As it turns out, my hair doesn’t need to be washed every day. It doesn’t even need it every other day. My hair stays nice and healthy when I wash it just twice each week.

lilla_rose

Lazy or not, it sure is nice not to have to mess with washing, drying, and curling every day. I’ve said it many times before, and I don’t mind saying it again that I don’t know what I’d do without my pretty Flexi-Clips. I wash, dry, and curl my hair on Sundays for church. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I simply pull my curls back into a Flexi. My hair isn’t anything fancy, and sure, the curls begin to flatten after that many days and nights of living life and sleeping. But my Flexi-Clips make it easy to pull my hair back in about 10 seconds. I get compliments on my clips all the time! It has nothing to do with my hair. The Flexis are just that cute!

What I love best about the Flexi-Clips is that I believe they help keep my hair healthier. They don’t break my hair like rubber bands did. They don’t pull my hair like rubber bands did. And unlike rubber bands, which stretch out and need to be thrown out after just a few uses, Flexi-Clips last forever!

lilla_rose_1

So there you have it. My hair-fixing life consists of infrequent washings, Sunday only curlings, and practically every day Flexi-Clip wearings. After so many years of Flexis, I have a fun little collection so I can match them to my outfits or moods.

Want to start (or add to) your own collection? Paula, our very own Lilla Rose consultant, is giving one of you a $50 gift certificate! Think of all the Flexi-Clips! And of course, they have Bobby Pins (which I also love) and other accessories too.

Sign up in the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win the gift certificate! I’ll draw a random winner on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Watch for an email announcing the winner that I’ll send to everyone who signs up.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Peanut Butter Muffins (Naturally Gluten, Grain, and Dairy Free!)

Once there was a girl who hadn’t eaten a sandwich in a very long time. Then she finally found a recipe for bread that met her low carb-high protein needs. So she tried making a sandwich with the special bread, and it worked. It made her very happy because chicken, mayo, and spinach inside a bun are so delicious and normal.

You, too, can be this girl. Check out the fancy sandwich!

pb muffin sandwich1

Be very impressed, even if you are still among the many who can eat a “real sandwich” with “real bread.” Those of us who are frequently sandwichless feel so excited about this bread-making breakthrough!

For the record, my natural doctor thinks she is getting to the bottom of why my body can’t handle many carbs without experiencing a major crash. It’s still going to take some time to heal my cells and clear out the bad bacteria, but she gives me hope that I will be normal again. Normal is relative, so let’s not even start making jokes about that. I’m very well aware of and heartily embrace my cRaZy.

peanut butter muffins21

Aren’t these the prettiest buns you’ve ever seen? (Many jokes. We could make so many jokes about that sentence.)

Hopefully you tried this Peanut Bread Recipe I shared a couple weeks ago. How fun that the batter that recipe creates also bakes into such light, fluffy, golden muffins.

peanut butter muffins11

I’m excited to share that my “real bread” eating family loves this bread right along with me. It’s a great way to feed us all protein! My boys really like loading these with butter and honey or jelly. It’s the greatest way to eat PB&J!

Peanut Butter Muffins (Naturally Gluten, Grain, and Dairy Free)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Peanut Butter Muffins (Naturally Gluten, Grain, and Dairy Free!)
 
Author:
Serves: 12-18
Ingredients
  • 2 cups natural, unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Pinch of sea salt (omit if your peanut butter is salted)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a blender or with a hand mixer.
  2. Pour batter into 12 prepared muffin tins (either well greased tins, paper-lined, or silicone).
  3. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean.

Peanut Butter Muffins - naturally gluten, grain, and dairy free

This is the peanut butter recipe I use for this bread.

If you’re more interested in making a loaf of bread with this recipe, you’ll find those instructions here.

pb bread12

Let me remind you that this recipe is not only for people who have dietary restrictions. I like feeding this to my family because of the high protein content. It’s a great way to start the day, and because it is so filling, it sticks with us the entire morning!

I’m very curious, when’s the last time you ate a sandwich? (I think it had been two years for me…unless you count the lettuce wraps I’ve enjoyed!) If you, too, have been sandwichless, you will so enjoy this recipe!

How I Much I’ve Spent on Groceries So Far in February (and What I Bought)

I promised I’d share all my grocery purchases with you in February, so here goes! Now you can see everything I buy that fills up my great big grocery budget. Don’t forget who I’m feeding though. We sure do love us a lot of good food.

family-sillysm

The month started off with a big (expensive) bang because I had appointments in Lincoln on Feb. 1. So I hit my favorite city stores and stocked up since I don’t go there very often.

I went to Aldi and Fresh Thyme Market, both of which are such fun places to shop! (My hometown only has one kind-of-pricey-in-my-opinion local store and a Super Walmart.)

Two things about my Aldi trip this time around:

  1. There are four items I love buying there, so I always get at least an entire case of each every time I’m there since I don’t get to go to Aldi very often. You’ll see in the pic below that I bought a case of organic salsa, a case of organic black beans, a case of organic spaghetti sauce…and you can’t see it but I also bought a case of cream cheese.
  2. Our church was hosting a big youth rally that weekend, and we had signed up to house 13 teenage boys Friday and Saturday nights. I know from experience to have a LOT of food on hand for snacks (even though they eat their main meals at the church building on Saturday). I bought six take-and-bake pizzas for the weekend (for only $5 each!), a case of juice (a fun splurge), a few boxes of granola bars, plus some tortillas and shredded cheese so I could make a big breakfast burrito bar for all the teens Sunday morning before church. Sooooo, if you see items in the picture that shock you (junkie pizzas and store-bought white tortillas?? what??) that’s why. :)

groceries feb 172

As you can see from the pictures, I combined my Aldi purchases with my Fresh Thyme Market purchases. I bought a lot of produce at Fresh Thyme Market, and their coffee was on sale, so I stocked up. (Jamaican Blue Mountain – my favorite from FTM).)

groceries feb171

Here’s the itemized breakdown of my shopping trip:

Aldi, Feb. 1

12 cans organic black beans $9.48
24 packages cream cheese $30.96
12 jars organic pasta sauce $23.88
Snacks for youth rally (granola bars/crackers) $5.36
Juice bottles for youth rally $9.99
2 packages tortillas for youth rally $3.38
6 pizzas for youth rally $30.94
16 jars organic salsa $30.24
2 jars banana peppers $2.98
3 boxes applesauce pouches (for Asa to keep in the dorm for a quick snack) $5.67

Total: 152.88

Fresh Thyme Market, Feb. 1

6 packages coffee $29.94
1 package pepper jack cheese (to surprise Justus) $3.33
6 packages shredded cheese for youth rally breakfast burritos (BOGO deal) $8.97
8 pounds butter $20.00
Case of sparkling water (my fizzy treat!) $3.99
2 pounds strawberries $5.00
5 pounds carrots $2.99
1 pound baby carrots for youth rally $1.50
1.64 pounds Broccoli $1.62
5 pounds Gala Apples for our family and for the youth rally $5.26
4 avocados $2.00
2 pints organic grape tomatoes $3.00
2 red peppers $1.98
2.49 pound red grapes for our family and for the youth rally $2.47
5.82 pounds bananas for our family and for the youth rally $3.43

Total: $95.48

A note on why I spend extra and compromise on nutrition by buying processed food when we host a houseful of teenage boys during the youth rally:

  • Last year during youth rally weekend, I got eight hours of sleep – total – during the entire weekend. I know I have to be very careful about what I take on so I don’t overdo and wear myself out.
  • We go through a high volume of food, and I don’t have time/energy to make everything homemade. (Roll out and cook enough tortillas to feed 13 teenage boys breakfast burritos on a Sunday morning? I don’t think so.)
  • They don’t care if it’s homemade. They eat it as fast as we can crank it out.
  • We have relationships with most of these boys because of our time spent with them at church camp each summer. If I’m distracted with intense cooking, I miss out on more important relationship-building time with them.

Moving on beyond the weekend (in which I got a total of 12 hours of sleep – a big improvement over last year!)…

A few days later, Matt had to run to Wal-Mart so while he was there he picked up containers of organic spinach and organic mixed greens. We try to keep these on hand at all times so we can eat salads every day.

groceries feb 173

Walmart, Feb. 6

16-ounces Organic mixed greens $5.98
5-ounces Organic baby spinach $3.46

Total: $9.44

Once each month, we order from Azure Standard, a great food co-op based out of Oregon. Pick-up day was Tuesday, and here’s what we got:

azure order feb17

Azure, Feb. 7

5 pounds organic carrots $4.00
3 pounds organic onions $3.25
10 pounds organic frozen green beans $21.90
10 pounds organic frozen peas $22.25
50 pounds organic golden potatoes $45.00
5 pounds dry roasted peanuts $13.15

$109.55 + $9.31 shipping -$25 credit

Total: $93.86

Wednesday we were almost out of fresh fruit, so I made a list of items I could price-match, and headed to Walmart.

Note: I also needed a few ingredients to complete meals I was making to take to a family who just had a new baby and to take to our local rescue mission.

groceries feb 174

Walmart, Feb 8

3 jars pizza sauce (for the mission meal) $3.42
1/2 gallon half-n-half $3.98
1.91 pounds bananas $1.05
1.65 pounds broccoli (for the mission meal) $2.87
14 ounces Hormel Naturals smoked turkey (to pack sandwiches for our basketball games over the weekend) $5.76
2 cans natural olives $4.52
Sour cream $3.94
2 pounds hamburger meat (to make burritos for the new parents) $4.16
16 pack tortillas (to make burritos for the new parents) $4.58
7.65 pounds of red grapes (pricematched at $0.97/pound – some for the mission, some for our family) $7.43
3 pounds strawberries (pricematched at $1.79 each) $5.37
2 pints blueberries (pricematched at $2.00 each) $4.00
6 ounces raspberries (pricematched) $2.00
Grape tomatoes (pricematched) $0.97
6 pounds clementines (pricematched at $2.49/package) $4.98
2.97 pounds gala apples (pricematched at $0.88/pound) $2.61
3 pounds bartlett pears (pricematched at $0.97/pound) $2.91

Total: $64.55

If I’ve done my math correctly (don’t hold your breath), so far this month we’ve spent $416.21 + $108 average for our bulk meat we buy once per year = $524.21.

Price-matching saves us a great deal of money since locally my best option is to shop Walmart. (I’d heard a rumor that price-matching was going away, but a friend who works at Wal-mart told me that nope, it’s still alive and kicking!) Do you price, or do you live close to stores with good sale prices?

I have to go back to Lincoln for another appointment this week, so I’ll get to go to Fresh Thyme Market and Aldi again. It’s rare for me to make it there twice in one month!

One would think after looking at the pictures of all the food I bought during the first 8 days of the month that we’d have enough to last us a while. Yep, one would think. :)

Watch for another post later in February sharing an update of our spending. Can I stay within budget? Maybe even come under budget a little? This all remains to be seen. :)

How’s your grocery budget coming along so far this month?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Quick reminder: The awesome MELT Massage discount offer ends Feb. 14. This is a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for you and your honey to enjoy together forever. LOVE IT!! Get the details here.

The Simple Meals Our Family Has Been Eating This Week, Part 2

I’m assuming you downloaded your FREE Simple Meals Planning Packet this week? It is free, after all. Go get yours!

I posted earlier this week about how I’ve been using this week’s Simple Meals menu to easily get food on the table for my family. As it turns out, I used half the plan last week and am finishing it up this week. (Perks of being the one who creates the menu plans – I got to start using it ahead of time!) If you missed it, check out this post which shares pictures of the first few meals in the plan.

Here we go with Days 5 and 6 of following the Simple Meals plan!

Day 5: Crock Pot NightSimple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast

To kick-start a new week, on Sunday night, right before I headed to bed, I put together the Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast. For the record, if you forget to start that recipe at night before bed (because at the end of the day, some of us who shall remain nameless might be too tired to remember to execute good plans like this), you can always start it early in the morning to have it ready in the evening in time for dinner.

I was very proud of myself for remembering to start the roast on Sunday night, and woke up the next morning to the delicious smell of our lunch. I turned the crock pot to “keep warm” setting and at lunch time I stir-fried some veggies to go with our meal. (We have been having our main meals at lunchtime lately because it’s working better with our busy evening activities schedule.)

sm feb6

I got this fun note from Susan last week about the Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast recipe and wanted to share!

Thank you so much for sharing this common recipe. I mean, who hasn’t already made a roast in the crockpot before? But your tips were amazing. And I didn’t know I could put it in the crock without first browning it in a pan (this always felt like so much trouble, and would discourage me from making this dish when I was in a hurry). And Frozen!  Are you kidding me? Well – I did it – just like you suggested. Cooked on low for 12 hours, and it was the best tasting, most tender roast beef I’ve ever made. Oh, and I cooked carrots in the bottom, and their flavor was wonderful. Thank you again.

Fun, huh? Thanks, Susan. This is what Simple Meals is all about!

Day 6: No Trouble NightSimple Pizza Chicken Bake

The final meal on this week’s Simple Meals menu was Simple Pizza Chicken Bake. I could go on and on about how easy this recipe is to make and how very delicious it is to eat. I served it with green beans and tossed salad, so as always, this went on the table very quickly.

sm feb 7

Hopefully you enjoyed the free Simple Meals Planning Packet!

I’d love all of you to take advantage of the Simple Meals Subscription offer! Just think. A complete menu plan and grocery list will land in your inbox every single week, along with a bunch of bonus tips and recipes. Your small investment (which we promise to make very, very worth it) will save you so much time, energy, and money every week! You won’t have to think about what to cook. Bliss. And the meal suggestions are incredibly simple, yet detailed to make everything easy for you.

Don’t forget there’s a $10 off coupon waiting for you here, plus over $60 worth of freebies that are yours after your purchase. That means you get more in freebies than the cost of your entire yearly subscription. Score!

Simple Meals is a ridiculously good offer. (We made it super affordable for all! Less than $1 per week!) Can’t wait to have you join us!

Join Simple Meals Here.

Psst! MadeOn is Giving Away Free Stuff This Month!

10-Lip-Balm-U-Pick-2

I’ll try to keep you posted on the details this week, because as much as I love MadeOn products, I love them even more when I get free goodies when I purchase!

This week (Feb 8-14), we can all get a free Mint Chip lip balm with our order. Add the lip balm to cart, apply code “mintchip” at check out, and it’s free. (retail $5.50) Expires 2/14/17

Their BeeSilk Hard Lotion and all their Lip Balms are my very favorite, so to get a free one is a great perk!

There’s no minimum order requirement to get your freebie!!!! However, shipping is free on orders over $45, so that’s an additional perk if you use this opportunity to stock up on all your MadeOn favorites. (I keep a supply of lotion bars and lip balms on hand at all times because our entire family uses them!)

Go grab your free Mint Chip Lip Balm here!

This post contains my affiliate links.

The Simple Meals Our Family Has Been Eating This Week, Part 1

Ready to see how our family has been using Simple Meals this week to eat well and save time?

I’m pretty sure that when you look at these pictures of our meals, you’ll say, “Hm. That’s it?” and the answer is, “Yep. Pretty much.” (That’s why it’s called simple.)

So first things first, did you download your FREE Simple Meals Planning Packet this week? I’m throwing them out to everyone, just this once. Go get yours and use it to put great, real food meals on the table while enjoying more family time!

I cheated just a little bit and started using this menu plan last week. That has made it a little easier to pictures to share with you this week. So once I had the entire packet completed and ready to send to our Simple Meals subscribers, I printed off the Simple Meal Plan page.

smfaeb3

I looked at the menu options, I looked at my calendar, and I started to figure out which meal would be best for each day of the week. I know the picture of the document is a little hard to see, so let me type out the headings on the plan. This is what every Simple Meals plan includes, and it is my favorite feature!!

  • No Thaw Night
  • Crock Pot Night
  • Make-Ahead Night
  • No Trouble Night
  • Build it Yourself Night
  • Savor it Night

See why I love this? I can look ahead at my week and see the days I will likely be very limited on time. I’ll select those days for the “No Thaw” or “No Trouble” option. We only had one day we were planning to be home all day, so I chose that day for our “Savor it” meal.

Two Things:

  1. I needed to keep the meal plan flexible, so I only penciled in a day of the week for each meal so I could switch it out if I needed to.
  2. I made most of these meals at lunchtime instead of in the evening. We had a busier-than-normal week, and all of our evenings were spent away from home. Therefore, I made our main meals at lunchtime; then at dinner time we warmed up leftovers or threw together something fast before running out the door (and usually ate more late at night when we got home, because we eat all the live-long day.)

Here’s what I’ve captured on camera so far. I’ll share about the other two meals later this week!

Day 1: Make-Ahead Night: Taco Rice Dinner

I doubled this recipe, and while I hadn’t had time to make it ahead, I did make it in the morning while we were eating breakfast. That way all I had to do at meal time was rewarm it. As you can see, I cut up a cantaloupe and threw out our containers of spinach and mixed greens, along with a jar of Homemade Ranch Dressing. Boom. The meal is served.

P.S. I followed the advice in the Simple Meals Bonus Tips section which suggested that while I cooked the ground beef for this meal I should also cook the ground beef for Simple Skillet Taco Pasta. That worked great, and I transferred that cooked meat to the fridge for our “Savor It” day.

simple meals feb1

Day 2: No Thaw Night: Last Minute Lentil Chili

The following day, we had plans to help our disabled friend move across town to a different apartment. Plus we had basketball games that evening. Knowing we would be gone most of the day, I made a pot of Last Minute Lentil Chili in the morning before we left. I was SO glad I did! We weren’t able to stop for a lunch break until almost 2:00 and we didn’t have much time to eat. We ran home for a quick bite, inviting our new friends we’d met who were also helping with the move. I warmed up the chili and yesterday’s Taco Rice Dinner leftovers (since we had extras to feed). We quickly opened a can of chilled pineapple and a can of olives and called it a meal. It wasn’t fancy, but we were too hungry to care. :)

simple meals feb 2

Day 3: Savor It Night: Simple Skillet Taco Pasta

How fun that I ended up making this the day Asa, our college son, showed up at the house needing to pick up a few things! He hadn’t eaten yet, so he got to sit down with us and “savor” the meal. Of course, we got to savor time with him, a win-win.

This meal was very easy to put together because I’d already cooked the meat earlier in the week when I’d made the Taco Rice Dinner. I steamed some green beans, then washed and capped some strawberries. Simple and delicious!

P.S. Had I known Asa was going to come for lunch, I would have doubled this. ;) As it turned out, I just skipped it and ate something else so there would be plenty for the fam. I don’t eat much pasta anyway. :)

simple meals feb3

Day 4: Build it Yourself Night: Chef Salads

This is the day we were getting our house ready to host a bunch of teenage boys over the weekend for our annual church youth rally. I didn’t have time to cook, but I did want to get some good nourishment in all of us as I knew we’d be eating a lot of compromise food over the weekend. It was the perfect day for everyone to build their own chef salads!

Thankfully, I already had some bacon bits made and cheese shredded. I got out the mixed greens and spinach, sliced some red pepper, washed tomatoes, and got out the Ranch Dressing (then made more since I saw we were almost out!). I washed and capped some strawberries and called everyone in to build a salad for lunch. Easy, delicious, nourishing, simple!

simple meals feb4

 

Stay tuned for how I used the rest of the Simple Meals plan. Be sure to get your FREE plan here!

Did you download yours? How’s it been going as you put it to use?