Menu Plan For the Week (Have I Told You How Much I Love Food?)

We were in the kitchen putting dirty dishes into the dishwasher together after lunch.  As is common after a meal, we were all discussing what we needed to do the rest of the day and how it was all going to get done.  Beyond our normal “at home” work, we had two outside commitments to keep: 1) Pick up our food co-op order and 2) Elias, age 12, had soccer practice in the evening.

When Elias realized he may be at soccer practice when the Azure order was brought into the house, without thinking he said, “Wait.  Can you maybe not put it away until after I get home so I can look at it first?”  Quickly, he grinned at himself for requesting something so silly.

I think this kid is a lot like his mama.  There is nothin’ silly about wanting to stare at food.  Right?  Right???

I see food and I’m like, “Oh my goodness!  Look at the beautiful green beans and all the deliciously juicy grilled meat!  The canned peaches are sooooo pretty and see these great potatoes that I just got at the farmer’s market?!”  But then there are those of you who are like, “there. is. a. watermelon. and. some. other. food. please. pass. the. salt.”  Do you mean to tell me I haven’t yet convinced you all of the joy of staring at food?  I’ll keep trying.

anniversary trip 144


Well anyway, it seems that Elias and I are very similar when it comes to our love of food.  He loves going to the grocery store with me – just to look at all the food (and, of course, to smell the pineapple’s bottom).  He loves seeing our Azure orders and our Amazon Subscribe and Save orders come in.  He likes looking into the pantry to see all the goodies.  He loves looking through cookbooks to get new ideas.  He loves chocolate and desserts.  Hopefully, eventually, he’ll love eating vegetables.  We’re working on that one.

So…food.  This time of year is so rockin’ with all of the amazing FOOOOOOOOD!!!!!!!!!!  Who’s with me on this?  Peaches and nectarines dripping with sweet juice.  Sweet corn dripping with butter.  Watermelon dripping down my chin.  I’m not ashamed.  I love this time of year. 

We got home from our anniversary trip and had to get to work right away putting up fresh garden produce.  It’s hard work!  But the bounty and the goodness of this food?!  There’s so much to be grateful for.  We’ve been picking, snapping, blanching, and freezing (or eating!) green beans.  We found a great price on sweet corn (see beautiful picture above) and got several dozen shucked, blanched, cut off the cob, and frozen.  This week, we’ll be making fresh salsa with tomatoes and peppers from our garden.  We’re frying okra from our garden and eating it like it’s candy.

Meat off the grill with all these fresh fruits and vegetables on our table?  Well, it is just incredible.

I’ll take the hard work.  I’ll step around overflowing compost buckets and stand over a steaming pot of boiling water in a hot kitchen.  Then Elias and I will stare at it all and imagine how great it will be this winter when we can pull this goodness out of our pantry and out of our freezer to eat.

Having said all of that, you can imagine how much fun I have making a meal plan this time of year.  With all the fresh variety available - healthy menu planning is awesome.

Speaking of menu planning, I’ll let you in on a little secret.  This weekend, we finished a project we’ve been working on!  Watch for details of how you can get this resource for free.  :)

123 Meal Planning Cover sm

Here’s our menu for this week.  (Won’t that food be fun to look at??!!?!)

Sunday, August 17
Creamy orange cooler, granola, blueberries
Italian cream cheese chicken, tossed salad, cherry tomatoes, green beans
Grilled burgers, tomatoes, lettuce, homemade pickles, watermelon

Monday, August 18
Green machine milkshakes, giant breakfast cookies, raspberries
Pasta salad bar, cantaloupe
Grilled barbeque chicken, corn on the cob, fried okra, peas, grapes

Tuesday, August 19
Crock pot breakfast casserole, nectarines
Hamburger sauerkraut dip with tortilla chips, cherries, kiwi
Grilled Italian chicken, baked potatoes in the crock pot, green beans, tossed salad

Wednesday, August 20
Pancake and sausage muffins, cantaloupe
Spanish rice with taco meat, spicy avocado dip, fresh pineapple
BLT wraps, sweet peppers, carrot sticks, strawberries

Thursday, August 21
Pineapple mango smoothies, fried eggs
Black bean chicken nachos, olives, pineapple
Beefy enchilada bake, tossed salad, strawberry/peach/apple fruit salad

Friday, August 22
Instant oatmeal packets, blueberries and strawberries
Cheddar ranch burgers, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, watermelon
Chicken salad with crispy cheese crackers, sweet peppers, honey glazed carrots, peaches

Saturday, August 23
Cheesy scrambled eggs, strawberry-peach-orange smoothies
Taco salad, nectarines

I’ve asked before but I’ll ask again:  Who likes staring at food?

Menu Plan for the Week

Menu planning in the summer is so much fun for me!  Winter is fun too, with soups and such.  But summer?!  With all the fresh produce available?  Mmmmm, I love this time of year.  Bring on the watermelon, corn on the cob, nectarines and peaches, strawberries, tomatoes….

Sunday, August 10
Creamy orange cooler, toast
Pasta salad bar with lots of chopped veggies, cantaloupe
BLT wraps, watermelon, fried okra, carrot sticks

Monday, August 11
Chocolate chocolate chip muffins, sausage, strawberries
Sloppy cornbread muffins, cucumbers and carrots with ranch, nectarines
Grilled barbeque chicken, tossed greens, tomatoes, corn on the cob, zucchini

Tuesday, August 12
Crepes with cream cheese filling, strawberries and blueberries
Turkey ranch pinwheels, fruit and kefir smoothies
Cheeseburger macaroni, tossed salad, green beans

Wednesday, August 13
Cereal, fruit
Scrambled egg sandwiches, peas, nectarines
Cheesy beef and rice, green beans, zucchini, tossed salad

Thursday, August 14
Green machine milkshakes, scrambled eggs, toast
Pizza boats, carrots, cherries, sweet peppers, olives
Popcorn chicken, cheesy cauliflower cakes, green beans, watermelon

Friday, August 15
Fried eggs, hashbrowns, peaches
Black bean chicken nachos, grapes
Grilled burgers, lettuce and tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini

Saturday, August 16
Whole wheat donuts, raspberries
Chicken patty sandwiches, tomatoes, broccoli salad, cantaloupe

What fun summer foods are you enjoying?

Menu Plan for the Week ~ The Boys Are Back in Town

After a very busy and full three months of travel, mission trips, family reunions, and church camps – our family is all home and back together again.  We have loved all the great experiences we’ve had all summer, especially loving that our boys have had such rich times of spiritual growth at church camp.  We also really loved seeing family we don’t get to see very often.  But being home together again and settling into a routine?  We are so thankful!

I counted.  In all 31 days of July, I was home only 7 days.  And those 7 little days I was home?  I was only able to do bare minimum, like laundry and packing for the next trip.  Phew!  My house is dirty.  My computer work is backed up.  I don’t even know what’s in the back of my fridge.  No matter.  I’m refreshed and ready to settle back into home and work life again.

Also?  I’ve missed you.  I really needed the computer break.  I needed the break from writing day after day.  I needed to step away from all the work it takes to keep up with this blog.  Now that I’ve had this time of refreshment and break from the norm, I am so ready to sit here with you, sharing what I’ve learned, hearing about your experiences, and serving alongside you as we create heavenly homes and love our families together.

So, hi!  I’m back.  Praise God for how He works and the opportunities He provides to give us just what we need.  I hope your summer has been full of God and the perfect lessons He teaches as we seek His will.

Fresh Peaches

Our peach trees are giving us all kinds of delicious fruit right now.
What a great treat to come home to!

In other news:  As of today, I am 41 years old.  It’s been a fun, happy birthday so far with all my men spoiling me.  I look forward to celebrating my birthday with you, too.  Watch for fun sales starting tonight!

Fresh Peaches 2

Fresh banana bread and sliced peaches right off the tree?  Perfection.

Now how about a menu plan?  I haven’t written one for the past few weeks, so here’s hoping I still remember how.  After all, all the boys are back home, and a couple of them grew several inches during the summer.  I’m getting shorter and shorter all the time in this family of growing boys.  People who haven’t seen them for a few weeks have commented that they didn’t even recognize them at first.  Seriously, these teenage boy growth spurts are nuts.  Wow, I love these kids – and their appetites.

pasta salad bar 3

Have you tried this great Pasta Salad Bar idea yet?  What are you waiting for?!

Here’s this week’s menu plan:

Sunday, August 3 (Happy Birthday to me)
Banana bread, strawberries
Out to lunch for a birthday treat
Shrimp and veggie stir-fry with asparagus, broccoli, yellow squash, carrots, and zucchini; watermelon

Monday, August 4 (We start our school year today)
Whole wheat waffles, strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream
Meat and cheese burritos, sweet peppers, olives, pineapple mango smoothies (with spinach blended in)
Italian cream cheese chicken, tossed salad, asparagus

Tuesday, August 5
Honey cinnamon muffins, scrambled eggs, raspberries
Chef salad, banana bread, watermelon
Grilled barbeque chicken, corn on the cob, garden green beans, fried zucchini

Wednesday, August 6
Cream cheese filled crepes, fresh berries
Baked potatoes in the crock pot topped with ham, cheese, sour cream, and peas; cantaloupe
Burgers on the grill, zucchini-cheese casserole, tomatoes, pickles, honey dew melon

Thursday, August 7
Fried eggs, sausage, cantaloupe, blueberries
Baked beans with hot dogs, strawberry peach slushies, carrots and cucumbers with homemade ranch
Lamb chops, cheesy cauliflower cakes, tossed salad, green beans

Friday, August 8
Raspberry oatmeal bars, applesauce, cheese
Pasta salad bar with lots of veggies, watermelon
Chicken veggie quesadillas, tossed salad, cantaloupe

Saturday, August 9
Scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, creamy orange cooler with spinach blended in
Salmon patties, tossed salad, sweet peppers, cucumbers, strawberries with chocolate cream

What’s on your menu this week?  Have any fun plans?

A Very Manly Menu Plan


Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole (recipe in Healthy Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook)

For the first time in a couple of months, the six of us are all been home together again!  All four of the boys are now home from camp.  We’ve enjoyed some catch up time and heard lots of stories of adventures from the boys being away.  We’re doing tons of loads of laundry and getting caught up on work we are behind on.  I can’t tell you how nice it is to have all of us back under one roof, even if it is just for a couple of days.

So what does this week hold?  Well, since this is the summer of crazy, you can bet it holds more excitement.  I’m heading out tomorrow for a traditional “Sister Symposium.”  (More on that for Gratituesday.)  Then the two younger boys will be heading to Kansas to spend several days with grandparents.  Left at home will be Matt and our two oldest boys.

Since Asa and Justus have been at camps for weeks and weeks this summer, they’ll likely be spending quite a bit of time this week catching up on sleep.  They’ll work with Matt on some house and garden projects.  And what will they eat?

Well, I’m guessing they’d be just as happy as can be if I simply left them several pounds of bacon and some steak.  :)  For the most part, they’ll be fending for them selves.  But I did have the chance to do some freezer cooking in preparation for my being away.  Here are some food choices I left for them:


Eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, sausage, homemade instant oatmeal, and plenty of fresh and frozen fruit for sides and smoothies

Lunches and Dinners:

Sandwiches, Meat and Cheese Burritos, Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole (recipe in Healthy Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook), Tuna Salad or Tuna Casserole (they can easily make either one on their own), Spicy Avocado Dip, and plenty of fruits, veggies, and salad fixings.

My guys do great figuring out food when I’m away.  I love it that they can all cook!  I’m pretty sure they’ll even keep up with dirty dishes.  :)


Asa makes a great guacamole.  I grabbed some avocados at the store so he can whip some up.  Here’s the recipe!

Here’s to a great new week.  Hope your summer has been awesome so far!

Menu Plan for the Week ~ How Do I Cook For Three People?

I believe we should label this summer “The Summer of Never Being Home.”  Never is perhaps too strong a word, since in fact, we have been home for a few days here and there in between all the travel and camps.  But we have certainly been away from home more than we’ve been at home.  After a big trip to Nashville, a smaller trip to Oklahoma, two weeks at church camp – I am home for four days before taking off again.

Where am I going this time?  Oooooh, yay me!  I am blessed to go spend three days with my friend who had a baby a few weeks ago.  I get to love on Mama and Daddy, love on baby, love on baby, love on baby…and maybe do a few dishes and some freezer cooking.  Whatever Mama needs.  I’m very excited.

After I get home, I’ll have two days, then head off again for another quick trip.  Then, our family will all be home together just in time to begin our school year the first full week of August.  Phew!  This has been (and continues to be) one very full summer!

So let’s catch up a little here.  I’ve been online very little in the past two weeks since internet access out at church camp was quite difficult to come by.  I’ve missed you!  Week One at camp found our family in these roles:  Justus and Elias were both campers, Asa was a counselor, and Matt, Malachi, I were helping in the kitchen.  Cooking for 140 campers and staff?  So fun – and completely exhausting.  Wow, and wow some more.

Week two of camp for us was quite different.  It was Senior High session, which meant that Asa was/is now a camper; Justus, Elias, and Malachi were kitchen staff, and Matt and I were Bible class teachers.  The week allowed for much more down-time for Matt and me.  We studied, taught, studied some more, spent time with campers…and took naps and went to bed early every night.  Really, I couldn’t believe how much sleep my body kept asking for.  Apparently, this summer has worn me out more than I realized.  :)  By Thursday, I believe we finally caught up on rest.  It was a great week of refreshment for us.  Matt and I loved team-teaching the youth.  They blessed us so much, and working together in that role was wonderful.

As the week came to an end, Justus and Elias asked if they could please stay for one more week to help in the kitchen.  They loved their role working together with three other middle school boys to keep up with running the dishwasher, wiping tables, filling drink jugs, and doing whatever else the head cook needed them to do.  It’s always fun when you’re working with your friends, right?  (And when you’re having adventures with catching mice in your cabin late at night.  Oh boys.)

Because the head cook said he could certainly still use our boys’ help for the final week of Senior Session, we let them stay.  So three boys are still at camp, and here we are at home with only our youngest, Malachi.  It’s quiet, for sure.

So what to eat, what to eat?  Well, for starters, we came home to find this in our garden:

green beans from garden

Right after Matt brought in the first bunch, we snapped and steamed them – then absolutely pigged out on them.  We could not get enough.  I mean, we did not even take the time to use a fork.  We picked them up and ate them like they were French fries.  No shame.  Wow, they are unbelievably delicious.

For these next few days at home with just the three of us, here is what we’ll be eating.  (You’ll notice there’s no real plan here.  What can I say?  I’m not feeding an army this week, plus I’m planning to leave again in a few days.  Meals will be light and simple.)


Lunches and Dinners:

Here’s to a great week of continued refreshment, playing catch-up, and eating amazing summer produce!

Tell me what you’ve been up to the past few weeks!  What has your summer been like?  Full and busy, or restful and relaxing?












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Menu Plan For The Week in Which I’m Down My Two Biggest Eaters

Yep, both Asa and Justus are at camp this week.  This means I’ll need to try and remember to make less food for each meal.  It is when my 14 and 17 year olds are gone that I realize just how much food the two of them eat.  Wow.

Speaking of camp, Matt and I (and the two younger boys) will also be heading that way a week from today.  Since church camp is such a huge part of our kids’ lives, Matt and I really want to be a part of it with them.  We’ll be there for two weeks in a row – helping in the kitchen during a junior high session, and team-teaching a Bible class during a senior high session.  Since we just got back from a week long trip, and I am still playing catch-up…I am not even close to being ready to be gone again for two weeks.  I’ve decided it just doesn’t matter.  Ready or not, I can’t wait to be there.  After all, God didn’t call me to go and ask me to get all my ducks in a row.  He just said, “Go.”  The to-do list will take care of itself.

(That was me speaking truth to myself, and giving myself a much needed chill pill, pep talk, and kick in the pants.)

Easy Noodle Stir Fry

Easy Noodle Stir Fry is a perfect way to eat all the yummy summer veggies available right now. :)

For this week, while I work really hard to get ready to go totally chill out and surrender all worries about everything I need to do, here are the simple meals we’ll be eating:

Sunday, June 29
Easy breakfast casserole, fresh peaches
Hearty green bean casserole (from Oh, For Real), tossed salad, seven minute strawberry ice cream
Grilled burgers, watermelon, pickles, potato salad

Monday, June 30
Whole wheat waffles, blueberries
Easy noodle stir fry with carrots and broccoli, strawberries
Italian cream cheese chicken, tossed salad, green beans

Tuesday, July 1
Instant oatmeal, blueberries or other berries of choice
Easy cheesy bean dip with chips, carrots and cucumbers with ranch, apples
Italian pasta bake, tossed salad, roasted asparagus

Wednesday, July 2
Pancake and sausage muffins, cantaloupe
Turkey sandwiches, sweet peppers, carrots and cucumbers, watermelon
Sloppy joes, peas, sweet potato fries, strawberries

Thursday, July 3
Dark chocolate almond granola, plums
Pizza boats, peppers and olives, fresh pineapple
Tuna casserole, peas, tossed salad

Friday and Saturday – grabbing the boys from camp to head to a short but sweet family reunion.  Nothing like adding more traveling and packing and laundry and FUN to life before heading to camp for two weeks, right?

Have any fun plans coming up in July?


The Three Day Menu Plan…Then We’re Hitting the Road (Plus, Want Some Vanilla?)

As I mentioned last week, we’re heading to Nashville this week for a family reunion.  I can’t wait to hug my Nana, hold the new babies, see all the cousins, watch the kids get reacquainted and play together…it’s going to be great!

On the way, I’m very excited to meet some of you!!  If you live in the St. Louis or Nashville areas, please stop by our Meet and Greet locations so we can have a chance to hang out and visit.  Get all the specifics here.  I look forward to meeting many of you!

Fruits and Veggies On the Go

We don’t mind the treat of eating out here and there while we travel, and enjoy our fair share of burgers and fries on the road.  But to keep our stomachs from rebelling too much, we try to take along some fruits and veggies too.  :)

Doing any traveling this summer?  Here are some posts you might enjoy.

Our menu this week is short and sweet since we’re taking off on Tuesday.  It’s been fun to celebrate Father’s Day with Matt today – making many of his favorite foods.

Sunday, June 15
Peach cobbler (recipe in Oh, For Real cookbook)
Grilled steak, baked potatoes in the crock pot, grilled asparagus and sweet peppers, cantaloupe
Tuna salad on tomatoes and lettuce, watermelon

Monday, June 16
Banana bread, blueberries
Chef salad with leftover chicken, watermelon
Italian roast wraps with tomatoes and lettuce, peas, fresh pineapple

Tuesday, June 17
Scrambled eggs, pineapple mango smoothies (with fresh spinach thrown in)
Pasta Salad Bar - before we hit the road, we’ll each build a big pasta salad to eat on the way for lunch.  Easy and nutritious!
Dinner at my cousin’s house – can’t wait!

pasta salad bar 3

One last thing:  We actually made enough Vanilla Extract this time to avoid selling out within a few hours!  If you want some, come get it now as we’ll only be offering it for sale through Monday or until supplies last.  :)

Menu Plan for the Week

Today is our oldest son’s 17th birthday.  This is super weird since he was just born last week and two days ago he lost his first tooth.  Believe people when they say that little ones grow up quickly.  That never made sense to me until now.

Speaking of the birthday boy, Asa arrived home from Ecuador at 4:00 yesterday morning.  We’ve had a great time looking at his pictures and hearing more about his experiences.  He loved every minute of his time there, and we can’t wait to hear more as he continues to share stories of everything he did.  He and Justus, our 14 year old, actually left this afternoon for a week on the York College campus for a camp called Soul Quest.  Yep, Asa got back from Ecuador just in time to attend this beloved event.  We don’t see much of our older boys in the summer, but we sure do see a lot of spiritual growth in them after all the trips and camps.

So back to today being Asa’s birthday.  In his sleepy state yesterday after he pulled himself out of bed, I asked him to come up with some birthday food choices for today.  Knowing his birthday fell on a Sunday, he hesitated to ask for Biscuits and Gravy.  “Would you have time to make that before church?” he asked.  Ah yes.  No problem.  But only because I had biscuits in the freezer and turkey sausage already made.  Get all the details here for how to put a meal of biscuits and gravy on the table within 15 minutes.

Freezer Biscuit Tutorial

All the other males in the family were thrilled with Asa’s breakfast choice, as you can imagine.  I loved how easy it was to put together and please my men.  ;)

Here’s the rest of our menu for this week:

Sunday, June 8
Biscuits and gravy, raspberries
Lasagna casserole, tossed salad, ice cream with homemade hot fudge
Turkey and cheese sandwiches, carrots, tomatoes, sweet peppers, strawberries and chocolate whipped cream

Monday, June 9
Poppy seed bread with orange glaze (recipe in {Healthy} Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook), scrambled eggs, cantaloupe
Sloppy joes, carrots, cucumber, raspberries, chips and salsa
Pizza, tossed salad, watermelon

Tuesday, June 10
Whole wheat waffles, blueberries, whipped cream
Easy noodle stir fry with broccoli and carrots, cantaloupe
Grilled barbeque chicken, tossed salad, asparagus, green beans

Wednesday, June 11
Honey whole wheat bagels, strawberries
Lamburger patties, cheesy cauliflower cakes, peas, pineapple cream dessert
Easy cheesy bean dip with chips, strawberry peach slushie

Thursday, June 12
Cheesy omelets, creamy orange cooler
Chef salads with chicken, cheese, and lots of veggies
Cheesy salsa enchiladas, green machine milkshakes

Friday, June 13
Strawberry cream muffins, applesauce
Black bean chicken nachos, pineapple, sweet peppers
Pasta salad bar

Saturday, June 14
Whole wheat donuts, cantaloupe
Cheeseburger macaroni, tossed salad, peas

What’s on your menu this week?

Menu Plan for the Week ~ the Oven-Free Edition

Oven Free Real Food Menu Plan

The time of year has come that I’m avoiding the oven.  In fact, our entire menu this week is ovenless, except for the Dark Chocolate Almond Granola we baked a couple weeks ago and have on hand for a cool breakfast.

One of my very favorite no-oven ideas is to Bake Potatoes in the Crock Pot.  There are all kinds of fun toppings for baked potatoes.  Since they bake easily in the crock pot, we’ll likely be having different baked potato varieties all summer long.

Here’s what we’ll be eating this week.  I love fun summer foods!

Sunday, June 1
Homemade instant oatmeal, raspberries
Baked potatoes in the crock pot (with ham, cheese, and sour cream), peas, strawberries
Small group potluck

Monday, June 2
Green machine milkshakes, scrambled eggs
Chicken salad on lettuce and tomatoes, cantaloupe, sweet peppers
Calico beans in the crock pot, tossed salad, watermelon

Tuesday, June 3
Dark chocolate almond granola, blueberries
Tuna salad on crackers or lettuce and tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers, cool pineapple cream dessert
Grilled burgers, pickles, watermelon, green beans

Wednesday, June 4
Pineapple mango smoothies, fried eggs
Pasta salad bar with chicken and veggies, apples
Salmon patties, tossed salad, grilled asparagus, blackberries

Thursday, June 5
Chocolate whipped cream on strawberries
Grilled hotdogs, baked beans (on the stovetop), sweet peppers, cucumbers and carrots
Italian roast wraps, lettuce and tomato, strawberry creamsicles (recipe coming this week)

Friday, June 6
Creamy orange cooler, toast
Lamburger patties, lettuce and tomato, cheesy cauliflower cakes, sweet peppers
Grilled barbeque chicken, tossed salad, sweet corn, steamed broccoli and carrots

Saturday, June 7
Scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, strawberries
Hamburger cream cheese dip with chips, sweet peppers, grapes, cherry tomatoes

Have you been doing much grilling so far this summer?