How Do You Find the Time?

"How do you find the time?"

I get asked that question a lot and I really don't know the answer. I know that I just do the thing that I get enjoyment from and the things that need to be done.

A single parent, a working professional, someone who loves to read, knit, craft and create, someone who is working really hard to create a good life for herself and her kids. I know I'm not the only one out there, and I enjoy reading the blogs of others, so I thought, "well, why not?" So here we go!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Meal Planning March 18 - 24

Beef Stew – Use leftover veggies and meat from this week – roast beef and  corned beef
Potato pancakes – use leftover potatoes and mashed potatoes

Monday:  Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde from here.  
Tuesday:  Leftovers
Wednesday:  Parmesan Crusted Chicken from here.   I'm going to modify it based on comments I've read and instead of using mayonnaise, I'm going to use a dressing I made with light mayo, Greek yogurt, ranch dressing mix and homemade pesto.   
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday:  I'm going to make this because it can be done in the crock pot.   I'll use cream of mushroom soup and add garlic.  My parents will be here and the kids need to eat. 

For Saturday - I'll have a house full of people and we will all eat before going to see Our Town - so we will have a repeat of something I made a few weeks ago that was quite good!

Have a great week!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Benefits of Meal Planning and plan for March 11 - 18

I've been very dutifully planning meals for a little over a month and I'm definitely seeing a number of benefits to going through this exercise.    The benefits include:

  • time - by planning ahead, I'm also able to do some food prep ahead of time.   I'm also not in that "hmmm, what should we have for dinner" place at 5 p.m. on a school night.
  • cost - this is one huge area that I am seeing an impact.    I've changed some of my shopping habits, and it's definitely clear in my pocketbook.    I'm really trying hard to only go to the grocery store once a week.    By planning our meals, I'm making the purchases I need at that time, and am avoiding extra trips to the grocery store.    This week, I spent $130 on groceries.   The last two weeks, my purchases came in at $80 and $65!   That's a huge difference, and helps with the price of gas continuing to rise!
  • Also, by planning specific nights for leftovers, I'm finding that we are eating all of what we cook instead of finding something in the refrigerator a week later and thinking, "oh wow, what was that?"
A couple of other things that I have recently started doing:
  • prepping all of the salad stuff and raw veggies ahead of time.    On Saturday or Sunday I am washing and cleaning all the veggies to use in salads and cooking for the week.    I read about doing this on a great blog I follow and the key is to make sure that the veggies are dry before putting them away.   I have a salad spinner, and once I wash the lettuce leaves (spinach and other veggies too), I put them in the spinner, spin them dry and then put them in a ziplock baggie layered with paper towels.  I have found that by doing this, my lettuce and leafy greens are lasting more than a week.   It's also much easier to do the same with other veggies and not have to wash and prep them.
  • Making sure that lunches for the next day are made the night before.    This simple thing makes our mornings so much easier!   It's much much better to be able to go grab our lunches and not think about it in the morning.

So here is our plan for this week - including what we had for dinner last night.

Sunday March 11

Sausage and Pepper Medley
Mashed potatoes
Steamed Green beans

*this was a recipe I created to use the peppers and onions that I had in the refrigerator.

2 pounds Chicken Italian Sausage
2 Green peppers, sliced
1 Red pepper, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
2 roma tomatoes (I had two that were getting really soft and needed to be used)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 cubes of homemade pesto -  frozen in ice cube trays

Boil the sausage and then slice thinly.   Saute the peppers, onion and garlic in a large saucepan.   When fragrant but not soft, add the sausage and cook until the sausage begins to brown.    Add the tomatoes and pesto and cook until the pesto is evenly distributed and the sausage is browned to your taste.   We served this with homemade mashed potatoes and steamed green beans seasoned with thyme.  

My oldest thought that the green beans smelled like "summertime - like when you are digging in the dirt and it smells good."   He noted that they did not taste like dirt, though!

Pot roast in crock pot
Mashed potatoes - leftover from Sunday
Garden salad
Leftover green beans


Chicken with Tarragon and Leeks - recipe from Real Simple Magazine, April 2009
(I'm excited about this recipe because I love both tarragon and leeks)    If it's as good as I hope it is, I'll post the recipe.


Quesadillas  made with homemade re-fried beans

Saturday:  Will determine based on what is in the refrigerator.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Meal Planning March 4 - 11

I was busy again this weekend, despite having the day off from work on Friday!   We got a workout in every day this weekend (Saturday with our trainer, Moses, who worked us over with the circuit from hell)!    I also had to do some baking this weekend because I signed up to bring snacks for the theatre group on Monday.   The kids get to school  around 7 a.m. and are at rehearsal from about 2:45 - 5:30 p.m.     The director instituted a snack time this go around and I think it's been a good thing.   I made congo bars (see prior post) and brownies from here.   This particular brownie recipe is amazing and is my go-to recipe.   Easier and cheaper than a box of brownie mix and much better!

Tonight I made this!   

Oh my gosh, it was wonderful and the recipe can be found here!      Only Jacob and I were home, so there are leftovers, which may change my plans for later on this week.   Here's tonight's recipe as I did it and my plans for the rest of the week:

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp dried dill weed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder

Season the chicken breasts with the above mixture.   I put the seasonings all in a small bowl and sprinkled them over the chicken breasts.  

Heat a skillet and add olive oil and butter.   Once the pan is hot, add the chicken breasts and sear both sides.    I added a lid to the pan and let it cook a while on the stove and because I had to cook it in two batches, I put the first chicken breasts in the oven and cooked them with our asparagus that was roasting.  


1/2 cup white wine
1 cup half and half (I used fat free half and half)
3 Tbsp capers, drained
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
additional half and half

Once finished, remove the chicken breasts from the pan and deglaze the pan with the wine.   Add the half and half and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.   After about 2 minutes, add the capers.    The original recipe said it would be done at this point, but I found that I had to make a roux and thicken the sauce.    I used the butter and flour to make a roux and added it to the sauce.   I found it needed about 1/2 cup more of half and half.

We served this with roasted asparagus.   It was delicious!

For the rest of the week, here is our plan!

  • Monday:  Spinach tortilla bake from here!   I've already cooked the chicken and chose this to use up ingredients that were in the refrigerator. And yes, that is from a quilting blog!
  • Tuesday:    Leftovers - Gym Night
  • Wednesday:   Sausage with Peppers and tortellini - pesto pasta - my recipe
  • Thursday:   Leftovers -  Gym Night
  • Friday:    Roast in Crockpot with potatoes and carrots
  • For the weekend, this salad.