One of the things I am most passionate about it is teaching my children how to cook. As soon as they are steady, they received their own kitchen step stool so they can work right at my side as we make breakfast, lunch and dinner. While they may not always “help” I know that keeping them in the kitchen with me has led to good eating habits and a curiosity about how to make, bake, and create things in the kitchen. As we hear the news about the increase in childhood obesity, my greatest wish is for kids to learn how to make healthy choices at a young age. Thankfully there are a number of great tools available to help those families looking to bring some excitement into their kitchen.


I recently learned about Season’s Eatings, an online class developed by a local teacher, that helps bring simple, seasonal foods to the dinner table. Leah Cherry is a Rhode Island mom with a passion for food, nutrition, environmentalism and community. As an extension of her blog Skill It, Leah created Season’s Eatings to offer an easy way for families to get seasonal meal plans delivered to their inbox.  Each class includes the following:

  • 4 weeks of family friendly recipes delivered via email
  • Ideas and tips to customize each meal.
  • Activities like Chef’s Note, Table Setting Tips and more
  • Connection and community in a private Facebook group.

I totally agree with Leah’s sentiment that we have to make family dinnertime important. So many studies have shown an improvement in kid’s health and emotional well being when they are able to sit down as family every night. It may not be at 5:30 for every family, but I encourage you to make it work for your schedule.

Another favorite tool to get kids excited about cooking is having them help choose what to make. I make my meal plans every week and I often ask what the kids want. I often hear either “meatballs” or “chicken nuggets,” not exciting but I like giving them a chance for input. For older children, they have the chance to read through recipes and make suggestions. Chop Chop is the fun cooking magazine for families that can help inspire new things to make in the kitchen. I’ve met some of the editors and stylists from Chop Chop magazine and this group really gets it when it comes to making things appealing to kids.  Their simple suggestion of prepping as much as you can prior to having kids help was a big time saver when it came to cooking with my toddlers. If there are a lot of ingredients to measure, I can set some of them aside in bowls so the kids can be in charge of dumping them. My kids are still a little young for the magazine, but I love seeing older children flip through it and ask questions about the kids pictured in the articles cooking real food.

A few other fun accessories you can bring into your cooking routine to add some excitement is using lots of color, both in your food choices and dish ware. Silicone baking cups can be used to house a side dish or extra fruit and add color to a plate. Skewers are a new favorite in our house at both lunch and dinner. Create some silly faces with your food, there are lots of inspiring pictures to be found on Pinterest. Dipping sauces are also fun to offer with different meals; let your kids know there are other options besides ketchup and ranch dressing.


I’m excited to share that two lucky readers will win a subscription to both Season’s Eatings online meal course starting February 4th and  Chop Chop magazine. (English or spanish editions available!) Please enter using the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway is open till midnight on January 25th. Winner will be notified via email and must be a US resident.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This week’s meal plan was a little more challenging than usual for me. My husband is doing the South Beach diet so it means a little more protein and veggies added to our usual mix. It’s hard to break the mold of protein-veggie-starch that I’ve come accustomed to. And no Friday night pizza! That was the hardest thing to adjust since it was the one day of the week I didn’t have to come up with something.  Thankfully I went to a Wildtree freezer meal workshop and made 10 meals that are now ready to go for the next month. The “Best Burgers” will replace pizza for Friday night this week.

Monday Meal Plan Jan 14

Sunday~ Leftover smoked mozzarella and tomato meatloaf. Another Wildtree dinner and it was yummy.

Monday~ Honey Balsamic Drumsticks. Wildtree again…I’m not typically a fan of cooking drumsticks but I thought the kids might like the novelty of them, and the variety.  Served with steamed broccoli and tangy balsamic couscous (for some of us carb eaters).

Tuesday~ Mexican Black Bean Chili with Sausage. Looks like it’s South Beach approved and delicious.

Wednesday~ C.O.R.N. (Clean out refrigerator night!)

Thursday~ Teriyaki Salmon, steamed green beans and pumpkin mac n cheese.

Friday~ Best Burgers from my Wildtree stash. Serve with whatever veggies are left from the week, either in a stir-fry or salad.


For more meal planning ideas, head over to Meal Plan Monday!, 5 eBooks for $7.40!


This week’s menu features more meatless meals than we typically make. My husband won’t join us for dinner part of the week so I get to try out some vegetarian meals to see if they make the cut.

Sunday~ Both lunch and dinner are covered at birthday parties. Thank you for a day with less dishes. Instead, I made some honey whole wheat bread in my new Bread Maker

Monday~ Treating us to a dinner out at a local Indian sandwich shop. Curious to see what the kids will like.

Tuesday~ Chickpea Stew with Apricots and Turnips (slow cooker). New recipe from Aimee at Simple Bites. Can’t wait to try it.

Wednesday~ Italian White Beans (slow cooker). Spinach and strawberry salad on the side. My kids love raw spinach, anyone else’s??

Thursday~ Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Sweet Potato French Fries and some raw peppers on the side.

Friday~ Garlicky Shrimp and noodles.  I’m doing a Freezer Meal Class with Wildtree this week and the shrimp is one of the creations we will prepare. I get to hang out with friends and make 10 meals worth of dinners at this workshop. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

What are you making this week?  Any vegetarian dishes you would recommend?

For more meal planning ideas, check out OrgJunkie.

Last meal plan of 2012!  I can proudly say we stuck with menu planning for the whole year.  The chalkboard menu plan in the the kitchen turned out to be just the right system for us.  You have to decide what works for your family. It may be on paper, a note in your iPhone, a wipe board on your fridge. The options are endless, you just need to play around and see what works with your family’s routine.

If you need a little inspiration for your meal planning, here are some additional resources.

  • The ebook by Stephanie Langford, Plan It Don’t Panic, helped me strategize how to make meal planning more effective. My favorite take away was to write down a list of family favorites for dinner. This can be a work in progress for you, but it’s helpful to have one go-to list when I just can’t think of something to make.
  • I created a Pinterest board collecting all of my meal plans. You can search back either here, or in the blog, to get a few new ideas for your own meal plan.
  • Organizing Junkie hosts a link up of meal plans weekly. Lots of people use this weekly post (comes out on Monday) to get inspired with new ideas from more than 200 other bloggers.  If you share a meal plan on your blog, you can also share it there. (Or here in the comments too!)

After all the indulgences of the past month, it’s time to clean up our eating. We will be doing less carbs and more veggies and protein. Hopefully I can sneak some meatless meals in too sometime soon.


  • Sunday- Chicken Stir Fry with veggies and brown rice
  • Monday- Happy New Year’s Eve. Heading to a party and then a friend’s house. Last day of indulgences…
  • Tuesday- Jan 1st 2013! Beef Tenderloin, baked potatoes (need to use them up) and roasted asparagus.
  • Wednesday-Swordfish Kabobs, salad
  • Thursday-Spinach and cheese frittata
  • Friday- Salsa Chicken, salad.

What are you making this week? Any new food resolutions you want to make for 2013?


p.s. There a new “ebook bundle of the week I’ll be sharing with you. The simplify ebook has been on my radar for awhile so I think I may pick up the bundle myself. Enjoy!, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Let the countdown begin! The kids are excited that it’s nearly Christmas Eve and the big day is almost here. They are exhausted from staying up too late at a holiday party but it was so much fun seeing them party like a rock star till well past their bedtime.


The meal plan for the week is focused on the next two days. One more party to attend and then we are hosting 11 adults and 6 kids on Christmas Day. I’m sharing our Christmas menu today if you need a little last minute inspiration. We have never hosted Christmas Day so the menu is a mix of family favorites. The rest of our week will be filled with leftovers, using up pantry staples and a night out for mom and dad.


Christmas Day Menu

Appetizers: Cheese and Crackers, Shrimp Cocktail

Main Course: Glazed Ham, Green Bean Casserole, Corn Pudding, Cranberry Sauce

Dessert: Buckeye Balls, Congo Bars, French Meringues, Gingerbread Cookies and Chewy Molasses Cookies.

What are you making for Christmas Day? Is it a tradition or do you mix it up every year?

For more menu planning ideas, visit the Monday Meal Plan at Org Junkie every week!

Writing my meal plan this weekend was a normal task. We enjoyed a wonderful weekend of holiday events with friends. That too, was normal. Yet, nothing feels that normal right now. My heart aches for those families that lost loved ones last week. I know how hard this is for families, having gone through a tragedy like this seven years ago. Time does help, but it’s really the support of family and friends that keeps people afloat.  Love everyone a little more this week.

On the menu this week….

Dec wk 3 Menu Plan

Dec wk 3 Menu Plan

Sunday~ Chicken Picatta, Lemon Spaghetti, Snow Peas. Recipes from the Giada DeLaurentis cookbook, Everyday Italian

Monday~ Chickpea Curry and Brown Rice  (Meatless Monday)

Tuesday~ Basque Fish Soup and Popovers

Wednesday~ Steak with Parsley Sauce, Steamed Broccoli and Oven Baked Polenta. (select recipes from the Everyday Food: Great Food Fast cookbook) Everyday Food: Great Food Fast Cookbook

Thursday~ Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Sweet Potato Fries, Brown Rice. Quick dinner before a Cookie Swap Party. (I’m making Mayan Chocolate Sparklers)

Friday~ Pizza night

Saturday~ light dinner before a holiday party. Need to bring a dessert.


***Ways to help those affected by the tragedy in Connecticut

The United Way of Western Connecticut  and The Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund 



For more menu planning ideas, visit the Monday Meal Plan at Org Junkie every week!

The holiday clock is ticking…what do you have left to do? Is your shopping done?  I did most of mine online this year and at our local shops during the post-Thanksgiving holiday so I feel like I’m in good shape. (Here is my post noting my favorite eco-friendly shopping sites.) The biggest project left are some of our homemade food gifts which will go out to lots of friends and family and also some teachers this year.

The coming week is filled with lots of evening events so no new recipes to test out. I am keeping it simple with some family favorites and trying to make some room in our freezer to store up some cookie dough.  We do need to bake some cookies and check it off our Christmas Bucket List.

Week 2 December Meal Plan

Sunday~ Baked Ziti (Lasagna style), Salad and Garlic Bread

Monday~ Salsa Chicken in the slow cooker, Salad. Recipe comes from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook

Tuesday~ C.O.R.N.

Wednesday~ Teriyaki Salmon, Snow Peas and Whole Wheat Couscous

Thursday~ Curry Chicken (from the freezer)

Friday~ Pizza night!

Saturday ~ Holiday party, bringing a dessert.

What holiday plans do you have this week?  Happy Hanukkah to some of you as well!

For more menu planning ideas, visit the Monday Meal Plan at Org Junkie every week!

Happy December everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend.  On Sunday I went to our local Holiday House Tour that showcased six houses that decked their halls, kitchens, mudrooms and more.  It always gets me in the holiday decorating mood. We have our tree up and I’m surrounded by boxes of Christmas goodies left to unwrapped.  The next few weeks are busy with holiday parties to attend so our meal plans have to be flexible.  We have a few freezer meals ready to go in case our weekly plan goes awry.

In addition to having some freezer meals prepped, we have a few fallbacks when we are not up for cooking.

-Eggs (Frittata with extra veggies in the fridge is a favorite)

-Sandwich night (Grilled cheese, Tuna melts, etc)

-Pasta and sauce with olives or capers. Simple yet comforting.

-Oatmeal with a little peanut butter mixed in, or walnuts and some berry jam.

-C.O.R.N.~ Clean Out Refrigerator Night

On deck this week…

Sunday~ Beef Chili

Monday~ Spaghetti and meatballs, broccoli

Tuesday~ Leftover Chili (off to a blogger’s holiday party at Middlesex Commons)

Wednesday~ Turkey Soup from the leftover turkey last week and homemade turkey stock

Thursday~ Eggs for dinner!

Friday~ Pizza night

What are your fallback dinners?

For more menu planning ideas, visit the Monday Meal Plan at Org Junkie ever week!

Happy Monday!  Hope everyone had a great weekend.  We spent some time with friends processing apples.  We made my homemade no-sugar applesauce recipe to start with about 15 apples. It made six pints that we then canned.  Then we started some apple butter in the slow cooker.  We processed it in the morning and it was delicious. The house smelled awesome. Today I made a second batch of applesauce, plus some dehydrated apple rings.  The kids love these for snacks and now we have a full stock of apple (and pineapple!) rings for the lunch box this week.

Cinnamon apple rings

On the menu this week:
Sunday~ Lemon Orange Rosemary Chicken in the Ninja Cooking System.  I didn’t have lemon so I swapped it out for orange. The chicken came out awesome. Madison asked for fourths!  I also roasted the last of our cherry tomatoes, along with some honey roasted carrots.
Monday~ L/O Chicken used in a pasta bake.  Steamed green beans on the side.
Tuesday~ Apricot Pork chops from the Everyday Food Cookbook. Note~ I use boneless pork chops so the time increases to about 20 minutes.  The recipe is also a great way to use up the heels of bread.  Maybe some squash on the side, plus polenta in the slow cooker.
Wednesday~ Orange Hoisin Chicken (slow cooker). Recipe from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker CookbookBrown rice and sautéed snow peas on the side.
Thursday~ Last night my sister and family are here from Hawaii. Cozy fall dinner of homemade chili and corn bread planned. Maybe a yummy apple dessert.
Friday~ Pizza!

Are you trying any new recipes this week?  Feel free to leave your menu plan in the comments below.

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We spent the weekend celebrating birthdays, a baptism and enjoyed some beautiful fall weather.  Even when you are a stay at home mom, those long weekends are lovely.

Picked up a bushel of apples at the farmers market this weekend

I’m a little tired from all of our party planning this weekend and needed some menu planning reminders.  Last year my playgroup did an awesome recipe exchange.  I went back to my Recipe email folder to dig out some favorites for our week ahead.

Monday~ C.O.R.N
Tuesday~ Chicken Pierre (thanks Susan!) Green Beans and whole wheat couscous
Wednesday~ Slow Cooker Ribs, Local Corn on the Cob, Cornbread
Thursday~ Hamburgers and Homemade Mac n Cheese with butternut squash hiding inside. (Thanks Cathy!)  See recipe below.
Friday~ American Flatbread Pizza (freebie from Springboard Conference)
Saturday~ potluck dinner with friends, menu still tbd.  We are going to process a bushel of apples though…I see lots of applesauce in our future.

Easy Veggie Mac n Cheese (from Cathy M.)
1 cup uncooked macaroni (I do 1/2 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup regular)
1 cup (or more) shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup milk (you could use skim but whole tastes much better)
pepper and paprika
1/2 cup cauliflower puree or butternut squash puree (optional, make in advance, I prefer cauliflower)
Preheat oven to 350
Drop macaroni in boiling water, boil 3 minutes
Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes then drain
Toss macaroni in a bowl with vegetable puree to evenly distribute puree
Layer in a large casserole dish coated with cooking spray:
1/3 macaroni mixture
1/3 cheese
sprinkle pepper and paprika
1/3, 1/3 again until done
Pour milk over layers and bake for 40 minutes until golden brown on top and milk absorbed so not too runny. Let cool a few minutes before serving.

What’s on deck for you this week?

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I love to hear your feedback and comments. Stop by and visit FacebookPinterest or Twitter for more conversation!  Or get posts delivered via Email or RSS FeedFor more meal planning ideas, stop by Meal Plan Monday

photo credit: roswellsgirl via photopin cc