sunday meal prep 7/24/16

Hey everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely weekend! We have had a wonderful weekend, including a family dinner at my parents, where Draz got to meet some of my extended family and I got to see a few people I hadn’t seen in many years 🙂 It was a lot of fun, full of laughter and tasty food! That was the highlight of our weekend, though I did get some photography work done as well. That’s pretty much the highlights from our weekend, so now on to our meal prep for the week!

Enjoy!

Yes, it's possible to eat healthy all week and not spend time every day in the kitchen! Meal prep once a week cuts down on the amount of time you spend cooking, freeing up more time for the more important things in your life! Click through to see how!Read More

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Meal Planning: A Beginner’s Guide

Getting-started-meal-planning

So you all know just how much I love meal planning. After all, it’s the first step to meal prep! I’ve been doing meal planning for years! A lot longer than I have been meal prepping. I grew up in a home that did meal planning every week. My parents still do!

I’m excited to say that today I’m talking about meal planning over at Sarah & Co! Head over to her lovely site and check out the full post!

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25 cheap (or free!) summer activites!

While summer as an adult may not be as carefree and open as it was when we were kids, it’s still a great time to get outside, try new things and just have fun!! But sometimes that can really put a stress on our budget, especially if we have any summer vacations to pay for too. But that doesn’t mean that all the fun has to stop. There are so many options out there that are free or cheap that can make for some great experiences and awesome memories.

Here are just a few that I could think of!

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DIY coffee rack

We all love to make our homes our own. To display the things that we love and create spaces that welcome us. That can be done a lot of different ways…thrift store shopping, antiquing, DIY, just regular shopping and more! And I would guess many of us like to do a mix of all of those. I know I do! For this project I decided to go the DIY route 🙂 It’s no secret that I love DIY decor. What you may not know about me is that I absolutely LOVE coffee! So when I realized I could make a space that combined those loves, I was all for it!
Our kitchen is one of the last rooms in the house that hasn’t really been remodeled. A few changes here and there, most of which were caused by changes in another room, but not an actual remodel. And well…my kitchen is not the prettiest kitchen ever! It’s stuck sometime from the 60s or 70s, with some of the weirdest wood paneling I have ever seen, no windows and dark cabinets. But we have made a few positive changes to it so far and one of them (recessing the refrigerator) opened up a space that I could play with!
DIY Coffee Rack
Super easy to make and gorgeous to look at, this DIY coffee rack is one of my favorite DIYs so far!

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sunday meal prep 6/12/16

Hey all! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I know I did! The week in general went pretty great, which was in large part due to being back on my workout schedule 🙂 I knew I had missed it, but I didn’t realize just how much. It felt great to be pushing my body more again! Another great part of this week was this meal prep. I loved trying (and creating) some new recipes, plus a throwback to one of my favorite jar salads to mix things up even more!

How you can use meal prep to eat healthy, tasty food all week, no matter how busy you are!
Enjoy!

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Sunday Meal Prep: May 1, 2016

Hey all! I hope you all had a fantastic week and are ready to set yourselves up for an easy and healthy week with your own meal prep! This week we had an awesome meal prep, though it was a bit surprising. It started out all about the healthy snacks and ended up being all about the Thai Peanut Chicken Pasta! This was by far our favorite recipe this week, and possibly for the past few months!

Enjoy!Prepare for your busy life! Take a few hours to cook, one day a week, and eat healthy, tasty food all week long! Click through for this week's meal plan!

As I said, this week started out being all about the snacks. And I made A LOT of snacks! Sweet Potato Banana Bites, Cookie Dough Protein Bites, No-Bake Oatmeal Energy Balls and an old favorite…Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins! I had almost forgotten how good these are! These will definitely be making their way back into our regular rotation 🙂Sweet Potato Banana Bites, Cookie Dough Protein Bites, No Bake Oatmeal Energy Balls, Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins

Our salads were pretty much the same as always and just as delicious! I had some extra chicken this week, so I decided to whip up some more Buffalo Shredded Chicken to put in the freezer. With us using it every week, there is no downside to having extra!Mason Jar Salads, Grapes and Cheese, Shredded Buffalo Chicken, weekly meal prep

Now on to the exciting part…the main dishes!Thai Peanut Chicken Pasta, Melt in your Mouth Pot Roast, Lemon Garlic Chicken, weekly meal prep

Ok, so one of these is not quite fitting with our normal healthy focus. It’s not terrible for you, and I do use brown rice now and less sauce than I used to, but this one is pure comfort food. Do you have any recipes that are from your childhood that just make you feel better on so many levels? This one does that for me.

This Lemon Garlic Chicken is a recipe that has been in my family for generations. It was my mom’s favorite when she was growing up and mine when I was. It was even my birthday meal every year! The smell of it cooking is even a comfort to me and I was really craving some comfort when I made this menu, so this just had to be on the list. The funny thing is, I didn’t actually get any of it!! It is one of Draz’s favorites too, so he had that for lunch most days! That’s ok…it just means I need to make more soon!

Lemon Garlic Chicken and Rice
Lemon Garlic Chicken and Rice
Print Recipe
A family favorite, this recipe is delicious! It's been in my family for generations and is one of my ultimate comfort foods.
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 5-10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 5-10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Lemon Garlic Chicken and Rice
Lemon Garlic Chicken and Rice
Print Recipe
A family favorite, this recipe is delicious! It's been in my family for generations and is one of my ultimate comfort foods.
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 5-10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 5-10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Put stick of butter in pan, in oven, to melt while oven is pre-heating. Mix all seasonings in butter and stir. Roll chicken in mixture. Sprinkle lemon pepper on chicken (optional).
  2. Put in oven for 45 minutes. Can serve with brown rice with sauce poured over. Also goes well with asparagus.
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Thai Peanut Chicken Pasta, Melt in your Mouth Pot Roast, Lemon Garlic Chicken, weekly meal prep

Other than the wonderfulness that is Lemon Garlic Chicken, we had two new recipes: a Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pot Roast and CPK Thai Peanut Chicken Pasta. I was actually a little hesitant about how good the roast was going to be when it was done, but it was really tasty! I used a rough ground spicy garlic mustard and it seemed to just kinda…sit on top of the roast, which is not the case with most rubs. But thankfully it was tasty and we didn’t waste a whole roast 🙂 That is the one risk of meal prepping with new recipes, in that sometimes you may find one you don’t like. And we all know just how much I love new recipes!

But on to the star of the week! This Thai recipe was beyond delicious! I don’t really even have words….just the right balance of peanut, spice, cabbage and goodness. Draz took one bite and asked me to make it again next week! I see this quickly becoming a house favorite, so expect to see this one frequently. Plus it is really quick to make!

So that’s it for this week? Did you prep any new recipes this week? Have you found an awesome recipe recently that you just love? I would love to hear about it, so please leave a comment below!

Sara

Want to get started doing meal prep for yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

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Life Lessons: The 29 Things I’ve Learned in 29 Years

birthday muffin celebrate 29 years 29 lessons

It’s my birthday! I might be freaking out a little! But…honestly not as much as I thought I would be. 🙂

Ok, this is something I’ve actually given a lot of thought to the past month or so. I turn 29 today….I think back to when I was 20 and what I thought life would be like in 9 years and this isn’t it. In fact, it’s not even close.

That’s not a complaint. I love my life! My family, Draz, my dogs, my home, this blog and all of the awesomeness related to that and so much more! Instead, it’s more of a realization that life takes some crazy and unexpected turns. Twists and turns that put me in a wonderful place in life that I could never have imagined at 20!

I’ve learned a lot along the way and still have so much left to learn! But here are 29 life lessons that I have learned so far! Some serious, some not quite so, and in no particular order, but I hope you enjoy all of them 🙂

29 Life Lessons I’ve Learned So Far

  1. I don’t know what it means to actually feel like an adult. I’m still waiting for that one.
  2. Parents are people too and pretty awesome to hang out with!
  3. No one actually has life all figured out.
  4. Not everyone will like you or needs to…and you don’t have to understand why.
  5. Be present for the moments of everyday life. It’s amazing.
  6. Reach out to those that you care about, even if you’ve lost touch.
  7. Drive slower!
  8. Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.
  9. You can like who you are while still trying to improve yourself.
  10. Push your comfort zone!
  11. Don’t expect life to follow your plan.
  12. Be unapologetically you – be honest about who you are and what you enjoy in life.
  13. Try to put a positive “spin” on things when you are having a bad day/interaction/moment/whatever.
  14. Be silly!
  15. Take care of your body – it’s worth the time.
  16. Take care of your mental health too – it’s just as important as your physical health.
  17. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
  18. Find things you truly enjoy instead of things that just fill time.
  19. The best dates and/or moments don’t have to cost much, if anything.
  20. Quality over quantity – applies to much of life!
  21. Don’t procrastinate – it NEVER helps.
  22. Be spontaneous (at least occasionally).
  23. Smile often.
  24. Be kind to others, even when you don’t feel like it.
  25. Make sure you sleep enough.
  26. Try new things often!
  27. Give yourself a break – you can’t do everything.
  28. Always make goals and strive towards meeting them.
  29. Cut the negative thoughts and self-talk.

So that’s some of the things I’ve learned over the years. So aren’t surprising and a few took me a long time to learn. Some I still have to remind myself of. But either way, I am so excited to see how this year goes! I think that 29 is going to be an amazing and transformative year for me! (And I am so excited to share it with all of you!)

What are some of the things that you have learned over the years that have surprised you or been harder to learn? I would love to hear your thoughts!

And don’t forget that the Jewelry Giveaway ends today at 8 pm CT, so if you haven’t entered yet, hop over and get your entry in!

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Sara (1)

 

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Friday Favorites: January 22, 2016

Hey everyone! Welcome to my new (hopefully) weekly series: Friday Favorites! This will be a weekly roundup of my favorite blog posts and articles that I find throughout that week. I hope you like them!

Fitness

7 Tips for Working Out In The Morning by Oddly Lovely

Getting Back Into Fitness by A Girl, Obsessed

Recipes

Gluten-Free Chicken Marsala by The Lean Green Bean

Slow Cooker Honey Soy Chicken by The Recipe Critic

Slow Cooker Cheese Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles by Persnickety Plates

Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burritos by Pinch of Yum

Easy Quinoa Pizza Bowls by Gimme Some Oven

Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Onion by Naturally Ella

Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken by The Recipe Critic

Art & DIY

DIY Brass Handle Marble Tray by I Heart Organizing

Home & Family

52 Dates to do This Year by Friday We’re In Love

Currently by Iowa Girl Eats (this is a really cute idea for a post!)

The Coffee Bar by The Small Things Blog

Friday Eye Candy: Closet Organization by A Thoughtful Place

Life and Blogging

16 Steps to Make This Year the Best Year Ever by A Fresh Start on a Budget

Cheers to Two by Venus Trapped in Mars

What IS the Value of a Blog? by Venus Trapped in Mars

Enjoy! Not many links this week, but I hope to do a bigger link up most Fridays. What do you guys think of this new series? Have you found any really great links this week?

I would love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment below!

Sara (1)

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Meal Prep 101: My Top Tricks and Tips to Make it Easier and Why I Love Meal Prepping!

With the new year upon us, many of us are motivated to try out new things to improve our lives. For me last year, it was meal prepping! I started out 2015 hopeful…but frustrated. I loved cooking good and healthy (or healthyish) meals for Draz and myself, but too often we would get home from work exhausted and reaching for quick and easy dishes like pasta or pre-made convenience foods like frozen pizza. I had tried planning out menus for us, but a lot of times this just ended up with some of the meals made and the rest thrown out after it went bad. This was definitely not the lifestyle I wanted for us.

I had started getting into reading blogs the year before and had seen some of them talk about meal prepping. I knew that this could be an option to help us get on track. I jumped right in…which definitely lead to some mistakes and some exhausting days in the kitchen. But there has been a lot of learning this year! 🙂 Now I want to share what I have learned with you, so here is my meal prep 101 to get you started!

Busy lives can making eating healthy stressful! But it doesn't have to be that way! Meal prep can be your solution to simplifying your life and still eating healthy, tasty meals every day! To help you along the way, here are my top tips and tricks I learned through over a year of weekly meal prep!!

Reasons to Meal Prep:

  1. Convenient. Yes, there is a time-investment, both on the day you plan and the day you prep. But that time is much less than cooking each meal fresh when you eat it!
  2. Healthier. If desired, you can make sure that eat food you prep is healthy, or in line with your desired diet. When you already have delicious, healthy food made, it lessens the temptation to go with frozen pizza!
  3. Saves money. You can prepare your grocery list based on your meal prepping menu. This saves so much! Not only does this lessen impulse buys when you are doing your grocery shopping, it also helps prevent those “Oh no, we are out of this ingredient I need for dinner!” trips to the store!
  4. Lowers stress. Ok, this might just be me, but the whole “What’s for dinner?” thing can be stressful. I have enough going on that I don’t want to worry about what I want to eat, how long it takes to cook, etc. And I don’t even have kids! I know there are tons of people out there that are busier than me, meaning that they would benefit even more!
  5. Healthier. Yup, I needed to say this one again! Meal prepping has made such a huge difference on my fitness journey! Quite possibly more than any other individual thing.

Getting Started:

  1. Plan, plan, plan. Set aside some time prior to the day you plan on prepping to make your grocery list and plan out how much food you will need for the week. Also take this time to decide what meals and/or snacks you are prepping. I use Wednesday of each week to lay out my recipes, check what ingredients I currently have, and write my grocery list. I like doing this a few days prior to actual shopping, so if I forgot anything I have a few days to think about it.
  2. Containers. Check how many containers you currently have and will need on average. It is incredibly frustrating to finish cooking and then be scrambling to figure out how to put it away. My favorites are mason jars for my salads and Pyrex!mason-jar-salads-food-prep
  3. Space. Along that same line, make sure you have enough room in your fridge and freezer to put your food away!
  4. Time. Plan for more time than you think you will need. This is especially true for the first couple months that you are prepping. The first few times I prepped I felt like I had spent the whole day in the kitchen and was exhausted! But even then it was well worth it. Now, even with prepping all of our meals and snacks, it only takes 4-6 active hours, and sometimes only 2-3. (Please, please keep in mind I prep a lot of food. You don’t have to spend nearly that long!)

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Batch process your veggies! If you have a bunch of veggies needed for different dishes, cut them all up at the same time! This cuts time getting supplies out repeatedly.food-prep-behind-the-scenes
  2. Know how your food is being cooked! I suggest varying cooking methods. Having everything needing to be in the oven or on the stove is difficult. And once I planned for 3 dishes needing a slow cooker! Granted, I have two, but this was still an unexpected difficulty. Now I try to pick a variety of cooking methods each week.
  3. Multi-task! While something is simmering you can be chopping veggies. The same rule goes for just about anything else. That being said, pace yourself. It can be very stressful if you try to do too many dishes at once.vegetable-food-prep-process
  4. Clean as you go! This is especially true if you are planning a longer prep session. I usually find 2 points while I’m cooking that are good “pause points” that I can use to clean up, load and start the dishwasher, handwash things, etc. This makes things so much easier and less stressful! I will admit, this took me a few months to figure out and a few more to put into regular practice!

 

Just a few of my meal preps over the last year!

Do you meal prep or are you just starting? If you do, what is your favorite thing or part of prepping? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me a comment below!

Sara (1)

 

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Sunday Meal Prep – January 10, 2016

Hey everyone! I hope that your first full week of 2016 went great! Our week had some hiccups, but if anything they just reminded me how happy I am that we do meal prep! I spent a couple days on MUCH less sleep than I usually prefer and let’s just say I don’t function well on less sleep. It was really helpful to not have to worry about what we were going to eat!

This week I tried out a new recipe, plus one that is quickly becoming a household favorite! Enjoy!

DSCN1733_picmonkeyedDSCN1736_picmonkeyed

These Skinny Chicken Enchiladas are so wonderful! Enough so that I made some extra shredded chicken specifically to freeze for future batches. Draz is requesting this on a regular basis, and one of the things I love about it is that I can use regular white tortillas for his and whole wheat for mine. One dish fit to both of our preferences!

New this week is Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli. I don’t think I can say enough about this one! The meat was a little pricier than what we usually purchase, but it was well worth it! The beef just fell apart and it was a very flavorful dish. I definitely see us making this one again. 🙂

And that’s it for this week! What are you making? Any new dishes? I would love to hear your thoughts and what you are cooking up, so please leave a comment below!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

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