The Ultimate Meal Planning Round Up

Okay, friends. This post is a long time coming. I actually started this draft one entire year ago, but for some reason abandoned it. I'm kind of glad I did because now I have some really great resources to share with you to make your life a whole lot more simple when it comes to feeding your family :) YAY!

The Ultimate Meal Planning Round Up ...resources to help you organize, save money and eat healthy! // Natasha Red

In our culture, busy is praised and slow is looked down upon. The proof is in so many studies - dinners around the table help families, children, productivity in school and work, and communities. Slowing down to connect with people over a meal is one of our biggest needs yet so neglected because of overwhelm and lack of planning. Whether you are kickstarting your meal planning journey, or need a little extra help to build upon your current routine - I hope these resources help you to get organized, save some money, and eat a little healthier. 

 

A few quick tips

  1. Recently we've been using Walmart Grocery (save $10 when using that link!). This is a free grocery pick up service. This is a must for simplifying your meal planing. Believe it or not, I actually don't love the grocery store, and not having to lug the kiddos along is such a blessing! We order our groceries online on Friday or Saturday and I have a little mommy break picking them up by myself on Sunday afternoons :) Kroger Click List is the same concept, so check for availability in your area! 
The Ultimate Meal Planning Round Up ...resources to help you organize, save money and eat healthy! // Natasha Red

2. On the topic of simplifying, have anything else you might need delivered to your home. This is super easy with Amazon Prime and Thrive Market. We have diapers delivered from Amazon on a subscription so we save money, and don't need to remember to re-order. I love Thrive Market too because it's 25-50% less on organic pantry and personal care products. We typically order every 4-6 weeks and stock up on our staples! Try Thrive Market for free and learn more here. 


Favorite resources from around the web

(click the photo to read the post)


My Meal Planning Posts

For those of you who are just dipping your toe in the water, check out the "Get Dinner on the Table" post below. 

For those of you who want to step it up and get a good system in place, "Meal Planning Made Simple Part One & Part Two" is for you. 


The Ultimate Meal Planning Round Up ...resources to help you organize, save money and eat healthy! // Natasha Red

Grab a meal planner

I can't end this post without sharing about the Seasonal Meal Planning Journals. The key to feeding your family simply is to plan ahead. It's the #1 challenge that women tell me they have when it comes to cooking at home. It's one of the easiest things we can implement yet one of the most neglected. 

What's in the SMP Journal?

  • 52 meal planning prompt sheets (breakfast, lunch + dinner), perforated for tearing out
  • 52 grocery list sheets, perforated for tearing out
  • Seasonal Produce List for every season
  • 16 Favorite Recipe Sections for each season
  • Size: 9 x 6"
  • Printed on thick white paper and perfect bound

I hope this is helpful for you! If you have other resources you love, share them with me!

Dairy Free Snickerdoodle Pops

Thank you Enjoy Life for letting me try your to-die-for allergy free Snickerdoodle Soft Baked Cookies! Enjoy Life sent me product to try. All opinions are of course my own and I am excited to share this wonderful brand with you!


Decadent (( + Dairy Free)) Snickerdoodle Pops // Natasha Red
Decadent (( + Dairy Free)) Snickerdoodle Pops // Natasha Red

One of my favorite parts of living in this new small(er) town is simple pleasures like the ice cream man coming to our neighborhood. Brings back sweet memories of running down the hill at my parents house when I was a child and grabbing a fudgsicle to enjoy while watching the hot air balloons fly over our neighborhood.

Since summer started, we have heard the ice cream truck music as it drives around our neighborhood but for some reason they hadn't come to our street. Last week as our family headed outside for a walk, Reaghan started screaming that she heard the ice cream truck and a few seconds later they turn on our street! Of course we had to go up to it and indulge her sweet little girl spirit in an ice cream pop.

I captured the whole thing on snapchat and I'm so glad I have that sweet memory!! It was just as cute as you would imagine.

Decadent (( + Dairy Free)) Snickerdoodle Pops // Natasha Red

I'd say Rae has had a popsicle almost every afternoon this summer. I totally feel okay with that because most of these "popsicles" are really leftover frozen smoothies. She doesn't care what's in them - just as long as it's a frozen treat on a stick. Who else out there loves to make treats with their littles during the summer time? It's just seriously too fun for me to see Rae light up with excitement over "ice cweam" and getting that special treat on those super hot Texas afternoons.

Decadent (( + Dairy Free)) Snickerdoodle Pops // Natasha Red
Decadent (( + Dairy Free)) Snickerdoodle Pops // Natasha Red

Making treats that are healthy is so important to me as a mom. I want to be able to give my kids all the fun memories surrounding food that childhood brings without loading them up with sugar and artificial ingredients. Enjoy Life products are certified gluten-free, and free from the top 8 most common food allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish). This makes my heart so happy for all of my allergy-free friends and doesn't hurt when I'm trying to create a yummy treat with my girl.

We've been using Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips for years and love love love them.

Ingredients

Notes: If you are not DF and are wondering how to sub coconut milk/cream just sub 1 1/2 cups of any other kind of milk, and 1/2 cup Greek yogurt.

Since the snickerdoodle cookies are very sweet, I like leaving them as the only sweetness in these pops so that their flavor is really recognized and not overpowered by an overall sweetness. I left honey in the ingredients though in case you like that extra pop of sweet.

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except the cookies in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Add cookies and pulse a couple of times just to evenly break them up.

What's your favorite summer tradition? Do you visit the ice cream truck in your neighborhood?

Parmesan Herb Fries

Hey friends! If you need a quick side dish to add to your Fourth of July fare today, these fries are it! They are packed with flavor, with Parmesan, salt, a hint of garlic and herbs. I still have a ton of fresh rosemary from our CSA so I went ahead and mixed some in with a dried herb blend I also have. These fries are simple to throw together - we don't even peel the skin off and I love the texture it gives. Our whole family gobbled these up for dinner the other night with some homemade ranch. I hope you and your family will love them too!

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon herbs*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder*
  • Parmesan (optional but highly recommended!)

*Notes: Arrowroot powder is a non-GMO version of corn starch.

For the herbs, you can use fresh or dried. If fresh, make sure to chop them up very finely. Rosemary is my favorite on these :)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Cut potatoes in half length wise, then each piece in half again length wise. From there slice them into whatever size fries you like, I like doing about 4-5 slices from there then cutting those in half for a medium thickness (see picture below).
  3. Place potato slices into a large bowl.
  4. Drizzle about 1/4 cup of olive oil over the potatoes, just enough to coat them.
  5. Sprinkle the seasonings (herbs, salt and garlic powder) over the potatoes.
  6. Sprinkle arrowroot powder in and mix everything together so that all the potato slices are completely coated with oil, seasonings, and arrowroot powder. The slices tend to stick together so be mindful of this while mixing.
  7. Lay the potato slices evenly on a large baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. When done, turn the broil setting on and bake for another 5 minutes.
  8. Turn the oven temperature off and sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the fries and put them back in the oven for 2 minutes or so, until the cheese is melted.

We are planning to head to our small town parade and fair today. I'm hoping Reaghan can get her face painted for the first time! What are your plans for the 4th?

Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I love eating with the seasons. Something about it just slows me down long enough to appreciate the hands who grew and prepared my food. Seeking to live a simple life, cultivating gratitude for the mundane and simple joys of the everyday sets my heart on fire. You may not think this has anything to do with muffins, and maybe it doesn't, but it has everything to do with how we've been sourcing as much of our food as we can from local farms if possible. Recently we've been using a home delivery CSA (yes, they deliver veggies from their farm and meat TO.MY.DOOR) called Harvest to House. If you're local to North Texas, you need to try them!

And if you're new to eating seasonal (or just need some fresh inspiration!) and want to know what's in season for the summer and get some summer dinner ideas, check out this post.

Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins with buckwheat flour, perfect for a quick breakfast or snack! // Natasha Red Blog
Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins with buckwheat flour, perfect for a quick breakfast or snack! // Natasha Red Blog

As far as using up some of those delicious summer berries, we decided to add them to muffins as a snack. We love us some muffins around here, especially sweet baby Reaghan......who we still call that despite the fact that she's practically 16...I mean 3. My girl loves berries, so I decided to mix a couple of her favorite foods!

Make sure to check out the notes section below the recipe for a flour switch if you're not gluten free, and using cardamon spice!

Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins with buckwheat flour, perfect for a quick breakfast or snack! // Natasha Red Blog

Ingredients

  • 1 cup strawberries + a few extra for topping
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups buckwheat flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • cooking spray

*Notes: If you are not gluten free, you can substitute whole wheat flour. I get my buckwheat flour from Thrive Market, which you can learn more about here! Buckwheat flour is what I often have on hand, so even if you're not gluten free, this is a great flour to stock your pantry with since it packs a lot more nutrition per serving than regular wholewheat flour including protein, iron and zinc, copper and antioxidants. Also, cardamon is listed as optional above, because it's not a pantry staple, BUT I think everyone needs to try this spice. It smells almost minty when you open the jar, but gives a subtle spicey sweetness that I love in baked goods. It's hard to explain, but I hope you'll try it!

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 F

  1. Blend all the wet ingredients (strawberries, applesauce, honey, eggs and vanilla) in a blender.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together with a wooden spoon.
  4. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray and fill with batter.
  5. Cut up a few extra strawberries (about 5-6) into small pieces and push a few into the tops of the batter.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.
Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins with buckwheat flour, perfect for a quick breakfast or snack! // Natasha Red Blog
Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins with buckwheat flour, perfect for a quick breakfast or snack! // Natasha Red Blog
Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins with buckwheat flour, perfect for a quick breakfast or snack! // Natasha Red Blog

This is a great recipe to double and freeze for later, send in a care package to the next mama in your life who has a baby, or for a play date! What's your favorite summer produce?

Loving Our Mailman

Our church is studying the fruit of the Spirit this summer so I've been going over it with Reaghan at home. Last week we talked about love and it got me thinking how I am not great at loving the people on the margins of my life. My home group, our church community, even friends who do not believe in God but who I have a connection with, are much more easy to relate to. I've been trying to think about who these people might be. Our neighbors for sure, clerks at stores, people very different from me culturally, our mail carrier, etc.

Our mailman at our old house was just the best, and such a big help with shipping questions when I was starting my shop. I would chase him down the street sometimes just to give him a package so I didn't have to leave the house! Ha! He dealt with a lot and I really feel for them...they have such an exhausting job.

In our new neighborhood, we have a mail lady! She is the sweetest and talked with us the first week we moved in. It's already been up to 100 degrees here in Texas these past couple of weeks, so I know she is just dying out there. I wanted to do something sweet for her since she probably needs the encouragement and extra water.

We picked up some bottled water from the store and tied a simple note to them with ribbon. Very simple! Then we just slipped it into our mailbox in the morning, since she usually comes around 11 am. I'm hoping that meant it stayed cool. If you're doing this in a really hot area like we are, I definitely suggest popping them in the refrigerator for a couple hours before putting in the mailbox, so they stay cool longer! No one likes hot water! Be careful of the condensation though and a paper note, you may need to put the note next to the water and not tied to it. I even thought that if your mailbox isn't big enough to hold something this big, you could also put a little note in there that says "Come to our front porch for a surprise!" ... or something like that :)

I had been trying to think of ways to bridge the gap between our family and our neighbors or the people who serve us. I'm hope this act of love will lead the way to a deeper relationship with her, and that we'll have the chance to love on her more in the future!

Do you have ideas for bringing that gap and loving on those in the margins of your life? I'd love to hear your thoughts!