Category: Cooking Page 1 of 3

Meal Prep

Since having 2 kids mealprep has become absolutely essential in my life. I’m not one of those people who has to eat a different dinner every single night, I’m content to eat the same thing so long as it’s something I find delicious. Pictured above is chicken tika masala over rice. Dinner for myself and my husband.

Cooking? Sure! Baking? Not so Much

I am not much of a baker, I never have been. BUT I did make my husband a nice angel food cake for his birthday, covered in whip cream and strawberries. It was amazing.

I haven’t been able to get much gaming in at all, but I am slowly adding games to my laptop, and have I mentioned how much I love it?!

Probably once or twice by now..

Day 9 – Caribbean-Spiced Veggie & Sausage Skewers

The final meal that I was trying out from Hello Fresh was these delicious looking pork sausage skewers. The potato salad threw me off because it’s made with very simple but odd to me items. It was mayo (real stuff, not miracle whip stuff), white wine vinegar, sugar, red onion, parsley, and potato. Red ones this time instead of the yukon yellows that I had in the first meal.

Still, the flavours were fantastic. It was a bit spicy for my husband, but I didn’t mind it too much. Since we don’t have a grill and I ended up ruining the oven temporarily, I used our little flat top counter grill to cook the kabobs. I did find that the meat portion was lacking slightly in this rendition. They give you 8 skewers, but I was only able to make 6 with the portions of meat I had on hand. Maybe I cut them too large, but they seemed to be the proper size for the item mentioned.

As I mentioned yesterday, it was $32 for 6 meals (3 meals for 2) and I couldn’t really go wrong taking it for a test. None of the meals were especially fancy, they were all easy to prepare, took 30 minutes or less to cook, and were all enjoyable. We’ll see how the next trial turns out (Good Food, which I have honestly never heard of before) and then maybe we’ll stick with one for a bit to make things easier at home while I continue to heal from my c-section and watch two children under two.

Bon appetit!

Day 8 – Zesty Hoisin Chili Beef

Meal two from Hello Fresh was hoisin beef, which I was really excited about. Some of my favourite flavours are right there on the plate, and unlike Chef’s Plate where I found the meals almost too small for two people, this one meal seemed gigantic. It could have easily created 4 meals for myself (but of course I shared with the husband, so it came to less than that).

It was easy to prepare, didn’t take many ingredients, and was still packed full of flavour. So far Hello Fresh is shaping up to be one of the better meal delivery services I’ve tried. I do have a basket order of Good Food coming in next week, a family member gave me a coupon for an entire free trial of food (3 meals for 2 people) and they look REALLY fancy. It’ll be interesting to compare and see how the food is. From my cousin’s description she enjoys the flavours of Good Food but the meats in Hello Fresh are incredible.

Either way, it’s great to get out of my comfort zone when it comes to food. Being pregnant and running after a 2 year old all day means that I tend to stick to simple meal plans that I know we’ll enjoy and I can whip up without too much thought. That doesn’t leave a ton of room for creativity. Trying new foods and new flavours is great. Portion size is under control since they send me all of the ingredients, and it’s cheaper than buying fresh produce where I live. I understand that the price of these services is not something everyone wants to pay for, but in my case some weeks it’s simply worth it (plus I’ve only been trying out these services when they’re on sale at a hefty discount. I paid $32 for both Hello Fresh and Chef’s Plate, and Good Food is free… you can’t really go wrong with those prices).

Day 6 – Garlicky Shrimp

You might remember that not too long ago when my husband was in depot, I tried Chef’s Plate, a Canadian version of Blue Apron. Well, I since learned that Hello Fresh is a thing here in Canada, and unlike Chef’s Plate, they deliver here to Saskatchewan. With a 60% off coupon I decided why not try it for three meals and see if it’s something that we want to pursue going forward for healthy portioned meals. Fresh produce this far North is expensive, and I could use a break from all the meal planning from time to time.

I’m counting it as a creative endeavor because I think meals and meal preparation IS a creative task.

First up was garlicky shrimp.

It was amazing. The portion size was perfect, they offered lots of protein and I had zero complaints. I found the meal superior to the meals I had eaten at Chef’s Plate, and well worth the cost. My husband also enjoyed the meal which is great because I wasn’t sure if it was something he would be fond of. The potatoes filled us up, the baby arugula was a unique taste that neither of us would have thought to pair with everything else.

I’m looking forward to the next two meals.

Day 5 (hey, waffles are creative!)

For christmas last year my parents bought me one of those 5-in-1 griddle / panini press things and until yesterday it sat in the box collecting dust under my desk (blocking power cords from llama bean, actually). Then I had an incident with my oven preventing me from using it, so I dug it out so I could make some kabobs and noticed that it had a waffle attachment.

I’ve never made waffles before, I didn’t even know what the difference in recipe would be between waffles and pancakes (turns out not that much, waffles are a bit richer) but heck I was feeling creative so I decided to go for it.

They were pretty good. A bit thicker than I am used to (I’ve never had fresh waffles before, only frozen, so lets be honest here I have nothing to compare them to) but they seemed to turn out pretty well and they were really simple to make. I’d like to try my hand at some savory ones too, eventually. Have waffle recipes you want to share? Let me know in comments.

Meal Prep Sunday – Keto Edition

I’ve stalled out a bit with my weight loss, sitting at 191 (down from 248) and I still hope to get to 180 by January 29th so to kick start things I decided I’d try going back to keto temporarily. It’s usually a great way to get my body used to eating smaller meals, craving less carbs, and being nice and full from healthy fats.

Keto is not always the cheapest way for me to make and eat meals though, and I’m on a pretty strict budget so I had to come up with a meal plan that works for me for the week, and that sticks to my budget. Thankfully I have some ground beef and tuna so I don’t have to make a purchase there.

  • Breakfast: bacon & eggs. Add some hot sauce to spice up the eggs and I’ll be set.
  • Lunch: spicy salami stuffed with cream cheese, and tomato tuna bites. Basically you slice up a tomato, top it with tuna (a bit of mayo, salt, pepper), cover it with some cheese and pop it into the oven until it’s a melted mess. Sort of like an open face sandwich but without all the bread.
  • Dinner: spicy meatballs with a sauce, and cauliflower buffalo bites. Another really easy recipe. Simple meatballs cooked in a muffin tin with a tiny bit of sauce, and cheese melted over top. The cauliflower is just tossed with some melted butter and some hot sauce then baked.
  • Snacks: pickles and olives. You’ve gotta be a fan of these for it to work, but they work for me.

A simple week of foods that don’t have too much cooking. The total cost comes to about $40 CAD, with the most expensive item being the package of bacon – I plan on getting the good thick cut stuff. I wanted a break from chicken, I’ll probably go back to that staple next week.

We’ll see if this helps to kick start my weight loss again. In the past it has done wonders but we’ll have to see. I can’t do keto long term, it’s just not something I can ever stick with, but I do like how full I feel while on it and it does help me get back to eating smaller meals instead of trying to fill my plate with all the things.

Meal Prep Sunday

Sunday. A day I really just don’t like. I spend most of it cleaning and cooking, doing groceries and other chores that need to get done. By the time Monday rolls around though I’m incredibly thankful that I’ve gotten all of my meal cooking done on Sunday, even if it does make that one day stressful.

This week was pretty easy. I spent about $50 CAD total on groceries for me for the week (not including things that llama bean also eats / needed). The menu was simple, this time of year simple comfort food is what works best for me.

I made turkey meat pies with mashed potatoes and gravy (potato recipe, cooked in my instant pot). That would be dinner for the week.

Roast beef sandwich meat was on sale, one of my absolute favourites. I don’t normally like sandwiches, but combine it with buns (also on sale), chipotle mayo, some aged cheddar, and lettuce – and now we’re talking. Lunch is a roast beef sandwich with chipotle mayo, and egg bites (for lack of a better word). The instant pot crowd had been going absolutely bonkers for these egg bite things that you can buy at Starbucks, it’s apparently much cheaper to make them. I used this recipe. I did it wrong, but they still turned out, just not exactly as I expected. You’re supposed to blend everything up in a blender to make all the pieces tiny and the mixture light and fluffy. I did none of that, so I still have egg bites with ham and cheese but texture wise they’re not airy. No big deal, I only made enough for a few days to start so I’ll make sure I blend the second batch.

Snacks are another easy comfort food, smoked oysters were on sale, so I got a few packages of those along with some black bean garlic crackers that are just delicious. Honestly, there was very little actual cooking involved this week, and I think that’s OK. Meals are portioned out, and I know it’s food I won’t get bored of eating.

Health wise, I’m down to 191 pounds. My goal was to reach 190 before my husband came home last week but I was two pounds off. My next goal is to reach 180 by his graduation, January 29th. I’m hoping I can do this even with the holidays just around the corner. Still, 248 to 191 in a year is not too shabby.

For weight loss the key for me has really been all about pre-planning my meals, taking the stress out of what I’m going to eat, and portion control. I eat whatever I have a desire to eat, sometimes that’s pizza, sometimes it’s sandwhiches, other times it’s tacos. I don’t deny myself food, but I do go in knowing what I’m going to eat from Sunday-Saturday and I stick with it. Removing the stress from cooking a different meal every single day and having to decide what I’m going to eat every single day has helped my frame of mind when it comes to food and knowing that food is not bad. For me, it works. I know this isn’t the case for everyone. I’ve been doing this for 17 weeks now and I’ve gone from 215 to 191 in that 17 week period. It’s just a matter of trying to figure out what works for you.

Sunday Meal Prep

I know it’s Monday now but yesterday was one of those crazy Sunday’s where you just don’t have enough time to get everything you want done. I did complete all the meal prep stuff I wanted to though (sort of) so that was nice. This week I’m having deconstructed chicken gyro with brown rice and homemade tzatziki sauce for lunch, and I’m having homemade chili with dinner rolls for supper. I also made apple crisp and put it at the bottom of some mason jars then filled the jars with homemade yogurt for breakfast. Unfortunately the instant pot was taken up making yogurt for most of the day, so my chili never finished cooking (I use dehydrated beans, they’re cheaper and just as tasty) so that will be on the block for today.

I don’t really have recipes to share because these are all comfort foods that I tend to just wing, but the dinner rolls pictured above are delicious and super easy to make, so I’ll share what I do.

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1 package of quick acting yeast
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • pinch of salt

Take 3/4 a cup of flour, mix in the sugar and yeast. In a separate bowl,  combine the warm water, milk, butter, and salt. Add the flour mixture that has the yeast, combine (it will be REALLY wet). Add the remaining flour until it’s not so wet, knead for about 10 minutes, add more flour if it’s still wet. Put it in a covered bowl in a draft free place until it has doubled in size (about an hour). Spray or grease a muffin tin. Divide the ball of dough into 12 portions, put each ball in the muffin tin. Cover loosely with a dish towel and let sit until those double in size (another 30 minutes). Put in the oven at 365F for 20 minutes. They should be a golden brown and when you tap the bottom they should sound hollow.

Not too exciting, but they taste delicious and go well with chili.

Meal prep has been the biggest reason I’ve lost 53lbs this year. I’ve got healthy home cooked meals already portioned out for the entire week, and while Sunday might be a long day because that’s when I do all my cooking, come Monday I’m very grateful. There’s no binge eating, there’s no eating poorly because I don’t feel like cooking, it’s all right there. If I want a little treat I don’t deny myself, but my meals are typically filling enough that I don’t spend much time eating anything else. I also ensure that whatever I do eat is something I have made myself (not processed or fast food). I haven’t started doing a lot of exercising yet (aside from taking care of my son, going for walks, that sort of stuff) but I hope to start doing that once I have a bit more free time. For now I’m happy with my progress.

What To Do With Left Over Pickle Juice

I love things pickled. One of my favourite things to eat pickled (besides, you know, pickles) is pickled eggs but they’re quite pricey. A small jar will typically run about $15 (Canadian). Turns out they’re really easy to make. I had an empty jar of extra garlic pickles (kept the brine) and some eggs and some vinegar.

That’s pretty much all you need, or you can make your own brine from scratch. I boiled the brine along with the extra vinegar, and added some extra spices for a bit of heat. I cooked the eggs in my instant pot (no fuss and they’re done in 5 minutes) peeled them, and put them into the pickle jar. I sealed the jar, let it sit out until it cooled down, and popped it into the fridge for a few days.

Yesterday was the first day I opened it up to see how they came out.

Fantastic.

The flavour is decidedly tart – but not so tart that it makes your mouth pucker, and not in an uncomfortable way. Sometimes you get such a heavy vinegar taste that it makes the food obnoxious to eat, but not in this case. All it cost was the $2.99 carton of eggs, and they’ll last in the fridge for a very long time.

So before you go tossing out that pickle juice – try some pickled eggs (or carrots). Yum.

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