It’s already mid-November! Gasp! Things are about to get crazy folks.
This time of year it’s hard for me to stay sane. There are a million errands to run, cookies to bake, pie crusts to roll out, and events to attend. And that’s just the beginning. Christmas will be here before we know it. Gulp. Organization is key to taking care of the small everyday details so that I can be free to
enjoy try to embrace the chaos of the season.
One of the ways that I try to keep the crazy at a minimum in our house is to plan our meals in advance. This is something that I do year round, but during the holidays, it is a life-saver! Planning out our meals at the beginning of each week saves us time, money, and energy because I only go to the grocery store once and am able to buy some ingredients in bulk when appropriate. Avoiding a stop at the grocery store on my way home from work during rush hour traffic is priceless!
Tips for Making Your Weekly Meal Plan Work
- Grocery shop on the same day each week. I find that shopping on the same day each week allows me a reasonable amount of time to plan ahead, but also keeps me from being over-whelmed or biting off more than I can chew. It also helps me to get into a predictable rhythm for re-stocking staples for our family (I buy hummus and eggs every week, bacon once a month, etc…)
- Be sure to check your calendar! Consulting the calendar is key. If I don’t take into account evenings when Mr. Thirdrow works late or planned dinner guests, I am not as likely to be prepared with the right amount of food and the best on hand recipes. This helps me to pick quick recipes for busy nights and leave more elaborate meals for a slower day.
- Post your menu. I write up our weekly schedule/menu and hang it on the fridge each week. It helps keep us on track and eat the food we’ve already purchased. When I come home at the end of the day it’s easy to opt for carry-out if I don’t have my plan in front of me.
- Be flexible. Life happens. Things come up. Sometimes you just want some Taco Bell, dangit. Keeping my menu handy allows me to easily shift things around so that food and money don’t do to waste when the plans change.
This is my weekly menu. Feel free to download a copy of my WeeklyMenuPlanner printable and use it yourself!
Posted by Erin on November 14, 2012
Every time we harvest tomatoes from our garden we find that about half of them have already split on the vine. I blame the heat. Of course, it probably also has to do with my laziness of not going out and harvesting often enough (again…I blame the heat).
I hate the idea of throwing these beauties away, but I am also totally grossed out by the gooey mess they leave in the veggie bowl on my counter. These would be perfect for making tomato sauce or fresh salsa, but sometimes a girl just doesn’t have another hour in the day to tackle another recipe. Solution: roast those lovelies in the oven right away – use some for dinner and freeze the rest for later.
Fill a jelly roll pan with a single layer of cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes at 425 degrees. You’ll know they are ready when they have burst and and your house smells amazing. I used about 1/3 of these to top bowlfuls of goat cheese risotto (recipe coming soon!) for our dinner. The rest were sealed tight and frozen. We’ll pull these out sometime in the fall or winter when we need a taste of summer.
Posted by Erin on August 8, 2012
With the spring season comes one of my favorite things – eating dinner outside on the patio. Dinners that are nice and light and perfect for summer. Fresh meals that go swimmingly with a glass of crisp white wine and lingering conversation while we watch the sunset in our backyard. I love those dinners.
One of my favorite easy, go to meals for nights like that is a fresh salad, full of mixed greens (Aldi has a box of artisan lettuce this week for less than $2) and garnished with crisp bacon pieces, avocado, and a runny poached egg. We’ve been making this salad for a while and, even thought it’s been yummy, the eggs have left much to be desired. My pot of boiling water was often full of gross stringy egg white bits and my poached eggs usually ended up being fried eggs over easy because I gave up on poaching. It was too hard, too messy.
My whole world changed last night. I decided to give poaching another try and I consulted my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook to see if they had a foolproof method. They do! The instructions were simple and easy to follow. If you don’t own this kitchen staple you should probably buy it. It’s a winner.
Fill a skillet nearly to the top with water and set over high heat to bring it to a boil. While heating, add in 2 Tablespoons of white wine vinegar and a healthy pinch of kosher salt. While you are waiting for the water to boil, prepare your eggs.
Crack your eggs gently into a teacup. You can put up to two eggs in each teacup – I made two eggs, each in their own cup. They suggest a minimum of two eggs and a maximum of 8 eggs, depending on the size of your skillet.
When the water reaches a boil, turn the heat down so that the water is simmering. Gently lower the edges of each teacup into the simmering water and let the eggs slide out as you remove the teacups. Remove the pan from the heat and cover. Set aside for 3-5 minutes (depending on how many eggs you are poaching – I let my eggs sit for 4 minutes and they were great! Next time I will probably only leave them in for about 3 minutes as I wanted them just a bit softer). Remove eggs carefully with a slotted spoon, serve, and enjoy!
Posted by Erin on March 22, 2012