My meal planning starts with a list of possible dinners for an entire month to feed my family of six. Planning a whole month may seem overwhelming, but it is easy to come up with 30 meals my family will enjoy and if the meal just doesn't seem right for that particular night, I love the array of ideas at my fingertips. First, I start by considering the following:
My pantry and freezers stay well-stocked and translate into our favorite go-to meals. Fall crisp, and cool weather inspires me to cook hearty meals such as soups, stews, and other yummy dishes simmering in the crockpot all day. If I can grow vegetables in our garden, we can enjoy the fruits of our labor or visit a local farmers market for fresh, local produce. Dedicating one night a week to a fun family movie night with a coordinating menu is a wonderful way to get the kids involved in menu planning.
Once I have my list of meals, I have a calendar that I use and save each month as a reference for future meals. I make sure to match meals with specific dates based on what we have going on as a family. Planning a complicated dish that takes ages to cook would be best suited on a night when we have time to prepare it with family.
Menu planning may seem like a lot of work, but it saves me loads of time and money! I am not wasting time staring at the shelves in my pantry trying to decide what to eat or camping out on Pinterest trying to get inspired. I love saving money by only buying what we need and about 90% is in bulk. One of the most important reasons we meal plan is to make sure we are making healthy food choices. We may eat out once or twice a month, but typically we have a plan, and the right ingredients at home, therefore, spending money outside of our home is unnecessary, which is excellent for our tummies, thighs and wallets.
Most importantly, menu planning is about finding what works for you and your family, balancing routine and freedom, healthy and comforting, affordable, and treating yourself. Let’s feed ourselves and our loved ones delicious, healthy, homemade food. Feel free to share your favorite recipes for another monthly menu.
Happy menu planning, preparing, creating, and sharing! To download my November menu, click on the calendar shown above.
Have you noticed how condiments can take your meal from healthy to unhealthy? Whether it's the unnecessary addition of sugar or soybean oil, many include ingredients such as added oils that are missing from the beautiful marketing on the front of the bottle or jar! Oils like soybean, canola, and other "seed" oils are highly oxidized oils with highly inflammatory effects on the entire body. The best options are organic, cold, and expeller-pressed coconut or avocado oils. Unlike seed oils, these healthy oils really do come from vegetables!
This fresh homemade mayonnaise has no sugar, artificial ingredients, or soy. It tastes so delicious you will never go back too store-bought again.
Yields about a Pint
1 Large Egg (room temperature)
1 1/2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar or White Vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Granulated garlic
Kosher salt to taste
1 cup Avocado Oil
Optional ingredients to add or omit:
Who is ready for some breakfast? My English Muffin Egg Breakfast Sandwiches are a convenient make-ahead meal for your family. Make-ahead sandwiches are always a good idea for any family that is on the go! Breakfast, in our little homeschool, is the most important part of our day. If my kids do not eat a well-balanced meal, filling their tummies full of good protein and carbs, they stay in the kitchen all day begging for food.
Making these ahead and popping them in the freezer also makes them a handy and healthy grab and go breakfast. After you have baked the sandwiches allow them to cool. Individually wrap sandwiches in aluminum foil and place them in a freezer bag. When you are ready to grab your sandwich from the freezer, remove the tin foil and wrap the sandwich in a paper towel, pop it in your microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until desired warmth.
6 English muffins
9 eggs, scrambled
6 slices of ham
1-2 cups of shredded SHARP cheddar
4 tablespoons cooked bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons melted butter
Freshly cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Separate English muffins and place the bottom half in a 9 X 13 casserole dish.
3. Spread scrambled eggs over muffin bottoms, followed by the ham, cheese and bacon.
4. Place the remaining English muffins on top.
5. Brush muffins with melted butter.
6. Top with freshly cracked pepper.
6. Bake for 20 minutes.
7. Serve and enjoy!
Family Favorite Salisbury Steak
Nothing says comfort food like Salisbury steaks! This is my family favorite version of the ever-popular TV Dinner classic from the Hungry Man, and putting my homemade twist on a bland and boring dish. My recipe leaves out store bought soup mixes but includes a yummy gravy that is delicious served over mashed potatoes or cauliflower mash. This is the perfect easy winter meal that is inexpensive, tasty, family and kid-approved.
1 lb Lean Grass-Fed Ground Beef
1/3 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
2 tsp Ketchup
1 tsp Mustard (I use yellow mustard)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Dried Minced Onion
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil or avocado oil
2 tbsp of Brown Gravy Mix
2 cups hot Water
1 tsp Ketchup
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Optional: I also recommend sautéing onions in butter before cooking the patties for a nice addition to this meal.
Yummy Homemade Yeast Rolls
We are heading to my parents' house for dinner on Christmas night. The menu and shopping list are made and thank goodness I have the easy meals to prepare this year! The menu typically does not change a whole lot each year. My dad prepares the prime rib roast, mom handles the gravy and green beans, my sister brings the salad and desserts, and I prepare the mashed potatoes. This year was a little different because I usually buy the store bought frozen dinner yeast rolls, but I wanted to make homemade yeast rolls for the first time and also incorporate my oldest child into the fun for a little home economics lesson.
This past week we learned about our senses and how different things feel, smell, and touch. So what better way to incorporate all of our senses than to make homemade yeast rolls which were already needed for our Christmas dinner. We made the dough together once we got all of the ingredients out and measured each. She helped knead the dough as well. It rolled so many activities into one, science, motor skills, and sensory to name a few. She has always said she's the baker, I'm the mixer and daddy is the fixer. I highly recommend making this with your children and as a little added tip - clean up as you go!
Here are some of the learning activities involved in this activity:
If you make this recipe a head of time and your dough balls are frozen, simply pull them out the day of and they will thaw and rise while the last minute stuff gets done.
1 cup boiling water
2 TBSP oil (avocado or canola)
1/4 cup of unsalted butter plus melted butter or brushing the tops of rolls before baking
3 TBSP granulated sugar
1 package active dry yeast (not instant or rapid rise)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp kosher salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Easy Instant Pot Boiled Peanuts
Let’s talk about boiled peanuts a true 𝒮𝑜𝓊𝓉𝒽𝑒𝓇𝓃 delicacy! I used to cook boiled peanuts all day in my crockpot, but you can cut your cooking time down substantially in a pressure cooker. My 𝐄𝐚𝐬𝐲 𝐈𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐏𝐨𝐭 𝐁𝐨𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐏𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐬 recipe is delicious, the peanuts come out tender, and it is so easy to make! Boiled peanuts are the perfect summertime snack. If you have never had the pleasure of eating a boiled peanut, you need to try this recipe. It’s kid-friendly and southern mom approved! Now that I know how fast and easy it is to make my life is just about complete.
2 pounds raw peanuts
1/3 cup salt
Water to cover
Healthy Homemade Blueberry Muffins
These perfectly moist Healthy Homemade Blueberry Muffins are a fun way to bring smiles to your breakfast table. This recipe is my healthy way to serve a less fattening, calorie-rich breakfast to my kiddos. What I love about this recipe is you can use fresh or frozen blueberries or feel free to use other fruit instead like blackberries!
A fun alternative to this recipe is adding a few drops of Lemon essential oil. The added lemon oil gives them that lemony zest and makes them even healthier. I make sure to drink lemon oil in my water daily to detox my body and create an alkaline PH. It is so important for us all to create an alkaline PH in our body because cancer can grow in a body that has an acidic PH, not an Alkaline PH. Lemon oil is the easiest way to achieve alkalinity.
If you have leftover muffins simply put them on a cookie sheet and place it in your freezer for about 30 minutes. Take them out and put them in a freezer bag and store in your freezer. You can take them out and wrap a paper towel around them and set it to defrost for a few seconds in the microwave. How is that for a healthy, quick breakfast or a tasty treat anytime you want!
For Blueberry Muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Coconut Oil, melted
1/3 cup Milk
2 large eggs
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries-fresh or frozen(thawed
1–2 tablespoon flour
sugar for sprinkling
3 drops of Certified Organic Lemon essential oil (I use Revive Organic essential oils) or Lemon extract
1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees and spray your muffin pan with cooking spray or use paper liners.
2. In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and granulated sugar and then add the yogurt, coconut oil, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Add the essential oil or lemon extract here as well.
4. Using a wooden spoon, fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together being sure not to mix it too much.
5. In a small bowl sprinkle blueberries with 1-2 tablespoon flour and toss them until all blueberries are coated with thin layer of flour and then fold them really gently in the batter.
6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling about 2/3 of each cup. Sprinkle the blueberries generously with granulated sugar.
7. Place them in the oven and bake about 20-25 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
8. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan then remove muffins and cool on a wire rack.
If you are searching for a kid-friendly fish and creamy pasta dinner with hidden greens that your kids will love, then taste the deliciousness. My kids love pasta and Mommy wants them to have plenty of protein and greens too! So, here is a recipe that keeps us both happy. Pasta is a go-to around our kitchen my kids would eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, every day, but I love my greens so there needs to be a little balance! This simple yet impressive, Baked Salmon and Creamy Parmesan Sauce with Pasta and Kale is a favorite in our household, however, because I like to limit my carbs I keep the pasta separate and only add it to the kid's portion. This is such a quick and easy dinner that will amaze you. So delicious, easy to make for your family, and can be made ahead! Simply pop the salmon in the oven to bake the day before you plan to serve it, and it is ready for you to add to the warm creamy sauce all in under 30 minutes.
Here are the ingredients:
1 lb. salmon skinless and boneless
1 lb package of uncooked pasta I use angel hair for the kiddos
3 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion chopped
kale (1 package of pre-washed kale, or a big bunch)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
2 garlic cloves minced
salt and pepper to taste
How to prepare:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
2. Place salmon on cookie sheet drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle each filet with salt and pepper.
3. Bake for 20 minutes or until internal temperature of the salmon reaches 145 degrees.
4. Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, sauté the onion in butter over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.
5. Add the kale and cook it for 1-2 minutes, until wilted.
6. Add the heavy cream, Parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer on low heat.
7. Just before serving add salmon. Stir together and serve (adding the pasta on the kids plates first and mix on their plates.
8. Garnish with grated Parmesan.
I'm a former high school teacher now homemaker and Principal of Soaring Pine Private Academy. I am so very thankful for each day that God blesses me with my sweet family. I hope you enjoy my blog where I'm happy to share our homeschool journey from our home nestled in the woods, recipes and more!