Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How I Meal Plan

I have a new method of meal planning that is working rather slick, so I thought I'd share it with you. I'm a little OCD about lists, so it only made sense that I should create an Excel Spreadsheet for my Menu. It's so easy to cut and paste to shift ideas around.

Start with a basic spreadsheet, adding the header row titles. Then fill in with your meal ideas. Typically I get a basic plan, grocery shop, than revise the plan for a final print out. Use the side column to write meal prep info such as thawing, make ahead, or grocery shop. At the end of the week I evaluate what meals we may not have eaten, or what's left in the pantry or fridge that needs to be used up.
Notice I used wide rows with narrow but uniform sized columns. I highlighted the worksheet and made all cells to "Wrap Text." Though not necessary, I used the "Freeze Pane" option to freeze the header row in place, so when I scroll down I can still see those headings.
When you are updating this every 1-2 weeks, you can cut and paste old weeks onto a separate worksheet within the same file (tabs at bottom of spreadsheet). I sort them alphabetically for quick searches. I can then copy and paste old meal ideas into the main Menu worksheet.

Finally, I can quickly print this out to clip to my fridge. Anyone in the family can see what we're making for each meal - and hopefully help if they're really hungry or feeling inspired to cook/serve.
What's for breakfast? Go look at the menu!
Often times due to schedule changes, what we're in the mood for, or what might spoil earlier than anticipated - we might choose a meal from somewhere else on the menu. I simply check off what we've eaten to see what is left to choose from. I use the blank space on the page to add grocery list items as needed.
I hope that inspired some of you to get a spreadsheet started! If so, please let me know by commenting on this post.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

First Communion Meal Ideas

There is so much preparation that happens before a child's First Holy Communion. Here is what I put together for food that may inspire you! For the rest of the plan - check out my blog post on Homegrown Catholics: First Communion Ideas

This was our healthy, Paleo meal at our second child's reception.

Grilled Brats, Mashed Potatoes, Sauerkraut, buns, etc
Stanley 1st Communion
Veggie Tray, pickles, mints
Stanley 1st Communion
Broccoli-Cauliflower Salad
Stanley 1st Communion
Drinks were coffee, juice, water, and drink pouches.
Stanley 1st Communion

Click these to see our dessert!
First Communion Chalice Gelatin


First Communion Cupcake Rosary




Cinnamon Bread & Grapes


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pancake Muffins

Ever since I found this recipe on Pinterest, it’s been my go to breakfast and snack option. It’s that good and easy! I use it so often, it’s magnet clipped to my microwave for quick reference.

I must first give credit to Family Fresh Meals for the original recipe. Corey, this really is a Mom’s dream come true. Even our children get involved making this. My husband likes it, because he’s terrible at making regular pancakes. I am posting this not only to make sure everyone hears about it, but to share my adaptations.

We are a gluten-free family, so I start with Wild Roots’ Gluten Free Ancient Grain Pancake & Waffle Mix we found at Costco. We also use Kirkland’s Organic Maple Syrup found at Costco. Yes, Costco is my go-to place for our groceries. Buying in Bulk is true “family size” for us.



2 C. Pancake Mix

2/3 C Milk

2 Eggs

1/2 C Maple Syrup


Preheat oven to 350*. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Optional add-ins below**.

Scoop Dough (heaping Tbsp) into silicone muffin cups or liners. Makes 24.

Bake 350* for 15 minutes. Cool and eat plain or with syrup/butter/cream cheese.

These can be cooled and put in fridge for 3-4 days, or freeze for a quick grab later. They can be thawed or microwaved.


**OPTIONAL ADD-INS – This is my favorite part!

Let the kids help pick their add-ins. You can fill all the muffin cups with the batter and add in these ingredients for a wide variety, or mix one option into the batter before scooping it into cups. The measurements are to mix into the entire batch.

CRANBERRY COCONUT: 1 C Cranberries, 1/4 C Unsweetened Coconut, 1 Tbsp Cinnamon, 1 tsp Vanilla Extract. (Orange zest would be nummy too)

APPLE CINNAMON: 1 Diced Apple, 2 Tbsp Cinnamon. Optional put a caramel square in each.

CORN DOGS: The ancient grain mix with syrup is reminiscent of corn bread. Mix in 1/2 C Corn Kernels, then add a Hot Dog Piece to each cup.

SNIKERDOODLE: 3 Tbsp Cinnamon in batter, sprinkle Cinnamon & Sugar on top.

PORK & CHEESE: 1 C Cooked Bacon Pieces or Ground Sausage, 1/4-1/2 C Shredded Cheese, 1 tsp Salt (opt)

BLUEBERRY CINNAMON: 1 C Fresh or Frozen Blueberries, and optional 1 Tbsp Cinnamon, 1/4 C Shredded Coconut

CHOCOLATE CHIP: 1 C Chocolate Chips, 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract (opt)

BANANA BREAD: 1 Ripe Banana, 1 Tbsp Cinnamon

PUMPKIN RAISIN BREAD:  1/4 C Pumpkin Puree, 3/4 C Raisins, 1 tsp Pumpkin Spice. Don’t forget the cream cheese spread later!




*Caramel Squares

*Other chips, such as butterscotch, choc mint, white chocolate, etc.

*Venison Sausage

*Dried Fruit

I’ve read others have used Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake Mix and other name brand mixes with great success. If you don’t have pancake mix, you can make your own using this basic recipe:

2 C flour, 4 Tbsp sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt

Friday, February 27, 2015

Gluten Free Cinnamon Cereal Bars or Granola

Pumpkin seed Currant Rice Cereal Bars - Granola


I really enjoyed trying a new recipe for making rice cereal bars that used almond butter and honey in place of marshmallows and butter. The kids ate them up! We cut them into cubes and made it a Minecraft-inspired afternoon treat.

Choc Almond Butter Krispie Bars

Then attempting to make a second batch, I decided to add some other items from my cupboards. It turned out to be reminiscent of a healthy version of our favorite Cinnamon Chex or Cinnamon Toast Crunch - which we no longer eat. It was so good, I thought it worth the time to share the recipe!

Eat it pressed as bars (perhaps smothered in a thin layer of melted chocolate, or let it crumble and add Almond or Coconut Milk at breakfast or snack time!



Makes a 9x13 pan full

  • 1 cup creamy almond butter*
  • 2/3 cup honey**
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 4 cups rice square cereal
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Seeds (small, organic)
  • 1/2 cup Currants (or raisins)
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon


  1. In a pot over medium heat, add almond butter, honey, and vanilla, stirring until the almond butter is melted and fully combined with the honey.
  2. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients, stirring well until everything is fully combined.
  3. Pour into prepared 9x13 pan (opt lined with wax paper or foil, or greased) and use a spatula or your hands to distribute the mixture evenly, pressing down firmly to ensure that the mixture is tightly packed.
  4. Place pan into fridge and allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting into squares/bars. Best kept cold in fridge or it falls apart.

NOTE: If you want this to be a crumbly granola, it can be broken up and put into bowls and cooled instead of into the pan.


* Any nut butter will work. Or use soy nut butter for a nut-free version.
** Sub in brown rice syrup to make these vegan. Maple syrup and agave will not work because they're not thick enough.


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