Category Archives: food

Instant Pot Expedition – Alternative title: Late to the party as usual

I’m late to jump into most trends … Skinny jeans, riding boots, statement jewelry, snapchat (which I have already ditched) … you get the point, right?

Most recently? The instant pot.

Christmas time two years ago, I remember them being all the rage. I had no idea what the thunder they even were. I didn’t get the hype. Like, at all. Then one of my best friends got one, so I started paying more attention to it. Then I saw a screaming deal on Amazon’s Cyber Monday deal. So I bought one for Andy and the kids to give me on Christmas.

As of a few weeks ago, I had used it exactly 3 times since Christmas, to cook 2 different things. It intimidated me. Then I decided that was dumb. And committed to overcoming my fear and cooking at least one new IP meal a week.

I’m two weeks into my challenge. I’ve cooked 5 different meals. I’m still having to remember that even though something only needs to cook for “5 minutes” it still takes at least that long to get up to pressure before it actually starts cooking. That’s somewhat annoying and makes recipes a little misleading, but I think it lives up to the hype.

What I’ve cooked and my thoughts:

  1. One pot penne & meatballs – Andy and the kids loved this one! I like it but wouldn’t say I loved it. I did think it had a better flavor the next day when I ate it for lunch.
  2. Southwest stuffed peppers – Everyone but Lincoln liked this one! Well, the girls didn’t love the cooked pepper itself, but they liked the stuffing. My favorite part? The filling didn’t have to be cooked ahead of time.
  3. Roasted chicken – THIS WAS REVOLUTIONARY! The chicken was frozen solid. And in 90 minutes? Done. Great flavor, not dry and at all.
  4. Egg roll in a bowl  – eh. I made this one just for myself as a healthy lunch thing. It was ok. It certainly won’t become a new staple by any means.
  5. Chicken burrito bowls – Yumm. We love basically anything that could be considered taco-esque.

I’m now obsessed with looking through pinterest for recipe ideas and I’m definitely planning on sticking with my personal challenge.

How I Whole30’d


  • I have 3 kids, at the time of my first Whole30 they were 7, almost 3 and 9 months
  • I was still breastfeeding at the time of my first Whole30.
  • I worked full time, outside of the home
  • I worked out 4-ish times a week
  • I was the only one in my house to do it
  • I never read the “it starts with food” book
  • The real reason I did it: to trim down, maybe lose a few pounds to achieve my ultimate goal of fitting in my wedding dress by my 10th wedding anniversary

Favorite Resources:

  • Whole30recipes on Instagram was awesome. Every week they feature a new food blogger that shares tips, recipes, etc.
  • PDF Downloads on the Whole30 website. I used this area to do the bulk of my research before pulling the trigger. It includes a helpful shopping list download, how to eat out and more.
  • The day by day breakdown. This gave me a decent guide to know what to expect as I went.
  • Pinterest, of course.


  • For breakfasts during the week I ate egg cups that I cooked the weekend before. Eggs, sausage, bell peppers and asparagus. Sometimes I’d eat a side of berries, sometimes not. They say you’re not supposed to eat at your desk…but well, ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • I’d always do some kind of “big dinner” on Sunday night like roast a chicken, or pork roast. I’d do a giant pan of roasted garlic potatoes and then portion out the leftovers to go with my breakfasts for the next few days.
  • Making my own mayo was super easy and definitely a MUST. I really liked mixing it with salsa and using it as a dressing for taco salads or a dipping sauce for homemade fries.
  • I hardly used any coconut milk and coconut oil. This is an interesting point because SO many of the friends/people I followed that had done a W30 in the past raved and raved about both of those things. So naturally, at first I thought that meant I was doing something wrong.
  • Lunches were typically leftovers from the night before
  • I got really good at modifying meals that were already family favorites.


Favorite Meals (mostly because the entire family ate the SAME thing):

  • Taco Tuesday! Either as taco cups in butter lettuce, a taco salad or a burrito bowl over cauli-rice.
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Roasted chicken, roasted red potatoes, cooked carrots and brussel sprouts
  • Turkey burgers on butter lettuce topped with guac and my mayo/salsa mix, oven-roasted fries and fresh fruit
  • Spaghetti made with jarred (compliant) sauce and zucchini noodles

Burrito bowl: taco seasoned ground beef, lime-cumin cauli rice, bell peppers, avocado, cilantro, salsa // Steak, sauteed mushrooms, baked potato, asparagus // Southwest flavored turkey burger, guac, salsa/mayo mix, bell peppers, fries

Favorites Snacks: So technically, you’re not supposed to snack during Whole30, but a) I was working out a lot, b) I was still breastfeeding and c) I didn’t really care.

  • Lara bars. For the record they taste nothing like the “cookies” and “pies” they claim to in their names. But my favorites were the cashew cookie or the lemon bar. I ate one nearly every day.
  • Sparkling water. There are all different brands, but La Croix has a great variety of compliant flavors. Lime, Coconut , Grapefruit and Cherry-Lime were my go-to flavors.
  • Dry roasted almonds. Got them from Costco and a handful of them were a great way to put something in my stomach before my lunch time work out.
  • Apple & almond butter. This was always a good mid-afternoon snack.

Other tips:

  • Try to get someone to do it with you. I had a coworker, and a whole slew of online friends, doing it with me.
  • Pre-planning is everything.
  • Summer is a great time to do it because SO MUCH FRESH PRODUCE! and Grilling!

Things I learned:

  • I love black coffee. It’s still all I drink.
  • I ate a lot of meals out of bowls.
  • Good or bad, I am a serious creature of habit.
  • I didn’t really miss the bread or dairy.
  • I DID miss the sugars.

The results:

  • I lost 5-ish pounds.
  • I lost 5.5″ between my butt, belly button, true waist and hips.
  • I fit back into my wedding dress 6 weeks before my goal date!
  • Since I completed my first round, one of my sisters has done it twice, my mom has done it and now my other sister is doing it!

Taco Tuesday

We’ve been pretty die-hard Taco Tuesday fans in our house for a while now…so long that I can’t actually remember when it started. Over the course of our Taco Tuesdays we’ve even converted a number of people to following along. It often comes up in conversation at daycare drop off or pick up…especially on Tuesday {go figure}.

A few weeks ago, one of Rylee’s friends at daycare asked if she could come over for Taco Tuesday sometime. I laughed, and told her absolutely and I’d chat with her mom about it. We had a Taco Tuesday date set for the following week. Then Rylee had a TBall game that night so we rescheduled for the following week. Then Reese ended up with HFM so we rescheduled, yet again, for the following Tuesday.

Well, that Tuesday was this last Tuesday and the stars aligned and third time’s a charm and such and we made it happen! This is also kind of a big deal because it was both girls’ first time having a “without parents staying” playdate.

It was so much fun to watch the girls play together. They were glued at the hip. They, of course, excluded Reese which kind of made me chuckle because…little sisters. When her mom came to pick her up I had a serious flashback to when I was 6 years old and my best friend would come over. {We would always, always hide her in my closet and tell her mom that she wasn’t here anymore in hopes that she could stay longer. Go figure, it never worked.} Rylee hid her friend in hopes of getting her to stay even just a little longer.


We all decided a sleep over should happen soon.

I know I’ve said it before, but I am loving this school-age stage that Rylee is in! So many fun milestones to watch her experience.

Yup. Thankful.

Holy crap just realized I almost missed posting today! I guess I got too caught up in sleeping in until 8 am, not showering until 11 am, cooking a perfectly timed and quite delicious thanksgiving spread ready at 5:30 PM sharp, then eating dessert and playing board games for the next two hours.

Today was unlike any other thanksgiving we have ever had we went exactly zero places and didn’t even have anyone over until after 5:00.

I think every year since I’ve been out of the house I’ve remarked how “that didn’t even feel like thanksgiving”. I don’t think anything will ever feel like thanksgivings from my childhood…maybe because I’m the one doing the cooking, maybe because of family dynamics, or maybe because it seems like we have a different plan every year. There’s no real tradition yet. Now that the day is done I can say that’s exactly how I felt again this year. But..There were people I love. Lots of good food. And plenty of laughter. That’s definitely something to be thankful for.

How I do Meal Planning

I’ve noticed a lot of chatter online these last couple of weeks about meal planning and the dreaded question of “what’s for dinner?”. It got me to thinking about my meal planning…it’s something I’ve been doing for quite a while and while I’ve posted about it before in various areas, I thought I’d pull all my thoughts together in one place.

This week for dinner I have oven fajitas, pork chops & rice, crock pot mongolian beef, pesto italian paninis and more on my menu plan. We rarely eat out. All in all it’s not that big of a deal. If you ask me, it’s just as quick and easy as going out to a restaurant, going out to bring something home or waiting for dinner to be delivered. Of course, my biased could also come from us not really having the luxury of option thanks to budgets.

Originally posted on Liberating Working Moms, here are some of my favorite tips & tricks I’ve learned over the years…

  1. Plan Ahead. I feel like this is kind of the glaringly obvious one, but needs to be said anyway. Each Friday night after the kiddo is in bed, or even Saturday morning durning breakfast, I’ll sit down to make out a meal plan for the week. I only plan out a week at a time, but I know people that will do an entire month at once…that’s a little too ambitious for me. I’ll look at the week coming up…anything special going on that I need to plan around? Hubby planning on working longer than normal any nights? Once I know what’s going on, I’ll see what’s on sale this week, see what we’ve already got on hand, make out my meal plan day by day, then make a grocery list accordingly. I created my own meal planning sheet that I use literally every week. 
  2. Stock Up & Save! This isn’t just some clever grocery store marketing. For example: I can’t stand eating chicken off the bone, so I only buy the boneless, skinless chicken breast. If I see it on sale for $1.88 per lb I will buy about 10 pounds, bring it home and vacuum seal them in 2-packs. It’s a great way to always have meat on hand and save some moola. We also buy a HALF of a beef at a time and it lasts us just over a year…deep freeze recommended for this one, folks.
  3. It doesn’t always have to be fancy! For real you guys…not every night needs to be some gourmet meal…in fact most nights are not. We have tacos every single Tuesday…my kids LOVE Taco Tuesday! And? Confession: we eat pasta-roni as a side dish every once in a while too.
  4. Be resourceful with your leftovers. When I roast a whole chicken, we always have a ton of leftovers. I also have a husband who is super picky when it comes to eating said leftovers. So, instead of tossing what we don’t eat, I’ll debone the chicken and use it within the next couple of nights and make something like homemade fettuccine  alfredo, tortilla soup or chicken curry.
  5. Pre-Make when possible. On a Sunday evening, it’s not uncommon that I pre-prep a pan of enchiladas or lasagna or something else that otherwise takes too long to prep on a typical weeknight to eat later on in the week. It makes the evening rush after work so much smoother. For that same reason, I also love prepping freezer meals. {more on this later}
  6. Repeat after me: The Internet is your friend! Sure, I have some favorite cookbooks, but I have found some of our favorite go-to recipes on the interwebs. It also serves as a great place to find some new ones for spicing things up a bit. Obviously Pinterest is a good one, but I also really like Kraft Foods for easy, weeknight meal idea. Bonus: Kraft Foods has a search feature that let’s you put in ingredients you have on hand and gives you recipes to fit!
  7. Always have an easy back-up. Sometimes, I plain forget to take meat out of the freezer in enough time for it to defrost, so that grilled steak kabobs I may have had planned? Not really going to work. In our house, our go-to back up dinner is grilled cheese & soup. Nothing has to defrost and dinner can be ready in about 15 minutes.
  8. Save the in-depth stuff for the weekends. I typically don’t cook anything during the week that’s going to take longer than 45 minutes to get on the table, or about 30 minutes if the whole thing is hands-on. I don’t normally try a new recipe during a weeknight either. I also only do my crock-pot cooking on the weekends…but then again, I hate my crock-pot, remember?
  9. Keep your staples stocked. For us, our staples are cheese, bread, tortillas, yogurt and black beans. We also always have a few boxes of pasta-roni and cans of vegetables in the pantry ready to go as sides in a pinch.
  10. When in doubt…invite someone over that never cooks and be prepared to be worshiped. I’m mostly kidding, but I remember one time we had some friends/Andy’s coworkers over for an impromptu dinner that had never been over before…Taco Tuesday even, so nothing fancy. Anyway, as I was making dinner, she was looking at my calendar where I write out our dinners and she.was.amazed. She called into the living room to our other friend and was reading off some of the dishes…Stuffed Manicotti…Elk Stir Fry…Halibut…Turkey Burgers. Then next week at work? I guess she was STILL talking about it. What’s funny, is the week before, I was really feeling like we were getting into a food rut.

So those are some of my tips! One thing I’m super excited to incorporate into some of my meal planning tricks is Trader Joe’s meals…my new office will be just down the road from one!

Do you meal prep? What’s your favorite go-to weeknight meal?