Meal Prep w/ Printable Recipes and Grocery List!

I used to be really good at meal prep! Lately I haven’t really made it a priority though. We were doing those meal delivery services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, so I got lazy! I always plan our meals for the week and do one grocery shopping for the week (saves time and money), but I also like to plan weeks with similar ingredients so I can prep over the weekends. It takes some more planning, but it really makes our week nights so much easier! By the time Stew gets home from work, it’s 5.5:30 and Gracie starts melting down around 6:30. So we need to eat pretty much when he walks in the door! That means I need to get dinner made with two kids and a ringing phone (job hazard). Since I know I’m not the only one in this situation, I like to share my prep plans when I can! So this was our menu last week:

MENU:

**I’ve linked to recipes that can be downloaded and printed, as well as the grocery list for the week. I also wrote some notes below each day if there wasn’t a specific recipe to go along with it!

Saturday: Cook the pork in the slow cooker according to the recipe below so it’s ready to be used throughout the week.

Sunday: Braised Pork w/ roasted veggies (Recipe at bottom of post)

**Serve pork with roasted veggie of your choice. We used carrots tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Roast at 400*F for 15-20 minutes or until softened.

Monday: Cuban Pork Panini

**Danielle Walker’s Recipe can be found in her cookbook, but I linked to one similar above.

Tuesday: Vegetable Stir Fry

Wednesday: Roasted spaghetti squash with meat sauce

Thursday: Pork Ragu Spaghetti

**Heat 2 cups shredded pork in saucepan with jar of your favorite tomato sauce (this is my favorite pasta sauce EVER). Serve over cooked spaghetti.

Friday: Pepperoni Pizza Pasta w/ Vegetable Noodles

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Can you guess what my main ingredient was?? PORK! Now, I don’t usually make pork. But I am bored with chicken, so I wanted to use something else that was delicious and could be used in several different meals. As long as the meat is good quality, I am ok with it!

My inspiration for this menu was my new cookbook Against All Grain. I discovered this cookbook through a friend. They have some major food allergies in their family. And, because we get together on a regular basis and share a meal, it made sense that I should research some new ideas! As soon as I opened this cookbook, I was sold. There were so many things to love. The photos are gorgeous, the recipes are simple, and they can easily be modified for people without food allergies! So, I ordered it on Amazon and now read it on a daily basis! Plus, Danielle Walker’s story is so amazing. What a humble and beautiful woman she is! I digress….

So my order of steps for meal prep is to:

1. make a meal list

2. make a grocery list AS you plan the meals (I use Shopping List FREE app. It’s incredible)

**(THIS WEEK’S PRINTABLE GROCERY LIST HERE)

3. map out the things I’ll prep in advance (i.e. slow cooker pork).

 

Slow Cooker Braised Pork
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 Tbsp butter or oil
  2. 5 lbs boneless pork shoulder
  3. salt and pepper
  4. 6 ounces pancetta, diced
  5. 1 large yellow onion, large dice
  6. 5 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 1.5 cups chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in large Dutch oven or deep skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Season pork with salt and pepper on all sides.
  3. Brown pork on all sides in batches and place in slow cooker.
  4. In the same pan you browned the pork, saute the pancetta, onions, and garlic over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add in chicken stock to deglaze the pan, scraping all the brown bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon. Pour mixture on top of pork.
  6. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
  7. Skim any fat off the top.
  8. Shred and serve, or store in airtight container for later use.
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

 

So now what? Write out the menu in your kitchen so you know what meal comes which day. Print out your grocery list and recipes. And breathe a sigh of relief that you have one week of delicious meals planned!

 

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Beef Bone Broth

Fall is here and this means the kids are going back to school. Like every school year, they usually bring home all the germs that makes the entire family sick. This year I’m prepared! You’ve probably heard how chicken soup is great for the common cold and flu, but have you heard of “beef bone broth”? I actually heard about this from a friend of mine who was going through a detox with her husband who has very sensitive digestion so it’s not foreign to me.

In case you didn’t know, the main difference between bone broth and normal stock that you buy from a grocery store is that the animal bones are simmered in water for a very long time. With this long cooking process, all the proteins from the bones are broken down into a gelatin. This gelatin contains many nutrients and amino acids which helps improve your immune system and gut health. Plus, as it gets cold, nothing feels better than sipping on a hot steaming cup of bone broth (think regular ol’ beef broth but on steroids).

The only problem is that bone broth takes 12-24 hours to make. I do prefer making my own broth, but sometimes if I’m short on time, I use Kettle & Fire’s pre-made beef bone broth. They use high quality ingredients, grass-fed bones, and they’re also non-frozen & shelf stable. You can check them out on their website and if you use the promo code “WATSON15” you’ll get 15% off your first order! I also have a wonderful recipe if you want to try it for yourself! Below is a video that is super helpful as well.

Organic Beef Bone Broth
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Ingredients
  1. 3-4 lbs of mixed beef bones (oxtail, knuckles, neckbones and/or short ribs)
  2. 2 medium carrots (coarsely chopped)
  3. 3 celery stalks (coarsely chopped)
  4. 2 medium onions (coarsely chopped)
  5. 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  6. 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  7. 1 bay leaf
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Place bones in a single layer on a sheet or roasting pan.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil to evenly coat.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes, then, flip each bone over and roast for an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Chop the vegetables while the bones are roasted and put them with the bones, bay leaf and cider vinegar in a large crock pot or soup pot.
  6. Cover completely with water and bring to a high simmer. Once you have a high simmer, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 12-24 hours.
  7. Throughout simmering, add water as needed to keep all the ingredients submerged.
  8. Once the broth has reached a dark rich brown color, remove from heat. Discard the bones, vegetables and bay leaf and strain through a cheesecloth.
  9. Cool the pot to room temperature. Once at room temperature pour into jars and let cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  10. When you are ready to serve, skim the condensed fat off the top of the broth and heat to the desired temperature.
Notes
  1. Just like with all recipes, you want to use high quality ingredients. That’s why I recommend to only use grass-fed beef bones to make the most of the nutritional benefits. Also, don’t skip the roasting step, this gives the broth that rich complex flavor. Make a big batch and keep some on hand, it is the perfect cure all broth!
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Cookies

The countdown to fall is ON in the Watson household. I’m really fighting with everything I have to not decorate the house. My friend told me I at least have to wait until the end of September. I won’t lie though, I’ve been burning my favorite pumpkin candle for over a month now. And I’ve been baking tons of pumpkin flavored goodies. These cookies are among my favorite new fall treats. They’re incredible! I searched a few pumpkin cookie recipes on Pinterest and created a healthier spin on them so Turner and Gracie could eat them too. Now, I say healthy, but they have butter and flour. The healthy part comes with no sugar and replacing with maple syrup. They’re delicious! Fluffy, soft, and satisfying. They actually taste like a muffin top…but hopefully won’t give you one ;o) Happy almost fall!


Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Cookies
Yields 11
A healthy spin on this fall treat!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup butter softened to room temp
  2. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  3. 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  6. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1 cup spelt flour*
  8. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  9. 1 tsp cinnamon
  10. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  11. 1/4 tsp clove
  12. 1 cup oats
  13. 1 cup craisins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a standing mixer beat the butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Pour in maple syrup and beat another few seconds until well combined.
  4. Add pumpkin puree and mix until combined
  5. Add vanilla and egg and mix until combined
  6. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, spices, baking soda and oats. Slowly pour into the mixer and mix until combined.
  7. Fold in craisins.
  8. Using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop, place mounds of dough on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-17 minutes until set and cooked through the center. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Notes
  1. *I used half spelt flour as an alternative to all white flour. You could easily use all-purpose flour if that's what you have!
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Back to School Meal Prep

Is anyone else craving the fall like I am? It’s still about 90 degrees in Charleston. But the calendar is telling me that the weather should be cooling down (wishful thinking)!

This time of year is my favorite! It means apples, pumpkin spice everything, and back to school shopping! Turner starts school on Monday which will get us in full-on schedule mode! I’ve enjoyed the summer, but I’m really looking forward to the change of seasons with our kiddos this year! To help with back-to-school time and to honor my love of all things fall, I wanted to share a few of my fall favorites and a recipe game plan that will help organize your upcoming week!

Meals:

  1. Teriyaki Chicken Casserole (use your prepared shredded chicken and pre-packaged stir-fry veggies).
  2. Meatball Sliders (make meatballs ahead so all you have to do is heat on a bun with some cheese).
  3. Sloppy Joes
  4. Baked Chicken Enchiladas (use your prepared shredded chicken)
  5. Chicken and Dumplings (use your prepared shredded chicken)

 

The beauty of this meal game-plan is that you can customize it based on your family size. AND you are only buying two types of meat for the week: chicken and ground turkey (or beef)! A lot of the ingredients you probably have on hand so you should just need a few items from the grocery store. So browse through each recipe and plan your grocery list accordingly. See my time-saver tips below to make dinner making a breeze!


 

Time Saver Tips:

  • Make ahead as much as you can over the weekend so you’re prepared for the week.
  • Weekend Prep: Put 4 chicken breasts in a crock pot with salt and pepper on each side. Add water halfway up the side of the chicken and cook on low for 4 hours. Shred chicken and store in an airtight container in the fridge for all of your meals!
  • Use pre-packaged stir-fy veggies in a bag in the produce section for the teriyaki chicken dish.
  • Make meatballs ahead as they’re just as delicious, if not better, when re-heated!

Now that we have the meal plan out of the way, let’s talk fall favorites. Here are a few of my favorite things!

  1. Pumpkin Cupcake candle (use offer code BX5XG2 for $5 off): I have bought several of these candles. Every scent I try is amazing! They have a hidden ring inside which is always fun. You can apparently win a ring up to $5000 although I have yet to win one.
  2. Pumpkin Banana Bread: I tried this recipe a few weeks ago and it was amazing! I added chocolate chips. It’s a must!
  3. Toddler Backpack: I ordered this for Turner for school. His other backpack was too small and the LL Bean ones are huge and super expensive! This fits his style, is the perfect size, and is super affordable!
  4. Thieves Essential Oil: More on that in a separate post (recipes and labels coming soon)! I diffuse this in Turner’s room to keep the germs away once school starts!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Hopefully some of these tips and tricks will help make your week a little easier!

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Healthy “Ice Cream” Sandwiches

These are Turner and my favorite summer treats. We love our ice cream over here, so I tried to think of a healthy alternative that I wouldn’t feel guilty about eating and feeding to my toddler. I even let Gracie taste them! These aren’t actually made out of ice cream. But they’re JUST as tasty. I promise! They’re made out of frozen fruit, almond milk, and a splash of agave nectar. That’s it! I use graham crackers as the “cookies”. There are a few steps, so bear with me. Once you get the hang of it, they’re really easy to make!

  1. Start off with frozen fruit of your choice (I used bananas and strawberries). Be sure to let them sit out at room temp for about 5 minutes before blending. Pulse in the food processor until the fruit looks like sand (scrape down sides as needed).
  2. Add in a splash of agave nectar and then pour in the almond milk while the processor is running. Scrape down the sides and keep processing until you have a mixture that resembles ice cream!
  3. Line a baking dish with 12 graham cracker squares and spread the ice cream over the graham crackers. This is the part that takes patience. I usually put my hand on one side of the grahams and spread the mixture towards my hand to keep the crackers in place. You end up with something like this:
  4. Top the ice cream with the remaining 12 graham cracker squares
  5. Run a sharp knife between the crackers to score the ice cream so they’re easy to cut after you freeze them.
  6. Place the dish in the freezer for up to 2 hours. Remove the dish and cut over the scored lines to separate the sandwiches.
  7. Store sandwiches in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Let me know what you think!
Not So "Ice Cream" Sandwiches
Yields 12
So delicious and addictive! These ice cream sandwiches will satisfy your sweet tooth without leaving you feeling guilty!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups frozen sliced banana
  2. 2 cups frozen strawberries
  3. 1 tsp agave nectar
  4. 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  5. 12 honey graham cracker sheets (24 squares)
Instructions
  1. Place frozen fruit in the bowl of a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Let fruit sit for 5 minutes.
  2. While the fruit is sitting, line a baking dish with 12 graham cracker squares
  3. Pulse fruit until it resembles coarse sand. Scrape down sides with a rubber spatula as needed.
  4. Add agave nectar and pulse once to combine.
  5. With the food processor running, pour in almond milk. Pause to scrape down sides and pulse again. Keep scraping down sides and processing until the mixture resembles ice cream.
  6. Use the spatula to place dollops of ice cream over the graham crackers. Use an icing spatula or rubber spatula to evenly spread the ice cream over the crackers (I put my hand on once side of the crackers and spread the ice cream towards my hand. This helps hold the crackers in place).
  7. Place the remaining 12 graham cracker squares on top of the ice cream.
  8. Score with a sharp knife between crackers so the sandwiches are easy to cut.
  9. Place dish in the freezer for up to 2 hours.
  10. Cut sandwiches into squares and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer.
Notes
  1. Try mixing up graham cracker flavors (cinnamon, chocolate, chocolate on one side and honey on the other, etc). Also, play with flavors. Use chocolate grahams with a banana and peanut butter "ice cream" mixture. These are so fun and great alternatives to the sugar packed ice cream sandwiches!
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Yet Another Overnight Oats Recipe

I LOVE overnight oats. They’re healthy. They’re easy. They’re delicious! The whole mini mason jar is a cute idea, but to me that adds to the clean up. So, I made a bulk recipe that will feed Turner, myself and Stew in a glass Tupperware container. Mix it, put a lid on it, and BOOM! Breakfast is served.

Serve it up in the morning with your favorite toppings, and you’re set!

 

Overnight Oats
A quick and delicious breakfast that's ready when you are!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 C. unsweetened almond milk
  2. 1/4 C. plain greek yogurt
  3. 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  4. 2 tsp cinnamon
  5. 4 cup glass storage container with lid
  6. 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  7. 2 C. quick cooking oats
Instructions
  1. Whisk together all ingredients, except the oats, in a 4 cup glass container with lid. Place in the fridge overnight and breakfast will be ready when you are!
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Berry Protein Smoothie Bowl

Turner loves a good smoothie. In fact, we have a “smoothie date” every day before his nap. That means we either go to our local smoothie shop, or if we’d rather not spend an arm and a leg, we go home and make our own. Our “go-to” is some sort of variation on this one.

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of smoothie bowls on Pinterest, and I thought that would be such a fun thing to try! So I did a similar recipe to our favorite smoothie, but made it a bit thicker to eat with a spoon. And the toppings are the best part! Do you have a favorite? I’d love to hear!

Berry Protein Smoothie Bowl
A fun spin on our regular old smoothie!
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 ripe avocado (flesh)
  2. 1/2 ripe banana
  3. 1 cup fresh spinach
  4. 1 tsp agave nectar
  5. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 1 heaping Tbsp plain greek yogurt
  7. 1 tsp chia seeds
  8. 1 Cup frozen raspberries
  9. 1 Cup frozen cherries
  10. 1 Cup unsweetened almond milk
  11. Optional toppings: coconut, raspberries, bananas, chia seeds, walnuts
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and mix until combined. Top with your favorite toppings!
Notes
  1. I use a vitamix, so the tamper allows me to mash everything down as I blend. If you have a regular blender, stop periodically to scrape down the sides so it's nice and smooth.
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Festive 4th of July Snacks

Turner’s favorite foods are strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, watermelon, and peanut butter. He would live off them if he could. I’m always trying to come up with creative snack ideas to keep it interesting. The 4th of July is the perfect way to incorporate festive snacks into our day. I wanted to share some of our favorites with you!

  • Red White and Blue Ice Pops
    Bottom Layer: blended frozen strawberries, plain yogurt, a splash of almond milk
    Middle Layer: blended frozen bananas, plain yogurt, a splash of almond milk
    Top Layer: blended frozen blueberries, plain yogurt, a splash of almond milk. This turned out kinda purple, but it was delicious nonetheless!
    If I was patient, I would have frozen each layer before adding another, but who has time for that?!



 

  • Red White and Blue Fruit Platter
    A pretty presentation always makes food more appetizing. I use this Porcelain Egg Crate to dress up our plain old berries and bananas. I actually use this for other snacks like pretzels, gold fish, cheerios, etc. It’s a fun way to display toddler foods.

 

  • Red White and Blue Parfait Pops
    In a large bowl, combine 2 cups plain yogurt with 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 Tbsp agave nectar, 1/4 C. fresh blueberries, and 1/4 C. fresh diced strawberries. Stir to combine and divide evenly between dixie cups. Cut festive straws in half and stick in the center of the cup. Top with a Tbsp of granola and freeze overnight. And, there you have, festive parfait pops!


    I hope you and your kiddos like these treats as much as we do! I’d love to hear some of your favorite holiday snacks too!

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Millions of Peaches

A few months ago, Turner and I went to Boone Hall to pick strawberries. We only went twice, but every time we drive by, he says “Pick Dawbies!”. Of course, it’s not strawberry season anymore, but he still wants to go pick dawbies. It’s now peach season, and while it would be fun, it’s bloody hot and I’m exhausted from life. So I’ve avoided the issue.

We finished our morning at the gym yesterday, had our “smoothie date” and started towards home. I realized it was only around 11am, and I was not about to sit at home for 2 hours until nap time. So, I made the spontaneous decision to go to Boone Hall to pick peaches!

We lasted about 10 minutes considering it was over 100 degrees, and I had a full bladder since we left the gym (very poor planning on my part). Turner absolutely loved it! What he loved more than picking peaches was digging in the dusty dirt with his excavator and smearing it all over his face. So what I had imagined in my mind as an exciting outing, turned into a hot, sweaty, dirty mess. But at least we got a few peaches out of the deal. Happy weekend eve!!

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My Little Helper

Turner has become quite the cook! He has always loved standing on his Kitchen Helper and being in the kitchen while I cook. But lately he’s become more independent. Actually he’s been pretty helpful (except for the day we were making granola and he dumped an entire bottle of coconut oil into the bowl). The second I walk into the kitchen, he grabs a chair and pulls it up to the counter and says “Helpin’ Mama!”.

The other day, I got a wild hair and wanted to make homemade ricotta. It was actually SO easy and came out really good. I put my recipe below. I asked if he wanted to make homemade ricotta (like he knows what that is) and, of course, the answer was yes. I measured everything out and guided him as he poured them into the pot.





He’s not a very patient when it comes to cooking. He likes to grab everything in site (I learned that from the coconut oil incident), and moves rather quickly. So I try to keep everything out of his reach until we’re ready for it. He seems to be getting better the more we practice. In fact, he helped me make supper last night and was really excited to eat it! So, hopefully cooking will keep him interested in trying new things!

Homemade Ricotta
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups whole milk
  2. 1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
  3. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  4. 1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Instructions
  1. 1. Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.
  2. 2. Pour the milk and cream into a stainless steel or enameled pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).
  3. 3. Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth. Save the whey — you can make bread with it. Use the ricotta immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.
Adapted from Ina Garten
Adapted from Ina Garten
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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