Attacking (and Winning) Dinner

In the last few weeks I have been winning at dinner. Winning the never ending urge to get Thai take-out or eat cereal. Through two new favorite services, Prep Dish and ClickList, dinner (and eating at home in general) is becoming manageable! I’ll give the logistical details on each service and then explain how I use them together to have delicious food.

Services:

Prep Dish is a paleo or gluten free meal planning service. The general idea is you take 2-3 hours one day for prep and then there is minimal work each day at dinner time. Prep includes chopping vegetables, seasoning meats to marinate, or make soup. Its whatever you can reasonably do ahead of time. Each weekly meal plan includes four dinners, a side salad, breakfast, and dessert. The portioning is for a family of four, so we end up with dinners and leftovers lunches. I generally make the dinners and either the dessert or breakfast, simply due to the quality of food. The service is $14 a month or $99 a year. I originally heard about it through The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast, where they had a special $4 offer. I figured I didn’t have much to lose and it was worth a try!

ClickList works with our Fred Meyer (and other Kroger stores) so that you can order groceries online and pick up at the store later. Its a $4.95 fee however I figured it keeps me from guying $5 worth of treats I don’t need 🙂 A trip to the grocery store is drive time + 5 minutes and that’s it! I have heard many moms love the service because they don’t have to get kids out of car seats.

How they work together:

You receive all the meal plans for a month at once, however Chef Allison also sends out a newsletter on Fridays with details and substitution ideas. Friday night I fill my ClickList cart. The grocery list is super easy to follow, it has each department broken down so it makes it easy shopping online or in person.

Saturday morning myself or my husband pick up the order. ClickList doesn’t even require you to get out of the car and you don’t need to tip. Its been a great experience for us.

Since writing this draft we had an experience of waiting 1 hour and 45 minutes for an order. I believe it was a random fluke incident but I wanted to be transparent that not every order has gone off perfectly. On that trip they didn’t charge the convenience fee and gave an additional $5 off.

Saturday afternoon/evening (or whenever) I prep. I generally FaceTime with my mom, watch Netflix, or dance around the kitchen to fun music. I try and make the time an opportunity to not think about the looming to-do list since I am already being productive!

If you go grocery shopping in store try to go on a different day from the prep. While its all doable in a day, it is very long and super exhausting. It can make the entire process a little overwhelming and its harder to feel sustainable. If you have Instacart or another grocery delivery service in your area, try using it for even more time savings. Chef Alison provides an Instacart link for each week’s menu. Sadly such services don’t currently reach north of Seattle.

Why I love it:

  • You only have to get energy and motivation together once a week. Its not a daily battle of take out vs. cooking, its a much easier choice when you already grocery shopped and prepped.
  • 40 minutes in the oven is the actual dinner time! For example, we had apricot glazed chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli. On prep day I made the glaze and marinated the chicken in it, plus chopped and seasoned the veggies. Then on dish day I simply put the chicken on one pan and the veggies on another, into the oven they went, and I dealt with my other to-do list items for the baking time.
  • A full fridge of food is my husband’s love language. ❤
  • Our eating out has reduced. It hasn’t disappeared because both my husband and I like the experience but it has been pulled back to a few lunches with co-workers and Friday night pizza.
  • Because the grocery list is provided and food is prepped I am buying fewer random items and we are wasting less food.
  • So far our weekly grocery bill has ranged from $50-$100, this has been at primarily at Fred Meyer (with ClickList), some weeks Trader Joe’s and a few small items from Costco. So far we are under our monthly grocery budget!
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Dressember – Introduction

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December is full of holiday parties, family get togethers and Christmas shopping. However this year I decided to add advocacy and awareness to the list, through an organization called Dressember. The challenge is similar to Movember, everyday in December I will wear a dress to raise awareness and money for human trafficking victims.

According to the Dressember website, the money is donated to International Justice Mission and A-21. “Dressember is giving 85% of proceeds to International Justice Mission and A-21 in its 2016 campaign. 15% is retained for administrative, technological, and marketing expenses (almost 5% immediately goes toward credit card processing fees!). This is standard for 501c3 nonprofit organizations, and we are proud of our relatively low retention percentage – many nonprofits retain closer to 20% for overhead expenses.”

When I was in college I had the opportunity to intern with World Vision, a quote from the founder Bob Pierce has always stuck with me “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” My prayer is that the Lord will use my small act of wearing dresses to change my heart and impact other’s lives.

Join me in the challenge? Support me in raising money? Check out my fundraising page for more details.

Dressember Day 1

Goal number two is to work on my picture taking skills

Reading Nook: June 2016

Finished:

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner

The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Foods That Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You

I heard about Kimberly’s Glowing Green Smoothie on The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast and since consistently drinking it my skin has improved. Thus I decided to give her book a spin and see if there was anything else I could glean. I went in knowing I would disagree but it was off putting how dismissive the book sounded toward other ways of eating. I realize my goal when eating is to stabilize/maintain even blood sugar while this books goal is clearing skin and anti-aging. In short, I will just stick to my green smoothie in the morning.

Continuing:

What’s Best Next by Matthew Aaron Perman

The book slows down in the middle and its been hard to get through, however my perseverance is paying off since its picking up and becoming more readable.

Started:

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

My love of The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast is no secret and Big Magic was consistently recommended by her guests as a book they were reading and loving. A couple days ago my hold finally came through at the library and I have been loving it so far! Will report back with more next month.


Bonus: I am desperately waiting until October for Rachel Hollis’ cookbook Upscale Downhome: Family Recipes, All Gussied Up. I love recipes from The Chic Site but in a live stream Rachel gave a sneak peek. There are event plans included! For example, you need to throw a baby shower it has recipes, decor ideas and how to tie it together. I was sold and have been excited since. October please come quicker!


Reading Nook is a monthly series about what I am reading that month and my recommendations.

Summer Bucket List

Photo Credit: City of Bellingham

Photo credit: City of Bellingham

Find the best Mexican food in town

We live a town with an amazing number of local restaurants. We have several favorites but have yet to sample enough Mexican restaurants. Thus this summer we will enjoy the fajitas, burritos, and margaritas on  beautiful sunny patios all in the name of science and finding the best food.

Enjoy a mojito on a patio

Mojito is my favorite cocktail and its hard to get more summer spirited then lime and mint. Plus Bellingham has so many beautiful patios overlooking the bay, I need to make sure and take advantage of my gorgeous surroundings.

Two trips to sunny California

These are already planned and booked but I’m excited to getaway and enjoy the sunshine with family. (Are you noticing the sunshine theme?)

Improve my eyeliner skills

Such a simple petty thing but I would love to be able to confidently do a winged liner look. I’ve always admired the look but never get it right and end up wiping it away. This summer will be the time to learn, practice, and see if I can improve.

Dance regularly again

This item is two part: I want to improve the strength of my ankle so I can dance as well as find a space to dance on a regular basis. With both my husband and I getting new jobs in 2016 the regularity of schedule has been in flux. Now life is as calm as it will ever be and I would like to get back to ballroom dance. It’s how we met and nothing makes me feel more instantly happy then being swung around the dance floor. This is also a physical challenge since I recently sprained my ankle so need to strengthen it as well.

 


What’s on your summer bucket list? Leave me a comment and let me know how you plan to fill your summer.

How to Make Greek Yogurt

When I started following Trim Healthy Mama, the amount of greek yogurt I ate quickly grew. Its a quick and easy source of protein. However after paying $5+ for a quart my wallet started to hurt and experimented with making my own. Many versions later I have developed a system that works consistently for me and yields wonderful creamy and delicious results.

Will Need:
  • A gallon of milk
  • 1/2-2/3 cup of plain yogurt
  • Candy thermometer
  • Stock pot large enough to hold the milk
  • Colander and bowl that fits underneath
  • Flour sack dish towels
How To:
  1. Pour the entire gallon of milk into the stockpot and place the candy thermometer on the edge.
  2. Heat on very low/low for 1-2 hours. Make sure that its low enough not to burn the bottom of the pan. You are looking for the milk to reach 180 degrees.
  3. Pull off the hot burner and let cool to 110/115 degrees.
  4. Stir in plain yogurt. Cover with lid and place in oven with light turned on.
  5. Leave for 10-14 hours. (No touching! Don’t open the oven door. I find it best to do overnight)
  6. Place colander over bowl and line with flour sack dish clothes. Pour yogurt into colander. Do not scrap the bottom, you loose a little bit of yogurt but it prevents weird bits of scorched milk in your yogurt. Place in refrigerator.
  7. Strain for 4-6 hours until yogurt looks/feels like thick greek yogurt.

Tips and Notes:

  • The higher fat content in the milk the more yogurt you will yield and the creamier it will be. Many versions I have seen use whole milk for this reason. I personally use 1% as to have a creamy taste but keep the fat content at a minimum. One gallon of 1% milk makes 1.5-2 quarts of greek yogurt for me.
  • I start the milk heating in the evening and place it in the oven before going to bed. It sits overnight and sometimes to lunch (depends on how busy the morning is). Yogurt is strained until lunch or when we get back from work.
  • This does produce plain yogurt, however we find this best for our family so that we can use different sweeteners depending on the person.
  • I found flour sack dish clothes at Target but they are widely available. I tried many version of clothes to strain the yogurt and this is by far the best. Don’t use cheesecloth, you loose lots of yogurt and its crazy to clean (had to throw mine out).

Favorite: Glowing Green Smoothie

Photo Credit: kimberlysnyder.com

Photo Credit: kimberlysnyder.com

A few weeks ago I heard about Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie from Amy on The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast. I looked it up and while I try to generally have more protein in my smoothie I decided to try it out.

I tried it with the intention of getting extra greens, I’m not the best at eating salad and so greens are often lacking in my diet. Thus the Glowing Green Smoothie came into play! I like the low sugar/candida version better due to the cucumber, apple, lemon flavor. It’s been great to up my nutrients due to lots of spinach and romaine but an unexpected benefit has been slightly clearer skin. Since being a teenager, I’ve struggled with various forms and levels of acne. This means that I’ve kind of resigned myself to have spots on my face most of the time. However since drinking the Glowing Green Smoothie they have diminished significantly! Not to say I have perfectly clear skin but it is much better.

Kimberly Snyder says that this smoothie has many benefits including increased energy and weight loss. I cannot speak to these claims.

On top of that, I started sugar detox a few days after starting to drink Glowing Green Smoothie, which traditionally has resulted in a breakout. Not this time, I didn’t notice an increase in spots or any significant change in my skins texture such as dullness or dryness. During this time I have continued my same skincare routine and the Glowing Green Smoothie has been the only consistent change.

Vitamins and minerals from dark leafy greens + clearer skin + refreshing drink in the morning = yes please!

A few random tips I have learned:

  • Test which vegetables you like. I discovered that I love cucumber and very much dislike celery.
  • Blend a second time. Any of the Glow Green Smoothie version make more than one serving. Thus I have been making a batch in the evening, dividing into our Ninja single verse cups and storing in the refrigerator (GGS is good for 2-3 days). In the morning, I blend the individual cup. (This might not be necessary with a Vitamix) This allows the greens to kind of soften overnight and gives a better more smoothie-like texture, less like water and spinach blended 😛 .