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!

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 😛 .

Friday Favorite: Green Chef

My brother-in-law recently changed jobs and now is at the amazing meal delivery service Green Chef. Thus when I got an email that they were delivering to the Pacific Northwest I immediately signed up for the trial offer ($26.98 for three dinners for two/$4.50 a serving! – click here for the offer). Each box is delivered to your doorstep packed with delicious produce and meat. The food is all USDA organic and the meals make sure to utilize the colorful produce. For example, this last week had a steak dish accompanied by a slaw made from broccoli stems, carrots, red onion, fennel, red pepper, and parsley topped with a creamy dressing. Delicious, filling, colorful, and summer-like. Every item delivered is color coded to match the recipe card. It is also correctly portioned, so if you only need 1 tsp of a spice for a meal you don’t have to buy the whole bottle!

You can customize the box to be vegetarian, omnivore (some vegetarian, some meat), carnivore (meat with each meal), gluten free, paleo, and the newest plan vegan. Omnivore and carnivore allow you pick what types of meat you would like to receive. Each of the plans varies in price slightly to account for the ingredients. We have tried omnivore and carnivore (on accident), but even when each meal has a meat focus there are lots of veggies.

Since the trial week we have changed the delivery scheduled to once a month. Thus we have had six dinners from Green Chef so far and most all have been hits. Those we have liked less are due to small personal preferences such as a dislike of green olives or how spicy a sauce was. Really good for what I expected! My absolute favorite meal so far was a pesto-ricotta flatbread pizza with salad (picture above). It was creamy, delicious and a meal I would never think to make.

My favorite parts of Green Chef are fewer decisions and cooking special meals together.

The week a box arrives I only have to decide do we want meal 1, 2, or 3 for dinner. No need to meal plan the entire week. Its simple and easy.

Its also nice to have laid out instructions. This means we can easily make dinner in the kitchen together or one read while the other chops. Green Chef has become our own version of date night; we get to spend time together, cook together, and experience a new dish together.


Disclosure: Yes, by brother-in-law works for Green Chef and I heard about it through him. All opinions are my own and it is one of my favorite products, I would use it if he worked there or not. This post contains some affiliate links. When you buy something through one of my links, I get a small credit. That means that at no extra cost to yourself, you can help me pay the cost of running this site. Thank you for your support!

Favorite: Halo Top Creamery

 

I’m always on the hunt for no or low sugar treats. I had heard tell of Halo Top ice cream but couldn’t find it in Bellingham. It claimed to be low calorie, low fat, low sugar and high protein (6 grams per 1/2 cup) while still tasting delicious. Of course I was interested in trying it. It got to the point of nearly obsessive so on a trip to the Oregon coast we stopped at five grocery stores in search of it. We were greeted by four cleared shelves. Thanks to New Seasons Market in Tualitn we gleefully purchased chocolate, vanilla, and lemon cake. (The pints helped us get through Portland rush hour traffic)

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I was instantly hooked.

Recently Whole Foods opened in Bellingham and I was able to try strawberry. I am impatiently waiting for mint chip, birthday cake, and chocolate mocha chip to return to stock!

Chocolate tastes like HĂ€agen-Dazs chocolate and the vanilla is exactly like Bryer’s vanilla bean. Lemon cake is my favorite so far, its acidic, fruity and smooth yet not at all sour.

In short, Halo Top ice cream tastes like Breyer’s, HĂ€agen-Dazs, and other normal delicious ice cream yet with a fraction of the sugar.

Update: Mint chip is amazing as well, tying for my favorite flavor.

Peppermint Coffee

With the change in weather I have been craving all things peppermint. However with following THM, Starbucks’ peppermint mochas are out of the questions and they have never been friendly to my pocketbook. Thus I have created this delicious peppermint coffee that has been a nearly daily staple. Please note, this is more like a peppermint coffee/latte since it doesn’t have any chocolate but you try adding cocoa powder.

This recipe was adapted from the THM Winter Wonderland sip

Ingredients:

Instructions:

I use the single serve cups for my Ninja blender but any blender will do. Be careful with blending hot liquids. I have found it easiest to combine the dry ingredients in a blender and liquids into a mug. Blend and enjoy!

Meal Plan July 20-26

9Monday – Shepherd’s Pie (S)

Tuesday – Quinoa with sauteed vegetables and chicken (E)

Wednesday – BBQ with friends. We are bringing hamburgers (S)

Thursday – Loco Moco (Crossover)

Friday – Eat Out/ Date Night

Saturday – Baked Parmesan Chicken with broccoli (S)

Sunday – Snacks (popcorn, yogurt, fruit) or leftovers


What are you eating this week? Comment with your favorite recipes.