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Food Prep Archives - Kohler Created

Curry Ginger Banana Stir Fry - Kohler Created

How to Meal Prep: Staple Recipes

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Want to make meal prep even easier? Use staple recipes!

How to Meal Prep: Our Favorite Staple Recipes - Kohler Created

Thank you guys so much for your feedback on our first meal prep post! I’m so glad the tips helped so many of you. On to our next topic, staple recipes!

Staple recipes are another way we eat healthy while saving time and money. Meal prep hasn’t always been an easy habit to keep, but one of the ways we make it easier on ourselves is by planning our menu around weekly sales and keeping our meals simple. Part of keeping things simple has been sticking to a core group of staple recipes for the majority of our meals that are easy to prep, reasonable on ingredients, and offer the best health bang for buck.

So due to popular demand, here is a big list of our staple recipes organized by protein! I’ve added a “*” to indicate the easiest (in my opinion) recipes. These are constantly evolving because, well, we like to eat, but as you know, I’m pretty good about talking about my food anyway, so I’ll try to add them to this post as we go.

Yogurt and Avocado Chicken Salad

Avocado Chicken Salad

Chicken

Taco Salad (chicken)

This easy meal (via Wholesome Yum) is great with beef or chicken and easy to throw together when you have a lot of miscellaneous leftovers.

Crockpot Chicken Fajitas*

Another stupid-easy-can’t-fail recipe (via Humbled Homemaker) we often throw together is crockpot fajitas. They are also really easy to prep and freeze for later.

Baked Whole Chicken

One of the things you learn quickly in your meal prep journey is that a whole chicken is often cheaper per pound than individual cuts (especially boneless skinless). Whole chickens are intimidating at first, but once you learn to prep them, the anxiety tends to disappear quickly. This is a great go-to base recipe to work from, and then customize with different flavors/seasoning.

Chicken Wings

Neil’s favorite! We make wings quite a bit because they end up on sale and are easy to pair with veggies and taters. Like steak (below), they are a great meal to kind of mimic the take-out you love, without all the grease.

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili is one of the first recipes we roll out in the fall, it’s tradition. It’s lighter than the red chilis if that’s your speed, and is a great meal that will probably last you a good portion of the week.

Avocado Chicken Salad

Even though I don’t mind mayo in my chicken salad, I know a lot of people do, and that’s why this recipe is an easy hit for lunch or dinner, especially during the summer when you’re not really amped for hot meals.

Chicken Fingers

While these chicken fingers might require a little more hands-on meal prep, I love them as a way to change up our chicken game for the week.

Paleo Sticky Baked Chicken

One of our easy go-to recipes is just simply baking the chicken. Perfect to adapt to whatever cuts are on sale for the week without hassle.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken*

Similar to the above-baked chicken, but this recipe is for the slow cooker, which is great when you’re short on time. We’ve done this with a variety of cuts, everything from drumsticks to boneless skinless chicken breasts (to shred). This recipe is nice because it doesn’t contain added sugar.

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Beef Stew

Beef

Taco Salad (ground beef)

See description and recipe above, great with beef or chicken and easy to throw together when you have a lot of miscellaneous leftovers.

Shepherd’s Pie/Tator Tot Casserole

Being from Minnesota, I grew up on hotdishes and casseroles, so they are something that I crave once the weather starts getting cold. You can easily swap white potatoes for sweet. I’ve also made them Whole30 compliant by cutting a few ingredients and making my own fries for the top of the hotdish without much of a taste difference.

Meat Loaf

I hated meat loaf growing up, but now I love it. It’s super easy, lasts quite a while if you double, and packs a mega protein punch. We have two recipes we like:

Beef Stew

As soon as the weather turns cold, I love comfort food. This hearty stew is all comfort and no discomfort in prep work.

Beef and Broccoli

A lot of Asian cuisine is super easy to double-batch and cook quickly, which is why it’s a favorite for us. Beef and Broccoli is a restaurant favorite of ours that we’ve now made at home a bunch of times.

Steak

This isn’t a recipe so much as a method. I feel like steak is one of the easiest ways you can stay on track but feel like you are doing something special — especially during a Whole30 Challenge! Here is Neil’s method, straight from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course. The only tip we’d add that was left out of the video is to let your steak REST after cooking.

Beef and Bacon Chili

We like both red and white chili recipes, but this one has bacon, so it kind of wins me over.

Pot Roast - Kohler Created

Pork or Beef Pot Roast

Pork

Slow Cooker Korean Pulled Pork Sandwich (Hapa Nom Nom)*

Pulled pork is another well-loved staple recipe in our house. You can church it up easily with difference spices or kimchi etc, and you can serve it with or part of just about anything. We’ve made tacos one night, and then just served it over mash the next.

Pork (or beef) Pot Roast*

This pork or beef pot roast recipe is one of our most used recipes because it needs next to nothing ingredient-wise, and you literally just dump it all into the slow cooker. You literally can not screw this one up, and it’s great by itself or served with rice or over mashed potatoes (sweet or white) to make it last even longer.

Sausage and Kale Soup*

This soup recipe has to be one of the easiest in existence. And it is just so. SO. GOOD. Seriously, give it a try!

Cucumber and Egg Salad

Egg Salad

Eggs

Egg Salad*

I love eating this egg salad recipe on toast, in a salad, or even just by itself. It’s an easy thing you can make every few days and have on hand for an easy snack or meal.

Tomato Avocado and Egg Salad* (Mark’s Daily Apple)

I ate this simple salad of tomato, avocado, and egg nearly every day while I was pregnant. It’s light but filling and super easy to make on the spot. You can eat it as a side, or even a main dish.

Simple Paleo Veggie Quiche

Can’t go wrong with an easy quiche recipe for breakfasts in our busy house! This recipe is crustless, so if you like a good crust, I’d recommend the olive oil tart crust from Chocolate & Zucchini that I’ve used in this recipe. I’ve also used this recipe from Elana’s Pantry for a Paleo crust.

Veggie Stout Chili

Vegetarian

Spicy Vegetarian Stout Chili

We don’t eat vegetarian all that much anymore, but this recipe is still one of my favorite chili recipes. It’s hearty and super flavorful, can be spiced to preference and will last you more than a few days.

Curry Ginger Banana Stir Fry

Curry Ginger Banana Stir Fry

Any Protein

Meatballs*

Meatballs are a great way to use leftover ground beef/meat, or make quick use of ground beef/meat you happen to find on sale. We always have the ingredients on hand, and we can batch and freeze them for future quick meals. Since they are small, they thaw pretty quickly, so you can take them out on the fly pretty easily.

Stir Fry

Stir fry can be made with pork, beef, or chicken, or no meat at all. It’s all about sauce, and we have no shortage of stir fry sauces to recommend. Neil uses a pretty similar base in all of these and he literally doesn’t measure anything anymore, which makes these hard easy to customize. I love a good curry, and I especially love anything that has a good peanut flavor, so if you do too, I highly recommend trying these out and finding your flavor jam!

While I’ve just given you our staple recipes, it’s important that you decide what works for you and ultimately, what you enjoy eating!

Now it’s your turn! Do you have any staple recipes to share?

How to Meal Prep: 7 Tips for Getting Started

By | Food, Menu Planning | One Comment

Life a little busy? Looking to save time and eat healthy? Meal Prep!

How to Meal Prep: 7 Tips for Beginners - Kohler Created

Doing meal prep of any kind is single-handedly the best way Neil and I have found to survive two full-time jobs, two part-time businesses and a toddler. It also keeps us eating healthier, saving money, and spending as much time doing the stuff we’d rather be doing as possible. If you aren’t meal prepping, you’re really missing out.

I could probably spend HOURS talking about meal prep. There have to be just as many methods to getting it done as there are recipes, but since we receive this question often and know there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer, I thought I’d approach the question with a few tips for those just starting out.

First, a little background (reassurance)

Neil and I have only been meal prepping for a few years. In that short time, we’ve tried a bunch of different methods, and have settled into a nice routine of prepping Sunday-Wednesday and Wednesday through Friday. It works for us. I’m sure I’ll write more about our method soon, but for now, know that we keep our meals extremely simple, shop around seasons and sales and prep twice a week.

So based on our journey, here our top tips for beginners!

How to Meal Prep: Let us count the ways

1. Avoid shopping and prepping the same day (if possible)

KISS = Keep it simple stupid! No I’m not calling you stupid, but the saying is true, keep your goals doable. One of the biggest mistakes we made in the early days was trying to do EVERYTHING for the whole week on Sunday. Sure it might be doable, but you’ll be miserable and burnt out by the end of it. If you’re going to do batch cooking, make it as easy on yourself as possible.

Meal Planning (3/1) - Kohler Created

Tip: Stir Fries are an awesome way to use ingredients and they are cheap/easy/fast and make you feel like you are eating take out.

2. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be

The second biggest mistake we made in the early days was over complicating the meals we chose to make. Super-involved, ingredient-heavy recipes that didn’t net much food or didn’t keep well for more than a day. Newb mistake. Now, we keep our meals super simple, and “automate” where we can by buying frozen veggies or rotisserie chicken.

3. Double the recipe if you can

Instead of a different recipe for every meal, pick two recipes to get you through the week for dinner. The week isn’t really that long, and you’ll save so much time and money because you always have ingredients left over.

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Tip: Meatballs are easy to measure and they freeze well.

4. Don’t attempt too much change too fast

Eager to get started and make BIG changes to their diet/lifestyles, we often see people try to make too many changes too quickly and end up burning out or wasting a ton of food. Identify the areas you want to change and make slower, more incremental changes. That way you can refine and make them habit in a much more sustainable way before moving onto the next goal. For example, start with lunch prep to avoid going out early in the week, or dinners on Friday and Saturday when you would normally just grab take-out.

5. Know your schedule

Building off some of our previous tips, we often see people not planning prep around their schedules well. Look at your schedule and find the points at which you not only meals prepped, but can make 1-2 hours of prep happen. For us, it’s Sunday night and Wednesday (our rest day from the gym). We learned pretty quickly that prep can absolutely not happen on Mondays and Tuesdays, it’s just too busy, and we have no desire to cook on Fridays. Knowing the when is just as important as knowing the what.

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Tip: Salad…for days.

6. Think outside the box

Don’t think of meal prepping as only full meals. We create a little salad bar in our fridge every week with chopped veggies and toppings ready for our lunches. If you have a night you’d like to cook a stir fry for example, you can use your prep time to chop your veggies ahead of time. Prep can be as simple as that, and go just as far toward saving you time and keeping you on track.

Stuffed Peppers - Kohler Created

Tip: Stuffed peppers are simple, cheap and freeze well.

7. Do not compare yourself to others

As I said in the beginning of this post, meal prep is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. We all have different goals, schedules, and lives, and to try to make something fit that clearly doesn’t is just setting yourself up for failure. For example, we don’t eat out of containers for the whole week. Tried it, didn’t like it. Lots of people love it, and that’s awesome for them, we just weren’t happy with it. Try different methods, find what works for you!

I firmly believe that setting ourselves up for success with better planning and preparation ahead of time plays a major part in our ability to accomplish our busy schedule while still eating healthy, homemade meals.

Now it’s your turn!

Do you meal prep?
What are your favorite things to prep?
If not, what’s holding you back?

February Camping Trip

Divide and Conquer Weekend

By | Weekend | No Comments

I hope your weekend was as fun as ours! Here’s a little recap!

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Friday night was CrossFit, cheat meals (Billiards burgers) and coloring! I want to kiss whomever invented Color Magic Markers. GENIUS!

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Camping Trip 2/6/16

Saturday morning Neil left for an overnight camping trip with some friends and KK and I got girl time. We watched movies and munched on Chex Mix, then hit a potluck at the gym. You just can’t beat CrossFit, so many activities!

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We then spent the evening at grandpa and grandmas (my parents) watching Frozen. I just introduced them to the concept of looking for Easter eggs in Disney movies. It makes redundant watching so much more interesting. Did you know Rapunzel makes an appearance in Frozen?

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Sunday morning we had breakfast and did all the grocery shopping. Neil got home and I then hit the gym for ROMWOD and some muscle-up work with some of the other coaches. My MU are pretty good, but I know they could be much better, so I’m actually being proactive and seeking help.

ROMWOD Mobility Classes - CrossFit Fringe

Super Bowl night was pretty low key. We food prepped, which involved smoking a ton of chicken, a huge pork butt and then homemade applesauce and hardboiled eggs. My brother got me one of these cool peelers for Christmas, and I’m definitely putting it to good use. It’s so much cheaper to make applesauce than it is to buy it.

Food Prep 2/7/16

KK helped clean…

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…or not.

Food Prep 2/7/16

We dined on steaks, potatoes and salad and caught the end of the Super Bowl. KK ate her weight in steak, stealing most of it from my plate. I can’t believe how much she’s been growing lately, she is getting so long!

Ginger Soy Tuna Steak - Kohler Created

Meal Planning (10/4-10/10)

By | Food, Menu Planning, MK, Paleo, Toddler Meals, Uncategorized | No Comments

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Happy Tuesday! We closed out another busy week last week just in time to start yet another one. I almost can’t wait for winter, just because maybe we’ll finally get to slow down a little bit.

Neil is on call this week and we are both finishing up massive freelance projects, all while juggling in-progress ones as well. We’re both in separate rooms right now at 10 pm working on bits and pieces, trying to get ahead for tomorrow. Its always feast or famine with this business, and while that keeps me from turning away work 99% of the time, I’ll be happy to hit slow patch soon.

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With that said, we started the week on a good foot food-wise. Neil pan-seared tuna steaks and garnished them with avocado, soy, ginger, and lime (recipe via Food Network) for dinner Sunday night. It was the first “adult” meal we’ve really had in a while that wasn’t prepped with Kaitlan in mind or planned to last several days. Kaitlan hasn’t had a lot of seafood, and she enjoyed it okay — though not as much as the broccoli and mashed potatoes. She would live on peas, broccoli, and mashed potatoes if we let her — oh and watermelon.

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For the first part of this week, we’re doing pork pot roast in the crockpot with carrots, potatoes and onion, and the latter half of the week will most likely be something else in the crock, just for ease. I really want to do pulled pork, but we’ll see what’s on sale. It really feels like fall, so I’m craving all the comfort food.

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This weekend I’d like to prep a few crockpot meals to freeze, just for those random Thursdays we seem to find ourselves without meals. I cleaned the fridge out over the weekend and got rid of some things that had just fallen to the bottom and gotten freezer burn. I think prepping a few meals once a month will fit, and hopefully won’t end with the same fate.

Done any freezer cooking? What do you recommend?

Meal Planning (9/20-9/26)

By | Food, Menu Planning, MK, Toddler Meals | No Comments

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Happy Hump Day! Our meal planning this week feel totally on point and we’ve been on this upward trend of getting our food act together on the weekends. Of course, as I say that, we have another out-of-town weekend coming our way for Neil’s race. That being said, I *think* we can hold it together.

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On Sunday we prepped 2 pounds of chicken, 2 pounds of hamburgers, Sweet Potato Casserole (technically made Saturday, cut the sugar significantly), pumpkin spice muffins and donuts, and kale chips. While I know many people prep way more, this is by far the most we’ve gotten done in a few months on a Sunday. We spent about $70-ish for everything and it’s enough to get us to Thursday-Friday on lunches and dinners.

We’ve introduced a few more grains into Beeb’s life. She had her first PBJ (half on whole-wheat) over the weekend and has had toast on the same bread a few times. It’s big kid food! She’s also still really digging the kale chips — which I’m loving because it’s just another easy way to get greens into her diet.

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I’m thinking our snacks for race weekend will be mostly packets (for Beeb), PBJ, puffs and cheerios and that we’ll munch on granola bars, trail mix, and maybe another batch of muffins. We last took Beeb to the track at 7 months, so I’m excited (and nervous) to see what 13 months will be like! With that said…

Have any toddler snack must-haves for us?

Charred Peppers - Kohler Created

Meal Planning (9/13-9/19)

By | Food, Menu Planning, MK, Paleo, Toddler Meals | 3 Comments

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So we ended up eating our smoked pork butt for almost the entirety of last week. It ran out by dinner Thursday, so we picked up a pizza (gotta get those gas points at Hy-Vee). I don’t think you can get more frugal than that.

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We also put together a meal of roast chicken, gravy and sweet potatoes for Charlie and Victoria. They just had their baby a few weeks ago, and it was exciting to pay one of the many favors we received forward. Those meals in those first weeks were a lifesaver!

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We treated ourselves to lunch out at Flat Branch. Beeb loves the steamed veggies, she was by far the happiest baby at the restaurant.

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And then we made meatballs and spaghetti squash over the weekend to start the week.

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I made some kale chips for Beeb. I wanted to give her something a bit different (crunchy!) but with only 2.5 teeth, we are somewhat limited. These are super light and easy/gentle for her to crunch into and it’s a surefire way to get more greens into her. They’ve been a hit and were so easy to make, just a little coconut oil and Himalayan sea salt.

I was almost giddy at the amount of prep I got done this weekend, felt almost like pre-Beeb days.

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I also charred some peppers for her, which she also digs. She is so good with veggies, but we are definitely struggling with meat. I feel like some days, she’ll just tear into it, and other days it’s sneakily thrown to the dogs, smashed under her cup, or spit out. Our conundrum is this, do we feed her anything, just to make sure she gets something, or do we stand our ground to make sure she doesn’t end up with a limited range of foods she’s willing to eat? Ideas? Right now what we’re going to try to do is sneak things into other things and hope it works.

Pulled Pork Sliders - Kohler Created

Meal Planning (9/6-9/12)

By | Food, Menu Planning, MK, Paleo, Toddler Meals | One Comment

We’re back! So I’ll just come out and say it: Neil is an amazing bargain hunter when it comes to proteins.

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On Friday, he came across a ridiculous deal on pork butt at Schnucks — 79 cents per pound! Needless to say we’ll be eating pulled pork for a good part of this week. He smoked it on Sunday and I’m not ashamed to admit that Kaitlan’s bedtime was delayed because we were hovering over the stove eating the ends with our fingers.

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On Saturday, he also made an impromptu super spicy dirty rice and kielbasa dish that was to die for. Because the weather is finally hot enough for tomatoes, we’ve been eating several bags-worth from my mom. It’s bittersweet — I’m definitely not looking forward to grocery store tomatoes again over winter.

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We hoped that changing things up a bit would help Kaitlan’s boredom with straight baked chicken and veggies. She used to just eat whatever we put in front of her without pause, but she’s definitely showing a trend of being more discerning and wanting change or different tastes. She loved the kielbasa and rice and the pulled pork and sweet potato tots we had on Monday.

Some other fun ideas we’d like to try:

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I like that these ideas use/incorporate things we already eat regularly and have around the house and just presents them in new and delicious ways. One of my new local CrossFit friends also suggested the site Thriving Home for more ideas, so I’ll be checking that out.

Have you dealt with toddler food boredom? What did you do? I refuse to end up here.

Meal Planning (8/23-8/29)

By | Baby Meals, Food, Menu Planning, MK, Paleo | One Comment

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Lightning fast weekend! I made a short trip down to Branson to celebrate Becca’s birthday at the lake and was home by 1pm on Sunday. I laid in the sun, finished a book and a stack of magazines and finally saw Pitch Perfect the whole way through.

The theme of this weekend is RIBS — 6 lbs of ribs to be exact. They were on sale this week, so Neil picked up some baby-backs, potatoes and veggies and we hope that will get us through most of the week. We did half on the grill, and we’ll do half in the crockpot. We also grilled a bunch of chicken for lunches and beeb.

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And the finished meal:

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I know I’ve gotten a little off track on these posts the past few weeks. It’s mostly because our weekends have been out of town or with guests, so it’s made meal planning super basic. I’m talking meat and steamed veggies basic. Not a big deal, I mean, goals met, workouts had — but it’s just not very exciting to talk about.

This is the last week that it will be an issue for some time. We’re taking Beeb to Minnesota for her first State Fair. It was one of the things I always dreamed about doing with my own child, I grew up doing it every year. While I suspect we won’t make it every year, it will still be cool to do as often as we can so she has memories of it growing up like I did.

In Beeb news, she had her 1-year appointment at the doctor this week! We’ve been given the green light to start transitioning her to milk. We’re going with organic whole milk for now. She had her first 1/2 bottle yesterday and so far so good.

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She’s been a little fruit monster lately, but we’re trying to put more and more in front of her to try. She had bowtie pasta the other day, and a few baked beans. She loves sharing pieces of toast with me, and of course birthday cake was a hit too. It’s been fun, and she’s still so open to almost everything.

This has me on the hunt for a few more adventurous meals that she can partake of. I don’t have the wherewithal to cook separate things, but I am missing a little of the fun we used to have with meals. It doesn’t help that I’ve picked up a bad magazine habit. Oh food photography…you get me every time.

So on that note, anyone have any great toddler-friendly recipes that won’t have Neil and I feeling blah?

Banana Bread - Kohler Created

Meal Planning (8/9-8/15)

By | Baby Meals, Food, Menu Planning, MK, Paleo | No Comments

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It’s Tuesday! I meant to get a post out for the weekend on Friday, but things just got too busy with work and finishing up August courses, and I wanted to get enough done that I didn’t have to worry about anything on the weekend. Success, though I love getting more posts out, so boo.

Freelance is also in high gear right now. It always seems to be feast or famine for us, but right now we are in a major feast. So many exciting projects and clients who need help. Neil is doing a bunch of new hardware set-up for a local business, I have branding to do, and then we have our normal maintenance and upgrade projects for our existing clients. No complaints here but woof, it’s a lot to stay on top of.

On top of the near constant buzzing from computers being set up around the house, we’re also trying to get the place looking good for Kaitlan’s birthday party next week. I can’t believe she’s going to be one! And yes, I have monthly updates still unfinished — it just all went so fast! We’re just having a little family and close friend shindig — with cake of course.

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Neil tackled some mulching over the weekend while I scrubbed floors and did some cabinet cleaning in the kitchen. I also baked some banana bread, which we seem to be eating like a game of Tetris…

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We also perfected a simplified restaurant favorite of ours — Gogi Bowls from Seoul Taco, recipe coming this week! Definitely perfect for days you don’t want to do a lot of cooking or heat the kitchen up — which let’s face it, is most of them during August.

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We just made another batch of pork, so I’m pretty sure that’s what we’ll be eating for most of this week. It’s seriously just too hot to cook guys, so consider this our meal planning post — salads, fruit and easy steam veggies are it for the week for us all. At least there is an upside to the weather…

Is the heat chasing you out of the kitchen and away from prep?

Kaitlan's lunch box - Kohler Created

Meal Planning (8/2-8/8)

By | Baby Meals, Food, Menu Planning, MK, Paleo | No Comments

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I feel like the theme of the weekend (and now carrying into this week) is Mexican. We had Mexican after our freelance kick-off meeting on Saturday, and now we have kind of a deconstructed Mexican casserole vibe going on for the first few days of the week. We’ve made it before, it’s pretty awesome, and it lasts well into the week. Neil did the assemblage this round and included some anaheim peppers from my mom’s garden.

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I’m kind of lamenting not doing a lot of prep, but I got a lot of training and Beeb time in, so I don’t feel all that bad. Plus it’s summer so half our meals are some kind of salad. My mom has a mess of cucumbers and tomatoes, so that’s going a long way as well. We also have a ton of fruit and easy veggies prepped for snacking, so we won’t go hungry this week.

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Speaking of Beeb…

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Definitely a lot more underfoot lately. Our cabinets are now mostly childproofed. I’ve left a few with intentional items in for her to pull out and play with. I just didn’t have the heart to lock everything down, there is definitely some productive play opportunities for her in the kitchen and sooner than later she’ll be ready to start helping.

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She also got her first lunchbox this weekend. Decided it was time to upgrade from the ziploc bags I’ve been sending to daycare. It was the one she had the most reaction to — most likely because of the big eyes.

KK mealtime – 11 months from Kohler Created on Vimeo.

She’s also developed a love of eating shirtless (in addition to television jingles). We’ve never been able to get her to keep a bib on, so after this weekend, we’re just nekkie.

Her meals continue to be mostly shredded chicken, some kind of potato or masher and green veggies. She loves peas, so they are currently heaviest in the rotation. We’re going to do some quinoa this week to see what she thinks of that. Sticky things that clump for easy grabbing are a hit.

What are you eating this week?