Meal Planning Archives - Kohler Created

Life with kids: reclaiming our evenings

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life with kids - kohler created

I had several different titles for this post, but everything sounded like an adult film title, or possibly would have made our site look like a hub for adult film titles, so I went with something a little less SEO-optimal, but a little more safe. Oh the perils of blogging…

It’s no secret that life with kids kind of warps your concept of personal time and how you spend it. Our downtime is very kid-friendly. Since KK has been old enough to know TV/movies exist, our viewing choices have been dictated by her. The list of new movies we want to see and TV shows we need to catch up on has been out of control for a year and so finally last weekend, Neil put his foot down and Saturday and Sunday night we watched an hour of adult programming.


It’s not like we NEED to see these films or shows, I honestly live in la-la land and am behind in most things. But when all your friends are talking about them, it does give you something to contribute.

So last Sunday we kicked it off with Seth Rogan’s latest, The Night Before. And this Saturday we watched Sisters (Amy Poehler and Tina Fey were brilliant!) and Sunday we caught up on Game of Thrones.

With homemade pizza, because what goes better with movies than pizza right?


I really thought KK would go wild not being able to watch Mickey or Minions and try to run wild in the house, but she was great! She got a little squirrely at the end of both movies, but we played with her baby dolls and read books. I didn’t really effect following the movie for me at all.

We had a great rest of the weekend. I coached and did a WOD Saturday morning at CrossFit Fringe. It was a grueling 20-minute partner WOD:

20-minute AMRAP
20 overhead squats (95/65)
20 calorie row (resting person has to do a handstand hold)
20 power snatches (95/65)
100 double-unders

My 9am warriors going after it:

Some partner WOD action from early morning warriors!

A video posted by CrossFit Fringe (@crossfitfringe) on

Don’t you just hate how great tall people are at rowing? Us shorties just can’t catch a break! We were into our fifth round when we ran out of time. I was definitely dazed for a bit!


Meal prep was super easy this week. I made the super soft banana cookies that were a hit last week (I need to share that recipe with you guys) and tried a Creamy Cucumber-Radish salad recipe that popped up on Pinterest. It literally is just green onion, radish, and cucumber mixed with cottage cheese and a little salt and pepper. So easy!


Neil smoked a bunch of whole chickens he had brined, and we also did our normal salad/breakfast prep.

life with kids

All in all, a good weekend. KK has been talking up a storm and devouring books like crazy, so I have a feeling another language post is going to be in the works!

How is your week going?

Whole30 Week 4 - Kohler Created

Whole30 Nutrition Challenge Recap: Week 4

By | Food, Menu Planning, MK, Paleo, Toddler Meals, Uncategorized, Whole30 | No Comments

A little-belated recap of our Week 4 of the Whole30/Nutrition Challenge and honestly it took me about 5 minutes to even remember what we ate last week. No joke, talk about zombie mom!

Our last week’s challenge meals were all comfort food. We started the week with big meatloaf we baked in our cast iron pan (seriously, cast iron all the way). Served with easy sides of taters and veggies. Kaitlan put away quite a bit of meatloaf so I have a feeling that will be back on the menu soon.

Whole30 Week 4 - Steak and Potato

Halfway through the week, we dined on steak, salad and baked potatoes. Again, steaks are such an easy way to feel like you’re eating out.

Whole30 Week 4 - Kimchi Braised Chicken and Bacon

We closed the week with the Kimchi Braised Chicken and Bacon. Definitely not as pretty on our plates as it was in Bon Appetit, but it was sooooo good. And Kaitlan loved it as well, kimchi and all.

Whole30 Week 4 - Smoked Chicken

We ended the week buying a smoker and making chicken and ribs. I honestly can’t wait grocery shop for what we’re going to smoke this week. We’ve been eating so easily this week!

Whole30 Week 4 - Smoked Chicken

If you follow me on Pinterest, you probably noticed the massive amounts of soup, bread, and toddler snack recipes pinned. Thinking ahead to our meals, I definitely think we’re going to attempt to make a few more of the convenience items we’ve been buying, including whole grain bread, crackers/puffs for Kaitlan and the ramen soups Neil sometimes grabs at lunch.

We’ll see what I come up with this weekend, but our first attempt at our favorite grocery bread wasn’t all that successful, even though Kaitlan loves it. I am so excited to finally feel like I’m in the kitchen more!

That closes out the weekly recaps for the Whole30 Challenge, stay tuned for the our thoughts and reflections!

Kaitlan does Whole30

Whole30 Nutrition Challenge Recap: Week 3

By | Food, Menu Planning, MK, Paleo, Toddler Meals, Whole30 | One Comment

Whole30 Week 3 is done and gone, and there is just one week left!


Thankfully, this week went much smoother. Kaitlan seems to have completely recovered from her stomach bug and went back to daycare. Even though we haven’t reintroduced any dairy, she’s doing really well on almond milk and we found enough alternatives to make her lunches exciting (she loves Greek yogurt and string cheese — it was a legitimate concern).

This week she has been on an eating tear, not only NOMing through her portions, but ours as well. She must be in some growth spurt!? And she’s definitely sprouting some molars. Needless to say, we haven’t felt like we’ve gotten much of a break.




Dinners this week included a lot of chicken. Rotisserie chicken salads and NOM NOM Paleo’s Damn Fine Chicken (with mashers and broccoli) through most of the weeknights. We did one Chipotle day (we were desperately craving not to cook, and Neil was feeling over chicken), and will finish off this week with meatloaf and mashed potatoes.



Lunches were quiche and salad, and breakfasts were either eggs or the rice pudding (adapted from this recipe) I’ve been making every week (rice is one of my exceptions as part of the hybrid challenge.


Thinking ahead to life after Whole30

Being a parent is a mixed blessing when it comes to Whole30. On one hand, I feel like it’s made what used to feel like eternity spent on Whole30 go much faster. But on the other, the fact that SHE herself isn’t on Whole30 means there is non-Whole30 (albeit healthy) items lurking all over our kitchen.

That all being said, I can not believe we are headed into our last week already! Seriously, time has just flown by. And although our Challenge got a little derailed in Week 2, I’m so happy with how it’s gone.

Week 3 is typically the time when most people start thinking about life after Whole30. While it’s easy to get caught up in wanting that first beer, or a slice of pizza, I know from experience that the transition must be undertaken with a plan and goals in place for what comes after 30. At even just 3 weeks in, I’m seeing some physical results and I’m definitely feeling them. Where do we need to be in order to eat better, and keep our results, but not feel deprived, depressed or socially isolated? In our conversations so far we’ve talked about:

What we need to do better:

  • The amount of prep for Whole30 is too much for our lifestyle, but we could definitely be prepping/planning for meals other than dinner. We were doing great until Halloween, but the holidays always seem to throw us for a loop.
  • Meals out need to be special or something we really want, not just out of laziness.
  • We definitely don’t need all the snacks we were buying. Much of it is mindless snacking that could be eliminated with better meals.
  • If we are paying so much attention to eliminating processed foods, we need to do so in our health/beauty/household products as well.

Why Whole30 doesn’t work for us long-term:

  • Our lifestyle just doesn’t support it. That’s not a cop-out — you can’t work full-time, have a toddler, own a business, and essentially have a part-time job and spend as much time food prepping as we have. Not without something (mostly our sanity) giving way.
  • We are feeling less energetic. We’re just really active people, and can’t prep/eat enough to alleviate it, nor do we really want to be constantly eating.
  • Because we’re busy, we batch a lot of things, and they get redundant fast — like chicken.
  • We miss the diversity in our meals (we like Asian food and homemade bread).
  • We definitely miss the life balance 80/20 gives us a much-needed break on Fridays and Saturdays with a pizza or dinner out.

I think most of all, we just like to enjoy food and feel balanced. We’ve never been super regimented or strict. I don’t believe food should become punishment or something you don’t look forward to. I’ll definitely be sharing more about life after Whole30 in a few more posts!

Paleo Crock pot Chili

Whole30 Nutrition Challenge Recap: Week 2

By | Food, Menu Planning, MK, Paleo, Parenting, Whole30 | No Comments

Whole30 Week 2

Sorry for being a bit belated, but Whole 3 week 2 in the books!

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t perfect. Neil had pre-arranged plans in Tulsa with friends for a concert over the weekend. About 45 minutes after he left on Friday morning, Penny our daycare provider called and said that KK had thrown up. She’s never been sick, so that kind of threw a wrench in the fun things I had planned for us, as well as trying to stay on track with Whole30. I didn’t eat terribly, but I did survive on mostly peanut butter sandwiches, protein shakes and fruit. A little more on that below.

Whole30 Week 2

The rest of the week prior went great. We finished off the hot wings and then did a big pot of paleo chili that carried us through most of the week dinner-wise. We did salads and quiche for lunches. Simple to prep, delicious to eat. I swear, I could live on those hot wings — they never get old.

Whole30 Week 2

Whole30 Week 2

KK even dug the chili a bit…

Whole30 Week 2

A lot of the “hangover” symptoms from Week 1 abated during the week and I even felt a bit more energy in the tank during workouts. Definitely not 100%, I still feel like I’m working with just enough energy for a good workout, but nothing much more. I definitely probably need to just eat more at this point, as it was my goal not to drop any weight and I have.

Now from yummy food to tummy trouble…

Whole30 Week 2

As for KK’s vomiting, we’re not sure what is going on. While the other little girl at daycare also appears to have come down with a stomach bug, Kaitlan’s vomiting has occurred only after dairy products. Not all dairy, but milk and Greek yogurt for sure. She’s had diarrhea, but no fever, and no vomiting outside of the 15-20 minute window following dairy consumption. We’re hoping it’s just a noted symptom of the stomach bug, and not an emerging issue on its own.

Whole30 Week 2

At the suggestion of Penny, we thought it might be the whole milk and dropped to 2%, but it gave her enough stomach pain/cramps that we took her to the emergency room Sunday night. After about 90 minutes of screaming she started to calm down, but I’ve never seen her in so much pain and scared the crap out of me. Because milk is so integral to getting her to nap, we bought some almond milk and she thankfully loves it and experienced no issues so far.

Here’s to a much less eventful week 3!

Ginger Soy Tuna Steak - Kohler Created

Meal Planning (10/4-10/10)

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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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!


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


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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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


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.


And the finished meal:


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.


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


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.


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…


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.


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?