Tag Archives: meal planning

Save Money and Eat Well While Traveling

fort barrancas flag and cannon with titlesI’ve been working hard trying to restore my health – building my adrenals, healing my digestion, trying new exercises – and I didn’t want to wreck everything when we went on vacation. So I started planning ’cause that’s just what you have to do when you eat real food.  I mean really, I make a menu plan every week anyhow, so why not make one for traveling too? It keeps me on budget and keeps the family eating healthier food instead of last minute junk.

The plan was to be able to eat our own breakfast and lunch each day and eat out only for dinner.  I organized the meals, purchased the groceries and prepared some of the food ahead of time. I also had a special piece of equipment – a portable electric stove burner! This gadget is way cool, and I only just learned such a thing existed just a year or two ago. We bought one to electric stove burneruse for our Sunday School classroom kitchen, and then a friend of mine told me she bought one recently and used it to cook dinner in her hotel room for her daughter who is on a ketogenic diet for epilepsy. Brilliant! So we added the stove burner to the packing list along with our smallest cast iron skillet that just exactly fit the burner eye.  That meant we could have a hot breakfast every morning!

The days leading up to our trip made me feel like Ma Ingalls getting ready to go cross-country in her covered wagon.  The Ingalls family didn’t travel by interstate with exits leading to chain restaurants and fast-food drive thrus. But this also made me realize how crazy it is that if we wanted to be sure we were eating real food, even in this 21st century time of amazing technology, we still couldn’t count on finding it while on the road; and so we had to pack it with us just like the pioneers over a century ago. So I cooked and baked and planned and looked forward to a week of family fun without worrying about getting stomach aches, mood swings and depressed immune systems.

Breakfasts every day were pretty much the same – bacon, eggs and muffins, although I did use some Paleo vegetable pancakes to make myself a kind of breakfast sandwich that was super good – I heated up two of the pancakes in some of the bacon grease and filled them with a slice of bacon, a fried egg and some cheese slices – so delicious and way healthier than the fast food version!

Lunches were sandwiches for the kids, but hubby and I often split an avocado and topped it avocadoswith chicken salad or tuna. Everyone enjoyed fruit on the side and no one even asked me about dessert. (I think we are finally getting rid of the sweet tooth cravings, at least with the kids) In times past I would have made a couple dozen cookies or some other homemade sweet treat, but it wasn’t on the radar for this trip and I never got them made. Nobody seemed to care. In the evenings after our restaurant dinner, we occasionally stopped at a Publix and picked up a container of Talenti Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup gelato to take back to the hotel where we split it four ways, so we did get a little something special every now and then. :)

We spent our vacation in Florida’s panhandle so we were fortunate to get some terrific seafood for dinner! I tweeted two of the restaurants we liked the best – partly because the food was good, but also partly because they were able to cater to my need to be gluten free right now. (btw I’ve done a blog article for GNOWFGLINS about why I’m gluten free that is coming out in mid-September, I will try to link to it from here when it is published.)

Anymore we always travel with a cooler of some kind. I keep one like this in my car all the time just in case I need it. For the trip we took a larger hard-side cooler. We knew we would have access to ice every night at the hotel, but you can also get coolers that plug into your car and have their own refrigeration system.  I also packed a plastic storage bin with pantry items and the cooking equipment.

Foods I prepared ahead:

Chicken salad from a whole chicken, sandwich bread, two dozen GF muffins, and some Paleo-style pancakes/breads for myself (zucchini pancakes, sweet potato pancakes, coconut flatbread, sweet potato flatbread)

In the cooler:

A half-gallon of raw milk, kombucha, bacon, eggs, butter, mayonnaise, organic peanut butter, apples, raspberries, peaches, grapes broth, sliced nitrite-free ham, cheese, cut up carrots and celery, lemons, beet kvass, fermented pickles, lettuce, and yogurt.

In the storage bin:

The stove burner, skillet, knives, can opener, cheese slicer, kitchen shears, canned tuna, canned salmon, bananas, olive oil, non-GMO chips, muffins, avocadoes, sandwich bread, paper goods, and cutting board.

We managed to eat up nearly everything, I planned it out well enough that we only came home with a few eggs, some cheese and one muffin.  No one got sick and no one went hungry!  No one at any of the hotels said anything about cooking in the room. So I’m glad to have one more tool to use when we travel to keep our family well fed!

What are your best travel tips? Leave us a comment or share with us on Facebook!

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A Week of Menus

a week of menus titleRecently I wrote how our family had implemented a more strict grocery budget and how I was working out the purchase of healthy, mostly organic, frequently local food within the new parameters. (Read here  )  So here is an example of a week’s worth of dinner menus including links to recipes when available. I just wanted to give you an idea of how we normally eat.  Everything is just plain, wholesome real food for the most part. There are occasional instances of a package or can of something, but even then those items are usually single-ingredient items such as canned tomatoes.

Don’t stress, be happy!

I’ve been told one of the frustrations of cooking from scratch is the amount of prep time it takes. My advice for getting around that is this:

1) put on some happy music and pour yourself a glass of something (kombucha? wine?) and let the prep time be a relaxing time rather than a stress-filled time

2) practice your knife skills and make sure your knives are always sharp so the chopping and slicing goes easily and quickly. Many people don’t have any knife skills or even know which knife to use in which situation. Thankfully we have You Tube! Go here to watch Alton Brown explaining the many different kinds of knives and their uses. And here is Simply Ming showing good knife holding technique.  And here is one more showing how you can put a little skill into good use by making quick work of mincing an onion.

List of Menus

Chicken Oreganata  I made this with skin-on,  bone-in chicken thighs instead of boneless because bone-in are cheaper, plus meat on the bone (and with skin) has more nutrition than boneless skinless (and you can save the bones for making homemade stock, another really nutritious and frugal thing to do!) Just extend cooking time another 10 minutes or so.   I served it with another Greek-inspired side dish called Fashoulakia which is a green bean and tomato dish flavored with dill and other herbs. You can make the green beans ahead and serve them chilled or room temperature.

Salmon Cakes with mashed potatoes and a tossed salad plus some Bubbies fermented sauerkraut was the menu for Tuesday. I used the Salmon Cakes recipe from the Well Fed Family Eating With the Seasons cookbook. I am currently sold out of the cookbook, but will have a new e-book version available soon. In the meantime use this recipe for salmon cakes from Practical Paleo.

468238_10151606270214040_291514107_oLemon Rosemary Roast Chicken with Red Potatoes was Wednesday’s dinner. Here is a link for a similar recipe although mine used more garlic, rosemary and melted butter. I doubled the recipe and saved the meat from the extra chicken in the freezer for later, and then put all the carcasses in a big stockpot to make broth. I can’t remember what we had along with this, but broccoli or a salad or some kale would go well.

 

 

Hotdogs with oven fries and coleslaw was for Thursday. My son makes great spicy oven fries and that is a big help when I’m trying to get a quick dinner on the table before a ballgame. I like to make homemade hotdog and burger buns in big batches (using the recipe from my Breads DVD) and then keep them in the freezer, but in a pinch you can also find sprouted hotdog buns from Ezekiel or Alvarado Bakery in many health food stores and groceries. Homemade is much cheaper! Here is a simple bun recipe from King Arthur

Chuck roast in the crockpot was an easy supper for Friday. I put quartered onions and several chunked up carrots in the pot first and then put the grass fed chuck roast on top. I sprinkled the whole thing generously with an herb blend from Simply Organic called Spicy Steak, put on the lid and that was it. That evening we made some smashed potatoes to go with it, sliced up some tomatoes and cucumbers and had an old-fashioned Southern supper.  Here’s a similar recipe for how I make mashed potatoes, however I don’t peel the potatoes, and I just mash them right in the cooking pan instead of dirtying another bowl!

Each week when I make up my menus I try to have at least one night of beef and one night of fish. When I have access to good pasture-raised pork I also include that.  Using homemade bone broth several times a week, whether in a soup or cooking rice with it, is also something I try to do. We work on having fermented and raw foods every day whether at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Sometimes every meal!

I have learned the hard way that planning a menu for each week will save me money in the long run. If I come up with a really good menu that everyone loves I will stick it in a folder so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every month.

Do you have menu planning tips to share? How do you live frugally and still eat well?

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases.

 

 

clean_plate

Menu Planning: Take Control of Your Week!

take control of your week titlesThere are so many things in our lives over which we have no control.  Thankfully our nutrition does not have to be one of them!  Taking a little time at the beginning of each week to plan meals will pay off throughout the week in many ways. The biggest payoff will be knowing you are taking control of your family’s health.  If it sounds like a lot of work it is only because you are not yet in the habit. Do not think of it as work, it is truly BLESSING YOUR FAMILY in one of the best ways possible.

clean_plate    Planning your weekly menu will help you avoid the dilemma that happens every night. It’s 6 o’clock and your family is hungry but you don’t know what you are going to eat. Try planning each week for four weeks and see how nice it is to have a menu; your decisions are made and your kitchen is stocked with everything you need to make it a reality. Your family sits down together and healthy habits are built. A bonus will be the money you save from not having to order out, go out, or buy impulsively in the grocery store.

The easiest way to get started is to just ask each family member to tell you their favorite home cooked meal. Or you can look through your refrigerator and freezer to see what you already have that needs to get used up.  Don’t forget about your crockpot; dust it off and put it to work.  Check your calendar to see what the week’s activities will be so you can be prepared to take dinner on the road if you have ballgames or other events. Gather together the recipes that go with your menus and write down the items you need to buy. Make sure you plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Meal Inspiration Ideas

There are lots of recipes and meal ideas here on the Well Fed Family. Just type “recipe” or “menu” in the search box on the right. You can also visit our Pinterest pages for tons more breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas.

A good template for any meal is the one Dr. Weston Price served to the school children in his town during the Depression. This meal was often the only real meal this children received each day and it was chock full of nutrient-dense food, enough that with it these children regained good health and renewed ability to learn. The meal consisted of a rich stew made from homemade bone broth, meats and vegetables; rolls from freshly ground whole wheat spread with a thick layer of grassfed butter; dessert was a dish of stewed fruit with only a very little sweetener. Each child also received a small cup of juice and a teaspoon of cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil plus two glasses of whole raw milk.  This basic meal varied with the seasons according to what fruits, vegetables and meats were available.

Picky Eater Problems?

If you have picky eaters in your house it may take a few weeks for them to get on board with your weekly menu plan. Don’t give up and don’t give in! Parents, whether knowingly or unknowingly, are the ones who train their children to be picky eaters or good eaters. Unless you have someone with a food allergy, everyone should be eating the same thing. Mom is not a short order cook, she is a parent and a part of the family who deserves to sit down and eat with everyone else! Even babies and toddlers can share in the family meals. Your children will learn that this is how meals are done in your home from now on and eventually everyone will come around.

Mealtime has the potential to become a battleground with your picky eater, especially with very stubborn or manipulative children. There are a few things you can do to keep the battles to a minimum. The first thing to remember is that you aren’t living in a Third World country and starvation is not lurking behind your door. As long as you are serving a variety of healthy foods each day your child will eat. If they don’t like what is served at one meal they will find something at the next meal. Don’t make a big deal out of it, but don’t cave in and make them something else if they don’t like what you have already prepared. Focus on something positive and if someone doesn’t want to eat don’t force it. Eventually they will realize they need to eat what is prepared. Try to model a thankful attitude – it will rub off on the little ones!

Involve the Family

For more fun ideas and to help get the whole family involved in meal planning and prep, take a family field trip to your local library or bookstore and browse the cookbook section. Find one or two that look interesting and bring them home. Let everyone pick a recipe out of the new cookbook to make for that week. You will try new things and teach your children important skills while you are building memories together.

aroundthetableHave you started weekly menu planning? What benefits have your discovered to meal planning?

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases.