Meal Prepping


Our weekly organic veg box arrived earlier this week. I haven’t been meal planning lately and have been wasting a lot of food as a result. It makes me cringe each and every time I find some godawful thing at the back of the fridge that was a vegetable in a previous life. We updated our budget recently and I am on a mission not to waste anything (not just for the sake of the budget, but also because it is just plain terrible to waste food!). I’ve also gone through my (makeshift) pantry (I don’t have a real one…) and have discovered all sorts of things like quinoa, dried chickpeas and adzuki beans, falafel mix, dried shitake mushrooms, among other bits and pieces.

When I’m on a mission (and have the time) there are a few key things I like to do when our veg box arrives to get things sorted and minimise waste. So the other night, when most of my brain was voting for me to go to bed with my laptop to watch Outlander, I:

:: chopped up a giant bunch of silverbeet and another giant bunch of spinach and washed it all thoroughly in a sink full of cold water. I blanched it until bright green then froze in portion-sized batches to use in soups, curries, stir-fries; as you would use any other frozen vegetable.

:: popped a fresh bunch of coriander in a jar of water in my fridge.

:: chopped up an abundance of sweet potatoes and potatoes into little bite size pieces and roasted them with a few dregs of mixed spices (rosemary, oregano, thyme) plus a squeeze of fresh lemon (finally got through them all!) and some salt and pepper. I divvied them up into a container for my lunch at work, a container in the fridge for snacking on or eating with lunches, and also threw some on top of our bowls of spaghetti. I’ve still got a lot more, I will roast some whole to eat with salad and kim chi for lunch, and make some into a mash to have with… something…

:: cleaned out the crisper and neatly arranged all the other produce in a way that was visually pleasing. Ok, so I just wiped it out and then plonked the new veggies in… but that didn’t sound as good.

Yesterday I pushed on and made another orange blossom cake (we have so many oranges suddenly!) for afternoon teas this week… unfortunately, as it is cooked with almond meal, I can’t send it to school or kinder due to nut policies. OH, and as a precursor to this I made my own almond/flaxseed meal, making sure to add a little extra in order to have some leftover to sprinkle on morning oats. It is always best to prepare this fresh yourself, if possible, as it goes rancid very quickly.

I also cooked up some of the dried adzuki beans I’d found in my cupboard. I set aside some for the vegetarian pasta sauce Bird and I ate for dinner last night (meat sauce for the other three), I froze some in batches, and lastly made an adzuki bean hommus which I personally thought was italics worthy delicious. Unfortunately, the girls italics hated it, the baby even went so far as to burst into tears after I spooned a taste lovingly into her mouth. Bird turned to me and said, “What we’re trying to say is, it’s a bit strong tasting.” Enough said, I will, without complaint, proceed to eat the entire batch on my own… with corn chips, preferably.

Last but not least I used all the stalks and roots of the spinach and other leftover veggies from last week to make a vegetable stock paste. Hashtag, no waste!

I have to say, I’m super impressed with my efforts. It does take time and energy to eat wholefoods and prepare things from scratch. I don’t always have the time, or the inclination. But when I get on a roll, it is very satisfying. I find the most important things to do are to get the big leafy greens into some form that makes it easier for me to grab and eat, as these tend to be the veggies I pretend to ignore when I open my fridge (so much effort, not my favourite to eat, but so so good for our bodies). Blanching and freezing works best for us. I also find herbs keep longer if you pop them in a jar of water. Other than that, chopping and having things ready to use helps as well. I’m sure you all have many tricks of your own, feel free to share in the comments, I’m always interested to hear how others manage their food.

Some Food

I was back on my feet yesterday after being unwell… lucky, as I had a full day intensive for Yoga Teacher Training. Lucky, again, as it finished early at 3.30pm giving me time to come home and spend some time in the garden with my family (and to pick the limes pictured above from our tree). After such a hectic few weeks I was longing for my girls and KB in between various pranayama and philosophical (mind blowing) talk!

I took the time to go for a walk during yoga lunch break and feel the ground under my feet. I’m learning more and more the simple value of this.

Once I was home though, I hit the kitchen and started getting prepared for the week. In the girls’ lunches this week they have these (with oats instead of cashews) and these (with tahini instead of peanut butter) and sneaky veg muffins, a recipe from Meagan back in her old blogging days which I can no longer find online. I keep meaning to ask her if I can share the recipe here, as it is a much loved one in our house.

To add to that I throw in some veg sticks, hommus, and usually a sandwich. Today I sent the Pixie to kinder with some rice and tuna warmed up in a thermos and surprisingly she ate the lot, so over the colder months I will aim to use up some leftovers instead of sandwiches every day which I don’t tend to like giving them so much.

I also made some granola as I’m so damn sick of porridge in the mornings! I have it with a spoonful of porridge, coconut yoghurt, frozen berries and a dash of maple syrup. Don’t mind if I do.

In Our Kitchen

Our kitchen has been a lacklustre place of late. In the past twelve months we have been juggling a couple of new dietary requirements, due to various health reasons.

Between the five of us we have one vegetarian, one ketogenic, one dairy intolerance (narrowed down to milk and hard cheese), one better off not eating egg and one free and happy to eat anything. Prior to KB starting the ketogenic diet and realising that the Pixie had a mild dairy intolerance, we were eating mostly vegetarian, mostly plant-based foods (with me eating only vegetarian foods). I would add in a meat dish here and there for the others. Now things have changed fairly drastically and meat has been on the table more than I would like, but given the ketogenic diet is working wonders to help KB manage type one diabetes we need to figure out how to make it work for us. It is still a work in progress and meal planning is essential to ensuring everyone gets what they need, which is where I have been falling flat, as cooking two to three meals each evening is not my idea of fun – and getting in the habit of planning all those meals out is proving difficult.

So to try to get myself back in the spirit of things, yesterday I knuckled down and spent four hours in the kitchen (!). I made…

:: bread rolls

:: a big batch of popcorn (I like to pop our corn in coconut oil and sprinkle with savoury yeast flakes and a touch of organic sea salt)

:: a couple of batches of mango raspberry nicecream (frozen mango and berries whizzed with either ice or coconut yoghurt, vanilla extract and cinnamon, yum! This is best eaten immediately)

:: blueberry muffins (these are SO good, I added chia instead of flax and used wholemeal flour as that is what I had on hand)

:: raspberry coconut bliss balls

:: vegemite, pineapple and organic goat’s cheese scrolls (I actually haven’t tasted these yet, they sound bizarre but it was the combination the girls’ ordered!)

Alas, none of these options are suitable for Mr Keto but at least the girls are covered and school/kinder lunches are done for the week.

This morning I made a loaf of bread (pictured above) and am currently defrosting a batch of lentil dahl from the freezer to have with rice tonight (KB will have an omelette). Mondays are usually pretty boring in the food department here as our organic veg box and groceries arrive on a Tuesday night so we are onto the dregs now! I’m down to a couple of brown onions, two potatoes and a frozen leek in the vegetable department… hmmm… inspiring!

In other news outside the kitchen, I’ve started Yoga Teacher Training and couldn’t feel more at home. So far I’ve had one day intensive, a yoga class and a meditation class. I’m heading back to the studio for a class tonight and can’t wait to arrive. It feels indulgent doing something for myself, but every bit of me knows it’s the right choice.

I hope your Mondays are going well, wherever you may be.

P.S. These and these and these are on my list this week.

Kombucha Induced Road Rage + a Vegan Fried Rice Recipe

Coming at you from the library today. I spent the morning here getting some stuff done for the NGO I work for, and then stepped out to grab some things for dinner from the shops. I also picked up some rice paper rolls from my favourite sushi shop and a kombucha to get me over the $10 minimum eftpos line. So I jump back in my car and am

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A Recipe: Red Lentil Dahl

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I have been receiving emails lately asking for recipes and ideas for meal planning. I thought I would share a few of my favourite staple recipes with you, beginning today with my step mother’s lentil dahl. A quick google search will uncover an entire world of dahl, I have made many different and more traditional versions, but this one with

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Over the Weekend

It’s Monday and we had the most glorious weekend. It started when I was presented with a hot coffee first thing and told to drink it in bed. I opened the curtain and let the light stream in and sat with Birdie curled up next to me and slowly sipped.

I spent five hours in the kitchen with my three little helpers yesterday afternoon, and I feel so organised for the week. I made tamari trail mix, raw trail mix, salted caramel bliss balls (with nuts for those eating at home), coconut cacao bliss balls (with seeds for those taking to work/school), sneaky veg muffins, sweet potato and lentil frittata, and a giant batch of kitchari (a traditional Ayurvedic recipe which is gentle on tummies and great to eat during the change of season into Autumn. I made enough for a family meal + five adult lunches). I was planning on making red kidney bean bolognese sauce as well for one of our dinners this week but we ran out of time, I will make that in the next few days. The girls donned their aprons (the baby joined us with a rusk and contributed with some squeals here and there) and helped to pour, mix, roll, chop and grate. Things are slower with them in the kitchen and I have to make a conscious effort to include them and allow things to go at a slower pace.

We went to a local native plant sale, met some friends and took turns minding children and wandering around. We bought some natives for our garden and even found time to plant a few.

On Saturday KB took all three girls out and I stayed at home for the whole morning cleaning the house, I think this was a major contributing factor to the calm flow that followed us throughout the remainder of our weekend. It took about four hours, but oh! What a difference it made to our attitudes and our time spent at home over the weekend, without falling over things and each other. Now we just have to try to maintain our sense of order, for a little while at least.

It’s weekends like these I like best, with time to think and potter and make. I hope you had a wonderful one too, wherever you may be.

In General

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2016-04-04 16.11.15It’s late afternoon and the sun is streaming through my back door into the kitchen. Lentil and red kidney bean soup is being heated on the stove, fruit is being stewed to add to yoghurt and probiotics for a snuffly baby for dinner, cacao nib cookies have been cooked for school and kinder lunches, and honey ambrosia has been made to dollop on porridge in the early mornings. I’ve also got a batch of gelatine-based jelly setting in the fridge which I am hoping the big two will be happy enough to eat (it doesn’t taste quite like the jelly they get at the Nana’s houses!) The baby is playing on her mat while I busy myself in the kitchen and the older two are planting some seedlings with KB out the back. I can feel that lightness that comes with a baby becoming more independent, when they are able to entertain themselves for a while on the floor with a pile of blocks or some kitchen spoons or a rusk. The days of constant holding and cradling have, once again, come to an end. She is ten months old tomorrow.

Today I’ve been busy trying to prepare us for the school routine. School holidays have also come to an end, although the idea of school every day is one that still seems foreign to me, it’s going to take a while to get used to the monotony of it all (for many years to come).

Over the holidays we’ve baked bread, we’ve gone walking, we’ve made easter crowns, we’ve sewed, we’ve crafted, we’ve cooked, we’ve cleaned, we’ve celebrated Bird’s sixth birthday. We have done a lot of work around the house and in our garden and it feels great (I won’t mention the overflowing washing basket, the clothes unfolded or the state of our bedroom). We’ve planted out some seedlings for a (very) small Autumn harvest; we are still learning and feeling our way with the veggie patch. We’ve moved upwards, to one large apple crate and a few smaller veg crates and pots dotted with basil, strawberries, brocolli, bok choy, and beetroot. It was an Epic Fail for us with our tomatoes over summer (seriously, tomatoes and yoghurt are two things I just cannot get a handle on) but we had a few delicious rounds of crispy, sweet snow peas which made us feel better.

We reviewed our budget so that I can continue to do minimal and short term work, rather than going back to work permanently just at the moment. Oh boy, it’s tight! But with three kids it becomes both incredibly difficult to arrange childcare, and also the preciousness of this time becomes abundantly clear with each child shooting up and up and off and off. With the decision that I’ll be home longer, we’re also thinking about giving up the Pixie’s day at childcare which we have been hanging onto for dear life – our centre doesn’t even keep a waiting list any more as they are so full and in demand. When I returned to work last time it was near impossible to get the two girls in on the same day, I think I changed my working days two or three times to compensate. It’s a tough decision to let it go, as we also highly value consistency for the girls and I don’t want to chop and change, but the savings we will make as a result will surely be worth it.

Speaking of savings, these holidays we also found out we have a saver and a spender (what is done with easter eggs says a lot about a person). Friends, I’m sure you won’t need long to figure out which is Bird and which is Pixie…

My feet hurt from the last three hours spent in the kitchen. I think it’s time for a shower, some hot soup and crusty bread for dinner and an early night.

A big week awaits.

On Our Dinner Table This Week

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Another week, another meal plan… I have found that this is what works best for me. There is nothing less motivating than getting to 4pm not knowing what we are having for dinner, and trying to throw something together from the scraps in the pantry. Meal planning, for me, is essential to ensure the quality of what we eat. Some sad news this week is the price of avocados!? Someone told me this morning that there is a shortage and that the reason for the price hike… so we are unfortunately taking avos off the menu for the time being. Wah!

I usually find planning about five dinners for the seven day week works well, there are usually leftovers at some point and overflow. I used to plan for seven but would usually only end up making four or five of the dinners so I’ve changed my method to account for this.

This week I’m aiming for something like this:

// breakfasts //

porridge + yoghurt + almond milk + fruit

pancakes + fruit + yoghurt

eggs + veggies (for anyone who will eat them at this time of day… in other words probably only me)

// lunches //

winging it: see note below

// dinners //

salmon + veg

peanut brown rice patties + kale-slaw + salad (recipes from here)

steak + salad

lentil bolognese

something to do with silken tofu as I have some in the freezer (ideas?)

leftovers

// snacks //

bliss balls

chocolate “paddlepops” (also from here)

popcorn

banana bread

// the baby //

The baby is now have quinoa and brown rice (milled some brown rice into rice flour and made my own baby rice cereal). I haven’t bought any other grains yet, maybe some amaranth or millet could be next on the list. She also had a suck on a bone the other day and cried her little heart out when I took it away from her!

brown rice (or other new grain) + zucchini + coconut oil

brown rice (or other new grain) + dried fig stew

chicken stew

steamed veggie/fruit mashes

I should own up here and let you know that my millionth attempt at making my own yoghurt has once again come to a dismal end and I have yet another kilogram of milky liquid to do something with… any suggestions? I am the worst yoghurt maker ever and have not once had success. Where am I going wrong!? Another confession is that this time I actually used one of the automated recipes on my thermomix… WHO FAILS AN AUTOMATED RECIPE!?

This meal planner is also subject to change this week as I’ve borrowed a thousand recipe books from the library (I put books on hold and it’s always my luck that they arrive all at the same time). So I have these recipe books to dive into this week: Simplicious, The Green Kitchen, Plenty, and Leon: Fast Vegetarian.

The other thing that is happening this week… Bird is starting school on Thursday. OMG. School Mum alert. So I’ll be winging it this week with lunches but next week when she’s going four days I may have to plan a bit more seriously.

What are you eating this week?

Over and out. xx

summer food

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I just love it when we pick up our weekly fruit + veggie box from our local food host. A lot of people say they don’t like getting a veg box because they like to be able to choose what vegetables they want to eat. But for me, the thrill of discovering new vegetables, new recipes and the challenge of using everything in my box, along with ensuring that we are eating (mostly) local and seasonal produce makes it worth it.

On my goals list I really should have set out to use everything in my box absolutely every week… that might have to be number 31. Last year my two most troublesome vegetables to get through were kale and bok choy and unfortunately our compost bin saw more of them than they should… here’s to lots of inventive ways to use these veggies this year.

The other thing I love about getting a seasonal vegetable box is just that – it’s seasonal! I’ve been getting one for a few years now and our eating habits have completely changed now that we eat seasonally. It has also taught me a lot about what produce is in season throughout different times of the year where we live.

This week our box has carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, lettuce, kale (ugh), bok choy, spring onions, grapes, oranges, bananas, grapefruit, beetroot, cherry tomatoes, cantaloupe, broccoli and zucchini. Before that our fridge was literally devoid of fresh foods so inspiration was running low. I’m not in the swing of things with us all on holidays and keeping organised with food has been hard.

So tonight we had salmon on the bbq with a mashed potato + carrot blend and a salad of kale (ugh), fancy lettuce, grated beetroot and cherry tomatoes. The baby: she had the mash and devoured it. Us adults also had spicy kim chi on our plates.

The rest of the week will look something like this:

 

// breakfasts //

chia seed pudding + coconut cream + fruit

porridge + yoghurt + almond milk + fruit

toast and avo or nut butter

// lunches //

blackbean toasted wraps

salad

eggs + avo

// dinners //

pad thai

zucchini fritters + salad

zen bowls: roast veg, kale, chickpeas, brown rice, yeast flakes, nuts/seeds, tahini dressing

bbq veggie burgers or meat + salad

lentil dahl + quinoa

leftovers

// snacks //

bliss balls

nuts/seeds

boiled eggs

cherry tomatoes

// the baby //

We just introduced Peach’s first grain today (quinoa blended with some butter) so her meals this week will be based around getting to know quinoa combined with some fruit and veg combos she has already had along with one or two new ones (like cantaloupe and zucchini from the box). She has just started having two “meals” per day (though depending what it is she may do more playing than eating!)

mashed potato + carrot blend

baby kitchari

avocado + quinoa

banana

cantaloupe

zucchini + mash

Considering we are all eating quite different things at the moment, I think there should be enough on here to keep us all happy. We’re heading back to the beach for a few days so there will no doubt be the appearance of icecream cones and fish and chips at some point, because: summer, holidays, carefree, etc.

road tripping with small children (plus a sinchies giveaway!)

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In the lead up to our road trip I was quite nervous. I didn’t know how the drive would go and my idea of a holiday is not being stuck in a car full of screaming children for hours on end, which I feared was just what I was walking into. I didn’t really know how to prepare or what to take with us. But now that we are back, and survived the journey, I’m itching to plan another trip!

We didn’t drive very far, in the scheme of things. We went from Melbourne to Merimbula which is about a seven hour drive from home – on google maps. On the way up we stopped half way in Metung for a couple of nights and then continued on. On the way back we planned to do the same thing, but every time we thought we might stop there was a child sleeping or the back seat was quiet so we just kept going… eleven hours later we walked in our front door. Phew, it was a massive day but oh so worth it.

I thought I’d share some of the things I did to make the long journey easier, just in case any of you might find it useful.

When we go away I always pack sinchies reusable pouches for the kids, and fill them with different things for them to enjoy on the road (pictured above). This time I made oat and cacao smoothies / apple and kale / apple, kale and vanilla yoghurt and had them ready to go in the freezer the night before. They absolutely love them and it limits the mess in the car too. Last time I purchased I made sure to buy some extra child safe lids so I can be more confident about the Pixie in particular opening the lid by herself – a phrase I am becoming very familiar with. We use sinchies every week in the kinder lunch box or for easy snacks at the park and so on. They will also be used regularly for the baby too now that she is on the verge of eating. Since I began using sinchies, I realised they aren’t just for kids, they’re great storage containers for homemade soup, sauces, dressing and even things like sunscreen and toiletries when travelling! They have a great range of other products too which suits “no rubbish/nude food” lunches – like sandwich, snack and wrap bags. Win.

Another favourite of ours are little bento boxes* which the girls absolutely love. I know it sounds kind of silly but they seem to eat so much more when it looks interesting. And for a food nerd like me there is nothing better than cutting sandwiches into animal shapes!

We didn’t have any firm intentions to make it all the way to Merimbula without technology, but just to give us some buffers I put together two little writing kits made out of sandwich boxes, you can see them pictured above with crayons and pencils on one side and post its and stickers on the other. So simple, and provided a whole lot of fun both on the road and while we were at our destination. Believe it or not the car was iPad free the ENTIRE JOURNEY!

Lastly we always have story CDs on the go – although we have listened to them so many times I could chant them out myself without having to press play…

Going away isn’t really free and easy like it used to be pre-kids. Not much is impromptu, and on the eve of most trips we are up incredibly late, ticking things off lists and folding and packing and tidying and searching the house for those last minute things (teddies, undies, that missing shoe). At that point it’s easy to question why we go at all. But then you arrive at your destination and stretch your legs, maybe have a glass of wine, and everything is ok again.

* * * * * * * *

To make your next trip a little easier (be it to the local park or further afield) Sinchies are offering one lucky motherwho reader one of their starter kits which includes 2 x 80mL, 2 x 140mL, 2 x 200mL, 1 x 500mL, 1 x 1L, 1 x funnel, 3 x child safe lids, and a cleaning brush. An excellent addition to any wholefoods pantry. I should also mention sinchies products are free from BPA, Phthalate and PVC which is important to me when making choices for my kids. They are also dishwasher and freezer safe which is a must when you’re a busy parent making food from scratch.

You can enter a maximum of three times by:

1/ subscribing to motherwho via email (over on the side bar)

2/ liking motherwho on facebook

3/ sharing this giveaway on Facebook or instagram

Leave a comment here with your email address for each entry so that I can contact you if you are the winner. Please note this giveaway is for Australian residents only. The competition will be closed on Sunday 13th December at midnight and the winner will be announced on Monday 14th. Good luck!

*** UPDATE *** COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED ***

And the winner is… Tina! Thanks so much to everyone who entered the Sinchies giveaway and a big welcome to those who’ve joined us in the last week. Tina, I will be in touch to link you in with Sam from Sinchies. Have a great week everyone!

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* if you purchase via my marked affiliate links I will earn a small commission.

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