Mama Makes Food Guide To Meal Planning

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With a busy lifestyle, meal planning can be the saving grace to ensure your family eats healthfully.  Taking a few minutes every week to make one takes the guesswork out of what to prepare every time it’s time to eat! Here are my top five tips to successful meal planning:

  1. Take stock of what you already have.  Look over the pantry, fridge, & freezer to re-familiarize yourself with what’s on hand.  Write a few items down that you know you’ll want to get used up so that they get worked into the plan.  I use this opportunity to do a quick clean of these places to get tidied up for the week ahead.
  2. Do it your way.  Depending on your personality, meal planning may come relatively easy to you or, on the other hand, you may find it’s a struggle to plan so much in advance.  If the first scenario is you, then you can dive into planning it all: breakfast, lunch, dinner, even snacks.  If that seems completely overwhelming, then perhaps simply start your meal planning journey with dinner.  Another point to consider is that no one ever said you have to plan the whole week out at once.  Maybe you would rather do your meal plan in a couple of stints each week, only thinking about 2-3 days at a time.
  3. Make it fun.  To me, this is key.  If meal planning becomes just another dreaded task, then it can be easy to put it off & not do it at all.  So make a little ritual out of it! Get yourself a cute meal planning notepad, like the one pictured from 1canoe2, or a super functional spiral notebook like the one I have above from Kahootie & Co.  Other options include a weekly marker board or notepad (Target dollar spot is great for these), a printable template from the internet, excel, or of course, plain ol’ paper if that suites you.  Find a comfy spot to sit, grab your go-to recipes, a cookbook or two, & maybe some saved blog recipes.  Make yourself a cozy beverage to sip on & have fun with it.
  4. Recognize your family’s eating patterns & plan accordingly.  If you make your favorite stir-fry for dinner on Tuesday, how much does it make?  Will there be leftovers to use for lunch the next day?  If not, perhaps consider doubling the recipe to ensure there are leftovers.  Leftovers are your meal planning bestie!  I use them all the time for lunches or even another dinner later on.  Cook once, eat twice – my kitchen mantra.  Healthy eating is made more approachable when you maximize your efficiency in the kitchen.  Once you get the hang of how much your family eats, you’ll be able to incorporate any leftovers into your meal plan, ensuring all that delicious, healthy food you’re whipping up gets eaten.
  5. Leave a little wiggle room. Life happens! I usually keep a meal or two open for unexpected outings or other changes to our schedule we can’t anticipate ahead of time.

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My goal here is to be helpful, perhaps a little inspiring, but also concise, because let’s face it – none of us have a surplus of time to read a bunch of superfulous musings.  If there’s something I haven’t covered or a specific question you have, please leave a comment here or on my meal planning Instagram post!

Happy Meal Planning, Mamas! ❤


Kid Tested & Mama Approved Chocolate Chip Cookies

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If you’ve followed me on Instagram for a while, you’ll know I love my hemp seeds.  We have them on everything, so it only made sense to add them to my first blog-worthy cookie recipe too.

Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite and I’ve seemed to pass this on to my kiddo too. We practice balance in our home and are known to have an unhealthy treat from time to time, but I wanted a simple, no-equipment-needed cookie recipe that I could feel good about offering to our son a little more regularly.  These cookies are it!

I love a yum almond flour cookie, but let’s be real, that stuff is expensive! Here, almond flour is cut with spelt flour to stretch my food budget just a bit and, as a bonus, we get the health benefits of both. Hemp seeds add healthy fats and a hit of protein.  There’s an option to use either pure maple syrup or a banana; either way, no refined sugar (except for what’s in the chocolate chips of course)!

The maple syrup sweetened cookie has a more traditional cookie-like texture – slightly crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.  The banana sweetened one has a more cake-like consistency.  Both are yum, kid tested, and mama approved!

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Kid Tested & Mama Approved Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 12-16 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
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This healthier chocolate chip cookie gets a nutrition boost from two types of flour + hemp hearts, as well as an option to sweeten either with pure maple syrup or a ripe banana.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a large baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, mix almond flour, spelt flour, hemp hearts, baking soda, and sea salt together. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, pour in maple syrup (if using) OR mash ripe banana (if using) into a puree. Add coconut oil, egg, and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in, stirring until a dough forms. Use your hands to incorporate everything if you need to. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Using a tablespoon (I like to use a cookie scoop), place cookie dough on parchment-lined baking sheet a couple of inches apart. Flatten slightly with your fingers. Bake for about 15-17 minutes or until golden.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  These links are to products I actually purchase and use myself in my kitchen.  If you buy something using a link, I’ll get a small commission at NO addition cost to you.  Thank you for supporting Mama Makes Food!

Happy Food Making, Mamas! ❤


Sweet Potato Noodle & B’Sprout Frittata

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Every mama needs a couple staple frittata recipes in her back pocket.  They look fancy, especially when spiralized veggies are involved, but they’re simple and quick to prepare.  Another added bonus is all the goodness you can cram into one humble skillet.

There are THREE other big reasons I love adding frittatas to our breakfast meal plan: 1) many ingredients can be assembled the night before (prepping the veggies, whisking the eggs, etc.) and stored in the fridge until morning, 2) one frittata makes multiple meals for our family, which correlates nicely with my kitchen mantra, “cook once, eat twice”, and 3) frittatas are endlessly adaptable and are perfect for using up whatever veggies are on hand.

If you’re still reading, that means I’ve probably convinced you, soooooo here’s the recipe:

Sweet Potato Noodle Frittata

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Sweet potato and Brussels sprouts come together with some Mexican spices for a veggie-packed, flavorful and hearty frittata.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs. avocado or olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet potato, spiralized or shredded
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 Brussels sprouts, shredded or finely chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2-4 tbs. shredded cheddar, optional
  • 1-2 tbs. hemp seeds
  • 1-2 tbs. cilantro, finely chopped
  • avocado, sliced and served alongside
  • salsa, optional, for dipping

Directions

  1. Preheat a 10″ skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, spiralize or shred sweet potato.
  2. Add oil to preheated skillet, then add sweet potato noodles. Using tongs, toss noodles with oil until well incorporated. Then, add garlic and toss again.
  3. Cook noodles and garlic, tossing occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add Brussels sprouts and cook for a couple more minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside for a moment.
  5. Using tongs, arrange sweet potato noodle mixture so that it’s thicker around the edges of the skillet, creating a “crust”.
  6. Pour eggs overtop, tilting skillet so that the eggs are evenly distributed.
  7. Sprinkle cheese, if using, and hemp seeds on top of eggs and cover skillet. Cook until eggs are set, about 7 minutes.
  8. Once eggs are cooked through, add cilantro. Cut into wedges and serve with avocado alongside and salsa to dip, if you like.

Leftovers will store in the fridge for 3-4 days and reheat well in a skillet or oven. They’ll make another great (and nearly effortless!) breakfast or even lunch.

Happy Food Making, Mamas! ❤


Fennel Tomato Soup

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This fast and flavorful soup has been a part of my winter repertoire for years.  Fennel is an amazing vegetable and this simple soup lets its delicious taste really shine.

I originally found a recipe for Fennel Tomato Soup from an issue of Vegetarian Times magazine and over time I tweaked it a little here and a little there (adding a healthy dose of greens was an obvious improvement, in my opinion) until it became a recipe I could call my own. Tomato and fennel go together so well; this soup is packed with flavor despite a short ingredient list and prep time.  It’s well-suited to a busy weeknight dinner or even a quick lunch, as it’s on the table in about 20 minutes.

Fennel Tomato Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Did you know tomato and fennel are besties? It's true. One taste of this soup will convince you this flavor combo is a match made in garden heaven.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs. avocado or olive oil
  • 4 Italian sausages of choice, sliced into half moons
  • 1 large fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 2 tbs. white cooking wine, mirin, or water
  • 1 large can (28oz.) or jar (32oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 4 c. vegetable or bone broth
  • Sea salt & pepper
  • 2 large handfuls baby greens (such as spinach, kale, chard or a mixture), chopped

Directions

  1. Heat oil over medium. Add sausages and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. 2. Add diced fennel bulb & seeds and sauté for another 4-5 minutes, until fennel is softened.
  2. Pour in cooking wine or water and scrape all the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add tomatoes, broth, and season with salt & pepper. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in chopped spinach.

Happy Food Making, Mamas! ❤

 


Spiced Parsnip & Pear Oats

I did it again. Yep, back to back oatmeal recipes – both with a serving of veggies lurking. Maybe I should change my name to Mama Makes Oats?

But seriously, there can’t be too many amped-up bowls of this staple breakfast. If you need proof, check out my Deluxe Pumpkin Oatmeal, Zucchini Bread Oatmeal and Chocolate Power Porridge. Oatmeal … oats … porridge — whatever you call it, it’s universally satisfying, fun to eat, and it keeps you full.

I’ve put zucchini in oatmeal, pumpkin, cauliflower and carrots; so a few days ago it hit me – parsnips in porridge would be amazing! And it is guys, it is! You gotta try it. This recipe is my favorite oatmeal I’ve made in a while.

Spiced Parsnip & Pear Oats

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Parsnips pair deliciously with nutmeg and cinnamon in this ridiculously nutritious bowl of oatmeal.

Ingredients

  • 1 parsnip, peeled & shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats, gluten-free if that’s important to you
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 scoops collagen peptides (I use Vital Proteins), optional
  • 1 tsp. Ceylon cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups water or coconut water
  • 1 pear, cored & chopped
  • 2-3 tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla powder or 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine parsnip, oats, sea salt, collagen, cinnamon, nutmeg, milk, and water. Stir to incorporate and heat over medium.
  2. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until parsnip has softened. Reduce the heat a bit if necessary to keep from sticking.
  3. Add pear, maple syrup and vanilla and cook for another minute of two.
  4. Portion into bowls and add whatever toppings you like.

Happy Food Making, Mamas! ❤️


Chocolate Power Porridge

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I’ve probably said this somewhere before, but oatmeal is an amazing vessel for putting all kinds of nourishing ingredients into our kiddos.

I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate oatmeal?  It feels like a treat, tastes like dessert, and packs a ton of nutrition to power our littles through their busy mornings (and us too mamas, of course).

You’ll find the usual suspects here: hemp hearts, chia seeds, collagen — but the game changing thing about this recipe is that its base is a mixture of oats and cauliflower.  That’s right … C-A-U-L-I-F-L-O-W-E-R!  You’d never know it either.  It cooks down and becomes soft and creamy just like the oats do.  Pure magic.

This is one of those recipes I kind of nailed the first time.  My son had four servings when I first created this recipe, so I knew I was onto something.  He helped me make it too.  I don’t hide the fact that there are veggies in his bowl of porridge.  He helps chop it and pour it in and we talk about why it’s there.  It’s important for him to know that he is eating cauliflower for breakfast and hey — it tastes good!  This is a great recipe to make with kids.  I put the saucepan on the counter and my toddler (almost three) dumps all the ingredients in (that I’ve pre-measured).  He loves to use the big wooden spoon to mix it all up.

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Chocolate Power Porridge

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Who knew having a bowl of chocolatey oats could be so satisfying and nourishing all at once? And with the inclusion of cauliflower, you're well on your way to getting the daily recommended amount of veggies ... and it's only breakfast!

Ingredients

    PORRIDGE:
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats, gluten-free if that’s important to you
  • 2/3 cup riced cauliflower*
  • 1/4 cup goji berries
  • 3 tbs. hemp seeds
  • 3 tbs. cacao
  • 2 tbs. chia seeds
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 scoops collagen peptides (I use Vital Proteins), optional
  • 1 15oz. can lite coconut milk (or 1 1/2 cups of your favorite milk)
  • 1/2 cup water + possibly more to thin to desired consistency
  • 2-3 tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla powder or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • TOPPINGS: Goji berries, banana, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, rawnola, bee pollen, cacao nibs, coconut whipped cream, nut/seed butter, and almost anything else you can imagine!

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine oats, cauliflower, 1/4 cup goji berries, hemp seeds, cacao, chia seeds, sea salt, collagen, coconut milk, and water. Stir to incorporate and heat over medium.
  2. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower has softened. Reduce the heat a bit if necessary to keep from sticking.
  3. Once oats are creamy and cauliflower is soft, add maple syrup and vanilla. Add a little more water now to thin if you like.
  4. Portion into bowls and add whatever toppings you like.

*It’s much more affordable to rice a head of cauliflower rather than buying it prepared that way.  It only takes a minute to pulse a few florets in the food processor or chopper.  A box grater works pretty well too.

Happy Food Making, Mamas! ❤


Peppy Persimmon Smoothie

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Persimmons are often overlooked with the turning of the seasons as we scamper to make all things pumpkin and apple, but they are a true gem of autumn.

There are two widely available kinds of persimmon in the US – Fuyu and Hachiya.  It’s important to tell them apart because they’re eaten differently.  Fuyu are squatty and somewhat flat.  They’re typically eaten while still firm either peeled or unpeeled.  I’ve only purchased Fuyu a handful of times because we much prefer Hachiya.

Hachiya are oblong and acorn-shaped.  They must be really ripe and really, really soft before they are enjoyed (actually, if you try to eat one too soon it likely WON’T be enjoyed as its high levels of tannins can leave you with the feeling of a dry mouth – this subsides as the fruit ripens).  Since we’re in the midwest, the Hachiya we come across at the grocery store are typically unripe and hard and I bring them home to sit on the counter for a week or more before they’re ready to be used. Their soft, custard-like insides are perfect for a smoothie!

We love this simple concoction as it really allows the subtle persimmon flavor to shine! Speaking of the flavor, it can be hard to describe, but I feel like it tastes something like a muted blend of apricot and mango.

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Peppy Persimmon Smoothie

  • Servings: 2-3
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A satisfying and subtly sweet smoothie that really showcases the wonderful flavor of persimmons, complete with a serving of vegetables.


Ingredients

  • 2 c. cold water
  • 2 very ripe Hachiya persimmons
  • 1 c. frozen, sliced zucchini (steamed and frozen cauliflower works well too)
  • 1 1/2 frozen bananas, broken into chunks
  • 1 tbs. cashew butter

Directions

  1. Pour water into blender jar.
  2. Slice tops off of persimmons and squeeze the insides into blender. Discard the tops & skins.
  3. Add zucchini, banana, and cashew butter to blender and blitz until smooth.

I strongly recommend cashew butter here.  Other nut butters can have too strong a flavor that can easily overpower the persimmon. Cashew butter is pretty neutral, but still lends a nice substance to the smoothie and adds some healthy fats in there too.

Happy Food Making, Mamas! ❤