This post is sponsored by Disney Press. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
I am raising a big fan of the Star Darlings series and we are so excited to giveaway an amazing prize pack today for a tween girl in your life. Today’s craft is to show you how to make a mini star cakes that you can prepare out of just 3 items from the grocery store. These cakes are easy enough that your kid can put these together and impressive enough to share with your friends.
Emily’s fangirl status of the Star Darlings series is truly legit because the #1 gift she wants to share with her friends are these books. They also are the books she has been taking to school each day to read during her reading free time. Is it just me or do you struggle with finding tween books that you can really get behind? These books are positive and minus the sass. I am all about girl power and positivity so I am thrilled that these have been such a hit in our house. I am also so happy she is sharing the same message with her friends.
As you may recall, we shared a really fun dreamcatcher we made together in honor of the first six books! Today we are sharing an easy craft your daughter can do together after she has read the books. Did you know that books 6-9 are out on store shelves now? Yay!
Not only have the next four books hit the shelves, but they also released StarDarlings Collection Volume #1 which is a brand new bind up book that includes the first three books in the StarDarlings series. You can learn lots more about the Star Darlings series on their webpage. They have also expanded their line to include a doll series and even an app to continue the positive messaging for tween girls. Cassie Comes Through, Piper’s Perfect Dream, Astra’s Mixed Up Mission, & Tessa’s Lost & Found are the new books keeping my daugher up late at night reading.
In honor of these sweet books, Emily & I have created an easy 3-ingredient star cake.
1 frozen prepared pound cake
2 tubs of frosting (you should only need one, but we offer the advice of two for heavy pourers- wink, wink!)
Star Cookie Cutter
Directions for Mini Star Cakes
1. Allow your pound cake to thaw for a few minutes and then, using a serrated knife, trim the top to level the cake. Slice the cake in half lengthwise. (I did this for my daughter, but she was able to do the rest on her own).
2. Using a cookie cutter, carefully cut out your star shapes and place them on a cooling rack with a cookie sheet underneath to catch the frosting avalanche.
3. Divide your icing into two microwave safe bowls and tint to your desired colors. Place the frosting in the microwave for 10 seconds. Stir the frosting and then place back in the microwave for another 10 seconds (or until the icing looks pourable).
4. Pour icing over the stars and finish with sprinkles. Allow these to harden and then eat your masterpiece.
I am so excited to be partnering this year with the Florida Department of Citrus to celebrate National OJ Day today. In celebration of this fun day, I wanted to create an interactive way you can enjoy a glass of FLOJ and craft up a cute funny faces cup with your kids.
Did you know that one glass of Florida Orange Juice provides a total of 5 amazing nutrients in every glass? In just one glass you have Taste, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and No Added Sugar!
More importantly for me, as a busy mom always striving to get our fruits and veggies into our diet, it’s good to know that a single 8-ounce glass of 100% orange juice counts as one of your daily recommended servings of fruit.
We wanted to celebrate National OJ Day in an interactive way so we have loads of cute printables for you to decorate your own Florida Orange Juice cup. A serving of fruit AND a fun way to keep kids busy? #winning
Print out our funny faces printable and have your child cut out the different mouths, shapes, noses, & Captain Citrus action graphics to decorate their cup. This is a fantastic way for your child to practice cutting.
Have your child flip each piece over and cover it in glue using their glue stick.
Finish by applying the pieces to the clear cups. Don’t forget to fill your glass with Florida Orange Juice
How fun is this? We hope that this post inspires you to celebrate today with your family. If that wasn’t fun enough today we are giving away a Florida Department of Citrus kit to one lucky reader. Follow the instructions in the widget below to enter to win!
I am the queen of adapting takeout food at home. From lo mein noodles to restaurant-worthy steaks to fish tacos, there is little that I haven’t been willing to try to save money. When I visited my friends in Colorado we enjoyed a delicious night of Indian takeout and I fell in love with Butter Chicken. Have you had it? It’s so rich and delicious, just as you would expect from its name. I knew when I got home that I wanted to attempt making the dish and I set out to find a recipe that would adapt to my small town supermarket.
One of the ingredients in this recipe is a spice combo called garam masala, that you will find is used in many Indian dishes. After standing in our spice aisle for a good half hour, I discovered our store did not have it (or apparently was out of it on the day I decided to be adventurous!). Since I had already visited three stores that day, I found this recipe for making your own garam masala spice combo out of spices you likely have lurking in your pantry. It was easy to know what I already had thanks to my newly organized spice cabinet and this saved me some money especially since I wasn’t sure if my family would love this dish as much as me. If your store doesn’t have this spice too, this diy recipe will do in a pinch or you can order the real stuff online.
With basmati rice in my rice cooker and my Ninja Cooker for my frying and then warming (The greatest gift of an appliance to busy moms. Amen. AND on sale. Ahem.), this was an easy dish to prepare and to double.
I also noticed that our ALDI has boneless skinless chicken thighs now and at around $4-5 for two pounds of meat, it is a very economical dish to make at home. You can basically make enough for your whole family instead of just indulging in one small takeout dish. For this frugal girl, that is a true bonus!
Although I intended to be flashy and show off my gluten-free naan to accompany this dish, I still need to work on tweaking the recipe.
Don’t worry, I haven’t given up yet (but maybe my poor mixer and dirty kitchen have).
If you haven’t had Butter Chicken before it is DIVINE and a great way to dip your toes into Indian cooking and eating. It’s a mildly spiced curry dish and you can do the majority of the preparations the night before which makes it an easy weeknight meal. The chicken is marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and a variety of spices (including that garam masala we talked about!) overnight. The next day, you simply cook the meat and add a creamy tomato sauce to finish it off.
I hope you can give this dish a spin in your house and I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!
Butter Chicken is an affordable dish you can make at home instead of relying on takeout. Be sure to read my notes about substitutions for small town markets! Oh, and double it! You'll thank me!
½ cup full-fat plain yogurt (do not substitute with Greek yogurt!)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp garam masala (see my notes above to make your own spice combo)
½ tsp chili powder or cayenne pepper powder (you can go lighter if your family prefers a less spicy dish)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into pieces
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup tomato passata or puree (I used crushed tomatoes because that is what our store offered. If you prefer a smoother consistency substitute with tomato sauce and use a little tomato paste to thicken)
1 tbsp sugar
1¼ tsp salt
½ cup- ¾ cup heavy cream (we went a little lighter with half-and-half)
Combine the marinade ingredient in a bowl. Dice your chicken thigh meat and place in a food storage bag. Pour the sauce over the chicken, seal, and shake bag to coat your chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours.
Heat the vegetable oil over high heat in a large fry pan. Add the chicken coated in the Marinade and cook for around 3 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked on the outside. It has a yellow hue thanks to the tumeric!
Add the tomato passata (or crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce with the addition of a little tomato paste to thicken), sugar and salt. Turn down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Do a taste test to see if it needs more salt. Stir through the cream, then remove from heat.
Garnish with coriander/cilantro leaves if using. Serve with basmati rice.
I have discovered a new favorite food and it happens to be healthy for me too! Quinoa is a delicious protein-filled side or main dish that is as just as easy as rice to prepare. Today I want to show you how to make quinoa in your rice cooker. You won’t believe how easy it is to make rice cooker quinoa and the best part is that you can make a weekly batch and enjoy it all week long to add or create other dishes with.
What is Quinoa?
Thanks to a little site called Pinterest, quinoa is quickly becoming one of the hottest foods this year to try to create new recipes with.
Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah) is a very nutritious gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein, contains all eight amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber, contains B Vitamins, and iron.
Though it is smaller than rice, barley, farro and bulgur, quinoa looks like a grain, thanks to its neutral coloring and hard exterior. In reality, it is actually a seed that originates from the cousin of the spinach plant. When cooked, these seeds expand rapidly and significantly, become tender but chewy and expel spirals that boast the slightest crunch.
What Does Quinoa Taste Like?
After cooking quinoa in a liquid of your choice (water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth), it becomes light, fluffy, and nutty. I find the flavor of quinoa to taste a little like couscous and a little like brown rice. It is one of those grains that is difficult to describe, but worth trying simply for the nutritional benefits it offers.
I Don’t Have a Rice Cooker. How Do I Cook Quinoa on the Stovetop?
To cook quinoa on the stove, measure two cups of liquid per cup of quinoa and combine them in a sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a vigorous boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered until the quinoa is tender, but still chewy and white spiral-like threads appear around each grain. This should take approximately fifteen minutes.
What Rice Cooker Do You Recommend?
A year ago I bought this inexpensive rice cooker for about $20 and I have been using it two to three times a week ever since. It provides consistently great brown rice, white rice, steamed vegetables, and quinoa for our family with very little work on my part. It does take up valuable space in my kitchen, but it has earned its rights to the space by saving me a lot of time hovering over pots!
Is Quinoa Good Plain?
I don’t really love quinoa plain, but I think it is a great building block for creating healthy dishes. For example, my favorite dish right now is to simply add the zest from one lemon to the cooking liquid (in the recipe I have shown you below). Then I chop a few handfuls of baby spinach and a pint of cherry tomatoes (halved) and place them in a large serving bowl. Cook the quinoa as directed and then put the hot quinoa on top of the spinach and tomatoes and allow it to wilt the spinach and cook the tomatoes with its heat for about five minutes. Then toss it all with the juice from one lemon and a little drizzle of olive oil. You can serve the salad warm or cold and I have found it to be a hit at every party I have ever taken it.
Other ingredients you can add are sauteed mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, or white beans for a double whammy of protein power. Be creative with what you have leftover in your fridge, and put together your own flavorful combination.
Using a fine mesh sieve rinse 1 cup of organic quinoa in cold water (Note: the brand pictured here does not require a rinse, but I wanted to show you how to do it if it does. Read the back of the box/bag to find out if rinsing is necessary).
Pour rinsed quinoa into your rice cooker.
Add your liquid and salt.
Turn on your rice cooker. When the rice cooker beeps, you will have perfectly cooked quinoa (approximately fifteen minutes)
Unplug the cooker. Allow quinoa to set for three to five minutes and then fluff with a fork.
Have you cooked with quinoa before? What is your favorite way to serve this food? Any tips or tricks for cooking it? I’m all ears!
Disclosure: The link to the rice cooker is an affiliate link and is provided so you can locate what you need quickly and easily.
Word must have spread how nuts our family is about these meals and the publishing house for the, Sheet Pan Suppers cookbook reached out to see if they could send me copy of the book to review. I had mentioned it had been on my radar, but my biggest struggles with cookbooks is that I don’t know how many gluten-free offerings are going to be in them and I have to stick to gluten-free meals in our house.
I was pleasantly surprised that the cookbook was well-balanced between gluten-filled offerings and gluten-free offerings. From appetizers to meats to vegetarian to brunch to dessert…this cookbook offers a little something for everyone. My biggest struggle was picking which recipe to start with. I figured the cover dish had to be a winner if it was showcased on the front of the book so we went with that. A delicious fish dish with fresh veggies tossed with a pistachio gremolata sounded like a winner for our house.
What is a Gremolata?
This was my first gremolata and I was intrigued by the pairing of pistachios with fish. If you haven’t heard of a gremolata before, you need not worry that this is out of your level of cooking expertise. This is a simple Italian condiment that is traditionally made with herbs, garlic, and lemon zest, and sometimes an accompaniment like pine nuts (or in this case, pistachios- YUM). You can use your food processor and pulse a few times (this is the one I have), but I prefer to avoid washing the food processor and opt for a quick hand chopper, which has been worth its weight in gold in my kitchen.
To save even more time, I purchased the pistachios already out of their shell at our supermarket. Although a bit pricier per pound, it saves a great deal of time on a busy weeknight or on a tired night with my vino in the evenings after a long day of running kids.
If you live somewhere where you have access to great fresh fish, the author utilizes Arctic Char in this recipe. In Indiana, salmon fillets are affordable and easy to come by in our frozen section of the store. Resting these on top of fresh asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and topped with lemons, this is a sheet pan guaranteed to satisfy all your taste buds. The gremolata adds the final touch on the cooked fish, adding that salty crunch that takes this from a basic meal to a restaurant-worthy one!
I really loved this cookbook and my family is already looking forward to us eating this again in our house! Thank you to the publishing house for sending us a copy of, Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert to give a spin in our kitchen! We are big fans!
Roasted Salmon and Asparagus With Pistachio Gremolata
Author: Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4 servings
An easy sheet pan meal with salmon and veggies topped with a quick pistachio gremolata for a fancy crunch to this beautiful dish. Company-worthy and easy? Winning!
1 bunch asparagus (roughly 1 pound total)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless fillets Arctic char, salmon or trout (5 to 6 ounces each)
½ medium red onion, sliced into ¼-inch-thick half-moons
½ lemon, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
½ cup cherry or grape tomatoes
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
½ cup roasted, salted, and shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
Heat the oven to 350 with a rack in the center position. Mist a sheet pan with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.
Gently bend one asparagus spear between your fingers and snap off the bottom where it breaks easily. Line up the rest of the bunch and slice off the bottoms at the same distance from the tips. Place the trimmed asparagus on the prepared pan, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Toss to coat, and spread the asparagus in an even layer.
Place the fish fillets on top of the asparagus, evenly spaced apart, and sprinkle with an extra pinch of salt and pepper. Scatter the onion, lemon slices and cherry tomatoes around and on top of the fish.
Bake until the asparagus is crisp-tender and the fish is almost opaque (20 to 30 minutes if using char, other types may vary). For my salmon, I cooked thawed fillet for just 12-15 minutes!!
While the fish cooks, mix together the lemon zest, garlic, parsley and pistachios in a small bowl- this is your gremolata.
Sprinkle the gremolata over the fish and asparagus before serving warm.
*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though!! xo
There are a few great gifts I give myself in the morning. The first, is to rise an hour earlier than necessary to get in an uninterrupted hour of reading (BLISS!). The second is to always program my coffeemaker the night before so I wake up to a fresh brew (HEAVEN!). The third? Packing my freezer with smoothie packets that make creating a morning smoothie filled with greens and fruits incredibly easy and practically effortless (WINNING AT LIFE).
I posted about my make-ahead smoothie packets on Instagram and got a lot of questions about it. Something I have come to think of as a weekly routine really sparked a lot of questions about my recipe, what the smoothie looked like, and what to do for fruit substitutions. I thought it deserved its own little post because it has become a very vital part of my morning routines and sets a good foundation for healthy eating the rest of the day.
Not only does this strategy save you time in the morning, but it also puts ripe fruit to work and is a great way to utilize spinach before it goes bad making the most of every grocery dollar. I never waste a banana in our house or any greens anymore because they always have a home. If I have run out of frozen berries, I just add the rest of these ingredients into a packet and get them ready for my next grocery day when I can get the frozen fruit to add to it. As someone trying to reduce their food waste, this has been an awesome use for those often tossed items.
Also, if you buy smoothies regularly, you know they are not cheap. A typical smoothie around these parts (said in my best Midwest accent) is around $4-6. Even if bought weekly, that can add up fast!
Here were a few of your questions for me!
Do you store these packets in the freezer and for how long?
Yup, I recommend freezing in quart-sized freezer storage bags and making sure to push out any air in the bags to keep these ingredients as fresh as possible. I would recommend using these in one month for optimum flavor.
How many smoothies do these packets make?
I drink an enormous smoothie in the morning (24 ounces) and my daughter has the size I am showing you in the cup below and this packet with my recipe I have listed makes enough for that. For “normal” people, maybe it might make three, but this is my breakfast, people, and I’m a big eater. I got one of these for me to help make toting these in the car a little easier since I drink these on the way to the gym in the morning. I also have this giant water bottle from the same company and it has improved how much water I intake as well as my healthy smoothie habit for breakfast. I have been happy how they have held up (over a year now!) compared to some other insulated cups I have tried.
Do you blend these with milk or use a milk substitution?
My stomach can’t process a lot of dairy so I use unsweetened almond milk in mine. I do use Greek yogurt though (either vanilla or unsweetened) and that doesn’t seem to bother me. You can definitely use milk, soy milk, or coconut milk if you would prefer. I’m a big fan of the flavor of the almond milk!
Can I make these without spinach? I don’t think my kids will drink these if they are green!
I just want to show you how very slightly these are tinged with green when you only add a cup or so of spinach to them. Additionally, if I am really concerned an extra handful of frozen blueberries cancels out all other colors so sometimes if I am really generous with the blueberries, these look more blue.
Are you using frozen spinach? Frozen berries? What does the spinach look like when it is frozen?
Here is a packet that has been frozen for three weeks and this is what it looks like. The spinach is fresh spinach (I don’t want to hassle with the frozen stuff- personal preference), the berries are frozen, and the bananas are fresh. I like to cut the bananas in half to help them break down a little easier in the blender. As you can see, the spinach looks almost the same as it did when I threw it in there.
The bananas may brown over time, but they will still taste the same. As rapidly as we go through these though, I have rarely even seen that happen.
By freezing these fruits and veggies, you eliminate the need for ice in your smoothie which creates a much creamier consistency and a smoothie that holds together longer. Sometimes I will make these in the morning and pop one in the fridge for my daughter for her afternoon snack. It always looks just like I had just made it. When I add water or ice, it tends to separate and grosses her out.
Should I flash freeze any of the ingredients?
If you aren’t familiar with flash freezing, I do this a lot with foods for our freezer. Typically, I fan whatever I am freezing out on an open parchment paper lined cookie sheet, freeze just until frozen, and then toss in a bag.
I experimented with this and here is what I will say about that. You can cut the bananas in half and flash freeze and they will stay separated, making it easier to pour into your blender and it is really great. It’s an extra step though. My lazy freezer routine is to cut them in half right in the bag, freeze (where they tend to fuse back together) and then smack the bag as hard as I can on the counter until they loosen from each other while I listen to the political crap insight on NPR. It’s kind of like a therapy session. You can do it whichever way fits your lifestyle best.
What kind of protein powder do you use? What can I use if I am vegan or dairy-free?
When I was dairy-free, I experimented with a lot of terrible protein powders so I can honestly tell you this is the only brand that I really liked that was plant-based. Now that I’m not dairy-free, I just purchase the store brand protein powder at our local grocery store in a vanilla flavor. Like I said, we had to try a few before we found the ones we liked best and I always try to keep my eyes peeled for a sale to maximize the savings. The goal is to keep this as a frugal routine for us.
What kind of blender do you have?
I have had the same blender for probably eight years or so and, unfortunately, they don’t make mine anymore. When mine bites the bullet, I will probably invest in this one because I have heard they last forever. In order to blend up these fruits, you really need to have a high powered blender though. If you have a $20 blender, it will burn out your motor. I say this because I did it. Twice. Invest in a good blender and it will more than pay for itself, I promise you!
I can’t eat bananas. Do you have any recommendations for substitutions for my smoothie?
Do your kids really like these? My kids are really picky!
They really do and so do I. My daughter was a terrible breakfast eater, like her mother, and I worried a lot that she wasn’t eating enough to be fueled for her day at school. This is what she “eats” and she stays full until lunchtime. If she is running late, it is something that can be finished while she waits for her bus. Fun straws are always a great addition to this morning treat especially when first pitching this idea to your kids. She says it tastes like a milkshake.
For me, it’s been an incredible way to get fueled before I workout. Working out on an empty stomach isn’t a good idea for someone with low blood sugar. Eating something too heavy made me feel like I was going to be sick. These smoothies are a great option to be fueled without a lot of heaviness in my stomach. Sometimes I drink half and pop it in the fridge until I get done exercising and finish the other half when I’m done.
I hope these tips are helpful and I hope you love these as much as our family does!
I’m so honored to have my friend, Liz of The Lemon Bowl, sharing this amazing smoothie recipe with us today!
Hi friends! I’m Liz from The Lemon Bowl and I am honored to be guest posting today for the beautiful and crazy talented Amy. As a healthy recipe blogger and busy mom of two young boys, I love creating easy recipes made from simple ingredients.
I don’t know about you but we love smoothies in our house. Not only are they a great way to use up fruits and veggies that are a little past their prime but they are literally a meal in a glass.
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, this protein-packed Mango Coconut Green Smoothie is naturally sweetened and has no artificial coloring. Made with creamy coconut milk, juicy mango and sweet bananas, your entire family will love this healthy and delicious smoothie.
Whether you make it for breakfast, an after-school snack or dessert, just promise me you’ll make it.
Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and puree until smooth.
To prepare glass, pour ¼ cup or so of chia seeds on a plate. Run the rim of a glass under running water then carefully dip the top of the glass onto the plate until the rim is covered in chia seeds.
Pour the smoothie into the glass and serve.
If you are working with frozen fruit you may need to add a bit of liquid to get the smoothie blending - I like to add water or a bit more coconut milk to reach the desired consistency.
Nutrition Information Serving size: 1 glass Calories: 391 Fat: 14.9 g Saturated fat: 7.2 g Unsaturated fat: 7.7 g Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 58.2 g Sugar: 33.1 g Sodium: 145 mg Fiber: 16.5 g Protein: 17.1 g Cholesterol: 0 mg
I heard from so many of you that you loved and have already created our Sheet Pan Ranch Chops and Veggies this week in your kitchens. It makes me so happy to hear that you are enjoying these recipes so I thought I would experiment with another sheet pan combination this week and it ended up being an even bigger hit than the last one! This Sheet Pan Lemon Paprika Chicken with Brussels Sprout & Potatoes tastes like a well-seasoned rotisserie chicken with oven roasted veggies that my daughter proclaimed was my best creation in the kitchen yet.
I wanted to take the flavors that I loved so much in that Lemon Paprika Chicken that was swimming in a beautiful white wine sauce, a beautiful Sunday meal, and translate those flavors in a basic weeknight meal that could be all slid onto a pan and ready for a family in 30 minutes. With a basic marinade of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, thyme, and paprika this creates a flavorful skin on the kitchen and a beautiful color on it too.
The potatoes and brussels sprouts are diced and tossed in a simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper, but taste rich and heavenly thanks to that chicken fat that they swim in.
This weekend we hosted a family of six for the first time to share a meal with them. Serving ten people can sounds a little intimidating for a meal, but I didn’t want to revert to just ordering a pizza for the evening. I doubled this recipe and there was hardly a speck left. Not only did the parents love it, but I had six happy kiddos that loved it too! Thanks to the parchment paper lining underneath, it made for an easy clean-up so we could really enjoy our time with our friends.
Do make sure to finish the chicken with your broiler. Not only does it create that crispy skin, resembling fried chicken, but it also gives a little delicious charred taste to your veggies. Make sure you keep an eye on it and watch out for the sizzle, wearing protective oven mitts when pulling out. If you are entertaining and doing two pans, just rotate the pans under the broiler so they both have crispy skins. I also rotated them halfway through to make everything was heated evenly. It ended up being a gorgeous dish to share with friends that I can’t wait to share again with more people that share our table.
This is, TRULY, my new favorite dish and I’m so proud to share it with you today! I hope you love this delicious flavor combination as much as we did!
An easy sheet pan supper bursting with flavor. Lemon paprika chicken is nestled in a bed of potatoes and brussels sprouts for a decadent meal ready in 30 minutes. Easily double it with the tips in this post!
6-8 bone-in chicken thighs
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Zest & juice of one lemon
5 garlic cloves, divided
1 pound baby potatoes (I used golden potatoes)
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
Olive oil, salt, & pepper (to taste)
In a mixing bowl mix together olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, lemon zest, lemon juice, and two minced garlic cloves.
In a resealable bag, pour these ingredients into the bag with the chicken thighs, rubbing the mixture evenly over all the chicken. Refrigerate for two hours.
Preheat your oven for 450 degrees.
Dice and cut your veggies and toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper (to taste).
On a parchment lined sheet pan, spread the prepared vegetables out on the pan. Remove the chicken from the fridge and create holes in the veggies to nestle your chicken, doing your best to keep everything in a single layer for even cooking.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Switch your oven to BROIL and broil on high for 3-5 minutes, watching carefully to make sure the skin does not burn.
Allow your chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes to retain full flavor and juices.
This post may contain affiliate links! I only recommend what I love!
How to save money on groceries is one of the most common questions I get, so I’m happy that Andrea Woroch is sharing these 10 terrific grocery-saving tips with us that anyone can do!
It’s common knowledge that cooking every meal at home is a surefire way to reduce money spent on food, but finding the time is usually the biggest battle families face. Most nights, it’s just so much easier to pick-up prepared food or order take out when you’re shuttling from school to soccer practice to dance recital.
And, forget about clipping coupons or driving around town to hunt down the best grocery sales—what busy mom has time for that? Luckily, there are a few simple grocery shopping and meal prep strategies that you can follow to reduce spending on food while keeping everyone in your family healthy and satisfied, and keeping you sane.
Read on for my top grocery hacks to keep food on the table and more money in your vacation fund!
1. Browse weekly circulars- digitally.
Creating meal plans based on sales cycles featured in your grocery store circulars is the premier way to save money on meals. However, you don’t have to settle for the Sunday inserts to find out what’s on sale this week; you can also scan weekly ads digitally using Flipp. This website and mobile app features the latest circulars from grocers, drugstores and big-box stores, ranging from Albertsons to Sprouts to Walmart.
2. Print the coupons you need.
Reviewing Sunday circulars for manufacturer’s coupons is a tried-and-true method for saving on groceries, but who has the time for such a tedious task? Instead, consult your grocery list and search for specific brand coupons online through sites like CouponSherpa.com. For example, you can currently find $3 off Tide PODS from Kroger, $1 off any two boxes of Cheerios, and $1 off any one-pound package of Jennie-O turkey breast. You can even find savings for fresh produce like cucumbers using healthy offers grocery coupons.
3. Use money-saving apps.
Cash-back apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 are great tools to save money during your grocery trips. Walmart’s Savings Catcher takes the work out of comparing circulars between grocers, offering store credit whenever something you purchased is advertised for less elsewhere. And Target’s Cartwheel offers additional savings on rotating products, some of which can be applied after purchase if a coupon becomes available within a certain timeframe. In most cases, these apps only require a couple minutes of your time, which you can easily spare while waiting in line at checkout. (Bonus: using these apps will keep you from any impulse buys at checkout, too!)
4. Stock up during sale time.
You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to take advantage of sale and coupon match-ups. When you find coupons for products you typically buy that are also on sale, stock up so you can spend less on these staple items and reduce your trips to the grocery store. Since you likely don’t have time to research these match-ups, consult experts like TheKrazyCouponLady.com to find out what you can buy on the cheap each week using sales and coupons.
5. Look for manager markdowns.
Meat takes the biggest bite from your grocery budget, but it’s not exactly something you can cut out from your family’s diet. You’re growing kids need protein and energy to stay healthy for their active lives! To save on your family’s favorite meats, always search for manager markdowns to find big savings of up to 50% off on steak, chicken, pork or even fish nearing it’s expiration date. Cook what you want to eat right away then freeze the rest for later so it doesn’t spoil. You may even consider implementing “Meatless Mondays” to cut back on the cost of meat once a week. There are plenty of unique recipes that allow you to get creative with new foods without skimping on taste.
6. Don’t forget frozen.
Shopping in season for fruits and vegetables is key to saving money on fresh produce. If tonight’s dinner calls for product that’s not in season (and therefore exorbitantly priced), head to your frozen foods’ section for a less-costly alternative. Produce is flash frozen at peak ripeness and nutrient level, making it just as healthy as fresh for much less cost. March is National Frozen Food Month, so look for deep discounts on frozen produce and meals, and stock up on your family’s favorites! They key to avoiding the need to dial for pizza delivery, is keeping some healthy frozen foods in the freezer for meals on the fly!
7. Opt for boxed over baked.
Pre-made goodies from your grocer’s bakery represent some of the industry’s highest markups, with cakes, cupcakes and cookies often costing 300% more than their ingredients. Since making these items from scratch is time-consuming, consider picking up a few boxed mixes for an inexpensive alternative that yields fresh-tasting confections in a fraction of the time. You can often find boxed mixes for muffins, cakes, brownies and cookies for $1 each, and only require the addition of household staples like eggs, oil and water.
8. Try generic brands for basic ingredients.
Everyone has their favorite brand of ketchup or peanut butter, but some ingredients can easily be purchased as non-brand names without sacrificing flavor. Canned goods, dried pasta and even spices are good examples of generic or store brands that are just as good as name brands. In some cases, you may need to conduct a taste test, but typically basic ingredients that are mixed in with other flavors to prepare a meal can be purchased as store brands. This strategy can save you 30 to 50-percent!
9. Prepare more than you need.
Even if you only have a family of three, prepare meals like you’re cooking for double the amount so you can save leftovers for later. These large portions can be used as lunch for parents, an afternoon snack for teens or as a ready-made dinner for kids when you’re short on time. Not only does this strategy trim your time in the kitchen, but it also reduces the amount of food waste since many recipes designed for just a couple people only use a fraction of the ingredients you purchase.
10. Freeze leftovers for quick meals.
If your family isn’t a fan of leftovers, freeze whatever you don’t eat for use later in the month. Most meals can save for six months and are great for those evenings when you’re tempted to do takeout. For all the planners out there, this tip is especially welcome: designate one weekend day a month to prepare several meals and freeze most of what you create for later consumption. That way, you not only have meals available, but a variety of choices to boot!
As our schedules become busier with activities, I have found that I have been gravitating more and more towards sheet pan meals to feed our family. The beauty of a sheet pan meal is that, when lined with foil or parchment paper, these meals of meats and veggies prepared on a cookie sheet not only hold the power to be prepared with minimal effort, but they also are prepared with minimum clean-up too. I am not the only one loving sheet pan meals though, as I noticed at our local library that this sheet pan suppers cookbook was out on the shelves this winter and I can’t wait to check it out and dive into some of those recipes in our own kitchen. Who knew sheet pan meals were so trendy this year?
Today’s sheet pan dish features Ranch Pork Chops with Vegetables and has already been eaten a record four times this month. I am a big fan of these pre-cut parchment paper squares for easy clean-up and I can find all of these ingredients for this meal at ALDI, which is a bonus since I hate shopping at multiple grocery stores. Although the ingredients couldn’t be more simple, this recipe is packed full of flavor thanks to the convenience of a ranch dressing packet. If you are avoiding those for any reason (like sodium), you can also make your own DIY Ranch Dressing Mix to cut down on the salt.
Although we loved this dish enough for it to be repeated four times, the main reason why I tested it so much was because I wanted to get the right level of doneness to both the potatoes and the meat. I found that by giving the potatoes a 10-12 minute head start, I got better consistency on the potatoes while not drying out the meat and green beans in the process. Throwing the potatoes in the oven first also gave me that ten minutes to prep the rest of the ingredients while they were cooking. Basically, as soon as that timer goes off, I’m ready to throw on the next layer. I rely on center cut pork chops, on the bone, for a flavorful chop that consistently is done within 30 minutes. Resting this chops on top help add moisture and flavor to the veggies nestled underneath.
A fresh sprinkle of parsley adds a beautiful fresh flavor to this dish and some affordable color to the top.
Not only is this a great weeknight winner, but it also reheats beautifully, saving us on money spent on lunches out. I try to package a couple of meals up for my husband and I when cleaning up.
Did I mention less dishes when cleaning up?
Now you REALLY know why we have already eaten this four times.
I hope you love this sheet pan meal as much as we do!
A practically effortless pork chop sheet pan meal that feeds six people!
6 (8-ounce) pork chops, bone-in, ¾-inch to 1-inch thick
1 pound yellow or red baby potatoes, quartered
1 pound green beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 (1-ounce) package Ranch Seasoning and Salad Dressing Mix
5 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Quarter potatoes and toss with one tablespoon of olive oil, ¼ of the Ranch dressing packet, and two minced cloves of garlic in a large bowl. Pour in an even layer on sheet pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile trim green beans and place in the bowl you used for tossing the potatoes. Toss the green beans with ¼ of the Ranch dressing packet, one tablespoon of the olive oil, and one clove of minced garlic.
Remove potatoes from the oven and pour prepared green beans on top. Add pork chops and drizzle lightly with olive oil and finish by sprinkling with the Ranch packet. Season with salt and pepper.
Place into oven and roast until the pork is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 140 degrees F, about 25-30 minutes. You can finish by broiling for two to three minutes, if you desire a more charred flavoring to your meal.
Serve immediately, garnished with parsley.
Do you love sheet pan meals too? Let me know what your favorite sheet pan dishes are in your kitchen!
This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend what I love- pinky promise!