Meal planning. It's a very regular topic of conversation with friends. Meal planning seems confusing and mysterious at first but I assure you, it is a weeknight game changer! I have found a pretty simple routine for us and wanted to share it with you guys.
I didn't always like meal planning. Actually, for the first 5 years after I graduated college I would wonder up and down the grocery store aisles putting random food items in my cart. This was bad for two reasons. It was bad for my budget because I was putting whatever in my cart and the other reason it was bad is because I would get home and realize I didn't actually purchase anything to create a meal (whoops!), that was definitely a lack of planning on my part!
Through trial and error, I have learned to like meal planning. Meal planning is great for four reasons (and many more, I am sure)
1. Meal planning helps us not eat out as much because we always have a go-to meal planned and ingredients on hand.
2. Meal planning helps us intentionally eat healthier because I am in control of what we eat each week (sorry husband).
3. Meal planning also helps me spend less money at the store because I have a list and only put stuff in my cart that is on my list (that means no more cookies and cream pop tart impulse buys...)
4. We are BUSY and I know you are too. By taking 30 minutes to plan meals for the week, it keeps our evenings simple, organized and we never ever have that 5pm "omg whats for dinner?!?!?" freak out moment, I know you've been there too.
So let's dig into the details of meal planning!
1. First and foremost, set a weekly grocery budget. It might take a couple weeks of trial and error to nail down an exact weekly amount. If you tend to go a little spending crazy at the store, I recommend giving Dave Ramsey's Envelope System a try.
2. Gather the troops (and by troops I mean all your best recipes): Figure out some meals that your family enjoys eating. Surely you've got a stash somewhere, if not, thank goodness for Pinterest! I pin recipes like crazy to a board that I creatively named Food. When we find a great recipe, I immediately move the pinned recipe over to another board called Recipes We've Tried and Like. This board is a great resource when I am not feeling particularly adventurous with meals for the week.
3. The easiest way I have figured out how to organize myself is to create a menu to pin up on the fridge for all to see. From this menu, I make my grocery list. At the bottom of this post is a meal planning sheet + grocery list printable! Print it, fill in the information and pin it up on the fridge and cut off the grocery list! Easy Peasy!
Tip: I meal plan for Sunday dinner-Sunday lunch of the next week. I typically grocery shop Sunday afternoons so my meal planning covers me for every single meal throughout the week.
Another Tip: Sometimes we'll eat out on a whim leaving a meal that wasn't used during the week, we automatically roll that meal over to the next week. That means we have one less meal to plan and shop for and the food won't be just sitting in our pantry forever (hashtag thumbs up!)
Download my cute, colorful and FREE meal planning printable.
Be sure to comment with any questions on the blog or instagram @taylorelliottdesigns.
I love cooking. I love trying new recipes...sometimes they are a hit, sometimes not so much. I am also a believer in simple and easy recipes, especially on weeknights. When I find a winner that meets the above criteria, I feel like the whole world needs to know. This shrimp pasta with a tomato and basil sauce is perfection. It's a one pot meal which is amazing and you can whip it up in less than 30 minutes. Love love love it. Hope you enjoy, too!
12 ounces casarecce or fusilli pasta
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 medium-size yellow onion, sliced
1/3 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (optional)
1 (6-oz.) package baby spinach
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. peeled, deveined, raw shrimp
1. Place first 9 ingredients and, if desired, dried crushed red pepper in a Dutch oven in order of ingredient list. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (about 12 to 15 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, 10 to 12 minutes or until pasta is slightly al dente, stirring at 5-minute intervals.
2. Remove from heat, and stir in spinach + frozen shrimp. Cover and let stand 10 minutes. Stir just before serving. Serve with Parmesan cheese.
Recipe from: MyRecipes
Party Ready January 05 2016, 0 Comments
I found this YAY cake topper at A Fair of the Heart, a big craft/gift show in Oklahoma City. I came across it the other day and decided to make a cake since I had cute cake accessories, that's a good enough reason in my mind. I love how it turned a boxed cake mix into something so fun!
Topper: Three Eleven Designs
Happy New Year! Our new year's eve consisted of a bit of sparkle, leopard and big tassels. I love any reason to get dressed up and wear sequins. I felt a little bit like a disco ball in my top but I had a great time with my date enjoying a nice dinner while reflecting on what a great year 2015 was and what we hoped for in 2016.
We shared a lot of personal goals like: eat healthier, workout more, work on stuff around our new house but also a lot of professional goals, too. I love owning my own small business and cannot wait to see what is in store for Taylor Elliott Designs in 2016. I hope to see our products in more retail shops and boutiques and I also hope to come out with a variety of new products. I look forward to the challenge and the fun in it all. -Taylor
I always get the urge to bake more during the holidays. Sometimes I explore new recipes and sometimes I stick with my tried and true. The Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls are tried and true for me (and my whole family!). They are that good. I think it's the maple frosting that takes them to the next level.
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman:
1 quart Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Reserved) All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
Plenty Of Melted Butter
2 cups Sugar
Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon
1 bag Powdered Sugar
2 teaspoons Maple Flavoring
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup Melted Butter
1/4 cup Brewed Coffee
1/8 teaspoon Salt
For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.
Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.
To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal.
Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.
Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1/2-inch slices. One “log “will produce 20 to 25 rolls. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. (Each pan will hold 7 to 9 rolls.)
Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.
While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing: In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt. Splash in the maple flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.
Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor.