All posts by traci

Favorite Meals 2019

Updated August 31, 2019 – Original Post

A piece of advice for planning out your meals is to create a list of your family’s favorite meals. That way when you get stuck on creating a menu, you can refer back to the list.

Not only will it help you menu plan, you can also make certain you have the ingredients for some of the meals on hand if what you had planned for dinner does not pan out.  I know there are days I don’t feel like cooking. If I had meals ready to go, I would less likely stop at a fast food restaurant on the way home from work.

I’m going to share my list of 20 meals that my hungry boys and Hubby enjoy eating.  Some of my meals can be frozen or portions can be frozen ahead of time which helps.

The ideas in bold print can be made from items that can be stocked up in the freezer, fridge, or pantry.

  1.  tacos – Make ahead and freeze.You’ll only need to get items to top the tacos. (The Youngest’s favorite meal)
  2. sausage and mac & cheese – A very inexpensive meal and one I can keep on hand. (It’s a family favorite meal.)
  3. chicken nuggets and French fries – If I get both of those items at Aldi’s, it’s a budget friendly meal.  I can keep the food on hand. I priced it out at about $3 for a meal if you use half of each bag at a time.
  4. Quesadillas – These are quick meals to eat on busy nights. Both boys love basic cheese quesadillas.
  5. Hamburgers or hot dogs – The Imaginative One loves hamburgers. – Get the 12 frozen hamburgers from Aldi. They are about $9 to $10. Those last for at least 2 to 3 meals. It takes about 5 minutes to cook on my indoor grill.
  6. Grilled cheese – I only like American cheese on grilled cheese sandwiches.
  7. Spaghetti
  8. Soy Sauce Pork Chops – Marinade them while at work – Cook them on the indoor grill in the evening. Get them when they are on sale.
  9. Steak – A very rare occurrence do I serve them steak.
  10. Roast and then hash – Roast would be more for Sunday dinner.  Hash would be later in the week.
  11. Breakfast for dinner – We don’t eat a lot of breakfast foods in the mornings.  We prefer it in the evening.
  12. Meatloaf or meatloaf muffins
  13. Sloppy Joes – Make ahead and freeze. Such an easy meal. Serve with French fries or chips and a raw veggie or a fruit.
  14. Brown sugar ham – The boys absolutely love this dinner.
  15. Ravioli
  16. Roast chicken in the slow cooker or rotisserie chicken
  17. Chicken noodle soup
  18. Potato Soup
  19. Chili
  20. Pizza
  21. Pulled Pork – Make ahead and freeze for a busy evening.
  22. Pork Roast

Here is a form that will help you make a list of family favorite meals. The form is very simple and allows for 10 meals to be listed. There is also an area for 5 meals that can be easily frozen.

Happy eating and meal planning,
Traci

Mom, What’s For Dinner? – September 2019

Jump to meals

School has begun for everyone in my house. I’ve been back at work for 3.5 weeks. The boys and Hubby went back almost 2 weeks ago.

Life has changed a little bit at our house. Hubby has class on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. Tuesdays and Wednesday’s are his longest evenings. I’ve begun making slow cooker meals on Tuesday nights, so I can leave the meal in the slow cooker on warm. He will eat some sort of snackish meal before leaving for his 4 o’clock meal and then eat his dinner when he gets home.

In order to make it a little easier to put food in the slow cooker, I have been making freezer kits. I spend a few hours on the weekend putting together some of the kits. I use my own list and also some recipes from The Family Freezer. Pull them out the night before, place them in the freezer, and then dump into the slow cooker. Add any additional ingredients, set the timer, and walk away. Makes my life easier.

Another thing that has worked recently for me is to create a monthly meal plan. I’ve done it in the past and am attempting it again. I hope to keep the momentum throughout the year. It’s so much easier to look at the meal plan and make a grocery list.

My plan is to make a list of favorite family meals so that it’s easier to meal plan for the month.

As you see, I never plan for the weekend. It’s a more flexible time in the week. Check out my August meals to see some ideas for Sunday meals.

Now onto this month’s meal plan:

Week 1 – September 1 – September 6
  • Monday– Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and slaw
  • Tuesday – Beef and Lime Chili- Freezer – Slow Cooker
  • Wednesday – Leftovers
  • Thursday– Sweet and Sour Pork – Freezer – Slow Cooker
  • Friday – Roast from Trader Joe’s – Sides to be determined
Week 2 – September 7 – September 13
  • Monday– Breakfast for dinner
  • Tuesday – Italian Wedding Soup – Slow Cooker
  • Wednesday – Leftovers
  • Thursday– Chicken Fajitas – Slow Cooker
  • Friday – Pulled Chicken from Trader Joe’s
Week 3 – September 14 – September 21
  • MondaySloppy Joes from freezer
  • Tuesday – Italian Sausage Rigatoni – Freezer – Stove top
  • Wednesday – Leftovers
  • Thursday– Chicken and Pepper Stir Fry – Freezer – Stove top
  • Friday – Steak – Hubby’s Birthday!
Week 4 – September 22 – September 29
  • MondayMeatloaf Muffins from freezer
  • Tuesday – Cilantro Lime Chicken – Freezer – Slow Cooker
  • Wednesday – Leftovers
  • Thursday– Tuscan Steak and Green Peppers – Freezer – Slow Cooker
  • FridayOrange Chicken

Have a magical day,
Traci

When August 1st comes . . .

The last few days of summer

During my first few years of teaching, school didn’t begin until around Labor Day. In fact, when Youngest was born, I left the previous school year pregnant and came back to work with everyone else. (He was born less than 2 weeks after the end of the school year.)

Now August 1st means that summer is basically over for me. I know that school is going to begin within a week or so. Usually I’m at the school getting my room ready by August 1st. This year I decided to treat myself to not coming in until the first day I had to be back at work.

I can’t show one photo to describe my August

When I walked into my room on August 7th, I walked into tablehedge, not Stonehedge.

Tablehedge

One of my co-workers came to my rescue and got the tables down.

I quickly rearranged my furniture so that the room is functional.

This room is a resource room. Students come out of the rooms for pull out services. I need to only have a minimal amount of furniture. As the school year continues, I will be decorating more of the classroom.

Case in point, this bulletin board has the two basic rules expected in all classrooms. I asked the students to write down ideas on ways they can demonstrate those rules. I love this because students feel as though they have a role in creating the rules in my room.

Now that we are testing for baseline data, my room has been torn apart to be put back together after testing.

The current state of my room. Each student has been given a shelf in the cubbies in the back of my room. It’s going to help with organization.

One of those bulletin boards in the back of the room is going to be the cool down / calm down corner. I have some brown paper board paper that is going to be hung up on the bulletin board with some suggestions on how they can calm down. Our community has been through so much trauma in the last few months. A tornado and then the shooting in downtown Dayton have rocked the area since May.

So many have rallied around our community. However, even with the rallying around us, these are 9, 10, and 11-year-old children. Some of them do not know how to deal with the trauma so it’s imperative they have a place that will help them cool down.

The word wall is basic sight words. When they don’t know how to spell a word, a way for them to get some movement is to walk to the back the room to look at the word wall. I have clipboards so it is easy for them to write.

Now You Know What a Teacher’s August looks like

My room would never be Pinterest worthy. However it is functional. Students get what they need to help them become better fourth and fifth grade students.

When a student tells you, they can’t wait until you begin to teach them math because you made them think last year. You know the look of your room does not matter. What matters is how you make the students feel while they are in your room. Are they feeling welcome? Are they feeling like they are learning? Are they feeling as though they are loved?

Have a magical day,
Traci

8th and 10th

How can it be? My boys are in 8th and 10th grade now. They both allowed me to take their photos in the morning. In the afternoon, it was touch and go with the Youngest.

Before I left the house, I got a few photos of the Youngest. I was lucky he was willing to go outside with me. This was taken at almost 7 am.

After yelling at the Oldest to get moving because car drop off was going to be busy because it was the first day of school, I was able to get a photo of him in front of our tree. I took a few other photos in the car during drop off.

A tradition is to take photos on the first day or close to the first day of school in front of our tree in our yard. I do a photo session. Some years, the photos are great. Other years, well they are quite interesting. This year was a combination.

For some reason, Youngest decided we needed to include Dobby, our 15-year-old dog, in the photos. As you can see, Dobby was not impressed.

Next one to get his photos was Oldest.

Then I asked the boys to take photos together. They decided to be silly about the whole experience.

Next the red nose and Davy Crockett hat came out and the silly photos were taken.

Finally I asked the Youngest to take photos without Dobby. This is what I got.

I guess the photo session was done at that point. There wasn’t going to be anymore cooperating with me.

Have a magical day,
Traci

Mom, What’s For Dinner? – Week of August 19, 2019

Jump to the menu

Jump to my meal prep for breakfast, lunch, and snacks

This is the first week of school for 3 members of our family. I started school 2 weeks ago. This week, Hubby goes back to college. The Youngest begins 8th grade and the Oldest begins 10th grade.

Three evenings during the week, Hubby will be in his college classes about an half an hour away from here. He is going to be studying to be an Intervention Specialist like me. Hubby has to take 11 classes, student teach, and do observations.

So dinners are going to be a little different around here since he’ll probably be gone when I get home. Actually I know he’ll he be gone on Tuesdays when I get home. His class starts when I am scheduled to get off of work.

He delivers pizza and that is going to change. He used to just deliver on the weekdays. Since he’ll be in class 3 evenings during the week, he had to put his availability in for Saturdays and Sunday. I’m going to be on deck for any weekend plans for the boys. I could rely on him but not anymore.

Okay, let’s jump into the menu.

  • Monday – Hamburgers, French fries, and raw veggies
  • Tuesday – Stuffed Pepper Soup over Rice, Cheddar biscuits
  • Wednesday – Leftovers
  • Thursday – Balsamic Pork, Roasted broccoli, mac and cheese
  • Friday – Tacos
  • Saturday – Chicken nuggets, French fries

Meal Prep

Breakfasts – protein waffles with almond butter, oranges

Snacks – Fruit on the bottom yogurt, trail mix, snack box

Lunch – chicken breast, roasted potatoes, green beans, mini salad, dark chocolate candy bar

I got my protein waffle mix from Aldi. I was going to make homemade waffles but I found the mix and decided to try it.

I found a suggestion of buying the salad mixes but not using the toppings or salad dressing. I use the toppings but make homemade salad dressing. It’s so much easier using the chopped salad mixes when trying to meal prep.

Have a great week.

Traci

Mom, What’s For Dinner? – Week of August 11, 2019

Jump to Dinner Menu

All of the sudden, the Wee One has gotten so much taller. I think he’s grown 3 to 4 inches in the last few months. He is almost as tall as me.

So I now call him him Youngest because it makes him upset when I call him the Wee One.

Anyway on Saturday, he kept saying “Mother, Where’s the Food?” Mind you it was 4 pm and not time for dinner. He found him some food to hold him over.

This is the theme of our household right now. Having 2 teenage boys – 14 and 16, they are constantly hungry. One or both of them are going through growth spurts all of the time. Argh!

I’ve been meal planning off and on throughout their childhood. Last year, it fell apart. We have been doing better with it. So when he comes up to me, I can reply this is what we are eating at such and such at ___ o’clock.

Of course, that does not mean their ALWAYS hungry bellies can wait until the scheduled time for dinner. They may still get food to eat. I just have to remind them they need to still eat dinner when I put it on the table. The Youngest is usually pretty good about still eating what I have cooked.

Sunday – Buttermilk chicken, Roasted potatoes, Sweet Corn Salad or Corn
Monday – Honey Garlic Chicken, Rice, Stir Fry Veggies
TuesdayMini Meatloaf Muffins, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Wednesday – Leftovers
Thursday – Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes, Chips, Raw Veggies
Friday – Lime Cashew Chicken, Rice, Green Beans
Saturday – Chicken Dinner at the Sweet Corn Festival (Yum!)
Veggie Egg Scramble in the Microwave
Toast
Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli with Quinoa
Yogurt Cups with Granola
Mini Salad

Cinnamon Apples with Almond Butter
Trail Mix – I get mine from Trader Joe’s but you can certainly make your own.

Have a magical day,
Traci

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti (DF)

Jump ahead to the recipe

The boys do not like when Hubby makes pasta dishes because he doesn’t always drain the pasta. He’ll rather use a slotted spoon to get out the pasta. Needless to say, it becomes very mushy.

So whenever we do have any pasta dishes, I’m the only one who cooks or if he cooks the pasta, he needs to be reminded to drain the pasta. I know us bugging him drives him crazy.

Making the spaghetti in the pressure cooker eliminates the need to drain the pasta because all of it is made in one pot.


Youngest is not always the best eater. He doesn’t always eat a lot of food at meals. When he ate 2 servings of the spaghetti, I knew this recipe was a keeper.

Hubby doesn’t always want to eat leftovers even though I plan for them during the week. He actually volunteered to eat the leftovers the next day. This also told me that this recipe was a keeper.

What you need for the recipe
  1. spaghetti noodles
  2. ground beef
  3. jar of spaghetti sauce
  4. water
  5. Italian seasoning
  6. optional: diced onions

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: extremely easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 0.5 pound of spaghetti noodles
  • 0.5 pound of ground beef
  • 1 (26 oz.) jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 (26 oz.) jar full of water plus about 2 to 3 Tbsp. more of water
  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion, diced – optional
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil – optional

Directions

  1. Set your electric pressure cooker to saute.
  2. If you are going to add onions to your spaghetti, add the oil and then the onions. Cook the onions for 4 to 5 minutes or until translucent. Remove from the pot.
  3. Add the ground beef to the pot. Cook until no longer pink. Make sure you break up the ground beef so the pieces are equal pieces. (About 5 minutes) Drain the fat from the ground beef.
  4. Add the spaghetti sauce, water, Italian seasoning, and onions, if using them. Stir.
  5. Add the spaghetti noddles. (Break them in half.) Make sure the noodles are covered with sauce and water. Add a little more water, if needed.
  6. Set the pressure cooker to manual 8 minutes. Put the lid on the pressure cooker making sure the valve is set to seal.
  7. When it’s done cooking, quick release the valve.
  8. Stir the spaghetti.
  9. Enjoy with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Notes:

  1. You can use ground turkey instead of ground beef.
  2. If you want to make it vegetarian, you can use the beefless beef from Trader Joe’s. Just start with step 4 unless you are adding the onions.

Have a magical day,
Traci

Where are they?

Before the boys were born, I went white water rafting twice. Both times, we camped out with the Scouts Venturing post.

Imagine a camping site located in a valley.

Then there was a torrential rainstorm.

So what do you think happened?

The water pooled into my tent.

Oh, I forgot to give you one piece of key information. One of our friends and my father-in-law had traveled with us down to West Virginia.

So the water was pooling in my tent. Hubby, our friend, and my father-in-law were no where to be found. Cell phones were not as popular as they are now plus there would be no service.

I was freaking out and getting wetter.

One of the other people camping out with us had a camping trailer with them. So they invited me in the trailer so I wouldn’t get sick.

Finally they show back up.

They had been driving around looking for a hotel/ motel for me. A hamvention type of event was going on in the area so there was limited hotel/ motel rooms available. Or should I say, they found only one room.

It was a honeymoon type of room. There was one bed and a whirlpool tub. All 4 of us were sharing this room.

Hubby and I shared the bed. My father-in-law got the couch in the room. Our friend got the floor. The whirlpool tub was not used. 😥

The few photos I have of this camping trip.

There was video made of the trip. They included this song by Green Day. Whenever I hear this song, I am reminded of this camping trip.

Have a magical day,
Traci

Mom, What’s For Dinner? – August 2019

Finally A Menu

If you would like to skip the introduction and go onto the menu, please click here.

I go back to work on either the 7th or the 8th. Technically I’m supposed to be going back to work on the 8th. However, some of the administrators have decided we need to have an extra day so that we can team build. I don’t know if they are actually going to have the team building day on the 7th.

Continue reading Mom, What’s For Dinner? – August 2019

My Favorite View – Summer 2019

This summer has been a different type of summer.

The boys are getting older so there wasn’t very many day trips. Let’s take that back – We’ve done day trip. I’ve done some road trips with each of them individually.

The Memorial Day tornadoes change the dynamics of my summer. Even though it didn’t directly affect me, it affected the area I teach in so that made me upset.

Continue reading My Favorite View – Summer 2019