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New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 44 (10/28/13-11/1/13)

I learned several things about my family’s eating habits this week:

  1. We all hate tortellini.
  2. The Toddler is not a fan of ANYTHING contained within ANY red-hued sauce.
  3. Big Daddy will not eat soup unless it is presented to him and he has no other choice. But he still considers ‘soup-eating’ a form of torture.
  4. Just because The Toddler enthusiastically devours a food right now, that doesn’t mean she’ll want to eat it again. Ever.

That said, last week‘s Tortellini Spinach Bake went to waste (refer to items 1 & 2 above), and I ate a lot of Creamed Chicken & Corn Soup (refer to #3). I didn’t really mind that part though, because it was delicious. And in reference to note #4, the Skillet Enchilada Pasta that I made a few weeks ago and pulled out of the freezer for The Toddler’s lunch wasn’t such a hit the second time around. She basically wouldn’t touch it with TWO ten foot poles. This was so strange, considering the fact that she consumed roughly 14 servings at one sitting the first time she was presented with the same skillet enchilada pasta.

Fickle little beasts, aren’t they?

In conclusion, I’m going to attempt to cook some food that my family will actually eat this week (you’re welcome, family). As much as Big Daddy focuses most of his food-related attention toward healthy basic foods (read: boring), the things that never go to waste in our house are inevitably those of a ‘comfort food’ variety.

For instance, this Tater Tot Casserole barely saw the light of day before it was devoured. And now that I’m eyeballing it again, it’s sorta making me drool. Oh, sorry…was that TMI? But seriously, it’s really good. Once, I ate this casserole for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. It was a well-balanced day, obviously.

If we were identifying my Perfect Food Day, it would probably look like this:

Breakfast:

Banff-Springs-scones-2-1024x637[source]

I dream of this beautiful combination of homemade scones, jam, and clotted cream on a regular (almost daily) basis. I had this for the first time when I was in Scotland (The Motherland…) during a trip to the UK with my family in 2011. I was pregnant with The Toddler, and I ate this combination for breakfast (in both Scotland and Ireland) no less than 8 times during our 9 day stay. And now, I live daily with the reality that there is no such thing as a good scone in Maryland. So I try to make them myself…and they don’t even come close. Then I cry and eat a pancake instead.

Lunch:

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I’ve been in love with various iterations of Asian soup for the last 3 years. The most common recipes you’ll see me searching and printing are for Asian-themed soups. I can’t get enough, and I love the (usual) simplicity of throwing them together. As long as you have a few staple ingredients, you can put a great, satisfying soup together in just a few minutes. The exception to this is when I embark on my monthly journey of making Pho broth. That’s definitely an all-day affair, and requires a trip to the Asian market (one of my favorite places in the whole universe), but it’s totally worth it in the end. It took me FOREVER to find a reliable recipe, but this one works really well for me (just in case you’re in the market for some Pho broth).

Dinner:

mare_roasted_vegetable_meatloaf_with_mustard_mashed_potatoes_h[source]

For me, this is the ultimate comfort food combination. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, steamed or veggies…perfection.

So there is really no actual problem with this “Perfect Food Day”. Unless you consider the fact that 2 out of 3 members of the Smithstrong household wouldn’t touch 2 out of 3 of these meals. Sometimes it’s a challenge to please everyone, and I only have to worry about a family of 3 right now. I have no idea how larger families can manage everyone’s food preferences while still making sure everyone is eating what they need.

This week, I’ve attempted to pull together recipes that will please everyone in my family, and I’m not going to over-cook. I seem to be making TOO MUCH food, and I don’t want to do that. I’ll reduce a recipe by 1/2 if it seems like it’s too much. I really don’t want to waste anything this week. I hate throwing away food. In my brain, the trash can yells, “CHA CHING! CHA CHING! CHA CHING!” as the food goes in. It’s tragic.

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

With any luck, the new recipes will be keepers, and I can reduce wasted food this week!

I’m not going to bore you with the details, but the baby countdown is now approaching 10 days. Yikes! This is really happening, folks!

Click for all of the recipes, grocery list, and menu!

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New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 43 (10/21/13-10/25/13)

Believe it or not, I really did plan a menu last week. Sorta. I cooked a few recipes (you can see them on my Pinterest), but I couldn’t find the time/motivation/brain cells to put together the whole shebang.

Truthfully, I’m SUPER PREOCCUPIED right now with getting my house ready for the baby to arrive. I did this to some degree when I was pregnant with baby 1.0, but it seems to be slightly more amplified this time. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that we bought our house and moved in September 2011, and then The Toddler was born in March.

You know how you move your stuff into a new house, and then you end up rearranging the furniture again 6 months later because you realize after living and breathing in the house for a while that the chair you put in THAT CORNER isn’t going to work because every time you open the closet door, it bangs into the chair? Yeah…it’s sort of like that.

So now I’m nesting, and my “MUST IMMEDIATELY MOVE ALL OF THE THINGS INTO THEIR PROPER PLACES” has kicked into overdrive.

So I won’t bore you here with the details about my kitchen and dining room master plan…because you’re probably just here for a menu. If you want to read more about that, you can check out the details on House Becomes Home (in which you’ll learn more than you likely ever wanted to know about my broken garbage disposal and gold-trimmed ceiling fan).

This week, I’m ahead of the game. It’s Thursday, and I’m done with the menu. This is a new record.

The recipe I’m most excited about this week…

Screen shot 2013-10-17 at 12.57.03 PM[source]

Because really…anything that contains tater tots is pretty special to me.

Here’s the new recipes this week:

Just a couple of notes–

*For the Creamed Chicken & Corn soup, you can make your own cream of chicken soup rather than using a canned version. There are all kinds of Cream of Chicken recipes online, but I like Pinch Of Yum’s recipe the best because it’s super easy, quick, and it tastes good (3 things I can never argue with when it comes to a recipe).

*Also, for that same recipe…please make your own homemade creamed corn. It’s SO MUCH better than the yucky canned version. I use this recipe from The Hungry Housewife…and I love creamed corn, so I have to seriously pace myself when I make this recipe.

And the recycled recipes:

You can find all of the recipes, the menu & grocery list on box.net. Keep in mind that I didn’t add the ingredients for homemade cream of chicken soup or homemade creamed corn to the grocery list, so if you want to make those from scratch, make sure to add them (and omit the canned versions from the grocery list).

I hope the weather is beautiful this weekend for you! It’s finally starting to feel like fall in Maryland, and this makes me very happy.

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New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 41 (10/7/13-10/11/13)

Were you absolutely lost without a menu last week? I didn’t think so. I knew you could do it on your own. We were away from home for the entire weekend for a wedding, so there was no cooking on the schedule. Or grocery shopping for that matter.

I actually dragged my hung-over husband out on Sunday afternoon to buy produce and necessities. I can’t lie…it was a little fun watching him “recover” while I calmly shopped for pears and milk.

This week, I have a plan. There is an extra recipe or two thrown into the mix this time because my freezer is honestly looking a little bare. I’m not panicking just yet…despite the fact that my dear son will be born in 33 days or less.

33 days or less.

Wow.

OK, now I’m ready to panic.

I have plans to make a couple of off-menu recipes this weekend, because in my short-lived jaunt as “Bento box lunch packer“, I’ve realized that my little muffin of a daughter LOVES her ‘special treats’ that pop up unexpectedly. I purchased a Wilton Mini Pie Press AGES ago, and have yet to use it, so I’m going to see how it handles apple-pie-making tomorrow. I bought that pie press way before kids were even in the mix, and now I’m wishing that I had an even smaller version (since my girl doesn’t really need a pie even as big as the mini press I have). I might try to procure a smaller one, but for now I’m going with the one I have.

Incidentally, there are some absolutely adorable pumpkin-shaped cookies floating around my Pinterest feed.

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Yeah, I won’t be making those. They’re so cute, but that’s just a little too ambitious for this pregnant lady.

However, I will be making these:

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I’m going to shred some ham and add it between the potato layers, since Big Daddy will not likely accept a meat-free meal–especially one involving potatoes of any variety.

I didn’t pick regular recipes that are overly complicated. I tried to keep it as simple as possible, considering that there are 6 new recipes this week.

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipe:

Here’s a link to all of the recipes, the menu, and the grocery list. I did away with the plan because I’ve listed what day to make which recipe on the menu…so “the plan” sort of felt like overkill.

I hope everyone has a fantastic week!

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New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 39 (09/23/13-09/27/13)

Happy Friday!!

It’s starting to feel like Fall in Maryland! YAY!! I was beginning to wonder if we were actually going to have a fall this year, considering that we were pushing 90 degree temperatures up until this past week. Lame.

Last week’s menu was fairly-well executed in the Smithstrong household. The only thing that did not happen was the chicken and noodles, despite the fact that I did actually “roast” the chicken for the recipe (I use this recipe to “roast” it in the Crock Pot, which works and tastes amazingly well). It turned out that Big Daddy ended up eating the chicken by itself anyway, so it wasn’t a total bust.

And, we thoroughly ate the heck out of the Tater Tot Casserole.

tater tot

Um yum.

In fact, I just ate the last of this for breakfast today. Yes, for breakfast. And it was delicious.

I wasn’t entirely convinced about this recipe before I made it, but it has officially been starred and bubbly-hearted in my binder so that I remember to make it again in the future. So delicious.

In addition to the Tater Tots we thoroughly enjoyed, the Toddler has been enjoying her exciting Bento-style lunches. Admittedly, it takes me a bit longer to organize her lunches in the evenings (I am not a morning-lunch-packer because I enjoy sleep too much), but it might add an extra 10 minutes to the process. Not a deal breaker for me, considering how excited she reportedly gets every day when she gets to search for the “BUNNY!/DOGGY!/KITTY!/BEAR BEAR!” in her Bento box.

I probably would’ve loved this as a child, so I’m likely just projecting…but that’s another story for another day.

If you want to read all about my Adventures in Toddler Bento Lunches, I wrote a whole post about it here. I didn’t want to bore anyone who is just here for a menu with my ramblings about making lunches for The Toddler. You’re welcome.

I had a really difficult time picking out recipes this week because of all of the delicious fall DESSERTS that are clogging up my Pinterest feed. I cannot stop thinking about pumpkin donuts, apple pie, and all things sweet and fall-y…so of course there’s no room for legitimate food in my brain. I did my best, but I really wanted to keep it simple in terms of cooking because Mama wants to have some fun (and not be testing her pregnant feet for 6-8 hours in the kitchen on Saturday/Sunday).

Hence, I searched the word “casserole” on Pinterest, and an enormous list of beautifully-constructed casseroles appeared. It’s magic, that Pinterest!

Casseroles are almost always a big hit in our house, so I pretty much can’t go wrong.

Nacho Casserole won, because really…who doesn’t love anything that resembles a taco? Just us?

Nacho-Casserole[source]

And I couldn’t get past the anticipated cranberry-orange goodness of these.

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Mmmmm…just try to resist the allure of the cranberries. You can’t.

So here’s the lowdown for next week:

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

I’m enjoying the fact that I have just as many new recipes as I do recycled recipes lately. That means that my grand plan is working out beautifully. Less cooking! More time for fun!

Everything you need (menu, recipes, plan & grocery list) is hanging in the folder on Box.com!

beth signature

 

 

bento 3

Adventures in Toddler Bento Lunches

I mentioned last week that I had started getting a little more creative with packing The Toddlers meals for daycare, but I didn’t elaborate much. Now that I’m fully committed to the whole bento process (and I’ve worked out some of the “uhhh….duhhhhh” moments), I’m ready to share.

Here are a few of the lunches that I packed for her over the past couple of weeks:

bento 2

See the bunny??!! That’s seriously her favorite part.

This lunch was Week 37’s Skillet Enchiladas with a dollop of sour cream, roasted broccoli, oranges, sliced cheese, peaches, and a little square of sugar cookie biscotti that I got from Kupcakes & Co. (yummy bakery! They make Buckeyes!!), and threw in as a special treat.

bento 1

This one was also from Week 37’s menu, and very simple. Grilled cheese cut into little hearts, strawberries, pepper slices, oranges, and Annie’s Cheddar Bunny Snack Mix (that’s always a fave).

bento 3

This one is a blast from the past. The menu is just from this past week, but that’s part of a leftover Sausage and Rice Stuffed Pepper from a few weeks ago that I popped in the freezer when I realized it wasn’t going to get eaten during the week. The rest is pretty obvious–grapes, steamed mixed veggies, cheese, oranges, and steamed broccoli.

Since she’s still eating little girl portions, I am able to fit both her lunch and afternoon snack in this 3-compartment Bento made by Goodbyn, which I happened to find at Target on accident. I was thinking the other day how handy it would be to have a second, but when I went back to Target, they were all gone! I just did a ‘needle in a haystack’ Google search, since I don’t have the Bento here at the moment, and couldn’t remember the brand. I’m glad I found it…now I can order another online. Hooray for convenience!

For breakfast, I found this very girly Hello Kitty Bento box on Amazon. Of course it’s not pictured on the Amazon listing, but when you open up the Kitty’s face (ummm…creepy), there’s a little removable tray that takes up 1/2 of the space inside, so it’s good for when one thing inside needs to be heated up and the other doesn’t.

Personally, I am overly-careful about heating up plastic containers in the microwave. In fact, I don’t even OWN a microwave because I just don’t see the point. However, at the babysitters, the convenience of popping everything into the microwave wins over my (possibly ridiculous) fear of heating up plastic. Needless to say, the process of getting the right stuff to fit inside the Goodbyn Bento has been a little challenging for me. I’ve come up with a plan wherein I only put the food that needs to be heated inside of glass containers, or in paper cupcake wrappers.The exception to this was the grilled cheese in the picture above, which she ate cold anyway…because that’s how she likes to eat it.

I know it’s weird, but she’s my kid after all.

Even though the wells in it are pretty deep, it was still tricky to find glass containers that fit inside of it, since the wells are oblong and not circular. I finally came across Wean Green, and they make those little oval-shaped containers that you see in the pictures. They fit very nicely inside. I also bought a few other sizes and shapes, but they don’t fit as well (or at all). I’m not worried about them not getting used though, since I’m always in need of some type of glass receptacle for food storage. The only thing that bummed me out about the Wean Green containers is that you can’t put them in the oven…which totally sucks for someone who is constantly heating up food, but doesn’t have a microwave.

Win some, lose some.

I know it’ll be a work in progress, but I’m enjoying the current setup, and I do strangely like packing her fun little meals each day. Well…as much as one can enjoy doing ANYTHING besides watching trashy TV on the sofa after putting in a full day of work, followed by 3 hours of chasing/feeding/bathing a toddler. While 8.5 months pregnant. So yeah. It’s not like my favorite thing, but it’s more enjoyable now that I’ve made it a little more fun.

And, I know that she enjoys it, so that takes some of the “blah/yuck/eew” out of it.

I’m slowly filling up my Bento Stuff board on Pinterest, so check that out too for some ideas. If you have any ideas, email them to me or comment!

beth signature

 

 

New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 38 (9/16/13-9/20/13)

Just a quick and dirty post today, considering that it’s Sunday and I haven’t grocery shopped yet.

Let’s just say that Friday I was lazy, yesterday I was overly ambitious (to the tune of a 5 hour cleaning marathon), and today I’m playing catch up on the food-front. It happens.

But you should get excited, because there’s this.

[source]

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

Optional Recipe:

 

Here’s a folder with all of the files you could possibly need for the week… Week 38 Menu, Recipes, Grocery List & Plan.

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New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 37 (9/9/13-9/13/13)

So in case you were wondering, I obviously blew the menu off last week. That’s sort of how I do things…I’m a little unpredictable at times. I decided that I didn’t want to grocery shop for anything more than produce last week, so I declared it a week of “winging it”! Hopefully, you were able to survive off of recycled recipes for the past week. I’m sure you were just fine without me.

Besides not wanting to spend money on groceries, I was also frazzled from being away for Labor Day weekend. The family and I (dogs included) traveled 400 miles north to visit my NY family one last time before baby boy arrives. Actually, it’ll be the last time we make that trip until the end of March 2014, since I am not a fan of snow…and snow sometimes lasts until April in Central NY.

I’ve safely entered into the “single digit” baby countdown now. I can’t believe that I will have a baby in 9 weeks or less. It feels impossible. Insane.

And my house isn’t clean!

And my freezer isn’t fully stocked!

And there are so many things that need to be obsessively organized!

Regardless of any of that, he’s still coming…and I’m never going to really feel prepared for his arrival, so I’m just going with it. Winging it. It’s my theme lately. For instance, last night, I came home from work with The Toddler, and rather than rush inside and get dinner started, I sat on the front lawn and talked to Big Daddy while he did yard work. All the while, The Toddler cavorted in the front lawn, plucking basil leaves out of the herb garden and playing in the dirt. Supervised, but I certainly wasn’t regulating how much basil (or dirt) she ate.

Then I went inside and ordered takeout.

It was glorious.

Sometimes, you just have to put down your schedule and wing it. I don’t allow myself to do that very often, but when I occasionally do, it’s sort of liberating.

That said, let’s talk about the new menu! [Since my brain can only handle the freedom of ‘winging it’ for so long, ya know].

My challenge as of late is that there is very little room in the belly anymore for food! It’s a sad situation for someone who loves food as much as I do. I have a difficult time even considering what to eat on a regular basis, because it takes forever before I don’t feel full from my previous meal. I’m not talking full. I’m talking FULL…from just eating a normal-size portion of food. I ate three 2″ x 2″ squares of pizza for lunch yesterday, and I felt full until 8PM. It’s completely unreasonable.

And meat kinda makes me feel pukey again. But I sure do love oyster crackers right now.

And chili.

plate-crock-pot-chicken-chili-con-queso-recipe

Yep, I realize that it’s chicken chili. What can I say…I’m a walking contradiction today.

Since we’re on the topic of food challenges. I’m having a bit of a challenge lately feeding the toddler, because she’s claiming to not like anything besides Chick-Fil-A nuggets and macaroni & cheese. It’s posing some challenges for me in the “keep the baby fed” front. She does generally eat a little better at daycare though, so in an effort to encourage at least 2 solid meals per day (she eats breakfast and lunch there), I’ve been packing her a daily Bento box that looks a little more fun than your average lunch.

If I’m being honest, I have way too much fun putting her lunches together now, so it’s about 45% selfish decision, and 55% trying to motivate her to eat.

I’ve been compiling ideas (and bento supplies) over the past couple of weeks, but I’m working on my skills. As we were driving to daycare this morning, I checked the passenger seat of my truck to ensure that I hadn’t forgotten her lunch on the counter at home. It wasn’t there. However, it WAS on the floor. Sideways. With applesauce inside the bento box. Unprotected. Leaking into the Earth Balance Cheese Popcorn.

I still need some practice.

I just started pinning to a board on Pinterest for Bento stuff if you want to check it out. It’s pretty cute. I try to only Pin the stuff that is possible for me to accomplish, because some of it is a little out of my realm (and patience level).

This one? Not likely.

unreasonable bento

I’m a relatively practical Bento-er. This is more my style:

practical bento

Except lunch meat freaks me out right now.

…so many issues!

But this isn’t therapy. You’re here for a menu, aren’t you?

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

Ok, I’m sure you’ve had enough of me for today.

Click for the box.com folder with the menu, recipes, plan & grocery list!

beth signature

 

 

New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 35 (8/26/13-8/30/13)

Who’s ready for fall?

Me! Me!

Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 11.58.45 AM

These adorable little stuffed peppers have been hanging out in my Pinterest feed for several months, but it just didn’t feel like it was time to make them yet. Now, it’s time. Don’t they look delicious? I did, however, have enough foresight to read the reviews of these Stuffed Peppers, and several people mention that they’re bland. I didn’t add it to the grocery list, but I’ll be adding some tomato paste into the mixture before I stuff the peppers. That should help combat the “bland” factor. So, if you want to also add tomato paste to yours, make sure to add this to your grocery list!

I am insanely excited about this recipe…

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Because, a) it contains pasta, and b) the pasta cooks right in the skillet, which is another of my most recent fascinations. I’m of course going to make it non-spicy so that I don’t make the toddler unhappy.

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

You can get the full menu, recipes, grocery list and game plan right here!

Have a great week!

beth signature

New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 34 (8/19/13-8/23/13)

It just occurred to me that today is Sunday, and I forgot to post the menu.

I honestly had it finished on Friday, and even did my own grocery shopping and everything…but forgot to post it here for you.

Oops. My bad. So hopefully I didn’t screw up your life too much this week. Don’t worry–I haven’t cooked anything yet this weekend either.

So, with that in mind, I’ll cut right to the chase…

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

You can get the full deal (menu, grocery list, recipes & plan) in the August folder in this 52 Menus | 52 Weeks box.com folder.

Have a great week everyone!

beth signature

New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 33 (8/12/13-8/16/13)

Another week is over! It’s not just a cliche–time really does go by faster when you’re old(er).

And your kids grow up right before your eyes.

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wagon

Seriously…it feels like that first picture was taken last week. Now I have a full-fledged toddler on my hands. It took like a WEEK for that to happen (in my brain, anyway). Isn’t it tragic that we can’t just preserve them in all of their squishy baby-ness?

Speaking of toddlers. She wasn’t a fan of Week 32‘s Ham & Cheese Stromboli. Or the Breakfast Freezer Sandwich. I thought for sure she’d eat the stromboli (since it was loaded with cheese), but wasn’t entirely surprised that she threw the breakfast sandwich on the floor. She only recently started to eat eggs, and she’ll only eat the egg from a Starbucks breakfast sandwich (but are they really even eggs anyway?). So, we’ll keep attempting to feed her some real eggs, and see if she changes her mind at some point.

For now, I’ll leave the Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches for Big Daddy…because he doesn’t throw his on the floor.

She did, however, LOVE the Sweet & Spicy Chicken (which we made non-spicy). She actually ate that twice for lunch during the week because Big Daddy and I ate all of the pork tenderloin that she was supposed to have for lunch on Wednesday (oops).

This week, I’m branching out a bit with a recipe for beef tri tips. I still have no flipping clue where I’m going to locate an organic version of beef tri tips, but I guess that’s my problem, not yours. I will find them. And if not, I’ll improvise with a different cut of beef.

Because it’s just worth it…

Screen shot 2013-08-09 at 2.02.56 PM[source]

Don’t you love how I tell you that I’m “branching out”, but it’s really just an excuse for me to eat mashed potatoes & gravy?

Yeah, that’s how it works right now.

And, SURPRISE!

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Guess who managed to work another stromboli into the menu this week??!! I’m sorry, but I just can’t get enough. They’re so convenient to make (and tasty). This one is even more exciting to me, since it’s a breakfast version. It kind of reminds me of the sausage bread that my mom made when I was little.  And again, I’ll probably double the recipe so I can stick a couple in the freezer. If you buy frozen dough (as I mentioned last week, I found a really good frozen organic version), one batch of dough will make 2 stromboli.

New recipes this week:

Recycled recipes this week:

Keep in mind that I DIDN’T add a recipe here for mashed potatoes to go with your tri tips. I figured that you will use your favorite recipe for those…or just eat the string beans…or choose a different side dish if you’re not a pregnant mashed potato junkie like me.

Also…I’ve mentioned before that I don’t mess with the canned “Cream of _____” gloppy soup garbage. You can use that in the Cheesy Chicken Casserole recipe if you want, but you can also easily make your own using this recipe for Cream of Chicken Soup Substitute. Amen.

Here is the printable menu, the plan, and the grocery list.

Happy weekend!

beth signature