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Meal Planning Monday ~ Stress-Free School Lunches

This week’s post is by Leah Kelley.

            Last week was the first full week of school for my daughter, Ivy.  Not only did Ivy love her first week of school, she also loved the lunches I packed for her.  At first, Ivy was a little upset that she didn’t get to buy lunch at school, so I was expecting her to complain about her brown bag lunches.  I’m happy to say that was NOT the case!

            I’ve developed a system which is key for my family, since we tend to be VERY busy in the morning.  Every night after dinner, Ivy and I pack her lunch together.  Today, I’m sharing a few of her lunches from last week.  (I tried to take pictures, but quickly found out that photography is not one of my many talents.)

Monday ~ PB&J Pita sandwich, Earth’s Best Fruit Smoothie, grapes, string cheese, and Mott’s Squeezable Applesauce.

Tuesday ~ Ham and cheese sandwich, apple, honeydew melons, string cheese, and granola bars.

Wednesday~ Turkey and Cheese Pita Sandwich, blueberries, Homemade Granola Bars, Gogurt Yogurt.  My awesome stepmother just ordered me these amazing reusable squeezable  popsicle molds, I can’t wait to get them and start freezing the smoothies I make in them.  I’ll also freeze any yogurt I find on sale.  (You can find them on Amazon, only $10.99 for a set of five.)

 Thursday~ PB&J sandwich, Earth’s Best Fruit Smoothie, baby carrots, mini blueberry muffins, and cherries.  This reminds me – I need to get a cherry pitter because those things are super messy to cut and pit yourself!

Friday~ Shredded Chicken and Cheese pita sandwich, blueberries, granola bar, and string cheese.

Have fun packing your kids lunch!






Meal Planning Monday ~ I Love Farmers’ Markets!

            This weekend, my husband and I went up to Buffalo, NY for a family wedding.  We made time on Saturday morning to head over to the farmer’s market in North Tonawanda.  My family’s had a booth at this market for over 50 years!  My grandparents had it for many years, and then passed it down to my uncle who sells the best sweet corn in Western New York.  Nick and I had a blast helping my uncle sell corn, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  The best part – we got paid in fresh produce!

            Of course, we also walked around to check out the whole market, almost a hundred vendors with all kinds of gorgeous produce, fresh baked rye bread, polish sausages, and SO much more!  I was in heaven!  Now I am on a quest to find a farmer’s market that is even half as good here in the Greater Cincinnati area.  So, this week I am going to use all of my produce treasures (pictured above) in my meal plan!

            Also, today is my Dad’s birthday, so I just want to give him a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY wish!  Love you, Dad!

 Here’s my Meal Plan for this week:

Monday ~ Hot Ham (or Turkey) and Cheese on Rye with Tomato Soup.  It’s so hard to find good rye bread in the Midwest!  I bought three loaves of rye at the market and brought them home and froze them.

Tuesday ~ Eggplant Parmesan.  See recipe below.

Wednesday ~ FFY – Fend for Yourself!  I am very excited to be attending a blogger dinner with my friend and mentor, Heather Tenney.  You should check out her blog.  It’s pretty awesome!

Thursday ~ Stuffed Green Peppers with fresh melon for dessert.

Friday ~ Oven Fried Chicken with corn on the cob and fried green tomatoes.  I have never made fried green tomatoes, so this will be an adventure!

Saturday ~ Fish Tacos.  I have one lone head of cabbage growing in my garden, so hopefully it will be ready for this recipe!

Sunday ~ Family Dinner at my Dad’s to celebrate his birthday.


EatingWell’s Eggplant Parmesan


We reduced fat by coating the eggplant with egg whites instead of whole eggs and baking, rather than frying, the slices for a lighter version of this classic.

6 serving | Active Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 2 eggplants, (about 2 pounds total)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, (1 ounce), divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup slivered fresh basil leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese, (3 ounces)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat two baking sheets and an 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Cut eggplants crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Whisk egg whites and water in a shallow dish until frothy. Combine breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, salt and pepper in another shallow dish. Dip the eggplant slices into the egg-white mixture, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. (Discard any leftover breadcrumbs and egg white.) Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.
  3. Stir basil into tomato sauce. Spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly. Spoon 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese. Add a layer of the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 to 20 minutes.


Per serving : 203 Calories; 6 g Fat; 3 g Sat; 2 g Mono; 13 mg Cholesterol; 29 g Carbohydrates; 12 g Protein; 8 g Fiber; 563 mg Sodium; 777 mg Potassium






Meal Planning Monday ~ Get Back on the Wagon

Have you fallen off the Meal Planning wagon?  It happens even to the best of us sometimes.  Laid back summer schedules, vacations, and holidays can sometimes derail our meal planning, and that’s okay.  The trick is to get back on the wagon sooner rather than later.  If you’ve never done any serious Meal Planning, now is the perfect time to start!  With the school year starting up, most of us will be getting back to a more structured schedule this fall.  Here are some tips for getting on (or back on) the Meal Planning wagon, and my own Meal Plan for this week.

  • Start small.  I typically meal plan on a monthly basis.  This can seem overwhelming, so let’s just start with planning this week, or the remainder of this month for now.  (I like monthly meal planning because I only have to do it 12 times a year, instead of 52 times a year!)  Make sure that you’ve at least got a week of meals planned before you head to the grocery store.
  • Base your meal plan on what you’ve already got on hand.  If you’ve got an abundance of ground beef in the freezer, or canned tomatoes in the pantry, schedule a few meals to incorporate those ingredients.
  • Look at your schedule.  If you have a parents’ meeting at school on Thursday night, don’t schedule a complicated meal that day.  It may sound like a no-brainer, but save the labor-intensive recipes for days when you have the time to make them.
  • Plan around what’s on sale this week.  I usually plan my main dishes for dinner, but not always my sides.  I want to be flexible enough to work in the red potatoes, cauliflower, and asparagus that are on sale this week!
  • Don’t beat yourself up!  Feeling guilty about abandoning your meal plan isn’t productive, so don’t do it!  If you need extra help with Meal Planning ideas or recipes, check out my e-book, “The Coupon Sisters Get Cooking:  Discover the Magic of Meal Planning.”  (Use coupon code LEAH to save 10%!)  You can also find it on Amazon.


Here’s my Meal Plan for this week:

Monday ~ Black Bean Soup with Blue Corn Tortilla Chips.

Tuesday ~ Grilled Chicken Bruschetta with Quinoa and a Salad.

Wednesday ~ Honey Lime Tilapia with wild rice and carrots.  This recipe is very easy and super tasty!

Thursday ~ Pizza & Chicken Wings.

Friday ~ Grilled Hot Dogs and Hamburgers.

Saturday ~ We’re going to my cousin’s wedding, so no cooking for me tonight!

Sunday ~ Grilled Chicken Tenderloins with mac & cheese and green beans.





Meal Planning ~ Breakfast for the Kiddos


           This week’s post is by Leah Kelley.

            My daughter starts school next week!  Recently we talked about fun lunch ideas to pack for your kids.  However, breakfast for the kids on a school day can be a real challenge!  It seems that school mornings are always a rush, so I try to either make things ahead of time or have a few fast recipes.  It’s nice to have some other options besides cereal and milk.  One thing I like to do is make a few batches of pancakes and freeze them.  That way in the morning they’re already made and all I have to do is pop them in the toaster to heat them up for the kids.  This week, I thought I would share a few of my favorite freezer breakfast ideas.

  • Mini Blueberry Muffins ~ My kids love these and they are way healthier than the prepackaged muffins you buy at the store.
  • Zucchini Bread ~ Everyone’s gardens are bursting with zucchini this time of year!  I freeze two slices of the bread per bag.  If I take a bag out of the freezer before I go to bed, they are thawed out by morning.  They can always be defrosted in the microwave, too.
  • Strawberry Muffins ~ These are delicious!  See recipe below.
  • Pancakes and Waffles ~ I love my waffle maker!  One way to spice up waffles is to place a few drops of food coloring into the batter.  You could make a few red waffles, a few blue ones, and a few purple ones.  My kids love this.
  • Sausage Omelet Cups ~ You could use bacon or ham in place of the sausage.  Also, you can throw in green peppers, onions, or other veggies of your choice.


Strawberry Muffins

1 large egg
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup course sugar
            Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F; line 12 muffin cups with paper liners; set aside while you prepare the batter.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg until it’s light and frothy, about 2 to 3 minutes; add the nonfat milk and butter to the stand mixer; beat on medium speed until well combined.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  With the stand mixer running on low, add the flour mixture a little at a time, until it’s all just combined and moistened; add the strawberries and run the mixer on high for 20 seconds.  Now it’s time to fill the muffin cups.  Using a scoop (such an ice cream scoop or even a ladle), divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups.  Slide the muffins into the preheated oven; bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean; the tops of the muffins should be a golden brown.  Allow the muffins to cool slightly before proceeding.  Once the muffins are cool enough to touch, put the melted butter for the topping in one bowl and the coarse sugar in a second bowl; dip each muffin first in the butter and then in the sugar; let the muffins cool completely on a wire drying rack before serving.





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