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How to Meal Plan: The Empowered Cook Way *Free eCourse*

Would you like to learn how to meal plan for your family? I will share my top tips for meal planning in this article, and I also have a free email eCourse for you – that will walk you through each step to get a meal plan done for your family.

Meal Planning forms part of the foundation of my kitchen. Learning how to meal plan was a game changer for me. Yes, my Mum had shown me the basics – but it wasn’t until I created a system that I really saw the effects of meal planning in my kitchen and for my family.

Would you like to learn how to meal plan for your family? I have a free eCourse that you can join where I walk you through the very simple steps to add meal planning to your kitchen rhythm. It includes a daily email with a 10 minute task each day - and a bunch of free meal planning printables!

Meal plans save you time. Meal plans save you money. And they save you Thinking Time.

You know what I mean by that last one? This is the critical one for me. Walking in the door after work, and NOT having to think about what we’re going to have for dinner is very important for me.

Yes, it does mean that I need to dedicate some time during the week to actually meal plan. But really, this can take me about 15mins. And I think that is a good investment of my time.

I have however found meal planning onerous in the past. I used to sit down with a pile of cookbooks or magazines and dream about the meals I could cook during the week: an italian inspired pasta dish with a smooth creamy sauce served with a side of greens and some crusty bread. But then when it came to the day I’d scheduled this meal, I would have had a crap (I mean intense) day at work, and my train home was delayed – and then I’d check the fridge to find the greens had wilted and I had forgotten to buy cream. Those are the nights we used to end up with take-away or a pub meal.

Now that we have Oliver though (our little boy), we can’t really just duck down to the local pub for a meal (oh how I miss those nights!). I need to be more organised – but more importantly, I need it to actually work.

So I researched. I tried many different meal planning tips and tricks. And now I have a pretty good system.

So how do we do it?

It is a simple 3-step process: Family Favourites, Inventories, and Meal Plan.

But most importantly – it is about creating a habit. Meal Planning can be great – but you really need to embed the steps into your weekly rhythm of your kitchen.

So – to help you really embrace how to meal plan for your family – I’ve created a free eCourse to walk you through the process, simply and easily.

Simply click on the image below to sign up. I’ll need your email address to get started. The content is delivered over 7 days – with a new email each day. I will give you simple steps to complete – taking around 10 mins a day.

By the end of the 7 days, you’ll have a Meal Plan for your family. AND you’ll know the system that you need to repeat to create another meal plan.

Please come along and join us. I’d love to have you.

You can join the eCourse here.

Join The Empowered Cook FREE Meal Planning eCourse

And don’t forget to jump on over to The Empowered Cook facebook page or Instagram account and share some photos of your meal plans! I’d love to hear how you go!

 

5 Freezer Meals to Make This Weekend

Do you want dinner on the table fast and with minimal effort? Are weeknight dinners a problem for you? Do you often opt for takeaway, purely because you just don’t have enough time to get a meal on the table? All you need is a few hours – here are 5 freezer meals to make this weekend.

My freezer is our saving grace during the week. With both of us working outside the home for the majority of the week, we often don’t arrive home until 6pm. That means we need to have dinner on the table fast if we are to get our little one to bed at a reasonable time. I use my weekends to prep our meals for the week. And my freezer is stocked with great meals that we can simply defrost and heat up in the oven.

Want dinner on the table fast? These 5 freezer meals to make this weekend will see you feeding your family with ease next week.

Here are our favourite 5 freezer meals to make this weekend.

#1 – Chicken Parmesan Casserole

I whipped this one up last weekend. I had spent the day making chicken stock – so I had a whole lot of chicken to use. This dish was perfect.

And it was SO easy to whip up. It was just an assembly process really. Layer it all in the pan (I use an aluminium foil pan) and then cover, label and stick it in the freezer. All done in less than 15 minutes – and dinner #1 is done.

You can check out the recipe here.

#2 – Roasted Butternut Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese

You can hardly taste the pumpkin in this one – but it is such a bonus vegetable in an otherwise pasta only dish. As a Mama of a little one, any chance I can include another vegetable is a win in my books.

I followed the instructions on this one to freeze it. I made it well ahead of time – and it was still super delicious once we defrosted it.

It does take a little more prep time than the other meals – but it also makes a LOT. I’d suggest dividing this up into smaller freezer meals, and serving this as a side dish with sausages and some green vegies.

You can find the recipe here.

#3 – Four Cheese Baked Penne

This is another one that I whipped up last weekend. It was super simple again – I really love the ‘assembly’ style freezer meals. If you manage your time right, you can prep a whole bunch in just a couple of hours.

I opted to include the additional parmesan and skip the feta in this one – so technically it was a 3 Cheese Baked Penne in my house. But oh yum – it was delicious.

Check out the recipe here.

#4 – Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce

I always have this in the freezer. Always.

Honestly – all you need to do is cook up a batch of pasta, reheat this sauce (no need to even defrost this) – and dinner is served.

I make a large batch, and divide up into sandwich size snap lock bags. I lay these flat in the freezer until they are frozen, and then I can stand them upright – kinda like a “library of sauces”.

Definitely give this one a go.

#5 – Burgers

Now this is not technically a meal – more a prep technique. But still – it is a time saver. And you can make a whole lot in bulk – and they’ll last months in the freezer.

All you’ll need to do is have some buns, and some salad items ready – and you can have a burger made for dinner in no time at all.

Check out the method here.

 

Get cracking this weekend – and you can have dinner for next week sorted. These 5 freezer meals to make this weekend will see you stock your freezer in no time.

What other recipes do you like to make as a freezer meal? Tell us in the comments below.

Get Dinner on the Table: 5 Things To Do Before You Start Dinner

How to get dinner on the table can be one of the most stressful times of your day. This is especially true when you have a toddler pulling at your legs, or teenagers arguing as they try to avoid their homework, or a partner coming home late from work, or – well, any of the other myriad of things that can go wrong during the dreaded dinner hour. Today – I’m sharing 5 Things to Do Before You Start Dinner. These will put you in the best possible position to get started and help you get dinner on the table. Once done, you can start preparing dinner with a clear mind, clear space and without distraction. Come on – let me show you.

The Empowered Cook shares 5 things to do BEFORE you start dinner that will help you get dinner on the table for your family.

#1 – Make Space

I don’t know about you, by in my home, my kitchen is the centre of our home. We congregate there – we dump our lunchboxes on the bench, the mail goes on the counter, we have glasses and plates on the sink – you get the drift.

Before I even start to contemplate dinner – I need to clear this away. I need space to prepare a meal. And I can’t do that amongst lunchboxes and dirty dishes.

Ideally, you’ll have adopted a clear sink in the morning (we do this – and it makes the world of difference). This means that whomever is last to leave (normally me) – makes sure that everything is loaded into the dishwasher. We run our dishwasher after dinner – so that in the morning it is clean. We simply unload it while making breakfast, and then reload it after breakfast. This keeps the bench and sink clear.

If you don’t have a dishwasher, then try and do the breakfast dishes before you leave the house. Even if they are left on the sink to dry naturally – this will help at the end of the day.

Generally – the more you do in the morning, the easier your night routine will be.

Spend a few minutes putting away anything that is lying on your bench. This could be the mail you’ve just collected from the letterbox or your hat and scarf. Or toy cars. Whatever it is in your house. Put it away.

When we get home – the priority is to unpack lunchbags and wash lunchboxes. I pack lunches after dinner – so we need the lunchboxes clean and ready to go. So whomever is home first (normally my partner), will wash and dry our little one’s lunchbox. If you have older kids, this could be part of their after school routine. It was when we were little – we would come home, unpack our bags, clean our lunchboxes, have a snack and then get changed. Once homework was done, we were then free to do whatever we wanted until dinner time. This also gave Mum the room to actually make dinner. Bringing me to the next item on the list…

#2 Distract the Kids

Not having kids at your feet will not only make preparing dinner easier – it is also safer. I can still hear Mum’s voice in mine when I say: “Out of the kitchen, the oven is on”. Having kids run around in the kitchen is just not a good idea – especially when you’re trying to multi-task amongst the oven and stove and cooking a family meal.

So we need those kids outta there. If they are older, this can be the easier – simply get them doing homework – or if they are finished, give them free time. We used to have to do homework at the dining table – a social activity, but also so that Mum can answer questions or just supervise I guess.

If they are younger – try to have special activities that they only get to do during dinner hour. This could be some sort of Art and Craft activity that keeps them focused and therefore engaged and quiet for a period of time. Let’s be honest, 10 minutes of engagement is a lot for a toddler – so set them up with something, and then use this time. I’ve never known how much I can get done in 10 minutes until I had a toddler. I can whip up dinner, do some laundry, pack a lunch, and clean the kitchen – all in the 10 minutes of free time I get at the end of the day. Work fast, work hard.

#3 – Have a Plan

The value of those 10 minutes should not be eaten away with you wondering what you are going to cook, or what you’re going to do. You need a plan. You need to know what you are going to cook – BEFORE you even start dinner hour.

In our house, this is a weekly meal plan. But sometimes it is even just a conversation that morning as to what we’ll eat for dinner. And on some occasions, this is even a text message conversation between my partner and I, on my way home from work. Yes, even The Empowered Cook has those days.

But we rarely commence the dinner hour without already having decided on what we’ll be eating. That is just a disaster waiting to happen.

My Mum’s motto – and therefore now mine – was ‘If there’s going to be panic, let it be organised”. This is certainly true for the dinner hour. You need a plan, and you’ll be able to tackle whatever comes your way.

The added benefit of a plan is that you and your partner can also tag team. If we both know the plan – we can sub in and sub out as needed. My toddler will sometimes just want me – which means I need to stop and get out of the kitchen. At this point, my partner will sub in – and take over dinner duty. This works best if he knows what we’re having, and where I’m at with cooking it. If I’m making something that he has no idea about – you can bet your bottom dollar that that will be the night that my toddler will simply demand Mama time, and therefore dinner will be failure.

#4 Set the Table

Having a set table is important to me. I find that we eat better, and have a more enjoyable dinner if we sit at the table as a family. And it is a lesson that I want my little one to learn – that we eat dinner as a family at a table with placemats and napkins. It is something that we did as kids – and I am thankful for that. All the best conversations were over dinner – including when we were teenagers, and didn’t really want to talk to anyone – let alone our family. But dinner let us do that.

You can choose to set the table for dinner way earlier in the day too. Just set it whenever you have a spare 5 or 10 minutes. That way, it’s done – and you can concentrate on cooking dinner.

Or even better – allocate this to one of the kids. Being able to set the table is a critical development activity: knowing where to put knives and forks is a big step for a little one. The sooner they start doing this chore, the faster they’ll learn.

#5 – Put a Pinny On

Wearing an apron is synonymous with being in the kitchen. It is certainly critical for me when making dinner. It is the thing that triggers that cooking is about to begin, that dinner is going to be made. Even my toddler knows that when I wear my apron, something “yummy” is coming. He will even wear his apron if he wants to help me in the kitchen.

An apron is also just a really helpful kitchen tool. It protects your clothes, you can use it to wipe your hands, clean spills, etc. My sister even made me an apron with a tea-towel attached to the front – so useful! I have been grateful many a time when making a good bolognese sauce, and having it splatter my apron instead of my white shirt. Trust me – you need an apron.

 

And that’s it. These 5 things to do before you start dinner will help you actually get dinner on the table for your family. Give them a go.

Recipe: Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

This recipe for Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta came from a ‘challenge’ week in our house.

When we returned to work following our Christmas break, I had stocked the freezer to the brim with dinners, lunches and snacks.

This was more helpful than I ever thought it could be – and I doubt we would have eaten as well had I not done this. With both of us working outside the home for 3 days a week – dinner is almost impossible, unless it’s a simple heat and serve.

After the last few months though, that freezer supply is dwindling. We’re starting to see the bottom of the freezer again.

We need to restock. But before we do that – we need to eat the last of everything.

The Challenge

Eat from the pantry and freezer – without buying anything new.

It wasn’t as hard as you might expect. We were able to eat the last of a few frozen dinners, as well as knock together some quick and easy meals using whatever ingredients we had on hand.

The Recipe

This Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta is one of those meals. I literally had: a packet of pasta, a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, and some chicken breast. Voila – this dish was born. It was delicious. And it will be on our meal plan again soon!

The Empowered Cook shares an easy, fast recipe for chicken and sun-dried tomato pasta. A delicious weeknight dinner recipe the whole family will love.

Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic diced
  • 500 grams chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes optional
  • 1 jar sun-dried tomatoes chopped
  • 375 grams pasta
  • 1 head broccoli chopped
Instructions
  1. Fill your pasta pot with water, and bring to a boil on the stove top.

  2. While waiting for the water to boil, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. I used a big cast iron casserole dish for this. The pan needs to fit the cooked pasta at the end of cooking - so choose something big. 

  3. Once the olive oil has heated, add the onion and cook for a few minutes.

  4. Add the garlic and chicken breast to the onion. Continue cooking until the chicken breast is just cooked. 

  5. By this time, your water should be boiling. Add your pasta and give it a good stir. 

  6. Once the chicken is cooked, add your dried oregano (and chilli flakes, if using). Give it all a good stir. 

  7. Add your sun-dried tomatoes to the chicken also. Give this a good stir. Once these have heated through, you can remove from the heat.

  8. A few minutes before your pasta has cooked, add your broccoli to the pasta water. This will cook the broccoli at the same time - and save dirtying another pot!

  9. Once cooked, drain your pasta and broccoli. Add this to your chicken pot. Give everything a good stir - you may like to add a little more olive oil to the pan at this point. Or even better - use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. This will give an even better flavour hit. 

  10. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

This recipe is also delicious the next day as a cold lunch. Simply pack up any leftovers, and refrigerate until lunch time. 

Recipe: Homemade Lasagne

I love homemade lasagne almost as much as I love spaghetti bolognese. The only separating factor is the extra steps that it takes to make lasagne. To combat this – I now make these in bulk, and freeze them. That way, the actual preparation is done on a lazy Sunday afternoon – rather than right before dinner. This Recipe for Homemade Lasagne is designed to freeze and cook later. So let’s fill your freezer and give your family some wholesome dinners to heat and serve.

The Empowered Cook shares a freezer friendly homemade lasagne recipe. It is designed to be made in bulk and frozen - saving you time in the kitchen!

A note on freezing

When making meals for the freezer, you will need to choose your storage method. I will sometimes simply use the casserole dish that I will cook it in – and then freeze it whole. Or I will line the casserole dish with a few layers of aluminium foil and then once the dish is frozen, I can lift out the dish and simply freeze it by itself. This lets me re-use my casserole dish – pretty handy when you only have one.

But for lasagne – I find the best method is to use the disposable aluminium foil trays. I just find that this works the best – they are stable so you don’t need to worry about ‘smooshing’ the lasagne as you swap trays, and they heat evenly in the oven.

You decide though – whatever works best for you.

A time-saving note

For this recipe, I use a batch of spaghetti bolognese sauce posted here. You don’t however, need to make that fresh on the day – you can pull it from the freezer and defrost it for this recipe. I will always heat the sauce if I do this. I have found (by my own research and by trial and error) that this works best. If you’re not sure about defrosting, cooking and refreezing food – perhaps do some of your own research.

Ok – let’s get down to business – the Recipe for Homemade Lasagne.

 

Homemade Lasagne
Ingredients
  • 1 batch bolognese sauce
  • 1 packet lasagne sheets dried
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cheese grated
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder optional
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder optional
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. We will start by making our bechamel (or white cheese) sauce. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, start to melt the butter. Add the flour, and with a whisk - give this a good stir. This will make your roux. You need to cook this roux for a few minutes until it smells like a yummy shortbread biscuit. This is to cook the flour.

  2. Once it smells good, you can add a few tbsp of millk while whisking. Once that has combined with your roux, add some more milk and keep whisking. Repeat this process until there is a smooth sauce created. Note: I usually get impatient and increase the amount of milk I add as I go along. I have found that as long as you start slow, you can finish fast. 

  3. Once all the milk is added, add your seasonings. I like to add garlic and onion powder - but you could simply just add salt and pepper if you like. 

  4. Now, switch your whisk to a wooden spoon. We now need the sauce to heat up and thicken. This will take a few minutes. Just keep stirring fairly regularly with your wooden spoon. 

  5. While waiting for the sauce to thicken, let’s heat up the bolognese sauce. Pop this on the stove on a low heat, stirring occasionally.

  6. When the bechamel sauce is to your desired thickness - remember this is going into the lasagne, so it doesn’t need to be perfect! - you can add half the grated cheese and stir this through the sauce. 

  7. Next - we get to assemble the lasagne. In your chosen dishes - casserole or aluminium foil tray - place a couple of spoons of sauce in the bottom and spread this around to cover the base. This doesn’t need to be too much - it’s just enough to help moisten and cook the bottom lasagne sheets.

  8. Now place your first layer of lasagne sheets. I sometimes break mine up a bit if they don’t fit perfectly - but they don’t need to completely cover the dish. Just do your best. 

  9. Next - another layer of sauce (a bit more than the first layer) - followed by a good drizzle of the bechamel.

  10. Repeat this a few times - lasagne sheets, bolognese, bechamel - until you get a few centimetres from the top of the dish. You want to finish your layering with lasagne sheets. 

  11. Onto the last lasagne sheets, cover these a good layer of bechamel. Sprinkle this with the rest of the grated cheese.

  12. You’re done! Flash freeze these dishes (i.e. freeze for about an hour or two - until they are solid) - and then wrap them really well. Remember to label them too - including how to defrost and heat - and then place in the freezer. 

  13. To cook: defrost your lasagne, and then heat at 180 degrees celsius for 45-55mins - until hot all the way through, the cheese has melted and the top is golden. Serve with a green side salad. 

Weeknight Dinner Recipe: Chicken and Kale Hash

Making a yummy Weeknight Dinner Recipe that everyone will eat, and that you can cook fast, is a pretty important tool in The Empowered Cook arsenal. I have a couple of staples – and today’s recipe has become one of them. It is fast, cheap, delicious – and makes a tonne, so there is always leftovers in our house.

A hash is simply a course mix of different ingredients – finely chopped and with some spices added. It is a great way to use leftovers – but it can be a meal cooked from scratch, in it’s own right. I love hash meals, because they are generally healthy and fast – my two main objectives for a good Weeknight Dinner Recipe.

The Empowered Cook shares an easy weeknight dinner recipe that the whole family will love. It is fast, cheap and healthy - and freezer friendly!

This Weeknight Dinner Recipe is adapted from Heather at Beauty that Moves – I’ve made several changes to make this fit our tastes. Be sure to check out the original too.

We generally serve this as is – but you could very easily serve this alongside some other vegetables, and it would be delicious with a poached or fried egg on top. You could make the recipe stretch even further by serving with a few sausages. Either way, this is such a versatile Weeknight Dinner Recipe – you need to add this to your next meal plan now!

Enjoy – and make sure you tag #theempoweredcook when you make this one and share it on social media!

 

Chicken and Kale Hash
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500 grams chicken mince
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 large carrots grated
  • 4 cups kale thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. You'll need a fairly large pan to make this dish. I use a large cast iron casserole pot. Whatever you choose, pop this on medium-high heat and add the olive oil.

  2. Next, you'll need to add the chicken mince, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and onion to the pot. Chicken mince can be quite 'sticky' so you'll need to be fairly vigorous with your sauteing here. I find 'stabbing' the mince as it cooks, a good technique. Keep sauteing for about 6-8 minutes, until the onion has soften and the chicken is cooked. 

  3. Add the carrots and kale now. This will look like a lot (this is why you need the big pot!) but it will shrink down as it cooks. Saute for another few minutes, stirring frequently, until all the vegetables are tender. 

  4. Lastly, have a taste and season. I have upped the cumin and oregano from the original recipe as we like a lot of flavour - but feel free to add more if you think it still needs it. 

  5. This recipe can be frozen: simply pop it in a freezer safe container, label it and pop it in the freezer. To reheat, you'll need to thaw and then stir-fry with a few tablespoons of water in a pot on the stove top. Very easy. 

 

How to Organise your Kitchen to Help Get Dinner on the Table

Getting dinner on the table every night is a challenge. Cooking something wholesome and homemade – that the family will eat – is just hard sometimes. The Empowered Cook is all about sharing simple strategies that will help this process. Whether that be recipes, or freezer cooking tips, or meal planning inspiration – I am ultimately here to help you get dinner on the table. How to organise your kitchen is a good place to start.

The Empowered Cook shares how to organise your kitchen to help get dinner on the table. An organised kitchen will make your cooking easier and faster.

Today I’m sharing my top tips to organise your kitchen. Having an organised space to cook your meals will help you get dinner on the table. It makes everything you do more efficient – and therefore easier, and faster. It is also much more appealing to cook in a clean, clear space. Trust me.

How to organise your kitchen – here we go.

#1 – Locate Utensils Near the Stove

Keep things where you use them. Simple. I have a big pot next to my stove. In there – I keep everything that I use for the stove: wooden spoons, egg flip, spatulas, tongs. They are right there, so that when I need them – I can easily grab one. It is much easier to grab from a pot, than to rummage in a drawer to find what I need.

#2 – Use Compartments in “THAT” Drawer

Everyone has one. A mess of a drawer. Where things fall out when you open it. Where all the lost items in your house go to die.

I have found that I can deal with “THAT” drawer by popping in some small containers – to create compartments. This has meant that I can divide the mess. And by dividing the mess, it is actually easier to make less of a mess. Give it a go.

#3 – Declutter, Declutter, Declutter

Do you really need an egg slicer? How often do you really slice eggs? I mean, really?

Go through you drawers and remove everything you haven’t used in the last few months. Donate it, throw it out – whatever works. But just remove it from your kitchen – and your life.

You will be surprised by how much you can actually toss. And you will be surprised how your ingenuity will come into play. Like when you next need to slice eggs (maybe just use a knife!).

#4 – Embrace and Be Ready for Leftovers

Store your leftover containers close to where you clean up after dinner. Always have a good supply, ready to go. A couple of years ago, I invested in some glass containers for single serve meals for the freezer. Best thing I’ve bought in a long time. I bought 12 – they are 3 cup in size and Pyrex brand – this is not a sponsored post. I just really love them. They are the perfect size for single serve leftovers. And for my family of 2 adults and a toddler – they also hold the perfect amount of a casserole or similar. I bought mine here – but google and see if you can find a good deal.

#5 – Have Blank Labels and a Pen in the Kitchen

Following on from embracing those leftovers, you need to be able to accurately record what is in those containers. Or else, you’ll likely stumble across a frozen block of something brown in a few months time and have no recollection.

I use the small white labels that you can buy pretty much anywhere. They are cheap and easy to use – and will easily wash off.

But you can just as easily use a roll of masking tape.

Just make sure you use a permanent marker – so it doesn’t wash off.

#6 – 3 Step Rule

This is probably one for those of us who have the option to reorganise our kitchen layout. If you don’t, feel free to skip to the next tip!

When organising the layout of your kitchen – follow the 3 step rule. One step from fridge to sink to stove. This is the best way to use the space. It makes cooking and cleaning far more efficient. You’ll find the best kitchens follow this principal in some way – pay attention next time you see a kitchen you love.

#7  Herbs, Spices, Oils – store near the stove.

I keep these all close to the stove. This is where I use them – so it makes sense that they are close by. Just like tip #1 – keep them where you use them.

#8 – Make Cleaning Easy

Store all your cleaning supplies in easy reach. Paper towels, dish cloths, tea towels, hand towels – there should be a good supply of these. I keep all of mine under our kitchen sink. I have them in baskets mainly – so that they are kept neat and tidy. Pinterest has some great inspiration for this sort of thing.

Your main goal should be to have enough clean tea towels and dish cloths that you can use a clean one every day. At the end of the night, as part of our night time routine, I will completely wipe down the sink and the kitchen bench. I’ll then lay out some clean linens – and pop the others in the wash. This is a really nice way to wake up the morning.

#9 – Pot Holders Ready!

Where do you keep your pot holder?

Mine is on the handle of the stove. And I have a couple of other ones in the cupboard with the saucepans. They are close by – and easy to grab quickly. Safety first!

#10 – Put a Pinnie On!

Always have an apron ready. I own a number of aprons – and I always wear one. On the rare occasion that I don’t – I will bet my bottom dollar that I will somehow splatter something on my clothes. My little one even has his own apron – and he will put it on before helping me with dinner. Teaching the next generation, I am.

What tip are you going to try first? Tell me below!

 

The Empowered Cook Meal Plan – Week Starting 5th March 2017

How are we already in March?! This year has already taken 2 months – and it hardly even feels like. Yet – here we are. Ready for another week and another weekly meal plan.

The Empowered Cook shares her family's weekly meal plan. What are you eating this week?

We had the yummiest dinner last night – I did a version of Jamie Oliver’s 7 veg pasta sauce. It made such a huge batch. There are 5 more servings in the freezer now.

This sauce is great – not only because it has such a great load of vegies included, but because they are hidden. My little one has just started to say “no” to certain foods – and I’m keen to make sure that he still gets a lot of vegetables in his diet. I already know that he loves tomato based sauces – so this was a no-brainer. And much to my delight – he loved it. Definitely a regular in our house now. You can find a version of the recipe here.

We have a couple of freezer meals making an appearance on our weekly meal plan again – burritos, chicken and kale hash. These are towards the end of the week – when making dinner from scratch becomes harder.

Our Saturday night theme of Mexican has been a little hit and miss. But I am hoping we can get this back on track this week. What should we cook? What’s your favourite Mexican meal?

 

The Empowered Cook Meal Plan – Week Starting 26th February 2017

We are back from a weekend away and with minimal fresh groceries in the house, our weekly meal plan has been a challenge this week. But – because we love our freezer and have it stocked really well, we can still pull together a week’s worth of meals from our stockpile.

What’s on your weekly meal plan this week? Share in the comments below – let’s compare and see what we’re all eating at our dinner tables this week.

The Empowered Cook shares her family's weekly plan. What are you eating this week?

You’ll also notice a few double-ups of the meals over the last few weeks. For example, Chicken and Greens has appeared a couple of times now. This is a meal that I made in bulk a few weeks ago and it was incredibly delicious but made such a mammoth amount, that we have loads in the freezer. It is basically chicken mince stir fried with a bunch of different greens. Our toddler also loves it – so it is a bonus!

As we’ve been loving our freezer fairly regularly lately – I do need to restock. So this coming weekend, I will need to do some cooking. I’ll start with the basics like this bolognese recipe – and maybe add in a curry recipe. I have had a curry craving for the last week or so. We also need some more childcare lunch ideas for our toddler, as well as some snacks for work. A few baking items will be needed!

I hope the week ahead is a good one for you. Please share your family meal plan in the comments below – I’d love to hear what you’re eating this week.

The Empowered Cook Meal Plan – Week Starting 12th February 2017

Welcome to another week!

This week, our meal plan is opting for lots of greens again – with the main coming from the freezer, but served alongside a big pile of leafy greens and vegies.

We’re almost back to full health. Almost. There have been a lot of green leafy vegies and fresh fruit in the last week. Plus a good probiotic for all of us – and some immune tablets. I am determined to get us back to full health, and keep us that way!

I’ve also been researching other ways to boost immunity – so I am going to try some elderberry syrup. I’ve bought some dried elderberries and will try this recipe from Live Simply. Have you tried this at all? It looks easy – and so we’ll give it a go. I’ll report back on how we go!

But now – on to this week’s meal plan.

The Empowered Cook shares her family's weekly plan. What are you eating this week?

A note on Food Prep

To help out this week, my food prep over the weekend consisted mainly of salad items. In the fridge I have:

  • Homemade Potato Salad
  • washed and cut cos lettuce
  • grated carrot
  • grated zucchini
  • feta cheese
  • chopped cucumber
  • sliced capsicum

Having all of these items individually prepared, means that I can simple ‘assemble dinner’. I can quickly cook the main protein – so schnitzel or lamb cutlets – and then just add on all the salad components. It makes dinner super easy – but also super healthy. Simple, clean and delicious.

Enjoy the week ahead.

I hope you have a meal plan stuck on your fridge like me? What are you cooking this week?