Making Lunch Easy

It only took me 12 years of homeschooling and 9 kids to figure out how to make lunch easy.

Gah!  Why did I wait so long?

I finally figured out how to make lunch easy! | RaisingArrows.net

To be completely honest with you, what finally forced me to simplify our lunches was this new job/new house/new baby thing that all took place right around the holidays.  We did just about every major life change all in a matter of 6 weeks!  Go big or go home!

I was really struggling after Aspen’s birth (that’s another post) and needed to make life as simple as I could until I was back on my feet and fully present.  I made a list of all the things that were causing me stress, and one weekend I took some time away to pray and work through as many things on that list as I could.

Lunch was on that list, and the solution came in the form of 3 S’s:

Soup ~ Salad ~ Sandwiches

Make Lunch Easy with the 3's - Soup, Salad, Sandwiches | RaisingArrows.net

Soup

Last week, I told you about our Kitchen Sink Soup.  This is our go-to soup.  We make it a couple of times a week to finish off any random leftovers in the refrigerator.  I don’t really plan any soups besides this one.  When I originally made the 3S Plan, I was going to add in some “original” soups as well, but implementing that proved to be more work than I cared to do.

I try to keep a loaf of bread on hand to go with our soup.  I prefer it to be homemade, but will often grab some sort of specialty loaf from Aldi just in case I don’t get around to making something.  Sourdough or French bread are favorites here, as well as our homemade whole wheat buns.

Salad

Before I had Aspen, I ate salad almost every day for lunch, but rarely had the kids eat it.  Now, if I’m eating it, so are they!  The two salads we make most often are Taco Salad and Chicken Fajita Salad.  For the Fajita Salad, I buy chicken fajita strips at Aldi in the freezer case, warm them up and throw them in with salad greens and cheese.  Corn chips add filler to both of these salads.

Sandwiches

Because I need things to be as simple as possible, I purchase a couple of loaves of bread a week and keep sliced cheese and deli meat, peanut butter and jelly on hand at all times (although, I’ve never eaten a peanut butter & jelly sandwich myself, most of my kids like it).  If we have homemade bread, great, but if not, I know we can still throw together sandwiches with the store-bought loaves.  We will have the occasional deviation from these two types of sandwiches with something like my son’s fried egg sandwiches or my daughter’s grilled cheese or bagel sandwiches, but that is fairly rare.

This plan makes shopping for lunches super simple too!  My weekly list will always have these things on it:

Chicken broth
Shredded Cheese
Salad greens
Fajita Chicken
Chili Beans
Corn Chips
Peanut Butter
Jelly
Deli Meat & Cheese
Bread

I keep us stocked with those items so I always have what I need to make lunch easy!

**Huge sigh of relief!**

How have you simplified lunch at your house?  Or maybe you’ve learned to simplify another meal.  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Easy Homeschool Lunch – Kitchen Sink Soup

Some of you are going to laugh.  Some of you are going to wonder if I’ve lost my mind.  Kitchen Sink Soup?  That does not sound delicious…

Kitchen Sink Soup - because it includes everything BUT the kitchen sink! This is a grab and go lunch - video included!  (and yes, I should have named it something else, but this is what we call it - weird as it is!) | RaisingArrows.net

I seriously thought I ought to call this soup something else.  Something more…um…appealing?  But, for some reason this is what we started calling this pull-everything-out-of-the-refrigerator-and-stick-it-in-a-pot concoction, and well, if I were to name it anything else, I wouldn’t be true to the weirdness that is our family.  (Please tell me you have weird names for stuff too!)

The whole idea for Kitchen Sink Soup came about as a result of my needing to revamp homeschool lunches into something SUPER EASY.  Next week, I plan to share the full plan with you, but suffice it to say it has been a lifesaver!

So, what is Kitchen Sink Soup?  It’s everything but the kitchen sink!

Come on in to my kitchen and see what I mean…
(not seeing the video?  Click HERE!)

Kitchen Sink Soup is basically a soup made from your leftovers with a few add-ins to make it extra yummy!  Have a little leftover hamburger?  Throw it in there!  Have a few leftover veggies?  Throw them in there!  Have a can of beans or black olives?  Throw those in there too!  Add some broth or milk, some spices and cheese and you have a nutritious homeschool lunch that can simmer on the stove while you teach your little ones.

We have Kitchen Sink Soup a couple times a week to finish off any leftovers we’ve become tired of eating on.  I get quite a sense of satisfaction knowing I’m not throwing out leftovers, but reinventing them into something different and yummy!

In the video above, you’ll see how I make the soup, plus a short list of some add-in ideas.  You’ll also see me without makeup and my hair pulled up in my usual “mom-has-work-to-do hairdo.”  Try throwing together your own Kitchen Sink Soup – actually, why don’t you call it something else so no one will look at you funny the way they do when I tell them what we had for lunch – then, come back here and tell me what you put in it, as I’d love to have some new ideas for my soup!

***Read more about my easy lunch plan!***

Cookie Dough Dip {Trim Healthy Mama Makeover Recipe}

Trim Healthy Mama Cookie Dough Dip (Recipe Makeover) | RaisingArrows.netWhen I first started doing Trim Heathy Mama, I stuck to the basics.  I’m not a foodie, so experimenting with recipes is not my forte.  However, as I’ve gotten more confident in building and changing recipes, one of my favorite things to do is THMify favorite recipes.  This is one of those recipes.

 

About a year ago, I came across an amazing Cookie Dough Dip recipe from Add A Pinch. It is decadent, let me tell you!  The kids were asking me to make it again, but I knew it was going to be an instant sugar overload, so I decided to experiment and see what I could come up with that would taste just as wonderful, but not send my blood sugar through the roof.

This is the result of that experiment…

I first set out ingredients for a double batch of the Add a Pinch recipe because I have a large family and knew I wanted to have enough extra to make some of it by the recipe and some of it THM’d for me.

Once I had the butter and cream cheese creamed, I took out 1 cup of the mixture and set it aside as “mine”.  (You could definitely use a lower fat cream cheese to help cut down on calories.)

Trim Healthy Mama Cookie Dough Dip Recipe Makeover | RaisingArrows.net

From there, I continued on with the original recipe for the kids.

Cookie Dough Dip (a Trim Healthy Mama Makeover Recipe - S) | RaisingArrows.netWhile they dipped their ooey-gooey goodness up with graham crackers, I started throwing together my version.

To the 1 cup of butter/cream cheese mixture, I added 1/4 tsp caramel extract and 1 Tbsp Trim Healthy Mama Sweet Blend.  (If you don’t have the Sweet Blend, take a look at this conversion chart and find an alternative sweetener you do have.)

Lastly, I stirred in 1 oz of chopped unsweetened baker’s chocolate.  It’s what I had on hand, but you could use any plan approved chocolate, including skinny chocolate!

Trim Healthy Mama Cookie Dough Dip (S) | RaisingArrows.net

The result was so YUMMY!  I chose to simply use my spoon and savor tiny bits of this dip at a time – no carby graham crackers needed!  However, you could use this recipe for low-carb cinnamon dippers to be your vehicle for getting this tasty treat to your mouth.

You can do what I did above and make some for you and some for the rest of the family by taking out a portion for yourself and THMifying it, or you can use the recipe below and share the sugar-free goodness!  The recipe below will make plenty to go around!

Trim Healthy Mama Cookie Dough Dip (Recipe Makeover) | RaisingArrows.net

Trim Healthy Mama Cookie Dough Dip

Cream together:
2 – 8 oz cream cheese
1 c. butter

Add:
3/4 tsp caramel extract
3 TBSP Trim Healthy Mama Sweet Blend
(or other sweetener of your choice)

Stir in:
3 oz of plan-approved chocolate, chopped

Enjoy!  Share!  Save some for later!

Bacon Gravy {A Trim Healthy Mama S Alternative to Biscuits and Gravy}

I’m going to be completely honest with you.  Any “diet”, Trim Healthy Mama included, loses it’s luster pretty quickly if you have to make separate meals all the time. {affiliate link} That’s why I try very hard to make the THM meals and snacks I serve just as appealing to rest of my family as they are to me.  Sometimes this means no changes at all because the food is great just the way it is (S meals tend to be a favorite here).  Sometimes it means I tweak my portion with a bread that is “on plan”.  Sometimes this means changing just a few ingredients to get it in line with THM.  Whatever I do, it had better be yummy!

Bacon Gravy - a Trim Healthy Mama biscuits & gravy alternative the entire family will love! | RaisingArrows.net

How about some Trim Healthy Mama Biscuits and Gravy?

Biscuits and Gravy probably seem pretty untouchable in the Trim Healthy Mama world.  Flour, milk, fluffy biscuits – its a blood sugar nightmare waiting to happen.  But, this S version will keep you from feeling yucky or left out of all the fun!  Plus, it is a family favorite that is sure to please EVERYONE!

You have a couple of choices when it comes to the bacon – real bacon or turkey bacon.  Both will work, so the choice is yours and needs to be based on preferences and pounds you need to lose.

You’ll also need to decide what bread to pair this with (that is, if you want bread at all!).  I tend to make regular biscuits for my family and eat mine plain, but all you need to do is pair this gravy with a S bread and you’re golden!  Perhaps the Country Biscuits recipe on page 267 or the Basic Sandwich Buns on page 269?  You could even smother some eggs with this lovely gravy!

I will also tell you this stuff is RICH – eat s…l..o…w…l…y!  You will fill up – especially if you’re choosing the regular bacon option (Heavy S).  Take your time, mama!

Bacon Gravy - a Trim Healthy Mama Alternative to Biscuits & Gravy | RaisingArrows.net

One last notation:  I’m a large family mom; therefore, this recipe is going to reflect that (and will end up on my Large Family Recipes page).  Half as needed. 😉

Bacon Gravy
2 pounds bacon (pork or turkey), chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 pint heavy cream
2 tsp. ground black pepper

Fry bacon until crisp.  Remove bacon to a plate and drain off the excess grease, leaving about 1 Tbsp in the pan.  Add onions and saute until onions are tender.  Add the bacon back in and pour in the cream and add black pepper.  Bring the gravy to a boil and then turn the heat to low and stir like crazy!  Cook (and stir) until the sauce thickens.

Serve alone, over biscuits, toast, or eggs.  To keep this in line with a Trim Healthy Mama S meal, serve over eggs or a plan-approved bread.

How I Flagged My Trim Healthy Mama Book

How I Flagged my Trim Healthy Mama Book | RaisingArrows.net

Note:  Since writing this post last September, I have added a few more flags.  Specifically, they are S Foods, E Foods, S Helper Info, Crossover Info, and Eating Out.  You’ll find the exact pages I flagged in the post below.

Not long after I purchased my copy of Trim Healthy Mama {affiliate link} a friend of mine who was also “on plan” came over to visit and shared with me how she had flagged her book.  She had used Gwen’s instructions on flagging, but she didn’t have quite enough flags for my taste, so I added several more flags and separated my categories in a way that fit my style so I could find exactly what I needed quickly.

How to Flag Your Trim Healthy Mama Book | RaisingArrows.net

Today, I’m going to share with you my flagging system, along with page numbers for each flag just in case we have the same “style.” :)

First of all, you need to get a set of these flags:

See the clear adhesive?  That’s what you want so you can stick it to your book and still read the recipes through it.

You’ll also need a pen.  It doesn’t matter what kind of pen, just be sure it is something with a fine tip so you’ll be able to fit everything you want to write on the flag.

OK, let’s go…

How to Flag Your Trim Healthy Mama Book | RaisingArrows.net

I first flagged the specific S, E, and FP sections:

S – page 65
E – page 77
FP – page 103

As Gwen mentions, you will want to flag these pages with each flag a bit further down on the page than the last flag.  For the main S, E, and FP sections, I separated them quite a bit.  For the other sections, I did not separate them out as far.

Next, I flagged the Breakfast Section.  Again, as Gwen suggests, I used the same color scheme for each section of the book I wanted to flag.  So, starting at the top of page 215, I flagged the Breakfast Section in hot pink like this:

Breakfast Eggs – page 215
Breakfast Grains – page 221
Smoothies – page 241
Greek Yogurt – page 251

The next section I flagged was Breads, and I did it in yellow.

Muffins – page 257
Breads – page 265
Pizza – page 275

Then, I did Lunch.

Lunch Salmon – page 283
Lunch Soup – page 289
Lunch Sandwiches – page 297
Lunch Salad – page 301
Lunch Miscellaneous – page 307

Next, was Supper (or Dinner – depending on where you’re from, my friend).

Supper Crock Pot – page 309
Supper Oven – page 317
Supper Stove Top – page 329
Supper Skillet – page 339
Supper Mexican – page 347
Supper Pasta – page 349

Then, I marked:

Dessert – page 367
Snacks – page 391
Dips – page 403
Quick Snacks – page 407
Sauces & Such – page 411
Cultures – page 415

And finally, I finished off by flagging the Fuel Cycle pages and later some extra sections I felt would be good to reference (see note at beginning of post).

S Foods (ready reference for building S meals) – page 73
E Foods
(ready reference for building E meals) – page 87
S Helper
(because someday I will be there!) – page 91
Crossover
(again, because someday I will be there!) – page 95
Eating Out
(something our family enjoys doing) – page 137
Fuel Cycle – page 429

I also have a huge paper clip holding pages 497 – 542 shut as suggested by Serene and Pearl.  I have kids who will read anything they can find, and those pages are for Mommy & Daddy’s eyes only. 😉

 

In a later post, I’ll share with you another way I keep my in-book THM recipes at-the-ready, but hopefully, this gives you a jumping off point if you haven’t already flagged your book!

Is your Trim Healthy Mama book flagged?  What are some other ways you keep the recipes easily accessible?

Click the link to read more about some of my favorite Trim Healthy Mama Tweaks!

Oven Pancake Dutch Baby

Quick & Easy Breakfast Idea - Dutch Baby (aka Oven Pancake) | RaisingArrows.net

Some mornings I’m too tired to think about breakfast.  OK, truth be told MOST mornings I’m too tired to think about breakfast.  A lot of times everyone gets breakfast on their own, but when we have a little more leisure time (like on weekends), I like to make something we can all sit down to that warms little tummies.  However, even then, I really don’t want to have to think very hard about what I’m making.

Enter Dutch Babies or Oven Pancakes!

Quick & Easy Breakfast - Dutch Babies (aka Oven Pancakes) | RaisingArrows.net

I was first introduced to Dutch Babies by another large family.  I had never even heard of them.  Imagine my surprise when I poured the eggy mixture into a casserole dish and out of the oven popped a crazy yummy breakfast that nearly jumps out of the pan!

Top them with just about anything you can think of (we like maple syrup or powdered sugar or fruit).  They are wonderful served up with a side of fruit or some bacon.  And cold leftovers are tasty too!

Here’s the recipe:

Easy Breakfast - Oven Pancake (aka Dutch Babies) | RaisingArrows.net

Dutch Babies
aka
Oven Pancake

8 eggs
2 c. milk
2 c. flour
1/2 c. butter

Preheat oven to 400º.  Put 1/4 c. of butter into each of two 9×13″ casserole dishes.  Put the pans into the oven to melt the butter as the oven preheats.

Mix together eggs, milk, and flour in a medium mixing bowl.

Once butter is melted, pull the pans out of the oven and tip pans to allow butter to coat the entire surface.

Pour 1/2 of the egg mixture into each of the pans and bake 15-20 minutes.  Mixture will brown and puff up as it bakes.  Cut the oven pancake into squares.  Serve with maple syrup, powdered sugar, or fruit.

Now wasn’t that easy?!