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!

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

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
(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
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?!

Finger Food Lunches for Busy Moms

Finger Food Lunch - having a snack lunch is a quick and easy homeschool meal! | RaisingArrows.net

Once a week for many years, we’ve had what we call an Amish Lunch or Finger Food Lunch.  This meal, which consists of, you guessed it – finger foods – was a concept we were first introduced to while reading The Amish Cook syndicated column in a local newspaper.  The Amish Cook would talk about her daily activities as well as the meals they were having, and often, one of those meals was this very simple, yet delicious finger food concept – thus, the reason we have always called it an “Amish Lunch”.  This type of meal always sounded so yummy and easy, so I began to brainstorm how we could incorporate it into our homeschool lunch menu.

Lunch for the Busy Homeschool Mom

Homeschool moms have a lot on their hands – especially around lunch time.  It is VERY difficult to break away from studies and make time to eat, let alone make time to cook.  Most homeschool moms I know choose to make very easy lunch meals or use up leftovers.  The Amish concept of a finger food lunch fits in perfectly with these!

Finger Food Lunch - a quick and easy way to serve lunch in a busy homeschooling household! | RaisingArrows.net

While you can certainly plan to buy specific foods to have for your Finger Food Lunch, you can also simply use up foods in your refrigerator and pantry that meet the finger food criteria.  Serve them on plates and platters and let everyone dig in.  You could even get fancy and give them toothpicks to choose their foods – but then again, toothpicks might end up being used as swords…or is that just my household?

Ideas for Finger Food Lunches

Meats – deli, summer sausage, hamburger patties, pepperonis, Canadian bacon, etc.

Cheeses – cheese wedges, string cheese, cheese slices or cubes, etc.

Cut Veggies – carrots, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, jicama, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.

Fruits – grapes, apples, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, blueberries, bananas, etc.

Dried fruit

Pickled foods – beets, olives, onions, cucumbers, you might even want to try my pickled green beans!


Jelly/Jam/Fruit Butters


Dips – this Autumn, try my Caramel Apple Dip!

Nuts – at Christmas time, we like to have Sugar-Coasted Roasted Nuts - YUM!

Breads – see my Large Family Recipes page for some of our favorite bread recipes!

Drinks – water is easy, but we like to do homemade lemonade because I have a daughter who really enjoys making it for the family!


Megan’s Famous Homemade Lemonade

2 cups of sugar (or comparable sweetener)
2 cups of lemon juice
1 gallon of water

Mix all ingredients well in a gallon pitcher.  Watch it disappear!

I have a friend who calls this type of meal Snack Lunch; however, one complaint she has about it is that it does not seem to stick with her kids, and they are soon hungry again.  I have a couple of suggestions to remedy this:

1.  Be sure you have put enough food and enough caloric density on the platter.  You may want to add popcorn, denser breads, and plenty of meat and cheese to your platter.  Maybe you have a great roasted garbanzo bean recipe or you’ve made some savory oyster crackers – throw those in the mix!

2.  Have your Finger Food Lunch on a day when you are able to have a heavier snack or an early dinner.  Finger Foods may not be a good choice if you are going to be out all day shopping with the kids.  It all depends on #1.  If you can’t pull together a more caloric dense lunch, then save those lunches for days when you are home and snack time will be some homemade yummy or when dinner time will be early.

So, what would you put on your Finger Food Lunch platter?