Baby 3: First Trimester Recap

Well summertime is just around the corner…and so is my third trimester! Now that I’m nearly into the third trimester I figured I should write about my first trimester before I completely forget it all.

Going back to the end of 2021, I suspected I was pregnant when, on Christmas Eve, I gagged while trying to eat peanut butter toast. A perfectly normal breakfast for us, one that I usually enjoy, just didn’t sound appealing and I couldn’t even finish one little piece of toast. The next day, Christmas Day, we were leaving my parents’ house and I was either carrying gifts or a child, but whatever it was had me extremely winded… also odd. When my cycle was one day late on December 27th I took a test which immediately popped up positive. I thought I was only four weeks along and was shocked at both the extremely early symptoms and the dark pink positive line, but we found out a few weeks later at the midwife that I was a week further along than I thought. So there you go; the early story of Baby 3!

Symptoms and What I Ate

Even though I gagged easily in the first trimester (like eating the toast on Christmas Eve, also every time I brushed my teeth or changed a diaper…) I never actually threw up, and I didn’t even feel that nauseous. I didn’t feel great in regards to my stomach, but it wasn’t terrible, and I was able to stay feeling well thanks to lemon lime Sparkling Ice waters, the lime flavored Outshine popsicles, under-ripe bananas, and oddly enough, uncured salami haha! Other things I ate often in the first trimester were: California sushi rolls, bean burritos (super unusual for me), and avocado toast. I could not stand peanut butter, eggs, and even chocolate was iffy for me! I also started quickly on my prenatal vitamins – I took these vitamins while pregnant with and while nursing Selah so I just immediately ordered them again. This was my first time having my first trimester be in the winter so maybe the colder weather helped me feel better, maybe it’s because it’s my third, or maybe it’s because it’s a boy. Whatever it was, I was thankful that I made it through the whole first trimester without being sick. (Other than when I caught a stomach bug from my girls.)

Now, nausea may have been no biggie, but the exhaustion was (and sometimes still is) so tough! I also got covid at 6 weeks pregnant which wore me out, though thankfully nothing too severe, and that + pregnancy had me falling asleep on the couch as soon as the girls went to bed. I struggled to wake up in the mornings, I felt like I couldn’t make it through the day without a nap, so most days I would try and sneak in a power nap when possible. And as has been the case with all my pregnancies so far, coffee just wasn’t it. I could usually handle a cup in the morning, but later in the day it was too revolting to think about a second cup. Sleep was the only thing that could cure what ailed me.

Exercise

As I wrote in a recent post about body image, my exercise routine has remained largely the same for the past year and a half. I get in five super short morning workouts a week and walk about three times a week. This has felt both enjoyable and sustainable for me and I plan on keeping this up! I did take some breaks at the beginning of pregnancy, though, due to exhaustion, then covid, then a stomach bug a month or so later. But on those days that I didn’t feel I could do squats, or bicep curls, or get out for a walk, I would just do some nice gentle stretching. This way I could still get some movement in – this is something that has only recently become important to me – and that movement felt good for me. When I was six weeks pregnant, dealing with backaches and headaches thanks to Omicron and I was exhausted and queasy due to the teeny life in my womb, the last thing I would want to do would be squat jumps! Some gentle stretching is sometimes all you can muster, and as one of my midwives said to me during my last pregnancy, any movement is better than no movement.

Thankfully now that I’m 25 weeks my energy level is much better! I do still take power naps when I can (just woke up from one before typing this blog hehe), but exercise is much easier to accomplish now. This morning, for example, I did a quick 10 minute workout of skater jumps, squat jumps, then grabbed my dumbbells for wall sit with bicep curls, walking lunges with chest press, tricep kick backs, and delt flies, then ended with some Spinning Babies stretches. After breakfast and getting the girls dressed I was able to get out by myself (thanks to my husband for working from home!) for a 1.5 mile walk. I got a little sweaty, but didn’t feel like my exercise was too intense, and it was very enjoyable!

If you are in your first trimester right now… rock on, mama! Find what feels right for you, whether it’s popsicles or salami, walking or stretching, and keep it up. You’re doing great! Get some rest…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

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Some Thoughts: Pre-pregnancy body, vanity, pride, and health

Hello people of WordPress! I have not blogged since Halloween… oops. November and December passed in a flurry of holidays, then on December 27th, my husband and I got a late Christmas gift of a positive pregnancy test. Yep, Baby #3 will be joining our family in about five months!

Since those fateful two pink lines I’ve been… well, exhausted. This pregnancy has been (ironically) the easiest nausea wise, but the toughest exhaustion wise. I’ve basically floated through the first 1/4 of 2022 just trying to get the daily tasks done, and consequently I’ve fallen off the blogosphere.

I’m now 17 weeks pregnant and starting to get some energy back, so hopefully I’ll be back to monthly blogging… at least for the next five months! I’ll get a first trimester recap up soon, and have a couple of kitchen hacks (not exactly recipes) coming too, but I thought I would jump back into blogging with some thoughts about body image.

17 weeks pregnant with Baby #3

It’s hard to imagine that 2021 was a whole year and some months ago, but let’s back up to there. At the start of 2021, I was still about 15 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight, and Selah (Baby #2) was almost one. But I wasn’t too worried about it; I thought with all my exercising with Fit4Mom I’d drop the weight once Selah was weaned. Well, thanks to covid, the Fit4Mom franchise I worked for lost all members and I lost that workout avenue. Shortly after that, in February, we started getting Selah involved in Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) for her gross motor delay. She was 6 months behind developmentally and needed weekly physical therapy as well as bi-weekly feeding therapy because she was unable to use a cup due to poor muscle tone. I also was taking her to twice weekly chiropractor visits, and we had frequent meetings with our ECI case manager at the beginning of services. So at that point, we had 3-4 appointments per week, I was dealing with the stress of knowing my baby has something “wrong” with her, I was juggling two children, two part-time jobs, faced with the loss of one job and a workout avenue in one, and was still nursing my almost one-year-old probably 6-8 times a day because she had no other source of hydration. It was a very stressful start of the year for me as a mom, and really for my whole family. As most people do when times get stressful, I let some things go; in my case that was working out and cooking from scratch for my family. I started buying a lot more packaged goods, and even though I tried to make “healthier” choices, there are so many added ingredients that aren’t ideal. Add that to my complete lack of exercise and my stress with Selah’s needs and I quickly gained 10 pounds. I felt terrible about myself; I was only five pounds away from the weight I was at 40 weeks pregnant!

I beat myself up mentally for a while, but then I started actually seeking the Lord about weight loss, and was convicted that I was being vain. My body is actually here on this earth to serve Him; not to be thin or even strong. Now I knew that I wasn’t taking care of myself the way I should, so I just started doing a ten minute workout every day and walking when I could. A year later this is still my current workout plan, and I feel great about it! This is something that is sustainable for me no matter how crazy life gets, and I feel wonderful starting my day off with exercise, even if it’s not “hard core”. I continually need to go to the Lord in prayer about my attitude regarding my body and my health because I can easily get swept away in sinful, vain thoughts; this vanity can be in the form of pride or self-loathing.

Once I got back down to a weight I was comfortable with and felt I could maintain I realized that I may never be back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and that’s okay because I am not the same pre-pregnancy Molly! I was able to take part in the miracle of bringing another baby into the world, and it’s okay if my body reflects that.

And now, here I am blessed with another life to carry, and Lord willing, birth safely into our family! I have already gained a healthy 7ish pounds. I am a good bit heavier than I was at this point in my pregnancy with Selah, and probably around the same weight I was with Z, and I’m still working on being okay with it, honestly. But I know it is okay! I do my ten minute workouts, I walk a few times a week, I cook frozen veggies (one of the delicious kitchen hacks coming!), and I eat grilled cheese sandwiches and dark chocolate semi-regularly! All I can do is take care of myself for the glory of the Lord, for the furtherment of His Kingdom, and as an image bearer of Him. Eyes off of me, eyes on Him.

“…Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

Easy Instant Pot Carnitas

By now, y’all probably know that I just love bargain shopping! Saving money and eating healthier? That’s a literal win-win! If you read my weekly January meal plans this year, then you know I try and spend as little as possible at the store each week. Basically, I can’t pass up a good deal and/or coupon! There was recently a buy one, get one for a penny deal for pork shoulders at the store. So you already know I got two of those pork shoulders and we ate some delicious carnitas tacos/taco salads two weeks in a row!

After my first time making this succulent pork in the Instant Pot I knew I needed to write it down to share with you. It is flavorful (but not too spicy for kids), juicy, fall apart tender, and ready in less than an hour thanks to the pressure cooking powers of the Instant Pot! My suggestions for serving as a salad are to top with habanero ranch, crumbled plantain chips, guacamole, fresh cilantro, and a hefty squeeze of lime juice. My suggestions for serving as a taco are on a fresh, warm tortilla topped with salsa, cilantro, and, again, a hefty squeeze of lime juice. I hope you can enjoy this delicious, healthy pork recipe for a Taco Tuesday real soon!

Easy Instant Pot Carnitas

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pound pork shoulder
  • 3 tsp of chili powder
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp of onion powder
  • Cayenne to taste
  • 1 and 1/4 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup of salsa
  • Juice of half a lime

Directions

  1. Season pork shoulder with all seasonings chili powder through cayenne
  2. Turn Instant Pot to sauté feature (or sauté on the stove in a pot if yours does not have this feature)
  3. Cook for two minutes on each side, until brown. Your Instant Pot might give you the “hot” signal (mine did), but it is okay – it won’t burn!
  4. Remove pork shoulder and set aside.
  5. Add chicken stock, salsa, and lime juice, scraping up brown bits.
  6. Put pork shoulder back in with the liquids, close lid and set to “pressure cook” feature.
  7. Cook for 15 minutes per pound (add 5 minutes per pound extra if your shoulder is frozen) and allow for a 20 minute natural pressure release.
  8. Shred meat and serve with desired fixings!
  9. Store leftovers covered in fridge for up to a week.

The Instant Pot is a quick and easy way to get a flavorFULL meal on the table in no time! For more Instant Pot recipes check out my Instant Pot Black Beans and my Instant Pot Mushroom Pot Roast. It took me a long time to actually utilize my Instant Pot so if you would rather use a slow cooker check out some of my slow cooker recipes like Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos or Slow Cooker Potato and Kale Soup. I hope whatever you decide to cook that you love both the process and the outcome, have a family meal…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Cookie Dough Bites

The kids are in bed, the kitchen is clean, there’s a new episode of your current dramedy on Hulu; you sit down and snuggle up on the couch and realize… you’re missing a sweet snack! If you don’t have anything readily available, baking may be your next best option, but who wants to do that when it’s already past 9, you’re exhausted, and you just want to relax? Not to mention it is summer time and the oven is only used in emergencies: AKA dinner for hungry children, not mama’s cravings.

This was the exact situation that drove me into the kitchen to whip up something quickly that I was hoping would resemble cookie dough bites. These little bites checked all the late night craving boxes: peanut buttery richness with bites of dark chocolate, enhanced by a touch of salt, and all sweetened with golden maple syrup. The cherry on top is that this took me about three minutes to make, and it was vegan and refined sugar free! With a swap of maple syrup for this monk fruit syrup, this recipe is also keto friendly, and swapping the peanut butter for unsweetened almond butter makes it paleo friendly, too. There is a simple dessert out there for everyone!

I loved these little cookie dough bites so much that I made another batch just a couple of days later, and knew that this simple recipe (if you could even call it that) was something to share here! If you’ve got a sweet tooth, but life is a Pinch of Crazy and you can’t find time to bake, I got your back! Read on for this dangerously simple recipe.

Cookie Dough Bites

  • Servings: 8 cookie dough bites
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp of unsweetened peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp of coconut flour
  • 2 tsp of maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • Dark chocolate chips to taste (“The limit does not exist!”)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl
  2. Roll dough into bite sized balls
  3. Eat as is or refrigerate for 20-30 minutes for a firmer texture
  4. Store any leftovers (pssh) covered in fridge.

And that’s all, folks! Your late night cravings cured without breaking a sweat, and it’s just the perfect amount to share with your special someone. For some other no bake treats check out my Date Cake, Peanut Butter Cups, Cheesecake, or Fudge. Treat yourself, stay cool…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Instant Pot Mushroom Pot Roast

It is getting seriously hot out here in Dallas, Texas! We blew up the little pool and hooked the splash pad up to the sprinkler this week for some outdoor summer fun, and nice cream and no bake treats are on repeat in the kitchen lately. But what about dinner? Turning on the oven just turns our little house into an oven! We can’t have chicken salad or sandwiches every night, right? This is when the Instant Pot saves the day! Well, this and when I forget to defrost the meat, of course.

Anyways, when it’s too hot to turn the oven on, the Instant Pot or the slow cooker is a great option! I have plenty of slow cooker recipes on the blog, but this is only my second Instant Pot recipe. Like most trends, I was late to the game (literally just set up my iPhone 7… only about five generations behind), but now that I’m on the Instant Pot bandwagon, I may never get off!

Now I am a fan of all pot roasts because I’m a big red meat lover, and anything that is flavorful and cut-with-a-fork tender is alright in my book. This pot roast, though, is extra special because it is covered in mushrooms and onions, which are beautifully caramelized by the end of the cook time, and is cooked in red wine which compliments the richness of the meat so perfectly. So if you want shreddably (pretty sure it’s a word) tender pot roast that took a wine bath then got dressed in meaty mushrooms and sweet onions, keep reading for the recipe!

Instant Pot Mushroom Pot Roast

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pound chuck roast
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • One yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of sliced white or baby Bella mushrooms
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of dry red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon, but Merlot would be good, too)
  • 1/4 cup of water

Directions

  1. Turn the Instant Pot to “sauté”
  2. Add olive oil when the IP is hot
  3. Sauté onions and mushrooms for about 3 minutes, until tender, then add garlic, stirring for about 1 minute.
  4. Season the pot roast with salt, pepper, and thyme.
  5. With the IP still on “sauté” mode, push the mushroom mixture aside and sear the roast for about 2-3 minutes per side.
  6. Next pour in the wine, and allow it to cook (still on “sauté”) for about one minute.
  7. Turn off “sauté” mode, add the water, cover, and put the IP on “pressure cook” mode.
  8. Cook for 20 minutes per pound, and allow a 20 minute natural pressure release.
  9. Shred and serve covered with mushrooms and onions.

You can serve this fantastic pot roast as is, but it is delicious with mashed potatoes and carrots on the side. A classic! This recipe, although simple, really takes classic pot roast and intensifies the flavors, making it like a whole new dish; I hope you give it a try! Check out my other Instant Pot recipe here, and plenty of slow cooker recipes here, here, and here. Keep the oven off, beat the heat…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

DIY All Natural Kitchen Cleaner

Okay so I realize that spring is 2/3rds of the way over, but surely I can’t be the only one still needing to do spring cleaning? I think a really thorough deep clean would be good for my mental health; you know, the kind where you actually move the furniture to mop under it? Imagining sitting in a house that clean sounds heavenly; I would have the windows open, letting in the warm, spring-scented fresh air while relaxing with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Unfortunately the reality is the most cleaning I usually have time for is wiping down the counters and running the vacuum. All while listening to my four-year-old whine and watch my one-year-old throw her food and spill her milk on my freshly cleaned floors. *sigh/laugh combo* However, there is some good news: having a one-year-old that army crawls means that her shirt mops up all the hard to reach places for me. Joking…kinda. The truly good news is that many months ago, I started making my own all natural kitchen cleaner using vinegar, essential oils, and water. I seriously use it everywhere – even the dreaded high chair! It smells great, gets the job done well, and I don’t have to worry about if my girls accidentally drink some. They definitely wouldn’t be pleased with the flavor, but at least I don’t have to worry about it poisoning them! If you are looking for something that is great on tough messes (again…high chair), but is all natural, smells good, and is easy to make yourself, read on for the recipe!

DIY All Natural Kitchen Cleaner

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a glass spray bottle
  2. Use to clean everywhere! Cabinets, counters, appliances, table, high chair, etc.

That’s it! This is such an easy “recipe”, and like I said, I’ve been using this little cleaning concoction for months now! I even use it on wood furniture when dusting (you know, on the once a month occasion that I dust), and squirt a few sprays into my dishwasher’s pre-rinse section to help with water spots. It is really handy, cheap, and the best part is that it’s all natural. I hope this helps you feel like keeping a clean and green home is a bit easier! If you need a snack after all your cleaning, I got you covered there, too 😉 Maybe something crunchy or salty, or something for your sweet tooth. Check out some recipes while you’re here! However much you end up cleaning, or not, and whatever you snack on, I hope you have a wonderful week. Don’t sweat the small stuff, soak up the little moments with your people…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Instant Pot Black Beans

Well, it’s mid-March and the year is just running by, full speed ahead. After our wild snow storm in Texas last month, I’ve never been so relieved to see Spring. My second baby is about to turn one in a few weeks *cue the ugly crying*, spring break is here, the time change is looming, and our red bud tree in the backyard is starting to blossom. Even though I’m relieved that spring has sprung, and I’m enjoying seeing the “rebirth” of nature, I am sad that time is moving so quickly – it’s like each day slips through my fingers like sand. These days are filled with equally precious and hard moments of motherhood that I won’t get back.

Part of the reason time is moving so quickly is that we have been extra busy over here. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen that we have Selah (our baby) in physical therapy right now. She has both low and high muscle tone and is struggling with gross motor development. For the last three weeks or so we have had about 3-4 appointments a week between the chiropractor, PT, and other meetings with the therapists. However, after seeing improvement after just two PT sessions, I am encouraged that this busy season won’t last too long. But, wow! 3-4 appointments a week, on top of regular mom life, on top of two part time jobs, I just feel like I don’t have much extra time. Especially for cooking.

Enter: the Instant Pot. This little kitchen gadget has become all the rage in years past, and after receiving one for a Christmas present in 2019 I can see why! To be honest, I was a little terrified of it blowing up, and was hesitant to get started using it, but once I did, I started with beans, and I was sold! The first bean recipe I made in the Instant Pot was red beans, and even with the time it takes to get to pressure, then cook, then release (side note: I hate that Instant Pot recipes don’t account for that time – I learned quickly not to trust the “15 minutes” marking on a recipe), what would normally be an all day venture only took 90 minutes, and the beans came out the perfect creamy texture! Next I tackled black beans. We eat black beans and rice often for a cheap, plant-based meal; then I get to use the leftover black beans throughout the week to top fajitas, tacos, salads, and even scrambled eggs. So if you want to save time and money with this quick and easy dinner and/or side, keep reading for the recipe!

Instant Pot Black Beans

Ingredients

  • One medium bell pepper, chopped
  • One half of a yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 pound of
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of chili powder
  • Optional for serving: rice
  • Optional toppings: avocado, lime, cilantro, jalapenos, scallions/red onions

Directions

  1. Cover beans with water and soak for at least three hours, or up to overnight. This is optional, but I find that it helps with digestion and less “tootie booties” as we say in our house hehe!
  2. Once beans are done soaking, drain and toss remaining water.
  3. Turn on “sauté” feature and cook bell pepper and onion in olive oil until tender and beginning to brown.
  4. Turn off Instant Pot and add garlic, stirring to get the garlic warm but not toasty.
  5. Add broth and water, scraping the bottom of the pot to get up any browned bits.
  6. Add in beans and seasonings.
  7. Select “pressure cook” and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, allowing a 20 minute natural release at the end.
  8. Serve warm with rice and toppings, or as a side dish.
  9. Keep leftover beans in remaining liquid, cover and refrigerate for up to five days.

If you haven’t yet boarded the Instant Pot train, I hope you’ll check out my slow cooker recipes here, here, and here. Save some time in the kitchen…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Meal Plan Month: January Meal Plan 3

The first month of the new year is already almost coming to a close – how has 2021 just started yet is already flying by?! After the last two weeks of craziness, quarantine, and sickness, it was nice to get back to a little bit of normalcy this week. Thankfully the girls and I are all feeling well still, though I stayed home from work (I work one day a week out of the house teaching music lessons) just to ensure my students’ safety, and I taught my one Fit4Mom class virtually again this week. So we had another slow week kind of easing back into our normal schedule, but I still needed lots of quick meals because being stuck at home with two little ones can get a little Crazy!

As I have the past two weeks (read week 1 here and week 2 here) I will share any modifications necessary for the girls. One exciting thing from this week is that I have started introducing some dairy for Selah and me! This was exciting because she used to get terrible tummy pains, and, without too much detail, things were not normal with her diapers, when I would have dairy. Now, not only can I eat dairy, but she can too! I actually got a little too crazy with the grilled cheeses this week and found myself bloated and yucky feeling. Now that the initial excitement of being able to eat grilled cheese is over, I will work on scaling it back again hehe 🙂

Alright, on to the cheesy meal plan!

Doing my “kitchen inventory” this week I had:

  • Protein: Greek yogurt, almond/peanut butter, one pound of ground turkey, cheese (how am I still trying to finish up this block of cheese?!), leftover black beans, the last bit of hummus
  • Carbs: oats, rice, sweet potatoes, half a package of lasagna noodles, quinoa
  • Produce: spinach, berries, bananas, apples, leftover squash, leftover burrito veggies, frozen broccoli

Based on these few things here are the meals I planned:

Breakfasts:

Berries & Greens Smoothie
  • I made a “Tex-Mex” breakfast casserole using leftover beans and burrito veggies mixed with scrambled eggs and shredded cheese. I served it topped with avocado slices, hot sauce, and Greek yogurt.
  • Berries and Greens Smoothies *I added Collagen Peptides to these for protein*
  • Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal *I added almond butter and regular butter for some fat and protein here*

Snacks:

  • Cliff bars, Z bars
  • Fresh fruit with peanut butter
  • Cheddar bunnies
  • Seaweed snacks
  • Pouches
  • Crackers with cheese or hummus (finally finishing that up this week!)

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Sandwiches (again, with uncured ham or nitrate free turkey lunch meat)
  • For Z’s school lunch I packed half a turkey sandwich, seaweed snacks, a pouch, cucumber slices, and dark chocolate candy. For her school snack I packed a Z Bar and a clementine.

Dinner:

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
  • Monday: Grilled cheese (my first real grilled cheese in like a year!) and tomato soup
  • Tuesday: Spinach, squash, and turkey lasagna *I simply cooked a spaghetti sauce similar to last week but with turkey meat, mixed some shredded mozzarella with an egg and Italian seasonings, then layered those sauces between noodles and raw spinach and squash. Baked for about 45 minutes, covered for the first 30.*
  • Wednesday: Salmon with tzatziki sauce and a quinoa salad with broccoli, tomatoes, avocado, and a hummus based dressing *you can see this dinner on my Instagram highlights*
  • Thursday: Sushi bowls *I will be using leftover salmon shredded and mixed with mayo and sriracha, put over cooked brown rice, and top with avocado, cucumber, seaweed snacks, sesame seeds, and coconut aminos*
  • Friday: Sweet and sour meatballs with red bell pepper and mushrooms over rice *I will be using this meatball recipe, but with Asian-inspired seasoning, cover in this sweet and sour sauce, then serve over cooked brown rice and with sautéed veggies*
  • Saturday and Sunday: last week’s highlights, and we may go out to eat once 🙂

There is our full week of food! I kind of overly stocked up on snacks this week, so hopefully next week that won’t be necessary, as I will also be buying some birthday party foods next week. However, even with stocking up a little more than usual, I did not go too far over budget (I try and keep it at or below $100/week); I spent $110 this week. That may seem like a lot, but for a family of four eating three meals and two snacks a day, seven days a week, that’s really not too bad! We are all big eaters, too, so that’s even better!

According to insider.com the average fast food burger (not the sides, just the burger) cost $2.64 in 2018. I calculated buying 5 burgers for my family (again, no sides) for two meals a day every day and that came out to $184.80 for one week. So even with the “cheaper” option of fast food I would end up spending more per week and we would actually be eating less. Of course this is not even accounting for the health factor of eating home cooked food, which is invaluable, and I feel grateful to be able to serve my family in this way!

I think that covers everything for this week. Next week I’ll finally be going back to work after winter break/quarantine so I will likely have a crock pot meal in the menu sometime. Our sweet Z is turning four next week so I will also be sharing her birthday party foods, so stay tuned for the last meal plan of the month. I hope you can draw some inspiration from these easy meal plans, get in the kitchen, make some good, healthy food…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Meal Plan Month: January Meal Plan 2

Alright so we are halfway through the first month of the new year, and… wow. Things are already stressful, there is tension everywhere, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, get swept away with emotion, and drown in anxiety.

I have been going to counseling (for the third time in my life; no shame here) since March; I started going as a preventative measure before I had our second daughter, Selah, to help avoid postpartum depression/anxiety this time around. Then after the first two meetings with my new counselor, the world flipped upside down, and everything turned dark, a little scary, and a lot stressful. So on top of dealing with the stress of a new baby, I, like everyone, was dealing with the stress of current events, but my counselor advised me to really look at what I can control.

So what can I control to reduce my stress? Well, I can exercise because I know that when I move my body lovingly in a way that feels good to me (that is the key), those happy hormones will flood my brain and relieve some stress. I can make sure I don’t consume too much refined sugar, as I have found over the years that eating sugary treats will work against me by making my heart race and my stress rise. I can make sure that I feed myself and my family whole, healthy foods that will nourish us and make us feel happy and healthy (as always, with A Pinch of Crazy!), and this is really what got me through this week! Knowing that I am doing the best for my family to keep us all healthy, and make sure I’m doing what I can to reduce my stress.

On top of the upsetting news that is constantly swirling around us, this past week, my family got hit with that virus. I debated writing about this because I felt like I would get some backlash. However, at the start of the pandemic, with the professional advice from both my counselor and my midwife, we decided it would be unwise for me to self-isolate with a new baby. Due to my history with postpartum depression and anxiety, the best decision for me was to continue seeing my family, and I am so glad that I have! Both David and I have large families of origin (he has three siblings, I have four sisters, everyone’s married, and I can’t even add all the grandkids off the top of my head), so we figured eventually someone would catch the virus. It was David, my husband, but thankfully he is feeling fine now (though his smell is still slowly returning), and we finished up our quarantine yesterday.

So, yeah. All in all, a stressful start to 2021, but we had a fun snow day on Sunday, we are all healthy, and I feel thankful to control what I can. Please enjoy these happy snow day pictures to take your mind off your troubles! I hope this easy, yummy meal plan can give you some ideas for healing, healthy food for your family!

Here is what I had when taking my “kitchen inventory”:

  • Carbs- a little bit of brown rice, half a box of spaghetti noodles, a few packages of grits, oats
  • Protein- half a bag of frozen shrimp, ground beef, a little bit of Greek yogurt, nut butter, cheese, Cliff bars + Z bars, hummus
  • Produce- avocados, cucumber, apples, baby carrots, cilantro, frozen blueberries, bananas, lettuce

Starting with these few items, I made a menu for breakfasts, dinners, and snacks, then got my grocery order in. I ended up only planning for four dinners this week because my mom brought us a meal (which she just dropped on our porch while we said our masked hellos) on Tuesday since we had to miss out on my dad’s birthday dinner over the weekend.

Like I did last week (you can read last week’s plan here), I will share our meal plan with recipes and/or short directions, and any baby modifications necessary. We do baby led weaning, so while she typically eats what we do, sometimes there are modifications necessary, especially since Baby and I usually eat dairy free.

I am also trying to start implementing more of a schedule for meals and snacks with Z; otherwise she will want to eat snacks all day. I try and offer snacks that have protein and fat so that she feels fuller longer. I am always learning, and get excited to learn new things, about feeding these little ones!

Two resources that I have loved in regards to feeding my family healthy foods are Kids Eat in Color on Instagram, and the Doctor Moms Podcast (formerly known as “Whole Mamas Club”). Also from these wonderful health-minded moms, I have learned about some supplements, so while this is different from just a meal plan, I will also share the vitamins/supplements we were taking this week to get back to full health.

I hope you can find something that works for you and your family this week, take what works for you, leave what doesn’t. Enjoy!

Breakfasts:

  • Baked oatmeal again with blueberries, bananas, and almond butter
  • Greek yogurt with honey, cinnamon, granola, and berries
  • Breakfast burritos with eggs, cheese, avocado, and salsa (for our slower mornings… which were almost all of them due to quarantining)
Spicy Garlic Salsa for our breakfast burritos

Snacks:

  • Hummus again with pretzels, carrots, and cucumber slices (for Selah I spread her hummus on toast or meat)
  • Fruit pouches for Z and Selah
  • Apple or banana slices served with peanut butter
  • Hard boiled eggs (sometimes serve with mayo and/or mustard for flavor and extra fat)
  • Cliff bars or Larabars for the grownups, Z bars for Z

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Sandwiches with nitrate free turkey lunch meat or uncured ham
  • For Z’s school lunch this week (thankfully was the day after our quarantine ended!) I packed healthier vanilla wafers and strawberries for her snack, and for lunch a half a turkey sandwich, baby carrots, pretzels, and bunny fruit snacks

Dinners:

  • Monday: shrimp and grits *with cheese for those that could have it* and broccoli
  • Tuesday: meal from my mom plus any leftovers from the night before or weekend
  • Wednesday: spaghetti *I used this sauce recipe* with sautéed squash on the side
The sauce used for my spaghetti – great on noodles or veggies
  • Thursday: black beans and brown rice with avocado and cilantro on top and guacamole with plantain chips *I wish I had this recipe posted, but I cook dry beans in the instant pot (after soaking) with broth and water, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and lots of spices*
  • Friday: burritos/burrito bowls using leftover beans, rice, guac, plus sautéed bell peppers and onions, and turkey taco meat *will cook this taco meat*
Guacamole for beans and rice/burritos
  • Saturday and Sunday: last week’s highlights 🙂 AKA leftovers

There you have it! Our meal plan for a family of four – three meals and two snacks a day – this week’s grocery store total came out to $97, which is really pretty good! I’ll see what I can get it down to next week.

As far as supplements and vitamins go, usually I like to rely on food as our medicine, but we have been taking these off and on for months now, but really consistently these last few weeks. I love the Garden of Life vitamins/supplements as they are made from only whole foods, so I will be linking those below:

For David and me:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D every three days
  • Echinacea
  • Zinc

For just me:

  • Prenatal vitamin (not pregnant!)
  • Omega-3 to help with getting fattier breastmilk

For just Z:

For just Selah:

  • Vitamin D (does not come through breastmilk)

For all of us:

  • Elderberry syrup made with maple syrup
  • Plenty of healthy food, limited dairy (increases mucous production) and refined sugar (lowers immune support), and outside time!!!

Thank you for following along with our meals and health journey this month. I am far from perfect and know I could always do things better, so I always enjoy learning more about health and food, but I love sharing with others some of the easy things we do in our home for our health. I truly hope this helps someone in some small way! Stay healthy, have fun cooking and caring for yourself and your family… and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

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Meal Plan Month: January Meal Plan 1

Happy New Year! I’m glad to be back with my first blog of the year! Enjoy a poorly lit photo of my family over the holidays. The girls’ dresses (and Z’s big purple bow from Santa) are just too cute not to share!

Before the holidays I was trying to plan out some easy blog content for 2021 and posted a poll on my Instagram (follow me here) asking if people would like to see meal plans. The result was unanimous – everyone that answered said “yes”.

Since everyone usually tries to get healthier at the start of the year, and since we’re all cooking more due to restaurant shut downs (although, let’s be honest, DoorDash was the real hero of 2020), I figured posting my meal plans for the month of January would be a fun way to kick the year off on A Pinch of Crazy!

If cooking more, eating healthier, saving money, or trying new recipes are some goals you have for the year, then follow along for the month! Hopefully you can get some ideas that will work for you and your family, tweak what needs tweaking for you, maybe scrap some things all together, and just maybe find a new family favorite!

I will start this meal plan month off by sharing how I usually plan our meals for the week. Over the weekends, we usually eat “last week’s highlights” (my husband’s cute name for leftovers) or go out/get food delivered. Over the weekend is when I begin planning for the following week. To start with, I take a little “kitchen inventory” in the pantry and fridge to see what we have – this little jumping off point ends up saving a lot of money, reducing waste, and fuels my kitchen creativity. The three categories I usually check for are carbs/starches, protein, and produce. Once I plan meals based on what I have, I make a grocery list for items I still need. Then I usually pick up my groceries on Monday so I start the week off with a well stocked kitchen.

So after Christmas and New Year’s Day I actually didn’t have much in the way of leftovers, but I will share what I did end up starting with.

  • Carbs: brown rice, a few potatoes/sweet potatoes, oats, instant grits (a treat for my hubs), and a can of crescent roll dough
  • Protein: turkey bacon, almond butter, chick peas, tahini, some cheese, and a package of little beef sausages
  • Produce: carrots, greens (kale, spinach, and lettuce), cauliflower rice, blueberries, apples, and bananas – this is not really “produce” but I also had a half full jar of green curry paste

Starting with those few ingredients I planned five dinners (leftovers on weekends), and leftovers are used for lunches. I also planned a few breakfast items to meal prep for the week and wrote down snack ideas. These meals are all things I share with my two girls, but I will make sure to include which modifications, if any, were needed for our nine-month-old. Baby and I also eat dairy free (though I am starting to introduce a little here and there), so I will include modifications for that, too.

Breakfasts:

  • Pigs in a blanket
  • Grits
  • Baked oatmeal with almond butter, blueberries, and bananas *this is the only breakfast I fed to the baby, and I added less maple syrup so it wasn’t too sweet for her*

Snacks:

Classic Garlic Hummus
  • Hummus with carrot sticks or crackers *I put the baby’s hummus on toast or rolled up in nitrate free lunch meat*
  • Boiled eggs (I only did 6 since they weren’t for breakfast)
  • Cliff bars for grown-ups, Z bars for our oldest
  • Apple slices or bananas with peanut butter
  • Pouches and mandarin orange cups for both girls
  • Puffs for the baby
  • Christmas candy

Dinners:

Roasted Chicken with Carrots
  • Monday: Roasted chicken with carrots and potatoes *This recipe is for a whole chicken, but I used just drumsticks and chopped the carrots and potatoes to roast underneath them.*
  • Tuesday: Brown rice risotto with mushrooms, kale, and shrimp *I made this dairy free, but topped with cheese for those that could have it and subbed in my chicken stock in place of veggie broth*
  • Wednesday: Green curry chicken with coconut lime cauliflower rice, topped with avocado and cilantro *I don’t really have a recipe for this, but I just heated some shredded chicken with the cauliflower rice, added a couple tablespoons of the curry paste, poured in coconut milk, and squeezed a lime in. On this day I also took a meal (chicken tacos) to a friend so I boiled a bunch of chicken, shredded it, and seasoned it like taco meat. This is the chicken I used for the curry; it turned out great!*
  • Thursday: Lettuce wrapped mushroom swiss burgers and fries *Again, no real recipe for the burgers, but I usually season the ground beef with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, and smoked paprika then cook them in my cast iron skillet. We will top them with sauteed mushrooms and onions, swiss cheese (I will omit this for Baby and I), greens, dairy free ranch, and use lettuce in place of buns.*
  • Friday: Breakfast for dinner – turkey bacon (will not give to Baby), scrambled eggs, toast and/or leftover potatoes from burger night
  • Saturday and Sunday: last week’s highlights!

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • A couple of days we had outdoor picnics with friends so I packed sandwiches/lunch meat, hummus, fruit, and crackers for the girls and me
  • Our oldest went back to her Mother’s Day Out program this week so for her lunch I packed crackers with uncured salami and cheese cubes, a mandarin orange cup, and avocado and cucumber slices

Alright I think I covered it all! My grocery list for this week was basically proteins and snacks, plus of course a giant box of diapers and other essentials such as paper towels and foil. I ended up spending more than I usually do because I actually shopped in person for once and took advantage of coupons I saw to stock up on snacks and essentials; that brought my total for this week to $189. Since I got so many snacks this week, I am hoping next week to get the grocery bill down to less than $100. I’ll come back next week and share!

I hope you were able to get inspired for some meal ideas for your family this week, and that maybe you are able to save some money and try something new. Bask in the freshness of a new year…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

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