Hi Guys! I'm Noel Chapman, recipe developer, food writer, and Mom specializing in simple and frugal family recipes and kitchen tips. I'm sharing meal planning strategies and my weekly menus with busy families like you in hopes of helping you discover a new way to meal plan and bring those family meals back to the table. My kitchen is the heart of my home and I believe sharing a meal with family and friends is a time to treasure. Welcome to my kitchen!
I’m slightly saddened that our summer vacation has almost come to an end. We’re wrapping up our last “lazy days of summer” around here. Not quite sure what happened to the lazy part, but there sure has been a lot of summer happening since May 1st!
A few days ago, I filled our family calendar with an outlook on all of our school year commitments, minimum days, holidays, made room for PTC meetings and again for another child of ours, that week of 6th grade science camp. Looking at the months ahead, they seem to all be as equally busy and I’m happy to pencil in our family vacation getaway at the end of this year. Instead of getting annoyed or stressed with our crazy schedule, I’m choosing to embrace the fact the we, especially the kids, are fortunate to do so many fun things this school year.
So, I have a positive outlook and excited feeling on the week ahead and I’m looking forward to a new school year and what it brings for our children and our family. There’s just something about the whole *idea* of fresh, white paper, newly sharpened pencils, and unopened boxes of markers that makes me giddy.
Sometimes with our busy schedules during the day at work, at home taking care of the kids or just busy running around doing errands, we tend to forget about taking a moment to rejuvenate ourselves. I always try to jump start my day with a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast with fruit, a salad or soup for lunch usually around noon, but sometimes I find myself in need of a snack to tide me over until dinner. So, I thought I would share with you some of my 10 favorite snacks that are healthy and can be packed to go anywhere with a busy mom.
Cereal- I will pack a small container filled with cereal like Multi-Grain Cherrios or Granola with a small handful of nuts. Provides lots of protein.
Soynuts without salt-I was introduced to these years ago by a good friend of mine and they are absolutely a tasty and nutritious snack! They are also very good on salads.
Yogurt Parfaits- they’re not just for dessert. Add in some granola (and the protein that comes with it, as well), and you’ve got a protein-rich snack, not to mention one with a calcium kick.
Sugar Snap Peas-The sugar snap pea contains a range of vitamins that can provide many different health benefits. A cupful of sugar snap peas contain the same amount of vitamin C as half an orange. Love these!
String Cheese-A favorite snack not just for me but for the kids. I usually slice an apple or some whole grain crackers.
Fresh Fruit-Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Grapes, Pears or Blueberries. All very rich with the essential vitamins and antioxidants our body needs and deserves.
Granola Bars-Kashi makes a great snack bar and I make sure to keep a handful in the car. They are perfect for road trips.
Almonds-A small snack size bag of these and you’re definitely satisfied.
Veggies-Snack on vegetables like bell pepper strips and broccoli with a low-fat or fat-free ranch dip.
Lowfat Popcorn-I usually pop a bag in the morning before I head out to the office and split with the kids.
Snacking on nutritious food can keep your energy level high and your mind alert without taking up a lot of your time. I hope these snack ideas help you satisfy your afternoon munchies/cravings. I’d love to hear about your favorite healthy snacks that keep you going. Please share them on the Family Meals Matter Cooking Club page or in the comments section below.
“Every year at just this time, In cold and dark December, Families around the world All gather to remember, With presents and with parties, With feasting and with fun, Customs and traditions for people old and young.” - Helen H. Moore
We have officially kicked off the holiday season. If you will be cooking during the holidays, it is important to plan your meals ahead of time. Not just for the big Christmas dinner, but throughout the entire month. If you’re a working mom, sometimes the holiday season feels like chaos. It doesn’t have to be.
I was delighted when Steph from Be Positive Mom asked to interview me on the topic Holiday Cooking For The Working Mom. In the interview, I’m sharing some incredible ways to meal plan during the holidays and even set aside time to relax during the busiest of times.
Enjoy! And remember, whatever you do this holiday season, remember to relax and enjoy yourself. As a family, you will have great memories of this holiday season if your holiday planning is less stressful.
I always feel at home in the kitchen. I constantly plan ahead to make sure I can fit a wholesome homemade meal into my family’s busy lifestyle. When I walk out the door in the morning, I always know what we’ll be having for dinner that night. I’ll take out something from the freezer-a package of meat that’s quick to prepare, a casserole or pot pie I’ve made from leftovers-so it can thaw in the fridge during the day.
If I’m planning some type of stir-fry meal, I’ll often chop the veggies the night before. Little simple steps like that save time. Being a working mom outside the home, I’ve learned never to leave things to the last minute-because there might not be a last minute.
Two of the kitchen “tools” I’ve learned to rely on to get my meals on the table fast are the microwave and my freezer (see my tips for organizing a freezer below).
I microwave to reheat foods and cook vegetables. And I keep my freezer well-stocked. I’m always baking a lot on the weekends. With a big batch of cookies or cake, I can freeze some for the middle of the week. Now that I my schedule has changed at the office, it gives me a few extra minutes to get dinner started. My goal for dinner, is to have a meal on the table in 30-45 minutes, since by the time I get home from the office, my family is famished.
Noel’s Keys To Fast Meals For Working Moms:
Keep a grocery list in a handy place like the kitchen drawer or on the fridge. As soon as you run out of anything, add that item to the list.
Keep a freezer list in the drawer or on the freezer. Make two columns-one for uncooked foods, the other for pre-cooked ones (browned ground beef, taco meat, shredded chicked, containers of soup, etc.) That way, you can tell at a glance what you have in your freezer… and when the time’s arrived for you to restock certain items.
Everything in my freezer is labeled and dated. Every 3 months, I take out each item, check it for freezer burn and use up any little odds and ends or small amounts of leftovers.
I alsao keep precooked foods on the top shelf of the freezer and uncooked foods on the bottom shelf, so I know right where to reach when I’m in a hurry.
Are you a super busy cook? Do you pack more than possible into a typical day and still have time to serve a fast, delicious meal?