Posts tagged Food
A Morning in the Blueberry Bushes

I am thankful that I get to go and pick blueberries every summer. My freezer gets restocked on blueberries and I use them throughout the year for baking or making smoothies. 

My favorite part isn't having the blueberries in my freezer, it's the tradition of going and picking! Every summer growing up, we'd go pick blueberries at my Mimi's house. It's a step out of the everyday routine and it just feels good! It feels good to be doing the epitome of eating local -- picking your own berries. 

This Saturday morning was unseasonably cooler than typical MS mornings. It had just rained so the bushes and blueberries were wet. Our arms were immediately soaked due to reaching in and picking the plumpest berries. The Blueberry Crew which is Luke, Becca, Ms Barb (Luke's mom), and me, spent about an hour picking and talking. It was just perfect. 

Luke and I walked out with a good haul. I measured them on my food scale when I got home and it was over 4 pounds of Blueberries! 

Whenever I bring fresh blueberries home, I like to immediately wash them, so I don't have to worry about washing them after they are frozen. I can immediately incorporate them into whatever I'm making. I empty my bucket into colanders. Give them a good rinse, and then lay them on an old (and clean!) towel on my counter so the berries can dry. Pro Tip -- use a blue or darker colored old towel because blueberries will stain. 

Once the berries are dry, I pack them into gallon size freezer bags, lay them flat in my freezer and stack the bags on top of each other. I don't freeze them all immediately though. I usually leave about 3 cups in my fridge so I can use them right away. 

In the past we've made blueberry muffins, blueberry lemonade, and blueberry bread. This year is different because we are following Keto. Instead of the sugary treats, I made a Gluten Free and Sugar-Free Blueberry Cheese Danish Coffee Cake using this recipe. 

I never know how my Keto baking will turn out, but this was YUMMY! It wasn't too sweet, sometimes sugar replacements are just too sweet (Swerve is my favorite) and it didn't taste too almond-y. If you've tried Gluten Free baking, you know what I mean.

I was very pleased with how this came out! Plus, baking in a cast iron skillet makes me feel like a pioneer and I like that - LOL.

One of my dreams one day is to live on a piece of land that's big enough to have a lot of blueberry bushes where my friends and family can come pick and stock their own freezers. Until then, you'll just have to settle for some of my blueberry treats. - JJ  

Unlocking the Secrets of Meal Planning
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Meal Planning was always somewhat of a mystery to me. I couldn't figure out the right way to plan what I wanted to eat. I mean, how could I know what I would want to be eating by next Tuesday!? In my mind, the people who could Meal Plan were on another level of discipline and planning. I never thought I could pull it together and be organized enough to fit some type of meal planning into my life. And then it dawned on me...

I don't have to eat what's planned for that particular day. Meaning, I could swap meals I had planned and prepared throughout the week based on how I was feeling at each particular meal. For example, if lunchtime hit and I really wanted what I prepared to eat for dinner at lunchtime, I had the freedom to move things around and make that happen.

I know, I know. Major "duh" moment, but it was kind of revolutionary for me as it unlocked a system that allowed me to be planned and organized for the most part, but not give up on my spontaneous nature either.

By the way, when I say Meal Planning I'm talking about planning out the food you're going to eat in a week's time (or however long you go in between grocery store runs). 

Also, I thought Meal Planning was only for moms with like 4 kids. That's totally not true! Another "duh, JJ!" moment for sure. 

My weekly rhythms were definitely lacking organization. I knew that if I thought through recipes I want to eat + what our week looks like event wise, then I could bring a sense of calm and less "frazzled-ness" to our house. Once I committed to Meal Planning and figured out some tips and tricks, the mystery of meal planning (and meal prepping!) was FINALLY unlocked. I'm going to share the secrets with you!

Secret #1 Figure out your objectives

I didn't want to Meal Plan just to Meal Plan. I wanted to be more in control of the food we ate, maximize our quality time together, and be wise with how we spent our money. Because I wasn't organized in my shopping lists, we'd constantly be running back to the grocery store multiple times a week -- that costs time and money. So my objectives were to: 

  • Shop smarter by using coupons and taking advantage of weekly deals, etc. 
  • Eat out less / Eat healthier
  • Feel more in control of food

Knowing why I wanted to start meal planning in the first place helped me stick with it when I would have rather done other things. I don't do things just to do them. If I am going to add something to my routine, it better be worth it. Head ups... it's worth it! 

Secret #2 Find the right time and day to make your Meal Plan, grocery shop, and meal prep

Take a general look at your week and see where you've got natural, somewhat consistent time gaps. This allows you to fit Meal Planning and prep into your already established weekly rhythm. After a few weeks of trial and error, I found that our best time to go to the grocery store and meal prep was Sunday afternoon/evenings. It sets us up for a great week!

Secret #3 Treat lunches like normal meals

Another revolutionary thing for me was creating a system where lunches weren't dependant on leftovers. Why had I not thought of this? No idea, but I thought it was brilliant! For so long I considered lunches to be just salads, sandwiches, and leftovers. Not their own meals prep! I'm sure you realized this a long time ago, but it's a more recent thing for this gal and I'm telling you: it's my best Meal Planning secret on this list. 

What I do is plan 2 lunch meals. I alternate them every other day. Yes, there are 4 days in a work week, but it works well for us because we usually eat out for lunch once a week. Either with our whole staff or one-on-one lunches with people in our church. 

Secret #4 Determine when you want to cook and when you don't want to cook

I love cooking. I really do. That doesn't mean that I want to cook every night, though. The way my meal planning works out is that I cook maybe 4 times a week in total. During the week is when I try new recipes and get really creative. On the weekends, I like to chill out so I always have something quick and easy on hand (for us, that's bacon and eggs!).

Secret #5 Determine if you are digital or analog 

If you prefer writing things down via pen on paper, great! Do that! If you can't keep up with the paper that you wrote your recipe list down on, and you lost the pen too, then stick to digital. I'm digital, baby! I have a Spreadsheet in my Google Drive where I plug in recipes I want to make for the upcoming week. I've found that doing this helps me in the future because as I continue to build my Meal Plans out, the previous meals in the spreadsheet serve as inspiration when I'm not feeling anything new. Plus, when you're short on time you can copy and paste an old Meal Plan that you liked from weeks ago. That in itself has been a lifesaver for me! 

Whether you're digital or analog, keep up with the meal plans you make in a notebook or your Google Drive. They'll help you in the weeks where you're stumped or short on time. 

Those are my secrets! You can plug them into your life whether you eat Keto like me or the Standard American Diet. These secrets work for everyone, especially if you're not the most organized person -- like me!