What’s For Dinner? My Quest to Bring Joy Back to the Table

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Not long ago my children and I met some new friends at the park. As moms getting to know one another typically do, we shared about where we grew up, how we handled the challenges of parenting, what was making us laugh, and little quirks about our kids. As we sat on the bench chatting, my new friend leaned in and with a look of severity said, “I’m sure you can relate to the one thing that I’m really struggling with: my children need to eat. . . . like multiple times every day.” Be still my heart. We had only known each other for such a short time, how was she able to see into my soul?

All jesting aside, there are times when my desire to nourish my family with healthy, hearty and beautiful meals can be really overwhelming. In seasons of welcoming a new baby or caring for an aging relative, moving or just getting up to speed with a change in the school schedule, meal planning  can feel nearly impossible. As my children have grown older, I have come to realize that there really is no slowing down, there will always be a transition that I must weather well, a crises to avert, a difficulty to overcome- or even just busy seasons with activities to navigate.

There will always be challenges, and yet my desire to light candles, to love on and to connect with the members of my family is unchanging. The most important thing we can bring to the table is a heart for fellowship with one another!

Sitting at the table is one of my favorite times of our day as a family, but often the planning required to get there zaps my joy. I have tried exactly one million and one ways to meal plan and while there have been seasons I have accomplished this task quite well, it mostly just drains me and I am left  with questions about how to make meals fit all the needs of our family. When should we have leftovers? Should I have made a double batch of that? Are we eating too many calories? Is there an easier way to do this? 

This summer, after an extended period of kitchen blahs, I was determined to bring JOY back to my dinner table. I knew I needed a plan. Without a meal plan, our time at the table falls apart and we end up eating pancakes or scrambled eggs. True story. So, exhausted from travel, lacking inspiration and facing an empty fridge, I decided to start by printing off  the Better Mom Whole Food Meal Plan. After a few months of seeing it make a big difference in our home, I wanted to share how it has impacted my family with you, because I know I am not the only woman out there who has no idea how to answer when the kids ask, “Mom, what’s for dinner?”

If you feel unorganized like I did and don’t know where to begin, if you long to be able to focus on relationships instead of logistics, can I encourage you to give this meal plan a try? There is a sweet offering of grace in this meal ministry and I want to shout it from the rooftops because it has anchored our family to having sweet time together at a time when it seemed like being overwhelmed might just win.

Kelly from The Nourishing Home has put together an absolutely beautiful and entirely FREE meal plan for The Better Mom Readers. Really, absolutely, for always and forever FREE!  She has links to all the recipes used for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a pdf shopping list for the week and most of all- a heart for moms. This ministry has freed me to love on my family and not get lost in the logistics of the kitchen. It is practical and so very valuable!

-Every recipe is made with whole food, with gluten free and paleo options.

-Each menu plan utilizes leftovers, and indicates time saving measures for meal preparation (like grilling up extra chicken at dinner time to use in tomorrow’s salad).

-Careful thought about balancing out your plate with flavor, color and nutrition abounds in these meal plans!

-Every other Saturday the menus, with full recipe links are posted at The Better Mom. These are absolutely complete and absolutely FREE!

-Subscribers to The Nourishing Home (Also a free service!) additionally receive shopping lists and other recipe extras.

The next Bi-weekly meal plan will be available at The Better Mom tomorrow! I hope it is a practical encouragement to you and that your coming week is filled with yummy food and precious time with your family!

Blessings,

Kristen

www.hopewithfeathers.com

Celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day

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John Chapman, often called Johnny Appleseed, was born on September 26, 1774 in Leominster, Massachusetts. His father, Nathaniel Chapman, was a farmer and a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Sadly, John’s mother died of tuberculosis during the war. His father apprenticed him to a local apple orchard.

John took his knowledge and expanded the business to parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, including the northern counties of present day West Virginia, becoming an American legend in the process.

Remember Johnny Appleseed with apple-themed activities this week.

~ Visit an apple orchard as a family, and pick up some crisp apples for munching later.

~ Make some caramel apples and roll them in chopped peanuts, coconut, colorful sprinkles, or mini-chocolate chips.

~ Buy several varieties of apples and slice them up for a blind taste test for your family. Members can vote on which ones they like the most. Try ones like Gala, Honeycrisp. Pink Lady, Braeburn, Fuji or Cortland.

~ Or try your hand at one of these great apple recipes that are beyond the normal apple pie or crisp.

Apple Pasta Salad

1 bag cole slaw mix

2 cups tri-color pasta

2 apples coarsely chopped (your choice of apple)

½ cup dried cranberries

4 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into small bites

coleslaw dressing

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool. Mix pasta with cole slaw, cut apples, craisins and cheddar cheese. Add dressing to your taste. Chill and serve.

Harvest Pork and Apples

1 cup apple cider or juice

1-1/2 to 2 pound pork loin

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

salt & pepper to taste

2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed

½ cup brown sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon dried sage

Brown pork loin in vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once browned, place in a greased slow cooker, along with the apple cider. Mix apples and squash with the spices and herbs and place around pork loin. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours.

Blessings as you celebrate,

Karen Ehman

Everday.Confetti.coverFor more fun ways to celebrate creatively with your family and friends throughout the year, check out Karen’s latest book Everyday Confetti: Your Year-Round Guide for Celebrating Hopidays and Special Occasions.

The Unexpected Meal {Teaching Hospitality Through Example}

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Recently, in a concerted effort to get our house sold, we decided to have the carpet replaced throughout the house. If you’ve ever had carpet installed, you know it is mayhem. Everything in the rooms of your home displaced and moved from room to room. Workers in the most intimate parts of your home…for the entire day, if you have a lot of carpet.

Ours took from morning until supper time, as we had the entire upstairs — 4 bedrooms, a loft, and 6 closets — to re-carpet. And for the entirety of our day, three men who we’ve never met, walked in and out of our closets, bedrooms, and through our front door.

Five of my young boys were home that day, and they looked on with wonder at the work being done, and the workers doing the work. These were men that didn’t dress or talk like their teachers at school or church. These were men that took breaks outside in a cloud of smoke. These were men who’s bodies were covered with images and words they don’t see on their parent’s arms and legs. These men worked hard and worked quietly, and like everyone else…had a story. And that story was now spending a day in my home.

When lunchtime came, the boys and I started hunting for what we had to eat. We landed on simple turkey and cheese wraps. My 10 year old offered to help, and while we began to make lunch, I asked him to run upstairs and get a lunch order from the men carpeting: Turkey and cheese with salsa or with mayo/mustard. I assumed they would decline and spend lunchtime away.

But, no. They all wanted turkey wraps. I listened from the kitchen, and each of them paused in surprise, and accepted.

My son ran downstairs with the most enthusiastic smile on his face. I knew what he had just discovered: The joy of hospitality. He worked diligently to compose paper plates of turkey wraps, chips and salsa, and even placed two oreos on each plate. He was delighted and proud. It wasn’t the lunch he was proud of…we’d had fancier. No, it was the delight of knowing he was about to bless some hard-working men who were in his home for the day.

One by one the men came downstairs, grabbed a plate and sat outside to eat. One by one, they came in with empty plates and thanked us for the meal. And my boy beamed.

You see, I learned that day, that our children take our cues about hospitality. Our children hear us when we say,

“We don’t have anything worth sharing,”

“That’s awkward to feed strangers,” or

“Let’s keep to our business.”

They also hear us when we say,

“Share whatever we’ve got,”

“Give with a cheerful heart,” or

“We are blessed to be a blessing.”

They value what we value and get excited about what we think is worthy. Let Christ be our true treasure; for when his is worthy, any and all who he brings to us become souls…of value.

Blessings,

Ruth

www.gracelaced.com

Bi-Weekly Whole Food Meal Plan for Sept 14–27

Almost-Oatmeal-Cookies-grain-free

This week’s meal plan features one of my family’s favorite sweet treats! Unsweetened shredded coconut is the secret behind the chewy texture of these grain-free “Almost Oatmeal Cookies,” which is reminiscent of the oatmeal cookies many of us grew up enjoying.

Welcome to The Better Mom Whole Food GF Meal Plan. Our free bi-weekly menus open into a convenient pdf that includes links to each of the gluten-free recipes featured making it easy to access them with just a simple click. 

Once you click on the graphics below, you can easily save these menus to your desktop for easy access anytime you need them. Then, simply click on the links within the meal plan pdf to gain instant access to the gluten-free recipes.

In addition, if you opt to subscribe to The Nourishing Home, you’ll receive The Nourishing Home Weekly Newsletter which includes a complete gluten-free, grain-free meal planning kit. Each week’s GF Meal Plan Kit contains a gluten-free, grain-free meal plan along with a Weekly Shopping List and a Prep Day Chart featuring helpful tips that make putting healthy meals together a snap. For details about the free Gluten-Free Meal Plan Kit for subscribers only, please visit The Nourishing Home.

Bi-Weekly Whole Food Meal Plan for Sept 14-20:
(To print the meal plan provided below, simply click on the graphic or click here and it will open a pdf into a new window for easier saving and printing. Remember, once you download the pdf, simply click on the links to gain instant access to the recipes featured.)
Sept 14-20 Meal Plan TNH

Bi-Weekly Whole Food Meal Plan for Sept 21-27:
(To print the meal plan provided below, simply click on the graphic or click here and it will open a pdf into a new window for easier saving and printing. Remember, once you download the pdf, simply click on the links to gain instant access to the recipes featured.)
Sept 21-17 Meal Plan TNH

In addition to the two meal plans above, we’re pleased to provide you with a free meal planning template perfect for creating your own custom meal plans. Select from the following two options:
• Meal plan template PDF

• Meal plan template EXCEL

To learn more about meal planning, please check out my FREE Video Course: Mastering Meal PlanningMy hope is that this will be a great resource
 and encouragement for you whether you’re just getting started with meal planning, or are a seasoned expert.

Always a treat to share healthy meals with you! Let’s give thanks to the Lord for providing us the opportunity to nourish our families in this way!

Joyfully Serving HIM, Kelly at The Nourishing Home

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