Being a stay-at-home mom has been incredible. It's been the best job I've had so far! However, managing my time has been one great lesson I've had to learn. For me, I have not tried to force Mason on a schedule. I realize this works with some kids, but honestly, up until this point, I've been too exhausted to even think about a schedule! He eats when he's hungry. He naps when he's sleepy. He plays when he's happy. This has worked for us so far. [ He does sleep GREAT at night, so I guess that's why I haven't had to stress about a schedule. Even though he is slowly starting to make his own schedule..and it just so happens to work with mine! :)] But back to time management. Part of my staying home and taking care of Mason has also been being in charge of meals. This was a very natural progression and definitely made tons of sense. I'm home all day. I should be able to have dinner ready for Brandon when he gets home from work...right?
HA! I wish I had cameras up for the first time I tried cooking dinner post Mason. This was during his "MOMMY, HOLD ME! MOMMY, HOLD ME ALL DAY LONG!" phase. So as you can imagine, it was quite the task. I think I remember making spaghetti that day. Spaghetti noodles, marinara sauce, and meat. Easy enough. Until this
So in part of my being in charge of meals AND trying to stay on a tight budget with minimal (and I mean MINIMAL) eating out, I've started planning our meals ahead of time. This seems like such a simple idea. I mean...duh? right? You would think so. Once I started planning out our meals, it made the biggest difference and completely took away some of my anxiety. Why hadn't I been doing this the whole time? Maybe because pre-Mason, it was so easy to go out to eat anytime we wanted to. Pre-Mason it was easy to run by the grocery store last minute and pick up a few things.
With that said, I'm going to share with you a couple of my favorite plan-ahead recipes. If you carve out about an hour on Sunday, you can get all this prepped and will save you some time & stress during the week!
Homemade Marinara Sauce
I've shared my homemade marinara recipe before, but I've tweaked it a little bit and I wanted to share it again. I swear Brandon and I were Italians in our past lives. We eat marinara like it's going out of style. It's so versatile, very low-cal/low-fat, and can go on pretty much anything! And it's soooooo easy and CHEAP to make your own! This recipe makes up enough to fill up two large (3.5-4 cup) mason jars. Some people can make this last two weeks (one jar per week). However, Brandon and I have been known to take it all out within one week. Told you we eat a lot of it! ;) This recipe also can be altered, depending on taste. If you like it spicy, add extra crushed red pepper. If you like it garlicy, add more garlic. I like mine with a little kick, so if you don't like spicy at all, just leave out the crushed red pepper.
- 1/2 medium yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 - 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 - 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 teaspoons of jarred minced garlic, our favorite!)
- 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley (or fresh, whatever you prefer)
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar (this is to balance out the acidity)
- Salt & pepper to taste
1.) In a large sauce pan, heat up olive oil over medium-high heat. Once heated, add onion and some pinches of salt to draw out the moisture of the onions. Then add pinch of black pepper and crushed red pepper.
2.) After onions have become slightly translucent, add tomato paste, chicken stock, Italian seasoning and parsley. This will make up a very thick, very concentrated marinara. I like to call this the marinara roux, if you will.
3.) Next, add both cans of crushed tomatoes and sugar.
4.) Heat all the way through, let it cool, then spoon into mason jars.
See how easy that sounds? I promise you won't be disappointed with this recipe. Whenever you're ready to eat, just spoon some out into a sauce pan and heat on stove. If it ends up being a little thicker than you like, add a splash of chicken stock when reheating. This will break it up a little bit. I like to serve this with my Turkey Spinach Meatballs (recipe to come!)
Make-Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches
|Excuse the clutter. We don't have ANY counter space in our apartment!! Literally...this is it.|
These breakfast sandwiches have been a hit with Brandon and me. If there's one thing I never have time for, it's breakfast! I'm always too worried about getting up with Mason, making sure he's fed and taken care of and by the time I look at the clock it's almost lunch time. But with these awesome treats, I can pop one in the microwave and grab a bite when I get a second! You make these ahead on Sunday and just keep them in the fridge (or you could freeze them) for the week! I make up 6 (3 for me, 3 for Brandon), mainly because neither Brandon or I want to eat these every single day. Also, it's a very convenient number since a lot of the ingredients come in numbers of 6! You can switch this recipe up as well. You can use turkey bacon (instead of turkey sausage), or even regular bacon or sausage. You can use american, pepper jack, or whatever kind of cheese you prefer.
- 1 package English muffins (6 in a pack)
- 6 eggs
- 1 package Jimmy Dean turkey sausage links (or patties)
- 6 slices of cheese
1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.) In a jumbo muffin tin, spray non-stick cooking spray in each round.
3.) In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs until combined. Add a little salt & pepper to taste. Pour eggs into each muffin round.
4.) Bake for about 10-15 minutes, just until eggs are cooked through. Set aside and let completely cool.
5.) Next, assemble the sandwiches. I did meat on bottom, cheese in middle, egg on top.
6.) Wrap each sandwich individually in saran wrap.
7.) When reheating, wrap sandwich in damp paper towel and microwave for about 30-40 seconds.
Since Brandon likes pepper jack on his and I did American cheese, I went ahead and separated ours into freezer bags. Also, if you don't have a jumbo muffin tin, use a baking sheet that is at least 1 inch deep. You can mix up the eggs, pour onto baking sheet, and then just cut the egg into slices. You can make them as big or as small as you want them to be! You could also double them up if it makes a lot.
I am excited to share more Mom Life posts in the future!! Questions or suggestions? Comment below!