WEEK 3 MEAL PLAN

For many is a shorter work week – and I’m pretty sure everyone is ready for it. We are keeping up with meals at home this week, and we’re making progress to use all we have in our freezer and our refrigerator items – there will be space for new items soon enough! Here’s what we have on tap for Week 3 of 2022:

Monday
Butter Chicken from What’s Gaby Cooking Eat What You Want Cookbook. Comfort food with a fresh approach. We are expanding our horizons a bit with some more unique meals these cold and boring days. Homemade roti, warm chicken and rice, served with a side salad – can’t go wrong!

Tuesday
Skillet Chicken Fajitas from The Comfortable Kitchen Cookbook. Easy and so good! We are keeping it simple without all of the sides and toppings – but I support everyone adding cheese, sour cream, shredded lettuce and carbs! This is a great addition to lunches throughout the week.

Wednesday
Egg Lemon Soup from The Defined Dish Cookbook. Because soup season is only so long – and we like to keep things fresh and new around here. This is perfect for dinner – you can even add some chicken or garlic bread (we did not) and of course, lunches and quick dinners throughout the week.

Thursday
Pork Miso Ramen from The Comfortable Kitchen Cookbook. Every weeknight meal plan has to have a bowl – and tonight we’re bringing on a ramen dish for everyone to make their own. similar to many of our meal options, we like to make a base that can be adjusted to everyone’s liking, without too much extra work! Some of us enjoy a spicier ramen than others, and some of us like ALL THE TOPPINGS! What are some of your favorite “add-ons”?

Friday
Veggie Pad See Ew from the Half Baked Harvest Super Simple Cookbook. This is one of my favorite things to order from our local take-out place. And Fridays are meant for takeout – or takeout made at home. For a short week, this was a long one – so we are ready for a bowl of noodles and vegetables STAT.

Saturday
We’ve got some fun appetizer recipes we are going to give a try for the weekend – we’ll keep everyone posted on what we like, what we might make differently and what will be new to the rotation!

Sunday
FAMILY DAY – as always, we’ll be getting together with the family – try a few new board games, and likely serve something as test for a weeknight meal to share with all of you!

Be sure to follow our Instagram page for all of the meals we prepare and let us know if you add any of them to your own meal plans! As always, we are here to help you if you need any ideas for quicker, easier and special meal plans this week or in the future!

Alexis

WEEK 2 MEAL PLAN

Whether you’re still working at home or heading back to the office or the kids are heading back to in-person classes as winter breaks come to an end – we all need some warm, healthy meals ready for some time around the dinner table – or as we run out the door to practices, small social gatherings or curl up on the couch with a good book. So – here’s what we have on tape over here for Week 2 of 2022:

Monday
Chicken Tzatziki Bowls from What’s Gaby Cooking Cookbook. It’s something we make often around here – because there’s always a reason for a warm bowl of chicken rice and roasted vegetables! This is a great meal to prep ahead and create a “make your own bowl” kind of dinner for busy nights too.

Tuesday
Lemon Broccoli Pesto Pasta from the Eat What You Want Cookbook. Warming, but still bright with the lemon juice – and a fun way to use up all the Pesto packs in the freezer. We’ll be using broccolini because that’s what e have – but that’s why we love home cooked pasta dishes – customize however you want!

Wednesday
Sesame Crusted Salmon from the Half Baked Harvest Super Simple Cookbook. Because we could eat salmon every day in this house! We may pair it with some roasted vegetables or a Pilaf of some kind – stay tuned to our Instagram to see what makes in on the plate!

Thursday
Crunchwrap Supremes from Half Baked Harvest. Some cravings can be met with homemade versions – will this one make the cut?? We haven’t been a big fast food family (historically), but sometimes, we have to try something new and see what the ype is about! We’ll keep you posted if this will stay on our meal rotation!

Friday
Corn Soup from the Eat What You Want Cookbook. We are loving homemade soups these days – they do say things come in waves – this year, we’re all about a hearty homemade soup – and we’ll be dreaming of summer with this one.

Saturday
Dinner with Friends – you’ll have to check out what we decide to serve as we have dinner with a few friends at home!

Sunday
FAMILY DAY – as always, we’ll be getting together with the family – try a few new board games, and likely serve something as test for a weeknight meal to share with all of you!

Be sure to follow our Instagram page for all of the meals we prepare and let us know if you add any of them to your own meal plans! As always, we are here to help you if you need any ideas for quicker, easier and special meal plans this week or in the future!

Alexis

It’s a New Year, I’m Ready

Welcome to 2022! I am happy to be back and shifting focus to making others’ lives easier, provide different perspective and have new conversations as we focus on all that this year can and will be. I don’t believe in resolutions for myself – but I make goals, and I focus on where I want to be at the end of a particular length of time. Last May I chose to make myself a focus, and quickly went back to what was comfortable for me – work, work and more work. But not building toward my personal or professional goals.

Like many, 2021 became my year of change and survival. I left what I thought was a safe place, and have focused on helping others streamline their lives, create consistency and have plans for reaching their goals. I learned a lot about myself, what I can and can’t tolerate and how to best communicate in positive and challenging client situations.

Despite my best efforts to make my goals, both personally and professionally, my priority, I spent more time focused on my client’s goals and needs over my own. Though important, it put my business goals on the back burner, and halted my plans for life outside of work. So – for 2022, my focus will continue to be my clients and events, but also my own plans and goals in life.

I have many goals, which I will continue to share with all of you as I navigate the year – my goals are building blocks to round out the next 12 months, so that each month, I’m implementing the skills/tasks that move me toward the overall goals, not just an overwhelming list of accomplishments to make. A few are simple – such as going to bed on time, drinking more water and trying new recipes; while others will require more time and energy – finishing all the knitting projects in the house, spend more time with friends and family, and creating my dream backyard. Do you make goals, resolutions or intentions each year? How do you keep them a focus?

Plan Prep Pack Plate was built to help people streamline and simplify food prep for themselves and their families. And, that will continue to be a service we offer – but please also stay tuned for more offerings we’ll be rolling out soon, including budgeting, preparing to buy/sell a house, planning for/preparing for a home move, party planning and more. We can’t wait to share all the tips and tricks we use every day – and be of greater service to anyone who needs more specialized plans.

Here’s to 2022 – we’re in this together.

Alexis

Three Ingredient Meals

We’ve covered 5 ingredient meals, 4 ingredient meals, and now we’re down to 3 ingredient meals…Here are a few to add to your rotation! They will help you get a meal on the table without many ingredients or extensive prep time!

Kitchen Staples

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Oregano
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Olive Oil
  • Non-Stick spray

Cornflake Chicken Bites

  • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 1/2c BBQ sauce
  • 3c cornflakes, crushed into coarse crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge in a bowl of bbq sauce and then in a bowl of the pulverized cornflakes. Place on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through and outer layer is crunchy. Serve with additional BBQ sauce.

French Bread Cheese Pizza

  • 1 loaf of French bread, cut in half lengthwise and in thirds widthwise
  • 1 jar pizza sauce
  • 1 bag shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prep a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Place each piece of French bread on the sheet. Spread with pizza sauce and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place 1/3-1/2c of shredded cheese on each piece of bread. Drizzle with 1t olive oil on each. Bake 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is warm and crunchy.

Steak Quesadilla

  • 1lb. flank steak, cut into strips
  • 4 flour burrito-size tortillas
  • 1 bag Monterrey Jack or Cheddar Cheese

Heat a skillet to medium heat. Place 2T olive oil to heat. season steak with salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder. Cook in skillet to desired doneness. Let drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Wipe pan out and add non-stick spray. Place tortilla in skillet and add 1/4-1/3c cheese across tortilla. Add 1/4 of the steak and fold over until first side is golden. Flip and cook until cheese is melted and other side is golden. Cut into triangles and repeat with remaining tortillas.

Pasta with Shrimp and Peas

  • 1lb pasta, any shape
  • 1lb shrimp, shelled
  • 1.5c frozen peas

Boil water for pasta. In a skillet, heat 1/4c olive oil. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and add to skillet, cooking 2 minutes per side. If shrimp absorb the olive oil, add 1/4c more oil to create the sauce. In boiling water, cook pasta per box directions and add the peas during final 3 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta and peas and mix with shrimp and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper if needed and serve.

Chicken Soup with Vegetables –

  • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips or, 2c rotisserie chicken
  • 1 carton chicken broth or stock
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables

Heat a stockpot to medium/high heat and pour in 1T olive oil. Season chicken with salt, oregano, garlic powder and pepper (skip this step if you have rotisserie chicken) and cook in stockpot for 5-6 minutes until seared on all sides, stirring often. Pour in chicken broth/stock and bring to a boil. Add vegetables (I recommend half the bag) and simmer until heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve or freeze for future use.

Though it’s always fun to try new recipes and create multi-course meals. We don’t need that everyday. Some days, our best meals will have just a couple of staple items. Let me know how these work out on your family’s dinner table!

Need more ideas or help with creative but quick meals? Comment below!

Alexis

Four Ingredient Meals

Yesterday we tackled 5 Ingredient Meals…today we’re clocking in four ingredients per meal. All serving 4 ppl and generally take about 30-45 minutes to make. Some can be prepped ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen until ready to use. We’ll use the same list of staple kitchen ingredients, listed below:

Kitchen Staples

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Oregano
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Olive Oil
  • Non-Stick spray

Toasted Ravioli

  • 1lb Frozen ravioli of choice
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1c panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder
  • Tomato sauce (jarred or homemade) for dipping

Let ravioli defrost in the refrigerator for the day. Preheat oven to 425-450 degrees. Whisk eggs in one bowl and stir panko with seasonings in another bowl. Dip ravioli in egg then in panko, and place on a baking sheet that is either coated with non-stick spray or has a sheet of parchment on it. Bake for 10-12 minutes until ravioli are slightly browned, and then serve with marinara sauce.

Everything Bagel Seasoning Salmon

  • 1lb. salmon with skin on – either one large filet, or cut into 4-5oz filets
  • 2-3T Everything Bagel Seasoning (any brand, or homemade, I prefer the one from Aldi)
  • 1T Brown Sugar
  • 1-2 Lemons, for juicing

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Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken

  • 1lb. chicken breast cut into strips or 1.5″ pieces
  • 1/4c honey
  • 1/3c yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 2c crushed pretzels

Heat oven to 425-450 degrees. Place a cooling rack on a cookie sheet and spray with non-stick spray. In a shallow bowl, mix together the honey and mustard. In another shallow bowl, place the crushed pretzels. Dredge the chicken pieces through the honey mustard mixture and then coat with the crushed pretzels. Place coated chicken on cooling rack and bake for 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through and cotating is crispy.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

  • 1-2lbs. Pork Tenderloin, cut into medallions
  • 2 onions sliced in 1/4″ thick rounds
  • 1lb bacon, cut in half
  • 2 large tomatoes sliced in1/4″ thick rounds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet, and coat with non-stick spray. Lay bacon pieces on the rack, 2 pieces (1 slice) for every medallion you’ve cut. Bake bacon for 10 minutes. Take out of oven, and make an “X” with two parcooked pieces of bacon. Top with a piece of onion, then the pork (season pork with salt and pepper), then the tomato. Fold the ends of the bacon over and secure with a couple of toothpicks. This makes your individual packets of meat/vegetables. Bake for 30-40 minutes more, until pork is cooked to desired doneness and bacon has crisped around the meat and vegetables. Serve!

Lasagna Rolls –

  • 12 Lasagna noodles
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 1lb. ground meat of choice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 bags of Shredded Mozzarella cheese

Cook lasagna noodles until 1-2 minutes from done. Cook ground meat and onion until cooked through. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Drain fat and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick spray. Place drained and slightly cooled noodles on a clean counter. Spread 1/3c of meat on 3/4 of each noodle Sprinkle meat with 1/4c cheese. Roll-up, careful not to have the filling pus out the sides of the roll-ups and place seam side down in the casserole dish. Pour sauce over all rolls and top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered for 20 minutes until cheese is bubbling and melted.

Let me know how these work out for you and your family! If you need more ideas of quick minimal ingredient meals, please don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below or via email. Stay tuned for 3 Ingredient Meals next!

Alexis

5 Ingredient Meals

Schools are getting back in session; sports practices and games are filling in afternoons and evenings; work schedules are getting more hectic as summer winds down and yet, everyone still expects dinner on the table.

So – to keep things simple and easy while we all adjust to this new busy, we have a week of recipes that have 5-4-3-2 ingredients this week. These recipes all include a few ingredients that you likely already have and always have in your kitchen (see “Kitchen Staples List” below).

Let me know how these ideas work for you and your family – and hopefully they give you a few new ideas to incorporate into your meal plans, and keep things interesting for all!

Kitchen Staples

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Oregano
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Olive Oil
  • Non-Stick spray

Spaghetti and Meatballs (serves 4) –

  • 1lb pasta, any shape, macaroni or larger
  • 1 – 28oz can of tomato puree, sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced in garlic press
  • 1 – 12-16oz bag of frozen meatballs (any meat you prefer
  • 1t Stevia or White Sugar

Boil pasta in salted, boiling water. Meanwhile, in a deep skillet, use 1T olive oil and heat over medium/high heat. Put meatballs in to brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. When you turn the meatballs for the final time (3-4 sides), add garlic, 1/2t of the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste and let warm through, approximately 2 minutes. Turn heat down to low/medium and pour in canned tomatoes of choice and stir until starting to bubble. Once it starts to bubble, turn heat to lowest heat setting and let simmer until meatballs are warmed completely through. Once warmed through and simmered, approximately 7-10 minutes, stir in the stevia/sugar and taste to adjust seasoning. Place cooked pasta into warm tomato sauce and toss to coat.

Chicken and Vegetable Skewers (serves 4) –

  • 1lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast or Chicken Thighs
  • 2 Bell Peppers (any color)
  • 1 Large Red onion
  • Italian Dressing Packet
  • 1c Grains – rice, farro, quinoa

Cut chicken into 1.5″ pieces and put into a gallon zip top bag, add 2T olive oil and the Italian Dressing packet and let marinate in fridge for 30 minutes up to 24 hours. Cut peppers and onion into 1.5″ pieces.

Preheat grill or oven to 400 degrees. Using skewers (soaked if they are the wood skewers), thread a piece onion, then pepper, then chicken, then repeat this two more times (3 of every item), ending then with an additional onion and bell pepper. Place skewers on sheet pan and place in the oven for approximately 6 minutes per side or on the grill for 4-5 minutes per side until chicken is cooked through and vegetable are slightly charred.

While the skewers cook, steam your grain of choice. Plate the grain and top with a skewer of chicken/vegetables.

Sheet Pan Shrimp “Boil” (serves 4) –

  • 1lb Shrimp (41-50ct, 16-20ct work best)
  • 2lbs red potatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 pkg Gilbert’s Andouille Chicken Sausage, cut in thirds
  • 1 Large Red Pepper, cut into 1.5″ pieces
  • 1-2T Old Bay Seasoning

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Defrost shrimp, you can peel or leave the shells on, up to your preference, if you leave the shells on, it will be more like a peel and eat shrimp situation. Sprinkle with 1T of Old Bay seasoning

Spray a large sheet pan with non-stick spray, and place potatoes on the sheet pan. Drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, until potatoes are just getting tender. Take the pan out of the oven, and place the sausage and pepper pieces on the sheet pan and drizzle more olive oil (on potatoes as well if they look dry), salt and pepper on the new additions. Bake for 8-10 more minutes. Add shrimp and bake 6-8 more minutes until shrimp is cooked through and pink, potatoes are fork tender, sausage are browned on all sizes and peppers are a bit charred/soft.

Sheet Pan Nachos (serves 4)-

  • 1lb ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 bag of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 1 container Pico de Gallo (fresh made from store or kitchen is best for this one)
  • 1 bag of tortilla chips or tortilla strips

Turn on the broiler. Cook ground meat in a skillet, remove fat from pan. Add taco seasoning and 1/4c water and simmer. Lay the tortilla chips on the cookie sheet. Top with cooked meat and shredded cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and chips are warm. Take out of the oven and top with pico de gallo and some crushed tortilla chips. (If you’re feeling ambitious, you can add a few more toppings, but we’re keeping things simple here!)

Chicken Parmesan Zucchini Boats (serves 4) –

  • 4 zucchini
  • 1lb ground chicken breast
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 jar (or homemade) tomato sauce
  • 1 bag of shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Cut zucchini in half and scoop out seeds. Bake, cut side up, for 10-12 minutes until softened. In a skillet, heat 1T of olive oil, and sauté the onion for 4-5 minutes until softened. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add ground chicken and cook until chicken is cooked through. Season again with some salt, pepper and garlic powder. Stir in tomato sauce (enough to stir and cover, do not over-sauce) an simmer for 2-3 minutes to heat through. Pull zucchini out of oven, and place chicken mixture in the well of the zucchini (it’s ok if it overflows a little bit) and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.

What are your favorite meals on crazy weekdays? How to you keep food on the table that isn’t from a drive-thru? We’ll be sharing recipes with fewer and fewer ingredients all week – stay tuned for more! If you need any additional ideas or have any questions – please comment below or reach out to me via email.

Alexis

Vacation Meal Plans and Food Prep

I just got back from two weeks away from home, staying with my family in New Jersey. We planned to prepare most meals at home, and for us to use what we had in the fridge, freezer and pantry packed up in the car, so that we just had to buy a few fresh items before settling into our vacation. This being our first time giving this a try, I’m pleased to say that it worked out better than I anticipated and we used all but two items we brought, and only ate out once.

Our chance to disconnect from normal life, enjoy time outdoors, to prepare fun, new and fresh meals at whatever pace and time we wanted as exactly what we needed to relax and spend time catching up with everyone without having a strict schedule, and we stocked u on all the favorites so there were always multiple options to choose from.

There were anywhere from 3 to 8 of us for meals each day; and we managed to keep meal prep to about 90 minutes per day, mainly at dinner / evening time. Check out what we planned for meals, our general “bring from home” list and what we bought at the store on our way into town. Where is everyone heading this summer? Do you bring your own food, or rely on take out?

What we brought with us:

Breakfast

  • Pancake Mix (Krusteaz Just Add Water)
  • Bacon
  • Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate (homemade)
  • Smoothie Packs
  • Shelf-Stable Oat Milk
  • Shelf-Stable Almond Milk
  • Stevia Packets

Lunch

  • Sandwich Bread
  • Sandwich Rolls
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • Bags of Chips
  • Pasta Salad
  • Large Tortillas

Dinner

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • Ground Chicken
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Onions
  • Pizza Dough
  • Tube Biscuits
  • Large Shrimp
  • Chuck Roast
  • Salmon Filets
  • Farro
  • Rice
  • Broccoli
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Dressings
  • Tomato Sauce

Snacks

  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Oreos
  • Brownie Mix
  • Cookie dough

Other

  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chicken Stock
  • Syrup
  • Slow Cooker
  • Egg Bite Cooker
  • Ziptop bags
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Parchment Paper
  • Sheet Pans
  • Single Blender

What We Bought

  • Fruit: Bananas, apples, peaches, etc.
  • Iceburg Lettuce
  • Eggs
  • Sliced Cheese
  • Cheese Blocks
  • Sliced deli turkey
  • Sliced deli ham
  • Corn on the cob
  • Pizza Toppings
  • Lemons/Limes
  • Wine, Beer, mixers
  • Soda and Juice
  • Bottled Water

Our Meals

  • Pancakes
  • Eggs and Bacon
  • Egg Bites
  • Breakfast Sandwiches
  • Sub Sandwiches
  • Deli roll-ups
  • Lettuce Wraps
  • Grilled Chicken Skewers
  • Grilled Shrimp Skewers
  • Chicken Parmesan Pasta
  • Grilled Pizza
  • Slow Cooker Beef
  • Cookie Bars
  • Brownies
  • Seasoned Popcorn
  • Pasta Salad

A Few Tips

  • Prep what you can ahead of time
    • Cut and marinate meat prior to leaving home, freeze / place in cooler so it can marinate and then freeze when you arrive at your rental home
    • Wash fruit and store ready to eat
    • Measure and mix all dry rubs or marinades that can’t be used ahead of time so that it’s all measured out and ready to use and you don’t have to bring multiple containers of components
    • Create smoothie packs to cut down on large bags of frozen fruit
  • Plan a few “random” or leftover days so you don’t have to cook, and so that all of the food is eaten
  • Invest in good coolers and ice packs!
  • Make sure to re-freeze your ice packs so that you can bring home whatever is unused
  • Be flexible – what you started with as a plan may shift, and that’s ok!
  • Have fun! Try something new.

Who else chose to rent a lake house this summer? What did you pack or prepare for the family while you were on vacation? If you are planning some time away, I hope the ideas included here help you easily get out of the house and on the road to some rest and relaxation!

Unsure where to begin? I’m here to help! Comment below or email me and we’ll make sure you get out of the house easily and with everything you’ll need to put fun and creative meals on the table with little kitchen time while enjoying some time off!

Alexis

College Apartment Food Prep Essentials

The last two days we focused on food prep when living in the dorms. Now we need to tackle the college apartment days – where you have an oven and a freezer to go with your refrigerator – and let’s be honest, your small dorm fridge, well you either sold it to the person moving in after you, or it’s quickly become the “beverage fridge” in the living room!

This time, we’re going to focus on growing the Dorm Room Food Prep Essentials list(if you missed it, click on the link to read about those!) for the college apartment days.

  • Set of Pots and Pans
    It’s worth getting a set that can carry through to the last years of college and a few more apartments. I got my first set of Cuisinart pots and pans when I was 22 and over 15 years later, I still love them – definitely recommend getting a stainless steel set that is multi-functional, and long lasting!
  • Set of Plates and Bowls
    Go to Marshall’s and have fun! Get at least 8 of everything – they will be used! Plus, plates and bowls break so often, not worth spending too much extra. There’s also places like Target that have options that are plastic and also dishwasher safe. As a friendly reminder – always make sure whatever you choose can go in the dishwasher, whether there is one in the apartment or not – some day there will be one and you’ll want to use it!
  • Serveware
    Maybe a larger plate and a larger bowl to get started – these also make great gifts to request on the holiday wish list! Just in case some parents or family stop by for a quick bite to eat!
  • Kitchen-in-a-Box
    Totally worth the $25-50 for a starter kit for the kitchen – then add on with other items as needed (again great to add to the holiday wish list). This set has the essentials and will arrive on your doorstep.
  • Set of Mixing Bowls
    Use them for mixing, serving and everything in between – these are a must-have for any college apartment! Someone brings a bag of chips? Put them in a bowl. Making a birthday cake? Mix in the large bowl. You get the idea! This set is durable and nested so easy to store in smaller spaces too!
  • Glass Food Storage Containers
    Food storage will always be needed – and the glass containers won’t get stained or smell strange after you cook something in the microwave, and you can always put the glass containers in the oven, and straight onto a plate – less dishes that way! I recommend this set as a starter set – I have had two of them for over 10 years, and they just last.
  • Bakeware
    Who doesn’t love a good box cake or cupcakes, or even a serving of baked frozen fries/appetizers? You can’t go wrong with a couple of sheet pans, a couple of casserole dishes and a muffin tin. This set is inexpensive and a great place to start. Whether using a box of mix or making something from scratch with 15 ingredients, you’ll use them ALL the time.
  • Casserole Dishes
    Best way to a quick dinner that reheats really well is a good casserole or dump dinner (more on that tomorrow!). This set of casserole dishes works great, can be tossed in the dishwasher and even go in the freezer if there are leftovers/someone preps for you ahead of time. They can also be oven to table or just used for serving whatever you’re preparing.

As we all know, the list is endless of the things that are “essential” in the kitchen, but this will get every college apartment renter started – and make great gifts when heading back to school, or over the holidays as well. Tomorrow, I’ll share some recipes that can be made in an oven/on the stove, etc. again expanding on our Dorm Room meals options!

You know how to find me if you’d like more suggestions or details of what works best for those just starting out, and happy to work with anyone/everyone to feel confident in the kitchen, no matter what the circumstance!

Alexis

Meals in Minutes: Dorm Room Edition

I didn’t have the opportunity to live in the dorms when I was in college, but I spent my time shuttling between home, campus and working as a full-time baby-sitter/nanny for a few amazing families.

I ate almost every meal on the go, and at the strangest times, generally prepping ahead or using a microwave/hot water to prep my meals….but a lot has changed since then in the food prep in a dorm (or hotel room for that matter), and it can be fun/cost effective and sometimes be more sought after than cafeteria options.

Yesterday, we talked about the essentials a college student should have in their dorms, and a small list of pantry/shelf-stable foods that can come in handy when cooking “at home” in dorms. In case you missed it, you can read that post here.

Below, you’ll find a list of foods that would be good to generally have on hand (always makes a great holiday/birthday/any day gift to send a college student back restocked with the pantry essentials or new smaller appliances/utensils to use!) and ways to use them throughout a week with various meal options for any time of day. They may be listed as a snack or meal but we all know anything goes – these can be prepped and eaten whenever it’s wanted!

Breakfast –

  • Waffles
    A small batch of waffles makes 3-4 waffles (generally) – and they can easily be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator and heated quickly in a microwave or toaster for a meal on the go!
    • Appliances / Utensils Needed
      • Mini Dash Waffle Maker
      • Fork or Whisk
      • Measuring Spoons/cups
    • Ingredients
      • Pancake/Waffle Mix (I like Krusteaz brand, you just add water)
      • Water
      • Non-stick cooking spray
      • Butter, Syrup and/or fruit for topping
  • Cereal and Milk
    Nothing could be easier! Cereal from a box, and milk or yogurt. If the dorm doesn’t come with a fridge, cereal is easy to store, and grab a small milk or yogurt from the cafeteria or local convenience store.
    • Utensils Needed
      • Bowl
      • Spoon
    • Ingredients
      • Cereal
      • Milk/Yogurt
  • Instant Oatmeal (not from a packet)
    Instant oatmeal is easy to make at home and have on hand in a dorm room, adding boiling water or microwaving with milk and it is completely customizable. Here is a basic recipe with variations to use as a guide, but feel free to make it your own!
    • Appliances / Utensils Needed
      • Bowl or Mug
      • Spoon
      • Microwave
    • Ingredients
      • Oatmeal
      • Mix-ins
      • Milk/Water

Lunch / Dinner –

  • Spaghetti and Meatballs
    As long as you have the microwave pasta cooker, you have homemade spaghetti any time! If you have a small refrigerator that you can store some frozen meatballs and any leftover sauce, you’re set. No refrigerator? Just buy the smaller jars of sauce and skip the meat, still a homemade meal that might taste just a bit better than the special served in the cafeteria.
    • Appliances / Utensils needed
      • Microwave
      • Microwavable Pasta Cooker
      • Bowl
      • Fork
    • Ingredients
      • Pasta
      • Jarred pasta sauce (tomato, alfredo, etc.)
      • Meatballs (optional, only if you can refrigerate/freeze them in your room)
      • Parmesan Cheese (optional)
  • Tortilla Pizzas
    A great use for some tortillas, leftover vegetables/meat from the week and maybe a jar of pasta sauce that’s left over. Thinking Chicken Alfredo Pizza, or a Pepperoni and green pepper pizza. Here is a suggested recipe to use as a guide!
    • Appliances / Utensils needed
      • Microwave
      • Plate
      • Fork/Knife/Spoon
    • Ingredients
      • Tortillas
      • Sauce (leftovers work!)
      • Cheese
      • Toppings
  • Loaded Baked Potato
    “Baked” in minutes, and the toppings can be as simple as salt and pepper, or as elaborate as butter, sour cream, shredded cheese, bacon, green onions, etc. You can even use a sweet potato instead. Here’s a simple process to follow for cooking the potatoes!
    • Appliances / Utensils needed
      • Microwave
      • Bowl/plate
      • Fork and knife
    • Ingredients
      • Baking or Russet Potatoes / Sweet Potatoes
      • Salt, Pepper
      • Optional Toppings
        • butter
        • Sour Cream
        • Bacon (you may need a microwave bacon cooking plate for this)
        • Vegetables
        • Cheese
        • Protein – shredded chicken or pork

Snacks –

  • Chex Mix
    I don’t think anyone can go wrong with chex mix – especially in the microwave. It’s rather foolproof, takes just a few minutes and it’s just so good. Take a look at this recipe, they have the option for microwave cooking or oven baking.
  • Rice Cakes with Cream Cheese and Jam
    Simple as that – spread some cream cheese on 1-2 plain/salted rice cakes and then add your favorite jam – sweet and salty all in one. You can also make it a crunch peanut butter and jelly sandwich by spreading peanut butter on one side and jelly/jam on the other and putting them together for a transportable treat.
  • Nachos – in the Microwave
    So easy, and so fun to change up the toppings, like so many of the other options above. Here’s a quick recipe/guide to start with, and of course, as with all things, you can change things up to your liking!

Food Items to Keep on Hand

These are suggested items, based on recipes above, but you can look at what will be consumed most frequently/easily, and create a “standard” list from there, and just add what is needed when planning to head to the store(s)!

  • Sandwich bread
  • Pancake/Waffle Mix
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Pasta
  • Jarred sauces
  • Jarred Salsa
  • Tortillas
  • Peanut Butter/Nut Butter
  • Fruit Jelly/Jam
  • Cereals (particularly Chex cereals if you plan to make chex mix often!)
  • Quick Oats
  • Butter
  • Crackers/Rice Cakes
  • Quick Oats
  • Boxes of Milk, shelf-stable (i.e. Horizon Brand, or Almond Breeze (8oz almond milk)
  • Condiments – this is where those take out packets come in quite handy!

It may still be a bit unconventional to cook in your dorm instead of eating with the rest of the campus, but I know there will be days or nights that require a meal made in minutes, with limited supplies – so I hope this is a helpful resource, whether a new college-bound student, or in the home stretch to graduation.

If this seems overwhelming, or anyone needs additional ideas/suggestions; more detailed information about how to pack or store anything for easy food prep in small spaces/minimal refrigerator space, and only one or two ways to heat meals up, please comment below, email me or call us. We are here to help make preparing and heating meals, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Alexis

Dorm Room Food Prep Essentials

This week we’re talking about college life, at least from the food prep perspective. Everything from what to send your college student to their first year of college/dorm life. Whether you’re a parent getting your college crew ready, or a friend/family member looking for a creative gift to give to a college-bound kid in your life, I’ve got the best gift for any high school grad heading to college/dorm life in the next few weeks/months.

A “Dorm Room Food” kit. All the essentials and a few shelf-stable items to get them started….and have options for those late night snack cravings, study breaks and any time in between. You can mix and match everything shared below, or give them everything, it’s up to you!

  • Microwave
    This might be something you’ll need info from the school for – if the room doesn’t come with any appliances…but get the largest you can for the space/wattage allowed!
  • Mini Fridge
    Same as the microwave, confirm that your student won’t receive one from the school, and get the largest one you can for the space/electricity allowed. One that is a great size/price is this one from Target.
  • Microwave Pasta Maker
    Meals in minutes, with so few ingredients! And – you can do more than just pasta – think about rice, quinoa, oats, steaming vegetables, macaroni and cheese…definitely something that can be used more than one way. I recommend this one.
  • Dash Single Waffle Maker
    Works for waffles, hashbrown waffles and grilled cheese (with ridges). And, it comes in so many color choices! Click here to view.
  • Measuring Cups (for dry and liquid measure) and Spoons
    Dry Measure: These are a great deal!
    Liquid Measure: These are easy to clean and won’t break easily either!
  • Large ceramic mug
    From drinking coffee, making tea, making oatmeal to mug cakes, to heating soup or leftovers….we all need a large ceramic mug or two! Give these a look:
  • Personal Water Filter Bottle
    No more purchasing water bottles or worrying about the water fountain water – it will now be filtered when this is part of the dorm room arsenal! Grab one of these for filtered water, that stays cold and creates less garbage/recycling to take out!
  • Microwave Bowls
    For making snacks like check mix or seasoned pretzels, to heating up larger quantities of food or popping popcorn (if you run out of bags), and serving up a few snacks, this bowl is a great multi-purpose bowl to cook in as well as serve your guests!
  • Plates, Bowls, etc.
    The Target brand Room Essentials collection offers great options for as little as $0.50/piece! Check out their options here and grab a few for the school year.
  • Coffee Maker
    I know single-cup coffee makers are getting all of the attention these days, and I love mine too – but, there’s something to be said for the combo of a carafe and single-serve brewing options…think running out the door to class and needing a single cup, vs. making a pot of tea or a study group coffee break. This one is one of my new favorites, it’s an investment, but if brewing in the dorms, saving money at the coffee shops close by!
  • Food Items/Small Pantry Items
    • Jarred pasta sauce
    • Dry pasta
    • Popcorn
    • Olive Oil
    • Canola Oil
    • Quick Oats (not instant oat packets)
    • Coffee
    • Tea Bags
    • Cereal
    • Milk Boxes (like juice boxes / shelf stable)
    • Plastic Pitchers with lids (small for fridge)
    • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, sugar/stevia packets, cinnamon,
    • Paper Lunch/Sandwich Bags
    • Glass storage containers, such as these
    • Can Opener
    • Wooden Spoon
    • Large Plastic spoons
    • Silverware (20pc sets are great for dorm room needs!)
    • Scrubbing sponge
    • Dish Soap
    • Small bin to transport dirty dishes and keep cleaning supplies when not in use

A few fun ways to pack up all of these items are in a large moving box with handles, in a rolling cooler, in a laundry basket or a few reusable bags – all can be repurposed when they are at school!

Coming up later this week – Dorm Room meals, Late Night snacks and eating on campus on a budget….stay tuned!

If you have any questions or need any more suggestions or more personalized gift packs, please call, email or comment below!

Alexis

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