New Year- New Plan

Our Christmas break was wonderful! Long days of sleeping in, lounging with coffee and fun with friends and family.

It was a little difficult to get up Monday morning and return to work…not only for me,  but for the little ones that I teach too.

We made it to Friday even though it was a lot of indoor recess. Thankfully, my sweet students had lots of funny moments to keep me going through the week.

On Friday, when everyone’s patience was coming to an end, I had to take some time to talk about friendships, treating others kindly and respectfully and sharing feelings in a clear way.

After my discussion everyone was quiet for a moment. A little girl in my second row put her hand up.

“Yes?” I said.

“Mrs. Skinner” she said thoughtfully, “You are kind of like a kid therapist.”

Yep…kind of.

Thanks for noticing all the hard work I do. Now let’s go to the gym…I’ll teach you badminton.

I still meal plan every week, but a Christmas gift that Andrew and I got has changed my meal planning ways.

I have to admit, I only bought the meat that we needed each week for our meals. I know that is not the most economical way of doing things, but I HATE repacking meat when I buy it in club packs. And then after I fought with the repacking, I would take it out of the freezer to use, only to find it freezer burned.

Well this little food saver is supposed to make it far easier to repackage, and cut out the freezer burn entirely.

So I sat down and decided I would make a MONTHLY meal plan. I didn’t want to go load up on things I could vacuum seal and then not know what to do with it all.

So here is what I came up with:

From this I figured out I needed

  • 8 servings salmon
  • 1 club pack of ground beef
  • 1 club pack of ground pork
  • 1 club pack of chicken thighs

Now to get repacking!

The chicken thighs were easy. I just split it up into amounts that we would use and vacuum sealed away. It took minutes. Next I split the ground beef into 3 parts. 2 packages of just ground beef, and then I made a double recipe of mozzarella stuffed meatballs and sealed those.

Lastly, I made an entire club pack of ground pork into Asian flavored meatballs. I use these in stir fry bowls and to make my wontons for soup. Before I sealed my meatballs, I did freeze them on a cookie sheet so they would retain their shape…and it was a good idea because that machine sucks all the air out! It would have just been a pile of mush.

The salmon was already frozen so no need to deal with it at all.

I couldn’t believe the difference in price for our club pack meat! I knew I would save SOME money, but I literally saved HALF!

And, my meal planning/grocery shopping lists are ready for a whole month…what will I do with all my free time?

Here are the recipes that I will be making over the next month. I hope you find a few new (or old) favorites to add to your meal plans.

Split Pea Soup


Lemon Rosemary Lentil Stew

This Slow Cooker Lemon Rosemary Lentil Soup is one of the easiest soups to ever come out of your kitchen. Fresh vegetables, lemon and rosemary become an amazingly hearty soup with minimal effort. Carrots, onion, yellow bell pepper and red lentils are flavored with garlic and a dash of cayenne pepper and slow cooked until tender.

Crockpot Bolognese

Crockpot Bolognese

Heavenly Salmon Salad

Heavenly Salmon Salad

Coconut Curry Noodle Bowl

Coconut Curry Noodle Bowls

Teriyaki Meatball Bowls

Juicy pork Teriyaki Meatball Bowls seasoned with ginger and garlic coated in a sweet and tangy teriyaki sauce served over fluffy rice.

French Dip Cupcakes

French Dip Cupcakes

Broccoli Cheese and Potato Soup

Loaded Broccoli, Cheese and Potato Soup - so full of flavor and so many delicious ingredients. This soup will keep you warm and full any time of year! { }

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Mexican Red Lentil Stew

Mexican Red Lentil Stew -




Crockpot Bolognese

By the time kids get to grade 3 there are (for the most part) quite proficient readers. Unfortunately, they still take almost everything literally.

The other day in gym class, at two separate times, 2 students came to me and showed me the ball they were working with.

Is this really elephant skin?

And both of them asked me the same question:

“Is this really elephant skin?”

This crockpot bolognese is one of the best pasta sauces I have ever made. Warning- it is a bit time consuming. You cannot just dump everything in your crockpot, but you will be rewarded with a creamy, flavorful sauce for all your effort!

Crockpot Bolognese

Here is what you will need to make this delicious sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 package of ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup white or red wine (I used red)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf

I started by finely dicing up my onion, celery and carrots and sauteing them in some canola oil until they were soft. (Actually, I let my ninja blender dice up the veggies…way easier and faster!)

Then I added the garlic and tomato paste and let that cook another minute or so.

Next, because I have a large skillet that can fit both the veggies and the meat, I added in the ground beef and broke it up nice and fine and cooked it till it was no longer pink.

You can, at this point, try to strain off any excess fat before making the actual sauce.

Then stir in the salt, thyme, oregano, pepper and nutmeg.

To the whole mixture, add 1 cup of milk and bring it up to a rapid boil. You want to cook this mixture until almost all the milk is gone.(between 5-10 minutes)

Then repeat with 1 cup of wine.

Move the meat mixture to the crockpot and add in 2 drained cans of whole tomatoes (save some of the liquid…you may need it).

Squish the tomatoes with a fork (you may want safety goggles and a splash guard for this) and mix everything together.

Add a bay leaf (I like to add 2 for good measure) and cook on low for 6-8 hours. (I let mine cook all day…)

Crockpot Bolognese

Near the end of the cooking time, check your sauce. If the sauce looks too dry, add some reserved tomato liquid and let it cook a little more. If it looks too wet, take the lid off and cook on high a little bit until some of the liquid evaporates.

Crockpot Bolognese

The verdict- this sauce is a lot of work, but it is so delicious! It makes enough that we can eat it for a few days, so I guess all that work is worth it.