Creating Nutritious Meals with What’s On-Hand

Hey-o, friends of Creating Better Tomorrow! Isn’t Sarah fabulous? Being just a couple of days behind her in the due-date department (and a fellow Hoosier), I’ve been blessed to meet up with Sarah, be cheered on by her when pregnancy’s gotten tough, and in the process, develop a new friendship.

I’m Jaclyn, by the way, the lady behind BumpSweat. There I explore the various facets of a healthy, fit pregnancy, all while actively pursuing that for myself.

Pre- and post-exercise bump selfies

Pre- and post-exercise bump selfies

Something else you should know about me: I’m cheap (you could say I’m ‘frugal’, but let’s just call it what it is). My favorite maternity dress (only 1 or 2) came from Goodwill. I made all the curtains (window & shower) and pillows in our home, with fabric glue, because I haven’t brought myself to purchase a sewing machine yet and could not justify shelling out money on the aforementioned items.

Over the past several years, fueling my body with nutritious food has come to matter greatly to me. So what’s a cheap girl to do when the price of grass-fed beef and organic produce outweighs that of conventional? As a health coach and healthy-foodie, the most common complaint I hear is ‘Eating healthy is so expensive’. But I’m visiting Sarah’s blog today to show you that it doesn’t have to be. As my nutrition knowledge flourished over the years, so too did my bag of eating-healthy-on-a-budget tricks.

This bag contains a big secret, one that will be sure to knock your socks off. Wait for it…

Use the food that you’ve already spent money on to create nourishing meals

I know, genius you’re working with here ;) All joking aside, though, the simple concept of using what’s in the pantry, fridge, or freezer often goes unfollowed. Blame it on lack of time, lack of creativity, or simply wanting to concoct that new recipe you pinned despite not having any of the ingredients on hand. We’ve all been there. Who hasn’t purchased a cart full of colorful produce, with the best of intentions to ccreate nutrient-rich, healthy meals, only to decry the rotten bag of spinach, flimsy carrots, and wrinkly peppers a week later?

A while back, my husband dubbed me the ‘Queen of Random Meals’, so I’m excited to tackle this subject. Let’s get started…

My Top Tips for Using The Food You Have to Create Healthy Meals
#1 Start with a well-stocked pantry & freezer – then utilize it!
  • We waste so much money picking out new recipes that require ingredients we don’t have when there’s tons of food in the house already waiting to be used. And not only are you spending money on more food; think about the cost of time and gas to make another grocery-store trip
  • Recommended pantry staples (as soon as you use each up, replenish your stock by adding it to your grocery list to buy next trip) – *this is not an exhaustive list
    • Vinegars (balsamic, apple cider, red wine, rice wine, etc.)
    • Organic Diced Tomatoes & Tomato Sauce
    • Canned Wild-Alaskan Salmon
    • Natural Peanut Butter
    • Canned Coconut Milk
    • Oils- coconut & olive
    • Grains (rice, quinoa, farro, oatmeal, bulgur wheat, etc.)
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Onions
    • Canned Pumpkin
    • Canned &/or dried beans
    • Lentils
    • Salsa
    • Spices
    • Maple syrup, honey
    • And on and on… I can think of ten meals just looking at this list
  • Recommended Freezer Staples
    • Chicken
    • Beef
    • Bags of frozen veggies (single, mixed, stir-fry, etc.)
    • Salmon
    • Homemade jams, applesauce, apple butters, etc.
    • Fruit
    • Meals you’ve made ahead of time and frozen -
      • *another money-saving trick: make double of a recipe and freeze half to have as another meal
      • Ideas: burritos, soups, black-bean burgers, enchiladas, sloppy joes, lasagna, etc. (all made healthy, of course)
#2 Assess what you have on-hand
  • Make a list of every item of food in your kitchen
    • Start with and make sure to use any perishable items (fresh produce, unfrozen meat, sauces that need to be used up, etc.), then build your meal from there
    • What do I have to complete this meal? (Example meal: rice in the pantry to go with grilled bbq chicken and roasted broccoli)
    • **Bonus tip: Create running ‘inventory lists’ for your pantry and freezer. Add items as you purchase them and cross off what gets used.
  • If you meal-plan (another one of my healthy-eating-on-a-budget tools), use this same listing technique before searching for recipes to make
#3 Get Creative
  • One of the very first throw-together meals I created was an Asian Peanut Sauce with veggies & chicken over noodles. Sounds pretty good, right? I saw peanut butter, a few veggies, and leftover roasted chicken in the fridge. With those items in mind, I perused the freezer and pantry to see what else we had. I discovered ginger in the freezer, and honey, rice vinegar, and buckwheat noodles in the pantry. A little soy sauce from the fridge, and that house-favorite meal came to life.
  • Your turn: Tomatoes, ground beef, and quinoa – what could I make? Tap into that creativity… Go! (Add your response in Ven’s comments)
  • A couple important tidbits to keep in mind:
    • Don’t be afraid to test out new flavor combinations
    • Don’t worry about what the meal will look like.
#4 Search for recipes that call for the items you already have
#5 Create a Go-to Recipe Database and keep those items on-hand
  • List out your (and your family members’) favorite meals – and stash the recipes in a handy place (in a cookbook, on your computer or phone, etc.)
  • Always keep the ingredients handy for those meals

You’re turn. Step in that kitchen, figure out what items you have, and get creative. Hope this helps you whip up your own frugal, healthy meals!

About Jaclyn

Headshot Jaclyn is a holistic health coach & mom-to-be with a passion for fitness, nutrition, and healthy, balanced living. With a background in exercise science and 5+ years of personal-training experience, she quickly grew frustrated with the lack of solid, research-based advice for expectant mamas who enjoy lifting and/or high-intensity exercise. So, she started her blog, BumpSweat, to help women (pre-pregnancy, pregnant and/or new moms) navigate those waters and stay fit & active before and after baby comes. When not coaching or blogging, Jaclyn enjoys digging into the Word, cooking nutritious meals, hiking, and reading.

Follow Jaclyn on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

3 Reasons to Start Reading to Your Child Early

As you might know I am a member of Indy Social Media Moms.  I have met a few of the other gals in the group (hope to meet more!!!).  One of them is Jess Weaver and she has taken over my blog today.  Jess Weaver is a work at home mom and wife. She’s been married to Ryan for nearly 7 blissful years. She has three adorable and rowdy sons. Benjamin- 5, Isaac- 3, and Josiah -1. If you would like to contact Jess you can do so by clicking the contact me button on her website

Reading to your child is clearly an important part of development for your child, but reading to them early is a special gift. You have to admit that it can be hard to get a child to sit still while you’re reading to them, but just keep in mind it’s the words they need to hear, so it all works out in the end. Here are three main reasons children need read to earlier in life.

Early childhood education

#1. They’ll Love Reading

When you introduce books to your child at an early age, they’ll learn to love reading. Don’t forget that reading is something you can do for many years to come. Starting that desire in your children when they are little is a blessing. You don’t have to sit down for hours and hours to read to your child. Start out reading just ten minutes a day and your child will develop a love for reading.

#2. Total Bonding Time

Just like moms who nurse their children get that special bonding time, parents who read to their children also get a special bonding time. It’s amazing to see what happens when you spend time with your little ones while reading. I also love reading to my little ones because it’s an activity that’s free and doesn’t require a whole lot of energy. So, if you’re looking for something low key to do, consider reading to your child at any point in the day.

#3. It Makes Your Child Well Rounded

If you’ve ever come across a child whose parents read to them, you can clearly tell. They have a bigger vocabulary than normal, they can pay attention better, and they are can comprehend so much. Reading doesn’t do this for all children, but it does for most. Reading isn’t just something you’re doing to keep your child busy, it’s really helping them in their development in more ways than you can imagine.

The next time you think you don’t want to read that tenth book to your child, think again. Reading is truly brain food for your little one. Start reading early and keep at it because the rewards are sure to show.

Introducing Our Twins

Introducing our twins!  They are one week old today.  We welcomed our twins into the world this past Wednesday.  The rest has been nothing but wonderful and whirlwind all at the same time.  I have to thank all of our friends and family (especially my mom oh my goodness she is super!) for their love and support.

Without further rambling let’s get to the cuteness…We introduce you to Micah David and Jonah Michael. Micah David weighed in at 5 lbs 11 ounces, Jonah Michael weighed in at 5 lbs 9 ounces – BOTH 19 inches long.  We are all doing well.  Micah is a champion at nursing…Jonah well folks he’s a tricky guy (pray for breastfeeding to get better with him! as momma is a bit frustrated!).  We will move into our new home this weekend.  So it might be a little quieter around here but I promise I’ll be back ASAP!

Micah and Jonah meeting each other for the first time outside in the big world!

Micah and Jonah meeting each other for the first time outside in the big world!

Rolling out of the operating room as a family of four!

Rolling out of the operating room as a family of four!

Such tiny feet that have taken such a huge part of my heart

Such tiny feet that have taken such a huge part of my heart

Snuggling with them both at the same time makes me the happiest momma around!

Snuggling with them both at the same time makes me the happiest momma around!

We are going home!  Micah and Jonah in the cutest outfits around

We are going home! Micah and Jonah in the cutest outfits around

Here we come home - get us out of this hospital!

Here we come home – get us out of this hospital!

Excuse the lack of blogging this week and next week as I snuggle my heart out with the boys

Excuse the lack of blogging this week and next week as I snuggle my heart out with the boys and move into our new home!