Archive | MEAL PLAN


You guys know I’m all about a good meal plan and shopping list but there are certain times, months and weeks during the year when simply having a stocked kitchen and a generous list of easy, fun and mostly healthy meals and snacks is the best option. To do this, it’s more about the shopping than it is the plan and I think we would all agree Costco and Trader Joe’s are the best places to accomplish this. Since I’m still a newbie at Trader Joe’s, thought I’d start by sharing our Costco must-haves. Because we all know the way to a happy home is through everyones bellies. Case in point, below.

A Pocky little Poppy :)

Feed me mama! Ha! Yet her half of the hot dog, minus the mustard, is sitting on the table. I swear my kids always assume that whatever I’m eating is somehow better than what they have?

There’s my little birdie again, waiting for a bite!

Now for a loooong list of things we mostly keep stocked from Costco… Some of my pics didn’t turn out (sorry) so there is a lot of stuff listed that isn’t pictured, but hopefully it still helps!


  • mini cucumbers (so yummy and convenient. easy to pack up and dip in hummus too!)
  • mini bell peppers (also so good and easy for packing and dipping)
  • the salad kits (i’m a sucker for just about any “chopped” salad, and we only use half of the dressing on each one. top with chicken, steak or sandwich meat and you have an easy dinner)
  • spinach or power greens (great with fried eggs or in smoothies!)
  • berries (for snacking, adding to yogurt, oatmeal or protein pancakes in the morning or packing up for a dinner side)
  • kiwis
  • grapefruit
  • limes/lemons
  • watermelon (when in season)
  • apples, bananas, grapes, cuties :)


  • carne asada (pictured below & it’s soooo good. thank you to our friends for introducing it to us!)
  • organic chicken breast
  • flautas (usually served as a hearty snack or if someone needs to leave for a game/practice and dinner isn’t quite done.)
  • chicken meatballs (the kids aren’t crazy about them but Johan and I love them and they are already cooked so make dinner prep quick!)
  • pesto (for pasta night, breakfast sandwiches – that we often serve for dinner – paninis and THIS SALAD)
  • jack’s organic salsa (my personal favorite but i don’t like the spicy stuff. aside from snack and taco/quesadilla/nacho/burrito bowl night, i add it to my eggs in the morning.)
  • guacamole cups
  • hummus and hummus cups
  • half + half + milk
  • eggs (organic free range)
  • string cheese or babybel’s
  • almond milk
  • ground turkey


  • pot stickers
  • mango chunks (for smoothies)
  • blueberries (for smoothies)
  • berry mix (for smoothies)
  • edamame
  • french fries
  • spinach raviolis


  • la croix
  • honest juice
  • izze sodas (every once in awhile)
  • bai juices (also every once in awhile)
  • beeeeer :) (also every once in awhile, but especially in the summer)
  • stumptown cold brew coffee (was available the last time i went but they don’t usually have it)


  • quinoa and brown rice packets by seeds of change (these pouches will change your life. warm up in the microwave and add to a burrito bowl, goddess bowl, breakfast burrito or THIS SALAD
  • cans of black beans
  • canned chicken for salad, chicken melts or to eat with crackers/cucumber slices
  • canned diced tomatos (for pasta al fresco, soups or chilis)
  • chicken stock
  • corn + flour tortillas
  • mike’s killer or good seed bread
  • coconut oil
  • olive oil
  • raw almonds
  • organic spaghetti
  • mixed berry or raspberry jam
  • ALL THE NUT BUTTERS – adams peanutbutter, organic creamy peanut butter, almond butter
  • kodiak protein pancake mix
  • pretzels
  • late july sea salt multi-grain chips
  • pirate booty
  • organic tortilla chips
  • pocky biscuit sticks (bought these on a whim just before valentine’s day so now the kids request them every time i go — oops — but i think they are less expensive at winco)
  • Kirkland coffee pods
  • fruit leathers
  • applesauce or go-go squeeze fruit pouches
  • chia seed pouches
  • fig bars
  • zbars
  • baobab superfruit powder (for smoothies)
  • ground flaxseed and chia seeds OR antioxidant blend with flax, coconut, acerola, açaí, and camu-camu (for smoothies, energy bites and oatmeal)
  • gold standard protein powder (our favorite kind because it’s not chalky tasting. costco doesn’t always carry it but last time it was there the price was $15 less than amazon)


  • muffins (ftw, always. perfect for busy mornings because the kids love them as much as crepes so they hurry down for breakfast, but i don’t have to cook :) — we usually serve them with scrambled eggs or a protein shake and fruit)
  • dinner rolls (sometimes we grab them for sliders, meatball subs or pulled pork sandwiches and then use the rest for lunches. they are the perfect size for the kids… but is also white bread so feels like a treat to the kids.)
  • pretzel buns (if we plan on feeding chili to a crowd!)

Is there anything sexier than a trunk filled with Costco goods? I think not! ha! When Johan and I first got married, our weekly grocery budget was approx. $50 so you better believe I feel so incredibly blessed every time I get to stock up on food for my family.

Do you guys geek out as much as I do over groceries and stores? Please say yes (lol) and tell me what your favorite part or place is!?

XO, Rae





So many reasons to be excited for March — spring break, baseball season, + daylight savings (!), to name a few — but at the top of my list is all the spring produce that’s been popping up at the store. Last week I grabbed artichokes to serve for happy hour with a glass of wine and it was such a fun treat. Especially since most of the kids don’t eat them and there is obviously no sharing wine, so it felt almost like a mini date for Johan and me.

I have always boiled our artichokes and serve with butter and mayo with lemon juice for dipping, but would love to try roasting them too! How do you guys like to cook artichokes?

More links and ideas for March meals below!






Lots of packable and “heat + eat” meals for all the baseball practices and games in our future.

What’s on your schedule this month? What are you most looking forward to?




HOORAY, we made it to the end of Jan-u-ar(a)y! LOL. Did it feel as long to you as it did to me? I guess it doesn’t really stand a chance to the few months and holidays that come before it, huh? However, it does feel good to have the first month of the year under my belt… and seeing as how we ate and netflixed our way through January, I mean that literally too. Is a “cheat month” a thing? (Asking for a friend :)

Anywho, I’ve rounded up a few recipes I’ve tried and loved or want to try in February. Half of them either look delicious or would be perfect for Valentine’s Day (can you say fondue, pasta and tomato bisque with grilled cheese, please!?) while the other half are gluten free and paleo. It’s all about balance, right?






  • bananas + peanut butter pinwheels
  • monster mouths (with marshmallows or nuts for teeth)
  • egg + cheese tacos or omelettes
  • mango protein shake (frozen mango + pineapple, almond or coconut milk, ice and vanilla protein (this is our favorite kind — not chalky!)
  • raviolis
  • edamame
  • french toast + fruit kabobs (perfect for Valentines Day!)
  • chicken salad pitas or lettuce cups
  • fresh veggies with tzatziki dip!

Which recipe looks most appealing to you? I’m kinda curious about the chicken bowl with cauliflower rice.

Feel free to add more recipe ideas in the comments…

Love you guys!

xo, Rae



Coming out of Holiday hibernation to wish you guys a very happy, happy first day of 2018 and share some menu ideas for January! Before we get into the recipe links, I have a MOM-HACK for you that might sound like an ad but I promise isn’t… One thing we’re doing this year to simplify our to do lists and meal planning is to use Click List from Fred Meyer. I used it to avoid the crowds while shopping for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and it was a dream come true. Just shop, purchase and schedule your grocery pickup time online. Then all you have to do is stop by and pick them up without even getting out of the car!  So good and easy it feels a little bit like cheating. If you don’t have a Fred Meyer store near you I know Walmart, Amazon and other grocery stores offer it too. Hopefully it’s something you can try and love… or maybe you already do this and I’m late to the party!?

Now for some yummy recipes to try this month.




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As you can see, I didn’t venture much outside of my trusted recipe web sites but would love some suggestions if you have any faves!?

xo, Rae



Cookie baking, Holiday movie watching, hall decking, and gift wrapping, sign me up for it all. But with December 1 comes a reality check. Christmas will be here before I know it and there’s so much I want to get done between now and the 24th. Assuming you guys are in the same boat, I did my best to curate dishes and recipes that are mostly easy to make and perfect for leftovers! But first a sugar cookie recipe that does not disappoint! Seriously, I don’t eat many desserts that don’t involve chocolate and couldn’t stop snacking on these.


YOU’LL NEED (for cookies):

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • cookie cutters (I used this one)

YOU’LL NEED (for icing):

  • 2 cups shortening
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 8 cups powdered sugar (aka icing sugar)
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream, less or more for desired thickness/texture
  • sprinkles
  • food coloring (the all-natural one we used)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar. Then add egg and vanilla and cream together.
  2. Whisk the baking powder and flour together. Gradually add dry ingredients to sugar mixture, mixing in-between until well combined.
  3. Knead dough by hand for a minute then immediately roll smaller batches, on a floured surface, to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out with cookie cutters.
  4. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven before they brown. Move to wire rack or platter and let cool completely before icing.


  • In a large bowl, beat shortening and vanilla. Add powdered sugar in small amount (I added 1/2 cup at a time) and combine.
  • Add cream gradually and beat until desired thickness and consistency.
  • Divide icing into bowls and add food coloring to each as desired!
  • Spread onto cooled cookies and add sprinkles!

Here are a few other dinners on our menu plan this December!




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Seems like we’ve skipped the second half of fall and went straight to winter, and not just because of the bins of Christmas decorations sitting in our family room. It actually snowed over the weekend, which is not normal but does make turning on the oven that much more appealing! This morning we whipped up a batch of breakfast cookies and plan on making baked pasta tonight.

Here are a few other dinners on our menu plan this November!



  • nachos (try this recipe!)
  • panini sandwiches
  • chicken fried rice (use a store-bought rotisserie chicken to save time!)
  • flatbread, french bread, or pita pizzas (just to mix things up a bit :)


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Quick question for you guys… do you prefer the weekly meal plans with lunch, breakfast and snack ideas too (like this post), or a list of dinners for the month (like above)!?

Happy Hump Day!

xo, Rae



I may not be 100% ready to say goodbye to the summer heat and sunshine, but am fully ready to embrace all the yummy fall flavors and scents. Last night I made butternut squash pasta carbonara, a family favorite (6 out of 7 of us anyway!) this time of year, and wanted to share the recipe with you along with a list of other dinner ideas. My hope is that the list below helps inspire and make October meal planning a cinch!

Warm and cozy fall comfort foods, here we come!


You’ll Need:

  • 3 cups cubed butternut squash, about 1 small squash
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons dried or fresh sage, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (or more to taste)
  • 1-14oz can chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (1/2 + 1/2 or whole milk)
  • 8 (or more slices) of bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
  • 16oz. pasta of choice (linguini pictured)

Here’s How:

  1. Chop squash (here’s a handy video), onion and garlic and cook noodles according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining and set aside (for sauce if needed). Cook bacon as desired and set aside.
  2. To make the sauce, heat oil in a large stockpot and add squash, onion and garlic. Add sage (optional), salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a light boil for another 10 minutes. Stir in cream and remove from heat. Use an emersion blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools– so handy for soups and sauces and easy to clean!!!) to cream sauce or use a regular blender (just be sure to only fill 1/2 way when working with hot liquids so may need to blend in batches). If needed, add more chicken stock or pasta water to thin sauce.
  3. In the large stockpot, toss together noodles and sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Dish onto plates and top with bacon and parmesan.

So goooooood!

Anytime red sauce or pesto are involved my pasta of choice is usually penne so it’s easier and less messy for the kids to eat, but this butternut sauce is the perfect color and consistency for slurping, twirling and finger eating!

A list of 12 dinners that will be on rotation at our house this October below…




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(*perfect for halloween!)

What’s your favorite fall dinner?

Feeling so much better today…. thanks for all the well wishes! You guys are the best!

xo, Rae











(Griffin’s cute tee is 15% off through Labor Day weekend at GrilledCheeseFriday with code: GCF15)

Remember our Beecher’s grilled cheese at Pike Place Market, fail? Well, we made up for it by playing around with different grilled cheese combos at home. Sharing our favorites below, but first a meal plan for next week!

MONDAY | steak (this recipe looks yummy!), roasted potatoes, salad or green veggie

TUESDAY | salmon tacos (be sure to buy wild salmon!)

WEDNESDAYsalmon chowder

THURSDAY | thai turkey lettuce cups

FRIDAY | grilled cheese bar (see combo ideas below!)

BREAKKIE | breakfast burrito / taquito, cereal, hardboiled eggs

SNACK | popcorn, fresh fruit, cucumbers (from gigi + papa’s garden!), yogurt, edamame, hardboiled eggs

LUNCH | raviolis, PB+J’s and snacks from list above

I find menu planning is easier when there’s a theme for each night of the week. Can you guess what the themes are for next week?

Man Meat Monday | Taco Tuesday | Warm + Cozy Wednesday | Thai Food Thursday | Grilled Cheese Friday :)

Pretty tempted to make Fridays grilled cheese night this fall — a welcome change from pizza and it pairs so well with soup which is my personal favorite thing to make, eat and keep on hand once the weather cools off.

Don’t you love, love Griffin’s tee!? If you missed the details above — All Grilled Cheese Friday tees are 15% off through Labor Day weekend at with code: GCF15

Now for some yummy butter, bread, and cheesy combos!

CLASSIC GRILLED CHEESE using extra sharp white cheddar… the traditional orange kind has dye in it!

CAPRESE GRILLED CHEESE with pesto, basil, mozzarella and roma tomatoes.

DESSERT GRILLED CHEESE with brie, semi-sweet (or favorite) chocolate chips, and raspberries or strawberries on the side… inspired by a recipe that came with my Giada panini maker.

APPLE + HAM GRILLED CHEESE does not disappoint! Use  thin slices of apple, lots of white cheddar and sliced ham. It’s so good and gooey!

What’s your favorite way to make a grilled cheese?

Do you have dinner themes for different nights of the week?

Happy Friday loves!

xo . Rae






It’s Friday!!! We’re celebrating with an easy kitchen activity that you can do (and eat ;) with the kids and a meal plan — because getting a jumpstart on next week felt like a really good idea!

You guys know I love anything with googly eyes on it, but aren’t these decorated ice cream sandwiches cute? I had originally planned on making them for Griffin’s party, to match the cake, but ran out of time. So earlier this week, since I had all the supplies on hand, the kids and I threw some together for fun. They hardly require directions, but here’s the DIY details…


  • Straight from the freezer, dip the top of your ice cream sandwiches in sprinkles…. you don’t need to wait until they soften or melt for the sprinkles to stick.
  • “Glue” the candy eyes on with icing.
  • Return to the freezer or eat up!

Now for a meal plan… Next week is looking really yummy!

MONDAY | salmon cakes and garden salad

TUESDAY | black bean quinoa salad with chipotle steak

WEDNESDAYone pot chicken + veggies chow mein

THURSDAY | huevos rancheros

FRIDAY | ravioli + a yummy salad… my favorite lately is to toss together the following: arugula, quinoa, grape tomatoes, slivered almonds, whatever protein I have on hand and pesto with a red wine vinaigrette or coconut oil and lime juice

BREAKKIE | chilled summer overnight oats, smoothies + protein shakes, continental breakfast (yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, cereal, hardboiled eggs, peanut butter toast, etc.)

SNACK | frozen yogurt dots, chips + guac, tuna salad + crackers

Have a great weekend friends!

xo, Rae





Yesterday, Poppy and I spent the bulk of the day watching Oz play baseball while Johan had the other two at Espen’s games (where there are lots of other siblings to play with!). Our day included a couple hours of driving which gave Poppy a chance to nap and me a chance to catch up with Ozzie which is rare these days now that he is driving. A big win, win! On the way home we stopped at a favorite outdoor spot in Gig Harbor, JW @ the boatyard, for dinner. It was such a great day but our dinner out got me thinking about two things I wanted to share and also chat with you guys about:

1. What are we going to eat this week? (simple meal plan below) and 2. How can I encourage (instead of nag) good table manners during the next few months when meals are eaten picnic style, with friends, or out and about?

With the 4th happening tomorrow and our home looking like a complete disaster at the moment, I’m keeping things super simple this week. Here’s what we’ll be eating:

MONDAY | medeteranian orzo pasta salad (add chicken and it’s a complete meal!!!)

TUESDAY | 4th of July grub!

WEDNESDAY | leftovers or takeout

THURSDAY | Cold sesame chicken and noodle salad

FRIDAY | caprese grilled cheese sandwiches and a salad

SATURDAY | salmon tacos

SUNDAY | salmon corn chowder with leftovers 

Poppy insisted on squeezing out her own ketchup packets, ha! By the time she was done, Oz was almost finished with his tacos :)

Good job Pop!

Aren’t they cute together? Best buds. Even with the huge age gap. But snuggling at the dinner table at home isn’t really allowed… hence my dilemma!

A few of the things we are usually consistent about even when eating away from our own kitchen table is saying a prayer, sharing our highs and a low from the day, and clearing our spots (if that’s an option).

If you guys haven’t heard of highs and lows (or happy and crappy for mature audiences), Oh Joy wrote about it here. We’ve been doing it for years and it’s easily a highlight of my day!


How do you guys encourage good table manners, especially during the summer months when routines look a little different? Do you have any mealtime games or traditions? PLEASE share in the comments.

Have a very happy and safe 4th of July holiday you guys!!!

xo, Rae







We spent the weekend in our old college town (WSU in Pullman, WA) watching Ozzie play baseball on the same field he used to run bases around along with the college players post-game, as a curly-headed toddler. It was the sweetest most sentimental thing to see him as a player with that same big head of curly hair. Gah! Time is a crazy (biznich) thing but I’ll stop right there before I start crying… :)

Anyway, aside from cheering on big brother, we had a blast swimming at the hotel pool, eating at a couple of our favorite spots, and walking around our old stomping ground. Knowing that we would be spending a majority of our time watching baseball or running around town, I threw a bunch of opened bags of snacks into a tote before we left and stopped by the store once we arrived for yogurt, deli meat and fruit so we weren’t eating out for all meals and snacks. Between all that and a bag of peanut butter m&m’s we threw together a fun snack mix and grape kabobs turned caterpillars that the kids loved. They don’t require a recipe (or much prep hallelujah!) and since snack and meal ideas are always helpful during the summer months, I thought I’d share more diy details and a meal plan below!

PANTRY SNACK MIX – Grab all the half-eaten boxes and bags of snack foods from the pantry (pirate booty, popcorn, pretzels, fish crackers, bunny crackers, etc.), nuts, seeds, and dried fruit and mix together. Divide into bowls or containers and top with something sweet like sprinkles, m&m’s, and/or chocolate chips.

CATERPILLAR GRAPE KABOBS – Slide grapes onto wood skewers and then use icing to add candy eyes! (I linked to amazon so you could see what I’m talking about but usually buy at Target… although those candy eyes look like a good deal!)

MONDAY | Something from Costco because unpacking, and husband at work and really, who wants to start the week with dishes? Ha!

TUESDAY | Turkey lettuce wraps

WEDNESDAYMexi-quinoa buddha bowls

THURSDAY | FIELD DAY at the elementary school so, pulled pork sandwiches in the crock pot with blue slaw and sweet potato fries will be a nice (and easy-ish) way to end the day!

FRIDAY | homemade mac and cheese… kid request!

SATURDAY | pizza picnic or dinner with friends

SUNDAY | Thai green coconut curry so good!  (I use coconut oil and omit the cuttlefish balls and fish sauce)

BREAKKIE, LUNCH + SNACK | It’s the last week of school and only break I’ll be getting from the kitchen for awhile so we will be eating hot lunches, cereal, apples and popcorn for all other meals :)

Always celebrating this hands-on and always entertaining daddy of their’s but especially on Father’s Day. Even though he was the one that brought me coffee in bed Sunday morning (oops!). I blame Poppy who was up at least 6 times the night before. You just never know who is and isn’t going to sleep when away from home!

I think her personality is growing as fast as her little body… I love you Poppy! (her shorts from childhoods and purse from swankaroo in size L, 6-8)

Proof of the sidewalk meltdown I mentioned on instagram yesterday… still have no idea what she was upset about but luckily she bounces back quickly! A friend pointed out that it might have something to do with being the 5th child? You either bounce back or you miss out on the action i guess!?

Also, tell me Espen doesn’t look like he would fit right in with the cast from Sandlot? And I mean that in the best way. He and Tilly are knee deep in that awkward stage that lasts through 6th or 7th grade (right?) and I can’t get enough of it. It reminds me of that newborn stage where they are just too scrumptious not to adore but haven’t totally grown into their features. Ha! I have mom-goggles for sure.

The very first time I met Johan was in this coffee shop. We had both stopped in to say “HI!” to my cousin Erin who worked there. I walked through the door with Oz in a stroller and couldn’t wait to give her a hug after being gone all summer and Johan was sitting at the counter trying to mooch a free peanut butter frost (which he of course did successfully). Erin introduced us but it was almost a year before out paths crossed again. After so many years of marriage, I love thinking about all the details of our relationship and what it took God to get us together!

THE GOOD LIFE ^^^ on the hunt for ice cream!

Of all the sports my kids play, I think the baseball dugout is my favorite part!

Griff patiently waited for the coach to leave the dugout so he could hang with his big brother. He and Poppy for sure treat Oz like a celebrity.

But seriously… I grew that big man-child in my belly 16 years ago when life was hard and scary and so uncertain. The craziness of how far we’ve come never escapes me. God is so good you guys.

Okay, enough of my rambling! Hope you guys have an amazing start to your week!

xo, Rae

P.S. – Thoughts on wide leg jeans? I’m a sucker for a new trend but after seeing them in photos, I can’t decide. Some angles aren’t that flattering, but they are really fun to wear… and breezy for the summer!