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Kid Friendly MettleFork Kitchen

Healthy and Budget Friendly Meal Ideas for Homeschooling

I know I am not the only one who feels they were completing thrown into being a working from home mom WFHM this past week. I give mad props to SAHM’s (I did my stent for a hot second) and homeschooling parents. Part of me feels like this is a social experiment to see how well I can balance working from home, homeschooling, being a mom and wife. My days have officially turned into the longest days ever and I’m not getting paid overtime.
The Coronavirus pandemic has turned not only our lives, but the entire world upside down. Sociology 101 couldn’t prepare me for what lies ahead. For the unseeable future my days consist of juggling work, feeding three children, keeping the house clean all while trying not to get sick and gain fifteen pounds. In all of the madness, it is easy to grab lots of canned items, chips, cookies and then bam you’ve added on that freshman fifteen you’ve been trying to lose for 10 years. In an effort to combat that, I’m utilizing my skills as a health promotions coordinator and developing a healthy and budget friendly meal plan for homeschooling.

Homeschooling

I don’t think there is a single place left that hasn’t dismissed school for a minimum of a few weeks to the outwards extend of the remaining school year. If you are one of the lucky few, take this time to prepare because your time is coming when you will join the ranks of millions of homeschooling parents. I am by no means an expert in homeschooling. I’m sure the next few weeks will bring many lessons learned for both my children and I. I am however, excited to spend time with my children and tapping into their brains and being more of a contributor to their mental stimulation and education.  Additionally, homeschooling provides the opportunity to influence what your children eat.  No more paying for school lunches you deem mediocre.

Balancing snacks

As I mentioned previously, it is easy to just give our children chips and cookies for a snack and call it a day. Half the time that is what they beg for anyways right? I’m learning more and more that children will eat what you allow them to eat. What I mean is, if I can beat them to the hunger stage and give them fruit or crackers, they never ask for the chips or cookies. It did not dawn on me until one day when I was preparing dinner (pre-pandemic) and I cut up an apple for them to eat. I had to endure roughly 10 minutes of crying from one child, but eventually she gave in and ate the apple slices. Since that moment I make a conscientious effort to have a healthy snack on hand.

Healthy and Budget Friendly Meals

As I set out to prepare for the upcoming weeks, I am keeping one thought in mind. My goal throughout this new normal is to reset how my children eat. Fresh fruits and vegetables are relatively cheap and when stored correctly, can last up to two weeks in most cases. Staying healthy does not just consist of hand-washing, it consists of what we eat too. Foods that are high in Vitamin A, C, E and zinc are important parts of our diet that help keep us healthy. I look at resources such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for guidance on nutrient rich foods. Here is a great article that covers ways to use nutrition to combat illness. With this knowledge in hand, I set out and created a template for healthy and budget friendly meal ideas while homeschooling. Having an idea of what you will prepare throughout the day helps save on both time and unnecessary costs.
Healthy meal ideas
As I embark on this new journey as a working at home mom, homeschooling mom and just mom I hope that you join me along for the ride. I hope that you find some type of routine that works for your family. Be safe and stay well.
Forks Up!

Categories
Dinner Kid Friendly MettleFork Kitchen

Chicken and cheese tortellini soup

Tonights meal was a really quick and easy meal I’d love to share with you all.  I had stocked up on some fresh pasta from the Tesco because all of their pasta variations looked great. My original plan was to just throw some Alfredo sauce on top because my husband had asked for a quick and simple pasta.  If you’ve gotten to know me, then you know I rarely do quick and simple.  If you’ve been reading you are well aware I’m on a soup kick and I’m trying to work out recipes for my upcoming cookbook.  I’ll let you know now, this one is definitely making a feature.  Since this wasn’t my original plan I had to run out to the store and grab some chicken.  I was sooo close to grabbing some breasts to cook and dice up and then I saw it,  the last roasted rotisserie chicken in the store.  I took it a sig that this was destiny.  By using the rotisserie chicken, the flavor would be so much better and the cook time so much quicker.  I grabbed it and some extra broth and made my way back home.

The base of this recipe started with mirepoix which is the french version of the trinity – Carrot, Celery and Onions.  I sautéed that first before adding in the remaining ingredients.  All in all start to finish this recipe only took me about 30 minutes with minimal dishes. I know, I know I said I rarely do quick and simple which was not my initial plan.  I however, could not have asked for a better soup with so much flavor bursting from each spoonful in such little time.  The carrots were supple, the tortellini was fresh and cooked to perfection.  The chicken was so tender it literally fell off the bone as I was preparing it.  When it all came together it was holy matrimony. As an added bonus I had 2/3 of a whole chicken left for a second meal.  My only regret in making this recipe was not making a bigger pot so feel free to double it.

Chicken and Cheese Tortellini Soup

2 cups Roasted Chicken                      3 cups mirepoix – (carrots, onion, celery)

32oz chicken broth                              1 Tbsp butter
1 pkg cheese tortellini                         3 cloves of garlic minced
4-5 fresh basil leaves                           2 Tbsp Tuscan seasoning (if available)
2 cups of water
 
In a large stockpot melt 1 Tbsp of butter and add mirepoix.  Saute mirepoix for 4-5 minutes until it the onions and celery start to become translucent and slightly caramelized.  Next add the minced garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes be sure it doesn’t start to burn.  Then add in the chicken broth and allow it to come to a rolling boil.  Add chicken and basil allow to cook for 5 minutes.  Next add 2 cups of water and 2 Tbsp of Tuscan seasoning.  Add tortellini and allow to cook until pasta doubles in size and floats about 5-6 minutes.
 

  • You can substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth and remove the meat to make it vegetarian friendly.
  • If Tuscan spice isn’t available mix equal parts – 1Tbsp of basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and parsley then add 1 tsp of salt, black pepper, garlic powder and lemon pepper and onion salt.

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Categories
Dinner Kid Friendly MettleFork Kitchen

Carrot and Basil Soup

In this issue of the soup chronicles, I wanted to try something different.  I’m not completely sure what inspired me to try and make carrot soup other than the fact my husband loves carrot juice.  I figured If I made it and he loved it, it was a win.  Little did I know it was like the championship game victory with play by play action.
When I first started with the idea of the carrot soup I had no intentions of adding basil…in fact I had no direction at all.  I bought 1 package of carrots and well that was that. Ha!  How naive was I to think all I needed was carrots and broth.  I started by peeling my carrots and slicing them into medallions to boil.  I figured it would cook much faster this way.  I was right only I didn’t have enough carrots…I send husband back to the store to buy more.

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1 inch thick cut medallions

Next is where the tricky part came in.  With the carrots all boiled and soft how was I to make them into a creamy soup?  Due to our move and the uncertainty of living arrangements, I left most of my electrical appliances in storage in the states.  That meant I had no blender or hand mixer…what the what?  Panic began to set in because I had no idea how I was going to make a creamy soup.  What I did next was out of pure desperation.  I grabbed my potato masher.
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I mashed and mashed and mashed… still not smooth

I continued to mash those potatoes thinking of all the gadgets I had in my half unpacked house that could help me make it smooth.  My mind wandered to the soup maker I had seen at the local Tesco and how I should have just bought it, then I dawned on me.  I had mailed my mini ninja from my office before I left.  I started tearing through boxes and I found it!  I was saved…well kind of.  The ninja only held about 3-4 cups of the carrots at a time.  I had to scoop, blend, pour back in the pot and then scoop again.  It was a process y’all.  Little did I know, this whole ordeal turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I was able to get the soup to the creamy and smooth consistency it should be with a few chunks of carrot here and there.  To be honest, it worked out for the best because it added a layer of texture that would not have been there if it were completely smooth.  I’m glad I was able to work pull off this soup because it was AMAZING!!!  My 7 month old gobbled this soup right up and it was the perfect consistency for her. I even used the fresh basil from my basil plant.  Here is the finished product and recipe below (minus the crazy kinks).
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Carrot Basil Soup

3lbs carrots                                                                       2 Tbsp fresh parsley (finely chopped)

1/4 cup heavy cream                                                       2 Tbsp fresh basil (finely chopped)

32 oz. chicken broth or vegetable broth                     2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp butter                                                                    1 Tbsp sugar

Peel and chop carrots into 1 inch medallions and add to stockpot and boil until soft.  Drain carrots and add to blender.  Puree until smooth or desired consistency is reached.  Add 1 Tbsp of butter to stockpot and melt then add carrots into pot. Let cook 5-10 minutes.  Add salt, sugar and 1/4 cup of heavy cream and stir.  Add basil and parsley and cook additional 10 minutes.

Makes 6-8 Servings.

*Add additional basil to taste – (I like a lot of basil)
**To make completely vegetarian friendly substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth**