Friday 5 – Ways to Use Up Halloween Candy

Halloween CandyMost families will have enough candy to feed the entire population of some small countries by about 8 pm tonight. And the exception of extra candy because it’s Halloween only gets rid of so much (unless you really want to clean up vomit). So what to do with all that candy? We’ve tried doling it out a piece or two at a time for nights on end after the big trick or treating event has passed. But then we have a candy bucket still full when Christmas treats arrive, then even more candy by Valentine’s, and when we get to Easter – ridiculous. So I’ve been searching for creative ways to get rid, er, use up Halloween candy. Here’s today’s {Friday} five:

Trail mix. Mix some peanuts, almonds, and pretzels in with some of the candy and feel less guilty about serving it up as an after school snack.

Eat it yourself. Those Halloween costumes didn’t make themselves (or buy themselves, I’ll admit to it). So you have certainly earned a treat…or 20. And kids who think gummy anything is great loot, seriously cannot fully appreciate a Reese’s peanut butter cup like you can.

Candy Apple salad. Bonus – this also uses up some of those apple from the apple picking trip! There are tons of recipes for this salad on Pinterest, but the basic idea is chopped apples, Coo, Whip, and crushed snickers bars. Technically more of a dessert, but this time of year no one is going to judge if you want to cal it a side dish!

Bribe your kids. Yeah, yeah. If you want to pass judgement, go read another blog. Eliciting exceptional behavior and extra chore completion gets real easy in the stretch between Halloween and the arrival of the Elf on the Shelf. It’s amazing what you can get kids to do for a measly Twizzler!

Get crafty (or mathematical). Use small candies in art projects. Make rainbows with Skittles, use M&M’s for leaves on trees, or make an original abstract using whatever candies they want! Or, make them earn those M&M’s, Reeces Pieces, and Skittles by having kids count them, graph the colors, or make patterns. Go a step further and use as manipulatives for addition, subtraction, and multiplication. If you have three groups of four M&M’s, how many do you have? Now if Mama eats four, how many are left? :)

Halloween Books We Love

I absolutely love reading seasonal books to my kids. I always pack them away after each holiday, and bring them out about a month before. It builds the excitement and makes these favorites have even more of a special air to them. And for each holiday, there are some books we can’t wait to open and jump into again, like old friends we’ve dearly missed. Here’s the Halloween books we love the most:

Halloween Books We Love

 

  1. Room on the Broom. I love this cute story about a witch making room on her broom for some very helpful friends. 
  2. Five Little PumpkinsWhile this is meant for the younger set, I love that my kids now know it by heart, as well as the movements that go along with it. And it’s short enough that we read it a couple times every night that we pick it. 
  3. BunniculaThis is new to our list this year. I loved this short chapter book as a kid, and was so excited to share it with my boys this year. We’re about half way through and there have been nights where my kids are laughing out loud, and ones where they are clutching my arm in anticipation as well!
  4. The Legend of Spookley the Square PumpkinThis is one of my favorite books. Such a cute story with an important lesson about the value of differences.  
  5. We’re Off to Find the Witch’s HouseHow could a word nerd like myself not love a book that includes lines such as, “Which house? The witches’s house!” I love that the pictures add to the story and my kids can pick out the clues in each one. 

What are your favorite Halloween books?

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small amount of compensation for the referral. However, I truly recommend all of these books! Thanks for supporting Structure in an Unstructured Life!

A Week of Halloween Dinners

So, it’s Tuesday. And I’m just now posting my Menu Plan Monday post. Sigh. Such is life these days. If I get thrown for a loop anywhere in my schedule, it seems hard to get back on track these days. But better late than never, right? ;)

This week, I’m bringing you a week of Halloween dinner ideas. I’ve been slacking on the fun in our meals lately, so I thought I would use all my fun Halloween ideas this week and offer up a spook-tacular week of dinners for the littles! Here’s four great ideas, including a recipe I adapted for a fright night version of Sloppy Joe Pie, sure to impress kids little and big in your house!

  • Mummy Dogs. These are as easy as they come. Simply unroll crescent roll dough and use a pizza cutter to cut it into strips of dough. Wrap the strips around hot dogs to make “mummies.” Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until the crescent dough is baked and golden brown. Add mustard or ketchup dots for eyes, if you like!
  • Pizza Fingers. You can get all fancy and make your own pizza, if you like. But I’m going simple and preparing two frozen cheese pizzas per the directions on the package. Instead of slicing pizza-style, cut in straight lines to make strips. I’m going to cut the strips in half, as well, to make them more manageable. Then add red pepper pieces cut into triangles for the “nail” at the end of the pizza “finger.” Add marinara or pizza sauce for dipping.  
  • Spiderweb soup and Jack O’Lantern grilled cheese. I’m making tomato soup. Place sour cream in a plastic baggie and cut off the corner, to make a squeezable bag. Pipe the sour cream in concentric circles on the soup. Drag a toothpick from the center circle out, to give them the look of a spiderweb. For the grilled cheese, simple cut a pumpkin face out on the bread for one side of the grilled cheese, so the orange cheese shows through. Your best to use a less “melty” cheese, like cheddar slices, rather than the simple American cheese slices. 

Halloween Sloppy Joe PieJack O’Lantern Sloppy Joe Pie. This recipe is adapted from one that appeared in the Pillsbury Come & Eat booklet from the Fall of 2001. I made it less spicy to suit the tastes of my kids, and then The Coach and I add a little Tabasco or red pepper flakes to spice up our own serving. 

1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on package

1 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey

1/2 cup diced onion

1 cup salsa

1/2 cup ketchup

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup frozen corn

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Unroll pie crust onto a baking sheet and cut out a Jack O’Lantern face using a sharp knife. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until crust is light golden brown.

Meanwhile, brown the ground beef/turkey and onion in a large skillet. Add remaining ingredients, and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until the corn is cooked. 

Carefully place the pie crust on top of the meat mixture to serve. 

 

On to my menu!  I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! I also often link up at Feeding Big. Or check out and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfasts 

(we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)

Lunches 

(This school year, our district received a grant and school lunch is free for ALL students! So unless there is a day where my kids really don’t like either of the options, they will be eating the free lunch. Otherwise, I’ll probably just keep a couple Lunchables on hand for those rare pack-a-lunch days.)

If you’re looking for ideas for Peanut Free School Lunches, see my post from last year here

Dinners

    • Monday  – Mummy Dogs, fries, apple slices
    • Tuesday – Jack O’Lantern Sloppy Joe Pie, salad
    • Wednesday – Pizza fingers, salad
    • Thursday – Spiderweb soup with Jack O’Lantern grilled cheese
    • Friday – Halloween Party
    • Saturday – Birthday dinner with family
    • Sunday – Leaving open to decide on Sunday!

What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!

Like the recipe or feature this week? Please consider sending it to a friend, sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, or pinning it to Pinterest. Thanks so much!

{Friday} 5 Reasons We Love Football

Coach of the week blog

Photo credit: Junfu Han | MLive.com

So I know this is going to come in just under the wire, since I am writing it after a football game, with only a little over an hour left on Friday. So it’s a little funny that my Friday 5 today is 5 Reasons We Love Football. 

Tonight was the last game of the season for The Coach. This year, I think I’m actually slightly more sad to see the season end than happy. This was my husband’s first season as a head coach. I’ve been blessed to watch him lead a team of exceptional young men, honored to graciously accept the compliments from so many in our community on his leadership and skill as a coach, and humbled by his grace through the ups and downs of the season. The very first time the thought ever crossed my mind that I loved him was when I was watching him coach on a football field. And this season, I have truly fallen in love with him all over again so many times. I am so proud of him I could burst. 

So today’s Friday 5 is a tribute to my amazing husband – 5 reasons we love football…

  1. The action and pace. While I like other sports, nothing has the same balance of action and pause like football. Baseball moves a little too slow, hockey and basketball a little too fast. Not to sound like Goldilocks, but football is just right. I love the spurts of action with each play, and the pause to regroup and focus before the next spurt. It moves fast enough to keep me from getting bored, yet slow enough to keep me from getting overwhelmed.
  2. The fanfare. Ever been to a college tailgate at a Big 10 school? Nothing like the fanfare, the hoopla, the spectacle of football. Fans range from tame to insane. Even at high school games, you see the crazy outfits, hear the chants, and feel the excitement buzzing.  The Coach and I have made it an annual event to go to a Michigan State game every year because we love the tailgate and fanfare of being there. 
  3. The food! You know I’m a food lover, so I can’t leave out the food. I’ll be honest – the kids and I look forward to nine straight weeks of concession stand entrees. From burgers and brats to nachos and dogs, I honestly love it all. Concession stands that offer walking tacos score big points in my book. And then there’s the tailgating fare – appetizers that are enough to make a meal of and chili for the late fall games. There’s a reason my kids beg to have a “tailgate dinner” often – we love our football food!
  4. The multi-faceted game. Football is a complex game. While I have been seriously trying to learn it for the last eleven or twelve years, there is so much still to figure out. There are countless offensive and defensive strategies. Every game has its own balance between player skill and coaching strategy. Every match up is unique because players are constantly changing, coaches are constantly evolving, and unknown factors are constantly popping up into play. For someone who loves to learn, football will always hold something new for me, no matter how many years I study it. 
  5. The teamwork. A team with one star player can be ok, but for a football team to be great, it takes teamwork. No football play is ever made by one person. A quarterback may run the ball, but without his team blocking, he won’t make it anywhere. Without a great receiver, a quarterback’s pass will never gain yardage. Without the effort of the entire line, a defensive will never stop the efforts of the opponents. In a culture that seems to be losing the spirit of teamwork, it’s comforting to see something that relies on collaboration and joint effort. And I feel like even if it is just my small voice in the stands cheering, I am still standing behind a world that values working together. 

So here’s to my husband – the best coach I will ever know. While the long hours and the constant call of the game sometimes wear me out, I still love it. And I love you all the more for your passionate love of the game. Thanks for letting us be a part of it. 

Living the Dream

I lay in bed, willing my eyes to open, in the haze between the alarm sounding and actually getting up. I had one thought in my head – I’m living the dream.

I often say this phrase with a fair amount of sarcasm dripping from my words. But the day after Labor Day I lay there thinking it in all it’s literalness and honesty. Because while I may not be living the proverbial American dream, I am certainly living my dream.

living the dream

For the last several years my dream has been to find where I make a difference. Where I can answer God’s call with my particular talents. Where I can be a part of my community. Where I can be a mom and make a difference both. Where I can be a part of something bigger. For the last several years I have prayed, and wished, and hoped. I have had prayers answered with a no, and wishes gone ungranted, and hopes fade into dust. All to bring me to right here.

My dream I am living started with a move to a small town on a big lake, that was meant to be a stopping point on our path to where we wanted to really be. Then we grew to love this town, and we started to imagine raising our boys here and growing old while watching sunsets over the lake and taking walks on the beach and window shopping along the downtown.

IMG_6635

While this love was taking shape, another dream was starting – to lead a program of young men, both on a football field and off. And along side all of this, discontent was growing with the climate of healthcare and the ability to make a difference at work, and the lack of time to make a difference at home. The idea of having it all was seeming impossible and the idea of having nothing seemed probable.

Then things began to fall into place, although sometimes they seemed like they weren’t. After a long interview process, my husband earned a head coaching job in this little town we love. And they had a position in the school for him that is both challenging and rewarding.

Then I lost my job doing training in healthcare. Two steps forward, one back. But that allowed me to examine what I really wanted to do, and it really wasn’t training in healthcare. I got my teaching certification back, and was offered the perfect job for me – teaching technology to K through 3rd grade students.

IMG_6574

The course was never smooth, with waits that seemed too long, people who viciously and revengefully tried to derail our train, and moments that, well, sucked. But the thing is, living the dream isn’t about life being ever blissful and problems never arising. It’s about feeling like you are where you belong, and feeling content with that place. I’m not so naive that I think we will never have tough times again, but I have the belief that the dream will come again when we do.

I finally opened my eyes and got up that day. I went to my new job, where I had fun and laughed and smiled. I had people offering kind and encouraging words, and I had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children in my community. I got to see my kids while I was at work. Later that month, we walked in homecoming parades through our downtown, and celebrated football victories like we were local celebrities. I soaked it all in.

IMG_6551

My dream may be simple to some. It may seem like a story line out of a Friday Night Lights episode, with the small town teachers and football games and parades through town. But it’s my dream. And I can’t help but tear up when I stop and think about the fact that I’m living it. Life is good, and I’m living the dream.

Tailgate Favorites

Tailgate favoritesAs you already know, we love football at our house. And one of the things I love about football is tailgating – and more specifically, tailgating food! Here’s a few of our faves we bring to tailgates and are enjoyed by all!

  • Buffalo Chicken Dip. The Coach asks me to make this all the time, and I’m usually pretty willing to oblige since it is so simple and so delicious. I love that I can throw everything in the crockpot, turn it on, and just stir it up once in awhile until everything is smooth and creamy. I serve it with tortilla chips, but you could also do crackers. 
  • Man Dip. This is a Coach original. I’ve never actually seen all the steps to making it, and he’s a little secretive. I do know it involves Velveeta, taco meat, green chiles, and a can of Nacho Cheese soup. Maybe some day I can get him to guest post his recipe over here! ;)
  • Meat & Cheese plate. I’ll admit, I often pick up the pre-made Hormel version from the deli. I like it even more when it comes in the cute football shaped container. But any variety of meats like pepperoni, sausage, or ham, and cheeses like cheddar, Colby, and pepper jack are perfect. Add some crackers and you’re ready!
  • Chips & Dip. I usually will mix things up and sometimes bring salsa or Queso and tortilla chips, and sometimes bring potato chips and French Onion dip or garlic dip, and sometimes corn chips with taco dip or chili dip. Seriously, I could make a meal out of dip, so I love this!
  • Smoked Sausages. I found a recipe on Pinterest one day and decided to give it a try for a post-game party. As I hurriedly pulled everything out before the game to get it going, I realized I was out of brown sugar, which was one of the three needed ingredients. Rather than panicking, I thought about what I could substitute that was sweet and would be somewhat thick when heated up. Maple syrup. So I created my own recipe – I simply slice smoked sausage into inch thick chunks, pour some maple syrup over them, add a tablespoon or two or spicy mustard, and turn the crockpot on low for a few hours. They have been a HUGE hit every time I’ve made them! 

On to my menu!  This is our last week of football for both the little guys and for the big one. Which is always a little bittersweet. I’m glad the crazy schedule will calm down a little bit, but I wish we were heading into play off season and continuing on with the team. But this week will be full of fun – a parents vs kids flag game with my little guys and our annual Blueberry Bowl for Rocket football, which is an all day event that wraps up our season with games against teams from four other neighboring communities. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably figured out what my area is known for, since my son and I ran in the Blueberry Run, which was during Blueberry Festival, and our event is the Blueberry Bowl. ;) If you’re looking for more menu ideas, check out and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfasts 

(we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)

• Cereal
• Granola bars and yogurt
• Pancakes
• Cream of Wheat or oatmeal
• Toast or English Muffins
• Breakfast sliders
• Banana smoothies
• Breakfast bites 

Lunches 

(This school year, our district received a grant and school lunch is free for ALL students! So unless there is a day where my kids really don’t like either of the options, they will be eating the free lunch. Otherwise, I’ll probably just keep a couple Lunchables on hand for those rare pack-a-lunch days.)

If you’re looking for ideas for Peanut Free School Lunches, see my post from last year here

Dinners

• Monday  – Soup and Sandwiches, apples
• Tuesday – Chicken Tacos
• Wednesday – Fettuccine Alfredo, garlic bread, broccoli
• Thursday – Pizza
• Friday – Game Day
• Saturday – Blueberry Bowl
• Sunday – Mac & Cheese, smoked sausage, broccoli

What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!

Like the recipe or feature this week? Please consider sending it to a friend, sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, or pinning it to Pinterest. Thanks so much!

{Friday} 5 Favorite Things About Fall

photo credit: paul bica via photopin cc

photo credit: paul bica via photopin cc

I started a feature last month – Friday 5 – then kind of abandoned the blog for a bit. The idea is, each Friday, I’ll share five tips, ideas, favorites, or just thoughts on a topic. As I try to figure out the logistics of this new job and still fitting in blogging, I thought this would give me a little more, well, structure. And y’all know how much I love that! So I’m trying to get back in the swing of things and pick this series back up. I hope you keep joining me each week for my Friday Five!

I used to declare that I was absolutely a summer girl. Favorite season, hands down, was summer. But as I entered the world of having to work in the summer, and developed less tolerance for annoying mosquitoes, sticky humidity, and a town full of fairly annoying tourists, I’ve changed my preference. While I still do love a good day at the beach, a long weekend camping, and am back to enjoying summers off, I’m much more of a fall girl these days. What has changed my mind on this all important preference? Here’s my Friday 5 favorite things about fall: 

  1. Pumpkin Spice. Pretty much anything pumpkin flavored tickles my fancy. A Pumpkin Spice Latte is one of the highlights of the season for me, and I’ve been buying the Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer since it’s first appearance back in the dairy section in late August. I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin rolls, and can’t wait to try just about every single pumpkin recipe I see on Pinterest. Don’t be surprised if one of these days I actually start turning orange!
  2. Changing Leaves. Just this past weekend we were driving south for a flag football game and were marveling at the changing colors we saw on the trees lining the highway. Not only do I love seeing the variety of colors nature uses to paint the scenery, I love the symbolism associated in changing leaves and remaining roots.  
  3. Football! You didn’t really think I would leave this off the list of reasons I love fall, did you? From tailgating festivities to concession stand treats; from defensive battles to Hail Mary passes that miraculously win games; from the teamwork of players to the strategizing of coaches – I love it all! And fall holds three day weekends of football – high school, college, and pro (with a flag game thrown in now, too!). This girl loves football. 
  4. New outfits. Ok, I usually like this about every season, but by the last days of heat in the summer, I’m ready for some variety in my wardrobe. I love getting out the leggings and boots, the sweaters and scarves, that accompany the dropping temperatures. Not to mention the fall color palette of dark browns, rich burgundies, and deep plums. And nothing makes me feel more cozy than wrapping up in a big chunky sweater!
  5. Birthdays. I happen to be the only member of my immediate family without a birthday in the fall. My husband and both my boys all have birthdays within a two week span in September. Add in my mother-in-law’s birthday and both of my nephews’ birthdays, and we pretty much eat cake for a month. Well, that’s not exactly my favorite part, but I do love the festivities and the reasons to celebrate the special people in my life!

What do YOU love about fall? Is it your favorite season?

Crockpot Meatballs

Crockpot MeatballsWell, hello there! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I’ve still been menu planning away over here, cause that’s just who I am. Just haven’t been the good blogger and posting my plans on here. Hoping to get back in the game, though!

This week I’m sharing an easy-peasy recipe I whipped together. I kept telling my boys we hadn’t had meatballs in awhile, but then would forget to put them on the plan. Then a conversation with a friend spurred me to add them in, but with a twist. I was chatting about making meatballs in the crockpot. I wondered if it would really work, or if everything would just meld together into one big lump of meat. I was oh-so pleasantly surprised that the meatballs really do hold their shape in the crockpot! I served these over mashed potatoes with a side of mixed veggies. Perfect comfort food!

Crockpot Meatballs

2 – 2 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 eggs

1/2 – 3/4 cup bread crumbs

1/4 yellow onion, diced (we really like onion, so you may prefer less)

1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 jar of beef gravy (or 1 – 1 1/2 cups homemade beef gravy)

Mix all ingredients well. (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer for this and it works like a charm! Everything gets evenly and well mixed, without me having to stick my hands into the raw meat more than necessary!) Form the mixture into balls, slightly larger than golf ball sized. I can usually get about 12-15 meatballs. 

Place in the crockpot. Don’t worry about having them on top of one another – they still come out separate! Pour a jar of beef gravy over the meatballs (or about 1 – 1 1/2 cups homemade beef gravy, if you’re feeling ambitious!). 

Cook on low for 8 hours. 

 

On to my menu!  You can tell fall weather is upon us, as my menu has started to include more and more comfort foods and crockpot fare. Looking for more meal ideas? Check out and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfasts (we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)

• Cereal
• Granola bars and yogurt
• Pancakes
• Cream of Wheat or oatmeal
• Toast or English Muffins
• 
Breakfast sliders
• Banana smoothies
• 
Breakfast bites 

Lunches (This school year, our district received a grant and school lunch is free for ALL students! So unless there is a day where my kids really don’t like either of the options, they will be eating the free lunch. Otherwise, I’ll probably just keep a couple Lunchables on hand for those rare pack-a-lunch days.)

If you’re looking for ideas for Peanut Free School Lunches, see my post from last year here

Dinners

• Monday  – Meatballs, mashed potatoes, veggies
• Tuesday – Pick up (football scrimmage at 5:30)
• Wednesday – Crockpot Smothered Pork Chops, egg noodles, veggies
• Thursday – Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread
• Friday – Game day!
• Saturday – Queso Chicken, rice, veggies
• Sunday – Leftover buffet or Soup & sandwiches

What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!

Like the recipe or feature this week? Please consider sending it to a friend, sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, or pinning it to Pinterest. Thanks so much!

Catching My Breath, and Finding My Words

I had the entire month planned out. You can see it below. You can also see, I have three posts crossed off. The best laid plans…

calendar

The past month has been filled with triumph and tragedy. There have been days I wish I could live in forever, and days I wish had never, ever come to pass. There have been sleepless nights, long days, and moments that seemed to go on forever. I can hardly catch my breath, let alone find my words.

I’ve thought about this space, but will be honest that I haven’t even peeked over here. I haven’t looked at page views, or track backs, or social media platforms. It’s been hard to do anything that seemed normal and everyday just a month or so ago. Life looks different for a million reasons, some fabulous and some more awful than I could have imagined. I have been finding a new way, with new jobs and new routines and new people, all while trying to also process grief and mourn. 

And while this space has been slightly abandoned, my words are starting to find their way back. They come to me, mostly in the moments of quiet, like in the shower, or while I’m driving alone, or putting laundry away. Sometimes I let them start to bubble up, and feel them out. Other times I get distracted by life, or by my inability to live at times. Sometimes I sift through the words and try to capture them. Other times I let them slip away as I stare at a dress hanging on the edge of my hamper, that I can’t bring myself to take to the dry cleaner because it has become the dress I wear for funerals of people I love.

Sometimes writing is my therapy, and other times it is my poison. There are things I can only get out in writing, and there are things that once written I can’t ever put them back in. There are things I need to face, and writing them forces me to. There are other things that I am not ready to accept, and fear that if I write about them I will never go back to being ok again. I am trying to catch my breath, and hoping my words will come again once I do.

I appreciate the people who have missed my voice, and I promise I will find it again. Thank you for being patient.

Summer to Fall Meals

Summer to Fall MealsThis is the season of unpredictable weather here in Michigan! It can be sunny, 80, and summer-like one day, followed by rainy, 50, and fall-like the next. Which can make meal planning tough, because who wants to eat a nice hot casserole on a steamy day or a cool crisp salad on a cold wet evening? Not me! So I have a few meal plans that are a little flexible to accommodate the changing seasons. Here’s my favorite ideas for summer to fall meals…

  • Rotisserie Chicken. This is one of my faves year round because of how easy it is, but it especially works this time of year. Since this is often my version of take out, I can simply pick up sides to go with it that fit the weather. For warm days, I grab some potato salad and bean or broccoli salad. If the temps are cooler, I opt for mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. 
  • Burgers. The great thing about grilling burgers is that it is just as easy to grill them outside when it is nice, or on the George Foreman grill inside if it is crummy. And no matter what the weather, some fries or chips and a seasonal fruit work perfect for the side dishes!
  • Cooked chicken. I can stick some chicken in the crockpot in the morning to cook all day, then decide when I get home how I would like to use it. Since I generally have the basic ingredients on hand for entrees like chicken and rice casserole or chicken salad, I can opt for either one depending on the temperature outside. And also, either one can be completed nicely with a side salad and some crescent rolls. 
  • Sandwiches. This is definitely a go-to flexible meal, because sandwiches are quick, versatile ,and portable. If we are blessed with one of those last nice days of the season, we can pack up some simple sandwiches and head to the park. If the day is more nasty than nice, we can pull out that handy George Foreman grill and make panini-style sandwiches and curl up inside!

On to my menu!  Whew – the first week of school exhausted me!! Granted it involved things like a malfunctioning fire alarm while I was teaching, a football game that was rain delayed for well over two hours and didn’t end until almost midnight, a situation where I had to deal with a rather unpleasant person that I thought I was done having to deal with but unfortunately am not, and then all the usual tiring events of the first week of school! Hoping for a slightly less exhausting week! I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! I also often link up at Feeding Big. Or check out and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfasts (we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)

• Cereal
• Granola bars and yogurt
• Pancakes
• Cream of Wheat or oatmeal
• Toast or English Muffins
• Breakfast sliders
• Banana smoothies
• Breakfast bites 

Lunches (This school year, our district received a grant and school lunch is free for ALL students! So unless there is a day where my kids really don’t like either of the options, they will be eating the free lunch. Otherwise, I’ll probably just keep a couple Lunchables on hand for those rare pack-a-lunch days.)

If you’re looking for ideas for Peanut Free School Lunches, see my post from last year here.  

Dinners

• Monday  – Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Rice, rolls (trying this one out!)
• Tuesday – Breakfast for dinner (eggs, bacon, toast, fruit)
• Wednesday – Fish & chips, peas
• Thursday – Pizza
• Friday – Game Day (It’s a long ride to the away game, so my birthday boy has requested McDonald’s)
• Saturday – Hamburgers, roasted potatoes, watermelon
• Sunday – Grilled chicken, pasta salad, watermelon

What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!

Like the recipe or feature this week? Please consider sending it to a friend, sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, or pinning it to Pinterest. Thanks so much!