After 8.7yr of marriage I have learned that when we travel Ryan will ask me at least 3 times what we are doing, where we are going, and what he should pack. Even if I just gave him the itinerary information the day before. I finally got smart two years ago and started making a packing list. Not only has this reduced my frustration from the "Didn't I already tell you this?" and has actually made it easier for me to pack too. Ryan also started doing this for his annual ice fishing trip; and now that we have Fredrik, it's going to be indispensable. I've found it helps keep me from overpacking (as much), as well as prevents the inevitable forgotten item.
How do I do it?
1. List off the days you will be gone and what activities you will be doing.
Thursday - Drive to Grandmas (Lunch at rest stop - chicken salad wraps + Veggies & Dip)
Friday - Help with yard work
Saturday - Bake Pies, Brewery Tour, Christmas Caroling
Sunday - Drive Home (Lunch at rest stop - sandwich + veggies)
2. Begin to list what and how many of EVERY clothing item you will need. If anyone in your family/group needs a special item just for them make sure it's listed. Example:
Socks - 3
Underware - 3
3. List your toiletries. If you are staying in a hotel or going camping you probably don't need a hair dryer, shampoo, conditioner... But if you are staying at your brothers apartment, you might want to bring your own.
4 -6. Don't forget road trip snacks or other random items. This might include your gear list when camping/backpacking. If you are cooking meals you might want to include each days meal plan and ingredients needed. Or this might be included in your itinerary at the top of your list. (See above) During our recent trip to my hometown for Thanksgiving it included my spectra breast pump, milk bags, the charging cord, hush machine and charging cord, 4moms playard, etc... and the pumpkin pies!
7. If you have a pet(s) you may also want to list who is taking care of them, and if they have any special items besides food that you need to leave out or bring with to the boarding facility.
As you pack and load up your vehicle, cross off items or put a check mark next to them. Whatever works for you and your brain. After being printed, reviewed by Ryan, and actually used, the list ends up looking like this:
Even though it's an extra step, it's so worth it! If you save your list, you can always reuse or easily amend an old list for a new trip. What travel and packing tips do you have?
Need an easy and delicious dinner idea? Here you go, Crockpot Chicken Puttanesca! You can make it low carb by skipping the pasta, potato, or polenta; and even without the starch, this dish is very filling and satisfying. The anchovies add a touch of Omega 3 fats, as well as calcium from their bones. This is the perfect dish for a dreary, cold, fall evening; and would be great to serve to family or friends. I used the leftovers to make an Italian version of shakshouka, which is what I have pictured here, along with baby kale.
1.75-2# Chicken Thighs or Breast (2-3 cans drained chickpeas or white beans to make it vegan)
2, 15oz cans diced tomatoes (only use 1 can to make a less 'saucy' version)
1/2 cup chopped green or black olives
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2-1 Tbs Italian Seasoning
6 anchovy fillets
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Red Chili Flakes (optional)
1+ Tbs capers (optional)
1. Brown the Chicken in the olive oil
2. Combine the chicken with the remaining ingredients in your slow cooker.
3. Cook on high 3hrs or low for 5+ hours. Or Instant Pot, high pressure or poultry setting for 15 minutes.
4. Serve over pasta, baked potato, polenta, spaghetti squash, or zucchini noodles.
Feel free to sprinkle with fresh parsley or parmesan cheese.
Having a baby is hard work, bringing one home and having your life turned upside down is even harder. Between feeding, diapering, cuddling, and frantic attempts at calming a screaming baby, there's not always time to cook. However, mom and dad need to be well fed to keep up their stamina for that constant care giving. (Even when that's just snuggling on the couch-See picture) Living on coffee and dry cereal just won't cut it. The same could be said for people going through any major life change such as moving, home renovation, divorce. Or other stressors such as the death of a loved one, a miscarriage, someone having major surgery that impacts their mobility, chemotherapy and other medical treatments.
If you know someone who could use several meals I highly recommend starting a meal train. My MOMs club members used this takethemameal.com to organize a meal train and brought us 2 meals a week for 3 weeks. The website has great ideas for meals specific to different diets, but I've also listed some yummy links and ideas below. It was so nice to not have to think about going to the store, let alone cook a meal. Our favorite meals where ones that required very little assembly and could be easily re-heated in the microwave or pot/skillet. Leftovers were also HIGHLY appreciated, so consider doubling the recipe. Something else to consider is if the family has kids or food allergies/sensitivities, or other dietary requirements such as being Kosher or Vegan. Example: After my grandparents died several people brought lasagna or spaghetti to my parents house where we were staying. My sister is very lactose intolerant and canned tomato products also give her digestive issues, so she couldn't partake from any of these offerings.
Crock Pot or Instant Pot:
Buffalo Chicken + tortillas +ranch or blue cheese + carrots & celery sticks
Indian Butter Chicken + sliced cucumbers + Rice/Cauliflower Rice
Beef Roast + Fresh Veggies
Pulled Pork + Buns + Slaw
Chicken Puttanesca (with vegan option)
Vegan White Bean Soup
Picadillo + Rice/Cauliflower Rice + Plantain Chips
Eggroll in a Bowl + Sriracha Mayo
Sloppy Joes or Maidrite + Buns or Baked potatoes + Cole Slaw
Curried Lentils + Rice/Quinoa/Naan + Cucumber Salad
Egg Bake + Fruit + Salad
Meatloaf + Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Spaghetti Squash Pizza Pie
Salmon Cakes + Green Beans (frozen or fresh) + Winter Squash
Black Bean Enchilada Casserole
No Cook/Store Bought:
Rotisserie Chicken + Bag Salad/Dressing, Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
Gyro Meat + Pitas + Tzaziki & Hummus + Fresh Cut Veggies or big salad
Smoked Salmon Salad (just buy pre cooked/peeled hard boiled eggs)
Canned or Store-Made soup + Baguette + Really Good Cheese
Sushi + Seaweed Salad + Frozen Edemame
Tuna Salad from the deli + Crackers + Fresh Fruit
Brownies, black bean brownies, keto brownies, vegan brownies
Fruit + Dip
Canned Cold Brew Coffee
Bottle of Wine or 6pk Beer
I'm a dietitian with a passion for good nutrition, bold flavors, playing in the dirt, and being with my family.