Thanks to Stouffer’s and The Motherhood for partnering with me for today’s post on balanced meals. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine alone.
My budget is weighing heavily on my mind this time of year. I have a large extended that I buy gifts for (and it’s a joy to get to do…gifts are my love language) and this month I’m buying most of those gifts. I have some money set aside for Christmas, but I also need to get very resourceful with my monthly working budget, and figure out some ways to pinch pennies. One of the ways that I do that is by getting creative in the kitchen to use up as much food that’s already in the house as I can, since that food has already been purchased.
A few days ago, for example, I did our weekly grocery shopping, and I only bought milk, eggs, and fresh fruits and veggies that were on sale. Everything else we are going to be eating this week is coming from the fridge, freezer or pantry.
Most people are spending more than usual this month and next, so if this budget crunch rings true for you, I want to encourage you to think about your family’s meals in the coming weeks in a different way. With a bit of creativity, you can create a balanced meal that offers great nutrition and is really affordable (and you can clear out some space for those big holiday meals, too!). Let me show you what I did!
One of the treasures you will typically find in my deep freeze is a frozen lasagna. I love the Stouffer’s Family-Size Lasagna with Meat & Sauce, as this particular product has saved me on more than one occasion when we had company coming over and I didn’t have time to run to the grocery store before they arrived, or when my own family wanted a deeply satisfying meal (isn’t lasagna SO good?) and mama was just too short on time to make one.
I paired the Stouffer’s lasagna with brussels spouts and pulled together something fantastic (I promise! Don’t give up on brussels sprouts!).
Here’s what you’ll need if you want to give this colorful meal a try:
- One Stouffer’s Family-Size Lasagna with Meat & Sauce
- 16 ounces brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
- 1/2 package of bacon
- 1 small can water chestnuts, chopped (could substitute pecans or something else with a crunch)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (could substitute raisins)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
While the oven is heating, go ahead and cut your brussels sprouts into fourths. Coat the sprouts with the olive oil, then place them on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for approximately 20 minutes, stirring around after 10 minutes. You’ll want them to have spots of dark coloring on them.
While the sprouts are roasting, prepare your bacon to your liking. I personally also bake my bacon in the oven, so I just lay them out on a foil lined sheet and let them cook at the same time as the sprouts (they need about 17 minutes).
Once your sprouts and your bacon are cooked, it’s time to prepare your oven for the lasagna. Be sure to follow the package instructions (spoiler alert, they are SIMPLE!).
While the lasagna is cooking, you can build your salad by combining the sprouts with crumbled bacon and with the other toppings (as desired). Drizzle the salad with a bit more olive oil, if desired, as well as with the maple syrup, and then stir to combine well. This salad tastes great warm or cold.
When roasted, brussels sprouts becoming a magical vegetable that my kiddos DEVOUR! And as for the lasagna? My oldest, who professes to not like meat at all, ate it up in record time!
When all was said and done, I took 4 cleaned plates back into the kitchen and patted myself on the back for serving up something absolutely delicious and wholesome and that wasn’t a huge ordeal to put together, nor did it break the bank. And we had enough left over to feed us all one more time, which means less time that I was needed in the kitchen. That’s a big win for me! I love being able to combine delicious frozen entrees, like this lasagna from Stouffer’s, with some fresh sides to create a fantastic, balanced meal for my family. 🙂
Nestle (Stouffer’s parent company) has a great set of resources available that are all about helping you offer balanced meals to your family. The Balance Your Plate initiative aims to help you build nutritious, delicious and convenient meals for your family. Be sure to check it out!
I hope you will join me and my friends at Stouffer’s and The Motherhood on November 19th at 1pm ET for a Twitter party all about the Balance Your Plate Initiative. You’ll get some great tips for meal planning, being budget conscious and more! And of course, there will be prizes (FIVE $25 Visa gift cards, which will be SO nice for your holiday budget!)! RSVP here!
What are some of your “creative” meal ideas for when you need to make use of what you already have on hand while keeping a balanced plate in mind?