All posts by Melissa

Meal Planning Step 1

Meal Planning Step 1: Getting Ready to Plan!

By | Meal Planning & Organization | No Comments

Meal planning can seem very overwhelming, can’t it?

When I think of meal planning, I think of hours of my time, magazines and cookbooks piling up, stressful searching of the internet and Pinterest, and messy, complicated lists.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

So many of us WANT to plan our meals but we don’t know where to start.

I’m here to help! I don’t consider myself an expert in meal planning at all, but I know enough to know what NOT to do and what makes it easier.

My methods might not be the ones for you and that’s okay. But, maybe you can pull a few tips out from this series that will help you make your meal planning easier and more streamlined.

First things first – please know that we are going to take this SLOW. In fact, I will give you some tips today and I probably won’t have the next Meal Planning post up for this series until a week from now. And you can always come back to these and go at your own pace.

How to Get Ready to Meal Plan

1. Make a list of your favorite meals and recipes.

This doesn’t mean you have to search the internet for new ones. They might not even be things that are “recipes” (ex. grilled cheese and tomato soup). Just make a list of your family favorites – the ones that you know you and your family will eat. You know, the usuals.

We can get “fancy” later and add some new recipes, but for now, just keep it simple.

meal list


2. Extra credit: Put those recipes into categories.

Depending on your food preferences, these categories might include chicken, beef, seafood, chicken, soup, meatless, casseroles, vegetarian, pasta, etc.

This step isn’t necessary, but if you are a little OCD like me, it will help prevent you from having chicken 4 nights in a row. :-)


That’s all. This is the only thing you have to do to get started.

Keep a list on your refrigerator and when a favorite recipe comes to mind, put the name of it on your list. It might take a while and that’s okay. You can use your recipe box, your saved links in your email folder and Pinterest.

I recommend somehow having the actual recipes/ingredient lists easily accessible. The next step will be plugging these into a calendar. So, as you think about that and as you make your list of recipe names, be sure you can find them back when we move to the next step!


 To check out or purchase the food books in my main picture, visit Amazon:

Cooking from the Farmers’ Market

Wolfgang Puck Makes it Healthy

Cooking New American

American Classics




Deiss Julienne Peeler Review

By | Books & Resources, Special Deals & Giveaways | No Comments

Occasionally I am asked to review products. And I’m pretty picky about what I say “yes” to – I tend only to review the ones that are food or kitchen-related and this is one of them.

This Deiss Julienne Peeler is so cool. It’s made by Deiss Kitchenware, a small family-owned company in Germany. That in and of itself makes it cool!

My first reaction when I took it out of it’s fancy box….

front box

…was that it was heavier than I had anticipated.

I figured this meant it would be clunky to use.

But I was wrong.

The added weight made peeling a breeze!


Here are some of the other highlights:

- you can peel in any direction

- you can peel in any direction

- one blade peels

- one blade cuts julienne strips

- one end can remove the “eyes” of potatoes

- the other end can make long/thick slices


back cover

The ONLY complaint I have had while using it is that you have to learn to peel a little differently than a “regular” peeler. I found that it worked best when I put the flat end of a veggie down on a cutting board or hard surface and then peeled downward. But, this is probably just habit from using a regular ‘ole peeler and I am sure the more I used this one, the easier it will be.

All of these benefits and features are topped off with the fact that it’s very reasonably priced at $13.79!

So, for all of those real foodies in your life (or just those that like to cook), this could make an excellent stocking stuffer or Christmas gift!

As always, shopping through my Amazon links helps me earn a little extra commission to keep things going around the blog, so thank you! You can find the Deiss Julienne Peeler here!


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Should you consider an Organic Produce

Should You Consider an Organic Produce Delivery?

By | Kitchen & Real Food How-to's, Vegetarian | 3 Comments

Are you an investigator like me?

Sometimes I drive myself nuts. I get so busy looking into this and that and then I NEVER do anything about it. I’m trying to get better about this as I found that it just stresses me out and nothing changes.

I’m like that with fruits and vegetables.

Let me explain….

For a long time, I saw advertisements for local and non-local produce deliveries. The first time I looked, the place I wanted didn’t deliver to my address. So I kept looking.

Eventually, I heard from a friend or two (isn’t that the best kind of advertisement?) that they liked Doorganics. I had been using another great organic produce delivery that I was happy with, but I as I looked into Doorganics I found that they really aim to source as local as possible. I liked that.

And weirdly, I like that they use these cool green boxes. They deliver your goods in it and then the next week on delivery day you leave the green bin out and they leave your filled one.

I absolutely LOVE the fact that awesome fruits and veggies come right to my door every week (you can choose every other week, too).

I love that I can set my “likes” and “dislikes” so they don’t put them in my box AND that we can substitute out 4 items each time if we’d like. (For example: All summer I subbed out tomatoes EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I was so sick of looking at tomatoes due to my own spazzy tomato plants.)


So, should you consider an organic fruit and veggie delivery?

Here are a few reasons why you might want to:

1. You are busy.

Who isn’t? My goal is to go to the store almost never. I HATE going to the grocery store. It’s much more enjoyable to pick out my fruit/veggie menu from the comfort of my couch. In fact, I hardly have to pick them out. I get the list on Thursday, I look through it and sub out anything that I don’t need/want and VOILA! Produce shopping is DONE for the next week.

They even have OTHER products you can add to your box if you’d like…I’ve added organic, fair trade coffee quite often.

2. You value organic produce.

More and more folks are learning the benefits of eating organic. Not only will you be avoiding pesticides and toxins, but you’ll be supporting local organic farmers, too. I love that. And shopping for organic produce in local grocery stores can be difficult, lacking in variety and expensive.



3. You want to feed your family more fruits and veggies.

Again, who doesn’t want to do this? One thing having Doorganics delivery has done for me is to figure out creative ways to use the veggies. If you aren’t creative, don’t worry! They send a recipe in your bin each week and they have recipes on their site.

And you know what? Eating more fruits and veggies is linked with being happier. It also boosts your immune system and delivers antioxidants.

4. You want to save money.

This might sound silly, especially because the convenience of organic fruits and veggies delivered to your door has a cost. But hear me out…

Staying OUT of the grocery store saves me money. It prevents impulse-buying. Honestly, the more I can plan my meals and shopping, the better. It’s another reason I love being a part of a buyers club.

All of these reasons are why I love getting my veggies through Doorganics. If you’d like to give them a try HERE and you’ll get $5 off of your first box.

IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE of the West Michigan area, try instead and see if they deliver to you!


Here are 2 other convenient ways to get more fruits/veggies into your bodies:

1. Concentrated fruits and veggies in a convenient capsule or chewable (kids 4 and over eat free with a purchasing adult). Contact me via email ( for details or to order and sponsor a child. All others can order at my Juice Plus Website.

2. Grow your own with an aeroponic Vertical Tower Garden System.





Emile Noel Walnut Oil: Non-GMO Month Review and Giveaway!

By | Health & Wellness, Special Deals & Giveaways | 6 Comments


I’ll be honest with you all. I had NEVER tried Walnut Oil before now.

Have you?

So, when I was able to do a walnut oil review for Emile Noël Artisan Oils I did what I do when I’m not familiar with something – I googled it.

I found all sorts of recipes and other suggestions as simple as drizzling over pasta along with salt, pepper and fresh parmesan.

And so I tried it that way – drizzled over Costco tortellini (don’t judge) with some salt, pepper and parmesan. Ooooh, yummy.

And then I tried it in a homemade salad dressing instead of olive oil. Wow! I loved the creamy, nutty flavor it added.

Prior to trying walnut oil for the first time, I had never heard of Emile Noël artisan oils. But, I’m a new fan. It’s a family-run oil mill founded in 1920 in the south of France.


Here is why I am a new fan of Emile Noël artisan oils:

♦ they were the first oil millers in France to press organically-farmed seeds

♦ they have ONLY ever produced and marketed organic and non-GMO products – and organic foods have higher levels of Vitamin C and E, essential fatty acids, magnesium and more! *They have also gone on to become Non-GMO Project verified. Learn more about that here.

♦ they operate an organic-sesame supply chain in the north-east of Africa (fair trade)

♦ their oils are first cold-pressed virgin oils – this retains the value of their fatty acids and their vitamins



A Variety of Oils

Emile Noël offers over 20 organic virgin vegetable oils, including blended ones:

Fair trade sesame oil

Fair trade toasted sesame oil

Sunflower oil

Hi olieic refined sunflower oil spray

Pumpkin seed oil

Fair trade hazelnut oil

Walnut oil

Macadamia nut oil

Sweet almond oil

Olive Oils – 2 types


To help celebrate non-GMO month, they are offering one lucky reader a FREE bottle of one of their oils.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Non-GMO Verified

Happy GMO-Free Month: Rumiano Cheese Review AND Giveaway!

By | Snacks & Appetizers, Special Deals & Giveaways | One Comment

Happy GMO-Free Month!!!

Do you try to shop GMO-Free? This is something I really am trying to focus on more and more these days.

Do you know what GMO’s are? I used to think they were a mix of 2 plants…but found out I was misinformed. That’s actually known as a hybrid. GMO’s are very different. If you aren’t familiar with GMO’s, please read a bit more about them at The Institute for Responsible Technology’s website.


To help celebrate GMO-Free month, I’m offering a giveaway from Rumiano Cheese Company!

I absolutely LOVE their cheese. When I lived in Washington state, I was first introduced to their raw milk cheddar…mmmm. And guess, what? Their cheddar is white. Did you know that’s the color of cheddar before coloring is added to make it yellow/orange?


What makes Rumiano Cheese special? Here are a few:

- they are California’s oldest family-owned cheese company

- they are the first non-GMO verified organic cheese

- their cows graze year-round and have milk rich in both Omega 3 fatty acids and beta carotene

- their cheese is rich, creamy and so flavorful

A few members of my family excitedly tried the array of cheeses you see in this picture:

rumiano cheese

Medium Cheddar – Colby – Pepper Jack – Mozzarella slices – Sharp Cheddar

My daughter gobbled down slices of the medium cheddar and wanted MORE. That girl has love cheese since the time she stated eating solid foods. My husband said “This is REALLY good cheese”. And because I like spicy things, I loved the tangy, slightly-hot bling of the Pepperjack. The Sharp Cheddar made GREAT grilled cheese sandwiches and I have yet to use the mozzarella slices, but I’m thinking they will be perfect on sprouted grain english muffins with some homemade pizza sauce.

And now here’s the good news. Rumiano Cheese Company is giving away 5 VIP certificates to one of my lucky readers!!! If you win, they will mail you the VIP certificates that you can use at any store that sells Rumiano products. You can check if you have a store near you to use the certificates at by visiting their store locator websiteEach certificate is good for $4.99 worth of products, so it’s about a $30 value!

Good luck!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.