WEEKLY MEAL PLAN: JUNE 16.

Haaaaaappy Friday! I have today off to take care of a few things, AND I'm getting a massage! Woop! I tweaked my neck somehow on Monday, and it still hurts today, so I'm looking forward to a relaxing, and hopefully healing, massage. 

And with that, I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Here's what we ate this week! 

Weekly Meal Plan | Twin Cities Meal Planner

Sunday: Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Monday: I had a work event, the family had pizza.
Tuesday: Egg roll in a bowl with pot stickers [I skip the sugar and wine in my recipe]
Wednesday: Italian stuffed peppers with corn on the cob [Similar recipe]
Thursday: Zoodles + meat Sauce with roasted cauliflower
Friday: Burgers and roasted potato wedges
Saturday: Caprese stuffed balsamic chicken with Brussels sprouts

Have a great weekend everyone! 

[SERIES] HOW TO REDUCE WASTE: KITCHEN EDITION.

Heads up! This post contains Amazon affiliate links. All that means is that if you purchase any of the products I recommend, I may earn a small percentage. I only recommend products that I use and love. Thanks for helping support this blog!

Zero waste has been a buzzword for a while now, and it can be a little scary to think about your life if you were to eliminate all the waste that you produce every day. According to the EPA, each person in the United States generates about 4.4 pounds of waste each day, of which about 1.5 pounds is recycled or composted. [Source]

That sounds like a lot, but you can see how easily it adds up: your Starbucks cup, muffin wrapper, napkins, La Croix cans, food packaging, uneaten food, personal care waste like q-tips and Kleenex. 

While I am most definitely not close to living a zero waste lifestyle, we do try to reduce the waste we generate on a daily basis. It doesn't have to be all or nothing to make a difference!

In this new series, I'm going to share tips for reducing the waste you produce in different areas of your home and life. Today's topic: THE KITCHEN!

My challenge to you: 

Adopt a few of these tips in your own life. Start a new habit, make our Earth a little happier, and feel good knowing you are making a positive impact on how you'll leave the planet for the next generation. 

Zero Waste Kitchen | Malisa Lieser Planning

 

9 WAYS TO REDUCE WASTE IN YOUR KITCHEN:

  • DITCH THE ZIPLOCKS: I know, they are so convenient. But, they are so wasteful, especially if you only use them once! There are many other ways to carry around food like reusable bags, mason jars, or Tupperware. I'm not perfect at this, but we definitely go through WAY fewer Ziplock bags these days! 
  • COMPOST: Instead of throwing out those food scraps, napkins, toilet paper rolls, and even pizza boxes, compost them! Hennepin County started a compost program in the past few years, so even if you don't want to compost in your own yard, you can use a county-provided bin and they will haul it away. All you need to do is have a small compost pail in your kitchen to put your scraps into. One man's trash is another man's treasure.
  • RECYCLE: Duh, right? Not recycling is so 1990. We all have recycling programs in our cities, there is ZERO reason you shouldn't be doing it. I'm always surprised when people throw recyclable materials in to a garbage can. Hello?! Did you not learn about recycling in kindergarten? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! 
  • ONLY BUY WHAT YOU'LL EAT: Over buying food is something I struggle with, especially produce. I almost always have some produce that is wilting in my fridge, but I really try hard to not let it go to waste. I'll either freeze it to use later, cook it up and use in lunches the rest of the week, or adjust my meal plan to squeeze it in before it goes bad. Did you know that nearly 50% of produce in the US is thrown away?! Whoa, that is depressing. [Source] If you are going to throw away food, compost it!
  • LIMIT PACKAGING: When shopping, look for food packaged in recyclable materials, or better yet, not packaged at all. And please, for the love of the planet, stop using those plastic produce bags! Get some reusable mesh laundry bags from the dollar tree and use those if you feel you need a bag, but the plastic ones need to go! [Other reusable bags]
  • REPLACE FOIL & PLASTIC WRAP: I'll admit, I haven't done this yet, but we're making progress. We do use a silicone baking mat in place of tin foil when cooking things on our sheet pan, but still rely on tin foil quite a bit. I think if we grab another silicone mat in a smaller size, we could make a big dent in our foil usage! Most of our bowls have lids, so we don't use a ton of saran wrap, but we do use it to pound chicken flat once in a while. 
  • INVEST IN GLASS: The next time you go to buy storage containers, choose glass over plastic. It'll last longer, it doesn't stain from food, and there are no yucky chemicals that could leach into your food when you heat it up. We love our Pyrex bowls and these containers to store leftovers for reheating. 
  • GET RID OF DISPOSABLE DISHES: I know, dishes suck! Using disposable for a big party makes sense, but maybe you can vow to use washable dishes the rest of the time. Plus, disposable stuff adds up in cost! 
  • GO CLOTH: Cloth napkins will save a lot of paper towel and napkin waste (even though they are compostable!). It will increase water usage from washing, so it's a trade off. We don't put napkins or paper towels on the table at meals, and use our Norwex cloths to wipe the kids' hands and faces after meals. We also use old towels and rags for spills or stain removal to reduce the amount we're throwing away. 

What did I miss? Are there other ways you reduce waste in your kitchen?

WEEKLY MEAL PLAN: JUNE 9.

Hello everyone! After a few weeks off, I'm back to sharing our weekly dinner plan. Blogging has slowed down quite a bit for me, as I've been focusing on a few other things, including a new business that my husband and I are potentially launching! Whoa. You know, why not throw another thing in the mix?! 

should shrugging emoji

I was also on my first podcast this week! I was so excited to talk to Lauren from the Grit & Glitter podcast where I talked all about the fears around starting a business, impostor syndrome, and being yourself online. The content is a little different than what I normally talk about here, but if you're a small business owner or have doubts about your experience in any area, you might relate! LISTEN HERE. (And if you like what you hear, subscribe to the podcast! Lauren is so encouraging and I'd love for you to subscribe to support her!)

weekly meal plan | Malisa Lieser Planning

Sunday: Taco tater tot casserole
Monday: Chicken, sweet potato & black bean skillet via Recipe Runner
Tuesday: Parmesan pork chops with roasted potatoes and asparagus via the Wholesome Dish
Wednesday: Gyros from the neighborhood bistro
Thursday: Sloppy Joes via Physical Kitchness with roasted green beans and corn on the cob
Friday: Graduation party
Saturday: Wedding (kids will have chicken sausages and mac & cheese with grandparents!)

Have a great weekend! 

LAUNDRY HACK: DRYER BALLS.

Heads up! This post contains Amazon affiliate links. All that means is that if you purchase any of the products I recommend, I may earn a small percentage. I only recommend products that I use and love. Thanks for helping support this blog!

Laundry mostly sucks. Obviously. 

The washing part is easy, but then you have to sort it out by family member, fold all the tiny toddler clothes, load it back into the baskets, bring them upstairs, and have the full baskets of clean clothes sit on the table in your room for 3-5 days before you finally get sick of looking at it and put the damn clothes away. (Or is the last part just me?) The only saving grace is that I am usually folding while watching The Bachelorette (or whatever spin-off of that show is currently airing), so I'm preoccupied by that train wreck. 

Today I want to share a super simple, inexpensive way to change up your laundry game for the betterment of your health and your wallet. Unfortunately, it's not a magic pill to make our laundry woes go away. Let me know when you've come up with that. 

dryer balls.png

I first started using dryer balls because I was going more natural with my cleaning products, and figured buying a set of them would save me money in the long run. Plus, the scent of dryer sheets was just way too overpowering for me. I've realized over the past several years that strong artificial scents can trigger headaches and even nausea for me, so I've switched to fragrance-free as much as possible. We now use scent-free and dye-free laundry detergent in addition to dryer balls (Seventh Generation Free & Clear is what we usually use. We've also used Costco's Kirkland Free & Clear.)

Dryer sheets can contain compounds that may cause asthma symptoms and skin reactions, plus artificial fragrances, which are among the world's top 5 allergens. (Source

Those flowery scents that are added to laundry detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets contain artificial scents that are made up of hundreds of chemicals. (Don't even get me started on the marketing ploy that is special laundry detergent that is for baby clothes. I'm looking at you, Dreft. [insert eye roll])

Look, I know it's nice to have good-smelling clothes, but there are other ways to make yourself smell good, like... soap. Hair products. Lotion. Deodorant. You know, all that other stuff you use on a daily basis anyway! :) 

What's so great about dryer balls?

Well, as I already mentioned, they are inexpensive, and will save money in the long run because you can use them for years without having to replace them. 

In addition to that, they soften your laundry naturally, reduce static and help prevent wrinkles. (aka, everything a dryer sheet does) They also do not have a slimy film like dryer sheets that can cause build-up in your dryer, and can actually help reduce drying time. 

PLASTIC VS. WOOL

Full disclosure: I haven't used wool dryer balls before. I've only used plastic ones. From what I can tell, the differences between these are pretty minor, but there are a few to mention here. (Here is a good article with a long list of comparables.) 

  • Wool: you can add a few drops of essential oils to add a light scent to your laundry. If you really want to have scented clothes, you might want to go with wool. 
  • Wool: may last a little bit longer than the plastic version
  • Wool: completely chemical free and sustainable
  • Plastic: may contain PVC, which is a chemical in plastic, and are not as environmentally friendly

Ok, I think I just convinced myself I should switch to wool now that I've seen these comparisons. I'm not sure if I didn't know about the wool option when I got mine, but I think I'll be getting wool next! 

Here are a few options to get started with if you want to give dryer balls a go!

Do you use dryer balls already? Which brand do you like?

 

[PARTNERSHIP] THE IMPORTANCE OF FREE PLAY FOR KIDS.

Let's get real here. All moms look forward to the times that their kids are playing independently or - gasp- playing together nicely for a few minutes so we can get a little break.

Plus, free play is super important for them to develop critical thinking skills, encourages them to use their imagination and learn to entertain themselves (and if it prevents me from having to play Skye one more time, sign me up).

Paw Patrol | SKye

It's not you, it's me.

If my kids are playing well on their own, I take the opportunity to clean up, scroll through my phone, or start dinner. It's usually not long before one of them sniffs me out, but I'm always grateful for a few peaceful moments of quiet play time, and have really noticed my daughters out their imagination to use when someone else isn't entertaining them.

Because free play is so important to us as a family, we're super excited that the brand new Minnesota Children's Museum is opening again on June 7! The completely remodeled museum will feature 10 new exhibits, more functional spaces and more amenities, which means my kids will have a hay-day with free play! 

We were lucky enough to attend a sneak peak of one of the new exhibits called Forces at Play, which features wind-powered ball launchers, a functional sudsy car wash, water graffiti station, water light tables and more Yes,  your kids (any maybe you) will get wet at this exhibit, but thankfully the museum provides adorable little rain coats for the kids! (Moms and dads, you're on your own!)

Minnesota Children's Museum | Forces at Play

The ball launcher area was especially fun for my husband, I mean kids, and they had a blast coming up with ideas for how to shoot the balls farther or build a better structure. 

Minnesota Children's Museum | Forces at Play

This girl was so cute parading around my toddler. Her dad later told me she's dying to be a big sister! 

There is no doubt that we could spend hours in this one exhibit, which means we can have a different experience nearly every time we visit the museum. Free play, fun, and a break for mom and dad all rolled into one place? Sign me up! 

The Minnesota Children's Museum reopens on Wednesday, June 7. Find out more details and membership info at www.mcm.org.

WEEKLY MEAL PLAN: MAY 12.

Heeelllllooo you lovely people! It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday. (You guys remember Rebecca Black, right?) It's my day off with my girls today so I'm super happy it's an early weekend! 

This week I saw a naturopathic doctor for the first time. It was very enlightening, and I was super impressed by how thorough the appointment was (it was almost 2 hours!) and how the doctor listened to the things I've been experiencing and came up with a treatment thing that pinpoints those specific issues vs just prescribing a medication to put a band-aid on anxiety as a whole. I can't wait to get started with the supplements and see if things improve! 

Onto the meal plan for this week! 

Weekly meal plan | May  12

Sunday: Paleo Tex Mex Casserole (I used shredded pork this time!)
Monday: Chicken Fried Rice 
Tuesday: Zoodles & meat sauce with roasted broccoli
Wednesday: Hawaiian burgers with Pina Colada slaw (The slaw was a little too sweet for me!)
Thursday: Sheet Pan Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts & Apples
Friday: I'm going out with friends! Woop woop! 
Saturday: Homemade Chicken Nuggets 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 

[DIY] WASHABLE MAKEUP REMOVER PADS.

Every weeknight, I put some EVOO on a cotton ball and use it to remove my eye makeup and eyebrow filler (let's be real, I rarely wear makeup on the weekend). 

It's not that cotton balls are expensive, or hard to find, or inconvenient, but I started thinking about how I use at least one a day and just throw it away. I'd seen some other bloggers and natural living enthusiasts make these washable makeup remover pads, and seeing as I have tons of flannel fabric laying around thanks to my baby craft hobby, I decided to make some for myself.

DIY makeup remover pads

I probably wouldn't have picked this fabric if I were going out to buy some, but hey, I'm all about using what I've got! 

Full tutorial with images of the sewing process here

All I did was use a roll of packing tape to trace a bunch of circles of the same size. I then cut them all out, and layered three pieces for my preferred thickness. 

Tip: To ensure the layers end up the right way, put the first two with the right sides facing each other, then the third one on top can face either way. 

Washable makeup remover pads

First I used a straight stitch to secure the layers together, and left about a 1" hole so I could turn it right side out. Once I turned it, I did a zigzag stitch around the entire circumference to close the hole and flatten the circle down. 

I didn't focus too much on how perfect the stitches were since they are just for my own use, so a few of them got a little wonky, but whatevs. 

Washable makeup remover pads
Now remove that makeup you aren't wearing for demonstration!

Now remove that makeup you aren't wearing for demonstration!

Don't mind my awesome counter top and rusty sink drain... 

Don't mind my awesome counter top and rusty sink drain... 

Place them in a cute jar or bowl next to your sink and you're ready to roll! I hung a little mesh bag from our towel rod in the bathroom to put the dirty pads in, and when it's time for laundry, I'll just throw the whole thing in the wash. 

One more check off the box of being more sustainable! Don't worry though, I won't be making reusable toilet paper any time soon. #ew 

WEEKLY MEAL PLAN: MAY 5.

Howdy everyone. I hope you all had a good week! Mine started off a bit rocky with an out-of-the-blue anxiety attack at work on Monday. After a super stressful and on-edge day, I took Tuesday off as a self-care day to get back on track.

It also made me get more serious about treating my anxiety: I ordered a few natural supplements (Rescue Remedy and Natural Calm), made an appointment with a naturopathic doctor, and am trying to stay away from as much sugar as possible, as that can impact symptoms of anxiety. 

Thankfully I'm feeling better now after a visit to my therapist and some me-time! If you suffer from anxiety, please talk to someone! You don't need to suffer through it! It took me quite a while to reach out for help when I was experiencing post-partum anxiety, but I'm so glad I did. 

Weekly meal plan for the week of May 1

This week was pretty lame on the meal planning front because I was not inspired this week! Yes, it even happens once in awhile for this meal planning nerd. But, we all got fed, so that's what matters! 

Sunday: Homemade pizza and salad
Monday: Pork tacos + quesadillas
Tuesday: Cream cheese chicken chili 
Wednesday: Trader Joe's Coconut Shrimp + quinoa + roasted broccoli
Thursday: Swedish meatballs + roasted carrots and potatoes
Friday: Out
Saturday: Burgers on the grill with neighbors

Here's to a new week with some more interesting meals!