Is meal planning a thing in your house? After years of trying, I finally made it a weekly habit about a year ago and it’s made many a dinner time easier to organize. Usually on a Sunday evening I’ll sit down for a few minutes and write down meal ideas for the week, with input from Will and the kids. This way we all get something we like and enjoy a variety of meals.
Meal planning isn’t about having meals set in stone, but coming up with meal ideas you can shift around based on how the week and each day is looking.
Slow cozy day at home? Make something that takes a little more time. Busier day? Opt for something simpler/ slow cooker friendly. I like having ideas so I can grocery shop without just grabbing items off shelves and hoping for the best- plus this way I can organize the week’s meals ahead so I can be one step ahead with food prep and ingredients. Bonus: this also helps save money on the grocery bill since you know what you need rather than just shopping on impulse.
Usually, I try to plan for some meals with meat and some vegetarian, and this helps save a little on the grocery bill as well. Where I struggle is with lunch ideas (if you have some good ones, lay ’em on me!), so I guess that’s the next area for me to tackle. But for now, getting dinner ideas organized ahead of time is one less thing to think about as the week goes on.
Meal planning is one of those things that can help you feel a little more organized, especially for days where the kids have activities after school. Even if I switch up which meals I make on what day, it’s nice to have a list to look at in the morning so I have some ideas based on the day ahead and I can get ingredients prepped accordingly (another bonus: making dinner time more relaxed because things are ready in advance). I like to include a mix of go-to meals I know our family likes while trying out something new every week or so.
To help make meal planning simpler, I put together this meal planning printable + grocery list page!
Whether this is something you’re already in the habit of doing or is something you have been wanting to try, I hope this meal planning printable helps! Print it off and put it in a page protector or laminate it to use with a whiteboard marker or simply print off each week as you need it. To keep things simple for you I’ve also included a grocery list page so you can write down ingredients you need to pick up.
To get your meal planning printable just scroll down to download + print!
If you don’t already listen to podcasts, this post will hopefully encourage you to give them a try. I feel like I’m a little late to the game on this one, but over the Summer I discovered and fell in love with them. Looking for something I could listen to while getting things done after the kids go to bed, I came across a few that I’ve been enjoying for the past few months. I’ve always loved reading but some days picking up a book just isn’t in the cards and podcasts have been a great way to help me unwind at the end of the day.
New to podcasts? This post is for you!
The first podcast I checked out was Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert after a friend recommended an episode to me, and after that I was hooked. Not knowing where to go from there I looked up ones for a positive mindset and had Jay Shetty pop up in my search results. His podcast, On Purpose, has become one of my favourites- it gets me thinking and reflecting, sometimes leading me to grab a pen to scribble down some of the wisdom shared in an episode. Since first digging in over the Summer I’ve only just scratched the surface (again, I know I’m a latecomer to the world of podcasts!), but I’m really enjoying them and always on the hunt to discover new ones to love.
If podcasts are one of those things you’ve been unsure of or haven’t made the time to check out, there are a few reasons you might want to give them a try, see below!
3 Reasons Why You’ll Love Podcasts
You can listen to them anywhere: On the go, doing chores, at the gym… you can listen to them whenever you want. Just like books or other forms of entertainment, some podcasts are more lighthearted while others will have you taking notes and coming back to listen again to absorb everything. The hard part is deciding which one to listen to! Which brings me to #2…
There are so many to choose from. Like a library of endless audio options, there are podcasts on pretty much anything. If you’re having a hard time narrowing down choices, Google search podcasts on topics you like and go from there.
They’re free! All you need is an internet connection and maybe some headphones and you’re set. Now all you have to do is subscribe, download + enjoy!
A little while ago I asked for reader’s favourites on Facebook (you can see that post here) and have since added a few more to my list to check out. Just like my ever-growing reading list, it’s going to take a while to go through all the ones I want to listen to, but with cozy days ahead I think the timing is perfect.
I’m going to start this post by saying that photos are not enough to convey how beautiful Blue Grouse Estate Winery is. Wine lover or not, it is somewhere that deserves a place on your bucket list. To visit Blue Grouse Estate Winery is to enjoy a piece of Vancouver Island that appeals to all senses, and whether you prefer a glass of white or red, you won’t leave disappointed. Thanks to my friend Janette of Ava to Zoe, we recently enjoyed a 2-night girls trip to Vancouver Island, which included a night at the property and I’m sharing about our experience below.
When you first arrive at Blue Grouse Estate Winery– located in Duncan on Vancouver Island- you enter a large door that leads to an open space tasting room that overlooks the vines. Inside and out, it’s a breathtaking location that makes the wine-bearing landscape the star of the show. Whether you come for the afternoon to enjoy a wine tasting or spend a night at the aptly named Grouse House, you’ll find it impossible to ignore the beauty of the location.
There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than sipping on wine and learning about how the glass you’re enjoying was cultivated, and worse ways to wake up than in a beautiful room overlooking the grapes themselves.
I’m still a novice when it comes to wine and my knowledge can at best be described as ground-level, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy learning about wine, the different varieties, and how where it’s grown-the terroir– influences the wines themselves. And of course it’s important not to overlook the winemakers, the individuals who shape each variety produced, and in the case of Blue Grass Estate Winery, that would be the affable Bailey Williamson, whose passion and knowledge are contagious.
After arriving, Janette and I were introduced to Bailey who gave us a tour of the main property, the large building which houses the tasting room, gift shop area, and production area + wine cellars. Outside of the beauty of the location, this was a highlight for me and having the opportunity to speak with Bailey about his winemaking journey and methodology was fascinating. As a former chef, Bailey’s attention to the quality of what he produces is palpable and I enjoyed hearing him speak about the different varieties grown on the property and how they differ from those found in the Okanagan.
If you have a basic knowledge of wine, you’ll know that different grape varieties thrive in different climates. Since Vancouver Island has cooler temperatures than central BC, this influences the wines that are produced on the property. With the grapes grown on location, Bailey’s method is to let the terroir of the location influence the wines he produces, rather than trying to manipulate the grapes into a wine they’re not.
I enjoyed hearing Bailey speak about how he envisions the future of the winery and the wines it produces and learning about the varieties grown on the property was an engaging lesson in winemaking. Having him walk us through a variety of the wines he produces was an enjoyable way to taste the wines themselves while gaining a deeper appreciation for them. I can’t express my gratitude enough to Bailey for taking the time to show us around the property and invite us to share in his knowledge and passion.
Looking for a Vancouver Island getaway? A night in the Grouse House won’t leave you disappointed
Following the wine tasting, Janette and I got to enjoy a night in the Grouse House, a beautiful two-bedroom suite located on the property among the vines. We only stayed for one night and I think it’s safe to say we wish we could have stayed longer; nothing about this beautiful location disappoints. As a ‘bed and bottle’ retreat, this space is perfect for couples or friends looking for a scenic and tranquil getaway.
Complete with a full kitchen and eating area, this suite is modern rustic right out of your Pinterest dreams. Stay cozy inside, tucked away in one of the luxurious beds, or take a bottle of wine out onto the patio to enjoy a breathtaking view of the vineyard and surrounding landscape. It’s hard to say which is more beautiful from the patio: ending the day with a glass of wine as the sun sets, or enjoying a hot cup of coffee in the bright morning sun.
And if a little adventure is something you seek, the winery is just a short drive away from shops, restaurants, and other local attractions. Come for a tasting, or stay for a night (or two!), Blue Grouse Winery embodies everything that is beautiful about Vancouver Island. If you’re a wine lover, this place definitely deserves a place on your bucket list!
When I think of Vancouver Island I think of slowing down, Island time, of art, culture, and a way of life that’s unique from anywhere on the Mainland. Even though I was born and raised in the Lower Mainland, I haven’t spent a lot of time on Vancouver Island, but any time I’ve spent there has been memorable. Last month I had the chance to travel to Vancouver Island with one of my best friends, Janette from Ava to Zoe, and enjoyed a night at the lovely Hummingbird Haven B and B. Our little two-night getaway ended at this charming B and B located in Chemanis and the owners made us feel warm and welcome, like we were family visiting rather than B and B guests.
The idea behind this getaway to Vancouver Island was to relax before the busy-ness of Sumer Vacation.
I was grateful that Janette invited me on this girls getaway and we made the most of our time to relax and unwind. I had never been to Duncan or Chemanis, so I was looking forward to visiting these places that hold a special place in Janette’s heart (her Grandmother used to live there). If you are looking for quaint charm for your next visit to Vancouver Island, Hummingbird Haven is a perfect location, a combination of artsy charm and cozy. The owners Peggy and Brad are both working artists, and it was really interesting having the opportunity to chat with them about what they do- Peggy creates pottery and Brad creates digital art.
These B and B owners have a kind, warm spirit that makes you feel at home and welcome.
After arrivng and settling in, we enjoyed a chat with Peggy in her garden, learning about how she and Brad came to live on Vancouver Island and how their creative journies brought them there, along with their vision to create a sustainable accommodation option for visitors to the area. As we talked, we enjoyed walking through her garden where some of her pieces are on display, as well as getting a tour of her and Brad’s studios. It was interesting to hear about their artistic backgrounds and both shared with us their respective processes from start to finish.
While we were chatting, we learned about their recent opening of the B and B (it’s only been open since the Spring) and their hopes for what they want to offer to guests: a unique experience where guests can indulge in the local art scene while staying somewhere focused on sustainability. Peggy and Brad are both plant-based, and provide delicious plant-based options for their guests (our breakfast while staying there was a yummy homemade meal, all plant-based and made by Peggy herself). When our conversation turned to food, it was insightful hearing their approach to food and the efforts they make to offer an eco-friendly experience for guests. To build on this vision they are also hoping to add Tesla art and wine tours later this Summer and Brad gave us a ride in his Tesla so we could see for ourselves what they have in mind; something fun and unique that future guests will get to enjoy.
Both Peggy and Brad are active in the local community and art scene and are a wealth of knowledge for visitors looking to make the most out of their time there. Ask them for a restaurant recommendation, local attractions, or places to visit and they will point you in the right direction. Part of the appeal of a B and B is the unique charm and atmosphere, and Hummingbird Haven B and B delivers this on all fronts.
After enjoying our breakfast with the hummingbirds (the B and B lives up to its name!) the morning we were leaving, Peggy was opening her kiln and it was the perfect finishing touch to our visit getting to see her take out the most recent finished pieces. As a souvenir of our time there I bought one of them, a green plate made using a special technique, something I’ll enjoy as a reminder of our time there. To say that Peggy and Brad are warm hosts is an understatement and their hospitality elevates the time spent at Hummingbird B and B, making it a lovely option for anyone planning a visit to the area.
If you are planning a trip to Vancouver Island, a visit to this small town is a perfect place to slow down and unwind. The area surrounding Hummingbird Haven B and B is scenic and serene, minutes from the water and close to amenities such as restaurants, shops, and artist studios. And if soaking in the local culture and atmosphere is something you hope to do, a stay at Hummingbird Haven B and B won’t leave you disappointed. If you go, tell them Kat and Janette sent you. 😉
Summer holidays = no more packing lunches, but it does mean we need to keep a cupboard full of snacks. Whether we’re at home or out for the day, I try to keep stocked with healthy, convenient snacks the kids love. Earlier this year I was introduced to Bite Snacks by my trainer, Erin, and as someone who knows her way around health and fitness, I figured if she thought these bars were worth trying, so did I. One catch: they’re made with cricket protein!
These protein bars are a great healthy snack option for Summer
…So what does that mean? It means that each bar is packed with protein from a sustainable, nutritious source from right here in Canada that is eco-friendly and easy to digest: you got it, crickets. Now before you start wondering about the taste and texture of cricket, let me put you at ease. Because the cricket protein is ground up and blended into the bars alongside the other tasty ingredients, you’d never know there was anything different about these protein bars. Proof? My kids love them.
These bars come in 3 flavours: Jiminy Ginger, Peanut Better, and Chocolate Chirp. Our family tried the variety box so we could compare the flavours, and the Chocolate Chirp and Peanut Better came out the winners. Anytime I can add in another healthy snack into the mix, especially during the Summer months when we’re on the go a lot of the time, I’m happy. These bars are like a cross between a granola bar and protein bar, full of flavour and other tasty ingredients like nuts, dates, and oats- anytime the kids see one they ask to have one, so I feel like we’ve found a winner in the snack department.
Healthy + Sustainable = Win Win!
If you’re looking for a healthy snack for on-the-go and are conscious of where the ingredients in your food come from, Bite Snacks are a great option. Another thing I learned while trying these bars out with the family is that cricket protein is an eco-friendly and sustainable protein option, requiring far fewer resources than other protein sources. For example, cricket protein requires 200x less water to produce, greenhouse gas emissions are 100x lower, and 12x less feed than what is required to produce beef. Now you know! 😉
Even though the thought of eating crickets may not jump out at you, Bite Snacks make cricket protein more appetizing by serving it up in their yummy bars and protein powders. Erin (my trainer over on Muscles and Mommies) used their protein powder to make some delicious protein- packed pancakes and they were a hit with her kids and mine- perfect for make-ahead snacks/ breakfasts. You can find her recipe for Gluten-Free Protein Pancakes here if you want to give it a try.
More Good Stuff to know about Bite Snacks
-6G of protein in each bar
-great source of fibre and iron
-made from a sustainable protein source
About Bite Snacks
Bite Snacks provide cricket protein in the form of protein bars and powder with no added fillers or preservatives, using only organic and natural ingredients. You can purchase Bite Snacks products on their website and on Amazon. To learn more visit the Bite Snacks website and find them on social media: Instagram | Facebook
Disclosure: I received product and compensation in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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