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I'm Mama Harris, the wife and mother to a large blended and multicultural family. In my lifetime I've been a single mom, a step-mom, a working mom and now a stay at home mom. My kids range in age from toddler to newly adult and I write about my kitchen adventures and the variety of foods and recipes I feed my family at From the Kitchen of Mama Harris. I've experienced all aspects of mommy-hood and look forward to sharing my kitchen tips, tricks, recipes and shortcuts!

Case of the Boring Sandwich: Kick It Up a Notch with These Tips

Categories: lunch, meal prep, recipes, shortcuts

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Since I’m often busy with the kids and working at home, my husband tries to make it easy for me when it comes to his lunches. One of his absolute favorite things for lunch would be a sandwich made up of cold cuts. He’s not even picky about the meat, it could be bologna, ham, turkey, pastrami, salami.. the list goes on. Slap a bit of mustard and mayonnaise on there and he’s a happy camper. Many times this is the sandwich he requests for lunch and while I can appreciate that there are no frills, but it can still get quite boring to make. Just because I’m busy doesn’t mean I want to make a sad sandwich.

So I choose to liven up his sandwich, and of course he doesn’t mind. This is easy to do and here’s how:

  • Add fresh veggies. Spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, sun dried tomatoes, pickled bell peppers. Get creative!
  • Include a great kick. I’ll often use spicy brown mustard instead of the original bright yellow kind. In addition, I’ll spread a bit of horseradish into the mayonnaise and include a few pepperocini’s for a great bite.
  • Mix it up with different breads. Instead of plain sandwich breads, I’ll but sandwich rolls, fancy wheat bread with the seeds sprinkled on, or even some Hawaiian rolls. You can also slice up a loaf of French or Italian bread for softer or crispier variety to mix it up.
  • Also mix up the cheese. Instead of just using those boring slices of American cheese, try adding Pepper Jack cheese for an additional kick, or Swiss, Colby, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Provolone, maybe even Feta and cream cheese. Play around with different flavors and get creative.
  • Make it a grilled cheese sandwich. I’m not really a cold cuts sandwich girl, but make it a grilled cheese and I’m all the way in! It’s so simple too, just make the sandwich how you normally would, and grill it in a saute pan with a bit of butter or margarine. Even if it’s for later it still tastes great!
The main goal is to turn those sandwiches from boring to extraordinary.Let’s get excited about our food and look forward to lunchtime. He often enjoys the surprise and is impressed with the different things I add to tweak his favorite sandwiches.
What’s your favorite way to make a sandwich?

No Meat? No Problem! Easy Meatless Dinner Recipes

Categories: healthy, meal prep, recipes

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For a long time in my house a meal would not be considered dinner unless meat was a primary ingredient. If there was no meat in the house, I just couldn’t make dinner.

Can you imagine?

Now we like to play around with a variety of ingredients, sometimes substituting meat and sometimes letting the vegetables and other ingredients get all the glory. I’ve recently noticed a “Meatless Monday” theme as well, just as a way to cut down on meat and ante up on vegetables and I was intrigued. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and your family by creating some classic favorites and swapping out ingredients to cut the meat out with ingredients that are normally stocked in your kitchen.

If you’re looking to build your meatless Monday repertoire, then check out three of my favorite meatless recipes.
P.S. The lasagna roll ups are my 2 year olds favorite!


Black Bean Meatless Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • dash of cumin
  • corn tortillas, taco size
  • 4 diced roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chunky salsa
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese/Monterey jack cheese mixture
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 limes
Directions:
  1. Heat olive oil in medium skillet.
  2. Add chopped onions and sauté until softened.
  3. Add drained beans, garlic salt and cumin. Combine and heat through.
  4. Warm tortillas.
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4 Tips for Healthy Meal Planning on a Budget

Categories: budget, healthy, meal prep

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Since the holidays are now over and the New Year has kicked into full swing, one of the most common goals is making better food choices and eating more healthy. As a busy mom, however, I understand that sometimes convenience outweighs smart choices and that’s how we can get sucked back into those bad habits. Believe me, I know first hand.

No matter what your goal is, whether you plan on cooking more at home, eating more salads or just avoiding the drive through altogether - I’m here to help. I’ve compiled a short list of tips to help you continue to make good choices for yourself and your family without breaking the bank.

  • Write a shopping list. If you know what you are going shopping for, you are less likely to make impulsive purchases. Plan ahead, clip coupons and check the sales ads for your favorite stores. Write down the prices of your favorite items and comparison shop. I typically shop at least three stores a week to get the best deals. Tip: only do your grocery shopping when you’ve already eaten!
  • Stay on the outer aisles. Have you noticed that most grocery stores have all their fresh fruit, produce, bulk items and generally healthier stuff on the outer regions of the store layout. If you go down the aisles that’s where most of the processed foods that are boxed or canned are found. Try to stick to the outer circle for the majority of your trip, only going down the aisles for the necessary items on your list. Some folks shop by going up and down each aisle, but that is also how impulse buys happen.
  • Find local Farmer’s Markets. In a few months the local farmer’s markets will be opening up, take advantage of some fresh local produce while also getting to know your local farmers. You’re likely to score some excellent deals while making it a learning experience for your kids.
  • Stick to your budget. When I shop I usually allocate a certain dollar amount for groceries, and I’ll only bring that amount in cash. I use my calculator on my phone and add each item while shopping and sticking to my list. If I come up under budget, then I’ll grab a few extra items I may decide on purchasing. This is always a guarantee to not overspend and you really get to know your prices on all products.
There’s a myth out there that in order to eat well you have to spend a lot. This is just not the case, you just have to shop smart and know your local stores and prices
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What are some of your favorite tips for healthy food shopping on a budget?

Weekly Meal Prep Ideas For The Busy Mom

Categories: cooking, kitchen, meal prep, organizing

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Every Sunday when I browse through my Instagram I see all my fitness friends meal prepping for the upcoming week. They spend a few hours every Sunday afternoon or evening cooking their breakfast and lunches for that entire week. Some of the photos I see are amazing! While some create the exact same meals Monday through Friday, there’s others that create a variety of meals while sticking to the same nutritional plans.

I’m intrigued by this, and think it’s great for accountability. For those of us that travel to work and back, it’s a great way to insure we don’t sneak any extra calories in or burn the money in our pockets. Whether you’re in it for the nutritional value or to help bulk up your wallet, there’s definitely some added bonuses to planning your weekly meals.
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