Menu Planning

Mini Shopping List

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I bit off more than I can chew with the Saturday Shopping List posts I’ve been doing the past few weeks.  I put a lot of intentionality and attention to detail into each list, which is good, but time and energy are key factors needed to keep such a boat a float.  So, I have decided to do a weekly “mini” shopping list (well, not a list really.  Just a bunch of recipes you should make for the week) with a more detailed list once a month.  I have received some wonderful feedback from some of you about these lists.  First, I am immeasurably grateful for you taking the time to share your thoughts.  So helpful and encouraging. Second, I’m glad to know that this has become a really helpful resource for people (which is also very motivating to me).

I will still be updating my Saturday Shopping List board on Pinterest each week.  If you almost always use Pinterest when cooking like I do, this is an easy way to get all your weeks recipes in one place.

I have found some amazing recipes that I think will get you motivated to get into the kitchen a little more.  Without further ado, I give you my “mini” list.



This salad is really delicious.  I used baby spinach.  Vegans, skip the feta.


November 2015, Thanksgiving

I recently made this recipe but added roasted butternut squash (OMG!) and tossed it with some arugula and fresh basil.  Vegans, skip the parm.  Use coconut oil for the butter.



Haven’t made this yet.  Making it on Thursday.  Can’t wait.  It has roasted carrots, baked lentil falafel, roasted cauliflower, pistachios and a bunch of healthy goods.



Use the other half of your butternut squash to make these sexy babies.  Gluten free folks, just be normal and use corn tortillas.  Vegans, skip the yogurt.



This is salad is delicious.  But… it’s even better is you roast the potatoes and add some goat cheese.  Just throwing that out there.



Apples and leeks and sqaush?  Oh my!  You really can’t go wrong with that combination.  I can hear my body thanking me now.  Gluten free folk, skip the crouts.



I picked this recipe for Jazz.  He is my midwest comfort food loving vegetarian husband.






Dinner, Menu Planning

Saturday Shopping List // Halloween Detox

Happy Saturday Sunday!  Yesterday we had a day full of Halloween shenanigans and a little girl who didn’t nap, so the shopping list was put on the back burner.  Sorry about that.

This week I picked a slew of crazy healthy recipes to help you detox from your Halloween weekend.  Yesterday, after eating 4-5 pieces of candy (which I normally never eat) I started feeling grouchy and depressed.  It was convincing to me that all the negative hubbub about sugar lately is legit.  I hope this menu helps you to come down from your sugar buzz. And then on Friday, to celebrate a healthy week, some hearty, creamy pasta (with some earthy, roasted beets in there to continue the healthy vibe).

There’s a creamy squash soup, hearty autumn salad, and eggplant meatballs. So in other words, a healthy menu with no compromise of deliciousness and comfort.

Keep me updated on how your week is going or what recipes you enjoy by tagging your photos on Instagram with #keepingwillow. Leave me a comment below telling me what you didn’t like, how much your groceries cost or what your kids really liked.

You can download your shopping list below.  Many of the things on the list you will already have.  Just check off the the things you need.  There is space below each category to add any other things you need to buy for the week.

You can find all of the recipes for this week in one place by following my “Saturday Shopping List” board on Pinterest here.

Total cost (for all groceries I bought for the week, including other food): $110

Shopping List (download)

M E N U //

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This is a dreamy, green-less salad by Pinch of Yum is screaming everything autumn.  Add a can of chickpeas to add some heartiness.  (GF + V) RECIPE

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Roasted brussel sprouts are one of my favorites.  This recipe by Naturally Ella is going to fulfill my brussel sprout dreams.  If you’re looking for a creamier polenta, add 4 oz of goat cheese. (GF + sub vegan butter alternative) RECIPE

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It’s all the decadence of risotto and yet it’s not.  This creative recipe from Sanisbury Magazine is loaded with tender greens and mushrooms galore.  (GF + sub butter for coconut oil + vegan parm or nutritional yeast for parmesan, if vegan) RECIPE

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By spicy, it means full of spices not necessary “hot” per se.  Cookie + Kate makes this “Chorizo” inspired soup from the cookbook “The Year of Cozy” by Adrianna Adarme. Super simple and squash has so much nutritional value.  (GF + V) RECIPE

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I literally cannot wait until Wednesday so that I can eat these amazing “meat”balls by The First Mess.  Satiable and hearty but seriously healthy. Can you say kale pesto? (sub GF bread if GF + V) RECIPE

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I am obsessed with tahini dressings.  They make salad so creamy and earthy.  I can’t wait to try Minimalist Baker’s version with Kale and some butter beans. (Use GF croutons if GF + already V) RECIPE

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The thing about Half Baked Harvest recipes, is that they are extremely creative and interesting.  Yes, this is a pasta dish on a detox menu.  Cut yourself some slack.  And come on, there are beets in here. (if you’re GF use GF pasta or maybe stir the ingredients into a risotto. If vegan, skip the manchengo or substitute with vegan parm.  Use 1/2 cup cashew cream mixed with salt, pepper, and 2 Tbsp of nutritional yeast to substitute the brie) RECIPE


Happy Saturday…er…Sunday!!



Menu Planning

Saturday Shopping List

Saturday.  So great a word it should encompass the entire chorus of a song.  It is for most, with the exception of a decent handful of you in less boring careers, the only day of the week free from the back break of a work day or the stress of starting work tomorrow.  It is a day of endless possibilities from adventure to relaxation. 

That grocery shop though, that’s gotta get done.  I like to get mine done and out of the way Saturday morning so I have most of the weekend without many responsibilities in my way, freeing me to the bliss of all that Saturday has to offer. 

In a perfect world that’s how I’d like my Saturday to look.  Most of the time I spend half of my Saturday trying to figure out a grocery list in between picking up scattered blocks and crayons and then maybe put off actually getting to the store to Sunday afternoon.  That leaves us with almost no food for half the weekend and a pretty directionless use of time.  If only I had planned ahead a little bit.  Then maybe we could have made a trip out to the Toronto Islands that we’ve been wanting to do for, oh I don’t know, an entire year or maybe check out a Blue Jays game.

This is my attempt at that.

I may have mentioned I am a pro at meal planning.  I am adventurous, always wanting to try new recipes and keep up with who’s making what on their amazing food blog.  I am also deeply conscious of health, trying to find vegetarian meals that are packed with protein but not weighed down with too many carbohydrates or a massive glob of dairy.  I think it’s important for Willow to try foods, even if she doesn’t like them, and try to help her develop a palate for foods that are really nourishing to her body.  And let’s get real, this all has to fit into a budget.  So in other words, I put a lot of work into planning meals for the week, making a shopping list and getting out to the store.  And it really seems silly to me, to do all that work and not share it; ease someone else of the burden of doing all the planning.

This “Saturday Shopping List” series is something new I’m doing as a meal planning resource for people who kind of fit into the category mentioned above.  Each week, preferably Saturday morning (I know it’s Sunday but I’ve been on vacation, cut me some slack) I will post a weekly meal plan for dinners Saturday-Friday with a link to each recipe, a thorough grocery list  [just download, print, and check off what you need to buy], and a rough idea of how much it all costs. 

So here’s what’s for dinner this week.  You can download your shopping list below.  Obviously, some of the things on the list you will already have.  Just check off the the things you need.  There is space below each category to add any other things you need to buy for the week. 

An easy way to get all of these recipes in one place is to follow my Saturday Shopping List board on Pinterest here.

Total cost (for all groceries I bought including other food): $88

Shopping List (download)

M E N U //

Black bean tacos

Seriously delicious and easy recipe by Cookie + Kate.  Substitute green pepper for jalapenos if your tongue is kind of a wimp  RECIPE

tofu stir fry

Minimalist Baker is always putting out easy, healthy recipes.  Cauliflower rice is amazing! RECIPE

corn chowder

This soup by Foodess is sweet and hearty with a little kick.  Willow loved this but the poblanos were a little too spicy for her.  Made it again and substituted red bell pepper.  It was a hit all around! RECIPE 

Tofu salad

This salad dressing by Pinch of Yum is delicious.  I made a salad of black beans, cherry tomatoes, arugula, cucumbers and tofu sautéed in olive oil and then dusted with paprika and chili powder and finished with a squeeze of lime. RECIPE


A recent recipe of mine.  So easy with tons of flavor. RECIPE

couscous salad

Eat this couscous salad as is or with your favorite protein.  The crunchy almonds with the salty feta is GOOD! RECIPE

zucchini soup

Jazz hates Zuccini, but he loves this soup by Dishing Up the Dirt.  Great meal for when you have little time. RECIPE

Let me know how your week is going or what recipes you really like by tagging your photos on Instagram with #keepingwillow.  Leave me a comment below telling me what you didn’t like, how much your groceries cost or what your kids really liked. 

Let’s keep our pantries full of fruits and veg, our bellies full of only delicious food, our pockets overflowing with cash and our Saturdays wide open for all kinds of shenanigans and tom foolery.  Until next time friends.



Vanilla Porter Chocolate Pudding


Ok you guys.  This– is what’s up.  I never liked chocolate pudding growing up.  Those little “snack packs” just didn’t do it for me.  And then I ate real chocolate pudding at Marie Catrib’s (the most marvelous little restaurant/bakeshop in Grand Rapids that will accommodate every dietary restriction under the sun) and my life changed.  Marie’s thick chocolately custard made with duck eggs, love and magic– (sigh).  I’m dead just thinking about it.  My new mantra in life: don’t eat/make any pudding unless it’s from scratch.

I don’t make pudding often, but when I get a craving for something I really like, I tend to make it several times in a row.  So I made some chocolate pudding.  It was damn good.  We just bought this incredible winter four pack from Beau’s Brewery and just happened to be drinking their Burnt Rock Vanilla Porter while eating this delectable pudding.  And then the thought occurred to me, two rights often make an even better right.  A sweet, malty porter with a vanilla aroma aroma and a chocolate finish combined with the most underrated chocolate decadence of modernity.  Come to mama!

So I did a little experimenting with the leftovers of our Porter, and the result was mind blowing.  Like the kind of mind blowing that causes you to starting laughing and/or crying when you take a bite, it’s THAT good.  So here it is.  In case I didn’t say it before, it’s so good.  I really hope you try it.

Oh, and if you ever run into Beau’s brews, you should really try one (especially the St. Luke’s Verse Lavender Gruit).



Vanilla Porter Chocolate PuddingVanilla Porter Chocolate Pudding // Keeping WillowVanilla Porter Chocolate Pudding // Keeping WillowVanilla Porter Chocolate Pudding // Keeping Willow Vanilla Porter Chocolate Pudding // Keeping WillowVanilla Porter Chocolate Pudding // Keeping Willow Vanilla Porter Chocolate Pudding // Keeping WillowVanilla Porter Chocolate Pudding // Keeping Willow

serves 6 | prep time: 20 min

1 cup vanilla porter (or any dark brew you have laying around)
2 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1/4 cup heavy cream + 1/2 cup to whip up on top
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
5 egg yolks
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. In a medium size, non-reactive sauce pan combine the beer, 2 cups of the milk, 1/4 cup heavy cream, sugar and chocolate chips.  Bring up to just before a simmer, stirring to melt the chocolate chips (If they are not completely melted at this point, do not fret.  They will get there).
2. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining half cup of milk, cornstarch, vanilla and egg yolks in a medium size bowl.  Very slowly, while whisking constantly, pour half the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture (this is called making a liaison, just FYI).  Then, slowly pour this liaison back into the sauce pan with the remaining milk, still whisking constantly.
3. Over medium high heat, whisk constantly until the pudding mixture comes to a boil.  Allow to cook for 3 more minutes, whisking constantly.
4. Remove from heat and pour pudding into 6 individual ramekins.  Cover in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator, allowing to cool for at least 4-6 hours.
5. Serve with slightly sweetened, fresh whipped cream.  Try not to cry.