Growing up I always thought I didn’t like pumpkin because my parents never cooked with it or used it in the kitchen. It was an unfamiliar flavor to me that as an adult I just assumed I didn’t care for. But you know what happens when we assume right…
Fast forward to my adult years when I began cooking for myself and I realized I was in a position to do whatever I wanted in my own kitchen. Every fall there was so much buzz around pumpkin and everybody was obsessed. I knew I had to give it a try.
A couple years ago I made a recipe for pumpkin bread that I found on Pinterest which turned out to be delicious. Then it dawned on me, what else have I been missing out on? This bread was moist, deeply flavored and so easy to throw together. I was hooked. Chocolate Walnut Pumpkin Bread
As the years go on I try to incorporate more and more pumpkin dishes into my fall repertoire. I love fall, and especially Halloween, so I love to be able to get into the spirit in as many ways as possible. Cooking is definitely one of those ways. Now that I do 90% of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s I have been introduced to the plethora of pumpkin items that flood their shelves come September. Each week since the beginning of September, I have been picking up at least 1 (usually more) pumpkin related items from Trader Joe’s and I am pleased to say I have yet to be disappointed. I will do a separate post reviewing each of the pumpkin items in detail for you guys!
This morning I tried the pumpkin pancakes and oh my word. They were incredible. It was a boxed dry pancake mix that only required you to add butter, milk and 1 egg. Simple right? And totally customizable!
The end result was an incredibly fluffy pancake with deep fall flavors. Not overpoweringly pumpkin flavored, but a nice balance of pumpkin and spices. I added chopped walnuts to a few which gave the pancakes a great crunch. I also made a couple with both walnuts and chocolate chips which I HIGHLY recommend because they were out of this world.
I topped these bad boys with Trader Joe’s new Vanilla Bean Infused Maple Syrup which I also highly recommend. The vanilla in the syrup paired nicely with the spices in the pancakes to create the perfect fall bite.
I served the pancakes with a quick scramble made with eggs, chopped bell peppers, Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage and mozzarella cheese.
And I obviously had to bust out the festive plates because it’s only 24 days till Halloween!
The thought of packing enough food to last a 12 hour school (or work) day can be very daunting. I’m here to give you a few tips & tricks to make the process a little less daunting & even save you some money.
I mostly shop at Trader Joe’s & their prices are significantly lower than other grocery stores so if you shop elsewhere your prices will vary. I also include some ingredients you may not be able to find at other stores so if you’re following this closely, you’ll want to do your shopping at Trader Joe’s as well. A few ingredients did come from Mother’s Market because they have cheaper bulk items like granola, & they carry non dairy yogurt that I cannot find at TJs. You’ll want to research grocery stores in your area to find the best prices for the items you want to purchase.
- Pick foods high in protein to keep you fuller, longer.
- Only pack foods you actually want to eat. Don’t pick foods you THINK you should eat, pick foods you WANT to eat or you’ll end up impulse buying food and wasting all the food you prepped for the day.
- Make sure you have a heavy duty lunchbox to keep your food cool all day. There’s no point prepping all this food for it to spoil before lunch.
- If you’re prepping food for the whole week, make sure to buy versatile ingredients that can be used in multiple dishes for maximum savings.
- For example, buying strawberries and chopping them up the first day saves you time & you can use them in salads, parfaits, or smoothies.
- I like to buy a big bag of arugula that can be used for sandwiches, salads, or pastas.
- Buy snacks you don’t mind eating a few times throughout the week. I really love TJ’s cheddar puffs because a whole bag is only $1.99 & has about 10 cups worth of puffs inside.
- Don’t be afraid to mix store bought & homemade ingredients. This saves you time when prepping & if you shop smart this will save you money.
- This week I bought a pre-made tuna salad that cost $3.99 & got 2 sandwiches out of it. I like my sandwiches pretty packed so if you wanted to stretch your money you could easily get 3 sandwiches out of one container making it only $1.33 for each sandwich.
- Prep as much as you can the night before. Long days usually mean early starts & no one wants to wake up earlier than they have to to get lunch ready.
*I didn’t use the whole container for most of my ingredients for this so I divided up the price for each ingredient depending on how much I used for this specific menu.
Sample Menu: $12.56
- Cashew Yogurt $1.99
- Hempseed Granola $0.35
- Strawberries $1.09
- Tuna & Arugula Sandwich $1.99 + $0.39
- Cherry Tomatoes $0.83
- Sliced Cucumbers $0.39
- ABC + K Salad w/ Poppyseed Dressing (apple, beet, carrot, kale) $4.49
- White Cheddar Puffs $0.39
*Prices for each ingredient are listed depending on how much was used.
If you spend a little time prepping before you shop & prepping the night before a busy day, you ensure you’re saving money & eating fresh, delicious food. On average, bringing your own food to school or work can save you about 1/3 of the money you would normally spend on a day of eating out.
Hope this helps!