what we pack lunches in… still

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UPDATE: Our daughter is approaching her 14th birthday in a couple of weeks. School and the morning routines that come with are completely different now that we are homeschooling, but these containers are still holding up! We still use them at least 3-4 times a week to pack large snacks (and lunch) for study sessions and busy afternoons spent away from home.  

We don’t have long supply lists at the beginning of the school year, so lunch boxes and lunch packing paraphernalia is where I get my back-to-school urges satiated these days. I’ll pick up a couple of sauce containers here and there or try a snack-size container in hopes of finding a new dependable gem, but it is the stuff below that has held strong in our lunch-packing drawer for years now. We’ve had some of these containers since the first grade and they work well for kid-sized and adult lunches.


To-Go Ware Food Carriers
Our tiffins are still going strong! They’re really easy to clean, don’t retain any odors (yay for Indian food lunches!) and our first container is going on year three or four. The 11yo is graduating to a 3-tier tiffin this year, but don’t let the “snack” label in the two-tier fool ya’; they hold full lunches. The 11yo packs a small meal for mid-day snack so we decided to consolidate all  into one tiffin.  Oven-safe to 350º and dishwasher safe.


Sistema Lunch Cube
These are our go-tos for sandwich lunches. No soggy bread! It is not 100% leakproof so I usually pack a drier lunch with these (i.e. no watermelon). Also, the divided half of the container is great if you have kids that don’t like stuff to touch too much. These don’t get used as heavily (maybe once a week) but they have lasted for years; going on year number six! Dishwasher safe.


Built NY Gourmet Getaway
This is what she carries her lunch in every day. The fact that I can throw it into the washing machine without having to worry about shrinkage is its number one selling point. Sometimes it goes in the washer as often as 2-3 times a week. Super roomy. It fits her tiffin, an insulted thermos, and the occasional juice box. Machine washable!

The following aren’t in daily rotation but get used at least once a week:


I use these for packing yogurt lunches. Pop it in the freezer the night before to help keep things colder longer. Pre-heat with hot water before adding soup. Leakproof. I hand wash, but they are dishwasher safe.


snackTaxi Sandwich & Snack Bags
After years of trying and failing at the reusable snack bags, these are where I have finally landed. The interior lining doesn’t stain (or get stinky) like others we’ve tried and they retain their shapes after washing (no weird shrinkage of lining!!). The sandwich size is large enough for an actual sandwich, but we use them mostly to send rice cakes, granola, nut-seed mixes, and dry-add ins for salads that we don’t want to get mushy.  Machine-washable!


To-Go Ware Snack Sidekick
For delicates that I want to keep intact or when I need to contain the smell of a single item – figs, bleeding beets, pickles, etc. Dishwasher safe.


Good luck getting ready for school this year! We’ll be working on portion control and practice lunches ’til school starts in a couple of weeks.

This post is not sponsored. All items were tested and purchased by me.

meal plan – august 14, 2017

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Happy middle of August, everyone! My CSA stash is screaming Texas summer this week – okra, eggplant, peppers, squash – so the bulk of my meals will focus on using all that up. Potatoes and carrots and beets will work their way in as snacks or hold up in storage for use next week.

I also made my way to the downtown library one last time to visit the cookbook stacks ahead of the closing of the third floor. Austin is getting a shiny new library in October and books from the non-fiction collection (3rd floor) will be in transition until then. Lots of inspiration from that last haul in this week’s meal plan. Link to books at bottom of post.

Harira (from Near and Far)
Garlic Soba & Zucchini
Ratatouille w/ Pasta
Eggplant & Ginger (inspired by The Flavor Thesaurus)
White Bean & Summer Squash Ragout
Summer Veggie Stir Fry

Greens & Grains Scramble (from Whole Grain Mornings)
Breakfast Tostadas
Summer Squash Migas
Pumpkin Walnut Pancakes (from Cook 1.0)

Maple Walnut Granola (from Brown Eggs & Jam Jars)
Zucchini Bread
Jalapeño Ranch
Roasted Beets
Summer Melons

Dilled Carrots (from Preserving by the Pint)
Pickled Hot Peppers

Happy cooking and stay cool!

The Cookbooks
Near and Far by Heidi Swanson
The Flavor Thesaurus by Niki Signit
Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon
Cook 1.0 by Heidi Swanson
Brown Eggs & Jam Jars by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque
Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellan

celeriac suggestions?

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cooking in season

celery root | aneelee.wordpress.com

Wondering if any of you out there have done something particularly exciting with celery root. Most recipes call for making purees or involve mashing it into another starch. I dice it finely into risotto pretty much every time it lands in my CSA box. There must be more. What do you do with it?

creamy peach-yogurt popsicles

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After months and months (and months) of nothing but citrus, our eyes go wide at the sight of fruit in June. There are peaches at local farm stands, big ol’ watermelons and we had berries in the house as recently as last week. Hooray!

This also means that we inevitably end up with a few pieces that are a little past the “fresh”stage. I decided to go the popsicle route with the handful of peaches we had left, but not until after I had already juiced them. Using juice instead of our usual pureed fruit resulted in a much lighter and creamier popsicle.

Creamy Peach-Yogurt Popsicles | aneelee.wordpress.com
Creamy Peach-Yogurt Popsicles
makes 6
5-6 small peaches, cores removed (or 1 cup of peach juice)
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 tbsp agave (optional)

  1. Juice peaches.*
  2. Combine peach juice and vanilla yogurt in blender until well mixed.
  3. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until solid.

* If you don’t have a juicer, you can use a blender, fine-mesh colander & cheesecloth: Place peaches into blender and then pour mixture into a cheese-cloth lined colander. Push pureed fruit through the colander, expressing as much liquid as you can from the pulp. Top off with a little orange juice if you don’t have enough to make a cup.

We liked this latest variation of popsicle so much that I am going to freeze some peach juice exclusively for this purpose. 🙂

Creamy Peach-Yogurt Popsicles | aneelee.wordpress.com

tomatolandia 2017

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The pantry is so sad and bare that I have been storing old cooking magazines and miscellaneous kitchen junk in there. All that is left of my 2016 tomatoes is these two jars of raw packed tomatoes, so to say that I am relieved to be picking up my first order of tomatoes tomorrow is an understatement.

Scouring kitchen surfaces and cleaning ALL THE THINGS today so that I can jump right in to canning tomorrow. I have 20 lbs of mixed tomatoes to contend with. Either going to do a raw-pack or sauce with the San Marzanos and the rest is getting used for shelf-stable salsa, enchilada sauce and some casera-style salsa for selling.

You can follow me and #tomatolandia over the weekend on Instagram and Twitter if you want to catch some of my progress.

paring down so you can cook more

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meal planning


Meal planning is my lifeline. Knowing what comes next in the kitchen keeps me grounded and helps my entire day tick through its marks.  Some weeks the meal plan is aspirational with mounds of new recipes to try and lots of new ingredients to work with. Sometimes it’s a simple rotation of rice and beans, tacos, and pasta. The best weeks though? Those are the ones with the perfect blend of what my husband lovingly calls “stovetop classics” and a teeny bit of new to keep everyone on their toes. Achieving this week to week without burning out has taken a lot of trial and error, where errors equal take out pizzas. Not the worst, but if we are eating out I’d rather it be an outing and opportunity to spend time together.

I have found that the key to sustaining a meal planning habit over the years (for me) has been to simplify and pare down the number of ingredients that I work with. Everything in my cookbook collection and everything at the grocery store is really just far too large a place to start. Paring down that everything to focus on what is in season, eliminates one of the most paralyzing parts of meal planning – where to begin.

You can apply this same philosophy to other parts of the kitchen, too. Instead of starting from “everything is game”, I now plan around a couple of base ingredients like barley and pinto beans and only keep a couple of kinds of fruit around.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be walking through a bit of how meal planning works in my kitchen. What kinds of things do I need to keep around to make weekday meals come off more easily? How do you get through a pound of <fill in grain or legume>  without boring of it by mid-week? Most importantly, how to start on a small scale so you don’t get overwhelmed and quit after a couple of weeks. Meal prep, pantry building, and shopping tips for you along the way, too.

Using a pound of chickpeas as a base ingredient to get us started so stay tuned!


meal plan – week 18

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vegetarian meal plans


This is our first full week of summer break and I am so stoked for a more relaxed pace! Having plenty of healthy-ish snacks on hand is top of the mind as is working through freezer and pantry contents to make room for summer preserving (my favorite canning season is coming up). Meals for the week are super simple as I figure out our new rhythm:

  • Leek Risotto
  • Hummus Wraps
  • Black Bean Burgers *
  • Rustic Salads **
  • Summer Linguine ***
  • Black Sesame Otsu ***

Hoping this new rhythm includes a little more kitchen help from the 13yo now that her course load is lighter. We shall see how that pans out!

* Isa Does It
** Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking 
*** Super Natural Every Day

almost summer (+ watermelon)

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cooking in season / cooking with kids / familia


Summer break has begun! The season of “how do we make an entire watermelon fit in the fridge” is here! The struggle is real and I have more than once had to tell the 13yo that we can’t get a watermelon until we clear room in the fridge. I try to get it quartered as soon as it gets home to make it feel more manageable:

  • half gets cubes up for easy snacking/packing.
  • one quarter gets pureed for popsicles
  • last quarter gets juiced for use in smoothies and cocktails

Popsicle season is also nearing so I’ll be sure to repost and update my small collection of homemade paletas in the coming week.

baked potatoes for dinner

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cooking in season

I know. I know. Carbs are supposed to be bad, but when broccoli comes in my CSA box the first thing that pops in my head is oven-baked potatoes. Crispy skins. Fluffy insides. Piled high with broccoli and sour cream. Happy Saturday, y’all.

This week’s CSA box: beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, fennel, leeks, spinach, kale and cilantro.

what’s cooking – week 10

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vegetarian meal plans

I anticipate a busy week ahead of Spring Break and SXSW (which we will forever have a love-hate relationship with). Hoping that food can help keep us grounded via our bellies.


  • Oatmeal
  • Breakfast Tacos
  • Waffles (weekend)
  • Greek Yogurt with Honey
  • Kale & Potato Scrambles
  • Orange & Sweet Potato Smoothies


Watching OJ: Made in America and wow.
Reading The Turner House
Impatiently waiting for the first swim of the year.

* The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook
** Vegetable Literacy
*** Dinner the Playbook