Friday, December 3, 2010

Freezer Food Review-Part 2!

Sorry this is so late! I had planned on writing this blog post over a week ago, but Thanksgiving came SO quickly this year!! At least for me...

So, here it is! The rest of the reviewed recipes. Now, there are still a few that are in the freezer as we had nights that we just ate PB&J or had dinner with friends, but so far, so good!

Mexican Chicken Casserole: This one is delicious as a freezer meal! As per previous statements, this is another one where it is crucial that you undercook your rice slightly so that it isn't super mushy once you re-heat it. Other than that, the flavor is great!

Cheeseburger Meatloaf: This is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE of the freezer meals! It was completely delicious. And the kids loved it too! It's going on the "every freezer cooking day" menu for sure! Now, in my case, I cooked the mealoaf fully before freezing. You can freeze it raw, but only if the meat you are using has never been frozen (thawing meat, then re-freezing it encourages bacteria growth and can make you sick!). I put it in the fridge the evening before to thaw, and then cooked normally (40-45 minutes in the oven, then slathered on BBQ sauce and cooked for 10 more minutes). It was fabulous! We paired it with Idahoan homestyle mashed potatoes and frozen steamed broccoli!

Sloppy Joes: This was also very good re-heated! Somehow I think it multiplied in the freezer, as we had a lot leftover... I just dumped the frozen mixture into a skillet and heated it through. Took about 15 minutes! Super easy and yummy.

Pumpkin pancakes: In all honesty, these were a flop in my opinion. The idea was great, but the execution was a fail on my part! They were dry, and not very sweet at all. I think they would be really good, but I need to tweak the recipe first! Look for that in upcoming freezer days.

Stuffed shells: Another super easy meal. When I first made the shells, I only cooked the pasta about half way, stuffed them, froze on a sheet pan, and put into a zip bag once frozen. To re-cook, I put some pasta sauce in a pan, layed the shells in it, covered them with sauce, covered the pan with foil, and baked for 30 minutes (I baked it another 10 minutes uncovered after). Super easy!

Teriyaki chicken: This oen is really good, but I learned you have to be careful with the marinade. It's a pretty strong flavor anyway, and it gets stronger as it stays in contact with the chicken. If you put too much marinade on, it'll be over-marinated! We served this with hot rice, pineapple rings, and steamed veggies.

I'm not doing a freezer cooking for December, as we are going to be home for dinner very little in the next couple of weeks. I will do a post soon about inexpensive holiday cooking (appetizer/snacks, desserts, breakfasts, and the BIG holiday meals!). Also, planning ahead for January's freezer cooking. Please share your favorite make-ahead meals and crock-pot recipes with me!

Monday, November 15, 2010

How on EARTH am I supposed to feed my kids??

For anyone who has ever been a parent, you've asked yourself this question...a few...hundred...times. What is a parent supposed to do when their children's diet consists entirely of ketchup and green fruit snacks? I'm going to address some of the most common kid-eating issues that I've personally dealt with (and my solutions or advice given to me by other moms). I hope that if you have ideas too, you will comment and add them in! :)

*Your child wants the SAME food...every exceptions...and it isn't a particularly healthy one.
Give in. At least, some of the time. In my experience, it's better to let them "win" the argument. I find that in this case, it's more about asking for, and getting what they want as opposed to the flavors they are actually eating. But spark a compromise if possible with them. A popular rut in our house-bologna sandwich, goldfish crackers, and applesauce. In this case, I would either let them have that exact meal once a day (they can choose when-even as weird as it is, if it is breakfast time), OR, let them have an element of it at each meal (applesauce at each meal). It also helps in this case instead of asking "what would you like for lunch?" to ask "would you rather have a bologna sandwich or a peanut butter sandwich?" They are making the choice, and often will turn away from their usual staples if THEY make the decision.

*Your child HATES vegetables (or fruits, or bread, or meat, etc...).
Usually the frustration as the parent in this case is that you want them to have some variety (for nutritional purposes). There are a lot of things that can cause a child to shy away from certain foods. You are best served to investigate what causes their refusal.
Texture: Some kids are very put-off by certain textures (think crunchy carrot, mushy baked potato, slimy squash, sticky sweet potato, or squishy peas). If they have a texture that turns them off, try preparing that food in a way that texture isn't an issue. Puree the squash and mix it with mac and cheese. Roast the potatoes so they are crispy. Cook the carrots so they are softer. If texture is the issue, try it a new way.
Taste: Another category of kids don't like the taste of the offending items (veggies, fruits, etc..). There are lots of reasons for this, but unfortunately, you can't change their tastebuds. So, you have to adapt. If you want them to eat that steamed broccoli, you might just have to put some cheese on it. You can also consider "hiding" foods (puree veggies into spaghetti sauce or soups, mix in breads, etc...) but I'm not a fan of that myself. I feel like it's being dishonest with my kids. So they know what I'm putting in, but if they like the taste, it doesn't matter. More ideas on that later.
Appearance: Many kids are weirded out by the way foods look. You hear all the trendy chefs say "you eat first with your eyes." I'm certainly not suggesting that you spend countless minutes plating and garnishing your child's dinner, but think aobut it's appearance. Is it a strange or vibrant color? Shiny? Melted? Goopy? Those are also common reasons kids say "no."
Boredom: Do you find that your kid that once LOVED mac and cheese is suddenly refusing it all together? They may just be sick of it. Try something else for a while or shake it up with some new flavors.
Control: Just like adults, kids like to have some control over their environment. From the moment your child learns that he/she doesn't HAVE to open their mouth for that spoonful of strained squash or they can take their hands and knock the spoon away, they are taking control. From that point forward, they will want a say in what they are eating. They may not have the vocabulary yet to say "no, I don't want that." Instead, they will throw it, play with it, cry at it, and just plain refuse to eat it. If you offer them something different, they are learning that you have a favorable reaction to their behavior. If you refuse them something different, they are hungry and frustrated. It's really hard to find some middle ground. In these instances, I highly recommend offering something they almost always like WITH a new food (say, chicken nuggets with spinach on the side). Also in this realm, you will often get kids who don't like to be fed or want to be fed. If they won't eat it on their own, try feeding them, and vice versa. Don't worry about the mess. Sometimes it's worth it to get them to eat a decent meal!

Mix up the Routine!
Here are some things I find helpful for mixing things up a bit.
*Novelty goes a long way with kids. Use cookie cutters for their food, fun plates and utensils, and as treats, kid-friendly prepackaged items (tube yogurt, fruit snacks, etc...)
*Just because it isn't a traditional "kid-friendly" food, doesn't mean YOUR kid won't eat it! Your child may LOVE baked salmon when they're 2. They also may only eat broccoli in soup form. You never know until you try.
*Don't be afraid of toppings and dips. Many kids will eat a lot more if they have a condiment with their food. Ketchup, ranch dressing, BBQ sauce...they love to have something interactive. If you're worried about calories, buy no sugar added, fat free, and low sodium varieties. Kid palettes aren't usually as advanced as adult ones, so they may not notice the "odd" taste of light ranch dressing.
*Be careful with snacks. If your child thinks they are not going to like dinner, they will fill up on snacks beforehand. Offer them fruits and veggies during snack time and snacks with dinner to change things up a bit. Sometimes the change of pace will be refreshing for them.
*Don't assume you have to cook an entirely separate meal for your child if they are picky. Always offer them what you have (if, of course, it is safe for them to eat). They may refuse it, but there is no harm in trying! You may just be surprised.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Freezer Food Taste Review! Part 1

Many of you have asked the important question. So what does the food taste like once it's reheated? Well, we are half-way through the month so I thought I'd take a moment to share some photos and taste reviews/suggestions. I'll post the other half at the end of the month. Happ eating!

Sausage Rigatoni: This is a recipe that I've made many times before, but never frozen. I knew that there was potential for the pasta to get mushy if overcooked as it would absorb sauce even in the freezer. I compensated by slightly undercooking the pasta and adding a little extra sauce. I still had a *slightly* musy pasta, so I think in the future, I will cook the pasta even a little less. The extra sauce was definitely a good idea-it absorbs a lot in storage! The taste was wonderful, depsite my misfire on the texture.

Bean burritos: Once these were cooked, you would never know that they weren't made fresh and cooked immediately. Super fast to re-heat and delicious! Going in the book of favorites.

Fruit cups: I actually tried this recipe because it is similar to a fruit salad recipe that Walt's grandmother and mom use. Problem is, their recipe makes a TON of fruit salad, and I hadn't really figured a good way to store it. So I swapped out their recipe with this one (it's really only slightly different). The muffin cups are an awesome idea! They only take about 5-10 minutes to defrost enough to be slushy. I did remove the muffin papers before freezing as they were coming apart from being wet during the original freezing process. Another great quickie for the kids!

Chicken Pot Pie: This is DELICIOUS! We love this recipe made fresh, but it's just as good frozen. It takes a little longer to cook, but it is so good! Absolutely perfect for the freezer.

Butterhorn dinner rolls: These rolls were pretty cumbersome to make (they take a long time, they make A LOT of rolls, etc...) but they really are wonderful. Not something I'd make all the time (I have a homemade dinner roll recipe that's easier and also good-so I'd probably use it instead-will likely do that for the next freezer adventure!), but definitely tasty.

Chocolate chip whole wheat pancakes and pupmkin pancakes: These pancakes have a great flavor, but I'm honestly not a fan of the texture. They are a little tough. I'm not sure if it has to do with the whole wheat flour, or my batter-making skills, but they were a little tough. I don't think it's freezer related, as they have a fresh taste. I'll attempt to tweak this recipe before repeating it. They are really convenient and the kids enjoy them!

Chicken stir fry: This is another one that we typically eat, but haven't ever frozen. The key is absolutely to just barely cook the veggies before freezing! If you cook them all the way through, they will be super mushy when you re-heat. The flavor was great on this. I did cook the rice to go with it fresh (haven't had much luck with frozen rice).

Italian marinated chicken: This is one we've done before, and a favorite. We chose to grill it since the weather has been very warm, but it's also good cooked in the crockpot. The key is to pull it out several hours ahead and let it thaw in the refrigerator. It will continue to marinade as it thaws.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day-Final Tally!

All in all, I think the freezer cooking day was a success!!

I learned a few things. I had to alter a few things. But looking at my fully stocked freezer and knowing that I only have to dump ingredients in the crockpot or stick a meal in the oven from now until Thanksgiving is very satisfying.

It took about 6 hours of total cooking time to complete everything. I did take breaks on occasion to wait for items in the oven, eat lunch, and to re-load/empty the dishwasher (it took 3 dishwasher loads by the day's end). I ended up with a couple of extra items (yay!) and I altered a couple. For example, I had originally planned on pumpkin muffins, but opted for pancakes since the griddle was already dirty from the chocolate chip pancakes. Both will be great for breakfast!
Here's the final tally:
Sausage Rigatoni (x2)
Mexican Chicken casserole (not originally listed but had the ingredients on hand)
Bean burritos (one dinner-8 burritos PLUS 2 extras for a microwave lunch!)
Fruit cups (24 individual cups)
Cheeseburger meatloaf
Chicken Pot Pie
Sloppy Joes
Butterhorn dinner rolls (40 rolls)
Stuffed shells
Chocolate chip whole wheat pancakes (40 pancakes)
Pumpkin pancakes (40 pancakes)
Chicken stir fry
Butternut squash macaroni and cheese (x2)
Teriyaki marinated chicken
Lemon pepper marinated chicken
Italian marinated chicken
Garlic and Herb marinated chicken

I hope that if you tried or try your own freezer cooking day, you have as much success as I did! I will continue posting as we eat the meals on the results of the flavor. :) I'll also start planning for December's cooking day!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Frozen Assets-Freezer Cooking Master List!

For this post, I'm going to list the food items I selected for the freezer cooking day. I consulted several books, blogs, etc...

So, this will be a LONG post. I'm including all the list, and recipes (some will be linked in the list). Now, bear in mind that I decided to alter our usual shopping trip this time. I've got enough meals planned to get us until Thanksgiving break and not all of them are freezer. I'll make sure to mark which ones are which. :)

I'll also make as short list of supplies that you'll need to have for freezer cooking days and items that are not freezer friendly. Okay-here we go!!

Master Freezer Cooking List:

*Pumpkin muffins
*Whole wheat chocolate chip pancakes

*Cheeseburger meatloaf
*Pizza dough (x2 batches) (I like to make four pizzas from each batch so everyone can make their own...bake them just until they are barely cooked, cool, and wrap them individually in foil or press n seal wrap, then bag them in batches)
*Chicken pot pie
*Sloppy joes
*Sausage rigatoni (x2)
*Chicken stir fry
*Bean burritos
*Stuffed shells

*Marinated chicken (x3)


Non-Freezer List (if you want any of these recipes, just send me a message and I'll get them to you!)

Apple BBQ crockpot chicken, spinach/ham/cheese pasta, crunchy ranch chicken, Brunswick stew, Balsamic dijon crockpot pork, roast beef/veggies

Supplies: I shop at the Dollar tree for the best value on freezer containers (I like the aluminum take-out style containers), but here are some tips:

*Choose glass or aluminum storage containers (hard plastic ones may crack or break and may not be microwave safe)

*If using plastic storage BAGS (these are safe!), be sure they are listed FREEZER not just storage or you may suffer freezer-burned or spoiled food.

*You will also need a cookie sheet for freezing individual or bagged items

* a tip: acidic items (lemon and tomato based items) can eat through aluminum. If using aluminum storage for those items, spray them first with non-stick cooking spray to avoid this problem!

*You can line baking dishes with foil, put your foods in them, and freeze. When frozen solid, remove the food, double wrap, and stack as "bricks."


Chicken pot pie:

1 cup cooked, cubed chicken

1 8oz block cream cheese, softened

1 can cream of chicken soup (undiluted)

1 can mixed vegetables

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 unbaked refrigerated pie crust

Mix cream cheese and soup. Add in chicken, veggies, and seasonings. Stir to combine. Pour into greased 8x8 pan. Top with pie crust (either trim edges or fold them over) and make slits to vent. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown or freeze unbaked. To cook from frozen: thaw in refrigerator 4-5 hours before baking and cook as directed or put directly into oven for 1 hour 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Sausage Rigatoni

1 lb sausage, cooked and drained

1 lb penne pasta (cooked to package directions)

1 jar favorite pasta sauce

1 cup shredded mozzerella cheese

Combine sausage, pasta, and sauce (if freezing, you may want to use extra sauce as the pasta will absorb some...also, you may want to keep the pasta on the "firmer" side of cooking if you plan to freeze, since it will cook more when reheated). Top with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or freeze. To cook from frozen: thaw in refrigerator for 4-5 hours before baking and cook as directed, or put directly in the oven and cook for 1 hour or until hot all the way through.

*Note: this makes one heaping 9x13 or two 8x8 pans. I am choosing for this to make 2 8x8 pans

Chicken stir-fry

1 cup chicken, cut into bite sized pieces

1/4 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp oil (canola or vegetable)

1 bag frozen stir fry veggies (we like the sugar snap pea blend)

1/2 cup teriyaki glaze

Put oil into skillet and turn onto medium high. When oil is hot, sprinkle chicken with garlic powder and add to pan. Cook chicken until no longer pink. Add in veggies and glaze. Stir to combine and cover. Cook 10-15 minutes until the veggies are crisp-tender (keep them on the crisper side if freezing). Serve with hot, cooked rice and sliced pineapple. If freezing, pour into freezer safe container. To reheat-thaw in the refrigerator and add to skillet to warm through or heat in a mircrowave safe container. (You can cook the rice ahead and freeze too-put in a separate freezer bag and attach to the stir fry in the microwave)

Stuffed Shells

1 box pasta shells, cooked according to package directions (keep on the firmer side if freezing)

1 15oz container part-skim ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzerella cheese

1 tbsp italian seasoning blend

Jar of favorite pasta sauce

Combine ricotta, cheeses, and seasoning. Put a heaping spoonful in each shell. (to freeze, place stuffed shells on cookie sheet in freezer. Freeze until firm-a couple hours tops, then place into freezer bags appropriate for each meal). Put a thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of 8x8 pan. Place shells in the pan. Top with sauce and bake 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Marinated Chicken
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (this will vary depending on the size/appetite of your family: 3 full-size breast pieces or 5 tenderloins is sufficient for our family per meal)

Marinade of choice (Italian dressing, hawaiian, and lemon pepper are favorites)

*hawaiian marinade: 1 small can pineapple juice, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tbsp brown sugar

*lemon pepper marinade: 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/4 cup lemon juice, coarse

ground black pepper to taste

Put chicken in freezer safe bag with marinade of choice. Freeze flat on cookie sheet. Stack in freezer. To use: thaw in refrigerator overnight. Grill or bake until chicken is cooked through.

What NOT to freeze!

When making your list, some items just don't freeze well, and that should be considered.

*Lettuce/cabbage/etc...will be soggy and mushy when re-heated

*Pasta and rice should be slightly undercooked before freezing (they will cook some when reheated and if overcooked, will become mushy)

*Eggs will become rubbery in texture

*Milk and cream sauces (with the exception of cream cheese which has a different texture), will likely separate when re-heated

*Fried foods will become soggy

Next post will be after freezer cooking day (should be tomorrow as it's a day off school so hubby can watch the kids!).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Frozen Assets...Post 1

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post. I've known what I wanted my next subject to be, but I've been doing some research the past month or so, trying to formulate a plan that will work for us. This will be a series of posts-this first one will deal with the basics (followed later by the shopping trip and cooking day posts).

I've read numerous blogs, books, and talked to several people about freezer cooking. I made an attempt at it once before, but it wasn't entirely successful. Hopefully I've refined my knowledge on the subject so that I can make this a monthly staple. Some things I've read suggest cooking the entire month's worth of meals (30 meals) to put in the freezer. That isn't a good option for us because it calls for lots of repeat meals, and very precise shopping. However, I've decided to cook 14 meals, to use at our discretion throughout the month.

Why cook ahead? Well...there are a lot of good reasons.
*Saves cooking and cleaning time during the week! Can you imagine a whole week where you never have to clean up cooking utensils? It also prevents that rush during busy nights. Just grab a meal out of the freezer and pop in the oven!
*It's a portion control device. A lot of items I make (specifically pastas and casseroles), make WAY more food than we need for the meal and a day of leftovers. We end up grossly overeating and still throwing away food. So, it's just as easy to make the same amount on cooking day, but separate it into two freezer containers. Voila! Two meals ready to go. And, should you need an extra meal to take to a sick friend or have unexpected company, you are no worse for wear.
*It's money saving. Planning ahead, freezing meals, and having easy to prepare side dishes makes for quick meals. You can control your impulse spending on fast food and eating out this way. Also, the planning portion allows for a chance to implement coupons and other seasonal deals.

Don't have a big freezer? No problem! You can freeze meals flat, in zip-top bags and stack them (a dozen meals takes up only half of a traditional top of fridge freezer)...they do require more prep time when you plan to eat them, but more on that later. I DO recommend getting a deep freeze if you have space (even a garage, laundry room, or corner of a kitchen are good options) because they allow for bulk purchases. Even consider sharing a deep freeze with a friend who has space for one (Maybe they can even exchange a couple of ready-to-eat meals for your freezer space!)

How do you cook for a day with kids under foot? Hire a sitter, send them out with dad, or find a friend who will exchange watching them for food or their own cooking day.

So that's the basics. On the next post, I'll include the meal plan and shopping list. After that, I'll post with actual shopping and cooking days. I'd love for some people to try out this with me!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Eat From the Pantry Challenge ($30 grocery week!)

A lot of blogs I follow advertise doing "eat from the pantry" challenges. Some are for a few days, some as long as a month. I always found that idea overwhelming and unpleasant. But, in our end of the summer budget crunch, we decided to give it a try. We opted to do one week and see what happened. I have to admit, not only did it save us a lot of money, it was quite humbling.

We have never considered ourselves "extra" wasteful (you know, we recycle and donate when we can, try to eat the last bits of cereal, etc...) but what I didn't realize is how many things we buy that weren't getting used. And then, before you know it, they are expired, spoiled, or stale and you throw them out. I've recently had a lot of overwhelming emotions about the number of people just in our own community that don't have food. It sickens me when I think about how much I throw away. So, slowly but surely, we're making changes towards that. Here's how we did the challenge.

First on the list was to take inventory of what we had (this is now actually a running list for our convenience and to help with waste that we keep tacked on the fridge/pantry door/deep freeze and add/cross off items as needed). We marked down lists for the refrigerator, freezers, and pantry. I had a lot of obvious items this time around and didn't have any trouble at all coming up with meal plans. However, should you find yourself in a situation not knowing how to use what you have, go to and click on "ingredients" at the top. You can list items you have and it will give you meal ideas for those items (you still might have to purchase one or two things, but that's better than buying ALL the ingredients for a different item!).

Then, we listed the few items we needed to complete the meals, and use for the household over the next week. We set our budget at $30 (I know, I know, you're thinking WHAT??). This forced me to do two things: get EVERYTHING in one trip (no quick trips during the week) and really seriously watch my budget.

The outcome: we survived! It was actually refreshing to know that we made it a whole week on $30 worth of additional groceries, we had company over for dinner 2 of those nights, and we were able to use up items we already had on hand! We felt really good about being mindful of our pantry. And, this is something I think we will add to the list every month or two-just to clear out "extras" hanging out in the pantry and freezer. Will YOU take the challenge now?

Here are a couple of tips for doing the challenge:
*don't dismiss those half eaten potato chips/pretzels/crackers that may be stale. Crumbled, they make an excellent crunchy coating for meat and veggies!
*consider how much you will REALLY use (it's okay if you actually run out of something!)If you're running really low on something, use just a hint of water in the bottle (like coffee creamer or ketchup), shake it up, and use it.
*if you have leftovers that you won't use for a while, freeze them. Then pull them out on an eat from the pantry week (no purchasing required!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's the Little Things that Count!

Most people think teachers have a glamourous life, with summer breaks and all. What they don't realize is that most teachers don't get a regular paycheck over the summer. So, for our family, this means the last paycheck comes on May 30. Then we have a long stretch until Aug. 30. We have to plan carefully to stretch our money across the summer. But, on occasion, life gets in the way. Like the $400 septic pump we needed put in plus $165 to pump the tank. There went nearly $600 we hadn't budgeted. So, by the end of summer, we're stretching to the next paycheck.

That said, we've been very careful about our budget lately and I've done some exploring. I have to admit, for someone who will jump on a $.75 coupon from a mile away, I sure missed some obvious money-savers. So, I'll attempt to pass on the (obvious) savings to you!

I looked at some things we typically buy and compared them to other, similar options. Amazing what a difference. I'll compare 4 common items on our grocery list:

Shredded cheese: we use shredded cheese in a million and one dishes. But do you realize exactly what a PREMIUM price you pay? I sure didn't...
Great Value brand shredded cheddar cheese (2 cups) $1.98
Great value brand large block cheddar cheese (shredded, yields 6 cups)$3.36
Divided into 2 cups: $1.12

Rice: I've always used minute rice. No particular reason, it's just what I'm used to. But I really never realized what a money pit it is!
Kroger brand quick minute rice $1.60 for a small box
Kroger brand dry bag rice $.98

Salsa: I've been making my own for a while. But it really is a great savings.
Kroger brand jar salsa $1.75
Homemade salsa: one can petite diced tomatoes $.50
sliced jalapenos (one jar is $1.30, but yields 10 batches of
homemade salsa) $.13
lemon juice, salt, cumin $.05
1/2 diced onion $.40
Total: $1.08

Oatmeal: I like the flavored kind. But it's simple to make your own.
Quaker instant oatmel-blueberry delight (6 packets) $2.50 ($.42 per serving)
Great Value quick cooking oats $1.50 (makes 10 servings)
brown sugar, blueberries, and cinnamon to taste $.10 per serving
Total: $.25 per serving

It may not seem like a lot, but for things you buy often, it really adds up. If I buy these 4 things weekly for a year, it adds up to over $100! And imagine the other items you may be paying convenience premiums for!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer Parties on a Budget!

I love that I have been blessed with two wonderful children. But when we were "surprised" with Nick, and he was born in mid-July (in fact, the bank clock was the only thing I could see from my hospital room window, blinking 100 F all afternoon), I swore up and down that I would NEVER have another July baby. Fast forward two years. We were expecting a girl...due on Nick's birthday...July 16. UGH! Seriously?? Okay, so God has a sense of humor. Unfortunately, that left us with a little dilemma. Two birthdays, mid-summer, a week apart. Last year, Olivia was only 10 days old when we had Nick's party, and we scheduled a pool party. Perfect for late July, right? NOPE! It was 70 degrees and the water was freezing.

So, with all the mishaps and hooplah surrounding multiple summer birthdays, we devised a plan to not break our budget, make everyone happy, and not have to skimp on the food.

We decided on a joint birthday party for the family to attend. One advantage of summer parties? Almost every produce imaginable is in season and inexpensive, as well as super tasty.

Here's how the lineup looked:
Veggie and chicken kebabs (veggies from our garden-tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchini; mushrooms and onions from the supermarket...using more veggies, allows for less meat and thus, a cheaper entree)
Fresh fruit and dip
Corn dip (made with fresh corn at just $.25/ear!)
Veggie/ranch bars
Pasta salad

For dessert, we opted to make cupcakes instead of ordering a sheet cake from a local bakery. At $15-20 a pop, it's just not worth it. I was able to make 48 cucakes for under $5. And, I let the kids help decorate, so they were just as excited about them. I did order some cupcake rings for Nick's bowling party from eBay for just a few dollars too. Still much cheaper than store-bought.

It was a really fun time, the kids enjoyed it, and everyone was well fed. So, I guess, although I would never WANT to have another summer baby, there are some advantages.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pickles Pickles Pickles!!

Our garden has exploded, and thus left us with an overabundance of cucumbers. Dont' get me wrong, I enjoy the OCCASIONAL cucumber, but much rather prefer the pickled variety. Unfortunately, making pickles is a very delicate and time consuming process. Enter-my wonderful Grandma Rhew. I don't have a lot of memories of her, but these pickles are something I do remember. I remember her having them in her refrigerator in the summer-and also my mom making them every year. I haven't made them in years, but it's exciting. I can almost taste them now...but I must wait for 2 days!!

They are super easy, quick, and cheap to make. So I thought it only appropriate to share it on here. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. :)

Refrigerator Pickles
Slice 4-5 small/medium cucumbers thinly and fill a large, clean glass jar. Add one peeled garlic clove, whole.
In a separate bowl, mix the following:
2 cups cold water, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp salt, 2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp dill, and 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns. Pour liquid over sliced cucumbers. Seal jar and refrigerate for 2 days.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June Meals and the summer harvest!

So sorry it has been a few weeks since I blogged last. It has been BUSY BUSY BUSY as most summers are. I realize that I never posted the June meals list. This will be a two-part post because during the summer it just isn't practical for us to do a month of meals at a time. We do a significant amount of traveling and entertaining so it's a little unpredictable, and for us, can be more costly if we try to plan too far in advance. We're also getting the first items from our garden, which is also unpredictable, and will dictate much of what we cook later in the summer. It's so refreshing to walk out to the yard and pick what you need for a meal!

Alright, on to the list! As always, I'm happy to share recipes if you want them.

Italian marinated grilled chicken/baked sweet potatoes/salad
Dijon chicken/roasted garlic potatoes/green peas
Homemade sloppy joes/roasted potato fries
Broccoli chicken alfredo pasta/garlic toast/salad
Teriyaki flat iron steak/baked potatoes/salad/homemade yeast rolls
Honey Mustard pork chops/stove top stuffing/green beans
BBQ ribs/grilled corn/baked beans
Tomato soup and grilled cheese
Cincinnati chili/hot dogs/
Chicken parmesan/spaghetti/garlic toast/salad
Breakfast casserole/fresh fruit/yogurt
Lemon pepper grilled chicken/rice-a-roni/grilled veggies
Stuffed shells/3 cheese bread
Tacos/refried beans/homemade salsa and chips

Friday, May 28, 2010

*New Recipe* Sausage and Pepper Subs!

We are busy. Simply put. So I LOVE quick and simple recipes! Some of them seem so easy that I have a brief moment of "why didn't I think of that before?" This is sort of one of those moments. But, the result was delicious, inexpensive, and quick!

Sausage and Pepper Subs

1 lb smoked sausage, sliced
1 green or red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 onion sliced thinly
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp steak/all purpose seasoning
*optional* 1/4 cup chicken stock or water

Put olive oil in a large nonstick skillet and turn on medium heat. When oil is hot, add sausage. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side or until sausage reaches desired doneness (we like ours on the crispy side). Once sausage is done, remove from pan, but leave any oil or rendered fat in the skillet. Add in pepper, onion and steak seasoning. Sautee the veggies until they reach desired doneness (about 4-5 minutes). When veggies are done, add sausage back in, and ketchup. Stir to combine. *Note: if you like this to be "saucier" then you can add 1/4 cup of chicken stock or water at this point). Once everything is combined, it is ready to serve! We like ours on split, buttered, toasted sub rolls and sprinkled with mozzerella cheese.

**For a quick side dish! Dice 4 Idaho potatoes (skin on, washed). Place on a cookie sheet that has been covered in aluminum foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray). Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil. Sprinkle on 1 tbsp favorite steak/mixed seasoning (Mrs. Dash works great, as does Italian bread dipping seasoning mixes). Mix up potatoes so that all are coated with oil and seasoning. Put in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. If you like them crispy, turn on the broiler for five minutes once the potatoes are cooked through. Enjoy!

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Trail-Mix Mom"

My loving husband has officially dubbed me with the title "Trail Mix Mom." He says I'm not hippie enough to be full "granola" but I have enough tendencies to warrant some kind of title. Haha! I guess that makes me a little fruity, a little nutty, and a little granola. Perfect.

I blogged a few days ago about my experiences reading the book "Organic Housekeeping" by Ellen Sandbeck. I haven't quite finished the book yet, but I'm getting close. I will say this. The author is much more extreme in her natural housekeeping than I will ever be, BUT, she has armed me with a lot of general knowledge. She challenges the question "Why do we clean the house?" My first thought impress company. Not really, but then she goes on to explain that we clean as a means of keeping our families happy and healthy. Whether you do the minimum or maximum, that's the goal. So I've been trying to look at things from that perspective for the past week or so.

My first goal has been to make my time useful. With two kids, life is super busy. I ususally have a list of forty things to get done and I get so overwhelmed that none of it gets done. So, I am attempting to make the most of my time. If I have a five or ten minute chunk of time that isn't specifically designated for something, I use it. Empty the dishwasher. Sort the laundry. Fold the towels. Shred junk mail. Make a batch of baby food. Sweep the kitchen floor. I'm really finding that doing these little things (rather than assuming I need to block off a couple hours to clean) REALLY REALLY make a big difference in my week. I feel like I've accomplished something, I haven't wasted time with my kids on a cleaning marathon, and it gets checked off the list (I personally benefit from being able to cross something off a list as DONE!).

My next goal was to find a couple of ways to limit our household waste and use of harsh chemicals that I can't begin to pronounce. I've already blogged about the use of old t-shirts in place of paper towels. It's been a great resource for us (we haven't even used up a roll of paper towels yet.). In the book, she talks a lot about cleaning with everyday products: vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and the like. So, I thought I would give one of her ideas a try. Our coffee pot was in desperate need of cleaning (I usually buy those $7 cleaning solution packets!) so I used her method. Pour one cup of white vinegar in the coffee pot tank and fill the rest with water. Turn on the coffee pot, let one cup run, turn it off. Let it sit for half an hour, then turn it on and finish brewing. Then run two pots of plain water through afterwards.

But, she's a frugal person and nothing goes to waste. SO her suggestion was to pour one cup of baking soda in each side of the kitchen sink, and then pour the hot vinegar/water mix in over it. Cleans and disinfects the sink all in one process! It's amazing. I've never seen my sink so clean and shiny-not even with regular bleach. Another awesome addition to our cleaning routine!

Another simple, but perfect addition to the the house. Baskets for the bathroom sinks. I'm not sure why it never occurred to me to do this previously, but just putting a basket on the sink to put toothbrushes, medicines, deoderant, and the like in makes wiping down the sink a MUCH easier task! Just remove the basket (instead of all the little individual items) and wipe. Crazy that it's new to me, but I'm very happy about it!

So far, so good. I feel much less daunted by the cleaning tasks. It's really been a struggle since having kids to balance everything, but I'm glad to be finding some sort of happy medium. Hopefully later this week, I'll get the June menu posted to the blog. I'll back-track and post May's too (since it never made it on here!)

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Recycling Challenge

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'm attempting to be a little "greener" and I've been reading the book "Organic Housekeeping." After reading a particular chapter in the book, I made a challenge to myself and my family. A suggestion in the book recommends using clean cotton cloths instead of paper towels. Hmmm...She suggests using other "unusable" items (old t-shirts, socks, towels, burp rags, etc...). Cut them up, wash them in hot water, and voila! So, I cleaned through Walt's undershirts (I'm not sure how he can completely rip the underarm out of an undershirt in just a couple of months, but he does). I grabbed a few of the ripped up ones, cut them into rags, and instantly had a stash of about 50 clean cotton rags to use. I put them in a basket on the kitchen table and made it our challenge to use those for anything we could (wiping counters, high chair, runny noses, swiffer covers, etc...). I also used them to clean the bathroom yesterday. Each time I moved to a new surface, I got a new rag out (one for the counter, toilet, shower ,etc...). Amazing.

I counted up the dirty ones as I put them in the wash last night. 35. That's how many paper towels I would have wasted yesterday cleaning. I couldn't believe it! So we've made it our challenge to use them when we can (obviously, some jobs are better left to disposable towels). I'll let you know how it goes as we continue our challenge!

$1 Dinner!

So we had the cheapest meal of the month last night...*drumroll please*...BREAKFAST! Okay, so we occasionally like to shake things up so we decided to have scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, biscuits, and fruit. And the grand total per person was just under $1. ($.92 to be exact). Multiply that times 3 and you can't beat it!! That's when it occurred to me. Eggs are super cheap. We don't eat them that much, but I'm thinking we should...At just $.88 a dozen, that makes each egg about $.07 each. When you consider scrambling one, hard-boiling one, frying one, poaching one, deviling one, making an omelet out of one...the possibilites are endless and SO INEXPENSIVE! You certainly can't buy any other proteins that cheap...not even cheese! Eggs are a great way to use up leftovers can throw any sort of veggies and meats you have leftover into scrambled eggs or omelets. It's a great source of protein, and there are lots of cooking options so you never get bored.

Here's how last night's meal breakdown looked:
Eggs ($.88/dozen) $.07 each x2 per person= $.14
Cheese ($.10/slice, added to eggs while cooking)=$.10
Grand's biscuit ($1.00/8 biscuits) $.22 per biscuit=$.22
Tyson Center cut bacon ($2.00/14 slices) $.13 per slice x2 per person= $.26
Store brand mandarin orange ($.80/one can/4 servings) $.20
GRAND TOTAL: $.92 per person!

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Disgusting Discovery

So, I will admit it. My house is dirty. Plain and simple. It's a work in progress and I'm still trying to find a system that works for us. Simply put, I've never made the time to put housekeeping as a priority. And I'm okay with that for the most part. However, lately, I'm trying to find a balance between the dust, the crumbs, and the fingerprints and finding time with my kids, my husband, and for me. Unfortunately, most days, there aren't enough hours. But, this is a whole different post.

I have started reading the book "Organic Housekeeping" by Ellen Sandbeck. I know, it SOUNDS terribly "granola" (exactly what Walt thought when I asked him to pick it up from the library...) but it's really not. It's just good, practical advice for keeping your home safe and healthy. I'll post more about it when I finish the book, but for now, one of the first principles is that you should do small things IMMEDIATELY when you have time. So, I thought I'd put this principle in play. I had a few spare minutes, with nothing needing me right away, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to empty the clean dishes out of the dishwasher, put them away, and re-load with dirty dishes. A simple 10 minute task. And I would feel accomplished at the end of it.

Much to my surprise, I opened the dishwasher (with supposedly CLEAN dishes) and this horrid aroma wafted out at my face. WHAT IS THAT SMELL??? My first reaction was panic mode. "Oh no, our dishwasher isn't working and we're going to have to buy a new one!" Once I calmed my irrational fears, I did a little discovery. I cleared out the "clean" dishes and put them away. Still a gross smell. Hmm...So my next reaction was to check the drain catch. Sometimes food bits get stuck in there and get yucky. Clean as a whistle. Still perturbed...So, I cautiously stuck my head in the dishwasher and attempted to locate the smell. And then I found it. The most disgusting thing I've ever seen in a home I've lived in (and YES, it tops those "surprise" diapers, sour milk sippy cups, overflowed toilets, and puke-o-rama stomach viruses). If you'll look at the photo I've posted, right by the dishwasher door, in the corner, you'll see a little black rubber square-ish "L" shaped thing-a-ma-jig. Well, guess what that little item's job description is-catch all the bits of food, liquid, and otherwise that drip onto the open dishwasher door when you load it full of dirty dishes. I'm guessing in my dishwasher's 10 year lifespan, those have NEVER been cleaned. The gobs of heaping rotting stuff I pulled out of those actually made me sick. No kidding. I have never seen anything like it.

Now, I didn't tell you that JUST to gross you out. I told you that because those neat little rubber things are super easy to pop out, throw in the sink and wash. I just never knew they were there. My cleaning of the dishwasher previously had been wipe down the door when I load it...never thought to look into the bottom corners. Now that I think about it, something that potentially disgusting should have flashing lights around it...Hopefully, this will save someone else from making that horrible discovery some day!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Recipe! Black Forest Reubens

Tonight, we are testing out another new recipe! Black forest reuben sandwiches. I took this recipe from a Rachael Ray book and modified it a bit. Walt and I both think a reuben sandwich LOOKS delicious. Except neither of us like corned beef...or sauerkraut...or thousand island dressing on a sandwich. So, this is a modified version. We will be enjoying this with homemade sweet potato fries. Here's the recipe (and photos to come later!)

Black Forest Reubens (you can modify the amounts based on how many sandwiches you want...this recipe is for 4)

1 pound thinly sliced black forest ham
4 slices provolone or baby swiss cheese
honey mustard (to taste)
8 slices pumpernickel bread

Butter each piece of bread. On the non-buttered side, layer the ham and cheese on four pieces of bread. Spread a thin layer of honey mustard on the non-buttered side of four remaining pieces of bread. Top the sandwiches, mustard-side down. Place sandwiches on a hot griddle or frying pan (or you can use a panini press) and cook on each side until the bread is crispy.

Sweet Potato fries
Peel four medium sweet potatoes. Cut in half length-wise and then slice down to make "fries". Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray, and place the fries on it in a single layer. Pour 1 tbsp canola oil and 1 tsp salt over the fries and toss to coat (you can also add cinnamon if you prefer a sweeter flavor). Bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until fries are browned and crisp. Enjoy!

A Parenting Revelation

Since Olivia's birth, I've tried hard to make time for Nick, but really didn't realize how poorly I was doing. Nick came to me one day about a week ago and asked me if I would read a book with him while "Olivia is happy eating her snack." I thought it was an odd request at the time, because usually both kids eat their snack together. Nick had just asked me to skip his snack...for anyone that knows him, this is major. I was sure he was coming down with something. Then, it dawned on me.

Nick knows that the only time I can spend one-on-one time with him during the day (when it's just me and the kids) is when Olivia is happy. He saw a golden opportunity to have me to himself for a few minutes and pounced on it. What a smart kid! So, we've been trying a new approach to this. So far, so good. I'll update you on that later.

So now, instead of both kids waking up from nap and sitting down at the table for snack, I put Olivia in the high chair for snack (since she has far less patience than Nick) and Nick and I sit at the table and do things together. I put together a tote of "table activities" consisting of art supplies, play-doh, puzzles, activity books, and board games. He gets to pick whatever he wants to do at the table with me (I do still have to stay close by with Olivia since she's only 10 months old...) while she eats. Then, we reverse the process. When she is done, Nick and I clean up our activity and I fix his snack and play with Olivia. It's a win-win. Everyone is happy and Nick is getting his much needed one-on-one time. As a side bonus, Nick also loves to do the "table activities" while I am cooking dinner so that buys me some time for that also. He gets really excited for that time and I love having it with just him.

Computer crash!!

I apologize for the lack of posts. As many of you know, our computer died. :( At least, out laptop (we still have our decade old desktop that *works*). I'll try to keep up now that I have some functional use of the old desktop. A little applause for Best Buy and our good buddy Jim Smith though.

I went to turn on the computer, in which it promptly lit up, started the ever popular "whirring" noise, and then did nothing. NOTHING. Blank screen. This is where I absolutely panic. It had been only the evening before that I had asked Walt to transfer some more pictures over to the jump drive. Hadn't happened yet (YIKES!). So, I pull up some info on my iPhone, try a couple things, and no luck. So I call our church friend Jim, who is a former Geek Squad member and he offers to come take a look at it. He also had no luck. However, Walt called Best Buy (where it was purchased) and lo and behold, they can pull up our original store receipt by computer and verify that we bought the extended warranty!! WHEW!! Crisis averted. We also learned that our hard drive is totally functional, so all is not lost.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco De Mayo!

I'm going to try also to post new recipes when I try them, pictures, and the like. It'll be a way to share them with you, and also for me to keep track of them! In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we are going to have a Mexican Fiesta tonight!

Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with homemade salsa:

Spread refried beans on 8 tortillas (you can use store-bought or homemade...we are using store-bought tonight for time purposes). Sprinkle shredded colby jack cheese, and if you choose roasted red peppers over the beans (we will make some both ways). Roll the tortillas and line them up in a 9x13 baking dish.

To make the homemade salsa: Blend one can of diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon diced jalapeno peppers (seeds removed), 1/4 cup diced onion OR 1 tbsp onion powder, dash of garlic, one tbsp lime juice, and 1 tsp ground cumin. Allow to sit for 30 minutes before serving.

Pour salsa over enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 minutes more. Serve with sour cream and guacamole.

Grocery Budgeting Repeat

I haev had A LOT of people ask me about my grocery budgeting plan and I orignially blogged about it on our family page but I am copying it here for anyone else that might be interested.

Grocery Budgeting Plan
Several people have asked me about my money-saving grocery budgets and the steps I take to make it work. Truthfully, I’ve taken ideas from several people, national blogs, and the like and combined them into a process that works for us. The bottom line is that it takes a great deal of preparation and planning, but the end result is worth it if you are on a budget. We have reduced our grocery bills by 40-50%!!! In my experience, the more trips to the store, the more impulse buys and wasteful throwing away of expired/unused items. So how do I do it?

Step 1
The first step is to take a look at the calendar for the month (we print a blank one off Google calendars online). We immediately cross out any nights that we know we will be gone and not be eating dinner at home (traveling, meetings, etc…). We then figure up approximately how many nights are remaining and compile a “working” list of dinner ideas to cover those nights. When we originally started doing this, we assigned a specific meal to a specific night but we have since learned that it’s best for us if we just create a “master list” to put on the refrigerator and plan day-by-day once we’ve bought groceries. That way, if something comes up (like guests coming over or an unexpected late afternoon doctor’s appointment) we’re not scrambling and we don’t wind up eating out. We do budget to eat out once or twice a month also.
When thinking about what meals we want in the week, we try to create a wide variety of items (different proteins, quick meals, crockpot meals, meatless meals, make ahead meals, etc…) so we can pull items when we need them.
Once your list with dinner items is made, add in items you will need for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and household/hygiene items. For reference, we can get by with a couple of large bags of cereal and a large container of regular oats for breakfast, several loaves of bread, a big jar of peanut butter, and a couple of pounds of lunch meat for lunches, etc… Household wise, we have started trying to use reusable items (dish cloths instead of paper towels, microfiber towels instead of swiffer cloths, etc…) but for most of those non-reusable items (toilet paper, cleaners, etc…) you can usually find sales on them in bulk and also with great coupon savings.
Also, be aware that some items you cannot buy a month in advance (like lettuce) and you may not have space to store others (like the 12-14 gallons of milk we go through in a month. Be prepared to make QUICK stops during the month to pick up ONLY these few items.
Step 2
Once the master food list is made, start browsing sale ads from grocery stores. The 3 I usually check out are Meijer, Kroger, and Walmart. I check them online and only browse over them to see which places seem to have more items I’m going to need on sale. Once I’ve decided where I’m going to shop, I make an itemized grocery list. It will likely be a long list, but we try to pick items with few ingredients to help with this also. *A note about buying meat. We TYPICALLY don’t buy much meat in an average monthly trip. Instead, we buy a meat bundle at the local butcher shop and that lasts us several months. We do pick up some items in our regular trip, but less than those who don’t have this option
Step 3
Compare your itemized list to the sale ad. Mark items (I do this in Microsoft word-I use underline) that you need that are currently on sale. Now, it is possible that they will have a store brand that will be a better deal when you get there, but you know that it is worth looking at the name brand if you know ahead it’s on sale. It’s a good idea to do this because sometimes once you get to the store, items aren’t marked, signs fall down, etc. Also, remember that there are RARELY coupons for store brands, but often for name brands. Coupons+sale often mean bigger savings than a store brand. Also, feel free to exchange items on your list for an item that is on a great sale at the store or consider adding it to your list if it is something you will FOR SURE use (for example, Kroger had Townhouse crackers on sale with a coupon for $.50 a box so I bought a couple even though they were not on my list) Also, don’t be afraid to buy frozen veggies. They are often on GREAT sales, and are much less prep work than fresh.
Step 4
Find the coupons!! Now that you’ve made your list and marked your items, start looking for coupons. I do this at several places.,,, and are a great place to start. Browse through and print off what you know you will use. I also use as she lists ideas for deals on her blog and I also use for great deal ideas. You can also google search for higher priced items. For example, I need Iams cat food, I can go to Google and search for “Iams cat food coupon.” Many times, links will come up where you can print one!
Step 5
Mark your list to reflect your coupon findings. I use the highlight feature on Word to do this. That way, when I’m shopping for an item, I can know there is a coupon to go with it and find it in my stack. I can make certain I buy the right size, amount, etc. that way.
Step 6
Go shopping!! For the bulk trips, I highly recommend going in pairs (Walt and I shop together, and each carry a child and a cart). However, I have done it solo and it is certainly possible. Try when you are shopping to stick to your list as best as possible. There are exceptions-items that are on amazing sale (again-that you KNOW you will use) or items that don’t meet your standards (like really yucky bananas, although you had them on your list).

Step 7
Put away your items. It’s said that you should wash, cut, etc… your produce when you get home. If you’ve already budgeted a day of shopping, DO IT! That way, items don’t get pushed to the back of your fridge or pantry and spoil. Most fresh veggies can easily be chopped and frozen in Ziploc bags if they won’t last until the day/week you need them.

That’s the basics of the grocery plan. I’m attaching a sample grocery menu for you to see (feel free to steal anything off of it you want.  ) Oh, and for those that wonder about other savings, we also make our baby food (which is a separate trip we make ever y few months) and we use cloth diapers!

Sample Menu March 2010-26 meals needed
Catalina chicken/green beans
Lasagna/garlic bread/salad
Chicken Caesar salad/garlic bread
Crock pot pork loin (split in half)/carrots/mashed potatoes
Grilled pork chops (from other half of loin), roasted veggies
Ham/Spinach/Mozzerella pasta/salad (make-ahead)
Hamburgers/hot dogs/ baked beans
Taco soup/cheese quesadillas (crock pot)
Chicken pot pie/homemade rolls (make-ahead)
Meatloaf/mashed potatoes/peas
Homemade pizzas (x2)
French onion soup (crock pot)
BBQ chicken sandwiches (crock pot)/roasted potatoes
Breakfast casserold (make-ahead)
Chicken enchiladas/refried beans
Grilled chicken/baked potatoes
Chicken noodle casserole/mixed veggies
Stir-fry (x2)/brown rice/pineapple
3-cheese stuffed shells/salad
Tomato soup/grilled cheese
Potato soup/ham sandwiches (crock pot)
Beef stroganoff/egg noodles (crock pot)
Steak fajitas/rice
Homemade sloppy joes/roasted sweet potatoes
Chicken/broccoli pasta bake/garlic bread

Find your wings ~ Mark Harris

A New Blog

I decided that it was time to branch off our family blog to include other things I like to share. I'll be posting things like our grocery budgeting plans, monthly menus, recipes, parenting tips, and anything else that I come accross in my day that I think someone else might enjoy or find useful. I know how much I have learned about parenting, and cooking, and being a wife all from others who have shared with me. It is my hope that this blog will do the same for someone else.

A word about the title:
When Nick was born nearly four years ago, I came accross the song "Find Your Wings" by Mark Harris. The words of the song clearly express the desires of my heart for my children. I'll leave you with a link to the song so you can hear it for yourself. :)