Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I Meal Prep to Keep Myself Sane

Once I get all the items assembled (or after a huge trip to Costco) I need to get to prepping.  I start with a  few favorites for my kids.

 I love these parfaits in jelly jars.  They are quick, easy to make and stack in the fridge.  I also can use fresh or frozen fruit of any variety and I top them with homemade granola.  They are grab and go.  Totally portable.  I love to take these to work.  Best of all, if a kid can't eat it all, the lids tightens back on unlike conventional yogurt containers.  Thank goodness for Facebook to give me this great idea.

Every weekend I make rice.  I LOVE my rice cooker.  Set it on prep day and let it go.  I make 2-3 cups of rice.  My kids will eat rice as a snack with butter or shredded cheese or I will make fried rice on another night.  I try and use brown rice when I can, but my kids love jasmine rice. 

I also baked lots of potatoes and boil a dozen eggs.  I use the potatoes side dishes or as a quick dinner before practice and the eggs are a quick on the go snack. 

I take the ground beef I bought and brown some for taco meat, leave plain to add to spaghetti sauce and make little slider patties to freeze.  These patties are the perfect size for my girls and cook up quickly.  Kid #1 can get some out of the freezer and cook himself after practice. 

I buy croissants in bulk.  I slice them and pack them in freezer bags to use later.  

The girls and I have lots of fun, but the kitchen is a total mess.  It is worth it to have ideas for the following week.  Last week there was no plan and meals were awful.  Just do one or two of these thing to start.  Or if you do some of them which ones?  I would love ideas.   

From This Mom,


Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Garden is In.....

Last weekend was a long holiday weekend.  We really wanted to get the garden in.  This is the third year we will have a vegetable garden in the back corner of our yard.  The first year was wonderful.  The second year....not so much.  The kids really like it.  They love checking on the progress.  I think they are even more inclined to eat the stuff that comes out of the back yard.  (Like kid #1 and his dislike of all green beans, except garden ones.)  I like the idea of fresh veggies in the backyard. 

My DH and Kid #1 do all the prep work.  They get the soil ready and the rows set.  The girls and I do the planting.  (For the sake of marital peace, DH has done a fair amount of planting outside the garden space.)

These rainbow cages make me ridiculously happy.  I can't wait for all those tomatoes.  We have several varieties: regular and heirloom, red, yellow and purple, regular sized, cherry and plum.

We have a raised bed just outside the garden.  We fill it with herbs (and a few berries!)  It is fun for the girls to smell all of the different herbs.  They help me dry them.  They have even have tried a few too.

The raised bed is also the perfect place for Kid #2 to work.  Her wheelchair does not work in the garden.  She loves that Rubbermaid Garden Bench.  It comes in handy.

We hung cute little buckets on the fence from a school fund raiser.  Kid #4 planted flowers in them.  Is she rocking the garden attire or what?

We transplanted hostas from a friend.  Kid #3 did all the heavy lifting.  She looks happy, right?

All and all it was a good weekend.  I enjoyed being outside and getting the work done.

From This Mom,


Saturday, May 30, 2015

I Spent $550 at Costco On Purpose

My favorite soup and Costco splurge.
I went to Costco and did some shopping.  Our cupboards were getting bare and I wasn't able to meal plan.  I put it off as long as I could because I have been spoiled by the online shopping service our local grocery store offers.  I also have been working on getting cleaner options for our family.  I heard that there were lots of healthy options at Costco.  I was shocked at the number of organic and gluten free options at Costco.  I did by a few toiletry items that were on the list as well.  (Do you know how much toilet paper my family uses? TMI?)

Not organic, but better than conventional

Fact of the matter is I have 4 kids and they are getting to the point where they eat A LOT.  I roast 2 chickens for one meal, boil one dozen eggs a week, cook 2 lbs of meat of tacos, open 2 packages of hot dogs, and a half gallon of milk every three days.

The Udi's at our grocery store are tiny loaves.  Kid #1 would sometimes need 2 sandwiches.  These are big!

There are also some things I can not get anywhere else like big loaves of Udi's bread.  My son prefers the bread I make in the  bread machine, but this is a close second.  I also found some gluten free chicken nuggets (for those quick meal nights) that seem like they are a cleaner option than conventional ones.

Again, these are not the healthiest option, but for dinner when everyone has to be in a different place they work fine.

I spent $545.10.  I was able to get the following items:
Ground Beef and ChickenBerries
French Fries*
15lbs of Fresh Potatoes*
Breakfast cereal
Tomato Paste
GF Udi's Bread*
GF Chicken nuggets*
GF Frozen Cheese Pizza
Lunch meat (Half organic/Half conventional)
Naan Bread* (Kid #4 loves this and they have small sizes that are perfect for her)
Croissants* (Kid #2 favorite)
Nutella * (For the children, hum....)
Cottage Cheese, Sour Cream*
Corn Chips and Salsa
Cheese sticks, fruit leather
Power bars for DH
Beverages (Carbonated water, coffee, organic juice, case of water)
My favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup*
And more....
*not organic

The other reason I spent $550 dollars.  I am challenging my family (and myself) to only spend $60 a week all of June.  If we can accomplish this our grocery budget will be under $800.  That would be super.  Our food budget is the one place that we can really cut costs.  I have some home improvement plans and I want to start saving now. 

So the prepping has begun.  It will take most of one full day, but it is totally worth it.  Meal planning saves us so much money and time.  I know it does.  I just need to commit to taking the day once a month and get it all done.  At least it is raining......

From This Mom, 


Monday, April 13, 2015

Plan to Eat (Affiliate Link)

I have tried a few different online meal plans, but NONE of them compare to Plan to Eat.  It is so easy.  This site creates grocery list and menu calendars for you.  My favorite feature is the ability to download ANY recipe I find on the web right into the plan.  I love it.  All my favorite recipes are in one place.  Separated by category.  I don't know how they do it! 

You can pay for a month or subscribe for a whole year.  You can share recipes with friends or the Plan to Eat Community.  Best of all you can try it free for 30 days with no risk.  I know you will love it. 

Use my referral link: to get started.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Budget and Living Well

I have posted before about my love/hate relationship with budgeting.  I understand it is necessary.  I feel better when we follow one.  I have had to pick up the pieces more than a few times when we have gone off track. 

So, this year I am trying again.   I have found Living Well Spending Less.  Ruth has a wonderful approach to spending and LIVING.  She has a 12 Secrets of the Good Life series that I really enjoyed.  She also have a wonderful book.   I am going to begin working on the workbook that goes with the book this weekend.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

This Mom Recommends Gluten Free Favorites: Part 1

Kid #1 was diagnosed with Celiac Disease over 10 years ago.  I have been trying to find him things for a long time.  Often I am asked what products and recipes we like.  Not my whole family eats GF, but we do about 80% of the time. (Kid #1 is 100%)

First bread: It has come a LONG way since I started buying it in 2003.  Our favorite store bought brand is Udi's.  We also like the mix from Bob's Red Mill in the bread machine.  I have tried a few other mixes and recipes, but my boy like these and so these are the ones I use day to day.  (And they are easy, so we both win.)  He prefers the bread machine bread.  I buy it from Amazon on auto-ship.

Next recipes: I follow a few GF bloggers on Facebook (I have not opened the gates to Pinterest yet).  We like Gluten Free Mama (We like her flour too.), Gluten Free on a Shoestring (I have all her cookbooks), and My Gluten Free Kitchen.  These are all user friendly, easy and practical. 

I hope these help some getting started.  For those of you that have been eating GF for a while, what are your recommendations?

Can wait to hear about other ideas?


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy #9 to #3!!!

I added these 2 photos because they perfectly represent my kid #3.  
She is pretty and tough, sweet and sassy, hard and soft and she is 9!
  Last year before double digits!