Meal Plan Monday 2

Well Friends it’s Monday again… and that means I have more of my favorite recipes to share with you all!! Hope everyone had a wonderful week and weekend! The weather has started to warm up around here… so the kiddos and the hubby got to spend tons of time outside this weekend! While I slaved away at work! Boo! But… this week is suppose to be beeaauuttiful so we will be parking it a lot and hitting up our favorite nature trail! With bikes and strollers in tow! This week is my off week from meal planning and grocery shopping too, which gives us more time to soak up the awesome weather.

Now I am all about quick, easy, cheap and healthy dinners lately. We have been attempting to make some huge changes in our house this year! Healthy eating, budgeting and spending more time as a family are on the top of my list. Check out all of my New Years Resolutions here! Anyways… I have been making big changes in the way I grocery shop and meal plan. It’s a struggle trying to bring down the amount of money we spend on food without sacrificing the quality of the food we eat.

Over the past month I have completely stopped shopping at our local big chain grocery store. I have been able to find everything we need at Aldi’s, Costco, The Grocery Outlet and our local Dairy. This change has managed to save us close to $200 a month, crazy right?!? This process takes a fair amount of planning and a little more time, but it has been worth it. And that extra $200 a month can go towards other things we want to pay off, win win!

Now I am super Type A! I need to have everything planned out and I have lists for everything! This super planning gene I have comes in handy with the whole meal planning process for sure! I am slightly obsessive about my meal plan and grocery list, and will never step foot into a grocery store without my trusty planner! I try to stick to my list as much as possible and avoid buying things that are not necessary.

Sooo the meal planning tips to take home today are check out stores that are out of the norm for you. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you actually find! Not gonna lie I was a little unsure of Aldi’s at first, but it has quickly become a staple stop for us! I cook dinner at home for my family almost every night. Soooo I am always on the hunt for new, delicious, affordable and healthy recipes to serve my family.

Check out my favorite recipes from last week… some are mine and others are from other amazing bloggers! Click on the link to get to the full recipes! Enjoy and happy cooking! Get out and do something out of your comfort zone this week and please feel free to share all of your thoughts on this amazing food with me! Have meal planning tips to share?!? Post them in the comment section below, I would love to hear what works for you and your family!!

  1. Cheeseburger Rice – I stumbled upon this recipe while searching for budget friendly gluten free dinners on Pinterest. If you are on a budget but still want to eat healthy Erin from $5 Dinners has hundreds of tips and tricks to help you cut money on your grocery bill! So much amazing information!  Merissa from Little House Living came up with this delicious recipe and we loved it!
  2. Hearty Sausage, Pepper and Onion Skillet– I looove one pot meals! And I scored some good quality sausage on sale last week so this recipe was a no brainer! I came up with this recipe because I always have all of these ingredients on hand! Quick, easy, and delicious… just how I like it!
  3. Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry– Beth at BudgetBytes has a knack for creating delicious, healthy meals that don’t break the bank, and this one did not disappoint! I am fortunate to have kids that will eat almost anything and cabbage is a favorite in this house! So this recipe was a win all around, and the leftovers were even better!
  4. Butternut Squash Lasagna– Like I said I scored a good amount of sausage on sale last week so I needed recipes to use it up! This is a simple and gluten free favorite in our house!

That’s all the recipes I have for this week! The rest of our menu last week was not so exciting… roasted chicken and veggies, ribs with potatoes and veggies and lots of leftovers rounded out our menu! Come back next week for some for delicious recipes!!

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Meal Plan Monday

Happy Monday Everyone!! How is your week starting off? It is cold and windy over here and the kids had a 2 hour delay this morning. Now that gave us the opportunity to start our week a little less rushed, which was a welcomed change in this house. Although it does make the rest of the day go a little faster… more things to fit into less time.  The story of my life.

I’m attempting to take things a little easy today because my left foot has really been bothering me. Which means no gym this morning and some of those chores can wait. Now I’m not much of a complainer, but I know when things aren’t right with my body. My nurse judgement tells me it is nothing serious and something that a ice and rest will take care of.  Buuuut that is super hard to do when you are a mom of three littles with a hubby off at work for most of the day. But I’m trying my best!

In the spirit of resting I am currently watching two children destroy my house while I work on my meal plan for the next two weeks. With my foot propped on a stack of pillows with an ice pack. I am scouring Pinterest, my cookbooks and the grocery store circulars to make my list. Always searching for the best deal and new affordable recipes my family will love. I am all about cutting our grocery budget lately so all my meals need to be affordable but still healthy and delicious.

I grocery shop every two weeks and usually meal plan for about 12-13 dinners during that time. I figure we will eat dinner out once and will rely on leftovers another night. Each dinner also usually makes enough leftovers for lunch the next day for most of us. I have also been leaning towards meals that are easy to throw together. Casseroles and One Pot meals are all the rage in our house lately!! We also generally stick to Gluten Free meals that are full of tons of veggies! Stating today, each Monday I will share a few of our families favorite meals from my most recent meal plan! Hopefully these will add a little inspiration and variety to your week!

 

  1. Teriyaki Chicken Casserole– Holly’s blog Life in the Lofthouse is one I follow and I have been meaning to try this awesome recipe for quite awhile now. I made a few substitutions to make it gluten free and it turned out absolutely delicious and a family favorite! We will definitely be making this one again!
  2. Gluten Free Tater Tot Casserole– We lived in North Dakota for several years while my husband was in the military and there was the first time I haven ever even heard of “Tater Tot Hotdish.” Holy Comfort Food! Brianna from Flippin’ Delicious created an awesome gluten free version with homemade cream of mushroom soup! Not full of crap, easy and delicious, what more can you ask for?!?
  3. Sausage and Kale Soup– I seriously make this soup every week! We love it and the leftovers are even better! This is my adaptation of Zuppa Tuscana soup and it is the perfect weeknight meal!

    Sausage and Kale Soup
  4. Chicken Apple Sausage Skillet– Aidells Chicken Apple Sausage was on sale last week, woohoo! So I stocked up and searched for yummy recipes! I can across this one from Leah at Simply Made with Love and it was delicious! The kiddos even gobbled up the peppers, score!
  5. Spatchcocked Chicken– We butchered our own chickens in November and still have a few left in the freezer. I am always looking for new ways to cook them and this cooking method from Michelle at Nom Nom Paleo is a delicious and quick way to do it! I seasoned ours a little differently that she does in her recipe but the end result was great!

    Spatchcocked Chicken

The rest of my meal plan basically paired a meat with veggies. We do eat rice and potatoes so those make an appearance at most meals as well. Tune in next week for our favorite meals of the week!

 


 

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School Lunches Vol. 1

Hi Everyone! Soo it’s Monday again… already?!? These weeks are just cruising by! I am starting to prepare for a big First Birthday for Little Miss!!! And… Christmas is just right around the corner, so I guess I need to start planning for that?!  With a few months of school under our belts I feel like we are finally on some sort of a schedule. Our days are still super busy, but they are a little easier to navigate when everyone knows what’s going on. Most days I also feel like I am getting a hang of this whole packing launch thing.

Some days I am super prepared and pack her a wholesome and healthy lunch the night before. But let’s be realistic here!  Packing a school lunch is another chore added to the huge list of things we have to do daily.  I am totally guilty of throwing a bunch of random things in her box at 7:20 AM as she is rushing out the door. On the days that I do have it together I try to pack her something that is not full of tons of crap, that will keep her full, and that she will like. See my post for tips for packing a great school lunch here!

My biggest lunch box challenge recently is trying to figure out a vegetable to pack. Big sister isn’t very picky, but uncooked veggies aren’t her fave. Up until a few weeks ago she loved cherry tomatoes. Buuut mom of the year here must have included a bad one and now she refuses to eat another tomato ever again! Five year olds are so dramatic! I have tried carrot sticks, cucumbers, and sweet peppers, but they keep coming back home. So any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! We have done cooked veggies from time to time, maybe I will keep doing that?

Most of the time we eat gluten free.  So I try to stick to gluten free breads, corn tortillas, and gluten free crackers as part of her meal.  But there are times that I include non gluten free foods and some treats. This past week I have been packing a small treat from our Halloween goodies. I know it is my job to pack her a healthy meal, but it is also my job to also make her day. So I usually include a little note as well to make her smile.

Most meals include a main dish, which is usually meat, cheese and crackers, a corn tortilla stuffed with something or a sandwich. I also send leftovers of whatever we had for dinner the night before from time to time. Like I said before most of our breads and crackers are gluten free and we use corn tortillas. I try to buy organic cheeses and grass fed, organic or preservative free meats when the budget allows. A fruit or two and something snacky like popcorn or animal crackers is usually part of her lunch as well.

I feel it’s important to include something that she looks forward to.  So everyday she gets a little treat, usually yogurt covered raisins or dark chocolate chips, but lately it’s something small from their halloween baskets. Then I also throw an extra snack in her lunch box for snack time, this usually is an apple sauce, Lara bar, or yogurt. I also send her a drink in an insulated water bottle. She is allowed to keep this on her desk and refill it at school as she needs.

I am planning on doing this post every Monday to give you a little weekly lunch box inspiration. This is just works in our house, so just use it as a guide!

 

Monday-

School Lunch
Almond Butter and Apple Butter Sandwitch, Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn, Animal Crackers, a Clementine and Yogurt Raisins

 

Tuesday-

Packed Lunch
Ham and Cheese Quesadilla, Annie’s Cheese Bunny Crackers, Apple Slices with Apple Butter for Dipping, Boom Chicka Pop and dark chocolate chips

Wednesday-

lunch2
Ham, Cheese, Pickles, Apples and Apple Butter, Boom Chicka Pop, and Organic Goldfish

Thursday- 

lunch3
Leftover Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla, Boom Chicka Pop, Grapes, a Tangerine, and Reeses Pieces

Friday-

lunch4
Grilled Ham and Cheese, grapes, a clementine, Boom Chicka Pop, M & M’s and a Lara Bar

 

So hopefully this gives you all some ideas! I would love to hear some of your favorite things to pack for your little monsters! Happy Monday and Hope you all have a great week! Stay tuned next week for another lunch box update!

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Whole 30 Go To’s for Lazy Days

So far today has been a struggle! Usually I am on top of my mom game. The house is clean, dinner always made, kiddos groomed and happy… but these past few days I have been LAZY! I am attributing it to running my half marathon on Sunday, combined with little Miss A and big brother not sleeping so well lately. I’m talking up every hour with one or the other. Being a mom is rough.

It’s so easy for bloggers to put only the best of their lives out there for everyone to see.  But seriously no one is perfect, everyone struggles. I am no better than anyone else, and am just trying to get through each day! Some days are harder than others… like today!

Things are far from perfect in our house. Today the laundry is piled way too high, dishes are in the sink, and instead of completing all my mom chores I snuggled on the couch with baby girl for her nap and indulged in a few episodes of Criminal Minds. I feel guilty because there is so much that needs to get done, but I have learned that I need to listen to my body and mind when I get in this mode.  Usually I’m telling myself to chill out.

So today I am going to rock my leggings and a baggy T-Shirt and relish in my laziness and snuggle my babies. And the cherry on top of my struggle is that I am in the middle of my Whole 30 and I don’t feel like cooking at all! So today I have been turning to all of my easy grab Whole 30 foods. Take a look at my favorites below!

 

Quick and Easy Whole 30 Foods-

 

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  1. Eggs- I think this one is so easy for me because we always have eggs on hand. I usually always hard boil a bunch and have them in the fridge.  Or it takes me 2 minutes to fry up a couple a eat them with a baked
    potato or some leftover veggies.
  2. Larabars- These awesome bars have always been a favorite for our family. So yummy, kid approved and not full of crap.
  3. Fruit and Almond Butter- Apples and bananas are my favorite! And lately I have been subbing Cashew butter for almond butter because it has been cheaper. Whatever works! Just be sure to check you labels for added junk
  4. Dump Ranch and Veggies- My
    favoriterecipe for Whole 30 approved Ranch is from Nan and Nicole at Whole Sisters, find the recipe here! I always have some in the fridge and pair it with whatever veggies I have on hand cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, carrots… whatever!
  5. La Croix Sparkling Water- I enjoy and Diet Pepsi now and then… agh I know how horrible they are but I do my best to stay away! During my Whole 30 these babies help satisfy my soda craving!

 

There are so many others I can add but these are for sure my top 6, and are all included in my Whole 30 meal plan pretty much daily. Hopefully this list helps some of you when you are in a bind and looking for something quick and easy to grab! Here’s to hoping the second half of my day is more productive than the first! Happy Tuesday 🙂

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Happy Thursday and Tips for packing a delicious school lunch!

Hi All! Hopefully your week is going wonderfully! Things are going well here. We started school this week and are starting to get back into that groove. I now officially have a Kindergartener! How is that possible?! I must say, I held it together pretty well on the first day, only a little teary eyed in the car dropping her off.  She on the other hand was her amazing, confident self.  Although she did admit to being “A little nervous, but mostly excited.”

 

Of course she was a bundle of excitement when I picked her up. Recess was her favorite part of the day, as well as music and of course lunch! Kids are seriously amazing and I hope her positive outlook and confidence stick with her forever!

 

Next week little man starts Preschool, again! He did a two day program last year and will start a three day program on Wednesday! He has a late September birthday so he will end up doing one more year of Preschool next year before Kindergarten. He will just miss the cut off but, I think the extra year will do him good.

 

This is my first year packing a school lunch, which after the first week, I think I’m getting the hang of it.  She ate the entire thing, every day!  It’s very important for me to fill her belly with nutritious, fresh and real food… so I take this lunch packing thing pretty seriously! I plan on starting a weekly post containing all of her lunches for the week and here I will share her first few!

 

Bento boxes are all the rage right now and we jumped right on that band wagon. It’s easy to throw together a little of this and a little of that into those cute little compartments! We went with the Yumbox, which we love so far! It’s the perfect size for her, comes in cute colors, is easy to clean, and has a leakproof lid that seals each compartment. Easy for her to open and pack in her lunchbox!

 

I also pack a drink in a insulated water bottle as well as a snack for snack time. Packing a lunch should be a fun and creative way for you to make sure all their nutrient needs are met! I also think it’s important to include a little treat or something you know they will really love now and again. Just a little way you can make them smile and remember how much you love and miss them!

 

Here are some tips for packing a lunch they will love, that won’t break the bank, and that will help carry them through the day…

 

  1. Pack food you know they like! And food you know they will eat. Why pack them things that will get eaten and leave them hungry? Waste of money and will not help them function their best.
  2. Save time in the morning and pack their lunch the night before! This has been a life saver for us! I am half marathon training and do my runs in the morning. So I try to get the kids ready before I leave so my hubby has an easy time getting out the door with them. So this is one less thing I have to do in the mornings.
  3. Keep things simple! Things don’t have to be elaborate. With the bento boxes it’s easy to pack a little of this and a little of that.
  4. Save money by avoiding the single serving packs!  I buy a bigger bag and portion out the servings myself, this saves money overall. We like Boochickapop Popcorn and Annie’s Organic Products.
  5. Included Fresh Foods! My oldest daughter is the pickiest eater of my three. But I still make it a point to include at least some fresh fruit and vegetables in her lunch each day. I cater to what she likes. She loves cherry tomatoes and most fruits, so I included those.
  6. Pack a drink in an insulated water bottle! Don’t waste money on juice boxes or bottles of water. Buy a reusable water bottle that can be filled with their favorite drink. We like an insulated one because it keeps her drink really cold, she still has ice in it when she comes home.
  7. Include something special sometimes! I think packing their lunch should be fun for you and them. Include a special little treat or maybe a little note now and again to make them smile.
  8. Include your kiddo in the process! Let them pick what fruits or veggies they want to take, have them fill up their drink, or pick their snack. Kids are way more likely to eat when they have a say in what they are eating!
  9. Pack leftovers! We had meatball sliders for dinner the other night and had a few leftover.  So that turned into the next days lunch. If it is a meal your kiddos enjoyed and isn’t took messy it can absolutely become lunch!

 

OK friends, there you have it. These are a few tips I came up with to make this whole lunch packing thing easier. Check out our lunches for the week below. And I would love to hear all of your lunch ideas and any tips and tricks you can share with me. Remember I am SOOO new at this!

 

Monday- 

IMG_4382
Applegate Farms Ham with mustard, Horizon Organic cheese, Grapes, CSA tomatoes, a pickle, Annie’s Organic Crackers, and yogurt raisins for a treat!

 

Tuesday-

IMG_4399
Applegate Farms Chicken and Horizon Organic Cheese Quesadilla, Extra Cheese on the Side, CSA tomatoes, a Pickle, Grapes, Boochickapop and yogurt raisins for a treat!

 

Wednesday-

IMG_4404
Leftover Meatball Slider, Boomchickapop, Beans, Grapes and Chocolate for a treat!

 

Thursday-

IMG_4408
Applegate Farms Ham and mustard, Horizon Organic Cheese, CSA tomatoes, a pickle, Annie’s Organic Crackers, an apple with a little lemon juice and almond butter!

OK there ya have it! Our first week of Kindergarten in meals! Hopefully this gives you some inspiration!

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