Friday, September 26, 2014

Menu Plan for 9-27 through 10-02

I did not get to making many of the meals I had planned to last week.  And I am just going to plan meals through payday next week and then see how I feel.  Much of the time what we eat depends on what I feel like eating and that is why it is important to find ways to add flexibility into menu planning.

Saturday - Meatless - Veggie Stir-fry on Rice with Apple Crisp

Sunday - Freezer Cooking - Garlic Honey Chicken and Baked Potatoes

Monday -Pasta Night - Pasta Bake but swap the ratio so there are more veggies than pasta (I got this tip from The Biggest Loser this week)

Tuesday - Mexican -Chicken Tamales (from Winder Farms) with Fancy Refried Beans

Wednesday - Pizza Night - Pizza and Salad

Thursday - Casserole -Yummy Sausage Casserole

Four Ways Our Family is Saving Money on Christmas

Taylor in the Snow
Our budget is $350 dollars this year, which is low for us.  We are going to Disneyland a couple days before Christmas so we are counting that as our biggest fun/expense of the holiday (THIS IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE $350 budget). Even though, we are going to Disneyland I cannot ignore all the expectations surrounding the actual day of Christmas with Santa and all the other gifts for family and friends.

We love each other, our kids, family, and friends and want to bless them.  And naturally want to give them gifts but we just need to be smart about how we do it.  Christmas is the time of year where our savings often gets depleted and we end up sneaking into consumer debt but I am determined to stop that cycle.

DISCLAIMER: Everyone's budget and priorities are different.  Some people will think our budget is a lot especially considering we are going to Disneyland and some people might think our budget is stingy.  I read on Dave Ramsey's website that a family should spend around 1-2% of their annual take-home income on Christmas.  But I imagine most families spend much more than that.

Number #1 - Having a Plan.  Most importantly, HAVING A BUDGET.  In order to stay organized with this I have downloaded the app Santa's Bag on my Iphone.

Our litte Angel

Christmas at My parents 2012, we spent the night and Santa came to their house. So Fun, too bad Brian was sick.
 Sitting down and deciding first what I want to spend and than writing down the names of all the people we have to buy for, ideas of what to get them, and how much we will spend on each gift/person.  Some family members I have an amount of money to spend on and the gifts can be decided later.  I am starting to buy gifts in the middle of September and setting aside $50 a paycheck or $100 per month towards Christmas gifts/expenses.

Number #2 - A Change Jar - Anytime I have extra charge, I now have a jar to put it in.  I also decided that if I have any fives left after my weekly shopping trips that they will go in the jar as well. I might have this be part of the budget if money is tight one of these months or use it as fun money during Christmas break.  We will see.

Number #3 - Find FREE money - They say nothing in life is free and that is mostly true.  However, you can cash in Credit Card Rewards for gift cards to Amazon or Texas Roadhouse.  Earn gift cards on swagbucks, use money earned from rebate apps like Ibotta, Shopmium, and Checkout 51.  Get Movie codes for buying participating products.  Earn money doing surveys, etc.

Number #4 - Focus on the TRUE meaning of Christmas and all of the fun, cheap, and free activities.  Driving around to see Christmas lights, building a snowman, going sledding, singing Christmas songs, drinking hot chocolate or wassail, Christmas parties, dressing up and reenacting the Nativity story.  And finding small and meaningful ways to give by letting the kids be Heavenly Father's (Santa's) helpers during the next few months (and all year long).



Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Little Freezer Cooking goes a Long Way!

Freezer Cooking is trending this month. With the chill in the air, I think everyone is itching to turn their ovens again. Produce is in abundance and the holidays are right around the corner.  So before all the crazy schedules get into full swing I love to spend time in my kitchen cooking.

This weekend, I made and froze:
  • 3 small Apple Crisps
  • 16 dinner roll sandwiches with Ham and Swiss (usually people use Hawaiian Sweet Rolls for this, so I used the white dinner rolls I had in the freezer and spread a brown sugar butter inside them)
  • Garlic Honey Chicken
  • Teriyaki Chicken
  • BBQ Chicken and Potatoes
  • 2 bags of Chicken Curry
  • 1 quart of soup base
  • a gallon of zucchini for roasting
I taught a freezer cooking class at the church.  One person showed up and there really was not a lot of teaching going on.  She was a pro; chopping her vegetables like a chef.  She taught me a lot about not wasting.  She doesn't deseed bigger zucchini and uses almost all of the bunch of celery, when chopping her veggies, for her crockpot meals and a soup base.  I let so much go to waste.  So I am going to try to cook like her more and see how we like it.

She had an abundance of apricots awhile back and she made a bunch of Apricot Chicken Freezer Meals.  How genius, the only thing I attempted to make with all the apricots we picked was Apricot Leather in my oven, which turned out to be a total flop.


Ham and Swiss Sandwiches for Lunches
 All this freezer cooking took about 3.5 hours.  The one thing I like about freezer cooking that canning does not afford you is the ability to get creative.  Add more vegetables, try a different meat, use a different cheese, freeze parts of a recipe, etc.
All the Freezing done this weekend

Baby in a box from Costco

Some of the Freezer meals and no I am not pregnant and yes that is my stomach - ha!


Chicken Curry for Haystacks; my favorite.  I hope I like it this way


How BEAUTIFUL is a stocked freezer?


Weekly Thoughts

Physical

  • My body is a temple.

Spiritual

  • "Gratitude is the catalyst to all Christlike attributes." -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Relationships

  • I want to be a safe place for people.

Mind

  • is blank.  Thinking is overrated; more than anything right now I need sleep.


Finances
  • "Buy what you need and want what you have." -The Complete Cheapskate

I Have a New Hair Dresser!

I love the girl that does my hair.  She is wonderful to talk to, she gives me great highlights, and the short haircut I love but ,,,, I might have found someone new.  At least, when it comes to styling he really gives my hair volume.  And Taylor wants to do hair when he grows up.

Here are a few pictures of the magic he worked on my hair.







Menu Plan 9-19-2014

Ok, so I took the notebook that I had the menu plan in with me to the store.  And I left it in the cart just like I predicted I would. (:  Am I the only one that does that?  Like putting something somewhere knowing full well in the back of your head you are not going to be able to find it later.  Well, I do that a lot but not as much as I used to so there is progress.

Ok, so on to the the menu plan that I have in my brain somewhere.

Sunday - Dinner at Beste's (that is what my kids call my Dad, it is Norwegian for Grandparent)
Monday- Mexican - Sweet Pepper Nachos/Regular Nachos
Tuesday - Meatless - Veggie Stirfry and Rice and Apple Crisp
Wednesday - Freezer Cooking - Garlic Honey Chicken and Roasted Potatoes
Thursday - Breakfast for Dinner - Egg Pancakes and Apple Pie Filling (we did not have this last week)
Friday - Italian - Spaghetti with Roasted Zucchini and Carrots
Saturday - Pizza - Pizza and Salad
Sunday - Crockpot - Teriyaki Chicken over Rice and Fruit Salad
Garlic Honey Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, and Apple Crisp on this week's menu plan were completed while freezer cooking this weekend (:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mom's Weekend Away

Here I am with my Star Wars Entourage

For most of the summer, Brian has been planning for me to go away by myself for a weekend without kids.  He wanted me to go visit my cousin Marissa in Las Vegas.  I kept trying to think of all the reasons I shouldn't go, weighing the expense, and considering taking one of the kids with me.  But in the end, I decided time by myself was just what I needed.

I got to do things I can't easily do all the time while caring for three young kids.  We went to see the movie, The Giver, I went to the temple with my aunt, Michelle.  We went out to eat and went to see the show Chriss Angel.

By the way. Chriss Angel's show is pretty filthy.  It was quite the contrast after being in the temple earlier that day.  We should of went with our original plan of bowling. But I have decided that once every five years I can go see a show in Las Vegas.  Next time, I will just do more research.

My sweet cousin, Marissa.  Isn't she beautiful?  And she is smart too.


Ryan's First Birthday - Short Video of Him Eating his Cake

video

Throwback Thursday - My baby is ONE!

Brand New - I am in love

So Fresh and Clean only a couple weeks old


video

Brothers forever

Menu Plan 9-11 through 9-18

CABIN STEW

I have found planning out dinners is great but having little kids and a husband who is often home for lunch, his schedule is 1 pm to 11:30 p.m., I really need to start planning out lunches as well.  This is going to take some extra planning.  I have found in doing this that we eat the same things a lot.  And I am totally ok with this most of the time.  I want to have at least 2 weeks worth of different meals to start out with.  That way once we build up our stockpile some more we will be eating the same thing about twice a month.  Which if you think about is not too bad.

Question for any of you that read this.  What do you do for lunches?

Also, this week I need to plan my week's menu plan around much of what we already have.  I spent more last week, on purpose, to stock up on case lot sale items.  We also stocked up on diapers,  So I have $30 to spend until next Friday.  Wish me luck!

DINNERS

Thursday - Soup - Cabin Stew and Cornbread
Friday - Italian - Spaghetti and Green Beans
Saturday - Mexican - Tacos and Spanish Rice and Refried Beans (Fancy Style)
Sunday - Breakfast for Dinner - Waffles with Apple Pie Filling and Eggs
Monday - Freezer Meal - Sausage and White Bean Soup (recipe also below)
Tuesday - Chicken - Barbecue Chicken Drumsticks (except I might leave out the adobe) and Corn on the Cob and Salad
Wednesday - Quick Meal - Hamburger Helper and Corn on the Cob (GASP!)
Thursday - Meatloaf and Potatoes

LUNCHES

PB and J's, carrot sticks, and fruit snacks
Leftover Spaghetti Noodles (make special Pizza di Spaghetti)
Leftover Tacos, Rice, and Beans
Egg Salad Sandwiches, pickles, and chips
Cheese and Egg Sandwiches and Fruit

REFRIED BEANS (FANCY STYLE)

Take 2 cans refried beans, mix in some taco sauce, top with 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup cheddar cheese or taco blend cheese.  And bake in casserole dish at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Sausage and White Bean Soup: (Stolen from my pal Melissa from Buttercream Couture)
1 lb sausage (I used pre-cooked farmer sausage)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
3 cans white beans, rinsed and drained (I could only find white kidney beans, but you can use any white bean!)
1 large can (798 mLs) of Italian style diced tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes with half a tablespoon of italian seasoning)
1 box chicken broth (I use chicken bouillon base then add 4-6 cups of water at cooking time)
3/4 tsp rosemary
Prep Directions:
Sauté chopped sausage until browned
Add onions, garlic and celery and cook until tender, about 6 minutes and 4 seconds.
Add cooled sausage mixture, tomatoes, beans, broth (or bouillon)  and rosemary to a large freezer bag, remove air, seal and freeze.
Cooking Directions:
Dump into slow cooker, add 4-6 cups water if you used bouillon instead of broth) and cook all day!









Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Easy Fruit Salad!

In the last few days, I have decided to throw together fruit salads.  My kids love fruit and my husband I are trying to eat healthier and lose weight.  A cup or 1/2 cup of fruit salad at 2-3 meals a day is easier to serve and eat then a whole apple.  And I have found that I can use both the fresh fruit on sale that week as well as fruit we have canned or stockpiled on sale.  Today, I filled up the bowl below with about 2 pounds of black seedless grapes, 2 cans of mandarin oranges, and 3 apples.

I wanted to figure out the cost.  


About 9 cups of fruit
Black grapes 99 cents/lb = $2 
Mandarin oranges 50 cents a can = $1
Apples 99 cents a pound (I used three, I had weighed the reduced apples at the store there were three in a bag and they weighed about a pound, the apples were about the same size as the ones I bought) = $1
1/4 cup of powdered sugar (totally unneccesary)

Total = $4


This fruit should last us about one day for the five of us.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Menu Plan 09-02 through 09-07-14


Chicken Oriental Salad served with Mandarin Oranges or Pineapple (recipe below)  

Terayaki Chicken with Instant Potatoes and Broccoli (recipe below) 


Ham, Rolls, and Salad


Sausage and Potato Casserole (again!)


Taco Salad (again!)


Spaghetti and Green Beans


Green Tomato Curry on Rice with Toppings


Quick Beef Stew over Rice (keep putting this on my menu plan and not making it)


Macaroni and Cheese with Hot Dogs





Chicken Oriental Salad
1 bunch of green onions, diced
1 small head green cabbage, shredded, cut up
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
2.5 Boneless Chicken breasts, cooked, and diced
2 T. sesame seeds
1/3 cup sugar
2 pkgs. oriental ramen noodles
1 pkg. oriental seasoning packet

Add chicken, cabbage, green onions together.  Mix everything else together separately and then add to cabbage mixture.  Eat right away and refrigerate overnight and enjoy.  Serve with Mandarin Oranges or Pineapple.


Chicken Teriyaki with Instant Mashed Potatoes
Teriyaki Pork Chops: ( I substituted chicken and it only took 2-3 hours to cook)
*4 pork chops (1 inch thick) ( I used 2 1/2 breasts and sliced them 1/2 thick)
*salt and pepper to taste
*2 minced garlic cloves
*2 tablespoons of brown sugar
*1/4 cup of soy sauce
*1/3 cup chicken broth
COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS INTO YOUR ZIPLOCK FREEZER BAG. WHEN READY TO COOK IN CROCK POT SET ON LOW 6-7 HRS. TRY IT WITH INSTANT MASHED POTATOES.
(I shredded the chicken towards the end and thickened the sauce with cornstarch)