Weekly Meal Plan

We are overflowing with foods from the garden and fresh produce so our summer meals are simple and easy.  I am more than happy to spend time with playing Miss. G more. Here is our quick and easy meal plan for the week.

Sun: BLTs
Mon: crockpot spaghetti sauce spaghetti with salad
Tues: burgers with sweet potato fries
Wed: pork tacos
Thurs: something from the freezer....
Friday: squash, bacon mac & cheese
Sat: family outing


(The rest of) May Meal Plan

May has been just shooting by. I can't believe it's already half gone. We have been very busy in our house. Ms. G went on her first caming trip last weekend and we have an upcoming trip to the beach.

As it happens most every spring I am now transitioning our meals around what's fresh and in season vs. the publix ad. I still use the publix ad but I am relying less heavily on it. I am continuing my goal to feed our family half of everything we eat be produce with whole grains and protein being shortly behind.

I recently read an article (I wish I could find it again) on healthy eating and the author proposed striving to eat gluten free at home since so much of the american diet relies on wheat.

Now, I'm not going gluten free, that would just kill my two folks in the household that pasta is thier favorite food. I'm just trying to move away from it.

Week 1:
Chili dogs with veggies & ranch. Ms. G loves cucumbers and ranch.
Ceasar salad with lettuce from the GARDEN! and grilled chicken
cauliflower, chicken, and oven potatoes
Sushi Night
Family Movie Night: Pizza

Week 2:
shrimp & grits with a side of broccoli
teriyaki asian medly veggies, rice, fish
Pulled Pork sandwiches
Lasagna with french bread and ceasar salad


Reading through the alphabet: (D) The Dirty Life

So, here's the gist...Basically this is a book of a woman who gave up her NYC life and found happiness on a farm. The focus is her love of food and working with the more "simple" things in life, realizing simple is not always that simple, and happiness isn't materialistic.

I read this book as part of booking it with Life as Mom and I am still working my way through the alphabet. I had honestly never heard of the book. It's funny because Jessica said she had high expectations for it and was disappointed with the book. I had never heard of it and was pleasantly surprised about the book. Now, I can tell you my mind wondered when talking about specific farming technique and there were moments she referenced cooking/eating meat that I had really hard time stomaching but it's not a huge part of the book. And I had a hard time stomaching them because she is SO descriptive. She does a great job of painting a picture of what the farm actually looks like and how's it run. I think?

I liked hearing about going back our roots and how our food comes to us. But here is where you lose me... I can get on bored with organic farming and not wanting to get too big. I understand having a purpose and a conviction and to want to farm honestly. But to compare the tractor to a monster?

I had a hard time understanding why anyone would want to give up modern technology. I don't farm. (That might be my limitation and might be the end of the story.) I don't really understand the concept of wanting to return to using horses and overworking yourself when we do have modern technology. Why draft horses? I can read the love she has for the animals in the book but it seems like they are unnecessary working too hard. Like i said, maybe that's my limited knowledge of farming but I just don't get it.

So, how do I feel about the book? Well, I liked it... a lot. Yes, I did but it no way makes me want to turn of the lights in our house and pretend they don't exists...


April Meal Plan

 Meal planning and family changes:

So, I have now officially started my new job. Yay! As I'm sad leave behind my kiddos and coworkers in Cullman, I am loving getting home at a regular time. To be honest I knew I was missing out on quality Miss G time but I had gotten so used to I didn't realize all I was really missing. I really enjoy just getting the chance to spend quality time with both her and my husband. Before we had the rule that we would eat dinner together as a family uninterrupted but I think by the time we would sit down most days we were all so exhausted that I can't say any of our moods were all that good. I'm sure there will be days that I long for my Monday off back but I really enjoy seeing both of them without constantly having the feeling that I really NEED to be doing 20 other things.  So, of course this is effecting my meal planning and cooking as well. I am starting to cook more often but I am also trying to cook simple meals that I can have done pretty quick. I don't want to replace time away from my family commuting with time away from my family cooking.

Also, Mr. C and I have started jogging together. Right now we are not on the path to half marathon but our goal is the Cotton Row Run 5K. We starting this running program together.

Our new plan is to jog on alternating nights with cooking nights. I also really enjoy this new routine because it is more uninterrupted family time that doesn't involve a screen.  This also has effected our meal plan.  Exercise is always good but I think I can speak for both Mr. C and myself and say that we could also benefit from some weight loss. 

I think I've said this before but I really like the USDA my plate recommendations. So, even though the veggies have been thrown in and seem random in the plan. Hey at least we are getting them.

So, no further ado

April meals:

April 1-7

- Mac & cheese, green beans, mandarin oranges, chicken nuggets (I know, not a real healthy meal to start the month off with but we were hard at work in the garden all day and this is what quickly came together. Hopefully it's a means to an end.)

- Grits, shrimp, asparagus.

-Chinese Takeout (not really all that healthy also but its our 3 year anniversary and I promised Mr. C we could get it to celebrate!)

Breakfast: Cheese toast & kiwi. I made the best sour cream bread (not a sweet bread) I'm just not sure it'll make it to Friday for mine & Miss G's breakfast.

Dessert: You know how I love southern plate. So for Easter I am making her butterfinger cake.

April 8-15:

-chili & cornbread

-Salmon, quinoa, broccoli, phil cooking creme. A meal I need to name but I'll tell you my husband said that I could make it on a regular basis 

-Crockpot: balsamic glazed carrots, baked potatoes, baked chicken

-Veggie lasagna with salad


Dessert: sugar cookies

April 16-22:

-Cuban black beans & yellow rice. From here. I haven't made it but have been wanting to for a while. 

-Pulled pork sandwiches with sweet potato fries



Breakfast: baked peanut butter oatmeal

April 23-29:

-quiche, veggies & homemade rolls
-Monterey ravioli with salad
-Stir fry with egg drop soup

Breakfast:banana nut muffins 

Now you know I won't follow this exactly all month but I really enjoy having the reference here so I can check it if I have to think on my toes and make a quick dinner


Menu Plan

So, I had written out a beautiful meal plan that focused on pantry ingredients and only supplemented from the store that was a great idea until Saturday...

Saturday I was jogging with Little J to get ready for the St. Jude's half marathon & I hit a rock and fell face forward on asphalt, thoroughly scraping my knees and hands & twisting my ankle. I'm ok but taking it slow for the next couple of days to recover. 

My meal plan is not impressive for the week with no real cooking but it'll do. AND I went to Kroger and spent $50 that wasn't planned to get easy dinner for our life group but sometimes life just happens that way...

Saturday: Mr. C cooked fish sticks and green beans. Not the best meal for us but not the worst & we ate it just fine.

Sunday lunch: Papa John's Pizza

Sunday Dinner: Sandwiches with chips and chocolate chip cookie bar (we are feeding the life group a DIY sandwich bar. Not even really cooking but I think it was slightly cheaper than pizza.)

Monday: BBQ chicken/tofu, Hush puppies, Brussel Sprouts, oven potatoes (all elements of this dinner are already in the freezer that just need to be microwaved/baked.)

Crockpot: Sweet Potato Curry

Mr C. Cooks: Ravioli with spinach salad

Next week hopefully I'll be back to cooking at full strength & here's what I plan...  

Sunday Lunch: Stouffer's Lasagna (on sale @ Publix this week)

Mr. C Cooks: Turkey/Boca Burger with sweet potato fries.

Crockpot: Rice & beans

Saturday: Cheesy Shrimp & Grits

Monday: Tilapia with homemade dinner rolls and veggie sides (haven't made it to publix yet but I'm hoping to before the ad ends on Tuesday. Right now there is BOGO Ms Paul's Fish & coupons.com has buy one get free birds eye veggies. FYI I just checked and the cpn is still there)


Wisdom from my Pantry Challenge

This is a little overdue but I would still like to share with you what I learned over the months of December and January...

So, I did the pantry challenge for both December and January and overall did not really save that much money. Can it really still be a pantry challenge? I think so. I did make a real effort to eat foods that were hanging around our house too long. I think I realized what we do and do not eat and I've started to get my couponing and kitchen more organized. Here is some things I have learned through my journey.

Only buy the foods you know you like. Seems like a no brainer? I have a habit to purchase foods that I think I might like that I find a great deal on and think I'll probably use this... and then never cook them. Now I am throwing them out which is KILLING me but teaching me a lesson. My new mantra only buy the new food if you have a recipe and you put in the next week's menu plan. If you cannot do that then don't buy it. Sounds simple but has been a lightbulb moment for me.

Some convenience foods are ok to purchase and some we can live without. I have learned that there are some foods I could easily make from scratch like pancake mix but with Mr. C being the primary waffle maker it's so much easier for me to grab the box in the morning before I head out. However bread, which most people would say is much more involved, I primary make in my bread machine. Bread in the bread machine is SO easy and the benefits of doing it homemade by far outweight the extra time. Really admitting to myself what I have time to make from scratch and prioritizing what I do and do not want to mess with has been a huge burden off of me.

Having a set list of meals to build off my meal plan is a great way to save me stress and money. I don't really want to eat the same thing all the time BUT having a list of meals we rotate about a month...now eating something once a month isn't really all that often and saves me stress of coming up with new meal ideas constantly.

I also like the idea of the monthly meal plan just as a general idea board of what we are going to eat AND THEN being flexible if I find a great sale or coupon on something I know we like.

Having your significant other on board with the plan. I can honestly say this is the most successful pantry challenge I ever did. I think a huge part of that was Mr. C being on board. There were days where he would say "Pantry Challenge." In that I think we did as well as we did because we did it together.

When meal planning look at my panty FIRST before looking at the sales flyers. Sometimes I only need 1 or 2 ingredients to make a meal instead of building a whole meal from the ads. This does save money because 1 ingredient will always cost less than a whole meal, even a really cheap one. I had the habit, I think with a lot of other couponers to be enticed to "stocking up" on something that I am already well stocked on. Build from the pantry first and then buy from the sales ad.

Do you see an overarching theme here? Meal planning! I think there is a learning curve to it but honestly I think our family would be (food wise) lost without it.

Finally, in our lives it's ok to step back from couponing and saving money for more important things. I started my challenge in December so I could concentrate on my time with my family. I continued in January to hope to get control of our food clutter in our house. I think it's important to put priority on things other than essentially money at times to make sure that it's not becoming a false idol.

That's it. There is wisdom from my pantry challenge...

I am linking up my post to Frugal Friday over at Life as Mom. Hopefully others can learn from my experience of couponing not to save the biggest percentage but to make it fit for me!


Reading through the alphabet: (M) Money Saving Mom's Budget

As I am reading through the alphabet  I am following Booking it over at Life as Mom. Booking it is an online book club that each month we link up a selected read. This month was the Money Saving Mom's Budget. 

I think only Crystal Paine, the Money Saving Mom could make budgeting inspirational and exciting. I have been reading her blog regularly for a couple of years now. When I saw she had a book coming out I said to myself "I should read that."

But THEN I saw she is donating all of her profits to Compassion International and I thought. I'm going to preorder that book instead of waiting for it from the library. 

I did enjoy the book and found it was easy read. Yup, an easy read on budgeting. She really is a great writer. Who can make such a dry subject of budgeting interesting?

I though I would know most of what was in her book because I do religiously read her blog and usually do pretty good with finding deals/coupons but I did learn some things. 

Some things I did love:

"Saving money is going to take time and hard work. If living beneath your means or saving sixty-five percent on your grocery bills were effortless, everyone would be doing it."

"Contentment is a state of the heart, unaffected by outward circumstances."

Things I am implementing. Shopping every 2 weeks. I have already failed implementing this from the get go but I'm going to try it for at least 3 months and see how it goes.

Things I already do: Coupon, meal plan around the sales ads/what we have on stock, we never spend more than we have, we have small savings accounts set up for non-monthly expenses.

I coupon by the whole insert technique. I do miss the occasional amazing deal but it takes WAY less time and time is precious when you are a full time working mom with an infant.

Things I want to implement: Creating a realistic budget. We have one but we don't greatly stick to it. Decluttering. The time budget.

Things I don't think would work for me: Envelope system & Garage sales. I fear I would blow the money in the envelope system and fall back on the credit card. Since we live so far out I'm not convinced that we would bring in much money from a garage sale. I'm not 100% I might not try it this year but I'm on the fence.

Why I like this book: Makes budgeting interesting. Is there a drier topic? All the proceeds go to Compassion International. 

If you have considered wanting to budget but feel overwhelmed this book combined with a couple of the coupon blogs are a great place to start.

I haven't finished either yet but will report back when I do. 

My first thoughts about The Happiness project are it's a good read but she basically did CBT on herself to boost her mood. 

The vegetable gardening book is SO dry but I am learning a lot and it is very helpful with setting up my garden (and it was free!)