Plan, shop, prep!

Woohoo, simultaneous nap. I admit it, I do a happy dance when both kids at least overlap a little on their nap time. It means I can shut everything off and just have five minutes of quiet. Don’t get me wrong, I know how lucky we are to have two healthy kids who are growing and developing right on target, but good grief does it get noisy. Normally, the kids go to Mother’s Day Out (MDO) on Tues/Thurs which gives me time to work and get a few other errands done without having to drag the kids along. But, with yesterday’s ice storm…no MDO and two kids with cabin fever means not a lot is getting accomplished today. Oh, well. We knew the storm was coming, so we took the kids out for lunch on Sunday. We went to a local pizza buffet that is family friendly and has an arcade where Macho could spend his commission (money he earns doing extra jobs) and burn some energy. Here is where I reiterate that we do not eat 100% clean! 😉 But, this special little jaunt threw off my normal Sunday routine a bit and so my typical weekly prep has been spread out more than normal.

Each week, I plan out our dinners, I go grocery shopping on Sunday before the church crowd gets out, and then I spend the afternoon prepping for the week. I found a ton of cute menu planning boards on Pinterest. Um…yeah, I use a whiteboard and a plain black marker. I usually check the freezer and pantry to see what I have on hand and then refer to my Pinterest recipes. I have a board of clean recipes to try and then I move them to a board of recipes we like or I delete them if we don’t like them. Here is my plan for the week (sorry, it keeps loading sideways) that was already thrown off by our Sunday pizza binge. 









I bought two big packs of chicken last week and I had lentils, beans, and quinoa in the pantry. Plus, it’s supposed to be cold and icy most of the week, so there is a lot of soup and slow cooker items on the menu this week.  I made the veggie bean soup on Sunday, which we were all too full to eat. But, it turned out so spicy that I ended up making chicken nuggets and Mac and cheese for the kids when we ate it on Monday. Be careful when using fresh cayenne from Grandma’s garden!



On that note, I do make my own chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. Chicken breast cubed up, coated with egg and shaken in a bag with some corn meal is really good! I make a bunch and freeze them for times like this one! I used whole wheat pasta, real cheese, and some almond milk for the mac and cheese. Both kids loved it.



I prepped the stuffed peppers yesterday so we can have them tonight. We also have a ton of soup left for either lunches or another dinner. Stuffed peppers take some time to prep, but I make double filling and freeze it for later. Or, the stuffed peppers already prepped freeze well too. I kept the filling separate because I’ve also started making stuffed pepper soup. It’s all the same ingredients except just chopped up and tossed in the slow cooker. It’s yummy and less work. But, I just didn’t want another soup. The kids won’t eat the pepper, but the filling goes over well and I’m happy to eat the pepper. 





Last, but not least, I made some little oatmeal balls for snacks. They have oatmeal, unsweetened coconut, raw local honey, natural peanut butter, chia,  vanilla, and dark chocolate chips. They are no bake and take about 5 minutes to mix and ball up. Oh, and they don’t suck! Mmmmm.



Ultimately, my weekly planning does a few things. First, I spend less money because I buy with a purpose and a specific list. It also helps me rotate food so items don’t spoil or expire. We eat healthier because we rarely get take-out. And lastly, it relieves a lot of stress. There is no worry about what I’m going to make for dinner each night. Since I’m not working full-time, that isn’t asking of a deal now. But, it was great when I was working, doing daycare drop off and pick up, and trying to fit it all in. 

What to do when you’re feeling “bleck”.

Yesterday, I just felt cruddy all day. My husband was inspired to make French toast for breakfast. It was delicious, but since I haven’t tackled my own bread making yet, it definitely did not fall into clean or lo-cal! But, the kidlets loved it and I didn’t have to cook! Lunch was leftover chicken and dumplings, which is a nice revamp of one of my favorite comfort foods. The husband likes the clean dumplings well enough, but every time I make them, I hear “ah, clean dumplings.” I’ve also started making my own broth after I cook a whole chicken, so it’s a great way to get another meal without having to buy more meat. So, that was two meals I was able to do nothing for!

However, I knew that dinner was looming ahead. This is where having a stockpile of freezer meals or some quick and easy recipes comes in handy and will keep you from ordering a pizza. Since we are moving soon, I’ve depleted our freezer meals. So, that option was out. However, I try to keep a bag of frozen vegetables around all the time and I always have some brown rice. That led me to another comfort food from childhood….fried rice. I decided to make pork fried rice because I had some frozen pork already chopped up and frozen. You can get a big pack of assorted chops for much less than chops of all the same thickness. I will buy a pack, pull out enough for dinner, and then chop and freeze the odd size ones for days like this.

Ingredients I used:
3c of frozen mixed veggies (great when fresh aren’t in season plus they are already chopped) – about $0.70
2 oz fresh mushrooms – $0.50
1c brown jasmine rice – about $1.00 – I love the flavor over regular brown rice, so I don’t mind paying a little more
1 lb pork – $2.30
3 green onions – these were leftover from the sweet potato kale soup I made earlier in the week, so they cost about $0.30
For this meal, I used low-sodium soy sauce because I still have it to use up. – $0.15. Liquid aminos can be subbed for soy sauce to keep things clean – it’s a little over $4 a bottle, but you tend to use less because it’s a spray.
2 eggs – $0.40

This meal cost just over $5 and we had about 1 serving leftover even after Papi had seconds. I realized that it had a lot of meat so I easily could have double the rice and veggies and still have had two very meaty meals for just about $7. It was a big hit for all but the 3 year-old old food critic of the house, but I’m pretty sure that is because Papi took Macho for ice cream before dinner!

IMG_1194

IMG_1195

IMG_1197

IMG_1199

IMG_1200

IMG_1203

Clean eating on a budget

I’ve been addicted to food my entire life. It’s been a battle since I was a kid and I fight it every day. Now that I’m a mom, I want to make sure my kids never have to experience the pain of being morbidly obese. The constant teasing, stares, physical and mental pain are something I would never wish on another living soul and especially not those I love most in the world.

Between improving my health, wanting my husband healthy, and hoping to teach my children good habits from the beginning, I’ve steadily moved toward “clean” eating. Basically, I want my family filling their bellies with natural, healthy foods.

Here’s the kicker. Eating clean can be expensive! Six months ago, I could have blown $200-300/wk to feed us. But, life changed and my old habits of doing as much as possible with as little as possible kicked back in. However, I refuse to go back to cheap processed food. So, my updated goal is to eat as clean as possible as our budget will allow.

I’m starting to do some research on food budgets with “assistance” be it WIC, SNAP, etc… We aren’t quite there yet, but once unemployment runs out, I need to be prepared. Also, after living in a community where the more have more and the less have less, it reminds me that my life goal is to help others. Long term, my goal is to take my findings and spread it to the community. How I’m going to do this, I’m not sure. My idealized view would be to take what I’ve learned and hold community classes for those receiving various types of assistance and walk them through budgeting, shopping, meal planning, and cooking. Ideally, it would be awesome to take that group and create a freezer meal group where they could get even more bang for their buck.

But, this all starts with me and our family journey. So, I plan to document the ups and downs and then one day, I hope to take this to others.

Tonight,is the first Friday of Lent. We need to be meatless. For lunch, we had tuna salad on bread with a slice of provolone and tomato. Yum!

For dinner: white fish (ours is Swai from Walmart. It’s about $7 for 2 lbs. I’m baking it with asparagus ($4), tomato ($2), lemon ($0.50), and basil (free- dried from a friend’s garden), and 1c of brown jasmine rice($0.50). That is about $14 or $3.50 p/p. It is not 100% clean and it isn’t our cheapest meal. The kids and the husband all loved it, so success!

IMG_1183-0

IMG_1184-0

IMG_1185-0

IMG_1186-0

IMG_1189-0

IMG_1187-0

IMG_1188-0

IMG_1192

Look at me, I’m starting to blog! The trend should die in 3…2…

With the encouragement of my friends, family, and mostly my husband, I’ve decided to jump onto the blog bandwagon. I took a few weeks to think about what this blog would be. I’m in a fairly new phase of my life and the transition has been weird, fun, scary, disappointing, exciting, fulfilling, etc… After the birth of our second child, I became a stay-at-home mom. Why is this such a big deal? Tons of parents stay at home!

For me, I’ve worked since I was 11. I started babysitting then and by 13 I was doing office work after school. I worked all through high school and college and then I FINALLY graduated, became a teacher, and moved into school administration. I worked full-time while earning my first Master’s and worked full-time and had an infant when I got my second Master’s.
I did all of those things and still did laundry, cooked, cleaned, you get the idea. I was always scheduled, focused, going, going, going.

So, the scary part of staying home with my kiddos was wondering what the hell I was going to do all day. My husband even gave me 18 months max before I went “batshit crazy” and went back to work. Well, I’ve made it over six months and I’m only 3/4 crazy but I did start doing some part-time contract work 3 months in. 😉

I plan to use this space to explore my transition from professional to SAHM. In trying to figure out who I am now, I hope it will help me succeed at this new job. My kids deserve the best and I want that best to be me. I guess it will be part mommy blog, part food blog, and probably some teacher stuff too. Welcome to my multi-tasking mind!