Monday, August 29, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - August 29

Today I am planning a "baking day" so I'll be making at least two loaves of bread and various other things like muffins, whole wheat buns, wheat rolls and probably some cookies. Since I'll be baking most of the day, I'll put dinner in the crockpot so I won't need to worry about it later when I'm tired!

One thing I have done to make menu planning easier was to make a list of all the meals we enjoy. So far, I have about 42 meals in our rotation and I'll add to the list as we try new recipes and find more "favorites." This is what our menu looks like for the week.

Monday - Chuck roast with potatoes, carrots and onions
Tuesday - Herbed chicken, rice pilaf and green salad
Wednesday - Taco salad
Thursday - Chicken Spaghetti with green salad
Friday - Scalloped potatoes with turkey ham, green beans
Saturday - Homemade pizza
Sunday -  Chicken & Dressing casserole

What will you be serving this week?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - August 1st

This week is going to be CRAZY! We're having VBS at our church this week so we'll need to be out the door by 5:30pm. We'll eat dinner at home and take dads dinner to him so he can scarf it down before he goes to teach class! We're so looking forward to it...our kids all love to attend VBS. So...even though we'll be away from home each night this week, we'll still be able to have normal meals...except Monday because we are also having a bowling day with our homeschool group. :)

I'm also going to start planning our meals for Saturday and Sunday. In the past, I've kind of flew by the seat of my pants but that's clearly NOT working! Saturdays are usually pretty laid back so I'll plan a big pot of something and they eat on that throughout the day. Sunday afternoon is utter chaos, hungry children and having to stop by the store is NO fun so...we'll probably have a crockpot meal or something that can be popped into the oven. I really don't like stopping by the store on the way home to pick something's simply too expensive.'s what's on our menu:

Monday - meal out (between skating and VBS)
Tuesday - Scalloped potatoes with turkey ham (crockpot meal)
Wednesday - Cheesy Chicken enchiladas with green salad
Thursday - BBQ chicken sandwiches on homemade wheat buns
Friday - Family pizza night
Saturday - Italian Vegetable soup with wheat crackers (recipe to come)
Sunday - Beef stroganoff served over egg noodles

What's on your plate this week?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

Tonight time sort of got away from me and before I knew it, it was dinner time and there was nothing to eat. The natives were restless and hungry! So I threw together my version of chicken cacciatore. It's super easy because I used pre-cooked, de-boned chicken. This works especially well since I don't really like the skin left on it and a lot of the recipes I've seen call for leaving the skin on.'s my version (photo coming soon!)

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

1-2 pounds cooked, skinless, de-boned chicken (any parts you like)
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes with liquid
2 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

Put your chicken in a large skillet and brown it a little on medium heat. Add the peppers, onions and garlic...toss to mix. Pour diced tomatoes with liquid over the top and mix together. Add seasoning...simmer 10 minutes until heated through and veggies are tender. Serve over prepared pasta or rice.

This is a yummy quick meal and I make it even easier because I use pre-cooked chicken that I have ready in the freezer. I also use peppers and onions that are already diced and in the freezer. When I do that, I can make dinner from start to finish in about 15 minutes!

What meal do you have that can be made in 15 minutes that fills your hungry bunch? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Hi Everyone!

Well, it's our second week back to school and to keep things from getting crazier around here...I'm actually planning our meals! Oh does make life easier! Also, we're having several of my older sons favorites because he's finally back from all his mission trips this summer! So, this is what we're having:

Monday - Spaghetti with Italian turkey sausage, green salad and garlic bread
Tuesday - Chicken Fajitas
Wednesday - Mexican Chicken Casserole and green beans
Thursday - Meatloaf, homemade mac and cheese and green peas
Friday - homemade pizza and green salad

Hopefully I'll be able to throw in a few fresh sliced veggies after our trip to a local farm on Tuesday. :) I'm not sure what they'll have's pretty hot here in Arkansas and gardens are burning up.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Frustrated with Netflix Price Increase?

Are you frustrated with Netflix recent price increase? Many are. I've heard the complaints and well, we all get a little miffed when our bill increases but I still believe that Netflix is a good value. Here's why:

  • Renting a movie...even the older titles would be at least $1 per movie, multiply that by 30 days in a month and you've already spent $30. If you choose the dvd/streaming combo, you'll pay bout $16 and you can watch more than one per day. This still fits in our $20 per month "entertainment" budget for our family.
  • We haven't had cable in a LONG time but the lowest cost cable package I have seen is around $25 per month...not including fees. You can watch all you want but you'll pay extra for movie channels. 
  • One of my favorite things about Netflix...NO COMMERCIALS! Oh yeah...this one is great! I can watch what I want without being bombarded by commercials every 5 minutes. This in itself saves me money and not just my spending but my kids won't be seeing all the stuff they don't have and screaming for me to buy it for them.
So...did you get miffed that they changed their pricing? Let me hear it. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Giveaway at Smockity Frocks

Being a large family ourselves...I love giveaways! Especially if they help keep my budget in check!

Check out the giveaway at Smockity Frocks....a pantry can of each: strawberries, apple chips and taco flavored TVP. Now let me tell you, I haven't tried Shelf Reliances TVP but I have tried their strawberries and apple chips...they are great! They are great healthy snacks and are good to put in instant oatmeal to make your own "packs" for easy serving.

Go check it out!

7 Ways to Get more Fruits and Veggies without Breaking the Budget

As we talked about yesterday, on June 2nd the USDA released their new MyPlate guidelines. The new guidelines show a diet filled with more fruits and vegetables with less grains. Have you looked at the price of fresh produce in the grocery stores? Not a pretty site! And many people, including our family, have always viewed the "grains" as fillers....I know rice, pasta and breads are cheap ways to fill up a hungry teenage boy and at that age, they are able to burn all those extra carbohydrates and calories. Of course, it probably sets a bad habit for them to fight in later life? can we increase the fruits and veggies without breaking the grocery budget? Well, I have some ideas.

  1. Many of us use the meat as the "centerpiece" on our plates. We'll throw a big hunk of meat on there and then the rest of the plate was given to fillers and a little veggies. Fruits were usually reserved as dessert or a snack. Change your thinking...if the veggies and fruit take a larger role on our plate, then we'll be spending less money on meat or "proteins" as the MyPlate guideline shows. 
  2. Buy fresh produce in season. This is a no-brainer. If the produce is not in season, it is picked early, shipped from long distances and has a higher cost especially as the cost of fuel rises. Learning to buy produce in season for your area may mean that you try new types of produce...that's not a bad thing. Have fun with it.  You might find a new favorite! 
  3. Shop at discount stores like Aldi's. The Aldi's store near us gets their produce shipment in on Tuesdays. That means I am there usually on Wednesday buying our produce for the week. The produce varies but I have always found it cheaper. For example, our local Walmart and other grocers charge about $2.88 per head of califlower but at Aldi's, it's $1.49. Bell peppers at other grocers cost about $0.89 Aldi's, I've purchased them in a three pack for $0.99 on sale with a regular price of $1.49. That's quite a savings. Of course, I stock up on them when they are on sale...bring them home and slice or dice them to put in the freezer. 
  4. Check the "discounted" bin at your local grocer. If you are uncertain where it's located in your store, ask the produce manager.  Just because it's marked down doesn't mean it's bad...choose the best packages from those available. When you get it home, if you don't plan to use it immediately, chop it up and put it in the freezer.
  5. Find your local restaurant supplier. In or near every town there is a company that supplies produce to local restaurants. Find that company...they are usually listed in the phone book but you can also call your favorite restaurant and simply ask where they get their produce. Then contact that company and find out if they offer sales to the public. Many of them do. If you must buy a case of something to get the special pricing...find friends to go in with you to buy a case and then divide it up.
  6. Don't forget frozen and/or canned fruits and veggies. Although fresh is best, sometimes we must use alternatives. Frozen foods would be the second best to fresh as it's "flash frozen" and retains a lot of the vitamins and minerals. Canned is also fine, however, with fruits, try to choose those canned in fruit juice or light syrup instead of heavy syrup. 
  7. Lastly, it might be in your best interest to have a small garden. If you are new to gardening or it sounds daunting, I recommend the "Square Foot Gardening" method. It's great because it produces a lot of stuff in a small area. It's great for rural areas, city lots and even those who live in apartments or townhouses.
I hopes these ideas have helped. What do you do to keep the costs of fruits and veggies down? Share them with us by leaving a comment.

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Friday, June 17, 2011

5 Reasons I Like the New MyPlate Guidelines

On June 2nd, the USDA announced their new nutritional guidelines replacing the outdated (and I believe, flawed) "food pyramid." Of course, there is already quite a bit of talk about big changes like this and people are chiming in with their opinions. I figured....I feed a large household ranging in ages from older adults (hubby and myself) to our 17 month old baby girl...I should be interested in what they recommend. This is what the new guideline picture looks like.

Pretty huh? short, I think it's a better plan than the old pyramid and here are the five reasons I like the new MyPlate guidelines:

  1. I think it's a more balanced look at what we should be eating. More fruits and veggies than the higher carbohydrates found in the former "grains" section of the old pyramid. 
  2. I think the picture itself will help see what our plates should look like. Perhaps that's because I'm a very visual person. :)
  3. It's a lot easier to remember! This will help a great deal in not only planning meals but making sure they are portioned correctly. 
  4. Fats and sweets are not represented ON the place setting. This automatically tells us that we should not consider them our main sources of food or calories and to use them sparingly. We all know we use those items in our cooking and serving. 
  5. Because of the ease of design and use...I think more people will be able to follow it. That's always a good thing. 
Go check it out at MyPlate sure to check all the links for the sections, it's really gone into quite some detail about what should be included in that area. I do know one thing...we'll be switching out some of our old standbys with healthier options like replacing white rice with brown rice. Basically, getting more whole grains in our meals than fillers. 

So...what do you think about the new guidelines? Do you think you can follow them and still keep your grocery budget in check? I'll have more about that tomorrow!