Dinner Time Antics

*I have been going through my drafts. I found this little gem. I assume I never posted because I didn’t have a picture. I happened to remember the picture below is on my computer still. Zen isn’t 1 in the picture, like he is in my  post, but he is still crazy and the picture is fitting. 

When you give a one year old his dinner he is going to want what everyone else is having instead. When you give him what everyone else is having he is going to want his very own bowl and spoon, just like everyone else.

Once you give him his spoon and bowl with “big person” food you are going to have to let him feed himself or he will scream.

When you let a one year old feed himself with his very own bowl and his very own spoon you are most assuredly,at some point, going to catch that spoon as it zooms through the air.

When you give a one year old his very own bowl full of food that bowl will end up upside down on the floor and food will splatter everywhere.

When you give a one year old dinner in his very own bowl with his very own spoon and the spoon flies through the air and the bowl lands spectacularly on the floor upside down you will have a guffawing group of children who all yell “We told you it was a bad idea Mom!!!!

Needless to  say, when you give a one year old dinner there is never a dull moment.

~Andrea

zen

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Wednesday Shopping & Weekly Menu Plan 11/9-11/16 2016

Hey everyone! I know this is a few days late! I had a rough week. I was a bit ill at the beginning of the week and so that made me slow motion. Can anyone relate? I am a bit perked up and ready to roll!

Last week we had a lot of leftovers so Wednesday was Leftover Night again! Aldi had chicken thighs on sale this week so I rearranged money and took a big chunk from somewhere else that had extra. I also re-evaluated my budget and although my weekly goal will remain $100, I can safely spend $120 and still manage the rest of our responsibilities comfortably. Budgeting is very important and if anyone needs a great budgeting (and coupon) book then go to my friend Kristin Cooper at Couponing to Disney. Her budget book is a life saver for us! You can find the book HERE. Krisitn is a friend. I am not compensated for referring her. I just really believe in her and her book.

A few reminders:

Lunches are almost always vegetables and fruit. I usually buy frozen vegetables unless I can snag better deals on fresh. I cook the frozen veggies in ways that bring out the best quality and taste possible. Fruit is always decided at the store. I look at prices and then decide between fresh, canned, or frozen. When I buy canned, I buy ones in their own juices.

I plan for 3 meals a day and 2 snacks. We do not do a morning snack, but instead eat an earlier lunch. My plans are for 7 people, except lunch and snacks. Lunch is for 6 people (Mark eats at work for free) and snacks for 5 (the kids). Every Friday Mark brings home rotisserie chicken from his work. He gets a great deal and it is so much better than the stuff they sell at the store. This is NOT part of our food budget.

On Tuesdays we have homeschool co-op. We have to have lunch to-go. This has upped our Tuesday food cost a little bit.

I try to keep cheese sticks and 100% fruit bars and dried fruit in the house for those days when you are just so hungry you need a bit more food. These are not everyday foods so when I buy them they do last longer than a week.

Breakfast
Suasage, Oatmeal*, & GF Pumpkin Muffins
Egg for me

*I buy a big canister of quick-cook oats and make “packets” of 1/4 C oats, chopped freeze dried fruit, and seasonings (cinnamon, etc). The kids use the kettle of hot water to make their own instant oatmeal for far less then pre-packaged!

Lunch
Fruit everyday — guava or oranges

This week everyday will be Garden Salad and Celery Sticks w/ choice of filling (hummus, cream cheese, nut butter)

Snack
baby carrots and apples

Dinner
(Thurs) Spinach and Artichoke Chicken with Rice
(Fri) Chicken, Mashed Potato, Green Beans
(Sat) Eggplant or Chicken Parmesan w/ GF Spaghetti (I am trying to find a cheap eggplant, but I have chicken already.)
(Sun) Roasted Vegetable Salad over GF Pasta
(Mon) Baked Sweet Potato Hash w/ Sausage
(Tues) Asian Rice Noodle Stir Fry
(Wed) Roasted Garlic Lemon Chicken

Snack
Halloween Candy

ALDI:

$1.99 Fresh Pamesan Cheese (Holiday Food)
$1.89 GF Pretzles (Co-op Food)
$2.99 x 2 Coconut Water (now I have enough in pantry for next swim meet)
$1.99 Fig Spread
$1.89 x3 Organic Pasta Sauce (this one has safe ingredients for us)
$1.79 x 3 Bagged Flat Leaf Spinach
99¢ x 2 Bagged Garden Salad Mix
79¢ x 4 Fresh Cranberries 12 oz
$1.29 Fresh Brussels Spouts 16 oz
99¢ Green Onions
$1.49 Red Onions 2 lbs
$1.69 x 4 Fuji Apples 3 lbs
79¢ x 2 Sweet Potato (cheaper than last week, so I bought more!)
$2.99 x 2 Medley Potatoes
$2.99 Lemons 2 lbs
79¢ x 4 Celery
$1.29 Avocado (super frustrated, Walmart had these chepaer and I didn’t realize)
$1.69 Butternut Squash
$1.24 Bananas
99¢ Gluten Free Baking Powder
$1.69 Rosemary
$1.69 Sea Salt
$1.79 Feta Cheese
$2.29 Organic Humus
$2.99 x 3 Organic Vanilla Yogurt 32 oz each
$1.99 x 2 Almond Milk (for the boys)
$1.99 x 3 Hot/Italian Pork Sausage
$5.89 x 2 Shredded Cheese 2 lbs
45¢ Large Eggs 1 dozen
$2.99 x 2 Chicken Sausage (for hash)
$1.99 x 2 Pepita/Pumpkin Seeds 6 oz
$1.59 Dried Pineapple 6 oz
$1.99 x 2 Peanuts 16 oz
$1.89 x 2 GF Spaghetti
$11.82 Chicken Thighs 4 packages @ 69¢/lb

Total: $134.98

WALMART:

78¢ x 2 Gluten Free Brown Gravy Mix (Holiday Food, and I had a coupon I didn’t want to expire so one was only 28¢)
$2.24 Artichoke Hearts 16 oz
$2.18 So Delicious Coconut Milk (for my Elf)
$3.68 x 2 Earth Balnce Soy Free Buttery Spread
$2.28 Fresh Guava 1 lb
$2.99 x 2 Oranges 4 lbs
43¢ Garlic
$8.86 Cabt White Cheddar Cheese Block 2 lbs
$6.93 Coffee
Total: $37.32

Goal: $190
Paid: $172.30
Leftover from budgeted: $17.70
Overage this month: $16.19
Things on my list I didn’t buy: I bought everything!

I am really happy with how much I have learned. I know how to better plan each week. I am done with this month, as our new food budget begins November 14. I think that being over $16.19 isn’t too shabby.

I did buy items I do not need this week (more sweet potatoes for example), but the prices were too good to pass and I planned ahead and moved money as needed. My primary goal is to keep the kids on a healthy diet. My secondary goal is to satisfy needs and not feel like we are missing out while doing so. The subgoal of that is to help others cut their food budget down and give meal ideas.

Have a great week, y’all!

~Andrea

Let Them be Little

My kids are playing with a cheap $5 plastic bowling set. Zen is sleeping. Where I am sitting I have the perfect view of their game. It is loud and wonderful. They are playing nicely; not something that happens all the time. I can’t take my eyes off them and honestly writing one line of this post takes more than 10 minutes because the kids are fascinating to watch.  I can’t help but look at them and see them as…kids.
So many times I look at them, especially the older 2, and I see my expectations of what they should be able to do. I forget they still need to climb and run and play. 

Earlier I was watching a video on a blog and it said “Though she grows, she is still so small.” That simple phrase grabbed me.

It speaks volumes to me. She is not suggesting her child is small for her age. She is stating that the age of 2 is still little. It is so true. Step back and look at your child with some perspective. How did you used to see a 2 year old before you had one? I am guessing you regarded them as a baby still. Your expectations probably weren’t grand. You didn’t expect them to know their colors and write their name. They are still so little. Yet as soon as we have our own we force them to grow too fast. I am not saying do not allow your child to develop and discover. I am saying just let them be little. Follow their cues. Let them be curious and discover at their own pace. Keep it age appropriate. 

I forced my oldest to grow up too fast. My expectations changed with my second.  can never change that fact I expected more from my eldest child than I did from my students who were older than him. I was never mean or forceful, I was just always ready to start the next thing with him and didn’t allow either of of us to savor the moments. Perspective and hind sight…..

With each child my expectations change. They are only little for a small glimmer of time and those days can be exhaustively long. I know this too well. I will, however, let my kids be little for as long as they need to be.

*written 3 years ago and rediscovered today 11/7/2016.

~Andrea

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3 is not too old to be rocked to sleep. Savoring the moments.

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Letting her make the pizza dough. Her joy is worth it all. 

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Letting her conquer her fears at her own pace makes the success that much sweeter. 

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As they get older they can still play….even if it makes your heart beat harder in fear. 

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Imagine, measure, cut, paint, create…..Making wands.

Frozen Vegetables Make-Over: Part 1

Several people have reached out to me and asked if I would share exactly how I make frozen vegetables better. So many people simply toss vegetables into a pot of water and boil them until they are hot. This leaves you with veggies that lack flavor and nutrients. I have found my child much prefer vegetables that are flavorful and not mushy. I started experimenting and thus far it has been a roaring success!

I am going to (hopefully) create several posts over  the next few weeks with my personal recipes. I will add pictures as I make each dish.

This post will include Roasted Balsamic Carrots, Sauteed Peas with Onions, and Curried California Medley.

 

Roasted Balsamic Carrots

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Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Baby Carrots
  • about 2-4 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
  • about 2-4 T Balsamic Vinegar*
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Thyme
  • Salt (I use Pink Himalayan)*I never measure so this is an estimate

What Next?

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees
  2. Place parchment paper in roasting pan
  3. Add the carrots, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Mix to coat carrots.
  4. Add garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and salt. I do not measure, so add based on preference. Mix
  5. Place in oven for 20 minutes. Check. If the carrots are fork tender then they are done. If not, stir the carrots and add more oil if needed. Place back in oven and check about every 5-10 minutes.

Recipe Notes:

  1. I understand that it must be frustrating that I eye-ball my measurements. You want enough olive oil and balsamic vinegar to coat the carrots. As for the seasonings, this is is very much based on preference. For example, we love garlic so I tend to add a decent amount. I would guess I use about 2 tsp of the seasonings and 1 tsp of salt.
  2. I use parchment paper to prevent sticking and for easier clean up. Make sure you use parchment paper and not wax paper, the wax would melt. If you do not have parchment paper please oil your pan first to prevent sticking!

    Sauteed Peas with Onions

    sauteed-peas

    Ingredients:

    • 1 package of frozen peas
    • 1 onion (type doesn’t matter. I use what I have)
    • 2T olive oil
    • salt
    • pepper

    What Next?

    1. Get a large deep skillet.
    2. Add oil and heat on medium until hot.
    3. While the skillet is heating, chop onion.
    4. Add onion to the skillet and cook until the onions start to become translucent.
    5. Add peas. Stir occasionally until peas have cooked.
    6. Add salt and pepper to taste

    Curried California Medley

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 a large family-size bag of frozen California Medley
    • 1/2 C Butter or Butter Substitute (I use Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread)
    • 3T Curry Powder (more or less depending on what you prefer)

    What Next?

    1. Steam the California Medley. If you do not have a steamer, place vegetables in a large pot, add enough water to cover the bottom (about .5-1″). Do NOT cover the veggies! Place a lid on the pot and cook on medium about 10 minutes. Be sure to check, you want these cooked but not over cooked!
    2. In a small pan melt butter. Add about curry powder and mix.
    3. When the veggies are done, drain, place back in pot (or serving dish), add butter-curry mixture and toss.~Thanks, Andrea!

Wednesday Shopping & Weekly Menu Plan 11/2-11/8 2016

Hey everyone! I am ready to head out to Aldi for my weekly shop. I am really getting the hang of this new budget, but until I am a bit more comfortable our menu plans will have a lot of repeats. Once I get used to our new normal I will shake things up! I am also cleaning out a lot of pantry items. This means lots of bean-based meals for a bit longer.

Last week we had a lot of leftovers so Wednesday was Leftover Night. I also forgot that Saturday was the monthly meal at church so we didn’t make the fried rice. This means I used less food than bought! Marco still bought the chicken on Friday even though we had pizza. The chicken is from a different part of our budget so he decided to still buy 2. He removed the chicken and saved it and made broth from the carcasses and the turkey carcass we had.

This Saturday is a swim meet so that means I bought items I do not normally buy. They weren’t budget busters though, especially since I already had some items at home!

I did buy some holiday items that weren’t originally planned. These are items Aldi will sell until they are out. I want them before they are gone so I thought ahead and rearranged my budget to be a bit bigger and added them in. I added $20. It looks like I went over budget, but not really because they are items I need in the future for the Holidays and now I have them!

A few reminders:

Lunches are almost always vegetables and fruit. I buy frozen vegetables unless I can snag better deals on fresh. I cook the frozen veggies in ways that bring out the best quality and taste possible. Fruit is always decided at the store. I look at prices and then decide between fresh, canned, or frozen. When I buy canned, I buy ones in their own juices.

I plan for 3 meals a day and 2 snacks. We do not do a morning snack, but instead eat an earlier lunch. My plans are for 7 people, except lunch and snacks. Lunch is for 6 people (Mark eats at work for free) and snacks for 5 (the kids). Every Friday Mark brings home rotisserie chicken from his work. He gets a great deal and it is so much better than the stuff they sell at the store. This is NOT part of our food budget.

On Tuesdays we have homeschool co-op. We have to have lunch to-go. This has upped our Tuesday food cost a little bit.

I try to keep cheese sticks and 100% fruit bars and dried fruit in the house for those days when you are just so hungry you need a bit more food. These are not everyday foods so when I buy them they do last longer than a week.

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The start of my holiday cooking supplies!


Breakfast

Suasage, Oatmeal*, & GF Pumpkin Muffins
Yogurt and Egg for me

*I buy a big canister of quick-cook oats and make “packets” of 1/4 C oats, chopped freeze dried fruit, and seasonings (cinnamon, etc). The kids use the kettle of hot water to make their own instant oatmeal for far less then pre-packaged! 

Lunch
Fruit everyday

(Thurs) Garlic Carrots
(Fri) Peas & Onions
(Sat) *SWIM MEET* Lettuce Roll-Ups
(Sun) Honey-Glazed Carrots
(Mon) Roasted Green Beans
(Tues) Rice Cakes w/ Spreads
(Wed) Peas & Onions

Snack
Baby Carrots and No Bake Cranberry Bites & Tea

Dinner
(Thurs) Either BBQ Chicken or Naked Chicken Fajitias w/Rice (I haven’t decided)
(Fri) Chicken, Mashed Potato, Prince Edward Mix
(Sat) Cabbage and Potato Bake
(Sun) Tacos
(Mon) Chili Potatoes (I am inventing a dish here y’all!)
(Tues) Beans & Quinoa
(Wed) Rice Noodles w/ Veggies

Snack
(Thurs) Jell-O
(Fri) Homemade Popsicle
(Sat) Jell-O
(Sun) Homemade Popsicle
(Mon) Jell-O
(Tues) Homemade Popsicle
(Wed) Jell-O

ALDI:

$2.49 Salami (swim meet food)
$1.29 Iceburg Lettus (swim meet food)
$1.29 Rice Cakes (co-op food)
$1.99 Plum Fruit Spread (co-op food)
$1.99 Hazelnut Spread (co-op food)
$1.49 Cream Cheese Spread (co-op food)
$2.69 Gluten Free French Fried Onions (Holiday Food)
$1.79 x 2 Ricotta Cheese Whole Milk (Holiday Food)
$2.89 x 2 Gluten Free Stuffing (Holiday Food)
$1.49 Russet Potatoes 10 lbs (sale)
$1.69 Cabbage
69¢ x 2 Yellow Onions 3 lbs each (sale)
99¢ x 2 Sweet Potatoes 3 lbs (sale)
49¢ x 7 Baby Carrots (sale)
$1.37 Bananas (44¢/lb)
$1.79 Green Peppers 3-pack
$2.99 Multi-Colored Pepers 3-pack
$2.99 Mini Sweet Peppers
89¢ x 2 Pomegranates (sale)
$2.99 Bartlett Pears 3 lbs
$2.99 Grany Smith Apples 3 lbs
$1.70 Whole Plums 1 lb 14 oz
$2.99 x 2 Organic Vanilla Yogurt 32 oz each
39¢ x 6 Yogurt Cups
$1.99 Almond Milk (for the boys)
$1.99 x 2 Hot/Italian Pork Sausage
$1.65 x 2 Potato Puffs (frozen bags)
$1.29 Long Grain Rice 3lbs
$1.69 Organic Diced Tomato 28 oz can
$3.99 Coconut Oil
$1.69 x2 Vegetable Broth
79¢ x 3 Kidney Beans (canned)
$3.79 x2 Dried Mango/Coconut
$1.59 Dried Cranberries
$2.99 Freeze Dried Apples
$1.99 x 2 Peanuts

Total: $97.70

WALMART:

$6.24 Case of Peach Cups in 100% juice (swim meet & co-op treat)
78¢ x 4 Gluten Free Brown Gravy Mix (Holiday Food)
$4.94 String Cheese
$2.22 Muenster Cheese (They didn’t have my giant block of Cabot Whote Cheddar! Oh no!)
$3.64 Coffee
Total: $20.16

Goal: $100
Paid: $117.89
Holiday Overage: $15.17
Real Overage: $2.72 (I am getting better!)

Overage this month:$33.89

Things on my list I didn’t buy: I bought everything!

I am still learning and I have work to do. I learned we need more protein snacks. Elf is hard (no nuts for her), but the rest of us need a handful of nuts (or something) once in awhile. I have some pretty amazing friends and family who have rallied and are cheering me on. Y’all are awesome and I treasure you and so wish we lived closer. Your support and belief in me is more than you know.

I did buy items I do not need this week (sweet potatoes for example), but the prices were too good to pass. My primary goal is to keep the kids on a healthy diet. My secondary goal is to satisfy needs and not feel like we are missing out while doing so. The subgoal of that is to help others cut their food budget down and give meal ideas.

Have a great week, y’all!

~Andrea