Sunday, October 26, 2014

Oct Pantry Challenge Update 3

Sorry this is a few days late! Life just caught up with me. Don't you hate when that happens? I had to buy milk and eggs again. I'm $20 over budget and disappointed in myself. Oh well. . .

Menu Plan for October 22nd- 28th

I don't plan for breakfast & lunch because we generally eat different things for breakfast, and Brad buys lunch at his work. 

Wednesday: Chicken Tetrazzini with Roasted Carrots and Rolls

Thursday: Homemade Pizza with Green Beans

Friday: Chili and Cornbread (at a church Halloween party)

Saturday: Leftovers/Mac-n-Cheese

Sunday: Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes with Bacon and Orange Slices

Monday: Elk Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Zucchini

Tuesday: Penne and Italian Sausage Pasta with Roasted Root Veggies

Money Spent: $129
Money Left: $-29

I actually told myself after my last challenge to allow the budget to be $150. I really debated on it and ultimately thought I could keep it at $100. We really do have a lot of food in our house by way of food storage and we were still getting a few things from the garden. What I didn't anticipate was going through our milk SO quickly. Also, that our chickens would begin molting and not provide us with a single egg for this entire challenge so far! Not to mention the convenience of store-bought bread over homemade.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Oct Pantry Challenge Update 2

Oh boy. This last week we ran out of milk, bread, and eggs. We were nearly out of all-purpose flour, sugar, and butter. I guess I should have been monitoring their usage more closely. It definitely shows just how much our meals tend to rely on these staples and gives me ideas on what specifically I should be stocking up on more often.

Menu Plan for October 15th- 21st

I don't plan for breakfast & lunch because we generally eat different things for breakfast, and Brad buys lunch at his work. 

Wednesday: Cheeseburger Pasta with Roasted Veggies

Thursday: Chicken and Dumplings

Friday: Frozen Pizza with Sliced Fruit

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Beef Stew with Mashed Potatoes and Rolls

Monday: Sweet Baked Kielbasa with Rice

Tuesday: Baked Spaghetti (New recipe from Pinterest)

Money Spent: $103
Money Left: $-3

Whelp. . . The moolah is gone. I had to go to the store; I just didn't know what we would do without milk and eggs. I could only get a half gallon of milk though and will probably be buying a full gallon of the raw stuff we drink in the next week or so. I have to drive about 30 minutes away to buy it and wasn't willing to drive that far yesterday. So milk, eggs, AP flour, potatoes, apples, onions, some brown sugar, beef broth, and one pie pumpkin cleaned out my wallet and even put me over budget by $3. (The $3 was actually spent on 6 boxes of Horizon Organic Milk that were on clearance for $0.50 each). A couple of the things I could have gone without normally, but with a Halloween get-together with friends happening this weekend, I knew I couldn't skimp of some of my favorite party foods.  

Two weeks to go! I know I can do this. I've got this week all planned out, and then it's just one more. We may end up eating a lot of spaghetti and mac-n-cheese at the end, but so be it.

Maybe I'll get lucky and my friggin' chickens will stop molting and give me some eggs already!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Oct Pantry Challenge Update 1

     Well, I've reached the end of week 1 and I totally forgot how hard this was to do. Also, there were some amazing sales on bulk items I love and I just couldn't resist. While this is definitely bending the rules, I decided I couldn't pass up some of the bulk buys and am only going to count the things we use towards my total spending money. It's cheating, I know. But how do you pass up 8 pounds of organic local strawberries for $20?!

Menu Plan for October 8th- 14th

I don't plan for breakfast & lunch because we generally eat different things for breakfast, and Brad buys lunch at his work. 

Wednesday: Grilled Cheese with Peaches

Thursday: Homemade Pizza with Fruit Salad

Friday: Chicken Noodle Soup with Rolls (This didn't happen last week)

Saturday: Quesadillas with Rice and Beans (Hoping to make extra tortillas to freeze)

Sunday: Ravioli with Green Beans and Rolls

Monday: Sweet Baked Kielbasa with Rice (I also want to cook up a batch of Honey Baked Lentils to keep in the fridge for my weekday lunches)

Tuesday: Breakfast for Dinner

Money Spent: $74
Money Left: $26

     I bought strawberries, as mentioned earlier, and whipped up a few batches of freezer jam this last week. We've eaten about $6 worth of fresh strawberries and some jam. I also was able to purchase these awesome new organic lunchables made by Applegate farms in bulk. They came out to be only $2 a box! Retail for those suckers is over $5 each! We've eaten 4 so far, so I added that number into the total as well. Then, at the same store, Utah CoOp, I snatched a 5 for $20 deal on some meat and we have used two of the packages of bacon already. We love bacon around here! The last $3 I spent was on 3 boxes of Barbara's Cereal on clearance for $1 a box. :)

     Also to note, we got TONS of Italian Prune Plums from a neighbor, so I froze most of those and plan another freezer jam making sesh in the near future. Plus, pie. And maybe some Plum Applesauce.

     Three-Quarters of my moolah gone and still 3 weeks to go! Ahh! Luckily, my freezer is packed, I'm still getting a few things from the garden and grapevine, and we have quite a bit of food storage saved up from the last few months, so we should be good. I do need to pick up some cheese and peanut butter soon, but hopefully my kids will just learn to love the crunchy peanut butter and fancy cheese we already have.

Things to Make and Freeze This Week

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What's for Lunch Wednesday: Fast Food :/

What's for lunch Wednesday is less about sharing new recipes, and more about keepin' it real. This is what I REALLY had for lunch today! Sometimes I slip and eat junk. Sometimes it's gourmet. This series is to not only inspire quick lunchtime ideas, but to show that we are not all perfect in eating the right thing at every single meal.

I don't always keep up on my little lunch series here, but I wanted to keep it real with y'all today. I try really hard to "eat clean" or whatever it's called now, but I'm not perfect. And some things are just worth it. So I haven't eaten McDonald's in over a year now I think, but it was Katie's little friend's birthday so we went and it really was worth it. I love the social aspect of eating out and if we get to spend time with friends, I will eat anything in the world!

I have also always been secretly obsessed with the McDonald's Monopoly game, so it was exciting to get a least a couple of pieces today.

October Pantry Challenge

I kind of love pantry challenges and I just realized that I haven't done one in over TWO YEARS! WHAT?! So here I am, starting one now and praying I can make it the whole month. The basis of my pantry challenges are:
  • Spend no more than $100 on food for the entire month
  • Use what we have on hand in the pantry, fridge, and freezer
  • Menu plan every week
I already know this is going to be difficult for a few reasons. First, we eat much differently than when I've had past pantry challenges. Our grocery budget has expanded as a result of our mostly real food diet, and I no longer coupon all the time for processed foods. We also buy raw milk at $8/gallon. Luckily, there are three gallons already frozen in the freezer, so hopefully those will take us through the month. Second, we are hosting a Halloween Party for a few couples in the middle of the month, so I'll have to get creative with making food and treats with what I have on hand.

All in all, I am really looking forward to this. I have a big vacation to Florida coming up in December and some penny-pinching right now is desperately needed. I also think this might help me blog more recipes?

I also have not budgeted for eating out. We sometimes go out to eat with another couple for dinner, but I'm not sure if that will happen or not this month. So I decided to just let it be extra if it does happen. 

Here we go! (It's kind of perfect that this starts on a Wednesday, because that is when sales change for my local store)

Menu Plan for October 1st- 8th
I don't plan for breakfast & lunch because we generally eat different things for breakfast, and Brad buys lunch at his work. 

Wednesday: Steak with Mashed Potatoes (leftover taters from Pierogis last night)

Thursday: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Roasted Veggies

Friday: Chicken Noodle Soup with Rolls

Saturday: Free Pizza from Pizza Hut

Sunday: Waffles with Bacon and Fresh Fruit

Monday: Cheese Ravioli with Carrots and Apples

Tuesday: Spaghetti with Green Beans (from the garden) and Rolls

Money Spent: $49
Money Left: $51

I did a little shopping yesterday to start off the challenge.While not the healthiest, I love cereal for quick breakfasts and we were out, so I paid full price for this box. (Agh!) I also picked up some of mine and Katie's favorite yogurt and some sour cream, both full price. The canned pears and canned beans were both on clearance for $0.49 each (I love dented cans) and the organic bananas were also on clearance for being a teeny bit brown. They taste better this way though, and there are already 3 missing from the original bunch. I also picked up a couple of oranges for smoothies and juices, and 4 packs of organic free range chicken on clearance. The tub of ice cream was totally a late night impulse because sometimes a girl just needs ice cream. Not pictured are 5 loaves of our favorite 9 grain organic bread that are in the outside freezer.

Clearance is basically my best friend when it comes to not only pantry challenges, but to eating real food as well. It can be expensive, but when you shop smart, you can get the things you need for way less than the regular prices. I feel a little guilty saying this, but I kind of like that more people don't buy organic foods in my area. They often end up in the clearance bins as a result, and then on my pantry shelves.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Birthday Freebies!

In honor of my birthday (25!) I thought I would share some birthday freebies that I have been enjoying for the last few years. Getting these emails in my inbox every year is one of the most exciting parts of my birthday!

Because I live in Utah, I am only listing offers available to me. There are literally dozens of restaurants throughout the country that offer birthday freebies, and a quick Google search can help you find loads more! The one's I've listed are those I have had success with and most are free without any purchase required.

I also recommend perhaps opening up an extra email account specifically for things like this. That way your inbox doesn't get clogged up with other emails these restaurants send throughout the year. 

A&W - Free Rootbeer Float
Click on the "Mug Club" link at the top of the page.

Applebee's - Free Entree or Dessert
In the past I have gotten coupons for free appetizers or desserts, but this year it's a free entree with purchase of another.

Arby's - Free Shake w/Purchase
You also get a coupon for a free roast beef sandwich with purchase upon signing up.

Archibald's Restaurant - Free Entree
This restaurant is at Gardner Village in West Jordan

Auntie Anne's - Free Pretzel

Baskin Robbins - Free Scoop of Ice Cream
You can also add family members so they can get free ice cream as well!

Benihana - $30 Gift Certificate
This freebie is awesome. We used this one for my birthday dinner last year. Delish!

Black Bear Diner - Free Entree or Breakfast

Buca di Beppo - Free Dessert
They will also send you a freebie on your anniversary

Buffalo Wild Wings - Free Snack Size Wings

Carino's - Free Dessert
Eclub sign up is at the bottom of the page

Chili's - Free Dessert
Email sign up is on left side of the page

Christopher's Steak House - Free Filet Mignon
This entree is worth $25!

Corner Bakery Cafe - Free Baked Goodie

Culver's - Free Sundae

Del Taco - Free Shake
I love me some Del Taco!

Denny's - Free Grand Slam
The birthday club signup is under the "Specials" tab

Dickey's - Free Big BBQ Sandwich
Just try and forget about the recent "poison tea" incident and grab a free sandwich! We like it with Beef Brisket. Mmm!

Famous Dave's - Free Food
I've found that the birthday coupon varies each year on what you get.

Fazoli's - Free Dessert

Firehouse Subs - Free Medium Sub
For this freebie, you don't need a coupon. You simply show up on your actual birthday and show your ID. You can sign up for the newsletter and they will send you a reminder before your birthday. (This has been my birthday lunch for the last 3 years!)

Honeybaked Ham - Free Ham Sandwich
You also get a free Ham Sandwich just for signing up! This was yesterday's lunch. So yummy!

HuHot Mongolian Grill - Free Meal

IHOP - Free Pancake Meal

Jason's Deli - $5 Gift Card

Johnny Rocket's - Free Hamburger w/ Purchase

Krispy Kreme - Free Doughnut

Longhorn Steakhouse - Free Dessert
I've yet to try this restaurant, but my in-law's tell me it's delicious!

Macaroni Grill - Free Cake

Marble Slab Creamery - Free Cone w/Mix-in
Their Chocolate Swiss ice cream is my favorite!

The Melting Pot - Free Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Mimi's Cafe - Free Dessert
You also get a free 4-pack of muffins for signing up. Their Honey Bran muffin is my FAVORITE MUFFIN EVER.

Noodles and Company - Free Pasta Bowl
I love this offer. You get a free bowl of pasta up to $9! Sometimes, if your order is less than $9 they will throw in a drink for free as well.

Nothing Bundt Cakes - Free Bundtlet

Orange Julius - Free Drink

Papa Murphy's - Free Cookie Dough

Pretzelmaker - Free Pretzel Bites w/Drink purchase
They also send you a coupon for a free Pretzel w/purchase for signing up.

Red Robin - Free Burger
I HIGHLY recommend the Chicken Teriyaki.

Rodizio - Free Full Rodizio
I love this offer! It's really a buy one, get one free but it's a great value and so delicious.

Rubios - Free Meal up to $7
Another one of my favorites! Their Classic Chicken Burrito Especial is amazing. 

Sbarro - Free Slice of Cheese Pizza

Schlotzsky's - Free Sandwich

Smashburger - Free Shake
I haven't tried these yet, but I hear they make the shakes with Haagan-Daaz? YUM.

Texas Roadhouse - Free Appetizer
They also send out all kinds of coupons throughout the year.

Tucano's - Free Meal
This one comes by way of postcard in your mail. It's good for the entire month of your birthday.

Wienerschnitzel - Free Corn Dog

I'll also throw out there that many retail places offer birthday freebies too. I'm too tired to link em all up, but some of my favorites you can search for are Aveda, BareMinerals, Sephora, World Market, Redbox, and Kmart.

Also, please let me know if any of the links don't work for ya. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mexican Omelette

So i've been playing around with omelette's lately.  I definitely still need some practice on shaping them right or whatever, but the amount of eggs we've been getting from our chickens has me trying anyway. I made a few that were just all right, but when I made this one, I was in heaven. I made it for lunch three days in a row!

Mexican Omelette

2 Eggs
1 Tbsp Chopped Cilantro
2 Tbsp Diced Bell Pepper
1 Tbsp Cotija Cheese
1 Tbsp Butter

 I don't know if I even know the proper way to make an omelette, but first I put the butter in a pan and heat it up on high.
Meanwhile, scramble your eggs.
When the butter is all melted, pour in your eggs. You'll want to push the cooked eggs out of the way to let the runny eggs cook as well. Does that make sense?
Let the eggs cook until they just start to set on the top. (Sometimes I do the fancy flipping thing where you grab the pan and flick your wrist, but not usually.)
Then add your peppers, cilantro and cheese onto one half of the eggs.
Fold the other half on top of the filling, and you are good to go!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Whats for Lunch Wednesday: Open-Faced Veggie Burger

What's for lunch Wednesday is less about sharing new recipes, and more about keepin' it real. This is what I REALLY had for lunch today! Sometimes I slip and eat junk. Sometimes it's gourmet. This series is to not only inspire quick lunchtime ideas, but to show that we are not all perfect in eating the right thing at every single meal.
I don't often eat veggie burgers,  because real ones taste too darn delicious, but I've been wanting to eat some of the things that have been hiding in the back of my freezer. I decided to forgo any kind of bun and enjoy this burger with just some toppings and a fork. There's no real recipe here, although I may share the recipe for the mayo later. Top this sucker with anything your heart desires. I just went with more basic hamburger toppings because it's what I had on hand.

Open-Faced Veggie Burger

One soy-free organic veggie patty
Homemade Mayonnaise
Organic Ketchup
Shredded Spinach
Sliced tomato or chopped cherry tomatoes

Pan-fry your patty in some avocado oil and then pile on the toppings! Easy, right? 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Under the Sea Birthday Party!

So, I thought it might be fun to share some pictures from my daughter's 4th birthday party! The theme was Under the Sea/The Little Mermaid. I wish I could say the ideas are all my own, but Pinterest did about 90% of the work for me.

We'll start with the food!
I had so much fun putting up these little "seaweed" streamers. What an easy way to add a backdrop for a dessert table!

Lounging in the brown sugar sand were marshmallow octopuses (octopi?) and nilla wafer clams. All accompanied by chocolate pearls.

 Her cake was super simple and obviously suffered a little mishap on the side there. I don't know why I didn't turn the cake to take the picture. Guess I wasn't paying attention.

We had Beach Trifles, with graham cracker sand and blue jello topped with whipped cream (clouds maybe?)

 Of course we had to have goldfish in a giant fishbowl.

I let my daughter help decorate the blue velvet cupcakes. Just some buttercream frosting  with candy fish on top. Nothing too hard.

These were my favorite. Sand Dollar cookies. I just made a batch of simple sugar cookies and pressed slivered almonds on top while the cookies were still warm. So easy and really, really tasty. 

 I made a really simple BLT shell pasta salad. It was just bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and pasta, tossed in some mayonnaise and ranch. Season with salt and pepper and you're done!

Crabwiches! The sandwiches were build-your-own, but I stuck these cute little DIY eyes into the croissants. I can't believe I didn't get a picture of our Starfish PB&J sandwiches though. 

The main attraction was our swimming pool, but I had a few games available as well. First up was the fishing booth where all the kids went fishing for their favor bags.  Favors included sunglasses, toy telescopes, and some bubbles.

I also made a bean bag toss game, which was my little toddlers favorite.

 The wind was being a little crazy, but I also made this fun photo booth for all the kids to take pictures with Katie. I printed out the photos and included them in the thank you cards.

The party was so fun! I try to keep us all on a whole foods diet, but I couldn't help but pack in the sugar for the party. What's wrong with a little splurging for a birthday? :)

A HUGE thank you to my sister and her husband, who helped with food, set-up, everything. They also brought their fun bubble machine! Another thank you to my parents who also helped with food and set-up, as well as bringing a large pop up to provide us all with some much needed shade.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Healthy Nachos!

Nachos are one of my all-time favorite foods. Seriously. And with organic blue corn tortilla chips and cheese from local, grass-fed cows, I can eat it without feeling guilty!
Plus, just look at those colors! It's gorgeous!

Healthy Nachos

Organic Tortilla Chips (I went with blue because they are prettier)
Grass-fed Cheddar or Jack Cheese
Chopped fresh Spinach
Cherry Tomatoes, halved or quartered
A Tbsp or 2 of Cooked Quinoa
Some Black Beans
Fresh Salsa or Pico de Gallo
Organic Sour Cream (forgot to dollop it on for the picture)

Spread out chips onto a cookie sheet and cover with cooked quinoa, beans, and cheese. Stick under your broiler for a few minutes until the cheese it melted.

Transfer chips to a plate or bowl and add your toppings.

Eat your heart out.

Extra Notes: Recipes like this are one of the reasons I like to cook up a big batch of quinoa on the weekend and keep it in the fridge to use during the week. I can just toss some onto or into whatever i'm cooking up!

Friday, August 1, 2014

"Fruit Cereal"

Ok, let's be honest. This is a fruit salad. I just like to label it as cereal so I feel like a normal person when i'm eating this in the mornings.
Fruit cereal is one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast! It's cold, it's creamy, it's crispy! It's just right for waking me up and energizing me for the day!
It's also extremely adjustable, so add what you like. Just don't leave out the healthy stuff! You'll want the protein and healthy fats to get you through the morning.

Fruit Cereal

1/2 Green Apple
1/2 Orange
Handful of Grapes
1 Sliced Banana
1/4 Cup Greek Yogurt
1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
1/4 Cup Crushed Walnuts

Chop all the fruits up so they are evenly sized, mix all together, and EAT!

Extra things you could add: Other fruits. Haha! Hemp hearts. Chopped fresh spinach. Some flaxseed. 

Ooh! You could do a berry mix, with just different kinds of berries. Yum!

Use your imagination. :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What for Lunch Wednesday - Mexican Quinoa Salad

What's for lunch Wednesday is less about sharing new recipes, and more about keepin' it real. This is what I REALLY had for lunch today! Sometimes I slip and eat junk. Sometimes it's gourmet. This series is to not only inspire quick lunchtime ideas, but to show that we are not all perfect in eating the right thing at every single meal.

 Today's lunch is Monday's lunch leftovers. Don't you just love leftovers that still taste good a couple days later?! Less cooking, more time for other things (like a hectic trip to the library for storytime this morning).

I'll go ahead and share the recipe here now and then give it a post of it's own next time I make it, complete with more pictures.

Mexican Quinoa Salad
2 Tbsp Avocado Oil (or Coconut Oil)
1 cup Cooked Quinoa
1 cup Organic Corn
1 cup Organic Black Beans
1 Bell Pepper, Diced
1 small handful Cilantro, chopped
Chili Powder
Garlic Powder
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Shredded Cheese
Romaine or Spinach
Diced Tomato
Diced Avocado

Heat up the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add quinoa, corn, beans, and bell pepper.
Add spices to taste and stir. I am particularly partial to cumin, so I added about a tablespoon, but i'm sure that is too much for some people. I do maybe 1 tsp of the other spices, but only a pinch of the red pepper flakes.
Throw in cilantro and stir.
You are mostly just heating up the ingredients, so this whole process should only take maybe 5 minutes. (I cook my quinoa in large batches and keep in the fridge to use throughout the week.)
Add desired toppings. Today I only went for shredded cheese, but on Monday I had it over a bed of romaine and added cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream, and organic blue corn tortilla chips.

The beans give you some great protein to keep you satiated, as does the quinoa. Quinoa also contains magnesium, calcium, and an array of other nutrients as it is a complete protein. This meal will keep you full until dinnertime for sure!

Yum! Can you tell I've had a crazy morning? A quick lunch of high-protein leftovers was just what I needed! (As I typed that my toddler fell down our small stairs. Aye, aye, aye. Here I go!)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Long time coming

     This post has been in the works, in my mind, for quite a while now. The reality is, I haven't posted on this blog for exactly one year now, and I had been trying to figure out why. Why haven't I updated when I so enjoyed this blog? I still cook for my family daily. I am blessed to have an amazing kitchen and the ability to buy the food ingredients I prefer to use. Sure, I'm busy with my two toddlers and various household projects and housecleaning and church service, etc. . . But when I am still making food for my family each day, when we still sit at the table for every meal, when I still spend an hour or more on the computer each day just checking Facebook. . . I have every opportunity to update.

     Anyway, I know the answers to these questions and have for a while, and I am here to report.

     We eat different.

     When I started this blog, we were the typical American family eaten typical American food. And that is ok. It is what most of us know, what we grew up with, and what we feel comfortable preparing. THAT IS OK. But for my family, we are different now. I made a lot of healthier changes in the past year, and it's been difficult to share recipes when I am still in the process of leaning more about nutrition and the proper way to prepare items.  I am still finding my groove in what meals work for my family and which don't. It has been an amazing ride though, and I hope to be able to share with you all as I continue. So far i'm down 20 lbs, lost weight that had been stuck since middle school (yes, you read that right), and my family is healthier than ever. Neither of my children have needed to see a doctor in over a year, and the intestinal issues my daughter had for almost a year vanished over 10 months ago after switching some items in our diet. It's been incredible and i'm excited to try and start sharing some of it.

     Excuse the dust and infrequency as I try to get back into the swing of things. This blog is still mainly my outlet for recording recipes I like or seriously love. I don't intend it to go viral or have thousands of followers. I just want a place to record and remember and maybe help someone else find something they love as well.

    So hello again!
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