Why Menu Plan

Have you ever wondered, “Why menu plan?” Someone recently found their way to this blog searching that exact thing. Sure, people talk about it all the time but does it really matter if I do? What’s the point of it?

Menu Planning is HUGE in my house. These are the big reasons we do it and you should too! Saving time and money, umm yes, I think we all want that.

That hour I take every couple of weeks to plan the menu and shopping list are a must do in my mind for many reasons. If you are single or there’s just you and a spouse in the house, there is a possibility you might be able to pull off not planning, but throw kids into the mix and it just doesn’t work not to.

Why bother taking time out of your busy life to menu plan? Sure, there are a lot of other things that could be done in the that hour but there are 3 big reasons I take the time to make a menu.

Menu Planning Saves Money

There is no way I’d be able to keep my grocery budget so low if I didn’t plan! When I sit down to plan, I check the fridge and pantry for ingredients that are going to need to be used up so I can be sure to include them in my menu plan. I also check the grocery ads to see what’s on sale. I can plan for the ingredients I purchase to be used in a couple meals to get the most bang for my buck.

Not only do you spend less when you are at the store, but having a plan also means you avoid the 5pm “what’s for dinner” stress that causes a last minute grocery trip or running to the restaurant.

Menu Planning Saves Time (and Stress)

Ummm. When I don’t know what I’m going to feed my family, people get whiny. Hey, even I get cranky. “Mommy, I’m hungry. What’s for supper? Can I have a snack?”

Having to only think about what I’m going to feed everyone twice a month saves me so much time over having to come up with a plan every day! I have to grocery shop less and think about it less.

Menu planning also saves time (and stress) because it allows me to use the tips in this post on how to spend less time in the kitchen! I now know what prep work I can tackle on the weekend and have leftovers built into my week.

Menu Planning Saves Me From Unhealthy Choices

No menu plan means the likelihood of grabbing some pre-packaged fast meal in a bag or box at the store goes up greatly. The chances of running for pizza or fast food also go up.

Nothing against restaurants. We indulge in a quick pizza occasionally,  but it’s not in line with what I try to feed my family the majority of the time. I try to save those “cheats” for a real emergency, not a lack of planning emergency. If your family likes eating out, plan a time or two on your menu. Just make it a scheduled event.

Knowing I’ll be feeding my family more nutrient dense food, saving money, and saving time and stress are the big reasons why I menu plan. I don’t have the energy or creativity to pull off making an impromptu menu each day.

Has menu planning made a difference in your life? How do you answer the question, “why menu plan?” I highly recommend you give it a try if you don’t already.

Menu Planning is HUGE in my house. These are the big reasons we do it and you should too! Saving time and money, umm yes, I think we all want that.

Linking up to these fun parties!

Enjoy Parenting Little Kids When You are Exhausted

Parenting is never exhausting and I’m never ready to go to bed at 6pm.

Cue the laughter. We all know taking care of kids, managing a house, and the rest of life isn’t easy. Being a parent is great, but man can it ever be exhausting. You want to enjoy these years but it's hard. These are some ways to enjoy this time when the days are long but the years are short. “The days are long but the years are short”. Countless times we’ve heard and read those words. Moms and grandmas that have been there before encourage us not to let the days pass by and to cherish the moments with our littles.

We hear how they miss those moments when their children were little. It’s true. We know it. The days seem long yet our children grow so quickly.

We want to savor and enjoy the time we have with them. It doesn’t change the fact, though, that It’s hard. It’s exhausting.

When month after month you are waking up multiple times through the night with a crying baby or toddler. Then there is a clingy, drooling child wanting you throughout the day. A toddler is pushing her limits, testing you to see what she can get by with. Then there are the normal tasks of diaper changing, bottom wiping, laundry washing, nursing, making meals and (minimal) cleaning.

Life is overwhelming. It’s hard to appreciate what you have when you are exhausted and have a to-do list a mile long.

I want to share with you 12 suggestions for helping us to enjoy life when the days are long.

Affiliate links used.

1. Early Bedtime

Having my children go to bed early has been a sanity saver, especially since the toddler stopped taking naps shortly after she was two. I know I just need to get to 7:30 and then I will have some time to tackle one of the projects that need to be done and enjoy a little quiet. Being a parent is great, but man can it ever be exhausting. You want to enjoy these years but it's hard. These are some ways to enjoy this time when the days are long but the years are short. 2. Hot Shower or Bath

At the end of one of those chaotic and exhausting days, there is nothing like relaxing in the shower. It helps relieve stress and clear my brain. If you take a bath, add an Oatmeal Lavender Bath Tea Bag  for added moisture and relaxation!

3. Chocolate

A little secret indulgence to look forward to. Sometimes a piece of dark chocolate makes everything look better. Or make a batch of fudge and put it in the freezer!

4. Prayer

Tell God what you are going through. Ask Him to help you. Take praying without ceasing to heart. When you are stressing or don’t know if you can follow through with your child another time, whisper a prayer to Him.

5. Do Something Out of the Ordinary

Sometimes breaking up the routine does wonders for attitudes and helps you enjoy the small moments with you children.

On long days where there seems to be continual drama, I’ve been known to put the kids in the tub for an afternoon bath. They love baths so this always makes them happy. The water is cold long before they want to get out. I can also spend some time reading while I sit and watch them so it’s a win win.

Maybe turning your lunch into a picnic on the living room floor or taking an impromptu trip to the park will enable you to leave your to-do list behind for an hour and enjoy making a memory with your children.

6. Take a Walk

This is a great one for when the weather is nice. Even if it’s less than desirable, you can bundle everyone up and keep it short. Exercise and being outside typically helps the moods in my family. It’s a great way to blow steam, burn energy, and get rid of some stress. If your kids are stroller age, you will get a good workout in. If they are older, let them walk or bike down the sidewalk and burn off some of their energy.

7. Keep Movies and TV Time Special

Don’t make movies and television a normal part of your routine. Keep them special. Then when the kids are being especially clingy, under the weather, or you have a project that really needs to be done you can put in a movie and they will be excited.

8.  A Cup of Tea (or Coffee)

Coffee is not my thing, but I love a good cup of hot tea. Yogi Egyptian Licorice is one of my favorites and it’s fun to buy a box of a new one to try every once in a while. I brew myself a cup to sip on during the day. Sure it might need reheated a time or two, but there is just something relaxing about a hot drink.

Being a parent is great, but man can it ever be exhausting. You want to enjoy these years but it's hard. These are some ways to enjoy this time when the days are long but the years are short.

9. Let Things Go – Lower Your Expectations

Don’t think you can (or even have to) do it all. Realize a perfectly tidy house isn’t realistic. Know your child will misbehave on occasions. Don’t compare yourself to others.

10. 5 Minute Pick-Up

Stuff and clutter cause more stress in my life. I know I won’t eliminate it, but I can decrease it. A 5 minute pick-up has made a huge difference in our home. I feel so much better after we are done.

11. Simplify

Don’t try and be fancy and creative. (Unless it’s something that makes you excited.) Your kids won’t know the difference. Don’t put pressure on yourself for big birthday parties, gourmet meals, and extra curricular activities you feel pressured to do. Simplify and just do what is right for your family at this time.

12. Rest in Him

We will be exhausted. But through the longest of days we can remember the promise in Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

What ways have you found to help you enjoy the everyday moments with your children when the days are long? If your children are grown, what advice do you have for those of us in the midst of it?

Being a parent is great, but man can it ever be exhausting. You want to enjoy these years but it's hard. These are some ways to enjoy this time when the days are long but the years are short.

Linking up to these fun parties!

Easy Menu Plan and Goals

Eeek. So posting really didn’t happen last week. Shaun worked late every day because of Pledge Drive at the Christian radio station. This past weekend was busy with family time and catching up on things around the house. We’ll see how this week pans out, but with unexpected company this week (my mom!!!) there will be plenty of help with the kiddos and maybe I can even tackle a blogging project that’s been on the back burner (subscriber freebie, editorial calendar and newsletter perhaps) or maybe that’s thinking a bit too ambitious. We’ll see what happens.

This weekend we had a little daddy daughter (belated) birthday date. She was pretty excited and knew right away which restaurant she wanted to pick. I think that Chick-Fil-A would have come out on top if we had one here just because of the play area. She had to deck herself out in all of her “jewels” as she likes to call them.

Easy peasy menu plan for our family and our little girls birthday date with her daddy!

The weather was gorgeous so we did a park trip as well and let the kids burn off some energy. The little guy might be braver than his sister now (which makes me a little nervous).

Easy peasy menu plan for our family and our little girls birthday date with her daddy!

Last week it worked out well feeding the kids the same supper all week. Since Shaun is eating at work, we are taking it easy around here. This week will be the same – making up a big batch of mac and cheese for them.

Easy peasy menu plan for our family and our little girls birthday date with her daddy!

Suppers:

  • Homemade biscuits, eggs, and bacon
  • Leftover Pizza
  • The last of the leftover baked spaghetti from last week for the kids Monday
  • Mac and Cheese the rest of the week for them
  • I’ve been eating leftovers that Shaun brings home. . . not the healthiest but it’s easy and I think we’ve done this every pledge drive we’ve been married. I’m all about a week off of cooking.

Lunches:

  • Salads for me
  •  Bean Tostadas was our typical Sunday lunch. But I think they might be getting old, so after this stuff is gone, I might have to give them a rest for a while.
  • Birthday date for Shaun and the 4 year old and leftovers for us two at home
  • Cheese tostadas and fruit (and bites of my salad). . . the kids have really been enjoying these lately

Breakfasts will be some of:

Goals:

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Easy Menu Plan and Goals

We had our first real snow of the winter here in Oklahoma. It probably was over 2 inches (which beat the dusting we had back in November) and the kids loved getting out into it to play. I’d rather stay warm watching them from inside. :-)

What our family of 4 is eating this week - it's going to be a simple week.

This week’s post will be short and sweet. It’s Sunday evening, the kids are asleep and I’m ready to be too. It’s been a long several weeks with the little guy waking up and last night was one of the worst. I know someday (soon, I hope) we’ll get the sleep thing figured out but in the meantime there’s a lot of just surviving going on.

Starting Tuesday, the next two weeks are the pledge drive for the Christian radio station my husband works at. That means they have meals provided to them so food around our house will be really basic – I just have the kiddos to feed so I’m looking forward to a lot of nights “off”.

What our family of 4 is eating this week - it's going to be a simple week.

Suppers:

  • Chili x 2
  • Small Groups
  • Ladies Bible Study
  • Mac and Cheese for the kids x 3

Lunches:

  • Sandwiches
  • Bean and Cheese Tostadas (not terribly exciting, but I’m all about only having to cook once a day so these make a quick and easy no-cook after church lunch)
  • Salads – Me (Shaun will be having pledge drive food)
  • Cheese Tostadas – the kids (Kenna loves eating them with just cheese)
  • Maybe guacamole one day with some leftover chips

Breakfasts:

Goals:

(affiliate links used for books)

Sometimes, when you are exhausted, making goals sounds like not very much fun. I didn’t get any of my books read last week, but did finishing reading  A Bear Called Paddington aloud to Kenna. She now wants to watch the movie (which looks nothing like the book). This weeks goals are just going to be my basic 4:

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

The Best Avocado Spinach Green Smoothie

This avocado spinach smoothie is amazing! I love all the added nutrients and good fat the avocado adds. Even my husband who can't stand avocados liked it and the kiddos did too. Need to make this!

Avocado in a smoothie? Don’t worry, it really is good and adds a silky texture. My avocado disliking (hating even – he doesn’t like guacamole either) husband informed me after having this avocado spinach green smoothie for the second time,

“You know, this really isn’t bad. I could drink one of these everyday”

What??? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After my plot to not have him know the second green ingredient failed, thanks to the 4 year old, I knew he wouldn’t like it. (He has a mental thing when it comes to foods he doesn’t like). That he’d willingly eat them – shocked me!

This avocado spinach smoothie is amazing! I love all the added nutrients and good fat the avocado adds. Even my husband who can't stand avocados liked it and the kiddos did too. Need to make this!

So, green smoothies are one of those controversial foods in the health world thanks to the oxalates in the raw spinach. I figure that since we don’t have these everyday – mainly just once or twice a week, I’m not going to worry about it too much.

My bigger concern with smoothies is the amount of fruit (and their sugars) that can be ingested when you eat them. The added spinach and healthy fat from the avocado makes it all seem a little more balanced.

Cutting down on time in the kitchen is big in my house. So, when I make smoothies,I always make an entire blender full. I take the extras and put it into serving size cups and stick in the freezer. It becomes the easiest breakfast ever later in the week. You can set the cup in the fridge the night before or set out first thing in the morning and you can eat with a spoon in an hour or two.

The order you put this in the blender and mixing it in stages is important for smoothness. I suppose if you have a Vitamix or Blendtec (dream appliance someday), it wouldn’t be an issue. But for the rest of us. . . My current blender is a Ninja Prep and using this blending method, we come out with a nice and smooth drink.

P.S. Feel free to use yogurt for part of the liquid as well. If I have it made up, I’ll add some in. This homemade yogurt is easy and budget friendly! The majority of the time I simply use water.

P.P.S This smoothie isn’t super sweet, if you need to add a touch of honey or maple syrup to it and you can gradually wean your family off of it.

This avocado spinach smoothie is amazing! I love all the added nutrients and good fat the avocado adds. Even my husband who can't stand avocados liked it and the kiddos did too. Need to make this!

The Best Avocado Spinach Green Smoothie
Serves: 6 cups
 

Ingredients
  • 4 cups spinach (medium packed)
  • 1 avocado
  • 8 ounces (around 2 cups) frozen fruit – peach, pineapple, a couple strawberries
  • 2 ripe bananas, frozen
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 2 cups liquid (water, milk etc)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4-6 ice cubes, optional
  • 2 tablespoons Chia seeds, optional
  • Touch of honey or maple syrup if needed (I never use)

Instructions
  1. Put spinach in the blender and add 1 cup of water. Blend well!
  2. Add avocado. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add frozen fruit, bananas, orange, vanilla, and additional cup of water or milk.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. Add ice cubes and chia seeds if you are using and blend until smooth.
  6. Pour into glasses and enjoy.
  7. Makes around 6 cups.

 

This avocado spinach smoothie is amazing! I love all the added nutrients and good fat the avocado adds. Even my husband who can't stand avocados liked it and the kiddos did too. Need to make this!

You might also be interested in these posts:

Homemade Guacamole - easy and delicious! This recipe came from a Mexican restaurant and is so good.

 

These Oat Flour Banana Muffins are one of our favorite breakfasts are both wheat and dairy free. Bonus - they freeze great. Need to add these to your menu!

Making real food can take longer and some days I don't have the time. These tips are how I cut down on the time I spend in the kitchen.

 

Linking up to these fun parties!

5 Top Tips for Saving Time in the Kitchen and Easy Meal Prep Ideas

Making real food can take longer and some days I don't have the time. These tips are how I cut down on the time I spend in the kitchen.

Feeding our families is something we all have to do.

A draw back of real food for a lot of families is that it takes too much time. I’ll admit that it does take longer than stopping by the drive thru or opening up a box and popping it into the oven.

Do know that there are ways to cut down on the time you spend in the kitchen. There are some easy meal prep ideas you can implement. Give it some time and you’ll learn how to work efficiently as you are preparing meals and what works best for your family.

Keeping things simple and cutting down on time in the kitchen also helps ensure you’ll follow through with your healthy (and frugal - I keep my grocery budget under $150 a month) eating goals instead of hitting up your favorite restaurant or eating a bag of chips for lunch.

(Because, let me tell you. If I had to prepare everything for a salad every day – it wouldn’t happen)

Today, I’m sharing my 5 top time saving tips in the kitchen that help me shave off the minutes I spend in there and easy meal prep ideas.

Making life easier and saving time – I am in. Sometimes, simple is good.

Tips for Saving Time in the Kitchen:

Do as Much Cooking as You Can the First Time In the Kitchen

This means cooking lunch and supper at breakfast or if you aren’t cooking breakfast, get supper ready the same time you are in the kitchen for lunch.

If you are already going to be messing up the kitchen you might as well do as much as you can for the remainder of the meals that day. Brown the meat, cut the veggies, and get the soup simmering for lunch.

Slow Cooker recipes are great ones to use. Put everything in, turn it on, and forget about it. I have a great round up of all Real Food (Healthy) Slow Cooker Soup, Stew, and Chili Recipes you might want to check out.

Prep Your Meat and Vegetables for the Week

Take a few hours one day and cook the meat, cut the chicken, dice onions, and slice the vegetables that you will need for the week. I put all of my soup vegetables in one storage container, the ones for the casserole in another and so forth.

Then when Thursday comes and soup is on the menu you simply pull of the container of veggies and the baggie of cooked ground beef and dump it in a pot with some broth and spices and your vegetable beef soup will be ready for to simmer in just minutes.

The same goes for the salads you are going to be having for lunch. I like to prepare a big container of lettuce Sunday afternoons and cut up vegetables and place them into smaller containers. Each day, we grab out that stack of containers and Shaun and I can make our salads in a matter of minutes.

Plan For Leftovers

Make a larger batch of dinner and eat it again a day or two later. (If I’m honest, sometimes we’ll have the same leftovers 2 or 3 times.)

My favorite thing about this, is the fact that there are hardly any dishes to do on leftover nights.

This is one tip that gets used several times a week in our house. Just make sure it’s a dish you all like or your family might not be too happy come mealtimes. There’s been a few times I’ve made a big pan for our little family and we’ve had to force ourselves to eat the leftovers.

Make Extra to Freeze

Honestly, I don’t do much freezer cooking. No day long freezer cooking marathons happen in this house. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make extra of what you are already cooking to stick in the freezer.

If you are making spaghetti sauce, lasagna, taco meat, muffins or something else that freezes well double or triple the recipe and package it for the freezer to pull out on another week. You only have to wash the knives, cutting boards, bowls, pans, and spoons once. (See, I really like this fewer dishes thing.)

Hamburger Noodle Casserole is a great one to do this on. Leigh Ann at Intentional By Grace has a great list of Freezer Meals that Aren’t Gross and The Humbled Homemaker has a great round up of 35 Gluten Free, Dairy Freezer Meals and 10 Easy Freezer Meals.

Emergency Meal

So, you use the first 4 tips to cut down on time in the kitchen. But some days you need something fast. Or maybe something a child can make. Have a meal or two in your house that you can put together in minutes.

  • Pasta and sauce (easy to have on hand all the time)
  • Broccoli Pasta is another easy, easy meal
  • Rice and frozen veggies that could become a stir fry
  • Bread in the freezer for grilled cheese or french toast
  • Eggs for a quick breakfast for dinner solution

Using these ideas really helps keep the time I spend in the kitchen down. They also keep me from making meal compromises as often and save money since it’s easy to follow the menu and ingredients get use.

What do you like to do to help with saving time in the kitchen?

Making real food can take longer and some days I don't have the time. These tips are how I cut down on the time I spend in the kitchen.

You might also be interested in these posts:

10 super easy ways to drastically lower your grocery budget! I've saved thousands of dollars doing these over the years. GREAT ideas!

5 steps to go from surviving to thriving

These are the most viewed recipes of 2014 on From this Kitchen Table!!! These need to go onto the menu plan. These are some great ones.

Linking up to these fun parties!

Healthy and Easy Menu Plan

I’m noticing a trend with these posts the last few weeks – drastic changes in weather. We went from the 50s on Saturday to the low 20s Sunday and will get back up into the 40s before heading back down to the 30s. All within 5 days. Oklahoma weather is crazy.

Healthy and easy menu plan for our family - vegetable curry, chili, broccoli cheese soup and more!This was obviously the day it was in the 50s. :-) He did a great job taking the baby on a walk.

Last winter our little guy had eczema which cleared up once spring arrived. It came back this November even worse and has really flared up the past weeks. We’ve been trying all sorts of natural remedies and yesterday made a trip to Walgreens to try some more conventional products since nothing was really making a difference. We had also been using a homemade laundry soap someone had given us that wasn’t as natural as we normally use so we’ve rewashed all of his clothes with soap nuts to see if that makes any difference. Hopefully we figure something out and he outgrows it with time.

Healthy and easy menu plan for our family - vegetable curry, chili, broccoli cheese soup and more!

Suppers:

Lunches:

  • Bean and Cheese Tostadas
  • Apple Oven Pancake (combination of these two recipes)
  • Salads for Shaun and myself
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes, bean tostadas, leftover pasta for the kids

Breakfasts:

  • Spinach and Avocado Green Smoothie
  • Eggs and Sweet Potato Hashbrowns
  • Oatmeal and oats/yogurt/applesauce/chia seed combination

Goals:

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Easy Ways to Earn Swagbucks

Earning points you can redeem for Amazon gifts cards - easily over $160 worth a year (with potential for way more)? I’m in!

Swagbucks is AMAZING! I earn gift cards all year for web searches and streaming videos. The PERFECT way to afford presents when the budget is tight.

Swagbucks. There’s a good chance you’ve heard of them or seen them around the web over the past several years. This week just happens to be their 7th birthday!

You can earn PayPal cash or gift cards to countless places for doing stuff online! You can earn through things you are doing already (internet searches, anyone?) or things you can be doing simultaneously as you work.

Sign up through my referral link by February 27th and join in the birthday festivities and enter the code thiskitchen (case sensitive) as you are registering for an automatic 70 Swagbucks!

Is it Really Worth It?

Maybe you are wondering if it’s worth it? Sure, you aren’t going to become rich earning Swagbucks, but they can really make a difference in your budget. Especially when things are tight. These next 18 months we are on a bit of a spending freeze – cutting our spending by over a fourth as we work hard to pay off our house.

Gifts that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to purchase are made possible. We can pay for a little date night or purchase vitamins and supplements on Amazon.

Spare time isn’t something I have much of (working outside the home, being a mom and wife, attempting to keep house and blogging pretty much sucks all of that up) so my Swagbucks goals are pretty simple and easy: 5 days a week I earn at least 50 Swagbucks (and each day of that gets me a 4 or 5 Swagbuck bonus). The other 2 I just get 5. If I earn more, great but if not that’s okay.

That puts me at 280 Swagbucks a week or 14560 a year. A $5 Amazon gift card is 450 Swagbucks (best deal), so over the course of a year, I can earn $161 in Amazon gift cards. Not too bad.

What do I do each day to reach these Swagbucks?

Swagbucks is AMAZING! I earn gift cards all year for web searches and streaming videos. The PERFECT way to afford presents when the budget is tight.

6 Easy Ways to Earn Swagbucks Every Day:

1. Searches

As you are doing internet searches throughout the day, simply use the Swagbuck’s search engine. That’s easy enough and adds zero time! (Every once in a while I don’t get the results I need from Swagbucks and have to switch to Google but I always try first). You won’t get Swagbucks every search. It will more likely be every 10 or more. I normally get Swagbucks from doing 1-3 searches each day and the searches typically give me 6-11 bucks. Sometimes, I’ll get 23!

2. Ngage/Take a Discovery Break

Watch the offers in the middle section of the Swagbucks homepage. I watch for the ones that are worth 2 Swagbucks – most of them you watch a series of short videos to earn them. On nGage you’ll earn 2 bucks for streaming a series of 7 short videos, Take a Discover Break is five 15 second videos. You can typically do this 3-5 times on each of them. You don’t have to be sitting there staring at the computer, but let them stream as you are doing other things.

3. Watch Swagbucks TV

For every 10 videos you stream, you get 3 Swagbucks. You have to watch each video for just over 30 seconds to count as watched. As I’m working on blogging and other things on my computer, this is extremely easy to do. Sometimes I’ll open of the Food or Animal channel and my daughter will watch them.

4. Daily To Do List

On your Swagbucks homepage on the left column you’ll see a check list of 4 things to do each day: Daily Poll, Daily Crave, SwagButton (get 1 buck everyday if you have it dowloaded), and NOSO. Do those things and you have an easy 5 Swagbucks and you can do it in less than 2 minutes!

5. Games

If I find myself a few Swagbucks short, I go over to the games and play a few. They don’t take very long and if I happen to select one that seems to go on endlessly, you don’t have to finish a game to get credit. You get 2 Swagbucks for every other game you play – up to 10.

6. Swag Codes

You already have the handy SwagButton downloaded that gets you buck everyday. Well, it notifies you every time a new Swag Code is available and tells you were to find it. I’m only at my computer a few times a week when they pop up, but they take seconds to redeem and are worth watching for.

Are you ready to easily earn $15 of Amazon gift cards every month (with tons of opportunities to earn even more)?

Sign up today with my referral link and enter the code thiskitchen (case sensitive – expires February 27th) as you are registering for an automatic 70 Swagbucks!

Have you used Swagbucks before?
What are you favorite ways to earn everyday?

Swagbucks is AMAZING! I earn gift cards all year for web searches and streaming videos. The PERFECT way to afford presents when the budget is tight.

You might also be interested in these posts:

10 super easy ways to drastically lower your grocery budget! I've saved thousands of dollars doing these over the years. GREAT ideas!

The best alfredo sauce. So creamy, flavorful, and super easy! We love this recipe.

How to set financial goals (and succeed at them)!!! Great tips that will help you decide what to set and keep you motivated! (Paying off the house is our BIG goal right now!)

Linking up to these fun parties!

 

Easy and Healthy Menu Plan

I’m writing this Sunday night to the sound of freezing rain coming down turning to snow later tonight. We’ll see how much we end up with. But never fear, we’ll be back up into the 40s in just a couple days. Oklahoma weather is crazy, that’s all I have to say.
Easy and Healthy Menu Plan for our family of 4 - including a couple of young kiddos. Leftovers are my life saver. :-)

Might not be the most perfectly shaped heart in the world, but at least you can tell what it is and the kids liked it. :-) And the little guy did pretty decent eating his first cone!

After many times of putting it off, I finally tackled the grocery shopping that needed done weeks ago (I’ve only gone for produce) but that means we’ve been using up ingredients in the pantry and freezer which is always good – black bean soup, lentil soup, stir fry and lots and lots of leftovers. It’s nice to be restocked. 

February is already more than half over! It has flown by. I think the next few weeks will be uneventful and then we hit pledge drive week at the Christian radio station my husband works for. I’m thinking this year (and journey to knocking out our financial goal) might go by quickly!

Suppers:

  • Heart Pizza and gingerbread ice cream cones (selected by my daughter)
  • Small Groups – brought dessert and tortillas
  • Salmon, asparagus, and roasted cauliflower (you know, the exact food that comes to mind when you think of being iced in)
  • White Bean Chicken Chili x 3 (I’m hoping we get two meals of leftovers out of it anyway)
  • Pasta with a creamy pesto sauce and asparagus pieces of some sort

Lunches:

  • Bean Tostadas (Yes, these are one of my go to easy meals that we have at least twice a month. I make the beans in bulk and freeze them. This week it was our easy after church lunch)
  • Salads – Shaun and myself
  • Leftover black bean soup, tortillas, and pizza for the kids

Breakfasts:

  • Eggs (Surprise. These have become a breakfast staple)
  • Oatmeal
  • Homemade Yogurt
  • Green Smoothie
  • Pancakes from the freezer are always an option as well

Goals:

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Did a winter storm come through your area? What’s on your menu this week?

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Whole Wheat Tortillas

Yummy homemade whole wheat tortillas! These will take taco night to a whole new level and they are healthy too! A family favorite!

Tortillas. You can’t beat homemade ones warm from the skillet. Sure, it takes a little extra time (okay, the rolling them out part might take more than just a little) but they are made with only 5 ingredients instead of dozens and the taste can’t be surpassed.

We’ve made homemade white tortillas for years and recently began to switch to using some whole wheat flour and even 100% freshly ground whole wheat flour. In case you are wondering, whole wheat tortillas are really quite tasty!

Don’t be expecting them to be exactly the same as those made with white flour – they are a little harder to roll out, require more water and the texture is slightly different but the taste is still fabulous. Even my husband enjoys them and trust me, he tries, but fails, at hiding when he dislikes something I make.

This picture shows the difference between all whole wheat, half white/half wheat, and all white!

Yummy homemade whole wheat tortillas! These will take taco night to a whole new level and they are healthy too! A family favorite!

We found that there really is very little different between half and all whole wheat so if you are trying to slowly start getting your family over to whole wheat, start with a fourth whole wheat flour or maybe even less than that and increase slightly each time. Once you get to half and half, you can make the jump to all whole wheat no problem.

Whole wheat flour requires more liquid but you have to be careful of adding too much otherwise it has more of a bready/spoungy texture. Add the water a little at a time to be sure you don’t over do it. After the initial resting period, if the dough is too dry you can add a touch more water and mix it in well.

Whole Wheat Tortillas
Serves: 10-16 tortillas
 

Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1¼ cups warm water (maybe more)

Instructions
  1. Combine flour, baking power, and salt.
  2. Mix in the butter until it is evenly distributed through the flour.
  3. Slowly stir in the water, mixing well. The dough should not be dry or crumbly. You may need additional water.
  4. Divide dough into balls. Size depends on if you want burrito or fajita size.
  5. Let rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Roll balls out into a thin circle. It takes more work to get the wheat flour tortillas thin enough. Roll and then lift and flip the tortilla over and roll some more. Repeat until it is thin enough.
  7. Preheat a skillet over medium heat (I use stainless steel). Place tortilla on hot skilled and cook for a minute. When light brown spots show up, flip tortilla over and cook for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  8. Place cooked tortilla on a plate and covered with a towel and continue until all are finished.
  9. Best served immediately.

 

Yummy homemade whole wheat tortillas! These will take taco night to a whole new level and they are healthy too! A family favorite!Linking up to these fun parties!