Easy and Healthy Menu Plan and Goals

Is it nap time yet?

We had an amazing 8 days in Texas with my family celebrating the marriage of one of my sisters. All 8 siblings (and their families) and our parents were together at the same time for the first time in over a year and a half. It was a blast getting to visit, make desserts for the reception, play with my sister’s kids, and spend time with all my family.

Easy and Healthy Menu Plan for the week! Lots of tasty recipes that don't require a lot of time in the kitchen plus the list of things I hope to get accomplished.

All the siblings!

We stayed a few extra days after the wedding and got some projects done (including sewing a Christmas stocking for my 17 month old and 2 ring slings I bought fabric for months ago), do a little thrift store shopping, activities with my two kids, and go to a couple of my sisters’ Community Group.

The smartest thing we did on this trip was come home on Thursday so that both of us had off work on Friday! It was amazing to have three days to get unpacked and caught up on things around the house. We even did a little organizing and yard work. There is still more to go, but we made progress. Much better than coming home late on Sunday and having no time to get caught up before heading into the week.

This is the first post Whole30 menu I’ve had to make and I’m looking forward to eating legumes and dairy again. :-)

If you’ve missed the posts the past few weeks, be sure to check out my 10 Ways to Drastically Reduce Your Grocery Budget and the posts I’ve shared for Minister Appreciation Month: 10 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor, Gift Ideas for Your Pastor, and Gift Ideas for Your Pastor’s Family.

Easy and Healthy Menu Plan for the week! Lots of tasty recipes that don't require a lot of time in the kitchen plus the list of things I hope to get accomplished.

Potato Sausage and Kale Soup

Suppers:

Lunches:

 

 

 

Breakfasts (Combination of the following):

Goals:

  • My sisters and mom helped me get some stuff done for the next craft show and starting an Etsy shop for the earrings, lip balms, and room sprays while we were in Texas, so that was great! Now I need to work on making a few more items and still put together signage for the booth.
  • Work on starting to write a subscriber freebie
  • Write 2 more posts
  • Exercise!!! (This didn’t happen at all when we were on vacation)
  • Review Bible verses and start a new one
  • Read a couple more chapters in (aff link) When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself (again, didn’t do any reading on vacation)
  • Go to the PO Box before the first community concert of the season and do a deposit record after the concert. (An amazing 14 year old classical pianist!)

What are your goals for the week?
If you need an easy and yummy recipe for dinner, check out these Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs:
These are incredible and can be in the oven in 5 minutes! Super flavorful and crispy on the outside and tender perfect on the inside. | I'm adding these to my menu this week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Gift Ideas for My Pastor’s Wife and Children

Great list of gift ideas and ways to encourage your pastor's spouse and children! Perfect for Minister Appreciation Month, the holidays, and their birthdays! Must Pin!

We have Ways to Encourage Pastors and Gift Ideas for Pastors already covered. There is an important group of people missing, though. Our pastor’s families also sacrifice a lot with all the time spent on call, visiting in the hospital, dealing with stressful situations, and having an unpredictable life.

Birthday’s, holidays, and Minister Appreciation Month are all the perfect time to do a little something for them to let them know we appreciate their service to our church as well.

Andrea, a pastor’s wife in the Twin Cities and mother of 3 young children, is back again today to share some gift ideas with us.

Guest Post by Andrea

Gift Ideas for My Pastor’s Wife and Children:

1. Arrange for someone to bring a meal for your pastor and his family twice a week during the month of October. Find out their likes/dislikes and allergies! If you know your pastor loves brownies, make him a pan!

2. How about maid-service? (Know your pastor! If they wouldn’t feel comfortable with you cleaning their house, why not give them a certificate to a cleaning company?)

3. Give a gift to your pastor’s wife.

  • Gift cards addressed to her for: spa/hair salon, coffee shop, favorite clothing store. (Please don’t offer to take her shopping – this can be very awkward! Instead, give her a gift card and offer to babysit her kids while she goes out shopping.)
  • Take her out for a movie or coffee.
  • Send her flowers on her birthday.
  • If she enjoys outdoor activities, take her out for hiking, tennis, boating, etc.

4. Practical ways to encourage your pastor’s wife.

  • Write her a note of encouragement and appreciation.
  • Pray for her instead of criticizing and judging her.
  • Don’t listen to or participate in gossip about her.
  • Give her grace: she is human just like you. Don’t hold her up to your expectations: pastor’s wives are not all the same. They are uniquely made by God with personality, talents, strengths and spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit determined were best for them. Some are introverts, some are extroverts. Some can play piano, others cannot. Some love to serve in children’s ministry, others do not. Some are called to women’s ministries, others are not! Allow them to be who God created them to be, not who you expect them to be. 

4. Don’t forget your pastor’s children!

  • Give them a gift card especially for them (ice cream shop?), or take the family somewhere fun (waterpark, indoor playground, disc golf, etc.)!
  • Make each child a gift basket of their own with their favorite items.
  • Write them a note of encouragement and appreciation.
  • Pray for them.
  • Give them grace: they are humans just like everyone else’s kids. Give them freedom to make mistakes, freedom to learn and mature.. If you have a concern, talk to your pastor lovingly about it as you would want someone to talk to you about your own children. (Don’t have different expectations for his children than you do for your own!)
  • Don’t listen to or participate in gossip about your pastor’s children. Take a stand in that moment and remind the gossiper that they are just children who are in the process of becoming more and more like Jesus, just like all of us.

5. Give the pastor and his wife time together. Give them a gift card to a restaurant and babysitting services. Don’t just offer to babysit the kids, ask them specifically, “Can we schedule an evening for me to babysit your kids?” Many times they might feel awkward to approach YOU with a request to babysit. It’s better if you approach THEM with a specific offer.

6. Respect their family time! Avoid calling their husband and father on his day off, or during dinner hours or on vacation.

7. Remember them on their birthdays and anniversaries! Send a card in the mail. Pray for them.

What are you favorite ways to honor your Pastor’s family?
If you missed the earlier posts, don’t forget to check out Ways to Encourage Your Pastor and Gift Ideas for Pastors.

Linking up to these fun parties!

Gift Ideas for Your Pastor

Gifts ideas for pastors. Every October during Minister Appreciation Month I find myself searching for frugal and creative options. Gifts that will actually be used or are meaningful that I can purchase on my budget.

Great gift ideas for pastors! Some are free and others require money. Perfect for Pastor Appreciation Month and the holidays. Even written by a pastor's wife.

Last week my sister shared 10 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor and today she’s back to give us some gift ideas for your pastor that are free and some that require finances.

Guest Post by Andrea

Gifts ideas that don’t require finances

1. Give him your time. Volunteer to spend a Saturday at his home to help with around the house projects: mowing, painting, fall clean up, window washing – you name it! (These are never ending at our house!) If you are handy with tools help him renovate part of his home. If you are handy with cars give him an oil change and tune up.

2. Plan a potluck/picnic in honor of your pastor. Plan to serve his favorite food (steak, anyone?).

3. Don’t rely on your pastor to reach your community. Do your part! Bring your friends! Invite them to small groups, services, picnics and special events. Invite your friends for dinner or a game night and invite your pastor over to meet them.

4. In the same way, don’t rely on your pastor to care for those in your church. Visit someone in the hospital, send flowers to someone who had a baby, make a meal for a family who is going through sickness. Call a family who missed church.

4. Wash and service his car for him! (Or give him full service car wash certificates.) We constantly use our family cars for ministry – picking up and dropping off people for services, Bible studies and kids programs. We LOVE to have a clean car but don’t always have time to keep up with it. Unfortunately many people have had to sit in Goldfish and Cheerio crumbs!

5. Do a church service day, if you own your facility. Everyone show up to help organize/clean/spring clean. Sometimes pastors have a lot of pressure on them to care for the facility but little time to follow through. (Please do this in conjunction with something more personal.)

6. Check with your local Christian bookstore or radio station to see if they are doing a giveaway for pastors during October: nominate them!

7. Sit in the front row during services!

Gift ideas that require finances

1. Gift cards are always a good idea. (Clothing stores, restaurants, movie theatre, coffee shop, grocery store)

2. Personalized T-shirt, coffee mug, bumper sticker, etc. “Best Pastor” or “We Love Our Pastor” from the congregation

3. Ask his wife for a list of his favorite things. (Chocolate, soda, candy, fishing gear, coffee, baseball caps, etc.) Put together a gift basket from the congregation!

3. Hobby-related gifts (i.e. golf clubs for the golfer)

4. Photography session (if you’re not a photographer, consider gifting him and his family with a certificate for a free session with a photographer)

5. Take him out (or give him tickets) to a sporting event, dinner theatre or orchestra.

6. Consider giving him a paid sabbatical or an all-expense paid vacation.

7. Cash. Sometimes it’s best just to give him cash. He may have needs that you are not aware of!

What are your favorite gifts ideas for your pastor? If you are in ministry, what are the favorite gifts you’ve been given?

Be sure to come back on Thursday for ideas on what you can do for your Pastor’s family.

Linking up to these fun parties!

Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs

Sometimes you just want a piece of good chicken on the bone. These crispy baked chicken thighs are spectacular. Crispy and well seasoned on the outside and tender and flavorful on the inside.

These are incredible and can be in the oven in 5 minutes! Super flavorful and crispy on the outside and tender perfect on the inside. | I'm adding these to my menu this week!

One of the best things about this meal, I can have them ready to bake before the oven is preheated! Simply serve with fruit and roasted veggies for a meal you can have prepared in minutes or maybe along side Broccoli Pasta or Alfredo and a nice salad for a dressed up dinner at home.

If you’d rather use drumsticks (I always make a drumstick for my youngest), simply reduce the baking time by a few minutes. However you do it, your family will thank you – these  crispy baked chicken thighs are definitely husband and child approved.

Now, let’s get on to the recipes. This could be what’s for dinner tonight.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 bone-in skin on chicken thighs

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken thighs with seasoning and place on a rimmed pan.
  4. Bake for 30, or until chicken is cooked through.

 

These are incredible and can be in the oven in 5 minutes! Super flavorful and crispy on the outside and tender perfect on the inside. | I'm adding these to my menu this week!

Linking up to these fun parties!

Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

10 Easy Ways to Encourage Your Pastor! Great things to do during Minister Appreciation month. There's even a printable list of things to pray for your pastor.

Guest Post by Andrea

We are entering into the month designated for “Pastor Appreciation”. Today I have a great list of ideas of ways to encourage and bless your pastor. God’s Word exhorts us to “Respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work…” 1 Thessalonians 5:12

My husband pastors a small church in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.  We are blessed to serve a loving, graceful community of believers, and have often been overwhelmed by the love they have shown our family over the years.  Although we have a difficult job at times, we are honored that God has called us and privileged to be in such a loving community!

These simple gifts of encouragement will mean so much to your pastor, and we can all do them.

10 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

1. Write him a (detailed) note of why you appreciate him, and give a specific example of a situation where God used him to touch your life.

2. Pray for him daily and send him a note now and then to let them know that you were praying for them. (Want a copy of the 12 ways to Pray for Your Pastor? Keep reading!)

How to pray for your pastor?

  • Pray specific Scriptures over him and his family.
  • Pray for his spiritual life to flourish.
  • Pray that he will be strong in the face of opposition
  • Pray that he will flee temptation
  • Pray that he will be spiritually “wise” and equipped for battle (Ephesians 6)
  • Pray that he is sensitive to the leading and conviction of the Holy Spirit
  • Pray that he has wisdom to balance ministry, family and other responsibilities
  • Pray that he fixes his eyes on the eternal reward and doesn’t get discouraged
  • Pray that he humbles himself continually before God
  • Pray for he and his wife: that they would be unified, give one another support and understanding, and that they would fight for their marriage on their knees and with their time.
  • Pray for he and his children: that he would spend sufficient time with them, validate and affirm them and that he would be present and available.
  • Pray that God would grant him breakthrough in his ministry: that he would see lives transformed!

If you’d like to have a copy of these ways to prayer for your pastor to print off an hang on your fridge or put in your Bible, you can download a copy here!

3. Drop him a note during the week to comment on one aspect of his sermon that stuck with you during the week. It will encourage him to know you’re listening! During the sermon, interact: nod your head, smile, and pay attention!

4. Respect your pastor! We, more than anyone else, feel inept and unqualified for what we do but we remember that God called the stuttering Moses to speak to Pharoah. It’s not your pastor’s qualifications that should  earn your respect, it’s the call of God on his life. When you disrespect your pastor you are ultimately disrespecting God. One simple way of showing respect is to call him by his title. “Pastor.”

5. Part of respect is open communication. Don’t talk about your pastor: talk honestly TO him! Respect does not mean hiding your feelings, not asking questions. It means to prayerfully, wisely, discreetly and lovingly address them to him.

6. Another aspect of respect is not to participate in or listen to gossip about your pastor. If you hear gossip, have the courage to stop and address it. Encourage the gossiper to meet with the pastor to discuss. Or, tell the gossiper something positive about your pastor. Give a public affirmation of your pastor in this situation.

7. One more aspect of respect: don’t evaluate and judge how your pastor and his family spend their money. This is easy to do when “you” are paying his salary! Yes, they should be good stewards of their finances, but be graceful, knowing that this may look different for their family than it does for your family. Remember Samuel’s admonition to Jesse that God does not look at the outward appearance but at the heart.

8. Ask your pastor if there is any volunteer needs in the church. Be willing to step in, do something different, do something you haven’t done before!

9. Verbally and publically recognize your pastor. Ask your church leadership (elders) if you can share a testimony or appreciation of your pastor on their designated “clergy appreciation Sunday”.

10. Participate in the community life of your church. Attend small groups and potlucks and prayer meetings. Tithe. Volunteer. This is a huge encouragement for your pastor!

Next week, I’ll be sharing ideas on gifts for your pastor (even ones that are free) and how you can also encourage his wife and children. I hope these are a help to you as you try to bless your pastor during Minister Appreciation Month!

Don’t forget to download the 12 Ways to Prayer for Your Pastor:
12 Ways to Prayer for Your Pastor! Great resource to print off and put in your Bible. Could even give a copy to your pastor to let him know you are prayer for him.

Post by Andrea 

Linking up to these fun parties!

Whole30 Recap for Week 4

We have finally finished our first Whole30! Here is the recap for our last week.

Whole30 is completed! We are done and there was much rejoicing. I’m ready to do some baking again. These 30 days have actually gone by quickly and the overall experience has been pretty fun, dare I say.

Reminder: Who exactly is doing this challenge?

My husband and myself and our 16 month old and 3 1/2 year old. The kids are eating what we eat for the most part but the 16 month old still eats oatmeal for breakfast (no dairy in it though) and on occasion a rice cake. The 3 year old has an option of oatmeal for breakfast, but she’s only had a couple of bites. She used to love oatmeal, but it just hasn’t been her thing lately.

How Did We Feel?

Okay, so we all felt great again during the last part of our Whole30. The big difference for me though, is that the last week I’ve just been ready to be done! Weeks 2 and 3 I really didn’t think about off plan foods. This past week I have! Peanut butter, cheese, baking, oats, chocolate, beans are just a few of the things that have been filling my mind. Physically I’ve been doing great though and have had enough energy to get through my to do lists even on little sleep.

Afterwards!

What’s the plan going forward? I’m looking forward to incorporating legumes and cheese back into our diets. We will also add back in grains and wheat but hope to limit the quantities. We’ll also be watching how our bodies respond to these foods more closely now and hopefully adjusting as we need to.

What Did We Eat?

We have finally finished our first Whole30! Here is the recap for our last week.

Chicken Salad, Sweet Potato Hash browns, Sweet Potato Breakfast Casseroleand Chicken Curry Soup 

Breakfasts: for the last 9 days we ate leftover sweet potato breakfast casserole (still my favorite), scrambled eggs, hash browns (made from sweet potatoes is my other favorite breakfast food), and scrambled eggs and veggies baked in muffin tins.

Lunches: The trends from the first weeks continued and Shaun and I had salads while the kids had leftovers or sweet potatoes for week day lunches. We also had Rosemary Chicken Salad served on lettuce and Paleo Sweet Potato Chili.

Suppers:  We had a Ginger Beef/Broccoli/Carrot stir fry type thing, Chicken Curry Soup, Chicken and Veggie Soup, Crispy Chicken Thighs (recipe coming this Friday), and leftovers of all the above. Leftovers rock! I’ve been spending way more time in the kitchen for breakfasts and lunches than I normally do, so leftovers are a life saver.

Snacks: Nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruits and veggies

Just for fun, I asked my husband and daughter what food they want the most after the 30 days are up. Shaun’s request – pizza. Kenna’s first thought was bread with peanut butter. When I asked her if there was anything else she added “snack supper with popcorn and homemade ice cream”. What I want is alfredo sauce. I don’t even care about the noodles. I’d eat it plain or over sweet potatoes – I just want the butter and cheese. :-)

The Results:

Number wise, over the last 30 days I lost 10 pounds and 1/2-1 inch on my thighs, hips, waist. I have also spend the past 30 days exercising 5 days a week – power walking with the double stroller and doing 10 minutes of pilates, so I’m sure it has been a combination of the two.

And that’s our last Whole30 recap! Even though is has been time consuming, expensive, and a little hard with social events it has been good and worth it!

Linking up to these fun parties!

Whole30 Menu Plan and Goals

This menu is the last of our Whole30 meals! We will have officially made it through all 30 days the middle of this week! Hooray! That means Tuesday will be our last weekly recap. Hard to believe a month has gone by. Perfect timing since we are done just in time for my sister’s wedding and all the yummy (not Whole30) food that will entail.

Whole30 Menu Plan and Goals for our family with 2 young kids. If we can do a Whole30, anyone can!

My current read and the perfect place to get a few more pages into it: let the kids play and burn off energy while I read. Win win. 

 

It actually felt like fall for most of this week. It was incredible and even a little chilly one day. It makes for a much more enjoyable power walk while pushing a double stroller. Of course we are back up in the 80s this week but at least there’s hope. Fall is on its way. I’m looking forward to welcoming it in with some baking once we complete our Whole30. I’m going to try and pace myself though so I don’t go overboard and lose all the traction we gained the last 30 days. :-)

Whole30 Menu Plan and Goals for our family with 2 young kids. If we can do a Whole30, anyone can!

Rosemary Chicken Salad (with homemade mayonnaise) topped with avocado.

Suppers:

  • Chicken and Veggie Soup x 2
  • Leftover Paleo Chili
  • Crispy Chicken Thighs (recipe coming Friday)
  • Leftovers

Lunches:

  • Paleo Sweet Potato Chili
  • Chicken Salad on lettuce made with homemade mayonnaise
  • Salads for Shaun and me
  • Leftovers/sweet potatoes for the kids

Breakfasts:

  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Hash browns (sweet potato for everyone except Shaun)
  • Egg Muffin Cups

Goals:

What’s on your menu this week? Has the weather cooled off where you are at yet?

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole – Dairy and Wheat Free

I love sweet potatoes. They are amazing. When I first made this Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole, I was in love! It’s wheat free, dairy free, and is Whole30 approved. The perfect food to start your morning.

This sweet potato breakfast casserole is amazing and can even be made the night before! The leftovers taste amazing as well and it's #paleo and #whole30 approved. SO GOOD!

I made it once, ate leftover for the next three days. Made it again and ate the leftovers all week. It’s one of those dishes you don’t grow tired of – I enjoyed it just as much while finishing off the pan the second time. Yes, that means the leftovers taste just as good!

Let’s just pretend you don’t love sweet potatoes quite as much as I do. Don’t be scared away! My husband is not a fan and even he enjoyed this dish. The kiddos, they gobbled it up too.

If your mornings are anything like mine, you aren’t going to want to take time to brown pork and onions and roast the sweet potatoes in the morning. Let me fill you in on a little secret. The night before do all the prep work and layer the potatoes, meat, and veggies in the pan. Stick in the refrigerator. In a bowl, crack and whisk the eggs. Stick in the fridge. The next morning, pull the dishes out, whisk the coconut milk into the eggs and pour into the pan. Put the pan into the cold oven and turn onto 350 degrees. In just 30-35 minutes it will be ready for you!

5.0 from 1 reviews

Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole – Dairy and Wheat Free
 

Ingredients
Sausage
  • 1 pound ground pork (or meat of your choice)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered thyme
  • ½ teaspoon sage
  • ⅛ teaspoon fennel
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • black pepper
Everything Else
  • 4 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (3-4 potatoes)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut milk (canned) can sub other milk
  • Sea Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Instructions
  1. In a skilled combine all the sausage ingredients. Cook until almost done. Add the onions and finish cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, place sweet potatoes on a jelly roll pan and broil on high for 10 minutes, stir and broil another 5 minutes. I keep my pan in the middle of the oven, if yours is higher you may need to cut down on the time.
  3. Turn oven to 350 degrees.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together coconut milk and eggs and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Spread broiled sweet potatoes in the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan. Top with meat mixture. Sprinkle with the bell peppers. Pour egg mixture over the top.
  6. Put in preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Notes
To make the night before, follow the steps for the sausage and sweet potatoes and layer those and the bell pepper in the pan. Place in refrigerator. Whisk eggs in a bowl and put in refrigerator. In the morning add the coconut milk to the eggs and whisk and pour over the pan. Place in cold oven and turn to 350. Bake for 35 minutes.

 

This sweet potato breakfast casserole is amazing and can even be made the night before! The leftovers taste amazing as well and it's #paleo and #whole30 approved. SO GOOD!

Linking up to these fun parties!

10 Ways to Drastically Lower Your Grocery Budget

$553.40. That’s what the USDA estimates that my family of 4 (2 adults, 16 month old, and 3 1/2 year old) would spend a month on food following the Thrifty Plan.

What if I told you my actual grocery budget a month is almost 1/4 of that number? Not only that, I am able to keep it low without using coupons and I feed my family real food! The only boxed foods in my pantry is plain pasta and the only cans contain tomato products, coconut milk, or pumpkin.

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

Most of us like to save money and sometimes we think we can’t cut out anything else. One of the easiest categories to save money on after you’ve already pared down your budget is food!

You can trim down your grocery budget while still feeding your family quality food!!!

I’ve been asked so many times, how I do it. So today I’m going to share my top tips!

10 ways to lower your grocery budget:

1. Plan

This one is big. If you go to the store without having a plan of what you are going to eat the next week or two, you’ll find yourself adding a lot of extras to your cart “just in case” and making lots of trips to pick up something you forgot. Before you go shopping, sit down and write up a menu for the week. Make a list of everything you will need to buy. Don’t forget to factor in all three meals plus snacks.

2. Look at the ads

Let the ads determine the produce and meat you are going to use on your menu. Broccoli for $.79 – plan to make Broccoli Pasta one day and another serve it steamed or roasted as a side dish. Buy the fruit that’s cheap to use for snacks and breakfast. If pasta is on a super sale, grab a box for dinner (mac and cheese, anyone) one night and and an extra couple to stock up in the pantry.

3. Shop More Than One Store

I know some people say it takes too long to hit up multiple stores but I’ve found that I can do an every other week shopping trip and hit up 3-4 stores and still be done in an hour. I get the majority of my list at Aldi and Wal-Mart because I know they will have the lowest base prices. Then I fill in with what’s on sale at other stores.

4. Buy in Bulk

This only works if you know you actually like the food and will use it up before they go bad. If you do, this is a great way to save! Buy the 5 pound bag of dried beans, stock up on 25 pound bags of flour and rice, and buy 5 pound blocks of cheese.

5. Know Rock Bottom Prices

If you know the cheapest price you’ve seen for butter in the last year is $1.99 a pound, when you see it go below that price, stock up what you have room in the freezer and budget for. The same goes for when ground beef, boneless skinless chicken breasts, or pasta go on sale for rock bottom prices. Buy enough to last you the month or two until they’ll go on sale again. (Living Well Spending Less has a post on Rock Bottom Prices you might want to check out!)

6. Have a Go To Pantry Meal

One of the keys to keeping your food budget low is avoiding convenience food and eating out. Days are going to come up where you are busier than you thought, someone is sick, or maybe you forgot to thaw out the meat. Have a go to meal or two you can throw together in under 30 minutes that you always have the ingredients for.  Maybe have a couple of jars of spaghetti sauce in the pantry for one of these nights or make cheese quesadillas. I like to always have refried beans in the freezer to make bean tostadas for those hectic days.

7. Use Meat as a Condiment not the Star

There’s no way around it. Meat is expensive. Limit your meals where meat is the star of the dish (grilled steak, baked chicken breasts, even curries where meat is the only filler) to once every week or two. Other times, make stir-fries, fajitas, salads, soups where you can cut back on the meat and replace it with more veggies or beans.

8. Have Some Meatless Meals

You can take the meat thing one step further. Include a couple of vegetarian options in your menu each week. Our breakfasts and lunches are typically vegetarian (if we aren’t having leftovers) and then we also have at least one or two meatless suppers a week. It really does make a difference and no ones going to complain about Alfredo Sauce or cheese and veggie pizza.

9. Don’t Pay for Convenience Food

Your kids won’t starve if they don’t have cold cereal, poptarts, or oatmeal packets for breakfast. Don’t buy personal packages of cookies, presliced cheese, apple slices, or individual packages of pretzels. You don’t need to pay someone to prepackage food for you! Put together your own oatmeal packages, slice a pound of cheese at the beginning of the week, separate a big bag of pretzels into mini baggies, and take 30 seconds to slice an apple for an afternoon snack.

10. Cook from Scratch

Not only does this save you money but you also know exactly what’s going into your food. Instead of purchasing granola bars and cheese crackers, try making your own. Whip up a batch of energy bites or homemade cookies. Make your own taco seasoning instead of buying a packet (plus you’ll have enough for several other meals) and bake corn tortillas into tostada shells. Make a large batch of bread and store the extra loaves in the freezer for later. The ideas here are endless. You’ll love the money saved and improved taste.

These are all ways that I’ve used over the past 8 years of married life to lower our grocery budget drastically. We have saved thousands of dollars simply by spending a little time planning, shopping effectively, and spending a little time in the kitchen.

If you are trying to lower your grocery budget, simply select one or two of the tips and start there. Give it a few weeks or months and add an a couple more ideas. Before long, you won’t know how you used to spend so much!

What’s your favorite way to keep your grocery budget low? Is it something your family struggles with? I’m curious, how does your spending compare to what the USDA says?

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

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Whole30 Recap for Week 3

21 days of Whole30 eating are behind us! This week has flown by and it’s already time to write the Whole30 recap for week 3. How did it go? Does it stay as easy as week 2? You are about to find out.

Whole30 Week 3 Recap! Great recipe ideas if you are doing a Whole30 or even are just trying to eat real food! She did it with a 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 year old too!

Reminder: Who exactly is doing this challenge?

My husband and myself and our 16 month old and 3 1/2 year old. The kids are eating what we eat for the most part but the 16 month old still eats oatmeal for breakfast (no dairy in it though) and on occasion a rice cake. The 3 year old has an option of oatmeal for breakfast, but she’s only had a couple of bites. She used to love oatmeal, but it just hasn’t been her thing lately.

How Did We Feel?

To some it up in one word: Great! Last week was one of the first weeks I’ve had in months where I felt like I was in a good routine – things went smoothly, I was extremely productive, exercised 5 days, and had more energy that normal. It was nice. Hopefully week 4 will be just as productive.

The last couple of days I haven’t cheated but I have noticed that I’ve thought about off plan foods a lot more, and how wonderful some of them sound. That hasn’t happened up until now. 8 more days. We can do it. I’m ready to bake again. :-)

What Did We Eat?

Whole30 Week 3 Recap! Great recipe ideas if you are doing a Whole30 or even are just trying to eat real food! She did it with a 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 year old too!

Crispy baked chicken thighs, paleo breakfast casserole, tex mex paleo casserole, Moroccan chicken, and spinach and chicken topped sweet potatoes.

Breakfasts I like to keep simple. Who really wants to get up earlier to cook? Not me. We made sweet potato boats (okay), paleo breakfast casserole for the second time (my favorite – I’ll be posting the recipe on Friday), scrambled eggs, and sweet and white potato hash browns (sweet potato hash browns are my other favorite breakfast item).

Lunches were once again salads for Shaun and myself and leftover or sweet potatoes for the kids during the week. We also had guacamole and veggies one day. Sunday lunch was a whole roasted chicken served with acorn squash and carrots.

Suppers had some homeruns. The Tex Mex Paleo Casserole was loaded with veggies and had good flavor. The 16 month old inhaled it and even my husband who doesn’t like sweet potatoes said it was good. We had spinach and chicken topped sweet potatoes again, enchilada pasta (no one loved this except the 16 month old), crispy baked chicken thighs (recipes coming next week), and Moroccan chicken (this is the third time we’ve made the recipes – we all love it).

Snacks were kept simple. The easiest Whole30 snack options we’ve found have been dried fruit, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Frozen grapes make a fabulous treat.

If you want a sneak peak of what we are eating this week, be sure to check out my menu plan. You can also get ideas on my Pinterest account. If you have any favorite Whole30 recipes, be sure to let me know!

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