Earn Swagbucks on Your Phone

Super easy way to earn gift cards on your phone using Swagbucks' mobile apps. We love it and it covers our gift budget!

Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t have a smart phone. Sometimes I think about getting one, but have yet to commit to increasing our phone bill. Maybe after we hit our big financial of paying of our house I’ll reconsider.

For those of you that are higher tech than I am, I have a super easy way for you to earn gift cards on your smart phone! You might already know how much I love Swagbucks. In fact, I have a post of my favorite ways to earn Swagbucks on your computer (which earns me at least $160 a year in gift cards).

Since my husband has the smart phone, we set him up with an account and downloaded the apps. It’s SO easy to earn on the phone – in fact, I think I could pay for a smart phone using Swagbucks. It’s even easier (and less time consuming) than the computer.

There are several video apps you can download, but I recommend starting with just two. If and when you find yourself maxing out those two, then add another to your daily to-do list. If you aren’t going to earn all the points off of 5 apps, why have them downloaded?

Reminder, be sure you are streaming the videos on the apps when you can use wi-fi to ensure you don’t have data overage fees. It’s no fun to get those notifications.

(Side note, If you are a smart phone user, you’ll want to be sure to download the official Swagbucks app and search app – you’ll be able to do things like search, enter Swag Codes, and answer the daily poll directly on them. These are all ways I talk about in my post on how to earn Swagbucks on your computer for us phone-less folks as well.)

For those extra Swagbucks though, you’ll want to download a few other (free) apps!

Number 1 App to Download

This is my number 1 pick and the first video app you’ll want to get on your phone – SwagBucks TV Mobile. You can earn 36 Swagbucks EACH day on this. One of the best things about it, it will keep on going from one video to the next without you having to do anything! On occasion it might freeze up or have an ad for you to get out of, but over all it’s super easy.

Set it up to run and put your phone on your desk when you are working or on the couch while you are watching a movie. (Extra tip, you can click to the next video approximately 3-5 seconds into each video.)

This is the first app you should max out on your phone each day!

Other Apps to Download

Word of Caution: On the app above you can select categories and I feel confident I can find a family friendly channel and my daughter finds it fun to go through the videos. With the apps below, I don’t like my daughter using my husband’s phone just in case.

After you’ve gotten to the point you are maxing out SwagBucks TV each day there are a few other apps. These apps are put out by Yowgo LLC. They tend to have more glitches than the official one above. The first few days my husband used these apps they definitely glitched a lot. They’ve since gotten better. These apps allow you to earn 18 Swagbucks a day each.

Right now, we are only using the Mobile TV app and the first one below, because you do have to actually remember and take the time to stream these videos and my husband doesn’t always.

EntertaiNOW TV Mobile - this is the app we are using along with SwagBucks TV Mobile..

If you max out both of those, check out the other apps by Yowgo LLC:

  • Lifestylz.tv
  • Sportly.tv
  • MovieCli.ps
  • Indymusic.tv

Let’s just say, you max out all 6 of these apps every day for a year – you could get over $450 in gift cards. If you are anything like us, that won’t even close to happening. Maybe you just do two of them and you’d get almost $200.

Think about the difference that money could make for to your grocery budget. You might even be able to cover Christmas with that money. If you are working hard to make ends meet, these little things really can make a difference.

It’s completely free to sign up, so give Swagbucks a try and see what happens!

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Eating Healthy on a Tight Budget

Eating Healthy on a Budget - You can do it!!! These tips will allow you to buy real, whole foods without clipping coupons. My grocery budget is $150 a month!

“I wish I could buy more fruits and vegetables, but I just can’t afford it.”

“I want to eat healthier, but it costs too much.”

If you haven’t said either of of those things, I’m sure you’ve heard them! They can do it and you can as well. In fact, I think in most cases, families can spend less money and eat healthier at the same time! The majority of people I know, spend more than we do on groceries and buy less healthy foods!

So many people want to change their eating habits and start buying more nutrient dense and less processed food, maybe you do as well, but it can seem overwhelming. You might feel there are so many changes to make and wonder that since you can buy generic brand processed foods for cheap – a lot of times just a dollar of two if it’s really affordable to switch.

There are so many different definitions of what’s healthy, in this post and for our family I focus on whole ingredients, making food from scratch or buying products with minimal ingredients, fruits and vegetables, whole grains,  no artificial sweeteners etc.

You can buy healthy food on a tight budget. These tips really make a difference. For added inspirations, be sure to check out the post on reducing your grocery budget.

Eating Healthy on a Budget - You can do it!!! These tips will allow you to buy real, whole foods without clipping coupons. My grocery budget is $150 a month!

Tips for Eating Healthy on a Tight Budget:

Baby Steps!

Don’t feel like you have to go and throw out everything in your pantry and refrigerator and start over. Transition one ingredient at a time. Replace your canola oil with coconut oil, olive oil, and butter. Buy another bunch of bananas instead of the chips. When your flour runs out, try whole wheat.

Menu Plan!

This is a huge deal to me – I have an entire post on why it’s important. If you go to the store and just start putting things you think you need into the cart, you will spend a lot of money. Plan your meals and snacks so you know exactly what to purchase (but if you find an awesome sale or markdown be willing to adapt when you are at the store).

Stick to the Basics!

The basics are almost always going to be cheaper than specialty ingredients. Don’t feel like you need to buy 10 different fats just because you’ve read about them. Stick to coconut oil, olive oil, and butter.

Cook from Scratch!

Avoid the “healthy” convenience foods. Make bread, cook your own mac and cheese, mix up a marinade for the chicken, make muffins instead of buying Poptarts.

In Season Produce!

Vegetables and fruit will make up a big chunk of your meals and snacks. Buy what’s in season and on sale. Also, don’t forget about the frozen produce. Sure, I love fresh produce but fresh green beans in the winter just aren’t happening.

Don’t Feel Pressured to Buy Organic!

If you can’t buy organic, it’s okay. Produce, even conventional, is going to be better for you than a bag of chips or a candy bar. Don’t let not being able to buy what you think of as best keep you from buying what is better.

Free Range/Grass Fed/Pastured. . .!

This follows the same advice as the produce. Sure, I think grass fed beef is the best, but if I don’t have access to someone splitting a quarter of a cow with me or I don’t find it marked down in the grocery store, my budget simply doesn’t allow it. Do keep your eyes open for great deals, but in the mean time feel good about cooking up your own chicken instead of buying lunch meat or browning ground beef instead of picking up taco bell.

Beans, Lentils, and Grains!

These foods are all pretty affordable. Buy several different kinds-of beans and lentils. Try quinoa. Have oatmeal for breakfast a couple times a week. I like meat but I also like these other foods and they happen to be a little easier on the budget so you’ll see them often on our menu plan.

Don’t Waste!

Plan to use those leftovers! I often have each meal I’m cooking twice a week and then there will be another meal that’s leftovers of the leftovers. Instead of eating the same meal twice in a week you could also plan to freeze the other half and pull it out at a later date.

Not only do you not want to waste leftovers, you want to watch the dairy products, produce, potatoes, and onions and make sure you don’t let all the odds and ends go bad! Turn them into a soup or stir fry. Slice up the bell peppers and stick them in the freezer. Freeze the milk in cup portions.

Stock Bag!

This is a continuation of don’t waste! The ends of the celery, pieces of onions and carrots, parsley that’s going bad etc – throw them into a zipped bag and keep in the freezer. The next time you are making stock, add it to the pot with the bones for extra flavor.

Shop Online!

Don’t assume local stores are the cheapest! If you can’t find local honey, order raw honey online (my favorite place for honey is Vitacost – they have an amazing price. If you sign up for Vitacost with my referral link, you’ll get $10 off your first order!) I also like to check (affilate link) Amazon.

Don’t Be A Short Order Cook!

Make one meal and have everyone eat it. In our house we all eat the same thing for supper. There’s no fixing something different for a child. It’s good for the kids and it’s good for the budget! Weekday lunches the kids eat the same thing and the adults do salads. Breakfast my youngest likes oatmeal and us other 3 eat the same thing. Having to buy ingredients to fix two separate meals adds up!

Garden. . . If You Have a Green Thumb!

Herbs are an awesome thing to grow. Fresh ones from the store are expensive. I’m about the worst gardener ever, and have yet to really succeed with planting, but my sister’s herbs flourish! Try tomato plants, squash, lettuce. See what grows well in your area and try something!

Limit the Snacks!

Snacks really aren’t necessary. Even for kids. If we don’t have fruit with breakfast, my kids will have some midmorning and then around 3-4 in the afternoon they’ll have a little something. Fruit, veggies, nuts, popcorn, rice cake etc. It really varies. That’s it. There’s no snacking in the evening because they didn’t eat dinner. Snacks are easy to inhale and can be expensive. Plus, they often cause your meals to go to waste.

How do you handle eating healthy when you are on a tight budget? Any favorite tips to share?

You can do it! Just take baby steps and keep plugging away. We are all doing the best we can. Thankfully there are lots of ways to save, if gardening was the only one we be broke and starved.

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Eating Healthy on a Budget - You can do it!!! These tips will allow you to buy real, whole foods without clipping coupons. My grocery budget is $150 a month!

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Easy Ways to Save Money

These are a few of the ways we use to save money! They really make a HUGE difference as we live on a low income and work to pay our house off early!

Saving money. It’s probably something most of us want to do for one reason or another.

We are in the middle of paying off our house early. Hopefully that will happen within the next 15 months. This means we are always looking for ways to cut costs and save money. Every little thing adds up.

After the house is paid off we’ll still be trying to save money so we can put more toward retirement, take a vacation, and save some money up for kids’ college funds. Watching what we spend, budgeting, and making our money work for us is a part of life.

I have a list of 10 easy ways we save money.

Some of them we are doing for a season and others are a pretty permanent part of our lives but together they are allowing us to live on less so that we can put more toward our mortgage.

10 Easy Ways to Save Money

1. Lower Your Grocery Budget

This is one of the first things to look at when you are trying to save. It’s easy to gradually start spending more and more on groceries over time. If you don’t want to keep it super low forever, that’s fine but do it to help out while you income is lower or your are trying to reach a savings goal.

This is a big one in our house. In fact, our most popular post is on how I keep my grocery budget at $150 a month. Over the next year, these tips are especially important  for us as our extra money that sometimes went toward grocery splurges is now all going to the house.

Some favorite ways to lower your grocery budget: cook from scratch, menu plan, and using meat as a condiment.

2. Simplify Birthdays, Christmas, and Holidays

It is super easy to go overboard. How often do we keep on finding one more present for our child or want to give them the newest and best gadget. The Easter basket has to be piled high.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, but you might want to consider scaling back. Set a smaller budget and stick to it. Spend time with your kids and make memories with them instead of spending.

You or your spouse can consider doing without gifts altogether. As an adult, it’s easy to understand why and see the big pictures. Shaun and I aren’t giving each other birthday or Christmas presents and we keep things simple with the kids.

If you minimize your gift spending try using the next tip and you might be able to cover a good portion of your gifts without spending anything out of pocket!

3. Earn Gift Cards with Swagbucks for Presents

I love Swagbucks. It’s an easy way to earn points you can redeem for gift cards. If you follow tip number two and cut your birthday and Christmas spending down, the gift cards you earn will cover a good chunk.

If you work at using Swagbucks (and have a smart phone) you could earn over $300 in a year. This post has some of my favorite easy ways to earn Swagbucks on your computer and I’ll have another one coming on how easy it is to earn on your smart phone!

4. Drink Water

Forget the pops, juices, coffees, and teas for a while and just stick to water! Not only is it good for you, it’s also the most affordable! The costs of all those other beverages really add up. I promise your kids won’t die without milk at every meal and juice for breakfast.

Milk for drinking and juice are super rare purchases in our house and it really helps save money.

5. Skip the Vacation

Our vacations consists of trips to see family and a season tickets to a theme park 5 hours away. This year, since we knew we were going to be pinching pennies, we decided to forgo the season tickets.

We aren’t saving a ton on money because as vacation go, it really is quite affordable but the ticket purchase and gas costs for driving there several times save us hundreds of dollars. If you take bigger vacations, this could equal thousands of dollars.

We are still looking forward to a few trips to visit family though and having fun locally and frugally!

6. Shop Your Closet

Avoid the mall and all the clothing deal sites for a while and just wear what you have. I’m already a big fan of buying used clothes and shopping clearance racks but sometimes you just need to take a break from even that.

A perk of this, when you have some money to spend on clothes again and go through  your closet you’ll know exactly what to get rid of.

7. Eat at Home

It’s nice to get a break from cooking, but restaurants aren’t cheap. You have the cost of a meal and then add the tip in and you could cook a lot of meals at home with what you just spent going out. Even at a fast food or fast casual restaurant things add up when you are buying for a family.

If eating out is something you love, put gift cards on your birthday and Christmas list (and use coupons when you go out to make them go even further). Otherwise, think about your big financial goal or view it as something you are giving up until your finances increase.

8. Cut the Cable

Get rid of your paid television service. No more cable or dish.

It’s okay. I promise you’ll survive.

When we got rid of it several years ago I think my husband was pretty skeptical. It really hasn’t been that bad. Then take it a step further and don’t replace it with Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime. How much TV do we really need to watch anyway? Utilize your library, free Hulu, and free streaming on network sites so you can keep up with a couple of your favorite shows.

9. Cheaper Cell Phone Rates

Cell phones are straight up expensive but there are a few things we’ve found to do to save money.

  • Save money by negotiating lower rates with your cell phone provider. We saved an additional $15 a month by talking to the retention department.
  • My husband has a smart phone and uses Google Voice instead of paying for a texting plan. It has its quirks, but it is fine for his needs.
  • Use a dumb phone. I’ve occasionally thought about getting a smart phone over the years but it’s something I can’t justify doing right now. An extra $15 to $30 a month might not seem like a lot, but all those things add up so I keep my basic talk only phone. (Yes, I even have texting turned off). Maybe after we get our house paid off or our income increases I’ll reconsider, but right now it works.

10. DIY Lawn Care and Pest Control

Okay, so honestly weeds in the yards are something that don’t really bother me. Let them grow. (Bonus: it would  mean no toxic chemicals I have to worry about.) My husband, on the other hand, can’t stand them. Plus it makes all your the people in your neighborhood upset if you don’t take care of your yard. Instead of paying a lawn care company to come take care of it, he went to the local lawn and garden store and got their recommendation on what to use and when. It takes a couple hours a few times a year but it saves a lot of money and we can put the money saved toward something else.

The same goes for spiders and insects. I’m not a lover of toxic chemicals being sprayed around the house, but I’m also really not a fan of venomous spiders (or actually any kind-of creepy crawly insect) in my house. You can pay someone or once again you can go to the local store and get recommendations for your area and do the spraying yourself.

This is just the start of the ways we’ve found to save money in our house. I think a part two might be coming.

Those little things that you don’t think make a difference really do add up. Put them together and you’ll find you are saving a decent amount!

What are some of your favorite easy ways to save money? 

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These are a few of the ways we use to save money! They really make a HUGE difference as we live on a low income and work to pay our house off early!

Linking up to these fun parties!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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