Summer Bucket List for Kids

Summer Bucket list ideas for kids! Great ideas to make memories this summer.

Have you ever considered having a summer bucket list for kids?

School is almost done, it’s getting hotter (we were up to 90 degrees this week), schedules and expectations are changing. Maybe your kids aren’t yet old enough to be in school but you still want to make summer special. There might be a big vacation planned or maybe you are saving money this year and staying home.

One way to keep things fun is to have a Summer Bucket List. Have your kids help come up with fun summer activities and narrow it down to your top 10, 20, 30 or however many you think you have time for over the next few months. Write them down on a chart and tackle some each week checking them off as they are accomplished.

Having a Summer Bucket List for kids will make the summer of a staycation more exciting or help the weeks before and after a big vacation go by quickly. The kids will love having lots of little summer activities to look forward to.

I have a 6 year old, 4 year old, and a 14 month old. The older two would love all these ideas (and even helped brainstorm) and the baby eagerly does whatever her big siblings do.

I have 31 free ideas and then a bonus 21 extra ideas that begin at just a couple dollars. If you keep scrolling to the end of the list, I have a printable list of all 52 ideas and a blank form you can use to make your own bucket list to check off this summer.

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Ideas for a Summer Bucket List for Kids:

Free

  • Splash pad
  • Make popsicles
  • Fly a kite
  • Have a water fight
  • Read a chapter book aloud
  • Local beach at the lake
  • Story time at the library
  • Other library kids events
  • Star gazing
  • Park hop to all the good parks in your town
  • At home movie night
  • Camp in the living room
  • Swimming
  • Hike/nature walk
  • Picnic
  • Cookout in the park
  • Game night
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Relay races
  • Chalk mural on the driveway
  • Make a giant sheet fort
  • Free community events (parade, touch a truck, etc)
  • Family walks
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Bike ride
  • Feed the ducks
  • Fishing
  • Service project
  • Write cards/draw pictures and mail
  • Climb a tree (this is my 6 year old’s addition to the list)
  • Home Depot workshop

Almost Free

Paid Activities

  • Buy (and play) a new outdoor game
  • Buy (and play) a new board game
  • Go to a movie
  • Concert or show
  • Zoo
  • Children’s museum
  • Bowling
  • Ice cream shop
  • Go to a baseball game
  • Mini golf
  • Dollar store shopping spree
  • Local museum/historical site
  • Amusement park
  • Water park


Here is a printable list of all of the summer activities for kids!

Here is a blank form you can use to create your own summer bucket list for kids!

What are your favorite things to do during the summer?

Great Free summer bucket list for kids printable Continue reading

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Easy Skillet Lasagna

Easy Skillet LasagnaEasy skillet lasagna. Easy and lasagna probably aren’t two words you’d expect to see together – I know I don’t!

This recipe brings it one step further – it’s a one pot meal too! Doesn’t that make lasagna seem so much more accessible?! Say goodbye to the the multiples pots and bowls that pile up when you make the traditional version (and that’s not even counting the baking dish you have to scrub).

I’m all about saving time in the kitchen and if you want to save even more time you could cook up double or triple portions of the meat/onion mixture you brown in the beginning and freeze in individual baggies. Prep time on the night you want this one pot lasagna for dinner would then be next to nothing.

This is a great recipe to put the kids to work – let them break the noodles, dump the tomatoes, and plop the ricotta over the top. They’ll love helping put dinner on the table.

My family prefers it when I buy petite diced tomatoes. Everyone of them protest big chunk of tomatoes. You could also use Italian style diced tomatoes for some easy extra flavor. Seeing how few ingredients are in this dish, I recommend you use quality because all the flavors will come through.

I hope you enjoy this tasty and simple dish that makes lasagna a weeknight meal as much as we do. All three kids (14 month old included) and my husband loved it when we made it again last week.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Easy Skillet Lasagna
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground meat (beef, turkey, and/or pork)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅛ t. red pepper flakes
  • 10 lasagna noodles, broken in 2 inch pieces
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes, with water added to make 4 cups
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup ricotta cheeese
  • Fresh basil and additional Parmesan cheese for garnish
Instructions
  1. Brown the meat, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes in a 12 inch skillet.
  2. Leave in the bottom of skillet and place the broken lasagna noodles on top.
  3. Pour the diced tomatoes with water and tomato sauce over noodles.
  4. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook about 20 minutes until noodles are tender. Stir occasionally. Add more water if necessary.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.
  6. Dot with tablespoons of ricotta cheese.
  7. Cover and let set for 5 minutes so the ricotta cheese warms.
  8. Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and a little Parmesan.
Notes
Because of the simple ingredients in this recipe, quality will make a difference in the flavor! If you can, use good tomatoes, real Parmesan, etc

My family protests large chunks of tomatoes, so I use petite diced. You could also use Italian style diced tomatoes for additional flavor.

Easy Skillet Lasagna
One pan skillet lasagna! This is the perfect weeknight dinner. Kid friendly and a no oven dinner!
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Ways to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

how to save money on groceries without using coupons

Have you ever wondered if you can actually save money on groceries without coupons?

I live in a small town and I don’t receive any coupons through the newspaper and my grocery budget has ranged from $120-$170 a month over the past 10 years. (Started with just my husband and me and now our third child is one.)

So yes, we are proof that it is possible to save money on groceries without coupons! Not only is our grocery budget pretty stinkin’ low, but I’m still able to feed my family a fairly healthy diet consisting of minimally processed foods.

Often our budgets are tight and we don’t know what else we can cut out to make the numbers work. A great place to start is the grocery budget. Yes, even if you don’t have access to coupons.

I want to share a few tips and tricks with you that I’ve used the past decade. I was fortunate to grow up with a mom who rocked her grocery budget and learn from her. For even more ideas, check out this popular post on how to drastically lower your grocery budget.

If you like e-courses, be sure to check out this FREE e-course on eating well on a budget that Erin at The Humbled Homemaker put together! It’s 5 days long and includes videos and emails!

Ways to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

Shop the Ads

This is huge! Don’t menu plan or head to the store without knowing what is on sale where.

We don’t get the newspaper but, thankfully, now days you are able to find almost every ad online. Checkout the websites for both national and local stores to view them.

Take a few minutes to look over the ads and write down what’s on sale at each store.

Watch for Markdowns

Grocery shop in the morning, when possible, and keep your eyes open for markdowns. Get to recognize the stickers that symbolize a discount in price.

I’ve gotten steak, chicken, other meat, bread, kale, spinach, arugula, other produce, chips and so much more for super cheap this way.

The meat, and often time bread products, can go in the freezer to prolong their life but you have to be willing to adjust to your menu to take advantage of the produce with a shorter shelf life. It’s worth taking those few minutes in the store to tweak the menu, though.

Price Match

If your week is too crazy to hit up multiple stores, don’t forget that in most places you can price match at Wal-Mart.

Know What to Buy Where

Don’t assume that just because something is on sale it’s the best price. You need to be aware of what the standard prices are at other grocery stores and online before you decide to stock up. Produce sales at several of our local stores tend to be higher than non-sale prices at Aldi.

Which brings me to the next point:

Aldi

I LOVE Aldi! Many of their regular prices are good deals and their weekly produce sales tend to be exceptional. The produce on sale is what I tend to grab lots of and build my menu around. Aldi is also a great store to watch for markdowns.

(Don’t forget to bring a quarter for your cart and grocery bags but it’s well worth it.)

Store Brands

Give store brands a try. Some might not be a contender with your favorite name brands but you might be surprised.

Again, don’t assume store brand is the lowest price. With a sale a name brand might actually come out ahead.

Skip Packaged Products

Cook from scratch! You’ll save so much money mixing up your own taco seasoning versus buying the little packet from the store (and it’s better for you too). Try your hand at making yogurt, bread, popsicles, mac & cheese, and so forth instead of grabbing the box.

Ibotta

Put your smart phone to use and save a little each shopping trip!

Download the Ibotta grocery rebate app to earn money! Use my referral link and you’ll get a $10 welcome bonus! (My referral code is rxlutjp if you need it.) Checkout the rebates they offer before you head to the stores and when you are done, add the info to the app.

These are a few of the ways I’ve save on groceries over the last 10 years  – no coupons involved. That’s thousands of dollars I’ve saved our family by being intentional about how I shop. You can to! Don’t worry about trying to overhaul your shopping in one week, instead take baby steps and each week continue to make little changes until you get to the ideal budget for your family.

Do you use coupons?

What are your favorite ways to save on groceries?

Grocery Carts: how to save money on groceries

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Homemade French Bread

 

Homemade french bread on cutting board

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Homemade bread. The entire house smells amazing throughout the baking process and by the time it’s done you are more than ready to devour the loaf. Thankfully, bread is one of the most budget friendly things you can make and, in my opinion, you can’t have too many varieties in your repertoire. This homemade french bread is definitely one you need.

French bread might sound intimidating, but it’s really quite easy. You’ll need to be home for a few hours to get the process done, but the hands on time is actually minimal. Your family will be excited you made the effort and ask for this bread again and again.

I pull out my trusty KitchenAid mixer for most all of my bread making jobs. The mixer even made my list of favorite kitchen appliances. Sure you could knead by hand but this saves me a lot of time (and man power).

After making the dough, you’ll dump it onto a floured surface were you will knead it every 10 minutes for the next hour.

Easy homemade french bread recipe

Next you’ll roll out the dough in a rectangle.

Easy homemade french bread recipe

Then roll the dough up on the long side (like you are making cinnamon rolls), tuck the ends under, and slash the top 4 times. This next step is optional – brush with some beaten egg white.

Easy homemade french bread recipe

The dough will rest a little longer and then you’ll get to enjoy the wonderful smell of your loaves baking!

This batch makes 2 small loaves or 1 large loaf. Feel free to double the recipe by simply doubling the all the ingredients except for the yeast. For the yeast use 1 1/2 Tablespoons.

For small loaves, I use my air bake cookies sheets. For a large loaf I have to use my half sheet pan.

Homemade French Bread

Homemade French Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast (1½ T if doubling the recipe)
  • 1¼ cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I used olive oil)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 egg white beaten, optional
Instructions
  1. Put yeast, warm water, and sugar in the stand mixer bowl. Let sit 5 minutes.
  2. Add salt, oil, and 2 cups of flour and mix together.
  3. Add remaining cup of flour and knead 3-5 minutes. The dough will be soft, but if it's overly sticky add a tablespoon or two more flour.
  4. Dump the kneaded dough out onto a floured surface. Every 10 minutes for the next hour knead it a couple of times.
  5. After the hour, divide the dough into two for small loaves or for a large/regular sized loaf don't divide.
  6. Roll dough into rectangles and roll up on the long side. Fold ends under.
  7. Place loaves on a baking sheet and slash the tops 4 times.
  8. Brush with beaten egg white (optional).
  9. Let raise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  10. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  11. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 and turn down the temperature to 375 for another 10-15 minutes.
  12. (If making the larger loaf, might need to increase the second baking time to 15-20 minutes).

Easy homemade french bread recipe
Delicious and easy homemade french bread! You'll make this all the time.
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Painting Trim – Low Cost House Update

Painting trim. Doesn’t sound like fun, does it? It didn’t to me. Home improvement projects are one of those areas I have no skills in and my husband and I have to learn as we go. In fact, all things decor and home styling I know nothing about. It’s one of those areas I like to use much more talented friends’ and family members’ brains for.

Painting Trim - a low cost house update that makes a HUGE difference in your home's look.

 

So, as much as I disliked the idea of painting all the woodwork in our home, after consulting with much more talented people we decided to go for it. Besides, our house has limited natural light and the original wood trim made it feel darker than it was.

Painting Trim - a low cost house update that makes a HUGE difference in your home's look.

One thing that made the decision a little easier is the fact that it’s just paint so it would be a budget friendly update. So many house updates seem to cost multiple thousands of dollars and since we just finished replacing all our windows, painting trim was a little easier on the savings account.

We are newbies when it comes to this process, but I wanted to share what we did and the products we used for painting trim to help you jump start your research.

Process for Painting Trim

Sand the woodwork.

I used a coarse sandpaper and went over all the baseboards, door frames, and windowsills.

Wipe down the baseboards.

I used a damp rag and wiped off all the wood.

Prep.

My husband happens to love taping, so he taped all the walls. I can’t stand taping and would rather just paint carefully and wipe off the wall if needed. The problem with tape is that you’ll have more touch up work to do – removing tape almost always leaves some places messed up.

We also have carpet in our home so we bought a paint shield/trim guide to put under the baseboard. You can also use it in place of tape around the walls.

Prime.

Two coats of Kilz primer. We followed the instructions on the can and let dry at least an hour between coats.

Paint.

You’ll have to decide if you are going to use an oil based or latex paint. This article goes over some of the differences. We have friends who used oil based and love it and it’s actually more durable. We went with latex simply because the drying time is way less and the fumes aren’t as strong and know that we’ll periodically have to touch up the woodwork. So if you use latex, know that you will have to touch up periodically and also buy the highest grade you can.

Going from brown wood to white trim required good paint even after we primed. After returning one kind-of paint (cheaper) and consulting with an employee at Lowe’s, we purchased Valspar Signature.  Two coats were needed in most areas. The paint required a longer drying time of 6 hours. I used the paint shield/trim guide and put the metal edge under the baseboard as best I could to make sure to coat the wood well and keep the paint off of the carpet.

Touch Up.

This is the tedious part because you are so ready to be done. At least we were. And actually, we still have touch up work to do. But after all the painting is done and tape removed (if used) it’s time to go around and touch up the places paint peeled off or got on the wall.

Painting trim. With three young children and our regular jobs it was definitely a lot of work and took longer than we wanted. However, now that it’s done, I’m so glad we did it. I even wish we did it years ago. The walls colors pop (and even look completely different in some rooms) and our home is so much brighter.

Painting Trim - a low cost house update that makes a HUGE difference in your home's look.

You might have noticed from these pictures we also updated our doors. I’ll cover that in another post and share how my husband did that project.

Do you enjoy painting? Do you have any tips to share as we move on to our next house project (most likely the bathrooms)?

Painting Trim - A low cost house update

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Menu Plan

Okay, so guess what? Life hasn’t slowed down and I still haven’t gotten in a good habit of blogging. I think I’m just going to have to make myself start. We have had more fun visiting others in my family and are still going to make another trip to see the rest of them.

Our menu lately has been kept super simple and not that exciting, but sometimes easy is just what you have to do. Leftovers have been a lifesaver. Cooking once and eating 2 or 3 times? I’m all over that. Life has been crazy enough that I’ve had to choose not to stress over making boring meals and not eating as healthily as we normally do.

This week’s suppers are consisting of:

Our menu plan this week is easy and full of leftovers - just what I need!

A new deep dish pizza cooked in the cast iron skillet we tried last week! Pretty yummy but New York and brick oven pizza is still more my thing.

Lunches are bean and cheese tortillas with apples and cucumbers.

Breakfasts are:

  • Fruit
  • Plain Yogurt and Granola
  • Eggs

See, I told you! No gourmet cooking happening around here. Sometimes it’s okay to take a break and do less and the weather kind-of, sort-of feeling fall like makes me happy because it means soups and we all know that soup leftovers are the best! Mexican, split pea, and potato sausage have all made an appearance in the last few weeks.

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

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Summer Recap

We have entered back to school week in our part of the country. My kids are still under school age and we aren’t doing any formal teaching this year. I decided to get in on the action of heading back anyway by jumping onto the blog after what ended up being a summer break.

This girl loved every minute she spent on her first trip to a beach of any kind since she was a baby! Her brother, not so much. 

It’s seems that once you get out of a routine, it’s really hard to get started again. I see this play out in my life in things like exercise, Bible studies, and blogging of course. Time gets filled up with other things and it takes work to carve it back out again.

When it comes to blogging I figure summer are busy for every and people spend less time reading blogs and browsing Pinterest anyway. Vacations, family, and kids’ activities take up a lot of time. Now the world is heading home and attempting to start up a new routine.

This lake. It’s gorgeous, peaceful (unless there’s a storm, I imagine), and brings up so many happy memories. So much fun to go back!

Our big trip for the summer was to visit my sister and her family in Minnesota. It was amazing and coming back home was brutal. The temperature difference between Minnesota and Oklahoma is pretty drastic and made me wish for a summer home some place much cooler. We spent time at the beach on Lake Superior, hiking to a waterfall in Wisconsin, catching up with both of my parents’ extended families , and of course hanging out at my sister’s house with her adorable kids!

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And being in a town with a Chick Fil A meant we could dress up for some free food!

This fall we’ll take a trip to Texas and a weekend trip to Arkansas to spend time with the rest of my family but we are waiting for the weather to cool off a tad. :-) Yes, I am a wimp.

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Coolest park ever! This one only section. 

In the meantime, we are working on getting in a routine of working my my oldest on her reading. She’s made good progress the past couple months and I’m excited for the world of books to be opened up to her. Hopefully, I can find a blogging routine of some sort to get back into that as well. This is a start, right? A blogging schedule would probably help, but you know – baby steps! Maybe that will happen one of these days.

I hope that your summer has gone well and that the transition back to school goes smoothly!

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First Game for Toddlers

The best first game for toddlers! My kids both love this game - no small pieces or game boards to destroy so it's the perfect game for small kids!

Toddlers and games don’t really go together well in our house. My 4 year old daughter loves to play from her stash of games but if 2 year old brother is awake, everything is guaranteed to be destroyed.

Games pieces, puzzles, cards, boards are all colorful novelty items that are calling out their attentions. Games have become for mornings before he’s awake, naptimes, and after he’s gone to bed in our house to save lots of fights and tears.

There is one game that our two year is learning to play. It’s actually the best first game for toddlers. Our oldest got it when she turned two and picked up on it quickly and now our second is learning (or attempting anyway). It’s even on my list of gift ideas for a 2 year old.

The best first game for toddlers! My kids both love this game - no small pieces or game boards to destroy so it's the perfect game for small kids!

It’s super simple but that’s what our 2 year old needs. Carefully moving pieces around a board just isn’t going to happen. Plus, it involves throwing a big plush cube (and throwing is is favorite thing to do). There’s no winners – you just take turns tossing the cube and picking up a color card that corresponds with the color on the top of the cube and you all do what it says.

The best first game for toddlers! My kids both love this game - no small pieces or game boards to destroy so it's the perfect game for small kids!

Not terribly exciting for the adults but it’s fun to see the kids excited. Our 4 1/2 year old still enjoys playing it with her brother even though it’s way too easy for her. Right now on Amazon it’s almost $20 – look for it used or wait for the price to drop because that seems a little too pricey for me. But then again, you know I like to save money.The best first game for toddlers! My kids both love this game - no small pieces or game boards to destroy so it's the perfect game for small kids!

If you are crafty, you could even sew a cube and draw instructions onto different colored papers.

But for those of us with no skills whatsoever, this game works great! Once they are ready to move on to slightly more advanced games, my 4 year old has several other easy ones to recommend that we’ll have to share soon!

The best first game for toddlers! My kids both love this game - no small pieces or game boards to destroy so it's the perfect game for small kids!

Linking up to these fun parties!

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Easy Summer Menu Plan

It’s Monday again! Having a menu plan and taking some time to prep on the weekend always helps the work week go more smoothly. This week’s shopping trip was easy – restock on a few fruits, lettuce, and eggs and we are good to go.

Our easy (and mostly oven free) menu plan for our family of 4 including two kiddos!

Last week’s personal pizzas (that we made big enough for two meals) on the grill. This is mine with tomatoes, olives, zucchini, and green and yellow onions with olive oil for sauce.

I’m dubbing this the summer of salads. They are great for keeping the oven off, prepping in advance, and being healthy and easy. We are doing two different supper salads this week and just because I haven’t been inspired by anything else Shaun and I are sticking with our lunch salads.

I guess we aren’t lacking in the vegetable department. I keep a bag of cooked beans in the freezer that are perfect for adding to my salad at lunch time. Supper salads tend to be more substantial and the lunch ones just veggies thrown together.

Our easy (and mostly oven free) menu plan for our family of 4 including two kiddos!

 

One of my very favorite salads that we also had last week. Greek salad with tzatziki sauce. Yum!

Suppers:

  • Grilled Bone-In Chicken, Watermelon, Broccoli, and Bread
  • Ranch Style Bean Salad (Salad with a Tex Mex flare) x 2
  • Salad with grilled chicken (leftover from Sunday’s supper) x 3
  • Grilled Bratwursts, Broccoli, Watermelon, and Bread

Our easy (and mostly oven free) menu plan for our family of 4 including two kiddos!

It doesn’t get much easier than this. Especially if you cook up extra chicken and have watermelon left for later in the week.

Lunches:

  • Olive Oil Pasta
  • Ranch Style Bean Salad (Salad with a Tex Mex flare) (so we’ll have this a total of 3 times)
  • Salads x 5 for Shaun and me
  • Leftover pasta, bread, veggies etc x 5 for the kids

Breakfasts:

  • Eggs x 3 (Shaun and me)
  • Blueberry Pancakes for my daughter on the egg days
  • Oatmeal x 7 for my 2 year old – his favorite breakfast food
  • Smoothies x 2
  • Biscuits x 2

Except for the biscuits, this week’s menu is oven free.

If you are looking for some fun side dishes to use for grilling, check out this great list:

Delicious real food (healthy) side dishes for grilling! Perfect for the next time you fire up the grill. Yummy, so many great ideas.

What are you eating this week?

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

 

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Healthy Side Dishes for Grilling

 

Delicious real food (healthy) side dishes for grilling! Perfect for the next time you fire up the grill. Yummy, so many great ideas.

There is just something delicious about supper from the grill. Our grill has been fired up multiple times a week lately and we are nearing 4th of July weekend where I think the majority of the country will be throwing some meat on the grill or packing a picnic. Now we need to tackle healthy side dishes for grilling!

The meat is the easy part – add some marinade or rub and you are good to go. Figuring out side dishes for grilling is where the problem comes in. Especially if you want healthy sides!

Don’t worry, I’ve rounded up a great list of 26 healthy side dishes for grilling! These would make the perfect addition to your next grilled supper – in fact, there are enough real food options to keep you going all summer.

Healthy Side Dishes for Grilling

Salads

Delicious real food (healthy) side dishes for grilling! Perfect for the next time you fire up the grill. Yummy, so many great ideas.

Garbanzo Bean and Roasted Corn Salad

Red White and Blue Fruit Salad

Patriotic Taco Salad

Greek Pasta Salad

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Broccoli Salad

Coleslaw

Simple Potato Salad with Thyme and Olive Oil

Potato Salad

Texas Caviar

Dips

Delicious real food (healthy) side dishes for grilling! Perfect for the next time you fire up the grill. Yummy, so many great ideas.

Homemade Guacamole

7 Layer Taco Dip

Healthier Cheese Dip (No Velveeta)

Homemade Salsa

Strawberry Peach Salsa

Easy, Delicious Hummus

Veggies, Beans, and Potatoes

Citrus Grilled Asparagus Final copy

Citrus Grilled Asparagus

Homemade French Fries Better Than Fast Food

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Maple Baked Beans

Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes

Easy Grilled Vegetables

Grilled Potatoes with Rosemary and Smoked Paprika

Asparagus and Peppers

Oven Roasted Corn

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

What are your favorite real food side dishes for grilling?

Delicious real food (healthy) side dishes for grilling! Perfect for the next time you fire up the grill. Yummy, so many great ideas.

Linking up to these fun parties!

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