Category Archives: Food

The Best Gluten Free Snacks for Kids

We have spent periods of time eating gluten and/or dairy free trying to resolve some minor health issues. One of the food challenges is coming up with gluten free snacks for kids!

pictures of gluten free snacks. This is a great list of gluten free snack ideas kids will love

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Although we don’t do a lot of snacks, the kids do have one every afternoon. Those kiddos always get hungry on the long gap between lunch and supper.

Gluten free snacks also come in handy for long drives and trips.

Brainstorming several options, both homemade and packaged made life a little simpler.

Our daily snacks are always frugal ones and I prefer healthy. Of course there are always gluten free snacks for kids that are more of a once in a while treat. Surely we aren’t the only ones that has some of those normally no foods on vacation? 😉

One of the tricks to having your kids eat healthy gluten free snacks is to have them readily available! That and give them 2 or 3 options and have them all be healthy options. The first few times they may tell you they want the cookies or potato chips, but when they figure out the healthy options you said are the only options, my kids have always selected one of them.

popcorn, almonds, and yogurt! This is a great list of 40 gluten free snack ideas for kids.

Gluten Free Snacks for Kids:

  • Vegetables
    Have washed and cut veggies available in the fridge. My kids love carrots, celery, and cucumbers the most. Having them prepped makes them super easy for the kids to grab and eat.
  • Fruit
    Another obvious one. A bag of mandarin oranges, apples, berries, grapes, bananas etc. Buy what is on sale and have 2-3 options available each week.
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts
    Almonds, walnuts, pecans – any of their favorites.
  • Rice Cakes
    They can eat them plain or topped with something like peanut butter or meat.
  • Peanut Butter
    Use for rice cakes, apples, celery, etc.
  • Tortilla Chips with Salsa or Guacamole
  • Plain Potato Chips
  • Popcorn
    Regular or kettle corn for a special treat. 🙂
  • Energy Balls
  • Muffins
    You can buy a mix or make one of our favorites: Chocolate banana muffins, oat flour banana muffins, and pumpkin oat flour muffins.
  • Popsicles
  • Gluten Free Pretzels
    Try the ones from Aldi – they are really good!
  • Gluten Free Crackers
    My kids aren’t fans of the ones made from all rice flour. Look for ones that use a few types of gluten free flours.
  • Meat
    Deli type meat or cooked chicken breasts cut in strips.
  • Beef Jerky
    Read the labels – some brands can have gluten in them.
  • Cheese
  • Raisins
  • Other Dried Fruit (Dates, apricots, prunes, apples etc)
  • Trail Mix (Make your own!)
  • Dry Cereal
    You can find gluten free cereals and have them as a snack. Something like Chex or Cheerios (or their healthier brand alternatives – just always be sure to read labels. Sometimes one won’t have gluten but the other will).
  • Larabars (You can make these yourself too!)
  • Hummus
    Let your kids dip veggies, pretzels, or crackers in this.
  • Gluten Free Joes-Joes
    These are Trader Joe’s version of Oreos. My kids loved them.
  • Other Trader Joes Finds
    If you live near a Trader Joes, be sure to browse through their store for other fun gluten free finds. You can often get seasonal gluten free items as well.
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Plain Yogurt
    Plain yogurt topped with fruit or granola and drizzle of honey or maple syrup if additional sweetness is needed.
  • Granola (Or make your own)
  • Frozen Grapes
  • Pickles
  • Olives
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Applesauce
  • Homemade Granola Bars
  • Smoothies
  • Banana Chips
  • Homemade Pudding

What am I missing? I’d love to keep adding to this list of gluten free snacks for kids to make it a super helpful resource for moms struggling with snack inspiration for their gluten free kiddos.

You can even turn these ideas into a snack supper – that’s one of my children’s absolute favorites.

Popcorn, yogurt, and almonds. These are just a few of the 40 gluten free snack ideas for kids!

Moist Pumpkin Bread Recipes You Have to Try

moist pumpkin bread recipes collage. These are the best.

It’s no secret: I love fall. I also love pumpkin. There something fun about pumpkin recipes (especially moist pumpkin bread recipes) and the super flavorful spices that come along with it: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg. Aren’t those the perfect smells of autumn?

Homemade pumpkin breads are amazing. I like recipes that are moist and flavorful. A dry pumpkin bread is no good. Moist pumpkin bread recipes are the way to go.

Side note, why is moist such a controversial word? If so, my question is what word do you use instead? Damp pumpkin bread recipe just doesn’t sound quite right. 😉 Thankfully, I’m one of those not bothered by the word.

Today, I want to share 10 delectable looking moist pumpkin bread recipes that you have to try! There’s no shame with baking your way through the list to find your new favorite.  In fact, your family might even love you for it.

Moist Pumpkin Bread Recipes You Have to Try

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread – Averie Cooks

Photo from Averie Cooks

This recipe from Averie Cooks is amazing. I’m not exaggerating when I say my kids inhaled this. Something that I love about this recipe is that it doesn’t use any eggs! Perfect if you are vegan or just are out of eggs and don’t want to run to the store. I’d recommend using the mild molasses or cutting back on it slightly.

The Best Pumpkin Bread – The Domestic Rebel

This recipe promises to be moist and fluffy! It also uses dark brown sugar. Yum!

Pumpkin Bread – Bake By An Introvert

Photo from Baked By An Introvert

I love that this recipe uses buttermilk. I’m a huge fan of buttermilk (it makes the best pancakes) so I’m sure this is amazing. This recipes also uses an oil and butter combo.

Moist Pumpkin Bread – Genius Kitchen

A pecan topping? Genius! Sounds like the perfect compliment to a moist pumpkin bread. I can attest that this recipe is also tasty without the topping.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread – Sally’s Baking Addiction

Photo by Sally’s Baking Addiction

Doesn’t the use of orange for the liquid sound perfect?! I can’t wait to give this a try. Plus, how can you go wrong with chocolate?

Delectable Pumpkin Pie Bread Recipe – DIY Candy

Photo by DIY Candy

This recipes uses pumpkin pie spice instead of individual spices. Saves you opening about 4 containers right there. Don’t forget you can make your own pumpkin pie spice.

Favorite Fall Pumpkin Bread – Delightful E Made

Photo from Delightful E Made

Erin says that this recipe holds true to the Starbucks’ pumpkin loaf. She also added a tasty looking crumb topping.

Easy Pumpkin Bread – Tastes of Lizzy T

Photo from Tastes of Lizzy T

This recipe uses coconut oil, so of course I am a fan. The recipe also makes two loaves. Perfect to have one for the freezer or to gift one.

Homemade Pumpkin Bread – Six Figures Under

Photo from Six Figures Under

This recipe uses no oil (or applesauce)! I can’t wait to give it a try. I’m a fan of healthy fats, but it’s nice to have a recipe that you don’t have to use expensive coconut oil or butter on.

Moist Pumpkin Bread Recipe Mom Life Busy Wife

Photo from Mom Wife Busy Life

An entire can of pumpkin to 1 1/2 cups of flour. Brittany claims that this is a very moist recipe.

Pumpkin Bread – Simply Recipes

Photo from Simply Recipes

With melted butter and orange zest this sounds amazing and looks delicious. Perfect moist pumpkin bread recipe to make this fall.

Moist Pumpkin Bread – Kitchen Nostalgia

Photo from Kitchen Nostalgia

Be sure to read the tips in the introduction to this recipe. She shares how to be sure your pumpkin bread is moist and whether dark or light brown sugar is preferred.

Easy Pumpkin Bread Recipe Little House Living

moist pumpkin bread recipes

Photo from Little House Living

This recipe has a secret ingredient! Instead of using oil or butter, Melissa uses sour cream. That means it’s another one that needs to be tried.

There are the 13 moist pumpkin bread recipes you need to try! Which are you going to start with? If you already have a favorite (moist) pumpkin bread recipe, please share it with me. I’ll add it to my “to make” list.

P.S. If you are a pumpkin hater, I’m so sorry! Just pin this post to help someone else out. 🙂 Pumpkin season will be over soon enough. 😉

P.P.S. If you are looking for a healthy oat flour (gluten free) pumpkin muffin with chocolate chips and cranberries, be sure to check out this one of mine!

picture of 4 moist pumpkin bread recipes. Have to try these! Collage of moist pumpkin bread recipes. These you have to try!

Thanksgiving Checklist and Planner

miniature pumpkins and pinecones. This thanksgiving checklist will make hosting the big dinner a breeze!

In the United States, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Being organized means less stress so it’s time to make a plan! After all, none of us need more stress. 🙂 Use this Thanksgiving Checklist and Thanksgiving planner printable that’s in our resource library to simplify your life (and make sure you aren’t forgetting anything).

If this is your first year to host Thanksgiving or if you are a seasoned pro, I hope that planning ahead makes it the best year yet.

Thanksgiving Checklist


Are you hosting but don’t have space? Most people don’t mind squeezing in. If it’s nice, set up a table outside. Put a kids table up in a bedroom. Be creative. If using your house isn’t an option, check with your church and see if they would let you use a gathering area with a kitchen.


Who are you having over? Make a list of everyone you invite and make note of how many will be coming from each family.

You also need to decide if you will be asking everyone to bring at least one dish. (They will likely offer, so you might as well make it easier on yourself!). Be sure to write down what food/beverage each guest will be bringing.

Thanksgiving Menu

When you plan the menu be sure to consider these categories:

Appetizers (Ideas: Veggie or fruit platter, cheese and crackers, dip)
Sides and Salads (Ideas: mashed potatoes, green beans, lettuce salad, cranberry salad, rolls, sweet potatoes)
Main Dish/Meat (Ideas: Turkey or ham)
Desserts (Ideas: ice cream, pies, whipped cream, cookies, tart)
Drinks (Ideas: water, tea, lemonade, cider, coffee etc)

Shopping List

Once you have your menu made and know what other people are bringing, you can make yourself a shopping list. If you aren’t using glass dishes don’t forget to add paper plates & napkins and plastic silverware and cups to the list. A bag of ice too.

Buy or Borrow

Are there items you need to make hosting go a little more smoothly? Beverage containers, extra chairs, platters etc. You might have friends who would let you use their folding table so you don’t have to buy one.


What are your plans for the day? Spending time eating and visiting? Do you want to have any games available? Activities for the kids? There is no right choice, but just think it through.

Other Meals

Your family will probably want to eat something for breakfast and the second supper/lunch (whichever you aren’t having Thanksgiving dinner at). Maybe have some easy fend for your self breakfast options available.  Do you want to plan on leftovers of the lunch feast for supper? Turkey sandwiches? Just have a plan so you won’t get frustrated when your kids come to you hungry.

To Clean

Make a list of what needs to happen before company arrives at your house. Running the vacuum, cleaning the bathroom, and mopping the kitchen are givens, but what other areas do you need to be sure to tackle?

Now that your brainstorming and organizing is done, it’s time to get detailed. Break your lists and need to dos down by timeline.

What needs to happen

A month before the event: Invite guests, choose a location, and plan your menu.

Two weeks before: Plan games & your shopping list. Purchase non perishables.

One week before: Start those cleaning tasks that you can do in advance. Finish grocery shopping. Round up what your are borrowing from friends. Thaw the turkey sometime after the point!

2 days before: Clean (bathrooms, pick up the toys and clutter, mop etc)

Day before: Start the cooking (make your desserts, salads and cold dishes, prep the relish tray etc) You could even put out tableware and set tables.

Thanksgiving Day: Put the turkey in the oven, make all of the hot dishes, put drinks out. Finish any last minutes items and enjoy the day with your guests.

When you have everything written down and planned out into bite sized tasks, hosting thanksgiving dinner won’t seem so intimidating.

I have a free Thanksgiving planner printable to help you put all of these things organized on paper.  Sign up for the resource library and download them today!

printables from the thanksgiving checklist

printables from our thanksgiving planner printable. Get this Thanksgiving checklist today and make hosting the big day a breeze!


How To Make Oat Flour at Home

Are you wondering how to make oat flour?

jar full of oat flour! Have you ever wondered how to make oat flour? This post will tell you how!

I’m a fan of making things myself. Especially things that are super easy.

Usually it’s significantly cheaper to DIY and a lot of the time it’s better for you too.

Oat flour is one of those things. Don’t spend extra money paying someone else to grind your oats! Do it yourself. It takes seconds. Nope, that’s not exaggerating.

It really is as easy at it seems.

All you need is:

  • a blender
  • old fashioned rolled oats

a blender with oats in it. If you've ever wondered how to make oat flour, this post will tell you how.

Let’s talk blenders for a second. I received a JC Penney brand blender when we got married 12 years ago. Nothing super expensive or fancy but it worked. Until it didn’t. It burned out after a couple of years.

Next, we got a Ninja Prep. Again, nothing super expensive. I think we got it on Black Friday for under $40. That worked okay for a while. Then it spend a year of making me wonder if each use was going to be its last until it finally hit the dust a year ago.

After months of internal debate (I struggle when it comes to spending money), we settled on a refurbished Vitamix. (That’s the one I got – super, super great deal on 2018 Prime Day for just over $200.)

It is a dream.

The homemade oat flour comes out so much finer than it ever did in the Ninja.

How To Make Oat Flour

It’s as easy as measuring your rolled oats, putting them in the blender, and turning it on.

30 seconds. That’s it – and you are done and ready to bake.

If the recipes calls for 1 cup of oat flour, put 1 scant cup of rolled oats in the blender.

measuring cups with homemade oat flour. If you've ever wondered how to make oat flour, this post will tell you how.

2 cups of rolled oats equals about 2 1/3 cups of homemade oat flour!

Again, your blender will make a difference as to how fine the oat flour will be. Not as good of blenders will require a longer period of blending and will still result in a grittier flour – but you can still make it! I did it that way for years. 🙂

Be sure to “fluff” your flour when it comes out of the blender before measure. It can be a little compact.

A couple other easy and cheap things you can try making yourself:

Homemade Yogurt
“Refried” Beans

How To Make Oat Flour
  • Rolled Oats
  1. Put the amount of rolled oats in the blender that you want of oat flour.
  2. Turn the blender on and blend for a minute - the oats will turn into a flour like powder.
  3. Loosely scoop into a measuring cup and use in place of purchased oat flour.


What are you favorite food items to DIY? Give this easy homemade oat flour a try before you go out and buy it again. Learning how to make oat flour is a breeze!

a blender and measuring cups with rolled oats. If you have ever wondered how to make oat flour, this post will tell you how!

Aldi Meal Plan

We are back again with another meal plan that uses the produce and meat sales in this week’s Aldi ad. I love shopping at Aldi – the bulk of my purchases come from there and then a will pick up a few items that are on sale at other stores. So an Aldi meal plan is the best!

If you struggle with coming up with ideas for what to eat this week, I hope this post gives you some inspiration.

I’m a huge fan of using menu planning as a way to keep grocery costs down (my first point in this post on drastically reducing your grocery budget). No matter how many of these recipes you use, I highly recommend you get your downloadable menu plan template and put it to use. It has saved me so much money over the years:

This week, I’m not only going to include the sample Aldi menu, but I will also share what I’m feeding my family for the next week on my $170 a month grocery budget. This means twice as many ideas.

Aldi Produce and Meat Sales to Check Out (10/10-10/17):

These prices are in my local ad – your prices might vary.

  • Gala apples (1.49 for 3 pounds)
  • Oranges (1.99 for 3 pounds)
  • Red grapes (.85 a pound)
  • Pineapple (1.29 each)
  • Grassfed ground beef (4.49 a pound)
  • Bone in chicken thighs (.79 a pound)

Each week will include one or two vegetarian meals. This is a great way to keep your grocery budget down. Another tip for a lower grocery budget is to select just 4-5 of the listed suppers and eat leftovers the other nights. (This is also a time saver!)

Aldi Meal Plan


Potato Sausage Soup (use potatoes and kale leftover from last week)
Crispy Chicken Thighs (make extra to use in the chicken rice casserole)
Taco Salad with salsa and chips. (Use ground beef and/or beans)
Pasta Pomodoro
Chicken Rice Casserole (use the leftover meat from the chicken thighs)
Vegetarian 15 Bean Soup

Snack and Side Ideas:

Apples, oranges, grapes
Carrot and celery sticks
Roasted veggies (carrots, celery, potatoes, green beans, etc)
Homemade biscuits

Frugal Lunch Ideas:

Rice Cakes (with peanut butter or meat)
Beans and Rice
Roasted Vegetables

Frugal Breakfast Ideas:

Hard boiled eggs
Pumpkin muffins

$170 per month Menu Plan for this Week:

Okay, and now for my family’s menu for the week. I plan using the method I outline in my menu planning template:

Pancakes for lunch
Chicken and Veggie Noodle Soup for supper

Eggs and hashbrowns for lunch
Small groups for supper

Monday: Leftover soup

Tuesday: New spaghetti squash recipe (bought the squash when it was on sale last week)

Wednesday: Kids eat at church

Thursday: Leftover spaghetti squash

Friday: Pizza night

Breakfasts: Oatmeal, leftover pancakes, eggs

Lunches: PB sandwiches on homemade sourdough, veggies, fruit, salad, deli meat

Snacks: Grapes and pretzels

What’s on your menu this week?

Fresh Cranberry Recipes You Want to Try

Collage of the best fresh cranberry recipes out there!

Fresh cranberries are so tart and delicious. That means that fresh cranberry recipes are the best. Obviously there is a place for dried cranberries, but man, fresh is just unbeatable.

Frozen cranberries are a perfect substitute for fresh, so when you find a great deal on cranberries after Thanksgiving (I’ve gotten bags for 49 cents before) stock up on enough to last you the year and just store them in the freezer.

Maybe you find yourself wondering what exactly you should do with fresh cranberries. Perhaps the only way you’ve ever seen them used is in cranberry sauce that’s set out with the turkey (even though almost no one eats it).

Wonder no more.

This post is the ultimate list of fresh cranberry recipes. You can experiment and cook and bake to your heart’s content. There are things from muffins to appetizers to chicken to desserts.

Everything you could possibly want or need.

Fresh Cranberry Recipes

Fresh Cranberry Muffins and Quick Breads

Delicious and healthy oat flour pumpkin muffins with cranberries and chocolate chips! So good and wheat free and refined sugar free. Great way to start your morning.

Oat Flour Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cream Cheese Muffins
Fresh Cranberry Muffins

Photo from abcs and garden peas White Chocolate Orange Cranberry Bread

Cranberry Orange Bread Loaf Cake
Gluten Free Cranberry Chocolate Bread
Cranberry Orange Bread
Cranberry Banana Bread
Cranberry Orange Chocolate Chip Bread
Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Bread
Homemade Cranberry Orange Bread Recipe
Cranberry Pumpkin Bread
White Chocolate Orange Cranberry Bread
Cranberry Applesauce Bread
Cranberry Nut Bread

Fresh Cranberry Breakfasts

Photo by Recipes from a Pantry: Baked Sweet Potato Pancake

Bake Sweet Potato Pancakes with Orange Cranberry Compote
Ricotta Orange Pancakes with Ricotta Sauce
Cinnamon Cranberry Overnight French Toast Bake
Pistachio, Oat, and Cranberry Breakfast Pancakes
Slow Cooker Cranberry Eggnog Oatmeal
Cranberry Almond Donuts
Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake
Orange Cranberry Coffee Cake
Cranberry Orange Drop Biscuits
Chocolate Cranberry Scones

Fresh Cranberry Pies

Photo by House of Nash Eats: Cranberry Apple Pie

Nantucket Cranberry Pie
Pear, Apple, Cranberry Crumble Pie
Cranberry Apple Pie
Cranberry Pear Lattice Pie
Cranberry Pie

Fresh Cranberry Cakes

Photo by Mom Foodie: Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Cranberry Swirl Semolina Cake
Cranberry Orange Pound Cake
Cranberry Apple Muffin Cake
Cranberry Sour Cream Bundt Cake
Cranberry Orange Cake
Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Fresh Cranberry Cookies

Recipe from Hearth and Vine: Shortbread Cookies

Fresh Cranberry Shortbread Cookies
Cranberry Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Other Fresh Cranberry Dessert Recipes

Photo by Salt and Lavender: Rustic Cranberry Galette

Fresh Cranberry Shortbread Bars
Eggnog Cranberry Popsicles 
No Churn Cranberry Ice Cream
Cranberry Mini Vegan Cheesecakes
Low Carb Cranberry Swirl Cheesecakes
Rustic Cranberry Galette 
Apple Cranberry Tart Recipe
Slow Cooker Strawberry Cranberry Crumble Dessert
Cranberry Cream Tart
Gluten Free Cranberry Shortbread Bars

Fresh Cranberry Smoothies

Photo by All Nutribullet Recipes: Cranberry Oatmeal Smoothie

Low Carb Keto Cranberry Smoothie
Cranberry Oatmeal Smoothie Recipe
Cranberry Smoothie
Cranberry and Orange Smoothie
Cranberry Mango Layered Smoothie
Pomegranate Cranberry Smoothie

Fresh Cranberry Appetizers

Ruby Red Cherry Cranberry Salsa
Cranberry Brie Pastries
Cranberry Pomegranate Baked Brie

Fresh Cranberry Side Dishes

Photo by Kudos Kitchen by Renee: Holiday Vegetable Saute

Cranberry Clementine Brussel Sprouts 
Holiday Vegetable Saute
Apple Cranberry Acorn Squash 
Cranberry Apple Walnut Stuffing

Fresh Cranberry Main Dishes

Slow Cooker Cranberry Chicken
Slow Cooker Pork Loin with Cranberry Walnut Relish
Stuffed Delicata Squash with Beef and Cranberries
Spicy Cranberry Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches
Cranberry Chicken Thighs
Cranberry Orange Chicken

Homemade Cranberry SaucePhoto from Eat the Love: Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Best Cranberry Sauce Recipe Ever
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Pineapple Cardamom Cranberry Sauce
One Minute Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Beverages

Photo from I Heart Naptime: Wassail

Orange Cranberry Holiday Punch
Cranberry Pineapple Mocktail
Homemade Fresh Cranberry Juice

Cranberry Butter

Photo from Cincy Shopper: Cranberry Butter

Fresh Cranberry Butter Recipe with Orange and Vanilla
Cranberry Butter

Non Food Uses:

Photo from Confessions of An Overworked Mom

Cranberry Stove Top Potpourri 
Cranberry Candle Centerpiece

Do you enjoy cranberry season as much as I do? What are your favorite fresh cranberry recipes?

Baking with cranberries is on my list to do as soon as possible. Both the tart sweet and tart savory combinations  are perfection.

Collage of the best fresh cranberry recipes!

Aldi Meal Plan October 5

meal plan chalkboard and an aldi meal plan for this week

Do you struggle with coming up with meals to make each week? This Aldi meal plan will give you the inspiration you need to come up with a weekly meal plan for your family.

You can use this meal plan for your week as written or choose just some of the recipes from it to combine them with your family favorites or a recipe you’ve been meaning to try for months.

I’m a huge fan of using menu planning as a way to keep grocery costs down (my first point in this post on drastically reducing your grocery budget). No matter how many of these recipes you use, I highly recommend you get your downloadable menu plan template and put it to use. It has saved me so much money over the years:

Aldi Produce and Meat Sales to Check Out (10/3-10/9):

  • Grape tomatoes
  • Green grapes
  • Acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash
  • Multi colored bell peppers
  • Boneless chicken breast
  • Boneless whole port butt roast

Each week will include one or two vegetarian meals. This is a great way to keep your grocery budget down. Another tip for a lower grocery budget is to select just 4-5 of the listed suppers and eat leftovers the other nights. (This is also a time saver!)

Aldi Meal Plan


BBQ Pork Baked Potatoes – if not using for two meals, freeze half the bbq pork for another week or cut the recipe in half. Serve with raw veggies. (Save the rest of the bag of potatoes for a soup next week)
Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein
Chopped Salad Serve with homemade muffins or bread
Pork Tacos topped with lettuce and corn served with homemade salsa and chips (stretch the meat with black beans and freeze half for another week)
Cheesy Lentil Pie Serve with fresh or roasted veggies and fruit. (Lentils can be hit or miss at Aldi, so when you find them stock up! )
Easy Kale Sausage and White Bean Soup (Save the rest of the kale for another soup next week or use in a smoothie for breakfast)
Spaghetti (with ground beef or meatless). Serve with raw vegetables and french bread.

Snack and Side Options:

Fruit: grapes and apples
Raw Vegetables: Carrots, celery, bell pepper strips, grape tomatoes
Roasted Squash and root vegetables
French Bread

Frugal Lunch Ideas:

Rice Cakes (with peanut butter or meat)
Beans and Rice
Roasted Vegetables

Frugal Breakfast Ideas:

Scrambled Eggs
Baked Pancakes

What are you going to make this week? Do you use an Aldi meal plan? Basing your menu off of what’s on sale (or what you picked up on clearance or sale the weeks before and put in the freezer) is a great way to stretch your dollar and feed your family on a budget.


Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein Recipe

If you haven’t jumped on the spaghetti squash train yet, this is the recipe to do it on! Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein is so good.
spaghetti squash chow mein in the shells. this recipe is so good and healthy!

I’ve had some spaghetti squash flops over the years, but this recipe is not one of them. In fact, I eagerly await squash season so I can make it again each year.

My girls (2 and 7) eat seconds of this and even my (not a fan of squash) husband gives this a thumbs up. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that one of his favorite meals is the regular kind of chow mein.

This dish is loaded with veggies. If you want it to be vegetarian, leave off the chicken. For the omnivores out there, the chicken adds a tasty touch.

A lot of spaghetti squash recipes don’t hold up well as leftovers, but we enjoy this one the next day just as well. I’m all about cooking once and eating at least twice!

This recipe, as written, fed my family of 5 twice, so I’d say it would serve 6-8 as adult portions. I bought 3 spaghetti squashes that totaled 6 pounds.

The method of cooking spaghetti squash that’s in this recipe is my go to. It always turns out fabulous and once I cut the squash in half, it’s super simple.

Another of my favorite spaghetti squash recipes is this one: Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash! Yum!
A bowl of spaghetti squash chow mein. Amazing and healthy recipe that even kids love!

Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein

Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 6 pounds spaghetti squash
  • 6 stalks of celery, thinly sliced (around 3 cups)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and grated (around 2 cups)
  • 2-3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • ¼ cup soy sauce, coconut aminos etc
  • 1-2 cups diced, cooked chicken (optional)
  • Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Cut spaghetti squash in half and scrape out the seeds and stringy insides. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool until you can handle them. Use a fork to scrape across the squash short ways to make "noodles".
  2. In a large skillet heat a tablespoon of oil and saute the onions 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook a few more minutes.
  3. Add the carrots and celery to the skillet. Stir and cook a few minutes.
  4. Add the cabbage and cook until all the vegetables are tender.
  5. Add the spaghetti squash to the skillet and combine.
  6. Drizzle ¼ cup of soy sauce (or alternative) over the mixture.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and additional soy sauce to taste.


I’m curious, where do you stand on spaghetti squash: lover, hater, or never tried? If you are a fan, what’s your favorite way to eat it?

P.S. If you are curious the way I made it and it flopped, it was a spaghetti squash carbonara recipe. I’m perfectly okay never attempting that one again. 😉

spaghetti squash chow mein in the shells. this recipe is so good and healthy!spaghetti squash chow mein in the shells. this recipe is so good and healthy!A bowl of spaghetti squash chow mein. Amazing and healthy recipe that even kids love!

The Best Homemade Fluffy Pancakes

Mmmmm. Light, airy, hot off the griddle. This is the best homemade fluffy pancakes recipe out there.

Homemade Fluffy Pancakes stacked on a plate is one of the best sights. You'll never make pancakes without these tips again.

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Many a Saturday morning growing up, my dad would pull out the big giant green Tupperware bowl and mix up a humongous batch of pancakes. We ate dozens of these things each week. I can remember him even feeding numerous neighbor kids.

Now that I have kids of my own, pancakes or waffles are a typical Saturday lunch.

(I have an apple whole wheat pancake recipe right here for another fun option.)

Maple syrup is our go to topping but fruit and/or butter would also be delicious.

There are two things that help make these pancakes extra fluffy.

Let’s start with the buttermilk.

Buttermilk makes amazing pancakes (and rolls – I’ll have to share that recipe soon). If you don’t have buttermilk, you can do the trick of adding a little vinegar to the milk and letting it sit a few minutes.

*Decrease the amount of milk mixture by 1-2 tablespoons if not using real buttermilk.*

You can also use almond milk and vinegar for a dairy free substitute.

The egg whites.

This is the second secret. Separate your eggs and beat the egg whites until they are stiff. The final step before cooking your pancakes will be to fold the egg white mixture into your batter. I love using a silicone spatula for this. Mine are from The Pampered Chef, but these ones on Amazon seem to have good reviews too!

You guys, this is so good! You might dirty an additional bowl but it’s worth it.

This recipe also calls for an optional extra – a little bit of cinnamon. Give it a try!

In the pictures above, I made a triple batch.

Freezing Instructions:

I love to whip up a giant batch of these homemade fluffy pancakes and put the leftovers in the freezer. Be sure and freeze them in a single layer and after the pancakes are frozen transfer them to a zipped freezer bag.

To eat, pull one out of the freezer and put it in the toaster for the perfect, easy weekday breakfast.

Homemade Fluffy Pancakes stacked on a plate is one of the best sights. You'll never make pancakes without these tips again.

P.S. We even make these into whole wheat pancakes! Freshly ground soft white wheat is the best for that.

Homemade Fluffy Pancakes

5.0 from 2 reviews
Homemade Fluffy Pancakes
Serves: 6-7 pancakes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (see notes for substitute)
  • 2 T oil (or melted butter)
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • ½ t soda
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • opt.dash or two of cinnamon
  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and optional dash of cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
  2. Separate the egg.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, oil, vanilla, and milk.
  4. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until lumps are gone.
  5. In another bowl beat the egg white until stiff.
  6. Gently fold the egg whites into the pancake batter with a silicone spatula.
  7. Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  8. Put a ⅓ of a cup of batter onto a hot skillet and cook until golden. (Watch for small bubbles to come up and the edges to look a little more firm.) Flip and cook the other side.
  9. Serve with toppings of choice.
Buttermilk Substitute: use regular milk or almond milk, decreasing amount by 2 tablespoons. Add a scant tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice and let stand for 5 minutes.


If you are looking for some other breakfast ideas, check out:


Yummy! Homemade Fluffy Pancakes stacked on a plate is one of the best sights. You'll never make pancakes without these tips again.Homemade Fluffy Pancakes stacked on a plate is one of the best sights. Please make this! Amazing recipe.

Best Simple Fried Rice Recipe

I love, love, love fried rice! When you combine it with easy and get a simple fried rice recipe, it’s a winner all around!

best simple fried rice recipe

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Secret ingredients are always a good sign! This recipe has a couple and the extra pop of flavor makes it the best fried rice.

I love using basmati rice when making this. I’ve even used brown basmati. If you don’t have that, try using a long grain white rice.

Try using cauliflower rice if you are limiting your carbs. Shredded cabbage you saute with the rest of the veggies would also likely work.

bowl of dry rice for simple fried rice recipe

If you have a super busy day, this recipe is perfect because you can prep your vegetables the day before (or even several days before). You can also use leftover rice because day old rice makes the best fried rice. See, I told you this is a simple fried rice recipe. 🙂

Did you know you can also freeze fried rice? (I wouldn’t do this with cauliflower rice.) Simply make the fried rice and let cool completely. Place in freezer storage bags or food storage containers and place in freezer. Pull out of the freezer the night before or morning of when you are going to use them and let thaw in the fridge. Saute in a skillet for 5-10 minutes until warm

simple fried rice recipe ingredients

If you don’t mind reheating in the microwave, this would also be perfect to freezer in single serving amounts to pack for work lunches.

Secret Ingredients!

There are a couple ingredients that put this simple fried rice recipe over the top.

  1. Fresh ginger. Of course fresh garlic is involved, but the ginger adds a little something special.
  2. Toasted sesame oil. If you’ve never had this, you are missing out! My picky, opinionated 5 smelled the bottle and proclaimed how good it smelled. Do yourself a favor and get some for this recipe and for making the best Asian salad dressings. (I’ve linked to it on Amazon, but I’ve found it at Aldi for a great price before.)
  3. Sambal. Okay, this is totally optional. My kids don’t use it, but I’m obsessed. It adds a kick and a little extra punch of flavor. I blame my dad for turning me onto this years ago. You could also use siracha (I’ve also found the equivalent of this at Aldi).

simple fried rice recipe square picture

Favorite tool!

I LOVE using a microplane for the ginger and garlic. It makes it fast and super easy.

P.S. I love using fried rice to sneak in lots of veggies. 🙂  In these pictures, it’s the amounts listed in the recipe, but often times I add in extra.

Simple Fried Rice Recipe

Best Simple Fried Rice Recipe
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • ½ inch ginger, peeled and minced/micro-planed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced/micro-planed
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 6 cups cooked cold rice
  • 1-2 cups cooked, diced meat (optional)
  • 3 scrambled eggs (optional)
  • oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Sambal or siracha (optional)
  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add a little cooking oil (can use butter).
  2. After heated, add the onions and stir and cook 5 minutes. (Lower heat if needed.) When beginning to soften add garlic and ginger and continue to cook another 3-7 minutes until fragrant and tender.
  3. Add carrots and continue to saute. After a few minutes add the frozen vegetables and continue to saute until everything is hot and tender. (Add meat at the end of this time if using.)
  4. Add rice to the pan and stir over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add soy sauce and and sesame oil and stir to combine.
  5. Take off heat and adjust soy sauce and salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Add scrambled eggs if using.
  7. Serve with sambal or siracha on the side.


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