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31 August 2015

Menu Plan Monday for August 31st.

Menu planning has become even more important to me lately as I enter a pricey time of the year for us.  I have Josh turning eleven next week, Josiah's birthday follows in mid October, then the joy (and expense) of Christmas means there's no better time to tighten the purse strings. 

I think that's one of the biggest benefits of menu planning - the ability to make an easy change and free up some cash when needed.  I'll admit, I've been completely loosey goosey with our budget the past six months and I can tell it.  We're back on the menu plan and cash envelopes.  It's a good thing.

That being said, here's this week's menu:

Monday:  Steak hoagies, roasted potatoes, peaches
Tuesday:  BBQ chicken, baked sweet potato, corn.
Wednesday:  Crock pot lasagna, salad
Thursday:  Easy taco salad
Friday:  Co-op pizza party - I'm taking brownies.
Saturday:  Keilbasa & potatoes, applesauce
Sunday:  General Tso's

So what's good at your place this week?

26 August 2015

Five Easy Ways to Feed Your Family: The Back to School Edition.

Here we go guys.  Back to school time seems to coincide with back to crazy busy season.  It's not just heading back to school.  It's all the sports and events and busyness that accompanies it that makes us feel a little overwhelmed.  Add to that a house filled with people who, oddly enough, expect you to feed them.....  well it can make you not so nice.

Here's some ideas on how to get food on the table.

  • Big batches.  If you have to cook (and you do), make double or triple and save it for another time.  I always make double or triple of taco meat, sloppy joes, grilled chicken, chili, hot dog sauce and soup beans.  I use one serving for dinner on the night I make it and freeze the rest in labeled freezer bags for use on a night that I know I'll be busy.  With most of the meals, I just throw a frozen lump of meat (especially tacos, sloppy joes and chili) into the crock pot in the morning and turn it on low.  By the time I get home the majority of my work is done.  Add a veggie or two and dinner's on the table. 
  • Quick and easy meals.  These are my go to's when I have nothing.  No time, no energy and no money for takeout.  There's quick, cheap and easy - my perfect trifecta of a recipe.  Some of my go to's are keilbasa & potatoes, the big sandwich, quick potato dinner, and Uncle J's dish.  And of course, if you're really in a bind there's always breakfast for dinner.
  • Freeze and grill it.  This is my main way to do chicken.  When you come home from the store (or in our case the farm) take a few minutes to separate out your chicken into freezer bags.  Throw in a great marinade and toss your labeled bag in the freezer.  Pull it out to thaw before work or after breakfast on the day you need it.  It's just a quick grill from there to dinner.  I usually add baked potatoes done in the microwave and a veggie.  Some of my favorite marinades are sweet suprise sauce for chicken or pork, honey grilled chicken, and this amazing chicken and steak marinade from Mennonite Girls Can Cook. 
  • My final tip is Leftover love.  We have leftover night just about any week that we actually have leftovers.  It's simple.  Just warm it all up and put it on the table.  Why waste what you've made, right?

And there you have it.  Now get to it!

Pictures from Anne Taintor.

24 August 2015

Menu Plan Monday for August 24th.

I'm up.  I'm caffeinated.  I'm ready to start school with these three characters:


I realized today that I'm always mentioning that we're busy this week and I need to make low key dinners.  We're busy every week.  Who isn't?  And I'm pretty much accustomed to low key meals that get dinner on the table fast.  It's kinda my thing.

This week's menu is no different:

Monday:  Cheeseburgers, potato salad, sautéed zucchini and peach cobbler.
Tuesday:  BLT's, potato salad, applesauce.
Wednesday:  Taco salads.
Thursday:  Roast chicken (in the crockpot), baked potatoes, green beans.
Friday:  Pizza night.
Saturday:  Zucchini lasagna - using my crockpot lasagna recipe but switching out noodles for zucchini since I have an abundance of zucchini.
Sunday:  Leftovers

And there you have it!

So what's good at your place this week?

22 August 2015

Make Over Your Mornings.

Let me start by saying that I loved this course!

At the end of June, I was talking with my friend Tracey about how I just couldn't seem to get on track.  I was accomplishing what had to get done in my life - feeding the tribe, basic cleanliness - but I just couldn't get motivate like I used to be.  I felt like I was always rushing around from one thing to the next but never actually in control of my days.  Just putting out fire after fire. 

Imagine my surprise when my I got an email from my favorite blogger, Crystal Paine at moneysavingmom.com with a new e-course.  Tracey & I decided to take this course at the same time to encourage each other and, if I'm being honest, so that I could be accountable to someone to actually finish it.  Make Over Your Mornings was just the encouragement I needed to get back on track.  The videos were just 5 minutes a day followed by a 5 minute or less read in the accompanying e-book and a 5 minute challenge.  The best thing about this course is that it wasn't a "one size fits all" type course.  It challenged me to think about what I needed to do to make my life run smoother. 

I spent time thinking about what my families priorities are and what my personal priorities are and came up with a daily plan that helps me to accomplish what's important to running this house and making my life less stressful.  Since July, I've been following a morning and evening routine that wasn't just something I found on Pinterest that works for someone else.  My routine needed to include time for running a rental business, homeschooling three active boys, finding time to spend with a consistently busy husband who basically is doing two full time jobs, serving at my church, caring for a small house that with five people in it quickly gets messy and finding time to take care of me - spiritually and physically.  Something that frequently gets tossed to the wayside. 

And yes, I probably could have came up with a plan on my own.  But here's the thing - I didn't.  And I hadn't.  And what I was doing wasn't working.  By taking just 15 minutes a day for 14 days, I was able to get back on track in little bite size increments. 

Interested?  Check it out at makeoveryourmornings.com.  There's a one day sale on August 25th.  You can get the 14 day course for $10.  This is not an affiliate link for me.  I get nothing from it.  I just know how it motivated me to get back on track. 

And maybe I'm not the only one needing some motivation.