Monday, August 26, 2013

Eat on Purpose!

Menu planning seems to come easy for me.  I'm not sure why but I get it and I'm good at it!  But as I was enjoying the company of a dear friend this weekend, I discovered not everyone gets it.  Over the next couple of weeks, let's explore the inner workings of my brain and see what we can do to help everyone "get it." 

Eat on purpose.

Ok, ok.  I know we don't "accidentally" eat an entire pan of spaghetti or a carton of ice cream.  As silly as it may sound I ask myself why we will be eating what/when we do this coming week.  We keep a pretty full schedule between jobs, church and 4 kids!  What is the purpose of each meal?  Is it to hold us over until a big feast later that night?  Does it need to be quick?  Do I need it on the go?  Who will have an emotional crash if we go too long without eating?  Do the kids need to stay clean or will it be ok to get messy?  How fast do we need to eat and be out the door?

If you answer those kind of questions for each meal, you can choose recipes that fit your schedule. 
Eating on purpose is all about the ease of life! 

Eat on purpose to give your body and your family's bodies the nutrition it needs to stay healthy and strong. 
Eat on purpose to free yourself from unmet expectations.  A four-course meal isn't necessary every day!  Sometimes, you just need to fill tummies so you can get to the next activity.
Eat on purpose to set the example.  Little eyes are always watching our behavior.  Choose fresh, raw fruits or veggies over chips. Make On The Go Bags instead of swinging by McDonald's.  Lead by example.
Eat on purpose so you have time to enjoy life together.  I have been on the side of rushed dinner, rushed cleaning of kids, rushed bathroom breaks, rushed to get out the door on time (yet only to still be late).  Plan your meal so it frees you from being "rushed."

Days that are action packed require protein packed meals/snacks.  They may also require super simple meals.  When we are pressed for time, our On The Go Bags often consist of: string cheese, ham or turkey rolls (thinly sliced carrots & zucchini rolled in one slice of lunch meat), grapes, broccoli pieces and a few graham crackers. 

This week on our menu, I have days that extremely opposite!  One day has nothing planned, which will allow us to make a trip to the grocery store and then prep our food for later this week.  But I also have one day that we are gone from morning to night.  And there is even a sitter in there!  That day will require On The Go Bags for lunch and snacks and a freezer meal for the sitter (who may or may not be able to cook- but this beats ordering take out).

Have fun, eat well, enjoy life!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Freezer Meals on a Budget

SUCCESS!!!  That's how I feel about my weekend!  I am tooting my own horn because I DID IT!  This weekend I made 25 freezer meals for $200. You read that right, 25 meals for $200.  Not only did I make 25 meals, they are homemade, healthy, and mostly organic!  I chose a few recipes from and added a few of my own.  In addition to my meals, which are the main dishes, I also prepared a few sides and snacks.

Here's the menu:
Salmon Chowder (1)
Potato Leek Soup (2)
Chicken Broccoli Alfredo (4)
Sweet & Sour Chicken (2)
Chicken Teriyaki (4)
Beef and Broccoli (2)
Spicy Chicken (2)
Cilantro Lime Chicken for Tacos (3)
Honey Lime Chicken (4)
Chicken Stir Fry (1)
French Bread Pizzas (snacks)
Cornbread Muffins (12, sides)
Cheese & Bacon Cornbread Muffins (12, sides)

You can probably see a main theme.  Mostly chicken and mostly dishes served with rice.  I used our leftover salmon and made chowder, I had lots of potatoes from last week so I made soup and the beef was in the freezer from the last order from our ranchers.  The rest I was able to buy at Costco, hence all the chicken dishes.  And our Costco has an AMAZING selection of organic produce.  The few items I couldn't get at Costco or have at my house I bought at Fred Meyer (which has a great natural foods section).

These meals are mostly organic.  I wish I could say they are 100% organic, but there were a few ingredients that were not organic.  Our salmon, beef and chicken are wild/grass fed/free range organic.  All the veggies are organic.  My soy sauce is gluten free and has no gmo's.  I buy gluten free partly out of habit (childhood allergies) and because it has less ingredients than regular.  I love my pink Himalayan salt and garlic seasoning, which I used in a few recipes, even though they are not labeled organic.  However, there are no preservatives in them.

Hopefully you get the chance to try out a recipe or two this week!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Starting on Christmas in August

Costco has Christmas decorations out already!  I admit, it is a little too early for Christmas decor but I love Christmas!!!  Every year I get fun ideas for decorating, trees, packages, etc.  I have decided on Denim and Lace for this year.  I'm not a country kind of girl.  In fact, I'm a glitzy, sparkly, girly girl!  But I have pictures of these cutely wrapped packages under my tree.  Just imagine.... You walk into the dimly lit living room, lit only by the lights on the Christmas tree.  Under the tree decorated with children's handprint ornaments, mismatched decor are boxes of all shapes and sizes.  They are wrapped in brown paper from our paper bags, tied with strips of lace. And instead of the traditional name tags, there are are denim pockets with an off-white, aged card tucked in it.  Each card has hand-lettered names.  Oh, it seem so pretty inside my head!

Now for reality! I have lots of brown paper bags under my counter from grocery trips when I forgot my own bags or I bought more than I had bags for.  I also have LOTS of kids jeans that have too many holes, rips, tears to be passed on.  I will just cut out the back pockets.  And probably keep strips of denim just in case I need to make more pockets or use in place of lace.  I don't think the men and boys will appreciate the lace as much as the girls.  The only thing missing is lace!  Thankfully, Michaels has 40% off coupons every week.  A few here and there and, viola, done by November!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Is It Really Possible?!?!?

Have you ever wondered if it is actually possible to feed your toddler healthy foods instead of the traditional, processed "toddler" foods?  Let me tell you, it is!  And it is much easier than one might think.  We fell into the food industry's trap with #1.  As #1 got older, we got wiser.  Although #2 had some of the same packaged toddler foods, we were better at giving age appropriate real foods.  And we were practically pros with #3 & #4! 

I will add here that it does take a little prep time on your part.  So here are some helpful tips that I've picked up to help you feed your toddler and kids healthier foods.

1.  Prep foods all in the same day.  I do 5-7 days worth of food at once.  It will take a few hours of your day, but it will save you time (and giving in to processed foods) during the week.
2.  Divide food into the appropriate sized portions.  Use whatever containers you have on hand.  I reuse jars, I use BPA-free Tupperware, I even use Ziplocs (gasp!). 
3.  Refrigerate a few days worth and freeze the rest.  I hate the thought of food going bad before I've had a chance to use it.  There have been times that I was so sure we would use all the food up before it went bad- only to have our schedules change, last minute dinners with friends or trips to grandma's house.  And to my utter dismay, it went bad!
4.  Have a variety of foods available.  We taught our kids to "eat a rainbow" everyday.  Now they point out if we have missed some vital nutrients!  What does "eat a rainbow" mean?  Try to eat at least one fruit or vegetable from each color of the rainbow.
5.  Don't have time to prep ahead?  Just simplify whatever you are having for dinner.  Having tacos for dinner?  Black beans, shredded cheese, tomato chunks, and avocado pieces make a great toddler meal that they can feed themselves.

Breakfast- bananas, scrambled eggs, soft toast with apple butter or pumpkin butter, oatmeal, pancake pieces, cooked apples or peaches, yogurt.

Lunch or Dinner- black beans, peas, green beans, oranges (peeled so it's just the pulp), cooked carrots, steamed bell peppers, avocado, baked or mashed potato, baked or mashed sweet potato, squash pieces, steamed zucchini, steamed eggplant, homemade refried beans, stewed tomatoes.

Quick Snacks- soft fruits, any of the prepped veggies, cheese pieces.

We often think there are only a few foods that we can feed our little ones.  But they are developing taste buds and now is the perfect time to introduce them to a variety of fruits and vegetables. Protein can come from different sources- not just meat!  It really is possible to have well-fed toddlers without ever purchasing Cheerios, puff snacks or packaged meals.  YOU CAN DO IT!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Long Time, No See

Time to resurrect the dead!  I abandoned this blog about 2 yrs ago when my life pace became too "busy" to keep it going.  But over that time, I have missed blogging and would find myself thinking in blog posts!  Well, enough is enough!  I only have enough room for so many voices- time to start writing again. 

I find myself talking with people, particularly busy moms, about couponing, buying organic and prioritizing life.  I love it- it energizes me!  So, I thought I would start this again and share my journey through life and hopefully help a friend or two along the way!

How it works:  Because I tend to write about certain topics, I have days set aside for different ones.  Occasionally, I write just for the fun of writing whatever is on my mind.
Menu Mondays- My menu planning for the week (because our produce is delivered on Tuesdays)
Thrifty Green Thursdays- Little "green" tips or how-tos
Frugal Fridays- Ways to save money.  We live quite well on a small budget, so I like to share how we do it, what great deals I find, plans for our future, etc.

Hopefully as you read through these posts, you find something that will help make your world a little better :)