Menu Plan Monday

I have been faithfully planning my menus but not making time to post them here. So, today I am making the time. :) I read the post recently about 25 Meals from Aldi for under $150. Awesomeness is what that was. Of course, they were meals for 4….so really, for us, it was like 12 meals from Aldi for under $150. But, still pretty great! Most of them are things we would eat. Any fish dishes wouldn’t work here (unless it is shellfish, but it wasn’t), so I eliminated those or replaced them with a meat. I worked our menus for last week and this week around that post and the ingredients, so it saved me some time with planning and purchasing, since some of the items I had on hand last week to use this week. Woo-hoo! I am all for saving time because it inevitably saves me money, too!

Here is what we are working with this week:

Dinners (from that post):

Red Pepper and Kielbasa Pasta

Black Beans and Rice

Marinated Grilled Chicken (except ours will be in the crockpot instead of grilled)

Turkey meatballs (DELICIOUS recipe)

Pizza (not on that list of Aldi foods…but they are Aldi pizzas!)

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Lunch:

Leftovers x 4

PB&J x 3

Breakfast:

Birthday waffles for Iris’ bday – with chocolate chips and syrup….sugar!!!

Waffles x 2

Creamy Cheesy Eggs, Toast

Cereal x 2

Eggs and Bacon

Snacks:

Fruit (this week we have honeydew melon, nectarines, plums, apples, bananas and blueberries)

Birthday cake!

Granola bars

What’s your menu look like this week? Have you read that post about the Aldi meals and tried it? Please share!

 

 

 

Hello Old Friend!

I knew keeping up with the blog and everything else was going to be tough. I love writing, but with all the other things going on in our lives it had to take a back seat. Hopefully, I can etch out more time to blog. It is a nice release for me – a quiet time with no one nagging me, a time to vent my frustrations and/or share my excitement, a way to get out all the things I feel like bombarding my husband with when he walks in the the door and it probably isn’t the right time to talk his ear off but I haven’t spoken with another adult in 12+ hours so I just start rambling…

:)

To catch you up with life over here:

  • Ethan is believed to have allergies….BAD allergies. Other than living with the sister 2 years younger than me and seeing her frustration with asthma and allergies most of our childhood, I really don’t have much to go by as far as how bad it is – it just seems awful. He is miserable from the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep (and even after he is asleep, some nights). He still plays with the kids and wants to be outside, but being outside makes everything 100 times worse. And today there is an Air Quality Alert, so I will be keeping him inside. Tomorrow I am taking him for a blood draw to see if he is, specifically, allergic to our dog. Apparently even though Jack has been around since before the kids were born, Ethan could still develop an allergy to him. So, our doctor said we could do a specific panel for that type of allergy. In all honestly, I hope it is the dog. Not that I hate our dog (although,  I do have my moments!!), but if we can eliminate the allergen that would be fantastic! If it is something outside he is allergic to (seasonal), obviously we cannot completely eliminate it and he will be miserable every Spring. He is currently on a daily antihistamine and a minimum of two albuterol nebulizer treatments. And for the past three days he has had a fever of over 101. Ears, throat and chest do not indicate any virus, per the doctor….so who knows what it is. I just feel awful for him, and we are both exhausted by the end of the day. The bigger kids are also a little frustrated with not being able to go riding their bikes as much as they’d like because I am keeping Ethan inside more than usual.
  • Lily is still getting up almost every night. I received a suggestion from a few friends, that either dealt with children that awoke every night or had a close family member that went through it, to create a bed on the floor next to our bed. She is allowed to come in whenever and just lie there to sleep. The goal is for her to feel in control (and to not have to wake us every.single.night.). There have been a few nights, when she is absolutely exhausted, that she slept through the night in her room. I thought maybe that was it – she needed to be completely worn out to sleep well. But, she defied my theory last week after an exhausting day and still came in at night. We don’t talk about it during the day except to congratulate her when she is able to stay in her bed all night. I have heard from those that suggested the bed on the floor that it could take months before she feels able to just stay in her own bed and not come in our room. I am thankful for the bed suggestion, as it seems to help with less waking of all three of us at night, BUT I also still feel bad that she is waking up still and not able to get a full night’s sleep every night. I am pretty certain she knows we love her regardless of her sleeping habits :), and we try not to talk negatively about the night waking, so she feels ok about herself. Today is exactly two months of the night waking….
  • We are done with school for the Summer!! Iris and Lily are going to journal almost every day this Summer to keep up with writing (Iris dislikes writing!!), read and visit the library at least once a week, and not be allowed to veg out in front of the tv every day. :) BUT, as far as sitting to do work for a set amount of time we are done til August!! It feels great but it also feels a little chaotic, as we are trying to figure out a good routine or schedule for Summer time.
  • Arthur won a race!! We were super excited to watch him come in first (by a landslide….no one was anywhere close to him!!) in a 5K. He wasn’t happy with his time, BUT we are very proud. He has been working hard on training to lower his mile time and I think he is doing great (although, I am not a runner and anything faster than me seems awesome!). He has a coach and is running with the New Balance Team….which is an awesome accomplishment for having a crazy work schedule, driving two hours a day at least to get to/from work, and having a big family. He is actually running a race at the zoo today; we were going to attend and cheer him on but with Ethan’s fever and the air quality alert, we decided the kids and I would stay home. :(
  • Iris and Lily were baptized two weeks ago!! Iris asked Jesus into her heart a while ago but the timing never worked for Arthur to be off on a Sunday they were doing baptisms. Lily more recently asked Jesus into her heart, and the timing worked for them to both be baptized on a Sunday Arthur was off of work!! Some of my family was able to attend, as well as my in-laws. It was a very special evening – for the girls, as they stepped out and publicly shared their decision, and for Arthur and I, as we were able to witness our oldest girls make the decision to do as Jesus commanded us. I was a proud Mama for sure!! (And, to top it off, the lady that read our girls’ testimonies during the baptism time was actually one of the ladies I work with through Melaleuca….it is pretty special to have business partners that are Christians and can share in our joy about our children’s growth in their faith!!)

Those are the major things I can think of that I would have rambled about had I been posting the past few weeks. Tomorrow, I should have a menu plan up for the week. We have made changes again with our foods. I am purchasing eggs from a family at church (can’t get more local than that!!). Our meat will be local as well (have been slacking on that lately). Most of our shopping is done at Aldi, even our organic products! And what I can’t get at Aldi, I am getting at Costco or Meijer…they both carry good organic produce items that Aldi doesn’t have. I am mostly sticking with the dirty dozen to buy as organic when I can (and corn, even though corn isn’t listed as a dirty item it is mostly gmo at the store so I would like to steer clear of that for now) and organic dairy. I decided not to buy organic milk because of things I have read about organic milk not being much of a benefit. And Aldi’s milk indicates it is from cows NOT given growth hormone. The only I worry about is the antibiotics. :( BUT, organic milk is $6 a gallon, compared to $2.49 a gallon for non-organic. Soooo, for now we are going with the $2.49, unfortunately. Some of the kids drink organic almond milk instead, so if we cut down on our milk purchase I may go back to buying organic. We’ll see. And we buy Melaleuca items for our vitamins, sports nutrition, and some snacks, as well as our household products (everything except toilet paper and diapers). So, that’s what we are doing….for now. :) It changes often.

Time for a shower and get going on the laundry. We have church tonight – a prayer service in the new sanctuary, where families will be writing our prayers for the church on the sub-floor. I think this is such a neat idea because the prayers will be there forever under the flooring! I love our church. I really do. So much passion for the Lord and encouragement for our daily walks. They really encourage fellowship with each other outside of the Sunday services, and we love our small group that meets twice a month. Great families (a lot of big families, too! which is awesome) that have kids for our children to grow up with! Very thankful we have our church!

Recipe: Braided Egg Bread

This recipe is adapted from a Pillsbury Kitchen’s Cookbook I have. It was so big and fluffy and delicious. We ate more than half with one meal!

1 1/4 cups milk

1/2 cup butter

4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

2 TBSP sugar

2 tsp salt

1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast

2 eggs

1. Heat milk and butter until warm (120-130 degrees).

2. place all ingredients in bread machine and run on Dough setting.

3. Grease cookie sheet.

4. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and divide into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into a strip about 20 inches long. Lay strips side by side on cookie sheet.

5. Pinch one end of strips together to hold. Braid by weaving far right strip over and under other strips. Continue with next strip on right, until braid is completed. Pinch ends together to hold.

6. Cover and let rise in warm place about 45-60 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush dough with beaten egg. Bake 35-40 minutes or until deep golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Immediately remove from heat and cool.

 

As usual, we did not wait for it to cool before we tore it apart. :) It was so good!

Recipe: Easy Chicken and Rice

Sunday evenings are busy here. The kids eat an early dinner at 4pm before we head to church at 5 for AWANA (kids’ program). I often rush to feed them snack-type foods…if I didn’t stay on top of things and get a meal cooked during the afternoon. This past Sunday, I fed the kids macaroni and cheese and some raw veggies, but I knew my husband would be hungry when he got home at 9:30 PM after working a late shift. Mac and cheese was not going to cut it! So, I used my awesome (NOT!) cooking skills and whipped up this gem. Turned out pretty tasty, and I am tucking it away in my recipes to use again. Total cook time was maybe 30 minutes, and I made it at 8PM after we got home and I had put the kids to bed.

Easy Chicken and Rice

1 cup rice, whatever kind you like – white, brown, anything

chicken broth, however much you need (according to your package) to cook your preferred type of rice

Garlic powder

Red onion, thinly sliced

Bell pepper, thinly sliced

Sea salt

Pepper

2 TBSP olive oil

1 cup cooked chicken, shredded or diced

1. Cook rice in broth, according to measurements and time on your package. Add in garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.

2. In small skillet, heat oil and add peppers and onions. Saute until tender but still a little crunchy. :)

3. When rice is finishing up, with a little liquid left, add in cooked chicken. Fluff rice when finished cooking. Plate the chicken and rice and top with peppers and onions.

Tah-Dah! :) Easy. Tasty and pretty healthy. My husband does not like chunks of onions and peppers, so I just gave him the chicken and rice (which wasn’t bland because of the broth it was cooked in!) but topped mine with the yummy peppers and onions.

You cook do a lot with this recipe, if you wanted to add other veggies. This is a good simple, starter recipe – use this way for a quick, easy healthy meal. Or Dress it up for more flavors!

A VERY Late Menu Plan :)

Well, of course, I am late on posting my menu. I finally made it yesterday but failed to put it on here. So far, I’ve been sticking to it and haven’t deviated. Unfortunately because I did not make it on Saturday or Sunday…I was unprepared for lunch on Monday after a long morning of shopping. AND, I caved and bought McDonald’s nuggets for the kids. I don’t mind a treat every now and then, but I don’t like doing it last minute because it ruins it for when we want to plan it later and I have already spent the money. :( Oops.

Breakfast

Muffins x 2

Cereal x3

Eggs

PB and Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Lunch

McDonald’s

Leftovers x 3

Cheese “tacos”

PB & J x 2

Dinner

Mac and Cheese (kids – Sunday early dinner before AWANA); Easy Chicken and Rice (mom and dad after AWANA)

Cornflake Crusted Pork Chops, Naan, Salad and raw veggies

Pasta with Meat Sauce Casserole, homemade breadsticks, green beans

Chicken Bacon Rice Skillet, Cooked carrots, salad

Honey Glazed Pork Chops, Asparagus, Naan

Creamy Chicken Bake, Salad, Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (we’re having company for dinner!!)

Frozen Pizza

Baked Goods

Bread

Granola Bars

Have a link to share you menu?? Please add in the comments!! (I am due for some new recipes…share with me!)  :)

Recipe: Homemade Vanille Coffee Creamer

Sunday morning, I experimented with a homemade vanilla creamer, and it turned out perfect! I used a few different recipes I saw online and combined them to make what I thought would be tastiest for us. I didn’t want to use any refined sugar, but I also didn’t want it to be JUST vanilla flavor. I like a little sweetness!

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups half and half (I suppose you could just use milk or even heavy cream. I had 2 pints of half and half on hand, so I used one here.)

1/4 cup honey (raw and local is best)

1 TBSP vanilla (NOT imitation)

Heat honey and vanilla in pan on stove and stir to combine. Do not boil. Just warm through to help the two mix well. Turn off heat and pour in half and half. Stir (with heat off) to combine well. Store in glass container (I used a Mason jar with a plastic lid) in fridge. I would advise to NOT use a recycled plastic creamer bottle or any other plastic. When you can, use glass. (just my “green” tip of the day. Haha!)

See how easy that is?! I did it in about 5 minutes, and that should last us about 2 weeks. I put about 4 TBSP of it in my coffee this morning, but I might cut back tomorrow. My hubby still wanted his sugar in addition to the creamer. To each their own, I suppose. :)

Enjoy!

Bake It Tuesday

This past weekend, I created a new version of our regular granola bars. I decided I wanted less refined sugar and more peanut butter. The following was my creation….and it was pretty darn good, too! I think I like them better than the “old” ones!

2 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup wheat germ

1 cup flour

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used “natural” – just peanuts and sea salt)

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup honey

2 tsp vanilla

1 egg, beaten

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Mix the oats, wheat germ flour and chocolate chips together. Make a well and add in the wet ingredients and the salt. Stir well to combine it all. Spread in greased 9×13 pan. Top with chopped peanuts and press down slightly to “stick” them to top of batter. Bake 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until edges are browned and top is golden. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Cut bars and lay on cooling rack until completely cooled. Store in sealed container (refrigerate if not going to eat in a few days, especially if using natural peanut butter).

One of those with a glass of milk. Mmmm. Delicious!