This week’s meal plan (1/28-2/1)

I think I could probably have taco night at least 3 times a week. That, and just eat green beans or potatoes to accompany my protein source. Pretty boring (but delicious). My husband could actually eat the same 3 things every week, but I feel like we should have some diversity in our meal planning. He also likes to eat a fairly strict primal diet that is grain-free and almost always without white potatoes. I like to eat that way too, so at least he keeps me honest!

Next month I am going to do something similar to the Grocery Savings Challenge, but post totals by the month. We are also ordering our eggs and most of our meat from local sources that pasture-raise their animals, so it might be interesting how much we will spend choosing quality of cost.

We have been getting some lovely weather here; the wind is a bit chilly, but a sunny 50-60 degree day is still nice! We even used the grill last night!

This week’s meal plan:

  • Monday: Grilled steaks (grass-fed! They were a Christmas gift), with baked sweet potatoes and steamed brussel sprouts with parsley butter (Strauss butter, you are amazing)
  • Tuesday: Macadamia crusted chicken breast, steamed green beans, mixed green salad
  • Wednesday: Pork chops with broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot stir-fry
  • Thursday: Italian meatloaf, mixed greens, roasted potatoes and carrots
  • Friday: BBQ chicken, 30-second brussel sprouts, avocado

Lunch: Leftovers or almond-butter smoothies

Breakfasts: Eggs and bacon or almond-butter smoothies

I’m in the middle of Spring cleaning and a teething baby, but I plan on posting recipes, Valentine’s Day ideas, and a glimpse at our bathroom remodel project coming up!

Anyone try a new recipe this week?


A family recipe: Mom’s spinach dip

My mom makes the best spinach dip. I have yet to find a spinach dip that compares. I remember my mom making it for all sorts of holidays and occasions. She’s been making this recipe for so long (over 26 years) that she has no clue where it first originated. She made her famous spinach dip yesterday for no special reason and I had to share.  It’s pretty simple to make, too!

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Chili-lime chicken with mango and avocado salsa

Today’s dinner was one of my favorites: thin chicken breasts seasoned with chili, lime, and other spices, then grilled and served with a mango and avocado salsa. It really hit the spot!

I could also eat the salsa by itself. I had to stop eating it by the spoonful or else there wouldn’t be enough for dinner! The salsa lasted us about 3 servings, but it could be more if I didn’t eat half of it just myself. It probably makes about 1 cup of salsa.

Chili-lime chicken with mango and avocado salsa recipe

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Tinfoil Packet Chicken

I’m not too motivated to cook dinner these days. Luckily my husband cooks a lot, so he makes sure all the food we have in our refrigerator doesn’t go to waste! Don’t get me wrong, I still cook, I just find it less appealing than before I was pregnant.


On a particularly motivationally-low day for both of us, I decided to try tinfoil pack chicken. I have never wrapped chicken up in tinfoil before and cooked it in the oven, so I thought I would give it a try. I made a seasoning blend, cut and rinsed asparagus, and awaited for Marc to get home so he could pound out the chicken breasts.

I only had enough tinfoil for 3 pouches and a bit more chicken than that, but we made it work.

The seasoning blend:

  • Italian Seasoning
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Garlic powder

The packet contents:

  • Chicken breasts (pounded out)
  • Asparagus
  • Sundried tomatoes, diced

How we made the packets:

  • Lightly oiled tinfoil
  • Seasoned chicken
  • Put chicken in center of foil
  • Tosses asparagus in seasoning and oil
  • Places asparagus on top of chicken
  • Folded up foil packet

How we cooked the packets:

  • Placed packets in pan (or oven-safe dish)
  • Cooked on 350 degrees, for 30 minutes

How we cooked the packets, continued:

  • We had a little too much chicken in the packets, so after 30 minutes, we opened one up and found the chicken still a bit raw
  • We cooked the packets for an additional 10 minutes, on 375 degrees

The results:

  • Chicken good
  • Asparagus, over-cooked
  • May attempt foil packs someday again, with some edits

I think if we would have only put one piece of chicken in the packets the asparagus would have turned out fine.

The spears of asparagus were less over-cooked than the bottom chunks of aspargus I threw in there.

Other recipes call for broccoli and peas, maybe they would fair better in a foil packet

Non-Candy Easter Basket Ideas for Children

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Every year we would get Easter Baskets from the Easter Bunny (just like stockings from Santa). My mom would fill our baskets with special treats and toys along with hiding Easter Eggs. It was almost like waking up on Christmas morning!

This year I only have my toddler-age Godchild to make a basket for, but I have been thinking about lots of other ideas! The following is a list of Easter Basket Filler Ideas that don’t involve candy – some to make and some to buy. Just follow the links for the craft tutorials or instructions!

What to use for baskets:

  • The cheap wicker Easter baskets they sell at the store
  • Other stores have more fun “baskets” like fabric animals and colorful pails
  • Colorful organizational totes at the dollar store (we get these the most – fun and functional for after Easter!)
  • Decorative bowls
  • Toy containers: baby doll bath tubs, strollers or cradles, Lego containers, etc. (holds the goodies and doubles as a toy)
  • Real baskets from a home or craft store
  • Instead of using Easter grass, use fabric, a new piece of clothing, a baby blanket, etc.

Easter Basket Ideas (other than candy):

  • Sidewalk Chalk (make your own without any toxic ingredients if you have the time)
  • Playdough
  • Gak  (another homemade ooze recipe)
  • Bubbles
  • Crayons (melt old or new crayons down and more into molds for personalized crayons)
  • Color books (or print coloring pages from online)
  • Babydoll or stuffed animal sleeping bags (See how HERE – Sleeping bags are good for boys or girls, just alter the color combinations!)
  • Spongeballs (great water toy or baby toy. Cheap and easy!)
  • Chipmunk or other animals from a glove
  • Teddy bears or a socktopuss  from colorful socks
  • Letters, shapes, or number sponges for bath time
  • Felt Food for play kitchens (Lots of stuff out there!)
  • Dinosaur tails for imagination play
  • Superhero capes (I can personally attest that super hero capes are for boys AND girls!)
  • Eggs full or small toys (think plastic dinosaurs, army men, Legos, etc)
  • Eggs full of colorful goldfish or cheerios (love this idea for my Godchild)
  • Stickers or stamps (My basket always had a ton of Lisa Frank stickers! Here’s a link on how to make your own stickers)
  • Pencils and stationary (there is so many free printables out there, you could probably print your own out as well)
  • Art supplies (one of my favorites as a kid)
  • Kites (we always got one of these in our basket!)
  • Balls or other sports equipment
  • Make your own airplane kits (you can buy these for a dollar or two at craft stores usually)
  • Sippy cups or drink cups (I bought a bunny cup with a straw for my Godchild)
  • Puzzles and other games
  • Flash cards or playing cards
  • Hair or jewelry accessories
  • Dress-up items
  • New clothes or shoes
  • Movies or music (Veggie Tales Jonah DVD is $5 at Target, along with some other kids movies)
  • Books and comics
  • Sand toys
  • Bath toys
  • Kids gardening supplies
  • Bug catching supplies
  • Craft kits

Theme Baskets:

  • Art supplies – paints, crayons, color books, notebooks, etc.
  • Sports/outdoor equipment – Frisbee, balls, 2 person paddle games, etc.
  • Baking or food – Aprons, play food, plates and other containers
  • Bathtime – foam and sponge shapes, containers, other bath toys
  • Beach or toy box– Sand pails, shovels, measuring cups, sifters, funnels, etc, This book would be cool too.
  • Gardening/bug catching/exploring – bug containers, nets, child-size shovels, boots, pots, explorer hats and vests
  • Superhero: Capes, KIDS comics and movies, action figures
  • Dress up – Jewelry, shoes, clothing, etc.
  • Game Time: Games and puzzles, snacks for family game night

What are you putting in your Easter Baskets?

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Grocery Savings Challenge Week 4: Review (with meal cost details)

In this week’s review, I thought I would try and break down the meal costs to be more accurate. I did not include the cost of oil or seasonings, since the cost is usually quite small per meal and hard to determine. If I grill in butter, I include the butter cost (and we use butter than comes from grass fed cows, so it’s about $7-8 a box).

Here was this week’s plan and cost:

The Meal Plan

The Final Cost

Meal ingredients: $42.61
Other items: $15.53
Total: $58.14

What we actually ate and price details:

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Heart Quilt for Your Little (Or your Lap)

Better late than never, but I finally finished by Godchild’s Christmas 1st Birthday Valentine’s Day quilt. I’ve been limiting my internet time during the day and wow, does that make me 100x more productive. I used some shortcuts that made making this quilt pretty easy, and while it’s not perfect, I’m happy with the overall results.

This quilt does not have batting, instead, I used a fuzzy blanket I bought for $4 at the craft store – those fleece throws you can buy cheap at drug stores or Wal-Mart work well too.

I didn’t have anyone at home to help me hold it up and take a picture, so excuse the weird angle.

Quilt steps:

  1. Sew strips of fabric together (can be different widths)
  2. Cut vertically, into several peices (I cut into 4 pieces)
  3. Cut strips of matching fabric (I cut mine 2.5 inches)
  4. Sew strips of fabric together, alternating upside down and rightside up, with the color strips in between
  5. Cut hearts our of felt
  6. Sew several hearts by hand or with your machine, onto quilt top (leave a few to sew on when you put the back on, optional – stuff hearts with batting)
  7. Pin quilt onto fleece throw
  8. Baste (wide-stitch) around the edge of quilt, securing top and bottom pieces together and trim the excess
  9. Pin binding around edges, and sew
  10. Sew on additional hearts to “quilt” your top and bottom together
  11. Hand or machine embroider a note on a felt heart (my first time doing freestyle machine embroidery, looks pretty good for being a beginner!)
  12. Sew on heart to back (but do it better than I did!)

Ta-da! All done!


Grocery Savings Challenge: Week 3

This week is going to be a little odd for us with the Monday holiday, social gatherings, and Lent. We have dinner plans with family on Saturday, dinner plans with friends on Sunday, and two vegetarian meals for Ash Wednesday and the first Friday of lent. I’m only making four meals, and we are eating leftover vegetarian chili on Friday; Marc is fasting from lunch on Wednesday and Friday (for Lent, and I’m still pregnant, so not fasting), so making bigger meals all week to last through dinner and lunch, is not as big of a priority.

The Stores and their Deals
The Meal Plan
The Grocery List
The Final Cost

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Grocery Savings Challenge: Week 2

I’m actually finding grocery shopping a little more fun when I have challenged myself to eat good and healthy meals on a smaller budget. This week was a little harder, though, because I purchased splurge items for a Valentine’s Day dinner and dessert, and we were also out of expensive items like cheese, olive oil, and almond butter.

The Stores and their Deals
The Meal Plan
The Grocery List
The Final Cost

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