Aldi Experiment and meal plan

I've decided to make a change. Our tiny little town has very few shopping options and the main one is Wal-Mart. Up until this point, well since having 2 kids anyway LOL, I've done 90% of my grocery shopping there bc it's easier. But I've noticed I'm spending way over my budget every single week. Aldi is nice and so much cheaper but it's so far away that it's never been convenient for every week shopping. But now there's a new one on an easier side of town. It's still 30 minutes away but with the new location is much more convenient as far as traffic goes. So once a week I make my meal plan and grocery list and off I go! I've done this for 3 weeks and the difference it's already made is amazing. I get most of my groceries from there and then go across the road to Food Lion to get my meats and I'm done. Generally I've been shopping on Monday so I meal plan from Monday-Sunday. HOWEVER up until this experiment I haven't meal planned for the weekends and we just eat out on Friday and Saturday. I'm trying to cut back on that so I'm making a point to plan for the weekends now.

So here's what I bought this week and our meal plan. Some of the things on this menu are freezer or pantry items as well.

Monday- Hot Ham & Cheese, Hashbrowns, Chocolate Pudding with cool whip (4yo's request)
Tuesday- Roast, Potatoes, Carrots
Wednesday- Sloppy Joes, Mac & Cheese
Thursday- Fried Chicken tenders, potato salad, green beans
Friday- Quesadillas
Saturday- Hamburger Rice a Roni
Sunday- *out of town*

Aldi- Total $45.47- $5 coupon= $41.43
Chicken Tenderloins 5.49
Whole Milk 1.96
Whipped Topping .69
20ct Tortillas 1.79
Onion soup mix .69
4lb sugar 1.39
Vegetable oil 1.49
2 cans of pumpkin .79ea
2 boxes mac & cheese .25ea
1 box mac & cheese .95
Block cheese 1.49
Sliced swiss cheese 1.49
Sliced ham 2.39
Pickles .95
Chocolate syrup 1.39
Shredded cheese 1.69
2 boxes Rice a Roni mix .69
Peanut bars 1.39
Gummy snacks 2.99
Fruit rounds 1.09
Peanut butter 1.25
PB Cookies (knock off Girl Scout cookies that were amazing!) 1.39
2pks Hamburger buns .65ea
2lb carrots .85
Red apples 2.69
10lb potatoes 3.49
Bread .83
Pretzels .89

Food Lion- I screwed up my budget here, but still stayed under my limit. $30.62
2- 12pk can pepsi 3.33ea
12pk coke 3.66
Fritos 3.29
Doritos 3.49
FL brand Chex mix 1.49
2 Chef Boyardee .88ea
FL brand chips 1.49
3 Slush puppies .50ea
Ground beef 3.51
Ground beef 3.35


Supper time

No matter your season of life we all have one thing in common. Food. The most stressful time of the day for most moms is when it comes time to feed our beloved families. It doesn't matter what is going in Mom's day, those kiddos still need to be fed. There are various ways of dealing with this. Meal planning for the whole week, once a month cooking, stopping at the grocery store on the way home for work, or trying to throw something together at the last minute from whatever odd bits and pieces are in the freezer and pantry because you haven't felt like going to the grocery store in 3 weeks. And it's often the question that is asked the most often "What's for dinner?". In fact as I'm sitting here writing this my husband asked that very question. I don't have an answer today. I used to be so good at meal planning and actually sticking to it. As life has gone on I've gotten away from the strict plan and have a more casual plan. Unfortunately that plan doesn't work for us. We end getting take out way too often or I'm stuck scrambling to make something work at the end of the day. Granted the arrival of the Instant Pot has made those last minute scrambles much easier now that I no longer have to worry about if I have anything thawed or not. But it's time to get back on track. It's time to make meal time simple again and have fun with food.

So what's the point of all this? What's the plan? How are we going to make meal planning simple?

Well that's easy! Have you ever really thought about what you cook for supper? Chances are its the same meals over and over. It's not a bad thing, we know what our families like, what is easy, and what works. So why stray from that? Let's make that work in our favor.

The first step takes time. You will start with recording your meals for 2 weeks. Print a blank calendar for your current month, use a piece of notebook paper, or even your family calendar. Every night for 2 weeks jot down what you had for supper. Or if you have a great memory you could just go back over the last 2 weeks and write down what you had and just use that. Personally I do not LOL

Now when your 2 weeks are over, take some time and sit down with your list of meals. Were they all well received? Were they all easy for mom (or whoever cooks in your home)? Mark out any nights that were take out and replace those meals with other family favorites that may not have made the list.

Are you satisfied with the 14 meals you have left? Don't make it complicated. There's no need to replace a night you had hot dogs with pot roast because you'll set yourself up to fail. There's nothing wrong with hot dogs for supper if that works for your family.
Once you have your list, that's it. You're done. There is your meal plan for the next 2 weeks. And the 2 weeks after that, and the 2 weeks after that.

Tack this list somewhere in the kitchen you'll see it. Now you'll know at a glance what is for supper. But don't be afraid to move meals around. Maybe a night you have spaghetti written down, you're home all day and want to fix something more elaborate from the list. Go for it. Do what works for you. This list is just a guide line.

But not only does this make meal planning easier, it makes grocery shopping easier. If you see something on sale that goes along with one of your meals you'll quickly know how many you need to stock up on until it goes on sale again.

Give it a try. See if it works for you.

Until next time. <3


Meal Plan Monday- And my IP is here!

It's time to meal plan once again, but this week I get to plan a little differently! Why you ask? Because my Instant Pot is here! I'm already in love with it. So let's talk about IP before we meal plan shall we?

I received my IP on Wednesday. I admit I've always been intimidated by pressure cookers. I was nervous about using it. According to the manual the first thing to cook in it is water. Yep, just plain water. So I jumped in and boiled water in my IP. It wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. LOL After that I cooked some eggs in it. I hate peeling eggs. These eggs were the easiest eggs I've ever peeled. Win!

But I knew it was time to upgrade to actually cooking a meal. First up I did pork chops. I seasoned some boneless pork chops with Mrs Dash Lemon Pepper and sauteed them in the pot. Did I mention you can saute in the IP?! You can, and it's amazing. Then I made a gravy using water, cream of chicken soup (yea yea I know, canned cream soups. Don't hate me LOL), and a pack of onion soup mix. Cooked for 18 minutes on high pressure and did 15 minutes of NPR (natural pressure release). Served it with instant rice. The pork chops were so tender. Here's where I got the recipe, I added the onion soup mix. http://www.pressurecookingtoday.com/easy-pork-chops-in-mushroom-gravy/

Sunday's we usually order pizza delivery and watch Once Upon a Time. But I wanted to use my Instant Pot again so I made Salsa Chicken. I took 1# of chicken breasts and put them in the pot with a jar of chunky salsa. Hit the Poultry button, added 5 more minutes and let it go. I did NPR while I made some homemade guacamole and got all the taco stuff ready. Then I shredded the chicken and we ate it on tacos and nachos. It was so simple and saved us around $20. 

Now let's get down to meal planning for this week. I'll add IP to the end if I'm cooking it in the Instant Pot. 

Monday- Spaghetti (IP) 
Tuesday- Sloppy Joes, Mac N Cheese
Wednesday- Mississippi Chicken Thighs (IP), Mashed Potatoes
Thursday- take out or leftovers
Friday- Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Saturday- Baked Potato Bar (IP)
Sunday- Roasted Whole Chicken, Potato Salad, some kind of other veggies LOL Chicken and potatoes will be cooked in the IP 


It's time to meal plan!

Here we go again! Meal planning Monday. I've been a bit off of my meal planning game since I started working. But we've been eating out entirely too much so I need to get back to it. Plus I just ordered an Instant Pot and it should be here tomorrow! I've been stalking the tracking info since it shipped.. haha. This should help a lot with our eating out. I haven't named her yet since I haven't met her, so we'll just call her IP for now.

So here's the plan for the week.

Monday- We'll be having BBQ chicken, homemade potato salad, and mac and cheese since I have one kid who hates potato salad! Imagine that.

Tuesday- This is a long work day for me, so we'll be having grilled cheeses

Wednesday- I'll have my IP! So I'll be experimenting and making one pot spaghetti

Thursday- Leftovers

Friday- Pork chops in the IP, rice, and green beans

Saturday- My mr and I will be celebrating 10 years of marriage on Saturday so we're spending the day at the beach!

Sunday- I haven't gotten this far. haha. I'll probably make a whole chicken in the IP and we'll have some veggies and rolls to go with it.

Enjoy your week!


Toddler Size Hooded Cowl Crochet Pattern

After searching and searching for a simple, free hooded cowl crochet pattern and not being able to find one I liked, I decided to just do it myself. Here is what I came up with. It's very simple. Can be adjusted by doing a longer chain or adding more rows. I made 2, one with less rows to fit a little more snug (12 rows for the hood) and one with more rows to be looser (20 rows for the hood). This is a quick work up, it took a couple hours total to make and used less than 1 skein of Vanna's Choice (3.5oz, 170 yard). My 2yo won't model for me, so I had to improvise. Hopefully this pattern is easy to understand. Feel free to leave questions or concerns in the comments.

Hooded Cowl
Toddler Size

Yarn: Vanna's Choice
Hook: J/5.75 or 6mm

Any yarn will work. You can adjust the size by changing the hook size. 

Ch 60. Join, making sure your chain isn't twisted. * Add more chains here for a longer cowl *
Row 1- ch 1. DC around. Join in the top of 1st DC. (60dc)
Row 2-7- Repeat Row 1. (60dc)
*Add more rows here for a wider cowl.
Fasten off at the end of row 7.

Count 20 stitches on each side of where you fastened off and mark with stitch markers.
Join your yarn in the first stitch you marked on the right side.

Row 1- ch 1. DC across until you get to your 2nd marked stitch. ch 1. Turn. (40 dc)
Row 2-12- DC across. ch 1. Turn. (40 dc)
*Add more rows here for a looser hood

Turn inside out. Fold top of the hood in half and slip stitch through both sides across to join.
I work a 2nd row of slip stitch back across so I can make my edge without fastening off and rejoining. If you don't want to do an edge or prefer to fasten off and rejoin, you don't have to do the 2nd row of sl st.

Edge- Work sc evenly around the opening. I worked 2 rows. You can do however many you'd like.

** Alternate Hood ** If you prefer you can simply not fasten off when you finish your cowl and work the Hood part from there. However I prefer the seam to be in the back, hence why I fasten off. If that doesn't bother you, you do not have to fasten off and rejoin, you can just keep working from where your yarn already is.


School Year 2015-2016 3rd Grade

It's always exciting to get a box full of brand new books. Yesterday I received my order from CBD which contained most of what we'll be using for CJ this year. Here's a quick run down of what we'll be doing for CJ's 3rd grade year. As I get the year planned and we get into the school year I'll post what we're doing each week with both kids.

Math- Texting Textbooks Math 3
Language Arts- Easy Grammar 
Science- We'll be studying the human body using the Human Body book from CBD as a guideline and hands on activities from Pinterest.
History- Unit Studies on US History. I couldn't find a good us history curriculum that I liked so I decided to put together unit studies.
Spelling- I'll be putting together spelling lists based on what we are studying in science and history that week.

Another thing I'll be doing this year is getting CJ in the kitchen more. I have found several resources on Pinterest for cooking lessons for kids. He enjoys helping to cook but often times it's easier on me if he plays with his little sister while I get supper done. I want him to have all the real life skills he needs though, so I'll be making a bigger effort to get him in the kitchen and teach him how to cook.


Menu Plan Monday 7/27/15-7/31/15

It's Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie!

 So far this summer I haven't been cooking. On the 2nd of June I fell and broke my ankle in 3 places. Which then resulted in surgery and not being able to walk for several weeks. I'm finally able to walk on it a little bit, so I've been slowly getting back into the kitchen. This week is actually my first week back to menu planning since my fall so it's fitting that I started back blogging and am able to do Menu Plan Monday again. I'm not planning meals past Thursday for this week because we have a busy weekend and I know we'll be eating out.

Monday- Spaghetti and Salads

Tuesday- Sloppy Joes and Mac n Cheese

Wednesday- Chicken Tacos

Thursday- Chicken, rice, and broccoli Bake with biscuits

Chicken Tacos
3-4 frozen chicken breasts
Rotel Tomatoes
Taco seasoning (equivalent to 1 packet)
can of diced tomatoes
Onion, cut up

Add everything to your crockpot and cook on low until chicken is done and falling apart. Shred the chicken and serve on tortillas, rice, or salad. Sometimes I'll add a little cilantro near the end if I have it on hand. That's it! Super simple and so yummy. You can also customize it however you like by adding more veggies to the crockpot depending on what your family likes.