February Meal Plan is here!

Hey y’all! Things have been a bit crazy. My son shared the flu with me. Let me tell you, the recovery as an adult seems to take far longer than the recovery of my 5 year old. I’m about 95% now, though and I have a new meal plan on the Pinterest. I do the meal plans in advance, so if it’s not posted here yet, it’s likely posted there. Follow us on Pinterest and get a step ahead.

 

You’ll notice that there are a couple extra recipes. I added some alternatives for us. Sometimes, I just need something other than what I have planned. You’ll see some repeats, too. My family loves a few standards like Instant Pot Stroganoff, Instant Pot Meatloaf, and Instant Pot Cheeseburger Mac. Also, almost anything I save that is a slow cooker meal can also be done in the IP. Check Pinterest for IP conversion times for slow cooker meals.

Other than the flu and subsequent recovery, things have been a bit slow. I started a new semester in school and that’s off to a pretty good start. I’m remodeling my office and trying a whole new setup to try to increase my productivity. I will have a 13 foot countertop style desk with shelves above and a separate work area for my heat press and making shirts. I’m also hoping to get a better handle on office organization. I’ll post pictures when I’m done!

I’ll post some more updates soon!

Happy New Year!

As I wait for the new year to turn over here in south MS, I am reflecting on 2017. There were a lot of ups an downs for sure. One thing I’m positive about is that the good far outweighs the bad and that we are blessed beyond measure. With the grace of God, we’ve made it through and come to the new year better than the last.

We lost my mother in law in February. She was a wonderful, God-loving Christian woman who was happiest taking care of others. She loved her family and loved her friends and loved God. That’s the highest of accolades in my book.

We bought a house in coastal MS the same week my little buddy turned 5. I don’t know many kids who get a house at the beach for their 5th birthday, but this one did, along with an impromptu bowling party organized by my Realtor turned friend and her amazing family.

 

We moved all of our belongings over several incredibly draining trips to our new home on the weekends while we waited for little man to finish up his final year at the amazing preschool he attended. If you’re in the Locust Grove, GA area, I can’t say enough good things about Locust Grove UMC Preschool, their director Mrs Angel, or her amazing staff of truly lovely people that helped my son become the young man he is now. His graduating was truly bittersweet. I miss the preschool staff and parents like family.

Moving was in itself bittersweet. While we weren’t leaving behind a house, we were leaving behind friends, family, and community. Our church family is dear to us, and we keep up from afar and watch the prayer list to add ours to it. Our friendship community is missed dearly. There were so many great friends that made us part of their family for our nearly 3 years in the area. We’ve set up guest rooms and hope they’ll visit us at the beach, and hope, too, that we can make it back to visit them.

We bought this great big house that has all the space we need, a pool, plenty of yard for kids, and a workshop for me to work in. We’re not too far from the beach, and we’re already building a great community here with our church and neighbors. The house is a bit dated, so I look forward this year to updating it one room at a time.

I struggled some in college during the move. I turned that around with hard work the following semester, so it will all work out. I’m still on target to graduate in 2 years, so I’ll call it a draw and keep pushing forward.

It’s been hard not being able to rush back home when someone is sick or hurt. I pray that God will help me make the time necessary to go back for a visit in the spring.

There have been some rough patches this year, but I’ve chosen not to focus on the rough and to instead focus on the blessing that came from each. In each hardship, the Lord uses it for our good, so I will focus on the good and not the bad. We are so close to overcoming so many amazing hurdles, and none would be possible without Him guiding our steps.

Likewise, I’ll continue to focus on the good things and the blessings God grants me each day as we move into 2018. I will continue to grow my business. With God’s help, I’ll continue to raise my son to know Him and love Him and serve Him. We pray that God uses us in our foster care journey to do His work and grow our family in His time. I will serve my church, my community, my family, my friends. I will follow where God leads.

January Meal Plan and other updates

It’s been a long long while since I posted a meal plan, but I still live by them. My meal plan for January is up on my personal Pinterest here:

I will work on setting up a Pinterest board for meal plans on the LWM Pinterest soon.  All meal plans will be found there in the future.

So let’s see, it’s been a busy few weeks:

I finished out my semester at school with an A and a B. Go me!

Went to the Christmas program for my boy. I’ve got video, but I won’t bore you with it.

Did Christmas-

And now I’m preparing to head into the new year. Last month I began doing my menu plans as Pinterest boards. Here’s the one from December:

You’ll see that there aren’t quite a full month’s worth of recipes on that one, mostly because of Christmas and leftovers and figuring in at least 1 or 2 nights out. I’ll try to get 30/31 meals per plan in the future, though. There’s bound to be something you don’t like, and for those nights, I recommend substituting one of your family favorites. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, most can be converted to Crock Pot with little added effort.

Here’s a quick lesson in how I meal plan:

Calendar Whiteboard

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

Pinterest boards

Paper/Pen

I sit at the table and go through my recipe boards. Then, I re-pin those pins to a new board for that month. From there I fill in the blanks for the month with what’s on that board. I try to place easier Instant Pot or Crock Pot meals on the nights I know we’ll be gone (soccer practice, church, etc). Then, I just try to split it up- not too many beef meals in a row, nor too many red sauce or pasta meals in a row. I keep it loose. I might not want to make or eat chicken pot pie the night I have it set for so I’ll rotate that to another night and pick something else. This is the only way I’ve kept meal plans working for so long.

As I fill out my board, I write down what items I need to purchase to make the meals as I go. Then I take that list right to my computer and set up my cart on my grocery store’s online app. I have been using the WalMart Grocery pickup just lately (we have limited stores here on the coast) and I am loving it. If you want to try it, click the link above and you’ll get $10 and I’ll get $10.

So now that we have meal planning out of the way for January, let’s talk about some other ways to cut time out of the cooking game and even save some money.

Quick freezer ideas:

Waffles, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos- see a trend? Breakfast is hard, y’all. So when I make pancakes or waffles, I make a bunch extra and freeze them. A short zap in the microwave and everyone is happy. Breakfast burritos are easy too- scramble a bunch of eggs, brown some sausage, layer each in a tortilla and add some cheese. Wrap the burrito and then wrap that in plastic wrap and put in a big Ziploc freezer bag. Breakfast sandwiches are a bit more work, but worth it.

Every time I make soups, stews, or chili, I freeze the leftovers in a freezer bag. We always have leftovers and we are bad at eating them. Freezing them gives me super quick meals on nights I just can’t pull a regular meal off. It also helps when I have exams or am sick because hubby can do those pretty quickly. If you’ll squeeze the air out and lay them flat to freeze and then line them up like books on a bookshelf once frozen, you’ll find they don’t take up much space.

I brown and separate 5-10lbs of ground beef and boil, shred, and separate 5-10lbs of chicken every month. I use those for quick meals like tacos (just add taco seasoning), bbq (add sauce), chicken wraps or burrito bowls, soups, etc. Fast and easy with very little work. To make it quicker, use the Instant Pot and you can have chicken breasts from frozen to shred-able in about 20 minutes. You can then put them in a mixing bowl and use the paddle attachment to do the shredding.

Pre-prep and freeze veggies for Crock Pot or IP meals. Even better, pre-prep the whole meal in a freezer bag and freeze it. Write on the front in Sharpie what it is and what you need to add from the pantry and any cooking instructions. Dump meals are great because you literally dump, add liquid, turn on the pot, and go about your business. This also works for pre-mixing casseroles and freezing them. I just take them out to thaw in the fridge the night before or the morning of and they’re ready to go in the oven when I get home.

Next post we’ll cover some favorite dump/freezer meal recipes and some other ways you can cut costs by making your own versions of quick foods (oatmeal packs, snack bars, breakfast cookies, etc).

I hope your New Year starts off right!

Blessings and love,

Nenna

 

Let’s Try Again

Beach Life

Hi y’all! I know it’s been quite a while- nearly 3 years – since I last posted. Life’s been busy, crazy, HARD, and honestly, time just wasn’t there for me to be able to sit down and post on a regular basis. I’m happy to say that I’ve reached a point where things are a bit less crazy. I’ve managed to arrange things so that I can actually have some time to do all those things I wasn’t able to do before- like write, go to school, feel human, just the basics.

Here’s a quick run down of where I’ve been and where I am now- Back surgery, cancer treatment for my love, foster care (8 kids over 14 months), college classes, total knee replacement for my love, relocating to the beach, and various other things that life has thrown our way. There  have been ups and downs and all arounds. I think we’re finally almost through to the other side, if in fact there is another side.

I say all that to say this- Prepare for some upcoming posts. They’re designed to help you manage your home frugally, and hopefully easily. I’ve been learning as I go and I would love to share what I’ve learned with you all.

 

Here’s a little pic of the beach near my house. Totally worth the craziness to get to this life we live currently!

Beach Life

This view never gets old.

I’m back!

So I know it’s been a while. I’m sorry for that, truly, but sometimes life trumps everything, even blogging. I’ll do a quick summary of the last couple of months and then follow with some more in depth posts.

Let’s see-

house

Just before Thanksgiving we moved to a fabulous Victorian home in a small town about 30 miles south of the Atlanta airport. Other than a slight bit of drama from a psycho pregnant mommy sort the last day of preschool for my 2 year old, it was fairly uneventful. It was tiring for sure. My husband had just had his last cancer surgery/high density radiation therapy, and only a couple weeks before that, I had surgery on my back so there was a lot of downtime and recovery.

We hosted Thanksgiving for my family a mere week after moving, so that was interesting. Soon after recovering from that mess, we got some stuff unpacked and put away and it was Christmas. Because hosting Thanksgiving right after moving wasn’t quite enough fun, we decided to host Christmas for both families… on different days of course.

Fast forward a few weeks, some more adjustments, some major lifestyle changes, and here we are. Stay tuned for some in depth updates on life in the slow lane, starting my own business, raising a little boy wonder, and being super mommy!

Opportunity is knocking…

I mentioned in a recent post that I had decided to partner with Rodan + Fields as an independent consultant. First, let me just say that the warm welcome and help I’ve received in this first week has been fantastic. Second, I’d like to say that the results clients are seeing from these products are amazing.

I promise I won’t go into spiels about business opportunities often. But I’m excited about this opportunity and when I’m excited, I like to share. I’m excited because I have a whole bunch of castoff wasted product in boxes from all the brands that promised something and I didn’t see results with. Seriously, thousands of wasted dollars. I’ll share a few pictures later in this post of actual results from actual people that I can actually talk to… whoa! Who’da thunk it, right?

So, coming back to why I decided to write this post- I’ve done some thinking about the whole “Network Marketing” platform. “MLM” if you wish. Here’s what I’ve determined.

In a typical company you have a President/CEO, or head. Then you have VPs or other key leaders. Then you have directors, managers, supervisors, team leaders, right down to the lowly sales rep. Kind of a pyramid, no? And how are they compensated? On performance of everyone below them. So what I’ve figured out is that modern Network Marketing based companies are no different than the regular business, except in perception. Old schoolers remember the Ponzi style MLMs where no one made real money but the top guy and he was using everyone else’s money to pay everyone else. That perception has been passed from the older folks to younger folks so much that the idea of a company like Amway or Avon or Mary Kay just makes people smirk.

Modern network marketed companies are really more like manufacturers sales reps. They sell the product that someone else creates and produces. They carry no stock themselves (or rarely). They sell the brand. They sell the products. And they sell the job. The difference is they’re doing to direct to consumers rather than through yet another middle man who would then sell to the consumer. Convoluted, but accurate, I think.

Now I’m not saying that some of these “opportunities” aren’t crapola to invest time and energy in. Not every brand is meant to be marketed quite this way. There are a few that are built for it and are realizing far greater sales than they ever would in traditional venues where their product would have been peddled by the aforementioned manufacturers representative to the sales venue. So instead of paying a company to market, they pay individuals. Whoa. Interesting concept. Companies helping many attain wealth by promoting their brand directly to consumers.

Some examples of companies that I know first hand to build significant income for independent consultants are Advocare, Rodan + Fields, Avon, and Mary Kay. Those companies have shown (through people I know personally) that if you apply yourself to the prospect of a serious career selling their merchandise directly to the end user, you can make a really lucrative income. The direct to consumer business model is incredibly lucrative for the company that provides the goods and services, but in turn they are willing to share that wealth with those that are bringing them the clients. Amazing.

I just wanted to toss that out there. That there might be another side than the cringe worthy part where some company gets you to hard sell recruit everyone you know repeatedly until they’re sick of you and afraid to speak to you anymore. You know, like I used to do when cold calling customers for the “legitimate” worldwide sales organization I used to work for. You become a pro at leaving voicemails… let me tell ya.

rflogo

So a little about my new business partner. Rodan + Fields are the doctors behind ProActiv. It’s a household name for many reasons. A reason greater than the infomercial segment is that it works. Imagine, doctors creating treatments patients/consumers can use at home, outside of big drug company costs and marketing budgets, that offer results that nothing else touches. Without a prescription.

Now imagine those same doctors, after the success of their first business venture, created a whole line of products to help combat the signs of skin damage and aging. Again, without a prescription. Or scalpels. Or lasers. Or any office visit. No co-pays. No deductibles. No procedures. Just a few minutes day or night to take care of your skin and reverse fine lines, discoloration, and irritation. Things often treated by expensive prescriptions. And every product has a 60 day empty bottle money back guarantee. What kind of dream world is this!?

It’s not cheap, though it is cheaper than surgery or doctor procedures. It takes a little work. You actually have to apply the products in the order they are labeled for. Then you have amazing, younger looking and feeling skin. Seriously, though, I’ll just leave some pictures behind.

menredefineampmd redefine regimen redefineresults

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re interested in information about Rodan + Fields products or opportunities, let me know. If you need a contact with one of the other companies I mentioned, I can put you in touch with people there, too. While I’d love for you to become my client, this post was really about my excitement and my revelations regarding the nature of network marketing companies. If I’ve inspired you, go me! I’ve definitely inspired me.

Thanks y’all!

Nenna

Meal Plan for week of 11/10/14

Hey, y’all. First, let me apologize for the scarcity of posts. As I mentioned in previous posts, we’re moving, and recovering from hubby’s radiation treatments. Things might be a little sketchy for the next week or so.

freeweekmenu-550x423

I’ve had some requests to continue posting my weekly meal plans. Here’s what I have going on for this week:

Monday-

Veggie beef soup- This is what I call a kitchen sink soup. You can put nearly any vegetables in here. It’s a crock pot soup, but you can certainly make it on the stove, it just needs to simmer a couple of hours if not in a crock pot.

Here’s what’s in mine-

  • 1lb+ beef stew meat
  • 2 diced tomatoes (or a can)
  • a bunch of chopped okra
  • green beans (frozen or fresh)
  • half a package of frozen corn (or a can)
  • 3 or 4 Diced potatoes (I use red)
  • broth (chicken, veggie, or beef or bullion cubes and water) to cover the meat and veggies
  • onion powder, salt, pepper, garlic to taste

Put everything in the crock pot. Cook on high 5-6 hours or low 7-8 hours. I usually use the seasonings at the end since they tend to cook off. I also add some hot sauce for a pinch of extra flavor. I usually serve this type of soup with corn bread

Tuesday-

Skillet beef with Orzo

  • 1-2lb ground beef
  • 1/4c ketchup
  • 1c Orzo
  • 2c shredded cheddar cheese

Brown the ground beef, boil the orzo. Drain the ground beef and mix with ketchup. Put that mixture into the skillet. Drain the orzo. Put that on top of the beef mixture. Cover with cheese. Heat through on low, covered, until cheese is melty goodness.

This recipe can be customized. Add veggies, hot sauce, flavoring, etc as you wish. It’s great as is, and very forgiving over all.

Wednesday- 

Ham and Veggie chowder-

  • Cubed ham (1 package)
  • Cubed potatoes (3 or 4 red)
  • Corn (canned or frozen- creamed works well also)
  • shredded carrots
  • chopped celery
  • Heavy cream or whole milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2tbsp flour

Saute the carrots and celery until the celery starts to turn soft. In a soup pot melt 3tbsp butter (do not burn!). Once melted, add the flour, mixing well until it’s almost a paste consistency. Add 8oz heavy cream (or just the milk). Add the sauteed veggies, the ham, and the other veggies to the pot. Add milk to cover the meat and veggies and about an inch above. Simmer on med-low for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Until the potatoes are soft and it looks like a chowder. C’mon. You’ve seen chowder. You can do it!

This soup can also be made with chicken or sea food rather than ham.

Thursday-

Pasta bake

  • 8oz whatever tube pasta you have on hand. I use penne
  • 2 jars organic pasta sauce
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2c shredded italian cheese mixture
  • garlic, salt, pepper, italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 375*. Boil the pasta until al dente (firm but edible) and drain. Brown and drain the meat and return to pan. Add the seasonings and the pasta sauce to the meat. Spray or grease a 9×12 pan. Spread the pasta into the bottom of the pan. Spread the meat sauce over the top and work into the pasta a little. Cover with cheese. Bake in the oven until the cheese is melty and the casserole is bubbly. The cheese at this point usually has a little browning on top, but not burned.

Friday-

Paninis

  • Sandwich meat (I usually use ham or roast beef)
  • Cheese (we use cheddar or swiss usually)
  • Butter
  • Mayo (of you like)

A panini is a kind of grilled sandwich, usually grilled between a 2 sided griddle/grill. You can cook these just like a grilled cheese if you don’t have a panini maker. We keep it simple, but you can add roasted veggies, or whatever else you like really. Get creative. Build you sandwich. I mayo the bread, add cheese, meat, and then cheese on the other side of the meat, too. Add the 2nd side of bread. Butter the outside. No, not margarine. That stuff is poison. Butter, or olive oil if not butter. Put the sammy in the panini grill, or brown each side in a pan if you’re going that way. The pan should be medium-low heat. When the bread is browned the meat should be hot and the cheese melty. If not, you’ll need to lower the heat on your pan and cook a bit longer on each side.

I serve these with salad if I have to, but mostly this is a grab and go kind of meal. We’re moving Saturday, so I want minimal clean up.

Saturday will be leftovers from the soups earlier in the week. I’ll freeze them after dinner each night so we’re prepared for the move.

Sunday will be our eat out night.

Check back next week for another menu plan. Much love,

Nenna

Meal Planning- It’s a beautiful thing

freeweekmenu-550x423

Imagine knowing the ever present “What’s for dinner?” question that pops out of someone’s mouth the minute you finally sit down for that 5 minute break you’ve been trying to get since breakfast… or knowing exactly what and how much to buy when you’re grocery shopping. Imagine having a plan. Now imagine that plan not only makes your life easier, but is easy to follow and saves you money at the store. Mommy Happy Place, no?

Here’s the skinny on meal plans-

  • They save you time
  • They save you money
  • The time spent planning is more than saved later
  • They keep you sane

Okay, that’s just my take. But let me tell you what happens when I don’t have a plan- I start trying to plan my meal prep in my head in the store as I see things. Inevitably, I make 2980428579 trips to the store over the 2 week period I would usually plan just picking up items I forgot. I have all kinds of things that don’t go together to make a meal. I end up wasting food because I didn’t have a plan for it and just bought it because it looked appetizing. You can see why a plan works for me, huh?

Whether you need a printable like these from Tip Junkie, or an Excel Spreadsheet, or just a Google calendar, you can put together a plan that works for you and your family. I mentioned before that if you want minimal work, you can pay a few dollars a month for eMeals. I have the service, and it’s great. I use some stuff from them, some from my own recipe stash, and try to toss in something new each week. We eat organic or minimally processed foods, so sometimes it’s hard to stick to their menu choices for those plans. I tend to lean more towards traditional meals with organic ingredients. To each their own.

Okay now to get down to planning. First decide how long you want to plan for. We get paid twice per month, so I usually try to plan a pay period at a time. Now make a list of meals that you know your family enjoys. Pop in a new recipe or 2 that you saw on Pinterest and want to try recently.

Now try to group your meals. What I mean by this is try to plan meals that work off of each other. I might grill chicken tonight to go with veggies, and go ahead and grill extra for the next nights chicken enchiladas. Or if I’m doing a roast in the crock pot, I might make the next day or day after that pot roast sandwiches. Make less work for yourself by prepping food together. If I’m chopping veggies for soup, how difficult is it to chop a few extra and put in a container for stir-fry? Grouping meals might also allow you to take advantage of bulk meat pricing at the meat market.

If you’re planning on your computer and not a sheet of paper, you might find it helpful to link to any recipes right on your meal plan as you go. That will save you time when it’s time to get cooking.

Now extrapolate these meals into a grocery list. Or download a spreadsheet template that does it for you. I won’t lie. It takes some time to do your first plan or 2, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. I can populate meals for 2 weeks in about 30 minutes including grocery list.

Here’s a sample of meals for my upcoming week. We’re starting at Tuesday because we’ll be out of town over the weekend and Monday.

Tuesday-

  • Beef pasta bake
  • Salad

Wednesday-

  • Beef Cups

Thursday-

  • Whole Roasted Chicken
  • Rice Pilaf
  • Green Peas
  • Roasted Carrots

Friday-

  • Chicken and Dumplings
  • Corn Bread

Saturday-

  • Cheeseburgers
  • Oven Fried Potatoes
  • Coleslaw

Sunday

  • Kielbasa and Cabbage
  • Corn cakes

Grocery List-

  • Whole Chicken free range- $9 (sprouts)
  • Spaghetti Sauce- organic- 2 jars $4 (Aldi)
  • Penne Pasta- Organic $2 (Kroger)
  • Red Potatoes- organic $4/5lb (sprouts)
  • Cabbage- Organic $2 (Sprouts)
  • Ground beef- grass fed organic (3lbs) $15 (Aldi)
  • Cornmeal Mix $3 (Kroger)
  • Salad Greens- organic $3 (Sprouts)
  • Rice Pilaf- organic $2 (Sprouts)
  • Green Peas- organic $2 (sprouts)
  • Baby Carrots- organic $2 (Aldi)
  • Kielbasa- uncured beef $5 (Sprouts)
  • Cheddar Cheese 2 pkg $6 (Whole Foods)
  • Italian Cheese $4 (Whole Foods)
  • Eggs- organic cage free $4 (Sprouts)

Total- $67 for the week

Now I have some staples on hand like the ingredients for the biscuit dough for beef cups and for the chicken and dumplings, milk, mayo, herbs, etc. I only add those when I’m low. The chicken for the chicken and dumplings will come from the roasted chicken, the coleslaw and the cabbage with kielbasa will come from the same head of cabbage, corn meal for 2 different recipes. I’ll make the biscuit dough for the dumplings the same time I make it for the beef cups and just refrigerate it. I shred my own cheddar, it’s less expensive and has no additives for anti caking and such. I do buy the 6 cheese blend italian cheese pre-shredded though. It’s more cost effective.

Now that’s just dinner. You can get really creative and add in lunch planning and breakfast planning. Our breakfast is easy. Hubby eats oatmeal with chia, walnuts, dried cranberries, and makes it with milk. Toddler eats yogurt with O’s and cranberries and drinks milk. I most often forget breakfast in the rush to get out the door in time for little man to get to school on time. Lunch is easy for us too. Deli no nitrate turkey and black forest ham, pitas, fruit, sald greens. The little man has ham, sliced cheddar, and some type of crackers pretty much every day. It’s the only thing I’ve found he’ll eat consistently.

I usually spend about $125/wk total for all 3 of us eating completely out of the house save the odd lunch or dinner out. If I don’t have a menu plan that amount usually doubles, as does our eating out. Give it a try. You might be surprised at how much time, energy, and money it saves you.

How we eat organic or minimally processed on the cheap

organic-logo

People ask me all the time how we manage to eat organic and minimally processed or unprocessed foods on a budget. Here are a few ways we save money while eating well. I feed my family of 3 eating 3 meals + 2 snacks per day from home for about $500 per month. We usually have 1 eat out night every week or every other week. I could probably cut back the cost even further if I needed to.

First things first, it’s important to have a menu plan. So many people – and I was one- want to go shop with no plan of what to make and then expect to work that into a budget. Plan ahead and you’ll save time, effort, and cash. We use eMeals a lot. It provides a full grocery list and recipe list. My biggest issue with them is that we have a lot of special diet concerns packed into one menu. My husband is diabetic, we have a growing 2 year old, and we try to eat organic and minimally processed foods. All of these combined take some picking and choosing of menu items. I tend to take some from eMeals and then add some others into it. It is not free, though it is low cost. It’s quite free to make your own with a calendar and some recipe research. I’ll make a separate post about meal plan creation to reference.

The second key to frugal organic eating is shopping around and learning what your stores offer. It’s a process, not an overnight switch. It takes patience. I know this because I don’t have much extra patience and I use a lot of it shopping around. I don’t even attempt to hit all the stores in one day, but if that’s your way, go for it.

Now here’s my breakdown. This will not be the same everywhere. This is what I do in metro Atlanta. With a little work, you can figure out what stores work best for what items as well.

aldi

Now Aldi is an amazing store. They sell mostly store brand type foods. They have now begun incorporating the national brand in as well. The store brand is the cheapest option but the national brand is usually cheaper than the standard price most other places.

At Aldi, I purchase uncured sandwich meats and bacon, organic carrots, tomatoes, bananas, grass fed organic ground beef ($5.99/lb), some organic canned foods and snacks, and frozen organic strawberries and blueberries. They also have some mostly organic frozen pizza with uncured pepperoni that’s pretty tasty.

 

krogerAt Kroger, they have the Simple Truth Organics line. This covers everything from snacks to juice to milk, organic produce, canned foods, frozen fruits and veggies. I only purchase the organics, not the “natural” products. I sometimes purchase grass fed beef here as well. There are other organic brands here as well. I choose the Simple Truth line simply because it’s less expensive and the goal for me is to keep it healthy, but cheap. If you don’t have a Kroger, you likely have a store with similar things in your area.

 

inglesIngles has quite a few organic items. Produce is well priced, there are organic canned foods, some snacks, and meats. This varies by store, but usually the canned foods are staples.

 

 

sprouts

Sprouts is a new addition to our shopping fun. It’s a small market with similar products to Whole Foods, but more affordable, and their meat prices are excellent. They don’t have a lot of organic meats, but what they do have is very well priced. They have most of the organic produce staples and some exotics, and they have great prices on bulk items and organic coffee. They have milk, eggs, and yogurt that are well priced also. Unfortunately, they’re not everywhere. Not even where we’re moving. It’s sad. I hope they keep expanding.

 

naturesgardenThese guys are awesome. They’re a co-op that delivers basically. The cool part is they create an order each week or however often you’re set up for based on what size box you order. We get a small box every other week. It costs us $38 and is enough fruits and veggies to usually get us through almost 2 weeks (supplemented by my other purchases). All the foods we receive are organic, and many locally sourced. If there’s something in my order I don’t like or have a plan for, we can simply exchange it anytime after the order is created until the day before delivery. Sadly, these guys don’t currently deliver to the small town we’re moving to, but they do have an option for a co-op drop off if I can get a total of 4 people to commit. They’re working on a deal with FedEx express service to hopefully begin delivery to my new area soon.

 

A few other ideas-

Grow your own or get to know someone who does. You can often barter for fresh veggies or buy them at a discount. My aunt and uncle have a farm. Their neighbor has chickens. She has tons of eggs, they have tons of extra veggies. Voila. A trade is born. Yipee!

Costco supposedly has a large number of organic products. I don’t have a membership there since there’s not one close enough to my house to make it worthwhile. Sam’s unfortunately does not have many organics.

Co-opare great if you can find one in your area. Usually, you pay by the season or month and they have a pick up place where you pick up your box weekly or however often.

Whole Foods actually has excellent prices on many items, especially on their 365 brand products. While they are super expensive on a lot of specialty items, if you’re conscientious, you can come out really good.

Amazon has a whole bunch of shelf stable organic products you can order and have shipped. Most are Prime eligible as well.

As you can see, with a little work, you can eat well inexpensively. The key is to not allow a lot of specialty snacks and foods if you’re on a tighter budget. My son loves Fig Newman’s, but they’re nearly $5 for a package. Most often I can get 2/$5 organic cheese crackers or peanut butter crackers, or at Aldi organic chocolate bear cookies for about $3. Obviously, the Fig Newman’s don’t provide the best value for the dollar. So that’s the basics. If you have additional ideas, let me know!

Tomato, Chicken, and Goat Cheese Pasta

I adapted this recipe from Greens & Chocolate‘s recipe:

goatcheesetompasta-1024x682

My family doesn’t think it’s dinner unless there’s some type of meat involved. We’re definitely omnivores. I was looking for a quick recipe that would use up the tomatoes that I had sitting on the counter getting softer by the day. After a quick fridge search I noticed the only white cheese I had was herbed goat cheese and a jar of grated parmesan & romano. I had chicken defrosted and ready to go. A quick google search for tomatoes and goat cheese pasta brought me to the above mentioned recipe. I added some chicken, and subbed Italian seasoning for the mentioned herbs, used fresh tomatoes rather than canned, and cut back a little on the amount of onion. Here’s my adaptation-

  • 1/2 of a medium white onion finely diced
  • 4 larger slicing tomatoes diced
  • 1/2c water
  • 1/4c milk or heavy cream
  • 4oz herbed goat cheese (Mine came from Aldi)
  • 8oz spaghetti (or pasta of choice)
  • 1.5lbs raw boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • olive oil for pan
  • 2tsp Garlic- minced
  • 2tsp Italian seasoning
  • Grated Parmesan (optional)

Put water on to boil for pasta.

Add a little olive oil (a couple teaspoons) to bottom of skillet. Heat on medium. Dice raw chicken and add to skillet. Sprinkle one teaspoon of the Italian seasoning on the chicken and stir in pan. Place lid on skillet and cook chicken through. Remove chicken to plate. If/when your pasta water is boiling, add pasta.

Add a little more olive oil to the pan. Add diced onion, diced tomatoes, garlic and cook over medium heat until onions start to turn translucent. DO NOT BURN GARLIC. Add water. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Tomatoes should be soft. Add milk and half of the goat cheese. Stir until goat cheese incorporates and put lid back on and simmer another 5 minutes or so. Add chicken back to pan. Add remaining goat cheese and some of the grated parmesan if you have it. Simmer with the lid off until it thickens a bit.

Drain pasta and add pasta to skillet mixture and mix in. Sprinkle on some more of that parm if you use it. Maybe some fresh chopped basil. Whatever. Make it your own. I might add mushrooms or artichokes next time. It’s a pretty easy recipe to add to. I had this meal on the table in about 40 minutes. If you use canned tomatoes it’s probably closer to a 30 minute meal. Serve with some bread and you’re all set.