Thursday, April 30, 2009
Posted by Lexi at 3:41 PM
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
So on the first day of sun, we were itching to get outside. The backyard really needed to be cleaned up and we wanted to scout it out some to see where I could plant a garden. So, that is what we did. We went out and swept the pine needles. We cut back some of the overgrown plants and the kids helped. Then we got out the bubble maker and they played with bubbles. Hope you enjoy!
Posted by Lexi at 11:04 AM
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Here is the living room. To the left of me in this picture is the front door.
Posted by Lexi at 10:48 AM
Simple Skirts GIVEAWAY!!!!
These are totally cute! I wonder if I could learn to make them lol
Posted by Lexi at 6:37 AM
Monday, April 20, 2009
Posted by Lexi at 10:44 AM
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Posted by Lexi at 10:39 AM
Saturday, April 18, 2009
We moved into our house on March 4th. We ventured in with air mattresses and just the stuff we brought on the airplane with us. We had some toys, a computer with no internet, and some books. The house was freezing, so we got some firewood for the fireplace. And of course, that made us think of camping, so we got some stuff to make smores.
They weren't very patient either, but they loved eating them in the long run.
Posted by Lexi at 10:34 AM
So, I had several comments on FB about how I was doing this, so I decided to post over here where I am familiar with posting and then it will also post in FB. So, here is the deal... here is my testimonial lol. To start, I hate cooking. It brings me no joy and no fulfillment of homemaking. It, next to laundry and dishes, is my least favorite thing to do. I feel like you spend too much time cooking and no one enjoys it. Not to mention, it is expensive. Or so I thought. So, with that being said, I hate slaving in the kitchen all night for 2-3 hours getting garlic chopped and hamburger thawed or whatever, and soon, I got a solution to my problem. Amy called me one day in Italy when I was about 8 m preggo with the twins. At this point in my pregnancy, everything was hard. I was HUGE and I knew that in the coming month, I would get bigger and then the twins would be born and life would really be hard. So I got to thinking, what about eating? I can't eat out of the microwave everyday and I don't want Dave's mac and cheese or egg burritoes everyday either. And I was SO over our 5 fast food choices. So... I was venting to Amy and she shared with me something new she discovered. She got a book off amazon called Once a Month Cooking. (Click there for a link to one option). She told me all about the concept and how the book already gave you a grocery list ect. So, I went on the web and did a little digging and found a site that basically gave me everything the book gave me, only FREE. I have used Christy's Clip Art (previously named something different lol). It gave me all the info I needed to get started. If you are seriously looking to do this, I have to caution you, it took me a month of trial and error on the recipes because we liked different tastes, AND it took me some time to figure out how to freeze it with the space issue. I could only fit 21 meals in my freezer. So, now that I have given you a background, I will tell you how it worked for me and how I minimized effort.
(2 Perogies, 2 Herb Baked Chicken, 1 Tuscan Style Chicken
As you can see here, I label and date food. Plus I put cooking instructions and sides so even Dave can cook the foods without finding the recipe.
Amy told me one thing she didn't like about her first month cooking was switching so much with the meats. So before I even started I devised a plan. How many of you eat at least one meal twice a month? Well we do. So instead of cooking 30 meals, I planned 15. Now, to avoid switching between meats and starting all over. I would choose 2 meat types per month. Month One Beef/Chicken, Month Two Chicken/Ham, Month Three Pork/Beef, or something like that. I went the first month into it a little blind, but I am going to give you the advice I learned over time so that you can save some trial and error. To get prepared, I printed a complete list of the recipes on that website. I also took note to how many needed extensive preparation before freezing it. So, crockpot and soups general require NO cooking before freezing. So I usually picked 4 meals that require cooking, like a caserole where the rice or noodles have to be cooked, and then the other 10-11 meals were more simple preparations. I made and exel book for each months 1,2,3. I then went through and menu planned a total of 45 different recipes for the 3 months. I rarely overlapped them. You will always have left over meals, so this is how I went around a freezer full of a meal we ended up not liking. So in my excel book, Workseet one is the meals with sides... worksheet two I made a shopping list. I would go through each recipe and then listed out the indredient. This takes some time, but it saves a bunch when you know you only have to do this once! Then, I combined ingredients. So two recipes that called for garlic... I would combine how much garlic I needed to buy. Then over time, I even separated it by asile in my grocery store, but that doesn't need to be done in the beginning. So, here you are. With what I have given you here... You have probably 4-5 hrs worth of work, but 3 months of menu plans as well as dummy shopping lists... Just what I NEEDED. Don't forget side items. I usually try to add two vegetables with a main course one of which is green. So if it a chicken broccoli, I already have one vegetable. I love stir fry because veggies are already included lol. So, just think about that too. Now Let's Move on...
A little More Planning
For those of you that don't mind trial and error, you can skip this advice lol. But I hate it. So, I am offering a little more advice. Substitution. I don't usually cook with full fat ingredients and some things seem more cost effective other ways. Look again at your lists and decide where you can subsitute if wanted. For example, if you are doing a sweet and sour meatballs. Do you really want to make the sweet and sour sauce and not be sure how it turns out? I tried it once and hated it. So, the next time, I just bought a bottle of sweet and sour sauce. I also substitue some of the ingredients for the lower fat options, still tastes the same. Another one to think about is fresh vs frozen chicken. We hardly got fresh chicken and it was EXPENSIVE. So, we used frozen chicken, and usually frozen chicken tenders instead of chicken breast. Faster, cheaper, and easier. I have to thank Angela for that tip. So this step isn't a must the first month, but you will alter things based on your needs at about month 3-4. You need to consider ways to store it as well. I use freezer bags. I place the freezer bag in a square tuperware container, freeze overnight, then remove the container to save space but also have symetrical foods. The first month I did this, I just laid everything on top of one another to freeze and then, as I cooked stuff, nothing fit back together. Also, think about disposable tin pans. I use those for lasagna, enchilada, and a chicken rice bake.
With your shopping list in hand, you are ready to go. So here is another testimonial moment. And results are not typical lol. (I wanted to add that in case you don't find the same). But we were spending I donno maybe $400 grocery shopping per month, on top of eating out maybe 3-4 dinners a week. We ate dinner for about $18 and then times 4. So that is another nearly $300. So coming in on close to $700/month. I would even say that is low ball figures there. Alright, I was a little anxious about grocery shopping for a whole month, so first I shopped my cabinets. Who knows when you bought a can of chicken soup and never used it or diced tomatoes. So do that first. Check mostly for spices that usually you don't need to buy. Check for canned chicken that you may have. Ketsup, mustard, mayo, lemon juice ect. Just look through your current stock. It really can save a ton of money. And do this each month. For me this month, I had to start from scratch because we didn't have hardly anything due to the overseas move. So this month I spent $320 and bought a box of diapers. In Italy, I usually shopped the month for $250 and would buy diapers. So for the sake of the argument, I am going to use the $250 number becuase most people have stuff in their kitchen. So I found, that i spent $250 to make dinner for the whole month. (I usually bought snacks, diapers, dinner ingredients, ect on this bill as well) Then I would shop a total of 3 more times in the month to stock up on fresh produce, more diapers, snack foods for the kids ect. Prices are subject to variation due to family size, and situation. I would spend about $75 each of the other weeks. And we would eat out dinner MAYBE once a week. So, add those up = About $300 again. Totally monthly bill = $550. That is a savings of $150 a month!! If you are even more frugal and use coupons or shop the sales, you can save more, but the commisary doesn't get coupons or sales, so I didn't do that. Ok, so that is the bottom line of the money.
Lets go shopping
Now you are equipped with your shopping list and some sale adds or coupons or just your list and 2 kids. Whatever it is, you are ready. If you are lucky, you can even go to costco, but like I said, we had one option, called the Commisary, so that is all I used. Don't forget on your shopping list some important things. If you are using hamburger, you can mass cook it, so why not try the chubs which usually save you some money. Look at the cost effectiveness of frozen chicken. Think about buying a whole ham and cutting it up instead of buying it already chopped. If you need fajita meat, buy a larger roast, cut it in half and use half for a roast and half for the fajita meat. If you are buying a lot of cream of mushroom soup, consider buying the large can instead of several small ones. Find whatever is the most cost effective because it is all about saving money in the grocery store. I like to do my shopping on either Thursday or Friday.
Ok, so for day one, I usually shop. Thursday is my shopping day. I don't put meats in the freezer, I just pile up my fridge. I will go ahead and shred the cheese or mince the garlic. Basically preparing things for the following day. And then I start early Friday morning. Sometimes I will prepare meat if it needs something, but not too often. Usually I just shop Thursday. Friday, I start with two meals that require some cooking. While those are cooking, I can usually fit in 4 meals that require no cooking. Like 3 bean chili, enchiladas ect. Then I keep alternating. I found it easiest to start with one meat and then work to the other. So do all chicken first and then all ham. Something like that. Like I said, the first month will be trial and error, but hopefully I gave you some good tips. You cook, them, freeze them, and then wait to eat them!! Its that easy!
Day of Eating
So, here is another thing, I like to make some foods that require minimal thawing in case I forgot to thaw something. I try to have 2 foods thawing in the fridge at all times so that you have an option that night and don't have to worry about thawing. Sometimes, you thaw chicken broccoli and then don't want it so you pick up fast food. IF you have another option in the fridge and then a fast option in the freezer (like enchiladas that will just require more baking or pizza pasta which is really only a reheat food) then you are less likely to eat out. 3 Options are better than 1. Cook it and eat! After cleaning minimal dishes becuase everything is already done, set out one more meal. My only caution to this is, don't get too much of a stockpile in the fridge because it will go bad. You don't want to waste your hard work!!
What about my favorites? My first thought it trying this was, but I don't even like these foods. Here is it, we were brought a ton of foods after the twins were born, and then Laycee was in the hospital so we were brought even more. Just so you know, most everything freezes. The website gives some insite into this, but one thing I can say is, always cook potatoes BEFORE freezing. So, if you want a yummy ham and potato soup (thanks Angela again) cook it before and then freeze. Also, most pastas have to be cooked before frozen. I don't cook lasgna, but pizza pasta (thanks Patricia), I always cook the noodles first. By the way, if you haven't had pizza pasta, it is GOOD! But I have found most all food freeze!
1. Plan your meals
2. Shop your cabinets
3. Don't forget the freezing items (bags)
4. Prepare before
Ok, so I know that this is a lot of information, but I wanted to give you good tools. Questions can be directed to me, or you can just start like I did.... trial and error. I altered a lot of recipes after the first month and omitted/added recipes as well.
So back to FB comments, what is in our freezer this month? Well I was lazy yesterday so I will post a picture eventually, but here is our menu
Tucsan Style Chicken Thighs
Herb Roasted Chicken
Cream Cheese Chicken
Perogies with a mushroom sauce
Chicken Enchiladas (which I layer, not roll)
Chicken Broccoli with egg noodles
Chicken Rice Wraps
Tilapia in a Dijon sauce
And that is all I can remember lol since my list is on the other computer. I was lazy yesterday and didn't get all the cooking done because I kept getting distracted with unpacking, laundry, kids lol. So, I only did the chicken meals yesterday and those are all the pics I have. Don't forget to check out he website for more information! Just so you all know, we love this and it helped a TON in cooking well balanced healthy meals and you only have to menu plan ONCE. I also list on my fridge what meals we have and mark them off as we eat them so I can decide what I want to thaw at one time. So, this is more than you guys asked for, but here ya go!
Posted by Lexi at 6:46 AM
Friday, April 17, 2009
Posted by Lexi at 10:30 AM
Thursday, April 16, 2009
After spotting our car, the sun came out for a few minutes, and we got to see a special occurance of a double rainbow. If you look hard, you can see the second one to the left of the bright one. The kids didn't know such a thing was possible so it was fun.
Posted by Lexi at 10:23 AM
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
So, I know we are still stuck in last month, but I wanted to post easter while it is still close to easter lol. So, here are our pictures. The kids loved having the easter bunny come. It was horrible weather, so we had to bring our festivities inside, but it didn't seem to bother the children any. The easter bunny brought gifts that the kids love. Haylee got a jump rope, Trent Pokemon cards, Laycee a puzzle, and Logan balls... of course. I hope you all had a happy easter and were able to also remember the Savior on that day.
Posted by Lexi at 9:41 AM
Sunday, April 12, 2009
And then the fun began. It was THE BEST movie I have seen in a while. I don't know if it was because we were couped up so long or what, but it was like being at the real concert. Not to mention, there were only about 8 other people in the theaters that ranged in age from 10-16 lol. And they were all yelling and dancing, so the kids decided to join in. They got out of their seats and danced around. Not to mention, I loved it. It was amazing. I think it was the best Disney movie I have seen in some time. Even Dave enjoyed himself even though he would never admit it lol.
Posted by Lexi at 9:12 AM
Saturday, April 11, 2009
And more rain,
Posted by Lexi at 8:52 AM
Friday, April 10, 2009
Posted by Lexi at 8:46 AM
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Posted by Lexi at 8:06 AM