Easy Weeknight meal ideas!

As many of you know, I have been trying SO hard to adjust to my new schedule and find some make ahead re-heatable meals for us!  I don’t have a ton of ideas, but here are a few of the options that have been working well for us.

Turkey Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes:  I posted this turkey meatloaf recipe a few weeks ago.  I will make this ahead in a 9×13 pan, and then cook up some mashed potatoes and store both in the fridge.  I will portion out individual plates and microwave, and make a quick batch of steamed green beans.

Tacos: I will prepare the meat and season it and then either store it in the fridge or freezer.  I make sure we have all the fixings prepped and ready to go.  We love to have Goya Yellow Rice with our tacos, which can easily be made ahead and re-heated.

Risotto:  This is one that I am super impressed with! There are tons of great recipes out there, but I am partial to this one from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen.  It stores great in the fridge for 1-2 days.  Sometimes I serve this as a main dish, or as a side to chicken that I have made ahead.  Plus, this is a great way for me to use my homemade chicken broth!

Rotisserie Chicken:  Ok so this one might be considered cheating, but a store rotisserie chicken is $7.99 in my area, which is cheaper than takeout, and always gives me leftovers for chicken salad, and I can use the bones to make chicken broth.  I have been able to keep a rotisserie chicken in my fridge for 2-3 days and reheat it whole in the oven or individual servings in the microwave.  I will make up some sort of potato or rice dish and serve with easy steamed green beans.

Indian Chicken:   This is another easy one, that also freezes well.  I will saute and brown chicken breasts or thighs (cut into serving sized chunks).  Then add some Indian simmer sauce (which my Aldi’s now sells!)  And simmer until the chicken is cooked.  I then pack this up to freeze.  I will defrost head and serve with rice, naan and a side salad.

This week I am trying a chicken parm casserole!  I’ll keep you updated!

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Packing Lunch!

I have always, always packed my lunch.  Even when I was in school, my parents always packed or made us pack our own lunches.  One of the main motivations for us packing was cost.  Believe it or not, my parents were able to pack us a lunch that was cheaper than the $1.60 school lunches.

Flash forward 15 years, and now if I were to buy lunch it would be at least $10 per lunch!  I can certainly pack a lunch for less than that!  I try to pack leftovers for Mr. Bird for his lunch, and I used to take leftovers for mine. If we had no leftovers, would would take a bagged salads, which I try to keep on hand ($1.99 each).   In my new job, it’s not as easy to heat up a lunch and sit down and eat.  I find myself snacking in meetings or grabbing a quick bite in between things.  So I have had to adapt my lunch contents!  I have been taking crackers, hummus, vegetables, chips & guac or yogurt and so far it is working out ok, although I do miss a nice hot lunch in the middle of the day.

Honestly though, even though packing our lunches saves us THOUSANDS of dollars a year, it is also more convenient.  I am never stuck having to go buy food, if I am hungry I have something to eat.

 

What do you typically do for lunches during the day or at work?

 

 

5 frugal things

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Five Frugal Things is a great practice of recognizing some of the frugal things in your life.  I first came across it on the blog TheFrugalGirl, and have jumped on that bandwagon!

Back on the bandwagon of posting!  I might not be posting as often, but I am going to try to post 1-2 x per week.  It was a much needed break last week, thanks for being patient!  Here’s a quick 5 frugal things post!

  1. Making cinnamon knots  I used the frugal girl’s recipe, and they came out fabulous and delicious!  I was serious impressed with how simple it was.  All in all it took about 3 hours from start to finish (but much of that was rising time)
  2. at home haircuts.  LittleBird and Mr Bird were due for haircuts. Years ago we spend $19.99 for a a hair clipper set.  I used to cut Mr Bird’s hair, but now he does it himself, and he tackels cutting Litte Birds hair.
  3. No paper towels or paper napkins!  I posted about this a few weeks ago, and I love how much it saves us!
  4. Planning our meals.  I meal planned and grocery shopped this weekend.  I have been spending a bit more at the grocery store for some convenince items to make eating at home easier, but it’s still cheaper, healthier and less stressful than last minute take out!
  5.  Homemade waffles.  Every now and then we love a good homemade brunch!  This weekend I made us some waffles.  A few years ago I bought  this  waffle maker!  It makes 2 belgium waffles at a time, so it is super efficient to make waffles for the whole family!

What frugal things have you done this week?  What do you do to keep yourself motivated to be frugal?

Stress and how to cope

I have been under an incredible amount of stress since starting my new job.  Some of it is just the stress of being outside of the house for 45+ hours a week and juggling everything.  But a lot of the stress is actually from people!  My new job requires a lot more interpersonal communication and building relationships with co-workers that I am used to.  All of this means that I, an introvert is exhausted at the end of the day.  I also struggle to understand some social nuances and I easily pick up on tensions.  All of this combined has led me to feel overwhelmed and stressed.  I have been forced to tap into my tool kit of stress relief.

Some of the things I am trying include some healthier lifestyle habits:

Eating Healthier: I find that eating healthier makes me feel better!  If I can reduce or eliminate gluten, processed foods and sugar, I feel less anxious and am in better tune with what is really going on.

Exercising:  I try so hard to do this regularly, but I had fallen off the bandwagon.  A fellow blogger posted a short review on Blogilates, and I decided to give it a try.  So far I have done several of the workouts.  Although not the most rigorous, they do help give me that extra boost in the morning.  And so far the ones I have tried have all been 10ish minutes. Which is about all I have time for!

 

I have only just instituted these things in the past few days, but already I am feeling slightly better and somewhat more in control of my stress.  What do you do to help your stress?

 

A gluten-free baked Oatmeal Recipe

I have been trying to create some yummy breakfast treats for us to have in the morning.  I have been baking a lot of breads and muffins.  But recently, all the gluten has caught up to me.  I don’t subscribe to a totally gluten-free diet, but I can definitely tell when I am eating too much gluten and processed foods.  So for this week I decided to make some gluten-free baked oatmeal.

This recipe is super yummy and I love that I can bake a whole 9×13 pan on Sunday have some for most of the week!   It’s definitely a bowl and spoon/fork eating baked oatmeal (not bar or cake-like as some baked oatmeals are).  But it’s delicious and gluten free!

Gluten-Free Baked Oatmeal (originally from Gluten Free Homemaker)

  • Ingredients
  • 3 cups gluten-free oats
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup apple sauce
  • ⅓ cup honey (or honey or maple syrup)
  • ¾ cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup oil (I use olive oil, but any kind will do!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix everything together in a bowl, and then spread into a greased 9×13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

 

What are some of your favorite breakfast dishes?

What I spent and What we Ate


 

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I first came across the idea of menu planning and grocery tracking blogging on TheFrugalGirl.  It has been a helpful tool for me to organize our budget and menu!

goal budget is $125/week or $500/month – Monthly Running total currently: $365.14

Aldi : 110.60

weekly total:  $110.60

 
No grocery picture this week!  And this was a total bust of week for meal planning.  Mr. Bird was traveling, little bird was sick early in the week, and now I have a cold too. We will get back on the meal planning bandwagon SOON!!
Saturday 3/18
Dinner |Dinner with my parents.  We got takeout from a new local/organic restaurant.  Super delicious, and we all really enjoyed it!
Sunday 3/19
Dinner | We had the last meeting of our marriage group and as a celebration, we did a potluck dinner.
Monday 3/20
Dinner | Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans
Tuesday 3/21
Dinner | leftovers
Wednesday 3/22
Dinner | takeout pizza (my Dad was in town helping with Little Bird)
Thursday 3/23
Dinner | takeout again (I was feeling so miserable, and Mr Bird got home late from his trip, Little Bird had a slice of leftover pizza)
Friday 3/24
Dinner | planning to make breakfast for dinner  **Really hoping I stick to this, because 3 nights of takeout would make me so sad.
  

 

What did you eat this week?  How do you handle being sick and getting meals on the table?

A Few Things I am loving right now!

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  1. La Croix sparkling water.  Every now and then I like to spice up what I drink, and every now and then Aldi brings this in as a special buy $3.99 for an 18 pack.  It is SO much better than most other seltzers, although Polar is hard to beat.  Whole foods and a few other grocery stores as well.  My favorite flavors are grapefruit, orange and berry.
  2. YouTube Channel Clean & Delicious.  A reader shared this with me a few days ago, and I am totally hooked!  This gal has some great recipe videos, but she also has healthy dessert video and healthy meal prep videos.  I never would have thought to turn to youtube for some cooking help, but I am super impressed!
  3. My ridiculously expensive pair of Cole Haan Tali Bow Flats.  This was a TOTAL splurge a few weeks ago.  But this pair of shoes is SUPER cute and super comfortable.  I got them in a black,gray and beige snake skin print, and they go with everything!  So, while not frugal in one sense, I think they are going to serve me well in the long haul, and wearing them makes me smile, so that is worth something too right
  4. Microsoft OneNote.  I have been a long time user of Evernote, and have really loved that app for personal use.  However, at work I got a free copy of OneNote, and have really been enjoying all of its features.  I was able to easily create a digital bullet journal and have been able to keep impeccable notes and tracking for work.
  5. Mini Succulents I purchased a mini succulent terrarium on Etsy a little bit ago, and I am really loving look at these tiny plants.  So far they are all still alive-which is a huge feat for me!  The tiny cactus is just so cute.

What are you loving this week?

Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf Recipe

My friend shared this recipe with me-it is super delicious and is a make ahead and freezer friendly meal!  It has all the flavors of Thanksgiving Turkey dinners.  I think she originally got the recipe from Rachel Ray, and then slightly adapted it, and then I adapted it a little more!

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion chopped
3 celery stalks (with leaves) chopped
2 cups chicken broth/stock
1 box of chicken or turkey flavored stuffing
1-2 lbs of ground turkey
1 egg per each pound of turkey
Salt and pepper

Heat butter and oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add the onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender about 10 minutes.  Add the stuffing to the skillet and then add the chicken broth.  Let the stuffing mixture cool in a bowl.  ONce cool, add the turkey and egg and mix together.  You can form into loaves or, press into a 9×13 pan.   Bake at 400 degrees: 30 minutes for 9×13 pan and 45-1 hour for a large loaf.  Serve with store-bought turkey gravy.

I love that this recipe can be cooked in 30 minutes!  That is just about all the time we have on a weeknight to heat things up.  We eat this with mashed potatoes and broccoli or green beans.

What are some of your favorite weeknight meals?

What I spent and What we Ate


 

hugs-were-inventedto-let-people-know-youlove-them-withouthaving-to-say-anything

I first came across the idea of menu planning and grocery tracking blogging on TheFrugalGirl.  It has been a helpful tool for me to organize our budget and menu!

goal budget is $125/week or $500/month – Monthly Running total currently: $254.54

Aldi : 53.50
Acme: $16.40
weekly total:  $69.90
Underbudget!  I am totally not surprised.  It was slim pickings the end of the week, and we did some serious pantry/freezer eating.   We are doing pretty well in terms of budget.  I have 2 shopping trips left this month.  I looked at the calendar, and this is a tricky month because I counted my end of feb shopping trip towards March, making this month 5 weeks.  

 
No grocery picture this week!  One of my goals this week was to try to do some baking for breakfasts.  I got my act together and made a loaf of pumpkin bread!  I used this recipe from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen.  She comments that the sugar is the perfect amount and the bread is not too sweet.  And I have made it before following her exact recipe and it is perfectly delicious!  This time, though, to try to be more healthful, I cut the sugar back to 1 cup.
Saturday 3/11
Dinner |dinner over at friends house.  We brought some salad.  She made a turkey and stuffing meatloaf which was delicious!
Sunday 3/12
Dinner | beef tacos
Monday 3/13
Dinner |turkey meat laoves and scalloped potatoes
Tuesday 3/14
Dinner | homemade white pizza
Wednesday 3/15
Dinner | take out (Mr Bird and Little Bird got slices out, and I had a solo night and did chick fil a drive through)
Thursday 3/16
Dinner | breakfast for dinner (Mr Bird did the planning, shopping, and cooking!)
Friday 3/17
Dinner | planning on making salmon and rice (but we might end up with take out due to work/timing)
I am extremely pleased that we only did 1 night of takeout.  It was unplanned, but definitely nice and needed!  My work hours were longer than I expected this week, which made coming home to cook dinner more challenging.  I had actually made the turkey meatloaves Monday night and all we had to do was reheat them. So really I wasn’t able to cook dinner any day but Monday.  I am thinking this is going to need to be a normal thing going forward.
I am really hoping to get a better grip on some quick week night meals.  It is a new challenge for me!  I used to work only a few 12-hour shifts a week and could easily spend my days off cooking nice slow and delicious meals!  Now that I am working a more traditional 9-5 job, I am struggling to find meals that can be ready in 30 minutes with minimal prep work that night.  It’s hard to prep while entertaining a hungry toddler.  Make-ahead casseroles are working well, but I can’t seem to be interested in eating casserole more than 1 night a week ( minus leftovers)!  I need to remind myself to have patience, and takeout for a period of time while we get into a new groove is okay.
Any suggestions for recipes that reheat well?
 
What did you eat this week?

Mission to Minimalize | update #3

Mission to minimalize

Progress has been slow, but steady.  I am learning to have patience for myself as I adjust to working a new job and a new schedule.  We haven’t done any “serious” downsizing.  But we have been doing a better job of tidying up and decluttering every few days. I am pretty pleased that 2 more rooms are done.

Here is the progress so far:

Downstairs  

Living Room – We don’t have much in our living room and it’s mostly furniture.  A couch, love seat, 2 sitting chairs and 2 end tables.  I did finally organize some of my board games and kept the ones we like to play a lot upstairs, and moved some older ones down to the basement.  We also went through some of Little Bird’s toys.  We keep a few trucks under the chairs as well as some other toys.  We moved his blocks upstairs and brought his legos down.  So now all his toys in the living rooms can be stored under our 2 sitting chairs.

Dining Room–  This was another easy one.  We have a dining room table and 6 chairs, china cabinet, small dresser, buffet and book shelf in the dining room.  Even though we eat dinner every night in the dining room-it sometimes becomes thecatch-alll for paperwork and miscellaneous stuff.  I went through and sorted through old paperwork, and threw away some old cards and tucked everything back in its place.  I also sorted through some of our table linens and picked out some old placemats that have seen better days to donate.  I am sure there is more stuff in the this room I could find to give away or donate, but I am going to call it done (for now).

Foyer

Kitchen

half bathroom 

Upstairs

Master Bedroom |

Bathroom |

Little Bird’s Room |

Guest Room

PlayRoom/office/misc

3rd Floor

Living Room |

Office 

 

Do you have any minimizing/organizing goals?  Have you made any progress?

 

See my other mission to minimalize posts

Mission to Minimalize

Mission to Minimalize | update!

Mission to Minimalize | update #2