Monday, March 24, 2014

Menu Plan Monday for March 24 - 30, 2014

Join us for Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.
Spring is officially here!!! I am so excited for warm weather, gardening, birds singing....oh wait, there's snow in the forecast this week...  Never mind!  I have joked about it before but I seriously do feel like this is the winter that will NEVER END!  This will be another busy week for us and we are going to be doing a bunch of quick meals for dinner.  I am going to do my  best to stay on plan with Trim Healthy Mama this week but I am not so sure how well it will work.
Here's what I have planned for this week:
Links to recipes are in red
S, E, and FP denote the type of Trim Healthy Mama meal
Breakfast:  Banana Cream Cake (E) - scroll down to comments to see measurements for full sized cake
Lunch:  Eating Out will be an S
Dinner:  Stuffed Salmon Fillets
Lunch:  Grilled Chicken Breast (FP), Cottage Cheese with Tomatoes (FP), Strawberries with Fat Free Reddi Whip (FP)
Dinner:  Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce with Dreamfield's Pasta
Lunch:  Salad (S), Strawberries with Fat Free Reddi Whip (FP)
Dinner:  Eating Out
Breakfast:  Berry Oat Breakfast Cake (E)  My FAVORITE!!!
Lunch:  Grilled Chicken Breast with Dreamfields pasta and green peas
Dinner:  Soy Ginger Pot Roast - adapted from recipe found in Better Homes & Gardens magazine (S)
Breakfast:  Berry Oat Breakfast Cake (E) leftover from yesterday
Lunch: Salad (S), 0% Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries (FP)
Dinner:  Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage (S) - this is one of my kids most requested meals
Breakfast:  Veggie Omelets
Lunch/Dinner:  Eating Out before church
Brunch:  Pancakes
Dinner:  Cajun Hasselback Chicken (S), Mashed potatoes for the kids, Asparagus

Monday, March 17, 2014

Menu Plan Monday, March 17th to 23rd

Join us for Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.
My kids love holidays and it's not for the presents or days off from school - it's for the food.  Every holiday I try to whip up a few special treats for them to make the day special and Saint Patrick's Day is no exception.  We will be enjoying our traditional corned beef and cabbage, along with some St. Patrick's Day Rice Krispie treats and some yummy looking Leprechaun Chocolate Marshmallow Popcorn (of course mommy will have some sort of THM friendly snack instead).  So they are super excited this week to be celebrating Saint Patrick's Day and the food we will be eating to celebrate it!
Here's what I have planned for us this week:
links to recipes are in red
Breakfast:  Berry Oat Breakfast Cake (E)
Dinner:  Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage (S), Mashed Potatoes (for the kids) 
Breakfast: Cottage Cheese Egg Scramble - recipe coming soon (FP), Strawberries sweetened with Truvia and Fat Free Reddi Whip
Lunch: Tuna with Greek Yogurt (FP), 2 Wasa Crackers, 1% Cottage Cheese with Tomatoes (FP)
Snack: Spice Cake (FP)
Snack:  0% Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries (FP)
Breakfast: Low Carb German Pancake (S)
Lunch:  Baked Basil  and Feta Tomatoes (S), Baked Chicken Breast
Snack: 2 Wasa Crackerss with Light Laughing Cow Cheese
Dinner:  Beef Stroganoff (E) 
Breakfast:  Cottage Cheese Egg Scramble (FP)
Snack:  Going Bananas Shake (E)
Dinner:  Seafood Stir Fry (FP)
Snack:  Strawberries Sweetened with Truvia and Fat Free Reddi Whip (FP)
Breakfast:  Volcano Muffin in a Mug (S)
Lunch:  Tuna with Mayo and Pickles (S), 2 Wasa Crackers, (FP), 0% Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries (FP)
Dinner: Pork Loin Chops Smothered in Cabbage (S) - this keeps getting bumped we will get to it this week
Snack:  ???
Breakfast:  Cottage Cheese Scramble (FP)
Lunch:  BBQ Pork Chops (S), Asparagus
Dinner:  Eating Out in a S Setting
Breakfast:  Apple Pie Oatmeal (E)
Snack:  0% Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries (FP)
Dinner:  Crockpot Beans and Rice (E), smoked sausage for kids
Snack:  Banana Cream Cake (E)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Trim Healthy Mama is one of the latest diet plans (I am sorry lifestyle changes - not diet plan) that is quickly gaining popularity and I have been eating the Trim Healthy Mama way for six weeks now after taking a break from it over the holidays. While the book itself is over 600 pages and contains plenty of recipes, many of the people using the Trim Healthy Mama plan still want more recipes to choose from. Luckily, many recipes can be found online that are acceptable under the Trim Healthy Mama plan. If you are looking for more Trim Healthy Mama plan recipes here are four places where you can find them online. 

Gwen's Nest
Gwen, who blogs at Gwen's Nest, follows the Trim Healthy Mama plan and posts plenty of Trim Healthy Mama recipes on her blog. She has even created a categorized list of Trim Healthy Mama recipes that are organized by meal and type. The recipes are well written, and contain pictures, which make you want to make the recipe immediately. Among the recipes Gwen offers are recipes for appetizers, breads, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and desserts. What I liked most about the recipes that were found at Gwen's Nest were that they contained what I considered more "normal" ingredients than some of the recipes in the book. By normal I mean they contained ingredients that I keep in my pantry normally, and aren't specialty ingredients that I need to buy. To find the Trim Healthy Mama Recipes from Gwen you can visit her blog Gwen's Nest.

Stacy Makes Cents
Like Gwen at Gwen's Nest, Stacy is following the Trim Healthy Mama plan and posts Trim Healthy Mama recipes to her blog Stacy Makes Cents. Stacy also has a master list of her Trim Healthy Mama recipes on her blog but hers are listed in alphabetical order instead of by category. What I liked about Stacy's recipes are that many of her recipes are crockpot meals, which are great for those who are busy and often use their crockpot. Also at the end of each recipe Stacy lists how it is compliant with Trim Healthy Mama, if it is an S, E, or Crossover. You can find Stacy's Trim Healthy Mama Recipes by visiting Stacy Makes Cents.

Trim Healthy Mama Forum
The Trim Healthy Mama Forum is ran by Serene and Pearl the authors of the Trim Healthy Mama book. The forum features an "In The Kitchen" section. The "In The Kitchen" section has four subsections that are divided into E Recipes, S Recipes, Fuel Pull Recipes, and Crossover Recipes. Each subsection contains recipes that were created by forum members or are recipes that are from the book that have been tweaked by forum members.

One of the best places to find Trim Healthy Mama recipes is Pinterest.  I usually use search terms like "Trim Healthy Mama Recipes", "THM recipes", "Trim Healthy Mama fuel pull", or even "Trim Healthy Mama lunch ideas".  I have four boards dedicated to Trim Healthy Mama on Pinterest myself (which you can find here) that are divided up by "Trim Healthy Mama S Meals", "Trim Healthy Mama E Meals", "Trim Healthy Mama Fuel Pulls", and "Trim Healthy Mama helpers". 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Saving Money While Eating Healthy

Last week I was asked about my grocery shopping budget and shopping habits now that I am following the Trim Healthy Mama diet.  If you are a long time reader of my blog you will know that I was once a hard core couponer and have talked often about couponing in posts like "Using Coupons and Clearing up Coupon Confusions", and "Works for Me Wednesday - Coupon Binder".  Couponing was a lifesaver for me for the longest time because we were on a very tight budget and it allowed me to feed my family on a very tight budget.  As time progressed I began to change our eating habits and stopped using coupons altogether as we began a whole foods type of eating.  My grocery bill went sky high, my pantry started thinning out, and my kids were complaining because there were no quick snacks. This wasn't working for us either.  Now we find our family still eating somewhat of a whole foods diet, although not as rigid as we once were, and needing to tighten back up on our grocery bill. My weekly grocery budget is between $125 and $150 a week for a family of five this also includes our paper products, cleaning supplies, and health and beauty items. 
So the problem is this, if you are following a healthier way of living and are trying to save money on groceries how do you do that?
Use Coupons
Yes, there are many coupons for processed foods but you don't have to buy those items.  However using the coupons for items that you will use are a huge budget helper.  I stick to using coupons for items like shampoo, soap, deodorant, paper products, and pet foods.  I can also find coupons quite often for items like Dreamfield pasta, almond milk, and spices.  I will also use coupons from time to time to buy sugary treats for my kiddos - these are items that are just that treats, they don't get to eat them often and are given to them very sparingly.  Last week alone I saved $42.04 with coupons on these type of items.
Stock up When Items are on Sale
This is one of the biggest money saving principles that I have found and can't stress it enough.  Always stock up when items are on sale!!! I use this principle most often when it comes to meat.  This means some weeks my entire grocery budget is eaten up by purchasing meats, but on the other side of things I have not purchased any meat in three weeks because I have a well stocked freezer, and that frees my budget up to stock up on other things.
Plan Your Meals
Menu planning is such a money saver for me for multiple reasons.  The first reason is that it allows me to utilize items I already have at home by planning my meals around what is in my pantry. The second reason is that having a plan helps prevent me from resorting to the drive thru for dinner.  Thirdly, having a meal plan before I go to the grocery store means that I only buy what I need to fix the week's menu items,  which keeps me from spending money on items I do not need.  And lastly, it keeps me out of the store which saves me money because I can never run into a store and pick up just one item, I always end up spending way more than I plan to on those little runs, so for me staying out of the store saves me money!
 Meijer Mperks
If you have a Meijer near you than you most definitely should be using Meijer Mperks.  You simply sign up for an account that is connected to your cell phone number, then you may virtually "clip" coupons that are automatically applied to your order when you checkout at the store.  These coupons may be off of specific products or they may be save $1.50 off produce when you spend $15, or take $3 off of you paper product purchase of $10 or more, or get a free gallon of milk when you spend $25 or more.  They also have rewards that allow you to earn money each month.  This month the reward I chose was to save $15 off my order when I spend $425, the good thing about this reward is that it calculates the reward pre-coupons and Mperks.  So this week while I only spent $150.51 in the store I earned over $200 towards that $425. 
Shop Around
Learn where you can find the best prices for items you buy and shop from those stores.  For me I shop quite a bit at Meijer because it is across the street from our church and is convenient but I also shop Sam's Club.  I have been able to find great deals at Sam's Club on meat, dairy, and produce.  This is where I buy the majority of these items.  I also buy my toilet paper and trash bags here.  I can buy these items in bulk here much cheaper than I can buy them with coupons.  However, if I run across coupons for them that make them super cheap I will also buy them as well just to have on hand.
Grow it Yourself
We have 25 hens that supply us with our eggs each week.  We also raise a few chickens for meat.  We raised a few turkeys this year for meat purposes but for us they weren't the worth it and we won't be raising them again in the future.  We also have a few rabbits that are going to be used to supply us with meat.  We also have three goats, two nannies and a billy, once the nannies give birth they will be used for milk. 
We also grow a garden each year that allows us to have fresh produce.  This past year I began researching ways to extend the growing season and hope to reach the point where I can keep the garden growing year round.  The book The Complete Idiot's guide to Year Round Gardening  has been an extreme help to me here.
Preserve it!
One of the other big ways that I save money is by preserving foods when they are in season.  Everything from my garden that isn't used immediately is preserved.  Tomatoes are canned in salsa or whole, green peppers are chopped and frozen, and cucumbers are pickled.  My neighbor has an apple tree and offered me apples.  The apples were made into apple sauce, and apple pie filling then canned.  By buying these items when they are in season they are cheaper (or if you grow them yourself they are free) and then can be used throughout the year when their prices are much higher.
I am linking this post to  Works For Me Wednesday at We Are That Family

Monday, March 10, 2014

Menu Plan Monday, March 10 - 16, 2014

Join us for Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.
This will be my sixth week back on Trim Healthy Mama (THM) and I have had some weight loss but between attending the Believe conference at Northern Kentucky University with the youth at my church one weekend, running errands in town, and just life in general I haven't been as strict with it as I could be.  I am trying to find new recipes so I don't have to depend on just the few I know are THM  acceptable but I haven't had a lot of time to look for them.  I am hoping to find a few new recipes to try next week.
Last week one of the comments on my Menu Plan Monday blog post was asking me what my budget was.  I don't have a set in stone budget but I do my best to stay under $125 a week for a family of five, this includes cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, and paper supplies in addition to the food.  I have kept several habits from my couponing days and still shop sales, stock up when items are on sale, and plan my menu around what items are available in my pantry first.  I actually still do buy two newspapers a week and use coupons to buy treats for the kids, paper products, cleaning supplies, and health/beauty items.  I will be writing a Works for Me Wednesday post this Wednesday that goes more in depth on how I do my menu planning and budgeting now that I am on Trim Healthy Mama, so if you are interested in it you might want to keep a lookout for it. 
Here's what I have planned for us this week: 
links to recipes are in red
S, E, and FP designate the type of THM meal it is
Breakfast:  Berry Oat Breakfast Cake (E)
Lunch:  Grilled Chicken, 1% Cottage Cheese with Tomatoes, Strawberries sweetened with Truvia and Fat Free Reddi Whip (FP)
Snack:  2 Wasa Crackers with light laughing cow cheese
Dinner:  Pizza for kids, Stuffed Mushrooms for me (S)
Breakfast:  Turkey Bacon, Scrambled Eggs (S)
Lunch:  Tuna with Mayo (S), Cucumber Salad - use Truvia instead of sugar (FP)
Snack:  Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries (FP)
Dinner: Bunless Cheeseburgers with Swiss Cheese (S),  Zuchinni Fries for me (recipe coming soon - FP), Crispy Seasoned Oven Fries for kids
Snack:  1% Cottage Cheese with Tomatoes (FP)
Breakfast:  Veggie Omelet (S)
Lunch: Grilled Chicken, 1% Cottage Cheese with Tomatoes, Strawberries Sweetened with Truvia and Fat Free Reddi Whip (FP)
Snack:  2 Wasa Crackers with Laughing Cow Cheese (FP)
Dinner:  Pork Loin Chops Smothered in Cabbage (S) - leftover from last week
Breakfast:  Apple Oatmeal Muffin (E)
Snack:  Cottage Cheese with Tomatoes (FP)
Dinner:  Stuffed Muffin Pan Meatloaf (S) Mashed Potatoes for kids, Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes for me (S), asparagus
Breakfast:  Veggie Omelet (S)
Lunch:  Leftovers from Thursday night dinner (S)
Snack:  Cucumber Salad (FP)
Dinner:  BBQ Pork Chops (S), Mashed Potatoes for kids, Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes (S), Steamed Cabbage (FP)
Snack:  Strawberries Sweetened with Truvia and Fat Free Reddi Whip (FP)
Lunch and Dinner:  Eating Out in an S Setting
Breakfast:  Low Carb German Pancake (S)
Lunch:  Tuna with Mayo (S), Cucumber Salad (FP)
Snack: 1 % Cottage Cheese with Tomatoes (FP)
Dinner:  Beef Stroganoff (E)
Snack:  Airpopped Popcorn (E)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - March 3-9, 2014

Join us for Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.
This winter has turned into the winter that would not end.  We are home from our homeschool co-op once again because of snow with temperatures set to dip below zero again tonight.  I am ready for sunshine, 80 degree weather, and flip flops.  Regardless of the weather though my family has to eat and here is what I have planned for us this week:
links to recipes are in red - S, E, and FP designate Trim Healthy Mama meal categories
Breakfast - Scrambled eggs with Feta Cheese topped with salsa (S)
Lunch - Baked Basil and Feta Tomatoes, with two pieces of turkey (S)
Snack - 0% Greek Yogurt with Sliced Strawberries (FP)
Breakfast - Oat Berry Breakfast Cake (E)
Snack - Strawberries sweetened with Truvia and Fat Free Reddi Whip (FP)
Snack - Spice Cake (FP)
Lunch - Eating out (will be an S)
Dinner - Taco Salad 3 ways (S)
Breakfast - Spice Cake (FP)
Lunch- Leftover Taco Salad (S)
Snack - 2 Wasa Crackers with Light Laughing Cow Cheese
Dinner - Eggroll in a Bowl (S)
Snack - Strawberries sweetened with stevia and fat free whipped cream
Breakfast - Apple Oatmeal Muffins (E)
Lunch - Leftover Chili (E)
Snack - 0% Greek Yogurt with Sliced Strawberries (FP)
Dinner - Pork Chops Smothered in Cabbage (recipe coming soon) (S)
Snack - Cottage Cheese (FP)
Breakfast - Veggie Omelet (S)
Lunch and Dinner - Eating Out
Breakfast - Banana Cream Cake (E)
Lunch - Zucchini Cakes (E)
Snack - Cottage Cheese (FP)
Snack - Vanilla Muffin in a Bowl (FP)