Eating Real Food, Frugal Living/ Budgeting, Recipes/ How To, Weekly Meal Planners

How to Meal Plan Like a BOSS!

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Okay y’all, so it’s a weeknight, about 5 pm and you have no idea what’s for supper and you are in a panic. Sound familiar? Yep, we’ve all been there before!

  So let’s talk meal planning. I’m going to give you tips so you can meal plan like a BOSS! You’ll know exactly what meals you have all the ingredients for, what’s fast and easy and what you’re saving for when you have more time in the kitchen.

   To start this meal planning lesson, let’s start right in your kitchen: do a quick mental inventory (or if you’re obsessive like me, jot it down)  of what you’ve already got on hand. This will save you money, you won’t be buying extra stuff you really didn’t need. This list will be our base for the meal planner.

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 Check your freezer, fridge and pantry. Please overlook my messy-ness, apparently I need some help with organizing!

   Once you have your “inventory” list, you’re ready to start planning! Now this is where it’ll be a bit different for everyone: I plan for 6 meals for each week, we usually go out one night a week. When planning, I may jot down specific meals for specific nights, but it can always be swapped around. I try to plan for leftovers, for my lunches. I typically plan 2-3 chicken dishes, 1-2 beef dishes, 1-2 pork dishes and 1-2 “other” dishes (like pizza, hot dogs, tuna sandwiches, fish, etc).

   I keep a list of meals my family likes in a little notebook. I have them categorized by meat type: chicken/beef/pork/ other. I also have them marked with a star if they’re for the slow cooker. If I’m wanting something different/new I turn to my old pal Pinterest! How did we survive without it? I will only add one or two “new” things per week, because my bunch is picky and we tend to stick with old stand-byes. I don’t cook super fancy, we tend to like basic type foods.

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  Here’s my pretty notebook (I’m kind of a notebook geek, I have way too many!) that I keep meals we love written in. This little step makes meal planning much quicker.

  The last step is matching up meals with what you’ve got and making your grocery list. So just based on my inventory (as seen in above pics) I’ll jot down a quick plan:

1. Chicken Fajitas

2. Marinated Grilled Chicken and Grilled Asparagus

3. Pulled Pork sandwiches and Potato Wedges

4. Green Chile/Pork Nachos

5. Meaty Italian Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

6. Tuna/Egg Salad with Veggies and Dip

   Now I would look at each meal and see what components I was missing, grocery shop once for those items and be eating for the week!

   Here’s a link to a weekly meal planner template that I love! It has spots for planning breakfasts/lunches too! And a grocery list on the side. I keep one printed out and use them.

https://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/meal-planner.html

 

   There you have it! No more wondering  “What’s for dinner?”. And no more looking forward to a specific meal, then not having all the ingredients for it on hand. By planning out meals, it’ll save you stress, time and money.

  I hope you all have a very blessed day! If you have questions/comments I would love to hear from y’all!

Frugal Living/ Budgeting

Help! I am Addicted to my Debit Card!!

Okay so regression would be where I am at with the cash only system. This past week was so crazy busy, I just used my debit for everything, and big surprise- spent more than I had planned.

See, I hate to admit this, but on the weekends, I just swipe away, and look at my balance Monday morning (or Tuesday morning-oops!) Then when I see how much we actually spent (past tense) there is nothing I can do but complain.

So we start another week, and I am going to try very hard to make it work this time danggit! I know from past experience it works if you commit to it, it’s just the darn committing that is so hard. But I am determined to get my budget under control, I will be the little engine that could- I think I can, I think I can!! (Maybe it should be I know I can, I know I can!!)

As I was typing my heading I accidentally misspelled debit, omitting the i, which made it the word debt. It made me think, yes the money I spend from my debit card comes directly out of my checking account, but if the money I spent was more than was allotted for that particular expense, in a way it is a “debt” towards the expense it was intended for. I loathe debt, so maybe if I set my mindset that overspending is really creating debt I can get a hold of this whole cash only system. Gonna give it another shot this week, wish me luck!

I am hoping all are having a wonderful week so far, mine has been busy but wonderful! God really blesses me and I am thankful for my blessings daily!  May when you count your blessings they be many! God bless and have a terrific rest of the week!

Frugal Living/ Budgeting

Handmade Stamped Elephant Necklace

So yesterday was my birthday and we went and did some shopping at Branson,MIssouri, which is only a few hours drive from us. It was a wonderful time spent with my husband and kids. We got a bit more Christmas shopping done, I also got a new purse for my birthday. But the most special present I got for my birthday was this little elephant necklace that my husband and daughter made for me out of an old fork.

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So my husband helped trim up the tines and handle of the fork and drill holes, then my daughter used wire pliers to bend the trunk into shape. She then buffed the whole thing and added it to a chain (from Hobby Lobby).

I have loved elephants and monkeys since childhood, so this was so special to me. I also love things that are hand made and re-purposed.

Hand stamped jewelry is a great inexpensive way to give gifts to friends and family without spending a fortune. These cost around $2-$3 dollars to make (if you have to buy the silverware- we have a whole set of old that we had saved from 5 or 6 years ago.) Christmas (or birthdays for that matter) isn’t about the amount of money spent, but the thought that goes into the gift you give.

If you are on a tight budget there are many things you can do to give awesome gifts without spending a ton. Make cute gift certificates’ for services such as babysitting, yard work, photography, etc for your friends and family. They will love the gift and the thought that went into it. Or if you craft, make them a handmade item that is personal to things they like. If you do scrapbooking/cardmaking, make them a set of handmade cards for all occasions for throughout the year. This list could go on and on, but you get the idea. Make this Christmas more about the joy than about the dread of debt.

Hope all have a blessed day and week ahead!! Go out and do something to make someone smile today!

Frugal Living/ Budgeting

2015 Financial Planning- Go Ahead and Start Now!

So we are upon the end of the year and with that brings new “resolutions”, or as I call mine “Yearly Goals”. For some reason, calling them goals works better for me than resolutions, but whatever you call them, make sure you add some new financial goals to your list.

I start now by evaluating how many of my last years’ financial goals I have met, if I have goals that were not met, I evaluate why and how I can meet them this upcoming year.

When setting your new goals- be realistic. There is nothing worse than having a big list of things that never get accomplished. Set goals that you know you are going to work on.

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So here are my goals for 2015:

1. Pay off 3 credit accounts (leftover from last years’ goals- ugh!)

2. Keep at least a $400 balance in our business account

3. Set up a weekly household/grocery budget

4. Switch back to the “cash envelope” system for all household/grocery needs

5. Refinance our house for a lower interest rate

So to get to a goal you must have a plan, so get busy setting up a plan for how to meet your goals.

I like to have a month-by-month plan at least for the first 2-3 months, then add new months as you go. I like to know what the priorities are and what needs to be done first. For instance, my first priority is actually #3 and 4, they will go hand in hand. If you’ve never read about the cash envelope system, it is very simple. Instead of using debit/credit cards take out cash for all weekly grocery/household needs. I do not separate the money- just place in an envelope and then stick to your budget and use your cash! When the cash is gone, you are out of money! Some people separate their money into categories such as food/ household/ gas/ etc. You can get as meticulous as you’d like, I just like to keep it simple.

So once you have your list of goals, what order to work on them in, and your month-by-month plan: you’re all set!!

Now be prepared for unexpected setbacks, because this is the real world, and plans don’t usually go as smoothly as you’d like. That is why we have credit cards to pay off from last year, unexpected setbacks! But it’s all good! We are still headed in the right direction, so the goal planner works!

Have a Blessed rest of the week!! Grab your notebook paper and plan away!!

Thrifty Fashion

Frugal Fashion Friday 11/7/14

Here we are to another glorious Friday! So here is another great fashion find for you!

This weeks’ featured outfit is this gem:

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I know, I know, you guys are tired of the boots and jeans! Sorry- I am such a creature of habit! I do own other shoes/boots and pants/skirts but these are just my fave!

So here we have my $7 jeans paired with a cute printed top (thrift store) under a lightweight jacket I found at Deb while shopping a “real” store with my daughter. It was $7 on the markdown rack- yeah! So total was around $47 bucks with my trusty boots included!

The weather is supposed to be getting rather chilly- so I will be layering a bit more and maybe even breaking out my boots with the fur. I am quite excited for the colder weather- will put me in a baking and cooking mood. Love to “warm up the kitchen” by baking some cookies- hehe!

I hope you all have a Blessed weekend! Go spend time with people who make you happy! And on that note- be a person who makes someone happy! God Bless!!

Crafty Fun

From Trash to Treasure- Ways to Organize That Won’t Cost You a Fortune!

So we all have that craft area that desperately needs to be more organized, but who wants to spend all their money on items to organize? Not me, which is why I try to use “found” items that work for storage solutions.

Here a great 1st grade teacher I work with knew how much I hate things to be wasted- she brought me these 2 nifty containers! (They were the boxes to some educational puzzles she was using- but didn’t want them in these containers)

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Now these are hat box style boxes with the lids that just lift off the top, these had strings, which I removed from them. I them just used a craft type spray paint in a bright aqua color.

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Now I used these cute chalk board label stickers I got at Michaels’, but a word of warning- I had to use hot glue for them to stay put. The stickers although cute- do not have a strong enough adhesive to hold them onto anything that isn’t flat. Also- I use a white craft pen to write on these, the chalk smudges too much.

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The final outcome is a super  cute! I will store craft supplies inside and stack these on a shelf. They will not only serve a function, but will look adorable in doing so. And I already had the paint and stickers from another project, so no cost really.

Have a wonderfully joy filled day! It is raining here and pretty cool- so Deer Chili is in the slow cooker and I am off to my sweet kiddos at school! God Bless!

Thrifty Fashion

DIY Boot Socks- Save Yourself Some Serious Money!! (No Sewing Involved!!!)

Okay so we’ve all seen the insanely cute boot socks everywhere this season, but they a bit pricey for my wallet. What’s a girl to do? Make some! But I’m not crafty, you say? Never fear, if you can use a pair of scissors you got this! (No judgement on my cutting ability!)

So let’s start with an old sweater you never wear (or find one at a yard sale/thrift store/etc). The one I used is one my daughter had in the give away pile- so I used that! It would be great to have a more neutral color, such as brown/gray/tan, but this will add a pop of color to an outfit without much color.

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I just chopped off a sleeve, to a length of about 10-12″ (this was for my daughter- I would say get a sweater your size or maybe a size larger, depending upon the thickness of your calves- mine are thick!)

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So, you see I literally chopped this sleeve off- I promise my cutting skills are not always this sloppy!

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I then laid my first sleeve on top of the other side (the most accurate way to get the same length- right?) I chopped the second one off and viola!

These were then simply slipped over a pair of jeans and smoothed down, boots put on over and there you have it!

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I am going to be on the scout for some super cute sweaters for me and Layna!!

Go forth and make the world a better place- one positive thought/smile/compliment/ at a time! God is great! Have a Blessed rest of the week!!

Thrifty Fashion

Frugal Fashion Friday!!!

NO tricks here- just finding great deals that look fabulous! The weather here has been on the warm side, but expecting a cool down starting today. I am ready to be able to wear some of my cute fall clothes without burning up. The temps have been around the mid-eighties here, not exactly boot and sweater weather!

So here is my super cute frugal fashion of the week:

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I have some of my $7 jeans (which by the way are Hydraulic- which I hear is a pretty good name brand?) paired with a cute striped lightweight sweater (Coldwater Creek brand). This sweater still had the tag marked $69.99, which I about died when I saw, who in the world would ever pay that? I paid $3.50 at the local Goodwill instead. To finish off this look I am once again wearing my trusty brown boots from walmart, they were around 30 bucks last year.

So for a total for this cool weather look is a whopping $40, including the boots. Yeah!

So go forth and put your best self forward, just don’t pay too much to make said self look fabulous! I am ready for some Friday night football with my favorite team, our local Bearkatz!! Hope all have a wonderful weekend filled with loved ones. It’s fall- enjoy this beautiful time of year God has given us! God Bless!

Frugal Living/ Budgeting

This Old House….. Looks New Again!!

Okay so when we bought our 100+ year old home 5 years ago, it was a hot mess! Green shag carpet, blue paint EVERYWHERE, popcorn ceilings, icky looking vinyl tiles, gold flecked countertops, and the list could go on and on!

We remodeled for a few thousand dollars by doing all the work ourselves and making choices that were less expensive. Now I know you could “upgrade” everything, but honestly it is an old home, it’s comfy.cozy and homey. And I like it that way!

Here is a before of the kitchen- notice that beautiful blue paint I mentioned? It was literally everywhere in the house.

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So we removed the vinyl tile that was there, removed the counters and backsplash, de-popcorned the ceilings, removed the old light fixtures, and removed the old sink and faucets. We replaced the flooring with an updated vinyl tile that looks like tile, we re-painted the kitchen cabinets with a beige oil-based paint, added new hinges and cabinet hardware, added backsplash and new counters,new light fixture, new sink and faucet, and we bleached down the appliances.

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We just recently added this fabulous island!

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Now our dining room is an eat-in dining room- just beside our kitchen- nothing fancy here! It got the same vinyl tile added, paint and a new light fixture. So not a lot of work here- but amazing what paint can do!

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Here is a full view-

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Now in my dining room I added a bench seat with my table and chairs for added seating. This old trunk was made by a good friends grandfather years ago, and I still love it! I added some pillows to tie it all together.

Now the living room is just off the kitchen/dining area- all one big room really. It got new paint, we pulled up the nasty carpet to reveal old hardwood floors, which my hubby buffed down and restained, also we added new light fixtures. Oh and de-popcorned the ceilings too!

Here is before:

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Thats my son- helping scrape the ceilings!

Here is after:

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So there you have a few rooms of the house remodel. We live in a small/cozy/homey/old home that fits us well. I like things with history and our home has over 100 years of it!

Hope all you guys have a blessed week ahead!  Enjoy all that is around you- be content! God Bless!!

Thrifty Fashion

Frugal Fashion Friday!

So another beautiful week here in the Ozarks, along with some great frugal fashion!

The featured outfit this week is one of my faves, just because it is very casual and comfortable! I have a lot of clothing that gets worn very little not because it doesn’t fit or that it is out of style, just simply it is too fancy (which for me is almost anything but uniforms and jeans and t-shirts!)

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So here I have a pair of jeans (from last year- you know good and “broke” in) paired with a long sleeved Eddie Bauer tiny pocket T-shirt under a great “army” style jacket from Old Navy. I threw on my fave scarf that my mother-in-law got me for Christmas year before last.

So, the jeans were bought new last year for around $25 and the shirt and jacket were my thrifted finds. Scarf was a gift (as most of mine are- friends and family know I love them- but don’t feel they are practical enough to actually buy). So the tally total for this week is a whopping $34.00, not including shoes, which were not in this pic, sorry!

I hope all are having a fabulous week and have a even more fabulous weekend! We have our schools homecoming tonight, which I am so excited about (every year!) then tomorrow we have our annual Rush Family Hayride and bonfire after. My husbands’ family has a farm that has been in his family for at least 5 generations that we gather at, go for a “backroad” hayride, then roast hotdogs and marshmallows and of coarse have some deer chili with meat the boys have hunted. I always bring along a camera and snap pics of everything- so stay tuned for that!  God bless!!