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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

By Request...

So over the last few weeks, as friends have taken interest, I have been posting pictures of my *superb* (insert sarcastic tone here) cooking skills.... Well, I've at least posted pictures of food I have made for my family, nothing "superb" about it. Just an ordinary housewife doing ordinary things. My days revolve around chasing a toddler around, cleaning up behind the "Little Tornado", attempting to keep the house clean, and somewhere, thrown into all that fun stuff, cooking.

I have always been a huge advocate for sitting down as a family to eat your meals together. It is the BEST time to connect with each other! For most of my adult life (okay, all of it), I've been a parent. I was a young mom, but I understood the importance of the family table, because I was raised that way. My mom cooked dinner for the family at least 5 or 6 nights of the week, and even on "off" nights, we typically still sat at the table to eat leftovers together. I feel like if society would get back to this, we may have a few less juvenile delinquents, and a few more well rounded, law abiding citizens... BUT that is a debate for another time. ;)

Our family dynamic is not that of the typical "Leave it to Beaver" household. We are not perfect, we don't have the perfect history, we are definitely not prim and proper, and we are a mixed family. Stepdad, stepkids, divorce, remarriage... it's altogether a long story, but here we are, through trial and tribulation we have all come together to form this family unit. We are a very good fit for each other, and we all compliment each other well.

This year, things have changed a bit. On top of having a tiny little tornado running around the house all day, I now have a high schooler, a middle schooler, and a 1st grader! (I am *not* as old as I sound...) The Hubby now works an oddly defined shift at work... he leaves home at noon, and he comes home anywhere between 10pm and 1am. I'm not the biggest fan, because it basically means I'm doing this as a single mom on weeknights, it can be tough and it definitely tries my patience frequently... but I'm doing it. I know it is temporary, at some point, he will be able to go back to a normal, day shift... and I will once again have my life partner and my best friend at my side to join the family for dinner, go on evening walks by the lake, and attend the kids' extracurriculars with me.

I have recently started to meal plan again. I had gotten into it back before Mr. Cole made his entrance into our family, but the more high needs he became, the more full our cupboards became with convenience meals. I still cooked dinner a couple nights a week, but there was a lot more fast food, pizza, and pasta meals involved! We are a very "on the go" family, and so if I don't plan ahead, I find we eat fast food 2-3 nights a week! That is no bueno! Not to mention the extra inches it will put on my hips in a hurry, I also don't care to fill myself or my family up with such greasy garbage.

With the addition of Pinterest into the internet world, how can you NOT get lost in the thousands of yummy recipes (and easy might I add) that are floating around for all of our enjoyment?! With the meal planning, also comes grocery budgeting, trying to cut the grocery bill as low as possible to save money for other necessities, which means planning meals around ads and soon, coupons. I live in Michigan, so I do my grocery shopping at Meijer. I use mPerks, if you are not familiar with it, it is basically like a frequent shoppers card, only it's all done online, linked through my phone number. They offer store coupons through mPerks, and typically, they offer store coupons to accommodate their sale items. I have been saving, on average, $20-40 a week on my grocery bill by using mPerks, and planning meals around what items are on sale.

I have also swung my cooking into a more healthy, less convenient style. There are ingredients I use that contain preservatives, quite a few, actually... For example, Meijer had a 10 for $10 sale two weeks ago. Included in that sale was Pillsbury Grands biscuits, crescent rolls, cinnamon rolls, etc... I stocked up on these things! How can you go wrong at $1 a piece?! I also made sure I planned two weeks of grocery shopping around that sale. Instead of my grocery week running Sunday through Saturday, I went on the Sunday the ad came out, then back again on Friday, before the 10 for 10 was done, and after they had restocked the shelves. :) Some of the things I have made include biscuits and gravy, chicken and dumplings, cinnamon rolls, crescent roll breakfast casserole, and blueberry biscuits I just made for late night snacks.... I still have several cans left for weeks down the road, they store well in the fridge.

I have successfully gotten my grocery bill down to about $90-100/week, for a family of six, that's not too shabby! That is without using manufactures coupons, only store coupons and working off the weekly ad. I have done the per meal breakdown, and most weeks, I am planning for 21 meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which almost always also includes a dessert. I have my per meal cost down to less than $5 on most weeks, last week, dessert for dinner included, I had my per meal cost down to $4.76. :) I'm fairly happy with that, and I know once I start couponing, it will drop even lower.

I am in the process of experimenting with our menu options, making at least 4-5 "new" meals a week. I have been Pinteresting like you wouldn't believe, and I found some simply amazing things. Very few meals I have made, using Pinterest, have been disliked by my family. Almost everything has been voted in. I plan on making a menu board, much like what you see on Pinterest, so my family can see what is to come for weekly meals. I will have to do a separate one for breakfast and dinner, however, because I cook both of those meals daily. We typically just eat leftovers for lunch... This is an example of what I plan on making soon,
Menu board! Could be used as a "homework board"

Meals that are voted in, will be written on an index recipe card and added to the menu board. :)

I can not guarantee I will religiously post here on the blog, though I will make my best attempt. If you look back, you will see I started this blog in January of this year, and have only made a handful of entries! Running a household this size is quite time consuming... and often times I am cleaning up the day's messes at 11pm, or if not that, doing prep work (or even making) for breakfast in the morning.

I may not write much, but I can at least attempt to post my food pics, as well as recipes I used with the link to their sources... for all of my "food followers" on FB and IG :)

Because I promised a few recipes as of late, I will try to add those promised here shortly, maybe within the hour. I know there are a few I left hanging with the Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls yesterday! I haven't forgotten you! :)