Deal on Berries at 99 Cents Only!

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99 Cents Only is hooking us up with tasty berries treats this January!  For the entire month of January, all blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are only 99¢ at the 99!

99 Cents Only makes eating healthy a breeze! Name brand produce, and so many other healthy foods (I love that they have both dairy and non-dairy milks, cheese, and yogurt), that’s why it’s the first stop on my weekly shopping trip!

Wanna know what else is a great buy at 99 Cents Only? Here is my Top Ten List!

 

Talk Back: What is your favorite thing to buy at 99 Cents Only?

10/28/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

The littlest kiddo and I went grocery shopping on Friday, and man did we stock up! I went over budget by about $10, but I was able to pick up a lot of stuff that will last us a few weeks, and stuff for both kiddos school/preschool Halloween parties. This week I’m re-organizing the freezer.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. I did a little meal prep over the weekend, chopped and bagged veggies soups and chili, and made cookies for the kids.

  • Monday: Breakfast for dinner: Breakfast sandwiches on bagels, strawberries, hot cocoa
  • Tuesday: Crockpot chili (vegetarian), protein biscuits made with Kodiak Baking mix recipes forthcoming!!
  • Wednesday: Grilled Cheese sandwiches, soup, goldfish crackers, strawberries
  • Thursday:  Halloween- Pizza night!
  • Friday: Skillet casserole, probably chicken tetrazzini
  • Saturday: Quesadillas, Mexican Caesar Salad
  • Sunday:   Leftover night

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

4 Fresh, Healthy Smoothie Recipes Kids will Love!

37f39aabb6da4ee265e271d175c59991.jpgWe have smoothies a lot. It’s a good way to get fruit and/or veggies into the kids without any fuss.

It’s important to have a good blender that can handle fruits/veggies and ice. I love our new Calphalon Blender. I received it through one of my review programs.

We also have reusable shake straws– they are perfect for thick smoothies.

Here are the four recipes that my kids love!

Copycat Strawberries Gone Bananas (from Jamba): 1 cup apple juice (or milk), 1 frozen banana, 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

The Big Orange Smoothie: This one is the big kids’ favorite and is a version of one of his Jamba Juice favorites that is no longer on the menu. 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup frozen peaches, 1/2 c. frozen mango pulp, 1/2 cup chopped carrots, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

Green Berry Surprise: The surprise is the spinach. You can’t see it or taste it! 1 cup water & a scoop of protein powder (Or milk of your choice), 1 cup frozen berries, 1 frozen banana, 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

Tropical Freeze: 1 cup juice (I like to mix orange and the pineapple juice from the can if you used canned pineapples until it’s 1 cup), 1 frozen banana, 1/2 c. frozen mango pulp, 1/2 cup pineapple,  1/2 c. frozen peaches, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

The nice thing about smoothies is that you can use fresh or frozen fruit or veggies, any kind of juice, it’s all up to you!

Liquids:

  • Milk: Dairy, Oat, Hemp, Soy, Almond, or other nut milk. Your Choice.
  • Juice (Apple, Orange, and Carrot are popular)
  • Water and a scoop of protein powder
  • Water

Some of our favorite fruits include:

  • Bananas (I peel and slice overripe bananas and put them in ziploc bags, so they are ready to use!)
  • Strawberries- 99 Cents Only and Dollar Tree both stock 12 oz bags of strawberries. If you can’t find them in season, this is a great alternative.
  • Peaches- I usually buy them frozen.
  • Mangoes- 99 Cents Only sells Mango pulp, which is just the good parts of mango formed into a brick and frozen. I love mangoes, but I hate peeling and slicing them.
  • Mixed berries- 99 Cents Only sells mixed berries, which is usually strawberries, blueberries, blackberries.
  • Pineapple- Either canned in its own juice or frozen chunks. Frozen Pineapple is good straight out of the bag. Fresh pineapple is a lot of work to process just to turn into smoothies.

Tasty Veggies we enjoy in our smoothies:

  • Carrots- I usually chop them up small so they are easily incorporated.
  • Spinach- It blends in well and isn’t noticeable.

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear what your favorite smoothie flavors are!

 

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10/14/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

I won a $25 Grocery Outlet Gift card on Friday, so I used it to pick up some snacks and goodies for school lunches this week. Thanks to my frugal buddy Brooke from Crying Out Loud, we’ll be eating a lot of eggs this week (3 dozen eggs- woo hoo!). We hit up the Harvest Festival over the weekend, and we picked up some seasoning kits from Whatcha’ Got Cookin’ that we’ll be using this week.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. I did a lot of prep for the coming week over the weekend. I cut up the produce, bagged it for meals, made up some smoothie kits, and cut up cantaloupe to have this week. Thanks to some frugal shopping over the weekend, I’ve only spent half the grocery budget for the week. I will probably use it all.

  • Monday: Happy Meals on the way home from weekly group autism therapy for the kids. Grilled Cheese and Chicken and Rice Soup for the grown-ups. Soup is in the freezer from a previous batch.
  • Tuesday:  Fritatta with so many eggs (and veggies too)
  • Wednesday: Welcome Home Chicken in the crock pot (with seasoning kit from Whatcha got Cookin)
  • Thursday:  We’ve got respite, so it’ll be something early and light, probably what I like to call a “meal of snacks”- it’s all kind of different things on a cafeteria tray.  Previous Meal of Snacks include: Chicken Nuggets, goldfish crackers, cut up fruit, hardboiled eggs, glasses of milk, and cookies.
  • Friday:   Date Night!
  • Saturday:  Pizza Night
  • Sunday:   Leftover night

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

Big Changes coming to the Driscoll’s Consumer Advisory Panel!

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 10.21.52 AM.pngI wrote about the Driscoll’s Consumer Advisory Panel when it first started a couple years ago and this morning I was notified of some pretty great changes coming up.

From the email I received:

We are excited to announce that due to the popularity of Driscoll’s Consumer Advisory Program, we are switching from a coupon-based reward system to a point-based system. The flexibility of this new system will allow for the accumulation of points which can be redeemed in the form of electronic gift cards. The point system and thresholds for redemption is as follows:

1 completed survey = 25 points
200 points (8 surveys) = $2.00 reward
500 points (20 surveys) = $5.00 reward
1,000 points (40 surveys) = $10.00 reward

Once you’ve earned enough points, you will be given the opportunity to continue accumulating your point balance or redeem your points towards a selection of gift cards from popular companies. In the new reward system, your points will roll over into the new year until redeemed and your gift cards do not expire.

These changes will take effect on Monday, November 4th, 2019. Please note that due to maintenance, access to the survey portal will be temporarily unavailable between Thursday, October 31, 2019 through Sunday, November 3, 2019.

The link below contains more information on Driscoll’s Consumer Advisory Panel, including frequently asked questions: https://www.driscolls.com/panel/faq

So there you have it! If you’ve been saving codes,  like me, you won’t have too much longer!  I can’t wait to see what kinds of gift cards they will offer (fingers crossed for Amazon).

9/30/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

I bought a few things yesterday to sort of “round out” what we’ve got on hand, and I think I’ll hit up Sprouts on Wednesday for Double Ad Day to get produce, but other than, we’ll be eating a lot of the stuff in the freezer I recently meal prepped this week. I don’t feel really great (Big kid brought home the new germ du jour from school and it’s felled us all).

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: Soup, Grilled Cheese sandwiches, green grapes
  • Tuesday: Aunt Linda’s Mess (It’s a skillet casserole)
  • Wednesday: Baked potatoes with vegetarian chili (from the big batch of vegetarian chili I made last week), green salad.
  • Thursday: Pizza Night
  • Friday:  Date Night!
  • Saturday: Leftover night
  • Sunday:  Taco Salad (recipe will be posted later this week)

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

9/16/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I just finished shopping for the week, and Boy do I have some awesome meals planned!

This week I’ll be making another big batch of fruit salad! It was a very popular addition to our meals last week. 

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: homemade breakfast sandwiches ( Bagels with sunny side up eggs, cheese, and sausage patties), fruit salad
  • Tuesday:  Cheese and tomato tortellini with pesto sauce, steamed broccoli,  cheese toast
  • Wednesday: Sea Salt & Olive Oil Seasoned Chicken Breasts, cheesy herb cauli-rice
  • Thursday: Homemade Pasta sauce, zucchini “noodles”
  • Friday:  Grilled Cheese sandwiches and soup
  • Saturday: Pizza Night
  • Sunday: Leftover night

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

Easy Jam Recipe: No Canning Needed!

Screen Shot 2019-09-12 at 10.53.44 PM.pngOn Wednesday, I found myself with a bunch of very ripe berries.

2 cups of strawberries

2 cups of blackberries

1 cup of raspberries

1/2 cup of blueberries

Ok, so that’s a weird amount of berries, and seeing as how there were dead ripe, the only thing I could do besides freeze them is to cook them up and make jam!

Making “freezer jam” as it’s usually known is pretty easy. No pectin needed, no jars, no canning. It’s dead simple.

Ready?

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Ingredients

Equal parts chopped ripe fruit and white sugar (or you can use Splenda for baking)

Directions

  1. In a large pot (like this one) coot fruit over medium/low heat, stirring frequently, until the fruit breaks down, about 20-ish minutes
  2. Add sugar/sweetener, and stir until it has melted and the mixture is glossy and thick.
  3. Pour into a refrigerator safe container with a lid. Once the mixture is room temp, store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
  4. Spread the jam on anything!
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After it cooked down, it made about 2 1/2 cups of jam

And for those who are wondering, this is easy enough that kids can help make this, but I don’t recommend that kids do it alone. Molten fruit and sugar can cause a very painful burn on the skin.

Quick, Tasty Recipe: Berries Romanoff

Berries 2.jpgI was thinking of a way to use the berries we have on hand, and this recipe came to mind!

My friend Ana brought Berries Romanoff over for dessert the last time we had a potluck, and it’s now become a staple in our house. This is a variation on the original recipe, which calls for orange zest and Grand Marnier liqueur. This version is much more kid-friendly.

This is a quick, easy dessert that even kids love.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Cups berries- Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, mulberries, and pitted halved cherries are all good choices.
  • 1 cup  thawed Cool Whip (or make whipped cream from scratch if you feel motivated)
  • 1/2 cup  Sour Cream
  • 1 T. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. orange zest

Directions:

  1. Divide the berries into 6 dessert bowls, set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.
  3. Spoon mixture over the top of the berries and serve.

The mixture keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days, but once you taste it, you won’t be able to stop eating it.  It’s really good.