1/17/2022 Weekly Meal Plan

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I did absolutely no meal prep over the weekend. The big kid has Covid-19, and little sister spent the week at home also, as she is in close contact and needed to quarantine. I’m vaxxed and boosted (and I tested negative on Tuesday), so I’ve been going to work and the usual. BUT- Every winter, after Christmas without fail I lose my voice. It’s been an “annual tradition” (honestly one I could live without) for at least…15 years. No other symptoms- just no voice. Or I sound like I’ve been a lifelong smoker.

Taking care of sick and bored kids is not fun, and it takes up every waking hour.

Luckily, we are back on the CSA train- We need some fresh produce in our lives and I hate carrying more groceries upstairs!

Veggies and fruit are delivered by Yasukochi Family Farms CSA. For $25, it’s a great deal. I don’t have to pick anything, go to the store, or carry it upstairs. I can’t go to the store and get the same amount we get weekly for $25. Seriously. It’s a deal. They email a preview of what will be in the boxes over the weekend, so I can start thinking about what I’d like to make.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

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 try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

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

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. I’m back to packing lunches again. However, school lunches are free this year- Little Bit has been buying her lunch and expanding her palate.

Dinner: This week we’ll start enjoying some Dream Dinners, and I’ll be posting pics and deets all over my social media!

  • Monday: Roasted Veggies, Soup and Grilled Cheese sandwiches
  • Tuesday: Nug night- I’ve got 3 different types, krinkle fries, apple slices & orange wedges
  • Wednesday: Tortellini and Vegetable Medley Soup, Garlic Bread
  • Thursday:   Quesadillas, roasted corn salsa, beans & rice
  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday:  Leftovers
  • Sunday:  Wings, Salad, cheesy mashed potatoes

Please stay safe you guys!

Looking for a Holiday Gift? Give the Gift of a Stress-Free Meal!

There are some people who are impossible to shop for. They either have everything, or they don’t need/want stuff.  Well, I’ve got a great solution!

Everyone has to eat! Gift your family and friends near and far with easy, delicious meals from Dream Dinners. There is nothing better than filling their freezer with meals and giving them a break from the kitchen.

You have a couple options:

  • Have Dream Dinners Delivered: Ship four delicious dinners directly to their home. *Available in select states and zip codes.
  • Dinner for the Night: Add an extra meal or two to your monthly order to gift to friends and family.
  • Gift Card: Not sure what meals they would enjoy? A Dream Dinners gift card is the perfect solution.

And if you’ve never tried Dream Dinners, now is a great time! January time slots are filling up fast and there are a lot of great options in January’s menu (including lower-calorie options if part of your 2022 plans includes losing weight/eating less).

I’ll be writing more about Dream Dinners later this Month and into January. I’m really excited that they have more vegetarian options! If you are a San Diego, CA area local, keep your eyes peeled on my Facebook page for more information about a Dream Dinners event in January at the location in La Mesa, CA. 

La Mesa Dream Dinners: Restaurant Week Deal Special Offer!

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OH MY GOSH Y’ALL! Check out this amazing offer! La Mesa Dream Dinners is participating in 18th Annual Restaurant Week with a special offer for you. This is a great way to participate in Restaurant week without leaving home.

Special Offer Price $35 – Serves 3: For a limited time you can purchase 1 medium meal from the selection below. The Dinner package includes Garlic Bread and a 6 pack of Hope’s Chocolate chip cookies to bake at home.

The staff will assemble and freeze your meals for you to pick up and take home to cook.

Choose from the following menu:

Maple Glazed Pork RoastThai Coconut Shrimp over Jasmine RiceChicken and Pasta with Lemon & Artichoke Sauce
  • Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin
  • Chicken & Artichoke Pasta
  • Thai Coconut Shrimp  over Jasmine Rice
This offer is not available online -please call/text 619-460-6800 or email lamesaca@Dreamdinners.com to place your order.

The staff will contact you for an appointment to pick up your meals at our curbside service.

I think we’ll be getting the Chicken and Artichoke Pasta- What option are you going to choose?

A Shift in Mindset: Being Cheap Versus Being Frugal

The last Monday of the school year (back in June), after I dropped the kids at their respective schools, I went to Target. I bought curtains. Now, for those who either know me in real life, or I’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know that prior to blogging full-time, one of the jobs I had in the past was a historical costumer. So I know how to sew.

Why did I buy curtains? I’m frugal.

Let me explain. I got really nice curtains for each kid kids bedroom. They are 63 inches long, they are black-out curtains meaning that they are treated with white plastic that once the curtains are closed at no light filters through. Each curtain panel was $11. So for two sets of curtains, they cost after taxes about $46. Which is decent. I could not walk into a fabric store and buy all the supplies I need it for two sets of curtains for the same amount of money.

For $46, I saved myself about two hours’ worth of measuring, cutting, and sewing. Plus a trip to the fabric store. For those of you who have been to a fabric store lately, you know how dangerous it is once you get in there. So many new ideas, craft supplies, cool fabric. And I try to have willpower, but I do love to make things.

I could have in theory found cheap fabric either at the fabric store or at Walmart, or I could’ve even gone to a thrift store and look for fabric, or old sheets. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted something that looked nice I wanted something or I wouldn’t have to spend hours getting something done just to save a few bucks. And that’s the difference between being cheap, and being frugal.

Everyone’s heard the old adage “Time is money“. And it’s true. Even though I may work at home, it doesn’t mean that my time is not worth anything. When I do paying gigs, no matter what they are, I won’t take them if I feel that my time is not being compensated well enough. And for this, new curtain project, I felt that $46 was well spent.

Now I know not everyone has extra money lying around to do whatever project that is looming on your horizon. There are other ways you can flex your frugal muscles.

  • If it’s a sewing project, you can go through your fabric stash if you have one, you can find coupons online for fabric if you wanna make your own project.
  • Look online and see if there are discounts available or deals or sales on whatever your project item is.
  • Check your local buy nothing group online.
  • Hit up your local thrift store. I have gotten many good pairs of sheets sets, bedding, and even curtains at thrift stores. A lot of people change out their curtains every year and wash and donate their “old“ curtains to a thrift store. My bedroom curtains came from the Goodwill in my town. And I paid less than $10 for both of the curtains. And they’re beautiful and I love them.

Prior to hitting up Target, for the past month, I’d kept my eyes open anytime I went out to a thrift store, or when I was out shopping to see if there were curtains that were perfect for our needs. I was not successful.  So instead of continuing the search even longer for something secondhand, I bit the bullet and spent $46. Because to me, getting a project done and checked off my to-do list for $46, was worth it. I didn’t need to keep going to thrift stores every week, trying to find the perfect set of curtains or the perfect fabric.

Frugality versus cheapness is something that goes beyond purchasing home goods. Let’s look at groceries. I know back in the heyday of couponing, a lot of people would go from store to store to store to stock up on deals and bargains. I will admit that back before I had kids I would do that. Because I had lots of free time. But now that I have two kids, my free time is limited.

And couponing is not what it used to be. So I shop at the same stores every week. Unless something is free, I tend not to deviate from my usual shopping. I shop at three stores. Which, seems like a lot, however, two of the stores are in the same shopping center, right next-door to each other. And I buy specific stuff at each store because it’s the only place to find what I want within my budget. So every week I head to $.99 only, Grocery Outlet, and usually Food 4 Less.

This is just some of what we get each week!

We get our CSA box every week for $25. And it’s an amazing deal. It saves me both time in that I don’t have to try to go to two or three grocery stores that have decent produce to find exactly what I want, and it saves me money. A $25 produce box has everything we need for the entire week. And I am able to use what is in that box to plan my weekly menu. We seldom have waste from our CSA box. And what we don’t eat by the end of the week just gets rolled over into the next week. In the past, I was spending half or more of a grocery budget each week on produce, and half the time it was too much, and it will go bad or I would have to stash it in the freezer. I still stash veggies and fruit in the freezer, but not to such a large extent.

Another thing that for me is frugal but not cheap is Dream Dinners. Granted, Dream Dinners can cost upwards of $250 plus a month for a minimum order. And that’s either 12 dinners that serve 2 to 3 people each or six large dinners that are for 4 to 6 people each. I like Dream Dinners because from the time you start cooking to the time dinner is on the table it’s 45 minutes or less in most cases.

And there are times when I’ve had a long day and it’s just been so crazy that I don’t want to cook. But instead of going through the drive-through, ordering a pizza, I can just pull out one of our dream dinners and have food that’s ready to eat in 45 minutes or less. There are no difficult directions, and the food is always delicious. And one order with 12 medium meals is enough for a month for us.

I tend to use them on nights where I know that I’m going to want something that’s quick, something that’s easy. Dream Dinners are cheaper than take out for our family. If I was to do take out 2 to 3 times a week every month that would be upwards of $600. That’s based on an average of what we usually order when we get takeout.

These are just a few examples of how I am frugal. Obviously, these may not be the ways that you save time vs. doing it the cheapest way. Everyone has ways that saves time and money, and I’d love to hear from you!

Dream Dinners: Now Booking In-Store Events!

This is some pretty cool news! Dream Dinners is launching its new Meal Prep Workshop program in August!
This is an exciting new twist on their in-store party and it’s a great opportunity for you to introduce your friends to Dream Dinners and earn fun rewards!
Here’s how it works:
As the host, you attend the workshop for free! This includes three pre-prepped medium-size meals, our grill marinade trio, and a private, in-store event with your friends. You also have the opportunity to earn up to $75 in host rewards! You can bring wine, Dream Dinners will make appetizers and you can enjoy your evening!

Your friends pay $50 to attend and learn about Dream Dinners. They’ll each receive three pre-prepped medium-size meals (Each meal feeds 2-3 people) and assemble a seasonal grill marinade trio, plus they’ll enjoy delicious samples of our food. We also have some exciting perks for them if they place an order at the workshop!

That’s $50 for three meals and 3 marinades!
One of the best parts of the new Meal Prep Workshops is that you and your friends get to share an experience with our exclusive seasonal workshop! Our theme for August Workshops is Summer Grilling and we’ll be making a grill marinade trio that Chef Laura created just for these events.

This is a great chance for you to get out of the house and have a fun night out with friends!
Space is limited, so if you are interested, contact your local Dream Dinners for more information and to book your Meal Prep Workshop.

Here in East County, it’s the La Mesa location.  Call or Text (619) 460-6800 or email: lamesaca@dreamdinners.com

If you are located in East County and want to join a Meal Prep Workshop, I’ll be planning one in the coming weeks. Drop me a comment or PM via Facebook or Instagram and I’ll get you an invite once I get the event set up.

Dream Dinners: Host an event, get rewarded!

Dream Dinners is one of my favorite ways to save time and get tasty, healthy meals on the table in 45 minutes or less! And now you can win a prize when you share Dream Dinners with family and friends!

Host an event with Dream Dinners this summer and be rewarded with an Exclusive Summer Essential Kit full of fun gifts and exclusive summer recipes (a $50 value). Plus, you will earn up to $75 in store credit to get more dinners for your family.

Interested in hosting an event and earning a Summer Essentials Kit? Spaces are limited, contact your local Dream Dinners today. For most of my readers, the La Mesa Dream Dinners is the closest.

Dream Dinners La Mesa Call: 619-460-6800 Email: lamesaca@dreamdinners.com

4/12/2021: Weekly Meal Plan!

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The CSA emails us in advance to give us a heads up as to what may be in our boxes on Monday, so that’s helped me be able to meal prep and write up this post last night.. But I went to bed early and forgot to hit POST.

I picked up a full order from Dream Dinners on Friday afternoon, and I’ve got three DD meals planned for this week. I’m working through the freezer too, and I’m planning on making vegetable soup with some homemade stock in the freezer and some freshly frozen veggies. I freeze fresh veggies towards the end of the week so that we have room in the fridge for all of the new CSA goodies.

Veggies and fruit are delivered each Monday by Yasukochi Family Farms CSA. For $25, it’s a great deal. I don’t have to pick anything, go to the store, or carry it upstairs. I can’t go to the store and get the same amount we get weekly for $25. Seriously. It’s a deal. I spend about an hour on Monday afternoon cleaning and prepping veggies for the rest of the 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 (I try to 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 a kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

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

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids.  The kids are nuts about pancakes. The Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunch: The little kiddo and I usually have something quick and filling, lately it’s been sandwiches on croissants, and strawberry yogurt.  Big kid takes his lunch to school.

Dinner: Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday: Roasted loaded cauliflower, Salad, Garlic Baguettes
  • Monday:  Orange ginger chicken, rice, roasted veggies
  • Tuesday:   Vegetable Soup and Cheddar Biscuits
  • Wednesday:  Meal o’ Snacks!
  • Thursday: Chicken tikka Masala, rice, salad or veggies
  • Friday:  Pizza/Takeout Night
  • Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner (Pancakes, Eggs, Fruit)

Please stay safe you guys!

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

Dream Dinners: Coupon Code $99 off Your First Order!

Dream Dinners is hooking new clients up with an incredible offer! If you’ve never heard of Dream Dinners, check out my post here.

Right now, you can save $99 off your first month’s order when you use coupon Code “REFER99“.  When you check out, use Coupon Refer99 at check out and enter my name  (Abby Hewes) and email (akeen02037@gmail.com) in the how did you hear about us when creating your new profile.

This offer is only valid for new guests. This offer is good for a Standard order and can only be used one time per customer, per household.

A standard order is at least 12 small meals (feeds 2-3 people) or 6 large meals (feeds 4-6 people).

I love Dream Dinners because it’s a great way to save time and still serve the fam a tasty healthy meal. We order 12 small meals each month and serve 2-3 a week. Between Dream Dinners, and our CSA box, our grocery budget is under control, and we aren’t eating out multiple times per week. Because we’ve been home 24/7 for the past year, our grocery budget has gone up, but we are not eating out often. Whenever we get the urge to eat out, I grab a Dream Dinner meal from the freezer, and in less than an hour, we are eating gooood.

There are Dream Dinners locations in 22 states, find your closest location here.

Hit Your Fundraising Goals with Dream Dinners!

Fundraising is usually not fun. Having kids sell wrapping paper, candy bars, Entertainment Books..ugh. It’s hard because it’s usually something that not everyone needs.

Dream Dinners wants to help you with a fun, successful fundraiser! Everyone eats, and this fundraiser not only supports your local nonprofit but gives caregivers extra time (most Dream Dinners take about 30 minutes to prepare and serve) around dinner time. The menu options for March are super yummy, and there are lots of kid friendly options!

March Matchness VR Email Header 2Host a fundraising event for you during our March Matchness campaign! In past years, Dream Dinners has raised more than $20,000 each March for non-profits around the country. This year, Dream Dinners will provide a match of up to $500 to the top ten fundraisers in March!

Due to COVID-19, they’ve adjusted their in-store fundraising events to take place as a socially safe, curbside pickup at our store. Here’s how it works:

Calendar IconChoose a date and time for your curbside fundraiser. Do you plan on having a lot of people attend? Dream Dinners can book multiple dates and times!
Chat Bubble IconInvite guests to your fundraiser event. Dream Dinners provides PDF invitations and content for you to share on social media!
Piggy Bank IconYour guests will pay $50 to attend and each attendee* will receive three medium-size meals (nine total servings) to take home and enjoy with their family. Your organization will earn a portion of the sales from each order!
Heart Plate IconRaise an extra $20 for each guest that places a follow-up order at Dream Dinners!
The Dream Dinners fundraisers are perfect for local nonprofits, including school groups, sports teams, animal rescues, food banks, churches, and other causes. Contact Dream Dinners today for more information and to book your curbside fundraiser event at Dream Dinners!

The La Mesa Dream Dinners Team can be contacted via phone at 619-460-6800

*One fundraiser order per household.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about your favorite fundraising techniques for your local nonprofit!

1/18/2021 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgThe kids have off today for MLK Day, so we’re planning some socially distanced shenanigans (shell collecting at the beach, picnic lunch, and picking up our Dream Dinners order). The past few weeks have been so busy, and this week plans to be jam-packed as well.

My friend Brooke recently hosted a Dream Dinner Virtual Party, and I took advantage of one of the deals- 6 dinners (each dinner serves 2-3 adults) for $99.00. I’ll be posting more info and details in the coming weeks, but for those of you who want to meal plan, but don’t know if it’s for you, Dream Dinners is a great resource.

I did my weekly trip to the store yesterday for bread, milk, salad, and ice cream. The kids have requested chocolate chip cookies, I’ll try to make a batch tomorrow.

I’m trying hard to stick to our budget of $100/week for groceries and prepare dinners that are filling and hearty.  It can be a struggle, but I shop sales, discount grocery stores, and use my cashback apps.

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 try to 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 a kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

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

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids.  The kids are nuts about pancakes. The Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

No school tomorrow, but I think we’ll have a picnic while we’re out and about. The rest of the week it’s 1/2 days for the littlest bit, and full days for the big dude. This afternoon I need to pop over to the store and pick up some lunch goodies. Big kid takes his lunch to school, but little bit has lunch at home after school.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Veggie Burgers on Salad (that’s what we ended up having, I had planned to do smoothies and caulifries too, but nah…)
  • Monday:  Pasta, Salad, and Garlic Bread
  • Tuesday:  Frozen Entrees & Salad
  • Wednesday: Protein shakes/smoothies, toast, and fruit
  • Thursday:  Dream Dinners Meal & Veggies
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Dream Dinners Meal & Veggies

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?