Winter Sports Fun with The San Diego Sockers!

EGHG5285.JPGDid you know that San Diego has a Soccer Team? We Do! The Sockers are our MASL Team! They’ve been here since 2009.

The Big Kid and I got to experience our first Socker’s game yesterday!

BOIP0331.JPGBefore the game, we got a chance the run around the field and kick the ball.  After 20 minutes, the big kid was panting and ready for a water break.

Sockers tickets start at $15, the club pays for parking! They have special rates for groups and a special military discount!

The Sockers pride themselves on being the family-friendly affordable winter sport in San Diego. Fans are welcome on the field after the game to meet the team, get autographs or a high five. The big kid and I had a great time! Soccer is a very fast-moving game, and there are lots of opportunities for audience participation, which he LOVED!!

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If you were wondering about the noise level? Not too loud, and just in case, I had his noise-blocking earphones in the car.

I would recommend a Sockers game for any family, especially those with kids on the spectrum. It’s a chance to enjoy time together, make noise, and watch a fun game.

And Pechanga Arena has a great variety of food and snacks. We had caramel apples, and frozen chocolate-dipped cheesecake on a stick.

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**The Sockers provided free tickets to the game- However, we were not obligated to blog or post on Social media about the event. We had such an amazing time that I had to share with y’all.

 

 

 

 

1/13/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgThis week is going to be another week with time spent doing fruit and veggie prep, in addition to our weekly meal planning sesh, which I did yesterday.

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.

Friday I picked up some fresh fruit and veg, which should get us through until next week.

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.

Meal Plan
This is our family “Command Center”- Family Calendar and Weekly meal Plan/Shopping list

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 1/2 and 1/2  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. We’ve got a bunch of stuff in the freezer, as I’ve been portioning out 2-3 adult-sized entree portions from several meals a week and freezing them for later meals.

  • Monday: Butter Chicken, steamed rice, and veggies
  • Tuesday: Frozen Entrees
  • Wednesday: Tuscan Soup
  • Thursday: Breakfast (probably pancakes or waffles served with poached eggs on top, fresh fruit and glasses of milk)
  • Friday:   Chef Salad  (It’s Date night, but we’ll probably have dinner at home before heading out to shenanigans)
  • Saturday: Home made pizza
  • Sunday:  Leftover fiesta!

 

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

Fun with National Day: Today is National Argyle Day!

file0001631089542.jpgI bought this calendar a few weeks ago, and it lists several non-holiday “days” each day. I thought I’d share some with you each month.

I love “National Days“- they are so much fun, and some of them are really silly. It’s a great way to get the kids out of a funk, especially when there are no holidays or fun days for a long stretch of time. It’s also a fun way to teach kids little facts. For example, Pancake Day usually coincides with the start of Lent (Shrove Tuesday) .

Today is Argyle day. We are all celebrating by wearing argyle socks. Mr. has a vast array of argyle socks. I bought him these last year.

It’s also national Bubble Bath Day! The kids will be celebrating later with a “disco bath”- that’s a bubble bath with a few glow sticks thrown in. Even the big kid can’t resist a disco bath. In addition to this bubble bath, which the kids love, the big kid is a fan of these bath bombs.

Friday the 10th is Houseplant appreciation day, I’m not sure what we’ll do to celebrate, but if I figure it out, I’ll post about it on Facebook or Instagram.

Tips to Reign In An Out Of Control Family Budget: Let’s Start in the Kitchen!

707538835876fc5c438018d57701bc2f.jpgUntil the end of the year, I’ll be posting some articles with realistic tips and methods to save money and reign in spending. None of these are going to the same old “Clip coupons, grow your own garden, etc.” that’s all over the internet- and honestly, here in Southern California, the old, standby advice isn’t going to help you. Grow a garden to save money? Water is so expensive here!

Clipping coupons and shopping grocery store sales/circulars will save you a fraction of the amount that it used to. In years past, I was saving 60-80% with coupons and store sales. Now, I’m lucky to save 50%.  With all of the restrictions on coupons (example: limit one like coupon per day- LAME), stockpiling to save money isn’t always possible without a lot of work/trips to different stores (and that’s not saving time). We’re moving past that, and delving into other ways to save money and take advantage of opportunities that are out there.

Today we are going to start with my pet project: Saving in the kitchen! If you feel like you’re spending too much money on food and groceries, here are my recommendations for getting the grocery spending under control:

  1. Go through your refrigerator/freezer and pantry. Make a note of the food that you have on hand. I like using the kitchen inventories here. This will also give you an opportunity to clean out food from the kitchen that has expired or that you won’t eat. Unexpired food that you won’t eat, can be donated to a local charity.
  2. Now that you have a handle on what you have in your kitchen, take a look at the list and come up with some recipes or meals that can be created with what you have on hand. You’d be surprised by how many meals you have in your kitchen! Make a list of the meals that you can make with what you have. And plan on having one or two of those per week. This will help keep grocery spending down. Make a list of meals that you can make but require one or two ingredients (like fresh vegetables), and add those ingredients to your next few shopping lists. By relying on what you already have in your home, you will be keeping your out of pocket down.
  3. Before you head to the store, take a look at the sale flyer which is available online, and see what is on sale. Plan meals around food that is in season and on sale. Continue to use coupons, but don’t go out of your way to subscribe to multiple newspapers per week to get a hold of lots of the same coupons.  Don’t forget rebate apps! Use of these apps gets us $10-$20/month cashback, sometimes double that, depending on what bonus offers are available- Fetch Rewards and Ibotta often have Bonus offers.
  4. Track your spending over a few weeks to see how much you are spending, and what you are buying. If you still find that you’re spending a lot of money on food, I would try shopping at a different store. I find that even with club card sales, and rebate apps like Fetch Rewards, some grocery stores (like Vons) are just too expensive to do my weekly shopping. I love starting my shopping at $.99 only. I am able to get a lot of snacks, name-brand treats, and fresh fruits and veggies there, and I am still able to stay on budget. Another fun place where I save money is Grocery Outlet. They have great prices on cheese, fruit juice, coffee, and frozen meat. They also have an interesting selection that changes weekly: snack food, protein bars/cookies, and cereal. If you are in the military, a military family, or a veteran, consider shopping at the commissary. Here is my article about saving money at the commissary. 
  5. Consider cooking more from scratch. It is healthier, and pantry stables are generally pretty cheap (the ingredients for a batch of chocolate chip cookies runs about $3.00 and yields 4-5 dozen cookies, while a package of chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store is about $4.00+ and is usually 3 dozen or so).  I buy fruits and veggies whole and break them down and pack them into serving size bags. You can learn more about that and Batch Cooking here.

If you are still having a hard time keeping your grocery budget in check, or if you are finding that the ends don’t meet, consider the San Diego Food Bank Neighborhood Distribution Program. No documentation is needed to receive food assistance from a
Neighborhood Distribution site where people can receive fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread, based on availability. Families are encouraged to bring reusable bags or
a cart with them to carry the food items.

There are programs out there to help those struggling to feed their families here in San Diego County. Here is my list of San Diego County Food Resources.

I work very hard to keep my family on a budget, I work very hard to make sure that we are saving money and taking advantage of as many deals and opportunities that present themself. I know that this is not something that everyone wants to do or something that everyone can do. There are so many programs and discounts out there available for various groups of individuals.

Tomorrow, we’re tackling saving money on the entertainment budget.

12/9/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

Holiday decorations are up, and we are in full holiday mode! That means lots of fun stuff: looking at neighborhood light displays, making holiday crafts, and of course, holiday foods!

I did a small trip to the grocery store yesterday- we’ve got produce co-op this week, so I’m waiting until Wednesday to see if we need anything else. We’ve got meat and proteins in the freezer, and I’ll be pairing them with the veggies and grains we have on hand. 

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 1/2 and 1/2  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. We’ve got a bunch of stuff in the freezer, as I’ve been portioning out 2-3 adult-sized entree portions from several meals a week and freezing them for later meals.

  • Monday: Butter chicken with rice, steamed veggies (we didn’t make it last week)
  • Tuesday: Pecan crusted salmon, roasted veggies (carrots, potatoes, onions, celery), brown rice
  • Wednesday:  Soup & Grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Thursday:   Kung Pao stir fry with chicken and veggies, served with rice.
  • Friday:   Breakfast for dinner: Smoothies, avocado toast with Everything but the bagel seasoning(bacon will be available as well).
  • Saturday:  Pizza time (also salad will be served)
  • Sunday:  Leftover fiesta!

I had someone ask me how we always have enough of anything for leftovers. I always cook enough of the main dish for 6-8 servings, that way we have leftovers for lunches later in the week or leftover night. And really when you make stuff like soup, it’s hard to make a batch of soup that only feeds 4 people.

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

YMCA of San Diego County- Cyber Monday Deal!

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We love our local YMCA- They have great exercise classes, awesome free events for members and the community, open gym for the kids to run and play in the gymnastics area three times a week, an activity pool that is open in the spring and summer, and I could go on and on.

We go to the Y 4-6 times a week for exercise and so the kids can play and socialize- this is a HUGE help during school breaks because the kids club/child watch has great programs and play opportunities- and it’s included in the price of membership. And it’s so much more than the kid’s area at most chain gyms. The folks at child watch and kids club do crafts, lead games, read stories, and teach the kids how to play new games, and take them into the gym area to bounce on the huge trampoline!

Today Only, December 2nd- Cyber Monday, New members pay no joining fee if they join online using our special My Y Code CYBR19. Your friend will save up to $60! And if you are a member and your friend mentions your name at sign up,  you’ll get a free month of membership! If you are going to sign up, mention my name, Abby Hewes. Any way we can save money helps our families bottom line!

For our family, YMCA is definitely frugal: for $75/month, I am able to go to the gym for 2 hours a day and the kids can go to play and have fun. Any of our other local gyms can’t touch that price, and they don’t have the other programs or benefits.

The YMCA offers scholarships and reduced monthly membership fees for military families, families that receive WIC, and many other programs- don’t forget to ask about them!

And if you are the parent of a special needs kid, let me tell you that our local Y has the most wonderful, caring staff that cares for all kids. My big kid is autistic and he loves going to Kids Club to hang out and play. He also loves the monthly Kids Night at the Y.

Dave & Buster’s Holiday Deals!

main-module-6-2.jpgThis is a great deal, even if you don’t plan to give it as a gift!

When you download the new Dave & Buster’s app (in the App Store or Google Play), you’ll score 50% off your first purchase. This offer ends 12/4/19.

 

If you need to buy a gift for someone on your list who loves video games, yummy bar food, and tasty drinks, this second deal is pretty good too! Buy a $50 Gift Card and get a $10 Free Game Play Card.

sub-module.jpg I love this deal because you can buy this as a gift, and keep the $10 card for yourself/your family and keep it for when you need a family night or a date night out, especially when you combine it with some of the deals/values below.
Here are a few everyday deals you can take advantage of:

The Eat and Play Combo is a great deal.

I recommend joining the Dave & Buster’s Rewards Club.  I love taking the kids during the summer when we get coupons.

  • $10 FREE Game Play with $10 game play purchase for joining
  • MONTHLY EMAIL SAVINGS and a first look at what’s new (the past few months it’s been deals like $20 free when you load $20 on a card!)
  • EARN $10 FREE Game Play for every $100 spent in-store
  • PROTECTION for lost or stolen cards when registered online
  • 24/7 ONLINE ACCESS to your Power Card® or Power Tap® chip, ticket and Rewards point balances