Free Food Boxes from Feeding the Flock

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San Diego, CA area readers, this post is a huge blessing for those who may be facing a little food insecurity right now. Feeding the Flock is a local 501c3 non profit organization. Their goal is to “feed you physically and spiritually.”

Two Fridays a month they are offering free food boxes containing various fresh and shelf-stable food, perfect for anyone who may need a just a little help.

There is no proof of need required, just sign up here.  When you pick up your box, don’t forget your ID.

You can also check up with Feeding the Flock on Facebook. They have lots of great local events helping those in need and the under served. They are looking for volunteers for their events, so if you aren’t in need, but want to help (with time or supplies), contact them!

Celebrate July 11th with Chick-Fil-A and 7/11!

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Tomorrow is 7/11/17 and that means FREE SLURPEES at 7-11. From 11am-7pm, most (like 99%) of 7/11’s in the US will offer a free special sized Slurpee.  WOO HOO.

It is also Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A! That means if you show up in a cow themed costume/apparel from opening until 7pm, you will recive some sort of free food!

  1. Make or buy your cow costume (or any sort of cow apparel, really).
  2. Wear your cow costume to your favorite Chick-fil-A between Opening and 7 p.m.
  3. Receive a free entree!

To find the full details and a list of what you can receive for free, check out this page. Kids get a kids meal, and adults get an entree (but free is free, so woo hoo!).

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2016 Cow Appreciation Day Outfits!

We love free events! In order to participate and keep our our out of pocket low, I re-purpose stuff around the house to suit our needs for the event.  Last year I made Henry and myself shirts and kept them. His shirt was a little too big and thankfully he has grown up, not out. It might be a little shorter than he’d like, but it will do. he’s got black shorts to wear as well )I’ll probably wear black yoga pants).

I painted a Cow onsie for Bitty Bird last year, but it doesn’t fit.  I think I gave it to someone who was going to have a baby.

IMG_4744.jpgIMG_4746.jpgI made tails from pieces of felt, and pinned them to the shirts (and the back of Bitty’s tutu). We will be re-using our tails again this year too. I’ll be making new ears for all of us. Mine will be attached to hair clips, Henry’s will be on a head band.

IMG_4742I dug through her closet and found a black shirt for her, a white tutu, and a headband that I can sew a couple cow ears onto.  To cow-ify it, I painted white spots onto the shirt.

To keep the paint from seeping through the shirt and the paint sticking the shirt together, I re-used an old Amazon shipping envelope.

We had all of this stuff in the house, so it will cost us nothing! I will be kicking down a few bucks for a large sugar free lemonade!

Are you going to either event tomorrow?  

Review: Home Chef Meal Service

I love to cook. When US Family Guide and Home Chef offered me two free meals for two, I jumped at the chance. Home Chef delivers ready to cook meal kits. The shopping and most of the prep work is done! You get just enough of each ingredient, and you add minimal ingredients that are already in your pantry (salt, pepper, oil, water).

Each Dish comes with a recipe page that its into a 3-ring binder (which is included in your first order FREE).  Directions are step by step with photos, and all ingredients are listed on the card in case you want to make it yourself from scratch again.

So, I got my first kit in the mail last month, but right away something was off. Some of IMG_4166IMG_4170the veggies were not in good shape. IMG_4171I called customer service in the hopes they could just resend me the spoiled ingredients, but instead they gave me credit for two more meals, which wouldn’t have been a problem, but that meant it was another week before I could do my review.

I improvised with the steak salad. I had a bag of Romaine salad on hand, and some grape tomatoes to substitute for the ingredients that were not edible in the kit.  The steak was great. Overall it was easy to prepare.

Last week, the replacement kit arrived. Again, similar issues with some of the more delicate produce (cucumber, grape tomatoes, Roma tomato), but this time I didn’t bother calling. I just tossed the inedible produce, and subbed in what I had in the fridge. I made the Goat Cheese and Bacon Naan flatbread pizzas first- They were so easy and tasty.

I made a few tweaks (I didn’t use the honey to caramelize the onions- That’s totally cheating!). I made this the same day the box arrived and I will definitely be making it again!

img_4569.jpgThe other recipe that I received was the Shawarma Chicken Bowl.

The poor tomato and cucumber were both inedible. The cuke was frozen upon arrival (Due to it’s location in the box directly on top of a blue ice block), and the tomato looked like it had been knocked around a bit.

I improvised the dish a bit and it turned out ok. What I didn’t care for was that the seasoning on the meat and rice is the same. I did like how the chicken came out. It had a great level of seasoning and flavor. I grilled it on our outdoor BBQ.

OVERALL: Home Chef is a great way to try out new recipes if you are not an experienced cook.  It was nice to open a box and have all of the ingredients all ready to prep and cook. It is expensive for a family- starting at $9.95 per serving. That is still WAY cheaper than going out to eat, and in my opinion, these dishes could be restaurant quality with a little work on the consumers end (using proper knife skills, reading and following directions completely).  They worked great for us when we wanted to have a stay in date night and watch a Redbox.

I would be careful when choosing entrees not to pick ones with more delicate veggies, just because they tend not to travel well in the box with the blue ice type frozen blocks.

That’s the nice thing about Home Chef, you can choose your entrees out of a list of many. And the menu changes frequently, so you won’t get the same dishes again and again.

If you want to try Home Chef for yourself, Check out my post here with details on how you can save $30 off your first purchase!

Disclosure: I received this offer for free in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation, and all opinions are my own. Sometimes I utilize affiliate links. To learn more about my use of affiliate links, please visit my disclosure page.

Summer Lunch Resources for Kids in San Diego!

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School is out (for most of us, the rest will be getting out next week), and that means there are some parents (and kids) who usually rely on free or subsidized school lunches may find themselves wondering what to do.

Thankfully, a lot of great organizations have stepped up and partnered with local area school, rec centers, and civic organizations to provide free breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for al kids 18 and under this summer.  For those of us in East County, here is a list of locations!

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Those of us in the greater San Diego Area, there are a lot of great options all over town!

There is a kick off BBQ at Skyline Hills Park 6/21/17 10:30am-2:00pm! Parents eat free at this BBQ and there are all kinds of activities!

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 12.53.16 PMLindo Lake in Lakeside is hosting a summer BBQ that’s free for kids, and only $4.00 for parents on August 15th! The best part is that each family leaves with 6 lbs. of fresh produce thanks to Feeding America! If the two lists above aren’t in your area, you can also turn to the USDA Find Summer Meals map here.

 

All of these programs are free and there is no proof of need and you do not have to sign up in advance. Just show up and hte kids get a tasty meal!

 

What I love about this program is that there are tons of rec centers hosting these lunches and they are usually adjacent to a playground, which means after a long morning of playing, the kids don’t have long to wait to get a yummy lunch!

Looking for a few ideas of summer fun with a nearby lunch?

If you know of more summer lunch programs for kids in San Diego County, I’d love to hear about them! Please leave a comment!

 

 

Mom’s Money Summer Saving Tip #1: Keep them Fed!

file0002134801752.jpgIt seems like the second we pull out of the garage, two little voices announce in chorus, “I’m Hungry!!!” It’s not like they go without meals, like some sort of Dickens era soot faced moppet… But there is something about leaving the house that makes kids hungry. Especially when you are out and about during the summer.

To combat the chorus, we have a small backpack (Henry’s Pre-school Cars backpack) that is full of shelf stable snacks and drinks. While we are out having adventures, if the chorus starts up, I can pull out the backpack and soon everyone is happy.

Here are a few of our family’s favorite snacks and other stuff I keep in our snack bag (Amazon affiliate links for some items that you may have never seen):

  1. Re-usable water bottles (I fill them daily). Each child has their own, and I have a larger one. I put lots of ice in mine in addition to water. I also carry extra water in my truck at all times (in case of emergency, but frequently the emergency is just hot, thirsty kiddos).
  2. Powdered drink sticks. Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only has lots of great flavors to chose from.
  3. Freeze dried Fruit. Bitty Bird likes strawberries, Henry and I love pineapple.
  4. Protein bars, granola bars, goldfish crackers, Beanies (they are for toddlers, but, both kids love them), fruit squeezy pouches, Yogurt squeezy pouches, applesauce cups, individual cups of peanut butter, crackers to go with the PB (usually Ritz), individual cups of water packed fruit and veggies, Pirates Booty, home made trail mix, ziploc bags of cereal, and depending on what is on sale, juice boxes/pouches or sometimes shelf stable milk boxes/pouches.
  5. In a zipper pouch (this one), I keep hand wipes, plastic utensils, straws, and napkins.  I also carry a ziploc bag with extra ziplocs in it, and a few small trash bags.

While the initial outlay of money to buy a backpack and stock of food to keep in the car snack bag and water bottles way be steep (it was about $65 for us), you will save that much money in just a few weeks in the summer. You’ll be able to avoid drive-thru lines, and you can better control what your family is eating.

file0001779824833.jpgWhen we are going to be gone all day, I also pack a small soft sized cooler bag with blue ice and cold treats like frozen tubes of yogurt, berries, cheese, and cold cuts. I like using re-usable plastic containers, instead of zip top bags. They are usually better for keeping food cold and for squishable items like berries in good condition. These are all the same things that we eat for lunch during the school year, so our food budget in the summer does not increase.

Besides keeping your budget in check, there is another upside to having kids that eat regularly (even on the go): Behavior changes, like tantrums, can occur when kids blood sugar dips or they are hungry. Henry frequently doesn’t realize that he’s hungry until he’s OMGOSH SO HUNGRY that he’s Hangry. I offer him snacks every few hours in the summer, as we are so frequently on the go out with friends or at events in the summer during lunch time.

The main reason I use a backpack instead of a box is that I can quickly grab the bag out of the car and toss it into the basket of the stroller when we hit up the zoo, YMCA for swimming, or the park.

I’d love to hear what kind of snacks you take on the go for your summer adventures!

 

Cooking at home with Home Chef & $30 off!

We’re back from camping and ! am pooped. Making a yummy, home cooked meal is the last thing I want to do today. I am wishing that my box from Home Chef was already here!

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Home Chef delivers perfectly portioned ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes directly to your door, so whether you’re an amateur cook, or more seasoned in the kitchen, cooking with Home Chef is easy and enjoyable.

Each week, you can use the personalized recipe recommendations they provide you. Or, you can pick from 11 fresh, chef-designed dinners, priced at $9.95 per serving. They change their menu weekly to give you countless new dinner options.

In about 30 minutes, using Home Chef‘s simple, step-by-step recipe cards, you’ll confidently prepare meals from scratch that impress everyone at your table…including yourself! Use the promo code “FAMILY” to try out Home Chef for $30 off!

I can’t wait to try a few different entrees and share them with you!
300x250v2The Tacos al Pastor look really good! Which entrees pique your interest?

Practical Ways to Help New Parents…

Having had two kids, I can tell you that nothing is more helpful than having food to eat in the first few weeks after giving birth. Having a baby is stressful, especially if it’s your first. You can take all the classes in the world, do as much prep, but when it comes down to it, you spend the first few weeks tired, stressed, and weary.

Having a few extra hands and a hot meal you can eat one handed (especially something you can eat while breastfeeding) is worth it’s weight in gold!

Recently a friend and his wife welcomed their little girl. Hubs made up a batch of his new baby calzones. He makes them for everyone of our friends that is having a baby. They freeze well, re-heat quickly (and well), and you can eat them one handed.

Thanks to Kasandrinos Olive Oil and UsFamily Guide for the opportunity to sample this olive oil for free! I’m not usually a big Olive Oil fan, Kasandrinos Olive oil has a light flavor that works really well in Calzones! I also like that it has an easy to pour spout inside the bottle!

We use the Pizza Crust Recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Anything. You can find the recipe here.  One Pizza Crust makes 4-6 small calzones.IMG_2064.jpg

As the dough rises, we prep the rest of the ingredients. Sauce, cheese, meats, veggies.

I use canned tomato sauce and add Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, a pinch of parmesan cheese, salt, and black pepper. No added sugar.

Some of the most popular ingredients around here: pepperoni, sausage, onions, bell peppers, ground cooked beef, sliced chicken breast, goat cheese, mozzarella, bbq sauce (instead of tomato sauce), cheddar cheese, ham, green chilis, meatballs (I usually make them little or slice them up), pretty much anything in the fridge!

Once the dough is ready, it is portioned out, rolled and then the magic happens!

For small/hand held sized calzones, use 1/2 cup cheese/toppings and 2-3 T. of sauce. Fold over and crimp the edges shut, and place on a cookie sheet that is either sprayed with Pan or use a silicon baking mat. I have these and I love them!

Larger Calzones need almost double the amounts above.

Bake at 450 for 10-20 minutes, depending on size.

Before and after baking!

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Here is the result of a few hours work. They were delivered the next day, ready to be frozen and enjoyed at the new mom and dad’s leisure!

If cooking isn’t your “thing” here are a few other ways to help the new parents in your life:

  • Bring them their favorite coffee drink, and something to eat.
  • Offer to hold/watch the baby while they take a shower/take a nap/have 5 minutes alone.
  • Fold/put away their laundry.
  • Wash their dishes.
  • Take out the trash, or if trash day is the next day, take their cans down to the street (then the next day, stealthily put them back).
  • Be there. Honestly, it can be lonely if you are a new parent. It’s not like you are taking your new baby all over town. You are just trying to get the hang of having a new family member. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone to come hang out with!

Kasandrinos and Us Family guide provided us with a free bottle of olive oil in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. I was not financially compensated.