Staying Healthy This Fall and Beyond!

Fall and Winter are the prime time for illnesses to go around, especially the flu. While the flu shot isn’t effective against all strains of influenza, it does help to keep those to receive it safely again many strains.

Most insurance companies offer no or low-cost flu shots, but if you are uninsured and facing financial difficulties, even $20 for a flu shot can be out of reach. Thankfully there are organizations and resources to help keep you healthy and safe.

If you are in San Diego County, Champions for Health offers free Flu shots, PCV13 shots for those over 65, and Tdap shots for those between the ages of 10-64. They have opportunities all over San Diego County throughout the fall.

If you or your children are in need of vaccinations (flu and beyond) but are without insurance, the san Diego County Health and Human Services Agency offers no-cost vaccines. More information can be found here.

In addition to vaccines, there are a lot of other ways you can stay healthy this fall and winter. Most of us are already doing them!

  • Wash your hands frequently- use soap and water and scrub for at least 20-30 seconds.
  • Try not to touch your face.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when your sneeze (either with a tissue or cough or sneeze into your elbow).
  • Use hand sanitizer when you cannot wash your hands with soap and water.
  • If you are wearing re-usable/cloth masks, make sure to wash and dry them frequently. Disposable masks should be used once and thrown away. Please remember to clip the elastic ear loops before throwing the mask away- animals can get caught up in the loops.
  • Avoid sick people, and if you aren’t feeling well yourself, do not go out in public.
  • Eat well, include lots of vitamin and mineral rich foods.
  • Stay Hydrated. This is my favorite water bottle.

7/20/2020 Weekly Meal Plan!

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays. It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

I’ve been buying snacks in bulk and only putting weeks worth out in the snack box. It keeps us out of the stores, and its healthier. I’ve been doing this for about a month, and I’ve gotten really good at hiding the extra snacks.

I Haven’t gone to the grocery store for this week. I’m trying to use up a lot of what we have on hand. With California re-tightening it’s ruling on what kinds of businesses can be open, the grocery shelves are starting to look sparse again.

I plan on doing some baking this week if it stays cool. Probably cookies, a couple pizzas, and buttermilk biscuits.

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.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day: Right now our local school district is serving lunch for a drive-through service for kids 18 and under M-F. It’s great because it helps stretch our budget and it gets the kids out of the house for a few minutes. They also include a cold lunch (usually cereal and milk and a piece of fruit) for the next morning. Often times, the cereal ends up being a snack for late afternoon. I’ll be posting more info about summer lunches this afternoon or tomorrow.

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. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

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.

School has wrapped up, but we are starting distance learning summer school. It’s a lot less, but it will still keep the kiddos brains sharp. And we’ve recently started playing Pokemon Go to help get our bodies active. We go out for walks each day to try and get some monsters and steps. I love that the big kid has a pokemon Buddy in the game and as part of taking care of his buddy, he has to “walk” the buddy daily. It encourages him to get exercise and it teaches him empathy- something that can be hard for kids on the spectrum.

  • Sunday:  Leftovers and Birthday Cake
  • Monday Breakfast Burritos and fruit salad
  • Tuesday: Tortellini Casserole (I’ll post a recipe this week)
  • Wednesday: Orange Chicken and veggie stir fry
  • Thursday: Pizza Night (pizza and salad or fruit)
  • Friday: Veggie Burgers or chick’n nuggets, salad or fruit
  • Saturday: leftover fiesta

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?

2020 Summer Lunch Programs for Kids (And Other Free Food Resources in San Diego)

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I am usually sooo much more on top of these free lunch posts, but…well, life has been a little crazy around here, and all over the world.

Better late than never, so, here we go. In past years schools, libraries, and community centers have hosted these free lunches, this year, however, the list of facilities has decreased.

GUHSDIf you don’t find any facilities near you offering free lunches, I recommend contacting 211, they may have more updated information.

table of hopeAnd if you are in need of food for your entire family, but you find yourself not qualifying for P-EBT or other social services, I recommend that you check out Facebook. There are tons of local groups of neighbors getting together setting up Tables of Hope. In San Diego, there are several. Tables of Hope are small groups of neighbors that have set up food distribution tables within neighborhoods to help those who might be experiencing food insecurity.

Churches and community organizations are offering free food distributions that require no proof of need, like Faith Chapel in Spring Valley. They are offering free produce each Friday through mid-August. You can find out more info here.

And the San Diego Food Bank is continuing their neighborhood distributions– Lots of produce and goodies are available each week. No proof of need or residency requirements.

There are all sorts of organizations looking to help families in need.

Even if you are not in dire need, if you need help stretching your budget, these resources are here for you!

Talk Back: How are you stretching your food budget this summer?

5/10/2020 Weekly Meal Plan!

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays. It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the kids at home learning schedules, and prepping the snack box for the week.

I’ve been buying snacks in bulk and only putting weeks worth out in the snack box. It keeps us out of the stores, and its healthier.

And I’ve been trying to visit the store once a week or less. I stocked up yesterday on stuff the kids love (and eat a lot of), so we should be good for 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 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.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day: Right now our local school district is serving lunch for a drive-through service for kids 18 and under M-F. It’s great because it helps stretch our budget and it gets the kids out of the house for a few minutes. They also include a cold lunch (usually cereal and milk and a piece of fruit) for the next morning. Often times, the cereal ends up being a snack for late afternoon.

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. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

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.

We’re on week 4 of distance learning. It’s finally become a habit, and there are plenty of chances to play and get our wiggles out. I bought the kids a kiddie pool for the patio and that is totally helping them get out the pent up energy.

  • Sunday:  Cheeseburger Salad (It’s a cheeseburger served sans bun on a bed of greens). The kids will have chick’n nuggets as Big dude is a vegetarian, and Bitty doesn’t like red meat.
  • Monday: Cheesy Chicken Broccoli casserole, fruit salad, Texas Toast and leftover nuggets. The casserole has a very small amount of chicken, so I can scoop some out for the big kiddo and he can have some meat-free.
  • Tuesday: Bean, Rice, and cheese bowls with grilled veggies
  • Wednesday:BBQ chicken and veggie bowls (with rice)
  • Thursday: Pizza Night!
  • Friday: Leftovers
  • Saturday: Waffles and fruit salad

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?

6 Days of Free Crafts at Michael’s 3/8-3/13/2020!

Michael’s is hosting 6 days of Free Kids Crafts 3/8/2020-3/13/2020!

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  • Sunday 3/8/2020: Craft Stick Bee 2-4pm
  • Monday 3/9/2020: Pom Pom Caterpillar 4-6pm
  • Tuesday 3/10/2020: Stained Glass Kite 4-6pm
  • Wednesday 3/11/2020: Beaded Butterfly 4-6pm
  • Thursday 3/12/2020: Friendship Bracelets 4-6pm
  • Friday 3/13/2020: Clothespin Birds 4-6pm

Parents/guardians must remain on-site. Each craft is free, including supplies!

Kids Club! Saturday 10am - noon

If this doesn’t work for your schedule, check out Kids Club! Each Saturday 10am-noon, your kiddos (ages 3+) can choose from 2 30-minute projects. Most projects are free or have a low cost.

1/6/20 Weekly Meal Plan!

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Time for the first full week of meal planning in 2020! We’ve been doing some de-cluttering and cleaning around the house, and I found a whiteboard in the closet that I’ve decided to use in the kitchen for meal planning and other stuff.  Since we moved our living room furniture around and took down the desk/main work station, I’ve had to re-arrange a lot of processes I use to keep family productivity. I’ll post a picture of the Meal Planning Board on Instagram this afternoon.

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.

Over the weekend I cleaned out the fridge, re-organized the freezer, and looked through the pantry. I meal planned for this week based on what we had on-hand. The fridge is looking a little bare today, but I’m going to pick up fruit and veggies this 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.

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: Frozen Entrees for the grown-ups, leftover pizza for the kids (We got HUGE pizzas for NYE and I stashed some pieces in the freezer for a later date), Siggi Whole milk yogurt and strawberries
  • Tuesday: Chicken Corn Chowder (From Scratch- Recipe will be posted this week)
  • Wednesday: Bean, Rice, and Cheese Bowls (I’ll also sneak in some veggies)
  • Thursday: Soup and Sammiches (I’m making a big batch of veggie soup)
  • Friday:    Probably homemade pizzas- I plan on making a couple batches of dough and a loaf of bread Friday.
  • Saturday:  Shakshuka, Fresh bread, green salad
  • Sunday:  Leftover fiesta!

I’ve got some new recipes to test out and post this week, including a couple new cookies recipes!

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

Tips to Reign In and Out Of Control Family Budget: Taking Advantage of Discounts

959b176d7a237c76fc19ff89cdfc6904.jpgPreviously we talked about shopping your Cell Phone service, Internet service, even your Auto/Home/Health insurance.

Sometimes switching companies doesn’t yield you any savings. At that point, turn to your current providers and see if there are any additional discounts or perks that you could be taking advantage of and are not currently receiving?

Example: Some cell phone providers (Like T-Mobile) offer perks or freebies weekly. Free tacos, backpacks, free Netflix subscriptions, and other swag are some of the other cool things that they have offered in the past. AT&T has a program called AT&T Thanks where customers can score varying freebies and deals depending on what type(s) of service they have with AT&T.

Some Auto Insurance companies offer discounts for good students (High school and/or college), safe driving/accident-free, defensive driving courses, and low mileage discounts. It’s worth a call in to see if you can score any extra discounts!

What about services that you can’t shop around?

Utilities are a big one- We can’t shop utilities here in San Diego. SDG&E is the only name in the game here.

BUT- there are ways you can save and even earn money!

Did you know that most local utilities (in San Diego county that means SDG&E) will come out and inspect your AC/furnace for free at the beginning of each season? They can let you know if your furnace or AC is running in tiptop condition, and they can also check to see if your pilot light is lit and safe to run your furnace.

If you are in a lower income or you have a medical condition that requires continue with usage of electricity, SDG&E and other utilities frequently have a medical baseline or low-income program that you can apply for to save money on your utilities.

Other ways that you can save money on your utilities include signing up for services like Ohmconnect, which help you conserve electricity during peak demand hours, which not only helps you save money, but you’ll be saving extra electricity as well.

We’ve been members of them connect for upwards of five years, and we earn about $100 a year cashback from home connect, in addition to the money that we save on our SDG&E bill. You can learn more about Ohm Connect Here.

 

 

 

Tips to Reign In and Out Of Control Family Budget: Saving on Entertainment!

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This is one of the most divisive topics I write about. I am completely serious. Television. Specifically- cutting or lowing your cable or dish package to save money.

This is a big bone of contention for a lot of people who ask me how we live on one income. For some people, they “need their shows“ or they “have to” watch the game every week.

Cable and satellite television is expensive, and now with all of the streaming services in addition to cable, it is conceivable that a family may spend upwards of $300 a month on television. That’s JUST TELEVISION! That doesn’t include movie tickets!

Sit down and gather up the cost of each streaming service and/or cable subscription/dish subscription. Where is there overlapping entertainment?

  • Hulu Plus has a live option, which gives you access to sports, and television shows on the same day they air on cable television.
  • If you have cable that includes the Disney Channel, CBS, HBO, or Showtime, is there really a reason for you to pay for the subscription/on-demand versions of those networks?

If you feel like you are ok with changing your television viewing habits, ditching cable in favor for a few streaming options and over the air television which can be viewed with our digital antenna (which is easy to use/install) and is available for purchase for about $50-$100.

Depending on how strong the signals in your area are, you should be able to receive:

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • NBC
  • CW
  • Fox
  • PBS (We get three PBS channels)

There are additional networks that are available in various areas of the county.  Here in So Cal, we also get:

Plus we get a few more Spanish language channels, and one Korean language channel.

Now that you’ve trimmed/cut the cord, what other entertainment do you see/attend/do? We don’t go to the movies too often, but we have a weekly date night budget of $50. I try to get it out of the bank in cash and if we are going out together, we spend it together, but if we are going out with other friends, or staying home with the kids, I give him half.  If we don’t use it one week, we roll it over to the next week!

images.jpgOne of my other main sources of Entertainment is the gym. I try and go at least 4 times per week for at least an hour.  Other places that you can trim and your family budget can include your gym membership. If you don’t require a gym that has the bells and whistles and lots of classes, you might consider changing your full-service gym to a more budget-friendly or discount gym like Crunch or Planet Fitness. Both of them have extremely reasonable rates, but they don’t offer classes or childcare usually.

If you’re looking at something that is slightly more family-friendly, I cannot recommend the YMCA enough! For our family, we pay $69 a month, and that is inclusive of childcare on-site for both children up to four hours a day (two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon as long as there is a lapse of four hours of time in between the two sessions), we can visit any YMCA location in San Diego County, and also have travel benefits if we go out of town. There are free classes for everyone in the family, on various types of exercise from family yoga to family kickboxing to open gym for the kids two-three times a week.

They have great swimming facilities for spring and summer, and the family swim is available year-round in the large pool at our local YMCA. I also like that they have trained people in the childcare/kids club area that know how to work with kids who have special needs, so I never feel like my big kid will be ignored or be feeling out of place. If you are a local and want to check out the YMCA, let me know and I’ll get you a guest pass!

In the past we had some really bad experiences with 24-Hour Fitness. We were also paying a lot of money to go to 24-Hour Fitness (upwards of $120/month Between our membership dues and the cost of the on-site childcare) and I felt like our fitness goals could not be supported because of the lack of support and education with their child care employees.

I also like that the YMCA offers discounted rates/scholarships for military families (active duty and retired), those with low-incomes, or receiving certain government benefits.

As far as kids’ entertainment, our local community library has us covered over school breaks. Between summer reading programs, spring break events, Star Wars Days, Back To School supply giveaways, and Christmas cookie decorating/Polar Express PJ parties. You would be surprised at all of the cool stuff going on at your local library!

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about how you save money on entertainment!

9/27/19: Weekly Freebies and Deals!

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Woo Hoo! Friday means Freebies and deals! There are a lot more freebies and deals this week. I’m excited to share!

Freebies

Free Magazine Subscriptions

Deals

September is Hunger Action Month- San Diego Community Food Share is here to help!

Did you know that September is Hunger Action Month?

Recently I wrote about Porchlight Community Services. This month, they are offering a $5.00 discount on their weekly food share when you mention that you saw this article on my website!

The prices are very reasonable:

Seniors / Individual- $15
Family (Small)- $25
Family (6+)-$35

On average, you will go home with over $100 worth of food each week. And if you have food allergies or a special diet, just let them know and they will be happy to accommodate you as best they can!

In case you were curious, here is a sneak peek of just a few of the types of items they frequently have:

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Cow’s milk, non-dairy milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, lunch meats, juice, lemonade- WOW! And that is just a small sample, there are fruits, veggies, frozen food, shelf-stable/pantry items, baked goods… You Name It!

To get started, join their Facebook group here.