8/19/19 Weekly Meal Plan

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Our out of town guests left this morning, so we are back to meal planning! And school starts on Wednesday for the big kid, so I’ll be doing shopping for school lunches this week with part of the grocery budget.

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. The kids will be enjoying free lunches all over the county with free activities and playtime before or after 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: Chicken Noodle Soup- I found a container of it in the freezer last night and defrosted it! We’ve got leftover fruit salad in the fridge too. I may also make grilled cheese sandwiches too.
  • Tuesday:  Spaghetti with leftover Veggie Loaded Meat Sauce (also found in the freezer), garlic bread, salad
  • Wednesday:  Veggie Korma – I found a Korma Kit at Grocery Outlet not long ago, so I’m making a big batch (there will be enough for at least 1 more meal)
  • Thursday: Breakfast for dinner-Poached Eggs, bacon, fruit salad
  • Friday:  Date Night
  • Saturday: Homemade Pizza Night
  • Sunday: Leftover night

 

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

Back to School Deals!

Ok, so as much as I’ve been posting about summer fun and adventures, Back To School is lurking around the corner.

Here are some awesome deals and freebies:

Office Depot has a great selection of $10 backpacks, some of them (like the two above) come with pencil cases, lunch bags, and water bottles too!

Most office supply stores have great deals on markers, crayons, and markers right now too.  Deals are changing weekly.  If you don’t have time to chase deals, I’ve found a couple decent deals. Prices on Amazon change quickly, so I haven’t listed them, but you can click on each link and check them out.

 AmazonBasics Pre-sharpened Wood Cased #2 HB Pencils, 150 Pack
Elmer’s All Purpose School Glue Sticks, Washable, 7 Gram, 30 Count
Crayola Crayons Bulk, 24 Box Classpack, 24 Assorted Colors

If you are a teacher/educator, check out these three freebies:

If your kids are like mine, they lose stuff all the time, so I’ve invested in The back to school pack of label set from Mabel’s Labels.

If you need some help obtaining school supplies for your kiddos, there is help out there for you.

Free Backpacks with School Supplies at Boost Mobile

If you are an East County Area Resident (San Diego County), check out this awesome offer from the Santee Mobilehome Owners Association, INC (SMOAC) is handing out backpacks full of supplies for kids Kindergarten and up. Each backpack has age/grade-appropriate supplies.  This event takes place at the Santee Library from 10 AM until they run out. In addition, there will be free haircuts for girls and boys and many other surprises that day.

Talk Back: If you know of any free school supplies or deal, please share!

First Week of College, and Beyond!

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I survived the first week of college! After ::cough 17 years cough:: a long time, it’s quite an adjustment getting back into the swing of studying, doing homework, and all of the other things that go into being a mom, wife, blogger/Influencer, and special needs advocate for my big kiddo.

I wanted to share with you some things that have helped me, and the family adjust to the change.  It’s just two classes, but that’s 10-12 hours a week of studying, reading, and homework outside the classroom, and that time comes out of the time I previously spent with the kids, working on the blog/social media, petting the cat, ya know, mom stuff.

Bitty is now going to preschool two days a week. Our city’s Parks and Rec department has a drop off preschool two days a week. It’s approximately $150 for 8 weeks, which is a great price, and she is in a class with 13 other kiddos her age, several of them she knows from her daily visits to the local YMCA Child Watch. While she is at preschool, I have three hours to work on school work. It’s amazing to be able to read and work on my homework in peace. If you need a few hours to get work done, check your local Parks and Rec department for this type of preschool.

Family: As someone who has family nearby, having my family able to help out with school pick ups and therapy drop offs, it is a Godsend. My parents, brother and sister-in-law have really stepped in and helped us with the kids and house. Last week Miss Sally (my car) needed new front and rear brakes, and two new tires. Thanks to my Sister-in-law, niece, and my parents I didn’t have to walk home with Bitty (5 miles with a 3 year old- No thanks) or call an Uber.

Schedule: As a family, we have a shared calendar on iCal, in which I put all of the kids appointments, weekly commitments, birthdays, deadlines. In addition, I also have a calendar (this one) in the master bathroom on my cork board. Yes, I have a cork board in the master bathroom next to the vanity, so we can see whats on the schedule for each day.  Having everything in the palm of my hand (on my phone), and in a place that is visible to us (calendar) has really helped keep us focused and on task.

Remembering my Skill-Set: I’m not reinventing the wheel here. To maximize my productive time, I make sure to use my previously honed skills: Meal Planning, Meal Prep, setting out everyone’s clothes the night before, making lunches the night before, organizing areas of the house to help us get out of the house in the morning on time.

So while you may see less blog posts until I get in the full swing of it all, but I’m still posting on Social Media like a madwoman.

I want you all to know that it doesn’t matter what your age, if there is something you want: College, new job, more time with your family, vacation.. Do it! Change can be scary, but believe in yourself and have a plan! It might be rough at first, but stick with it.

Enough motivational speaking from me, I have homework to do!

Talk Back: What have you done recently that moved you out of your comfort zone?

Money Saving Tips for Going Back to College!

collegeSo after a few year s(cough cough), I’ve gone back to college to finish up my AA and get ready to transfer to a CA State University.

Like any endeavor in my life, I’m trying to do the college experience on the cheap. Here are a few ways you can save money while going to school:

Start out by completing a FAFSA. That’s a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Regardless of your family income or situation, you should fill it out. You never know what kind of loans, fee waivers, or grants you may be eligible for. I was able to get a Governor’s Board Fee Waiver, which paid for my classes. All I had to pay was the Health Fee (which is $20).

amazonprimeAmazon Prime has a discounted program for students. The first 6 months are free (Courtesy of Sprint, and just $6.49/month after that. That’s 50% off the regular price.

You can rent your textbooks online, Amazon rents textbooks. Your local school library may also have short term checkout of some textbooks. You may have to ask the librarian for more information.

If you need a new computer, Apple offers a discount through Unidays. I’m still in the middle of setting my account up, but it looks like Unidays partners with hundreds of retail partners.

School supplies are always cheaper if you buy them off campus. I like to shop for school supplies at Dollar Tree, they have lots of great stuff all year long.

A list on online retailers offering discounts can be seen here, courtesy of Dealhack.

Once school starts, get a Student ID card.

Beyond saving money at on tuition, books, and supplies, your student ID may give you discounts out in the world! College students who meet some criteria may also receive a discount on your automobile insurance, cell phone bill, even fee free banking products.

Movie theatres, museums, local attractions, and restaurants sometimes give students discounts, make sure to check before you go.

Talk Back: What’s your favorite Student Discount?

 

Back on Track for Fall! and a $25 Amazon GC Giveaway.

For most of our kids, school has either started or will start in about a week. I’ve had a rocking summer with the kids, but it’s time to get settled back into a routine for the family. I am a huge proponent of routines for kids. Having one for our family has really helped calm and allay fears of the unknown, which is huge for kids with ASD.

Not that everything has to be exactly the same every day, but knowing what will happen within a time frame gives kids (and some adults too) a certain sense of calm.

I posted at the beginning of the summer about our schedule, and it really helped. Our school year schedule is a little different, but most of our appointments are the about the same time each week.

A few other things that help us keep on track during the school year:

Screen Shot 2018-08-25 at 8.41.01 AM.pngHaving grab and go lunch items at hand. In the pantry, there is a basket filled with all kinds of lunch/snack items. Crackers, cookies, squeezy pouches, fruit snacks, fruit leathers, cups of PB/other nut/seed butters, pretzels, juice boxes, etc. On the counter we’ve got a trifle bowl (I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve made trifle in the past 11 years-but… it makes a great fruit bowl), that we will with lunchbox sized fruit: apples, tangerines, and occasionally pears. I keep the bananas separate on a little hook/stand.

I also keep a stash of frozen tubes of yogurt in the freezer, and a grip of cheese sticks either pre-packaged or home-made, depending on which is cheaper, in the fridge. What’ a home made cheese stick? Buy a big block of cheese, grab a large, sharp knife and cut the cheese into hunks resembling commercially made cheese sticks. I wrap them in saran wrap and keep them in a large zip top bag in the dairy drawer.

It takes about 15 minutes to organize the lunch stuff once a week, and it saves me a lot of time each morning.

A Pretty Solid Meal Plan. I’ve posted about meal planning so many times, and honestly, it really does help. I get a lot of magazines in the mail (free of course), and most of them are cooking magazines. I try to add a new recipe into the mix weekly.

Exercise. I know this sounds weird, but, for me, exercise is my me time. We go to our local YMCA, and the kids go to child care for up to two hours. I do an hour of cardio (and catch up on email, Facebook, or bring along a book), then do weights for about 20-40 minutes. It’s a chance to focus on my body and health. Sometimes I grab my travel bag, and toss it into my gym bag with a couple towels and go take a shower after my cardio. Taking a shower without little people interrupting you is one of life’s small luxuries. Whatever makes you happy and allows you to escape a little each day, I encourage you to explore it. 

Coffee. I’m one of those people that has to have coffee every day. It’s part of my daily ritual. I drink at least 30 ounces of coffee a day: hot, cold, heck even room temp., I don’t care. It can even be decaf. I set up to coffee maker before bed, and when we get up in the morning, there is a hot, fresh pot of coffee. And we don’t have a fancy coffee maker either… This is the coffee maker we have.

Giveaway: Let’s celebrate back to school! I’d love to hear about how you get back to it after school starts. Leave me a comment below and enter to win a $25 Amazon GC* here (This link may not be mobile friendly)! I’ll choose a winner on September 4th, 2018. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Winner subject to verification of entry tasks. Winner must reside in the USA. $25 Amazon GC will be rewarded as a digital Gift Code, emailed to the winner.

6 Tips for Getting Ready for Back to School!

back-to-school.jpgIt’s coming… For some of us, back to school is NEXT WEEK! For others it’s later in August, and some lucky folks, have until Labor Day in September. Regardless of when your kids go back, it’s nice to be prepared and save money.

 

Here are a few ideas to help you prepare and stay on budget!

Packing an Awesome School Lunch.

Shop Online to Save Big-  I love shopping online, especially at JCPenney and Kohls. Lots of great deals to be had, coupons, and ship to store to save even more!

There is a backpack and school supply giveaway in Santee on August 19th. More info here.  If you need school supplies sooner, Assemblywoman Dr. Shirley Weber is sponsoring a Back to School Kick off and Community Health Fair on 8/11/18.

If you are worried about being able to provide a nutritious, healthy lunch for your kiddos, The San Diego Food Bank sponsors Neighborhood Distributions throughout the month all over the county. You can go and get free, fresh produce- usually between 10-30 lbs. per family.  No proof of need- Just grab your reusable shopping bags and go!

a72904da152a0795ba05aaecba3a28bc.jpgAdjusting back to the school-year schedule can be a little tough- That’s why we start to get the kids back to bed at their regular time starting the beginning of August. For our kiddos, keeping them busy and active all day, really helps. Trips to the playground, beach, zoo, and pool really help.

We’ll be hitting up the night time zoo this week!

And one last back to school tip: Let your kids play and hang out with friends as much as possible before they go back, especially if they aren’t able to see some of their friends at school. We’re hosting a K’Nex Play Time Party with Tryazon this Wednesday at Shadow Hill Park in Santee! If you and your gang will be in the area, please stop by! There will bea chance to win prizes, yummy snacks, and cool toys!

 

San Diego Families: In Need of School Supplies?

apple and books.jpgBack to school approaches! For us, school starts on August 23rd. For some families, back to school is a hard time because the cost of backpacks, school supplies, new clothes and shoes can really add up.

For those in need, the SMOAC (That’s Santee Mobilehome Owner’s Action Committee) is helping out families in need. On August 19th at the Santee Library, starting at 10am, SMOAC will be handing out backpacks with supplies to families in need.

SMOAC is looking for donations too- if you aren’t in need and want to help, there are lots of ways to help out!

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 8.32.01 AM.pngOn August 11th from 5-9pm Chipotle in Santee is hosting a fundraiser.

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 8.21.30 AM.pngDonations of items such as: backpacks, #2 pencils, paper, pens, glue sticks, rulers, pencil sharpeners, white glue, notebooks, scientific calculators, crayons, safety scissors are requested. Most of these items can be picked up at Target, Walmart, Office Depot, or 99 Cents Only fairly cheap.

Donations can be dropped off at Santee Library, Cameron YMCA, Mission Realty Group in Santee, Santee Lakes General Store, El Cajon Toyota, Oggi’s Pizza in Santee, and the Santee Chamber of Commerce. If you are busy and can’t make it to the store and drop off locations, You can buy a gift card for a teacher or send a check to SMOAC.  The mailing address can be found in the photo above.

The goal this year to to help 1500 East County families in need!

No Proof of need is required, just show up at the Santee Library on August 19th. The event starts at 10am, but you may want to get there a little early to beat the rush.