Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

This week starts our first full week of summer break! We’re going to be checking out some fun, free activities, including some free lunches! I stocked up on snacks and treats Friday at Grocery Outlet, so the kids will have yummy food to get them through 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, 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 and the Little Bit, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently).

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.

  • Monday: Veggie curry & rice I’m making this for the first time. I’ll be posting the recipe later in the week!
  • Tuesday: Shakshuka– It’s a one dish meal (and it’s vegetarian!)
  • Wednesday:  Grilled Cheese and soup (I’ve got some leftover chicken noodle soup in the freezer)
  • Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner (pancakes and fruit salad)
  • Friday: I’m going to see my cousin play at a local tavern, so I might have a bite there, otherwise it might be leftovers.
  • Saturday: Homemade pizza night!
  • Sunday: Leftover Night

Summer Fun on a Budget!

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It’s here again… Summer Vacation. Soon we shall hear the sounds of sighs, the boredom, and the wailing about how there is nothing to do or eat.

Ya’ll can feel me, right? Ok, so here are some ways to beat the boredom without breaking the bank.

Kids Bowl Free All Summer! Just pay for bowling shoe rental!

Free Summer Lunches for kids– Lots of locations have events or activities nearby, so you can have fun and have a free lunch!

The splash ground at Santee Lakes is GREAT! It’s only $2.00 per kid to play and if you park outside the Santee Lakes, you don’t have to pay to park! Take a picnic and it’s a great frugal outing! We go at least once a week in the summer and it’s always
a GREAT time!

The Santee Lakes hosts free summer movies throughout the summer.  If you park your car outside the gates (there is lots of street parking!), there is no cost of the movies.  If you drive your car into the park, it’s $8.00 per car, regardless of how many ppl are in your car.   Bring a picnic and some blankets and kick back for a fun family movie!

There are a bunch of municipal pools in San Diego that have open swim times, and a couple that have splash pads!

Most San Diego, CA area YMCA locations have fun events for kids a few Saturday nights per month. Our local Y does Kids Night at the Y twice a month. It’s only $20 per kid (Just a little more if you aren’t a member), and your kids go have fun for 4 hours. It’s cheaper than a sitter and a lot more fun!

Speaking of the YMCA- Most locations have pools, splash pads, or other aquatic fun, entrance is included with YMCA membership. If you aren’t a member, entrance fees are just a few dollars (it varies by location).

Balboa Park still offers Free Tuesdays at various museums in the park.

San Diego County Libraries have story time and various kid events each week.  I love taking the kids to the Santee library story time!

El Cajon, La Mesa, and Escondido all have classic car shows/rallies each week that are free.  Most have free live music too!  Check out some sweet rides, cool tunes, and have a fun frugal night with the fam!

San Diego County has great parks, as do most of the cities in San Diego County! Our favorite parks include Big Rock Park in Santee, Kennedy Park in El Cajon, La Mesita/Junior Seau Park in La Mesa, Harry Griffin Park in La Mesa (great for little kids).

If you’ve got a Starwood Managed Mall Near you (We do- It’s Parkway Plaza), check out their fun kid’s events each month called: MallStars.  There are different crafts, games, and sometimes even snacks for the kids (10 and under) to do! Times and locations within the mall vary, so check with mall management.

Talk Back: What kind of stuff do you do to keep your family entertained for free?

2019 Free Meals this Summer for Kids!

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Like last year, I’m still pulling together resources at the time that this is published, and I’ll be adding additional sites as soon as I can.

School will be out within a month for most kids in San Diego, 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 schools, libraries, rec centers, and civic organizations to provide free breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for al kids 18 and under this summer.

For any of these opportunities, there is NO PROOF OF INCOME OR PROOF OF NEED REQUIRED. You take your kiddos, show up at a location near you during the lunch period (each location sets its own hours), and the kids get a yummy, healthy lunch for free. Menus vary, but all lunches meet USDA guidelines for a healthy lunch (think of the food pyramid).

You can search here for a list of California Department of Education sites that offer free meals (some sites offer breakfast, lunch, and/or snacks).

Screen Shot 2019-06-01 at 1.52.03 PM.pngFor those of us in Eastern San Diego County, Cajon Valley School District sponsors free lunches!

Menus will probably be available in the next few weeks. Last Summer every Friday was pizza day! And there are usually vegetarian options daily for those of you who have meat-free kiddos (previous options included bean, rice, and cheese burritos, hard boiled eggs, string cheese, cheese sandwiches, nut butter sandwiches, or Uncrustables)!

Last summer The El Cajon Library had lunch and activities (crafts, story time, etc) each day (Monday -Friday).

Screen Shot 2019-06-01 at 2.03.13 PM.pngSan Diego Unified School District has partnered with some awesome sponsors to host the Summer Fun Cafe 2019 all over San Diego County! Lunch will be served at over 30 locations all summer for kids 18 and under! The kick-off Summer BBQ (with free lunch for adults too) at Penn Athletic Field on 6/20/19 10:30am-2:00pm! There are all kinds of activities, community resources, and even free produce for families to take home!

Most locations will be serving lunch on June 17-August 16, 2019.

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?

  • There is a lunch location down at the Waterfront Park- which is also free (You have to pay to park at the meters)! It has a great playground and a splash area.
  • The Tierrasanta Rec Center has a cool kids splash ground that’s open early in the day. It’s not free, but it’s pretty cheap ($2/ kid, $4/adult).

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!

If you aren’t in the immediate San Diego area, text FOOD  (Or COMIDA for a list in Spanish) to 877-877, or call 211 and you can find a list of free summer lunch locations near you.

 

Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I’m home from Influential Summit, and boy, did they load us up with snacks and goodies! Our snack cupboard is full, and I’ll be putting together a big box of goodies together and post a giveaway later this 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.

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: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. 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 a protein shake for me and the Mister, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

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.

This week is going to be a little different tan usual. With Mr. on the cleanse, we’ll be eating a lot of whole foods/vegetables raw, and an old family friend steel cut oats will be coming to breakfast.

  • Monday: Leftover night! We’ve got leftover cheese enchiladas, pizza, and some homemade applesauce
  • Tuesday: Homemade chicken soup – I’ll post the recipe tomorrow!
  • Wednesday: Cheese and Veggie Quiche! I’ve got so many eggs!
  • Thursday: Grilled Cheese sandwiches, Green Salad
  • Friday:  Date Night (dinner out, but I’m not sure where)
  • Saturday: Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry with Cauliflower Rice
  • Sunday: tri-tip, baked potatoes, roasted veggies

 

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week?

1/28/19 Meal Plan Monday

stemarie_1650skitchen

Mr. husband is on the second week of his cleanse.Much like last week,  the kids and I will will be eating some similar foods, it’s hard to convince the kids to eat kale and steamed salmon night after night.

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.

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: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. 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 a protein shake for me and the Mister, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

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.

This week is going to be a little different tan usual. With Mr. on the cleanse, we’ll be eating a lot of whole foods/vegetables raw, and an old family friend steel cut oats will be coming to breakfast.

  • Monday: Leftover Pizza, fruit salad
  • Tuesday: Vegetarian crockpot chili
  • Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner- Blueberry pancakes (Kodiak flap jacks), fruit salad. Blueberries are on sale this week at Sprouts for .88, so we are eating a lot of them!
  • Thursday: Homemade red sauce, spiralized crockneck squash, Italian marinated chicken breasts
  • Friday:  Date Night (dinner out, but I’m not sure where)
  • Saturday: Salad bar night: mixed greens, kale, and whatever types of veggie bits I pull out, various nuts, and dressings. The kids love cheese on their salads too.
  • Sunday: Ladies night out since it’s my birthday. Probably use one of my million free birthday meal offers.

 

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week?

Meal Plan Monday 9/24/18

stemarie_1650skitchen

Hey, did you know that today is National Punctuation Day? To celebrate, let’s use some exclamation points, and get started with our meal plan for the week!

I’ve gotta goto the grocery store this week, so this is based on what little we have on hand. I’ll be buying more meat, fresh fruit, and veg, and some pantry staples that have dwindled. The menu may changed based on what I find while I’m out shopping.  I’ve been doing a lot of shopping at 99 Cents Only, Grocery Outlet, and Aldi’s lately.

Breakfasts are usually the same for us: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. 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 a protein shake for me and the Mister, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

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.

Monday: Homemade frozen pizza, carrots with yogurt dip, and green grapes

Tuesday: Cheese enchiladas, beans and Cauliflower Rice (99 Cents only has had Bird’s Eye brand lately and it’s really good!)

Wednesday:  We are going to an event and dinner is included- I’m not sure what it will be

Thursday: Egg scramble with veggies, bacon and cheese (I’m hoping to use up whatever veggies we’ve got on hand- usually bell pepper, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and shallots).

Friday: I really want soup, so I’m thinking Colonial Chowder and I’ll make biscuits to go with it.

Saturday: I’ve got a corned beef in the freezer, so I’m thinking I’ll pop it into the crockpot Friday night and let it cook all night (recipe here), and I’ll make corned beef sandwiches for us to take along with us when we head up to Brick or Treat at Legoland.

Sunday: There is a mother and Son bowling event that evening, so hubs and Bitty Bird have to fend for themselves, that means: Leftover night!

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

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.