Sunday, December 29, 2019

No Spend January and a Meal Plan

I do believe we have had a fairly successful pantry challenge in December.  My plan is to continue into January.  Earlier this week I stumbled upon marked down meat at the grocery store. I spent $14 and bought 17 lbs of chicken and 2 gallons of milk. With the chicken in the freezer, I should be able to get all the way through January without buying any meat.  Probably the first week or 2 of February as well. Then the freezers will be pretty much empty which is my goal.

My budget for food/household needs in January is $250.  I do have several gift cards coming through swagbucks that I will use for household needs as well and am not including anything purchased that way in the budgeted spending. Wish me luck. 

M: yogurt, granola, sliced fruit (B), leftovers (L), taco bake, corn, mandarin oranges (D)
T: baked oatmeal, fruit (B), turkey sandwiches, carrots (L), baked chicken, roasted potatoes (D)
W:  eggs, toast, applebutter (B), pbj, sliced fruit (L), Italian beef sandwiches, broccoli (D)
T: cereal (B), leftovers (L), leftovers (D)
F: oatmeal (B), macaroni and cheese (L), fish (D)
S: cereal (B), sandwiches or leftovers (L) pizza (D)

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Pantry Challenge: Week 3

Week 3 of our pantry challenge. I'm running out of freezer meals and inspiration. We aren't running low on food yet, though.  So that is a good thing. 

This week is fairly busy with multiple doctor's appointments, Christmas gatherings, a field trip, and teen night on top of our regular stuff.  Hopefully I can stay on top of everything without going crazy. :)

The kids were given a huge box of cookies today.  Huge. And were shocked when I said we were putting most of them into the freezer for later.  Apparently I am oh so mean. But now we have cookies for another day because if i'd left them all out, the kids would have eaten the ALL. Pounds and pounds of cookies.

So here's the hopeful plan for the week:

S: pancake breakfast at church (B), leftovers (L), spicy chicken, potatoes (D)
M: cereal (B), sandwiches (L), leftovers (D)
T: breakfast sandwiches (B), leftovers (L), taco bake (D)
W: baked oatmeal (B), homeschool party (L), Boy Scout dinner (D)
T: eggs, toast (B), sandwiches/leftovers (L), beef tips (D)
F: cereal (B), mac and cheese (L), fish sticks/teen night(D)
S: um, all the leftovers

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Pantry Challenge: Week 2

The first week of the pantry challenge was successful. A bit different than I had planned but successful.  Two birthday dinners which each gave us leftovers.  Two nights of cake.  A third night when someone bought dinner for us.  And I found an amazing deal on pork loin at the store and brought home 3 whole pork loins. They were originally $1.69/lb but each package had an $8 coupon attached. So it worked out to about 75 cents a pound. After cutting them up, I know have meat for 7 more meals in the freezer.

We were also given 100 lbs of potatoes, 5 lbs of apples, and a few salad mixes.  The kids ate the salads for lunch today.  The apples will be snacks for the kids. I plan to use some of the potatoes for homemade frozen hash browns and twice baked potatoes. Thankfully our kitchen stays rather cool in the winter so the potatoes should last for us without an issue.

Here's the meal plan for the week:

S: cereal (B), salad, leftovers (L), beef stew, rolls (D)
M: bagels, oranges (B), sandwiches (L), taco bake (D)
T: eggs and toast, sliced apples (B), leftovers (L), pasta, garlic bread (D)
W: breakfast casserole (B), packed lunch for field trip (L), chicken divan (D)
T: cereal (B), leftovers (L), pulled pork (D)
F: oatmeal (B), sandwiches (L), potato soup, rolls (D)
S: eggs, toast (B), leftovers (L), pizza (D)

Sunday, December 1, 2019

December Pantry Challenge

Life has thrown us a few curve balls (and then a few more) so I have decided that December is the perfect month for a pantry challenge.  It might even extend into January depending on the state of our freezers and pantry after December.

So what is my goal here? Use up all of the odds and ends that have been stashed in the freezers and cupboards and been forgotten. Use the meat in the freezers and eat up all of the freezer meals.  Find some creative recipes to use up the canned beans and peanut butter. And, of course, save some money and spend as little as possible on groceries.  Our pantry is looking rather empty for us already so this is going to be a bit more of a challenge than I would prefer.

The first step to an effective pantry challenge is to inventory EVERYTHING edible in the house so you know what you have (and what you don't).  Then you need to plan out everything on the menu for the week including snacks.  Around here this will also require that one person really take back over the cooking because my kids are have amazing kitchen skills but don't quite understand all of the concepts of frugal cooking. We're working on that one.

Of course, we have 4 birthdays in December so those days are going to be a bit different. And Christmas as well will not entirely be pantry inspired although I do already have most everything we need in the house.

So here's the beginning of the plan for the month. This month I am feeding 12 most days, up to 17 other days. 

S: cereal (B), donuts and leftovers (L), leftovers (D)
M: monkey bread, sliced oranges (B), FFY (L), Chinese food (D), cake and ice cream for Ellie's birthday
T: bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter, sliced oranges (B), deli sandwiches, carrots (L), ham and potato casserole, peaches, peas (D)
W: cereal (B), pbj, sliced apples (L), taco bake, veggies (D)
T: breakfast casserole, orange juice (B), leftovers (L), out to eat for Kieran's birthday (D)
F: oatmeal, sliced fruit (B), pbj, carrots (L), tuna of some sort (D)
S: eggs, toast, sausage (B), leftovers (L), frozen pizza (D)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

First Communion Resources

Child number 9 is currently preparing for First Communion. Over the years, we have tweaked what we have used with the kids a bit here and there but the one constant that has remained is that we never rely on the parish materials to provide real preparation. Some of our parishes have provided ok resources but most have been very lacking.  Our current parish sadly falls pretty squarely into the very much lacking end of the spectrum.

This year we are using a variety of resources at home including read alouds, audio stories, DVD's, and hand-on materials.
The backbone of of our religious ed at home for this age is the St. Joseph First Communion Catechism (No. 0). Yes, this is the good old fashioned Baltimore Catechism with all the wonderful pictures and explanations.  I don't focus on memorization at this age but rather on becoming familiar with the answers and a basic understanding of what they mean.  We also use the 2nd grade Faith and Life books.
For read alouds we are using The Weight of the Mass, Patron Saint of First Communicants: the Story of Blessed Imelda Lambertini, St. Patrick's Summer,King of the Golden City,  and a short story about St. Tarcisius which can be found in the book True Stories for First Communicants. I have also found an audio version of the story on LibriVox.
We use several resources from Holy Heroes.  Their DVDs on The Holy Mass and The Eucharist achieve the goal of explaining concepts to children and keeping their interest WITHOUT talking down to them.  The Altar Gang audio CD volume 3 is all about First Communion and great to listen to in the car or during quiet time.
One of my favorite resources for combining solid teaching with hands-on projects is the Preparing to Receive Jesus program by Catholic Heritage Curricula.  This program teaches through a combination of stories and hands-on projects. The stories included in the program are older traditional stories that I love sharing with the children.  This program also has us making sacrifice beads, a personalized Mass book, and learning about the various sacred vessels used in the Mass.

With every child, I purchase a banner kit from Illuminated Ink. Not only do these kits help me avoid having to collect all of the materials and creative juices for a banner, they also include in depth explanations of the symbolism behind all of the items included in the banner.

With some of our older kids, we made lapbooks from Holy Learning. These wonderful resources allow you to customize your project for each child so you can easily work with younger and older kids at the same time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Advent Read Alouds

For several years now, I have intended to collect enough Advent books to read one book aloud each evening as a family. But I have always managed to put off collecting the books long enough that I was never able to make it happen. This year, I have actually managed to get the books together in time to make this happen. I won't mention how many of these books have sat on our shelves unread for the past several years waiting for me to get my act together.

So what will we be reading this Advent?

I have seen many people suggest wrapping up all of the books so that your kids can unwrap one to read each night. If you keep wrapping paper in the house, I can see this being a nice touch. We do our best to avoid wrapping paper so I'm planning to just put all of the books into one bin and pick a book each evening.

I will probably pick up a few more from the library to add to the pile as time allows and hopefully add to our collection over the next few months so that we have different selections for next year.

What is on your Advent reading list this year?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Get Ready 4 Kindergarten Birthday Box

Do you have a preschooler in your house who is just dying to jump into school like the big kids? Or are you just looking for fun and easy projects to do with your preschooler that require zero prep time on your part? The Get Ready 4 Kindergarten Activity Boxes are the answer to either problem.

These activity boxes are designed to help little ones get ready for kindergarten while providing a guided program for parents that incorporates literature, crafts, games, and more.  We received the Birthday Box to review with our 3 toddlers.
Our box focused on shapes. Included in the box were two craft projects, plastic shape tiles with pictures the child could attempt to copy, an Eric Carle book, and shape related flash cards for the child to match with the designated shapes.
The plastic shapes and book were the hands down favorites of the kiddos.  One of the pictures they were asked to copy was of a caterpillar. We are currently watching a bunch of caterpillars at home and waiting for them to turn into butterflies so this was an instant favorite for Seamus.
The book arrived wrapped like a birthday present. Instant bonus. What kid doesn't like opening presents?

The craft projects included in the kit were making bird feeders and writing a thank you note. Nothing fancy or out of this world BUT every single item for the projects were included in a single bag per project. No chasing down glue or paper or anything. It is all right there at your finger tips. This is simply wonderful. This means you can open the box and go or hand a project off to an older sibling without worrying about them needing anything.

Seamus, Charlie, and Kolbe all loved the box and playing with it. I recommend this resource to any parent who is looking for an easy way to add some fun to their school time with their toddlers.

I received a free activity box in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. No other compensation was received.