April Wrap-Up: Eat Well Spend Less, What I’m Reading, and More

Happy end of the month! Keep reading to see what we’ve been up to this month :)

{Links to Check Out}

We are celebrating our two-year anniversary this month in our Eat Well, Spend Less series. See how what changes the other ladies have made in the last two years:

12 ways to help you eat well and spend less, + creamy buttermilk dressing recipe, from Aimee at Simple Bites
How my cooking and grocery shopping habits have changed, from Carrie at Denver Bargains
Eating better on a budget, from Jessica at Life as MOM
Brace yourselves… the 2012 food budget may shock you! from Katie at Kitchen Stewardship
Letting go of food guilt and shame, from Mandi at Easy. Homemade.
Looking back on the way we ate, from Shaina at Food for My Family
How I really eat well and spend less, my contribution

We have also started our series on saving money with essential oils.

{What I’m Reading}

On my reading list for this month is a book by my sweet friend, Amy, about raising families in this digital age. I’ve got my copy pre-ordered and I can’t wait for it to come!

{Looking Back on April}

Reese had her 7th birthday party, and we enjoyed time with family that is in from Tennessee. Cam turned seven months old, and we are still nursing and babywearing. Our family is gearing up to go to Disney in a few weeks for the Disney Social Media Moms Conference. It will be the first time for all of us (well, Shane went when he was 8), so this is very exciting! In addition to everyone’s first trip to Disney, it will be the first time flying for all of the kiddos, and for Shane since all of the new security measures have been put in place. It is definitely going to be the trip of a lifetime!

How was your April?

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Eat Well and Spend Less… Two Years Later

Happy two year anniversary to our Eat Well, Spend Less series! I wasn’t there for the birth of this fantastic series, but the group was very welcoming when I took over the writing on this site. And while *I* may not be celebrating two years of being a part of this, I have followed along from it’s inception… and gleaned so much along the way.

Being a part of this series (and with this amazing group of ladies!) has pushed me out of my writing and cooking comfort zone. It has pushed me beyond limits I didn’t even know I had. I’ve shared my Whole30 and sugar challenges, about how I’m trying to eat better, my love-hate relationship with menu planning, food goals, and more.

Eat Well and Spend Less Two Years LaterReese with her pretty cupcakes

So, where am I, two years later?

Well, we aren’t perfect.

Sometimes I take shortcuts to get by during the busy seasons.

For example, I have always made the girls’ birthday cupcakes from scratch. Always. I have never bought store cupcakes or store cake or anything. Not that this is bad, it’s just something I have never done because their favorite cupcakes are homemade. The evening before her party, I went to the grocery store for ingredients and came back with really cute store cupcakes and Koolaid pouch drinks.

Yep, you read that right. Refined-sugar-laden and dye-filled goodies, all designed to make my life easier. And you know what? No one was any worse for the wear.

Did I feel a twinge of guilt for taking the easy way out? Yes. I’m sure it was just my OCD talking, but I let Reese decide if she wanted the homemade cupcakes or pretty store ones (my homemade ones are not so lovely!). She was happy, and I was able to go home that evening and have a little birthday dinner and movie with my family, instead of spending all night baking 4 dozen cupcakes.

Could I have “planned” better and started earlier? Probably. But our week ended up being really busy, and by the time Friday rolled around, I had not had a chance to get anything ready.

My point in admitting all of this, is that we all have to do what works for our family.

Even with my Type-A personality, perfection in the kitchen is something I no longer strive for. I may make my pie crust from scratch, but I may or may not have a Sonic gift card in my wallet. I love including my children when I cook, but at times having littles “helping” can be stressful. I can definitely tell you how to save money on healthier foods, but I don’t always follow my own advice. I am in a position to feed my family fairly well on a regular basis. I know not everyone is able to do this. Full bellies are more important than eating perfectly. Do what works for you and your family. Period.

Where am I two years later? Doing my best… which is exactly what you should do as well!

Feel free to browse the archives in this series. I’m including some of my favorite posts below!

We want to hear from you! Tell us your grocery spending challenge or question so we can better serve you in the next year by filling out this survey.

And don’t forget to visit the other ladies to see how they are eating well and spending less!

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March Wrap-Up: Eat Well Spend Less, What I’m Reading, and More

Happy Easter! I hope you have a wonderful weekend with family, friends, and celebrating the resurrection of our Savior!

Keep reading to see what we’ve been up to this month.

Cam and I with the Minion from Despicable Me 2 at Blissdon

{Links to Check Out}

We are making the transition from winter to spring this month in our Eat Well, Spend Less series. Get great ideas, tips, and more from these awesome bloggers:

Five Things I Plan to do in the Kitchen this Spring and Summer, by Carrie of Denver Bargains
What to do with Spring Produce
, by Jessica from Life as MOM
How to Dehydrate and Preserve Spring Greens, by Katie at Kitchen Stewardship
46 Ways to Serve Fruits and Vegetables at Snack Time, by Mandi at Easy Homemade
Spring Cleaning your Pantry, by Shaina from Food for My Family
Stock-up on Fresh Spring Produce (and what to do with the extra), my contribution

We are also gearing up for a new series on Saving Money with Essential Oils with a very special “guest” writer!

In the Pier 1 suite at Blissdom

{What I’m Reading}

I’ve restarted my Whole30 Challenge, and am currently finishing up the Whole30 companion book, It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways.

At Blissdom last week, I received Jon Acuff’s latest book, Start. I started it immediately after returning home. It. Is. Awesome.

We also received The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome, by Scott Stratten, one of the keynote speakers.

Reese, then and now

{Looking Back on March}

The month has been full of ups and downs. Our sweet Reese celebrated her 7th birthday. Cam turned 6th months old, and is learning so many new tricks. My Mac finally died, though not from lack of care on my part. Apparently, I’m in the tiny percentage of people who have whatever issue it is, and it’s unfixable unless I want to shell out some serious cash. I might as well buy a new one, fixing it costs so much! Blah.

I attended the Blissdom Conference last week, and had the best-looking date evah. I also got to spend time with some of my sweet friends, including Stephanie and Rachel. It was so nice to be around people who “get” me and what I do. It was also awesome getting to see friends I hadn’t seen since Blissdom ’10.

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Stock-up on Fresh Spring Produce {and what to do with the extra}

Ah, spring. I love the crisp, sunny mornings full of promise that spring brings. It is a wonderful time of renewal and rebirth. It also means planting gardens and the bounty of farmer’s markets just around the corner.

Because I have been taking the Whole30 Challenge, my veggie intake has increased quite a bit this month. I am super-excited about the new in-season fruits and vegetables that the beginning of spring introduces.

This is the produce you can expect to see sales on in your local markets and grocery stores this spring:

Personally, I am ready for the later-spring fruits and veggies like okra, strawberries, peaches, and watermelon!

Buying produce when it is in-season will give you the best bang for your buck. Because, let’s face it; eating well isn’t always easy on the pocketbook. And while I think that is a shame, there are definitely ways to make purchasing fresh fruits and veggies a big part of your shopping routine. By paying attention to what produce is in-season, allows you to stock-up at the lowest price and save big. But what do you do with it after you have stocked up? You have a few options:

Canning

Canning is something I enjoy, but do not get to do it as often as I like. I am certainly not a pro, but is something I find very fulfilling. Canning isn’t as hard as it sounds and is a very effective way to save some of your in-season fruits and veggies to eat when they aren’t in-season. The Canning 101 Series from Simple Bites is a great way to get you started canning. (See also: 9 Good Reasons to Can Your Own Food).

Freezing

Freezing excess produce is a quick and easy way to save it for later. I like to “flash freeze” items by chopping them and then lining them up on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for a few hours, and then place the frozen morsels in a Ziploc bag.

Adding Produce to Old Favorites

I know your kiddos probably cringe when you place vegetables in front of them; mine certainly do! But when I chop a few “extras” to add to our favorite meatloaf, they are none-the-wiser. You can also make a delicious soup from pureed veggies and cheese.

Another favorite in our family is fruit smoothies or through juicing; both are great ways to use up extra fruit and veggies.

Find New Ways to Eat Vegetables

  • Baking - Baking is a fun way to try veggies. Homemade kale chips and squash chips are great ways to serve a healthy snack, and baked sweet potato fries make an easy, kid-friendly side. A great alternative to pasta is spaghetti squash; simply bake it and top with your favorite sauce for a yummy and healthy meal.
  • GrillingThe best way to grill vegetables is to marinate or brush with olive oil before placing them on the grill. Grilling smaller or sliced veggies works best if you wrap them in heavy-duty foil or stick them on kabobs. You can sprinkle grilled vegetables with fresh herbs or salt for added flavor.
  • Roasting - Most vegetables roast well chopped, and then placed in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 400°. I like to toss with olive oil, and then sprinkle with salt, but you can add pepper or any other spices you wish. Be sure to stir the veggies occasionally to ensure even browning.
  • Sautéing - Sautéed vegetables make a quick side dish to any meal, even breakfast! I love adding sautéed spinach, peppers, and/or onions to scrambled eggs. Expeller-pressed coconut oil is my favorite oil for sautéing vegetables. I have recently fallen in love with sweet potato hashbrowns; I could eat them every single day!

What springtime fruits and veggies are you looking forward to eating? What are your favorite ways to stock and save in-season veggies for later?

Photo by: Patrick Feller on Flickr

Get more great winter-to-spring transition tips from:

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