Advertisements
 

eMeals: Budgeting, Planning and Cooking Family Meals

02/05/2013

IMG_7948

One of my goals for the new year, now that we’re in our new home, is to cook more. I’ve never been too much into cooking and really slacked off a lot while we were living with my parents. My mom was kind enough to let us chip in for groceries and still do a lot of the cooking she would be doing anyway—except for 5 people instead of 2. (Thanks, Mom!!) Part of what has held me back from cooking more in past years is the time to plan and shop for meals. Jason (who is a very good and creative cook!) and I would walk through the grocery store together and look for inspiration based on what was on sale. That would usually get us a meal or two and a lot of random stuff. There was a Groupon for eMeals around New Years and after discussing with a friend who as used it before, I decided that this would be my plan for 2013.

So far, I am completely loving it…so much so that I’m writing this blog post! Every Sunday I get a 2 page PDF in my inbox with 7 recipes and a grocery shopping list for my neighborhood Kroger. The recipes are selected based on what’s on sale this week. It takes a huge amount of the planning out it and allows me to get great deals without flipping through ads, cutting coupons or wandering through the store. (Ain’t nobody got time for that!) I love that the shopping list is broken down by section of the store, too. It’s cut grocery shopping time down by half. At least.

IMG_7908

IMG_7907

IMG_1113

It’s also saving us money. The plan we’ve selected is the Classic Family Plan (the only one based on your local grocery store’s sales, I think) for 3-6 people. They also have an option for 1-2 people but my friend suggested the bigger plan because it yeilds a lot of leftovers. That’s where the second half of the time and money saving comes in for me. Often, I’m able to freeze half of the meal either cooked, or partially cooked following the freezing techniques of Don’t Panic—Dinner’s in the Freezer We also have leftovers flowing all the time so I very rarely need to eat out for lunch or take my former staple can of soup to work.

IMG_1110

This is Creamy Burrito Casserole round 2 – just after taking it out of the freezer to thaw. The recipe made enough for 2 good size casseroles.

IMG_1109

An unexpected result is that we’ve been eating out less. I never really thought we ate out all that much but having a plan for the week means that we’re very rarely going out to eat Monday-Thursday. We usually treat ourselves to a night out after work on Friday and a lunch after church on Sundays. Other than that, we’ve been spending around $40-45/week on dinner/lunch. That does not include things like milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, fruit and other staples but for the bulk of our meals…I think that’s pretty good. The plan adds up to around $85 for 7 meals for 3-6 people. I’ve been choosing 3 meals per week and selecting from a rotation of freezer meals for the other days we’re eating at home.

Another, perhaps more obvious benefit, is that it’s introducing us to a lot of new recipes and new foods. All the recipes we’ve tried have been good, some have been excellent (salmon cakes, swedish meatballs, oven fried chicken, creamy burrito casserole). I’ve discovered some items in the grocery store that I never knew existed (panko, cheese soup). I’ve learned where I/we draw the line to save a buck…white bread sandwich rolls for $1? Head of iceberg lettuce for $1.49? No thank you. I’m willing to pay a little more for something we like better.

IMG_1112

Advertisements

Thanksgiving 2012

11/28/2012

I had a really nice Thanksgiving, partly because my sister and her family visited for 3 days and partly because I was forced to take a 4-day break from work during a busy deadline period because I had no place or time to work. And of course, also because of all the time with family, friends and delicious food!

It was a beautiful sunny, warm day so we took a walk down to our new house to show my sister’s family. Ali and her cousin Iris rode in the red wagon.

Jason and his brother Daniel finally had an opportunity to deep fry a turkey this year. They used a Cajun Butter injection. Oh my goodness…it was so good!

Both of Ali’s girl cousins were there for Thanksgiving. That’s Eliza on the left and her mom Aunt Ginger (Daniel’s wife) and Iris on the right. Iris and Eliza look like they could be cousins too, but they’re not related.

My mom also roasted a turkey in the oven with stuffing. My dad and sister Jessica carved it.

Clearly Jason was very excited about how the fried turkey turned out.

Papa (Jason’s dad) and Ali were intrigued by the turkey, too.

I didn’t take any pictures of everyone at the table this year. Boo. We had a diverse group of my family, Jason’s family and some friends … 18 people I think. After dinner, Ali and Eliza took a bath in the living room. (Not really.)

Self-portrait mode on the iPhone = a good trick to get a low quality picture of a toddler looking at the camera…

…and maybe even smiling at her cute self! Hi Eliza

Jason’s mom/Nana/Grandma K made Iris an owlie hat just like Ali’s but with shut eyes. So cute!

Piddling around behind a record store on Black Friday.

We tried a new hairstyle for Ali: pigtails! She looks so different!

Her hair looked absolutely hilarious when we took the piggies out.

After dinner my early Christmas present from Jason arrived in the mail. A NEW CAMERA!!! I’m so excited to start getting better quality pictures. I have a lot of learning to do but the good news is that I’ll be practicing a lot which means lots of pictures to share with you here.

My very first picture of the most easy going subject. A little dark but I was quite impressed that it could capture her tongue mid lip-lick without a flash in low light.

Cousins in matching PJs horsing around on the couch also made willing subjects. (Testing out the external flash on these ones.)

Ali giving Iris a big smacker kiss.

It was a wonderful, fun weekend! I’m already looking forward to Christmas break now, which will be spent at our new house. Yay!


Babies and Dogs …

07/17/2012

I think every baby should come with a dog. It’s a great partnership. Lucy (the dog) doesn’t even like Precious (the baby) and they still have a beautiful thing going. Precious is delighted by Lucy…watching her, chasing her, occasionally catching up fast enough to get a quick feel of her soft fur. Lucy gets more exercise these days, now that Precious is on the move. But the exercise is good because she’s always eating a lot more table food than she used to (which was hardly any). Lucy is actually a very picky eater, but Precious will eat anything. Lucy is quick to clean up Cheerios, bread, cheese or yogurt off the floor. If Precious drops blueberries, green beans, peas or carrots, however, we’ll have to pick those up ourselves. Lucy sits below the high chair and stares at the rug, waiting for a Cheerio to bounce and roll…


Peas

05/15/2012

“We’re like peas and carrots, you and me,” Jason said. A sixteen year old romantic.

“I don’t like peas,” I typed back on AOL chat.

“You don’t like peas?! Peanut butter and jelly, then.”

“Ok then.”

It was 1999 and we were young and freshly in love.

13 years later, we have an almost 10-month-old daughter that loves peas as much as her daddy.


Homemade Baby Food

01/24/2012

It sounds really complicated but really Homemade Baby Food is just fancy words for softened (steamed, baked, mashed), blended food frozen into small portions. It’s easy and it’s inexpensive. For Christmas, Precious got this wonderful Baby Bjorn bib that my friend recommended. It’s made from a stiff silicon-ish material so the food catching lip doesn’t collapse. Also, the neck is adjustable so it will fit for a while. Perfect for Precious’ reintroduction to solid foods. (We started on rice cereal at 4 months old but neither of us was really ready yet. Now, at 6 months she’s ready. And I am, too.)

She also got some great Oxo Tot baby food freezing containers for Christmas. Oxo is my all-time favorite kitchen gadget brand. This Oxo Tot freezer tray pretty much just looks like any old ice cube tray but it has a lid—a pretty green lid—with a special function. It’s curved at the ends so you can dump just one ice cube out at a time. Smart, huh? It makes 1 oz. portions. Perfect for introducing new foods. Once the cubes are all frozen, I’ve been popping them into freezer bags so I can label and date them.

The Oxo Tot baby blocks six pack tray and 2 oz. containers are handy for taking larger portions on the go. I haven’t seen these in action yet but the first batch of pureed carrots is freezing right now. So far I have made avocado, carrots and bananas for Precious. Next on my list are sweet potatoes, green beans, broccoli, apples and pears. I’m curious to hear from you: What were the first foods you fed your kids? What foods were their favorites? Did you make baby food at home, blend up whatever you were eating or buy baby food pre-made?