Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Milk...Where Does It Come From?

We LOVE milk in our house.

I'm not just saying that either. When I was pregnant with Ryder, I was going through about 4 gallons a week. Now that Ryder drinks milk, we buy it two gallons at a time every 2-3 days!


Ryder loves his white milk and calls chocolate milk "Mommy's Special Milk" because he sees me drink it after a workout to refuel. And while he may not be sporting a milk mustache above, it is a pretty cute milk goatee.

So we know that milk is a great source of 9 essential nutrients and 8 grams of protein, but people also want to know where their milk comes from. And waddya know, there's a website that will tell you just that! 

Have you heard of WhereIsMyMilkFrom.com? It is this awesome website that will tell you where your milk came from. Something extra cool for our family? We just happen to know one of the farmers that our milk comes from! 

Visiting a dairy farm is an awesome experience. Most have tours available or would love to have you come out for a visit and ask questions. One of those questions could be about where they ship their milk. Then you, too, could possibly know the farmer your milk comes from! How cool is that?! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

On the Go without Breaking Budget?

School is back in the swing of things and while Ryder is not school age yet, I see all my friends with school-age kids running their wheels off. AND we have a little girl that is going to be arriving in just a few days, so we have had a little bit of a urgency added to our schedule as well.


We have been running a lot more errands lately and trying to pack in as much family fun as we can. This means we are not home as much as we are used to, so I have become a pro at having snacks on hand and making sure our family has dinner at odd hours or in a hurry.


We make a something we call "Ryder Trail Mix" (which is just a mixture of gold fish crackers, Cheerios and cherry flavored dried cranberries...his favorite snacks) and throw it in a container to have on hand while we are out and about. He knows that it is his special snack mix. So you can make up your own individualized snack mix for your kids favorites. Throw it in a baggie or small plastic container and always have something yummy to snack on...which means you can avoid the drive through or candy aisle at the gas station!


For meals, we have been preparing for Miss Iyla's arrival by making freezer packs. These are meals that we throw together now, put in a bag and freeze for use at a later time. This way when I am not up to making a meal after she arrives (or when life is just too hectic to have time to throw together something in the morning), I can open a bag, dump it in our crock pot and let the crock pot do the work while I get some snuggles in or run out the door!

One of my favorites is this Crock Pot Freezer Packs: BBQ Ranch Chicken Buns. They are so yummy and can also make a great impromptu picnic meal!


Another way I keep from busting our food budget when we are on the go is to have some SUPER quick recipes in my arsenal. These Easy Pan Fried Pork Chops are done in about 15 minutes and are juicy, flavorful...and just straight up awesome!


It is easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle and not take a moment to be grateful, but then that means I am not enjoying life as much as I should. So, I try to remember in the middle of all the chaos that I am very blessed to live in a country where we spend less on our food than ANY other country...and that we have so many nutritious options available that I don't have to be weighed down by Mommy Guilt (or break the bank) when I am buying our groceries! My little man and his little sister deserve the best...and that includes a Momma who realizes how blessed she is to live in this country where we have affordable food that provides them with the nutrition they need to grow up strong and healthy.


Now I am not expert by any means. I am still only three and a half years into this wife thing and two years into this Mommy gig, so I am sure you guys have a ton of tips you could share with me, and I would love to hear them. So leave me your tips in the comments!

Note: I'm an IFOF Ambassador for the Affordable Food Tips For Your Family, From Our Family Series. And you can rest assured that the thoughts and opinions are all my own!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Foolproof Family Recipes Giveaway!

With a name like Foolproof Family Recipes, you know the recipes are going to be simple and easy to follow. What you may be wondering is "Are they any good?"...and my answer is a resounding YES!


Lucky for you, the awesome folks at Gooseberry Patch not only gave me a copy to check out, they also sent me a copy to giveaway to one lucky winner!

These recipes were so good that I seriously can't pick a favorite. They are so easy and yummy that we were more than happy to try more and more of them out.

I posted about this Cheesy Taco Bake over on Winners Drink Milk. It was easy to make and makes a TON. You can make a half a batch if you have a small family or a full recipe for a large family or when you have company. Soooo yummy!


These Lightning Bars are so easy to make that I made them three times in a matter of weeks. AND I added in a special treat of Almond Icing that takes them over the top. 


This recipe for Cheesy Chicken Stacks was the first time I have used canned chicken. It made this recipe a snap and we LOVED it!


And last but certainly NOT least is this Slow Cooker Cheddar Meatloaf. I can't even describe how good this is! Michael and I were both sad when the leftovers for this yummy dish were gone!


Now for the part you've all been waiting for...the giveaway!

This giveaway is closed. Come back soon for my next giveaway! 

Affiliate links were used in this post.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mommy Guilt Be Gone - In the Grocery Store!

Dear Reader,

I had an awesome opportunity this month that I wish everyone could have. I did a tour of a grocery store with Registered Dietitian, Kim Galeaz thanks to my friends at Indiana Family of Farmers. And do you know what that did for me? Rid me of my mommy guilt!


It was amazing to walk the aisles with her and find that I wasn't food shamed. She didn't tell us we were horrible people for what we were feeding our families. She provided us with the insight to use what we were already buying and eating in a more balanced diet.

Balance was one of the wonderful themes of the day. Do you have your favorite indulgence? That is FINE! Don't beat yourself up over it! You just don't want to use up all your caloric intake for the day on this indulgence. Remember to balance it with nutrient-rich foods. Look at the good in the food you are eating and make sure it all balances out. You can even use the cool tools at Choose My Plate to guide you.

Interestingly enough, did you know that there isn't ANY regulation for the use of the word "natural" on a products packaging? It is just a word used by very clever marketers! So instead of relying a brilliant marketing department's use of trigger words, look at your nutrition labels.

Seriously. You want to look at your nutrition labels. The nutrition label will tell you what is ACTUALLY in the food you hold in your hand...and you aren't relying on the selling (and scaring) skills of someone else to help you determine how this food should fit in your diet. You can look and see if it is indeed a nutrient-rich food. Some of your favorite foods might surprise you!

Another interesting factoid is that the ingredients are listed in order...meaning that the first ingredient listed is the one that is most prominent in the food and second ingredient listed is second and so on. So when you have whole grains listed first, you know that is the major ingredient in the food.


And another great discussion that was brought up on our tour was "regular" milk vs. organic. Did you know that there isn't ANY nutritional difference between the two?

I was actually really glad to be a part of this particular tour for this specific discussion. I LOVE Ryder's pediatrician, but he and I have butted heads a couple of times over his blind promotion of organic milk. We go through a TON of milk a week and buying organic milk is not feasible for our budget.

Well, Miss Marybeth from Agricultured was with us this day. After Kim gave us a side by side comparison of the milk labels showing us there is no difference nutritionally, Marybeth filled us in on the scientific side of the antibiotic and hormone comparison. (She actually did a post about it...so you can read all about it here. Go ahead, take a gander. I bet you'll be surprised at what she says. I can wait.)

Ryder hasn't quite mastered the milk mustache yet...it is more a milk goatee. 

Welcome back! ;) So now you know why I can buy regular milk and not have mommy guilt! This is a VERY good thing considering how much milk we go through each week and that organic milk is twice the cost for half the quantity! (We all know that I love that we live in the country that uses the smallest percentage of our income on food consumed at home and seeing how much bang I can get for my buck!)

I truly wish that everyone had a chance go through a grocery store with Kim. There is so much fear mongering going on in the media and social media today about our food. People are literally making a living scaring our socks off! It is very easy to be overwhelmed and scared by it all. I am SO tired of it! But after meeting Kim, I left feeling empowered. My mommy guilt was gone! I don't have to force my family to eat foods they don't like or be scared of the food we consume. I can use the nutrition labels and great sources like Fruits and Veggies More Matters to put together a nutrient-rich diet that we love to eat! And my kids can grow up loving nutrient-rich foods.

So look at your labels to inform yourself, use valid resources and rid yourself of all that guilt by building a nutrient-rich meal plan each week that you and your family can love!

Note: I'm an IFOF Ambassador for the Affordable Food Tips For Your Family, From Our Family Series. And you can rest assured that the thoughts, opinions and love for all the great knowledge Kim gave me are all my own!

Friday, May 30, 2014

$50 Challenge: How Many Meals Can I Make?

It is no secret that I love saving a buck. And something you may not know about me is that I thrive on a good challenge. So when Indiana Family of Farmers asked if I wanted to be an IFOF Ambassador for the Affordable Food Tips For Your Family, From Our Family Series  and take the $50 Challenge, it sounded like fun to me!


We love to eat around here, but we also love to save money on basically everything we purchase, including food. I don't coupon. I WISH I could, but every time I have a great coupon, I usually ending spending way more than I would have without the coupon. I'm obviously not doing it right!

So since I am coupon-challenged, I had to find another way to stretch out our grocery budget. It was honestly a TON easier when I was single and just buying for me. Now that I have a family, I have a secret weapon....Ruler Foods. Now, I realize everyone doesn't have a Ruler literally a mile from their house, but I am guessing that other discount grocery stores like Save-A-Lot and Aldi will give you similar bangs for your buck. The everyday prices at Ruler are almost always cheaper than the sale prices at it's sister store across the street!

We have very few items that we buy the name brand of and there are two reasons for that...the price of the store brand at Ruler is usually insanely cheaper than the brand names, but more importantly...we actually like the store brand as well if not better than most name brands! I never would have guessed it!

I knew we were getting a deal at Ruler, but I had really had not realized how far we could make our grocery dollar go until this challenge. I am just floored...and humbled after seeing the chart below. I complain as much as the next person about the price of everything...food included. However, I now see how good I do have it. AND with some meal planning, that dollar at the grocery store can REALLY stretch! I am completely grateful of the fact that I live in this great country and am not spending close to half of my income on food!



Now for the fun! Here's what meals I came up with for my $50 Challenge! And actually, I thought things cost more than they did when I was planning, so I ended up only spending $43.20! I still have an extra $6.80 left! Hmmm...guess I should have bought a bigger roast! :)


Meal 1: (Breakfast 5-6 servings)
French Toast and Bacon....mmmm, bacon

Meal 2: (Dinner 4 servings)
Hamburger Biscuit Casserole (Recipe Below)
Corn
Green Beans

Now this is one of my absolute favorite recipes from my childhood. Michael had never had it before, but it won him over immediately. He is just as excited as I am when I make it. Now Cris is not a fan of this recipe. In fact, there is a great debate any time either one of us mention this recipe. So, I'll let you decide (that I'm right!).  :)


Meal 3: (Dinner 4 servings)
Salad
BBQ Pork Chops on the grill
Brown 'n Serve Rolls (LOVE these!)
Mashed Potatoes

Meal 4: (Dinner 4 servings)
Homemade Pepperoni Pizza

Meal 5: (Lunch 6 servings)
English Muffin Pepperorni Pizzas

Our recipe is basically this recipe from Cris, but we add on some pepperoni. Yum!


Meal 6: (Brinner 4-6 servings)
Cheesy Sausage Egg Skillet
Biscuits


Meal 7: (Dinner 4-6 servings)
Slow Cooker Steak with Gravy
Corn
Brown 'n Serve Rolls

This Slow Cooker Steak with Gravy is amazing! I highly recommend it! I adjusted my recipe this time because I could get a Bottom Round Flat Roast cheaper than I could get a Flat Iron Steak. I always adjust recipes to go with the deals I find in the store and have had great success!


Now that is some bang for our buck! We don't have a grown boy in our house yet (although Michael often eats enough for two people!), so meals last a big longer in our house than it would for some, BUT this is going to be feeding our family for well over a week! Awesomesauce!

Bonus: (Breakfast or Dessert)

Monkey Bread

If it has cinnamon, it can be called a breakfast food in my book, but since I realize that isn't how everyone thinks, so we will just call this a "bonus" recipe. I needed to use my two extra tubes of biscuits anyway...right?! :)

I used this Monkey Bread Muffin recipe from Cris with a few adjustments. I made it in my bundt pan (because I got it for Christmas and need to break it in!). I also used the remaining two packages of biscuits from my 4 pack instead of Grands biscuits.



Hamburger Biscuit Casserole

This recipe is super easy, kid friendly and a family favorite around here!

Ingredients

1 lb of ground beef
1 pkg of brown gravy mix
1 c cold water
1 tube of biscuits

Instructions

Preheat your oven according to 400.

Brown your ground beef.

Place ground beef in bottom of a greased, round, 1.5 quart casserole dish.

Mix brown gravy mix with 1 cup of cold water and pour over browned beef evenly.

Place biscuits on top of the browned beef mixture.

Cook for 15-20 minutes...until the biscuits are golden.

Serve it up with your favorite veggies!

This post was sponsored by Indiana Family of Farmers, but the opinions and awesome meal planning are all my own! The recipe is from my Momma. :)


Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's a...

So it has been confirmed by four different ultrasounds!


Meet Miss Iyla Jane.

The most asked questions I get are "How do you spell/say that?" and "How did you come up with her name?"

Obviously, you can see how to spell it since you are reading it. ;) And you pronounce it Eye-la.

Her name actually comes from different family members.

Michael's Great Aunt T's first name is Ila. (We just decided to add the "y".) The first time I heard that name, I fell in love. So when we wanted to come up with a name for our little girl, Michael and I were definitely on the same page for her first name.

Now for her middle name, I had decided that when I was a child. My Grandma's name was Elsie Jane. I was all set to be named Sara Jane until another family member protested so much that my middle name was changed by the time I was born to be my Momma's middle name. Now don't get me wrong...I LOVE my middle name, but I always said that if I had a little girl, her middle name would be Jane after Grandma. THEN I marry Michael and lo and behold, Mamaw James' middle name is Jane! So it is a double tribute, and I love it! :)

Now for some cute ultrasound pictures...well, I say cute, but that may just be the proud Momma in me talking. You may not be able tell at all what in the world all that static is, but if you can see her, you can oooh and aahh with me at our precious little girl.

Here she is with in her "The Thinker" pose. (Her head is on the right hand side of the picture and her hand is directly under her chin.)


Her karate kick to the camera. Hiyah! ;)


And she's waving to say hi!


So there ya have some highlights of little Iyla Jane's photo shoot. As of Saturday, we will be halfway there!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Gooseberry Patch Grilling and Campfires Cooking Cookbook Giveaway!

*And the winner is....Hubcubs21!*

I am one happy lady! I am pairing up with Gooseberry Patch this year to be an Early Bird Reviewer. The first cookbook I get to check out AND giveaway a copy to one of my lucky readers is Grilling and Campfires Cooking.


When I received this cookbook, I put so many tabs on it of recipes that I want to try that my cookbook looks like it has a fringe! I have already gotten started whipping some of these awesome recipes and can't wait to try out more!

First up were some great burgers!

These yummy BBQ Bacon Cheddar Burgers were Michael's favorite since he is a lover of all things bacon...and they are scrum-ditily-umptious!


But my favorites were these amazing BBQ Ranch Stuffed Cheddar Burgers...BBQ, Ranch and a hidden surprise of cheddar...I was hooked!


Then we I threw together these yummy Peachy Pork Kabobs. Even a grill that hates me couldn't keep me from finishing these bad boys up!


And you know my sweet tooth couldn't resist this Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler! Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler, how do I love thee...let me count the ways! I love so much about this cobbler that I seriously can't pick just one thing. I love that it can be made in my oven at home or in mom's dutch oven when we visit them at camp. I love that it is a snap to throw together. I love that it is made with things I have in my cabinets. I love that it is amazingly delicious! Can you tell I love this cobbler or that I have a teeny bit of a sweet tooth? ;)


This is just a small sampling of all the yummy goodness in Grilling and Campfires Cooking! I look forward making many, many, many more of these recipes!

And thanks to the generous people at Gooseberry Patch you can win a free copy right here! To enter just comment below which recipe would be your favorite. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

The winner will be picked on May 16th! Good luck!
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