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)
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)
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

Meal 7: (Dinner 4-6 servings)
Slow Cooker Steak with Gravy
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!


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


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!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

1 +1 = 4

We have a bit of an announcement around here...

So in our house, 1 + 1  will equal 4 come October!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Affording Food: For My Family

(Catch up from the beginning here: Affording Food: Growing Up and Affording Food: On My Own)

So we are now up to my life now. I have a husband and child that I need to feed nutritious and flavorful food to on a daily basis (for some reason they won't let me only feed them once or twice a week...so demanding!).

I have to admit that it took a while to figure it out and find what works for us. Now that we have worked on it, things run pretty smoothly around here. I am guessing that we will keep tweaking our plan of action, but this works for us pretty good.

So what is it that we do?

I told you about our great find on a bunch of packs of chicken and some packs of ribs, but unfortunately we can't rely on that happening every few months. So we do a bit of a backwards meal plan.

I have a bunch of Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and some favorite food blogs that are great resources. So when we stop by the store, we look for a Manager's Special sticker and buy the best deal or deals. Then I come home and find a recipe that will go with whatever meat it is we have found for the week. For example, our latest random find was a 2.39 lb Angus roast that was marked down from $7.15 to $2.99! I found this great recipe from Goodeness Gracious.  This one piece of meat has fed us THREE times and we still have enough left for another lunch. That is less than 50 cents per serving of some amazingly yummy roast!

Another essential part of our affordable eating is that we do 99% of our shopping at Ruler Foods. Right across the street is Jay-C, and both stores have Kroger brand items. We have a good laugh when we get the Jay-C ad for the week and see the "sale" price across the street is more expensive than what we pay everyday at Ruler!

We have also learned what Kroger brands we love (sometimes even better than the major name brand) and what name brands Ruler usually carries. There are times that we only pay a third of what we would pay for name brand and have just as good of food with our generic. The name brands that Ruler has are always priced cheaper than we can find them anywhere else. For example, name brand strawberries. The exact same brand was available at both stores. Ruler had them for 99 cents on the same day they were $2.59 across the street! I don't know how they do it, but I am sure glad they do! I would love to know an exact number we have saved over the years by shopping there. It is unreal.

There are some things that we prefer name brand that are not available at our beloved store and the cheapest place to buy them isn't always in our town (welcome to a small town...a small price to pay for this life I love!). So we just have to plan ahead to stop and get these items when we are in the town that has the store that carries them for the lowest price.

By doing this, we are always under budget each week for our food, and I seriously can't remember the last time we had a meal that was more than $5 per serving!

Disclaimer: I received a promotional item from Indiana Family of Farmers, but (as always) thoughts, opinions and stories are all my own!
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