Simple Savvy Homestead Meal Planner Giveaway

Gluten Free, Family, Planning, Menu, Food, Free 

I love organization and if there is one thing I can say going from a family of three to six in 7 short years- it certainly stretches your skills a bit. One place my organization skills have repeatedly been tested- is in the kitchen.

Dinners used to be easy when it was just my husband and I. There weren’t any food allergies, intolerance’s, and sensitivities to worry about. There weren’t any picky eaters- and, well it was just plain simple. 
Here’s the thing- I don’t have tons of time to spend in the kitchen cooking up elaborate meals. I bet you don’t either. I don’t have a money tree growing in my back yard-therefore, I need to budget, save where I can, and plan accordingly in order to make the best use of my time. 
I created the Simple Savvy Homestead Meal Planner to fulfill a need of my own- but, in the months it took me to create the planning kit I met more families like myself who also struggled with meal planning- I wanted to be able to help them– and, as many of you as possible. Especially since we are all looking to save a little time these days. So, here is your chance to win a free copy– 

However, if your luck is anything like mine and you never win -no need to fret I will be lowering the price to $5.00 for everyone for one week only. I truly want to help each of you live healthier lives, spend less time doing the things that take you away from your loved ones, and save money for the things you really want.
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 Simple Savvy Homestead Meal Planning Kit

Grocery Shopping Once a Month; 4 Things We Do NOT Do; and The 13 Things We DO

How My Family of 6 Grocery Shops Once a Month and You Can Too! How to Save Money and Time
Your probably wondering how a wife and mom of four young kids only shops at the grocery store once a month- seriously, who really likes going there weekly? There are several different things that we have become accustom to over the years in our home-things that have become our “newish” norm for shopping-none of which involve my going to a physical store and some are well, just flat out unconventional and I’m o.k with that.

How We Grocery Shop Once a Month and You Can Too

(in no particular order)

The 4 Things We Do Not do-

We do not coupon– I know my sister is dying as she reads this (she is a huge coupon lover). She already knows we do not coupon but here is the reason why-it takes time. Time I straight up do not have and even with all the handy coupon web-sights available today it still takes a lot. I know, I used to do it. Not only that, my family can’t eat 98% of what is being offered or we don’t use the products. I am not anti-coupon I love a good deal just as much as the next guy or gal-but, the time I was putting in hardly was worth the pay out. If I coupon it is to get free items to donate or an email caught my eye that is such a good deal I simply cannot pass it up. I advise shopping according to your needs- don’t shop just because it nearly free.

We rarely shop  at the local grocery store- I may have stepped foot in the local grocery store twice in the past 6 months-and, honestly it was probably for something my husband asked me to grab last minute. We have a Trader Joe’s not far from us and that is where I typically do our once a month grocery shopping (if we had a Whole Foods) closer to us that would be my first choice.

We do not buy tons of processed food – Honestly, I can’t even bring myself to do it. The more I educate myself the more the thought alone makes my stomach hurt. Yes, I will buy fruit snacks, chips, and an occasional box of cookies but I keep just enough on hand for emergency “snack-and-go” trips that I may not have planned accordingly for.

We do not even look at the sales ads- I used to be tempted to look at what was on sale- and, this did take some time to get used to. Very similar to the “I do not coupon” category I was like a fish swimming in the lake – all it took was a little “bait“, hook-line, and sinker- if I saw a “good” deal I might be tempted to run out and buy that particular item-and maybe a few others-or even worse, I would go buy “items X, Y, and Z” that were on sale but now I still have nothing for dinner and instead I have 12 bottles of shampoo, 4 barbecue sauces, and 6 bags of Chex-mix (which again my kids can’t eat and it is terrible for you anyways). Not to mention that I just ran my poor kids all around town, messed with our school day (yes, we homeschool), and I have wasted gas running all over.

How to Grocery Shop Once a Month, Save Time, and Save Money - How my family of 6 makes it work and you can too!

13 Things We Do 

We do budget and forgo other things to eat healthy and enjoy the conveniences at our finger tips-
I will forgo just about anything to see that my family is eating a healthy minimally processed diet. We cut our kids hair, I have been known to skip a haircut or two, we mom2mom shop for the kids clothes, I have no problems picking up a shirt at a second hand shop for myself, and point blank without our health none of those others things really matter- after all when your sick do you really care about those super cute shoes you just bought?

We do shop at warehouse stores (Costco specifically)– The warehouse stores sometimes can get a bad wrap because of the quantities you have to buy and the ever so clever marketing throughout the store. Yes, it is tempting. Yes, it takes a bit of self control. Know what you are going in for- buy it and get the heck out of there. As for the quantities we are a family of 6 so that really is not a problem, but for smaller families buying in bulk and repackaging is a great money saver. For example you may not need that big 5 lb  bag of rice all at once but by dividing it up in smaller family sized portions and then storing it in tightly fit storage containers-it is the equivalent to 5 boxes of high sodium prepackaged/boxed rice and you did a majority of your shopping in one day.

We do order food online– I am not a big online shopper and I never in a million years thought I would shop for groceries-but, it is awesome! We basically buy the same brands of products week after week and since ideally (yes, I too fall off the wagon-don’t beat yourself up-just get back up and do it again) my meal plan is set-it is seriously as easy as looking at my meal plan and clicking a button. We mostly order from Vitacost and Amazon. <—- {thanks for using our affiliate links}

We do have a weekly produce delivery service-we order from Door 2 Door Organics almost weekly. Fresh produce to our door you can’t beat it. Now, I will add the amount that we go through verses what I get in a box does not always match up-so, if the budget is tight I will resort to frozen veggies for dinners and only order fruit-or, I will make a stop on my grocery day at an area produce store. I highly recommend looking for an area produce company that delivers- or at a minimum join a CSA (we have done that too)

We do order fresh meat from a near by farm-we are spoiled. I stumbled upon an area farm that delivers to your door. The meat can be fresh or frozen upon arrival. I can call them anytime and verify ingredients. The animals are humanely raised and grass-fed. The prices keep increasing but aren’t they everywhere? I can not emphasize enough how important this farm is to my family- it really is the second best thing to owning my own farm. If you don’t have an area farm that delivers- I would encourage you to call around to area farms and order (whole, half, and quarter animals-stored in the freezer you are set for the year) Yes, we have also done that. We ordered a 1/4 cow for years and even 1/4 pig.

We do shop at farmers markets- there really is nothing like going to a little stand to get your produce. I love it. Meeting the farmers and discussing their practices-it truly is a humbling experience–they are such hard workers. These stands are not always organic but they are certainly fresh and cost much less than your produce at the grocery store-not to mention the 100’s of miles your produce has just endured to get to your table when not purchased locally.

We do buy mostly gluten-free – I do not make separate meals. We do not all require a gluten-free diet but cooking separate meals is a lot of work. I no longer buy regular pasta, rarely buy potatoes, and our snacks are pretty limited too-as my ears can not endure the endless amount of whining that will occur from those children that can’t have “_______” food.

We do buy organic whenever possible- I know that there has been some controversy over the years as to whether organic is necessarily better- my personal opinion is; yes it is. We have done “experiments” on some of our produce at home over the years- food should not rot on the inside and look perfectly fine on the outside- the chemically laden produce has a finely coated outer shell giving it a “fresh” appearance. Now, I will add buying solely organic for a family of six is quite costly so I am selective – typically I will used the “dirty dozen” and the “clean 15” as my guide. If I can financially buy more in a given month then I will.

We do grow a garden- Growing a garden is not only friendly on the bank account but it is very rewarding. Plant a variety of foods- including those that freeze well; green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, lettuce, kale, peppers, and tomatoes. Pick your produce at its optimal ripeness or blanch and freeze for later use. Check out my “totally diggingit” board on Pinterest

We do can – One of the things I was determined to learn how to do was can-and guess what? It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. The initial investment of the jars, lids, and canning tools was a bit pricey but by the 2nd year canning the investment is well worth it. I especially like making my own jam. There is no guessing what ingredients might have been added to our food- I know where it came from and exactly how it was preserved. Check out my “because we can” board on Pinterest.

We do cook/bake in bulk and freeze- I wish I did this more- but, there are certain foods you will likely always find in our freezer. My typical stock up foods are; broths, sauces, muffins, cookies, meatballs, pancakes, and waffles.

We do plan – Whether it is weekly, monthly, or every six months…having a plan can save a lot of money and a lot of headaches! See why meal planning needs to only be done twice a year

We do have ample amount of freezer space -We have 3 fridge/freezer combinations, one full stand up freezer, and one pantry. We do not always store food in the outside fridge/freezer as it is used more for drinks- but, the others are all quite full.

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5 Tips, 70 Meals, 10 Weeks, 1 Year of Meal Plans

Menu Planning, Food, allergies, gluten-free, No gluten, Healthy Living

Mealplanning is one of those things where there is no right or wrong way – as long as you have a system that works for you. There are those who plan daily, weekly and monthly—and then there are those like myself that prefer to do it twice a year and never think about it again. Don’t get me wrong I love to cook and create in the kitchen but in this age of Pinterest and millions of cookbook publishers, all that information just makes my brain hurt.
5 Steps to Meal Planning Twice a Year 
(This post may contain affiliate links under no circumstances are you obligated to purchase from these links-I only recommend brands and company’s we personally use and love- but, if you should decide to make a purchase we do “thank you” as the profits do help support this blog)
Keep it simple – we tend to make everything these days too complicated, from the plethora of after school activities we have our kids in – to the fancy Pinterest like meals we try to mirror. I recently heard someone say (and if I could remember who…I’d give them credit); “Things were simpler back in the day – we knew who the “Joneses” were but it wasn’t thrown in our face 24/7″. We have all become the “Joneses” in a sense – we share what we eat, what we wear, where we have gone or where we are going. We are a share it all society. Well, I’m here to tell you – be you, be awesome – and the kitchen is one of those places it doesn’t need to be complicated, so don’t make it be. Keep it simple and ignore the noise that circles around you.
Color Matters – did you know that you are more likely to eat less of something if the contrast between your food and the plate it is served on is greater. For example; you will eat less pasta with red sauce if it is served on a white plate than if it were served on a red plate. Serve your food on a white plate and make it look like a rainbow. Your brain and waistline will thank you.
Choose a variety of foods – for a well-balanced diet. Not all foods are equally nutritious – ask yourself how many humans have interfered with the processing of “____” food before you are eating it? If it is heavily processed you should move on. There is a time and place for unhealthy foods in moderation (birthdays, holidays and special occasions) and there will always be exceptions to every rule, but overall your basic meal plan should contain mostly label free foods.
Lists just make sense to me – I am a list maker at heart and seriously make lists for everything. You will notice in the meal plan below there is no fancy calendar with foods all filled in – there is a reason for that – it doesn’t work for me and I venture to say it doesn’t work for you either. We all have busy lives and printing someone else’s food calendar just doesn’t even make sense to me. That fancy meal they have chosen to eat on Wednesday which very well might be my busiest day of the week simply will not work. I needed a different system and this is what I came up with….
Plan it once and repeat there are 365 days in the year, right? This my friends, is the way that meal planning makes the most sense to me. Plan 300 days’ worth of meals leaving 65* “floater” days so to speak for left over days, birthdays, holidays and eating out (don’t feel overwhelmed – trust me!) divide 300 by 4 (see your number is getting smaller–you are now looking at 75 Spring/Summer meals and 75 Fall/Winter meals). Since 75 does not go into 7 days a week equally, I personally like to do a 70 Day/10 week plan. You will now proceed to “plan” 70 days’ worth of meals (or 10 Weeks) Or just let me do it for you... (*so yes, you now have 85 “floater” days but between vacations, holidays, birthdays, family gatherings, and special circumstances a majority of your meals will still be accounted for-that really only leaves approximately 1 meal a week unaccounted for)
Here is a free Spring/Summer 14 day meal plan to get you started–still hungry for more?
Let’s take the guess work out of “what are we eating” and put the entire meal planning menu system to work for you. (Coming Soon) You can use my prepared 10 weeks of meal plans and simply fill in your own week at a glance sheet, make allergy adjustments to fit your families’ needs, and fill in the grocery shopping list with the items your missing in the pantry. There is no more staring at grocery isles wasting time, no more pre-scheduled calendars that need to be completely altered, the entire meal planning system is based on you and your families’ specific, unique life situation. 
Breakfast; Week 1
·   Muffins and smoothie
·   Yogurt and mixed fruit
·   Pancakes
·   French Toast
·   Oatmeal
·   Scrambles Eggs and Toast
·   Waffles with Mixed Berry Sauce
Lunch; Week 1
·   Chicken nuggets, fruit and nuts
·   PB, honey, and banana sandwiches, apple and pretzels
·   Chicken salad, crackers and melon
·   Salmon salad on a cucumber, apples or pear sauce and popcorn
·   Guacamole, carrots, cucumbers, mixed fruit and a muffin
·   Egg salad, sweet potato chips and veggies
·   Taco lettuce roll-ups, mango salsa and corn chips
Dinner; Week 1
·   Crockpot chicken, veggie and salad
·   Grilled Salmon, broccoli salad, sweet potatoes
·   Turkeyor Beef Tacos, rice and beans
·   Grilled pork tenderloin, zucchini, yellow, cherry tomato kabobs, quinoa
·   Stuffed zucchini pizzas, mixed green salad
·   Chicken/beef kabobs (peppers, tomato, zucchini/yellow squash), served over rice
·   Spaghetti with meat balls (tomatoless sauce optional), mixed green salad
Snacks; Week 1
·   Popcorn
·   Apples and sunbutter/almond butter
·   Baby carrots and dip
·   Peanut butter brownie puppy chow
·   Mixed nuts and fruit
·   Granola and (milk or Greek yogurt)
Breakfast; Week 2
·   Eggs muffins and sausage
·   Granola/cereal (with milk or Greek yogurt), and mixed fruit
·   Mixed berry crepes and powder sugar
·   French toast sticks and bacon
·   Overnight oatmeal
·   Breakfast burrito and an apple
Lunch; Week 2
·   Hummus, veggie sticks (peppers, carrots, celery, and radishes),melon and muffin
·   Cucumber/tomato kabobs, apple or pear w/sun-butter dip, mixed nuts and craisins
·   Hard-boiled egg, tomato/olive kabob, nut-thins and orange
·   Almonds/Cashews, blueberries/strawberries, oven roasted turkey on a cucumber “bun”
·   PBJ rice cakes, banana, carrot/celery sticks
·   Zucchini bread, oven chicken and mixed berries
Dinner; Week 2
·   Turkeymeatloaf, sweet potato casserole and oven baked broccoli
·   Grilled chicken tender salad w/orange poppy seed dressing (kids; chicken, cut veggies and dressing for “dip”
·   Beef fajitas, rice and beans (use the grain free tortillas or we love these too)
·   Quinoa stuffed peppers
·   Rosemary/lemon oven baked shrimp, summer squash fries, rice, and mixed green salad
·   Pesto chicken pasta salad, cherry tomatoes, and lemon/garlic asparagus
Snacks; Week 2
·   Grape kabobs and raw cheddar slice
·   applesauceand granola (try the homestead applesauce in one of these fun reusable pouches-your kids will love it)
·   Ice cube snack buffet (carrots, strawberry, raisins, blueberries, almonds, and sunflower seeds)
·   Frozen yogurt squeezes
·   No bake energy snack balls
·   Hard boiled egg and kale chips
·   Banana, marshmallows, and chocolate chips (great on the grill)