Real Food I Consistently Buy at Walmart

I’m writing a small series of posts to share what groceries I purchase from each of my favorite stores – either online, co-op, or from brick and mortar grocery stores. I recently shared about the groceries I buy from Aldi and groceries I order from Amazon. Today I’ll tell you about the real food groceries I often buy at Walmart!

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I know many people strongly dislike shopping at Walmart. But for me, it is one of two options in my small town. I have the choice of shopping at our one local grocery store (which is quite a bit more expensive and does not always have great quality produce) or Walmart. The produce selection at our Walmart is usually pretty good, plus I can price-match great deals from stores an hour away like Aldi and Fresh Thyme Market.

So Walmart it is, almost every week. Typically I’ve found the quality of their produce to be very good! And they even carry several organic options.

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Walmart

What do I buy at Wal-Mart?

A cart full, you can bet on it. :)

groceries june 17

~ Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

I look at Pricematcherz.com each week and take advantage of all the deals from stores in Lincoln. I get amazing deals on fresh produce this way, and I am so thankful for this!

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~ Frozen Veggies as Needed

Typically I buy frozen veggies from Azure Standard. But since that order only comes once each month, I buy (non-organic) from Walmart in the meantime to fill in gaps.

~ Chicken

Our Wal-mart carries a “natural” brand of chicken at a very reasonable price. I often find it marked down and buy every bit of it when it’s available at the discount. But even if it isn’t discounted, the price is still good. I can get whole chickens as well as boneless thighs and breasts. Boneless thighs are my absolute favorite!

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~ Cream and Half-and-Half

No it’s not organic. Yes we go through a lot of it.

~ Colby Jack Cheese

Our Walmart has Joseph Farms brand that is a great price and made from cows that are not given hormones. I usually buy 2-3 of these four-pound hunks of cheese each month. We shred it all in our food processor and keep it in these bowls with lids to pull out and use as needed.

~ Day-Old Bread on the Mark-Down Cart

I always check this cart to see if their French or Italian bread is available for $0.53. If so, I grab a few loaves so my boys can make Pizza Boats for a quick lunch or so we’ll have it on hand to serve guests. No it’s not very nutritious. But it makes a nice side for an otherwise nutritious meal, and our guests enjoy it slathered in butter!

~ Hormel Naturals Lunch Meat

If we need sandwiches to take on the road for soccer or basketball games, I grab a couple family packs of these.

~ Nitrite Free Hot Dogs

They recently came out with a Walmart brand of hotdogs that I would consider “better for you” and their price is better too. I like to have these on hand for Beanie Weanies once in a while. :)

~ Organic Mixed Greens and Fresh Spinach

The prices on these are great, and actually cheaper than the conventional options! I love how simple these make my life!

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Are you a Walmart shopper? Does your Walmart still offer Price Matching? What do you frequently buy at Walmart?

Chocolate Milk on my Grocery List (In Your Dreams, Kid.)

My 15-year old is quiet. Very, very quiet. But his sense of humor comes out in many ways every day, probably made extra funny because he sits so quietly, then suddenly opens his mouth with something so unexpected that catches us all off guard.

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I laugh out loud frequently at this kid. At all my kids. I mean with them. Not at them. Well, both. What can I say?

Here’s one of Elias’ favorite quiet funny tricks, and you would think it would cease to be funny after so many grocery lists, but nope. I LOL every time, mostly because I don’t know how it is that he manages to sneak his pen to my paper before I head to the grocery store. Every. Single. Time.

I prepare my Walmart list by looking at Pricematerz.com to see what great deals I can get this week. I scratch down everything I want to look at, add anything extra we’re out of, and let the boys know I’ll be heading out.

I get to the store, start to make my way through the list, and there it is. Every time, that kid has added: Chocolate Milk.

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It’s like I take a little piece of him with me every time I grocery shop.

I mean, it never hurts to ask, right? The power of suggestion is huge. But it sure is too bad that I NEVER, EVER GIVE IN. Not once have I put the jug of chocolate milk into my cart.

I get home from the store, the boys all unload the van, and without fail I hear, “Oops, Mom. Looks like you forgot the chocolate milk again.”

Yep, sure did.

Ahh, my Elias.

Never mind the fact that I can make him homemade chocolate milk. He claims that he doesn’t like it, because sure, if you’ve had the store-bought syrupy version, a less-sweet version may not cut it when you’re 15.

A Happy Chocolate Milk Solution

We just discovered a win-win. The Javita Dollar Coffee Club we started a few months ago, which offers healthy herb-infused coffee, tea, and flavored water just reintroduced their Focus Fusion Cocoa. So in honor of Elias (and everyone else in my family who loves chocolate, which is everyone else), I added some to our AutoShip order. “Maybe,” I thought, “Maybe this will do the trick for everyone’s chocolate milk cravings.”

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It does. I win. Chocolate Milk has ceased to make its way onto my grocery list, but something else has replaced it because the cleverness of my children didn’t go away when Javita hit our home. Details below.

Confession: I am a tiny bit disappointed with the ingredients listed in the Javita Cocoa Fusion. I feel 100% good about every other Javita drink, from the coffee to the tea to the strawberry lemonade “Flex” to the very berry “Defend.” They include even-better-than-organic ingredients, and are full of wonderful, healing herbs that offer many health benefits.

The Cocoa Fusion also has healing herbs and offers health benefits. It just also happens to have sugar. So boo for that. But hey, this means my kid will drink it. And so…

I’ve decided that the Cocoa Fusion will be a compromise drink that we’ll enjoy sometimes (but not as freely as I let my family enjoy all the other Javita drinks). It’s many times better for us than any store-bought hot chocolate or chocolate milk. It contains wonderful herbs that are fabulous for concentration, memory, brain health, thinking skills, and focus.

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It tastes good hot or cold, and all of my sons love it.

So while I’ll continue to give big shout outs to the health benefits of the Javita coffee, tea, and flavored waters, and wholeheartedly endorse them with no reservation – I’ll give a “better than” wink to their cocoa. Add it to your monthly auto-ship for a fun treat that will also provide health benefits and a brain boost.

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So now that we’ve got the chocolate milk situation figured out at our house, Elias no longer needs to sneak the words “chocolate milk” onto my grocery list.

Never fear though. Now’s he’s started writing in “Ice Cream.”

Good try, Kid. Good try.

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How to join our Javita Dollar Coffee Club

Want to give these great drinks a try? The least expensive option is to purchase with Auto-Delivery so that you only have to pay a dollar per drink. Each month after that you can adjust, add, subtract drink options at any time before your next delivery.

  1. Click here, then on “Experience the Products.”
  2. You can look through the various drinks and check out each of their ingredients, then click on “Order Now.”
  3. Select the country where you life (United States is at the top left).
  4. Click on “Build Your Own” to select any of the products you are interested in for your family. (If you order 2-5 boxes, shipping is free!)
  5. Once you’ve added your selections to the cart, proceed with the check-out process.
  6. Again, each month you can make adjustments to your auto-delivery to fit your family’s needs!

P.S. Read here to learn 6 Unexpected Blessings I’ve Experienced Thanks to Javita Drinks.

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars – From Freezer to Oven!

Well, here we are. The school year is in full swing. Fall soccer season is knocking our (smelly) socks off. I have completely forgotten which way is up.

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I already lost track of which way is south because when people give me directions they are not allowed to use ridiculous phrases like, “Turn east and you’ll see our house on the north corner.” What kind of foreign language are they even speaking? When giving me directions, people may only use phrases like, “turn right” or “turn left” or better yet “turn toward the sign with the monkey.”

In summary, September is always a very busy month for our family, and I am extremely directionally challenged. However, as long as I do everything I can to keep our food simple, I handle myself okay in the kitchen (which, as it turns out, is located in the northeast corner of our house).

Stashing prepared food in our freezer (found when you take a south at the stove and head due west toward the toaster) is only helpful if said prepared food doesn’t get lost in the back and freezer burned. I’ve discovered a couple of tricks during the past couple of years that make freezer cooking much better for our family, and my favorite is this:

Stir together breakfast baked goods, but freeze them before baking. Pull out desired amount of said frozen goods and bake them fresh on the morning you plan to serve them.

When doing this, I get baking messes out of the way so I don’t have to measure and mix on busy school mornings. But we can still eat the goodies fresh out of the oven.

Breakfast Cookies for the Freezer

Take, for instance, my “famous” Giant Breakfast Cookies. I mix up a double batch (because why make one batch when you can make two?). I scoop the dough onto cookie sheets and freeze the cookie dough balls. Each morning when we want hot, fresh Breakfast Cookies, I simply pull out some frozen cookie dough balls and bake them while I scramble eggs and slice strawberries. We all eat a fabulous breakfast and I’ve hardly worked at all.

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I do the same with muffin batter, freezing it in muffin cups, unbaked, and pulling them out to bake as needed. Homemade Poptarts are perfect frozen unbaked as well.

The Easiest Way to Make Muffins

This is all wonderful, seeing as I must use all my energy after breakfast to try and understand what my phone means when it tells me to “head north toward Highway 2″ as I’m trying to locate a soccer field in another city. For the love of my brain cells, JUST TELL ME TO GO STRAIGHT OR TURN RIGHT. Well, anyway…

My most recent “Mix and Freeze” breakfast food discovery is this: I can mix up big batches of these Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars, freeze them unbaked, then pull out squares and bake them as needed.

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See? I line my 8×8 inch pans with parchment paper, press in the dough, and freeze. I even freeze it in layers (though learned the hard way that it is important to keep parchment paper between the layers). Once frozen, I transfer the unbaked dough to gallon-sized freezer bags. If I think about it the night before, I’ll pull out a square to thaw in the fridge so I can bake it the next day. Otherwise, I simply pull out a frozen square in the morning, put it into a pan and bake it with a few minutes of extra baking time.

Where has this tip been my whole life? (Probably hiding somewhere between the east and the west, but of course, I could never find it.)

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars - From Freezer to Oven!
 
Author:
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • ¾ cup sucanat or ½ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Stir together melted butter and sucanat.
  2. Add eggs, baking soda, salt, and vanilla, mixing well.
  3. Stir in oats and flour until well combined.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread mixture in a 9×13 inch baking dish (or two 8x8 inch baking dishes).
  6. Bake in a 350° oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  7. To Freeze Dough: Line 8x8 inch pans with parchment paper, press in the dough, and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the unbaked dough to freezer bags. Thaw dough squares in the fridge overnight to bake the next day. Or pull out a frozen square in the morning, put it into a pan and bake it with a few minutes of extra baking time.

Make-Ahead Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars

I highly recommend making and freezing bacon ahead so that within thirty seconds, you can serve hot, sizzly bacon with these bars. Any fruit will go with these as well, and with that, breakfast is served.

May your mornings be pleasant, may your breakfast be tasty, and may you never tell me to head south on 6th street.

Real Food Groceries I Often Order from Amazon

I’m writing a small series of posts to share what groceries I purchase from each of my favorite stores – either online, co-op, or from brick and mortar grocery stores. Last week I shared about the groceries I buy from Aldi. Today I’ll tell you about the real food groceries I often order from Amazon!

Real Food Groceries I Buy From Amazon

Amazon is one of my favorite online stores for finding good deals on bulk groceries! I especially like to take advantage of Subscribe & Save deals paired with coupons. That’s where the real savings happens!

You can read more here about how I get the best deals at Amazon with Subscribe& Save. Also, you can bookmark our Amazon Deals page which we update regularly with all of the real food grocery deals we find at Amazon!

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The grocery items I buy from Amazon fluctuate depending on the prices and our family’s needs. But here are the foods I often check at Amazon first when looking for grocery deals online:

Real Food Groceries I Often Buy From Amazon

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  • Izze – This is a special treat at our house, and one that I only buy when there is an Amazon Coupon that I can use with Subscribe & Save. I try to only buy them when an individual Izze breaks down to $0.50 or less.
  • Delallo Whole Wheat Pasta – This is our favorite brand of organic, whole wheat pasta and I buy them by the case with Subscribe & Save. There are many varieties of shapes, though for some reason this one is our favorite! I always get their spaghetti noodles, lasagna noodles, and elbows too!

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Awww, here’s Malachi a few years ago hanging out on the porch with our big Subscribe & Save order!

  • Bearitos Organic Tortilla Chips – We love the texture and taste of these! They go on sale often so I get them when they are less than $3.00/bag.
  • Individual Nut Pouches – Often Planters offers a coupon I can pair with Subscribe & Save, so I get them to use as snacks when we’re on the road for soccer and basketball.
  • Muir Glen Products – I watch for coupons to pair with Subscribe & Save on these tomato products, specifically their ketchup and pizza sauce.
  • Stubbs BBQ Sauce – I recently discovered that this brand includes all real food ingredients and Amazon carries it for a good price (usually!).

Again, sometimes I buy other food items when I come across a good deal and need it for our family!

Do you buy groceries from Amazon? What items do you often buy?

Some of these links are my affiliate links.

Food I Keep in My Fridge and Freezer to Make the School Year Easier

Simple as some of the items on the following lists are, I thought it was worth sharing the basic food I keep in my fridge and freezer to make the school year easier.

Food I Keep in my Fridge and Freezer to Make Meals During the School Year Easier

Some of these require work (as in, I actually have to mix something or cook something). But many of these only require that I purchase them and sock them away to use as needed. Either way, having these foods ready to grab at all times (if possible!) means I can relax more when feeding my family during busy school days.

If you haven’t already downloaded our free Master Lunch, Breakfast, and Snack Ideas and Recipes Lists, go grab those here. Those lists are helping keep my planning to a minimum!

Master List of 100 Simple Snack Ideas

And now, the big list of food I like to keep on hand to make many of those lunches, breakfasts, and snacks!

Food/Ingredients I Keep in my Freezer

Freshly Ground Flour

Here you’ll find all the posts I’ve ever written about grinding grain in a mill. I’ve been grinding all of our flour for almost 12 years now! It’s easy, saves money, and doing this makes our baked goods taste so much better. It’s also great for our health!

If possible, I try to keep a bucket of ground Hard White Wheat (for yeast recipes) and a bucket of Soft White Wheat (for non-yeast muffins and pastries) in my freezer so I can grab it out and bake as needed!

Pastry Flour 3

Pizza Crust

I’ve recently mentioned that I’ve been buying some premade crusts from Azure Standard to keep in the freezer for quick pizza meals. My Homemade Pizza Crust is also freezable. And if you want, you can even make your own Frozen Pizza!

Make Your Own Frozen Pizza

Frozen Cookie Dough 

My boys would say that having cookie dough in the freezer is a necessity for a happy school year. I say this is great to have on hand when people come over last minute so we can bake cookies without making a big mess. Sometimes we mix up cookie dough, roll it into a tube with parchment paper and freeze it until we need it. More often, we scoop the dough onto a baking sheet and freeze the dough balls to make very quick cookies!

How to Make Refrigerator Cookie Dough

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Breakfast Cookie Dough Balls

Along the same lines as the cookies I just mentioned, having these Giant Breakfast Cookie Balls in the freezer ready to pull out and bake in the morning is a huge time saver! I used to bake a double batch and freeze them as a ready-to-eat breakfast. But we’ve since learned that it’s fun to pull out a few frozen dough balls and bake them fresh as needed. It doesn’t get much better than a fresh-from-the-oven Breakfast Cookie with coffee in the morning!

Breakfast Cookies for the Freezer

Cooked Bacon

Pre-cooking bacon to store in the freezer has been awesome! I pull out a few slices to cook for each person a couple times a week, and I can have it on the table in about thirty seconds. I love this time-saving method!

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Hashbrowns

If I have time, the boys and I make hashbrowns to keep in the freezer. This task hasn’t been making it onto our to-do list lately though, so I was glad to find the Mr. Dell’s brand of frozen hashbrowns at our local Walmart, which contains one ingredient: Potatoes. I love having these in the freezer so I can throw together Egg and Cheese Hashbrown Waffles, Bacon Ranch Hashbrown Casserole, and Simple Hashbrown Casserole. Oh yeah. And hashbrowns. :)

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Ground Beef

I feel like as long as we have hamburger meat in the freezer, we will never go hungry. There are so many meals a person can make with ground beef! And now that I’ve learned how to cook frozen hamburger in bulk in my Instant Pot, life just got even easier! :)

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Boneless Chicken Thighs

Almost as versatile as hamburger meat is boneless chicken pieces! I have learned to love boneless thighs much more than boneless breasts, and as it turns out, thighs always cost less per pound! I watch for the natural brand at my store to be marked down, buy all I can, and throw them into my freezer to use in all our Simple Recipes!

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Homemade Poptarts

No one will starve if we don’t have poptarts in our freezer, but these sure do make a fantastic and fun breakfast. My favorite way to make these is to put together a double batch but leave them unbaked in the freezer. Then I pull them out and bake just a few at a time so we can eat them hot. They are the best! I made a bunch of these before school started this year, and they’ve made mornings just a little bit simpler. :)

homemade-poptarts-for-the-freezer

Muffin Batter

This little tip is fantastic to fill your mornings with freshly baked muffins without having to get out a mixing bowl. I love having several different kinds of muffin batter in my freezer, pulling out a few of each, and baking up an assortment without going to any trouble!

Freeze Your Muffin Batter 3

Frozen Veggies

I have big bag of frozen peas and frozen green beans in my freezer at all times. This way, even if I haven’t made it to the store to restock our fresh veggies, we always have something green to serve with our meals. These steam up quickly, and I always add a good fat to them, which makes them healthier and tastier!

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Frozen Fruit

If I have peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and/or pineapple in the freezer, I can make smoothies, slushies, or fruit cobblers very quickly. Typically I stock up on these during the summer because they are less expensive when then are in season. I don’t always buy them pre-frozen. I often buy them fresh and freeze them myself if they are a better price this way!

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Butter

But, of course. For all of the delicious, buttery reasons, I keep butter in my freezer at all times. Beef and butter, beef and butter…

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Food I Keep in my Fridge

Shredded Cheese

I buy 4-pound chunks of Colby jack cheese, and sometimes mozzarella too. I have my boys shred it by running it through our food processor, which makes the job super fast! We store the shredded cheese in pyrex bowls with lids in our fridge and pull it out to use in any casserole, quesadilla, taco, scrambled egg, or anything else which calls for shredded cheese. This is, for sure, a refrigerator staple.

grating cheese2

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Mixed Greens

I buy a one-pound tub of these mixed greens every week so we can always have salads without any effort! Bonus: At our local Walmart, the organic greens are less expensive than the conventional!

mixed greens

Peanut Butter

I buy 5-pound bags of peanuts from Azure Standard every month and make the entire bag into about 6 pint-sized jars of peanut butter. I figure I might as well make one mess to produce 6 jars of peanut butter to have on hand, instead of making only one or two jars at a time every single week. We go through all 6 jars in a month. This homemade peanut butter is super delicious!

Super Creamy Peanut Butter

Cookie Bites

Having these No-Bake Cookie Bites, in one form or the other, in the fridge is great when any of us need a quick snack with protein and fiber. These are super low in sugar and naturally grain free. Yum, they taste good!

No-Bake Cookie Bites - Easy Recipes!

Fat Bombs

Just like the Cookie Bites, these Fat Bombs provide us with energy from good protein and fat. My husband and I like the Stevia Sweetened Fat Bombs. Our kids prefer the Honey Sweetened Fat Bombs.

fat-bombs-easy-and-delicious

Ranch Dressing

I always have a quart of Homemade Ranch Dressing in the fridge. It’s is our favorite dressing, it is easy to make, and we eat salads almost every day!

Ranch Dressing and Dip Mix

Cold Water for Javita Drinks

We almost always drink Javita coffee and tea hot, but for all of the others, I like to keep a jar of water in the fridge so that at any time, we can mix up whichever drink we need. The boys make a Rush drink for themselves before a workout. Matt drinks Flex before a hard day’s work to help with shoulder pain. All the boys and I drink Defend for an immune system boost. I drink Fiber every day to help with digestion, and surprisingly, it has helped keep me from needing to eat so often!

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Eggs

I cringe a little if we start getting low on eggs! We go through several dozen each week when we scramble or fry them for breakfast, and when we are baking. Of course, now that I have an Instant Pot, I’ve been boiling them quickly too.

eggs

Butter

Oh wait. Did I already mention butter in the freezer section of this post? Well, can I help it that I always have a nice supply in both my freezer and my fridge? This ingredient is very necessary. Very. :)

butter

What are your fridge and freezer staples?

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Aldi

I am often asked what groceries I buy and where I buy them. Obviously we do not all have the same grocery store options because we all live on different parts of the globe! (And how fun is it that we all connect here in one community!)

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I decided to write a small series of posts to share what groceries I purchase from each of my favorite stores – either online, co-op, or from an brick and mortar grocery store where I actually have to wear clothes and shoes to do my shopping. Not that I shop online without clothes on. I think that might have come out wrong. Well, anyway…

First stop: Aldi

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Aldi

We live just over an hour away from the nearest Aldi. It doesn’t make sense for me to drive there often, even though I love many of the groceries they offer! I make it there only once every three months now, and as you can imagine, I stock up on my favorites while I’m there!

groceries feb 172

I’ve definitely found that not all of the food Aldi offers is of the highest quality. But they do carry many real food items that I trust, so I skip their processed junk food aisles and grab their good food options for great prices!

Real Food Groceries I Buy At Aldi

  • Simply Nature Organic Salsa – We go through loads of salsa at our house!
  • Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies (knock off) – So I can always and forever make this Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel Dip. :)
  • Simply Nature Organic Black Beans
  • Simply Nature Pasta Sauce
  • 100% Grass Fed Beef – We buy a half-cow every year from local farming friends. But we go through a lot of ground beef at our house so I buy hamburger at Aldi whenever I’m there. It costs about $5.65 per pound which is a great price for the quality!
  • Cream Cheese – They carry this for the best price I’ve seen consistently (only $0.79 each!!), but unfortunately they don’t always have it in stock!
  • Butter – Usually this is priced at $2.50 or less per pound, which is much cheaper than my local options.
  • Brown Sugar – I keep brown sugar on hand at home for baking (since it’s cheaper than sucanat and as far as our bodies are concerned, sugar is sugar!). Aldi almost always has the lowest price.

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Aldi…sometimes

  • Produce – Often the Aldi closest to me doesn’t have great quality produce. They have great prices on produce, though, so usually I use their prices to price-match at my local Wal-mart.
  • 100% Whole Wheat Bread – It’s not full of the greatest ingredients, but I do like having a few loaves stashed in my freezer for busy travel days.
  • 100% Fruit Pouches – My boys like their fruit squeeze pouches, which tend to be a little bit less expensive at Aldi most of the time. Sometimes I’ll grab a few boxes while I’m there so we can take them to soccer or basketball games.
  • Sliced Cheese – I often check the quality and price on Colby jack and pepper jack slices if we need them for sandwiches on the road or grilled cheese at home.
  • Lunch Meat or Hot Dogs – Sometimes they have a “Never Any” brand or a nitrite-free hotdog that I’ll take advantage of while I’m there. I’m not a huge fan of these as the quality is still kind of so-so, but if we need them and I want to avoid an additional trip to another store on my way home, I get these.
  • A special treat to take home to the kids – Sometimes I’ll grab a pouch of granola or something else that I know my boys will like. I’ve discovered that my kids are not too old to become excited when Mom gets home from the store!

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Aldi

Do you shop at Aldi? What groceries do you frequently buy there?

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Psst!

Lilla Rose is having a wonderful Fall Sale, this FridaySunday! 40% off retiring styles, and 10-20% off select styles! Check out the gorgeous leaf-themed Flexi, U-Pins, bobbies, and hair sticks for September, “Maple!”
This sale can also be combined with the monthly special of a free large shaped U-Pin with any $50 purchase! Sale starts Friday, Sept. 1 at 7 AM Pacific time, and ends at midnightSunday, Sept. 3.
Sept Sale 2017

Master List of Simple Lunch Box Ideas

Here it is! The Master List of Simple Lunch Box Ideas!

I know many of you send lunches with your kids for school and/or pack lunches for yourself or your spouse for work. Here’s hoping this list offers you some fun variety and nourishment that goes far beyond a sandwich! :)

todays lunch

Hopefully you already grabbed the Master Lists of Simple Lunch, Breakfast, and Snack Ideas. I’m covering my fridge with these lists to make our transition from summer break to a school schedule a little bit easier. If you haven’t already, be sure to download all these handy lists here!

Now for today’s list:

The Master List of Simple Lunch Box Ideas

Simple Lunch Box Ideas

Your Real Food Master Simple Lunch Box Ideas List

You can download this entire list here. But I’ll share it all on this post for reference also. I also recommend that you pin it so you can find it quickly as needed!

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Meaty Recipes for your Lunchbox

If at home, we eat many of these hot. But in a packed lunch, we don’t mind eating them cold!

Food You Can Heat and Pack in a Thermos

LgTHermos

NOTE: Here’s a fantastic thermos option that comes in all kinds of fun varieties and patterns. It’s stainless steel inside and out. It keeps cold food cold for 7 hours and hot food hot for 5 hours! Check out your options here. 

Hearty Dips for Chips

wide mouth jars

Pack these dips in small wide-mouth jars with a bag of tortilla chips to go with them!

Hearty Salads

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Fun Ideas to Add to Your Lunchbox

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Now let’s look at good fruit and veggie add-ons.  I listed apples and carrots first, because those are a given.  But wait till you see all the other fun options to give your lunch box some life!

COntainers

  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Clementines
  • Oranges
  • Applesauce
  • Peach Cups (100% juice)
  • Grapes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Side Salad
  • Blueberries
  • Sliced Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Pears

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Psssst! I LOVE silicone cups like this to make Fat Bombs  and Muffins. But how about also using them in lunchboxes to separate food items from one another! This 28-pack is deeply discounted right now!

SiliconCups28

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Master List of Simple Lunch Box Ideas

Free Printable Lunchbox Cards for you

Find FREE printable Lunch Box Cards HERE and HERE.

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Awesome Lunchboxes and Containers

Here are some really cool lunchbox options, as well as containers that work great to send food to work and school!

This Rubbermaid Salad Container comes with a blue ice freezer pack that snaps directly onto the food containers to keep your lunch cold. They are BPA free and very versitile!

SaladCOntainer

Here’s another one that can be used for all kinds of foods!

COntainers

If you prefer Stainless Steel, this one is a little pricier but super durable.

MetalContainer

As for lunchboxes, this one is Double Decker so you can keep cold food cold and hot food hot! (P.S. I love this pink one!)

DOubleDeckerLunchbox

This simple insulated lunch bag has all kinds of fun print patterns for kids to pick from. The price is great too!

Pattern lunchbox

Or let your kids choose from these fun varieties of insulated zip up bags!

IceCreamLunchbox

PlanesLunchbox

Would you like to make this Master List of Simple Lunchbox Ideas even simpler?

Sign up here* to receive the entire Master List of Simple Lunchbox Ideas in a free downloadable document! Then you can keep it handy on your computer or print it and put it on your fridge as a super handy reference! You’ll also receive our free Master Lunch, Breakfast, and Snack lists!

*If you’re already on our email list, go ahead and sign up with your email list anyway. This makes it easier for me to get the list to you and you won’t receive double email. You’ll be automatically redirected to a page with the free lists to download!

What are your favorite foods to add to a lunchbox?

All the Groceries I Bought for the Beginning of the School Year (Brace Yourself)

Stocking up is one thing. This time I think I might have gone just a tiny bit crazy. Are you ready to see all the groceries I thought I surely must have to help us survive the beginning of the school year?

groceries august2

Oh, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

I have decided that I got into this crazy BUY ALL THE FOOD mode for three reasons:

  1. My boys had been at church camps or mission trips a good part of the summer and I had not purchased many groceries for the past three months. I was making up for lost time, perhaps? Or maybe I had gone through withdrawal and needed a bulk grocery fix.
  2. I had a chance to go to Lincoln where there is an Aldi. I had to stock up on all my Aldi favorites to help get me through until the next time I have a chance to go there.
  3. I seem to think that if I can have every single food item in stock at my house, I can more easily get through the first couple of weeks of school. Apparently Geometry is more fun when there is plenty of spaghetti sauce in the house.

groceries august4

Most of my thinking is logical, I believe. I have been doing this Fall Semester thing for how many years now? Sixteen? The fall doesn’t just bring the start of school. It also brings soccer season in which my husband is gone much of the time because he is assistant coach of our local college team. The older boys ref games, and our youngest plays on two teams. The fall is simply BUSY and if I can just have enough tuna on hand, then all of life will be easier.

Sure, I live five minutes from a grocery store. But I live three seconds from my storage room that houses all the tuna, so I’d rather go there on a busy day.

Well, speaking of tuna, I bought 24 cans. But after all the buying and loading and unloading, I found myself not particularly excited about setting up a tuna photo-shoot. I think we can all agree that tuna stacked on a table is not terribly thrilling to see. So I left them in the bags under the bagels. Be amazed.

groceries august5

If you think 24 cans of tuna is excessive (it’s not), you might be even more impressed that I got 24 packages of cream cheese. Dude, I was at Aldi and they were only $0.79 each. I will likely not make it back to Aldi for a couple of months, so I filled a cooler. With cream cheese. Who wants to be my best friend now?

groceries august3

The most fun grocery event of this month was definitely the day my Amazon Subscribe and Save order arrived. The bill for this order was not pretty, though I did get good deals on each case I ordered.

groceries august8

groceries august9

Pasta for days. And also Kleenex.

Here’s what I got this time around:

TIP! If you want to be kept up to date on great Amazon deals I find, sign up to be a member of our Savings Club. It’s free!

groceries august17

If you’re hungry and you know it, clap your hands. I think it is clear that no one will starve at our house during the next few weeks, though you can be sure that we will go through this food faster than one thinks should be reasonable.

Your Turn! Tell me about the crazy things you do before a school year starts!

Real Food “Processed Food” I Buy Regularly (What Brand and Where I Get Them)

Remember when I used to make all my food from scratch? Those were the days I thought we ate a lot but we really didn’t (compared to now). Those were the days I thought we were busy but we really weren’t (except that we were). Those were the days I thought all processed food was evil (and some of it is). Those were the days.

family_7_sm

family1sm

Nowadays I’m doing everything I can to simplify so that I can enjoy every last minute with these kids while they are under my roof. Seeing as we’ll graduate Boy #2 this school year, it is becoming more and more apparent that these truly are our last minutes.

Senior pictures, here we come…

justus31

Every new recipe I come up with to share takes very little time to make. I want to nurture my family and build on my marriage – not stand at the kitchen counter rolling out tortillas.

I still make wonderful homemade food. But every meal I put on the table consists of something very basic that is quick to put together and offers a few simple fruits and veggies on the side. My menu plans are created to make great use of my minimal efforts in the kitchen while still putting real food on the table. (Thank you, God, for Simple Meals Plans that take away all the thinking and planning and hard work each day!)

simple meals feb3

My choice to slide back into purchasing more convenience foods hasn’t compromised our great food options. Our meals and snacks are still incredibly delicious! I am still spending our grocery budget wisely. I still use real butter, freshly ground flour, and whole milk. I still avoid high fructose corn syrup, margarine, and MSG.

Choosing to use some processed foods in my cooking doesn’t mean I’m back to buying cans cream-of-whatever-soup and boxes of poptarts. It means I’m buying canned beans instead of soaking and cooking them from dry. It means I’m buying jarred tomato sauce instead of spending hours and hours every fall canning my own. It means I’m buying pre-made pizza crust from Azure Standard so my kids can quickly throw together some pizzas for lunch or dinner (which is healthier and saves money compared to ordering pizza).

It means so many things. It means I can survive this busy season of raising teenagers and continue to be their biggest cheerleader and support in all their activities and preparation for adulthood.

It means love. This is how I’m loving my family now.

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I recently shared that I definitely have started buying processed food more than I used to. But I also shared that processed food is nothing to fear – so long as it’s real food and nourishing. I check ingredients, I find brands that I feel good about, and I save myself an amazing amount of time in the kitchen.

Many of you have asked about the specific brands of “processed foods” I buy and feel good about. I absolutely avoid many bottles and jars and cans that have junk in them that will hurt our insides. But there are brands I trust and feel good about – even if they aren’t organic, top-of-the-line options.

Real Food Processed Food I Buy - what brands and where I get them

Real Food “Processed Food” Brands I Buy and Where I Get Them

groceries feb 172

~ Canned Beans

The Simply Nature brand at Aldi is an awesome choice for canned black beans (at only $0.85/can!). I buy them by the case since I don’t live close to an Aldi or get to shop there often.

I will say that now that I’m a proud owner of an Instant Pot I may start making them again because of how easy it is. But in a pinch, I’ll get cans from Aldi to keep on hand for fast meals!

~ Canned Baked Beans

The Walnut Acre brand is a little more expensive compared to Bush’s or Van Camps, but I feel good about the ingredients, plus we like how they taste. (I can tell a big difference in quality, which is why I’m sticking with the Walnut Acre brand for now.) If I have Vitacost credit, I get a few cans of Walnut Acre, or sometimes I buy a case with subscribe and save at Amazon.

~ Beef Hotdogs

I buy a variety of brands of hotdogs depending on which store I’m able to go to and what is available at each store. Any brand that is 100% beef and free of nitrites I feel okay about. We use these for quick meals on the grill in the spring/summer and for Beanie Weanies all year long.

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~ Turkey Sausage

I know, I know! Homemade Turkey Sausage was one of my first great recipes I shared here at Heavenly Homemakers. It’s awesome stuff…stuff that I don’t have time to make right now. So I buy cases of Diestel brand turkey sausage from Azure Standard to keep in my freezer whenever it goes on sale.

~ Tortillas

While I miss the taste of homemade tortillas, I love the convenience of these that I get at Azure Standard. The Stacey’s brand has ingredients I’m okay with (which is very difficult to find in a packaged tortilla!). Plus they freeze well and taste great, so I just pull them out to use for tacos, burritos, and quesadillas as needed. What a life saver!

~ Pizza Crust

I recently discovered Sprout California Frozen Pizza Bread at Azure Standard and buy a case every couple of months to help get my family through busy school days. They don’t beat this recipe for homemade pizza crust, but they sure are handy to have in the freezer!

~ Pizza Sauce

Lately I’ve been buying Muir Glen Pizza Sauce by the case with Subscribe and Save through Amazon. It’s tasty and reasonably priced! (I recently got it for $1.45/can.)

aldi1162

~ Salsa

Each time I go to Aldi, I buy a case or two of their Simply Organic Salsa. We love how it tastes, and it’s usually about $1.85/jar.

~ BBQ Sauce

I’ve had a more difficult time finding a quality BBQ Sauce. (Aldi used to carry a Simply Organic variety and now I can’t find it!!) I finally found Stubbs brand at Walmart, which has all real food ingredients. After we tried it and liked it, I bought a case from Amazon! :)

~ Ketchup

I’ve been buying cases of Muir Glen Ketchup through Amazon for several years and it is, hands down, our favorite brand. But I do always watch for it to go on sale because it’s pricey otherwise.

~ Cream Cheese

I’m all over the place with cream cheese. Every brand I have available to me has a few ingredients I don’t love, but it’s also not something I stress over. I don’t like the Walmart off-brand because it never softens nicely! The Aldi brand is great and inexpensive (when they actually have some in stock!). Whenever there’s a price-match for Philadelphia Cream Cheese, I stock up at Walmart.

groceries april 221

~ Mayo

The only mayonnaise I’ve found that I feel good about is Hain Safflower Mayo. It is absolutely not cheap, no matter where I find it. I usually buy it by the case from Azure Standard because expensive as it is, it is at least less expensive there.

~ Spaghetti Sauce

Once again, Aldi comes through with their Simple Nature brand. And once again, I buy the sauce by the case. Since I’ve been pleased with this brand and can afford it ($1.89/jar), I haven’t checked other non-organic brands to see if there are some that contain trustworthy ingredients.

groceries june 17

~ Frozen Hashbrowns

I recently discovered that the Mr. Dells brand of frozen hashbrowns contains only “potatoes” in their ingredient list. Score! I find these at Walmart.

What healthy brands of convenience foods have you found to work for your family? I’ll add to this list as I think of more foods that are worth buying “for the convenience!”

Master List of Simple Snack Ideas

Who is ready to download the Master List of Simple Snack Ideas?!

Hopefully you already grabbed the Master Lists of Simple Lunch and Breakfast Ideas. I’m covering my fridge with these lists to make our transition from summer break to a school schedule a little bit easier. If you haven’t already, be sure to get your lunch and breakfast lists here!

Watch also for our upcoming Master Lists of food and recipes and ideas to make to fill a lunchbox. (Subscribe here so you don’t miss them!)

Today’s list:

The Master List of Simple Snack Ideas

Keep Snacks Simple

Your Real Food Master Simple Snack Ideas List

You can download this entire list here. But I’ll share it all on this post for reference also. I also recommend that you pin it so you can find it quickly as needed!

First choice at our house is always a fruit or a veggie, so I’ll begin this list sharing those ideas!

strawberry

Fruits and veggies that can be pulled from the fridge and served immediately with little to no prep (beyond washing):

  • Baby carrots (I like the petite carrots – they are sweeter and easier to eat!)
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Mini sweet peppers
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Unsweetened Applesauce (homemade is awesome, but even my teenage boys enjoy the special treat of an Applesauce Squeeze Pouch)
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Clementines
  • Raisins
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Dried Apple Rings
  • Dried Bananas
  • Dried Berries

watermelon

Fruits and veggies that take a few minutes of prep but are still super simple:

  • Sliced apples
  • Sliced peaches or nectarines
  • Plums
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Sliced sweet peppers
  • Raw broccoli “trees”
  • Cut cantaloupe
  • Watermelon wedges
  • Sliced pears
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Mango chunks
  • Fruit Salad

Dips that taste great with Fruits and Veggies

Simple Snacks Foods that are great to eat with Peanut Butter

This Homemade Peanut Butter is amazing and healthy! We have this on hand at all times.

  • Eat it straight…on a spoon. :)
  • Sliced Apples with peanut butter
  • Celery with peanut butter
  • Bread with peanut butter and honey
  • Bread with peanut butter and jelly
  • Toast with peanut butter and sliced apples
  • Tortillas with peanut butter and honey
  • Tortillas with peanut butter and jelly

orange

Simple Meat and Cheese Snacks

  • Leftover chicken or roast beef
  • Sliced cheese, any variety
  • Cheese sticks
  • Laughing Cow Spreadable Cheese (we just discovered these and our boys are LOVING this treat)
  • Lunchmeat
  • Summer Sausage
  • Beef Jerky
  • Quesadillas (with just cheese, or with meat also)
  • Tortilla Roll-Up with meat and cheese
  • Chicken Salad on crackers, lettuce, or a tortilla
  • Tuna Salad on crackers, lettuce, or a tortilla

Nutty Snacks (and Seeds too!)

  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Any combination of all of the above, with dried fruit and maybe a chocolate chip or two tossed in!

Simple Snack Recipes that are Quick to Make and Fun to Eat!

(By the way, the majority of this list shares snack ideas that are naturally gluten free!)

Would you like to make this Master List of Simple Snack Ideas even simpler?

Sign up here to receive the entire Master List of Simple Snacks in a free downloadable document! Then you can keep it handy on your computer or print it and put it on your fridge as a super handy reference!

Master List of 100 Simple Snack Ideas

Grab a free download of the Master Simple Snack Ideas List!

Watch for one more Master List coming this month, filled with real food lunch box ideas!

What would you add to the list? What are your favorite simple snacks to feed your family?

P.S. What about a simple dinner list? We’ve already got that covered with our Weekly Simple Meals Plans!