How Much I Spend on Groceries for My Family Full of Teenage Boys (Brace Yourself)

Curious what I spend on groceries each month?

I decided it was time for me to write an updated post sharing details of our family’s average monthly food budget. It’s a lot bit different than it was when our kids were little. Our sons are now 19, 17, 15, and 12. (Matt and I are 43, but that’s entirely beside the point.)

This post is not for the faint of heart.

Can you handle the truth?

Please, take a seat.

How Much I Spend on Groceries for My Family Full of Teenage Boys

Maybe the numbers won’t astound you. Maybe you’ll see my budget and say, “Eh. Is that it?” Yes. That’s probably what you’ll say. I’m just sure of it.

Why am I sharing our grocery budget numbers? Because I’ve been seeing a lot of posts recently shared by women who feed their families for just $50 per week. I’m happy for them, and it’s all well and good that those women are able to feed their families for such a small amount. But you guys? That’s how much it costs to feed my family PER DAY.

Well, not quite. Just almost. I exaggerate. Only a tiny bit.

Good thing they’re worth it…

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Here’s the truth about my grocery budget: I could cut back here and there. I could feed us beans and rice more often. I could spend less each month by making a few changes in what I purchase. But I’m not going to do any of those things at this point, and here’s why…

  • My teenage boys would not get full if I fed us differently (they are athletes and they need food with substance)
  • I believe strongly that food is meant for nourishment (and that it should taste amazing)
  • I feel that it is very important to offer a high volume of fresh fruits and vegetables (I probably spend $100/week on produce alone)
  • We love sharing our food with others (and find that we often have extras around our table)
  • We prefer eating whole foods as much as possible, in balance (but sometimes I buy take-and-bake pizza because a girl’s gotta live a little)

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I wondered how our budget would change once our oldest went off to college a year and a half ago. Turns out, nothing changed. If anything, it increased (someone please hand me a tissue). I think it’s because our other boys keep getting bigger and eating more. It’s also because, even though Asa lives on campus and eats most of his meals at the cafeteria, we feed extra college kids when Asa brings his friends home (and I love it so much that I would feed the whole campus if he brought them to our table).

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I buy food from about 7 different sources, so adding it all up and averaging it all out is a bit of a challenge. For instance, we recently bought a half beef and a whole lamb. We’re hoping that will last us an entire year, but I don’t have my hopes up. For the sake  of budgeting though, you’ll see when I crunch the numbers below that I’ve divided the total meat amount by 12 months.

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I go to Lincoln for a doctor appointment about once each month, so while there I hit Aldi and Fresh Thyme Market (my absolute favorite!). We have one local grocery store (not a chain, not great prices) and a Super Walmart that I hit in town each week (except for the week I go to Lincoln).

I order online at Amazon. I order from Azure Standard, our health food co-op. I order from Vitacost (though most of that is free credit, thanks to many of you!) I order from Tropical Traditions when they have free shipping mixed with great sales.

We get eggs, milk, and beef/lamb from local farmers.

So that’s about all I can babble about before I share the actual numbers. (Though raise your hand if you skipped all the blah-blah-blah and went right to the bottom of this post to see that part already. That’s right. I’m on to you.)

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But one more thing.

This is not about comparing, feeling better than or less than or anything in between. We all have different budgets based on needs, family size, prices where we live, grocery store options, and on it goes.

And can I just say that I’m very thankful my boys don’t like drinking milk? I think it keeps us from the poor house that they don’t drink it and we only use one gallon each week for cooking.

One more thing (last one, I promise). Our family schools at home and works from home. Therefore all three meals every day for every person in our family (except our oldest son away at college) are eaten at home.

My Grocery Budget Break-Down Average for each Month

  • Local grocery stores = $150-200 per week x 3 weeks = $450-$600
  • Lincoln grocery stores (I go to Aldi and Fresh Thyme Market about once each month) = $250 total
  • Local farmer for milk = $20
  • Local farmers for eggs = $30 (we are spoiled with great egg prices!)
  • Azure Standard = average $150 per month
  • Amazon subscribe and save = average $100 per month
  • Local 100% grass fed meat purchased once each year (1/2 beef + whole lamb) = $1,300 per year = $108 per month

Grand total of what I spend on groceries each month:

$1,100-$1,250

If that isn’t enough to make a mama pass out.

And no. That doesn’t include our toilet paper.

This is why we rarely eat out. This is why we make so many foods from scratch. This is why we rarely go to the movie theater. This is why we drive older, so-so vehicles. This is why we don’t buy many pre-made processed foods.

And yes. This is what keeps us healthy.

That’s what it’s all about right?

A huge perk —> We have Christian Healthcare Ministries as our health insurance and we pay very little per month. (Read more about that here, because CHM is amazing.) Since our monthly premium is so very low, that helps us afford to pay more for quality groceries (and keep our athletic sons in good shoes – I can’t even).

I Challenge Myself

Couponing is no longer worth my time. But I do want to challenge myself in the coming months to see if there are any other ways I can come up with to save a little on our budget. I don’t have my hopes up. I won’t negotiate on quality. But stay tuned. I want to try to document my shopping trips with pictures and receipts to share with you. Interested?

Want to share your grocery budget numbers with us? We promise to keep it fun and encouraging! We’re all friends here. 

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Psst! Today’s the last day for the amazing $12 MadeOn Hard Lotion package deal with free shipping! Don’t miss this chance to save your dry hands this winter. :) Use the code HHship for free shipping to apply.

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The Simple Way to Make Veggies Actually Taste Good

Some of us don’t need to be convinced that veggies actually taste good. We already know. We love and crave many delicious veggies and can’t figure out what’s wrong with all the people who turn up their noses at green, orange, and red food that grows out of the ground.

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For many of us, liking vegetables has come with age as our tastes change. It also helps when we actually try a new vegetable every once in a while. (I’m talking to all of you who say, “I don’t like that” before you’ve even actually tried it. You know who you are.)

Even with changing taste buds and willingness to try new veggies once in a while, I don’t know one person who likes every single vegetable on the planet. I love many different kinds, but I still really struggle with artichokes and beets. You?

But here’s what I’ve found to make a big difference in the world of vegetables. It’s the trick that can make a person turn around and actually like a vegetable he or she may not have liked before. It’s this:

Add a delicious, healthy fat to your veggie.

Not only does fat add flavor to the veggie and bring out its natural goodness, it adds necessary nutrients to fuel our bodies for energy and to feed our brains. I find it to be so very lovely when my brain actually works. You?

My favorite ways to add fat to veggies to create amazing flavor:

1. Butter

When I steam peas, broccoli, or carrots, I love to stir in some butter and sea salt. Oh my happy, happy veggies.

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2. Bacon Grease

You guys. Cook your bacon, eat your bacon, then keep the grease it created and put it in a jar in your fridge. Stir a couple teaspoons into your steamed green beans along with some sea salt and see if your family doesn’t go back for seconds. Get over thinking that “bacon grease will give you a heart attack.” It’s good, natural fat. Don’t want a heart attack? Stop eating cookies and drinking pop. Love ya.

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3. Stir Fry them in Olive Oil

Last week we had a few college students over for a meal. I stir fried yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, and broccoli to go with our Hawaiian Chicken and Rice. Upon cleaning her plate, one of the college girls stood up and said, “I’m getting more veggies. Those were really good. Hmm. I’ve never said that before.

It made my day and it proves my point. Add good fat to the veggies. Enjoy them with non-processed sea salt (full of needed minerals).

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And what about raw veggies?

Well, eat them plain if you enjoy them that way. But if dipping them in something delicious helps you get them down, go for it with healthy dips like Homemade Ranch Dip or this Easy Veggie Dip.

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Tell me how you cook your veggies! What are your favorite fats to add? Have you found that healthy fats make veggies taste awesome?

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Be on the look-out! Our Simple Meals program is about to launch and you’re going to love it! In the meantime, here are our latest new Simple Recipes that go with the Simple Veggies talked about above:

Want to Eat Healthy? Then Stay Away From This…

Let me guess. You assume I’m going to say something about margarine. Maybe high fructose corn syrup. Crisco, perhaps?

Aww, you know me well. You know I yell about avoiding those harmful ingredients. But that’s not actually what I want to talk about today.

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Today I’m not going to give you a list of do’s and don’ts about eating. Today’s advice is much simpler. It’s this:

If you want to consistently eat healthy meals and snacks, stay away from complicated recipes.

I can’t emphasize this enough. Every once in a while I meet someone who truly thrives on challenging recipes with multiple steps. But mostly I find that complicated recipes make people frustrated and overwhelmed, then they quickly give up on healthy eating and fall back into patterns of eating out and grabbing cheap, empty, convenience food.

I don’t even blame them. When I see a recipe with a long list of ingredients and a bunch of detailed instructions, my brain explodes. This, from someone who loves to cook.

Here’s a little example of what I’m talking about: Do not tell me to separate my egg whites from their yolks, whip them until they are frothy, then gently fold them into my waffle batter. No. I will not. The people need their waffles! There is life waiting for us just on the other side of breakfast and taking time to froth my egg whites is something I only do at Thanksgiving when there is meringue for a cream pie involved. Instead, I always quickly whisk my waffle ingredients together all at once – whites and yolks and all – and would you believe it? The mixture still turns out amazing waffles.

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If the kitchen is intimidating to you, if you have a busy schedule, and if you want to eat consistently healthy, day after day…

Relax and make your meals as simple as possible.

If I hadn’t figured out how to make healthy meals simple, I would have given up long ago. There really is too much to do outside the kitchen. Through the years, I’ve pared down and reshaped my cooking style so that most often our healthy meal is on the table within just 15-20 minutes. But it’s amazing how much variety we get and how nourishing our meals are.

Oven Free Summertime Meal

I credit this to the fact that I’ve restructured most of our meals to look like this:

  1. Simple main dish (often made ahead of time; sometimes quickly thrown into the crock pot earlier in the day)
  2. Tossed salad, straight from the container
  3. A steamed veggie, which at most, took five minutes of  prep work
  4. Fresh fruit, washed and if necessary, sliced

enchilada meal

See how pretty? See how simple? Not to mention all I’ve done is set out the food (still in their pans) and salad fixin’s and everyone fills their own plate. We work together to cook it, we work together to clean it up.

This is what Simple Meals are made of. They are delicious and stress-free. They are balanced. They aren’t messy. They do not require you to froth your egg whites.

If you’re into healthy eating and want to do this consistently, stick with me here. I’m constantly working to simplify my recipes and menus to save all of us time (and money, which is a lovely bonus). Find all of the hundreds of recipes I’ve shared so far here. And…

Guess what?

Oh, you’ll never guess. ;) But I did decide to let you, my friends and faithful readers, in on a secret. It’s kind of a big deal, and not only will it help families like yours and mine eat simple healthy food consistently and gain back important family time each day…

You can earn some money with this project.

All of you. For real.

I’m talking actual money that you can use to buy groceries. Or pay a bill. Or buy Christmas gifts.

That’s the icing on the cake that is completely packed full of wonderfulness.

Really, I don’t mean to tease. It’s just that the details of this project are best left to be shared once it is complete, and I’m pushing for mid-October for the big reveal. Sooooo….

Be watching for all the details to unfold within the next few weeks. In the meantime, you should do two things:

  • Enjoy all the new Simple Recipes I’ll be sharing here. I’m talking delicious, real food recipes that only require five or ten minutes of prep work.
  • Start thinking about and making a list people you know who would enjoy learning more about how to simplify life while consistently putting healthy meals on the table. People that would love more family time and less time in the kitchen. (Me! Me! I’m raising my hand!)

Family times comes first, and I’m excited to make it even easier for all of us to make this a reality!

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P.S. Here’s a little preview of a hand-painted graphic for our Simple Meals project. Would you look at that? I asked my designer to include butter.

How My Grocery Cart Looked After a Week of Travel (And is Price-Matching Going Away?)

Our family just rolled into town (at 1:30 this morning!) after a long but quick trip to Arkansas for a family reunion. We get together once every two years – and this year we celebrated our Nana’s 90th birthday! Look at this beautiful lady:

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There were aunts and uncles and cousins (and even a doggie), food, and games all weekend. We all had lots of catching up to do!

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We made it home just in time to do several loads of laundry, then send the teenage boys off to their first church camp of the summer. This leads me to my grocery shopping dilemma:

  1. We were all starving for fresh fruits and veggies after a road trip.
  2. Most of the boys will be gone all week.

I do not even know how to grocery shop for three people.

I am so used to buying half the store for my family every week that when I only have to buy for a few, I feel lost. I settled on “only” 8 pounds of strawberries, 4 pints of blueberries, 4 containers of raspberries, and only 1 watermelon and 1 pineapple. I got a bunch of mixed greens, carrots, peppers, nectarines, and peaches. I’m quite sure I bought more than 3 of us can eat. But after a week of travel food, we’ve been feasting on berries and greens all day – so maybe we’ll finish it off without a problem.

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We’re also joining with friends to take a meal to our local mission tonight, so some of this fruit is going there. :)

Have you heard anything about Wal-mart taking away Price-Matching in your area?

I’ve caught wind of a new policy rolling out for Walmart in which they will no longer offer a price-match guarantee. Boo-hoo. Some stores are already affected by this, though thankfully, my store still price-matches – at least for now.

I can’t find any official information on which stores are taking away their price-matching perk. What have you learned about this?

I’ve become quite spoiled by price-matching, so to think we might not get to anymore is quite a bummer! We’ll see how it plays out, and if I hear any more, I’ll keep you posted!

With that, I’m off to enjoy some more berries and glasses of water to counteract the french fries I ate on the road last night. :)

I Add Spinach to Salsa Chicken (and Nobody Cares)

I’ve talked in the past about how I add fresh spinach to several different foods for added nourishment. Read more details about this here, but below is a list of foods I’ve added spinach to successfully:

Most recently, I tore up a bunch of spinach leaves and added them to our Salsa Chicken for our Build a Burrito Bar. Here’s the thing about adding spinach to Salsa Chicken: No one can even tell.

spinach in salsa chicken

I mean, I tear and I tear and I tear. (I make it sound like it’s hard work. Tearing spinach is a two-second job, and mostly I just tear spinach leaves in half by the handful.) I probably put four ounces of fresh spinach into a big pot of Salsa Chicken. (Four ounces of spinach is a lot of spinach.)

Then I let the spinach cook in with the meat and salsa before I shredded it all together. The spinach adds nourishment, but doesn’t change the flavor or even the look of the chicken. I think the spinach just looks like part of the salsa once it’s all cooked down. See how pretty?

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I really don’t try to hide nutritious ingredients in my recipes, but neither do I always announce what all I’ve put into the food while I cooked it. I’ve done this “add spinach to Salsa Chicken” twice now, and when it was all said and done – my kids are none the wiser. To them, it just looks like I’ve made Salsa Chicken. Therefore, they proceeded to put more fresh spinach on their burrito as they build it. Nutrients on top of nutrients. How great is this?

As an aside, I’ve taken to snacking on fresh spinach while I’m cooking with it. It barely tastes like anything and it’s refreshing. Plus if I’m super hungry while I’m cooking it helps me feel like I can wait until meal time to eat with the family.

Do you ever add spinach to recipes? What have you found success with in adding spinach?

Tired of Sandwiches? 10+ Easy Summer Lunch Ideas

I shared these Summer Lunch Ideas on Facebook Live a few hours ago, and today I’m sharing the written version with recipe links!

I’ve mentioned before that our family rarely eats sandwiches. The cost for the bread, cheese, and meat can really add up since we’re such big eaters! We typically save sandwiches for travel, packing them to take with us when we hit the road. It’s funny. Sandwiches have kind of become a “treat” for us since we don’t have them very often. We like to load them up as if we’re at Subway. (I’ve learned to love sliced cucumbers on mine!)

For my own benefit and yours, I’ve put a list together of more than 10 great lunch ideas that work well during the summertime. None of these require an oven, and very few even require a stove-top. Most have options for you so you can work with whatever you have in your freezer or with leftovers you need to use up.

Family Friendly Real Food Summer Lunches

Here’s to having a list so that we don’t have to think so hard when the kids ask, “What’s for lunch?”

10 + Summer Lunch Ideas

1. Meal-type Salads

This is the best way to get my family to eat lots of greens. Our favorite salads are:

2. Baked Potatoes in the Crock Pot

These are amazing because I can bake many potatoes at once and we can top them with whatever I have on hand at the time. Some ideas are:

  • Taco fixin’s
  • Nacho Cheese/Meat Sauce
  • Ham, Cheese, and Sour Cream
  • Leftover grilled chicken, cheese, and sour cream
  • Leftover grilled steak, sliced and sauteed with peppers and onions

3. Chicken Salad or Tuna Salad

We eat this on a bed of lettuce, with crackers, on a tortilla, or sure – on bread like a sandwich. ;) We like making fruit smoothies with this meal because the combination is so refreshing!

4. Sloppy Joes

I usually make several pounds of Sloppy Joe meat at one time, then freeze it in meal size portions. We usually skip the buns and eat this with tortilla chips – sometimes with salsa and cheese sprinkled on top.

5. BLT Wraps

These are completely amazing. Bacon and cream cheese with lettuce and tomato in a tortilla? Every bite is excellent.

6. Chicken Tacos

This is such an easy meal because you just dump chicken and salsa into a crock pot. Everyone can build their tortilla however they like and I feel like I haven’t even cooked (because I pretty much haven’t!).

7. Grilled Hot Dogs or Brats

It’s a little bit hard to find great quality dogs and brats without having to fork out the big bucks, but occasionally we’ll grab a good nitrite free, beef variety to grill. We all love these, and since we eat them with a bunch of raw veggies and fruit I don’t feel too bad about them not being the most nutritious food option. :)

8. Pasta Salad Bar

This meal is great because again, everyone can fix their bowl however they like it!

9. Hearty Dips

We typically think of serving Homemade Guacamole or Black Bean Salsa as a side dish – but since both of these are pretty filling and nourishing, they make a good “main dish” at lunch sometimes. Smoothies or fresh fruit, along with raw veggies (also good for dipping) makes it a complete meal with little effort.

10. Pizza on the Grill

If I already have homemade pizza crust in the freezer, or if I’ve purchased them from Bountiful Baskets – it is super easy for everyone to build their own pizza with their favorite toppings, then we heat it for a couple minutes on the grill. Admittedly, we prefer our pizza baked in an oven. But on a hot day we make the sacrifice. :) We’ve also made Pizza Boats on the grill, which is even easier.

Your turn to share! What are your favorite (non-sandwich) summer lunches?

How We Teach Our Kids About Nutrition

Our family has been on our healthy eating journey for over 10 years now. Yep. I’ve been shunning the margarine and pushing the veggies and serving the spinach and delighting in the free-range eggs for over a decade.

As a result, all of my kids hate junk food. They snack on huge bowls of greens and never ask for chips. They read all the labels and become excited when they know asparagus is on sale.

If you believe that, you should probably go read this post

The Truth About My Family and Junk Food

The truth is, my kids like Doritos and store-bought pizza just like most. I’ve chosen not to freak out about this, seeing as freaking out is rarely a blessing for anyone. And also: you should go read all of these thoughts. That’s where I’ve chosen to land.

So what about nutrition? How do we teach our kids about nutrition?

I hadn’t found any books that I felt taught nutrition they way I wanted. So instead, we’ve done what has come naturally:

1. We talk about it 

As you can imagine, food is a popular topic in the Coppinger household. Mom loves nutrition and cooking. Dad and the boys love to eat.

Through the years I’ve shared what I’m learning about nutrition while we hang out in the kitchen or while we’re eating together. I don’t force the information, but they’ve caught the gist: Real food is where it’s at. Please pass the butter.

2. We focus on making our nourishing food taste good

Yes, our boys like candy. But they also love nourishing food because what’s not to love about Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits and BLT Tossed Salads?

One of the things I love most about real food is that the more nourishing it is, the better it tastes. There is so much good flavor in natural foods! Imagine that. We don’t have to create tasty food in a factory. God already made food amazing.

3. We model it

We continue to add more and more fruits and vegetables to our diets. Matt and I load up our own plates, and get excited about food from the garden or from Bountiful Baskets. We drink several glasses of water every day.

Ultimately, our kids are learning about nutrition because of what they see and what is available in the home. Not to worry. They also see us sometimes compromising on food choices.  I like to think that since we do this without freaking out, they will have a healthy understanding of what it means to enjoy treats and will hopefully keep a relaxed perspective on food instead of making it an idol.

Why I Usually Don’t Like Books About Nutrition

I’ve had two major issues with books that teach about nutrition:

  1. They are too heady and overwhelming to hand to a kid. (I’m talking to you, Nourishing Traditions.)
  2. Or, they are based on FDA standards, which focus on eating low fat, counting calories, and eating a lot of grain products. Basically they give a lot of information as “fact” that I very much disagree with. (Dare you actually tell my child that margarine is a better choice? Oh. I don’t think so.)

So we’ve just stuck with talking about nutrition and making sure our kids eat salads and fruit and good eggs and meat, etc.

I found a book!

When I was prepping for this week’s homeschool curriculum sale, there were some books with fruits and veggies that jumped out at me (surprise, surprise) in one of the Unit Studies Packets. I contacted the author, Amy Blevins, and she was kind enough to send them to me before the sale started so I could look them over so I’d know what to tell you about them.

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I knew the art work would be great. But would the nutrition information be overwhelming? Would I agree with it?

Well, it’s all I can do to wait until fall to start working through these with Malachi. (Does he really need a summer break? Fine. So do I. We’ll start in the fall.)

Man, this book is good. I’m mostly talking about the “Learning About Nutrition” section of this book (though the coloring and dot-to-dot books are fantastic for additional fun). There were just a few points I didn’t agree with, but I think those points will be good to bring up for discussion and further research.

This book is very thorough while being incredibly kid friendly. It’s just over 532 pages (some of it is just for parents), and I feel it will be such a nice unit to study with Malachi – taking just a few minutes each day to increase his knowledge of nutrition and to get him thinking more on his own about good food choices.

I really love how the book is laid out with light reading and small activities throughout (NOT just busy work, thankfully!!). There are even fun writing exercises sprinkled in. Really, I think they’ll be fun – food and creativity and nutrition can actually go together because she wrote this so well.

As you know, nutrition is one of my biggest things so telling you that I like this book kind of means something. :)

Fruits and Veggies Curriculum Sale

Just like all the 200+ books in this week’s curriculum sale, you’ll be amazed at majorly discounted prices. This Nutrition Unit Study pack comes in a set of 14 other unit study booksand they are all 91% off! The complete set costs less than one book normally costs.

TIP: Have big kids and little kids? That’s going to be perfect with this unit study. Littler ones can color and connect the dots while your entire family reads and studies the Learning About Nutrition book. That’s the beauty of unit studies – the whole family can learn together.

ANOTHER TIP: Pick two more bundles to go along with this one to take advantage of the Buy-2-Get-1-Free offer. Then you’ll save even more. It’s almost crazy.

The links in this post are my affiliate links.

I’m excited that there is so much goodness being offered this week in this sale, at such incredible prices! So tell me – how have you been teaching your kids about nutrition?

Visit the Build Your Bundle Curriculum Sale Here.

How Price-Matching Helps Us Eat Real Food

Price-matching helps us eat real food. That’s all there is to it.

How Price-Matching Helps Us Eat Real Food

Some people live in a big town with many big grocery store options. I do not. Well, it’s more than what tiny towns offer, but still. The closest big name store is an hour away from where we live. In my town we have a Wal-mart and two locally owned stores that have decent deals sometimes.

Before I discovered price-matching at Wal-mart, I skimped on fresh produce purchases. I didn’t even realize I was skimping because I was just doing my best to stick to the budget. I bought the fruits and veggies I could afford, then we rationed them out to make them stretch.

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About a year and a half ago I discovered price-matching. I don’t know why I hadn’t checked into it before.

Yes. I do know why. I assumed I could only price-match processed foods like boxed cereals and hamburger helper. Therefore I figured it wouldn’t help me much.

Enter: Aldi. The city an hour away from us built its first Aldi store. That’s when I started hearing my friends say things like, “I price-matched Aldi avocados and got them for 39¢ each.” Wai-wai-wait. You did what??

And that’s when I finally started paying attention to what price-matching was.

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Wal-mart accepts price-matches from stores that are as far as one hour away. This is a huge benefit to me, because not only is there an Aldi an hour away, there is a Super Saver, a Hyvee, and now a Fresh Thyme Market! (Several other stores too.) I check Price-Matcherz every week because they do the hard work for me by providing a list of all the best deals. Sure, there are plenty of processed foods to wade through. But the produce!!!

I used to have to pay at least $2.48 for a pound of strawberries in season. Now I can often get them for $1.29! I often get pineapple for $1.29 and cantaloupe for 99¢. I’ve price-matched asparagus for 88¢/pound and 3-pound bags of apples for $1.50.

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Not only am I now able to buy oodles and gobs of fresh produce for my family each week, I sometimes even have enough room in the budget to buy some for our local Mission. Price-matching saves us loads of money and ensures that our home is filled with nourishing food.

Read the how-to of how price-matching helps our family.

What grocery store options do you have where you live? Are you a price-matcher or is that something you haven’t needed to mess with?

A couple of other produce money-saving options:

  • I love the savings and quality of Bountiful Baskets. If you’re brave, you can watch as I unpacked our latest BB box. (Beware because out of nowhere I started to boohoo at the end because it was the day before Mother’s Day and I can’t talk about Mother’s Day without crying no matter how hard I try. Facebook Live makes a girl vulnerable. It’s a good thing we’re friends.)
  • I clip coupons when I find them. They are rare.
  • I’m trying to get the hang of Ibotta. Usually there are produce rebate offers! I use the app on my phone to make it easiest. (If you want to try it out, you can get an instant $10 rebate if you sign up through my referral code and redeem a rebate within 2 weeks).

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What To Do With Milk You Need to Use Up

Many people cringe when they think about the amount of milk our family must go through each week with our family of 3 teenage sons (plus a pre-teen). A gallon a day? Two? How in the world do I keep enough milk in the house for all my boys? I’ll tell you.

We go through exactly one gallon each week.

Disappointed? Sorry. That’s really all we go through.

milk (1)

I took this picture back when we used to get two gallons of milk each week. Pretty isn’t it?

What’s up with our tiny milk consumption in a household of enormous appetites? Well I really don’t want to get into a milk debate here because I have not landed anywhere concrete on the “we should be drinking plenty of milk no actually we shouldn’t” scale. I have researched and I have asked professionals and I am conflicted. Some say drink lots and some say don’t drink it at all. We land somewhere in the middle and we do our best to drink milk from good sources.

peach milkshakes 1

If you ever want to waste milk, simply put too much in your high power blender, then turn it on.
It will explode all over you and all over your kitchen and you will be cleaning it up for days.
This is not a recommended way to use up excess milk.

Here are the two biggest (but not very exciting) reasons we don’t drink much milk at our house:

1. Our natural doctor advised that our boys/men don’t really need much milk.
2. Our boys don’t love drinking milk.

That’s it.

While some kids love drinking milk and chug down several glasses full each day, our boys never have really cared that much about it. I take that to mean that their bodies really don’t need it. If you’ve seen any of them lately, you know that lack of milk consumption has done nothing to keep them from growing long legs. Good grief, their pants.

We get raw, organic milk from a local farmer and we drink it moderately. Actually, we mostly just cook with it.

So that’s our milk situation. What’s yours? Go through lots? Hardly go through any at all? Raw, coconut, regular, unleaded? (ew)

What To Do With Milk You Need to Use Up

Let’s just say you got a good deal on milk and bought several gallons. Or you got your regular allotted milk from your local farmer and you can’t drink it up fast enough. We typically finish off our milk just fine in one week (again, I mostly just cook with it). But every once in a while if we are out of town or the boys are at camp – we end up with extra milk we need to use up quickly.

What to do with Milk You Need to Use Up

Here are some ideas of what to do (not that you couldn’t just have a cookies and milk party for the neighborhood):

Freeze It

Milk freezes just fine, although we’ve found that it works best to first skim the cream off our farm fresh milk.

Culture It

I always keep Homemade Buttermilk on hand for baking and so I can quickly make Ranch Salad Dressing. It’s also super easy to make Kefir or Yogurt. If you culture your milk, it will keep longer in the fridge.

buttermilk

Make Shakes

We’ll go through a half gallon of milk pretty easily if I make it chocolate. :)

milkshakes

Cook or Bake With It

These recipes use quite a bit of milk (especially for my family since I usually double or triple or quadruple a recipe).

garlicchickenpastasm

Those are my go-to options when we need to use up milk. How about you? What do you do or make when you need to use up milk?

How to Feed Your Family When Your Oven is Broken

How is it that I feed my family all summer without turning on the oven, but right now I’m like, “Oh no! My oven is broken! What will we eat? How will I cook?”

I’d grill but it’s been rainy and drizzly for several days. This rain makes me want to bake. Of course. Poor me. I’m stuck with only my stove-top, electric skillet, fryer, blender, food processor, and crock pot. As you can see, I’m practically without any options.

Heavenly Homemaker's Messy Kitchen

The good news:

I think I’m getting my dream stove/oven out of this!!!

When the oven went out on Sunday, producing banana bread that was crispy on top but more like tepid, stringy banana pudding in the middle (so yum), Matt spent some time (once again) trying to fix it. Could he fix it? Yes. But after a while, he was over it. He surprised me with an offer. “How would you like to go shopping for a new oven?”

I thought he was kidding. We always just make do. If it breaks, we fix it. If it’s barely hanging on, we hang on with it. Therefore I kidded back with, “Yes! I want it to be a double oven! Also, I want to get rid of the electric hook up and instead hook up gas! Let’s go shopping for a gas range with a double oven!”

And Matt was like, “Hmm. Sounds good.” {Laura passes out.}

I’d never shared these dreams with him before. But knowing how much I cook and bake (which of course benefits him greatly), and how lame our stove/oven have been for so many years, I think Matt decided it was time to fork it out for a quality appliance.

I might have started acting like a five year old who was getting a double oven for Christmas. Sure, it was hard for me to think about paying extra for my dream range. But we were going to have to drop some money on a new range anyway. Might as well get the one that benefits our family and guests the most.

More good news:

You guys, not only am I going to have a double oven – I’m gonna have gas. I’m also going to say it like that to everyone I meet because it catches people off guard and makes us all giggle. I’ll say, “I haven’t had gas for years, but Matt is awesome and surprised me. So now I have gas. Finally!!” And then my friends will say, “Laura has gas! We are so happy for her.”

Won’t that just be so much fun? 

In the meantime, I still don’t have an oven.

One doesn’t drop that much money without first doing research to decide which is the best option for purchase. (We’re looking at one like this. It’s one of the least expensive, if you can believe it. Cha-ching!) While I’m waiting for the range to come in and be installed, I decided to make a list of non-oven great food options. There are hundreds. I’ll just make a list based on what I have on hand and what is on sale this week.

Funny, by the way, that since I know I can’t bake, all I can think of are foods I want to bake. That’s the main reason I’m making this list. I have to get my mind off of cake.

Meals You Can Make Without an Oven

Food I Can Make While My Oven is Broken

I had decided that breakfast is the trickiest, but as I look through this page of Breakfast Recipe Ideas, I’m finding quite a bit to work with. I have no idea why I’m making this hard. I’m just spoiled, that’s all.

Links to My Favorite Non-Oven Appliances

In case you’re interested, this is what I have in my kitchen. These will all be used double time this week, you can be sure!

  • My Crock Pot
  • My Electric Skillet (This is 60% off right now!)
  • My Cast Iron Griddle (Also being offered a huge discount right now if you need one. Only $22!)
  • My Blender (Pricey but worth it)
  • My Waffle Iron (It’s a cheapo)
  • My Fryer (Mine is actually a little different than that, but they don’t seem to make mine anymore.)
  • My Toaster Oven (I do NOT recommend this one. It’s cheap and burns toast. I had one like this before but when we broke the door I was too stingy to pay that much again. I regret the “money savings” – something I’m trying to keep in mind while shopping for a double oven.)

As you can see, I’ll still be able to make huge messes in my kitchen and my children won’t even starve while I am without an oven. There are loads of options.

As soon as I have gas, I’ll let you know. If that isn’t something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.

Do you have any non-oven recipe ideas to share? How about double-oven purchasing advice? Gas related thoughts? Really. I’m open to just about anything you’d like to share.