A FREE Way to Help Your Kids Learn This Summer!

Have you checked out ABCmouse yet? If not, I definitely recommend that you take advantage of this fun freebie! It’s a great way to help your kids learn. :)

abc mouse free trial!

Obviously my kids are old and huge and they no longer like to sit in my lap and learn letter sounds while playing fun computer games. But still, I went through the process of setting up an account to see how easy it is (and how easy it is to cancel!). Both were simple!! And in the meantime, I played with a few of the learning games to see if it was worth your time to set this up for your kiddos.

Oh yes. It’s worth your time. This learning app is fantastic, fun, and for 30 whole days – FREE! What a great way to enjoy some fun learning this summer with your little ones.

If my kids were still little, I would sign all four of them up for this. This is exactly the kind of learning fun they loved during those little years. And it is the kind of computer time I loved to let them enjoy. It’s safe, adorable, easy to navigate, and of course, educational. (You don’t have to tell your kids that part though!)

You can sign up here to help your kids learn with the ABCmouse freebie!

These links are my affiliate links.

The Day I Got Mad at Groceries, Part 2 (Is Balance Possible?)

Read Part 1 – The Day I Got Mad at Groceries and Food in General here.

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groceries 411

After processing with you some of my frustrations with being able to achieve balance when striving to…

  • Save money on groceries
  • Fill us with nourishment
  • Satisfy my teenage sons’ huge appetites
  • Not spend hours in the kitchen
  • Keep up with life during a busy season

…I headed to the grocery store.

I had my list ready to go. I also had our full calendar in mind, knowing all too well what the next two weeks held for my family. Which was bigger – my grocery list or my to-do list? Oh, now that’s a tough one.

So I prayed for a balanced approach to my shopping. God is not above me asking for help in selecting food for my family. God cares about every detail. He knows my desire to be a good steward and also my need to not over-burden myself in the kitchen. He knows what’s on my calendar. He knows how much my boys eat. He knows we need a new vehicle. He knows.

groceries june 17

At the store, I filled my cart with a wonderful variety of fresh produce from strawberries to peaches to zucchini to peppers to apples to asparagus to watermelon to avocados. I got all the produce at wonderful prices thanks to price-matching.

Then I compromised and bought a few loaves of bread, even though I know how to make it myself. I bought pre-made frozen hashbrowns, even though I know how to make them myself. (By the way, the only ingredient in the Mr. Dells brand frozen hashbrowns is potatoes. The lack of fillers made me add three bags to my cart!) I bought several packages of nitrite-free, uncured beef hotdogs for fast and fun lunches on the grill. I bought bottled BBQ Sauce, even though I know how to make it myself.

Truth: Everything I bought was still real food. (Yes, I realize I’m pushing it when talking about hotdogs. Work with me here. They’re trying. Really they are.)

I got good deals. I was careful about everything that went into my cart. But doggonit, when I want to make Grilled Chicken this week, I’m gonna open up a bottle of pre-made BBQ Sauce, dump it on, and go about my day.

I think we all have to:

  • make decisions about what works for our family and what doesn’t.
  • realize that just because something had been working for our family, sometimes a change is in order.
  • ask God for clarity, peace, and help in all areas in our lives.

My conclusions about groceries…today

Actually, I have no conclusions. I conclude that what I conclude today may be different from what I conclude next week. Right? Often if it’s best if we just think about today. I trust God to make it all clear to each of us when it comes to saving money, eating well, and saving time.

Today’s conclusions are:

  • I will continue to follow Simple Meals plans because without them, I’m lost and frustrated at dinner time. The recipes and every aspect of these plans are so easy I barely have to work and I rarely have to think. This is how I’ll continue to do dinner.
  • With that, when a recipe calls for BBQ sauce, spaghetti sauce, salsa, or beans – it’s coming out of a jar, bottle, or can because it is still real food, the price is still reasonable, and I don’t have time to make every single ingredient from scratch right now.
  • Lunches and Breakfasts might need to be some of the same choices over and over for a while. This will cut down on my need to think so hard, and make it easier for the boys to help themselves.
  • As long as I always have plenty of fresh or frozen fruits and veggies to fill the table, I can relax about the occasional hotdogs or pizza.

Balancing Nourishment, Time, and Cost When Grocery Shopping

What have you found helps you most when trying to find balance in saving money, eating well, and saving time in the kitchen?

Freebies for you!

Did you get these yet? Here are two free ebooklets Top 10 Money Saving Recipes and 30 Real Food Money Saving Tips!

Join our Heavenly Homemakers Savings Club, and we’ll send it to you for FREE! (Joining means we’ll also keep you informed of all the latest money saving groceries and homemaking items we come across. A win-win! It costs nothing to be a member.)

Top 10 Money Saving Recipes

Sign up to join our Heavenly Homemakers Savings Club here.

The Day I Got Mad at Groceries and Food in General

A few weeks ago I talked about how our family is having to tighten our budgeting belt right now as we build up our savings again after needing to replace our van right after investing in a new business venture for Matt (radon mitigation).

groceries feb178

Naturally, I challenged myself to see how I could cut back on our enormous grocery budget, even though a few weeks before that I’d shared that there was no way I could cut back because…

We eat a lot of food.

I felt all kinds of blah about this, because cutting back didn’t seem possible and also I am trying very hard during this season in life not to…

Go crazy.

This time of life filled with a houseful of teenagers with all their friends and comings and goings and activities and growing experiences is very much like (except very different from) my years of raising a houseful of babies. Those were lean and busy years too, also a time in which I was trying to avoid going crazy (while the Blue’s Clues theme song played on repeat in my subconscious). All of life cost less then, seeing as we didn’t have a slew of teenage boys included on our car insurance policy and their shoes and appetites were much smaller.

But the busyness. And the needs. They were/are so great! (“Great” shall be used twofold in this context as the needs are great and the needs are also great. How great that they need me! How great are their needs! This is all so great.)

Through the busy seasons…

These are the years we might need to compromise a little on making all food from scratch and settle for the occasional pre-made tortillas and take-and-bake pizzas. I felt it in the baby-raising-years, had a bit of a reprieve as my kids got old enough to buckle and wipe themselves, but am back to feeling the pinch of time, money, and energy as I am in a season of “hold on for dear life” with my teenage and adult kids.

Add to that the fact that one by one my boys insist on graduating high school and moving out of my nest and I feel the need to use every minute with them for a greater purpose. As I watch these years with kids at home vanish before my eyes, I refuse to use any of this precious time with my back turned to them while I spend time on a task like making Mozzarella Cheese.

All this was going through my head one day recently as I made a grocery list.

“Save as much money as possible!” thought I.
“Nourish us well; this is so very important!” came my next thought.
“Take time to enjoy the family; save your energy; save yourself; buy the pizza!” – and with that I got angry.

Is it even possible to do all of this at the same time? To save money, to eat good food, and to not spend hours in the kitchen while making it all happen?

The Day I Got Mad at Groceries

Yes, I know about the thing called “balance.” I’ve written about it, danced with it, poked and prodded at it, and as of today, I came to the conclusion that while balance is a great word and a great goal for which to strive, today I’m going to have to settle for…

Fine. Good enough. Okay, I guess.

The key word here is “today.” I believe in the long run everything actually will balance out because I truly am intentional about saving money, filling us with nourishment, and not spending all my time in the kitchen. Balance wins out in the long run. But that will no longer be my focus. Right now my focus has to be…

Today.

I can’t look beyond today. Today I might feed us all salads and veggies and grass fed meat and beautiful bowls of fresh berries. I might even do it while saving a bundle of money through price-matching and gardening and being resourceful and cooking from scratch. If that is what today looks like, then yay for today!! But tomorrow? Tomorrow…

I might buy pizza.

And sure, I’ll serve it with a salad and slices of pineapple, but I won’t have saved money and I will have filled us with some empty carbs.

This has to be okay, because okay is the best I can do.

The best I can do is actually something to be celebrated. The best I can do truly is the best. Whether it’s a frugal meal that only cost $1.00/plate or a super nourishing meal filled with fresh greens and veggies, or a corndog on a stick that came out of a box.

The best I can do is what offers my family the best of me.

And with that, I’m no longer angry with food and will head to the grocery store.

To be continued…

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Real Food Grocery Savings Freebies for you!

Want a recipe eBooklet full of my Top 10 Money Saving Recipes? Join our Heavenly Homemakers Savings Club, and we’ll send it to you for FREE! (Joining means we’ll also keep you informed of all the latest money saving groceries and homemaking items we come across. A win-win!)

Top 10 Money Saving Recipes

Sign up to join our Heavenly Homemakers Savings Club here.

Also for Savings Club Members…

30 Real Food Money Saving Tips

This eBooklet is full of 30 Real Food Money Saving Tips. This resource is super practical and easy to read through. I bet you’ll find some ideas you hadn’t thought of before, some that you can work toward now, and some that might benefit you in a different season.

It’s free for all and it’s loaded with tips! Get it here —->

Sign up to join our Heavenly Homemakers Savings Club here.

With the High Price of Vanilla Beans, Should You Make Homemade Vanilla Right Now?

I’ve been making Homemade Vanilla since 2009. Why?

  • To save money
  • So I can trust my vanilla to be pure and healthy
  • Because Homemade Vanilla is ridiculously delicious

How To Make Vanilla Extract

See, most vanilla extracts on the market have sugar added. I don’t want that, of course. Also, most have been watered down, so they aren’t as strong and flavorful as I’d like. But Homemade Vanilla is completely pure, extremely flavorful, easy to make, and makes awesome gifts! However…

The price of vanilla beans has risen drastically.

In the past three years, the price of vanilla beans has gotten crazy high! Making Homemade Vanilla used to be super cost effective, saving oodles of money compared to buying it. Since there are so many other benefits to making it, it became a no-brainer to me!

But now there’s a major vanilla bean shortage, so the price has risen dramatically. (This stinks for those of us who want to make vanilla, but my research tells me that this is a much worse situation for farmers whose livelihood depends on good crops. We are simply inconvenienced; but these farmers are hurt deeply by this. With this news, suddenly my concern for my homemade vanilla price takes a back seat in the world of “what actually matters.”)

With the high cost of Vanilla Beans, does it still make sense to make Homemade Vanilla Extract

Does it still save money to make Homemade Vanilla?

Having said all of this, I wanted to share that I recently crunched some numbers again to see if it even made sense to make a batch of homemade vanilla right now. I was pleasantly surprised, and want to share my findings with you!

The upfront cost still seems high, but read all the way through to discover how to get the most bang for your buck.

It is most cost effective to make a gallon of Homemade Vanilla at once, instead of making a small batch. A gallon will last a very long time, or you can use it for gifts! (Homemade Vanilla is an awesome gift at Christmas for friends, family members, and teachers!!)

Price Break-Down to make a gallon of Homemade Vanilla

50 Vanilla Beans: $200
3.5 liters of 35% alcohol Vodka: $30
Total Cost: $230
Price per ounce: $1.80

This makes an 8-ounce bottle cost $14.40.

Remember, the quality of vanilla is ultra strong, not watered down, with no added sugar.

Cost of High Quality Purchased Vanilla

Imitation Vanilla is made of nothing real, so I recommend avoiding it even though it’s cheap. The best pre-made “pure” Vanilla Extract I could find at Azure Standard costs $2.20/ounce.

This makes an 8-ounce bottle cost $17.60. This is more expensive than homemade, but more importantly —–>

Note the ingredient list of this purchased vanilla (listed in this order):

  • water
  • 35% alcohol vodka
  • vanilla bean extractives

Not only is purchased vanilla extract more expensive, it is watered down, so not nearly as strong.

So Homemade Vanilla Extract wins the prize for being lower in cost and entirely pure.

Which leads me to my best advice and even better news about the cost:

Use Half the Amount and Cut the Cost in Half!

Because the Homemade Vanilla Extract is so very potent, I recommend that you use half the amount called for in a recipe. Doing this will double how long an 8-ounce bottle will last!

Therefore, the $14.40 it costs to make 8-ounces of Homemade Vanilla will last you twice as long, giving you what store-bought 16-ounce bottle gives. In this way, you can think of your 8-ounces of homemade vanilla being broken into TWO 8-ounce bottles which cost only – drum roll please –

$7.20 each.

And with that, I absolutely recommend that we all still make Homemade Vanilla Extract!

vanilla_beans

I forgot we get 20% off!!!

Good grief. I can’t believe I wrote this entire post and forgot to figure in the fact that Olive Nation gives Heavenly Homemakers readers 20% off! Time to crunch new numbers! I’ve been working with them for many years now, and they are happy to give us a discount. (They’ve been keeping me up to date on vanilla bean shortages and prices too. I love working with them.)

Get the best quality vanilla beans at the best price here. Use the code home to get 20% off, a code made exclusively for Heavenly Homemakers readers! Get free shipping when your order is over $50.

Discounted cost for Homemade Vanilla Extract

50 Vanilla Beans $160.00
3.75 ounces Vodka $30.00

Total cost: $190.00 (woot!)

Per ounce breakdown: $1.48/ounce
Price for 8-ounces of Homemade Vanilla: $11.84

vanilla

Make Vanilla For Christmas Gifts

One last note! Most everyone loves receiving Homemade Vanilla Extract as a Christmas gift! Because it takes 4-6 months for vanilla beans to “extract” I recommend you start a batch right away to have it ready to give in December.

I think that about covers it. Any questions? (I’m actually at church camp right now so answers will probably be delayed!) I’m so glad I finally crunched the numbers instead of continuing to cringe over the bean prices!

Free Shipping and 50% off Palm Shortening at the Same Time!! (Stock Up!)

It is a rare thing when Tropical Traditions (now called Healthy Traditions) offers free shipping and a big discount on their Palm Shortening at the very same time. I look out for this and always give it a shout-out as soon as I hear about it.

The time is now!

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Usually they knock their Palm Shortening down to 40% off. This time it’s a whoppin’ 50% off.

This is the time to stock up!

To avoid paying shipping on this gem is a huge money saver. And obviously paying half price is rockin!

quick_mix

Whole Wheat Quick Baking Mix – amazing stuff, made with Palm Shortening!

What to do with Palm Shortening

I keep Palm Shortening on hand at all times to use in any recipe that calls for Crisco. Crisco=BAD. Our bodies don’t like it. But Palm Shortening=GOOD! Our bodies digest this fat and can utilize it for energy!

Warning: Some companies who sell Palm Oil and Palm Shortening are doing so irresponsibly and hurting the forests. I’ve researched this and found that Healthy Traditions is providing this oil for us in every safe and responsible way! That, along with its health benefits, make me always buy Palm Shortening from Healthy Traditions. From their website:

Tropical Traditions Palm Shortening comes from small scale family farms in South America. These farmers are certified by ProForest, which ensures that they meet strict social, environmental and technical criteria. With regard to environmental criteria, the assessments are carried out at the landscape and operational level at both the farms and processing facilities. These assessments cover environmental impact on the soil, water, air, biodiversity and local communities. The lands the farmers use are not lands that were deforested. The lands used to grow the palm fruit are lands previously used for agricultural purposes (cattle, rice, banana).

I use Palm Shortening for these five main purposes and recipes:

Palm Shortening is flavorless, so it will not change the taste of your fried foods or baked goods! We often hear that “all fried food is bad” but it’s important to note that food fried in coconut oil or palm shortening is perfectly healthy! This is because these particular oils can withstand the high temps required for frying without going rancid! There are oh so many French fried reasons to love Palm Shortening!

You can grab your 50% off Palm Shortening here.

Use the code 29617 at check-out for FREE SHIPPING to apply.

Important: This offer expires Saturday night, July 1! 

These are my referral links. Shopping through these links will provide all new referrals with a free Coconut Oil Recipe Book! It is a hard copy and will come automatically in your box.

Enjoy your awesome 1/2 off Palm Shortening and the free shipping that comes with it!

Make Grilled Cheese in the Waffle Iron (and Final Day for Simple Meals $10 Coupon!)

If I need to make an entire loaf of bread worth of grilled cheese sandwiches, I may as well get out my cast iron griddle and knock them out. But for the days my boys are in and out of the house and lunchtime doesn’t sync up for the entire family, using the waffle iron for grilled cheese is a pretty fun trick!

waffle grilled cheese3

To catch you up on the collection of Waffle Iron recipes and ideas, I invite you to check out these links in all their waffle iron glory:

Great Waffle Iron Hacks

Many have asked which waffle iron I recommend. I have this one. It’s nothing fancy, but it does the trick.

waffle iron 2

Also, a friend of mine gave me this one when she moved, and it is fantastic for making grilled cheese sandwiches. It perfectly fits two sandwiches at once, which is great for my family!

waffle iron 1

For days the entire family is home, I get both waffle irons fired up at the same time and crank out circles and squares as fast as I can. Phew, my family can eat.

And speaking of how my family can eat…we do all love our meat around here. Adding a couple thin slices of ham or turkey to our grilled cheese sandwiches makes these even better!

A note about cheese: For the love of real food and a sandwich that actually tastes good…use actual cheese. Skip the Velveeta. Turn your back on “American Cheese Slices.” In the cheese section at your grocery store, you will find several varieties of sliced cheese that are perfect for these sandwiches. Colby jack is our absolute favorite, but you can usually find cheddar, sharp cheddar, swiss, or others.

How to Make Grilled Cheese in the Waffle Iron

Make Grilled Cheese in the Waffle Iron
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Bread
  • Sliced cheese (we love sliced Colby jack!)
  • Softened butter
  • Thinly sliced ham or turkey (optional)
Instructions
  1. Build each sandwich according to your preference.
  2. Spread a generous layer of butter on each side.
  3. Place buttered sandwich in a heated waffle iron.
  4. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until sandwich is golden brown.

Grilled Cheese in the Waffle Iron

Sometimes we make these sandwiches for a quick evening meal when we’re on the run. Serve them with cold fruits and veggies and you’ve got one of the simplest, tastiest meals there is!

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Pssst! Just a reminder that the $10 off coupon for Simple Meals goes away after TODAY!!! Take advantage while you can! See a sample menu plan and get all the details about Simple Meals here. Use the code SIMPLE10 for the discount on this awesome resource to save your family time and money all year long!

Simple Meals
Your yearly subscription equips you with a 52 week's worth of meal plans, grocery guide, recipes, and bonus tips, plus you get over $60 worth of bonus eBooks! Your Simple Meals plan will arrive in your inbox each Thursday morning.
Price: $52.00

11 Fun Recipes for the Fourth of July (That Won’t Keep You in the Kitchen All Day)

The thing about making special food for any holiday is that too often the cooking and the clean up take away from our holiday fun. Here’s what I suggest you do this Fourth of July and every special day:

strawberries

  • Choose simple recipes.
  • Make everything you can ahead of time so you can enjoy the day.
  • Stick with basic sides like watermelon and other fresh fruit, corn on the cob, and tossed salad (all easy to prep!).
  • Get your family involved in helping with prep and clean up.
  • Embrace the paper plate. (Do whatever you want with this piece of advice. Most of the time I avoid disposables, but to everything there is a season. So if I really want to enjoy my people and not stand at the sink rinsing a bunch of dishes, I pull out the paper products.)

watermelon

Now let’s talk about the simple recipes. Of course we will choose simple recipes. We love Simple. This is how we survive each day and also how we make holidays special. We keep it simple. We stick with basics. We go with what we know everyone likes. The beauty of all of this is that our food tastes amazing even without extra effort! (Real food is cool like that. It tastes great because it’s real and it can’t help but taste wonderful!)

11 Fun Recipes for the Fourth of July

11 my favorite simple recipes for the Fourth of July!

1. Americana Cheesecake Parfaits

The cheesecake part of this recipe (white) whips together in just a few seconds. Add strawberries (red) and blueberries (blue) and you’ve got a beautiful and super delicious treat for the 4th!

Americana Cheesecake Parfaits

2. Raspberry Sweet or Unsweet Tea

Making fruit teas like this is super simple, and this Raspberry Tea turns a pretty shade of red. I’m thinking we could throw some frozen blueberries into the glass to make it a perfect Fourth of July drink. You might also want to try Peach Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea or Mango Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea so that you can set out a variety of good choices.

How to Make Raspberry Sweet or Unsweet Tea

3. Strawberry-Blueberry Shortcake

Strawberries and Blueberries appear to be the real food MVP of the Fourth of July. Raspberries too. Make this simple Shortcake Recipe, then set out blue and red berries along with whipped cream.

Strawberry Shortcake with Whole Wheat and Honey

4. Strawberry-Blueberry Shortcake Waffles

This is the same idea, but you can make your shortcake in the waffle iron for a pretty and fun twist on this favorite dessert. Might as well serve it for breakfast, because why not?

shortcake waffle4

5. Strawberry-Blueberry Shortcake Muffins

Okay fine. One more Shortcake variation and then I’ll move on. Sometimes it’s fun to make your shortcake batter in muffin tins and serve them as individual cakes with fruit and whipped cream on the side!

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6. Very Berry Brownie Cups

Phew, this recipe has been on my site since before I had an actual camera. But the recipe is as good as ever and fun for people to build their own brownie cup!

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7. Pineapple Cream Dessert

Orange you glad I didn’t say strawberries and blueberries again? This recipe is so refreshing on a hot summer day that it makes its way onto this list even though it’s not red, white, or blue. (But far be it for me to say that you can’t add strawberries and blueberries as a garnish.)

pineapple dessert 3

8. No Flour Monster Bars

This recipe makes the list because everyone loves them. Also, they are easy to make ahead of time and set out for grab-and-go snacking. If you want, you could stir in some red, white, and blue M&M’s, but you never heard that from me. Food coloring is bad. Avoid it at all costs. ;)

Real Food Monster Cookie Bars

9. Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

Here I go again with the red and blue berries. Serve them with this simple dip and it will be a big hit!

strawberry_dip_2

10. Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

See if you can find some 4th of Julyish mini-muffin paper liners. Make these super simple cookies with stars in the middle!

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Star Cookies

11. Brownie Sundae Bar

This is super fun if you’re feeding a crowd, so everyone can build their brownie sundae however they like!

Build a Brownie Sundae Bar

Creating this list has made me want to make every single one of these recipes for the 4th! I think I just might.

What are your Fourth of July plans? What are your favorite foods to make for the 4th?

“They breathed new life into our meal time!” (Last Chance for $10 Simple Meals Discount!)

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Since we launched Simple Meals last October, we’ve loved hearing your feedback about how it’s been helping your families breathe easier.

Allison “I can’t thank you enough for your meal plans! They have literally breathed new life into our meal time!”

Anne “What a brilliant idea. We are so impressed!”

Kim “We love getting your Simple Meals plan every week!”

Knowing that Simple Meals truly is helping people win back family time, spend less time planning and cooking, all while still putting great real food meals on the table is so very encouraging to us!

simple meals feb3

From the time we launched, we’ve offered everyone a $10 discount on the entire year’s subscription, which made the already very low price significantly lower. It’s been fun, but the $10 coupon will be going away at the end of this month. Not to worry though!

  • If you act now, you can jump aboard Simple Meals and still use the $10 coupon! It’s good through June 30!
  • After it’s gone, Simple Meals will still only be one tiny little dollar each week. It’s the lowest meal planning subscription we’ve seen online – and we’ve done our research!

But why wait and pay $1/week when you can still take advantage of the coupon?! :) Hurry to join Simple Meals before June 30 so you can get $10 off the yearly fee!

Don’t forget about the $65+ worth of free eBooks you get with your subscription, including our newest!

Simple Recipes excitement

Simple Meals members also get bonus freebies all throughout the year. We’ve got another one in the works that’s perfect for this summer. Stay tuned!

Use the code SIMPLE10 to get $10 your first year’s subscription. Get all the details about Simple Meals here. You’ll be amazed at how these meal plans with simplify your kitchen life, help you be efficient, and take away stress over what to feed your family each night.

Each week your plan contains recipes and a grocery list for these categories of Simple Meals:

  • No-Thaw Night Forgot to thaw meat? No problem, this is the meal you can fall back on!
  • No-Trouble Night Limited on time? This one will come together quickly!
  • Crock Pot Night Start this one earlier in the day, then sit down and eat, simple as that!
  • Made-Ahead Night This recipe was simple to make ahead of time, so all you have to do is heat and eat!
  • Build-It-Yourself Night This weekly suggestion will give you a fun idea of how you can put together a quick “buffet” for each person to build a plate or bowl to their liking!
  • Savor-It Night This recipe is for the night you have a little extra time to cook, but don’t worry. The recipe is still as simple as can be!

The seventh night you can plan your family’s favorite, leftovers, or a night off from cooking.

Want to see a sample Simple Meal Plan to be amazed at all it includes each week? Grab a fully week’s sample here!

Join Simple Meals now, using the SIMPLE10 discount code while it’s available! Then each Thursday morning you’ll receive a complete Simple Meals Plan in your inbox!

Simple Meals
Your yearly subscription equips you with a 52 week's worth of meal plans, grocery guide, recipes, and bonus tips, plus you get over $60 worth of bonus eBooks! Your Simple Meals plan will arrive in your inbox each Thursday morning.
Price: $52.00

21 No-Bake Snacks for Summer

Frozen Yogurt Cups

Why is it that when a girl has had a variety of guests moving in and out of her house for three weeks straight and needs to get three of her sons packed and ready to head to camp for a week…

Her washing machine breaks?

It waited until the exact moment we used our last clean towel and needed to put clean sheets on the bed for our oldest son who was coming home from traveling (with a full suitcase of dirty camp clothes). No big deal.

I actually had to laugh when it happened because this was the fourth break-down in a series of doozies. “Of course my washing machine just broke,” I said to my dirty sheets as I pulled them back out of the washer. “The timing couldn’t be better; I can’t wait to tell Matt.”

Ahhh, Matt. At the time of my broken washing machine discovery, that guy was on our roof trying to find the source of a major leak issue. And the day before he’d been on the roof of one of our rental houses doing the exact same thing.

We still haven’t made a decision about buying a new-to-us vehicle since our van died a few weeks ago. And did I mention my grill won’t stay lit? Eh…who needs grilled steak or my very favorite grilled chicken? Who even does?

One might say, “The Coppingers sure are having a rough summer,” but I’m here to say that I’m actually having a great summer! When I look at the big picture of my life I see what’s actually true:

  • No fewer than four families offered to loan us a car until we get our van situation figured out. Four families! We took one family up on their offer because they had a car they weren’t even using right now. God provides.
  • Matt was able to stop the roofing work he was doing in order to spend a few hours fixing our washing machine. It was ready to go again just before the boys needed to wash laundry and pack. God provides. 
  • We haven’t had rain since the leaky roof discovery, and while we always welcome rain for the farms and gardens, we are thankful that Matt was able to fix the leak situations before the next downpour. God provides.
  • I miss the grill but until we can figure that issue out, I’ve got two crock pots, a stove-top, and have recently come up with a passel of Waffle Iron Recipes that help me avoid heating up the house with an oven. All together now…God provides.

Inconvenience isn’t the same as heart-ache. Broken things are just broken things. So who even cares that my coffee pot stopped working? Oh yeah, by the way, my coffee pot also stopped working. Now that one did threaten to push me over the edge into a pit of despair. I don’t even need transportation or clean clothes, but I do need coffee. I kid, I kid. Also, Mr. Coffee himself sent me a new one at no charge so does God provide? Oh yes I think He does.

21 No-Bake Snacks

And with that, I shall share with you 20 No-Bake Snack and Treat Recipes. We all need these whether we have a grill, a working vehicle, or a washing machine. Avoid turning on the oven and fill your fridge and freezer with these. They are low in sugar and super refreshing and tasty!

How’s your summer going? Are all things in working order at your house?

Make Your Family Time Count (Win $50 to spend at Red Rock Traditions!)

As one by one my boys are graduating and leaving home, it has become glaringly clear to me that while most days are crazy and hectic and loud and busy – there are really only a few things in life that actually matter.

The problem? Sometimes the crazy and hectic and loud and busy take over, and all the things we “hope to do with our family some day” never happen. We think we’ll get around to it “when life settles down” or “after I get through this one thing.”

Life doesn’t slow down, there will never be more time, and what we all need to realize is this: If we want good for our family, we need to prioritize it, pray for clarity, and take the next step toward it.

Family prayer time? It doesn’t happen if we don’t schedule it in. Time to read our Bible as a family (or as an individual)? It doesn’t happen if we aren’t intentional. Serving together as a family? It gets tossed by the wayside if you don’t make a plan and execute it. Choosing good in any form? It’s too easy to let the schedule dictate the hours of our day.

I encourage you today (not tomorrow…today) to write down goals you have for your family. What does God want for your tribe? How can you make that happen? The truth is that if God wants it for you, He will provide the time and energy for you to make it happen. It’s as simple as that.

Regarding all things good for our family – and this looks different for each of us! – it can be as simple as sitting around the living room on pillows and bean bags talking about God’s goodness and praying together. But sometimes having something tangible in your home can make a huge difference in helping us carry out a plan or achieve a goal.

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Red Rock Traditions is a company that has created many fantastic items for families who want to be intentional about character training and time together. I pulled out a few of my favorites to show you, but I really encourage you to look through the catalog and see what fits your family’s needs best!

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My very favorite is this Thankful Hearts/Loving Hearts Guest Book! You can use it to fill with things your family is thankful for, but we got one and we’re going to use it for hospitality! Each time we have a guest, they will sign a wooden heart and slide it into the frame. It will hang on our wall as a loving reminder of all who have blessed our home. We will see their names and pray for them. This will soon be filled with great memories!

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I’d love to hear some of the ways your family has chosen to be intentional about your time together. Do you block out family prayer time? Do you set aside time to read the Bible together? What provides you with the best conversation time? How do you schedule this in with busy schedules?

A Blessing for Your Family

Johanna, a Direct Sales Leader with Red Rock Traditions, is giving away a $50 gift certificate for one of you to spend on these fantastic family items! Here’s how this will work:

  • Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win.
  • Look through the Red Rock Traditions catalog and leave a comment here sharing a favorite product you found for your family. This will get you a second entry in the giveaway!
  • Anyone who places an order before the end of June will receive Red Rock Bucks!

For every $25 purchase you will get $5 Red Rock Bucks for your next purchase. For every $75 purchase, you will get $10 Red Rock Bucks for your next purchase. And for every purchase over $150 you will get $20 Red Rock Bucks for your next purchase.

I’ll select a random winner for the $50 gift card on Tuesday, June 27.

a Rafflecopter giveaway