The Simplest Crock Pot White Chicken Chili

Who would like another recipe that only takes an effortless 5 minutes to prepare? What about a recipe that allows you to forget to thaw your meat ahead of time? A recipe that tastes amazing and is a crowd pleaser? Okeedokee! Let the excitement over this Crock Pot White Chicken Chili commence!

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This is one of those recipes in which you quickly place ingredients into a pot then walk away and let it make dinner for you. Is this a perfect recipe for a busy holiday season? Oh yes. Let’s enjoy our holiday season while our crock pot cooks dinner for us, shall we?

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Call this White Chicken Chili, or actually, let’s just call it A Night Off. This is one of those rare times we can simply open cans of prepared food and dump them into a pot. We can feel great knowing that it’s all still real food and it’s still healthy and nourishing for our families!

The Simplest White Chicken Chili

The Simplest White Chicken Chili
Serves: 6-8
  • 1-2 pounds boneless Chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2 15-ounce cans Black Beans (drained)
  • 2 10-ounce cans Rotel (Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles)
  • 2 cups Frozen Corn
  • 3 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing Mix*
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 2 8-ounce packages Cream Cheese
  1. Place chicken (frozen or thawed) in the bottom of a crock pot.
  2. Add beans, Rotel, corn, and seasonings over the chicken and stir.
  3. Place cream cheese on top of the mixture.
  4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  5. Remove chicken and shred, then stir it back into the soup.

*Here’s my Homemade Ranch Seasoning recipe.

Complete this meal by pulling salad fixin’s out of the fridge and washing some fresh fruit.

The Simplest Crock Pot White Chicken Chili

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Real Food Recipes That Are Easy AND Save You Money

I used to make everything from scratch. Everything. Ketchup, graham crackers, and even mozzarella cheese. It’s great to have the skills and knowledge to do this. But at a certain point I had to ask:

Am I getting enough bang for my buck, here? As in, is the time I’m taking and the energy I’m extending to make all of this food really saving me money and therefore, is it worth it?


For the record, homemade mozzarella costs more than store-bought.

Now, sometimes it’s worth putting forth the effort or spending more to make food from scratch because of the health benefit and great flavor. I mean, I don’t even care how much it saves or doesn’t save to make Homemade Ranch Dressing because this recipe tastes thousands of times better than the bottled stuff and it only includes healthy ingredients. I don’t want high fructose corn syrup on my salad.


But as my schedule has gotten busier and as the quantity of food we plow through every day has increased, I’ve had to be more choosy about what I make, what I buy pre-made, and what I skip altogether.

For instance, I used to make all of our Whole Wheat Tortillas, without fail. These taste amazing and we miss them, but it takes triple the amount of tortillas to get us through a meal now, compared to the days my kids were little. It’s a rare occasion that I “go to the trouble” to make tortillas now, because it takes over an hour to get the job done. (Though when I do, there is much rejoicing.) We either skip tortillas now (often subbing corn chips), or I’ll buy a case from Azure Standard to keep in the freezer.

Having said all of that, today I thought I’d share some recipes I’ve stuck with for all these years, even with a busier schedule and a higher volume of food consumption. These recipes are worth my time, because the time investment is tiny. And they are cheaper than store-bought so they are a win-win! Also, homemade always tastes better, so score one more for that!

Real Food Recipes that are Easy and Save Money

Seasoning Mixes

I make all of our Ranch Dressing Mix, Italian Dressing Mix, Onion Soup Mix, and Taco Seasoning Mix. These cost pennies to make, saving a significant amount. And since I make big batches, the time saved on these is great!


Vanilla Extract

The price of beans has gone up, but it still saves money to make Homemade Vanilla Extract. It’s ridiculously easy to make, and well worth the effort because homemade vanilla is amazing!


Stir-and-Pour Whole Wheat Bread

We don’t eat as much bread as we used to at our house. I think it’s wholesome and filling and my family loves it, but I prefer to fill everyone with more nutrient-packed sides like fruits and veggies. So bread has taken a back seat at our house.

I do sometimes buy a loaf of 100% whole wheat sandwich bread for sandwiches when we need to pack them for a road trip. But for bread at home, when as do eat it with a meal, I make this Stir-and-Pour Whole Wheat Bread. It takes hardly any time or effort, and it doesn’t cost very much. And it tastes awesome!

stir and pour bread loaf 5

Homemade Granola

I discovered this 5-Minute Granola Method and haven’t looked back. I add in whatever we have (dried fruit or chocolate chips) and we’ve got ourselves a great cereal for much less than store bought!

Stove-Top Granola

All of these Simple Meal Recipes

Check out this Spanish Rice Bowl and the long list of other Simple Real Food Recipes it includes. I keep coming up with more of these recipes and am amazed at how much time and money they are saving! I’ve cut down my kitchen time with these Simple Recipes so much that I feel like a cheater. Almost. ;)

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Cool Pineapple Cream Dessert

This is ridiculously easy and so super yummy! Throw three ingredients in the blender and you’re set!

pineapple dessert 3

Special Coffee Drinks

It’s a rare thing for us to spend $$ at a coffee shop since we can make fun coffee drinks at home for much less! This Chocolate Frappe is awesome. Sometimes we put this Chocolate Whipped Cream in our coffee. We freeze coffee into ice cubes like this to make easy Iced Coffees. This Coffee Milkshake is awesome in the summertime. Sometimes I make a big batch of Chocolate Iced Coffee to offer several people at once. While all of these take a little time, it doesn’t feel like a lot of effort because it’s FUN to make drinks like this!

What are some of the foods you make from scratch that are easy and save money?

Did you get your Money-Saving Freebies yet?

Remember that anyone who signs up to join our FREE Heavenly Homemaker’s Savings Club gets both of these freebies sent to them. Fun!!

Top 10 Money Saving Recipes

30 Real Food Money Saving Tips

Sign up here, confirm your subscription, and both booklets will be in your inbox very quickly! Then we can keep you informed of any other money saving tips and deals we come across!

Simple Chicken Cheeseballs With a Kick (naturally gluten free)

I experimented with these Chicken Cheeseballs on a whim. It was a simple recipe and I figured chicken and cheese – sure, they’ll probably be pretty good. Pretty good? I should say so! I turned right around (did the hokey-pokey) and made these again three days later. These cheesy little meatballs are incredible!


The first night I pulled a batch of these out of the oven, one by one my men came into the kitchen, took a look at the meatballs, and popped one into his mouth. I think each one, in turn, said the same thing, “Whoa. What are these? These are amazing! You can make these again!” (Don’t mind if I do.) I wouldn’t say my family is very picky, and yet, when every single person in the family likes a recipe, this is a huge score.


You might be wondering, like I did, “What holds these meatballs together? Don’t we need flour or bread crumbs or a bisquik type baking mix to make this recipe work? Nope. They stay together just fine even though they are made with only ground meat, cheese, and a few spices. They take only a few minutes to mix up and scoop into a pan. You can make the side dishes for your meal while they bake. AND, if you have time, you can make a double or triple batch to freeze so that all you have to do at mealtime is grab out the amount you need and bake them!

I used a scoop like this one to make these meatballs. Whoa, does that little kitchen gadget come in handy!

Simple Chicken Cheeseballs with a Kick

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Chicken Cheeseballs With a Kick
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
  • 1½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons hot sauce (I use Cholula)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.
  2. Scoop mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until balls are nice and brown.
  4. Pour off excess grease that has accumulated before serving.


Use ground sausage or ground beef if you prefer in this recipe. You can use these Chicken Cheeseballs on a holiday snack buffet table, serve them for breakfast, or serve them as a main dish at dinner – they are perfectly versatile. I’m looking forward to keeping these in my freezer for quick, simple meals in the future!

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You Can Do This! Real Food Beginnings, Menu Planning Fun, Deals, and Freebies!

If I could say one thing to encourage you as you work toward a real food kitchen, it would be to say this: You can do this (because you are amazing)!

I know cooking isn’t fun for everyone nor does it come easy to everyone. I know the transition from processed foods to real foods can be challenging. But as we all know, food is a necessary part of life, several times every day. Nourishment is necessary too.

I’m good at food. This is not a boast, it’s just that I love food and everything about it – just like you love what you love and are good at what you do. I also know that many of you are good at food, and some of you are better at it than you think you are! I’ve been working at this real food gig for 10 years now, and I love providing you with good recipes that are still easy and quick. I love putting together resources that will make your real food journey easier.

So this weekend, I had fun putting together a super inexpensive package deal of many of my favorite “You Can Do This! Real Food Resources.” I also compiled some of the free downloads from my archives that will help you on your journey. Real food deliciousness can be easy when you follow these simply laid out steps, ideas, and recipes.

Real Food Beginnings

First, I’m offering our You Can Do This eCourse, along with 6 of our simple, real food kitchen eBooks – worth $42.79 – for only $12.00. Total. For all of it.This is to encourage you on your real food journey.

You Can Do This Real Food eCourse and eBook package

This package includes:
You Can Do This! The First Five Steps to a Real Food Kitchen eCourse
What to Do With the Chicken in Your Kitchen eBook
What to Do With the Cow in Your Kitchen eBook $4.95
Do the Funky Kitchen eBook $4.95
Heavenly Homemaker’s Real Food Weekly Menu Plan Ideas Packet $5.00
1-2-3 Menu Planning eBook $5.00
Build Your Menu Planning Notebook $5.99


Add to Cart

Next, I’ve put together a list of freebie resources you can enjoy on your real food journey!

Come Get Your Real Food Resource Freebies!

breakfast_e-book cover_sm

Enjoy these resources, and be sure to grab the big package of You Can Do This! Real Food Resources at a huge discount here now (discount ends Tuesday, September 29)!

You Can Do This! Real Food Resources

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Meals I Fed Six Men on a Roof for Three Days

Men on a roof? Yep, six of them.


Matt and the boys (plus another young man) have been hanging out on a roof across town part of last week and this. In a few days this army tore off the damaged roof and replaced it with a new one. Driving up to see all my men working so hard made my heart all aflutter. But then it promptly stopped when my ten year old spotted me driving up and started running across said roof to greet me. Ohmygoodness, please do not run across a roof, whatintheworld?? (The roof is super not-steep. But still.)

The big role I played in the roofing process was feeding the hungry people. What’s new, right? Except that I got to deliver the food to my men just like I used to deliver food to the harvest crew when I was growing up in Kansas. It was super fun. Plus I was the hero every time I drove up to greet the hungry roofers. Hard work makes for big appetites!

I took a few pictures of the food I bought, prepared, and delivered. Read along and pretend to be interested in my sandwiches.

Food for 6 Men on a Roof

First, I shopped. I had to buy green beans because of the naughty bunnies. I splurged on a few fun foods like juice (the bottles of which came in very handy later for homemade Gatorade), Kind bars, and Veggie Chips for the roofers. I bought lunch meat. I bought a teeny tiny little block of cheese. Price-matching helped me get great deals on many fresh fruits and veggies!


Realizing I had no potatoes or onions in the house after I got home, I ran to another store closer to my house to grab them – along with hot dog buns. {and everyone gasped in shock} You know what I decided? There’s barely such thing as a healthy hot dog bun, so I might as well buy the cheapest I can find for the occasional times we treat ourselves to hot dogs. The hot dogs ended up being a very fun roofing lunch (and easy), so yay for cheap buns and all that.

groceries 8-6-152

The lunch I delivered on the first day consisted of turkey sandwiches, chips, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, raw veggies, brownies right out of the oven (only because I barely got them done in time), bottles of juice, and homemade peach milkshakes in jars. They devoured it all and asked if I would mind bringing a little something else mid-afternoon.

roofing food1

So I made a bunch of quesadillas around 2:30 that afternoon, grabbed some cold Izzes from the fridge, and headed back to the work site. Not to worry – I got other work done at home too in between all the running. :)

roofing food 2

The next morning I made a triple batch of what my boys now call “Super Mama Waffles.” They aren’t just waffles. They are waffles with berries and whipped cream. Big difference. My hope was to fill the guys very full so they would last until lunch.

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Still, by lunch they were starving. I’m not surprised. This is the day I took the first round of homemade gatorade in cute bottles. And the hot dogs on cheap buns. They also got carrots, grapes, cantaloupe, and chocolate cake. They came home a little bit earlier that day so I didn’t need to take a snack.

roofing food 6

They took the weekend off because of other commitments, and started back up on Monday. I went all out with a breakfast of Biscuits and Gravy, scrambled eggs, peaches, and plums.

roofing food 8
To make the most of my biscuit making mess, I made quite a few extras for the freezer. One mess, two meals. Yes please.

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There they are, frozen biscuits in a bag. Things like this make me happy.

roof food 9

Lunch was a little bit tricky that day as everyone was working on the roof in shifts, plus the young man staying with us was working at a different site. So I fed some of the guys at home, then packed food to deliver to two different work sites. I fed us all homemade pizzas, watermelon, grapes, carrots, cucumbers, homemade gatorade, and fun cookie pizza slices.

roof food 10

Yes, of course, there were more pizzas than what is pictured above. :)

roof food 11

That afternoon, when I traded out boys (some were at home mowing or working on other projects while others are helping Matt on the roof), I took Matt a snack. More homemade gatorade, some cantaloupe, the last pizza from lunch, and No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookie Bites. Watch for that new recipe soon(ish).

roofing food 12

It is important that you note that the cantaloupe I took Matt was the decaf variety. I guess somebody didn’t scrub the writing off the lids after her Iced Coffee Bar party.

roofing food 13

Kudos to all of you who deliver meals to your men in the field frequently during the summer! It was fun for me for just a few days, but I couldn’t keep up this pace for long. I sure did love watching my boys work so hard alongside their dad, though.

And now to tackle the messy kitchen that is a result of cooking then jumping into the van. :)

Do you pack food and/or deliver food frequently? What kinds of food do you make?

Build a Breakfast Burrito Bar

It seems that I’ve been on a bit of a Build a _________ Bar kick during the past few months. I believe it just makes sense now that my kids are older. They definitely have specific tastes and preferences. Laying out ingredients and letting individuals put together what they like just makes sense.

That, and it’s much less work for me. I like this part best of all.

Beyond the family, the Build a __________ Bar idea is wonderful for company. Guests can fill their bowl or plate just the way they like. This is a great way to accommodate people with food allergies or differing tastes.

So let’s see. Shall we review the Build a ______ Bar ideas I’ve shared up to this point?

I thought surely I had posted about Build a Chef Salad Bar, but I guess I never have. That’s one of the easiest meal ideas, so I highly recommend it.

And now, consider a Breakfast Burrito Bar. This worked wonderfully for company a few weeks ago.

Build a Breakfast Burrito Buffet

Simply lay out breakfast burrito items and let everyone fill their plate according to their tastes. Here are some suggestions for the buffet:

Build a Breakfast Burrito BuffetYum

  • Warm tortillas
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Cooked meat like ham, sausage, or bacon
  • Shredded cheese
  • Salsa
  • Chopped veggies like peppers, onions, and mushrooms
  • Spinach

Of course, it’s great to offer a variety of fresh fruit for a side dish.

Do you have any other Build a __________ Bar ideas to share? I love how simple this is!

Eat Right Away ~ Introducing $2.00 Packets Built to Bless Your Family Dinner!

This idea has been a long time in the making! I’m very excited to introduce our latest project. It’s a collection of downloadable make-ahead recipe and instruction packets called Eat Right Away: Your Guide to Real Food Fast! 

Eat Right Away Collection2

Each of these downloadable Eat Right Away packets include:

  • 5 brand new recipes
  • 5 individual meal grocery lists, plus 1 big grocery list to aid you in making all five meals in one sitting (though you’ll actually be standing, not sitting, my apologies).
  • 5 individual recipe instructions, plus 1 “Be Efficient” set of instructions to guide you through making all five meals in one 2ish-hour time frame
  • Freezer safe instructions for each recipe, plus guidance on thawing, reheating, and serving each meal with little effort.
  • Serving suggestions so you don’t have to think about the side dishes
  • Bonus tips

Each packet is only $2.00, and we’ve made it easy by packaging all four packets together into one $8.00 collection! Yep! That’s it. We want to get them into all of your hands to help you save time and money in your real food kitchen.

Each recipe is family friendly, easy to prepare, contains simple, real food ingredients, and can be made ahead and frozen so that you can Eat Right Away!

Bonus! So far, the ten recipes in these two packets can be easily adapted to be gluten free. The only ingredient which is not naturally gluten free in these recipes is pasta. Sub the wheat pasta for rice or corn pasta and voila! 10 gluten free recipes that you can Eat Right Away!

Let’s begin with Eat Right Away: Beef Edition. Recipes included are:

  • Cheesy Salsa Burgers (The easiest recipe ever. Make it gluten free by serving on a bed of lettuce.)
  • One Dish Cheesy Beef and Potatoes (Our family’s favorite so far.)
  • Bacon-Wrapped Individual Meatloaves (Make ’em ahead, pull ’em out, cook ’em up! You don’t even have to thaw these in advance.)
  • Easy Hamburger Soup (The ultimate comfort food.)
  • Baked Ziti (Could it be possible that we like this as much as lasagna? Yes.)

Eat Right Away, Beef Edition

Make all five meals in about 2 hours time. Be rewarded with five delicious meals to pull out and serve with little additional effort!

Next, take a look at Eat Right Away: Chicken Edition. Recipes included are:

  • Teriyaki Chicken and Veggie Kabobs (This one takes a tiny bit of extra effort. It is WORTH IT.)
  • Easy Apricot Chicken (Takes five minutes to make. No joke.)
  • Sloppy Salsa Chicken (Also takes five minutes…okay six. I’m serious.)
  • Mexi-Chicken Pasta (Where has this been all my life?)
  • Chicken Tostadas (So fast!)

Eat Right Away, Chicken Edition

Make all five meals in about less than 2 hours time. Be rewarded with five delicious meals to pull out and serve with little additional effort!

Eat Right Away: Slow Cooker Chicken Edition ~ Recipes Included Are:

  • Cheesy Chicken Potatoes and Broccoli
  • Italian Chicken and Veggies
  • Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken
  • Barbecue Cranberry Chicken
  • Ranch Chicken Tacos

Eat Right Away Slow Cooker Chicken Edition Banner

Eat Right Away: Slow Cooker Beef Edition ~ Recipes Included Are:

  • Roast Beef and Melted Cheese Sandwiches
  • Mongolian Beef
  • Balsamic Beef Roast
  • Sweet Pepper Beef Stew
  • Hawaiian Beef and Rice

Eat Right Away Slow Cooker Beef Edition Banner

Just like the chicken recipes, you can make all five beef recipes in about one hour. Put them in the freezer or fridge. Pull them out and throw them into the crock pot.

Grab these four packets and get started with putting together these 10 great meals so that you can Eat Right Away!

Four recipe guides to help you eat real food, fast! We've packaged these $2.00 packets into one easy downloadable collection of four. You'll love how easy these make it to feed your family great meals with little effort!
Price: $8.00

The Groceries I Bought This Week and Why I Bought Some Junk

Well, I can’t really say that I blew the grocery budget plan that I had this month – but I did end up spending over the $400 I thought I’d spend this month during my freezer/pantry challenge.  It’s food, and we need it, so all is well.  Since I stayed right around $500 for the month, this is still huge savings for our big family.  My hope is to get back at it and continue through the month of February with this challenge.  We have plenty of meat to work with and plenty of pantry items.  Sticking with purchasing only produce and dairy should work for one more month just fine!

Here’s a peek at what that extra spending went into:

Our Azure Standard order came in, which is always fun.  I ordered sweet potatoes, frozen peas, carrots, chicken thighs (love these!), and roasted peanuts.

azure order jan

I filled my cart at the grocery store – mostly with produce.  But as you can see, I also bought some junk.  Be glad you can’t see the frozen pizzas hiding behind the chips.

jan 28 groceries


Why did I buy junk, you ask?  Our church hosted a big youth rally this weekend, and our family signed up to host several of the boys for two nights.  Many of the boys who came to town (from 5 different states) are good friends with our boys, having become acquainted at church camp the past few years.  Youth rally weekends like this are like reunions for them!  All that to say, we housed 17 teenage boys Friday and Saturday nights.  There is no shortage of great friends for our boys, that is for sure!

Their meals were all taken care of at the church building, but once at our house for the night – they  needed snacks.  I laid out huge bowls of fruit for the boys to help themselves to, and I also provided chips and a little bit of pizza.  Homemade food was out of the question this time as Matt and I have been teaching classes at the youth rally all weekend.

Surely you’re wondering:  How was it housing so many extra teenage boys?  Oh my, it was so much fun.  We know most of the teens at the rally.  So having the boys in our home was awesome.  It always sounds like a lot – having so many extra teens.  But truly, they are so nice, so polite, and so enjoyable.

I will say, with much affection and a bit of a cringe:  My entire house smells like a 3,000 square foot sock.  Whoahoho.  I love these boys and will gladly fill my home with them.  But 34 teenage boy feet is something else.  There are no words.

I should also let you know about the um…interesting situation with our bathroom remodel.  All is well really – but as is typical of home improvement projects, this one is taking longer than expected.  Matt had been working and working to at least get a working shower in before all the boys (and their feet) showed up.  He was up until 4:30 this morning finishing it.  (And then he taught Bible classes all day today at the rally.  He is a Rock Star.)

bathroom 3


Everything else looks pretty disgusting in the bathroom right now, but hey, how about that pretty shower?!!!

Fun as all this is, I am one tired mom.  Sleep isn’t on the agenda much during youth rally weekends.  I’ll nap after they all go home on Sunday afternoon, you can bet on it.  Writing out a menu plan for this weekend to share with you isn’t within my physical or mental capability.  Maybe you can leave some yummy meal ideas in the comments for me this time?  Aw, aren’t you sweet.  :)

How I Prepared 2 Healthy Meals in 20 Minutes


I dropped Malachi off at piano lessons at 10:00 this morning, arriving home at 10:05.  I needed to leave again to pick him up at 10:25.  That leaves 20 minutes.  (That was your math lesson for the day. If only all story problems made that much sense.  Who invented those anyway?)

Knowing my day was super full:  school and website work throughout the day; piano lessons for Malachi at 10; soccer for Matt, Asa, Justus, and Malachi at 2; grocery shopping for Elias and me at 2; someone coming by to pick up a co-op order at 3:30; friend coming over to study with Asa at 4; Bible study at 6:30 – and did I mention there’s a “ready to be assembled” shower in my living room  and plaster dust all over my house right now??  Well, I knew I needed to stay on top of meals if we were going to actually eat today.

I decided to see how much meal prep I could get done in my 20 minutes of time before picking Malachi up from lessons.  See, I can’t just say, “Here’s how to put a nutritious meal together when you’re low on time.”  No.  I have to go into all the details about my schedule and give my opinions on math problems and tell you about the new toilet that promises to flush efficiently that’s still in the box but will soon be in my new bathroom but not until we get all the tile issues figured out.  (That is a story problem in and of itself.)

So busy day, blah, blah, blah.  Here’s how to put a nutritious meal together when you’re low on time:

2 Healthy Meals in 20 Minutes

Today I decided to make Easy Noodle Stir Fry for lunch and Taco Salad for dinner.

At 10:06 I started browning meat for the Taco Salad.  While it was cooking I washed and cut carrots and broccoli, throwing it all into a pot with spinach for Stir Fry.  (The asparagus I had planned to use up was slimy so I had to throw it out.  I was very disappointed and apparently need to re-read this post somebody wrote recently about not wasting food.)

I gave the meat a stir from time to time.  I answered a question about an English assignment, drank a few swigs of water, and threw some blueberries into my mouth for a snack.  I put water in a pot to boil noodles at noon.  I got out the noodles.  I dumped mixed greens into a big bowl, poured in cheese I had shredded Monday, and tossed it all around with the freshly cooked taco meat.  I mixed up French Dressing for the Taco Salad.

At 10:26 I ran out the door to pick up Malachi.

With all the major prep work done for our day’s meals, at lunch time all I had to do was turn on the stove to cook the prepared veggies and boil noodles.  At dinner time all I had to do was get the prepared salad out of the fridge, dice some tomatoes (which I picked up at the store this afternoon on my grocery run), and get out the tortilla chip crumbs I’ve been saving for such a meal as this.  I also cut up a pineapple to complete our evening meal.  That took two minutes.

Now you tell me.  Is it really so terribly time consuming to prepare healthy food?  I think not.

What are some of your quick-to-prepare meals that pack a punch with nutrition?  Have any great “prep-ahead” methods to share with us?


Join the fun! Check out our amazing Simple Meals program!

This will save your money, save your energy, and give you back more time to spend with your family. You will love this!


My Favorite Menu Planning Resources – and How I Feed All These Teenagers Without Going Broke

As the old saying goes:  Where there is no plan, there is no casserole.

I think that’s in the Bible somewhere.  Or maybe I just made it up twelve seconds ago.  How about this one:  A frozen chicken will remain frozen if left in a frozen environment.  I definitely made that one up.

All this proverbial insight to say:  Menu plans are really nice.  They help you save money.  They help you eat healthier.  You should make meal plans.

For all of you (and I know there are some) who find that meal planning hurts instead of helps you – I say keep doing what you’re doing to put healthy meals on the table.  No need to fix what isn’t broken.

For everyone else, I’m determined to do all I can to encourage whatever it takes for you to prepare simple, healthy meals that don’t break the bank.  Menu planning can be a big help, but it can also be overwhelming if you haven’t found your menu planning comfort zone.

Before I say more though, first let me share this:  You should read the post Cooking Healthy Meals When the Menu Plan Fails.  Even with the best of intentions, there are times my frozen chicken is still frozen at dinner time.  It happens.  No need to freak out, feel like a failure, or call for take-out.  These ideas have saved me many times when my plans didn’t fall into place perfectly.  (Hello, Life. You sure are busy.)

I want to help set us up for menu planning success as best I can.  I don’t actually like the word success because we seem to think that the opposite of success is fail – and that isn’t true (see paragraph above, in which I use the word fail, but wish I didn’t and there’s nothing I can do about it now).  So let’s go with menu planning empowerment, how does that sound?

By the way, what I’m about to share will not only give you insight into how I prepare healthy meals for my family every day, it will also help you understand how it is possible for me to feed a houseful of teenage boys (and often their friends) without having to sell my furniture as a way to afford it.  Planning ahead saves us hundreds of dollars every year.  I can’t not plan.  I can’t fall back on take-out.  Keeping food costs down is very important when there’s already a comma in the grocery budget dollar amount.  (They eat so much foooooooood.  But love them, they’re worth it, and all that.)

Empowering You to Plan Healthy Menus

1. One of my favorite ways to be inspired and gain ideas is to look at recipes.  I look at cookbooks and on Pinterest, but mostly, I scroll through my dropdown menu of the hundreds (maybe thousands?) of recipes right here on my website.  They are categorized, alphabetized, and even though I’m the one that put them there, I still come across recipes I forgot existed.  It’s fun!

Doing this offers variety to our menu and gets my food planning creativity flowing.  I typically pick seven recipes in each meal category and plug them into my menu for the week.  There is flexibility, of course.  There is always flexibility.  My menu plan doesn’t own me, it simply acts as a guide.

Below is a screen shot of the dropdown menu on my website when I’m holding my cursor over the word RECIPES in my header.  Do that, then click on any page you need.  You’ll see lovely lists of real food recipes to pick from.  Let your family help choose recipes to try if you like!

recipe dropdown

2.  I’ve written and shared hundreds (maybe thousands?) of menu plans here through the years.  They are all in my archives, found at this Menu Planning Archives link.  These are fun to look through for inspiration because they are complete menu plans, full of ideas for ways to pair side dishes with main dishes.

3.  Our Heavenly Homemaker’s Recipes – Search by Ingredients feature is a really fun way to plan meals based on the ingredients you have in your home.  If I’m at a lost as to what to plan, I simply type in a few key ingredients I want to use (such as beef, cheese, tomatoes), then scroll through the recipes that pop up for me.  You’ll see this special search box at the top right of my side bar.  Use it!  It’s fun and helpful!search by ingredients

4.  I’ve put together three very thorough menu planning resources through the years:  40 Real Food Menu Plans; 1-2-3 Meal Planning; and Build Your Menu Planning Notebook.  The first two share all my best tips and strategies for planning meals, plus they include tons of meal plan ideas.  The thinking is already done for you!

notebook 2

The Notebook?  Oh my goodness.  That’s how I put it all together.  Not only is it mega helpful, it’s cute and fun and made to order.  Yours probably won’t look like mine because your menu planning needs and design preferences are likely different from mine.  That’s the beauty.  You print and put yours together the way it will work best for you.  :)

To bless your menu planning efforts this New Year, we’ve packaged up our three menu planning resources and knocked them down to half price.  Now’s the time to get into a good menu planning routine!  Save yourself some time and money, letting these resources guide you.

Menu Planning Collection

Menu Planning Collection
Menu planning can save you money, time, and help you eat healthier too. Let these downloadable guides and planners make the job even easier!
Price: $9.95