From Burrito Bar to Casserole – a 5 Minute Way to Use Leftovers!

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Allow me to tell you about two of my favorite new Simple Meals tricks! From Burrito Bar to Casserole, here are two meals that go together super easily!

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The first favorite Simple Meals trick is this: Any time I’ve been privileged to feed a large crowd lately, I have been setting up a Burrito Bar. I fed Asa’s soccer team this way (35+ college male athletes, phew!). I fed Matt’s soccer team this way (20+ college women athletes – Matt’s their assistant coach).

It is important, yet frustrating, to note that I took no pictures of either meal because I always get too busy with the food and the fellowship and I forget to take a picture. I regret this every time. But moving on…

What is great about setting up a Burrito Bar is that each person can build a burrito (or three) to his or her liking. And best yet, those who have food allergies can still eat this meal! (My gluten free friends skip the tortilla but can eat everything else. My dairy free friends can skip the cheese and sour cream and eat everything else. It’s so simple!)

Burrito Bar Fixin’s

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And now for my second favorite Simple Meals trick! After I’m finished serving the Burrito Bar, I stir together the leftovers and spread it into a casserole dish. This makes it super easy to put away leftovers! And it makes for a very delicious meal on another day, which takes zero effort!

I fully admit that this doesn’t look super appetizing. For shame. Something so delicious should not look so…blah.

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I will now attempt to give you an idea of measurements so that you, too, can stir together Burrito Bar leftovers and create a new meal of…what shall we call it? Burrito Bar Casserole? Cheesy Mexican Rice? Mom’s Night Off? Yes, let’s call it that.

From Burrito Bar To Casserole

From Burrito Bar to Casserole - a 5 Minute Way to Use Leftovers!
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • Leftover cooked chicken or hamburger (1-2 pounds)
  • Leftover cooked rice (2-3 cups)
  • Leftover beans (up to 2 cups)
  • Salsa (2-3 cups)
  • Sour Cream (2-3 cups)
  • Shredded cheese (1-3 cups, optional)
Instructions
  1. Stir these leftovers together, not worrying much about the measurements!
  2. Spread the mixture into a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
  3. Top it with cheese (optional).
  4. Cover and refrigerate until ready to warm and serve. Or cover and freeze for up to two months.
  5. When you are ready to serve this meal, cover it with foil and slide it into a cold oven.
  6. Bake a refrigerated casserole at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Bake a frozen casserole at 275 degrees for 2-3 hours or until hot and bubbly.

From Burrito to Casserole - a 5 minute way to use leftovers

Do not get stuck on the measurements for this “casserole.” Simply stir the leftovers together until it looks right for your family. Then your kids might do what mine did, take one bite, and say, “This is actually pretty good.”

Actually?

Yes, because it’s so shocking that my food would taste good. (Okay, but in their defense, it didn’t look super tasty, right?)

More Simple Recipes

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Honey Sweetened No-Bake Cookies – Prepare To Be Amazed!

When you no longer eat much sugar, but you want to enjoy your childhood favorite No-Bake Cookies…you make the cookies with a little bit of honey to see if you can pull it off. They turn out so delicious you start dancing in the living room.

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What? Of course you can dance about cookies. Delicious No-Bake Cookies made with honey are worth dancing over.

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For the record, I don’t dance in public. There is good reason for this as my feet and my head don’t always play nice together. My head knows where my feet should go and gives directions accordingly. But then my feet are like, “Are you kidding me right now?” then my head is like, “That is not at all what I told you to do; what are you actually thinking?” and my feet say, “You aren’t the boss of me, I’ll do what I want.” So then my brain gives up and says, “Forget it. At least I’m good at making cookies.”

My friend Kim sent me this recipe idea, then I tweaked it just a bit to make it my own. I guess we could say that it’s Kim’s fault that I was dancing in the living room. She can be glad I didn’t invite her over to watch. Though I probably should thank her with a cookie sometime.

Honey Sweetened No-Bake Cookies

Honey Sweetened No-Bake Cookies
 
Author:
Serves: 18-20
Ingredients
  • ½ - ¾ cup honey
  • ⅔ cup natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup butter or coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized sauce pan, stir together honey, peanut butter, butter, and cocoa powder.
  2. Melt and stir ingredients over medium heat until well combined and slightly bubbly.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Add oats and stir until coated.
  5. Scoop 1-2 Tablespoons of mixture onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
  6. Chill No-Bake Cookies in the refrigerator until they are set, about 1 hour.

Honey Sweetened No Bake Cookies

Want some more Low Sugar Cookie recipes?

With all these recipes making us so very happy, we will all be dancing in our living rooms. What will the neighbors think?

Are you a No-Bake Cookie fan? Did you grow up eating these? Can you dance? (I mean, any of us can. But are you good at it?)

Real Food I Consistently Buy at Walmart

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

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

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

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Walmart

What do I buy at Wal-Mart?

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

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~ Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

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

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~ Frozen Veggies as Needed

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

~ Chicken

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

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~ Cream and Half-and-Half

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

~ Colby Jack Cheese

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

~ Day-Old Bread on the Mark-Down Cart

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

~ Hormel Naturals Lunch Meat

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

~ Nitrite Free Hot Dogs

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

~ Organic Mixed Greens and Fresh Spinach

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

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

Make Your Own Real Food Pudding Cups (and Save Money!)

Perhaps you are excited as I am about the Easy Peanut Butter Pudding recipe I shared a few days ago. If so, you can get even more excited about how you can make different varieties of homemade pudding to create your own transportable Real Food Pudding Cups! Not only are these Pudding Cups made with real food, you will be amazed at the low cost for such a wholesome treat!

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Take note that some people (who shall remain nameless) tried to overfill their cute little cups and then the lids wouldn’t go on. Correction: The lids did go on, but pudding pushed up and over the top through the lid and squished down the sides of the cup, ruining the cuteness and creating a mess. I don’t know who would do this, but some people did this, so don’t be one of these people.

The nameless people who overfilled their cups had to scoop out pudding into an extra cup before placing lids on top. But then look:

Homemade Pudding Cups

Transportable pudding cups!

A couple years ago I discovered these awesome BPA Free Cups with Lids at Amazon and have used them over and over. We’ve used them for applesauce cups and for transporting berries or veggie dip. They come in super handy! And now, we learn that we can use them to make these Easy Homemade Pudding Cups.

Let’s talk Pudding Cup Ingredients and Cost

I recently checked the price and ingredients for pudding cups at the store. First of all, the store-bought pudding cups sit on a shelf instead of in a fridge, so we can be sure there are many preservatives included. The biggest reason to avoid these is that they include two kinds of hydrogenated oils plus vegetable oil, none of which can our bodies digest well or utilize for nourishment. Cost for store-bought is roughly $0.25 for a 3.25 ounce cup.

How much do Homemade Real Food Pudding Cups Cost?

I used all real food, organic ingredients and my cost break down was still surprisingly low! So if you use non-organic ingredients you might find yourself saving even more!

I estimated that one batch of pudding cost me about $1.75. This made six 5-ounce cups of pudding, which breaks down to $0.29 per pudding cup! But since the cups I’m using are slightly bigger than store-bought pudding cups, the price per ounce of homemade pudding is actually less expensive than purchased pudding cups!

How about that? Making Real Food Pudding Cups saves us money and ensures that we’re getting a wholesome, filling snack or dessert!

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You can have fun making pudding varieties and mixing and matching fun flavors! Reuse the disposable cups (they wash up easily!) to save even more.

Easy Recipes for Pudding Cups

Two Great Pudding Cup Tips

  1. Adjust the sugar amount in each of these recipes to your liking. Take note also that you can use any sweetener you choose, from maple syrup to honey, brown sugar, or sucanat.
  2. These Pudding Cups freeze well! Make a bunch ahead of time, then pull out a few at a time to thaw as needed.

What can you do with extra egg whites after making homemade pudding? 

These pudding recipes call for egg yolks as the egg whites tend to create a funny texture as the pudding cooks. I set the egg whites aside, store them in a jar in the fridge, then often add them to our scrambled eggs to use them up. Or you can make Coconut Macaroon Cookies.

Make Your Own Real Food Pudding Cups

What’s your favorite variety of pudding? Do you have any other great ideas for utilizing these reusable plastic cups with lids?

Some of these links are affiliate links.

Easy Peanut Butter Pudding

This one was Justus’ idea. He’s my 17-year old, my senior in high school. These are my last few months with him at home so when he said, “Mom, do you think you could figure out how to make Peanut Butter Pudding?” of course I immediately dropped whatever I was doing to work on his request.

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I kid. I mean, I would never drop whatever I’m doing to go with a whim of one of my children. Never would I attempt to spoil any of my kids. Especially when it comes to food. They must be taught patience, that the world doesn’t revolve around them, even if it is their senior year and the mother can’t breathe at the thought of missing out on the delightful morning conversations she enjoys with her second born every morning before the others wake up. Even if.

Okay fine. I dropped what I was doing and I made the kid some Peanut Butter Pudding. It sounded like an amazing treat, and I agreed with Justus that the protein mixed in with the sweetness would be a fabulous combination.

Justus Senior4600

As an aside, it is worth a mention that I learned with our first born that the world doesn’t end when you graduate a child and send him from home. Life with your adult child does, indeed, grow in richness (this is ironic because of the college bills). But this doesn’t stop me from feeling all of the many feelings associated with launching another child from our nest. I will enjoy this time with him to the full. I will cry tears of joy and pride frequently. And I will make him pudding with peanut butter in it, just because he mentions that it sounds good.

The recipe is simple (you would expect nothing less, right?). It is creamy and rich and delightful. It tastes even better served with Chocolate Pudding.

Easy Peanut Butter Pudding

5.0 from 1 reviews
Easy Peanut Butter Pudding
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup real maple syrup, honey, sucanat, or brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons corn starch
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together all ingredients except butter and vanilla.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until pudding begins to thicken.
  3. Stir over the heat for about 15 more seconds or until pudding has reached desired thickness. Remove immediately from the heat, and continue to stir until pudding is creamy.
  4. (I use my whisk the whole time for stirring and find this works great!)
  5. Add butter and vanilla and continue to stir until mixed.
  6. Pour into serving dishes and serve warm, or chill for two hours and serve cold.

Easy Peanut Butter Pudding

It’s possible you can look forward to me sharing other great food ideas Justus has this year. Not that I’ll drop everything and make them on a whim. We would never, ever want to spoil our children. Especially with food. Even if it’s their senior year.

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“Hey Mom. Think you could make my favorite Italian Cream Cheese Chicken soon?” Absolutely, Justus. Absolutely.

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars – From Freezer to Oven!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breakfast Cookies for the Freezer

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

Freezer Breakfast Cookies5

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

The Easiest Way to Make Muffins

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

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

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

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

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars

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

Make-Ahead Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master List of 100 Simple Snack Ideas

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

Food/Ingredients I Keep in my Freezer

Freshly Ground Flour

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

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

Pastry Flour 3

Pizza Crust

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

Make Your Own Frozen Pizza

Frozen Cookie Dough 

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

How to Make Refrigerator Cookie Dough

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Breakfast Cookie Dough Balls

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

Breakfast Cookies for the Freezer

Cooked Bacon

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

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Hashbrowns

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

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Ground Beef

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

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Boneless Chicken Thighs

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

ranch chicken salad1

Homemade Poptarts

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

homemade-poptarts-for-the-freezer

Muffin Batter

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

Freeze Your Muffin Batter 3

Frozen Veggies

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

grilled chicken3

Frozen Fruit

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

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Butter

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

beef_and_butter

Food I Keep in my Fridge

Shredded Cheese

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

grating cheese2

grating cheese3

Mixed Greens

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

mixed greens

Peanut Butter

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

Super Creamy Peanut Butter

Cookie Bites

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

No-Bake Cookie Bites - Easy Recipes!

Fat Bombs

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

fat-bombs-easy-and-delicious

Ranch Dressing

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

Ranch Dressing and Dip Mix

Cold Water for Javita Drinks

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

javita products snapshot2

Eggs

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

eggs

Butter

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

butter

What are your fridge and freezer staples?

Simple Lasagna Casserole (Instructions for Instant Pot or Crock Pot!)

This Simple Lasagna Casserole makes it possible for me to offer this proclamation: If life gets any easier, we will all have to find new hobbies. 

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Just kidding. No doubt we all have plenty to fill our days. It’s just that all these Simple Meals take so little time and energy to prepare, we are all shocking ourselves with how quickly we can put a delicious, real food meal on the table!

Prep time for this Simple Lasagna Casserole recipe takes a tiny 5 minutes. Cook time in the Instant Pot takes another 5 minutes. Good grief, I barely have time to get out salad fixings, plates, and forks before my Instant Pot beeps to tell me that dinner is ready.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s nice to start dinner ahead of time, leave, and come back to it a few hours later. That’s where the Crock Pot comes in. I can start this casserole cooking in my crock pot (which also takes only 5 minutes of effort), walk away, do a load of laundry, answer a dozen emails, leave the house, scream for my boys at a soccer game, and come home to a ready-made dinner.

lasagna casserole2

NOTE: One of the tricks to making this meal so fast and easy to put together is having Cooked Hamburger Meat already prepared and ready to stir into this dish. If you have an Instant Pot, I highly recommend cooking it this way to get ahead on your hamburger. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, I still recommend cooking hamburger meat ahead of time on the stove-top, then freezing it in meal size portions to make dinner prep easier!

Cook Time Options for Simple Lasagna Casserole

Instant Pot: 5 minutes
Crock Pot: 3-4 hours

Simple Lasagna Casserole (Instructions for Instant Pot and Crock Pot!)
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 16-ounces UNCOOKED whole grain pasta, any shape
  • 1 pound cooked hamburger meat
  • 50-ounces spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 16-ounces cottage cheese
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (your favorite)
Instructions
  1. Stir uncooked pasta, spaghetti sauce, water, cooked meat, sea salt, and cottage cheese in a crock pot or instant pot. Cook as follows:
  2. Crock Pot: Cook on low for 3-4 hours.
  3. Instant Pot: Cook on Manual at high pressure for 5 minutes.
  4. Once time is up for either Crock Pot or Instant Pot, stir mixture and top with cheese, covering dish so the cheese will melt.
  5. Serve!

Simple Lasagna Casserole for Instant Pot or Crock Pot

More Simple Recipes

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It’s Not Too Late! Join our 30-Day Real Food Money Saving Challenge!

It’s time for the 30-Day Real Food Money Saving Challenge! It’s FREE. It’s fun. It’ll save you money. It’ll encourage you to eat right. (And by eat right, I mean spread butter on your bread and pour sweet cream on your peaches. This is the good kind of eatin’!)

We’ve got a whole slew of participants, but we still need more! For everyone who is interested in eating real food and saving money too, this is for you!

Take the 30 Day Challenge

Throughout the month of September, I’ll send out quick and easy real food money saving tips to everyone who signs up to take part in the fun. Should you choose to accept each challenge, you’ll be on your way to filling your table with simple real foods while keeping extra money in your wallet.

This 30-Day Challenge is FREE!

Yep. There’s no cost to join. The tips are fun and practical no matter where you live and what your grocery store options are!

This isn’t about couponing. This is simply about making the most of your grocery dollars while putting great, real food on the table.

Ready to join?!

All you have to do is:

Sign up to take the 30-Day Real~Food~Money~Saving Challenge here.


Throughout the month of September, I’ll send out quick and easy real food money saving tips. Should you choose to accept each challenge, you’ll be on your way to filling your table with simple real foods while keeping extra money in your wallet.

Let the 30-Day Real Food Money Saving Challenge begin!

Join here. 

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Aldi

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

aldi1161

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

First stop: Aldi

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Aldi

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

groceries feb 172

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

Real Food Groceries I Buy At Aldi

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

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Aldi…sometimes

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

Real Food Groceries I Buy at Aldi

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

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Psst!

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