Menu Planning


Here are some of my menu plans.  As you will notice by the pictures, i went from a monthly plan all on one page to a 2 week plan on a page.  I still plan for a month at a time usually but occasionally I will only do 2 weeks.  Although I plan for a month at a time, I do my menu plan shopping every 2 weeks.  Planning a month at a time helps me save money by knowing what to buy in bulk and buying items that I need when they are on sale even I don’t need it for another week or two.  Unless it is a super deal, I don’t normally “stock up” on things because honestly buying them and letting them sit and not using them doesn’t really save you money.  And how many times have you bought several of something, taken them to your panty/storage area and then forgot you had them so you bought more the next shopping trip? Yep, I was doing that.  So to combat that I only buy about 5 of most non-perishables, unless there is a great deal or if it is a seasonal item (like at Aldi).

Ok, so back to the menu. I used to use a blank monthly calendar for my planning but have since changed to a weekly calendar with 2 weeks on a page.  I have always used the free printables from hello cuteness! because they are free and cute! However, she no longer offers the monthly calendars as a freebie.  But you can still get the 2-up weekly meal planner as a freebie, just scroll down the page and look under the organization heading.  And if you would rather have a monthly calendar, all you have to do is use this Google search or do your own! Heck, you could even create your own if you would rather do that.  Or you can visit Crafted by Lindy, Live Craft Eat, or Dimensions of Wonder (only Jan and Feb so far).

So menu planning is really easy, or at least the way I do it.  I have a list (mostly in my head) of the things my family likes that I make.  I also have my recipe binder that has tried and true recipes and new ones too!  I typically do not make things that I absolutely know that my kids (or hubs) will not eat! It is a waste of my time, a waste of money and ends up causing tears and frustration. So why punish myself?  That does not mean that I do not make new things or make them try new things (or retry old things).  And typically they have to eat at least 2 bites of whatever if made, except green beans which cause my 5 year old to throw up. Don’t ask.  Also I repeat meals usually at least 2x a month, sometimes more if it is one we all really like. And you may notice I don’t list side dishes below and you sometimes won’t see them on my plans and that is only because I make whatever veggie/rice/pasta I have on hand or that will go with the meal. I serve a lot of salad, corn and potatoes.  You can put whatever things your family likes with the main course.  I will do another post that lists the main course and 2 sides that go with it as I did that a while back to help but rarely follow it now.  So, do you want to know some of the things I make? You do, well then here goes!

  1. Tacos (usually 3-4 times a month)
  2. Baked Chicken legs (really easy)
  3. Pork Roast (in my dutch oven on Sundays usually)
  4. Stromboli/Calzone (on Fridays, homemade using refrigerated dough)
  5. Cheeseburger Macaroni (semi-homemade and this one is a favorite of everyone so its made at least 3 times a month and very easy)
  6. Fish (tilapia or salmon,  my kids love fish)
  7. Chicken Bacon Ranch (another family favorite)
  8. Chicken and Rice
  9. Chicken and Noodles (usually once a month and on Sunday)
  10. Roast in my dutch oven (on Sunday)
  11. Beef Stroganoff (in my dutch oven)
  12. Chicken and Sausage Gumbo served with white rice
  13. Chicken Florentine Pasta (my kids even ate the spinach! lol!)
  14. Breakfast for Dinner (usually 2x a month and on Saturdays)
  15. Italian Beef Sandwiches
  16. Chicken Alfredo Roll-ups (this is a fave but kind of labor intensive because I make my own alfredo sauce)
  17. Chili (2x a month in the colder months)
  18. Italian layer Bake
  19. Tator Tot Casserole
  20. Shepherds Pie
  21. Cheeseburger Ring
  22. Santa Fe Chicken Rice Pilaf
  23. Chicken Enchilada Pasta
  24. Chicken Strips (homemade)
  25. Corn Beef and Cabbage (only on St. Pattys day)
  26. Pork and Sauerkraut (only on New Years)
  27. Pizza (sometimes homemade and sometimes take-out)
  28. Cheesy Chicken Burritos
  29. Spaghetti (but rarely, less than once a month as my hubby is not a fan)
  30. Salisbury Steak
  31. Patty Melts

As you can see that is a list of 31 main courses, which means I could cook something different every day of the month if I wanted to! But I don’t, I usually make the same thing at least twice a month.  Some of the items above I only make in the colder months, some are “holiday” meals and some I only make once every few months.  Also when I am planning out my menu’s I leave at least one day for dining out or take-out.  We budget for this, sometimes it is 2 days a month.  Also I try to work in leftovers so that I am not wasting food.  Or instead of leftovers, I will try to do recipes that will use up the meat and stuff from a previous meal.  Say one night we have a rotisserie chicken for dinner and don’t eat it all.  Well, I will take that chicken and pull all the leftover meat off the bone and then save it to use in my cheesy chicken burritos or chicken and noodles.  I also take this method into account when I am grocery shopping.  A lot of times I buy whole chickens and boil them in my stock pot for several hours.  I usually get at least 3 cups of meat plus at least 8 cups of homemade chicken broth!

Here are some pictures of my menus-

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Note- I will be back later this week with links to recipes and to a couple other planning posts.  Sorry it is late and I am tired! The hubby and I are kid-free this week (thank you mother-in-law!) and today we spent from lunch time until 10 pm out doing fun stuff–eating and movie and shopping! 

91 Day De-Clutter Challenge


Beginning this challenge this week!  Hopefully it will help me get rid of some stuff that we really don’t have room for or need!  Although our new house is bigger than the old house, we don’t have any where near the storage that the old house had!  Especially in the kitchen area!  Another area that is smaller is the basement, which is also supposed to be my craft room/business area and the laundry area!

Here is the assignments if you want to join is.  Click on the image and it will take you to the website.


I will be back later with pictures of todays challenge– the fridge and freezer! aahhh

The Hardest Thing


There are a lot of things that are hard about moving.

Physically, you have all the packing, loading, unloading and unpacking you have to do.  I am not sure how many boxes it took to pack our entire family but it was a lot.  It took 10 rolls of packing tape to seal all the boxes, that I do know.

Spiritually it is hard because you are going to a new church where you don’t really know “how” they do things.  That might sound silly (and really it kind of is) but at the same time you don’t want to make a major goof the first time you worship in your new church!  Plus it is a new environment and I know for me that makes it hard because I tend to take a bit to feel comfortable.  I know that has nothing to do with my new church family and is all on me and I am working on it.

I think however that moving is the hardest emotionally!  At least for me anyways.  And I will freely admit that at one time in my life this wouldn’t have been true.  I am not trying to brag on myself but in the past 4 years or so, I have really grown and come a long way in the personal relationship department!  For several years I was a loner and not a people person.  And really i still prefer to be alone and am not really a people person.  But God has really shown me how the walls I built around myself to protect my heart from being hurt were not only keeping people locked out but were keeping me locked in!  Wow!  I never really thought about it that way before.  And while it may still be easier to retreat within, I know that that is not what the Lord would have me to do.

So the hardest part of this entire move has been saying good-bye or see you later to those I have grown close to.  Not just for the fact that I am leaving but also in the fact that while I am very emotional person it was hard to show that emotion.  And that doesn’t happen to me very often.  So this past weekend, I had to hug and say good-bye to people I have only known for barely over 18 months but feel they have been in my life forever!  Some of them were no-nonsense ladies who told you like it was.  Some of them were ladies that always said hi and genuinely asked how you were doing.  Some of them were ladies that were quiet and kind of reserved and others were outgoing and loud!  And some of them always had a word of encouragement or were willing to do you a favor anytime.  And although they were all so different in their personalities, backgrounds, and experiences there were two things they all had in common~ they all loved Jesus with their whole beings and they loved others (and it showed)!  I am so thankful that I had the privilege to be loved by them and to love them all!

So the hardest thing about this move was not telling our kids, our family or our church family.  It wasn’t packing my entire house, loading the u-haul, unloading the u-haul or unpacking the contents of my old home into my new house (still working on that one!).  Nope, none of that was as hard as leaving behind the relationships that I (and my family) have built in the last 18 months.  It was leaving behind all the people who helped us to settle in and really consider Marion, Il our home in the short time we had been there.

And while we are looking forward to the new relationships and friendships that God has in store for us at our new church in Washington, Il, I will miss those we left behind!

The Adventure Begins


Today is moving day!  We are planning on pulling out of Marion, Illinois by 9 am and head north to Washington, Illinois!  We have an entire caravan going~ the 26′ U-haul was NOT BIG ENOUGH!!! Wow!

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In addition to the truck, we have a pick up truck with a 5×8 trailer attached, Josh’s car, a friends mini-van and my mini-van! I am really beginning to doubt that the house will hold it all!  Guess that means I will have to do some more purging once we start unpacking!

Be back soon!

Birthday Bash


On Saturday we celebrated Micah’s 5th Birthday. His actual birthday was on Sunday and with daddy being a pastor, that day is busy as it is so we went a day ahead of schedule.  We all had a great time and are so thankful for everyone that came and helped us celebrate.  Here are some pictures from the day. Enjoy!

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