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-

Photo on 2014-12-30 at 23.36 Photo on 2014-12-30 at 23.38 Photo on 2014-12-30 at 23.38 #2 Photo on 2014-12-30 at 23.39


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! 

Happy Birthday!

Where has the time gone?  That is what I keep thinking when I look at Micah; I can hardly believe that he is already 5 years old!  He will be starting Kindergarten this fall.

Micah’s journey has been an adventure that is for sure!  He is a miracle baby and one that I had started to think would not happen the traditional way.  Oh, I knew there would be a Micah John one day but I had started to think that instead of growing him and birthing him, he would come to us through adoption.  As a matter of fact we had started down the very early road of that process not too many months before finding out we were going to be welcoming a new baby into our lives the old fashioned way! ha!

And now it has been five years; five years of joy, happiness, struggles, heartache and tears! But all so worth the smiles, giggles, wonder and growing Micah has brought to our family.  He is so is own person and has the personality to match!  Although it is a struggle some days, I know that that same personality and determination will serve him well as an adult!

Here are some pictures of my little man!

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Naming The Baby

Most of you that are friends in real life or on Facebook know that we have chosen the name for our little guy and have been telling anyone who has asked since about 20 weeks, when we also announced that we were having a baby and what the gender was!  But I figured I would share it with my blog readers and also maybe a little background on how the name was chosen, when it was chosen and what it means.

As many of you know, we will be naming out little boy Zephaniah John when he enters this world (which is within the next 8 weeks!).  I absolutely love the name and am the one tha chose it.  Getting daddy on board took a little longer.  Here is the background.

When Josh and I first were married we discussed how many children we would like to have.  Of course while discussing it, we were both open to God giving us more or less and the possibility of adoption was also discussed.  Adoption is something that my husband and I have been open to since the beginning regardless of whether we could and would have biological children.  Anyways, as we discussed it was thought that 4 children would be great.  And although we didn’t really care what gender the four were, we sat down and came up with 4 names for those children, 2 boys and 2 girls.  As you know, we have already used 2 of the 4 names and in about 2 months will bestow the 3rd name on our newly born son.

I really wanted my children to have names that would be their own.  Not that I didn’t think that naming them after someone in the family would be great but as you know I have an unique name that I wouldn’t trade for the world now.  Really there are only two criteria when it comes to the naming of our children; their first names had to be Biblical names nad they had to end in the ah sound.  I know that second one is a little weird but if you know our names (or after you read them here) you will understand.  So the names we came up with where Sarai (pronounced Sarah) Rayne, Moriah Lael, Micah John and Zephaniah.  Now you will notice that Zephaniah has no middle name attached to it.  One of the reasons is because from the beginning my husband wasn’t fond of the name and really tried to persuade me to choose something else.  But I LOVED it and there was no changing my mind.  And the second reason is because I wanted him to choose the middle name and I think he thought that if he didn’t choose a middle name then I would relent and choose a different first name!

And honestly, I thought I was going to have to change it all the way up until the day of my 20 week ultrasound where we would find out the gender of the baby.  But that morning while driving to the doctor’s office we were discussing names and my husband agreed that we could name him Zephaniah (if it was a boy) as long as his middle name was John.  I said yes and was happy as can be!  In my mind, this little guy has been Zephaniah since before I had even conceived my first child!  And as I am sure you may have picked up on is the fact that both our boys now have the same middle name, John.  It is their daddies middle name and he has decided that he would like all of his boys to have John as their middle name.  And I am ok with that.

The thing that I find so great is that Zephaniah actually means “God has hidden” or “God has protected”! I love that!  Many of you know that my first two babies were born early after lots of pregnancy complications and while they are both happy and healthy children today, those were scary times!  I like to think that God knew that this little guy was not only going to be desperately wanted and a total and complete shock to his parents but that this pregnancy would be as close to a normal pregnancy as could be!  I am only 32 weeks and while Zephaniah could come anytime, I really do think we is going to stay put for a little while longer.  But it has been so amazing to see so far how God has protected him during his life inside of my womb!

I do have to say that I am also prepared for my children, probably Zephaniah more so than the others, to go through a time of not liking their name and not liking me for choosing it for them.  But as I have found when I got older, I appreciate my mom giving me a different and unique (or weird) name.  I absolutely love my name and wouldn’t change it for the world.  Of course if you had asked me when I was 14 or 15, the answer would have been different.  I really do believe that as my children grow older, wiser and in their faith in Christ that they will come to appreciate their names and the heritage that is behind them.


Sarai Rayne- Hebrew for “Princess or Noble”

Micah John- Hebrew for “who is like God”

Zephaniah John- Hebrew for “God has protected”

You may be wondering what happens if when we have our fourth child it is not a little girl.  Well that means that Moriah gets saved for our next girl and we choose a different name.  Actually, we have another boy name picked out and waiting just in case.  Jeremiah John!  After that I am not sure, so I guess it would be back to the drawing board!

Visiting Grandma Roxi

So on Labor Day, we went and visited my mom.  Usually we take this day and head to the Northwest Missouri State Fair in Bethany with the kids and my mom goes along with us, sometimes her husband too.  When we told Sarai that this was the original plan, she was less than thrilled.  Micah on the other hand was really looking forward to the fair.  Well our plans kind of got changed and we ended up leaving our house and arriving at moms later than planned.  So we decided that based on the amount of time we would have and the money it would cost us for the kids, that we were going to skip the fair this year.  Wouldn’t you know it, Sarai now wanted to go and Micah was really upset.  But we ended up staying and visiting with mom for a few hours, my brother and his family stopped by for a little bit and then we also got a chance to visit with some great friends who it seems we only get to see about once a year!

Here are some pictures of our time.  No editing done to them yet, just haven’t had time but I still wanted to share.  Enjoy!

This is Chloe, she is my brothers youngest.  Don’t you just love her curly hair?? She is a doll baby.

Micah (3) and Chloe (almost 2).  There is about 1 year and 5 months difference in their age and Chloe is just as big as Micah! And I think he has met his match in her, she loves to try and tackle him!

Sarai (11 1/2), Micah (3), Chloe (almost 2) and Cianna (8)

Me, Sarai and Grandma Roxi

My brother, Blake, and Chloe. She was not happy because daddy stopped her from running out into the road like she wanted to! Mean daddy! lol!

Micah and Chloe

After visiting we went to Subway for dinner and met up with Trent and Mindy and their two little ones.  I didn’t take any pics mainly because we were in a restuarant and there were quite a few people coming in and out.  Plus we were having such great conversation and I was getting to hold their little guy! He is so adorable and his hair is so stinkin’ cute!  Micah and Gracelynn played very well together, she is so quiet and polite.  After we left there, we went and got ice cream and then headed home!

Happy Birthday Josh!

On this day 37 years ago my husband was born to his parents Jane Ellen Swinehart (now Fountain) and Gary John Monda!  I am so glad that he came into the world and into my life (several years later).  I still remember the day that a friend and I were walking across a bridge in Bethany Missouri discussing guys that we liked.  She said to me one day I am going to marry Ray and I said to her one day I am going to marry Josh! And we both laughed and probably in the back of our minds didn’t believe it was going to happen at all!  But I can happily say that we are both now married to those men!

This year Josh and I celebrated 15 years of marriage! We have had two great kids and one on the way in those 15 years and many, many blessings. We have moved 6 times and he has had 2 full-time positions at 2 different churches plus 3 different positions at another and the Interim Pastor at yet another!  Of course, we have also had the trials that come with life in general.  But God has kept us through that time.  So I just want to say Happy Birthday honey! I am so thankful that the Lord has put you in my life, especially that he has given you to me to be my help meet and stand by my side throuhg it all.  I love you more today than yesterday, and I am sure I will love you more tomorrow than today!

Fun Friday

Well, in a little bit the kids, Josh and I are heading off to Columbia for the afternoon.  I would say it is going to be a fun day but since we are going specifically to shop for Sarai I am not quite sure! She can be a tad bit picky about things so it should be an interesting day at least.

I will come back later and post some freebies and other finds for you but for now you should head on over to apPARENTly Blogging and check out her Fun Friday post.  This blog is hosted by Awana, so you know there is going to be some good stuff for us parents on there! And this post is no exception.  I think too many times as moms and dads we want our kids to live in our world and hurry up and grow up.  So for at least one day, lets live in their world and slow down and be childlike in our actions and the things we do! It won’t hurt a thing and hey, it might even help a strained parent-child relationship!  So head on over and pick out on of her Fun Friday suggestions or come up with your own!

See ya later!

Micah’s 3rd Birthday Party

Life has been so busy that we just finally got around to having Micah’s 3rd Birthday party today!  Little man had a blast, as I think all the other kids did.  We had it a local park and had hamburgers, hotdogs, potato sald, chips and of course cake!  Micah wanted a Diego party and mommy did her best to give him what he wanted on a budget! I think I still spent a little more than I should have but hey he only turns 3 once! lol!  Enjoy the pictures, not a lot of commentary on them!