Saturday, August 22, 2015


Good morning!

We are having an iconic moment right now: the children are watching Saturday morning cartoons and I am sipping coffee and blogging. I’m sure it won’t last for long. I have so much to say, so little time to say it, so let’s get going!

Some of my non-traditional back-to-school favorites this year
(amazon affiliate links used)
  •  Blank notebooks. No lines :) Room to draw and doodle around my notes. Markers to color code as I study. Can’t shake the 1st grade teacher in me, I guess.

  • Lifting shoes. At half price, the choices in my size were pink and white or pick from the men's. I chose the latter.

  • Lipstick. Really, Clinique black honey is my fave. I returned to the 90's classic (is that a term?) last year after this reminder and this one, too, and can’t believe I ever left it behind. But it runs out quickly, and so this time around I am trying out a drugstore dupe . ($5 vs. $20... ) I like it. I’ll use it. (Neither are anything as dark as they appear in the tube.)

What else is going on? Oh yes, our kitchen is still getting remodeled. As an emergency. Except it is happening s-l-o-w-l-y. Actually, it hasn’t even begun yet. It has only been gutted. I’m already impatient. That would be why I’ve added a kitchen board to my Pinterest page.
Follow Emily's board Kitchens on Pinterest.
So I can at least think about it. And why I have no menu plan to share! Things are topsy-turvy and I really miss having our house to ourselves. Nothing is where it “belongs” except that we are all together, and that’s most important. Aw.

I’m hoping when all is said and done, our kitchen will be a little bit lighter and brighter so  maybe I can take some photos in it? And our bedroom will be a little bit darker. Because I like to pretend I’m sleeping in a cave :)

We’ve been eating things that don’t take a lot of prep... (or you can get pre-prepped):

  • yogurt (the kids have had tons...)
  • apples
  • peanut butter
  • gf crackers or sweet potato chips
  • frozen gluten free pizza (with meat added)
  • carrots
  • LOTS of salads and fresh veggies
  • burgers, sausages, roasted chicken, hot dogs, salami, any kind of ready-to-eat meat...

It’s pretty boring, but it is working OK so far.

The kids have had even eaten breakfast and lunch at school a few times (cringe). They get super excited to have cocoa pebbles. (Noooooooooooo......!)

All right, it’s time to finish my coffee, make the grocery list, and be productive. Have a good weekend!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hello again!

Friday (yesterday):

Hi there! Sorrynotsorry for ditching the blog of a few weeks. We took a fabulous vacation and then came home to some surprise home renovations that have taken over our lives. The one room that was last on our list of rooms to redo suddenly got bumped to the top… because a functioning kitchen is pretty important.

My brain might explode. It seems like everything happens/begins at once. Back-to-school is next week, and as soon as the kids begin, I do, too! Studying is about to occupy all my "free" time. I like fall, but  thinking about it is kind of freaking me out right now. Oh yeah, and of course my library holds come in right when I do not have time to read them. So I'll just take a picture.

We ate well on vacation. And by that I mean we ate delicious food. Very fresh and homemade. But of course we did indulge. We love dessert. My favorites: the anniversary cake with lemon frosting that was made for us (and was as good as any wedding cake) and blueberry pie.

And then as I mentioned, this past week has been chaotic. So now it is back to the straight and narrow with food. Because I need to eat well (and it this case I mean delicious protein, fat, and veggie carbs, not sugary stuff) because it helps me feel more emotionally stable and that's important right now :)


Today started with a workout, shower, breakfast, and then tackling the grocery and school supplies shopping and to-do list. I'm feeling a little better about things. I'm not into trying new recipes right now. I didn't make much of a plan before I went to the store. Instead, I just purchased the kid's school lunch items, beef, sausage frozen green vegetables, kale, potatoes, and gluten-free birthday cake items (one more of our summer b-days this week). Right now, my children are kindly playing with each other (for the first time all week) so I'll keep writing...

This menu is very simple...

eggs, sausage, salsa
coffee, cream

kids - nitrate free ham, cheese, gf crackers, yogurt, fruit
adults - leftovers

beef or sausage + vegetable + potatoes (sometimes)

gf Pillsbury cake with buttercream frosting (1 or 2 days, not all week, obvs)

Allright. I've decided children are like puppies. I have to get them some exercise or they just get in trouble. So we are headed to the pool. Stat. Ciao.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Weekly Menu


We had a whirlwind weekend, so I am a bit behind. Here's the basic plan for this week (and probably for the next 3 weeks, haha) -

eggs, leftovers, salsa
blueberry waffles or pancakes (for a the weekend)
coffee, cream

deli roll-ups
broccoli with ranch

BLTs (add roasted chicken thighs? avocado?)
meat on the grill (burgers, smoked pork butt, bratwurst), salad with dressing, potatoes of some sort

new recipe to try: pesto chicken burgers
fresh produce with everything: peaches, blueberries, tomatoes, salad greens

I already bought my kids some of their school supplies, wah wah….. nooooooo……..

ok, so I was really hungry the other night...

Long live summer.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Weekly Menu

How are you doing?

I feel like we are skipping summer this year with all the rain that has been going on. Boo. I'm not ready for school to start again until we get some days of endless sunshine first. I guess I just have to take what I get. I think it is maybe going to stay hot and sunny finally this week, and I am not complaining.

I was a little bit bitter because my shopping trip (getting it done before the weekend!) did not go as planned on Friday due to the behavior of a child of mine, so I had to return to the store on Saturday to finish up. But it is done now. I spent $130 but will also go to Costco before the end of the week.

eggs, kale, salsa (adults)
banana, almond butter, dried coconut (one child)
greek yogurt & gf granola (other child)
coffee, cream (adults, duh)

kids -
gf crackers, ham, cheese
broccoli, ranch
berries or grapes
adults - dinner leftovers
ps - I got some spinach and feta chicken sausages from Aldi and we had them for lunch over the weekend and they were good! $2.99/12 oz. package.

Sunday - salmon with mango salsa, rice for the kids
Monday - BBQ ribs, homemade vinegar coleslaw, potatoes
Tuesday - burgers & sweet potatoes
Wednesday - roasted chicken thighs, kale salad
Thursday - primal pizza
Friday - chicken in jalfrezi sauce, broccoli, rice for the kids
Saturday - burgers & sweet potatoes

I don't usually get super excited about salad… but I just remembered I haven't made my shrimp taco salad yet this summer! It's going to have to go on the menu, soon.
This kale salad looks worthy, too.

That's all for now. Lots to do. Have a good start of the week.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Weekly Menu

As summer should be for kids, had to share.

not my photo, here is the source - love her!
eggs, bananas, almond butter, blueberries
(alone or in any combination… like pancakes)
coffee, cream

adults - leftovers
kids - gf mac and cheese
veggies & ranch

coconut milk smoothies

Sunday - leftover BBQ from the weekend
Monday - burgers, sweet potatoes
Tuesday - beef carnitas with mango salsa and slaw
Wednesday - chicken parmesan (just bake), salad with dressing
Thursday - brats, potatoes, roasted green beans
Friday/Sat - tbd

I received my new shoes a few weeks ago.

I love the colors. And that's important ;)

Thanks for your continued support through amazon purchases via my links and sidebar.

4 unrelated PSAs:

If you are local, come learn something at this free event.
If you need something to make you smile, just watch/listen to this.
If you make roasted brussels sprouts, toss a bunch of garlic, onion, and chili powder on them. (Especially the chili powder. It's the secret ingredient to everything.)
If you are eating ice cream (which you aren't, obviously, of course, no way) and are in need of some magic shell, melt a little primal fudge and it'll do just fine.

Now your week might be better.
That is all.
Time to cheer on the USA women's soccer team!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Weekly Menu

I love summer.
I don't know what to put on the menu!
I guess I took my own advice from last week: we have plenty of meat in the freezer. But I do need to buy some vegetables. I'll go to the store quickly tomorrow. We didn't eat the brussels sprouts. We had both some impromptu and planned house guests (at different times) so we didn't follow the plan exactly. I ended up making slow cooker carnitas 2 times, once with beef and once with pork. So enough of that for a bit. Although we aren't really tired of them….

On to this week. I'm not going to plan the menu out through the 4th, only the first part of the week.

bananas, almond butter, dried coconut (for the boy)
full fat plain yogurt with gluten free granola (for the girl)
eggs, salsa (for the adults)
coffee, cream

peaches (48¢/lb. at Sprouts)


main: grilled pork chops, burgers, brats - we have a friend who makes them and we buy them :)
sides: kale salad, brussels sprouts, greens w/ dressing, potatoes

*I asked the kids for their requests for their camp lunches.

I was super pumped that kombucha was on sale at Whole Foods this weekend so I stopped in. I should have bought 12 and saved an additional 10%.

Sunday "clean out the fridge" lunch-

Alright, gotta go. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

How to Paleo Menu Plan on a Budget

I decided to dedicate a post to this topic since Ashely brought it up here. My biggest worry when we began eating this way was how would we ever afford it? Some people spend less money eating paleo versus conventional, but considering we were already eating unconventionally (mostly whole foods, from scratch) our grocery spending did increase when we cut out grains and added more meat (we already ate a good amount of fruits and vegetables). However, as with most things, after 4 years of practice, it has become easier to predict and control spending.

To talk dollars for a second…
I know this varies according to all kinds of factors, but here's where we are…

I aim to spend $165 a week for our family of 4. I have a husband and a 7 year old and a 5 year old with healthy appetites. We hardly ever eat out, so I don't include that money with this. Also worth noting is we don't have desk jobs where we sit 5 days a week.

We always spend more on food in the summer. I'm not sure if that is because we just eat more or what, but it is true. I often spend closer to $200 a week in the summer. This is being proven true again as we did well through April, but have consistently been spending more as of late. $200 sounds like so much to me (almost frivolous), so I kind of hesitate to put it out there. However, that comes out to $28/day or $7/day per person.* No wonder I get disgusted when we do choose to eat out and I spent $20 on a fast food fresh-mex lunch for just the kids and I. Ugh.

I consider feeding my family an investment in our mental and physical health as well as part of stewardship, so I just try to do the best I can and am always learning.

I can lower this number if needed (we aren't made of money over here) and sometimes do… it just means meal options are more limited, but that's OK. And probably good for us :)

Anyways. Here are some rules I try to follow when planning our meals out for the week.

1. Don't buy many nuts. Why? Because in our house an $18 3-lb. bag of pistachios will be gone in less than a week. Screw that. Disclosure: I have started buying almond butter again at Costco, though. One a week is the limit and I don't go every week so it is actually less. And it has to be used as a condiment, like a dip for bananas or apples.

2. Only bake for special occasions. I do bake. I know some people have issues with this. But for us, it helps us stick to paleo long term if we can make a fun breakfast or something on the weekend, or a dessert for movie night. I typically stick to things that use tapioca starch, coconut flour, and some potato starch. These are easy for me to find and more economical that nut flours. I honestly just don't want to spend my time baking anymore.

an old photo from the raw milk days

3. Get enough meat and eggs. I build my menu around the meat. I decide what and where I'm going to shop mostly based on the meat on sale (or not on sale). I check the Sprouts ad first. If nothing is on sale, I get the organic beef at Costco. We don't love chicken, but sometimes get boneless chicken thighs when they are $2/lb. (because hello, $2/lb!) and roast them until crispy. Or $1.69/lb. pork butt for the smoker. I have price points in my head. For example, I don't buy $7/lb. bacon. And $15/lb. fish is just out of the question. If I'm going to buy $7/lb. meat, it is going to be the centerpiece of a meal, like some grass fed beef, not just for a boost of flavor. Speaking of bacon, I did buy some last week for the first time in a couple months because Sprouts bacon (which I know we like) was on sale for $2.99/lb. And regarding eggs, my husband says, "There is no excuse to ever run out of eggs…"

4. Balance out expensive and inexpensive meals throughout the week. Also, balance out expensive meat with cheaper side dishes - this is essential when our dinners usually involve 2 lbs. of meat, because that adds up fast. When cooking for a crowd, use cheaper meat if you need to. I usually do chicken, pork, or a roast on sale for company. While I'd love to be idealistic in sourcing all of our food, I gotta make choices.

Here's an example of estimated costs of dinners from this week's menu:

5. Make simple but large meals. Make it easy to get enough to eat. Don't be afraid to include some starch (like potatoes) in there if you have super active people or kiddos. But make sure they eat their meat and veggies. Keep a list of meals your family likes and keep them in the rotation.

6. Aim to not snack. (see #5) Kids will want to snack. Limit options. Am I mean? You'll find out quickly if they are hungry or bored. (Here's a old list of cheap and easy snack ideas I made.) I don't like spending money, time, or energy on snacks. That said, it is always good to have something around to keep people from going crazy. If my kids need something (usually around 4pm), they must have a good amount of fat and/or protein in their snack. Since it is summer, our go-to is coconut milk smoothies. (I suppose I should turn some into popsicles and they'd be pre-made and save me from washing out the blender continuously.) Or if they are having only carbs (raisins, applesauce, fresh fruit), mealtime must  less than an hour away. Because if they snack just on carbs (even if it is fruit/veg), they will still get hungry/hangry very soon. Also, I try to avoid buying other dehydrated or prepackaged snacks, even if paleo (jerky, fruit leathers, bars) because they are pricey, although I will buy them for traveling.

7. Remember the fat! Or everyone will be miserable. Make sure it is in every meal. For us, veggies are almost always consumed with fat (butter, olive oil, salad dressing, coconut oil, or even dairy sour cream or ranch). Also, some good salt. Don't be shy with it if you aren't getting it anywhere else (like from processed foods.)

8. For specialty items, only buy in season. For example, you won't catch me buying fresh mangos when they aren't on sale. Cookbooks are great for inspiration, but I don't use them that much. Usually they involve too many or too expensive of ingredients for me. Keep it simple (see #5). Sidenote: we use a lot of frozen vegetables because I don't like prepping them, and they are good and not expensive if you figure out the best places to get them.

9. Estimate how much you'll spend before you go to the store and edit your list according to what you can spend. Whittle it down to the essentials if needed. Use cash if it helps keep you in check.

10. Go to more than one store if it is worth it. I hate that I'm giving this tip. Who likes to run around doing errands? But if an hour spent shopping at another store saves me $50, well, that's a worthwhile return for my hour spent. If you know you are going to have to go shopping again before the week is up, set some money aside for that, don't spend it all in once place.

OK, that's a brief look into my ever-evolving process. What other guidelines help you?

*According to this, we are right in line with the low-cost plan, which I guess is not bad when you consider we are mostly avoiding the subsidized crops.
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