Mom’s Minute Monthly- eMeals

In case you missed our last MMM, we shared some great ideas as we get back into a routine now that summer has ended. One of those tips was eMeals.

eMeals is a site designed specifically for busy moms (not really, but it is super helpful!).  You can select the plan that you like (for instance, classic, kid-friendly, gluten-free, diabetic, paleo, etc) and your family size. Each Wednesday a new menu plan is emailed to you and includes recipes and a shopping list specifically for your plan. It’s wonderful! If you have a smartphone, you can download the eMeals app and it will allow you to add items to your shopping list, cross off items you already have, and if you have the classic menu plan, it will even calculate your total grocery cost for the week. It has been a huge blessing in the two weeks that I’ve used it!

I signed up for the classic plan with a family size of 3-6 (the most it would allow me to do). I then selected Publix as my grocery store. For my family of 9, I’ve been spending about $80 each week on groceries since starting the program. What I like most about eMeals is that I can preview the recipes prior to shopping so I can adjust the amount of meat I need to purchase. Plus, every meal I have prepared has been so delicious- even my kids love them! I also really like that most of the meals include fresh produce, and I am broadening my cooking skills as I prepare different recipes and dishes.

So, have I sold you on eMeals?! If so, right now if you sign up you can save 20% off a yearly subscription. The dinner-only plan is regularly $58, but when you enter code SCHOOL, you will pay only $46.40. That’s less than $4 per month for stress-free meal planning!

Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Guest post by Erin Bradley

Cinnamon Roll Waffles

These waffles are so easy-peasy to prepare, yet they taste incredible!

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 can refrigerated cinnamon rolls
waffle iron
non-stick cooking spray
topping of your choice (icing from cinnamon rolls, fruit, whip cream, syrup, etc)

Directions:

Spray waffle iron with cooking spray. Place one cinnamon roll in the center of the pre-heated waffle iron.

Cinnamon Roll

Close lid tightly and cook until light goes off. Flip cinnamon roll and cook an additional two minutes. Top with icing or other favorite topping.Cinnamon Roll Waffle

As a wife and working mother of three girls ages 6, 4, and 2, Erin Bradley enjoys embracing the many life experiences that come with raising young children.  Erin seeks to follow and serve the Lord daily while working hard to provide for the needs of her family. Finding new ways of organizing her home and simplifying different areas of her life has become one of her many passions to make more time for the important things.

Macaroni & Cheese with Ham and Broccoli

Mac cheese

Guest post by Erin Bradley

Enjoy leftovers in a new way and that your kids and hubby are sure to love! Easy, all-in-one homemade Mac & Cheese with leftover ham (or chicken) and broccoli is a quick weeknight meal that is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters!

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
16oz. dry noodles of choice
1 dash salt for water
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 1 lb. package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 to 2 cups cooked, diced ham or chicken 

Directions:
1.       Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2.       Cook noodles according to package directions in lightly salted, boiling water. Drain and return to pot.
3.       While noodles are boiling, whisk together 2 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. flour over medium heat.
4.       Slowly add 2 cups of milk, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, about ten minutes.
5.       Remove pot from heat and add in 2 cups shredded cheese.  Stir until smooth.
6.       Meanwhile, break apart larger broccoli florets into smaller pieces and place in a medium bowl. Add the meat and mix together.  Pour contents on top of drained noodles. 
7.       Pour cheese mixture on top of noodle mixture and stir well.  Pour entire mixture into baking dish.
8.       Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of mixture.  Bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through.  Serves 8

As a wife and working mother of three girls ages 6, 4, and 2, Erin Bradley enjoys embracing the many life experiences that come with raising young children.  Erin seeks to follow and serve the Lord daily while working hard to provide for the needs of her family. Finding new ways of organizing her home and simplifying different areas of her life has become one of her many passions to make more time for the important things.

Meals on a Budget- Part 3: Easy Meal Ideas

Keep calm and cook on

This is the third post in the series Meals on a Budget.  In this post, I will share some meal ideas that are easy to prepare. You can find tips to help you stretch your food, and your budget, further here. You can read the first post on planning meals here.

Italian dishes are a great option for those wanting to stretch their budget. These meals can be made with or without meat and can be put together quickly. Examples include spaghetti, baked ziti, lasagna rolls, etc. A family favorite (passed down from my grandmother) is Pasta and broccoli- a cheap, yummy meal that reminds me of her every time I make it!  Complete the meal by serving garlic bread and salad.

In the winter, soup is another easy meal that is both budget-friendly and filling. My family’s meatless favorites include Minestrone, Split Pea, Italian Vegetable, and Tomato Parmesan.  Some hearty soups that include meat are Chili, Stuffed Pepper Soup, and Chicken Fiesta soup. Soups can be served with homemade bread sticks, grilled cheese sandwiches, or cornbread and a salad to round out the meal.

A favorite for kids is to have a “breakfast for dinner” night.  Examples include scrambled egg sandwiches, pancakes, or French toast served with hash browns (or tater tots), bacon, and sausage. Breakfast casseroles are easy to put together but keep in mind, most recipes require overnight refrigeration prior to baking.

Some other easy meal ideas include:

  • Baked potato bar that includes cheese, sour cream, salsa, chopped bacon, chives, or chili if you have it. Serve with a salad and this is a very filling and cost-effective meal.
  • Salad bar including hardboiled eggs, tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, cheese, diced lunchmeat or cooked chicken, Craisins, croutons, etc. Complete the meal with a crusty bread or grilled cheese.

Don’t forget about those “leftovers” in the fridge!  You can keep your leftovers and eat them on a certain day each week (i.e. Sunday), eliminating the need for a planned meal. Another option is to freeze leftover meats and serve the remaining side dish items throughout the week. Lunch is also an easy way to get rid of those leftovers!

With some planning and the tips shared here, sharing a meal together at home is possible no matter what your budget.

Share with me- what are some of your favorite recipes or cost-saving tips?

Spicy (or Not!) Chicken Fiesta Soup

This is a healthy meal that tastes great and is super easy to put together making it a perfect match for busy moms. I adapted this recipe from a friend’s and my family loves it!

Chicken Fiesta Soup

Ingredients:
2 c cooked chicken, shredded or diced
1 can Rotel (keep liquid)
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15oz can corn (keep liquid)
1 8 oz package Neufchatel cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tsp Chili powder (optional)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips. (Serves 6-8)

Yum!

Recipes- Chicken

Chicken Pot PieThis is part of a series on meals on a budget. In this post, I will share budget-friendly menu ideas and freezer tips, recipes, and time-savers all related to Chicken.

Chicken Recipes

We eat chicken twice a week and I prepare it different ways. I typically buy the split chicken breast, but will purchase a whole chicken if it’s on sale for a reasonable price.

How I prepare Split Chicken Breasts

Remove skin from chicken, rinse under cold water and pat dry. Rub seasoning salt on the meat and place in the bottom of a large stock pot. Add in 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped celery stalk, and 1 sliced onion. Fill pot with water until chicken is covered. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce temperature to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour.

When chicken is done, remove from pot to cool. Strain broth through cheese cloth to save. Once the broth is cool, place it in quart-size containers to use or freeze.

Debone the chicken and chop into bite-size pieces. The cooked chicken can be used in casseroles, soups, or other recipes calling for cooked chicken.

  • Pot Pie (serves 8)

2 c cooked chicken
2 cans Cream of Something soup (chicken, mushroom, celery-whatever you prefer)
1 can mixed vegetables, drained
1 package frozen pie dough
1 egg, lightly beaten

Combine first three ingredients in a bowl. Thaw dough according to package directions. Place dough into pie plate. Spread chicken mixture onto pie crust. Cover with the second crust. Seal edges and cut 6 1” slits in the top. Brush the egg mixture over the top of the crust. Bake in preheated 350* oven for 1 hour, until center is hot and top is golden brown. Cover the crust with foil if it browns too quickly.

  • Broccoli, Chicken, & Rice Casserole

1 c cooked chicken
2 c cooked rice
1 can Cream of Something soup
2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Combine first three ingredients and spread into a prepared baking dish. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top. Bake covered at 350* approximately 30 minutes or until heated through. Remove cover and bake an additional 5-10 minutes to brown cheese.

  • Chicken Enchiladas (serves 8)

2 c shredded cooked chicken
2 cans Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese soup
1 can Rotel
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
16 flour tortillas

Combine chicken and 1 can of soup in a bowl to make filling. In a separate bowl, mix the second can of soup and Rotel. Spoon filling into center of tortilla and roll tightly. Place tortillas seam-side down in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pour the soup and Rotel sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil and bake in preheated 350* oven for 30 minutes until heat through and cheese is bubbly. Serve with sour cream if desired.

  • Chicken Poppers

2 lbs boneless, skinless breasts
1 c Italian bread crumbs
¼ c parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 c milk

Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Combine breadcrumbs and cheese in a Ziploc bag. Dip chicken in egg and immediately place into bag of breadcrumbs. Toss to coat. Remove and dip in milk. Place in crumb mixture and coat again. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 400* until outside is crispy and inside has reached 170*.

Recipes- Ground Beef

This is part of a series on meals on a budget. In this post, I will share budget-friendly menu ideas and freezer tips, recipes, and time-savers all related to Ground Beef.

Beef Recipes

I typically purchase 80/20 ground beef when it is on sale for $2.49/lb in 4-5 pound increments. This cut has a higher fat content, but I always rinse my ground beef after browning it. The extra fat is rinsed off without taking away from the flavor of the meat.

Some of our favorite ground beef recipes include:

  • Tacos

I brown, rinse, and drain the meat and put it back in the pan. I make my own taco seasoning (recipe). This is a great item to prepare a double batch for the freezer! I freeze it flat in a quart-size zipper freezer bag. To use, simply thaw in the refrigerator, heat over medium-low heat, and serve. Yum!

  • Meatballs (to eat with pasta or as sandwiches)

If I make my own meatballs, this is my recipe (makes 2 ½ – 3 dz meatballs depending on size)

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground Italian sausage (sweet or mild)
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
½ c breadcrumbs
¼ c milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Mix all ingredients thoroughly by hand. Roll into balls, fry in 1 tbsp oil until browned on all sides. Drain on paper towel.

To freeze: place meatballs on a cookie sheet in a single layer in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a gallon-size freezer bag and place back in the freezer.

To use (from frozen or immediately): meatballs can be cooked slowly covered in sauce on medium-low heat for 3-4 hours. They also cook great in a crock pot on low for the same cooking time.

  • Meatloaf (serves 8)

This is the perfect recipe to freeze!

2 lbs ground beef (or can use a mix of ground meats, I prefer beef)
2 tbsp Seasoning salt
1 c breadcrumbs
¼ c Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
Mix all ingredients thoroughly by hand.

To freeze: Shape into a loaf and place in a gallon-size freezer bag.

To use: Thaw if frozen. Place in a covered dish and bake at 325* for 2 hours or until meat reaches internal temperature of 160*.

  • Beef Stroganoff (slow cooker recipe)

1.5 lb stew meat
1 medium onion, sliced
1 c beef broth
1 c sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

Combine first three ingredients in slow cooker. Cook covered on low for 6 hours. Add sour cream or yogurt and stir to cover meat mixture. Serve over wide egg noodles.