Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Menu Plan, July 30-August 5

Better late than never, hm? Things are finally slowing down around here and I'm settling back into a normal routine after a really busy week, and then a week catching up from that busy week (see why I try to spend most of my time at home?!).

This week we are keeping things pretty simple with meals, and I am also trying to put something in the freezer each day.

Here's what's on the plan:

Muffins from the freezer (with peanut butter on top for protein), fruit, raw milk 
Oatmeal (x2) I stir peanut butter into mine and drink it with a glass of raw milk to make sure I get enough protein
Sweet brown oatmeal bread, scrambled eggs, strawberries
Hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, strawberries
Egg casserole, fruit (x2)

Leftover chili
Family dinner (Ben's grandfather and his wife are visiting)
Salmon pasta salad, fruit
BBQ Meatballs (hoping I actually get to these this week!), mashed potatoes, green salad
Pizza, salad
Leftovers or mama's choice
Something for a fellowship at church on Sunday (haven't figured it out yet--it's a cold salad lunch)

Lunch is usually quite simple--smoothies, leftovers, or snack-y foods.

What are y'all fixing this week? Head over to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday if you need some inspiration.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Home Management: Simplified & Streamlined, Organizing the Kitchen

This week's project for the Home Management: Simplified & Streamlined series was to declutter and organize the kitchen.

I intended to accomplish this project throughout the week, but procrastinator that I tend to be, I saved it all for one day. Thankfully it hadn't been too long since I had gone through everything in the kitchen, so it proved to be a little faster than I anticipated.

I thought organizing the pantry was going to be a side project, but it actually ended up being the main thing I worked on--and something I think will save me loads of time in the kitchen.

I buy a lot of our food in bulk. This is great because it saves us money, but it also means that things don't come in handy containers. As I've experimented more with gluten-free baking, I've ended up with quite an odd assortment of things just thrown in the pantry without their own place.

I attempted to solve that problem yesterday. I grouped all of my gluten-free baking supplies into one bin, all of my grains/nuts/seeds/dry beans/etc. into the larger yellow basket, and I put all my spices into the two bins at the top. I have a spice rack on my kitchen counter with the spices I use most often. The ones in the pantry are refills, or spices I don't use that often.

I'm so excited that I won't have to dig through the entire pantry looking for something lost at the back anymore. It will save so much time, I'm sure! And--as a plus, Ben can get to his cereal at night without a bunch of stuff falling on his head. :)

I think decluttering was a great place to start in our attempts to simplify and streamline our work in the kitchen. It is so much more efficient to have a place for everything and not have a bunch of excess stuff in the way of the tools we use most often!

Next week, we'll be experimenting some with freezer cooking. I've not done a whole lot of it in the past, but as our family grows (and as I anticipate the newborn daze in just 10 and a half weeks or so!), I think doing more cooking ahead might be a useful tool--especially since Ben is still off of corn, soy, gluten, and nuts and takeout is just not an option ever. Plus, I'd rather my people eat healthier and more frugal fare than takeout most days.

Week 7 Project:
Next week, Rachel and I will be planning to put something in the freezer each weekday. This does have to be an entire meal, but would also include meal components (pre-cooked ground beef, pre-cooked beans, fruit frozen for smoothies, etc.).

If freezer cooking is a new concept for you (or even if it's not!), here are some great resources to take a look at:
::Jessica at Good Cheap Eats is a freezer-cooking extraordinaire. Here is her collection of freezer-friendly recipes.

::Crystal at Money Saving Mom recently did a series called 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer. She shares lots of great freezer-friendly recipes. Unfortunately, there isn't an easy way to find all the posts in the series, but if you search for the series name on her site, the posts will come up.

::Tammy at Tammy's Recipes talks here about several meals she made ahead in preparation for the arrival of one of her babies, including how they tasted from the freezer.
What about y'all? Have you done much freezer cooking? What other things have you done to streamline kitchen work?

Be sure to visit Rachel's post at Intentionally Simple this week!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Boy Has a Name

Our sweet little man
Last week Baby #3 and I officially began our third trimester together. Only 11 weeks (or 12, if he takes after his brother) until I have this sweet babe in my arms!

We are really excited to be settled on a name for our little man.

Katie was easy. She was due on my Grandma's 80th birthday, my Grandma has a beautiful name (Katie Lee), and that was just a no-brainer for us.

When we found out Baby #2 was a boy, I reallyreallyreally wanted him to be Benjamin Joel Jr. after my husband. We never really discussed any other names, and Ben finally gave in. Thankfully, he doesn't have regrets. But he did ask me to not be so pushy about a name again in the future.

We had thrown around a few names before we found out the gender this time around, and once we found out we were having a boy, we had a name that was a strong first choice, but we changed our minds.

So far we have used family names. Ben wanted to do something different this time. We wanted our child to be named in honor of someone he could look up to--a man of godly character who was used in a great way to advance Christ's kingdom.

So, we decided. And now it's official.

He will be (or I guess already is?) Joshua Gianavel Murch. For the curious, Gianavel is pronounced "Gee-Ah-Nuh-Velle."

Who was Joshua Gianavel?

We originally read about Joshua Gianavel in Foxe's Book of Martyrs. He was a contemporary of John Foxe and there is a pretty lengthy section about him ("Account of the Persecutions in the Valley of Piedmont").

In short, he was a brilliant Italian Protestant military commander during persecutions under the Papacy in the 1500's. He won many battles against their forces before ultimately being bed-bound due to a severe injury during battle--making him one of the only Protestants in history to fight back and win against the Roman church during a time of persecution.

At one point the Catholics imprisoned his wife and children and sent word that if he would embrace the Roman Catholic faith his family would be released and he would be promoted to the Duke of Savoy's Army.

To this he wrote a most beautiful response:

My Lord Marquis,

There is no torment so great or death so cruel, but what I would prefer to the abjuration of my religion: so that promises lose their effects, and menaces only strengthen me in my faith.

With respect to my wife and children, my lord, nothing can be more afflicting to me than the thought of their confinement, or more dreadful to my imagination, than their suffering a violent and cruel death. I keenly feel all the tender sensations of husband and parent; my heart is replete with every sentiment of humanity; I would suffer any torment to rescue them from danger; I would die to preserve them.

But having said thus much, my lord, I assure you that the purchase of their lives must not be the price of my salvation. You have them in your power it is true; but my consolation is that your power is only a temporary authority over their bodies: you may destroy the mortal part, but their immortal souls are out of your reach, and will live hereafter to bear testimony against you for your cruelties. I therefore recommend them and myself to God, and pray for a reformation in your heart. 


We are excited to name our son after this man and it is our prayer God will grow him up and use him in His service all his days.

If you are interested in reading more about him (or anyone else written about by John Foxe), this is a free PDF version of Foxe's Book of Martyr's.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Home Management: Simplified & Streamlined, The Kitchen

So far in this series, Rachel and I have been focusing on time management. If we're not managing our time well in general, it will be awfully difficult to streamline other areas of our lives!

This week, we're are moving into the kitchen.

As one who is passionate about feeding my family real, whole, nourishing foods, I find I spend a lot of time in the kitchen most days. The food prep., the cleaning--it all takes time. And there are days when I totally get why families eat pre-packaged meals most nights. ;)

Since we're not going to be doing that, I'd like to streamline my kitchen so I can continue providing my family the nourishing foods they need and hopefully spend a little less time doing it.

A few goals for my kitchen:

::Decluttering. I want everything in my kitchen to be useful. Otherwise, it just gets in the way.

::Filling the freezer. I haven't done much freezer cooking, and what I have done hasn't been ultra-successful. But, with Ben's current diet and a new baby coming (just 11 1/2 weeks until my due-date!), I would love to fill my freezer with some tasty food to make the post-baby days smoother.

::Streamline menu planning. I spend a pretty good chunk of time each week planning our menus. It's definitely a valuable tool, but it would be even better if it didn't take me a couple of hours every Saturday.

::Getting breakfast and lunch on the table faster. I don't mind when dinner takes a little longer, as the day is winding down. But I love when I can get a nice breakfast or lunch on the table quickly. Since breakfast is starting the day off and lunch is right in the middle, it's more important to me that they take less time to prepare--while still providing lots of good nutrition for my people.
Week 6 Project:
This week, we'll be decluttering our kitchens. I intend to choose a small section each day and go through it, deciding what to keep and what to toss. I want a clean, clutter-free counter top and clutter-free cabinets. And, ahem, I guess I should probably shoot for a clean pantry too. We'll be back next week with our results!

Be sure to visit Rachel at Intentionally Simple to see her goals for streamlining her kitchen!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Goals for this week

It's a goal

It was so good to set goals again last week. I didn't finish all of them, but having an aim for the week definitely helped me to be more productive!

Goals from last week:

1. Track my protein and water intake (more on the importance of these during pregnancy)
2. Do the cardio/toning portion and the yoga portion of my prenatal workout DVD 3x each {only worked out three times}
3. Follow my morning routine every day {Missed one day}

4. Continue working with Katie in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons{I think I've decided to give it a month or two and try again with this}

5. Write out a workable daily routine {Here it is}

6. Make 3 snack foods to have on hand {Only made two}

7. Get caught up on projects for my Family Herbalist Course

8. Have someone take a decent photo of me to use as a profile picture
9. Design a cover image for the facebook page that matches the new design (if you're reading in a feed reader or email, you should come check out the new design on the blog!) 
10. Write my posts at least one day ahead {starting with Wednesday's post. Ahem}

 Goals for this week:

1. Exercise 5x
2. Continue tracking my protein intake
3. Stay caught up on the reading I'm doing with Ben

4. Really focus on first time obedience with both children.

5. Make two new snack foods.
6. Follow our daily routine, tweaking as needed

7. Finish Unit 17 of my Family Herbalist Course

8. Take a decent photo of myself to use as a profile picture
9. Design facebook header to match new blog design 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this site!

Linked to Money Saving Mom

Menu Plan, July 16-22

This week is supposed to be a pretty hot one again. I'm not good at completely avoiding the oven, but I'm going to do what I can to use it a little less. Our little AC has a hard time keeping up when it's in the mid-90's outside!


Hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, fruit (x3)
Whole grain pancakes, turkey bacon
Baked oatmeal (x2)

Burgers (bunless), salad, fruit
Taco salad with grilled steak, fruit
BBQ Meatballs, mashed potatoes, salad
Lasagna, steamed veggies, salad
Salmon patties, fruit, salad
Pizza (I'm going to buy a Ben-friendly pizza crust mix--he hasn't had pizza since January!), salad
Family dinner at the farm

Snacks to make
Healthy Homemade Fruit Cereal Bars
Crispy Roasted Chickpeas (from Healthy Snacks to Go ) (didn't get to these last week)

Lunches are simple--smoothies, snacks, or leftovers pretty much every day.

What are y'all fixing this week? If you need some inspiration, head over to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Home Management: Streamlined & Simplified, The Daily Routine


Last week's project was to create and implement and simple, workable daily routine.

Honestly, I completely bombed the assignment. This week was so busy (for me, anyway!) and our days have had no semblance of routine at all. I had somewhere to be Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and then Thursday I was exhausted from a very poor night's sleep (up four times with leg cramps and once with a crying baby).

Our house has been messy all week long. I hadn't folded any clothes until tonight and only got around to washing some when Katie ran out of clean underwear. Fail.

So, needless to say, I haven't gotten much farther than writing out our ideal (and I think reasonable, workable) routine.

Rather than setting specific times for everything, I broke our days down into blocks and included tasks to accomplish in each of those blocks. Some things have ideal times (meals, bedtime, etc.), but those are just guidelines--not completely set in stone.

Our Daily Routine

Before breakfast
My morning routine (devotions, drink a glass of water, get dressed, brew coffee for Ben)
Children up and dressed
Read with Ben while I cook breakfast (children play)

Breakfast -- Preferably by 8 

After breakfast/Before lunch
Family worship

Clean kitchen (Katie puts the silverware away and then the children play)
Tidy living area and bedrooms (children help)
Start laundry
"School" for Katie (working through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Exercise/shower/primp (the children play nearby while I exercise and shower with me or play in the bathroom)
Switch laundry
Play/read books with the children
Fix lunch (which is usually leftovers or smoothies)

Lunch -- Preferably by 12:30

After lunch/Before naptime
Catechism with children
Children have a treat while I tidy up from lunch
Get ready for nap--diaper change for Benjamin, potty and pull-up on for Katie
Read books with children
Children to bed -- Preferably by 1:30

During naptime
Work (my paid job)
Check blog (moderate comments, update facebook, etc.) and then study until children wake up

After nap/before dinner

Children watch a DVD and have a snack -- I study or catch up on housework
Start on dinner
Fold and put away clothes
Get ready for dinner--finish food prep., Katie sets the table

Dinner -- Preferably by 6:30

After dinner
Clean kitchen
Quick tidy up of the house
Hang out as a family--read, play, talk, veg, etc.

Bedtime routine
Get PJ's on
Brush teeth
Snuggle and read stories
Children to bed -- Preferably by 9

After bedtime
Finish blog post for the next day
Hang out with Ben
Go to sleep -- Preferably by 10:30
Here's hoping today will look a little more like this than the rest of the week has! :)

Week 5 Project
This week's project is pretty simple. We're going to continue working towards implementing (and tweaking, as needed) our daily routines. Next week we'll be starting in the kitchen!

Be sure to visit Rachel's post today as well!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to Design A Blog for FREE {ebook review & giveaway}

I am really excited about today's giveaway! I first stumbled across Growing Home several months ago. As I read, I realized we are the same age, got married the same summer, and she has a daughter Katie's age and a son Benjamin's age. And, we are very like-minded in so many ways. So fun to find someone with so much in common--and kind of a bummer to find out she lives all the way in Canada!

When I came across Jacinda's blog, I was also impressed by her lovely design--especially when I realized she did it herself even though she's not a tech-y!

She recently released her new eBook, How to Design a Blog for Free. I had been wanting to change things around here for a while but hadn't been able to fork over the money to have a web designer do it and never dreamed I'd be able to do it myself.

Here is the Table of Contents from her site:

Chapter 1: First Things First
Chapter 2: Getting Started
Chapter 3: Header 101
Chapter 4: Button Image 101
Chapter 5: Social Media Image 101
Chapter 6: Photo Tabs 101
Chapter 7: How To Install Your Header
Chapter 8: How To Install A Button
Chapter 9: How To Create A 2-Column Row of Ads
Chapter 10: How To Install A Button With A Grab Box
Chapter 11: How To Install Social Media Icons
Chapter 12: How To Install Photo Tabs
Chapter 13: Miscellaneous Creations
Chapter 14: Further Resources
 So, I paid the $4.99 for the eBook and got to work. Boy was it worth every penny!

Using the helpful and really easy-to-follow tutorials in How to Design a Blog for Free, I was able to design and install:

A new header

A new button (and the "grab a button" element in my sidebar)

Add social media icons

And arrange my sidebar ads in a neater looking two column lay-out  

It completely for free, without any fancy software. And, it took so much less time than I expected it would--less than 4-5 hours for the whole thing.

Jacinda has kindly agreed to give away TWO copies of her eBook to y'all! If you don't want to wait for the end of the giveaway, you can buy How to Design a Blog for Free on sale for just $3.99 through the end of this week.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this site! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pregnancy Update, 27 Weeks

27 weeks today--sorry for the blurry phone picture!
Time definitely goes by at lightning speeds when you spent your days chasing little ones and keeping up with the needs of a growing family! I can't believe I'm already at 27 weeks with Baby #3! He's going to be with us on the outside before I know it (which also means I am going to be in labor before I know it--eek!).

I had a check-up with my midwife yesterday and everything looked great! In addition to typical stuff she checked my hemoglobin and glucose levels which is standard for this point in the pregnancy.

We choose to decline the traditional glucose test  and instead go with a non-fasting finger-prick test. This is completely fine with my midwife because:

     ::I have none of the risk factors at all for gestational diabetes and
     ::it's gross and the syrup is not exactly health food.

My glucose has been well within the 'normal' range every time I've had it checked as an adult so far, as it was this time. For you numbers folks, it was 92 and "normal" is up to 130.

My fundal height was 28-29cm., which is a 6 cm. jump from last time. He's a growing boy! I've gained 17 pounds so far--a little more than I had gained with Benjamin at this point, and a good bit less than I had gained with Katie (I started my pregnancy with Benjamin much heavier than I started this pregnancy, and about the same as I was when I started my pregnancy with Katie).

The baby is already head down--but with the amount of movement I feel, who knows if he'll stay that way! I think he is my busiest baby in the womb so far. It feels like this child is doing somersaults all day and all night.

I have overall been feeling really good. I've continued to exercise regularly, which I think helps a lot (only indoors though--it has been way too HOT for outside walks). I have to be careful not to stay on my feet too long (more than 2 hours seems to be my limit) without sitting down for a bit or my feet and legs get tired and sore. I also do get an occasional headache--but those are really my only 'complaints' (besides the occasional punch in the bladder, which I don't love)!

My mom is coming up for a week at the end of August to help me get ready for Baby Boy's arrival (she'll also come up around my due-date and stay until he's a couple weeks old--so thankful for her help!). When she leaves, my due-date will only be 6 weeks away. 6 weeks!

I'm trying to come up with a realistic list of things I'd like to get done while she's here. Any tips for transitioning from two three-and-under to three three-and-under? :)

How are you other pregnant mamas doing? I'd love to hear if there is any way I can pray for you and your babes!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Goals for this week

It's a goal

I have to confess, I have completely fallen off the goal-setting bandwagon the past few weeks and I desperately need to jump back on!

So, I have my goals ready for the week and hanging on my fridge for me to see every day as I make my to-do list. I also try to reference my goals list throughout the day as I have a few spare moments here and there.

And, I'm posting them here for y'all to see. Knowing my readers can see my goals and will expect a report next week is a great source of accountability!

Goals for this week:

1. Track my protein and water intake (more on the importance of these during pregnancy)
2. Do the cardio/toning portion and the yoga portion of my prenatal workout DVD 3x each
3. Follow my morning routine every day

4. Continue working with Katie in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (we started last week)

5. Write out a workable daily routine
6. Make 3 snack foods to have on hand

7. Get caught up on projects for my Family Herbalist Course (I've been avoiding a few because they use the oven, but it's cooler this week!)

8. Have someone take a decent photo of me to use as a profile picture
9. Design a cover image for the facebook page that matches the new design (if you're reading in a feed reader or email, you should come check out the new design on the blog!) 
10. Write my posts at least one day ahead {starting with Wednesday's post. Ahem}

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this site!

Linked to Money Saving Mom

Menu Plan, July 9-15

It's supposed to cool down a little bit around here this week. I will be thankful for a reprieve from the 100+ degree temperatures--and for being able to use my oven a little bit without making the house miserably hot! I am still including some cool dinners on the list for the hotter days, though.

I've been on the hunt for husband-friendly meal salads. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments!

Here's what I'm planning to fix this week:

Soaked oatmeal
Brown rice grits , scrambled eggs, fruit
Hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, fruit (x3)
Baked oatmeal (x2)

Burgers, carrot sticks with dip, fruit
Mini Meatloaves (didn't get to these last week), mashed potatoes, fruit salad, green salad

Deviled eggs, fruit, cheese slices, veggies with dip 
Taco salad (made this way, with grilled steak instead of ground beef this time)--went over well last week!
Leftovers (x2)
Macaroni and cheese (with hamburger meat), fruit, veggies with dip
Sunday dinner at the farm

We have been sadly lacking in the snack department around here, so I'm planning to make these to have on hand this week, in addition to veggies and fresh fruit.

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas (from Healthy Snacks to Go )
Granola bars
Healthy Mounds bars

We keep lunches simple with smoothies, snacks, and/or leftovers just about every day.

 What are y'all fixing this week? If you need some inspiration, be sure to head over to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

PS: I tried to do a post on Saturday with my groceries from last week, but we had some bad weather and the internet was so slow I couldn't get blogger to load. Just wanted y'all to know I didn't forget! I'll try again this weekend. :)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this site!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Home Management: Simplified & Streamlined, The Morning Routine

Last week's project for Home Management: Simplified and Streamlined was to create a workable morning routine, consisting of 3 to 5 things we do first thing each morning to get our day started off right.

I have to admit, what I wanted to do was make a list of all the things I'd like to do first thing in the morning before the children are up and call it my morning routine. It would look somewhat like this:

  • Get up, do devotions, have a glass of water and a small snack
  • Exercise
  • Shower, get dressed
  • Start a load of laundry
  • Spend some time on blog stuff
As I thinking about this routine throughout the week, I found that there is just absolutely no way I am going to accomplish all of these things every morning before my children are awake every morning, or even most mornings.

For one, Katie has been waking up early--showing up in our room dressed and ready to go before 7. If I wanted to make it through everything in that list before she's up, I'd have to start my day at 5. In an ideal world, I'd love to do this. But the reality is that most mornings at 5, my tired body still needs more sleep. 

The other issue is that if I want to exercise before the children are up without waking them, I have to do it in our master bathroom, which I really don't love to do.

So, finally I resigned myself to a different morning routine.

My Morning Routine
  • Get up, do devotions, drink a glass of water
  • Get dressed in exercise clothes and sneakers (if I plan to work out. Otherwise, normal clothes)
  • Brew coffee for Ben
And if the children are still asleep when I get through that list, I can work on the blog until they get up.

Simple, yes. But for me, for now, it works. And it will probably still work in three months when I'm caring for a newborn. It gets the day started off in the right direction without creating unrealistic expectations that set  me up for failure before the cob-webs even clear out of my brain.

What about y'all? Do you have a morning routine in place for yourselves?

Week 4 Project
Now that we've created a morning routine, we're going to use the time budgets we created for our Week 2 project to come up with a simple routine for the entire day.

By routine, I don't mean a rigid schedule. I know for me during this season of life, that simply won't work. There are diaper blow-outs (though not many since we switched to cloth!), character training issues to deal with, books to be read to cute babies, and things that get shifted around throughout the day as I see fit (and sometimes things get shifted around even if I don't see fit--ha!). While I like for things to always happen around the same time, they just don't, so having the same general flow to our days, with plenty of room for interruptions, is the best option for now. 

We'll be back next week with our own routines!

Be sure to visit Rachel's post for this week!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Healthy snacks delivered to your door every month (Healthy Surprise Review)

If you have been around here long, you know that feeding my family nourishing foods is a huge priority for me. Healthy snacks, particularly when we're on the go, can be difficult. So, I have to confess--when I was contacted by Healthy Surprise about doing a review of their service, I was really, really excited.

When you subscribe to Healthy Surprise, they deliver a box to your door each month of truly healthy snacks.

The subscriptions come in different sizes:
  • Starter (16-20 servings) -- $38
  • Healthy (32-40 servings) -- $66
  • Large (50-60 servings) -- $99
  • Super (200 servings) -- $333 
The cost includes shipping. The average serving runs between $2.06 and $1.66, varying slightly by month (depending on exactly how many snacks that month's box contains) with the larger boxes having a lower cost per serving.

The box we received was a "Healthy" sized box. I checked the prices of each of the items on-line, and based on what I found, I would not have been able to buy them separately for $66. Ordering most items in bulk and not considering shipping costs (which vary based on the source), I would have paid right around the $66 that Healthy Surprise charges but their price includes shipping and you don't have to buy a ton of each item to get them at that price. 

Our box of snacks before anyone got into it!
When our box arrived, my excitement rubbed off on Katie and Benjamin, who wouldn't sit still for me to get a non-blurry photo of them with the snacks neatly arranged on the table like I tried to over and over again!

As I examined the ingredients on each package, I truly could not have been more pleased. Each snack was actually and truly all-natural and all of them were dairy, egg, gluten, and soy-free. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find pre-packaged soy-free snacks?! And, there were several items in the box for everyone in our family to enjoy, including Ben who is still off of gluten, corn, soy, and tree-nuts/peanuts.

Usually when I buy pre-packaged 'healthy' snacks, I consider them compromise foods. They typically aren't soy-free, they have oils I would not use, and/or they have some refined sugar thrown in. Not the case with the snacks included in our box. Each ingredient was one I would have been perfectly happy to use in my kitchen.

As we ate through the snacks, there were definitely some we enjoyed more than others, but I think there was only one product was one that none of us cared for (and it was a bag of nuts, so Katie and I were really the only candidates for trying it). That's naturally a risk you take when someone else is putting together a package of food for you--but at the same time, you take the same risk when you buy a new-to-you snack at the store. Plus, the snacks change from month to month, so if there's one you don't like, you probably won't see it in the next box anyway.

I realize that it is quite possible to make nourishing snacks from scratch for quite a bit less per serving--and that is typically what I do. However, I can definitely see this as being an great resource for our family during especially challenging seasons--like when I'm in early pregnancy or when we have a newborn (which also happen to be seasons of life when I need to eat a lot!). In fact, I think we will probably go ahead and subscribe for the first few months after our little guy is born--the less cooking I have to do, the more I get to snuggle my newborn babe!

Overall, I was definitely pleased with our experience and would definitely recommend Healthy Surprise for families who need nourishing snacks but, for whatever reason, don't have time to make them from scratch.

Interested in trying Healthy Surprise? Use the coupon code covhome when you subscribe to get $5 off every order you place!

Disclosure: I was provided with a box from Healthy Surprise for review purposes. All opinions in this post are mine.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Menu Plan, July 2-8

It has been hot around here lately! This week, I've tried to plan meals that won't heat up the kitchen too much (though I can't seem to avoid the oven completely), as our little old air conditioner has had a hard time keeping up with the temperatures--which hovered around 100 or more for the past several days (that is HOT for Central Virginia).

We were finally able to pick up the beef we ordered on Saturday, so I'm really excited to have a freezer of beef. This is our first ever bulk meat purchase, and I'm pleased with the deal we got. I plan to set aside some of my grocery money in an envelope each week to save up for another such purchase in the future.

Here's what I have planned for our meals this week:

Scrambled eggs, brown rice grits (x2)
Baked oatmeal (with pumpkin and coconut) x2
Soaked oatmeal
Slowcooker Breakfast Casserole (a new recipe), coconut flour pumpkin muffins from Healthy Snacks to Go*affiliate link (x2)
Roasted Chicken in the crock pot; mashed potatoes with gravy; broccoli, caulflower, and yellow squash (Mediterranean style)
Bunless burgers; watermelon; veggies with dip
July 4th picnic with the family
Easy Beef Stroganoff, salad
Taco salad (made this way)
Mini Meatloaves, mashed potatoes, salad

We keep lunchtime simple with leftovers or smoothies just about every day.

As a side--I'm planning to do a post at the end of the week with my grocery expenses. I think it would be more realistic as it would cover the occasional extra stop during the week. You can look for that on Saturday.

So, what do y'all like to cook when it gets hot out? It took me *forever* to think up our menu plan for this week! I'd love some fresh inspiration!

Linked to Menu Plan Monday.