Showing posts with label Not a Foodie but.... Show all posts

Meal Planning is the Worst, No?

Let’s start with an apology.  I feel like I’ve been neglecting my blog a tad and if I have any readers left, I’m sorry!  It’s not because I don’t want to blog because I do and believe me, if I had the time, I’d have words everyday and not just once a week.  It’s really because I’ve been keeping busy seeing friends and housekeeping and the big one, TODDLERS.  Suffice it to say that I really miss cranking out projects and sharing tutorials with you here on the blog so, now that summer is kinda winding down, I’m going to start being better about that.  I have the usual laundry list of things I want to get done around here including a pile of clothes about two feet tall in my closet waiting to be refashioned.  There definitely isn’t a lack of motivation so hopefully I’ll have a new wardrobe along with a fully decorated house A to the sap and all the details to share.

And speaking of projects, I’ve been working on a really cool one for the past three weeks.  The last piece of it just came in the mail today and so the plan is to finish it after the kids are sawing logs tonight and have it on display tomorrow!  Toes crossed.  Until then, here’s a peek:

IMG_0884                                                      [heavily filtered so you don’t figure out too much ;)  ]

SO ANYWAY, I didn’t pop in today to just be a complete sulk.  I’m writing to tell you how my life has changed in the past three months thanks to eMeals.  But first, let me just disclaim that this is NOT a sponsored post nor did eMeals ask me to write a single word.  We are paying customers of eMeals and we LOVE the company.  However, after falling in love, I did sign up to be an affiliate which means that if you choose to use their meal planning service through me (through the links in this post and the affiliate ad in the sidebar), I will make a small commission.  Get them through me or get them elsewhere but I’m telling you, you should become good friends with that company if you’re anything like me which is…

NOT a meal planner.  Cooking?  Eh.  I’ll do it but only since I have four other mouths to feed.  There are just so many other fun things I’d rather do than stress out at five ‘o clock because my kids are hungry and shoot, I haven’t even thought about what to make for dinner.  Are you with me?  Or maybe you’re one of those peeps that’s ultra-organized and has the entire week planned food-wise in which case, you have a big admirer ova heeya.  :)

So, three months ago, I hopped over to eMeals website because I had spied them on Pinterest and I saw the “14 Day Free Trial” offer they have and signed up right that instance knowing that I had two weeks to give them a go and if I didn’t like it, it was no sweat off my back and I’d cancel. 

Well after the first week of being on a meal plan, we were hooked.  Anthony was elated to come home to a home cooked meal every night, I only had to put myself through one grocery store trip that week, and the kids were all like “whoa, mom’s doing something crazy at the stove”.  I seriously felt like I had just mastered being “domestic”.  It was awesome.  After our free trial, we signed up for a year of eMeals ($60) and right now, we’re three months in.

We’ve been eating things like…

Nacho Taco Salads

Warm Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich Bake with Oriental Slaw

Mexican Pie and Corn
…and so, so, so many other good meals.  They’ve all been so flavorful and seriously good.  Honestly, I can count on one hand the number of meals we weren’t fans of.  Good thing too because 90% of the time we have leftovers so dinner usually becomes lunch the next day!


How does it work?  Well, every week eMeals sends you an email containing seven dinner recipes (there are lunch, breakfast, and dessert plans too) and a grocery list with everything you’ll need to pick up to make those seven recipes.  And, that amazing grocery list is separated into grocery departments (frozen, produce, meats, etc…), making the one grocery trip you’ll have to make almost mindless and dare I say it, enjoyable?  Nope, too far.  Also, they’re in tune with several grocery stores (ALDI, Costco, Kroger, Publix, Safeway, Target, Walmart, and Whole Foods), keeping an eye on their sales and planning meals around them so that you can get the best bang meal for your buck (store-based plans).  There are over 50 meal plans you can choose from (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Kid-Friendly, etc…) and we’re currently on the Budget-Friendly plan.  Since starting emails, we’ve cut an average of $80 off our monthly grocery bill.  Our swelling food budget was actually the acute reason we decided to try eMeals.  The month before we signed up for the free trial, we had spent a little over $500 on groceries; a number bigger than we’d like.  We also found that we had a lot of grocery items we’d buy for one meal that would sit untouched for weeks.  So eMeals has also helped us to buy and use only what we need. 

The budget-friendly plan lists individual food prices on the grocery list so I know about what I should be paying for certain things as I stroll the aisles.  But, to get that number even lower, we buy most of our items at Walmart but then head to Sam’s to buy meat in bulk and to Publix for their BOGO deals.

Anyway, I’ll quit typing your eyes off about food and groceries but I just want to reiterate that I wasn’t asked or compensated to write this post.  I just wanted to share something that we truly love that you might too.  Check it out!  You get two free weeks!  And after that, if you love it, you’ll happily spend the $5 a month for someone else to zip over the meal plan for your week while you sip Iced Teas on the porch, knowing that dinner tonight is covered.  :)      

Food A La Bebe

Sebastian turned seven months of age last week and so we have the celebratory tie photo:
And instead of telling you all about him and how he lives life these days – scooting, sleeping (all night!), smiling, spitting, chewing…), I thought I’d write up a little post I meant to get to when the twins were his age but didn’t.  Eating.  Specifically though, what he eats.  I am not the first parent to ever have fed their seven month old nor the last so I’m not going to pretend I’m the go-to source on what you should feed your baby when and how much and all that jazz.  But, I will tell you about how we make our own baby food and how awesome it is.  (Note:  I’ve included a few links in the following paragraphs that are affiliate links.  None of the products linked to were gifted to us by their respective companies.  They’re just things we have and love.)  So first…

”Dude, they like sell pre-made jars at the store that scream zero hassle and 100% convenience, so why make your own food?”  Let me tell ya.  We’re on this tiny little thing called a budget and it’s a pretty tight one.  You might’ve figured that one out if you’ve read the blog for longer than a week.  Anthony and I are still paying off student loans plus we’ve created a lifestyle that allows me to stay at home with our kids (even though some days I long to get up, dressed, and ready to hit the town er…work).  We also cloth diaper which saves a TON of moolah (read all about that here).  Point is, making our own baby food helps us keep our bills down and me at home.
[Throwback from when the girls were circa 8-9 months young and peas, in case you were wondering.]

Also, when you make your own baby food, you know exactly what’s going into (and out of, ha!) their bodies.  No worries about preservatives and all that mumbo jumbo.

Everything.  Everything you can find in a jar at the store, you can make at home for a lot less.  A week ago, Anthony bought $8.20 worth of organic produce from a local market (sweet potatoes, zucchini, apples, and bananas).  Pureed, all of that produce will feed Sebastian for 42 days if he eats his normal half a cup per day (4 oz.).  Buying that much Gerber baby food (plastic canisters of non-organic puree) would cost us $24.72.  Going the organic and more comparable route, buying 42 jars of Earth’s Best organic baby food would cost us $41.27.  So, for a little bit of work, we’re getting fresh, organic baby food and saving a good chunk of change.  Now, double that and you’ll realize why we took this route with the twins.  :)


The Baby Brezza.
  photo 2 (1)
Amazing.  I was gifted this by a good friend at the twins’ baby shower and it’s been one of the most (if not the most) valuable gift I’ve received.  It might seem a little much to shell out several $10 bills for this baby but even if we hadn’t received it as gift, we would have forked over that $$ knowing how easy this makes the process.  It makes making your own food a cinch because it steams and purees your food all-in-one.  All you have to do is cut up whatever it is you’re cooking, toss it in, press a few buttons and off it goes and off you can go until it beeps ‘done’.  Just want to steam?  It does it.  What about skipping the steam and pureeing?  Yep.  Welcome to twenty-fourteen everyone!

The Cooking for Baby cookbook.
The same person who gave us the Baby Brezza gave us this cookbook.  I have lots of knowledge inside the nog pertaining to painting and creating, very little about cooking.  However, this cookbook holds my hand through recipes and among the simple recipes it has those that make me feel like a gourmet chef.  Amaranth & plum swirl?  Got it.  Roasted red pepper & goat cheese puree?  Yep.  (However, its recipes need to be tailored to using the Baby Brezza…a.k.a. it assumes you’re going the steamer and pan route when you’re actually cutting those out if you use the Brezza.)  On top of divulging delish recipes even you will want to make for yourself (“Honey, we’re having silken tofu & peach puree for dinner.”), it’s divided into sections based on baby’s age and also has tips like “how often & how much” that most first-time parents (and even third-time parents like me who forget) know nothing about.

Besides our beloved Brezza, we’ve found it helpful to have a peeler on hand (we’ve had this one going on seven years now) and an apple corer (like this one).  You can find both of these at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and Target too.  Little things like this just cut down on prep time because, let’s face it, if you’re in the business of making baby food, chances are you have a baby and babies need attention, lots and lots of attention which leaves you with little and littler time.  #amiright  #oramiright
photo 1 (1)
I know there are lots more little tools like these that cater to convenience so if you have any you use, please share!


Alternately titled ‘Storage’.
Usually when I make a batch of food for Seb, I stick one jar in the fridge and the rest all go into the freezer where they sit until the day before they’re needed.  Here’s a good FYI on food storage limits – Freezing Homemade Baby Food via Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food.

When the twins were at the puree stage, we bought several jars of pre-made baby food while on a trip away from home and saved those jars to store our homemade stuff in.  They’re the perfect size (obviously, considering what they held), easy to store, and can go straight from freezer to microwave.

We also use this Beaba freezer tray.  It has compartments that hold perfectly-sized proportions for the beginner-eater and all you have to do to empty a frozen compartment is turn it upside down and press the bottom of that compartment in until the food slides out.  

Also, if you’re on-the-go, grab a few of these reusable baby food pouches, fill them with your homemade stuff, and go.  No need to spend the $1 or more those things cost at the store.  (We didn’t use these with the girls but plan on grabbing a few for the boy.)

A few other helpful links:
What to feed baby and when
The “Dirty Dozen” – the twelve most pesticide-contaminated foods and the twelve least
Making homemade baby food according to Hello Little Scout
Tasty recipes from Amber at 3 Ladies & Their Gent

I hope this is helpful to anyone interested in venturing into baby food making.  I’m open to questions and advice from veterans so if you have either of those, leave a note in the com box! 

Happy pureeing!