Why Meal Plan?

Meal Plan

I love to meal plan!!  It’s one of the ways I help our family to save money.  When I don’t meal plan I spend much more at the grocery store and I go more often than I want to.  I finally decided to start meal planning after cleaning out our pantry one day, as I looked at all the expired food sitting at the bottom of the can I realized how much money I was just throwing away….and that was just the pantry, we don’t even want to begin talking about the refrigerator.

I decided I would start meal planning 2 weeks at a time, you can choose to start off weekly if that works better, or even monthly.  Bi-weekly works best for us because I usually know what is going on 2 weeks out, not necessarily a month out.



Here are my top reasons I LOVE planning meals:

Saves Money-  The number one reason I began meal planning was to save money.  If you meal plan, you WILL save money.  Make a grocery list with all the items you need to complete meals for 2 weeks.  This list will prevent you from buying items that you do not need, try to not stray from what is on your list. This has saved me a lot of money, if I have a list I don’t impulse shop as much. Commit to grocery shopping weekly or bi-weekly, since you know what you will be eating each day there will be no reason to waste gas going to the store more often.

Also, take advantage of your sales advertisements.  Look at them before you go shopping and see what items are on sale for a great price, then plan to make meals using those items.

Waste Less Food- We all have some sort of food waste.  I try to prevent food waste by shopping my pantry, freezer and refrigerator before making my store list.  I see what produce needs used ASAP and have dinners with those items included early in the week.  If I see that I have excess of any item then I will include it in a meal (I check the pantry, refrigerator and freezer).  If you make a meal that you would typically have leftovers with, plan on eating those leftovers for dinner or lunch the next day, if it is something you can freeze then do that.



Saves Time- All of our time is precious, just think about how much time we spend going to and from the grocery store several times a week.  I probably used to waste 4 or 5 hours a week doing so.  Not anymore though, because planning out your meals saves you so much time!  It only takes a few minutes to plan out each meal, I might spend 30 minutes planning meals for 2 weeks. Sticking to your grocery list will save time in the store, as well as grocery shopping weekly or bi-weekly.

Makes Life Easier-  Meal planning takes the stress out of dinner time!!  I would much rather know what we are having and take the guess work out of it.  If you know you are going to be busy one evening then that might be a good day to have leftovers, break out the crock pot, or plan dinner out.

Since I have started doing this for our family I have saved a lot of money, time, gas and I never have to think “What are we having for dinner?” because I already know.

Planning meals out really isn’t hard, it just takes a little bit of time.  Once you start you will be glad you did!  So let’s do this.  Grab a piece of paper and a calendar and start your meal plan today!     

I have shared this post at The Shine Blog Hop, Party at My Place, The Creative Exchange, The Scoop, You’re Gonna Love It, Turn It Up Tuesdays,

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Banana Bread Muffins

I love a good banana bread recipe, it has taken me a long time to find a recipe that I LOVED.  I have tested several banana bread recipes and tweaked them here and there.  Now, I have the recipe that I love and I am no longer on the search for the perfect banana bread or muffin recipe.




I prefer to make muffins instead of a loaf of banana bread, this recipe is good for both.  This recipe makes about 18 muffins or one loaf of bread.  It’s moist and the top is perfect, not crispy.  Here’s what you’ll need…

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup melted butter (5 1/3 Tbs)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3-4 ripe bananas (3 large bananas or 4 medium)
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

chocolate muffins

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin pan or use cupcake liners.

Mash your bananas, or put them in your stand alone mixer and let it mash them for you.  Then, add your egg, vanilla, salt, baking soda,white and brown sugars and butter; mix well.  Now you will add your flour, I like to add mine 1/2 cup at a time.  Lastly, add the semi sweet chocolate chips and mix well.

Pour your mix into your muffin pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes, ovens may vary so keep an eye on it.  Makes approximately 18 moist and delicious muffins or one loaf of bread.

Enjoy!



chocolate banana muffins

This recipe was shared at: Meet Up Monday, Talented Tuesday, Tuesday Talk, You’re Gonna Love It, The Scoop, Tutorials & Tips, Turn It Up Tuesday, LouLou Girls, Show + Tell, Wonderful Wonderful, Whimsy Wednesday, Wednesday Roundup, Ladies Collective Linkup, Wow Me Wednesday, Recipe Sharing Party, The Shine Blog Hop, Party at my Place, 100 Happy Days, The Creative Exchange, Pin Me Link Party, Happiness Is Homemade.

Burlap Picture Frame Makeover

I had this burlap frame that was used for this Shabby Chic Baby Shower.  It’s a cute frame, was great for the shower but didn’t really go with anything in my house.  So I thought I would give it a little makeover with some paint and a shabby chic flower so that I could put it to good use instead of it just laying around collecting dust.

burlap frame




I purchased a sample of HGTV Home paint in coral reef, a small brush and an aqua flower.  It took a lot more paint than I had anticipated, the just burlap soaked the paint up.  I used a small brush and made sure in get in between all the fibers with the brush.  I used about 3 coats of paint on this frame.  Then, let it dry for a day.

burlap frame

I was really pleased with the outcome once it was dry.  The burlap took the paint well and I love the texture it added to the frame.

painting burlap

I found a shabby chic flower at Hobby Lobby and added it to one corner.  Now, I just need to put a picture of someone I know in the frame 😉

I’ve linked up with these awesome parties: The Scoop, You’re Gonna Love It, Show & Tell, Tutorial & Tips, Make it Pretty Monday, Epic Mommy Adventures, Meet Up Monday, Talented Tuesday, A Little R&R, Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop, Whimsy Wednesday, Ladies Collective Linkup, The Wednesday Roundup, Shine Blog Hop, Party at My Place, 100 Happy Days, The Creative Exchange.

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

It’s Friday again already!  Time for the weekend. Here’s a peek at my favorites from this past week.

ONE-  The time changed last weekend and now it stays daylight an hour longer.  Yay!  I always look forward to when it stays daylight longer.  It makes me so much happier.

This little guy enjoys it too!!

jack russell terrier

 

TWO-  We tried out the shaving cream Easter eggs this week.  It was fun!  The kids liked it a lot, but I really thought they would be brighter, we even left them in there a lot longer than it said to.  I guess next time we need to use more dye.

shaving cream eggs

shaving cream eggs

THREE-  One of my favorite shows came back on this week, Nashville!  I have been waiting for its return since the last episode in like November.   I loved every minute watching it.  I’m so happy that Deacon and Rayna are finally married!

 



FOUR-  It’s been flip flop weather this week. I live in my flip flops when it is warm, unfortunately I won’t be wearing any this weekend since it’s supposed to snow 🙁  But we have enjoyed the weather so much this week being outside everyday has been so nice.

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FIVE-  Kohl’s is having their sale again.  You can get 30% off if you have a Kohl’s charge card, $10 off $30 kids apparel and shoes , $10 off $30 juniors clothing and FREE shipping!  So, if you have little ones or teens then you need go check their sale out!  If you spend $30 on kids clothing or shoes and use those coupons, you end up getting everything for about $15!!  Same thing with juniors clothing.  Definitely worth checking out!! (Again, not a sponsored post.  I just like Kohl’s a LOT!!  And helping others save $)

I hope you all had a great week.  I’m looking forward to some family time this weekend.  See you next Friday!

This entry was posted in Home.

Best Money Saving Apps

 

Money Saving apps

This post may contain affiliate links.  See my full disclosure here.

I have been using money making/saving apps on my phone for almost a year now.  I know, I know, I should have been using these apps way before then.  If you have an iPhone or android phone and have not checked these apps out you need to do so now!  I have created a list of my favorite apps that I use all the time to make and save money.  I use many of these apps together and if you use coupons too, you save even more!




All of these apps are android and iPhone compatible and FREE.  So, lets get started!

1. Ibotta–  This is my favorite rebate app, I seem to get the most back from them.  Once you install the app you are able to view rebates by store, each store usually has a lot of rebates, Wal-Mart currently has 240!  I like to view the rebates before going shopping so that I know what is available.  Before or after shopping you unlock the rebates you want.  To unlock a rebates they may tell you a fact about a product, ask a poll question, have you watch a short video about a product, give you a recipe, etc.  After shopping, select the rebates you purchased, scan that products barcode and then upload your receipt.  They have always been very fast with crediting my account, usually in minutes, although it can take up to a couple days to get your credit.  Once you get to the $20.00 minimum you can cash out through PayPal or Venmo.  Also, you can join teams and refer others to earn even more  rewards.  If you are new to Ibotta and would like to join my team I would love to have you! You will get $10.00 when you sign up and redeem your first rebate, and I will get $5.00.  My referral code is: prfkxjv

2. Checkout 51–  You earn rebates ,or cash back,  on products you purchase at ANY store.  Choose the products you want to purchase, after grocery shopping scan the products barcode and then upload your receipt.  If you see an offer you want make sure you upload your receipt before midnight on Wednesday because on Thursday new rebates come out.  After your purchases are confirmed, Checkout51 will credit your account with the cash back.  Once you have earned $20.00 you can request a check to be sent to you.  Unlike Ibotta, Checkout51 does not have a referral program.

3. Wal-Mart Savings Catcher–  If you have a Wal-Mart and shop there then this app is a must.  This app lets you do a few things, but by far my favorite thing about this app is that it price matches with its local competitors sales ads, when this app finds a lower price it gives you the difference.  Once you check out at Wal-Mart scan the receipts QR code at the bottom of the receipt or enter the receipt number and date, then they will compare prices for you.  You can cash out whenever you want in the form of an e-gift card for Wal-mart, which you can use in store or online.  I think it is one of the easiest apps to earn money on, especially if you are a frequent Wal-Mart shopper.

4. Savings Star–  Like Ibotta and Checkout51, Savings Star allows you to view and select the offers you want and then once you purchase the items you scan the barcode then, upload your receipt.  If you shop at stores with loyalty cards you can add them to your account and never have to upload another receipt!  It usually takes between 2-10 days for your account to be credited with your savings.  You can cash out once you reach $5.00 through PayPal, a direct deposit in your checking account, Amazon gift code or donate your earnings to a charity.  Like Checkout51, Savings Star does not have a referral program either.




5.  Receipt Hog–  I am fairly new to Receipt Hog but so far I like it.  You take photos of your receipts and upload them, the receipts can be from any store, restaurant and even gas receipts can be uploaded.  Depending on where the receipt you uploaded was from and the amount you will get “coins”, spins at the “Hog Slots” (you can earn extra coins here) or entered into their monthly sweepstakes.  They pay you through Paypal or an Amazon gift card once you request payment.  The longer you wait for the payout, the better.  1000 coins = $5.00, 1800 = $10.00, 3200 = $20.00, 4000 = $30.00.  They have no referral program.

6.  Shopmium–  I do not use this one as much as the others I have listed because they do not have very many offers.  However, a few perks to Shopmium are that they offer free products at times, their offers are exclusive to them, they pay you through Paypal or your bank account as soon as you are credited for any item, so you are not trying to reach a threshold to get paid.  Also, they have a referral program.  You get $2.00 for each new referral.  If you would like to try Shopmium, and get a free Lindt Chocolate bar, you can use my referral code: KUCACMUW

7.  Kroger–  If you shop at Kroger (or their family stores: Dillons, Smith’s, Fred Meyer, Fry’s Food Stores, QFC, Ralph’s) then you have to use their app.  You can do it online but it’s so much easier to just do it all on your phone.  Here’s why I love this app: when you load coupons to your card they are active immediately, you can have 150 coupons loaded at a time, every Friday they offer a free product coupon to load to your card (has to be loaded on Friday), every month they e-mail me “Best Customer Coupons” to load to my card that are for products I frequently purchase and sometimes include two free items, you are able to view their sales ad and keep track of your Kroger points to redeem on gas.  Every $100 you spend at Kroger gets you 10 cents off each gallon of gas.

8.  Retail Me Not– This app is awesome when you are shopping retail and restaurants.  Retail Me Not collects coupon codes and sales information from retailers and restaurants.  They offer both in store and online coupons, so however you like to shop check them out first to save the most.  You can also bookmark your favorite places to shop and eat, making them easier to find.

These are all apps that I love and use all the time.  As I mentioned before, all of these are available for i-Phone and android.  Some of these you can use on your desktop or from your tablet if you do not have a smartphone, such as: Krogers and their family stores, Retail Me Not, SavingsStar, Wal-Mart Savings Catcher and even Ibotta.

I would like to say that by using some of these apps you can really maximize your savings.  I have gotten products for free or very close to it by using a digital coupon from Krogers and then that same product has been on 2 of the above rebate apps as well.  So, be sure to check them all out if you haven’t already.

Are there any apps that you love that I have not talked about here?  If so, leave me a comment.

I’m linking up at the awesome link parties: Tutorials & Tips, Turn it up Tuesday, The Scoop, Show & Tell, Make it Pretty Monday, Tuesday Talk, Talented Tuesday, Your Gonna Love It, A Little R&R, Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop, Ladies Collective Link Up, Thursday Favorite Things, SHINE Blog Hop, Party At My Place, The Creative Exchange, 100 Happy Days, Handmade Hangout Party, Inspiration Spotlight, Pin Me Linky Party.

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Hi everyone!  It’s time for Friday Favorites again with Narci, Andrea and Erika.

ONE

Okay, so I was a little under the weather earlier this week.  I seem to have caught a 24 hour stomach bug.  Yuck!  Being sick was definitely not a favorite but when I received get well cards from my girls, that was a FAVORITE for sure.

20160311_104915

TWO

Do you shop at Kohl’s?  I love that store they are one of my FAVORITES to shop at for great deals on kids clothes.  They had an awesome sale that was going on this week.  If you had a Kohl’s Charge Card you can get up to 30% off, free shipping and $10 off a $30 purchase of children’s clothing and shoes.  I got some cute Spring outfits for my girls for an unbeatable price.  If you haven’t gotten your Easter outfits yet you should check them out. (By the way this is not a sponsored post, I just like to save money and pass it on 🙂

I got these 3 things for $15.  I was happy.  Looks like I like navy 🙂

 

screen shot

THREE

Some of my FAVORITE people visited my girls us last weekend.  My Mom and sister spent the night and spoiled my kids.  We had a great time, went to the movies and out for lunch.  They live about an hour away so we don’t get to visit nearly as much as we would like, especially with school and work schedules.

FOUR

I made these yummy chocolate chip cookies today.  The Nestle Toll House recipe on the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips are my FAVORITE go to Chocolate Chip recipe.

chocolate chip cookies

That’s it for me for this week.  Hope to see everyone next week again!

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Home.

What’s Up Wednesday

What's Up WednesdayWhat’s Up Wednesday!

Hello everyone!  I’m linking up for the first time for What’s Up Wednesday at The Larson Lingo, Mix & Match Family and Pinterest Told Me To.

Affiliate links are used in this post, which means if you click on an item and make a purchase I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  For more information see my disclosure here.

What we’re eating this week…

We have had a salad with chicken this week.  I love eating salads for dinner.  What I love even more is that my extremely picky 5 years old will actually eat a salad without complaining.  Yay!!

My favorite meal we had was shrimp and broccoli alfredo, it was really good.  I had some left over shrimp that I did not want to go to waste and made some home made alfredo sauce.  If you have the time home made alfredo sauce is the way to go.

Broccoli Shrimp Alfredo

 

What I’m reminiscing about…

I found these old pictures on my phone.  My babies were so small.  My oldest at about 9 months old!  It was taken this time of year.  It seems just like it was yesterday.DSCN2305

My baby Kelly at 1 year old, she was just starting to walk alone, as you can tell with her arms out there. How I wish they didn’t grow up so fast!

DSC_0736

What I’m loving…

So I am loving my Silhouette Cameo.  I have not been using it nearly as much as I should be.  A couple weeks ago I used it to cut vinyl for this painting I had my girls paint for my office.

Here is a picture of them having fun painting with their fingers, it did not take them long to get the whole canvas covered in paint.

Finger painting canvas

I also want to make some baby onesie’s for a baby shower I have coming up, so I will be practicing with heat transfer vinyl soon.  Any advice anyone?

What we’ve been up to…

It seems like we have been partying all month long.  I’m not complaining though, I enjoy it.  I believe we had 5 birthdays this month to celebrate.  It’s nice to have something to do while we have all this cold weather and snow AND I haven’t had to fix dinner those days. Yes!

What I’m dreading…

More snow!  After a couple snow falls I am really over it.  I hate to be cold and drive on bad roads, but Spring is coming.

What I’m working on…

I am working on getting my office decorated just how I want it to be.  Last month I shared my office reveal part 1, where my husband built me an office in part of our unfinished basement.  Now, if I can just find the right pieces to put it all together how I want it to be.

Corner desk

What i’m excited about…

I am excited that Spring is around the corner.  I am ready for it to stay daylight longer, be warmer and enjoy all the beautiful flowers and leaves on the trees.

 

What I’m watching/reading…

I have been trying to keep up with one of my favorite shows The Blacklist.  I DVR it and then usually my husband and I watch it after the kiddos are asleep.  I just LOVE this show, James Spader is awesome!

blacklist

AND another favorite is of course Fixer Upper.  I just love the Gaines, they do the best designs.

Fixer upper

I have been reading “How to Build A Framework” by Abby Lawson.  I have read the book once and am reading over it again to see what I may have missed and take a few notes.  It has helped me understand a lot of things about blogging I did not understand in the beginning.  She gives some great guidance and I have been trying to take her advice and make my blog better.

 

Building A Framework

What I’m listening to…

I don’t really listen to much music, unless I’m in the car and then my kids pick what we listen to.

What I’m wearing…

I’ve been wearing my warm leopard moccasins I bought from Kohl’s last year.  I have wore them so much this winter.  I will only buy moccasin slippers from now on, so comfy.

What I’m looking forward to next month…

I’m really looking forward to Easter.  I love putting together baskets for my girls and dressing them in their Easter dresses.  Hopefully, Kinsey will get all of her Spring break off from school.  They have had several snow days so I will be surprised if they get it all but, hopefully!

Easter a couple years ago, I think they are chasing bubbles.

Easter

 

What else is new…

I seen a couple new movies this month at our theater.  The first one was The Choice, it is so so so good.  It just might be my new favorite movie.  Then I went with my husband to see Risen, also a very good movie, perfect for Easter next month.

Bonus Question: What is your favorite Easter Tradition?

Every Easter we always go to church, have Easter Lunch and then the kids hunt Easter eggs.  I just love watching them run and play having so much fun.

So that’s it for me for this month.  Hope to see you again in March for another What’s Up Wednesday!

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Home.

DIY Easy Canvas Art

 

Painting Canvas

 

Last week there were a couple days the we didn’t have school. We had a lot of fun playing even though we were stuck in the house from all the snow. One thing we did was have a painting session. My girls love to paint, it is one of their favorite indoor activities. I have been wanting to have a piece of artwork that my girls have done together to hang on the wall of my office. I found a couple blank canvas’ at Hobby Lobby and I decided to put a vinyl image on the canvas and have them paint the whole canvas.

 

Vinyl Canvas

I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut the vinyl hearts and “Love.”  If you do not have a cutting machine you could always buy pre-cut vinyl on etsy or at your local craft store.  Also, you could use painters tape to spell LOVE or another word or phrase.  (I think it looks pretty with just vinyl too, I am thinking about doing a print similar to this for somewhere else.)

Painting Canvas

Let the fun begin!  I only wanted to use one color, but you could use several colors and it would be really cute.  I used acrylic paint I found in the craft section in a small 2 oz bottle, it was only 50 cents.  We didn’t even use the whole bottle!



Finger painting canvas

They started out with a pain brush, but that wasn’t messy enough. 😉 So, they had to use their fingers.

Canvas Art

All painted!  It was fun and not too messy!

Glitter Canvas Painting

I added some glitter before it dried.

Vinyl Canvas Painting

It didn’t take long to dry completely, maybe an hour or so.  Then, take the vinyl off.  It’s really easy to get it off.

Love Canvas

The finished product!





Painted Canvas

Here it is on the wall of the office that I hope to FINALLY reveal decorated soon!!  If you haven’t see the office yet you can take a look at it here.

I have linked up at these link parties: Talented Tuesday, A Little R&R, Ladies Collective Link Up, Shine Blog Hop, Party At My Place, 100 Happy Days, Diana Rambles, Inspiration Spotlight, Meet Up Monday, Show and Tell, Turn it up Tuesdays, The Scoop, Tutorials & Tips Link Party.

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites 01

It’s time for Friday Favorites-Valentines Edition!

This is my first time linking up with Narci, Erika and Andrea.  I love reading everyone else’s Friday Favorites so thought I would join! 🙂

ONE- This was Kinsey’s first year to make Valentine box.  We looked on pinterest for inspiration and her favorite was an owl valentine box.  We used a Poptart box, since she’s in kindergarten and their class is small she doesn’t need a large box.  I cut the paper with my cricut machine but you could easily do the box using circles and hearts only.

20160212_080400

 

TWO-  No school!  It has been so cold and snowy here this week, temperatures are continuing to drop as the week carries on.  We have been trying to hibernate as much as possible and Kinsey has had no school part of the week so we have enjoyed sleeping in and playing most of the day.  We finished her Valentine box and have her Valentines ready to give out today.

THREE- Dove Chocolate hearts! They are so good!  I could probably eat a whole bag, which wouldn’t be good for my waistline.  So, instead of eating them all I decided to share and made these super cute cookies for Kinsey’s Valentines Day party at school.  They are sugar cookies with pink sugar and a Dove Chocolate heart on top.  I think the kiddos will like them.

20160212_080837

FOUR- On one of the snow days we had this week the girls painted this for my office I am decorating.  They had a lot of fun painting, it’s one of their favorite things to do when it’s cold outside.

Finger Paint Canvas

FIVE- We have a birthday party tonight and we have to have an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen, even though it’s freezing outside. 😉 It’s a family favorite!

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Home.

Triple Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

Triple Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

Okay, all you chocoholics out there this is the recipe for you!  These triple chocolate chip cookies are amazing, packed full of chocolate, and they’re easy.  So easy that you just use a cake mix and a few other ingredients.

I was in a pinch one day and needed a dessert to make but didn’t have a lot of the ingredients for the things I would normally make, I did have a couple cake mixes though.  Before I made these cookies I had never made cookies with a cake mix.  I just didn’t think they would taste very good, but I was hooked when I finally made them.  Everyone who tried these triple chocolate cookies LOVED them.




Ingredients:

1 chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker triple chocolate with pudding in the mix)

2 eggs

*2 Tbs brown sugar

*2 Tbs water

1/3 cup oil

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup white chocolate chips 

*Brown sugar and water are optional.  If you do not add the brown sugar then do not add the water.

Combine cake mix, eggs, brown sugar and water.  Mix well. Stir in both chocolate chips.  It will be thick.  Spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet by tablespoons.  Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes, may be more or less depending on your oven.

Makes approximately 30 cookies.

Cool for 1 minute then remove from pan.  Let them finish cooling and then enjoy!

triple chocolate cake mix cookies

This post was shared at Diana Rambles, Dear Creatives, Tatertots and Jello, Whimsy Wednesday, Recipe Sharing Party.