July 24, 2017

Three-cheese turkey & spinach mac

Ground turkey and fresh spinach are added to this stovetop macaroni and cheese, making it a more nutritious meal and also extra tasty. My twins are turning one this week!! I can't believe it. This past year has been amazing and crazy and a whirlwind. It's true what everyone tells you - the days can be long, but the weeks are fast. It's so cool to watch them grow and change. They are learning new things all the time. I love watching them interact with each other (when they aren't hurting one another) and seeing their very different personalities develop. So far we've been lucky in that they both love, love food and eating. So I'm always trying to come up with baby and toddler foods that they will enjoy and also can eat/chew safely. This meal was a big hit for them as well as my husband and I. I love meals that are all-in-one. Just put a couple scoops in a bowl and you're good to go. This meal will easily feed about 5-6 people. So if you are like us you will get a bunch of lunch leftovers.

Enjoying our dinner!

July 20, 2017

Menu planning for frugal living

Our grocery and menu board always hangs on the side of the refrigerator. It's not a pretty or fancy board or photo, it's real life here.

Last week I posted about how I am striving to be a frugal mama and I thought I'd expand a little bit on some of the topics in their own posts. First up is menu planning. Not the most exciting of topics, I get it. But, it's crucial to saving money when you are living on a budget and/or aspiring to not waste money. If you don't have a menu plan, likely you will end up eating out/ordering take-out more frequently, throwing away food more frequently, and going to the grocery store more than necessary. We have this ultra-fancy (haha) little white board that lives on the side of our fridge. When we are getting close to running out of a pantry or fridge staple, or think of something we would like, it goes on the grocery side. This way, we are rarely caught off-guard running out of something and I don't have to spend much time thinking or checking if we need items when I make the grocery list.

July 13, 2017

Lemon pudding cookies

Lightly sweetened lemon cookies with a drizzle of very lemony glaze are a perfect cookie for summer picnics and potlucks. I made these little cookies to take to a gathering we had to watch a parade on the 4th of July. They were a hit and even my twins got to try a couple bites! They enjoyed their first parade. I wasn't quite sure how they would react with all the loud noise, etc. but they had fun. They only jumped a couple times when the fire trucks blew their horns. I was glad about that because sometimes they have a hard time in new places or when there are a lot of people around. Cookies make things better though, I suppose!

This recipe makes about three dozen cookies, so it's great when you need to bring something to a picnic or party. I was thinking of a cookie with a bit of a lemonade flavor when I decided to try these. I modified this recipe as written below. I think the cookies tasted better the next 1-2 days after baking because the lemon flavor had more time to really permeate through the dough. The glaze is a must - it's where a lot of the lemon flavor lives, so don't skip it!

July 10, 2017

Striving to be a frugal mama

Some of our cloth diaper stash drying out on the line.

I'm taking a little break from recipe posting today. Today I'm going to talk about my life as a frugal mama of twins. Or, at least ways I'm striving to be a frugal mama. Before the twins, my husband and I were already Mr. Money Mustache followers. We were working hard to pay down our student loan debt while saving for a house. We started tracking every single penny that came in or out of our household (we still do this) to identify areas that needed improvement while also holding ourselves more accountable for random spending (you'd be amazed how much this can change your outlook on money and spending habits). We dropped our expensive phone plans and switched to Ting, we cut the cable cord and streamed Netflix, restaurants and take-out became for special occasions only, and so on. All of these changes helped us immensely to pay down our student loans and stash cash. On the flip side, we were also spending quite a bit of money trying to build our family. But, we were okay with that because it was a priority for our lives. All of these changes allowed us to buy a home (and just in time as we found out a couple months later that twins were in our future!!). Fast forward to me becoming a stay-at-home mom after my grant-funded job ended the same month our twins were due; our need to really ramp up our frugal skills emerged! My husband and I both work in the environmental field - so not the most lucrative or stable job market. So, we decided that I'd stay with the twins and see how it went since the timing worked out well with my job ending and because daycare for two infants is extremely costly. It's been almost a year and it's both amazing and difficult being home with them! I'm so glad to have this time with them, but I do sometimes miss my work. I'm not sure what the future holds on that, but these are some things I've learned as I strive to be a frugal mama.

July 5, 2017

Toddler quinoa, broccoli, & cheddar bites

These little bites are a perfect size for toddler hands, but also make a fun and tasty adult side/snack. As with all my baby/toddler recipes, they have been twin tested and approved. Except this was was only approved by one. The other was unsure about these.... So, I'm not sure if it was the texture or what because she likes broccoli, quinoa, and cheese.... but I guess not in this form. These are definitely for older toddlers with some good experience chewing and probably a few teeth. The baking makes the outsides slightly crunchy/chewy, but the inside remains soft. I froze these to reheat for a quick meal. Since it makes about 15 pieces, you may want to store them in the freezer (or just eat up the rest yourself). The microwave is probably your best bet for reheating to keep them soft and to not dry out (the quinoa and cheese may get too crunchy), but I have also used the oven. Let them thaw out in the refrigerator overnight before re-heating to serve. These are a little hand held meal!