Stay at home mom spilling the beans on everyday life!

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Meal Planning

One thing that I used to have a difficult time with was feeding my family of 5 without killing the food budget. My kids are 8,5 and 3.
They never really used to eat a lot. Well now they all eat like teenaged boys! Ha! It seems as though when they do go through a growth spurt, they do it all at the same time. Not one at a time.

I knew that I was going to need to start making a better attempt at meal planning, well not only meal planning per-say, but “what food should we be keeping in the house” planning.

I’ve never really gotten the hang of the whole couponing thing… So that was out of the question… Unless I just happened to come across a $1.50 off my Starbucks k-cups!
I know that my saving grace is the commissary. I save so much money when I can get out there.

I’m pretty sure that I have come up with a solution to the “Crap! I spent $500 on groceries this month!” Haha! I was thinking that $100/week to feed 5 of us wasn’t really a big deal. But if I wasnt planning right, I could spend $100 a week and then the next week I had NOTHING in the pantry and had to run out and spend between $200-300 to stock up again.

Now I have a list of Pantry Must-Haves. Things that I can throw together quick for simple dinner ideas if I am in a pinch and cant make it to the store. Things, that when Husband and I want to eat my Famous Ribollita Soup, there is something for the kids. Because we all know that kids do NOT know what good food is.
Another thing that I have in my planning arsenal is my recipe box, notebooks and pens!


With these Pantry Must-Haves on a busy night you can take chicken, stuffing and canned green beans and make a casserole! Voila! 30 minute dinner on the fly.
When I make my meal list I number my paper as high as I want my groceries to last. For example, we get paid biweekly. But sometimes if the dates fall just right it can be almost 3 weeks between paychecks. Then I know that I have to spend as little as I can while getting as much as I can.
So I’ll go through my recipe books and choose what to eat for the next few.. weeks. But I cant assign a dinner to a certain day, I dont have that kind of self control. I have keep my list handy on the kitchen counter and I’ll choose day by day what off the list I am going to cook.

If I decide to make meatballs (which I usually do twice, once for pasta and once for meatball subs) I will go through my pantry items and see if I already have some of the things I need for this. If not I’ll make sure that 1lb of hot Italian sausage and 1lb of ground turkey make it to the list!

I went from spending a solid $250 biweekly to about $200 every 3 weeks!! That’s awesome. All it takes is a little preparedness. I didn’t even have to go for a Meatless Monday! That’s a thing right? People do that to save.


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Buffalo Chicken Garbage Bread


Garbage bread, calzones and stromboli are a couple of my family’s favorite dishes. Especially my mom’s! Every time she comes down to visit me, that’s her request for dinner! Ha! I love to put any thing and everything into my garbage bread. Hence the name! It should be called “Everything but the kitchen sink bread!”

Any way. My brother is here and asked me to make his favorite, buffalo chicken.

**Side note**
Just incase you don’t know the difference between the 3. A garbage bread is characterized by the bread dough rather than a pizza dough, and rolled.
Calzone is basically just a pizza folded in half and then baked.
Stromboli (My personal favorite) uses pizza dough, it is rolled up into itself like a garbage bread, but it’s sauce-less! That’s what I like the best about it!

Back to my point!!


1lb of chicken breasts cut up into bite sized chunks
2 jalapenos
Ranch dressing
Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
Shredded cheddar cheese
Shredded mozzarella cheese


sauté the chicken in a frying pan. I like to pour in some Frank’s to soak up the flavor. I DONNOT cook the chicken all the way through so it doesn’t dry out in the oven.

While that is cooking I roll out my bread dough (which you can buy in the freezer section at Wal-Mart)
Pour on some more Frank’s and some Ranch dressing, keeping slightly back from the edges.


Add the chicken, cheese and the diced jalapenos


Roll the garbage bread by pulling the top over first and then fold in the sides as you roll so that nothing drips out!

Transfer to baking sheet, cut 3 slits to allow for venting. I like to put parsley and garlic powder on top.

Bake according to the directions from the bread dough! I baked mine at 425 for 20 minutes.



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Now thats-a spicy meat-a ball!

Ok, so one day I went out for lunch with my sister to an Italian restaurant. (We are very very Italian ourselves.) I ordered a meatball sub. That day I died a little and went to meatball heaven.
Ever since that wondrous day I have been perfecting my own meatballs so I can continually enjoy the pleasures of the cheesy saucy meaty goodness. Right down to making my own Italian bread (recipe to follow.)
I am more adventurous than to use ground beef in my meatballs. The only thing ground beef is actually good for is a burger. (recipe to follow.)
The meatballs that I make are about half the size of my fist, and to put them on a sandwich I always have to cut them in half!

1lb ground turkey (Trust me!)
1lb of Hot Italian Sausage
*Now I am sure you will be tempted to use an egg and maybe some bread crumbs here.. Don’t. The turkey is dry enough and the sausage is fatty enough.
3 cloves of fresh gaaaa-lic (haha!) minced
a couple shakes of parsley
I use very little sea salt, and a couple cranks of my black pepper grinder.
Last but not least shredded mozzarella, about a cup and a half. Mixed right into the meat.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
form into balls and place in a frying pan on med-high heat until the meatball is dark on the outside.
You don’t want to cook this through, just crisp up the outside.
Put meatballs in a baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes

That’s all there is to it! You can add these to spaghetti or ziti or rigatoni or a sandwich!!
Believe it or not they are even better the next day reheated. (This is coming from a Lady who doesn’t eat leftovers!)