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Large Family Weekly Meal Plan Intro

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So I’ve been mentioning on here for a few weeks about how I’m working to cut our grocery budget. Our monthly grocery and household expenses hit an all-time high in July. We paid out one and half times our monthly mortgage payment on groceries and household items. That’s insanity and we cannot continue to do that or we’ll be homeless. Changes had to be made.

The biggest change was in attitude. Food is a necessity, not a luxury. I’m the biggest offender in the house. I eat when I’m sad, when I’m stressed, when I’m happy….food is completely tied to my emotions and I needed to break out of that unhealthy pattern. Sitting down and having a budget meeting with Matt after adding up all of our new expenses with all 4 kids in charter school was eye-opening and scary. Nothing like seeing the cold hard reality of barely making ends meet each month to help you break bad habits! 

Once I saw that the biggest change we could make to help our financial situation was with the grocery and household budget, I got busy. It took me over a month to formulate my plan. First, I went through my recipes and picked out 24 favorites that I felt confident the kids would eat without complaint. Then I made a list of every ingredient needed for those recipes and everything else we need to run the household for a month- breakfasts, lunches, snacks, etc. The next part was the most time consuming. I price checked every item. I shop at 3 stores- Aldi, Walmart, and Sam’s Club. I used the Walmart grocery app and the Sam’s Club app to look up each item and then I hit Aldi to price check in person. Once I had every single item priced at all 3 stores I came home to sort it out and make my lists. I added up the total cost for each meal and then I replaced some of the more expensive dinners with cheaper ones. 

Finally I had my meal plan for the month along with my grocery lists. I do Sam’s Club once a month and then Walmart pick up and Aldi once a week. I made separate shopping lists for each week using my List Ease app which lets me input prices so I can see my total cost. I’m committed to sticking to my lists, resisting impulse purchases, and trimming when necessary. My goal is to get our grocery and household budget to under $800 per month. I know that still sounds like alot but compared to the nearly $2000 we spent in July and considering that we are a family of 6 right now with a large varsity football player who can eat like a horse, that’s pretty reasonable. 

So for the next few months I’m going to be sharing my weekly meal plans complete with cost breakdown and grocery lists. I’m hoping it will help me stay accountable and maybe it will help some of you as well if you’re looking to cut your grocery costs! 

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Weekly Book Club {9.7.17}

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Today is the first post in my new weekly book club series! Instead of doing one big post with all the books I read at the end of the month I’ve decided to do a post weekly. Partly because I feel like I can’t share as many good books as I want because the post would be sooooo long. And also because I find myself forgetting important details that I meant to share about the books at the beginning of the month. Clearly I’m getting old. So let’s give this a try!

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The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan– The last thing star tight-end Gray Grayson wants to do is drive his agent’s daughter’s bubblegum pink car. But he needs the wheels and she’s studying abroad. Something he explains when she sends him an irate text to let him know exactly how much pain she’ll put him in if he crashes her beloved ride. Before he knows it, Ivy Mackenzie has become his best texting bud. But then Ivy comes home and everything goes haywire. Because the only thing Gray can think of is being with Ivy. Gray drives Ivy crazy. He’s irreverent, sex on a stick, and completely off limits. Because, Ivy has one golden rule: never get involved with one of her father’s clients. A rule that’s proving harder to keep now that Gray is doing his best to seduce her. Her best friend is fast becoming the most irresistible guy she’s ever met.

My Rating: 5 Stars

So this is book 2 in the Game On series. I read the first book, The Hook Up, awhile ago and it was fantastic. My local library finally added the second and third books to their online ebook catalog so I was able to check out book 2 and I’m on the wait list for book 3. I loved this book. I loved Ivy and Gray. They were real characters and I felt emotionally connected to both of them. This book had humor, conflict, love, anger…it touched on all the emotions. I loved Ivy’s smart mouth and I loved how Gray had to tear down her walls. The banter between them was hilarious and they built a friendship first, which was awesome. You all know how much I adore football and I really appreciated that this book was not about a quarterback! Give the tight ends some love! And I really appreciated that Gray was not a stereotypical dumb jock. He was very very smart! You don’t have to be a football fan to enjoy this book though. The story is about much more than football. I will definitely read the rest of this series. 

Favorite quote- “The fact is, Ivy, for me, there is one absolute truth. The sum of my existence equals you.” 

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The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter– Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night. Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever.

My Rating: 5 Stars

This book. Holy cow. I almost don’t know what to say about it. I was hooked right from the very first paragraph and could not stop reading. It is definitely a dark book with lots of twists and turns and details. You absolutely cannot skim this book. You must read it, every word, which shouldn’t be a problem because HOLY COW. It deals with some sensitive issues and does have some triggers. But if you can get past the dark, the story is amazing. It’s shocking, and gritty, and real. It deals with the secrets in a family and how they can come back to bite us. It shows how hard it is to truly move on after a traumatic event and how those events shape us forever. It shows that not everything is as it appears at first glance. The relationships in this book are all very complicated. The relationship between sisters, between father and daughter, between husband and wife….I highly recommend this one! 

Book Club will be back next week with my current reads!

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Life Lately {9.5.17}

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We had a fairly busy 3 day weekend. I don’t think such a thing as a calm weekend exists in my household anymore. But it’s fun, so that’s what matters. At least that’s what I’m telling myself on a regular basis. But anyway, let’s take it back to last week. 

Tyler had to get a new helmet last week because his trainer discovered a giant crack down the side of his old one. And it was a new helmet this season! He took a few massive hits in the previous game that cracked his helmet. Yeah, that’s not concerning at all. So Wednesday night he and Matt had to adjust his new one, which is a bit tighter than his old one. Hopefully it keeps his brain safe. 

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The varsity game was moved to Thursday night last week because of the heavy rain expected from Harvey. It was still rainy and windy but nothing like the storms we got on Friday night so definitely a good call by the athletic director! Tyler had a great game- the whole team had a great game. We won 45-0 and most of the starters got to sit and watch the second and third string play for most of the 2nd half. It was weird to see them sitting on the bench watching but they also really encouraged and cheered on the younger guys so that was nice to see. The starters celebrated the 2nd and 3rd string players getting a touchdown as though they’d been on the field themselves, which was awesome!

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Decked out in ponchos, ready for the rain!

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Starting offense on the bench watching the 2nd string.

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The starters watching the 2nd string score a touchdown.

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Celebrating with his best friends after the victory!

Saturday had us making a trip to Sam’s Club. I’ve decided to go back to monthly trips to Sam’s Club. We spend too much when we go every other week and end up with stuff we don’t really need. Plus it’s time consuming and I’d rather only spend one Saturday afternoon there. The kids came along and ate lunch from the samples. I’m loving my grocery list app- it’s called List Ease and it gives me a confetti party when I complete my list. I feel appreciated. 

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Sunday had me taking Tyler to the sports med urgent care. He hurt his arm in the game on Thursday night and the trainer felt like it might be just a strained muscle. He also jammed 2 of his fingers on a helmet so they were swollen. His arm wasn’t any better after their practice on Saturday and his fingers started turning black and blue so the trainer had us go for xrays. Verdict- the arm is just a sprained muscle but he has a broken knuckle on his hand. So he has it taped and is just playing through the pain. The kid is tough. He also took a shot to his face in practice as you can see in the picture but at least he didn’t break his nose again. He’s going to be the death of me. 

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I didn’t even take any pictures on Monday. We grilled, hot tubbed, swam, and relaxed. It was amazing until Tyler had to go to practice. I’m so excited for a short week. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that waking up at 5:30am might kill me. It’s already killing my soul. 

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2017 Monthly Goals: September

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August went by in a hot minute. I don’t know what happened. I blinked and it was gone. Now I have to switch gears to September, which is always a really busy month. 

August Goals:

1. Clean out closets and get uniforms sorted. DONE. I went through each kid’s closet, made them try on stuff, pulled out the outgrown uniforms and made a list of what I need to buy. 

2. Plan and implement a new monthly meal plan. NOPE. I had the best of intentions but this didn’t happen. It’s happening this month though. 

3. Buy all the school supplies. DONE. That was a huge list, y’all. I spent nearly $350 for 4 kids supplies and that didn’t include tech fees, sports fees, bus fees, etc. Holy sticker shock. 

4. Create a lunch plan. DONE. Fortunately my kids are relatively easy when it comes to lunch. They’re happy with a sandwich or leftovers from the night before. 

5. Organize the football team mom stuff. DONE. Well, it’s an ongoing thing but the initial organization such as getting the group emails set up, the signup genius for volunteering done, etc. 

September Goals:

1. List all outgrown uniforms for sale. Our charter school has a Facebook page dedicated to selling used uniforms and I need to get all of this stuff listed. 

2. Plan and implement a new monthly meal plan. I’ve just gotten started on this. It has to happen. 

3. Cut the grocery budget. This goes along with number 2. Our grocery budget is out of control and it cannot continue. I want to be under $800 per month for all food and household goods. I can do it. It’s a challenge and I’m good at challenges. 

4. Organize the pantry for lunch packing. I need the kids to start helping with the lunch packing and the easiest way to do that is to set up the pantry in a way that helps them pack without help. I don’t mind making sandwiches or filling thermoses but they can pack their own sides and snacks. 

5. Read 10 books. I want to turn off the TV during the day and spend more time reading. 

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Monthly Book Report: August 2017

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So August was much busier than I anticipated. I knew it was going to be jammed packed with school starting mid-month and football games starting up. But holy cow, I haven’t had time to take a deep breath in weeks. I did manage to devour some great books this month though! This will be my last monthly book report. I’m going to start sharing the books I really enjoyed more often than just once a month. 

1. The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham– Agatha is pregnant and works part-time stocking shelves at a grocery store in a ritzy London suburb, counting down the days until her baby is due. As the hours of her shifts creep by in increasing discomfort, the one thing she looks forward to at work is catching a glimpse of Meghan, the effortlessly chic customer whose elegant lifestyle dazzles her. Meghan has it all: two perfect children, a handsome husband, a happy marriage, a stylish group of friends, and she writes perfectly droll confessional posts on her popular parenting blog—posts that Agatha reads with devotion each night as she waits for her absent boyfriend, the father of her baby, to maybe return her calls. When Agatha learns that Meghan is pregnant again, and that their due dates fall within the same month, she finally musters up the courage to speak to her, thrilled that they now have the ordeal of childbearing in common. Little does Meghan know that the mundane exchange she has with a grocery store employee during a hurried afternoon shopping trip is about to change the course of her not-so-perfect life forever.

I enjoyed this book. It was not truly a mystery because you know who did what very early on in the story. But it was suspenseful because I had to keep reading so I could find out what the ending was going to be. I read this in less than 48 hours. Definitely recommend if you liked The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl. 

2. All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda– It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched. The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing. Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

This one was different. In a good way but also in the way the story was told. It was written in reverse order of the events. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this one before. It was intriguing but also a bit confusing at times. I enjoyed it and I definitely did not figure out the ending before it happened. Again, I recommend if you liked The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl. And make sure you have some time to dedicate to this one, you have to pay attention or you’ll be lost in the timeline. I had to re-read several chapters when I got distracted. 

3. The Bastard Billionaire by Jessica Lemmon– Eli Crane is one tough bastard. After an explosion left him injured and honorably discharged from the Marines, all he wants is to be left alone. Yet his brothers insist he take a greater role in the family business. They’ve hired him ten personal assistants-and Eli sent each one packing as fast as possible. But when beautiful number eleven walks through the door, Eli will do anything to make her stay. Isabella Sawyer’s employment agency can’t afford to lose Eli Crane’s business. Her plan: to personally take on the role of his PA, and secure her reputation with the wealthy elite in Chicago. But this beauty and her hot billionaire bad boy soon find themselves mixing business with pleasure in the most delicious ways. And passionate, stubborn Isabella won’t rest until she tames this wicked beast.

This one was my light fluffy read of the month that ended up being really emotional and deep. It was a good storyline with likeable characters who had chemistry that was off the charts. It’s book 3 in a series but I haven’t read the others and I wasn’t lost or confused. If you like wounded alpha males and strong sassy women who take them on, then you’ll enjoy this book. 

4. Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy– When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The adults are lulled by the ship’s comfort and ease. The four children—ages six to eleven—love the nonstop buffet and their newfound independence. But when they all go ashore for an adventure in Central America, a series of minor misfortunes and miscalculations leads the families farther from the safety of the ship. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone. The disintegration of the world the families knew—told from the perspectives of both the adults and the children—is both riveting and revealing. The parents, accustomed to security and control, turn on each other and blame themselves, while the seemingly helpless children discover resources they never knew they possessed. 

I enjoyed this story a lot. It was one of those stories that strikes you right in the heart because it’s every mother’s worst fear come to life. I read this one quick because I had to know how it ended. There are small storylines entwined in the bigger storyline which kept my interest the whole time. Warning: there is a rape scene involving a teenager but it’s not overly detailed. 

5. Bring Her Home by David Bell– Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life. As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all. When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family.

This book was fantastic. It was a tightly written story with multiple storylines happening underneath the main one. I had no idea who the villain was going to turn out to be and there were a couple of really big twists that I did not see coming at all. I thought I had it all figured out halfway through but I was so wrong. I read this one in less than 12 hours because I could not put it down! Highly recommend. I already reserved 3 more of his books at the library after reading this one. 

6. Class Mom by Laurie Gelman– Jen Dixon is not your typical Kansas City kindergarten class mom–or mom in general. Jen already has two college-age daughters by two different (probably) musicians, and it’s her second time around the class mom block with five-year-old Max–this time with a husband and father by her side. Though her best friend and PTA President sees her as the-wisest-candidate for the job (or oldest), not all of the other parents agree. From recording parents’ response times to her emails about helping in the classroom, to requesting contributions of-special-brownies for curriculum night, not all of Jen’s methods win approval from the other moms. Throw in an old flame from Jen’s past, a hyper-sensitive -allergy mom,-a surprisingly sexy kindergarten teacher, and an impossible-to-please Real Housewife-wannabe, causing problems at every turn, and the job really becomes much more than she signed up for.

Oh my gosh. This is hands down one of my favorite books of the entire year. It was AMAZING! It was hysterically funny, totally real, and I could not put it down. If you don’t read one other book I’ve recommended this year, read this one. If you have kids in school, if you’ve ever been the class mom, if you’ve ever deleted the emails from a class mom….read this book! It’s written by Laurie Gelman, who is the wife of the Gelman on Live with Kelly and Ryan! I hope she is writing another book right now because she is hugely talented at it. I’m the varsity football team mom AND the class mom for 1st grade this year so this book really had me laughing!

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