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Easy Better Than Takeout Chicken Fried Rice

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Finding dinners that all my kids will eat without complaint is tricky. But my current struggle to get the grocery budget down means I have to be creative. This dinner originally started out as just scrambled eggs and rice but after a quick survey of what was in the pantry and fridge/freezer I realized I could make Chicken Fried Rice! This is the first time I’ve ever made it at home and it turned out fantastic! 

Ingredients:
9 eggs
1 cup milk
4 cups white rice, cooked and chilled
1-2 cups chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup oyster sauce

Directions:
1. Crack eggs into large mixing bowl; add milk and whisk until smooth.
2. Add eggs to frying pan sprayed with cooking spray and heated over med-high heat.
3. Cook eggs until scrambled; break into small pieces and move to one side of pan.
4. Add rice to empty side of pan with 2-3 Tbsp cooking oil.
5. Add soy sauce and gently fold eggs and rice together; stirring constantly.
6. Add chicken and peas and carrots and continue to stir gently.
7. Add oyster sauce; reduce to heat to low and continue to stir gently.
8. Allow to simmer while still stirring occasionally for 5-10 minutes until vegetables and cooked and tender.

Notes: This made a ton for our family- we got 5 dinners, 5 lunches, and 4 snacks out of this one meal so feel free to adjust the amount if you aren’t feeding a giant football player 🙂 If you’re in a time crunch you can steam the vegetables in the microwave and then add them to the pan. I always cook the rice in the morning, allow it to cool, and then refrigerate so it doesn’t become mushy when I fry it. I cooked my chicken breast in the crockpot on High covered with water that morning but you can use leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken instead. I usually add onions along with the peas and carrots but I forgot to buy one this time. Adjust the soy and oyster sauce amounts according to your family’s tastes.

My kids loved this dinner! They adore takeout Chinese food but it’s too expensive for us to eat on a regular basis! This was a great alternative and they liked it even better than takeout. That’s some high praise, y’all! I’m definitely keeping this one on my dinner rotation!

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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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Delicious 7 Layer Taco Salad

We are a Mexican fiesta loving family and I’m always looking for delicious new recipes and things to make for Taco Tuesday. I’ve made taco salads before but I’ve never made a 7 layer taco salad. This ended up being one of our favorite recipes ever. I cannot wait to make it again!

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Ingredients:
2 lbs ground beef
2 pkts taco seasoning
2 cups romaine lettuce
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
1 bag tortilla chips, crushed
1 can fire-roasted corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup pico de gallo

For dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
4 Tbsp lime juice

Directions:
1. Cook ground beef and drain.
2. Add taco seasoning and 1/2 cup of water; simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Mix dressing ingredients together and set aside.
4. Combine corn, black beans, and pico de gallo together in bowl.
5. On individual plates assemble the 7 layers: crushed tortilla chips, taco meat, romaine lettuce, corn mixture, cheese, tomatoes, and top with the dressing.
6. Serve immediately.
7. Refrigerate any leftovers (but you probably won’t have any)

We had no leftovers at all! The kids ate every single bite. I went back for seconds as a midnight snack but there was nothing left! Dang kids. 

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Amazing Tuna Salad Wraps

I love tuna. I love it a lot. Unfortunately nobody else in my house shares my love of tuna. I routinely make tuna for myself- tuna melts, tuna subs, tuna on crackers, tuna salad….you get it. But I’ve never found a tuna salad recipe that everyone in my house would eat without whining and complaining. Until now. I made this once a couple of months ago and everyone ate it. Assuming it was a fluke I made it again just last week. Again, everyone ate it. So this is now my go to tuna salad recipe. 

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Ingredients:
1 can tuna of choice, drained and flaked
1/4 cup mayo
3 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp curry powder
3 Tbsp dijon mustard

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients together in large bowl.
2. Cover and chill for at least an hour.
3. Lay spinach leaves down center of tortilla wraps and spoon tuna salad on top.
4. Roll tortilla firmly and wrap with plastic wrap.
5. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

I made tuna salad wraps but you can use this tuna salad recipe to make a tuna melt, or on crackers, or just a tuna sandwich. Anyway you want to serve it, you will love it! 

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Delicious Turkey Bacon Ranch Cheddar Pinwheels

We’ve been spending most of our afternoons at the pool enjoying the cool water, laughter, and sunshine….and sunburn. The last thing I want to do is come home after 4 hours of relaxing and cook dinner. So I’ve been experimenting with some wraps that I can pre-make and have ready to go at dinner time. We’ve had some….let’s just call them losers in the popularity category. But this one was a winner. Everyone loved it. The other wraps I’ve tried used an entire 8oz block of cream cheese but that was too much for my family so I went a different route with this one. And it was amazing! If you’re family loves cream cheese then you can omit the sour cream and use the full 8oz block of cream cheese instead. You can leave these in wrap form or you can slice them into pinwheels. My kids love them as pinwheels but Matt and I ate them as wraps. 

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Ingredients:
4 burrito 10″ tortilla wraps
4 oz sour cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup bacon bits
1 pkt dry ranch dressing mix
2 Tbsp milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
12 slices of deli turkey

Directions:
1. Combine softened cream cheese, sour cream, ranch dressing mix, cheese, milk, and bacon bits until well mixed.
2. Spread evenly on each tortilla wrap.
3. Lay 3 slices of turkey down center of each wrap.
4. Gently roll each tortilla tightly and wrap with saran wrap.
5. Refrigerate for an hour before slicing.
6. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.

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I really should have made double this recipe because the kids devoured it! I’ve already added it to the menu plan for next week again. I’m going to keep experimenting and I’ll share any more wraps that are hits with my family! These would also make a fantastic appetizer for a party! I’m adding them to my list of yummy goodness for our football parties and tailgating at Tyler’s games this Fall!

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