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Food Prep

Food prep can mean a lot of different things. Preparing meals for the freezer, assembling complete meals to be warmed during the week, or getting a head start on week night cooking by having ingredients prepped and ready to go.

I’m not always short on time during the week but I’m often lacking in energy and motivation at the end of a work day, and something that I generally enjoy <cooking> can feel more like a chore. I work really hard to stay on a budget, which includes the purchase of groceries as well as money spent on entertainment (i.e. eating out), and I also try to eat relatively well.

There are three reasons the wheels fall off an otherwise perfect meal plan for the week:
1) not having the ingredients on hand, requiring another trip to the store (because that is unlikely to happen, I’d rather order a pizza at that point)
2) forgetting to thaw frozen items from the freezer (again with the pizza order)
3) failing to have prep work done on the front end (you guessed it, pizza!)

So, in an effort to keep us on track with both our budget and healthy eating, I spend time planning meals for the week ahead, doing all my grocery shopping in one swoop, and prepping ingredients on the weekend. In the event that these things aren’t possible over the weekend I try to have a number of options I can pull from the freezer and warm in the oven through the week. Failure to do so often means eating out and I don’t know about you, but it’s nearly impossible for me to make the healthy choice when eating out. Add to that, eating out adds up fast!!

This weekend will be no exception and I’ll be busy washing and chopping fruits and veggies after a trip to the store and pulling items from the freezer.

A bit of what is on deck for the upcoming week are a few recipes I’ve shared with you previously:
Roasted Parmesan Asparagus as a side dish to Grilled Chicken:

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon as a side dish to Pork Chops:
My favorite smoothie for a quick grab breakfast:

And, assembly of several of these salads, using this shredded chicken pulled from the freezer, for lunches through the week:

What other tips do you use to keep yourself on track with both eating well and staying on budget where food is concerned? I’d love to hear your suggestions below in the comments section!

Wishing you a fun and safe weekend!

My New Love: Sprouts

I recently stumbled upon this amazing little place called Sprouts, right near my house.

I thought it was just a grocery store. Plain and simple, a grocery store, like all the others, but probably more expensive because of the fancy name.

I thought wrong and I am now in love.

Sprouts is a Farmer’s Market. Sprouts is a Farmer’s Market with incredibly fresh produce and amazing prices.


Have you ever bought 2 bags of anything and paid less than $10? Me neither, until I stumbled into Sprouts and emerged with 2 bags of the most wonderful store bought (because, let’s be honest, no store out-wonderfuls what I grow myself) produce and paid UNDER $10.

And now? I’m hooked and make a weekly trip in because it just makes me So SO SOOOO happy!

Have you been in a Sprouts? Do you have one near you? I urge you to find out and try it out, if ever it’s a possibility.

And, on a side note, I’m not sure what’s with all the ‘stumbling’ I wasn’t drunk or sleep walking or anything – sometimes these posts take on a life of their own…

Happy Wednesday!

Wedding Planning: Getting Organized

I announced last week, in this post, that I got engaged!! Yay! Needless to say, I have had wedding on the brain since the ring hit my finger.

Or maybe it has been since I was 4 years old. Whatever.

This week I put together my wedding planning binder. I love a good organizational tool, and even better, a well organized plan. My mother does too. And, since we are both control freaks, we’re working with a budget, and I live in a small town (currently) there will be no hired wedding planner…we’re going this one alone.

Wedding planning binders can be purchased, already put together and with various ‘tools’ inside. Most of the time when I purchase a pre-put-together binder of some variety it comes with stuff I will never use and doesn’t have items I wish it had.

Making my own seemed the only logical answer.

I found this pretty purple binder at Walmart and knew it would be perfect for the job – wedding colors are going to be Black & White with accents of Purple.

I also bought tab dividers for each section. The ones I purchased are colored and have a fun design on them, but plain ones would do also.

My tab dividers have the following categories:
-Wedding Party
-Master Contact List (for an at a glance, quick view of the bridal party, vendors, etc.)

These categories will need to be broken down further into sub-categories so I have purchased tabs that can be written on for these sub-categories. For example, under “Ceremony” I already have a sub-category tab for the church info (including contract). For “Guests” I will have sub-categories of Guest List, Hotel Block Info, etc. You see how this is playing out?

I also included a zip pouch for the front of the binder to stash my tabs for use as they are needed, or any other item that can’t be 3-hole punched and stuck in the binder that way.

I printed free calendars, both in a year at a glance and monthly until the date of the wedding from My Calendar Maker. This website allows you to customize and print calendars (as many as you want) for free. A calendar in your planning binder is essential for keeping track of appointments, due dates, and the like.

I also found this fabulous checklist from Real Simple (I love this magazine, go figure they would also have a fabulous website). The checklist starts 19-9 months before a wedding and gives an idea of what you should be doing when.
Note: I found this especially helpful on our first scheduled planning night with my mom (yes, we have scheduled meetings for this) and we needed a focus point because we (or, maybe it was more-so ME) were getting ahead of ourselves worrying about things that need not be worried about at the moment.

I also should point out that I am a complete sucker for checklists. I can’t get enough of them! I am a tad Obsessive Compulsive like that, and I am a qualified mental health professional to make that judgment call, so there’s no denying it.

A wrap-up of what this binder cost:
-3 ring binder
-2 packages tab dividers
-sticky tabs
-zip pouch
=approximately $12 at Walmart

What I already had on hand:
-3 hole punch
-computer with internet access
=free (though I paid for them at some time, but that’s not the point)

The other binders I’ve seen, made especially for a project like this, cost around $25. Making your own, especially if you have many of the supplies on hand (I could have used a binder I already had, and plain tab dividers that could be re-purposed…but I wanted to make it fun this time around), can be a savings.

And so the planning <madness> begins.

Anyone have any wedding planning (on a budget) tips for me? I’d love to hear them!

Love is in the air-