Simplify Your Busy Days with a Meal Planner! {giveaway, too}

This meal planner post was brought to you by Carrie Elle Shop.  All opinions are mine.

Carrie Elle meal planner

I am admittedly the worst at organization.  I need all the help I can get!  When we were houseparents at the children's home, I was required to turn in a menu a week in advance.  Even though I didn't like actually doing it, having it done was BLISS.  All of my grocery needs for the week were right in front of me and I could grab everything I need in one trip.  Having a meal planner is helpful for many reasons.  

Five Reasons to Start Using a Meal Planner

Here are five reasons why using a meal planner has been helpful for me:

  1. Dinnertime won't be chaos.  I've had many days where I was staring at the fridge at 5 PM, trying to thaw out meat, and finally resorting to something simple like scrambled eggs for dinner.  Hubby walks in, and while he never criticizes what's for dinner, I KNOW he's thinking "eggs again?"  So having a go to plan and knowing exactly when and what I need to do for the night's dinner has been very helpful.
  2. You can serve your family heathier meals.  We have a 3 and 5 year old.  I don't like to use the word picky, but they don't always like to eat healthy foods.  When I have a meal plan, I can plan to add veggies to dishes they love instead of resorting to frozen cheese sticks or mac and cheese every night. 
  3. You can save money.  When I buy only what my family will eat for the week, the grocery bill isn't as high as when I just grab whatever sounds good at the time.  And when there's a meal plan, there isn't as much wasted food.  Meal planners are good for your bank account!
  4. You won't have to resort to eating out.  It is oh so easy to just give up and head to a restaurant or grab fast food.  We can save money this way, too, by actually planning for times to eat out and not blowing the budget on take out.
  5. You can try new things!  I have so many things pinned on pinterest, but they likely will never be made by me unless I plan to make them.  I can buy the groceries that I need and actually make the droolworthy recipes I see every day!

​I am loving this adorable handmade planner from the Carrie Elle Etsy shop.  It is sturdy and the cover is laminated for extra durability.  Carrie has made the perfect meal planner!  There is a place for weekly menus and a tear off grocery list:

Carrie Elle meal planner

Some other fabulous details Carrie has added are pages for holiday and dinner parties, notes, and monthly calendars so you can plan your menu a month at a time.  This is great to prevent making the same thing over and over.
Carrie Elle meal planner

If you aren't using a meal planner, this is a great place to start.  There are 12 monthly calendars, 60 weekly meal planning pages, perforated grocery lists, 10 holiday and dinner party pages, 5 blank pages, and meal planning resources in the back.  It would make a great gift for any mom or dad in charge of meal planning.  Carrie can also personalize them for you!  Order some for teachers, friends, relatives, and yourself at the Carrie Elle Etsy shop.  Keep up with happenings on the Shop Carrie Elle Facebook page and Twitter page.  And Carrie writes one of my favorite blogs, Carrie Elle, so check that out, too!

Carrie is giving away a meal planner to one Life With Captain Fussybuckets fan!  Winner will be able to choose from any in stock meal planner (no personalized planners.)  Enter in the Rafflecopter form below!

Simplify Your Busy Days with a Meal Planner from Carrie Elle

a Rafflecopter giveaway

13 Mouthwatering BBQ Recipes for Grilling Season

This BBQ recipes post has been brought to you by Foodie.  All opinions are mine.

We live in Texas and that means that there are very few days that we absolutely cannot bbq on the grill.  We love to grill and experiment with different foods, flavors, and recipes!  I wanted to be prepared for the peak grilling season, which starts in May and runs through the summer.  

I've made a mouthwatering collection of bbq recipes on Foodie to get you started.  Don't stick with the plain old burgers and hot dogs on the grill.  Think outside of the box with grilled vegetables, fruits, and even pizza!  The possibilities are endless and usually, anything you can cook inside, you can cook on the grill.  

This collection is just the beginning.  Why not start your own collection on Foodie?  (They have an app, too!)  It's simple to search for bbq recipes and add them so when you're ready to plan your bbq, you'll have your recipes right where you need them.  

13 Mouthwatering BBQ Recipes

For more fantastic recipes, check out Foodie.  For Chocolate Pies, check out my collection, too!

 

The Epic Battle: Junk Food vs. Healthy Snacks

Before I had kids, I always *knew* that my kids would not ever eat junk food.  Not only would they not eat it, they wouldn't even WANT it.  Yeah.  Isn't it true that people think they know the most about kids when they don't have any?  Well, my two oldest sons are 5 and 3 and junk food is a constant temptation in their little world.  Candy at the holidays, (which seems to last forever,) cookies, cake at birthday parties, fast food, treats at church, sodas….junk food is everywhere and at eye level for them.  It really is almost impossible to stay away from junk food.  I have been trying to teach the boys about moderation, because I know that we can never truly get away from food that just is not good for anyone.  Along with moderation, I have healthy snacks available for them at all times.

I asked the boys what their favorite "junk" snack foods are, and then what their favorite healthy snacks were.  Luckily, I truly believe that their healthy snacks are just as loved as the junk foods, if not more so.

The Captain & D's favorite "junk" snack foods:

  • chocolate cake
  • nacho cheese chips
  • suckers
  • gummy worms
  • jello
  • cookies

​The boys can tell you what is "junk" and what isn't.  While shopping, D will actually point out the "junk" cereals and the ones that are healthier and I allow them to get.  He even asked me the other day, pointing at one of the not so healthy yogurts that are marketed for kids:  "Mommy, that's junk, isn't it?"  He knows that stuff like that is something to be enjoyed in moderation, and that there are healthier foods that are just as satisfying to him.

healthy snack foods

Healthy snack foods that the boys love:

  • baby carrots 
  • apples
  • yogurt
  • berries
  • peaches
  • granola
  • Mott's Snack & Go

healthy snack foods​The boys are huge applesauce fans.  Mott’s Snack & Go doesn’t add sugar and I love that!  There honestly wasn't a flavor that they didn't just love.  Sure, they had their favorites (they both adored the mixed berry,) but it was all consumed in a short amount of time.  I threw some in the diaper bag, church backpack, the Captain's lunchbox, and each and every time, the boys were thrilled to be able to get that special treat.  It's like they don't even care that Mott's Snack & Go is good for them!  It's delicious and that's all that really matters to them.

mott's

Mott’s® Snack & Go is the nutritious applesauce kids love in a squeezable pouch they can take with them wherever they go. Mott's is also the only applesauce brand with Box Tops for Education®, helping to support kids' schools. Visit Motts.com to learn more.  Print out a coupon, too!

healthy snacking

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Mott’s® via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Mott’s®.

How Do I Eat Raw Cacao?

This post contains affiliate links.

raw cacao

A few weeks ago, I was ordering a few essentials from Amazon, but needed something else to put my amount over $25 to get free shipping because well, I don't enjoy paying for shipping.  I'm sure you understand!  So, I found raw cacao nibs, knew they were good for me, and thought:  "chocolate? yes please!" and added it to my cart.  Well, when they came in the mail, I opened up the package and had a brief thought of "I bet these are going to be gross," but I tossed a couple in my mouth anyway and yup, I was right.  They aren't good by themselves.  But well, neither is cocoa powder, so I knew I needed to give them a chance.  But how?  I went in search of recipes and asked my friends for recommendations.  The number one thing I love to use raw cacao nibs in is Overnight Oatmeal.  I don't know where I found the recipe first, but I saw that Mama Goes Bam has it on her blog today!  Basically you put oatmeal, milk, Greek yogurt, and any extras in a jar and leave it overnight to have a yummy, healthy, protein packed breakfast in the morning.  I added 1 tsp of raw cacao nibs to a recipe for chocolate overnight oatmeal and it was delicious, of course.  The cacao nibs provide a crunch and a bit of a dark chocolate flavor.  It was perfect.  And it's one of those "a little goes a long way" breakfasts because a small jar of this stuff lasts me until lunch time and that really is saying a lot because I'm usually hungry an hour after breakfast!  

Benefits of raw cacao:

  • full of iron, dietary fiber, calcium, zinc, potassium, and antioxidants 
  • raises levels of serotonin and acts as an anti-depressant
  • can help reduce symptoms of PMS
  • stimulates secretion of endorpins (source: Livestrong.com)
  • one of the highest dietary sources of magnesium
  • reduces appetite
  • supports cardiovascular health
  • lowers blood pressure
  • improves digestion

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Serve Something Different at Your Superbowl Party!

This Superbowl Party post was brought to you by Petit Jean.  All opinions are mine.

superbowl snacks

For a lot of Americans, the Superbowl is a time to get together with friends and enjoy some yummy food.  This year, we will have the youth group over for a party, snacks, and fellowship.  I am excited to be able to serve Petit Jean Jalapeño & Cheese Deer Summer Sausage this year.  We love Petit Jean hams, and I knew that the summer sausage would be great, too!

I made a few snacks to try out the summer sausage on my hubby and he was very impressed with the flavor.  The deer summer sausage is actually a blend of venison and fresh pork, jalapeño and cheddar cheese bits, along with special seasonings.  I, for one, am not a fan of plain venison, but I honestly couldn't taste a hint of "gamey-ness" in the summer sausage.  Take a look at the jalapeño & cheese sausage up close:

 

jalapeno cheese summer sausage

 

My first creation will be an appetitzer on a toothpick.  I chose colby jack cheese, along with bite sized portions of the summer saugage, topped with a bite of baby dills.  The summer sausage definitely has a strong, but delicious flavor, so evening it out with the cheese and pickle is a great combination.

 

superbowl appetizers

I also am serving up a slice of summer sausage on top of a buttery cracker, with a slice of Monterrey Jack cheese, too.  We love our cheese around here, what can I say?  And the addition of a white cheese to the cheddar cheese in the summer sausage is a great flavor!  I know these finger foods from Petit Jean will be a hit at our Superbowl Party!

Visit Petit Jean to find out more and order some of their delicious products!

Healthy Snacking…Made Easy!

mott's snack & go

My boys are much like their mommy in that, when they are hungry, they want food now!  It is hard to be a stay-at-home mom of three boys sometimes, especially when one or more of the boys is hungry.  I try to have good food available for healthy snacking, that they can just grab and eat, but that's not always easy, especially with a newborn.

When we were houseparents at the children's home, I was required to make a weekly menu and plan out all snacks and meals for the week.  It was a good habit to get into, but I quickly found out that I am not of a planner!  I would try my hardest to follow the menu and try to have everything bought and prepared in time, but it was really hard for me.  I always liked having "go to" snacks on hand in case my plans fell through.  You know how it is.  You have say, oatmeal cookies, on the menu for snack, but then the doctor's appointment ran late and you have no extra time to bake cookies.  Or your kids eat their breakfast, but you are at the store and they're "SO hungry" and your choices include:  let them dig into the box of cereal bars you just put into the cart, buy something specifically for their snacking, go through a drive through…OR…open up the diaper bag and see that you actually remembered to pack them a "just in case" snack.  Score!

I am very lucky that the boys love fruit.  Since having Baby Brother, though, I have not been able to make it to the store as often to keep our fresh fruit stash replenished.  And then we had that ice storm that kept us off of the roads and we were running low on food.  But the thing D asked for at least once a day was the Mott's Snack & Go squeezable applesauce pouches.  He absolutely LOVES them.  They're easy to store, good to eat, and full of healthy applesauce.

Every time the boys leave the house, I make sure that we put some Mott's Snack & Go pouches in my diaper bag, their backpacks, etc, because if they get hungry while we are out and about or at school, they will never turn down applesauce.  I have tried packing fresh fruit or even peeled fruit in little containers, but nothing stays fresh and delicious except for the Snack & Go pouches.  I also like to add a Snack & Go pouch to the Captain's lunchbox because if he decided he is still hungry or does not like what I've made for him, he's guaranteed to eat the Mott's applesauce, and it does not make a mess.  His favorite is the Natural Applesauce.  D's favorite is, well, that changes with the hour!  He loves all of the flavors!  Mott's Snack & Go pouches go anywhere and are good anytime.  They are definitely a staple in our house!

motts snack and go

Mott’s® Snack & Go is the nutritious applesauce kids love in a squeezable pouch they can take with them wherever they go. Mott's is also the only applesauce brand with Box Tops for Education®, helping to support kids' schools. Visit Motts.com to learn more.

healthy snacking

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Mott’s® via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Mott’s®.

Game Day Oven Baked Hot Wings

oven baked wings

Hot wings are a staple for many football game watching parties.  Americans spend a lot of money on take out wing orders.  Our family loves chicken wings, even the boys!  They're messy, delicious, and easy to prepare in your own oven.  Oven baked wings are a healthier way to enjoy the game day classic.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 pounds of chicken wings
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup of hot wing sauce (Frank's, Paula DeenBuffalo Wild Wings, etc)
  • Bleu Cheese or Ranch dressing – optional  (organic homemade mixes are better!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Depending on the type of wing you purchase, disjoint the wings if needed.
  3. Salt and pepper the wings.  (You can add any seasonings you like, but these are the basics.)
  4. Place wings on a foil lined baking sheet.
  5. Drizzle oil lightly over the top, turning to coat.
  6. Bake wings for 20 minutes.
  7. Turn wings over and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
  8. Turn oven up to 425° and cook for another 20 minutes until done.
  9. Remove wings and brush them with hot wing sauce or toss them in a bowl with the sauce to coat.  (Depending on the wing sauce you use, read the directions and see what the recommendation is.  Some sauces say mix with butter or oil and some you just use as is.)

We coat our wings in different sauces because I like mild and Daddy prefers hot, and also leave about 10 "naked" wings for the boys to eat.  They just dip them in Ranch and eat them all up!

 

Bring Out The Flavor with STAR Usage Pairings Olive Oils

social fabric

Having a garden is fabulous.  All summer long, if we needed a vegetable for our meal, all I had to do was simply go to the garden, pick a few okra, squash, or zucchini and quickly cook them up with our meal.  At least once a week during the summer, we had a delicious mixture of these veggies, plus onion or garlic and a little salt, sauteed in a pan with a little bit of grapeseed oil or olive oil.  Yummy!

When I heard about STAR usage pairings olive oils, I was curious as to why I would need a different olive oil for cooking different foods.  The STAR website gave me all the information I needed to want to try it:

Like with wine, specific varietals of olive oil pair best with certain types of dishes thus enhancing the flavor and overall experience of a meal. Star Usage Pairing Oils are a selection of three different single varietal extra virgin olive oils, each designating on the label which type of dish they pair with best.

There you go!  I was intrigued and wanted to experience the Arbequina extra virgin olive oil for the vegetables we love to cook…and eat!  This olive oil is made from the first cold-press, made from only arbequina olives.

olive oil

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Let Buffalo Wild Wings Take Care of Your Football Party!

This post brought to you by Buffalo Wild Wings. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hubby is a huge wing fan.  He has rarely met a wing at Buffalo Wild Wings that he hasn't loved.  He has tried many flavors and always savors each bite!  I wasn't a wing fan until I met him, and for awhile I was all about the Mild wings until BWW introduced Asian Zing wings!  We have been going to BWW for years and the food is always delicious.  Even the boys love it!  We love their happy hour 1/2 price appetizers promotion and Wing Tuesdays!  The boys' favorite food at Buffalo Wild Wings is definitely the mozzarella cheese sticks….and they've even been known to chow down on some celery:

buffalo wild wings

One might not associate Buffalo Wild Wings with family fun, but it really is a great place to eat as a family.  The bar is seperate from the regular dining area, so families don't bother game watchers and vice versa. We are not alcohol drinkers, so it's nice to be able to enjoy a family friendly meal at a place that is known for it's beer AND wings!  (Not to mention the fact that their waitresses are fully clothed, unlike other wing joints!)

 photo BWW_GenBrandV2_Black_Retargeting_300x250_zps1e81f6aa.jpg

Buffalo Wild Wings is clearly THE place to be for football games!  They have huge screens for watching games and great food, as well.  They always have the hottest games on and great specials, like Wing Tuesdays, Boneless Thursdays, and the new Game Changer beer, made by Redhook and offered at BWW.  If you're looking to throw a great tailgate party or football watching party at home, why not take advantage of BWW to go?  Wings for the game, great sides, and more!  Buffalo Wild Wings even has special to go parking so you can get in and out in no time to pick up your order and take it home for the big game!

In the countless times that our family has been to Buffalo Wild Wings, only once have we had subpar service and it was addressed by the manager and we were shown respect and offered and apology and a gift card to make up for the service.  BWW really does care about their customers!

To keep up with all of the great things BWW offers, Follow Buffalo Wild Wings on Twitter and Like Buffalo Wild Wings on Facebook!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Green Giant Chips – A Better Way to Snack

Thanks to Green Giant™ Veggie Snack Chips for sponsoring this post! Make sure to grab a coupon and try Green Giant™ Veggie Snack Chips today!

 

snack

We are a chip loving family.  We try to enjoy them in moderation, but sometimes a little crunchy, crispy, delicious chip is the perfect complement to a meal, sports watching party, or movie night.  Hubby and the boys enjoy Ranch chips, however, I am definitely NOT a fan.  I dislike the smell, taste, and the lingering particles on my boys' hands.  Needless to say, I avoid Ranch chips at all costs, but somehow, they still find their way into my house sometimes.  When I found out that Green Giant now makes Garden Ranch Veggie Tortilla Chips, I'll admit, I was excited.  A healthier version of chips?  But then I thought to myself…"yeah, they're not gonna go for this." I opened the bag and D was the first to spot me.  We both took a bite together and his immediate reaction was "mmmm!" and guess what?  Me, the loather of all things Ranch, actually LIKED these chips!  Seriously, they taste Ranch-y, but not fake and….Ranch-y.  I know, that makes no sense.

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