Real Food and How It Saves You Money

Can Real Food Save You Money?

Does your family eat real food with every meal or are boxed mixes and meals a regular part of your meal table? If you’re spending money on boxed convenience items, you’re not only wasting money, but you’re also probably not feeling the best. Real food, such as fruits, vegetables, fresh eggs and fresh meat on the other hand not only tastes much better, but saves you money over time.

To start, let’s look at the actual savings. A bag of flour, frozen veggies, chicken, soup and some cheese can create around 4 meals alone. You’ll spend around $2.50 for flour, $5 for the chicken, $2 for the vegetables, $1.00 for the soup and $2.50 for the cheese. For just over $10.00 you’ll cook 4 meals meaning that you’ll be paying around $3.25 for one meal.

Catch that word? MEAL. Not per serving.

For a boxed mix, you’ll spend $2.00 on the mix, $3.00 on the hamburger and get one meal. That’s $5.00 for one meal.  $1.75 extra per meal might not seem like a huge amount of money, but over time…it is. That equals out to $12.25 per week, $49.00 per month and $588.00 per year. What would you use it on if you had an extra $588 per year?

If that doesn’t convince you to cook real food, maybe this will:

Boxed meals are packed with chemicals and sodium. Most of them are VERY high in sodium…so high in fact that they can do damage to your body. When you’re not feeling well, you have high bills for medicine and doctors’ visits. Eating real food not only makes you feel better, but it actually keeps you healthier. Lower medical bills will save you money time and time again.

If you’re looking to cut your food bill, consider making the change and eliminating any processed foods in your home. By doing so, you not only save money, but you will feel better, your family will feel better and your wallet and home will be a calmer, happier place.

You can't always eat real food, it's hard, I know.  I strive to cook at home as much as possible, but there is always room for exceptions.  

To help you out, here are a few of my favorite real food recipes:

One Skillet Pork Chops and Orange Vegetables

Coconut Chicken Strips

Queso con Carne without Velveeta!

and for a great substitute in many casseroles:

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

Have One Last “Snackation” This Summer!

This snackation post was brought to you by the J.M. Smucker Corporation.  All opinions are mine.

Smucker'sSchool may have started, but Summer isn't over yet!  I am planning a fun "Staycation" for my boys this weekend.  We will have fun games, water fun, and lots of yummy snacks, too! 

Both the Captain and D started public school for the first time today, and as a way to unwind, I am planning something to help us all relax and enjoy each other's company.  It was quite a stressful time starting back to school, so this time is much needed for all of us.  

I went to Walmart to pick up some supplies for our Staycation and what better aisle to shop in than the peanut butter and jelly aisle?  But I was really shocked with how many OPTIONS there are!  I was totally unaware of the Jif Whips until I saw them on the store shelf.  I chose the chocolate peanut butter option and we are going to dip fresh strawberries and apples in it.  

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Reduce Food Waste For The Earth And Your Wallet {Free Food Storage Printables!}

One of my favorite things to do is to go grocery shopping for the week.  I know that sounds crazy, but I really do enjoy it.  (It's even more fun without kids, but, I probably spend less when they tag along….ha!)  It is fun to see the fresh fruits and vegetables that my favorite store has.  We live about 20 minutes away from "my" grocery store, so I do like to stock up for the next week or two, to avoid too many trips to the store.  That means I need to have a game plan and also know how to reduce food waste by eating everything that I buy.

We have been much better about properly storing our food and eating it all up before it goes bad.  Sometimes life happens and we are invited out to eat when I had planned to make dinner, or we get sick, or we decide to go to Grandma's for the night.  I feel better about the food purchases that I make because I do know how to properly store them and how long they will be good in the fridge.  This goes for leftovers, too.  They usually have a short shelf life, but proper storage is key.

#SAVEITSUNDAY #FoodFairyTaleHere is a random food fact for you.  Did you know that Americans throw out an average of 400 lbs of food a year?  That is roughly $1,500 in food…thrown away because it wasn't eaten quickly enough or stored properly before it went bad.  That's a lot of pounds of food that are hauled off to the dump and a lot of money just thrown away.  It kinda makes me sick to think about it.

As Earth month comes to a close, I want to challenge all of us to learn some food storage Protection Pointers from Glad®.  The website has many pointers about how to properly store fruits, vegetables, and other foods so they will last longer and taste better when you do eat them.  

We go through a lot of strawberries around here.  I have started to buy many cartons of them because the boys love them!  Here's the best way to store them:


I think apples is seriously what we waste the most of.  The boys ADORE apples, but cannot usually eat a whole one by themselves.  An apple sounds so delicious but mid way through, they realize they are full and want to save it for later.  You don't know how many times I've come upon an apple that looks like this:

half eaten applesWell, now I know that I should probably take the time to cut up a bunch and let the boys eat what they can so we can waste fewer apples.


I have created these two handy printables for you to download, print, and keep on your fridge to anticipate just how long your foods will stay fresh and delicious.  (Just click on the image and download the PDF.)


Download this free printable to hang on your fridge!

Are you ready for a challenge?  Do you want to reduce food waste and stop throwing away spoiled food?  Check out Glad Protection Pointers and stop letting so much food go to waste.

I've admitted that we throw away way too many apples….what is your most thrown away food?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Glad Food Protection. The opinions and text are all mine.


Show Your Creativity And Win Big With Turano Bread!

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Turano via The Bloggy Moms Network. Views and opinions are my own.

Turano Bread Contest

My guys all love sandwiches, that's for sure, but sometimes it's good to use a little creativity with your bread.  Turano Baking Company is a 53 year old Chicago staple that has been serving predominantly the midwest. Recipes stem from Mariano Turanowho came to America from Italy in 1962 and began baking bread.  Over the past year, Turano has become a national brand and is now available at all Aldi locations in Texas. To celebrate the launch, Turano has partnered with renowned chefs Brian Luscher (The Grape Restaurant) and Uno Immanivong (Chino Chinatown in Trinity Groves) from Dallas, Texas to create their own #TuranoHack using Pane Turano bread.

Turano Hack Contest

Turano Bread is encouraging "getting creative between the slices" in their fun #TuranoHack contest!


What you have to do to enter:

1.  Visit Aldi to pick up some Pane Turano bread and any additional ingredients you need.

2.  Record a video of you making your own Turano Hack using Pane Turano bread and  additional ingredients from Aldi.

3.  Upload the video to Youtube or other online channel (i.e. Vimeo, Facebook).

4.  Complete the submission form on the Turano contest page by April 30, 2015 to be entered to win.

5.  BONUS: Use #TuranoHack to share your video on your social channels.


What could you win?

Grand prize winner will receive a $500 cash prize, while all entries have a chance of being featured on Turano’s social channels.


What is the judging criteria?

1.  Appetizing appeal of dish

2.  Originality & creativity in submission

3.   Amount spent on ingredients (The less spent, the better!)

4.  How well you represent Turano hack enthusiasm


Up for the challenge?  Have a great idea for a delicious Turano Hack?  Let me know in the comments or on Facebook if you enter.  I'd love to see your creation!


My Quick and Easy Snack Solution for Busy Moms – With The Perfect Level of Sweetness!

This quick and easy snack shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #teastraightup #CollectiveBias  Enjoy the perfect level of sweetness!

#teastraightup #CollectiveBias

One thing about all mothers is true:  we are busy!  I have found that it does not matter what a mom does, if we have a child, our workload increases dramatically.  Some days are especially busy for me.  We are homeschooling the Captain this year for kindergarten, which some days takes more time than others.  Then there is cooking, cleaning (sometimes….haha,) changing diapers, laundry, kissing boo boos, sports practice, church, shopping, taking kids to the doctor, and much, much more.  My duties as a mom never, ever end.  I would not have it any other way, but some days are so busy, I forget to take care of myself.  Many times I am lucky to remember food and drinks for the boys, that I forget my own afternoon snack.  When we are out the door for whatever errand we have to run, I like having a quick, portable snack and drink to grab in a hurry.  

I have perfected my recipe for the crunchiest almonds ever.  I grab a handful of crunchy almonds on the way out of the house and I am good to go.  They offer a great, satisfying snack and protein.  I also like to keep some Snapple® Straight Up™ Tea in the fridge for a refreshing drink, too.  I love the real brewed tea taste of Straight Up Tea and that it has the perfect level of sweetness that I can enjoy anytime.  Depending on your mood or taste, it is available in three levels of sweetness in an 18.5 oz plastic bottle so you can pick your sweet spot!  The size is perfect for sharing with littles because, for some reason, that is what always happens in my house.  

#teastraightup #CollectiveBiasRoasted almonds are easy to make and keep for quite a while in the pantry.  I keep mine in a lidded jar and they last a couple of months.  They're delicious by themselves or with no bake mini cheesecake, as a crust or topping!#teastraightup #CollectiveBiasIngredients:

  • raw almonds
  • water
  • salt


  1. Soak your almonds.  (Not only is this the secret to maximizing crunch, it helps to neutralize phytic acid and encourage good enzymes so the almonds are more digestible, along with a lot of other benefits!)  To properly soak your almonds, put the almonds (however many you like!) in a glass bowl and cover them with warm water and a teaspoon of salt dissolved in it.  The almonds will swell, so make sure you have a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part almonds.
  2. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave bowl on cabinet for 8-12 hours.  Check every few hours to make sure you have enough water.
  3. Throw out any nuts that float to the top because these are likely no good.
  4. Rinse, rinse, rinse.  Rinse the nuts after 8-12 hours until the water runs clear.
  5. Dry on a towel.
  6. Spread almonds on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and cook in the oven on 250° for 2 hours or longer.  Check every 30 minutes or so, stir and put back in the oven.  After 2 hours, take one almond out and let cool.  Check to see if the almonds are crunchy or still a little chewy and replace for as long as needed.  (Alternatively, you can speed up the process and cook for 30-45 minutes at 325°, but I have found that they're easy to burn that way and aren't as delicious.)  

#teastraightup #CollectiveBiasMaking these crunchy almonds is easy, but not nearly as easy as stocking up on Snapple® Straight Up™ Tea!  I found all three delicious varieties – Sweet, Unsweetened, and Sorta Sweet – in the beverage aisle at Walmart:
#teastraightup #CollectiveBias

See more reasons to love Snapple® Straight Up Tea on the Snapple® Straight Up™ Tea social hub where you can also confirm the product is available at your local Walmart and download a coupon to save on your Snapple® Straight Up Tea purchase!  It 


Moms – what is your go to snack for busy days?

Asian Lettuce Wraps (And Keeping the Leftovers Fresher, Longer!)


Asian Lettuce Wraps

I have been cooking new things lately that are both healthier and different, to add variety to our meals and keep things exciting.  Since we homeschool and Daddy comes home for lunch, I am cooking a lot.  It's great but very challenging, at times, to fix different things for the family that we will all enjoy.  I decided to make Asian Lettuce Wraps one day, and everyone liked them.  Well, the boys wouldn't actually put the mixture in the lettuce, but I still call it a win.  Plus, the leftovers were super easy to store and reheat the next day.


  • one head of lettuce (I prefer Boston or Bibb)
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup organic Tamari soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 TBSP organic cornstarch
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 cup of diced carrots
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 zucchini, diced


  1. Heat 2 TBSP oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and cook ground turkey until cooked fully.
  2. While meat is cooking, rinse and separate the head of lettuce.  Lay leaves out onto a towel to dry.
  3. In a bowl, mix broth, soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch.  Set aside.
  4. When meat has finished cooking, remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Add 1 TBSP oil to the pan and cook carrots for about 3 minutes, then add in the ginger, garlic, and zucchini.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes until done to your liking.
  6. Return the meat to the pan with the vegetables and add in the broth, soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch mixture.  Stir well.
  7. Cook for 1-2 minutes longer.
  8. Remove from heat and serve mixture in lettuce leaves.  Roll up and enjoy!  (You can dip wraps in soy sauce or any other delicious sauce to jazz them up a bit!

And the best part is that the leftovers can quickly be put in GladWare® and put in the fridge for the next day.  I put the lettuce in one container and the meat mixture in another.  Perfect!  And, a Protection Pointer from Glad:  "Add a lightly dampened paper towel in with the lettuce to keep it crisp."  For more Protection Pointers for all different types of foods, visit the Glad website.

Gladstoring lettuce in fridgeSince the beginning of the New Year, I have been trying to first of all, make sure all of our food is stored appropriately so it will last longer, and secondly, remembering to serve leftovers so no food goes to waste.  I love that the GladWare is pretty and colorful so it doesn't sit, unnoticed in the fridge. 

Asian Lettuce Wraps

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Glad Food Protection. The opinions and text are all mine.


Nineteen Hearty Casseroles for Cold Winter Nights

This casseroles post was brought to you by Foodie.  All opinions are mine.

winter casseroles

Check out Nineteen Hearty Casseroles for Cold Winter Nights

by Gena at

Casseroles are not just for church potlucks anymore!  I love casseroles because they can be a great side dish or a whole meal rolled into one.  Casseroles are also great for hiding vegetables in a delicious dish, using leftovers, or for busy week night dinners.  They usually can be prepared ahead of time and sometimes frozen for future meals.  There is no limit to what you can make a casserole out of!  I try to use real food ingredients so the casserole is not just a big dish of junk.  For instance, I try to use homemade cream of mushroom soup if the recipe calls for it, which is pretty simple to make and keep on hand.  Any of these casseroles would look elegant served in a beautiful casserole dish.

I have collected nineteen delicious, hearty casseroles that are great for serving on cold winter nights!  Pick one or pick them all and enjoy!  Add them to a Foodie recipe collection of your own and get a head start on the week's meal planning.


Light & Delicious New Year’s Eve Snacks

New Year's Eve Snacks

The last two months have been a whirlwind of traveling, celebrating, shopping, and EATING!  Before the boys' birthday party, I was on a "healthy eating plan" and had lost some weight, but with the tempting foods of the season, it was very hard to practice healthy eating and moderation.  While I think we did a good job, there was definitely some unhealthy eating going on.  I kept that in mind when creating this collection of snacks for our annual New Year's Eve party.  Let's be honest….we will eat whatever is available on nights like this, so why not have healthy options available?  Sometimes I eat just to stay awake, so it's better to eat real food than some of the other NYE traditions.  All of these recipes are easy to pack up and transport to your New Year's Eve party, too!  

Finger Foods

Healthy Popcorn – Musings of a Modern Hippie

Spicy Maple Cinnamon Pecans – This West Coast Mommy

Quick & Easy Mini Bruschetta – Three Different Directions

No Bake Cranberry Pistachio Energy Bites – Grace and Good Eats (pictured)

Eggplant French Bread Pizza -Simmworks Family Blog

Veggie Pizza Appetizer – Simmworks Family Blog

Candied Nuts – Turning the Clock Back

Gluten Free Nanaimo Bars – This West Coast Mommy

Homemade Potato Chips – Thrifty Jinxy

Chicken & Tomato Meatballs – Thrifty Jinxy

Kale Chips – Ann's Entitled Life

Matbucha – Ann's Entitled Life

Oven Roasted Parmesan Green Beans – Ann's Entitled Life

Lemon-Herb Deviled Eggs – Brittany's Pantry (pictured)

Three-Ingredient Tomato, Broccoli, Cream Cheese Bites – Couponing for Freebies

Apple and Cheese Quesadillas – The Thrifty Couple (pictured)

Watermelon Lime Party Bites – Driftwood Gardens

Fruit Cups – See Mom Click (pictured)

Apple Bacon Arugula Bites – Thrifty  Northwest Mom

Panko Chicken Nuggets

Coconut Chocolate Candy

Dips, Spreads, and Salsas:

Avocado and Greek Yogurt Dip – Turning the Clock Back

Easy Creamy Onion Dip – Thrifty Jinxy

Black Eyed Pea Hummus – Mama Likes To Cook (pictured)

Sweet Pepper Cream Cheese Dip – Mama Likes To Cook

Dragon Fruit Salsa – Mama Likes To Cook (pictured)

Easy Veggie Spread – Brittany's Panty (pictured)

Black Bean Salsa – Brittany's Pantry (pictured)

Watermelon Pico de Gallo – The Thrifty Couple

Cowboy Caviar – Housewives of Frederick County

Fresh and Easy Homemade Guacamole – See Mom Click

Mexican Fiesta Black Bean Hummus – Two Healthy Kitchens

Peanut Butter Silk Pie Dip – Two Healthy Kitchens

Italian Cannelini Hummus – Two Healthy Kitchens

Queso con Carne without Velveeta

Tomatillo Salsa

Chocolate Cheesecake Fruit Dip


Mango Shrimp Ceviche – Confessions of an Overworked Mom (pictured)

New Year's Eve Snacks

If you happen to attend a party that is well supplied with New Year's Eve snacks, make sure to pack yours in Glad® food protection.  Glad® MatchWare is great for stacking in a reusable shopping bag, easily setting up at a party, and then just popping the lid back on and bringing back home.  Then, you can limit the number of dishes and nothing goes to waste.  Wake up late on New Year's Day (if you're so lucky!) and snack on your party leftovers for a mid morning brunch.  Nothing beats that!

Near Year's Eve snacks

Visit the Glad website to enter the Food Fairy Tale sweepstakes. You could win a $2,500 grand prize by sharing your Food Fairy Tale! 


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Glad Food Protection. The opinions and text are all mine.

Find Just What You’re Craving with Twinings of London Teas {free sample, too!}

This post was brought to you by Twinings of London tea.  All opinions are mine.

TwiningsTea is a much loved part of the day for many adults.  A hot cup of tea can provide comfort, peace, and warmth on a cold winter morning.  A tall glass of iced tea is perfect for a hot summer day, as well.  Growing up, I was only aware of tea in the sweet iced tea version.  As an adult, my tastes have expanded and I love trying new flavors and types of teas.  While I am a creature of habit and tend to stick with something I like, I also love the ability to sample and try new flavors from time to time.

Twinings of London is a tea lover's dream.  With over 50 types and flavors of teas, there are many options to choose from/  Use their Tea Explorer to discover the perfect tea that you are looking for.  

TwiningsWhile I mentioned I am a creature of habit, I love being given different flavors of teas that I wouldn't have ordinarily tried.  I have discovered some of my very favorite blends by receiving them as a gift.  Who knew that I would love Green Pomegranate, Raspberry, & Strawberry tea?  

TwiningsAnother personal favorite is all things Chai.  French Vanilla Chai, Pumpkin Spice, Chai, Apple Spiced Chai, or regular, it is such a delicious blend of black tea and spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger to create a fresh, spicy taste.  I like mine sweetened and cold, too.


Twinings of London takes tea making seriously.  They have been in the tea business since 1706.  That's over 300 years of crafting fine teas that people love.  One interesting fact – there are nine "master blenders" that travel the world to find only the best teas, spices, herbs, and fruit infusions available.  What a job, right?!  Twinings teas are sourced and custom-blended to provide the perfect balance of tea taste, flavor, and aroma.  Varieties include green, black, and herbal, Organic & fair-trade certified teas, cold brewed teas, and K-Cup packs.  

Twinings of London has quickly become a well loved tea of mine.  Depending on my mood and cravings, there is a tea to satisfy!  I encourage you to take advantage of their "Raid The Pantry" offer to try for yourself!  Twinings is offering readers a chance to Raid the Pantry and sample three flavors of tea.  Visit the Twinings website and choose the three samples you would love to try!  Also check out their special Member Rewards, Tea of the Month Club, Tea Mail, and Auto Delivery options.  

Stock Up on Fig Bars for the Holidays!

This post was created in partnership with Nature's Bakery fig bars. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Nature's Bakery fig barsThe holiday season can be stressful and chaotic, and our good eating habits tend to go out the window for a few weeks (months?)  This year, I decided to have healthier snack foods on hand for our family and I have been proven time and time again how smart this was!

Running errands with the kids?  Don't stop for fast food, grab a Nature's Bakery fig bar.  Wrapping gifts and don't want to stop?  Fig bars.  Watching a Christmas program and need to dig a delicious but healthy snack out of your bag?  Fig bars!  Every time one of us gets hungry, instead of grabbing something unhealthy, I get a Nature's Bakery fig bar.  All three of the boys (ages 6, 4, and 1) LOVE fig bars.  Their favorite flavors are blueberry and strawberry, but all six of the delicious flavors are satisfying, healthy, non-GMO, and trans fat free.  Other flavors include: apple cinnamon, raspberry, peach apricot, lemon, mango, and fig.  Yum!  Each package contains two mini fig bars, which are the perfect size for little hands.  The sticky center can be a little messy, but when something tastes so good, it's hard to make much of a mess.  
Nature's Bakery Fig BarsNon-GMO ingredients include:  stone ground whole wheat flour, dried cane syrup, brown rice syrup, fig paste, canola oil, rolled oats, oat fiber, ammonia-free caramel color, sea salt, citric acid, natural flavors, baking soda, and more, depending on the flavor.  (The blueberry fig bar is colored with red cabbage extract!)

Nature's Bakery Fig Bars stocking

Join Nature's Bakery Fig Bar Fanatics Program and enter to win a box of fig bars for yourself in the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway