Meal Plan Monday: The Insane Week

Meal Plan Monday

This week could be subtitled “Why am I even bothering to meal plan?”

Mother’s Day is this week (yesterday, in fact).  My aunt’s funeral (after a brief battle with cancer) is today.  My (and my mom’s) big Mother’s Day present is this weekend (in the guise of a trip to Dallas–I think we all desperately need to get away).

So, why am I meal planning?

The easy answer is to give a reboot to the dishes that were planned and not tried last week (the cheeseburger tater tot casserole, crock pot pizza potatoes, and smothered chicken).

In the end, it might be best (and easiest) to go with that.

The more complicated answer?  I love making lists.  A meal plan is a list.  Lists give me some (possibly imagined) amount of control in my crazy world.  And the possibility of three new dishes to try will hopefully lift my spirits a bit this week.

For whatever the reason, surface or deep-seated psychological, I am making this meal plan and (hopefully) making it stick (at least better than last week when even nuking things on leftover Thursday seemed to take too much emotional and physical energy).

Note:  The new recipes are linked in the MPM post here.

Saturday:  Mother’s Day dinner out at Chimi V’s  (Their Mexican apple pie is to die for!)

Sunday:  Josh grilled smoked sausage, peppers, and onions, as well as hot dogs and chicken for later this week.  We ate this with a baked ‘tater.

Monday:  Smothered Chicken with a green veg and bread

Tuesday:  Cheeseburger Tater Tot casserole, hamburger salad

Wednesday:  breakfast for dinner

Thursday:  leftovers/hot dogs

Friday:  Crock Pot Pizza Potatoes

Saturday:  Dallas!  Dinner at the hotel!

Sunday:  meal made from items at Central Market (maybe another cheese board?)

And, so, that’s it.  Hopefully it all holds true.

Meal Plan Monday: A Cinco de Mayo Chipotle-Inspired Feast

Meal Plan Monday

Sunday dawned with two slow cookers percolating in the kitchen (Big Bertha sported pork loin, potatoes, and carrots for Sunday dinner; and ‘Red was filled to the brim with seared beef roast chunks and Ninja’d sauce for Chipotle Barbacoa, much cooled from the version tried last year, using only one chipotle pepper and only one teaspoon–rather than a tablespoon–of the accompanying adobo sauce).

I looked a lot more productive than I felt.  Since before spring break, we have been passing around a spring cold.  Having suffered from a sore throat since Wednesday (causing me to miss Wednesday services at church), the cold settled in my sinuses (and, sorry to be TMI, produced copious amounts of mucus that had to be blown out seemingly every second) by the weekend.

As a result, I didn’t get the tater tot casserole prepped (nor did i get all the chopping for the pico, corn salsa, or cilantro for the cilantro-lime rice).  I did something both Saturday and Sunday that I rarely do:  I took a nap.

But, here’s the meal plan for the week (thank goodness for the productivity of my slow cookers).  I told my mom that I would really like a third (or even a fourth) slow cooker; I could really have been productive while sick on Sunday if I had more.

Saturday:  Home-Alone-(the movie)-Inspired Filthy Animal Pizza from Foxes Love Lemons

Sunday:  my mom’s pork loin, potatoes, and carrots in the slow cooker (with a side of “fried” apples)

Monday:  Smothered Chicken from Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms, vegetable, bread

Tuesday:  Happy Cinco de Mayo!  Chipotle Barbacoa, Cilantro-Lime Rice, Chipotle Corn Salsa, Pico de Gallo, Guacamole in bowls

Wednesday:  Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole from Michelle’s Tasty Creations and salad

Thursday:  leftovers/hot dogs

Friday:  Crock Pot Pizza Potatoes from Kayotic Kitchen, salad or green veg

Saturday:  Josh is off to grill!

Sunday:  Citrus grilled shrimp (recipe and pictures forthcoming) or Josh’s lasagna (recipe and pictures forthcoming)

What’s your plan for the week?

Meal Plan Monday: Pizza and Corn or Corn on Pizza?

Meal Plan Monday

In our family, we love pizza in all of its forms.  We love Pizza Meatball Subs.  We love mini pizzas.  We love pizza grilled cheese.

And, as a carryover from when I was growing up and lived with my parents, we have canned corn with our pizza.

I’m not sure what was the origin of the corn-with-pizza meal concept was, but it’s been that way for as long as I remember.  It was so much a given that I never thought anything of it…until my sister met her future husband.

My now-brother-in-law has never understood the corn with pizza thing.  Josh was kinda taken aback by it, as well.

And that forced me to think:  are we crazy for eating pizza with corn?

A week or so ago the question was answered to my satisfaction.  A coworker saw me eating the pizza rolls from a few weeks back with corn and hooted her approval.  She reminded me that the school district used to serve pizza with corn.  In fact, she went a step further and described how she used to cover her pizza with corn.

I’ll give you a moment to ponder that.


Seriously, this next Saturday when we have pizza, I have to try the corn on the pizza thing.

To me, my convo with her PROVES that pizza MUST be served with corn.

‘Nuff said.

So…here is the lovely menu for the week.  I’m continuing to try one-two new dishes a week.

Saturday:  spaghetti and meatballs using Slow Cooker Pizza Meatballs, green salad, bread

Sunday:  dinner at Horseshoe for Muffin’s birthday at The Spread Buffet

Monday:  Josh is off, so he will grill something.

Tuesday:  taco Tuesday (probably with The Lego Movie)

Wednesday:  20 Minute Pork Chop Rice One Pot Recipe (Call Me PMC), green vegetable

Thursday:  hot dogs or leftovers

Friday:  Crock Pot Cashew Chicken (Favorite Family Recipes), rice, eggrolls

Saturday:  Home-Alone-Inspired Filthy Animal Pizza (Foxes Love Lemons), corn! (maybe while viewing Home Alone)

Sunday:  pork loin roast in the slow cooker (using my mom’s method with potatoes, carrots, and onion)

What’s on your meal plan for the week?

Cent Saving Saturday: Using Swagbucks to Buy School Supplies

Cent Saving Saturday

I may have mentioned this before, but I’m a teacher.  Teachers have to be very creative in finding ways to purchase classroom supplies.

The federal government reinstated for the 2014 tax year the tax credit for the first $250 in educator supply expenses, which is nice; don’t get me wrong.  Especially since it was nonexistent the previous year.  Our district gives us $100 for supplies, as well; again, this is nice.  But both are after-expenditure “rebates,” as you will.

With Muffin starting school this year, with all of his fees staring us in the face, a bit of alleviation of the upfront expenditures would be nice.

I’ve been collecting Swagbucks like a boss lately, trying to get 100 a day and meet the daily goal.  I came up with the idea of creating a supply replenishment list for next year.  I will buy Amazon gift cards, and, for the items of reasonable price, I will order them from Amazon–with the gift cards!

As July approaches, I will do the same thing with Walmart gift cards–for the back-to-school supply deals.

And now, on to this week’s deals:

Albertson’s (Friday-Sunday)

chicken leg quarters, 10 pound bag, $3.90 (limit 2 with $10 additional purchase)

bottom round roast, boneless, $1.99/pound (limit 2 with $10 additional purchase)

strawberries 1.99 for a one-pound package

Albertson’s weeklong deals

Niagara Water, 24 pack, $1.99 (limit 4)

Essential Everyday macaroni and cheese 50 cents

Essential Everyday canned  vegetables and tomatoes 50 cents

Albertson’s buns or bread 75 cents

Bar S Meat Franks 75 cents

Chef Boyardee cans or cups 79 cents each wyb 10

Gebhardt/Rosarita refried beans 79 cents wyb 10

live mussels $3.98/2 pound bag (Oddly enough, Muffin loves mussels)

lemons or limes 25 cents each

mangoes or cucumbers 50 cents each

Roma tomatoes 75 cents/pound


red seedless grapes 99 cents/pound

gallon milk or orange juice $2.99

Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, 7-Up 2 L $1 each wyb 5

Kraft Salad Dressing 99 cents wyb 4

Beneful dog food (14-15.5 pound bag) $12.79

What are the deals near you this week?

Funny Muffin Friday: Muffins Vocabulary (“Peckish”)

Funny Muffin Friday

Since he began talking, Muffin has had an interesting vocabulary.  He absorbs, seemingly by osmosis, words that he hears and is able to incorporate correctly in context in sentences.

He loves to try out new words, and sometimes we have difficulty discerning where he learned them.  For example, a few weeks ago, he used the word “peckish.”  His exact sentence was, “I’m peckish; I want something to eat.”

I called up my mom with a wry “thanks” for my dad, figuring that, since my dad taught him the meaning of the word “parched,” he also taught him the meaning of “peckish.”

My parents had no idea where he learned the word.  So, I called Muffin over and asked him where he learned it.  He answered me immediately–“Stampy.”

Inwardly–and possibly outwardly–I groaned.  Stampy Longnose is the bane of my existence, the You Tube character who plays WAY TOO MUCH Minecraft!

Josh was at work, so I called him.  He concurred with glee that Muffin learned the word “peckish” from watching Stampy.

Here is a picture of Muffin being parched–and peckish.

DSC_0676[1]What new vocabulary has your little one started using?

We Plan Wednesday: Summer Visitors–Food!

We Plan Wednesday

This June, Josh’s mom and stepfather are coming to visit us.  I think I started planning (and rethinking) the menu on the tails of the New Year’s Eve Fiesta.  To which, Josh said something along the lines of, “Can’t we finish with New Year’s before thinking of that?”

My planning mind doesn’t work that way.  Once I’ve planned something out, even if it hasn’t been fully executed, I have to begin planning something else.

Have to.

It’s an obsession.

Or a compulsion.

Either way, it must be done.

I presently am on version…um…5, I think, of the menu.  And, my mom through another ringer; she reminded me that she and my dad plan on taking everyone out to eat while they are visiting.  And, I think we are planning a run to New Orleans while they are here.  So…yah…I will plan on all of the meals, print out all of the recipes, add them to the recipe binder, make the shopping lists, and buy the ingredients…in case…and because I will make the meals anyway.

The menu has also changed as we’ve found recipes that we really like and want to share with Josh’s mom.

This is from Josh’s mom’s visit right after Muffin was born.  We plan on going to Avery Island (both the Tabasco factory and the Jungle Gardens) on this next visit with them.

And here is Muffin with one of his favorite people in the world…Grandpa Mark!

Now…where was I?  Oh, yes!  The menu.

Menu for Josh’s Mom’s Visit

Sunday June 21

Supper:  Baked Potato Bar

Dessert:  Strawberry Pie with Cool Whip (using my grandmother’s/sister’s recipe)


Monday June 22

Breakfast:  bacon, homemade sausage, eggs, toast, hash browns, beans, cheese

Snack:  Margarita Chex Mix from the Chex website

Lunch:  Pizza Meatball Subs (blog), chips, fruit

Supper:  Grilled Margarita Chicken (TSRI), chips, Carol’s salsa, homemade tortillas with butter, slow cooker refried beans

Dessert:  Coconut Cream Cake (Gene cake)


Tuesday June 23

Breakfast:  sausage gravy biscuit casserole, yogurt parfait, fruit

Snack:  Pepper Jelly/Cream Cheese and Crackers (and leftover Margarita Chex Mix)

Lunch:  Quesadillas (using leftover grilled chicken), chips, and salsa

Supper:  Dr. Pepper Pork Chops, Twice Baked Potato Casserole (Miss Kay’s), 7-Up Biscuits, broccoli with lemon zest

Dessert:  red velvet sheet cake


Wednesday June 24

Breakfast:  pancakes (Martha Stewart) and bacon and fruit

Snack:  Birthday Cake Popcorn Mix

Lunch:  Sloppy Joe Squares (Life in the Lofthouse), vegetable sticks and homemade ranch dip

Supper:  Ranch Chicken Enchiladas (LitL), Mexican Rice (, refried beans, guacamole, chips

Dessert:  Apple Pie Egg Rolls (Spend with Pennies)


Thursday June 25

Breakfast:  cereal, fruit, toast/homemade English muffins with homemade jam

Snack:  veg sticks with dip, chips with dip, fruit with dip

Lunch:  grandmother’s/Debbie’s chicken and dumplins, rolls (Mom rolls), salad

Supper:  Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce (blog)—double batch, rice, egg rolls, fortune cookies

Dessert:  leftover desserts/fortune cookies


Friday June 26

Breakfast:  savory French toast casserole, fruit

Lunch:  sandwich bar

Snack:  churro chex mix

Supper:  pizza spiral rolls x 3 (meat, supreme, and Hawaiian), salad

Dessert:  ice cream sundae bar


Saturday June 27

Breakfast:  doughnuts and kolaches

P.S. Wish me luck!  Today is kindergarten pre-registration for our school district, and I am going to register Muffin!

Thoughtful Thursday: Parent Shaming?

Thoughtful Thursday

I actually have another tirade-style Thoughtful Thursday post in the wings, but I’m waiting to tweak it so that it isn’t so inflammatory.

Recently, on Facebook, I read a story about a restaurant in Canada that wanted to ban “screaming children” from its environs.  I mistakenly read the comments.  And felt my blood pressure kick it up a notch…several hundred notches, in fact.

I have a child that is energetic.  No, I don’t believe he has ADD, ADHD, spectrum disorder, or any of the alphabet soup of disorders.  Therefore, he is not a medicated walking zombie.

At times, we will go to restaurants and Muffin will behave really well.  P.S. At those restaurants, he usually behaves well because the waitstaff and patrons treat him well.  P.P.S.  I tend to behave well at those, as well.

And…other times…he doesn’t.

We try to mitigate those times.  We go to Chick-Fil-A, a “family restaurant.”  We try to eat at restaurants with booths and that will seat us in booths because, as we explained to one local restaurant that had booths that WOULDN’T seat us in a booth for reasons of their own, it’s easier to corral Muffin in a booth by keeping him trapped inside.

We try not to go at a busy time.

We try to pick restaurants with a children’s menu.  To me, by definition, restaurants with a children’s menu are “family restaurants.”  Don’t tease parents by having a children’s menu and then not welcoming children…all children.

According to the “individuals” who commented, children’s misbehavior in a restaurant is the sole fault of the parents.  It is not the fault of other patrons staring rudely and condescendingly (and glaringly) at children.  It is not slow, incompetent waitstaff who bring the wrong menu item to a child (or wait forever to wait on a family with children).

Even before becoming a parent, I never looked askance or rudely at parents struggling to maintain some sense of composure while addressing their child’s misbehavior.  I would never have rudely suggested that a parent walk out of the restaurant with the child to “calm the child down” (by the way, that doesn’t work).

Now, to be fair, Muffin usually doesn’t scream.  He whines.  He pouts.  He cries.  But he doesn’t scream.

Ultimately, some of the commentators cheered the manager of the restaurant for his policy, saying they would be glad to go there because it would be child-free.

I have the opposite opinion.  A restaurant where my child is not welcome is not a restaurant where I would feel welcome.

I understand that there are some restaurant patrons who feel as if children ruin their meal.  I also feel as if my meal is ruined by their scrutiny and judgmental stares.  I feel as if my meal is ruined by people who talk loudly into their cell phones or use inappropriate language at the table, but I’ve yet to be at a restaurant where those individuals are banned.  I feel as if my meal is ruined when a drunk bumps drunkenly into my table and spills my food and drink.

And to those who suggested that the parents just take their meal to-go?  Um, while I do enjoy the second meal a to go box provides, it never is as appetizing as it arrives on the plate in the restaurant.  I am a food blogger (as well as a mommy blogger).  When I eat out, it’s research a lot of the time.  And that research isn’t the same if it’s “to go.”

It goes back to:  if you want my business (and by that I mean all of my family’s business), you will make me feel welcome.  Otherwise, I will go somewhere that will.  We’ve discovered some real gems as a result of leaving restaurants where we don’t feel welcome, such as the local “Asian Cafe” after the aforementioned restaurant refused to seat us in a booth.  (We haven’t really frequented that restaurant ever since.)

How about this:  to restaurant owners, managers, waitstaff, and patrons:  If you see a parent struggling with an unruly child, how about show a bit of compassion and understanding?  Because I promise you, it is already a humiliating, frustrating, appetite-ending experience for the parents, let me tell you.

Oh, and to the waitstaff, managers, and owners of restaurants, I tend to tip better at locations that treat me and mine with respect and dignity.  I tend to be not-so-kind to locations that make us feel unwelcome off the bat.

In somewhat related news, I am planning on divorcing Facebook.  I find myself angry every time I go on to read posts.  And, people be bullying, yo!  People feel they have the right to attack everything you say and believe.  And not politely.  And, have you ever considered how much SPAM there is on Facebook?  All the chain-mail-style posts?  I’m on Facebook to look at new posts of blogs I read and try to catch up on what family and friends are doing (and enjoying the odd Minion meme).  I really don’t need anything else, thanks.

What is your opinion of restaurant policies concerning children?