School Lunch Ideas…Salad Edition

Well, school has begun! Tuesday night I  cooked homemade chicken nuggets for dinner and I had enough leftover for the girls for the past two days for school lunches in the form of chicken tender salads.  It just takes a bit of thinking ahead.  Tonight I’m trying a new recipe for Mexican Street Corn Burrito Bowls and I’m hoping the leftovers can carry me through ONE MORE DAY (tomorrow is FRIDAY-YAY!!). NOTE:  With most salad, dressing can make them soggy, so serve dressing in smaller containers so the kids (or you) can put on right before eating.  Soggy lettuce is gross!

Salads are pretty easy for lunches especially for teens and adults.  I’ll be going back to work in two weeks, so these will be great for me.  Like the last post, I’ve searched Pinterest for ideas and I’m listing them here for you!  As I try these ideas, I’ll do a post on each one.

 

 

Week of August 6 Menu… How I Menu Plan, Store My Recipes and Shop! Long Post Ahead!

Back to school on Tuesday!  This means schedule!  I’m slightly OCD so I LOVE a schedule.  The lazy days of summer are nice but things run better for my brain when I have a mindset that things will happen in a sequence.  I function better when I have a  list of things to do and I have a calendar keeping me on task.  Otherwise, my mind is a jumble and I amble around the house aimlessly doing tons of little things but finishing nothing.  I blame it on my ADHD creative mind!

So here is my plan for tackling this upcoming week.  Many people meal plan.  I’ve seen it many different ways.  Some plan specifically for each day.  On Monday we are eating…, on Tuesday we are eating…. I cannot do this.  Instead I plan for the week and I typically plan for more than just the 6/7 meals needed.  That way, I always have options and I’m not stuck on the last day having to cook something I’m just not feeling.  For example, I had my Kalua Pork on my menu last week but didn’t get around to making it.  So I know this week that I have all the ingredients and I can simply slip that in.  Plus because I bought two pork roasts last time they were on sale, the pork is in the freezer and I don’t have to buy on this week!  It’s ready when I am.

Meal planning is easy for me because of my binder!  I used to collect cookbooks!  I still have a few (I LOVE my Pioneer Woman books) but because of Pinterest and my binder, I’m never far from a new recipe.  So about my binder!  When I try a new recipe and it’s a keeper, it goes straight into my binder.

My binder is not fancy.  Ten years ago, I would have had a cute customized cover and spine but now??? Who cares!  I do have my recipes in labeled sections to help me find them easier but I love that all my favorite recipes are all in one place.  When it’s time to menu plan, I simply go through my binder and choose recipes for the week.

Now on to making my shopping list and grocery shopping…my favorite thing to do, REALLY it is!  One of my faves anyway.  Why do I love it?  I make it into a game.  I love to save money!  Using a coupon or snagging a good deal is therapy for me.  I love to look at my receipt when I get in the car and see my savings.  I typically send a pic to my husband too.  So how do I do this?  First, I look over the sales paper and see what’s on sale that week.  If pork roasts are buy one get one free (every few weeks Kroger has this), I put it on my list and choose a recipe in my binder that I can make.  Roasts are another item that when it is on sale, I’ll buy too.  Kroger also has those 5 for $5 off sales often.  This is a good time to stock up.  PopTarts were $1.29 this week in the $5 off for 5 and I had a $1 off coupon, so I got two boxes for $1.60.  After I go through the sales paper, I go to my coupon stash.  Kroger is wonderful about sending coupons.  I shop there so much I get coupons every couple of days and they customize them to things that I buy frequently.  I hardly ever pay Kroger Peanut Butter or Kroger Water, I get those coupons monthly.  This does take time but it’s so worth it.  Organization is the key.  I used to keep my coupons in a cute binder but it took too much time putting them in and taking them out when they expired.  I just throw them in a basket now.

**Another tip..if you aren’t going to use it, throw it away.  If you don’t have a cat, don’t keep the cat food coupon.

**And if you get to the store and the store brand is still cheaper when you use a coupon, get the store brand..those pennies do add up!

So my grocery list!  I’m  OCD when it comes to my list.  I don’t like anyone to write on my list and I will rewrite it if necessary to keep it neat.  I shop at my Kroger that I know exactly where everything is located so I make my list according to the store layout.  It makes things so much easier when it’s shopping time.  Anytime I have a coupon I put a star by that item.  My goal is to STICK TO THE LIST!  This is the main reason I detest shopping at Wal-mart.  Now if I do see a good deal, I will pick it up.  Several weeks ago, I was shopping and they announced a Manager’s Special on Sausage for $1.79 (usually $4) and I stocked up. Always be on the lookout for things like that, especially if they freeze well, you use them often or they can be stored.

So then I shop!  I usually wait to the end of my order being rung up before I hand over my Kroger card and coupons.  I LOVE to watch that total go down…it’s the simple things that bring my joy! Yesterday I saved $31.53 (19%).  I’ve actually had up to 30-35% before.  When they doubled coupons years ago I think one time I got up to 45% one time.  So for a week’s groceries, I spent $140 and I have enough food for 7 meals, the girl’s school lunches, snacks and breakfast.  I even bought a jar of almond butter for $7 for a recipe that I’m trying this week. My coupons alone paid for that.

So that is how I do it! My husband works hard.  He leaves before the kids are awake and many times comes home after we’ve eaten dinner.  I am able to work part-time and be at home for the kids.  I’m very lucky that I can do this but because of this I have to make sure that the money we do have is spent wisely.  Eating out is a rare occasion for us but it affords us things that are much more valuable like time together. Time together as a family is what I cherish most and organization is key for me to be able to do this!

Dump and Bake Chicken Parmesan

Tried a new recipe tonight!  This one is a keeper!  Super easy to put together and not messy at all!  Cooks all in one baking dish.  The best part is that it is super cheap ($6-7) and fed my family of 5 and there is enough left over for at least two meals.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 (13.25 ounce) package uncooked whole grain penne pasta
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 ½ lbs. raw chicken breast tenders (or thinly sliced chicken breast)
  • 1 ½ cups reduced-fat shredded mozzarella (or Italian blend) cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup  breadcrumbs or  Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Optional: fresh chopped herbs (such as basil, oregano, and parsley) for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Dump uncooked noodles, pasta sauce, water, chicken and 1/2 cup mozzarella in baking dish. Add salt and pepper. Mix ingredients together. Make sure liquid covers pasta and chicken.

3.  Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes

4.  Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through.

5.  Spread breadcrumbs, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese over pasta dish. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread crumbs are golden brown.

 

School Lunches Post #1…Crescent Rolls

Confession time:  I HATE PACKING SCHOOL LUNCHES!  With a PASSION!  My girls have refused for years to eat in the school cafeteria.  I really don’t blame them, I didn’t either but it can be a pain to plan, prepare and pack a lunch everyday, especially when my girls aren’t huge fans of sandwiches.

So, to solve this problem and to help out other mama’s out there who face the same dilemma, I’ve been researching lunch box ideas this past week.  Look on Pinterest and you can quickly get overwhelmed with all the “supermom” postings of these fabulous, healthy lunches in these cute, perfect containers.  Moms who balance their kids meals according to the Food Pyramid and cut the food into cute little shapes.  Well, I’m not that mom. My girls like Flaming Hot Cheetos and Chips Ahoy Cookies.  They will eat the healthy stuff but it needs to be balanced with a little junk food!  They are teenagers after all.  And add on Elizabeth who starts school in two weeks who REFUSES to eat the same thing two days in a row!  This child will eat broccoli one day like it’s her last meal and then refuse to eat it the next day.

So here we go!  I’ve divided my upcoming posts into categories.  Today, I’ll post recipes and ideas featuring Crescent Rolls.  You all know crescent rolls.  Those thin, flaky, fluffy rolls of bready goodness that comes in the can that sometimes is impossible to open!  Yep! Those!  I haven’t checked the Kroger Ad this week yet but if they are on sale, that’s even better.  The best part is all of these can be made ahead and some would even freeze well so you could make extra batches and take out what you need so the kids don’t have to eat the same thing everyday.

So…ideas for Crescent Rolls:

  • Pigs in a Blanket!  Make a huge batch for breakfast on Sunday, store in a container and take out a few at a time.  My girls love pigs in a blanket.  You could even make bigger ones with sausage, eggs and cheese.  They don’t have to be heated up so they are perfect for lunches.  Add a small cup of mustard and make it fancy!
  • Crescent Roll Pizzas!  Instead of rolling them into those cute little pinwheel shapes, keep them in the roll form that they came in, slice them into circles, bake them and then add some pizza sauce and toppings.
  • Nutella and Banana Stuffed Crescent rolls!  Found this on Pinterest!  Super cute idea.  Here is the recipe from The Food Charlatan        http://thefoodcharlatan.com/2016/02/11/nutella-and-banana-stuffed-crescent-rolls-recipe/
  • Ham or Turkey and Cheese.  Roll up ham or turkey or your favorite lunch meat, add cheese and bake!  Super simple! Here’s a recipe from High Heels and Grills   http://www.highheelsandgrills.com/baked-ham-and-cheese-rollups/
  • Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Crescent Rolls.  These look super yummy!This recipe is from  ‘Lil Luna  https://lilluna.com/cheesy-spinach-roll-ups/
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Rolls from DIY Candy   http://diycandy.com/2016/02/peanut-butter-jelly-roll-recipe/
  • Crescent Rolls Veggie Pizzas:  I LOVE this idea.  I’ve had this at parties and its always a crowd pleaser.  I’m even going to use my spread from my Baked Sammiches (in an earlier post) for this! This is from Frugal Coupon Living:   http://www.frugalcouponliving.com/veggie-pizza-with-crescent-rolls/
  • Sausage Roll Crescents.  This recipe is from The Diary of a Real Housewife:   http://thediaryofarealhousewife.com/cream-cheese-sausage-crescent-roll-ups/

I’ll add to this post as I find other recipes so keep checking back in and see what I’ve found!

One Pan Sausage and Veggie..Easy Weeknight Meal

 

School starts next week and that means rushed dinners, softball games 2-3 nights a week, homework and overall CRAZY time here at our house.  I discovered this recipe a few weeks ago and the family LOVED it!  The best part of the recipe is that anything goes!  You can take whatever veggie or spices you have on hand, add sausage and you have a quick, cheap, healthy meal for your family!  The first time I made this, I added the asparagus but that can be expensive!  Tonight I’m adding a bag of frozen Lima Beans.  I wanted to use broccoli and I thought I had some in the freezer but I couldn’t find it so Lima Beans tonight!   Also for the spices, I added whatever I had on hand (Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika, Ancho Chili Powder, Salt and Pepper).  Add what your family likes!

This is the original recipe that I found at http://www.chelseasmessyapron.com/roasted-garlic-potatoes-and-sausage/

(One Pan) Roasted Garlic Potatoes and Sausage

Ingredients
  • 1 pound baby red potatoes
  • 8 ounces (1/2 of a 16-ounce bag) petite baby carrots
  • 1 teaspoon of EACH dried basil, dried thyme, dried oregano, and paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt and cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil separated
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) asparagus
  • 1/2 large yellow onion
  • 1 package (13 ounces) skinless smoked sausage (we use turkey sausage)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Optional: fresh parsley

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a very large sheet pan with parchment paper or foil for easier clean-up (optional).
  3. Halve the baby red potatoes (or cube if they are larger). In a small bowl, mix together all of the seasonings: the dried basil, thyme, oregano, paprika, onion powder, and salt + pepper (I use a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of each). Mix together.
  4. Place the halved red potatoes and baby carrots on the sheet pan. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil and half of the seasoning mix on top. Toss to combine and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus by trimming the ends and cutting into 2 inch pieces. Thinly slice the yellow onion. Coin the sausage.
  6. Remove the potatoes and carrots from the oven and using a spatula push them to one side of the pan. On the other side add in the chopped asparagus, sliced onion, sausage, and minced garlic.
  7. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and remaining seasoning mix. Toss to combine and then toss those ingredients with the potatoes and carrots.
  8. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until veggies are roasted to your desired preference. Top the dish with freshly grated parmesan and fresh parsley as desired.
  9. Enjoy immediately.

Fall/ Holiday Mini Sessions at Amy Beckley Photography are Booking NOW!

 

I’m offering 6 different types of mini sessions this season and I’m sure there is at least one (or three) that will fit your family perfectly.  All sessions this season are $50 (due at booking–an email will follow with payment link/mailing address for payment) and will include an online gallery for viewing after your session.  Digital files will be available to purchase ($200) as well as gift prints (starting at $5), wall portraits (starting at $65) and Christmas cards (starting at $40 for 25).  You could knock out most of your Christmas shopping in a twenty minute photo session!

**Schedule your session by 8:00am, Wednesday, August 2, 2017 and get a $50 credit towards digital files or a $50 credit towards your print order!  

**Share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and if some one books a session (make sure they tell me in the comment section or by email upon booking) and you will receive a free 5×7 gift print….I’ll even throw one in for your friend.  So SHARE!!

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September 30, 2017- Fondren Area

These sessions will take place in a home in Fondren off North State Street in Jackson.  These sessions will be more of a lifestyle photo session and will be booked in 30 minute increments in order for us to fully utilize your time and the space.  The master bedroom is perfect for family snuggle time and the living area is perfect for capturing your family as you truly are.  Simple furnishings and great light is what attracted me to this home.  The sky is the limit in what we can do!

 http://www.signupgenius.com/go/508084EAFAE2EA4FB6-twas

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October 14, 2017 – The Quarter on Lakeland AM Sessions

I love shooting at The Quarter.  Think New Orleans without having to travel there.  With lots of brick and ironwork you’ll find  a different look around every corner.  This session is perfect for families with older children and couples.

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/508084eafae2ea4fb6-thequarter

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October 14, 2017 – Flowood Nature Park PM Sessions

Fall colors will be in full effect by the middle of October and this is the perfect place to showcase that!  This location offers wide open spaces and is perfect for families with children or any age.

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/508084EAFAE2EA4FB6-flowood

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October 21, 2017 – Natchez Trace  AM and PM Sessions

I LOVE shooting here!  The huge oak trees on the property are gorgeous this time of the year.  Add an old, graying split-rail fence and lots of leaves to jump in and throw and you have the perfect family session.

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/508084EAFAE2EA4FB6-natchez

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October 22, 2017 – Canton, MS PM Sessions—THESE SESSIONS ARE BOOKED!  

Small town Mississippi in one location!  This location is perfect for families with older children and couples. Lots of brick lined sidewalks and cool architecture!

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/508084EAFAE2EA4FB6-thesquare

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November 4, 2017 – Christmas Tree Farm Sessions, Florence, MS PM Sessions—-If enough interest, I MAY open up dates for that Sunday the 5th as well.

Your family session among Christmas trees!  How awesome is that?!?!? I’m planning on shooting within the tree line and will have a few props available.  This will be the PERFECT image for your family Christmas card!

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/508084EAFAE2EA4FB6-christmas

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Fall/Holiday Mini Sessions Will Begin Booking on Tuesday, August 1, 2017

It’s hard to plan Fall/Christmas Mini Sessions when the heat index is over 100 degrees but I’ve finally got my dates and I’m working out times this weekend.

All Mini Sessions this year will be $50 (DUE AT BOOKING) and will include a 15-20 minute session depending on location and a password-protected online gallery for the viewing of your images.  I’m even offering a little (ACTUALLY BIG!)  incentive for those who book early!  HINT! HINT!

Sessions and dates are listed below.  I’ll have begin online signups this Tuesday morning!

  • September 30, 2017  ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas — These sessions will be hosted at a gorgeous home in the Fondren area!  More details to come.
  • October 14, 2017 AM Sessions will be at The Quarter on Lakeland Drive. PM Sessions will be at the Nature Park in Flowood.
  • October 21, 2017  AM and PM Sessions will be on the Natchez Trace
  • October 22, 2017 PM Sessions in Downtown Canton
  • November 4-5, 2017 Christmas Tree Farm Sessions. PM both days.

I LOVE Mini Sessions!  Here are some of my faves from last years minis…I can’t wait to plan and schedule yours!

Welcome To The World Jack…Brandon, MS Newborn Photography

I was so excited last week when Mom called and asked if I was available for a newborn session.  It seems like I’ve had one a week for the past few weeks and I have loved each and every one.  Jack was perfect!  With two older and active big brothers, he’s already mastered sleeping through anything.  He hung in there for the longest and I was able to capture some precious images for this family!  Thank you so much for coming over and spending your afternoon with me!

Big brothers are great!  Hunter was definitely not shy when it came to loving on baby Jack.

Hudson was a little more apprehensive but he eventually decided to some give Jack a few sugars!

Baked Ham Sammiches…Perfect Quick Summer Meal

I’ve been making these sammiches for years and we never get tired of them.  These elevate the plain, boring ham sandwich into a dinnertime meal.  Quick, easy and yummy! Plus it makes tons for leftovers!

Ingredients:

  • Block of Cream Cheese (softened: makes it easier to mix up ingredients
  • 5-6 Slices of Bacon, chopped
  • Packet of Ranch Seasoning
  • 1/2 Bunch of Chopped Green Onions
  • 24 Pack of Kings Hawaiian Rolls (This recipe makes enough for leftovers for lunches throughout the week)
  • 1 Lb of Shaved Black Forest Deli Ham

Mix Cream Cheese, Bacon, Ranch Seasoning and Green Onions.

I like to lightly toast my rolls for a few minutes first.  Then spread mixture on one side and pile on ham on the other. Bake at 350 until melted and bubbly.  Serve with chips and dinner is served!