Moneywise Menu Plan 3/1: Freezer Cooking to the Rescue!

What a winter! Are you snowed/iced in and sick of school snow days like we are here? It’s been very hard to get out and buy groceries, so I made a big push around icy roads, a rescheduled swim meet, and a very sick kiddo to hit three stores and get everything I needed to do two small freezer cooking sessions. To stick with my goal of cooking 6 of 7 days of the week without having to actually cook that often, I planned out some similar meals and a few hours to get all the work done. Now my freezer is stocked with healthy and frugal meals, and I have lots of options for both the slow cooker and oven.

Moneywise Menu Plan - easy frugal meals that are family friendly

Moneywise Menu Plan – 3/1

Sunday: Slow Cooker Pork Ragu & Fettuccine and green beans
Monday: Leftovers (they scrounged the fridge while I was out food shopping)
Tuesday: Broccoli Rice Casserole (I added cooked chicken)
Wednesday: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with pasta and vegetables, plus Caesar salad
Thursday: Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork, broccoli and brown rice
Friday: Pizza and salad for family movie night (we just got Big Hero 6!)
Saturday: Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup and cornbread

I prepped zipper bags of slow cooker meals, plus some casseroles either in zipper bags or Pyrex dishes (affiliate link). Now my freezer is full, and feeding the family is a whole lot easier.

Menu Plan Resources

Healthy Valentine Food for Kids

This post includes affiliate links. Thanks for supporting MoneywiseMoms at no extra cost to you!

Healthy Valentine Food for Kids | MoneywiseMoms

With no shortage of sweets available for Valentine’s Day, think about some ways to add a little fun to your kids’ meals with this roundup of Healthy Valentine Food for Kids. I’m not the kind of mom to do Bento-style lunches, but I am willing to wield a heart-shaped cookie cutter to celebrate this weekend. I’ve found the easiest ways to add some hearts & love to their day. Let’s start with breakfast, then move on to fun food for lunch and dinner:

 

Valentine French Toast | Healthy Valentine Food for Kids | MoneywiseMoms

Valentine French Toast from Happy Hooligans

So easy! Just cut the bread with a heart cookie cutter before making. She also includes an easy French Toast recipe.

 

Heart Shaped Fruit Kebabs | Healthy Valentine Food for Kids | MoneywiseMoms

Heart Shaped Fruit Kebabs from Life in Wonderland

Use those handy cookie cutters on sliced of melon for a fun fruit salad or these cute kebabs. Click through to check out the fun puzzle piece watermelon–the kids will love it!

 

Valentines Day Egg in the Basket | Healthy Valentine Food for Kids | MoneywiseMoms

Valentine’s Day Egg in the Basket from Reclaiming Provincial

If your kids like sunny-side up eggs, surprise them with this fancy version of breakfast.

 

Valentine Shaped Pancakes | Healthy Valentine Food for Kids | MoneywiseMoms

Valentine Heart-Shaped Pancakes from One Creative Mommy

Such a clever idea! She uses a squeeze bottle to draw and fill in the heart shape (and a Mickey, too!).

 

Heart Shaped Egg | Healthy Valentine Food for Kids | MoneywiseMoms

Heart Shaped Hard Boiled Eggs from Anna the Red

Anna shows an easy way to shape a hard-boiled egg into a heart using cardboard and a chopstick, but there’s also a heart mold you can buy.

 

Valentine Heart Pizza | Healthy Valentine Food for Kids | MoneywiseMoms

Valentine Heart Pizza from Coupon Clipping Cook

Pizza is healthy? It can be! When you make your own at home, you control the ingredients, can include whole wheat in the crust, and there’s so much less fat & sodium than delivery pizza. Nancy’s version has ham & swiss, but you can use whatever ingredients your family enjoys.

Cherry Tomato Hearts | Healthy Valentine Food for Kids | MoneywiseMoms

Cherry Tomato Hearts from Eye Candy

Learn an easy way to create hearts from grape or cherry tomatoes, then set up a veggies & dip appetizer or snack.

 

Valentine Veggies | Healthy Valentine Food for Kids | MoneywiseMoms

Roasted Valentine Veggies from Unconventional Kitchen

Cut potatoes and beets into heart shapes before roasting. Then serve with Desiree’s Skinny Greek Yogurt Dip.

 

Homemade Pita Chips | Healthy Valentine Food for Kids | MoneywiseMoms

Homemade Pita Chips from Meaningful Mama

Same idea–open pita breads and use cookie cutters to make the shapes before baking. Then dip into hummus or a healthy dip!

 

Heart Shaped Carrots in Soup | Healthy Valentine Food for Kids | MoneywiseMoms

Chicken Soup with Heart-Shaped Carrots from Sophistimom

If you’re having wintry weather this Valentine’s Day, you’ll find a delicious chicken soup recipe along with a great photo tutorial on how to cut heart carrots.

 What is your favorite Healthy Valentine Food for Kids?

 

Linked up to Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now, On Display Thursday at Average But Inspired, Valentine’s Day Link Up at The SITS Girls, Tasty Tuesday at CreativeKKids, Valentine’s Day Link Up at 5 Minutes for Mom and Valentine’s Day Link Up at So Simply Stephanie.

Moneywise Menu Plan 2/8

I hope you’re finding these weekly menu plans helpful. I cook frugal, healthy meals, and they’re all easily replicated. This week, I was in a casserole mood, so I took a little time on Sunday afternoon to cook ahead in order to save weeknights for working on homework and hanging out with the kids. That’s a strategy I used when my kids were toddlers, and it works just as well now that they’re school-aged. It’s worth spending an hour or two on the weekend to free up time later, when I can just pull a casserole out of the fridge or freezer, stick it in the oven, and feed the family.

Moneywise Menu Plan 2-8 | Weekly Menu Plans at Moneywise Moms

Moneywise Menu Plan – 2/8

Sunday: Chicken breasts with sauteed mushrooms, saffron rice and cauliflower
Monday: Crustless Italian Spinach Pie and cornbread
Tuesday: Crockpot Beef & Broccoli with brown rice
Wednesday: Vegetarian Baked Ziti
Thursday: Broccoli Rice Casserole (I’ll add cooked chicken)
Friday: Leftovers Smorgasbord plus a salad
Saturday: Valentine Pizza (homemade crust in the shape of a heart) and leftover salad

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but another strategy I use to make my weekly menu plans quickly is using themed nights. Mondays tend to be meatless; Tuesdays are taco-related; we often have leftovers on Friday or Saturday evening as long as I’ve planned large-portioned meals (like casseroles) earlier in the week.

Menu Plan Resources

Slow Cooker Hamburger Soup

Hamburger Soup?! My kids get excited when they hear it’s for dinner. Because I buy ground beef in bulk, and cook it all at once with chopped peppers and onions, then freeze it–I have several bags in the freezer at any given time. That makes this Hamburger Soup an easy load-the-slow-cooker-and-walk-away meal, rather than having to thaw and brown the ground beef the same night. It can also be made on the stovetop, see below for instructions.

Hamburger Soup | easy frugal crockpot slow cooker meal | MoneywiseMoms

If you’re not a fan of these vegetables, put in whatever your family likes (corn, a can of diced tomatoes, zucchini, etc.) I use mushrooms, carrots and red potatoes to go along with the onion and peppers that I put in my freezer-bagged ground meat mix.

Hamburger Soup
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 4-5 red potatoes, cubed
  • 8oz white mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp basil
  • 1 Tbsp parsley
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir to combine.
  2. Cook on low for 7-10 hours.

I made mine in the slow cooker so I could leave it and walk away. But this recipe also works fine on the stovetop: Using the same pre-cooked beef, let simmer for 45-60 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Need a yummy bread to serve on the side? Try 10 Sensational Sides for Soups & Stews. I’ve also shared my favorite Fall Slow Cooker Soups.

 

Hamburger Soup is linked up to Real Food Recipe Roundup at JoLynne Shane, Talented Tuesday Link Party at Cook Craft Love, Inspire Us Tuesdays at Two Little Cavaliers, On Display Link Party at Average But Inspired, Pin Junkie Pin Party at The Pin Junkie and Tasty Tuesdays at CreativeKKids.

Moneywise Menu Plan – 2/1

Welcome to February!  As part of my passion about feeding my family and helping you feed yours (with a focus on healthy and frugal), I’m posting our weekly menu plan. Everything I cook is easy, or I wouldn’t make it! Check out the menu plan resources below; they’re full of VERY easy meals to make your family dinners successful.

Moneywise Menu Plan with Menu Plan Resources| MoneywiseMoms

Moneywise Menu Plan – 2/1

Sunday: Slow Cooker Hamburger Soup (recipe posts tomorrow) and 30-minute Dinner Rolls
Monday: Mushroom & Cheese Omelets and Rosemary Potatoes with fruit
Tuesday: Ground beef tacos, black beans, brown rice, and toppings
Wednesday: One Pot Chicken Lo Mein
Thursday: Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork, broccoli and brown rice
Friday: Make-your-own Pita Pizzas and salad (it’s family movie night)
Saturday: Slow Cooker Pork Ragu & Fettuccine and green beans

You can tell that I rely on my slow cooker (affiliate link) to make sure we eat home-cooked meals. I take a little time on a weekend once a month to prep some freezer meals, which means I can pull a bag of frozen meat and veggies out and start dinner as the kids are off to school. Doesn’t get any easier than that!

Menu Plan Resources

Moneywise Menu Plan – 1/25

Moneywise Menu Plan 1-25 | MoneywiseMoms

As I mentioned at the end of the year, I wanted to spend more time reflecting going into the new year. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m passionate about, and one thing I always come back to is FOOD. More specifically, I’m passionate about feeding my family and helping you feed yours (with a focus on healthy and frugal). I’ve taught classes locally on meal planning over the past two years and really enjoyed helping moms figure out a system that works for them. Here on the blog, I stopped posting my weekly meal plan because I felt like I was posting the same recipes over and over (that’s part of the system–we eat the same things pretty often). But I’m bringing it back! It helps me stay accountable and helps readers, both old and new, stay motivated with their own meal planning.

Moneywise Menu Plan – 1/25

Sunday: Mac & Cheese Casserole (I put a bag of broccoli cuts in, too)
Monday: Crispy Honey Chicken Drumsticks and salad
Tuesday: Sausage Lentil Soup and I’m trying a new bread recipe
Wednesday: Pork Tacos with tortillas, black beans, brown rice & toppings
Thursday: Spaghetti with veggies & marinara, Caesar salad
Friday: Taco Cornbread Casserole and salad
Saturday: Leftovers night
If you’ve set a goal to eat healthier this year, or eat at home more (and out less), meal planning is key. It takes some practice, but it’s worth it. What do you find challenging? I’d like to help!

Other Menu Planning Resources

Chicken Chili Rice Bowls & Food Lion Giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I am a Food Lion blogger, and I joined their blogger program because we share the same mission–to help you feed your family for less. 

Food Lion wants to help you get dinner on the table quick & easy. Their latest Dish it Up! promotion is fantastic–through January 20th, when you buy $10 of fresh chicken, you get corn, tomatoes, rice and tomato sauce for FREE, to help you make an easy meal. We tried these Chicken Chili Rice Bowls, and it took less than 30 minutes to cook.

Chicken Chili Rice Bowls | MoneywiseMoms

You can head over to Food Lion and get the recipe, but I’ve also posted it below. While you’re there, you’ll find other Dish it Up! weeknight dinners to help you get dinner done fast.

Chicken Chili Rice Bowls | MoneywiseMoms

4.7 from 11 reviews
Chicken Chili Rice Bowls
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/2 (28oz) can Tomato Sauce
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2-3 tsp chili powder, to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 (15.25oz) can Whole Kernel Corn, drained
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
Instructions
  1. Cook rice according to package directions, using chicken broth instead of water, if desired. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Brown chicken 3 minutes on each side. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, lime zest, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne; stir.
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside.
  4. Remove chicken breasts to a cutting board, letting sauce simmer another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop or shred chicken, then return to saucepan and add corn and beans.
  5. Cook until heated through and chili is slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve chili over rice.

Serve with extra toppings like sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, diced avocado or lime wedges. The leftovers (if you have any) taste great the next day for lunch!

Giveaway Time

Food Lion wants to help you Dish it Up! and get dinner on the table for your family. Two lucky MoneywiseMoms readers will each win a $50 Food Lion Gift Card. If you’re reading in an email subscription or feed, please click over to the post so you can use the Rafflecopter entry form. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway ends at 11:59pm ET on Friday, January 30th. Each winner will have 48 hours to reply back to their prize email from me, otherwise, I will have to choose alternate winners.

Chicken Chili Rice Bowls | MoneywiseMoms

 

Linked up to Real Food Recipe Roundup at Jo Lynne Shane

Italian Pesto Rice {with Minute® Rice}

Thank you to Minute® Rice for sponsoring this recipe post.
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Oh, the holiday parties and sweets! It’s so hard to eat healthy during this festive season. For a holiday party we’re attending next week, we’re bringing this delicious Italian Pesto Rice. This healthy, savory dish is a nice contrast to all the indulgences we’re eating right now.

Italian Pesto Rice | #MinuteHoliday | MoneywiseMoms

I was happy to work with Minute® Rice because I’m passionate about helping moms get healthy dinners on the table, and this shortcut makes it faster and easier. One of the biggest hassles of “eating brown” is how darn long it takes to make brown rice! Who has 45-60 minutes to wait? Give Minute® Rice Brown Rice a try. It only takes 10 minutes to prepare and has the same nutritional value as regular long-cooking brown rice. My kids love the fluffy texture.

Italian Pesto Rice | #MinuteHoliday | MoneywiseMoms

With Minute® Rice on hand, you can have a whole-grain side ready in just 10 minutes. Or, use Minute® Rice Brown Rice as the base for any number of great recipes. Find over 400 easy recipe ideas at the Minute® Rice website. This Italian Pesto Rice comes together so quickly! While the rice is cooking–for 5 minutes, then sitting for 5 minutes–prep the other ingredients. Then, stir it all together for a flavorful, robust rice dish that’s great on its own or a heartier meal when you add chicken or Italian sausage on top.

Italian Pesto Rice | #MinuteHoliday | MoneywiseMoms

 

Italian Pesto Rice
Serves: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Minute® Rice Brown Rice, uncooked
  • 3/4 cup basil pesto
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (optional)
Instructions
  1. Prepare rice according to box directions.
  2. While rice is cooking, slice tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.
  3. Add basil pesto to cooked rice, stir well to combine.
  4. Add tomatoes and cheese to rice. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Add chopped basil leaves for a stronger flavor (we like this but the kids don't).

I like to serve Italian Pesto Rice warm with some extra protein, but we’ve also enjoyed it as a vegetarian lunch served cold. Either way, it’s yummy!

Italian Pesto Rice | #MinuteHoliday | MoneywiseMoms

There are so many ways to include Minute® Rice in your busy weeknight meals. I’m going to see how the kids like the new Minute® Rice Multi-Grain Medley, which includes brown, Thai red, and wild rice along with quinoa for a completely gluten-free whole grain side.

Minute Rice Varieties | Italian Pesto Rice Recipe | MoneywiseMoms

Linked up to Real Food Recipe Roundup at JoLynneShane, Tis the Season at Krystal’s Kitsch, On Display Thursday at Average But Inspired, Whatever Goes Wednesday at Someday Crafts, SITS Girls linky and Wow Me Wednesday at Ginger Snap Crafts.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Minute® Rice.

Ridiculously Easy Holiday Appetizers

We have a family tradition that started when my husband was a kid, and we’ve continued it with our own children. All day on December 24th, we spend the day cooking and enjoying appetizers and desserts (instead of a planned meal). Each family member gets to pick a new recipe to try, and along with our usual favorites (my kids love pigs-in-a-blanket), we have a very relaxed day of playing board games, watching movies and eating finger foods and treats. It’s super fun!

Easy Holiday Appetizers | MoneywiseMoms

Whether you’re heading to a holiday party this week or are looking for some fun recipes for Christmas Eve like we are, these Ridiculously Easy Holiday Appetizers will hit the spot. Each recipe is made with only 3 ingredients, saving you time and stress so you can enjoy the holidays with your guests and family or bring an amazing dish to a party or potluck.

 

Easy Sausage Balls from My Blessed Life | Easy Holiday Appetizers | MoneywiseMoms

These Easy Sausage Balls from My Blessed Life are quick to prep with Bisquick, bulk sausage and shredded cheddar. These are on our to-make list this year. My kids will just love them!

 

Blue Cheese Appetizer from Half Baked Harvest | Easy Holiday Appetizers | MoneywiseMoms

Just three ingredients–a tube of biscuits, blue cheese, and butter–makes this amazing Blue Cheese Appetizer from Half Baked Harvest. Even if you’re not a home cook, you can show up at any holiday party and amaze!

 

Raspberry Brie Bites from The Sweets Life | Easy Holiday Appetizers | MoneywiseMoms

Raspberry Brie Bites from The Sweets Life are an amazing combo of tangy and sweet. Just set out frozen fillo dough shells with bites of brie and a dollop of raspberry jam. Easy peasy, but they look so elegant.

 

Sweet and Sour Meatballs from Frugal Fanatic | Easy Holiday Appetizers | MoneywiseMoms

Sweet and Sour Meatballs from Frugal Fanatic cook for just a few hours in the crockpot, with just frozen meatballs, ketchup and grape jelly.

 

Chili Cheese Dip from Raining Hot Coupons | Easy Holiday Appetizers | MoneywiseMoms

A hearty, gooey dip is perfect for tortilla chips. This Chili Cheese Dip from Raining Hot Coupons is just three layers of cream cheese, canned chili and shredded cheese.

Black Bean Dip from Major Hoff Takes a Wife | Easy Holiday Appetizers | MoneywiseMoms

If you’d prefer a non-cheese dip, try the Black Bean Dip from Major Hoff Takes a Wife. Just warm your favorite salsa combined with black refried beans and serve with a dollop of sour cream.

 

Baked Ham and Cheese Rollups from The Comfort of Cooking | Easy Holiday Appetizers | MoneywiseMoms

Celebrate the lack of school lunches with Baked Ham and Cheese Roll-ups from The Comfort of Cooking. Layer pre-made pizza dough with your favorite type of ham and sliced cheese, then bake.

 

Crockpot Buffalo Ranch Chicken Drumsticks from The Frugal Girls | Easy Holiday Appetizers | MoneywiseMoms
Who likes wings? These Crockpot Buffalo Ranch Chicken Drumsticks from The Frugal Girls are even better because you get more meat! Slow cook them along with a bottle of hot sauce and a packet of ranch seasoning for a crowd-pleaser.

 

Stuffed Mushrooms from A Nutritionist Eats | Easy Holiday Appetizers | MoneywiseMoms

My family loves stuffed mushrooms, but they take a lot of work. That’s why this recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms from A Nutritionist Eats is so great–just three ingredients!

 

Pickle Rollups from Pip & Ebby | Easy Holiday Appetizers | MoneywiseMoms

My kids love these Pickle Rollups from Pip & Ebby, though we use spicy salami instead of corned beef. The cream cheese glues them together.

 

What are your favorite easy holiday appetizers?