Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Safe" Food Valentines for School

Here's the other half of the school valentines I found.  These are all food focused valentines that are safe for my family. If you want food free options click here.  As with the last post, I'm just going to add the link to each page under the picture. 

I would use boxes of juice for this.

These are swedish fish

Smarties Valentine Valentines

gummy worms
No link here. You can just add a sticky label that says "Valentine I'm hooked on you"

you rock
Want a recipe for rock candy? Here it is!

Valentine, you make my heart flutter

cole's valentine (1)
I would use dum dums

This one was on pinterest and didn't have a link, but I love it. OK, totally off topic, but I'm working on candy bars again! My current experiments are milky way and twix. Once they are perfected, I'll definitely share. 

Food Free Valentines for School

So I found several "safe" or food free valentines that I thought were cute. Because this is going to be a LONG post, I'm just going to do the pictures with the link below them.

She has a valentine printable on her page that says "sip sip Hooray! It's Valentines Day!

wild animal valentine DIY


Monday, January 28, 2013

Valentines Day

Is anyone else thinking about valentines day? I know it's still over two weeks away, but I just can't get it off my mind. I LOVE that there is a holiday about LOVE! Tonight I'm going to share our plans for the big day.

The evening before, I am going to hide balloons around the house. Inside each balloon will be a slip of paper stating one thing I love about my daughter. When she wakes up, she will find a note in her room that says "I love you because..." . She will then be directed to run around the house, popping balloons, and collecting her love notes. If you have multiple kids, consider assigning each child a color. That way they don't pop each other's balloons.

Next up will be a breakfast of heart shaped pancakes. If you have a metal cookie cutter,spray it, then lay it on the griddle and pour in a little batter. Let the batter set up a bit and pull the cutter off. TaDa! you have perfectly shaped pancakes. During breakfast I'm going to tell her a very lovey story.

Have you ever heard the story of warm fuzzies and cold pricklies?  The moral of the story is that no matter how much love (warm fuzzies) you give away, there will always be more. You can't run out! There is a villain in the story (as there must be to weave any great tale) but, of course, it ends happily. There are lots of different versions floating around, but this one is my favorite.  The website also has options to tie it to bible verses as well, if you choose to do that. Once I'm done telling this tale, I plan to give my daughter her very own bag of warm fuzzies.  They are quite simple to make, and cute too.

Monsieur Pom

Skamama has a simple and quick tutorial for making pom poms. Make them any color you want. Add eyes, or even feet if you wish. Just have fun, and put all your love into them, after all, you won't run out.

Need a gift for dad, from the kids? I've got you covered. Check out this quiz from life songs of a busy mom. You can download the paper on her site. I had a 6 kids (cousins too) do quizzes about their papa last year for chistmas, and you just wouldn't believe how much he loved it. Honestly, I don't know if I've ever seen my dad so affected by something before. 

I also have a TON of valentine cards/treats that are totally safe, so be looking for that in a few days. Hope you all are having a wonderful week.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Skinny Week

In the last few weeks, I've been talking with some of my allergy mom friends about how much we spend at the grocery store. I was shocked when my husband told me I spend $700 a month at the grocery store for a family of three. I used to be a careful shopper, making sure not to over pay for anything.  Initially, my daughter was allergic to 5 of the top 8, and then the doctor told me to also avoid fish and shellfish until she was five. I remember spending over an hour at the store, crying in the aisle, because everything I picked up, we couldn't have.  I didn't know anyone else who was dealing with food allergies. I was all alone in this food battle. Well, over time I figured out what we could eat, but specialty food is not cheap. There is no way around spending $6 on a loaf of tapioca bread, so I just do it.

My husband was kind enough to write out my budget for me, so I can see where I'm spending all this money. I found that while I can't help some of the high priced item we do buy, I can certainly make up for it in others. My first thought on how to reduce our budget was to have a skinny week, meaning spend as little as possible. This means no store bought convenience foods. No oreo's, chips, or teddy grahams for us, and no easy cheat foods like Ian's chicken nuggets either.  Some meals I made big, and we had leftovers several times, but hey, it's the skinny week, we'll all just have to suck it up. The idea of having no simple "ready to go" items made me nervous, but I did find a solution. Here is what our first skinny week looked like.

First, on saturday, I decided on our menu for the week and wrote out the grocery list. Then it was off to the store. Well, two actually. We have a store called sprouts, and their produce is always priced cheap. Anyway, when I got home and totaled my receipts, I had spend $150 and the real whammy here, is that I bought two weeks worth of groceries! If you want to give the skinny week (or two) a try, here are some super simple, and cheap, recipe's to try.

I knew that I would either have to replace the oreos and teddy grahams, or deal with everyone's whining, so I made my nieman marcus cookies. Instead of baking them, I rolled the dough into little balls, and froze them on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, I piled them all into a gallon baggie. Whenever anyone was in need of a treat, I just pulled a couple balls out of the freezer and baked them just like normal. Not only was it nice to have fresh cookies, but because the other two were dependent on me to bake them, they weren't eaten as quickly as if they had been on the counter.
My Spanish Rice
Hamburger and rice is one of my daughters favorite meals, and it's super cheap, with only three ingredients.
First you brown a pound of hamburger, drain the grease, then add in a bottle of tomato juice and a couple cups of rice. I generally use minute brand brown rice. By the time the juice has simmered down to a sauce, the rice is cooked and dinner is served. The two of us ate this for lunch Monday through Friday while the hubs. was at work. For under $10 munchkin and I had 5 meals each. That's one dollar per meal!

Monday, we had ham and beans for dinner. All you need is 1 pound dried northern beans, 1 pound ham shanks, and a few shakes of onion powder. Since I already had the onion, I spend $1.15 on the beans and $2.99 on the ham shanks. All you have to do is rinse and sort your beans, in case any pebbles made their way in there, then add everything to your crock pot. Let it cook on low for 8 hours and then pull the meat off the bone and you're done.  

Clean Eating Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Tuesday and Wednesday, we had these delicious pulled pork sandwiches from The Gracious Pantry. My daughter refuses to eat any bread other than ener-g tapioca, so she had hers plain. I served them with a side of corn and apple slices. We all really liked this recipe, but in the future I will either be using less tomato sauce or more meat. There was a TON of sauce left in the bottom when we were done.

Thursday and Saturday nights, we ate this cilantro lime chicken from octobers morning. I made two bags of it ( so double your ingredients) when I got home from the store, the saturday before(I also prepped the runza meat below), and it was my solution to not having any quick meals. I did not purchase any of the toppings she had suggested, we just ate it as is. Since the three of us ate this twice, it ended up costing $3 a plate.

Friday night, saturday and sunday lunch we had runza casserole. It's super simple. I fried 3 pounds of hamburger with 2 onions, salt and pepper, then drained the grease. Add in 6 cups shredded cabbage and continue to stir it around until all the cabbage is cooked through. If you have a food processor, grind the mixture (it helps it stick together) for a few seconds. If not, that's OK. I bagged the meat and froze it, thinking I would use some for runza's and some for ravioli, but I couldn't find a ravioli cutter, so that will be an adventure for another day.  Anyways, for the casserole, I made the bisquick biscuits as directed, but with soy milk. Then take half the mix and smash it into the bottom of a 9x9 square pan. Top it with the hamburger mix, then roll out the other half of the dough and put it on top. Bake according to the biscuit directions. I used bisquick because it was already in the house. Crescent sheets would have worked as well, or if I wasn't being lazy I could have made my own bread, but oh well.  I spent about $18 on this recipe, which that came out to $2 a plate since three of us ate it three times.

Oh, and for breakfast all week we had homemade banana and zuchini bread.  Did you notice I didn't talk much about side dishes? Well, I bought a bunch of fresh fruits and raw veggies, and we munched on them whenever we needed a snack or a side dish.