living life, choosing joy

From My Kitchen: Food Waste Update Week 2

Hello Friends.

This past week was a little off for me. My kiddos were sick/recovering from a nasty fever/cough that they kindly decided to share with me and Nathan. Yuck.

Here are my two kiddos being silly this past week…gotta love the no pants 😉

My two little rodeo clowns :)

Rodeo Clown 2

Despite being under the weather, I was pretty on it about eating leftovers and eating up stuff before it went bad (not so on it about posting early in the week as promised), and I tried really hard to follow my own advice that I shared in my last post.

But first, a sad thing happened to our fridge last week. I opened it on Thursday morning and it was warm.

Say what?!

The freezer was defrosting too.

Oh Lord have mercy. Not today!

I was able to salvage the freezer stuff (mostly) and take it to the deep freeze we have in the garage. And since the freezer was cooling like a fridge, I moved all the food from the fridge to the freezer. But alas, there were still some casualties. I failed to get any pictures (there was A LOT going on and I was in no mood to take photos at 7 am!!).

So food lost from a failing fridge isn’t really MY FAULT, right?? I don’t think so, but I will report the loss anyway, even though it was definitely out of my control.

The casualty list is as follows:
• 2 Gallons of Milk, each about half full. (We have two different types of milk)
• Most of the quart of Half & Half
• A bag of chopped celery from the freezer
• All of the lemon juice ice cubes from the freezer (they were stored on the door and were leaking out on to the floor. Yuck.)

All in all, it wasn’t so much to lose, but it was frustrating. Thankfully the fridge was repaired later that day and is currently back to normal working order. Apparently it was a broken thermostat.( If only it was the compressor…we could have a new fridge by now!! 😉 )

Food to eat up right away!

Food to eat up right away!

On Monday morning (trash day), I dutifully pulled out the food that needed to be eaten. I changed my meal plan for the evening to include the foods that we needed to eat up. And it was a good move on my part because dinner was delicious! I modified this recipe and I think I will be making it again soon. Nothing like bacon to make cauliflower amazing!

dead salad. boo.

                       dead salad. boo.

The only thing that hit the trash can on my (intentional) watch was a bag of salad and 1 lb of some very gross mushy raw carrots (not pictured). (Didn’t know they got mushy? Funny, neither did I!). Two things that were on the list of waste last week too. Fail. The salad is just not the same the next day. Making too much? I don’t know. We have some more salad in the fridge as we speak. I will have to make sure I eat it TODAY so I don’t have to take another photo of dead salad in a few days.

So there you have it. Less waste than last week, but still room for improvement.

How did you do last week? Are you having trouble getting certain foods eaten before they go bad?


What a waste!

So I guess it has been another year since I last posted. My oh my, the days just do not stop or slow down or anything! So much has happened since I last posted…I have though many, many times about something I’m doing that would make a great post, but then I get busy and I don’t sit down to write. sigh. I just keep telling myself it’s a season. And I know that it is. But still. Anyone with me?

So instead of lamenting my absence, I want to jump back in today to talk about food waste.

I could not be more mad at myself for the $$ I am literally throwing in to the trash. Some of it I didn’t even remember I had…could have made some good meals too!

All of this is headed for the trash...

All of this is headed for the trash…

  • Enough prepared salad for at least 2 people
  • 3 Heads of Romaine (enough for a side salad for the entire family)
  • Several pounds of cut up carrot sticks (they had gone bitter. boo.)
  • Healthy portion of fruit salad
  • Homemade tartar sauce from weeks ago
  • About 1/4 jar of organic spaghetti sauce
  • 1 pint homemade stir fry sauce

All of it bad.

All of it in the trash.

On the up side, I have plenty of space in my refrigerator 🙂

But being forced to throw all of this food out got me thinking. I am always looking for ways to save money on groceries, I try to meal plan carefully so I don’t waste what I have…and then this happens and I literally throw out about $10 of (once-upon-a-time) perfectly good food??!

So without further ado, I have come up with 5 simple ways to STOP wasting food and use up what I have before it goes bad.

1. Think before I buy (esp. produce).

This sounds super simple — and it is, which is why it’s first. I am guilty of getting caught up in buying more than we can actually eat (carrots and lettuce, ahem.) within a reasonable time frame. (For goodness sakes I go to the store a minimum of once a week – do I really need 6 lbs of carrots . But sometimes the deal is just SO good it’s hard for me to bypass it. BUT if we can’t eat it — even if carrots are $0.30/lb — then I have wasted $1.20 if I end up having to throw out 4 lbs.

2. Have a plan to use up the leftovers at the next meal.

Made a big pot of mac n cheese for dinner? Made too much salad? Then have the leftovers for lunch the next day. Already have lunch plans for tomorrow? Then change your meal plan for lunch the following day to make sure you are using it up. Physically write it on  your calendar or set a reminder on your phone. Don’t waste it!

3. Re-purpose if possible.

Above we had several cups of leftover fruit salad. It could have been “soggy” as early as the following day and not a very interesting dish by itself. But if I had remembered, I could have thrown it in the blender with some yogurt and peanut butter the following day and gotten a nutrition packed treat for me and the kids. The extra pasta sauce? Use it for dipping sauce with grilled cheese or on top of an omelet (super yum). The extra tarter sauce? Use it up in my tuna salad sandwich within the next few days.

4. Freeze it.

Don’t have time to think? The freezer can help you. It has been helping people delay making the decision to throw food out for decades. (Think about it. There is a machine in your kitchen that literally stops time. I mean, whoa.). I’m usually better about using this option to save food from the trashcan. Depending on how much I feel up for, I have been known to separate the “stuff” (beans, carrots, corn, etc)  in salad from the plain lettuce and put it in my “leftovers for soup” container in the freezer (a great way to re purpose small leftover servings, btw.). Then, if the lettuce is till OK, I will flash freeze it and bag it for lettuce soup later. I could have also chosen to freeze and label the extra stir fry sauce, pasta sauce, fruit, carrots (diced, for side dishes, soups, or pot pies), and lettuce. When it comes to freezing things, the cucumber is really the limit (the only food I have not been able to freeze and reuse. seriously.). Just don’t forget to get back to a plan for the frozen sauces and food. Otherwise you may eventually have to throw it out anyway and then you have also wasted a Ziploc.

5. Second Chance Buffet

About once a week, I try to have “Second Chance Buffet”. Usually on the weekends, we pull out all the leftovers to eat up. Sometimes it’s just a serving or two of one dish, leftover vegetables, two tortillas, a scoop of beans. Whatever you have, put it out and eat up! Everyone makes a plate of what they want (and/or supplements with a grilled cheese, tuna sandwich, etc) and that’s dinner. Easy-peasy. Because really, what’s easier than letting the microwave be the cook for a night?

Side note: I’ve learned through trial and error that if some of the more “unpopular” dishes are passed over for the second time, it’s time to institute numbers 2-4 on it, or go right to freezing it. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you don’t, that dish will be in the trash four days later and you will be kicking yourself. Ask me how I know 😉 .

So there you have it. Some practical tips for not wasting food. You may have already known most or all of them, but are you actually implementing them regularly??? I know I could use a reminder now and again (obviously!).

So for the month of August, I am going to commit to following my own advice and waste as little food as possible. To help me be accountable, I will post a photo and list all the food I am throwing out each week (probably on Tuesday, since I typically clean out on Monday – trash day!). I’m hoping this will keep me motivated (read: embarrass me enough) to STOP wasting food!

How about you? Are you up for a no food waste challenge? What are some changes you can make to your normal food routine to waste less?

Welcome to Indiana!

So I’ve been on an unintentional extended break from blogging…and wow! So much has been happening, I can’t believe it’s already August. What happened to this year? But I’m excited to get back into writing. This is my “main reason” for such a long break.




And then every time I started thinking about blogging again, life just kept on happening.

So I’ll fill you in a little bit on that life that just kept happening for these past 10 months (yikes – has it really been that long??!)

Our sweet little girl, Indiana, was born last December, 8 days earlier than expected for my *planned* c-section (this type-A mama was slightly perturbed. Humph.) We had a happy Christmas as a new family of four (of which I am sure I have a picture but cannot not locate right now).


Such a happy big brother!


Benjamin took a while to learn how to share mom and dad. And adjusting from one child to two was a lot harder for me than I thought it would be. My sweet girl took a bit longer to get on a schedule, but overall she’s been pretty easy going. She has such a sweet smile.


Indiana, about 5 weeks old

Indiana, about 5 weeks old


And loves her brother so much! All he has to do is give her his attention and she smiles and laughs!

Then,  in June we had a great opportunity to move to a new house. This time a duplex about 6 miles away from where we were living. God opened the door – wide! We had been passively looking for a new place with 2 bedrooms, preferably closer to Nathans job, but only found a few good ones in our price range, and unfortunately none had any openings. So we ended up taking the duplex with the 2 bedrooms, and can I just say that God is good? We moved in on 4th of July weekend and have been unpacking and refining our stuff since. It’s been about 6 weeks, and I’ve been excitedly getting into some DIY projects in the kids room. I hope to do a home tour on here soon, but I know better than to make any promises about future posts! I just hope to get back in to sharing what we have been doing around here and more cute pictures of the kids. So until next time…

challenge update – day 9

this is what I am missing this month!!

this is what I am missing this month!!


So far so good.

How’s that for an update? 🙂

But seriously….

I have definitely stuck to not going out to eat – a big victory for me because I wanted so badly so many times to just cave in and ask Nathan to pick something up on the way home — I was so NOT feeling the whole cooking thing for most of last week. But instead we have only been eating either at home or at my parents. Boring, maybe. But now I get to feel good about myself for choosing wisely, right? 😉

I actually do feel pretty good so far. I expected to have stronger food cravings for the sugary goodness that I usually reach for. But instead I feel fuller faster with all the protein I’m eating. I still want muffins and donuts and ice cream and brownies, and garlic bread (yummmmmm). But I have been staying strong and exercising my “no” muscle. {By the way, I tried making a “healthy” pumpkin pie recipe with no flour or sugar…it bore no resemblance to the real thing and just made me sad it was so disgusting. Guess I should just hold out for the real thing.}

So to keep my mind off of all the food I can’t have, Benjamin and I have been staying busy this week, putting our house back together after having new laminate flooring put in the bedroom and living room (it’s so nice!), shopping for Starbucks deals, and enjoying a visit to Aunt Kat at the preschool. He was so adorable – he played with the other kids and then went and climbed up on to the bench and sat with them at the lunch table. What a cutie 🙂 .


How have you been doing on the challenge? What’s been the hardest thing so far?

my awesome starbucks deal

Did you get the cool deal on Starbucks bagged coffee at Target this week?

If not, there’s still time before the week is up!

starbucks coffee

So here’s the deal:
Buy 4 bagged Starbucks coffee at $6.99 each =$27.96 {make sure to choose the packages with the rewards codes to get an even better deal}
Use (2) $2/2 coupons from the 9/8/13 SmartSource insert, pay $23.96 OOP, get $10 Target Gift Card back

Like paying $13.96 after coupons and gift card, or $3.49 each.

{I used only one $2 off coupon and a $5 Target gift card I got last week. = $20.96 out of pocket, and got back $10 Target GC to help pay with my next transaction, making my coffee total $10.96}

Already that’s a pretty cool deal, right? I mean 4 bags of coffee for $2.74 each?

BUT there’s more 🙂


this is what the rewards code will look like on the packages

Go to your Starbucks Rewards Account and enter the rewards codes from the packages. (If you don’t have one, you will need to sign up and register a Starbucks Gift Card to get this deal).  Right now there is a promotion through 10/19 when you purchase 4 packages of Starbucks coffee from the grocery store and enter the rewards codes you get the following :

1 code – bonus star
2 codes – free tall coffee at Starbucks
3 codes – free food item at Starbucks
4 codes – $10 eGift card to Starbucks

AND, each of the bags are good to redeem at a Starbucks for a free tall coffee when they are empty 🙂

So basically, I got 4 bags of Starbucks coffee, 5 tall cups if coffee, and a pastry all for $0.96!!

It’s a Starbucks miracle! {Now I just can’t wait to start enjoying all that coffee once I have this baby :)}

Don’t forget to grab this awesome deal this week too! Even if you don’t have a $5 gift card to start with, you can still get them for a pretty sweet deal 🙂

Have you found any great deals lately??

My Self-Challenge for October

image source

Wow, where has the time gone?? I have been rudely MIA around here…partially just letting being pregnant take over for a bit. I am officially in my third trimester now and in just a few short months we get to welcome little Indiana in to the world to meet all of her loving friends and family members :).

I have a lot of things I still want to accomplish before she arrives, and one of them has to do with this self-challenge.

Lately I have been feeling like I am just eating and eating and eating! Any other pregnant ladies know what I’m talking about?? And quite honestly, I don’t really feel good about it either – physically or mentally.

So in order to counter-act this trend, I have chosen to do the following:

I am going to give up eating out at restaurants, white sugar, and white flour from my diet for the month of October.

This might sound tough, but I can still eat fruits and honey as a source of sweetener, and whole wheat flour is OK if I feel that I really need flour. But otherwise, I will mainly be eating proteins (meats, beans, eggs, etc.), dairy (cheese, butter, milk, etc.), and fruits and vegetables. I have a pretty well thought out menu plan for the month and snack ideas too. So hopefully I will be setting myself up for success??? (I hope!). {My only concession to these rules will be when I go on vacation later this month since going out can’t really be avoided. But I will still try to make the best choices of what is available to me}.

Now, for the record I’m not doing this to lose weight (not advised while pregnant anyway), or to prove anything. I simply want to simplify how and what I eat and reset my mind about what I am putting in to my mouth for nourishment.

Will the others in my family be joining me?

Not completely. Nathan will eat what I make for dinners, but he reserves the right to eat whatever else he wants for the other meals. And Benjamin will generally eat what I am eating because we are together all day (however, quesadillas for Ben are not out of the question should the need arise!).

This may prove to be difficult for a foodie like myself, but I really want to give it a go. I will be posting periodically about my progress, along with some challenge-friendly recipes and ideas. I will probably only update a few times a week…it would be too boring to post about it everyday! But I would still like to post about it to keep myself accountable.


Benjamin’s excited about this challenge too!

Feel free to join me in the challenge too! You can choose one week, or one item to eliminate, or you can do the whole thing right along with me.

How about it? Anyone else in??

one way to keep your sanity {if you had any to begin with?}

So if there’s one thing I have learned…I’m not sure this is it! But I have found one way to help keep me sane when it comes to housework.

Two words: Morning Routine.

Simple right?

When I first tried developing a routine I got super frustrated with myself because I just wasn’t getting it and the “routine” was anything but. Then I realized I was trying to do WAY too much and call it normal. So instead, I backed off and made a simple Morning Routine that was much more attainable. It all gets done before breakfast, and seriously, it sets my day up for success and gets 5 crucial items done in a matter of 15-20 minutes.

My Morning Routine:

  1. Wipe down the bathroom counter, mirror, and toilet
  2. Get Dressed (either to exercise or to go out, depending on the day)
  3. Make Bed
  4. Start 1st load of laundry
  5. Empty dish drainer from night before

That’s it.

And I am pretty much on auto-pilot in the morning. Sometimes I get all the way to emptying the dish drainer before I even realize it!

Now, full disclosure. I am NOT perfect! Some days, for one reason or another, it just doesn’t happen. But the good thing about a routine is that missing one day doesn’t make everything fall apart, because tomorrow you know right where to pick up.

So if you feel like your day is out of control, try writing down a simple “Morning Routine” that fits your life and try it out for a few days. I promise you — it will make a difference.

Do you have a Morning Routine? If not, how would your day be different if you developed one?

weekend peeks and goals for this week

Sometimes I have a weekend that is just…nice. This was definitely one of them. The weather was great, we spent lots of time with friends and family, and I even scored some great deals :). Here’s a little peek into our weekend::

I visited my cousin Kaylee last Friday. She has two little girls, Mindy & Rosie…Benjamin is right in the middle of the two (age wise).

Such a sweet photo of Benjamin and Mindy holding hands and watching TV together. They also had a fun time playing together and giggling.

 Ben & Mindy - 08.09.13

We also discovered that Benjamin LOVES cooked carrots and zucchini! Yay for team veggies!!

image source

I also felt industrious on Saturday morning. So when Benjamin went down for a nap, I got busy cleaning the kitchen.  I cleaned under the sink (forgot to get a picture). But I was in for a surprise when I moved the washer…

Under Washer - BEFORE


But as a bonus, I did find some lids that had gone missing :).

Under the fridge was not much better…

 Under Fridge - BEFORE

But after a bit of sweeping and scrubbing, they both looked good as new.

Under Fridge - AFTER

under the fridge, after

Under Washer - AFTER

under the washer, after

Nathan and I got together with some friends for a game night on Saturday. And I made some yummy brownies to share (recipe coming later this week!).


AND I picked up some great deals at the drugstores this weekend (you can read about my trip here).

We finished off the weekend by having dinner with my family on Sunday night…Nathan made the most delicious chicken pot pies — YUM YUM YUM!!

All in all, it was just a relaxing weekend, and I feel ready to take on the week! 🙂

So now, in an attempt to keep me on task with my annual goals of reading and projects, I have decided to share a few simple goals for this week.

Next week I will update on the progress I have made. So here goes…

1.       Read the Bible everyday (get back to following my plan for this)

2.       Finish “Don’t Waste Your Life!”, by John Piper

3.       Scan all photos from Nathan’s childhood album (and return album to his mom)

4.       Make 2 reusable bags out of old t-shirts

5.       Have one play date for Benjamin

6.       Go walking 6 days (either outdoors or on the treadmill)

7.       Pull out the Christmas stocking kit for Benjamin and read the instructions

8.       Go on a date with Nathan

How was your weekend? Do you set any weekly goals??

this weeks drugstore deals 08.11.13

I was able to make a quick run to Walgreens & CVS today and pick up some great deals! A great week to stock up on Huggies wipes, tuna, and M&Ms if you need them. Also, be sure to take a look at the clearance section at Walgreens — you may just find killer deals on garden supplies (like we did!). I will be adding these into this weeks budget update on Friday, but wanted to let you know what I did (and how) today, in case you wanted to do any of these deals this week too.

Walgreens Deals

Walgreens 08.11.13

Walgreens – $12.84 out of pocket

Transaction #1

2 Scope Mouthwash – $3.00 each

1 Crest Glide Floss – $3.00

Used $2.75 in manufacturers coupons (from product inserts)

Used 5,000 Balance Rewards Points (=$5.00) from last week

Total Out Of Pocket (+tax) = $1.97, got $5 Register Rewards for buying 3 select dental care items

Transaction #2

2 Huggies Simple Clean Wipes (216 ct) – $5.99 each

4 pkg M&Ms – $0.49 each

Used (2) $2.00 off Huggies Wipes (Walgreens Store Coupon)

Used (1) $0.50 off Huggies Wipes (Manufacturer’s Coupon)

Used (2) $0.50 off 2 M&Ms Singles (Manufacturer’s – recently printing at

Used $5.00 Register Rewards from Transaction #1

Total OOP (+tax)= $4.40, got $2 Register Rewards for buying 2 Huggies wipes (unadvertised, only available Sunday 8/11)

Transaction #3

1 dozen Nice! Eggs – $0.99 (not pictured…oops!)

5 Burpee Garden Seeds – $0.29 each (on clearance, down from $1.07 each!)

2 Burpee Self-Watering Greenhouse Kits – $2.79 each (on clearance, down from $10.95 each!)

Used $2.00 Register Rewards from Transaction #2

Total OOP (+tax)= $6.47

So total Out of Pocket was $12.84, while saving $53.88!

CVS Deals

CVS - 08.11.13

CVS – $26.78 out of pocket

Transaction #1

2 pkg Huggies Size 5 Little Movers Slip-ons – $8.99 each

1 pkg Huggies Size 3 Snug & Dry – $8.99

1 Huggies One & Done Wipes (184ct) – $5.99

Used (2) $2.00 off Huggies Slip-ons (Manufacturers – recent printable at

Used (1) $1.50 off Huggies Snug & Dry (Manufacturers – recent printable at

Used (1) $1.00 off Huggies Wipes (CVS coupon printing on

Used $3.50 in Extra Care Bucks from a few weeks ago

Total OOP (+tax)= $25.76, got back $10 Extra Care Bucks

Transaction #2

5 Cans Bumble Bee Tuna – $0.79 each

1 Snickers Bar – $0.99

2 Dole Fruit Cup Four Packs – $1.99 each

1 Gallon Whole Milk – $3.19

Used (1) $0.74 off Mars Candy Bar (Printing from coupon kiosk)

Used (1) $0.35 off any Real California Product (printable)

Used (1) $1.00 off when you buy 2 Dole Fruit Cups

Used $10 ECB’s from Transaction #1

Total OOP (+ tax)= $0.02 🙂 (Now that’s my kind of total!).

Have you gotten any great deals lately?

Weekly Budget Update: Week 1

Do you have a grocery budget? I do…but I have been struggling to stick with it for the past few months. Anyone else have this problem? I believe it’s important to have a fixed amount budgeted for monthly food & house expenses. So starting this month (Friday to be exact), I will be posting my purchases and the dollar amount I am at each week to stay motivated to stick with my budget.

As a point of reference, our budget for food, toiletries and household supplies, diapers/wipes, etc. is: $230.00 per month. (The breakdown being that $30 is strictly for diapers (but not necessarily wipes) and $200 for everything else). Our budget also resets each month on the 5th, so all purchases made August 5th- September 4th count for August.

OK, so here we are at Week 1.

Target 08.05.13

Target – $13.10

Stocked up on some basics for the week…including Snickers ice cream bars (only $0.49 + a free Redbox Rental Code!). I was able to use a lot of Target mobile coupons+Cartwheel+Manufacturers coupons to get some great deals. Sometime it just feels good to save money!

Walmart - 08.05.13

Walmart – $3.73

I was already making a return at Walmart, so I decided to use up a few coupons for freebies. I do not usually like to go to Walmart for “non-essential” items, but since I was already there, I just took advantage. The crayons ended up being $0.26 and the bath poufs were free. We needed some new notebooks (back to school time is perfect for stocking up economically), and the 3 Musketeers bars came down to having coupons and a weakness for chocolate…

Ralphs - 08.05.13

Ralphs: $6.96

I really only needed eggs for this week and I had a coupon for free eggs at Ralphs. So away I went. The eggs I am planning to use for baking and for breakfast. The mozzarella cheese is for homemade pizza this weekend. Italian dressing (was free!), and I like to use it for chicken marinades. And the Ben & Jerry’s…were on sale and I like them! Actually, I bought them with my sister(s) in mind, and intend to share with them as I don’t actually need to eat all three! But the mega sale at Ralphs this week + coupon made them $1.66 each – too good a deal to pass up! (Now hopefully I don’t regret this fun purchase by the end of the month…)

Smart & Final 8.7.13

Smart & Final: $15.61

I don’t usually go to Smart & Final, but this week had some good deals matched up with coupons, so I decided to make a trip. Since we are trying to decide if renewing our Costco membership is really worth it, I’ve been doing more careful research on the “regular” store prices. S&F had 2 lbs of cheese for $5.99 (Costco usually sells it for $5.69). So I grabbed that along with cheap peanut butter (stock up), 4 yogurt cups ($0.79 total), and a few fruits and veggies that needed restocking  (Ben LOVES bananas!).

Stater Bros 8.7.13

Stater Bros: $5.47

I kind of feel like of all the trips this week, this was probably the biggest waste. Bread was $1.49 (great price for whole wheat). But I had the wrong coupon for the cereal, so even though it was on sale for $1.99 each, I felt like I overpaid. We really like Honey Bunches of Oats, but….oh well. Not a huge disappointment, just not a very exciting deal.

Rite Aid 8.8.13

Rite Aid: $3.84

I’m not usually a Rite Aid shopper (and I’m not sure if I want to be or not!). But there is one down the street from my house and since I was looking for somewhere to walk, I decided to go down and take a look. I got a few things, but nothing fantastic. I needed some storage containers for the chicken broth I made on Wednesday. The pencil pouch was for my purse (for coupon and envelope containment). The mouthwash is because I wanted to try my hand at earning some +UP rewards…we’ll see how that goes.

Michaels: $3.69

I forgot to get a picture, but I got two black photo storage boxes for drawer organization.

Total Spent so far: $52.40

All in all, I am happy with where I am at this week. I got essentials at good prices, I was able to stock up on a few items, and I got a few fun treats too. Usually at this point I have already spent half our budget “restocking”. It feels good to have spent less than 25% so far!

Do you have a budget? How are you doing so far this month??