Category Archives: Meal Planning

November 27, 2016

Shhhh! It’s a little before 7:00 am and the kids are still sleeping! This is a rare occurrence here at my house. I plan on surprising the littles with one of their favorite breakfasts, Monkey Bread.

Well, the quiet didn’t last long as Mr. W started calling from his room which is right off the kitchen. He needed to go to the bathroom and said he was cold. Upon further inspection I found that he had put his clothes hamper over top of the heater vent. Silly boy! We fixed the problem and he is now snug as a bug.

Of course, when he went to the bathroom he told everyone else that Mommy was awake and that the kitchen light was on. (We have a rule that everyone stays in their room, with the exception of going potty, and plays quietly until the kitchen light comes on. I almost always have it on by 7:00.) One by one I heard littles making their way to the kitchen to inquire about breakfast.

They will usually ask what day it is as we have the same things for breakfast during the week. When I said it was Sunday my youngest (3) started the guessing game. He saw the butter and the brown sugar and guessed oatmeal. When I said ,’No’, he grabbed a stool to better inspect the ingredients. When he spotted the biscuits his little face lit up with a huge smile. He screamed,’Monkey Bread’, and got down to announce it everyone.

He came back in to help with assembling this tasty treat. The kids love to whack the cans on the side of the counter. Then they love to shake the biscuit pieces in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. (I put them in a large Ziploc container with a tight fitting lid so they can shake away.) He did a crazy monkey dance while shaking the pieces and he had so much fun!

He is a very inquisitive child, actually all of my children are, and he asks questions about EVERYTHING! He asked about the pan we were using. I told him it was a bundt pan, which he pronounces button pan, and he wanted to know what else we could make in the button pan.

When I was adding the sugars to the butter he wanted to stir. So perched on his stool he carefully stirred the mixture with his fork, that he had gotten by himself, while I began to clean up the mess. He watched as I poured the syrupy mixture over the biscuit pieces.

We placed our button pan in the oven and he informed me that I should set the timer so I wouldn’t forget about it. Smart kid! He knows how distracted his Momma can get sometimes and he wants to make sure his Monkey Bread doesn’t get forgotten about.

I cherish these moments because I know how quickly they pass and become distant memories. I can remember when his big brother (now 23) would beg for Monkey Bread. He loved it, and stills does, just as much as these little guys do. Looking back I know that too often I got preoccupied with things that weren’t really as important as I felt they were at the time.

I have the unique opportunity of a ‘second chance’ of sorts. I can use my past experiences as a mother to guide me with raising the littles I have now. I remember the things we loved to do, the things we always wanted to do, and the things we probably should have done but didn’t. I have the ‘been there, done that’ experience that so many people don’t have when they first start their families.

I have also been so blessed that God has allowed me to be a stay at home mom right now. He provides for us in so many ways and He guides my path. I know one of those things I have wished I could’ve done with my older kids was to home school them. I had toyed with the idea but never followed through with it. Well, I got the little push I needed to step out and try it now and we haven’t looked back. I know this isn’t for everyone but it works for us.

God has also blessed me with many lesson from my failed marriages. Things have been really hard for us at times but He is using these hard times to teach us and to mold us into what He wants us to be. These lessons are making me a better mother, sister, and friend  everyday. I think they are also preparing me for a better relationship that may come along in the future. God is so good!

Well, there goes the timer, the kids are getting hungry, and grandpa is getting upset because he can’t hear the news over the kids. Let the day begin!

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When things don’t go as planned

We all know how it is to be planning for something. We get all excited as the details are being made and the final preparations are almost finished. We had planned to go to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving. This would be a good time for all of us to visit and enjoy our families together as two of my other sisters were coming also.

For me it was going to be a welcome relief from some of the stress I’ve been under lately. It was also going to be the first time in a long time that I didn’t cook a whole Thanksgiving dinner. My kids were excited to visit with their cousins and aunts that they haven’t seen in awhile.

Wednesday morning I woke up not feeling quite myself. After I showered and got dressed the little boys came to my room and said they weren’t feeling well. One then proceeded to vomit all over my bed, rug, and foot. So I grabbed him and ran to the bathroom and held him over the toilet for a minute. After he felt a bit better I proceeded to strip him down and shower him while gathering a load of laundry to wash.

This was our routine several times before lunch time. I got out our ‘puke bucket’ for the kids to carry around with them and a beach towel for them to sit on wherever they went. (We learned these tricks a while back and it helps to contain these messes and makes clean up so much easier when they can’t make it to the bathroom.)

So as the morning went on I felt worse and worse and was in a semi-zombie state by the time we finished school. It took every last ounce of energy I could muster to fix some lunch. Once big sister came in I let her take over and put the kids down for naps. I headed to bed. I slept almost all afternoon. (At some point during the day I did manage to send a couple of texts to let everyone know we wouldn’t be able to make it to dinner.)

Luckily I had almost everything we needed to make our own Thanksgiving dinner. I know I could’ve joined my brother and his family but as a mom I really didn’t want to possibly expose anyone else to whatever bug we had.

Some time Wednesday morning I had thought to take a turkey out of the freezer and made a quick menu. I had also arranged with my other daughter to make the mashed potatoes as that was one thing I did not have on hand.

I fixed some oatmeal for breakfast, which was not our normal Thursday morning breakfast, and it seemed to upset one of the kids as he likes everything to go according to routine. Once I settled him down with a puzzle to keep him I occupied I began to work on dinner. Turkey went in to cook, and then I began on the pies. Fortunately I had gotten a couple of frozen pies on sale so I just had to take them out of the freezer and pop them in the oven.

Then I thought I should make a Lemon Meringue pie for my dad. (I had planned on making two on Wednesday but I was too exhausted and sick to think about eating much less making anything to eat.) I pulled a pie crust out of the freezer, yes I cheated, and left it on the counter for 15 minutes or so. While it was defrosting I also pulled some frozen bread dough out to defrost.

Well, the pie crust didn’t seem to defrost the way it should have so I popped it in the microwave and thoroughly messed it up! So I pulled another one out and reread the microwave defrosting instructions. It still didn’t work quite as planned but it was salvageable. While baking the pie crust I divided the dough into rolls and placed them into a pan to rise. I began the pie filling and broke an egg yolk into the whites when I was separating them. I have not done this in forever but I did manage to scrape most of it out and the meringue turned out fine. The pie crust could have been prettier but the meringue covered up the flaws.

My daughter came in and mentioned that she wanted a Chocolate pie. By this time I was already feeling pretty worn so she offered to look up the recipe and make it herself. I agreed to that. I retrieved another pie crust and attempted to defrost it correctly with better success. She made the pudding and finished the pie. We then decided to make a Peanut Butter pie which went went fairly smooth with the exception of me baking the crust a little too long.

I checked on the rolls and they had not risen at all. I mean no signs of life at all, nothing, not even a little puff here or there so I threw them in the chicken scraps along with my failed pie crust. I then proceeded to make a batch of 30 minute dinner rolls, from one of my favorite cook books Real Mom Kitchen, and realized I only had enough eggs for a dozen rolls.

I borrowed a couple of eggs from my sister-in-law-to-be and started on a new batch of rolls. Within a few minutes I could already tell that they were definitely alive and well. I didn’t have quite enough regular flour so I added a bit of whole wheat flour to the rolls which made them a little darker but they turned out just fine.

When it got closer to dinner time we made the green bean casserole and finished up a few things. We pulled out a folding table and covered it with a sheet as I had not dug out the Thanksgiving table cloth. I don’t really think anyone noticed anyways.

We ended up having a pretty good dinner and enjoyed our time with family. The kids watched Godzilla and they are still running around pretending to be Godzilla. I had to lie down after dinner, which I could not eat as I was still feeling a bit puny, and I fell asleep.

In the end it wasn’t about everything being as planned or looking perfect to the last detail. We managed to work together and make a meal that everyone could enjoy. We didn’t have cranberry sauce or everyone’s favorite sweet potato casserole. We don’t have tons of leftovers, well we do have plenty of pie, but everyone ate until they were full and content.

It wasn’t the Thanksgiving we had planned but it was a wonderful day. I was a little upset that I couldn’t do what I had planned to do but it was out of my hands. I have learned that sometimes God has other things planned for us and that we just need to let go of our plans and see where He is leading us. It was much better to do that than to cry or be grumpy because things didn’t go our way. (OK, I do admit I may have been a little grumpy but I will blame that on not feeling well.)

When things don’t go as planned just breathe and try to relax. Accept it for what it is and just work with it. If there are things you can change, like your reaction to the situation, then work on changing those but leave the things you can’t change to God and He will work those things out for you.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. – Jeremiah 29:11

Side Dishes

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Awesome Hash Browns

Baked Eggplant

Baked Potatoes 

Baked Potatoes in a Crockpot

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Black Eyed Peas

Cheese Potatoes

Cheesy Squash Casserole

Chinese Fried Rice with Veggies

Cole Slaw

Creamed Peas

Easy Chili Mac N Cheese

Easy Collard Greens

Easy Creamed Spinach

Easy Fried Noodles

Festive Holiday Greek Salad Recipe

Fried Cabbage

Fried Eggplant

Fried Cauliflower/Vegetables **new recipe, link will update soon.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Grandma’s Mac N Cheese

Grandpa’s Fried Potatoes

Green Bean Casserole

Mashed Potatoes

Nanny J’s Carrot Souffle

Nanny J’s Corn Pudding

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Oven Roasted Green Beans

Pickled Eggs

Potato Salad

Refried Beans

Salad

Sauteed Squash

Southern Fried Squash

Spanish Rice

Steamed Asparagus

Steamed Red Potatoes

Sweet Potato Casserole (I’ve misplaced my original recipe but this is the closest I’ve found.)

Oven Roasted Steak Fries

Vegetable Casserole

Pies, Puddings, and Desserts

Apple Crisp in a Crockpot

Apple pie filling

Apple Sonker

Banana Splits

Blackberry Pig in a Poke

Blueberry Pie Filling

Blueberry Yum-Yum

Easy Apple Dumplings

Cherry Sonker

Dirt cake

Easy Banana Pudding

Fried Apple Pies

German Chocolate Pie

Just Like Grandma’s Chocolate Pudding Can be put into a pie crust also for a yummy pie!

Lemon Meringue Pie, This is my dad’s favorite pie. We use about 6 T of lemon juice and omit the zest as I don’t always have fresh lemons on hand. I usually add a splash of vanilla to my meringue too.

Momma’s Blackberry Cobbler

Oatmeal Pie

Peanut Butter Brownie Dessert

Peanut Butter Pie, This is a family favorite here too. It is also good if you use a chocolate crust.

Pumpkin Pie Filling From Scratch

Rice Pudding

S’mores Dip

Sopapillas

Southern Buttermilk Pie

Whipped Pie Crust

Breads

**This page does contain affiliate links which help to support our blog and our family.

30 minute Rolls, so easy and so good!

Banana Crumb Muffins

Basic Muffins

Beer Bread

Best gluten-free pumpkin muffins recipe

Blueberry Oatmeal Bread

Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttery Bread Sticks

Cheddar Muffins

Cheese Toast

Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks

Cheesy Garlic Pull-apart Bread

Chocolate Chip Applesauce Muffins

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Cinnamon Dippers

Cinnamon Muffins

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Cinnamon Toast

Eggless Nutella Muffins

Emergency Rolls

Empty Tomb Rolls (EasterTradition)

Garlic Toast

Hoe Cakes (this can also be used as a batter for hush puppies)

Monkey Bread

No Fail 7 Up biscuits

PB & Jelly Swirl Muffins

PB Toast

Pumpkin Muffins

Zucchini Bread (2 loaves)

Zucchini Carrot Bread (1 loaf)

Cakes

**This page does contain affiliate links which help to support our blog and our family.

Basic Cake Directions

Pull Apart Cakes

Icings

Apple Sonker

Blackberry Pig in a Poke

Blonde Brownies

Blueberry Dump Cake

Chocolate Sheet Cake

Coconut Cake

Earthquake Cake

Grain-free Christmas Cake Recipe

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

Lazy Dazy Cookie Cake

Luscious Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake

Momma’s Blackberry Cobbler

Overnight Coffee Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Strawberry Cream Cake

Watermelon Cupcakes

White Texas Sheet Cake

Feeding an army, part 2

Hopefully you’ve read and enjoyed Feeding an army, part 1

Now that you have your meal planning started what do you need to do next?

**Please note this post does contain affiliate links to which I may, possibly, earn a small commission from if you click on and purchase an item. For full disclosure click here.

Well, hopefully you have a handful of favorite recipes on hand, in your file box or in your notebook. Get them out and start checking your local sales before you head to the grocery store. I have my menus set up on a rotating schedule on my online  Cozi  Calendar. Sometimes I may end up with 2 or 3 meals for the same day. I usually check the sales and see what the specials are before deciding which meals I will be making. I also try to shop for the upcoming week, on occasion I will shop for the month. When I shop for the month I will still go out every 1-2 weeks for fresh produce and other items that we may need. Continue reading Feeding an army, part 2

Main Dishes

Our links have gotten way out of hand so I have divided them into sections to help locate them more easily.

Feeding an army, part 1

**This post may contain affiliate links.

Well, as you may know I am a mom to 9. I still have 6 at home so there are plenty of mouths to feed. So how do you feed 6 kids without going broke ? Is it possible to do it healthy and cheap?

Well, I will say that I definitely try to keep it healthy and cheap. We don’t always eat organic and sometimes we do eat more processed foods than I care to admit. We try to grow a small garden as the seasons allow. Our freezers have many bags of berries, fruits and other vegetables that we have grown as well as fish that we catch on our outings.

I shop the sales at our local grocery stores and try to plan my meals around them as much as possible. I also coupon, not extreme couponing, but I really need to focus on it a little bit more. One of the biggest, most helpful things I do is meal planning.

I’m sure we’ve all been there. We are rushing around during the day, cleaning up messes, running errands, and doing whatever needs doing only to find ourselves exhausted. Then we realize that it is almost dinner time and we have no idea what to make. So you have a few options when this happens.

First, you can give them all a PB & J or a bowl of cereal. Second, you could order takeout and then drive to get it and drive back home, wasting time, energy and money. Third, you can go out to eat and spend way more money than you would have if you had eaten at home.

If you had your meal plan ready then you would’ve been able to check it in the morning. You would have seen that you needed to set out some ingredients for spaghetti and been able to plan accordingly. It also helps when you have a plan in hand at the grocery store. It can keep you from making as many impulse buys and help to keep you on budget.

I know that meal planning can be time consuming to start with. It can seem overwhelming at first but don’t let that stop you from trying. Just sit down with a piece of paper and write down ‘Breakfast’, ‘Lunch’, and ‘Dinner’. Now just list a few of your family’s favorite meals down under each heading. That wasn’t too bad was it?

Now you just need to take it one week or one day at a time. I use my  Cozi Calendar to set up our meal plans. You can use a notebook, a wall calendar, or almost any online calendar that has the ability to create recurring events. (I touched on this a little in this Instagram post here.)

Here is an example of my calendar set up:

So, as you can see for Breakfast we have a fairly consistent routine:

Mondays: Cereal or Oatmeal

Tuesdays: French Toast (occasionally I make blueberry syrup to go with it)

Wednesdays: Muffins (sometimes we have English muffins or bagels, if I find them on sale)

Thursdays: Pancakes (sometimes I will mix in some blueberries or chocolate chips)

Fridays: Cereal or Oatmeal

Saturdays and Sundays are usually rotated with some of the family favorites like waffles, eggs and grits, Dutch Puff, Monkey Bread, etc.

Please remember that this menu is what works for my family. It is not a one size fits all and I know that it will not work for everyone. Feel free to use this as a guide and change around whatever you need to change to make it work for your family. If your family likes oatmeal more than make oatmeal a regular thing on your menu. However, if they really don’t like scrambled eggs then you probably wouldn’t want to add that as a regular meal.

(If you want to use paper or index cards simply write each meal on a separate page or card. You can organize them by day of the week, or number them 1-31, however you want to do it to make it easier for yourself.)

Then we move to lunches. Many days we will eat leftovers for our lunch. Some days I am really efficient and I am able to put together lunchboxes for the kids. (Or we will assemble them the night as we clean up after dinner.) For the days when I’m not so efficient and my brain is in the ‘What is there to eat? fog’ then I have rotating meals on my calendar to use as suggestions. These are usually quick and easy meals like PB & J, scrambled egg sandwiches, chicken salad, and on occasion we have hot dogs too.

Now to dinners, which for me are a bit more complicated. Again, you will need to go back to your list that you made of what your family likes to eat. Make sure to include your side dishes as well. My family really likes my homemade spaghetti with a salad and sometimes homemade garlic bread, so we have it every month. Sometimes they really like a certain meal but it may be a little expensive so I may set it to recur every 3-4 months. Then for meals for holidays, like Thanksgiving, I set it to recur once a year.

I also have snack suggestions on my calendar because sometimes my brain just goes into a fog and when snack times roll around I just can’t think of what to fix. I don’t keep a lot of prepackaged snacks so most of them are homemade and this helps me remember to make them ahead of time too.

Remember, if you don’t have an online calendar you can do this in a notebook. You don’t have to plan out the whole month at a time, or even a whole week, just start with tomorrow. Once you have a week planned out and written down then you can save it and put it to the back of your notebook and use it to rotate with other menu plans you will be making.

Or if you are using an index card system just move the menu to the back of the file and rotate it the same way. I used this method when I first started planning out my meals. You can also try googling ‘meal planning‘ or search on Pinterest for other ideas.

I hope I didn’t overwhelm you and I will make additional posts to go into more details about how we feed an army here.

Feeding an army, part 2