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Passover is more commonly recognized as a Jewish holiday however, more and more modern day Christians are celebrating their roots with a communal meal, Seder as well and teaching their families about the fulfillment of the scripture.

A brief history lesson: Before the Jewish people were set free from the Pharaoh of Egypt, God sent 10 plagues upon the Egyptians, the 10th being the killing of each first born. The Jews were told to take the blood of a Lamb and cover their door post to signal to the death angel to pass over them. The lamb was then roasted and served as cries of grief rose over Egyptian homes, and the Jewish families enjoyed their first Passover meal before escaping Egyptian Slavery.

Since the Israelites left Egypt in such a haste they couldn’t wait for the bread dough to rise so they ate what was the result of unleavened bread called Matzoh. The holiday begins with the Seder meal where the Passover story is read from a book called the Haggadah and continues for 8 days.  Today, thanks to the internet and Pinterest, Passover can take on a bit of a creative spin with delicious Matzoh recipes, crafts and activities for the kids. Here, I have rounded up 10 fun (and yummy) ways to make your Passover holiday a celebration!

From Matzoh Brei to toffee.apple slices

1. Meal prep. Since rising flour is out, and Matzoh is in this week take a few minutes to plan out your meals. The wonderful folks over at Real Simple.com have a great checklist to prepare for the Seder Meal you can print and prepare.

2. Kid friendly snacking. There are so many delicious recipes floating around for Passover meals from Matzoh ball soup to pizza, try some of these great ideas for snacking with the kids: Passover Snacks

3. Matzo Brei is one of the many recipes that is often passed down from generation to generation. Since my father is yet to pass this one on I went to the internet in search of a recipe that comes close! (We like to sprinkle cinnamon over the top
and serve for breakfast but this dish can be served sweet, savory or for breakfast or lunch).

4. Breakfast and dessert, my 2 favorite meals of the day. Chocolate covered Matzo toffee is a staple in my house for sure! Takes only a few minutes to make and is always a crowd pleaser. Essentially all you do is lay the Matzoh flat on a cookie sheet, melt butter together with brown sugar and a bit of vanilla until hot a bubbly and pour over top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until hardened. Sprinkle a generous amount of chocolate chips over the top and spread until melted and evenly covered. I like to add a sprinkle of sea salt like in this recipe from Bakedbree.com but you can also add nuts, dried fruit, sprinkles or any toppings you’d like.

Setting the sceneElijah cup

Turn your home and table into a celebration with a festive centerpiece, place setting and activities for the kids. Here are a few ideas for setting the scene.

5. Elevate the Seder plate on a cake stand for all to see in the center of the table.

6. Add a Seder place mat to the kids places. They can make their own before the big meal like this adorable one here on http://www.InCultureParent.com or create one for play like the felt plates found on www.designmegillah.com

7. Add a cup for Elijah that the kids decorate before the meal. You can create one using recycled materials in your home or get creative with some yarn and stickers like this colorful one found here on Toriavey.com.

Fun and gamesMatzo house

8. Hide the Matzoh is traditionally enjoyed by children at Passover. Children are allowed 4 questions and search for the hidden Matzoh called afikomen. Help the kids make an Afikomen Bag for hiding the Matzoh before the meal. This easy to make felt bag is adorable from www.toriavey.com

9. Keeping kids entertained during any meal is difficult so start early and and use a children’s version of the haggadah such as Sammy Spider’s First Haggadah for a family friendly story the kids will understand and love.

10. Make a Matzoh house. As symbolic as the homes in the story of Passover, bring out the builder in you and help the kids build a home of their own. Don’t be surprised if half the decorations are gone before you finish! This Matzo house from Martha Stewart (with directions) has me drooling! Beautiful!

Personal note- My grandmother was amazing for sharing so many of her stories and our roots with me. We would spend hours talking about the special traditions and memories of her own childhood. While my Grandmother is no longer with us to critique this as I know she would have loved too, a special thanks goes out to my dad for clarifying many of the details and sharing so many special recipes of his father with me through the years. One of these days those will finally be in a recipe book for me! So whatever you celebrate whether it be Easter or Passover or both this weekend, I hope you have a happy holiday surrounded by those you love and cherish most.

grandma

-Happy Pesach!

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I’ve gone from ok couponer (using 6-10 coupons per trip) to moderately extreme couponer (using 18-25 per trip). Beyond learning how to provide for my family, I’ve learned that giving back doesn’t have to cost you a thing.

A Spiderweb of “ME”

Someone once told me that blogging is narcissistic because you’re assuming someone wants to read about your life. I was slightly offended, but it’s not really why I do it. I tend to forget people are reading at all. I write because it’s what I love. I know just how easy it is to get caught up in the details of our lives like a fly caught in a spider web. The more we focus on freeing ourselves the more stuck we become.

Get Out Of Your Head And Into Your Heart

I focus most of my energy on taking care of my kids, shocking for a SAHM I know. While we fight the good fight as parents, trying to teach our kids right and wrong, to be caring and giving, but also to be strong and courageous we forget that we still have so much to learn and give. I joined a small group at my church called Couponing For A Cause, thinking, “sure I like to coupon and I could stand to learn more tips and give back to others.” I didn’t really know what it would give me – an opportunity to get out of my head and into my heart.

The members of the couponing for a cause group at my church donated all these items which were free or purchased for a small fraction of the retail price using coupons. We'll be donating them to a local homeless shelter.

The members of the Couponing For A Cause group at my church collected all these items which were free or purchased for a small fraction of the retail price using coupons. We’ll be donating them to a local charity.

Pay It Forward

Growing up I knew my mom had some hoarding tendencies and I watched as our house, our car, every inch of our lives became swollen with “stuff.” So I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t turn into one of those couponers who hoards a stockpile big enough to be considered a minimart in her basement.

Our group of about 13 women have amassed a nice stockpile of deodorant, soap, shampoo, razors, cleaning supplies and food over the past five weeks to donate to a local charity. One recipient we are considering is HONOR ehg (aka Emergency Housing) which is one of the only homeless shelters in the area. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the need I’m sure, but it’s taught me that we don’t need a lot of money to help someone. Most of the items donated were free or fairly cheap. I’ve spent $20 or less during these five weeks and with the help of my group we’ve done something amazing. Someone’s life will be changed, probably many people.

“Stuff Insulation”

I know what your thinking, “whose life is changed with a bar of soap or a box of cereal?” Someone who doesn’t have those things, that’s who. We surround ourselves with food, personal hygiene items, all the “supplies” we need to make our lives run that it’s no wonder we can’t see past ourselves and what we want with all this stuff insulating us from the world.

So I guess the lesson I’ve learned from all this is that we all have something we can do. We all have some talent, passion, or gift that we can share to make the world a better place. As parents, we are always teaching our kids lessons, but there are lessons we can still learn. It’s the lessons we teach ourselves that will mean the most and getting out of our own heads is probably the best way to learn them. I’ve learned that you don’t need to spend a lot to make a world of difference.

Learn more about extreme couponing and if you already are an extreme couponer, please consider donating items to a local charity.

I have a rule about slow cooking… it shouldn’t require too many steps or pre-cooking, otherwise, quite honestly, why am I using my crockpot? If I’m going to get out the skillet, lots and lots of ingredients, follow complicated steps, etc., I may as well just make it on the stove. The appeal of slow cooking is that I can quickly assemble dinner at breakfast time and go on with my day. However. Sometimes, there are certain steps that greatly benefit a slow cooked dish. Browning ground turkey or beef, for example, is worth it because you don’t want all that wet, slimy fat mixing into your final product. Quickly searing food really helps when you have breaded or floured chunks of meat. And when you want a dish with a nice, crisp coating but aren’t getting home until dinner time, sometimes you have to suck it up and brown the crockpot food in the morning.

My kids often request Chinese food for dinner, but constant take-out is not in our budget, nor is it healthy.  I found a recipe for slow cooker Chinese Orange Chicken on Pinterest, and the picture alone made me hungry. I’m happy to share it here because it doesn’t matter whether or not you are gluten-free; use whatever you have in your pantry and enjoy it all the same.

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Slow Cooker Chinese Orange Chicken

I put this into the crockpot amidst a busy day of homeschooling, a playdate, and cleaning up the kitchen.  My husband had cut the chicken into chunks (chicken thighs) and strips (chicken breast) in the morning, so I was fortunate to have less prep remaining during our afternoon chaos.  I placed the chicken into a bag with a flour/baking powder mixture, tossed well until coated, and browned in batches, paying attention only to the outsides of the chicken since the slow cooking would ensure it was cooked through.  After assembling the sauce ingredients into the crockpot, I added the chicken and mixed well.  I ended up cooking it on low for two hours, and  then high for 30 additional minutes to give the outside a little crispiness.  True to Chinese food expectations, it had a saucy yet crisp coating, and tasted amazing.  My youngest said simply, “This is a really good dinner,”  while taking her second helping.  My husband said, “That was SO delicious.”  I served it over rice with a side of steamed veggies, and my kids even had oranges afterwards as if in a Chinese restaurant.  A+ to this recipe, I highly recommend it.  It came together quickly, the flavor was authentic, and I’ll definitely be making it again.

If you’d like, share your favorite slow cooking recipes with our readers. To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy Spring!

I started blogging for Hudson Valley Parent one year ago this month! Woo hoo! Several of my first posts shared all the fun things we were doing to prepare for Easter. This year we’ve decided to scale back a bit and just keep it simple (mostly because I lost track of how early Easter is this year).

This week we did a little spring cleaning, hung up our usual wreathes and window clings and decided the front of our house could use a little color. I have always wanted an Easter egg tree in the front yard. I don’t really know why. I just think it is so cute. I think I was way more excited than a nearly 40 year old should be when the girls asked me to make one with them.

Our Egg Tree

Our Egg Tree

We couldn’t limit the decorating to just one tree, we had to show a little love to all the shrubs in our front yard. We added a few cute lawn signs from the dollar store for good measure.

A colorful sign from the dollar store helps bring color to our lifeless front yard.

A colorful sign from the dollar store helps bring color to our lifeless front yard.

All you need to make an egg tree is plastic Easter eggs and some ribbon or string.

Simply loop a string or ribbon in half and tuck ends into plastic egg. Close the egg tight and hang.

Simply loop a string or ribbon in half and tuck ends into plastic egg. Close the egg tight and hang.

Simply make a small loop of string to snap between the sides of the egg. Then hang any where you’d like. You could even make a garland of plastic eggs by stringing colored twine through the wholes at the bottom and top of the eggs.  How easy is that? Just my speed this year since I don’t have time to over-do the holiday.

Kids love hanging the Easter Eggs for everyone to see.

Kids love hanging the Easter Eggs for everyone to see.

 

Once the decorations were hung we moved on to Spring cleaning our busy binders and changing out the pages. I found these ADORABLE Pre-K packs from Overthebigmoon.com. Pam has done all the work! Print it out and start the fun right away. We are in love with the spring colors in the Easter pack, and the Super Hero pack is a pretty big hit as well.

Swapped in Easter learning packs in our busy binders.

Swapped in Easter learning packs in our busy binders.

 

All of that “egg-citement” (man I love puns!) made us a little hungry. So, we made egg salad sandwiches for lunch. I know this isn’t a glamorous Pinterest craft, but making your own sandwich is a valuable skill at any age. I say the earlier kids learn to make their own food the better!

Light work with little hands.

Light work with little hands.

 

Last, we reviewed our activities from last year to see which ones we want to do again this year. Everyone agreed the glow in the dark egg hunt was the best!

Bucket of glowing eggs

Bucket of glowing eggs

 

If you’re feeling like you are behind the eight ball (which is usually where I am) here are some fun and inexpensive Easter activities you can pull together quick! (Everything you need can be found at your local dollar store!).

Funny Bunny Photo Booth– great for family get together’s, or play dates for your kids and their friends.

Glow In The Dark Easter Eggs-  this is so much fun before bed time!

Eggless Easter Fun– kids love this simple and inexpensive Easter egg activity!

 

What are some of your favorite kid’s Easter activities?

By Eileen M Kenison

Meal Time Isn’t What It Once Was –

We are busier now than ever before.  If you’re like me, most of your evenings are spent driving one kid here and another kid there.  Evenings can be hectic!  Are you forced to eat on the go, often not sitting down together as a family?  It is my belief that because of this hectic routine our families are missing out on valuable time together.   There is something to be said about a quality home cooked meal while sharing the events of your day.  I promise, if you follow my simple 3 step process you can save the dinner table and enjoy quality family time.

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Step #1 Check Your Inventory & Create a Menu –

Pick one day a week that is your planning day.

This is a great site to get free templates for menu planning.

Things to consider when planning – or making your menu for the week

  • What items do you have?
  • What days are you the busiest?
  • Can you plan to cook once and eat for several days? -I often will cook a main protein in the beginning of the week. For example I will roast extra chicken on Monday and use it in the next two days of my cooking.

There are times I know I just don’t have the time to plan ahead that is when I rely on Once a Month Meals.

Step #2  KeepingThings Stocked Up –

004If you have a real well stocked pantry you will save a ton of time & you won’t need to run to the market as often.  A huge time saver is purchasing in bulk.  I shop for my bulk items with Wholeshare.

Every kitchen cook will have a different list of what they need in their stocked kitchen.  Here is a list of items I try to always have on hand.

  • Oils – Olive, Grape Seed, Coconut, Avocado, Sesame
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Spices – Garlic, Parsley, Oregano, Chives, Turmeric, Coriander, Cumin,
  • Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, Crushed Red Pepper
  • White & Red Wine
  • Stock –Homemade or store bought. Chicken, Beef, Vegetable
  • Apple Cider Vinegar, Rice Wine Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar
  • Citrus – Fresh or frozen juices
  • Flours – Coconut, Almond, Wheat, Spelt
  • Bread Crumbs – Homemade or store bought
  • Beans, Legumes, Lentils – Dried or canned
  • Grains, Quinoa, Faro, Millet
  • Rice – Jasmine, Brown, Wild
  • Pasta – Fresh or dried, Quinoa Pasta, Rice Pasta
  • Seeds, Nuts, Dried Fruits
  • Canned or frozen vegetables

If I have these few staples on hand I will only need to purchase a protein, fresh vegetables and herbs to make a delicious meal in no time.

Step #3 Prep –

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Pick one day a week that you do your meal prep work.   This is often best to do the day you purchase your fresh herbs and vegetables.

  • Chop, slice & dice the vegetables you will be using for the week ahead. Most items can be stored nicely in either mason jars or Ziploc bags with a paper towel
  • Make all your dressings & marinades – Store them in mason jars
  • Prepare your meats for the week. Trim, Season, Chop – Do not add any salt, or citrus as it will begin to cook
  • Don’t store your meats with your vegetables – Be sure to store them separate
  • Par boil vegetables – For example potatoes or carrots that have a long cook time

All it takes is simple planning ahead and you too can enjoy dinner again!

**A 2012 study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that people who cooked at home at least five times a week were 47% more likely to live 10 years longer than the people who relied more on processed foods.”**

Last week, I was struck by a video my former college roommate posted on Facebook. It was her three-year-old daughter doing laundry. I was awestruck. It wouldn’t even occur to me to teach my kids to do chores like laundry at this young age. Here I was thinking I was doing good having just recently instituted “taking care of your plate” which is having my kids scrape their plates into the garbage and either put them into the sink or dishwasher.

I think we tend to look at big families these days (anything over 2 kids) as something of an oddity. We have this fascination with how they function because let’s face it most of us find parenting one or two kids pretty stressful. My friend Stephani is a great mom to 6 little kids. While she admittedly isn’t perfect I think we could all learn these five things from her.

child pouting

1. Just Walk Away From The Tantrums – My daughter pulled a wicked tantrum on me the other day and I spent a lot of energy and frustration trying to come up with the perfect combo of punishment and reasoning to try and stop the crazy storm. I asked my friend how she deals with tantrums times six. She said, “I don’t pay attention to meltdowns unless there is blood, blood curdling screaming or impending injury. I find that what they want most is my attention and that’s not the way to get it so I just walk away.” I often find that all my attempts to stop a tantrum only prolong it so maybe she’s on to something.

2. Teach Them Chores Young – When you have six kids I think you change your mindset from I have to do all these chores myself to the kids are a part of this team and even the young ones can help. I was amazed that Steph had created an instruction sheet for doing laundry simple enough that even children who can’t read yet can figure it out. Her two older boys help with making breakfast and lunch and the younger ones help with loading and running the dishwasher and sweeping the kitchen. I think moms tend to underestimate just how much kids can help around the house. I’ve noticed that my son is always eager to help me cook and my daughter is always asking to help clean. It’s me who often redirects them to chores I think they can handle, but now I’m starting to think that I’ve underestimated their abilities.

3. Color Coding Kids – By the time she had her fourth child, Steph had discovered a trick to keeping kids’ belongings straight. Each child was given a color as “their color” to identify their toothbrushes, water bottles, towels, etc. How many times have you asked your kids, “Who’s cup is in the living room?” At Steph’s house she can tell by the color, which child it belongs to. While she doesn’t color code everything, I think this is a strategy that could help moms of two or more stay organized.

4. Let Go Of The Need To ALWAYS Be On Time – I was telling Steph that I turn into a drill sergeant when it comes time to get my kids in the car, barking orders like “Get your coats on! Shoes! Head to the van!” I’m so worried about being late that I make my kids and myself crazy.  Kids seem to move rapidly, unless you have somewhere you need to be. Steph admitted that she used to be the same way, but eventually learned to go with the flow and accept that sometimes they would just be late. We tell our kids, “don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world.” Maybe we should take our own advice on this one.

5. Big Families Make Big Hearts – We watch shows like 19 Kids and Counting and wonder how Michele Dugger’s uterus has not fallen out of her body or why she doesn’t run down the street screaming and pulling her hair out. I think we tend to look at big families like a species at the zoo, wondering how they function and sometimes feeling sorry for how much work the parents have to undertake just to keep it all together. There’s a polish proverb that says, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” We will never truly understand another person’s family dynamic whether they have just one child or six.

 

She has encountered some stares, especially when people see her brood headed down the narrow grocery aisle together. She envisions a “wide load” title floating above her head. But she sees many years into the future with a house full of kids and grandkids sitting around a holiday table together. She sees the pride and warmth of a big family surrounding her and I have to admit that when my husband and I decided to have a third I was craving a little bit of this feeling too.

“Big families are awesome!,” Stephani says. “They are a lot of work, but I know I’ll never look back at my decision to have six kids with regret.” Many thanks to her for sharing a snapshot of her life with us.

Last week I baked up some fresh goodness for a friend of mine who had unexpected surgery.  Due to Celiac disease and food allergies, she cannot have gluten, soy, dairy, or nuts.  Feeling limited while recovering, she welcomed the thought of some comfort food that didn’t come from a package.  While eliminating foods can leave you feeling like there’s nothing left to eat, spending time trying recipes and reading cookbooks can leave you with a collection of options that work for your needs.  For all of my gluten, dairy, soy, and nut-free friends, this post is for you.  If you have a friend or child in your life who would appreciate eating something yummy just like everyone else, try out one of the recipes below.

Bread

Fresh Bread

The first thing that goes by the wayside is usually fresh bread.  Yes, you can find gluten-free bread in the grocery store, but it may be vacuum-sealed, it may be frozen, and it likely won’t be baked in the past 24 hours.  What I love about this recipe is that makes two soft, crusty loafs that are neutral and stand up well to your favorite sandwich filling. We typically go through one loaf while it is fresh, then slice and freeze the other. My friend’s husband tasted a slice and said it has an “angel-food consistency,” which is a nice description. Called Tapioca Bread, it’s a rice flour and tapioca blend, and the recipe comes from an oldie but goodie, The Gluten Free Gourmet.

Banana Muffins

Banana Muffins

Banana muffins lend themselves really well to gluten-free baking. With the moisture and intense banana flavor, you end up with a taste and texture identical to wheat-based baked goods. We’ve tried quite a few recipes, but our favorite is Mom’s Banana Bread from Cooking for Isaiah. The recipe in the book is for bread, but we divided the batter among a 12-cup muffin tin and baked them for 25 minutes. In fact, there was enough batter leftover that my little one suggested we put it in the donut pan.  Banana donut muffins were a nice treat for the kids.  Baked for ten minutes, we set two aside for my friend, and each had one warm out of the oven.

Banana Muffin Donuts

The world of food allergies and intolerances is unfortunately more complicated simply by the fact that one needs to carefully monitor every recipe, meal, and morsel.  Cooking for yourself is truly the safest way to go, but unarguably time consuming, and can be stressful.  Lots of people are overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed.  If you are avoiding allergens, share your favorite recipes and tips here.  To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy baking!

mom meme

Confession: I thought being a SAHM meant I’d have more time. I’d have more time to enjoy my kids, make fun crafts, and organize our closets like Martha Stewart. None of that happens. I do enjoy my kids, but much of our day to day stuff is me cleaning up after them and making food they won’t eat. But, I have figured out how to squeeze a few extra minutes into (most of) our days.

3 Simple Things To Do Before You Go To Bed:

1. Dishes are done man. Every night before bed I make sure the dishes are done. I don’t dry and put away. I usually leave them in the drying rack. Then I stare at the empty sink lovingly. Not having to fight through a mess in the sink tomorrow morning to find the right color Sippy cup SAVES ME A TON of time (and headaches).

sippy

2. Perk up. I fill the coffee maker so I only have to flip a switch in the a.m. I take my shower, or make breakfast while it brews. I don’t know why I feel like this is such a luxury. I know it only takes 2 minutes to fill the coffee pot. But, when you stumble into the kitchen in that early morning haze it’s so much easier to just push a button.

coffee

3. Make a list. Every night before I go to bed I make a list of the six most important things I need to get done the next day. This way I can fall asleep faster without replaying my to-do list on continuous loop for three hours. My list is waiting patiently on the kitchen counter for me.

The questionnaire

That’s it! I do these simple things almost every single night so that I have an easier start to my morning. You can even get fancy and lay out everyone’s outfits the night before, and pack up all the bags/lunches/snacks and leave by the front door (or in the car). You can also follow these 3 Easy Steps to Feel Organized. I don’t do these things every night because my families schedule doesn’t demand them yet. Talk to me again in another few months once soccer practice starts, and swim lessons, and my kids go to school more than two half days a week.

Let me just stress that if you are a first time mom, or you still have really little ones (5 and under crowd) don’t even stress yourself out with making sure everything gets done in a day. There were plenty of nights I left the dishes in the sink until morning because it meant I took time to care for myself. Or, it meant more time for snuggles with the kids. I did find coffee and to-do lists to be really helpful in all phases of my parenting thus far.

How do you plan for a smooth morning in your house?

Being an organic eater doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive

By Eileen Kenison

008 Two years ago if you told me I should be eating all organic I would have said “Whatever!”

I thought it was an expensive trend. I have always eaten a very well balanced diet, mostly homemade with little processed foods. The idea of eating strictly organic seemed crazy.

A few years ago I started to get very sick. I was sick all the time. Head colds, infections, high blood pressure and cholesterol, aches and pains. I hurt all over and I was gaining weight rapidly. I had always been healthy prior to this spell of sickness. So what in the world was going on? Come to find out I had an underactive thyroid.

The organic program that cured me!

016Shortly after my diagnosis I was presented with the idea of doing a detox. I was hesitant at first. When you think of a detox you think of starving yourself and drinking green juices. This wasn’t that sort of a detox. This plan consisted of all organic and mostly plant based foods. You ate till you were full. The foods were amazing! I just wish I had felt amazing, I was detoxing! I was shaking, scratching, vomiting, I had a fever and felt awful. Come to find out – I was TOXIC. I was toxic from my diet. Being toxic led to being sick.

As I continued in the program I started to feel better, sleep better, have energy, I noticed less aches and pains, but best of all I was losing weight. I previously had tried everything, so to see the scale budging and my 005clothes fitting better was amazing to me. The detox program was over and I was feeling great! I wanted to shout it from the roof tops, “I cured myself with my diet!” It really was true, I had cured myself. All my numbers and tests were perfect. No need for medications.

The group that makes it easy…

Like many people who choose this life style. I found myself going from store to store to purchase my groceries. Trying to find the best pricing. It was time consuming and extremely expensive. It was difficult to find everything I needed. I was going broke and getting frustrated! That’s when I discovered Wholeshare. Wholeshare is a free unique shopping group that makes shopping for organic products easy and inexpensive. By shopping with a group, everyone increases their purchasing power.

With Wholeshare it becomes worthwhile for farmers and distributors to deliver directly to your group. The direct relationship with the farmer cuts the middleman out of the supply chain and brings you closer to the source. There are thousands of products available on Wholeshare. Sellers range from local farms to small fisheries to sustainable home goods distributors. WS has allowed me to shop from the comfort of my own home, saving time and money while fulfilling all my organic dietary needs. Thanks to this program I have met many wonderful organic people. Wholeshare has also given me the opportunity to share my story with others. I am now able to shout it from the roof tops, “I cured myself, and you can too!”

Little did I know!

Two years later, I feel great! It’s not a trend!

Eileen M Kenison is a 38-year-old work-from-home mother of 2 boys, aged 9 and 10. Eileen is passionate about bringing organic foods to those in her community. She has been coordinating a fast growing and successful Wholeshare group in the town of Newburgh since December 2013. Eileen is also well known on Facebook for sharing her secrets and tips to a clean and green healthy lifestyle. You can follow Eileen at Rescue for Today’s Busy Mom  and Clean Eating Made Easy.

As my family is FINALLY embarking on some much needed renovations to our home giving us a needed extra bedroom, I’m feeling stressed about money. When I stress I go into hyper save mode. I’ve gone from ok couponer to moderately extreme (more in a later post) and I’ve resolved to stop feeding my trash can in order to save on our grocery bill.

Is That Garbage Juice I Smell?

Since I’ve canceled our trash pick up due to more than a month’s worth of issues, we’ve decided to take the trash to the dump ourselves. We are avid recyclers and composters in the spring and summer months, so I bet you can guess what makes up a large portion of a person’s garbage. You guessed it – food. So here are some methods I’m using to make sure more food goes in our tummies instead of the trash. Beyond being wasteful, it creates that lovely smelling garbage juice that nobody wants to smell or have leak on them.

Turn leftover taco meat and rice into taco soup by adding it to a can of tomato soup. Top with cheddar cheese and corn chips or crushed up taco shells. The family won't even care they're eating up leftovers.

Turn leftover taco meat and rice into taco soup by adding it to a can of tomato soup. Top with cheddar cheese and corn chips or crushed up taco shells. The family won’t even care they’re eating up leftovers.

1. Serve Less – Kids are notorious food wasters so my best strategy is to serve them less. Though it’s a pain, I’d rather get up several times to give them more than see half their plate go in the garbage. So far I’ve noticed a great reduction in food waste at meal times. Over time you start to get a feel for how much your family eats so you can cook less to avoid excessive leftovers.

2. Free Lunch– Let’s face it nobody gets super excited for leftovers all the time so it takes some real creativity to get them used up. I eat leftovers for lunch and pack them for my husband’s lunch, but the rub about leftovers is that in their current state you have maybe two meals before everyone gets sick of them.

3. Reinvent Leftovers – The best way I’ve found to use leftovers is to make them into something new. Bonus points if you can get the family to finish the second meal without leaving leftovers. I’ve found I can be really creative if I want to be.

Leftover chicken (no matter the parts) goes into chicken soup or chicken and rice casserole which my kids love. I’ve made meatloaf into meat sauce for spaghetti.

I’ve turned ordinary tomato soup into “taco soup” with the help of some leftover taco meat and rice. Top it with cheddar cheese and some corn chips or crushed taco shells and my kids scarf it down. Last night I turned sausage and peppers into one lunch for my husband and pizza pasta bake (baked ziti with sausage and topped with mozzarella cheese and peperoni).

4. You Pick Two – Restaurants often employ this on menus so I decided to use it too. I might serve my kids a smaller portion of a leftover meal and pair it with something new so that my leftovers get eaten up while still satisfying that desire for something new. This seemed to work especially well for lunches.

5. Stop The Dessert Mentality – I NEVER thought I’d be the mom who let her kids have dessert every night. To be fair, most days it’s really just a light snack and could be fruit, yogurt or cookies. Still there is a fundamental problem with a family taking on a dessert mentality. Kids and adults alike tend to eat less at dinner, essentially saving room for some snack later. Even I’ve noticed myself doing this. In my house I have a no dinner, no dessert rule, but now that I’ve changed my dessert mentality I fill up more on dinner and I hardly ever snack after dinner anymore. My scale has thanked me too.

My husband may not have liked it when I banned him from using our hamburger meat to make himself a burger and made him eat leftovers instead. I know my daughter didn’t like it when I told her she couldn’t take a new snack moments after she threw out the apple she’d only taken two bites of. My family may not always like my methods, but when you have clear financial goals it takes a family all rowing the boat in the same direction to get there.

Share your creative leftover strategies and recipes.

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