Tuesday, February 19, 2013

10 Tips for Eating Healthfully on a Budget

Doesn't the title of this post read straight off the cover of a magazine?

The topic of food budgets has come up often as of late in conversations.  Hence, at the risk of repeating information you already know (and that I may have already written), I decided to do a top ten list of tips for eating well on a budget.  And...I have a post in the works on the cost of actual recipes, and what we spend on food for a week.

1. Shop sales-I keep an eye out for items that we buy on a regular basis and pick up a few extra to keep on hand for when we need them.

2. Buy in bulk- This only saves you money if it is cheaper to buy it in bulk, or it keeps you out of the grocery store and away from impulse purchases, which leads us to number three...

3. Track prices- Yes, I'm serious.  It's not as hard as you think.  It can be as easy as mentally noting that asparagus was $4.99 last week and now it's $1.99, or if you're a little AR like me, it can be a spreadsheet with columns for price, quantity, price per ounce, purchase date, estimated life, actual life, cost per month, and source.  Or you could fall sanely somewhere in between.

4. Buy produce in season- Don't have a clue what's in season?  Look for what produce is at a good price at your supermarket (It actually is most likely in season elsewhere, and not in your actual state.).  Buy from your farmer's market that only allows local farmers. (You can sometimes find farmers that use more natural methods, but aren't necessarily certified organic.)  Grow it yourself.  I just calculated the cost of our homegrown lettuce at between 2 and 4 cents a serving!  And it tastes better.

5. Steer clear of prepackaged food- You are paying an arm and a leg for someone else to cut up those veggies or make cookie dough for you.  I know sometimes you're shorter on time that cash, but this post is about saving the moolah.

6. Avoid junk food- Junk food comes by its name honestly.  There is little to no nutritional value in chips and the like, which means you're still hungry afterwards.  You might as well just eat the cash you'd spend on the Ruffles and call it a day.

7. Choose water- It's virtually free (from your tap) and oh-so-good-for-you.  Sodas belong in the junk food category.  Even juices are not as good for your body as eating the actual fruit, and they cost a pretty penny.

8. Substitute, substitute, substitute- So the recipe calls for cauliflower, but you've got broccoli.  Chance are, unless it's the essential ingredient of the recipe, you can safely make the substitution.  The next time you're short on an ingredient, hit up Google to see if you have a substitute on hand instead of jumping in the car and save yourself both the grocery and the gas money.

9. Choose recipes wisely In line with number four and number eight, choose recipes without crazy of-the-wall ingredients and keep in mind the season.  January and February are not the ideal time to make a fresh heirloom tomato basil pasta when tomatoes are so-so and basil is in a tiny little container for $4 a pop.  Not only will your pocket book thank you, your taste buds will, too.

10. Make cuts in other areas Maybe you don't want to hear this, but a lot of us could use a good refresher on needs versus wants.  Healthy food for your body is a need. Designer clothes, the coolest car, and even cable TV *gasp* are wants.  Am I saying you have to live like a pauper to eat healthy food?  No.  Do I realize that some of you, dear readers, have cut everywhere you know to cut and still are scrimping pennies?  Yes, that is part of my motivation in writing this post.  However, it seems that many of us, by looking at our spending habits, place a higher importance on things that look good on the outside, than what goes inside our body.  I believe that eventually we pay the price for these choices.

One final note, our family buys produce through a coop from a local farmer, and our meat and dairy through local farmers who use humane and healthy practices in raising their animals.  However, you don't have to be all on board with organics or the like to make healthier choices in your eating habits.  The above tips are easily applied to conventional items at the grocery store.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Late Winter

It feels like spring in Texas right now, but I am just waiting for that cold snap to come through and slap us in the face with one last hurrah.  

Beds ready for planting!
Nevertheless, I placed an order for a whole bunch of seeds last Friday.  In January we started working on some of our garden beds when the weather was nice, getting them ready to plant THIS MONTH.  I am so excited I can hardly contain myself.  I am sure I bought way more seeds than I should have, but I just couldn't help myself.  They were just begging me to purchase them and plant them and let them grow into delicious food right. in. my. own. backyard.

Last Saturday my husband dug up the overgrown bushes in our front yard with the help of his brother. (Thank you, dear!)  We are going to plant blueberry bushes in their place.  YUM!  Weather-permitting we will start our planting this weekend.
Soon to be home for blueberry bushes!
I can hardly wait!!!

In the meantime February looks like it will be a continuation of January's menu plan with a few additions.  I realized soon after posting the menu for January that I had three very similar soup recipes in my menu plan.  While my family are not overly picky eaters, the redundancy would have been overkill, so I added a few more recipes to the plan:

Beef Stroganoff

Twice Baked Potatoes

Pork/Sausage with Crock Pot Braised Red Cabbage & Apples

Chicken Enchiladas

Black Bean or Lentil Casserole

Make-Your-Own Taco Salad (with black beans)

Finally, I'm sharing the Lentil Soup recipe I promised a while back.  Since lentils do not have to be soaked, this recipe often becomes a go-to recipe for me when I forget to prep something in advance.  We like to eat this soup served over brown rice with a salad or cut up veggies.  Enjoy!

Lentil Soup
(adapted from mothering.com)

  • 1 lb dry lentils (brown or green)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped (or a can of diced tomatoes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional)
  • Spike Seasoning or thyme, marjoram, oregano, and basil to taste (I add around a 1/4-1/2 t of each)
  • 6-8 C water or broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the lentils according to package directions, then put in slow cooker. Saute onions until almost translucent, then add tomatoes, garlic and jalapeno. Saute just a few minutes more. Add sauteed veggies to lentils, cover with 6-8 cups of water or broth and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low for about 10hours. The end result should be a deep brown, thick soup, with the onions, tomatoes and jalapenos barely noticeable.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Cleanse Factor--January Menu Plan

So every January (and by every January I mean once two years ago in December and maybe last year in January, but I can't remember for sure) my DH and I do a week-long cleanse.  Sort of.  Because I am an avid rule follower--if I like the rules, or if I made the rules up myself.  Anyhow, strict cleanse or not, it just seems like a good idea to get a handle on food choices after all of the holiday junk treats.

To be honest with you, we don't do a cleanse in the strictest sense of the word (depending on whose variation you choose.)  Our personal experience was that focusing on eating primarily vegetables and on reducing and being selective about grains and proteins was a better option than eliminating them all together.  (We also allowed ourselves one cup of coffee each morning because we are total wimps. I think we may have used a little honey from time-to-time as well.)  However, we did eliminate dairy and refined sugar, which is how I came to drink my coffee like a real grown up--black.

Our "cleanse" looked something like this:
(Oh yes, I am not a doctor, and all that jazz. This is not medical advice, consult your doctor, etc, etc.)

Wake: water with lemon

Breakfast Options: fruit-only smoothie (no dairy or soy milk), steel cut oats with apples, fruit salad with almonds/pumpkin seeds and a little plain yogurt, cooked millet

Snack Options: veggies with hummus or almond butter, yogurt (plain) with fruit, raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds, almonds, vegetable broth

Lunch Options: vegetable soup, salad, beans, veggie sandwich (can use portabello mushrooms instead of bread)

Dinner Options: Lentils, beans, brown rice (in moderation), chicken or fish (every other night), lots of vegetables, quinoa, salad (every night)

Beverages: Green tea (limited), water, herbal teas, vegetable broth

***Note: I prefer to make my own broths, as commercial broths can have unexpected ingredients or additives, and homemade just tastes better.  Beans are also even more economical when purchased dry, and can be left alone to cook in the crock pot.***

Since we only have the discipline to last about a week, below is my Winter Menu Plan which will get us through the rest of the month and possibly into January.  This being our coldest month, you'll see quite a few soups on the menu.  I love soup because not only are they warming, but they are also economical and extremely forgiving, easily modified to fit whatever fresh ingredients you have on hand.  I've starred recipes that could be eaten on the cleanse or slightly modified to fit.

Week One

Saturday: Pot Roast with Veggies/Steak with potatoes (or potato soup) & veggies

Monday: Quinoa Chili* (I don't use TVP.) / Vegetarian Chili*

Tuesday: Spaghetti (with noodles or spaghetti squash)

Wednesday: Swiss chard and chickpeas*/ Hummus (with less lemon juice) & Veggies*

Thursday: Bean burrito

Friday: Chicken & Dumplings/ Chicken Soup*

Week Two

Saturday: Lasagna/ Lasagna Soup

Sunday: Lentil Rice Casserole*

Monday: Winter Vegetable Soup*(without Parmesan) / Holiday Soup For the Soul* (leave out vegetable bouillon and replace all or part of water with vegetable broth)

Tuesday: Parmesan Chicken/ Roasted Chicken*

Wednesday: Rustic Cabbage Soup*(without Parmesan)/ Nutmeg and Honey Carrot Soup

Thursday: Crock Pot Roasted Winter Veggies with or without Salmon*

Friday: White Bean Chili*/New England Clam Chowder

Hope your New Year is off to a great start!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mexican Chowder

Fall weather has finally arrived!  This is absolutely perfect timing for my culinary bent as Mexican Chowder is on the menu for the evening.  I had a recipe for this that I loved, but that recipe has somehow disappeared.  I searched the internet and found nothing that was quite like it, so tonight, I am boldly exploring new possibilities and creating my own recipe! 

Please forgive my photo-taking abilities.
Alright, as a guide I am starting with a corn chowder recipe from my faithful Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, tweaking it as my memory serves me, and adding my own creative twist.  Here we go...  

Mexican Chowder

1/2 C chopped yellow onion
1 T olive oil
1 medium chopped zucchini
14.5 oz chicken broth
1 C frozen corn
2 C chopped cooked chicken
1 small can chopped green chilies (I used home-canned hatch chili peppers.)
1 C milk
1 T flour
1/4 t salt (more if using homemade chicken broth)
1 T taco seasoning
1/4 C chopped cilantro (optional)
shredded cheese & tortilla chips (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add onions and sautee for a couple of minutes.  Add in zucchini and continue to cook until the onions are soft, but not brown.
2. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil.  Add corn, chicken, and green chilies.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
3. In glass measuring cup or small bowl whisk together milk, flour, salt, and taco seasoning.  (Supposedly you're supposed to let this cook and stir until it's "thick and bubbly."  Um, mine didn't really get thick, and I think chowders should be thick.  If you're happy with the "chowder" at this point, then skip to step 5.)
4. Melt 2 T butter in a small saucepan.  Whisk together 1 C of milk and 3 T of flour.  Slowly pour the milk mixture into the melted butter, whisking it until it thickens.  Add to chowder.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
5. Top with cilantro, shredded cheese, and tortilla chips if desired.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall Menu Plan

The bug may have finally hit me.  Decorate for Fall has been on my to do list for the past three weeks, but this week it may actually get crossed off.  We took the kids to the pumpkin patch this weekend, temperatures are about to get cool(er), and I've been pinning winter squash and apple recipes on Pinterest.  This menu plan was hard to write because there were so many recipes I wanted to include. (Since I started this post, I have found even more recipes. *sigh*)
Pumpkins on death row

Also, we joined a new coop this month that offers local food during our growing season!!!  So excited about this.  I'll update you on our progress on the Pantry Challenge at the end of this post as well.

Since seasons range quite a bit around the country, I wanted to give you a quick how-to for menu planning so that you can adapt to where and how you live.

1. Start with what's in season.  If you shop at the grocery store, start with what produce is on sale. (This will save you money and you will get better quality.)

2. Look at your family calendar and decide which nights you would benefit from a quick and easy meal or a crock pot dinner.  Do you want to eat out one night?  I like to put more time consuming recipes on the weekend.

3. Consider spreading out costly items such as meat and dairy.  We only cook meat 2-3 nights a week. If we eat it other nights, it's leftovers added to a new dish.  Some people have chicken on Monday, pork on Tuesday, etc.

4. Think about grouping meals together that share ingredients or can be used to make the next meal.  I'll give you an example in my menu plan in week two with the Cilantro Lime Chicken.

That's about it!  So, without further ado, my fall menu plan:

Week 1

Saturday- Sweet Potato Burgers/Quiche
Sunday- Chicken & Shrimp Gumbo (freeze leftovers in small portions for lunches)/ Chipotle-Glazed Roast Chicken 
Monday- Curried Quinoa/ Creamy Quinoa Primavera
Tuesday- Crock pot Meatloaf/ Pineapple Teriyaki Burgers
Wednesday- Grilled Sweet Potato Medallions/Sweet Potato Quesadillas 
Thursday- Spanish Tortilla/ Twice Baked Potatoes (crock pot)
Friday- Homemade Pizza

Week 2

Saturday- Steak & Baked Potatoes/ Chili & Cornbread
Sunday- Butternut Penne/ Pumpkin & Sage Ravioli 
Monday- Crock pot Tikka Masala/ Crock pot Cilantro Lime Chicken (Serve with lots of veggies & cook extra rice to go with it. If necessary set aside about two cups of chicken before serving for Friday's recipe.)
Tuesday- Crock Pot Lentil Soup/ Crock Pot Bean Soup (Serve with leftover rice from Monday.) *Both recipes came from mothering.com, but they've changed their site, so I will share these recipes later.
Wednesday- Homemade Pita stuffed with leftover lentils/ Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Burritos
Thursday- Kale Risotto/ Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale
Friday- Chicken Tortilla Soup/ Mexican Chowder (Use leftover chicken and cilantro from Monday's recipe.  If you're worried about food poisoning, you can freeze the chicken Monday night.)


Last time I included lunches in my menu plan, and we didn't really use the recipes I posted.  This time I'm just going to assume we will either have leftovers, sandwiches, or will eat one of the meals we didn't end up eating during the week.  And of course, there's always Butternut Squash Soup. :)

Pantry Challenge Update

Ummm, yikes.  I am way behind posting.  I started this post last week, didn't have time to finish it and then life happened, including starting back to work part-time, and it's a week later.  Oh well.  I will try to remember as best I can and hope my menu on the calendar is accurate.

Day 12
Eggs; leftovers; Out

Day 13

Yogurt & Granola; Quinoa Salad; Vegetable Tian

Day 14
Out; Eggplant Marinara Flatbread; Simple Stuffed Peppers

Day 15
Zucchini Muffins; Leftovers; Salmon & Crock Roasted Root Veggies

Day 16
Apple Pie Breakfast; Out; Chicken Sausage, Red Cabbage & Apples

Day 17
Smoothie & Toast; leftovers; I don't remember. 

Day 18
Eggs & Zucchini; leftovers; Chicken Wrap

Day 19
Zucchini Muffins; Out; Homemade Pizza

Day 20
Baked Pumpkin Spice Donuts; Out; Paella

Day 21
Baked Oatmeal; Community Lunch at Church; Caprese Lasagna

Day 22
Zucchini Muffins (so glad I made a bunch and froze them); leftovers; Cilantro Lime Chicken, Rice, Sweet Potatoes

Day 23
Yogurt, Frozen Fruit, & Granola; leftovers; Black Beans & Rice

Day 24
Make-your-own-cereal; leftovers; Roasted Veggie & Black Bean Burritos (This recipe made 6, so I froze the extra ones for future lunches. :) )

As far as spending goes, at this point we are at 506.79 total for the month.  I also highly doubt I will spend absolutely nothing at the grocery store in the next 7 days, considering that we are almost out of salt, vanilla, and something else which escapes me at the moment.  I still think we've done pretty darn good, overall, though. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Update: Target, Wal-mart, and the Pantry Challenge

We ran out of coffee.  This lead to me stopping in Target on my way back home from dropping off the kids at school and deciding to do a quick check of prices on the items from my last post.  Which also lead to stopping in at Wal-mart (oh the horror) to check prices their too as they are reputed to have the "lowest prices" and supposedly have started carrying more organics.

I added my findings to my spreadsheet.  Instead of copying and pasting from Excel which leaves the table looking a little wonky, I have uploaded it to Google Docs.

Wal-mart did beat Whole Foods on non-organic items, however their selection of organic items was awful.  I also have other reasons for not shopping there such as horrible customer service, way too many crazy customers, and the fact that they are rated extremely poorly by better world shopper. Target didn't do so hot on prices, although they have a fairly decent selection of economical fair trade organic coffee which I was in desperate need of Tuesday morning.  The least expensive price for each item is highlighted in yellow.  As you can see, no one store offers the best price across the board.

My advice to you if you are on a super strict budget is to keep a notebook or a spreadsheet of prices for items that you buy on a regular basis, much like the spreadsheet above.  If you can hit two or three stores without going too much out of your way and wasting gas, then go to more than one store to get the better overall price.  Keep in mind that grocery store prices fluctuate a lot.  If you combine a sale with a coupon at a grocery store that doubles coupons, you can actually beat Wal-mart's prices.  Websites like thegrocerygame.com charge a small fee to track sales and coupons for you if that's your thing.  I personally don't coupon because I've found that there are very little coupons out there for the products we buy.

Pantry Challenge Update

My little OCD self created yet another spreadsheet to inventory the items I had bought through Azure Standard the last two months, complete with cost per unit for future price comparison, estimated length of time the product will last us, and the cost per month.  When it was all said and done, I discovered according to my spreadsheet (which erred on the side of caution) calculated the monthly cost to be 92.24, which means I have an extra $2 per week.  Woohoo!  

The bad news is I already dipped in to tomorrow's grocery budget  for bacon, snacks, and fried chicken from Target. (The dentist appointment ran late, the chicken wasn't defrosted in time, etc, etc.)  I only have 16.09 to spend at the store tomorrow.  I have no idea how I'm going to make this work.  Maybe I'll dip into next week's budget...

Day 8
Breakfast: Milk, Leftover Apple Butter Cupcakes Muffins (They didn't even have frosting on them. Don't judge.) 
Lunch: Kids-leftover Sweet Summer Corn chowder, Quesadillas; Adults-BBQ Chicken Sliders (leftovers in freezer), Cucumbers
Dinner: Spaghetti, Salad
Dessert: Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies

Day 9
Breakfast: Make your own cereal (My kids LOVE this.)
Lunch: Leftover Spaghetti
Snack: Pretzels and goldfish from CVS after looong dental appointment
Dinner: Fried Chicken from Target, Potatoes, Cucumber & Bell Pepper Salad

Day 10
Breakfast: Peach Pecan Waffles (Thank you, dear.)
Lunch: Chicken Wrap
Snack: Yogurt and half a peach
Dinner: Tomato Basil Soup, Garlic Toast
Snack: Homemade popcorn

Day 11
Breakfast: Toast with Almond Butter, half a peach
Lunch: Chipotle (out)
Dinner: Chicken Teriyaki Thighs, Rice, Cucumer (Finally used those chicken thighs I've tried to defrost three times...)

Wish me luck shopping tomorrow.  I'm going to check the sales online.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Comparison Shopping: Whole Foods vs. Kroger

Much to the horror of my budget savvy friends, Whole Foods is my go-to grocery store.  I realize that it is not the most economical across the board, but I have my reasons for shopping there besides the fact that it smells oh so good I inhale a contented sigh whenever I walk in the door.  Keep in mind that I don't buy all of my groceries there.  As mentioned previously, I buy a lot of my pantry staples through Azure Standard. I get produce, milk, eggs, and meat through local farmers.  For me the grocery store just fills in any gaps I may have.

1. Tortillas Yes, this sounds like a silly reason to pick a grocery store, but it's important.  It is the only place that I have found yummy tortillas that do not contain hydrogenated oils, preservatives, or other scary ingredients.  I do realize that one can make homemade tortillas for less expensive, however that person would not be me.  For some reason, homemade tortillas are my unicorn.  I have tried multiple recipes, different pressing techniques; I was even given instruction in Mexico by a Mexican.  It never works.  My tortillas come out thicker than they should, they don't roll easily, and they rarely inflate during the cooking process. (The true test of whether or not you are ready to marry according to Mexican standards.  Lucky for me my husband is not Mexican.)

2. Convenience I like that Whole Foods has not just one option for healthy foods, but several.  Shopping at Whole Foods does not negate the need to read labels, none the less, chances are I'm going to find an option that is satisfactory.  At the regular grocery stores I have to hunt and search for a product that I'm okay with consuming, and sometimes I can't even find what I'm looking for.

3. Location I have friends who swear by Trader Joe's and who say Central Market is better than Whole Foods.  That may be, but I would have to drive to Fort Worth or Dallas to shop there.  Whole Foods is not the closest natural grocer.  There is a Sprouts that is a little closer in driving time.  However, it is out of the way of anywhere else I would go, whereas Whole Foods is close to my church and is often within my route of errands I run.  The other options just aren't worth the extra gas to me.

All that being said, I do occasionally run in to a conventional grocery store for odds and ends.  Sometimes Whole Foods either doesn't have what I want or more likely it costs more than I'm willing to shell out.  Hence, today I went to both Whole Foods and Kroger and decided to do a little comparison shopping.  My findings are below.

Food Whole Foods            Kroger
Organic Frozen corn 2.39 3.79
Conventional Garlic 0.89 0.50
Organic Onion (3lbs) 3.99   Not available
Organic Tortillas 1.99                      Not available
Sundried Organic Tomato Paste  0.89 0.79 sale price
Conventional Avocado 1.29 0.78
Conventional Lime 0.33 0.20
Negro Modelo (didn't buy) 8.99 8.69
Organic unsalted butter 3.99 6.29
Pumpkin 1.29 1.00 sale price
Organic Sugar (2 lbs) 3.69 3.33
5 oz. can evaporated milk   Not available 0.65
Organic Apple Butter 4.49 4.89
Total of Items Available
Both Places 28.24 30.26

Interestingly enough, Whole Foods was less expensive in total on items that were available both places.  The only thing not available at Whole Foods was the 5 oz size of evaporated milk which I don't buy on a regular basis.  I just needed it for a new recipe.  I didn't actually buy the Negro Modelo which I needed for a particular recipe.  Instead I bought a $3.69 large bottle of Corona Extra to avoid going over budget.  This item I only found at Kroger.  (Once again, not a normal purchase.)  Side note: Sundried tomato paste was $5.49 for a tube.  See the strike-through above?  So. not. worth. it.
Whole Foods buys: Not a lot, but enough to fill in the gaps

My grand total at both stores was $32.98, 52 cents under budget for the week.  Some items I considered not including in the budget as they were bought to make a dessert for a meeting.  However, I decided to include them because it's part of my real life.  I must confess that I sent my husband to the store the next day for bacon as I overlooked that ingredient in a recipe I planned.  And he didn't even buy the "healthy" bacon. As a result, I am actually over budget this week by whatever the cost of the bacon is minus 52 cents.  I will take it out of next week's budget.  Promise.

Week One in Review

Day 3
Breakfast: Apple Pie Breakfast (This recipe was a hit!  Even my non-oatmeal-eating child ate two helpings!  Hint: Add cinnamon to the recipe and keep the cooking time short. Don't tell them it's oatmeal.  Call it apple pie breakfast. It's not lying, that's the recipe's name.  If they ask you what's in it, say grain instead of oatmeal.)
Lunch: Leftover Chinese Chicken from Monday's dinner, Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup for sick child :(
Snack: Apple and peanut butter
Dinner: Zuni Stew (Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook)  I forgot to mention last post that I cooked a pot of pinto beans in the crock pot overnight for this recipe.

Day 4
Breakfast: Leftovers (zucchini muffins and apple pie breakfast)
Lunch: Out (surprise catch-up lunch with a good friend)
Snack: Quinoa Pizza Bites (from the freezer)
Dinner: Tomato Salad, Leftover Chicken

Day 5
Breakfast: Zucchini and cheese Omelet
Lunch: Out (Pizza during shopping trip at Whole Foods)
Snack: Apples
Dinner: Out

Day 6
Breakfast: Leftover Rice Hot Breakfast Cereal
Lunch: Sweet Summer Corn Chowder (the bacon culprit)
(Put leftover Zuni Stew, pinto beans, and chicken noodle soup in the freezer.  Baked Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies and Apple Butter Cupcakes.)
Dinner: Out (We got a bonus date night since the kids stayed the night at the grandparents!)

Day 7
Breakfast: Eggs, Toast, Bacon
Lunch: Shredded Beef Tacos with Avocado and Lime
Dinner: Chicken Caprese Sandwiches 
After dinner treat: Homemade popcorn

We ate out a more this past week than is typical for us.  Our normal habit is I eat something out on Friday when I'm running errands, and we eat out after church on Sunday.  My husband eats out almost every day for lunch and I try to let it go because I'm not in his shoes and I value my marriage. ;)  This week we traded Sunday lunch for Friday dinner because we just felt like going out.  I got to go out to lunch with a friend I haven't talked to in months if not years on Thursday, and my husbands parents offered to let the kids spend the night on Saturday.  When these opportunities come up in life you smile and take them.  And you put the extra leftovers in the freezer for another day.