Monday, August 17, 2015

Quick, Cheap, and Kid Approved Lunch (or Dinner Side Dish)

Hello, all five of you that read the blog!  <Innsert sarcastic laugh and Snooki "wah" here!!>

We just returned from the beach and I realized this morning that I pretty much had nothing quick to make my kiddos, and their friends, for lunch. What do I do, what do I do, what do I do?? I headed to the pantry to find some rice, because rice fills bellies and even the pickiest eaters normally eat it. 

Okay, so here was my problem. I had only one box of Rice-A-Roni Spanish flavored rice, and one box of Near East Rice Pilaf. Hmmmm, we'll make it work!!  

I'm making meatballs for dinner tonight, so I thought I'd use a tiny bit of ground beef to give the rice more substance.

If you want to make the "meal" my way, totally disregard the instructions on the back of the boxes. 

Here's what you'll need:

1/4 lb ground beef
1 box Rice A Roni Spanish rice
1 box Near East Rice Pilaf
1/2 stick of salted butter
3 3/4 cups water

Here's what you'll do:

1) Add ground beef, butter, and both boxes of rice to a pan on medium-high heat. 

2) Stir occasionally, until beef is browned. 

3) Stir in seasoning packets from both boxes. 

4) Add water, and stir; bring to a boil. 

5) As soon as it begins boiling, turn heat to low, and cover. 

6) Cook on low 15-20 minutes. 

This concoction fed seven kids, and cost MAYBE $5 total. Every child cleared their plate, seriously!!

If the butter freaks you out, don't use it. You can totally adjust my recipe to suit your family. :-)

I hope you try it and like it!!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Teacher Gift Troubles?

Anyone in the same boat as me?  Having trouble putting together an end-of-the-year gift for all those much loved teachers?

I really adore my kids' teachers and I want to be able to thank them appropriately for all their hard work.  I just couldn't handle going to one of my old stand-by gifts this time around.  Nothing says, "Thanks for all your dedication" like a candle or antibacterial soap...blahhhhh!  I had to get out of my rut!!!

I decided to take a quick spin around the Christmas Tree Shop (and when I say quick, I mean two crabby kids in tow and an ice cream cake turning into soup in the car).   Well, I scored!!!!  I found these adorable printed pitchers, picnic sets, napkins, and hot dog and hamburger holders.  I threw in some ice tea K-Cups and mini paper umbrellas and Ta-da!  We are set!

As you can see by the price tags (don't worry, I removed them) this was not a pricey gift by any means.  By my calculations, each gift cost about $7.00.  Also, it works for both male and female teachers.

It's like a picnic in a pitcher!  How cute!!
And, guess what?!?!  I don't even need a gift bag!  Just throw on some ribbon and a gift tag and it's complete ;)
Any great suggestions?  Let's hear them!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mo Summer, No Problems!!

If you're anything like me, you have mixed emotions about summer break.  Don't get me wrong, I love having all three gremlins cherubs home 24/7, but its quite a bit of work!  Mine seem to require constant stimulation, always needing to be wow'd with new and exciting activities.  I'm trying, really I am!

Here are a few of my tips for making summertime run a bit smoother.  Anything helps, right?

1.) Scour all your local websites for free or low cost events.  We're talking malls, libraries, parks and recreation, townships, movie theaters...ANYWHERE!  You'll be pleased with what you find, $1 movies, free outdoor movie nights, story times, etc.  I take out my calendar in late spring and start filling it up.  It feels good to see those little squares full with activities ;)

2.) Emily and I both keep a small convenient store in our cars.  It seems as if these little boogers are constantly "starrrrrrving."  It doesn't matter if we've just eaten a meal, if they see, smell, and even hear the sound of a food wrapper, they're instantly hungry.  Keeping non-perishable snacks and drinks in our car drastically cuts down on costs, especially when you're visiting an amusement park.

3.) I keep a basket in our laundry room of beach towels and bathing suits.  The fellas love water activities, especially our inflatable water "oasis."  It's great that they enjoy outdoor activities, but on a warm day they are in and out at least 3 times.  Keeping a stash downstairs keeps me from running up and down the stairs a million times (not that I couldn't use the exercise).

4.) Keep a bottle of sunblock here, there, and everywhere.  I keep some in my purse, car, and in my laundry room.  It's a great reminder to always slather it on the kiddies.  Plus, you never know when the mood will strike you for outdoor fun.

5.) Ask teachers for summer work to cut down on "summer slack."  I also pick up workbooks at the dollar store to supplement.  I make sure to set aside a half an hour 5 days a week for the boys to do school work.  At first they complain (no surprise), but eventually it becomes routine.

6.) I try to set aside an envelope of "Summer Fun" money.  Our neighborhood has a yard sale in the spring.  Any money I make from the sale goes into an envelope to use towards summer activities.  Having this money set aside helps me with budgeting.  Before heading off to an event I estimate how much we'll need.  This alleviates over-spending on food, souvenirs, etc.

Any tips?  Please share!

Here's to a HAPPY and low stress summer ;)