How do I Save Money on My Grocery Budget and is Couponing Really Worth It?

Is Couponing REALLY worth it?

Because I LOVE couponing, and won’t shut up about it, I get asked this question all the friggin’ time. Lol

The short answer to the question is hell YES…and no. Maybe not. Sort of.

Confused yet?

The long answer is you will probably save money, depending upon where you are in your life.

If you can comfortably afford expensive things and you don’t sweat it at the end of the month because your grocery money is NOT about to run dry, then you likely don’t really NEED to coupon.

Hint: this is not me. I sweat at the end of some/most months when I’m getting to the last of my grocery money. Sometimes I’m not the best when it comes to making it last. So what? I’m not perfect, ‘kay?

Yes. Some people who DO have the rich money lifestyle do spend time couponing because they like to coupon. And they do it for the joy of couponing to save money on their grocery budget. That’s awesome. It’s certainly not me, but that’s awesome.

A good way to determine if it would be worth it to you to spend about an hour putting together your coupons before a grocery trip (yes, only an hour) would be to calculate how much your time is worth.

For example, say you make $10.00 per hour. Couponing for only ONE HOUR saves $75 on your next grocery trip. In this scenario, hell yes! Couponing is worth it!!! This is like making $75 in ONE HOUR.

So, if you’re still reading this post, then you’ve determined that you DO indeed think couponing would be worth it to you. And YES, the above example is real life. I have saved $75 on a single grocery trip using coupons (which amounted to a little more than 50% off my grocery bill.)

Will you immediately see those kinds of results if you’re a newbie? No, probably not. But you know what? That’s ok!

Everyone has a learning curve to learn anything. And you CAN do this!

Now, to the myths I always hear next.

But there are only coupons for junk!

A common misconception is that you can only buy junk with coupons.

Yes. and No.

I’ll explain:

There are always new coupons

Whereas you may only (for a period of time) be able to find coupons for a few things that you don’t eat/use, there are a LOT of coupons out there. A lot.

There are new coupons every. Single. Day.

While there may not be a coupon for something you use RIGHT NOW, keep your eyes peeled. There will eventually be a coupon for something you use. I promise.

You can use coupons for household stuff

If you buy paper towels with a coupon at rock bottom price, you can afford to buy more broccoli! (yes. I love broccoli.)

I don’t get the paper, so I can’t coupon.

Neither do I! I don’t get the paper and I rarely use the ones from the paper. I do get donations of coupons from the paper if someone else knows I coupon and they don’t use them. My mom saves her paper coupons for me.

Thanks mom! (My mom is the best, fyi. Her blog is here.)

Also, if I find a super good deal and I need more paper coupons, I go to the library. They have a coupon bin that’s free for all. Check with your library! It’s not just for books anymore.

What Coupons do you use?

I use digital coupons on store apps, store coupons that I get in the mail, and printables from the internet. Hint: digital coupons are the best. Seriously.

But couponing is so hard! You must be so organized.

Nope. And Nope. Ask my husband if I’m organized. Go on. Ask him.

I dare you.


What do you do?

I do follow a lot of VERY organized people who provide detailed couponing deals on their blogs. And I follow their instructions! Keep reading and I’ll share my absolute favorite resources for this.

Here are a few of my favorite resources. I have put them in order for your convenience and reading pleasure.



BEFORE you start couponing, I would highly suggest reading this article on where to start with meal prepping. Yes. Meal prepping and planning out your meals, at least loosely is absolutely the way to start. This is an excellent place for anyone to start who is looking to save money on food.

Frugal Farm Wife:

If you wanna get suuuuper into this, Frugal Farm Wife even has a course! I took the course. It saved me $100 in one month. (I am an affiliate for the course. I do make money if you purchase the course with my link.


Read this series of posts by Crystal Paine at Money Saving Mom


Read this post, also by Crystal Paine. Can you tell I’m a fan?

How to get Started with coupons


Find deals and coupon matchups for your favorite store

If you have a Kroger or any of their affiliate stores in your area, 100% check out this website. I’m a Kroger Krazie!!!! I seriously check this site every single day. No joke.

Kroger Krazy:


Make your list, gather your coupons and jump in! Just remember, start small.

If you have any comments or questions, please let me know! You can also email me. And sign up for my newsletter.


My Honest Review of Kitchen Confidence, Frugal Farm Wife’s Course on Meal Planning

My Honest Review of Kitchen Confidence, Frugal Farm Wife’s Course on Meal Planning


This course definitely saved me money this month! $100 and counting. Well worth the price of the course.


DISCLAMER: I am an affiliate for this course and I do make a profit on a percentage of the sales made. I only promote products I have used and liked, including this one. BUY THE COURSE HERE

My Affiliate link:


The Knowledge Presented In Kitchen Confidence WILL Save You Money!

There are plenty of super helpful budget-saving suggestions and lessons here. I recommend this course to anyone with a grocery budget that they want to stick to!

  • PROS:

This is a great course for the beginner and a nice refresher, and even an inspiration, for more experienced meal planners. While I didn’t do all of the steps/lessons in their entirety as a LOT of the steps were extremely time intensive and, in my opinion, simply overkill, the knowledge base that Elise of presents is very solid and extremely helpful. I learned a lot about how to provide low priced, nutritious foods for my family.

As a bonus, she provides a nice introduction to couponing which is definitely a solid base for anyone who wants to try their hand at couponing. However, I did notice that she didn’t mention using digital coupons, which is my life-blood at the moment. lol

  • CONS:

An example of “overkill” in her lesson plan for me would be the lesson on comparing food prices. What she suggested for accomplishing this list would have taken way too long. For me, meal planning should save me time, not require an excess of planning. Her suggestion would have taken 5 hours or more. For ONE step. And required me finding a babysitter for that period of time. First, no. Secondly, I’m just not doing that. Lol

  • Summary:

Aside from the suggestions of intensive list writing/building/compiling which I simply decided was not for me, I really enjoyed this meal planning course and I do believe that, should you decide to take the course, the knowledge she presents, when applied to your grocery budget and meal plan, will save you money and pay for itself in a week or less. It has saved me $100 already. I know this because I compared this month’s food budget to last month’s food budget. I was over budget by $100 last month! (shame shame, I know lol) I am on track this month because I used the Kitchen Confidence Course. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.


This course has good advice for keeping track of and using what you have for a meal plan to save money.


Why I decided to take the course:

Elise generously offered to let me review her course as a beta tester.

I agreed to review this course because I was was looking for a way to step back into more solid meal planning after getting very discouraged with trying the more mainstream meal planning programs.


I admit, I was skeptical of yet another “meal planning course” that would have impossible requirements that do not work for my family.


I have some pretty picky eaters, so most of the meal planning courses that I have attempted in the past have been all but impossible for these reasons:


Meal planning courses that I have attempted in the past have been all but impossible for my family.


  • Why Most Meal Planning Courses do NOT work for my family:
  1. Most courses (I have found) that teach meal planning include mostly crockpot meals which my family doesn’t enjoy and make too much food for our needs.
  2. They include specific recipes in their meal plans which call for ingredients that I know my family will not eat or my family is allergic to.
  3. They require specific recipes which are allocated to a specific space on an arbitrary 30 day “meal calendar.” This doesn’t fit our family as we are very picky about what recipes we like and we like flexibility in being able to choose our meals.


Kitchen Confidence is the first Meal Planning Course I have found that (Mostly) works for my family!

  • WHY Kitchen Confidence by Frugal Farm Wife (mostly) works for me:
  1. We are able to use our OWN recipes!
  2. She has great suggestions on how to compile lists that help with grocery shopping and meal planning. I didn’t use all of her suggestions to the fullest because they are too time intensive for my needs. But I simplified her list-making suggestions to fit my needs and they have definitely helped me to stay on track and save money.
  3. She “gets it” when it comes to planning special needs meals, especially where special diets are required. So she doesn’t require that her own recipes be used for this course!
  • Recipes

She does list some of her own recipes as examples within the course. The recipes she presents are optional, easy, and healthy! (They also look delicious.)

  • I would recommend this course!

I would suggest taking this course. I think it’s worth the investment of time and money.

This course definitely saved me money this month! $100 and counting. Well worth the price of the course.

Caveat: I would suggest taking the course with a mind to tailoring the steps to fit your schedule. I skipped time-intensive, and what I thought unnecessary, steps.

And now….a WARNING:

If you’re not a make-a-huge-list-for-everything fan, be warned. This course has so….many….lists. HOWEVER, don’t let that scare you off or deter you from taking the course. I just used what I thought would be useful to me, saved some things for later or for an extended timeline to finish (like I plan on doing her suggestion of a freezer inventory, but not as she suggests doing it all at once,) or I simply did not do the step. *insert shrug here*

There are plenty of super helpful budget-saving suggestions and lessons here. I recommend this course to anyone with a grocery budget that they want to stick to!

Checkout her “bite sized” intro videos for a sample of how her course, Kitchen Confidence may be able to help you:

Low Sugar and Low Cholesterol Recipes

My husband and I have low sugar and low cholesterol dietary needs respectively. We attempt to create tasty meals which meet both of our needs.

Below is my list of recipes that we enjoy together and are on a (pretty) regular rotation. I’ve put this together after rigorous testing, searching, blood, sweat aaaand yes, tears. Cooking is not my forte.

NOTE: This is what works for my family. I AM NOT a healthcare professional (obviously) so make sure you’re doing whatever your doctor recommends!

Low Sugar/Low Cholesterol Recipes (I’ll be adding to this as we find stuff we like)

  • Chicken breast

Defrost 3 chicken breasts in the refrigerator.

Heat a pan with about 4 tbls of olive oil to medium heat.

Place chicken breasts in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. If the pan doesn’t sizzle when chicken is added, wait until the oil is heated.

Cook chicken about 5 minutes on each side or until mostly cooked through. Leave to rest on a plate before serving/cutting.

TIP: I love to precook these and cut up to serve over salads, send in lunches with veggies, and serve with pita bread and tzatziki sauce. I’ve even put them in serving size baggies in the freezer!





  • Lentil and Ground Beef Spaghetti Sauce with Veggie Noodles:

Rinse lentils

Cook 1 cup of lentils with 2 cups of water and 1 beef bullion cube. Stir periodically. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30-45 mins or until tender and the water is absorbed. Add more water if you need to cook them more. (You can cook these separately and eat as a side dish if you want.)

Cook 1 pound of ground beef (we use 80/20) in a separate pan. Add the lentils.

Add two 24oz jars of spaghetti sauce and simmer and stir for about 10 mins.

While simmering the sauce, boil water and add veggie noodles. We like these: Ronzoni Garden Delight

Drain noodles. Serve with sauce.

TIP: I usually make a huge batch and then freeze sauce in serving portions. Using lentils not only reduces the cholesterol content, but it stretches the more expensive ingredient, beef.

  • Cucumber Salad – (it’s Tzatziki sauce with larger slices of cucumber.)


  • Cured Salmon (My husband used vodka instead of smoke flavoring.)


  • Whole Wheat Pancakes – This is a great resource HERE for easy pancakes


  • Boiled Eggs (I don’t eat the yolk because it has all the cholesterol. I eat the white part.)


  • Whole Wheat Bagels with Cream Cheese

  • Brown Rice (I use olive oil instead of coconut oil and I add either beef or chicken bouillon) In the picture I used the same pan I cooked the chicken in. Saves time. Adds flavor!


Do you have any favorite recipes?

How to write about places you’ve never been to – Guest Post by Stuart White

Tales from the Falkland Islands…and writing research tips!

I am proud to present a guest post by my friend and mentor, Stuart White. Please read his impressive biography HERE.

Real Research: Writing about faraway places, part 2

A guest post by Stuart White


By Stuart White

Author – Stuart White

Last week I stressed the importance of trying to visit a place where your story is set.

And I could almost hear the cries of, “OK for you buddy, but I’ve got twelve bucks to last me the week and two kids to feed. I can hardly make rent, let alone get on a plane to Paris.”

And you’ve got a valid point. But I think I did say ‘If you can get there.’

So this week I’m going to give you some tips of how to get the feel and smell and sense of a place, despite the fact you haven’t got the moolah to get there.

But first to tie up the loose threads of last post, when I described my trip to South America and the Falklands Islands to do research on my script ‘Death at Sea.’

Another aspect of that ‘research’ was a practical one. Death at Sea has a show reel – a sort of five-minute filmed teaser outlining what the project is. At the moment it consists of some old newsreel film of the conflicts and still pictures of the ships and the protagonists.

So it was suggested it might be an idea to get some current footage of the area in which our story took place and scenes are set – like shots of Montevideo, where British and German spies recruited locals in a deadly cloak and dagger game to uncover secrets about the other nation’s fleets.

Like the Falklands, showing the harbor from which the British fleet fired its first shots, then the actual waters the battle took place.

Likewise off Coronel, south of Valparaiso and the port itself where several scenes are set – including a banquet at which the German admiral was honored.

So with video camera and tripod in hand, I filmed like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice…out at dawn doing sunrises…then sunsets…the ship pitching and swaying, spray shooting over the bows…and the stormy seas in which brave men died.

When that goes to the director he hopes to cut it into the original show reel, including some voice-over commentaries from yours truly.

But now back to research and how to make yours effective without you jet-setting around the world.

 In 2003 I wrote a novel called The Valhalla Secret (since become an optioned screenplay) which is set in the final days of Berlin in 1945 as Soviet troops capture the German capital.

I had been to Berlin and walked its streets and had three or four excellent books on the subject to aid my research. But I wasn’t born when the Nazis were defeated, so short of a time machine I was stuck as for the real atmosphere of the period.

What I needed was someone who’d been there then; a living witness. And by good fate and chance, I found one in my condo block in Los Angeles.

The German-born woman’s name was Ursula and she’d been fourteen years old in 1945. She agreed to talk to me.

Her eyes were haunted as she recounted the shelling; women hit by shrapnel as they stood in line to get water from a stand-pipe. The hunger and her mother desperately carving meat from a just-killed horse.

The ‘hurra-hurra’ cries of the Russian front-line soldiers, and the screams of women being raped in their homes. Ursula’s account wasn’t unique, my books contained such accounts, but hearing her account made it real for me, and I believe contributed to the later scenes I wrote.

So…your novel is set in Paris, or Venice, or New York. First off try to find someone who is from there, has lived there or visited a lot. Then just talk to them about the place.

Ask them about smells? What does Paris smell like in the spring or fall? Do the drains still whiff pungently? (They used to when I first went there).

Is there the pungent aroma of Gauloises and Gitanes cigarettes? Does the Metro still have a lingering scent of steel and blast furnace as it did, or have the new luxurious cushioned carriages eliminated that?

What do Parisians eat for breakfast – croissants? (More likely a chunk of bread without butter – and strong, bitter coffee).

Do French women still say “Ooh-la-la…” and do French men struggling with English say, “It ees, ‘ow you say, ze…”

The former is – incredibly  – true, they do. The latter is a cliché to be avoided like the plague (forgive the satire).

What newspaper would a Parisian sit reading in a café – Le Monde the cerebral world-respected journal? In my view he’s more likely to read Le Figaro. (As in New York you’d more likely see someone reading the Daily News than the New York Times).

See what I’m getting at? Try to get outside the kind of tourist brochure cliché of Paris and the French people (or any city) and inside the reality.

Do French people always say “Bonjour’ and “Bonsoir” on greeting you? Yes, they do. It’s almost compulsory. And you’re supposed to say it too. Don’t, and they’ll say you are ‘mal eleve.’ Badly brought up.

I’m not going to go on about what I think the real Paris is, but you can find it out from people who’ve lived there or visited.

And from movies; watch French movies, older ones if your story is set some while ago, and modern ones if it’s set there now. Get a feel for the rhythm of Parisian (or French) life.

Let the images soak in until you’re absorbing the culture the mode of living. Do Frenchmen still wear berets? Well, only the older ones. Do all French people smoke? It’s not as bad as Tokyo or Eastern Europe and smoking is banned in all public places, but smoking is ubiquitous in public spaces, especially in Paris.

As for Paris, so to for Venice, or New York, or Cleveland – or indeed any town or location you can’t visit. And if your novel is set in a time that no-one can possibly be alive now, then read first-hand accounts, even old travel books. It’s astonishing what information you can turn up.

Do anything and everything you can to make that place – and time – come alive.

Another incredible source of information on past places and times are reproductions of newspapers of that period. They are quite commonplace now and yield masses of information about prices (from the advertisements) and the minutiae of daily life.

French WW2 magazine

I have sets of French newspapers from World War Two which were invaluable in writing a script called, ‘To The Very Gates’ about a woman arrested in Vichy France in 1942 and sent to Auschwitz.

French newspapers WW2

Look for the little, apparently inconsequential things. I was once researching the life of King George the Third, the man who ‘lost America’, That is, the American Revolution happened on his watch.

Everyone knows that George suffered periods of insanity (caused by a condition called porphyria) and films have been made of it like, “The Madness of King George.”

But reading a book on the American Revolution I came across a little known fact about King George that I one day hope to use.

He wasn’t terribly eclectically educated, but when caught out on something he didn’t know, he would bluff and affect to think it strange.

Some American colonists were describing a new agricultural development to him. The King not having the faintest idea what they were talking about, but not wishing – as he saw it – to show his ignorance, stroked his chin, pulled a puzzled face, and said, “Well that’s very strange. Very strange indeed.”

The colonists were baffled and embarrassed as well they might be. And I swear that one day that line is going into something I write.

So from Gitanes to George, from Berlin to regal bafflement, there’s always something you can add to your script by off-the-grid research.

Good hunting!


Banana Bread Recipe

I make this banana bread about twice a month. Both my picky eater boys love this recipe! It’s a safe food for both of them and I’ve added some healthier ingredients like whole wheat flour, flax seed and oatmeal to the mix.

I make mini muffins, but the recipe can be easily adapted for loaves of banana bread. However, my kids ONLY eat the mini muffin versions.


It does make a pretty loaf though:

TIP: Freeze your over-ripe bananas in a freezer bag and add to it until you have enough to make banana bread. Takes about 4-5 good sized bananas.


By Scout Semmes



½ CUP BUTTER – softened to room temperature


1 ½ CUPS MASHED BANANAS – overripe are best










⅓ cup Flax Seeds

2 TBLS Brewer’s Yeast


  1. Heat oven 350 degrees. Grease bottoms of muffin and/or loaf pans (or use baking cups for muffins)
  2. Mash bananas in a medium bowl with a potato masher or your electric mixer.
  3. In a separate large bowl, mix sugar and butter with a spoon until well incorporated and smooth. Or use your electric mixer.
  4. Add eggs to butter and sugar. Mix until eggs are well blended to create a creamy texture.
  5. Add bananas, milk, oil and vanilla; beat until smooth.
  6. Stir in flour, oatmeal, baking soda and salt. (add optional ingredients if desired at this point) Mixture will have a “batter-like” consistency.

Divide batter evenly among greased pans and/or muffin cups. Fill greased pans with batter: ¾ full for loaf pan and ¾ full for muffin cups.

Bake 45 minutes – one hour for loaf, 25 minutes for muffins, and 19-22 mins for mini muffins or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 mins. Remove carefully from pans to cooling rack.

Makes about 2 loaves OR about 5 dozen mini muffins

To freeze muffins:

Wait until completely cool. Remove muffins from cupcake pans to a sheet tray. Place muffins on sheet tray without allowing them to touch. If you need more room put aluminum foil on top of the first layer and put the rest on top of the aluminum foil. Freeze for 30 minutes or until flash frozen. Remove to marked freezer bag and seal for up to two months.

To freeze loaves:

Wait until completely cool. Wrap in plastic wrap. Place in marked freezer bag and seal for up to two months.

To defrost mini muffins:

Remove 3 muffins from bag and put on a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 10 seconds. Let stand if too hot.


Defrost in refrigerator until soft

Download the recipe PDF here:

Banana Bread Muffins

Real Research: Writing about faraway places – Guest Post by Stuart White


Tales from the Falkland Islands…and writing research tips!

I am proud to present a guest post by my friend and mentor, Stuart White. Please read his impressive biography HERE.

Real Research: Writing about faraway places

A guest post by Stuart White

I’ve been up since dawn and I’m peering across a grim, rain-swept bay to a small mist-shrouded harbor as a ship’s tiny tender battles against the buffeting gale towards the shore.

And not for the first time in my travelling-writing life I wonder,

“What the hell am I doing here?”

“Here” in this case happens to be the Falkland Islands, 8,000 miles from my home in England.

It’s off the tip of South America and there’s nothing south of it except Antarctica.

And the answer – or excuse perhaps – is, I’m doing research on a film script whose locations all lie in South America, the South Atlantic or the Pacific west of that continent.

And my trip is all the more strange perhaps since I actually wrote the script two years ago!

It’s about two now mostly ignored World War One sea battles a hundred years ago involving the British Royal Navy and the German Imperial Navy that were pivotal to the eventual Allied – including American – victory.

It’s also a dramatic story of intense personal and international rivalry involving figures like Churchill and the German Kaiser.

This trip will take me from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Montevideo,



Anchor from the German pocket battleship Graf Spee in Montevideo. The Graf Spee was scuttled in the River Plate just off Montevideo in 1939 after being badly damaged by British ships. It’s relevant to my research because the ship was named AFTER (or for, depending on usage) Admiral Graf von Spee who is the subject of my film script – an Admiral in the First World war. (photo property of Stuart White)


Uruguay; the Falkland Islands; round Cape Horn,


Cape Horn

Cape Horn (island) where one goes ’round the Cape’…the very tip of South America. (photo property of Stuart White)

up the Magellan Strait…then the Chilean fjords

Chilean fjords

Chilean Fjords – photo property of Stuart White

ending at the large port of Valparaiso and the country’s capital, Santiago.


South American Street Scenes

photo property of Stuart White

photo property of Stuart White

It started like this: I was commissioned to write a script called Death at Sea for a Hollywood production company, and duly did. The project is in development right now.

So far the script has had rave reviews. But….I know there’ll be re-writes, there always are. And something nagged at me. I am never comfortable setting one of my books or scripts in a location I’ve never visited.

I’m lucky in that respect as during my career, especially as a journalist and foreign correspondent, I’ve visited more than eighty- five countries, lived in three, including the United States for a total of more than eleven years. (And I’ve visited forty-four of America’s states, too).

I’d even been to four countries in South America. But…I was writing about Montevideo and I’d never been; about the Falkland Islands and…I’d never been. Valparaiso, Chile. Ditto.

So when I happened upon a ship that was visiting all those places on a 15 night voyage I knew I had to take that trip, so that when I eventually come to do the re-write I’ll be better informed.

“How so,” I hear you cry? “Come on Stuart, get with the times dude. With Google anyone can find anything about anywhere; statistics, history, maps, satellite photographs.  It’s child’s play. No need to leave your desk.”

Well yes, but in my view also – no.  Statistics and dry facts don’t tell you everything. You can’t hear them or see them – not really – and you can’t smell and feel them.

Statistics and dry facts don’t tell you everything.

I’ve read novels and scripts set in places such as Paris, New York, London and I just know the writer has never set foot there. They don’t have the sense of it, the smell of it, and the feel of it.

Absolutely nothing gives you the true sense of a place like going there…then it becomes real, and your book or script leaps from the possibly banal and clichéd (and frequently inaccurate) to one with verite.

I wanted to go to the Falklands because our script centers around two battles. In December 1914 a British fleet sank four German warships and drowned 1,800 German sailors about 40 miles off its coastline.  Six weeks earlier a German fleet had sunk two British ships and killed 1,500 men off Coronel in Chile.

I wanted to see exactly where those men died, witness the cruel sea as they did.  

I needed to feel the juddering, pitching of a ship beneath me as it battled high seas and howling gales, and try to imagine the terror of being sunk there!

And later in my voyage I had the thrilling – if eerie – opportunity of knowing the exact moment I was sailing over the precise locations where the battles had taken place; and where fathoms below me, the wrecked ships and the hundred year old remains of those brave men lay.

To me that is research. It sends a shiver down my spine now as it did at the exact moment I passed over the locations, to think that what I had written about had one day been cruel reality for these men.

When I come to the inevitable re-write, that will inform and inspire my work as nothing else can.

Next time: Precisely what I did in the Falklands and later locations in terms of actual research; and what the producers had me do also to help with the project.

And how if you can’t afford the time or expense of visiting a location, the best way of putting spice, and smell and feel and atmosphere into your research.


Five Recipes Reviewed: January 2017

I made a few meals this week. Most were tried and true deliciousness!

(Edited to add in Feburary of 2018: As of today, my family doesn’t like or eat anything from this list with the sole exception of the Whole Wheat Banana Bread. We had these recipes a few times, got tired of them really quickly, and never wanted them again. After a few tries, they were neither very tasty nor in keeping with our diets.) Read More

Choosing my word for 2017

Choosing my word for 2017: Author

I wanted to choose a word for the year to help keep focus for my goals. I got wise and had a discussion with my super-awesome-husband. We chatted a bit about my mini weekly goals and my goals for the year. Together, we chose the best possible word for me: Author.
This word is, and has been, at the root of my goals for years.
From NaNoWriMo 2015, to this past year I kept at my writing projects even with a baby in tow and an energetic 4-year-old. This year, I want to put this word at the forefront for focusing myself on my three weekly goals.
My end goal for my books is to self-publish to Kindle e-Books.
From now on, I will set every weekly mini-goal with this word in mind.
It think it’s very fitting that I choose a word in January, because that’s my birth month! I’ll be doing a little celebrating next week. I LOVE cookie cake. It’s one of my weaknesses…I plan on indulging.


Best recipe of the week:

Chicken breast: I made 8 chicken breast meals.
I kept it super simple this week for food. It’s been a rough week.

For the chicken breasts, I found this video. It’s super helpful for a cooking novice like myself!
It’s a simple “recipe” or technique as he calls it. I have made chicken breasts this way all week long. My husband says that, in our almost 6 years of marriage, this is his favorite way that I have prepared chicken breasts!

Worst recipe of the week:

I tried his recipe for “brats” or bratwurst. I did not care for it at all. I guess I just didn’t care for that type of sausage. It was so bad that we tasted it and then threw it out. Some might judge me for being wasteful, but the taste was horrible. I was not going to eat it.
Anyone who does like this sausage please forgive me! (And kindly send me a better recipe.)

Writing my novel:

I’ve been delving deeper into my villain’s character, exploring his motivation for why he’s opposing my main character. I’m also exploring my female protagonist’s emotional depth. She experiences a lot of guilt and I want to show her past and the reasons why she feels this way. Interestingly, I haven’t done much with my main character and I’m almost 25k words in. What do you think that says about my story?


I’ve been cleaning the kitchen plus one room for the second week straight. I did not expect it to make such a huge difference! It helps me keep concentration when I sit down to write.

I’ve been really feeling the space in my head with the clean rooms. It’s like I can breathe more easily! I love how having a clean home makes me feel. It’s so much more effort than I anticipated even with just two rooms, but it is so worth it for me.

To keep me motivated, I’ve been listening to A Slob Comes Clean. I just discovered this podcast and it’s wonderful!

Comment below and tell me about your week!

Meal Prepping Challenge: Week One


One of my goals is to meal prep 8 individual meals per week. This is to make more time for writing by spending less time in the kitchen.
Meal Prepping is going great so far. It’s helping me and my family to eat better without stressing over cooking every night.
  • Prepping Individual Meals
I love prepping Crockpot freezer meals and freezer cooking in general. But lately I’ve also been loving prep for individual healthy meals!
In the videos we watched they had similar meal prep containers, but I got super cheap ones from Kroger. They were $1.99 for 4.

Our meal prep containers:

Prepping individually packaged, from-scratch meals makes it so easy to eat a healthy meal even when pressed for time or when trying to juggle small kids. I can just grab a meal out of the fridge (or even freezer) with very little prep, if any. Also, this works great for making sure my husband has lunches to bring to work that are:

1. Appetizing
2. Healthy
@fitcouplecooks YouTube videos are so easy and so good for individual meals. We’ve done a few and so far: delicious. I’ve made variations on their meals in the last couple weeks:

I’ll confess a little secret. I’ve stepped out of our comfort zone with two ingredients.

  1. Brown rice
  2. Quinoa

I’m embracing new and healthier options! I didn’t even know how to cook it these correctly before this past week.

 Thankfully, @fitcouplecooks provided perfect, delicious instructions for quinoa and brown rice!
  • More @fitcouplecooks goodness…

My husband made their delicious healthy chicken nuggets! This was an A+ winner recipe. I don’t have a pic…because we ate it all!

I’d recommend @fitcouplecooks recipes available on YouTube. They have easy to follow videos and inspired me to build my own meal prep meals!

Here’s a look at what I’ve done this week for my 8 meals!

  • Black bean brown rice burgers – 2 meals (frozen for later)

I made a huge pot of black beans from scratch the other night, so I’ve been trying to find ways to use them.
Note: making beans from scratch is a great way to use your crockpot! Also, making them from scratch is a good way to make beans that don’t have added salt, like you would find in canned beans.
I found a great black bean burger recipe. I’ve made some failed black bean burgers, but this one is even husband-approved! (I omitted the onions.)
  • salad with black beans and quinoa – 4 meals

I added salsa, taco sauce and cheese and heated in the microwave. Delish!

Confession: I did not follow the recipe exactly…
Here are the ingredients I used (“to taste”) for the ground beef:
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Taco Bell mild sauce
Taco seasoning
(Cooked) Black Beans
And after cooking, I topped with:
We ate this with organic, low-salt corn chips.
The Nachos fed us each dinner plus at least 4 more meals in leftovers!
I’m over my quota for meals this week; which means more time for writing, less time cooking.
Apparently, I don’t have to sacrifice healthy meals to make time for writing. Meal prep for individual meals has bought me time all week!
Do you meal prep, freezer cook or crockpot freezer cook? Let me know how you save time in the kitchen!

Still loving Scrivener and trying to stay sane

I’m still using Scrivener every day, and I gotta say, I love the little bugger. It’s so convenient.

  1. I can work on my computer *if* I get a chance to sit down at my computer during the day.
  2. If (more like WHEN) I get sidetracked, I can have my book in my pocket. Even if I don’t get a chance to do any hard-core writing, I can still go back and at least review my outline to keep the story and characters fresh in my mind. For me, that’s so important. Even if I don’t get a chance to sit down and do any writing for a week because I’m so burned out, I at least don’t lose the story. It’s so hard for me to come back from that because I feel like I have to start over when that happens. Jeff Goins explains the importance of writing every day on his podcast here.

For all you breastfeeding mommas out there…this little app, Scrivener for iOS, is a godsend. It syncs with the computer and the computer syncs with my phone. Brilliant.
Yes, for me there are a few little kinks. I’ve gotten some weird “conflicts” registered on my phone and computer. This happens if I don’t sync immediately after I’m done writing and then I switch to the other device to continue writing. It takes a little getting used to, but I’m loving it. Moral of that story is to sync immediately upon finishing writing on whatever device so that it syncs to the Dropbox. From Dropbox, everything syncs and it’s all good.

Today, I got another THOUSAND words done. I didn’t think I’d have the energy. It was a long day, but a good day with my kids. I love to be a SAHM and I’m writing at night now. It’s kinda killing me because I’m up so much at night nursing the baby, but I feel better after writing. If I don’t write, I might feel less tired because I sleep instead, but I feel more FULFILLED when I write.

I know there is a balance and a breaking point. If I write and don’t  sleep, sleep deprivation will catch up to me. I pushed that yesterday. I pushed myself too hard after staying up all night with the baby. My husband gets the brunt of my bad mood when I do this. Thankfully, he’s a very patient man and very supportive of my goal to finish my book. Don’t get jealous ladies, but he cleaned the house, did laundry and the dishes for me. Because he knew I was tired and stressed.

I’m tired because I’m nursing my 9-month-old all night. I’m stressed because I’ve been fighting to find affordable health insurance for my youngest son. I know there are many families with the same or worse challenges, but I’m bummed with this. So far my search has been fruitless, frustrating and depressing. But I always feel better knowing that, at the end of the day I can go write on my book for an hour or so. If I ever make money from this book, the proceeds will likely go towards funding my youngest child’s health insurance premiums. It’s more of an incentive to finish right now than anything else.

To the end of writing-to-keep-me-sane, I highly recommend using Scrivener in iPhone app and computer program form. It’s helping me knock those words out even on difficult days like my last few days have been.

I’m finishing this post while nursing my son back to sleep. He’s so sweet.

Everyone, keep writing especially if you’re doing NaNoWriMo. The world needs your stories!