Monday, September 15, 2014

Grocery budgets and life lately

Well y'all.
I feel so awkward writing a post after MONTHS of silence! But life has been insanely busy. From mid-July until THIS Sunday almost non stop at least one member of our family or all of us have been out of town. It's been nuts. A good kind of nuts.
Late Summer also brought with is some defining moments for me as a mama. All Spring and Summer I'd been writing prayer cards with questions. Questions I was asking about my life of the Lord. Questions I prayed over. Every. Single. Morning. And one by one. In tiny little ways the Lord began to answer each and every one. Sometimes the answers weren't want I wanted. Sometimes they were glorious. Many of the big answers to my prayers came at the end of Summer. They slammed into me. One by one. Wave upon wave of emotions overwhelmed as the Lord opened me eyes. Allowed me courage. Allowed me to say in some situations "No. You may come here but no further. THIS. This stops today" Things that had been allowed to go on in my life for years and years were finally brought to a head. It was scary. It was beautiful.
Some answers were truly sweet. A positive pregnancy test Easter morning. Little boys growing from babies to little men before my eyes. Growth in my marriage. Growth in my heart.
Something else that happened over the past few months is Chris and I started to really simplify our life. With Oliver coming in December, it was time to truly decide what was important to us as a family. A few things surfaced for us: Home schooling the boys. Living a slow, and simple life with our children. Growing Merri Babies and hopefully taking it to the next level-We would love for it to become a family business one day and not just my business where I work from home part time. Continuing to build a community of precious friends around us as our family grows.
We also wanted to pay off a little debt before Oliver came, and part of paying off that debt began by simplifying and cutting our budgets down. WAY down. Especially the grocery budget. We realized that we were wasting SO much food. And that needed to stop. Chris put me in charge of the grocery issue and I got right to work. With a lot of research, prayer, and pinteresting I've been able to keep our budget at around $50 a week. It has not been easy but I feel really good about where we are right now. I've been adhering to this budget for a few months now so I feel pretty comfortable sharing more about it with you on here.

To keep to the budget I shop at a few places: Aldi mostly. Costco, the local farmers market, and Trader Joe's. This week I only went to the Farmer's market and Aldi. I also made another big change to our shopping budget by finding another farm source for our raw milk. I'm able to pay only $6 a gallon with a .50 delivery fee per gallon instead of $11 a gallon. Whew! That was killing me.
I was a little nervous about this shopping trip because we had been out of town on and off for weeks-so we were out of A LOT of the basics. We eat very simply anyway so this isn't usually a problem BUT we were totally out of meat. I don't get my 40lbs of Zaycon Foods all natural chicken until Oct and we had eaten the last of a bulk purchase of grassfed beef before we left for North Carolina the week before. So things were a bit dicey.
I try and NOT buy any beef or chicken unless it's in bulk and up to our high quality standards. So every now and then we have a few weeks where we eat vegetarian while I finish saving for a new shipment of beef, or until a chicken sale happens at Zaycon.

Anyway- here is the breakdown money/food wise for us for the next two weeks (started on Saturday)

I was able to buy 2 gallons of raw milk on Friday for $13. This SHOULD last us two weeks if I'm careful.

Ben and I went to the Winter Park Farmer's market on Saturday morning and bought three $1 grab bags filled with cucumbers, red peppers and onions. We bought $4 worth of tomatoes and a basket of peaches for $5. That's $12 total for that trip. The cucumbers are for snacks and the onions, tomatoes and peppers I'll use for crockpot marinara with my basil from the back yard and probably chop up for fried rice one night. (Side note- It was SUPPOSED to be marinara. I used half the veggies we bought but I added too much water and it ended up being really, really good tomato soup!)

2 bags of gmo free corn chips
2 bags of pepperoni
4 packages of bacon (two a week for breakfast. It becomes our family meal four days out of the week since Chris isnt home for dinner on nights when he works)
1 large package of dried black beans (I NEVER buy cans anymore. So much cheaper to soak and cook myself)
4 lbs of butter (We only cook with butter, bacon grease (yummmm!) or coconut oil)
2 containers sour cream
1 jar natural peanut butter (this is Christopher Robin's favorite thing in the whole world. Give him the jar and a spoon and he is in hog heaven)
2 packages cream cheese (Melt half a package with black beans and 2 tablespoons home made taco seasoning. Add to rolled up tortillias and bake for some aaamazing black bean burritos)
2 packages tortillas
6 pack of raisins
1 package blueberries-These are from a Florida farm so I was okay with buying them. They're for pancakes :)
4 dozen eggs-We eat A LOT of eggs. And usually I go and get the two dozen organic free range eggs from Costco but at $8 a pack I went the $1.49 route this time.
Total: 62.03

Grand total for the two week ($50 a week or $100 total) grocery budget: 87.03. I will need to buy coffee soon so that will come out of this budget as well. But so far so good :) I'll also buy fresh fruit with whatever money is left over at the local farmers market next weekend.
Also- I planned my meals on a monthly timeline and make an entire pinterest board of all the recipes to keep myself more organized. Here is the link to my September board

Enjoy friends!! I hope this inspires you :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Merri Babies giveaway!

I usually TRY and keep this personal blog about all things Merri men related seperate from my business Merri Babies, BUT I can't let my faithful readers miss out on a super cute giveaway going on over at

In your vast amount of space time today, head on here to the giveaway
and enter to win the cutest gift set ever! I'm obsessed with the elephants!
That's all I got for today :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Healing my soul, one loaf of bread at a time.

Lots of things going on in my mind and heart this month. It's a mixed bag of emotions for me, this crazy month of March. My first born Ben, was born this month. His sweet little existence rocked my world in such a beautiful way. But it's also the month (It's all the same week actually) I lost my precious brother, two days before we also celebrated my brother's birthday. Such joy. Such aching grief. All there. All so very real, and all very worthy of a place in my heart.
As I sort through these emotions, I've taken to creating. I've been doing a lot of new stuff with my business, but I'm also baking a lot as well. (If you're wondering, the state of my laundry is INSANE!)
Baking is hard for me because it is so precise. But at times, I need that kind on consistency in my day to day routine. I usually bake many different breads, change it up for our family every now and then, since we don't buy bread at the store.
But, THIS recipe I'm about to share with you today, HEALS MY SOUL. I'm not being dramatic. At all.
Every time I make it, I know that flour+salt+yeast+water+time= a culinary masterpiece. If you want to get real crazy, you could say this bread recipe is a lot like me. Very simple life+lots of time+days spent in the fire (ha!)= a joyful existence.

Maybe that's reaching a bit far ;)

Ben says: shut ya mouth already lady, and gimme the bread recipe!

So without further ado, here is the most simple, easy, soul healing bread you're ever going to make. EVER.

6 cups Organic, unbleached all purpose flour (Do not skimp on this! Use the organic unbleached, you won't be sorry! Do not use whole wheat, do not, do not, do not!)
3 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
3 cups water

That's it! Oh yeah, and you need a dutch oven, or some oven safe pot that has a lid.

Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in a big bowl. Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon. It's not going to look pretty. Once it's combined, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it hang out on the counter for 12-18 hours, or over night. I always make mine right before bed, then bake in the morning.

after it's risen for 12-18 hours- put your dutch oven IN the oven, empty, with the top on, and turn on the oven to 450.

While the oven is pre-heating divide the dough into two round pieces. You'll need lots of flour for this. Leave the two pieces of dough to rest for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes remove the dutch open (carefully!) and gently drop one round piece into the pot. Put the top on and place it back into the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes with the top on, then remove the top and bake for an additional 15 minutes (My oven is super hot and took about 10 mins)
Remove the bread from the dutch oven, let it cool on a cooling rack and repeat with the other loaf.

Ain't it pretty?!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sadness and yogurt

The boys are playing relatively quietly in Ben's room with legos and the sound machine. So I thought I'd take a hot minute and write a post about the most amazing thing to come out of my crockpot since cinnamin rolls..

home made yogurt!!

I actually have been making home made yogurt in my crockpot for years, but I stopped making a lot of things from scratch after we lost the baby back in October. I lack creativity in some areas of life when I'm sad. Which is totally okay. It's a GOOD thing to rest and be kind to yourself when you're grieiving! It's also a good thing to allow yourself the freedom to be sad. Surprised I'm still talking about the miscarriage? I think it's on my mind more and more as my due date in April approaches. But that's another blog post in itself.
This one is about yogurt :)

For crockcpot yogurt you need three things: A crockpot. 1/2 gallon organic or raw whole milk. 1/2 cup organic yogurt. And a lot of time at home. We are home all day every day so this isn't a big deal for us, but do this over a weekend if you work out of the home.

As usual, I want to give credit to the origignal recipe, and here is the link:

Here is my version:

1/2 gallon raw or organic milk. I used the Publix Greenwise brand for this.

1/2 cup organic yogurt. I used Stonyfield organic whole milk, french vanilla yogurt. I also used a little more than half a cup.

--thick bath towel

The Directions.

Turn your crockpot to low and add half gallon of milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.

Turn off crockpot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours. I'm really bad about remembering crockpot cooking times so I stuck a sticky note on the crockpot with a "I'm done at 4pm" kinda note, because I'm a space cadet like that.

When 3 hours, scoop out 2 cups of the milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup yogurt. Then pour the bowl contents back into the crockpot. Stir to combine.

Put the lid back on your crockpot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation.

I went to bed, but you could always just time it for 8 hours. Again, sticky notes help a lot if you're a nut like this girl.

In the morning when you wake up, prepare to have you mind blown. I'm not even kidding. Stick a long spoon in that wonderful-ness and it will be thick!!!!!!! I died a little the first time I did this.
Pour your yogurt into a half gallon mason jar if ya wanna get fancy, and allow it to chill all the way through. Then add some honey to sweeten, toss some granola on top..and yum!!
Should stay fresh in your fridge for about 10 days.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Whole Foods and Chicken Curry

I am madly in love with Whole Foods. I'm not kidding. Chris and I go there on dates. It's my happy happy happy place.
But what I don't love about whole foods is I can blow my entire monthly budget there, and come home with exactly one sack of groceries. But one thing I can't resist at Whole Foods is their curry chicken salad . I'm not proud of it, but there have been times I've sat in the van with the kids watching a DVD in the backseat and I've eaten that yumminess straight out of the container..without a fork. Yup. I'm a nut. But y'all..After chasing to boys around all day, Mama gets hungry!
But good news!!! I found a recipe that is surprisingly easy and just as yummy as the stuff at WF.

As usual, here is the link to the original recipe:,,20609982,00.html

And here is my tweaked version:

• 2 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts
• 2 tbsp. curry powder
• ¼ cup real fruit jam-I used home made orange marmalade
• ¼ cup organic sour cream
• ¼ cup mayonnaise
• ¼ cup finely chopped organic celery
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (I ended up having to boil the chicken instead of bake, but I prefer baking)

2. Rub the chicken breasts with 1 tbsp. curry powder, sea salt and pepper, place them on a lightly greased baking sheet and roast until a meat thermometer registers 125 to 160 degrees in the thickest part, or until the juices run clear. This is usually about 35 minutes. Once the chicken is baked, throw it in your kitchen aid mixer. Yup! Your mixer. Turn the mixer on low speed and lock it. Let the mixer shred the chicken to the desired size you want.

3. After the chicken is shredded, throw in 1 Tablespoon curry powder with jam, sour cream and mayonnaise. Mix. Then add in the celery and salt and pepper and mix. And you're done!
This should keep in the fridge for about 5 days. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Costco, Farmers market, and my idols.

Okay y'all. I'm coming down from the mountain of fun we had at Target (insert sarcasm here) and a oven repair man who wanted to know why my THREE year old was not in school, and then proceeded to make some pretty "judgey" comments about home schooling. Blah....

I've got lavender oil in the diffuser right now, hoping it will chill out this major attitude I have.
As I mentioned in the precious grocery budget post, I've spent a total of $107 on groceries so far.
I have two more trips to add to this budget now.

First- Costco. Costco was about stocking up on basics that didn't need to be baked and items that could be kept in the freezer.
I bought:
2 flats of Sweet Hawaiian Rolls 3.69 each (These rolls are obviously not as healthy as the home made bread and whole wheat hamburger buns I make, but they are a nice option to keep in the freezer for left over BBQ chicken, chicken salads, etc for lunches. Plus they are the perfect size for sliders)
2 sacks of hot dog buns 4.69 each (I made a mistake and bought the large buns. Oops! again, not super healthy but we are always having company over and hot dogs are a fantastic option for little guys)
2 packages Hebrew national hot dogs. 10.39 each (I'd obviously prefer the Coleman brand hot dogs, but those are only a seasonal item)
2 packages Kerrygold Grass fed butter 6.99 each (I cannot say enough about how amazing this butter taste and how great is it for you! We bake with it, cook eggs and veggies in it, and I make butter candy with it for the little dudes)
Total: 62.21

Every Monday night I try and make my way up to the Audubon Park Farmers Market. This is where I get my raw milk, farm fresh eggs, and try out fun cuisine for dinner. My little brother Robin baby-sat the little men so Chris and I actually went together and made it a date. Nothing like sipping a beer, and holding hands with your hubby while buying raw milk. those three things MAY or may not be my idols. Ha!
I bought 3 gallons of raw milk (We go through three gallons a week) at $11 a gallon- $33
and 2 dozen free range, farm fresh eggs at $4 a dozen. Which made my total $44

Alrighty. Let me break down the budget numbers for you so far:
I have $320 every month for groceries, toiletries, etc.
Costco- 62.21
Farmers Market $41
Total for Feb-$210.21 Yikes!! Only 89.79 left for the entire month. Let's see how it goes for the rest of the month!

again- Here is my menu for February:
Meals for February:

Bacon and eggs and granola
Granola and scrambled eggs
Organic animal crackers with apples dipped in peanut butter and honey
Eggs over spinach with hollandaise sauce
Organic cheerios with dried fruit
Cinnamon Rolls
Potato and cheese skillet with eggs
Florentine hash skillet
Whole wheat chocolate chip muffins
Oatmeal with dried fruit and maple syrup


Hot dogs and chips and dried fruit
Granola and bacon
Annie's Bunnies and cheese
Left overs
Bean and cheese burritos
Grilled chicken in rice with green veggies
BBQ chicken and guacamole quesadillas
Tacos or nachos
Curry chicken salad over Hawaiian rolls
BBQ chicken over baked potatoes with broccoli


Loaded twice baked potatoes
Veggie fried rice
Meatballs and potatoes
Korean Beef over rice
Burrito rice bowls
Broccoli and cheese soup
Crockpot pineapple chicken
Chicken and asparagus penne pasta
Roasted red paper Alfredo
Chicken avocado soup, or some kind of tortilla soup
Egg-drop soup and garlic chicken over fried rice

And for recipes here is my pinterest board for February:

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pristine parenting and clean up at check out!

One of these days I will learn, to grocery shop alone by any means necessary. I'll learn that it's worth paying my little brother in pizza to baby sit my wild babies, just so I do not have a heart attack every 4.7 seconds at the store. One child is always unbuckled (somehow??) from his belt at the front of the cart, trying to swan dive onto the floor. The other is picking up random items (Oh! mustard! this looks fun!) and throwing it in random strangers carts. And I'm over in the frozen section trying to find the dang organic blueberries. Yikes. Don't go to the Cassleberry Aldi at around 10ish every other Saturday, unless you want to see some pristine parenting going on in the seasonal isle.

I have finally trained the boys to do one thing exceptionally well when it comes to shopping. Check-out! One brother sits in the cart, hands the brother standing by me an item, and I place it on the belt for them. This is a pretty good system until we get to the wine...And then slippery hands aren't really ideal. "Clean-up at check out! I re-peat clean up at check-out! we need a mop y'all!"

In the midst of the craziness a lady walked out with me and told me she thought I was the kindest mama she'd met, and I was doing something right because my children were beautiful. I wondered if maybe she had been drinking some of that spilled wine...jk. I almost wept. Sweet, sweet lady. Made my day.

Aside from the shenanigans, this was a pretty successful Saturday of grocery shopping. Our oven is still broken due to three different people coming and and having three different opinions, all different from mine. Hello boys, this housewife can Google!
Therefore when making my grocery list I had to be honest with myself. I will most likely not be able to make a lot of snacks from scratch and cook a lot of dinners I had originally planned. So you may find my grocery list and menu slightly less healthy than usual, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Alrighty first is my Aldi trip:

Roasted veggie crackers 1.79 (These will be for turkey pepperoni. Ben likes to make sandwiches with them)

3 bags of Love Crunch dark chocolate organic granola 2.99 each(snacks for the boys and I)

Organic animal crackers 1.79 (snacks or breakfast with dried fruit)

2 packages Organic teddy grahams 2.49 each (these are in individual sacks, great for lunches out)

2 Organic cheese and pepperoni pizza 3.49 each (These are how we pay my little brother to babysit. His oven works! haha)

Organic O's cereal 1.99 (breakfast and snacks)

1 package organic strawberries and 2 Blueberries 2.69 each

1 large bag of non organic berries 2.29 (all frozen fruit is so smoothies)

Fruit and nut bars 3.99 (These are the aldi equal to kind bars. Yum!)

Organic spinach 2.49 (for smoothies, on tacos, for breakfast)

2 packs of tortillas 1.99 each (For quesadillas, breakfast burritos, tacos)

turkey pepperoni 2.79 (We never buy these but I got it as a treat for Ben)

3.25lbs of bananas 1.43 (smoothies, snacks)

Sour cream 1.29 (for tacos, curry chicken salad sandwiches)

Red and yellow peppers 2.29 (for roasted peppers pasta sauce)

Guacamole 2.99 (for tacos, dip, and bbq chicken quesadillas)

Shredded cheese 2 packages 2.99 (tacos, quesadilla, etc)

2 Whole bean breakfast blend coffee 3.99 each (I grind mine fresh every morning for my perculator)

4 packages of uncured bacon 3.89 each

2 packages non GMO big dipper corn chips 1.79 (nachos, etc)

BBQ sauce 2.29 each (crock pot bbq chicken)

Dried berries 2.49

2 Winking owl Merlot 2.89 each

I spent a little more than usual but it's worth it to be stressing less about when the oven will be working.

As usual here is my February Meal plan:

Meals for February:

Bacon and eggs and granola
Granola and scrambled eggs
Organic animal crackers with apples dipped in peanut butter and honey
Eggs over spinach with hollandaise sauce
Organic cheerios with dried fruit
Cinnamon Rolls
Potato and cheese skillet with eggs
Florentine hash skillet
Whole wheat chocolate chip muffins
Oatmeal with dried fruit and maple syrup


Hot dogs and chips and dried fruit
Granola and bacon
Annie's Bunnies and cheese
Left overs
Bean and cheese burritos
Grilled chicken in rice with green veggies
BBQ chicken and guacamole quesadillas
Tacos or nachos
Curry chicken salad over Hawaiian rolls
BBQ chicken over baked potatoes with broccoli


Loaded twice baked potatoes
Veggie fried rice Meatballs and potatoes
Korean Beef over rice
Burrito rice bowls
Broccoli and cheese soup
Crockpot pineapple chicken
Chicken and asparagus penne pasta
Roasted red paper Alfredo
Chicken avocado soup, or some kind of tortilla soup
Egg-drop soup and garlic chicken over fried rice

And for recipes here is my pinterest board for February:

I also went to Costco and spent 62.21 this time I kept my receipt! I also will be heading to the farmers market tonight to buy three gallons of raw milk and 2 dozen eggs. I'l be blogging about that trip tomorrow :) It's 80 here! So don't hate me but I'm going to go lay outside and get some sun :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Crock pot cinnamon rolls and lemonade

I don't know if you watch the show New Girl, but it's my guilty pleasure. Chris doesn't really get the humor, but I spend nearly the entire episode laughing hysterically. My laughter sounds an awful lot like Woody Woodpecker, so you can understand why Chris usually leaves room when I watch the show on Hulu. Cable free since 2011 y'all! Love me some Hulu, and the money we save.
I digress.. There is an episode where one of the guys in the show named Nick Miller messes something up and he says "Nick Miller, turning lemonade into lemons since 1977". I found it hilarious!! And started using that expression way to often, until Chris finally informed me I needed a new slogan. The Lemonade one was getting old. Oh Chris. Keeping me grounded since 2009. See what I did there?! (Initiate Woody Woodpecker laugh)
Anyway, our oven broke about two wees ago, and unlike Nick Miller, I'm big into making lemons INTO lemonade. It's just my personality. I thrive when given a challenge like a broken oven (and I whine too!).

Since I make our menus out by the month, and had already grocery shopped for most of the big menu items, I had to do some fancy foot work to make sure this whole oven fiasco didn't break the bank. Now I'm not one of those girls who uses her oven as storage for her sweaters. I use our oven several times a day y'all! The first big hurtle was breakfast. I finally found a fantastic recipe for Sweet Rolls that I could make in the crock pot!!!!! We've made these three times and each time I've tinkered with the recipe just a smidge.
Here is the original recipe:

And here is my recipe that I messed with just a bit:

Crockpot Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

The Dough
1 ¼ cups raw milk
¼ cup kerry gold butter
1 tsp salt
¼ cup organic sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
3.5 to 4 cups flour. 2 cups whole wheat bread flour 2ish cups of organic unbleached flour

Heat milk, butter, salt, and sugar to 120 degrees F . It's too hot if you can't stick your finger into the milk without it burning. You laugh, but this trick works! If it's too hot it will kill the yeast. Let is cool down for a few minutes if you get it too hot.
Add 2 cups of the flour and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the warm milk mixture and egg and beat on low to medium speed for about 3 minutes. Slowly add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft and pliable dough. Continue to kneed until the dough is smooth and elastic, and does not stick to the bowl. Cover and let rest for at least 20 minutes. I let mine rest for about an hour because...something nuts came up the boys. I think Ben cut his foot with a rock in the backyard. Ick!

The Filling
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp cinnamon
3/4 cup sucanat or brown sugar
Chopped nuts or raisins

Blend the filling ingredients together. Roll out the dough into a long rectangle. Then spread the filling all over the dough. Starting from a long end, tightly roll up the dough like a jelly roll. Cut evenly into slices about 2 inches thick, and place cut side down in the greased crock. I greased the crock pot with coconut oil. Cover with the lid and put in the fridge over night.

The Next Morning
Put the crock in the "pot" and turn it on low to allow the rolls to rise. Once they rise (about 30 minutes or so) turn the crock pot to high and put a dish towel under the lid to absorb some of the moisture. Cook for about an hour (check periodically).

I did not make any icing for my boys, and instead whipped up a little grass fed butter and honey for them to put on it.

Hope you enjoy these cinnamon rolls as much as we have!! I fry up some bacon, add some dried fruit and peculator coffee and it makes for a wonderful and easy breakfast!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

ALDI. Our budget.... and the screaming Banshee.

I keep meaning to write this blog post, but life has been getting in the way. I'm working on two new products for Merri Babies and it's taking up a lot of time. One requires a lot of research, and the other just requires a lot of new fabrics and a lot of time spent sewing. I am SUPER excited about both of these products however.

Alrighty, onto this blog post! Here is the run down of our grocery budget.

I try and keep groceries and household items, such as toilet paper, dish soap, body wash all to $320 a month.

That's about $160 for two weeks. Now this does NOT include our main meat such ground beef, and chicken breast. Those I buy every few months with money I've saved. I buy Zaycon Food's 40lbs of all natural chicken every season, and then about 25lbs if we can afford it, of ground beef from US Wellness Meats.
This does however, include organic whole chickens I buy from Costco, and uncured bacon I buy from either Aldi or Publix.

I'm hoping to make these post a series because there's SO much material to cover, and let's be honest, The Magic School Bus episodes only last 22 minutes y'all.

I originally would plan out our menu on a two week plan. Because I go BIG grocery shopping at Costco only once a month, but I go smaller grocery shopping every two weeks. I started to realize once a month menus work best for me. Also, I do not plan my meals for every single day. It's too much pressure for this lady. I go a little nutty if things are too organized, i'll be honest. Instead I go through our pantry and fridge, and then make out a list of meals I could make with what is on hand, and then I also make another list of what I'll need to buy if we don't have a few items in a recipe I'm making. Does that make sense? Then I just pick the meals I'd like to do based on what's going on during the week.

Here is what a basic monthly menu looks like for the Merrifield Family:

Meals for January:
Bacon and eggs
Granola and scrambled eggs
Nutella toast with raisins
Eggs over spinach with toast
Pumpkin muffins with bacon and eggs
Cinnamon Rolls
Potato and cheese skillet with eggs
Home made Graham crackers with peanut butter and dried fruit
Baked oatmeal with scrambled eggs
Mexican baked eggs

Hot dogs and chips and dried fruit
Granola and bacon with organic string cheese
Peanut butter and honey sandwiches with fried potatoes
Annie's Bunnies and cheese
Left overs
Bean and cheese burritos
Dried fruit with organic beef jerky and raw milk
Grilled chicken in rice with green veggies

Baked chicken and spinach flautas Loaded twice baked potatoes
Veggie fried rice Meatballs and potatoes
Oven baked chimichangas Korean Beef over rice
Black bean burgers Burrito rice bowls
Overnight chicken Home made Chicken nuggets
Garlic Chicken over Fried rice and egg drop soup
BBQ and chicken and avocado quesadillas
Ground beef crescents
Grilled chicken with rice and veggies

Now that is a lot of info! Most of the stuff is pretty simple, and I'm telling you now it's not all healthy! but for whatever I need recipes for I make a pinterest board for recipes for each months menus. Here is my January board:

I made a big trip to Costco earlier in the month to by in bulk my basics. I thought I had saved my receipt but now I can't find it. Darn it :( But I'm going to try and give you a list of what I bought, just not the exact prices like I'll be doing with my Aldi trip. I do know that my total at Costco was $120 however.

Costco Trip:
Hebrew national hot dogs
organic peanut butter (smoothies, sandwiches)
Organic sugar
Organic Maple Syrup
Organic frozen blueberries and strawberries (these are for smoothies)
Annie's bunny and cheese (healthier version of kraft mac n cheese)
4 dozen organic cage free eggs (We go through about 2-3 dozen, a week)
Kerrygold Cheese (I think it's about 2-3 lbs of cheese. It's a lot!)
Organic spinach, for smoothies, cooking etc
10lbs sack of potatoes
4 pack of their all natural pizza crust
1 large bag of organic corn chips
1 big bag of kirklands all natural fair trade chocolate chips (cookies for the boys, add to baked oatmeal)
Large tub or organic coconut oil

I ended up spending another $20 at ALDI that following week on some staples I needed to stock up on such as rice, butter, organic fruit, and tortillas for tacos.

So far the only thing I've gotten low on from my Costco trip is eggs, cheese, and spinach. I'll be picking those up at Sam's sometime next week since Sam's is a smidge closer and offers the same options.

I was thrown a curve ball over the past week in that our oven is broken. Which means, no pizza, No oven baked chimichangas, no home made bread for sandwiches and toast, no home made graham crackers, no chicken nuggets, no baked chicken and spinach flautas..Well I could go on and on but you get the picture! So I re-arranged some of of meals and then added some creative options as well, such as crockpot cinnamon rolls. Holy cinnamon y'all. Those little guys are a DELIGHT in the crock pot. Yummy in my tummy.

Since the oven went out, I was desperate to make an Aldi trip today with the little men today. So desperate I totally forgot Christopher Robin acts like a screaming banshee the moment you sit him in the cart. Yippee. I got lots of fun looks while throwing packages of bacon into my cart while Tiny Dancer yelled his lungs out and Ben kept asking "Momma. can we go home?! And play blocks? Baby is hollarin!" . What is it about Aldi and older people giving me judgey looks? I'm sure they think I should take that screaming curly headed child out to the wood shed. But we don't have a wood shed. So....There's that.

Anyway, enough dawdling: Here is my Aldi spread that will continue me onto my January Menu:
Organic animal crackers (we usually don't buy snacks, but since the oven is out...) 2.49
2 packs of small tortillas 1.99 each (for tacos, burritos and quesadillas)
Asparagus 2.29 (for the chicken and rice bowls I'm making up for Chris's lunches for work)
Frozen peas 1.09 (for fried rice)
Broccoli 1.09 (For fried rice)
2 packages of crescents 1.39 each(my splurge! We love ground beef crescents)
Two packages of blue organic GMO free corn chips 1.69 Each (snacks, nachos with taco meat, etc)
Dried berries 2.49 (CR is obsessed with dried fruit. Will not eat fresh fruit. He's an odd one!)
2 packages Organic String Cheese 2.99 each (snacks, lunches, etc)
3 lbs of bananas 1.33 (bananas bread, smoothies, snacks)
Organic apples 4.39 (Home made apple juice, snacks)
2 packages Organic carrots 1.49 each(snacks, lunches, juicing)
Pinto beans dried 1.79 (I NEVER buy canned beans. Too expensive. I soak them in my crockpot on low over night covered in at least 2 inches of water. Use them for burritos, soups, tacos, etc)
Black beans 2.39 (Same as above)
Frozen organic blueberries 2.99 (These will either be for smoothies or the filling for my next batch of sweet rolls)
4 packages (10 slices each) of all natural uncured bacon 3.89 each (breakfast, added to salad, lunches)
2 Pineapples 1.19 each (for juicing)
Winking Owl Merlot 2.89!!!!! Tried it tonight. Love it! I'm picky about my red wine, but this one I love.
1 red and 1 orange red pepper 2.29 (sliced for a snack or to add to stir fry)
Frozen raspberries and strawberries 2.29 (for smoothies)
Onion powder .99 (Chris hates onions! And I love them. Compromise is onion powder. Welcome to marriage :)
2 packages of butter (sadly they were out of organic) 2.39 each (baking, cooking eggs, veggies, etc)

And my grand total was: 72.66


Also, you may be wondering why I din't buy everything that is in these recipes on my board. That's because I buy a little extra of staples in the pantry or fridge every time Aldi has stuff I used often, on sale. Also, I make a lot of basics from scratch. I make my own chicken broth. I make my own bread and hamburger buns. I don't usually buy snacks for the boys. I make them, or pop them pop corn on the stove with coconut oil and 1/2 cup of my 50lb bag of popcorn :) I'm so cool.

After Aldi I made a quick trip to Whole Foods. Yikes! If you were looking for someone today, they were probably at Whole Foods. Everybody and their Mama was there today.
I picked up two half gallons of grass milk at 4.99 each, one container of whole milk organic yogurt 3.50 (This will be my starter for yogurt in my crockpot) and some organic black strap molasses for cookies and for the boys. I add it to their raw milk (When we're not out!) for a little extra iron. My total was around $20.

Here is my grand-ish total for the month of January:

$120 Costco
$20 Aldi
$72.66 Aldi again
$20 Whole Foods
Total: 232.66

Stay tuned :) I'll keep you updated on my next wildly exciting shopping excursion with Pete and Re-Pete Merrifield!

Friday, January 10, 2014


A few weeks ago when Chris and I were running errands, someone said something to me that hurt my feelings. REEEEEALLY bad.
So bad, that I cried the whole drive home, and poor C didn't even bother asking if I was okay. Boy isn't stupid! I was so incredibly not okay.
And let's be honest, I haven't been OKAY since October. I'm getting there, but it's been an interesting road. This poor girl, in all honesty, had no idea what she said would make me feel like I'd been sucker punched. I seriously doubt she had any idea how my heart aches. Did I feel (in that moment) like throwing a coffee pot at this girl? You betcha. But it was not her fault, at all.
As I pondered my heartache, this girls poorly chosen words, and my stage in life, I realized I had to be honest with myself.
Honest in where I was. Honest with myself about my journey, and where I find myself lately, as a wife and mama.

So here is life lately: Life lately is crumbled corn chips in the living room. It's castile soap covering Christopher Robin's entire body-because let's face it-kid gets creative when he's bored! It's train tracks covering the circumference of the house. It's a small house..Don't get too excited. It's dirty dishes in my sink, too many toys thrown in the pool, asking myself how many days I can go without a shower before my hair looks ridiculous, it's being asked 76 1/2 times if the boys can watch Curious George, it's crayons on the wall, deep conditioning Christopher Robin's curls so they continue to look A-dorable, but most of all it's navigating real life. Big brother little brother relationships, understanding my husband's needs, standing in the parking lot of Publix with Ben, asking him if eating Christopher Robin's sprinkle cookie was very loving. It's watching some of my dearest friends continue to be pregnant, and I'm just... not. It's taking the time to tell Ben I love him, no matter many how many times he thinks it's a good idea to tee tee off the side of his bunk bed..You'd be surprised...He thinks it's a good idea every other day....I love that kid.

My parents had a cross stitch of tulips framed in Ana Eason's and my room growing up. Under the tulips were the words "bloom where you are planted".

Well, I'm planted here. This is where the Lord wants me, Among the dirty clothes and legos and heartache. And I intend to bloom. In this stage. On this journey. I'm thankful. And blessed. Even in the midst of crayon drawings on the walls.