7 ways to make eating at home a breeze

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Eating at home is tricky. I understand. I have to admit to you, we used to eat out a lot. Between work, family, and home sometimes planning and cooking meals is the LAST thing we want to think about. 

When we committed to using the baby steps to pay off all our debt, the first area of our spending we knew we needed to tackle was our food budget. We have used these percentages are a GUIDE to track our spending and pay down debt. At the time, we need to cut our food bill in half to stay afloat. Eating out was no longer an option. 

I"ll be honest. It was not easy. I had never made an actual meal plan before.

Did I mention I really didn’t know HOW to cook?

Ten years later, we try to eat at home 6 nights a week.

Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot along the way. I’ve made plenty of mistakes. I’ve cooked food nobody wanted to eat. I’ve blown the weekly food budget many times.

But eating at home can mean MANY different things to different families. What works for you neighbor or you friend or your mother-in-law might not work for you and THAT’S OKAY!

You have options.

So many options.

Do want works for you.

Here are 7 great options for eating at home. Try one or try them all! You can do it.

  1. BUY A MEAL PLAN

Some people just don't love meal planning. I'm one of those people. It takes time to dig out cookbooks or find pins on Pinterest. Then you have to make a list and add side dishes. Did I mention, you have to do this every week? 

I'm a big fan of buying meal plans. Each week you receive a meal plan, recipes, AND the shopping list in a single document. You simply print and go to the store. 

You can get meal plans for any dietary restrictions or preferences.

Most meal plans are just a few dollars per week. Even if your budget is tight, I would strongly encourage you to purchase a meal plan. It is worth it! 

Some of our favorite weekly meal planning services:

Emeals (they even have an Aldi specific plan)

PrepDish - Great for Paleo and Gluten Free Meal Plans

Eat at Home 

2. HAVE SOMEONE GROCERY SHOP FOR YOU

Maybe you don't mind making meal plans but you don't love grocery shopping. Let's face it , grocery shopping takes a lot of time! If your weekends are full of family time or house projects, who wants to make time to shop? 

Take advantage of grocery delivery or pickup. Many store now offer grocery delivery. It's easier than ever. Check with our local store. I heard Aldi is considering partnering with Instacart soon!

We recently tried Walmart pickup on vacation. I loved it. It was so easy. If you have a busy weekend planned, consider setting up grocery pickup instead of going to the store!

3. MEAL DELVIERY KITS

Another great option is the purchase a meal delivery kit. Sure, you will pay more for the food but for our family this is cheaper than eating out. When my husband's work schedule to hectic, I order a meal kit.

It is a life saver for me. 

You can pause weekly kits to fit your schedule. You can also select certain meals based on preference or allergies.

If you have teenagers, meal delivery kits are a great way to get them in the kitchen. The directions are perfect for beginning cooks. My older can kids make these meals while I am shuttling siblings around town!

It's a win for all of us.

Meal Kits to Try:

Blue Apron

Hello Fresh

Plated

Sun Basket

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4. FREEZER COOKING

Freezer cooking used to overwhelm me. I'm not one to spend an entire day prepping freezer meals. I don’t have the time for all that.

I few years ago I started doing smaller freezer cooking sessions. I’d double a batch of cookies or granola and freeze one. I’d buy double the ingredients for dinner and prep the extra food for another night that month.

I also started using FreezEasy a few years ago. It is perfect for busy people who need to prep easy delicious food fast! It is one of my favorite things.

FreezEasy is my go to for busy people who need healthy, fast, meals in your freezer. Erin's recipes are fantastic. She has shopping lists and recipes ready to print or save to your phone. It could not be easier. Find out more here.

5. INSTANT POT

I was skeptical at first, but I love my instant pot. If you are curious, we have this one.

Especially if you have kids in sports, this small appliance is worth it! Figuring out what to cook in the instant pot is tricky.

Here are my main go-to for instant pot recipes. 

Freezer in an Instant by Erin Chase

Pinterest. I love Pinterest. I created a board for all things Instant Pot here.

6. SLOW COOKER 

I still use my crockpot too! Your instant pot will pressure cook and slow cook, so technically you don't need both!

I love my crockpot during the winter for soups and stews. I love it during the summer when I don't want to heat up the kitchen from the oven! 

My go-to Slow Cooker receipes: 

FreezEasy 

Sidetracked Sarah Freezer to Slow Cooker Meal Plan

10 Aldi Slow Cooker recipes you can make in one hour 

7. START A SUNDAY PREP

Another great option is to do a weekly prep. Pull out your meal plan for week and prep all your food on the weekend.

Precut all your veggies. Slice and season your meat. Prep any lunch or breakfast items for the week. Basically reduce your time in the kitchen during the week by prepping it over the weekend.

I set a timer for one hour, divide my tasks amongst any kids hanging out in the kitchen, and get to work. 

I like to divide up all my tasks into the following categories:

  • Chopping (veggies, fruit, potatoes, etc.)

  • Meat. Slice and season meat. Place in baking dish with a lid.

  • Lunches. Bake or prep any quick-breads or protein needed for lunches this week.

  • Snacks. Lay out yogurts, string cheese, and hardboiled eggs for quick snacks.

Need more meal planning help? Check out my FREE resources.

 

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HOW TO MAKE 10 FREEZER MEALS FROM ALDI IN 1 HOUR

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU.

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HOW TO MAKE 10 FREEZER FRIENDLY CROCK POT MEALS FROM ALDI 

We've been shopping at Aldi for almost a decade now. Ten years ago, we had just over $160,000 in debt and not a lot of income. We knew we needed to slash our spending dramatically to get ourselves out of financial trouble. 

Aldi seemed like a great place to start! 

Unfortunately, at that time I had ONE friend who shopped at Aldi. It wasn't as popular as it is today. The store is small and selections seemed limited. I struggled with what to buy and what meals I could make. 

I really didn't want to shop at multiple stores every week. I have 3 kids, a job, and a busy life. I really wanted to be able to swing into Aldi and get everything I needed for the week. 

I became passionate about finding GOOD recipes that were Aldi friendly. Food that is quIck and easy to prepare and flavorful to eat! 

One easy way to get an Aldi dinner on the table is to use your crockpot. We love our crockpot and as a busy mom, I cannot live without this thing! 

The trick is to find 5 crockpot meals your family loves and are easy to make. The next time you go to Aldi, double the ingredients and throw the extra meal in the freezer.

You have another meal for another night!

It really doesn't take that much time or brain power to do. Your future self with thank you! 

Let me show you our favorite 5 Slow Cooker Crock Pot Meals. 


THE BEST FREEZER TO CROCKPOT MEALS FROM ALDI YOU CAN PREP FAST!

There are so many great crockpot meals out there. Over the years, we keep coming back to the same tried and true recipes. 

POT PIE from Laura Greutman

I had no clue you make pot pie in the crockpot! This recipe is so easy. We've been known to make this meal on vacation AND at home. The kids request it. I love how quickly it goes together. 

Serve with biscuits and a green salad. 

TACO SOUP from Sidetracked Sarah.  This is the easiest soup to make for a crowd. It is great for leftovers. It is the ultimate dump and serve dinner!

Serve with corn chips, shredded cheese, and fresh veggies. 

FYI I love Sarah's slow cooker meal plan! Check it out here. It's one of my top favorite meal plans!

BBQ PORK from the Pioneer Woman. I came across this recipe from Pioneer Woman. It is easy to make. You can use this pork on sandwiches, pizza, or anything. 

Serve on hamburger buns with BBQ sauce and cheese. Mix a pre-made kale salad bag and serve with your sandwiches. 

TEX-MEX CHICKEN from Countryside Cravings.  You can use this for so many dinner ideas. Nachos, tacos, salads OR your own homemade Chipotle night! The options are endless!

Serve over brown rice. Top with cheese, lettuce, avocado, and salsa. 

CHEESE TORTELLINI from The Frugal Girls. I love the cheese tortellini at Aldi. This is another item you can make into many different meal options. This recipe is fool-proof and a crowd pleaser. 

Serve with garlic toast and a caesar salad. 

 

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NEXT, MAKE A MASTER SHOPPING LIST AND GO SHOPPING AT ALDI

Make a master shopping list. I like to divide my shopping list by sections of Aldi. I divide my paper into canned goods, refrigerated, frozen, fresh, meats, and bread. I find I am quicker at shopping and don't miss any ingredients. 

In order to make 10 meals in one hour, we need to double the ingredients for each meal. Don't forget to include this in your shopping list. I find each meal feeds our family of 5 fine without any leftovers. 

Also, make note of any sides you want to feed your family with this meal. You may be able to purchase these items now if you are serving your meal this week. If not, be sure to make a note of what fresh items you will need for sides when you make your meal. You can be sure to swing by and get those things at Aldi when you need them!


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PREP YOUR 10 ALDI FREEZER MEALS IN ONE HOUR

When I am prepping a batch of freezer meals, I like to divide my tasks into CHOPPING, COOKING, MIXING, and BAGGING. As you read through your recipes, do all your chopping work for each meal first. Chop any onions or peppers you may need and set those aside. 

Next, prepare any meats that need to be cooked ahead of time. If you are following this plan, you will need to brown the ground beef. Remember to let your meats cool BEFORE you freeze. 

Finally, start bagging your meals into individual freezer baggies. I love Aldi Freezer baggies. Pull out 10 bags and mark each one with the meals you are prepping. You will need 2 bags for taco soup, 2 bags for chicken pot pie, etc. 

Be sure to label your bags!

Place the ingredients for ONE meal in each bag. These bag stands make meal prep a breeze. Be sure to get all the air out of your bags before you seal. 

Remember to thaw your meals in the fridge 24 hours before cooking. 

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Source: http://melissavoigt.com

MAKE YOUR OWN FOLDED LEATHER DROP EARRINGS ON A CRICUT MACHINE

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS AT NO COST TO YOU. 

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I was so inspired by Fixer Upper Season 5. Joanna Gaines wore these folded simple leather drop earrings throughout most of the season. 

I loved them. 

I spent an afternoon experimenting with my Cricut and came up with 2 ways to make them. I wrote about the first way I made them here, using faux leather. 

I also made a real leather pair. Which one you make is up to you! Both are light and super stylish. They are equal parts classic and on trend. You will love them! 

Want to see how I made these folded real leather drop earrings with my Cricut? 

Let's do it. 

TO MAKE THESE JOANNA GAINES INSPIRED REAL LEATHER FOLDED EARRINGS ON YOUR CRICUT MACHINE YOU WILL NEED THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:

HOW TO CUT REAL LEATHER FOLDED EARRINGS ON YOUR CRICUT MACHINE

I have done a lot of experimenting with cutting leather on my Cricut. I used to cut leather directly on my mat, but that left my mat dirty. It is really hard to clean and the stickiness of your mat will suffer. 

I have found the BEST way to cut real leather with your Cricut is to use Cricut Transfer Tape. Simply cut a piece of transfer tape and place on the wrong side of your leather. Lay your leather on your Strong grip mat with the transfer tape side down. 

I WROTE A POST ABOUT HOW TO CUT REAL LEATHER ON YOUR CRICUT USING TRANSFER TAPE HERE. 

If you use Cricut brand leather, you do not need to use Cricut transfer tape. Follow the instructions that come on your Cricut brand leather. 


FREE LINK TO MAKE FOLDED FAUX LEATHER EARRINGS ON YOUR CRICUT

You can get the password to access my free resource library that has All my printables and cut file links. 


HOW TO ASSEMBLE YOUR LEATHER FOLDED DROP EARRINGS

To finish off these earrings, simply pinch the earring together at the top and use your leather punch to make a hole. When you pinch your earring, try to make sure it is even on both sides!

Notice the ring goes up, not behind the earring. It took me a few times to get this right. 

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I prefer the round nose pliers for this. It takes some time to make it all work. So be patient. This is the most tedious part of the whole process! 

Attach your hook to your jump ring. If you want your earrings to be longer you can use 2 jump rings. It is up to you. I used one. 

Once you have them assembled, be sure to try them on and make sure your jump rings are attached to your hook! You don't want to lose these earrings!!! 

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DIY FOLDED FAUX LEATHER EARRINGS ON YOUR CRICUT

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU. 
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You guys, we LOVE Fixer Upper at our house. We are so sad to see this show come to an end! 

My daughter and I loved the earrings Joanna Gaines wore in Season 5. Did you catch them?

So simple and timeless. I was in love at first sight. 

As you may know, I love making leather earrings with my Cricut. It is a super simple DIY. The Cricut is perfect for earring making!

We've made these babies in faux leather and real leather. You can check out the real leather tutorial here. 

They are lightweight, classic, and add instant style to any outfit. Let's make a pair! I'll show you how. 

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HOW TO USE YOUR CRICUT TO MAKE JOANNA GAINES INSPIRED FAUX LEATHER EARRINGS

First things first, you need a Cricut machine. They do not come cheap, but as a frugal gal, I LOVE this thing.

It is worth the money. You can cut paper, vinyl, leather, and so much more! It is worth the investment. 

For this project, you will also need:

 

HOW TO CUT FAUX LEATHER EARRINGS ON A CRICUT MACHINE

When using faux leather, lay your faux leather on a regular grip mat. Place the faux leather with the "good" side up. 

The best part about this faux leather is that it doesn't leave any residue on your cutting mat. No cleaning or scrapping after you done! 

Load the FINE point blade into the machine. 

You can have access to this pattern for FREE as well as other great patterns we've designed below!

Simply load your mat into your machine and cut!


FREE LINK TO MAKE FOLDED FAUX LEATHER EARRINGS ON YOUR CRICUT

You can get the password to access my free resource library that has ALL my printables and cut file links. 


 

HOW TO ASSEMBLE YOUR FAUX LEATHER JOANNA GAINES INSPIRED EARRINGS

After you have your earrings cut, remove your earrings from your mat. To assemble your new earrings, you will need the following supplies.

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To finish off these earrings, simply pinch the earring together at the top and use your leather punch to make a hole. When you pinch your earring, try to make sure it is even on both sides!

Notice the ring goes up, not behind the earring. It took me a few times to get this right. 

I prefer the round nose pliers for this. It takes some time to make it all work. So be patient. This is the most tedious part of the whole process! 

Attach your hook to your jump ring. If you want your earrings to be longer you can use 2 jump rings. It is up to you. I used one. 

Once you have them assembled, be sure to try them on and make sure your jump rings are attached to your hook! You don't want to lose these earrings!!! 

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Congratulations! You did it! 

If you bought the faux leather sampler pack, make another pair in a different color! 

Check out our other Cricut creations below!