Hey everyone! Please, welcome my good friend, Sarah to the blog today! I just know you are going to love her! (Don’t miss the freebie in her bio at the bottom of the page!)
Hi there. I’m Sarah from SidetrackedSarah.com. I first met Amy over 10 years ago when her family moved to our town. She had 3 kids at the time and so did I. We both homeschooled and we seemed to have so much in common! We both knew we wanted big families and we could not stop talking when we got together. It was great to have a friend I could connect with on such a deep level! We have remained great friends through the years and I’m blessed to have her living a little closer to me again, even though she’s moved many times.
If there’s one thing Amy and I know, it’s food. We now have 16 kids between us and let me tell you they are ALWAYS hungry. I’m one who doesn’t exactly love cooking though. But, I have a routine that seems to work great for our family! Let me tell you a little about it. Maybe you can pick up a little tidbit you’ve never thought of or maybe you can teach me a few things, too!
This photo is from our Thanksgiving get together with my sister’s family. She also has 7 kids.
- We don’t cook hot meals for breakfast, except occasionally. OK, don’t gasp. There’s not a requirement for families to have a hot breakfast is there? If your family loves hot breakfast and you don’t mind the extra dirty dishes that cooking another meal brings on, then go for it. But for me, I’m not an early person and I hate dishes. My kids and I are totally cool with fending for ourselves and not having a hot breakfast. For breakfast, we eat cereal, oatmeal, toast, fruit, boiled eggs, green smoothies and anything the kids want to make (and clean up) for themselves. We all pitch in to feed the little kids and often, no 2 people have the same thing for breakfast.
- We shop at Aldi. We love it there! We can go in and out so fast and it is so much cheaper than our regular grocery stores (aka Walmart in our small town). I have to drive to a town 45 minutes away to shop here, but it is always worth it! I can fill up 2 carts full of groceries for $200. Amazing! If you’re not a regular Aldi shopper, you will do best to visit the produce aisle on a regular basis. I regularly get 3 pound bags of apples for $1.99, avocados for 39 cents and whole pineapples for $1. When oranges are in season, I’m buying them for $1.88 per 4 pound bag. We stock up and buy whatever produce is cheap that week in large quantities for our large family. I typically only get to Aldi once a month, so it has to last! The other food aisles are well worth shopping, too. Some items may only save you 20 to 50 cents per item when comparing to your regular grocery store’s brand, but those savings add up big time!
- We buy some foods in bulk. When I say bulk, we have a Sam’s membership that we use to buy cheese, flour, peanut butter, beans, salsa, yogurt and convenience foods (for my husband to take to work). I also order oats through a food coop and when at Aldi, I will buy cases of canned foods. Things like canned vegetables, tomato sauce, cream soups (or of course you could just use a substitute), spaghetti sauce, chili beans and more.
- We assign certain days for dishes. Each of the older kids has a rotation of doing the dishes for the whole day. It is their responsibility to keep up with it all and if they don’t complete it by bed time, they have to do the first load the next morning. My 10 and 7 year old has the responsibility to empty the dishwasher at least once a day, sometimes twice. They do it together as my 7 year old is still struggling with finding her work ethic.
- We use cloth napkins. This isn’t necessarily because we are trying to save the earth, I just always ran out of paper napkins and I found my kids made a mess of them. When I find a stash of napkins for sale at a yard sale, I snatch them up. We use them often! (Here’s Amy’s post on the cloth “napkins” they use!)
- We keep lunch simple. Once again, I’m not one who requires 3 sit down meals each time we eat. If we have leftovers, we eat leftovers, but if we don’t, we’re eating chef salads, baked potatoes, quesadillas or sandwiches. We don’t schedule it because we rely on our moods (and the foods available in that moment) to tell us what to eat.
- We buy our meat in bulk. I recently bought chicken from Zaycon foods and a side of beef from a local farmer. It’s so nice to have it all in the freezer, ready for me when I need it!
- We cook from scratch. When I say from scratch, I mean, we don’t use Hamburger Helper, bagged Lipton noodles and things like that. We make our own sides and make our own pasta dishes without a box. However, I don’t make homemade bread (very often anyway) and typically don’t make kombucha or bone broth. I’ve been in a season of my life where doing these things seem like extra work to me, so I just don’t do them. They’re not important to me right now.
- We use Crockpot Freezer Meals for dinner as often as possible. I say as often as possible, because it is crazy how often I forget to put the food in the slow cooker. I even have it set on my phone to remind me to put food in and I ignore it. Silly me. But, whenever I have my act together, I LOVE to stock my freezer with meals a week at a time. I can do all of my shopping and then come home and chop and bag my food, divided into the appropriate recipes all at once. Typically, I will do a full week of meals in about an hour, maybe two depending on the prep work. Once though, I spent 30 minutes putting 6 Mexican meals in my freezer that I could use over the course of a couple months. That felt amazing!
I bet you do things slightly different in your family? Leave me a comment to tell me what works for you…..
Sarah is a homeschooling mom of 7 who blogs about easy foods and crockpot recipes at SidetrackedSarah.com. She has developed 12 weeks of Freezer to Slow Cooker menus to help keep her sane and out of the kitchen as much as possible. She’d love to give you a free one week menu to try out just for stopping by her site. Claim you free Freezer to Slow Cooker Menu here. (Each recipe on her site feeds 6-8 adults, you may need to adjust according to your family size).