Dinner Menu & Meal Planning & BUDGET

meal planning on a budget This is about as creative as we get for a week's dinner menu:

this weeks menu, gluten free this weeks menu, gluten free this weeks menu, gluten free

We encourage art in our family. I would bend over backwards for the little girl that drew those beautiful pieces of art. Can you see the transformation in her drawing? They are almost in the shape of a real human! Getting there, people. Marks of a true artist.

weekly dinner menu

Our allotted weekly budget for meals is $100. We usually spend around $80 but once in awhile a girl needs some cider and ice cream. And dairy free ice cream is $5 for a tiny little scoop.

Now that we are getting back into a routine, we are able to eat our weekly dose of fish. Because Mondays are usually a day off, we use them to make dinner together. We have this recipe engrained into our brains because, well, its delicious. The chicken chili and quinoa with zucchini and chicken sausage can be found here. The chicken chili was amazing, though I added some cayenne pepper. Neither Loren nor I were a huge fan of the slow cooked quinoa; it tasted a little bland.

I eat gluten free. I skip milk and cheese. I most definitely add half and half to my coffee, but that's about all this body can handle before it stops up like a dam. I find it a lot easier on my life and my wallet and my hopes and dreams to simply omit things. I have stopped trying to find substitutes for cheese and bread. To me, it isn't worth it. Cheese that is everything-delicious-free isn't good. Bread that isn't made with wheat is not fluffy and soft and like heaven in your mouth.

How Do We Eat On A Budget?

The answer: Meal plans.

They are wonderful whether you want to admit it or not. They organize your brain and your food, they provide a structure for grocery shopping, and guess what? If you don't get to the meal you had planned, hopefully you have eggs and bacon you can eat. Or cereal. Every Monday, as the start of our week, I make our dinner meal plans. Our lunches and breakfasts aren't so creative or exciting, as they remain the same quite often. >Breakfast Groceries for the week: -1 box cereal, Loren's choosing -5 dozen eggs (its only $7 for 5 dozen at winco) -1 pack bacon -Potatoes -1 gallon whole milk or almond milk

>Lunches Groceries for the week: -1 loaf bread -1 package sliced cheese (we do this because it normally lasts two weeks and the only time we use cheese is for Loren's sandwiches; it's easy and cheaper than a block. I recognize you get more per capita when you buy the block, but we don't need that much) -romaine lettuce (used for his sandwiches and my salad) -1 pack of sandwich meat, which also lasts about 2 weeks worth -2 cans of shredded chicken for my salads will last me a week

>Snacks for the week: -4 cliff bars for Loren -4 kind or lara bars for Nat -1 bag of chips, Loren's choosing -dried banana chips -applesauce squeezes from Trader Joes (4 for $2) -bananas -apples or pears -hard boiled eggs

>Dinners When we shop for dinners, I simply add to my list what I don't already have. If dinner is from a Pinterest recipe, I look it up and write down any ingredients needed. With our budget, we eat a lot of chicken and ground turkey, with 1-2 nights of red meat. So far this has worked really well! The way I plan our dinner menu is by sitting down, looking at the calendar each day, and discerning about how much time I will have to make dinner. Tuesdays need quick dinners- they are usually something easy like breakfast-for-dinner (brenner) or croc pot. Wednesdays are the same. Thursdays and Fridays I can usually alot a bit more time.

Eat out? Right. We use the jar system (see our budgeting here). We put $20/week to go eat out on a date or with friends. What usually happens is every other week, creating a $40 eat-out night. Really, eating out isn't a top priority for us. It may be different in your home!

There you have it, friends. That is how we budget and meal plan and stick to the menu. It takes about 15 minutes of planning every Monday + the normal grocery shopping. Totally worth it!

How do you meal plan and budget? Give us your tips!

The Weeklies

Happy spring break! We have an odd but blessed week ahead! Monday & Tuesday at the beach, Wed-Thurs in our beautiful city Corvallis, and Friday & Saturday back at the beach! Do you have any plans this week? 20140324-135824.jpg

I am currently in the passenger seat with the window rolled down, heading to Lincoln City! Loren and I enjoyed a nice run this morning but were bummed that it turned out to be less than 8 miles. We then had a sweet surprise by a man we cherish; Allan! He gifted us with means to treat ourselves to a date this evening on the coast. Cannot express my deep gratitude. I feel so deeply loved by Jesus and do not want to take these moments for granted.

Last week we memorized and focused on 1 Corinthians 16:13. I can tell you, I loved it! It inspired and motivated me to move out of my comfort zone many times. Did you have any moments of bold strength, courageous love, or standing firm in the faith?

This week I will be memorizing & internalizing & focusing on the very next verse: 1 Corinthians 16:14 "And do everything with love."

Love. It's patient and kind, it doesn't boast nor is it rude! You know how easy it is to boast? I mean, about the little things we do, like emailing someone. I find myself boasting too often. Love doesn't do that.

It does not demand or even seek it's own way; even if it's certain that it's own way is best. It is not selfish -- I get to put my phone down when asked by my husband...not in "1 minute," but that immediate moment, when asked.

Love is humble, not proud --> it sees others as better than self, it accepts other peoples love with joy {aka love doesn't reject people's blessing of truth, compliments, gifts}.

Love is not jealous -- when my friend has an opportunity to drive to Canada for her anniversary, I don't get to be jealous! I get to be happy for her!

Love is not irritable {boy howdy do I need to work on this!}. When I am making dinner or working on a task and Loren wants me to pause and pay attention to him {instead of "multi task"}, I get to choose light hearted joy, not irritation. OR when my computer doesn't do what I want it to {aka I don't know how to use it}, I don't get to throw a tantrum of irritation!

Love keeps no record of being wronged, so let's not bring up last week's hurt and hold it over that persons head.

Love does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices when truth wins out. No gossiping - that's injustice. No rejoicing in sexual impurities. No rejoicing when someone "gets what they deserved." No joy over bullying or harassment of any kind. No, let us only rejoice when the truth wins out. When love wins.

Love never gives up. Never loses faith. Is always hopeful. Endures through every circumstance. Let's do everything with love! And when we are tempted not to, we will remember 1 Corinthians 16:14 and we will be courageous, standing firm in our faith with the strength of Jesus.

What is amazing to me is that love will never fail me. Every time I choose love, I know that I will not be failed. And neither will you, contrary to popular belief.

Will you memorize and focus on this verse with me this week? Which areas of love do you need to be reminded of most?

20140324-142430.jpg On our run this morning I snapped a few photos. Surprisingly, not too blurry! We saw 3 deer, crossed 4 creeks, and climbed lots of hills! It is a great opportunity for us to encourage and cheer one another on.


The Weeklies: Now Including Exercise Goals!

Here are our menu/evening plans, exercise goals, and a verse to memorize. Feel free to join me in any of these weekly goals! I will also post any links to recipes for the meals. What are you eating? Do you have any plans this week? menu & plans

We used this recipe for Corned Beef: click HERE.

A little green salad for this St Patty's day, and Irish coffee made by Jesse:

Green salad & irish coffee

Friday's gluten free pizza recipe.

Memorize this week's verse:


This week I am praying for discernment and protection; to be on guard. I fully believe that committing to be on guard means that I am soaking in Jesus truths and promises, clothing myself in His armor. I ask Jesus for His spirit and angels to guard me and my heart, as well as my husband's. I pray that we will stand firm in our faith in Jesus Christ, even when this life threatens our joy -- He has so many promises that we get to stand on, firmly. Promises of peace, patience, and fullness of joy. I pray that I stand firmly in my faith, choosing not to have any hints of boasting or slander, knowing my identity is wrapped in Jesus. When I stand firm in my faith, believe that Truth, I have no need to prove myself anywhere.

Sometimes, being courageous is telling a trusted friend that you are struggling. Sometimes being courageous is letting others see you're broken and a complete mess {which was me from Saturday 3 am to Sunday 10 pm}. And that's okay, because well, we're human. Courageous is forgiving someone. Courageous is praying for that person that persecutes you. Courageous is reaching out to someone who is lonely. Courageous is smiling at the grumpy store employee. Courageous is walking in love when it's easier to walk in something other.

This week, I will be courageous in the way I speak with people -- I will declare truths, calling out the good in others. I will courageously declare the gifts in people.

I will be strong; not in my own strength, but in Jesus. I must rely on His spirit to carry me through each day. I will strongly lean into His grace, remembering that sometimes "strong" means being vulnerable. Being strong can be recognizing I am weak, and in need of Jesus.

I pray these things for you, too. Please memorize and internalize this with me?

Read HERE why I encourage memorizing scripture.

The Weeklies

20140310-155006.jpg Some days the weight of this life crushes my spirit and I forget that I was not made to carry it. Some days I wake up with the mind set that I need to earn my value and work for approval, love. Too often I forget that my Father has lavished me love, that He chooses to call me His child.

When we walk in the assurance of the Truth of this verse, we walk with peace. We carry a light heart. We experience the fullness of joy. We no longer attempt to count our value through accomplishments and tasks; if we did, we would fall short every time. Is it not the best gift, love lavished upon us, no strings attached?

Today, remember and know that you are deeply loved exactly how you are. You are valued because of Jesus. You are known and you are adopted into the most beautiful family there is. You have the best, most forgiving Dad imaginable. He is pleased with you.

Let's memorize this verse this week, internalizing it and walking in it's freedom!

Read HERE why I highly encourage memorizing verses!

Our dinner menu:

Monday: Mahi mahi tacos; soccer Tuesday: let's be real, we forget to eat dinner & eat the snacks at youth group; 4 mile run Wednesday: Pulled pork, rice, & fruit salad; Worship & prayer at 7; cross fit Thursday: Pizza! Homemade with green salad; 8.5 mile run & volleyball Friday: CIY BELIEVE! Saturday: CIY BELIEVE! Sunday: Marriage Small Group! Mexican theme potluck

Verse & Menu!

"We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body, the church." Ephesians 4:15

How do we speak the truth in love? Some {I fall into this category too often} assume speaking truth means speaking in a blunt and concise manner, throwing a hyperbole out into the air, hoping to pierce the heart of the "sinner." As I reflected over this verse this morning, I was reminded that speaking truth without love is useless; in fact it is detrimental and will destroy. I was reminded that throwing a hyperbole of truth at someone's face will not inspire action or repentance or love, but the very opposite.

Speaking the truth in love doesn't always come easy. But if we remember how Paul instructed us to be loving, we can confidently lean into Jesus' spirit for strength. Click here to be reminded of how to love others.

Speaking with harsh rudeness, speaking with agenda of self-seeking, speaking with an impatient or critical tone, speaking without kindness or with jealousy...those all all opposite of love. Let us both check our hearts: am I bitter and entitled or am I seeking the better good for them, with a pure heart?

{As Christians we don't often forget that we are to hold each other accountable as brothers and sisters. But we are too quick to forget that we are on the other side of that equation -- that we are asking others to hold us accountable. Proverbs repeats time and time again how wise it is for us to accept instruction, to receive correction with a joyful heart. I pray that as Christ's body, we can all grow in our understanding and learn to love correction, and that we can learn to correct lovingly. We walk and breathe by grace, so why would we dare correct without it, lacking the very thing that keeps us breathing & hoping & strengthened? Know that I am a big part of this "we."}

Also! I have been really excited to be flourishing in speaking the truth. I mean, flat out just telling people they are LOVED. The last two waitresses I have been in contact with were obviously stressed out and flustered. People to wait on, meals to serve, orders to take, demands to answer. I decided to stare both of them (these were two different meals) square in the eyes, and these words fell right out of my mouth: "You are doing great! Do you know how loved you are? ... I mean, you are LOVED." The first waitress smiled and then I think once it sunk in is when her face truly softened. Her eyes stared back at mine. I thought she might cry. Her shoulders relaxed and she said "Thank you. So much." I am pretty sure Jesus just rocked her heart there in that restaurant.

I tell my girls every time I see them how deeply loved they are. Not flippantly, but I grab their shoulders and I remind them how loved and valuable they are. Friends! Join me in this. Nothing bad can come of it. Speak those truth words in love to people and I assure you that you will grow in EVERY WAY more and more like Jesus.

Read HERE why I memorize scripture, and you should too!

Weekly Verse & Menu

20140224-152227.jpg Romans 12:21 "Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good." We can do this, friends!

As Christians, we see bad everywhere. We see evil lurking in almost every corner, engulfing our cities, and bursting through our news. I would say that too often our response is no better than the evil we are witnessing. Too often, we see injustice done by a human, and we curse and hate the "criminal" or "doer." But is that not evil itself? To curse and to hate?

When my family {or anyone} hurts me and brings me pain, my first response isn't always to conquer that evil and pain by doing good. It isn't usually to pray that God will bless them, "turn my cheek," being patient and kind, or putting on the eyes of Jesus Christ and seeing the evil-doer as human. My first response is all too often to throw pain right back, whether through a facial expression, hurtful words, or even my thoughts. When I respond to evil with evil, I am believing that the way of Satan is better and will accomplish more than the way of Christ. In that, I am being conquered by evil. No evil will accomplish any good. I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit, giving me access to the strength needed for this.

May we accept this invitation to conquer evil by doing good. Let's submit to Jesus, who knows what's best for our hearts. May we walk in the purest Love, pouring His beautiful and loving Spirit out, destroying the very evil that threatens our joy.

Read why I encourage memorizing scripture.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Grain Free & so good

Okay folks. These are TOO good not to share. Holy cookie they are a gift to your taste buds! And so easy. Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups almond flour 2 1/2 TSP coconut flour 1/2 TSP baking soda 1 egg 2 TSP vanilla 1/3 cup melted butter (coconut oil for daily free) 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (pure maple syrup if paleo) As many dark chocolate chips necessary

Instructions: Preheat oven 350 Mix dry ingredients Add wet ingredients Mix mix mix! Add chips Bake 10 minutes

Oh my yumm.


Simple Gluten & Yeast Free Pizza Crust

Heat oven to 425 You will need: 2 eggs 1/2 cup rice flour 1/2 cup corn starch 2/3 cup milk 1tsp{ish} Italian seasoning Salt Garlic salt

Mix together

It will be runny; pour it onto the greased pizza sheet.


Bake 10 minutes


20140209-165019.jpg Add all of your toppings & bake another 10 minutes!

We chose these toppings: Olive oil base Mozzarella cheese Pepperoni Turkey meat Colby jack cheese (Ran out of mozzarella)


Brenner Mac Attack

Get your stretchy pants on! (Mama Brenner, you'd be proud). Alert your loved ones before eating this.


4 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 onion, diced 6-8 pieces of cooked bacon 1/4 lb grass fed beef ('cause we are watching our weight: hence the health conscious meal) --> made into meat balls 1/2 lb pepper jack cheese, shredded 1/2 lb cheddar cheese, shredded 2 tbs cream cheese 2 tbs butter, softened 6 cherry tomatoes, halved 1 10oz can cream of mushroom Rice elbow noodles Pepper to taste


-preheat oven 400 -Cook noodles -Cook bacon -Form 1 inch meat balls & cook in left over bacon grease 20131125-185905.jpg

20131125-190044.jpg -mince garlic 20131125-185852.jpg -dice onion 20131125-185914.jpg

20131125-185859.jpg -shred cheeses ---> mix all of the ingredients together EXCEPT noodles, some cheese, meatballs, tomatoes & 1 piece of bacon 20131125-190055.jpg

-Layer half of noodles on bottom of dish. -Dump the mixture on top, spread equally.

20131125-190409.jpg -Layer rest of noodles, sprinkle more cheese + tomatoes + bacon piece.



-Bake for 15 minutes at 400.

Be prepared to sit for the rest of the night.


20131125-190632.jpg For more fun, torch it for really no reason but to use fire!

Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat oven to 350

Mix: 8 TBS (1 cube) butter 2 TBS coconut oil (softened) 4 TBS pure maple syrup

Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1 egg 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

Let sit 5 minutes - allows xanthan gum to settle in!

In another bowl Mix 3/4 cup almond flour 1/2 cup coconut flower 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon sea salt

Stir the two together and wa-la! Ready for dark chocolate chips

I added 6 oz of dark chocolate chips but that might be too much or not enough for you. Be a honey badger & do what you want.

Bake for 10-12 minutes & eat them all or just one. Super tasty :)


Tastiest Spaghetti

This was the best spaghetti I have ever tasted & I MADE IT! Say whatt. Grain free, dairy free, corn free: paleo.


Ingredients & Method:

>2 tsp of olive oil in pan, medium heat > made some odd shaped "meat balls" with 1lb Italian Sausage from the farmer's market; brown them >dice small onion & 3 cloves of chopped garlic into the pan >dice medium tomato & add to pan >add 5 mushrooms >add 2 12oz cans of tomato paste >stir in some Italian seasoning to taste and if you'd like: oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion power >let simmer on low for 20 minutes, the longer the better! the flavors will just be beautiful on your palate >throw some cilantro in there!


>Boil a spaghetti squash in hot water until the squash flakes off & is translucent.

IMG_5994    IMG_8881

Then devour.

Paleo PUMPKIN Cookies

20130906-191939.jpg I love sweets! Haley (Canadian friend) sent me some recipes for paleo desserts and so I went on an adventure and attempted one. Since I have not had anything sweet besides watermelon these last four days, I ate two of these immediately and felt a little bit overloaded on the sweets, which was completely foreign to me (dont judge me).

But hey! They were soooo good! My mouth is melting now thinking of them.

Begin by putting wax paper / parchment down on a cookie sheet! Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


In a bowl, or whatever you use, combine 1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie mix, but the stuff below)


1/4 cup almond butter 1/2 cup honey 1 tsp vanilla


Then add 1 cup almond meal/flour 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp nutmeg 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/4 cup DARK chocolate chips 1/2 cup craisins (or walnuts, pecans, any dry fruit would be wonderful!)

Then all you do is scoop it onto the sheet and flatten to the size of your wildest dreams! They do not spread on their own.


Bake for about 12 minutes, maybe 15, or however long your oven bakes for.

Take out, let cool 2 minutes, then place on a cooling rack! Or eat.


You can freeze them or just eat them. Which is what I will do. (consume).

Trust me. They are great.