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Oscoey

Oscoey

A blog about family, food and fun!

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My Favorite Dystopian Novels

My Favorite Dystopian Novels

This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed […]

June 2022 Final Grocery Spending

June 2022 Final Grocery Spending

Our June grocery goal was to eat through our fridge and freezer as much as possible and for the most part we reached this goal. I am super proud of our progress! Up until the last week of June we kept our spending under $300 […]

Our Favorite Board Books

Our Favorite Board Books

To compliment our summer reading lists for first and third graders I made the below list of our favorite board books for younger kids. We still read many of these books to our kids even though they are way past the board book phase!

 

This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

 

Peek-A-Boo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. This is hands down my favorite baby book. Even though we love the Jolly Postman series we did not discover this baby book until we had our youngest. The rhyming is superbly written and the peek-a-boo aspect of the book kept our very active baby engaged enough for me to actually read it to him all the way through. I frequently give this book out for new parents since we love it so much and it isn’t as well known.

 

Mustache Baby by Brigit Heos. Mustache Baby was given to our youngest by our oldest daughter and it is delightfully silly. The baby is born with a mustache that changes it’s behavior and it was a great way to show a baby’s perspective on how their moods change.

 

Where’s Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz. This book and the others in the series were favorites of my kids. This book goes through different body parts playing peek-a-boo with lift-a-flaps to teach babies where everything is. My kids loved reading these, especially when I gave the wrong answers and they had to correct me.

 

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton is another favorite bought by our oldest daughter. This book follows four figures trying to catch a bird. Only the smallest one figures out how to make friends and get close to the bird. This is a great book because a lot of the story is in the pictures which kids will pick up on while the parents are reading out loud.

 

Baby Faces by DK. This book was a huge hit with my kids and I was able to start “reading” it with them from a young age by just looking at the pictures and talking about the different emotions. My kids loved seeing the different babies and each had their favorite baby. This is another book that I give to new parents since babies love it so much.

 

Fire Engine Man by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha. My son loved this book when he was younger. It is about a little boy who pretends to be a fire fighter and what things he would do. It is written from the perspective of a little boy which really helped draw him in.

 

Count a Block by Christopher Franceschelli. This book teaches kids to count to 100 and if that seems overwhelming for a young child, the way it is written is fabulous and both of my younger kids learned to count at a young age with this book. We love the surprises that are intertwined and that it shows how things change like short hair to long hair, eggs to chickens etc.. We are fans of the whole series!

 

Last but not least, you can’t do a board book list without Sandra Boynton. She is a huge hit amongst the younger crowd and I have linked a few of our kids’ favorite books below. She is amazingly silly and has so many books that kids with any interest can find something that they like!

 

Moo, Baa, La La La!

 

Blue Hat, Green Hat (the OOPS book)

 

The Going to Bed Book

 

Happy Birthday, Little Pookie

 

Thank you for reading our board book list! There are so many other good books out there it is hard to pick just a few. Leave some of your favorites in the comments!

 

Summer Reads for Rising First Graders

 

Summer Reads for Rising 3rd Graders

Summer Reads for Rising 3rd Graders

Summer Reads for Rising 3rd Graders

Summer is upon us and since I get a lot of asks on what my kids are reading I thought I would put together a summer reading list for rising third graders to compliment the one I created for rising first graders. This is a […]

Summer Reads for Rising First Graders

Summer Reads for Rising First Graders

With summer starting I thought I would make a list of some of our favorite book series to read over the summer. I just graduated my third kindergartener and a lot of the other moms in my youngest’s class have been asking me for book […]

May 2022 Final Grocery Spending

We are working on our grocery spending for 2022 and our goal for May was to do a low spend month. Unfortunately we ended up a little bit swamped during the middle of the month and we both spent too much money and I did not get around to filming all of our grocery runs. I ran some estimates on our spending and it looks like we ended up spending right around $500 which is a huge improvement from typical $1000 a month spending habits. Although we did not reach our $200 goal I am pretty proud of our progress at reducing our spending.

 

This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

 

I tracked most of our spending on our YouTube Channel and linked our posts below. If you haven’t subscribed yet you can right here.

First Grocery Haul:

 

Second Grocery Haul:

 

Third Grocery Haul:

 

Fourth Grocery Haul:

 

Overall I am happy with our progress. May tends to be a spendy month for us with Mother’s Day, a family birthday, Memorial Day weekend and we make most of our summer purchases in May as well. We were successfully able to cut our grocery bill in half which I am pretty proud of. If you remember, April we tried to cut down on our spending and ended up spending the same amount we always do. My goal is not perfection though but to make progress every month and see what works best for us.

Lunch
Lunch.

I am hoping to use the summer to cut back on our packaged food eating but that will lead us to buy more staples such as gluten-free oats, flour and sugar. I am not sure if it will cost more to make food from scratch at home or buy it at Costco. Prices seem to have stabilized a bit but leave a comment below if you are not seeing that in your area. Luckily the upcoming wheat shortage will not effect us much since we really don’t eat much of it besides bread for the kids. My kids would be perfectly ok with gluten-free bread as long as it is the homemade bread my husband makes but right now it is much cheaper to buy regular bread for them. I don’t think there will be much of a price increase for rice and gluten-free flour in the near future but maybe later. We just bought a 25lb bag of this Bob’s Red Mill all in one gluten-free flour so we shouldn’t need to buy more for a while.

Free Lunch
Free Lunch Unboxing. Three whole pizzas, amazing!

One of the ways we were able to cut our grocery budget down was to utilize the Universal Free Lunch program at a local school district. We have gone on and off over the past couple of years mostly during the times when the kids are home for a stretch since the meals are easily put together by the kids independently but starting in May we made a point to start going every week and I have been posting our items on our YouTube channel every week. Although this has saved us some money, they gave us so much every week that we ended up freezing a lot of it. We are eating through what we have this month and throughout the summer since the program ends in June. This program is amazing and benefits so many members of the community. It will be a huge loss for many families when schools no longer provide lunch and breakfast for every student.

Free Lunches.
Free Lunches.

That wraps up our grocery spending for May with some decent progress in cutting our food bill down. I am posting our first freezer cleanout video this week and will do a spending check in mid-way through the month. How is your grocery budget faring?

 

This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

 

Links:

Reusable Bags

Gluten-free cream of mushroom soup

Gluten-free fig bars

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Flour

April 2022 Spending Wrap Up

June 2022 Spending Goals and Mid-Year Check In

June 2022 Spending Goals and Mid-Year Check In

Our 2022 spending goals have already gone a little bit sideways with me leaving the workforce in March. I left my job for both health and family reasons and it has thrown our budget into a hurricane of uncertainty. For now our goal is to […]

Free School Lunches

Free School Lunches

The past couple of months I have been trying to raise awareness that the funding for free lunch and breakfast for all kids in the United States was not renewed in March and the program will end in June of 2022. This program has helped […]

May 2022 Spending Check In

May 2022 Spending Check In

Our goal for May of 2022 was to spend as little money as possible on groceries for the month. We are using our local free lunches and breakfasts for the community as well as eating through our pantry items and just supplementing with items from the store. We have quite a bit stashed away in our freezers and pantry so we should be 100% fine with a low spend month.

This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Grocery Haul

I filmed our fist grocery update on May 9th which can be found here. As of 5/09 we were at $89.08 in spending which is pretty good. For April we were closer to $500 by mid-month so I am happy with our progress. Some of the items we bought were due to the kids being sick and we also stocked up on Luna bars and fig bars. We also bought about $20 worth of beef to grind up since it was on sale at Fred Meyer. These were all long term purchases and we won’t be buying them for a while. We also found a fabulous deal on bread at Bartell Drugs of all places where they had marked down their bread to 10 cents a piece. It was a stellar deal and we bought three loaves.

Oatmeal and coffee for breakfast.
Oatmeal and coffee for breakfast.

Most of my breakfasts this month have consisted of my gluten-free oatmeal and a cup of coffee made with milk. I used up the whole milk and also made my coffee with the 1% that we have. I heat up about a cup of milk in the microwave and then our my shots from the espresso machine directly into the milk and it tastes like a latte even though the milk is not steamed. I don’t really keep track of what my kids eat but my son usually eats a bar in the morning so some of the Luna bars we bought have already been eaten.

pancakes
Pancakes

I did make pancakes last week from the gluten-free confetti ones we got 3/$1.00 at Grocery Outlet a few months ago and they went fast. I made sandwiches for the kids out of the leftovers with Nutella and the kids loved it. We only have about four boxes left at this point and I am definitely going to miss their convenience when we run out. I have been keeping an eye out at Grocery Outlet for more gluten-free pancake mix but I have not seen it since they ran out of these so maybe soon.

cabbage and chicken
Mushroom Thyme Chicken with cooked cabbage.

One of the meals I cooked was my Mushroom Thyme Chicken with cabbage. Link can be found here. This lasted for quite a few meals and also used up some of the cabbage I bought last month. We still have a bunch of cabbage left so I will probably put more of the cabbage into a soup this weekend after I am done with my $10 grocery challenge.

Chicken Nuggets
Chicken Nuggets with veggies.

Another meal we ate was chicken nuggets with some of the frozen peas and carrots we got from this free school lunch unboxing and the jicama we bought at Whole Foods during this grocery haul linked here. This was pretty good. Peas are not my favorite but I didn’t mind them with the carrots. My husband has asked me to leave the rest of the bag so that he and my daughter can make fried rice out of them. Apparently they were really good together with some of the spam we have stashed away.

Soup
Soup

We did have sickness go through our house this week so we ate some of the soup we have in our pantry. This one is my favorite and I ate it for two meals. We are down to only a couple left so I may stock up before the end of the month. I don’t like eating the instant soups though because of the packaging but we really only eat them when we are sick so I am not sure if that is infrequent enough. These do not have Styrofoam like cup o’ noodles so at least they are recyclable but I am still trying to be aware of how much waste we create.

School lunch items.
School lunch items.

My ate through quite a bit of the school lunch items this week. The bars of course were immediately eaten and my son tried one of these pinwheels. He wasn’t a fan but trying something new is progress and I was super proud of him. We also ate hamburgers and I made a batch of cobbler out of the frozen strawberries that was pretty good. We will continue to do school lunches through the end of the year and I am really hoping they will last minute continue funding at least over the summer. So many families in our area depend on these to feed their families.

Cupcakes
Cupcakes

Remember our fruity pebble cupcakes? I froze half of the cupcakes we made for a later date. I pulled these out last week as a special treat for our son while our daughter was at camp. He had a great time frosting and decorating a cupcake for himself at dinner on Thursday. The rest we ate over the weekend.

Tater Tot Casserole
Tater Tot Casserole

My daughter asked me to make tater tot casserole last week and since we had fresh ground beef I made it for her. It was pretty good. This also used up some of the green beans we got from the school lunches. We get them most weeks and it is a lot of green beans to eat. This batch was particularly good because I melted the rest of those twisty cheese sticks I bought at Grocery Outlet into the cream sauce. They were too hard for the kids to eat so I melted them into the cream of mushroom soup and it was so good! I am pretty proud of my impromptu cheese using up. These might have been thrown out after a while if I hadn’t thought to incorporate them into the casserole which is super wasteful.

Pudding and strawberries.
Pudding and strawberries.

Overall we are doing great so far at a low spend month. We are using what we have and there is a little bit of room in our freezer which is unheard of. Our fridge is pretty full but we are at the cycle in the week when we have tons of leftovers and I also have a bunch of juice stashed in there from when we were sick that usually wouldn’t be there.

 

I have gone to the store once since our May 9th post but I will include it in next week’s wrap up post. How are you saving money this month?

 

Links:

 

Subscribe on YouTube

 

Follow us on Twitter

 

This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

 

Products used:

Cream of Mushroom Soup

 

Glass Meal Prep Containers

 

BeneFit Bars – Chocolate Chip

April 2022 Spending Wrap Up

April 2022 Spending Wrap Up

April 2022 was an interesting month for our grocery spending. We started out the month strong staying within our $600 budget but then life happened and we ended up going over it by quite a bit. We ended up spending close to what we normally […]


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Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 1

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 1

Whew. Another week of meal planning under our belt. We used up a lot of things this week from our pantry, fridge and freezer. We still have so many leftovers that we won’t really need to cook for the next few days but we are having sausage burgers tonight as a break. I did not have a chance to clean out another shelf from the pantry this weekend but it is ok. I ended up going to the grocery store last Sunday to do a major stockup since we were almost out of some basics and I wanted to avoid the store for the next few weeks. Omicron is weighing heavily on our minds this month and we are limiting our exposure as much as possible. That means no seeing friends, no going to the store and we are debating sending kids to school this week. Our school has done a fabulous job at preventing the spread of Covid at the school but there is always that worry in the back of your mind that maybe this time it will spread. Most of the school was tested last week and a lot of the kids were negative. Those that were positive are staying home this week so I am hoping that will keep things contained.

 

What I wanted to eat through this week.

Last weekend I went through the pantry and pulled some items I wanted to eat through this week. Below is a list of what we had:

  1. Snack items: Croutons, S’mores Goldfish, lentil crackers (3 servings), chocolate graham crackers, veggie Straws (maybe a couple of cups) and Peanuts – honey roasted and regular
  2. Meal type items: Banza Mac and Cheese (3 packets left), 2 cans corn, 1 can carrots, oatmeal
  3. Dried Fruit: freeze dried Raspberries and strawberries, apple chips, dried cranberries
  4. Junk: M & M ‘s and a single giant marshmallow
  5. Fridge/freezer items: 1 Bagel, fancy chocolate, spinach bites (2 servings), veggie broth, chicken breast, ham, milk, chocolate milk and egg nog.
Items left from last week.

I wanted to take tons of pictures and videos this week of how we were using up our items but honestly I only got pictures of most of the meals. Above is what we have left from what I wanted to eat through this week and it is kind of misleading because we did eat quite a bit but there are still small amounts left in these containers. I may put them all into smaller containers today and then show what is left next weekend but my kids immediately lose interest if I move them to smaller containers and they have been snacking out of the bags all week.

 

What’s left:

  1. Snack items: Croutons, lentil crackers (1 serving), veggie straws (maybe a cup) and Peanuts – regular
  2. Meal type items: Banza Mac and Cheese (2 packets left), oatmeal (not gf)
  3. Dried Fruit: freeze dried Raspberries and strawberries, apple chips, dried cranberries
  4. Junk: All eaten of course!
  5. Fridge/freezer items: fancy chocolate, spinach bites (1 serving), ham (1/2 gone)

Overall I would say we did pretty well. We should eat through the spinach bites, lentil crackers, veggie straws, peanuts and more of the dried fruit this week. The croutons were a hard sell and I can’t eat them as well as the freeze dried strawberries and raspberries. Most of us are not fans of the Banza mac and cheese so I may just donate it since it doesn’t expire until March of this year. My Buy Nothing group supports a local senior center and the Banza may end up in the donation bag this month. We have other mac and cheese that the rest of us like so I am not worried about running out any time soon.

Soup ingredients.

One of my favorite ways to use things up is to make veggie soup. I made a batch last weekend and we ate about half of it throughout the week and froze the rest. The broth I used is some I made in the fall with garden scraps. When I was blanching my greens to freeze I put all of the ribs from the kale, beets and chard into a pot with some onion and carrots and made a bunch of broth to freeze. This batch had a lot of beets in it so it was super sweet. I have been pairing it with a can of tomatoes to pare down the sweetness and this batch of soup was delicious! I will probably pull out some of the soup in the freezer for meals not this week but next week. I like to eat my freezer meals within a couple of months of freezing so we are constantly rotating and to reduce the possibility of finding it in the freezer years later.

Veggie soup
Veggie soup for lunch.

We ate the soup for dinner and a few lunches with crackers and a little bit of sour cream. I only used one can of the corn in the soup but it was still a little bit sweet from the beets.

corn and peas
Steamed corn and peas for lunch.

Using up our other can of corn for lunch. We are without a microwave and my son does not like corn so I put his peas in a ramekin to steam along with the corn and it worked really well! Don’t do this unless your ramekin is oven safe though. Plastic would not be a good choice.

Mac and cheese chicken corn and peaches
Using up the Banza, corn and chicken for lunch.

Our kids were home last week so a lot of what we ate for lunch was cooked and not their usual sandwiches for lunch. We ate the Banza mac and cheese for lunch with the corn and I added some of the cooked chicken breast as well. The adults in our house usually don’t eat a lot of meat so this week was a bit much for me with all of the ham and the chicken breast. I had to cut way back on my meat consumption as the week went on. I wanted to point out that I cooked one standard chicken breast and it lasted for several meals for just me. Nobody else wanted to eat it. We don’t eat a lot of chicken breast at our house so my kids weren’t really into it and my husband is more vegetarian than me so he left it for me to eat. I will say however that it was really nice to have a little bit of protein readily available to throw on my meals when I needed it. I may cook one a week more regularly since I struggle to get my protein in.

Oatmeal
Oatmeal for breakfast.

Another meal we ate a lot of was oatmeal. I discovered I could cook a large pot and reheat the rest when I needed to on the stove in just a few minutes. This was super handy since I was missing my microwaved bowl in the mornings. I bought a 25lb bag of gluten-free oats from Bob’s Red Mill a couple of months ago and we have been working through it. I really want to make one of the oatmeal bakes we love but it takes a dozen eggs and I am not sure that the ones we bought at Costco last weekend will last the month if I use that many all at once. For reference, we go through one to two dozen a week since eggs are a huge source of protein for us. It is slightly silly of me though, because there is nothing stopping us from getting another five dozen from Costco when we are close to running out but I want to avoid the store as long as possible.

ham, mashed potatoes and green beans
Ham, mashed potatoes and green beans.

One meal that lasted for several days was the ham we baked on New Year’s Eve. We ate about half of it last week and will try to finish the rest this week. I did put the bone in the freezer to make broth at some point in time but I am not ready yet and I want to eat through some of what we have before I make more. We ate it with mashed potatoes and green beans or some other vegetable. It was delicious!

Feta and tomato pasta
Feta and tomato pasta.

One meal we ate this week that has become a staple in our house is feta and tomato pasta. You basically put a bunch of tomatoes, garlic, some feta and olive oil in the oven and then stir it in with cooked pasta. It is super easy to make gluten-free and most of us love to eat it! The pasta lasts a couple of days in the fridge so it is perfect for lunches.

feta pasta
Feta and tomato pasta.

We pared our pasta with green beans and some steamed Kielbasa. Our selective eater will not eat pasta so they were given the Kielbasa, rice and seaweed so they could eat their “sushi” along with us. I always snag a little bit of seaweed when the kids eat it since it is so healthy and a great source of Iodine.

broccoli cheese bake
Broccoli cheese bake.

Wow. We ate a lot of pasta last week now that I am looking back. This week I will try to make more roasted vegetables and see what else I can come up with since one of our kids doesn’t like pasta. This broccoli cheese bake my husband made was delicious! We ate it for dinner last night and I already have it on the meal planner for tomorrow night. We are skipping a night with it tonight to avoid burnout. I am a huge fan of casseroles and I am loving that we are eating them more often.

Pantry cleanout items
Pantry cleanout items for this week.

I gathered some of the items we want to use up this week. Yesterday instead of going through another pantry shelf I went through under our bathroom sink and oh man did I throw a lot out. We had tons of stuff that expired two years ago and opened items we weren’t using up that were just old. I don’t think I have really gone through that cabinet in at least three years. I did find this dish soap that I bought for bubbles when my youngest was about two that is still good. I filled our soap dispenser by the sink with it and we will use it up as we go. I also discovered one of the pears we bought last week went bad so I am going to try and make fruit leather this afternoon. I make it with pears and whatever berries I have in the fridge and my kids love it. It is super easy to make too!

Items to use up this week:

  1. Fresh produce: pears, butternut squash, blackberries, broccoli, rainbow carrots
  2. Snack items: Croutons, lentil crackers (1 serving), veggie straws (maybe a cup) and Peanuts – regular, One bars, fruit cups
  3. Meal type items: oatmeal (not gf), pancake mix
  4. Dried Fruit: freeze dried Raspberries and strawberries, apple chips, dried cranberries
  5. Junk: Crumb cake mix, Halloween candy…ug
  6. Fridge/freezer items: Baked Alaska (freezer), fancy chocolate, spinach bites, ham, cheesy broccoli bake, tomato sauce
Meal planning
This week’s meal plan.

We started to write out this week’s meal plan as a family at dinner last night. I will probably add more in on Tuesday when I know where we are at with leftovers. The kids don’t like to commit to lunches and breakfast until usually the night before so I usually fill those in as we go. Since the adults are all working from home we usually try to eat leftovers for lunch or something fast like soup. Muffins have been requested and if I have time today I will make some of those as well. A batch usually lasts a day or two and I know you can make a bunch and freeze them but I just don’t know if gluten-free flour will hold up in the freezer as well as regular. I am almost out of my one to one Bob’s Red Mill flour and I probably only have enough for one batch of muffins right now. I did order more and hopefully it will come in the next week or two but who knows with all of the road closures around us. We do have ingredients to make our own gluten-free flour mixture so I am not super worried about running out but I like to have the pre-mixed kind on hand since it is easy.

 

How are you reducing your food waste? Does meal planning work for you?

 

Links:

Bob’s Red Mill

Feta Tomato Bake

 


All Time Favorites

My Favorite Dystopian Novels

My Favorite Dystopian Novels

This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed […]

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 1

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 1

A few weeks ago I found the Uber Frugal Month Challenge over at the Frugalwoods and I was immediately hooked. What a great way to start out 2018! I signed my husband and I up and we have spent the last week reading through the daily […]

Hilarious Japanese Toilet Candy

Hilarious Japanese Toilet Candy

Have you seen these cool candy toys made in Japan? They have all kids of fun food items to make!   This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend […]

Easy Dairy-Free Grandma’s Fruit Salad

Easy Dairy-Free Grandma’s Fruit Salad

My grandma made fruit salad for us growing up and it was always my favorite because she put a few marshmallows in there.  My mom was always trying to eat healthy so marshmallows were a rare treat in our house.  I made this yummy salad […]


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