Our Heartspun Homeschool

Our Heartspun Homeschool

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fall Hike 2016

This year we had to postpone our "hike" to see the Aspens peaking. Everyone in the house was sick and on antibiotics. (that's 8 people folks) No idea what caused it all but it was bad. We decided to take our "hike" the following weekend when my husbands parents were visiting. Everyone had a great time. We had to deal with a 3 year old walking the trail so we didn't travel too far. Just enough to enjoy the scenery. After our walk we drove to the picnic area and had some lunch. We were meeting extended family for dinner so we didn't stay too long in the mountains. Fun was had by all and it was a very pretty day.

Ahhhh so pretty!

Everyone figuring out where the trail is.

Already drinking water...

Camel bak's are fun apparently.

Our fall hike family picture

His walking stick.

That is also a horse.

Bringing up the rear with grandad

My beautiful girls

My handsome boys

The whole gang- so blessed by these kiddos

The whole group

First Day of School 2016

We have been back to school for over two months now, but here are the kids first day of school pictures! This was their first day of homeschool enrichment. Little Brother did not want to take pictures before school, but I was able to talk him into it later in the day.

My big kids

First day of 7th grade
First Day of 5th grade
First day of 3rd grade
First day of preschool (homeschool)

Hot Air Balloon Classic 2016

We decided to brave it this year and go see the hot air balloons bright and early on the Sunday morning of Labor Day Weekend. With six kids to get up and ready, this was no easy feat. The kids were good sports about it and we made it in time to see quite a few going up into the air. We were happy the weather cooperated since so many other years in the past the weather is bad or it's too windy for the balloons to go into the air. After we saw the balloons we made sure to swing by Dunkin Donuts for a treat before heading home. Everyone had a blast and it was a fun family day!

This one made me laugh because it's how I felt with everyone staring at our family during the event.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fourth of July 2016

Soooo far behind on blogging, but will get caught up!!! We spent the Fourth of July at the church park this year. There were a few festivities going on so the kids had fun. We had one sick kiddo so we didn't stay too long. The two big kids spent the day baking for a baking contest they were having, but were a little disappointed that the contest didn't have as good of a response as the first year. They had fun baking nonetheless. We had our foster daughter with us for our celebration so that is why her face is covered.

Someone had some attitude and didn't want his picture taken.

The sick one.

Photo bomber

Pikes Peak

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The lazy person's meal planning & freezer meals

I have done a post on meal planning and freezer meals before, but that was two kids ago..things have gotten busier these days and now more than ever I need to lean on freezer meals to help me keep my sanity. I haven't done them in forever but have recently seen a bunch of posts on Pintrest with new recipes and ideas. A lot that I come across have so much prep work involved that it is a daunting task that I just don't have time for. Not only does it help me actually have dinner ready each night but it also keeps our food budget lower than most who feed 7 people each meal. OK, lets get started...

First I pick about 12 meals that my family likes to eat...in order to do this I break down our days of the week into themes. Some themes we like to use are pasta night, taco Tuesday, casserole night, breakfast for dinner, pizza family movie night and soup on Sunday. You get the idea..

Then pick a few variations of those themes..here are some of our favorites:

Pasta Night- Spaghetti, Homemade mac and cheese, fettuccine..

Taco Tuesday- Tacos, taco salad, bean and cheese burritos..

Breakfast for dinner- scrambled eggs and country potatoes, french toast, pancakes, omelets..

Soup night- Baked potato soup, taco soup, tomato soup with grilled cheese..

Casseroles- Tater tot Casserole, Spicy Chickenetti, Chicken pot pie

Crockpot meals- Lemon Chicken and rice, Orange Chicken, Hawaiian meatballs, Sweet and Sour meatballs, pot roast, pulled pork..

At this point I pick about 12 meals we want to eat then plan to have them on the same day of the week every other week (make sense??) I also have 4 nights a month we will have breakfast for dinner and 4 nights a month for pizza. So if you are into math that is 12+12+8= 32. That was easy right??
Now when it's time to make a shopping list and shop you will just double all your ingredients to make 2 of everything.

My menu for the next month looks like this: (I did not do pizza this month to keep our budget a little lower)

The other day my daughters and I put together 16 freezer meals for the next month. It only took us 2 hours. I'm definitely a lazy freezer meal maker!! Most of my meals are "dump" meals. I basically buy a bunch of freezer bags, put in some chicken and sauce and stick it in the freezer...ok not all are that easy but pretty close.

I get my chicken and ground beef from Zaycon Foods- it is a Co-op to get (mostly) meats cheaper. They deliver to most areas around the US. The meat is hormone and anti-biotic free and so very yummy. I can get 40lb boxes of chicken breasts for $75. I have a lot of chicken and ground beef in my freezer!!!

I only had two recipes that we needed to cook ahead of time- Sloppy Joe meat and Spicey Chickenetti. Everything else were dump recipes. My mom recently bought a cookbook with some freezer meal "dump" recipes and let me borrow it. A few of the recipes were different variations of meatballs- so I went to Sam's and bought a 6lb bag of precooked meatballs and those made 3 meals. I just divided them into 3 freezer bags, added the few ingredients for the sauce and popped them in the freezer.

My 10 year old browned 2lbs of ground beef, added some Manwich sauce and then divided it into two freezer bags. We let it cool in the bags before putting into the freezer to avoid excess moisture.

I did 2 bags with chicken breasts and added a jar of salsa to each. Cook that on low for about 6 hours in the crockpot, then 30 minutes before serving add a bar of cream cheese then shred the chicken. This makes for great taco meat or meat for a taco salad.

Two more bags we did for orange chicken- add a jar of orange marmalade, a bottle of bbq sauce and a T of soy sauce to the bag and stick it in the freezer. Cook that on low for about 6 hours in the crock pot.

Two bags were taco soup- this one has a chicken breast (or 2) , 1 quart of chicken stock, 1 can tomato sauce, 1/4 cup taco seasoning, 1 can of corn, a bell pepper diced. Add everything to a bag and freeze. To cook just put into the crockpot on low for about 6 hours- with 30 minutes left to cook add a bunch of chopped up corn tortilla strips and a cup of shredded cheese and stir. We serve this with a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips.

Three more dinners were my very easy Lemon chicken- Chicken breasts plus a bottle of lemon pepper marinade.

My three dinners of Spicy Chickenetti took the longest because I had to dice an onion and brown it and get the cheese to melt on the stove..and cook the spaghetti. I did cut down my cooking time a little by using precooked chicken from Costco. I will do a special post with this recipe if people are interested.

I also did one meal of a pot roast- I put a tri-tip roast in a bag and added a powdered marinade plus the other things it called for. I do not add my vegetables to the roast- I cook them separately.

When it comes time for the day I need to use a meal I have my ipad alarm set to remind me to get the meal out of the freezer and actually put it in the crock pot. If we are having chicken or meatballs I will make brown rice in my instant pot and serve that with the meat. I always add a vegetable, fruit and sometimes salad to the meal. And if I need to add a carb I buy Pillsbury biscuits or frozen garlic bread to go with certain meals.

An example of a dinner we might have would be Orange Chicken, brown rice, broccoli with cheese on top and applesauce.

**quick tip** watch your grocery store sales- canned veggies and bagged pasta goes on sale a couple times a year for $.50 each- I stock up big time so I can always have these on hand and don't need to worry about buying them every month.

**Also- after you have made your meal list, go shopping on one day and cook on another. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything in the same day. And make sure on cooking day that you leave one dinner out for that night- you won't feel like cooking again when dinner time comes around.

Some meals on my list I do not make as freezer meals- I plan to have those when I know I will be home most of the day and have time and energy to put into making the whole meal. These meals are easy for the most part and my most toddler friendly too: Homemade mac and cheese, tater tot casserole, spaghetti, bean and cheese burritos, and breakfast for dinner.

I really hope this helps some people out. I know when I realized freezer cooking doesn't have to take all day and cost a fortune it helped me get started without feeling overwhelmed.

Here are all the meals we made the other day:

Let me know if you have any questions!! I would love to hear from you. Good Luck!!