Oats and Peanut Butter and M&Ms. Oh My!

I played Holly Homemaker today and made our snacks for next week.

I’m tired of paying so much for protein bars and trail mix when it’s so easy to make them at home. So while we were shopping today I bought a few supplies I didn’t already have on hand.

For our trail mix I poured a third of a bottle of roasted peanuts, half a bag of Bear Naked maple pecan granola, and half a sharable bag of M&M mini into a gallon storage bag and shook it up. Yum!

I found a very simple recipe online for no bake protein bars. Yes, of course I tasted before I put the mixture in the fridge to set. Delicious!

Since I already had peanut butter, honey, oats, and protein powder on hand, and I used the other half of the mini M&Ms from the trail mix these bars cost a fraction of a box of bars from the grocery. Plus, I will get 8-12 bars from this batch rather than the 5-6 I’m most grocery store boxes. Yay!

Do you make your own snacks? What’s your favorite afternoon snack?

A Handmade Christmas

This is the year of the seriously tightened budget in our household. Since we’re now well into October I’m in full “what are we doing about Christmas” mode.
Enter a well-timed epiphany.
How about a handmade Christmas? After all, I do make jewelry. I have some basic wire working skills. I can sometimes sew a straight line.
But can I make meaningful gifts that don’t look like a pre-K Sunday School project? We’ll see.
Heading over to Pinterest now to start my idea board. I’ll update weekly as I try to make this work.
Have you ever done a totally handmade Christmas? How did it work out? Where did you come up with ideas? Was it less costly than buying gifts?

Work-Life Balance and Chicken Nachos


Easy Recipes for Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance. Eat healthy. Exercise. Spend time together. Eat home cooked meals. Eat out less.

Those suggestions bombard us all day long. How to do it all?

Daniel and I committed to getting healthier. As part of living a healthier lifestyle, we committed to working out three days each week, and to eating out much less often.

This means we, and by we I mean mostly I, have to cook.

Every day.

After working all day.

Now don’t misunderstand. I enjoy cooking. And, I’m pretty good at it most of the time. But planning, buying, and cooking meals can be at least as tiring as working.

I got some great advice on Lauren Greutman’s blog. Part of that advice was to plan a menu for the week, then make the shopping list from the menu. We’ve been doing that for several weeks now. It’s made a huge difference in our meal selection.

Before meal planning the drive home from work might go something like this:
Daniel: You got any ideas about supper?
Me: Not really. What do you want?
Daniel: I don’t know. What are the choices?
Me: I’m too tired to think about it. Wanna just drive through somewhere?
Daniel: Sure. Where do you want to go?
And so on, and so on.

Not only did this add calories by the gazillions, it drained our bank account. There were several months we spent $300-$400 PER MONTH eating out. Not fancy meals, but Sonic, McDonalds, Firehouse Subs, etc. And, we’re just feeding two people.

I will mention that part of what forced the issue was that Daniel quit his part time job (which was in addition to his full time job) in May. We immediately lost $600/month of income. Eating out had to be the first thing to go.

Another effect of eating home cooked meals is that we re-learned what real food tastes like. And, it’s good!

But, because we both work full time, and are pretty much always tired in the evenings, I’ve had to find some meals that are reasonably health, but easy and fast.

Pinterest rocks for finding recipes. Really. Recipes for any kind of food you can imagine.

But one of our faves is one I just came up with myself out of stuff I had on hand. Daniel named it chicken nachos.

Chicken Nachos
Chicken Nachos

1 can of chicken breast, drained
1 can of beans, drained (We prefer black beans, but pinto or kidney beans work well too.)
1 can of tomatoes with imagegreen chilis
1/2 small sweet yellow onion, diced
1 TBSP olive oil
tortilla chips
shredded Mexican style cheese
Seasonings of choice (I use chili powder, garlic powder, basil, thyme, oregano, black pepper, imageand a dash of salt.)

In a skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Once heated (a minute, maybe) add the diced onion, chicken, beans, tomatoes with green chilis, and seasoning.

Heat until hot and some of the liquid has cooked out.

Place a layer of tortilla chips on a small plate.
Spoon chicken mixture on top of chips.
Top with cheese.


This takes seriously 10 minutes to make and costs less than $3/serving. I have not figured the nutrition information, but it’s not horrible. I promise you it’s better than a fast food cheeseburger and fries.

What tips have you found helpful to reduce eating out? Where’s your favorite place to look for new recipes?