Basil-Garlic Pork Chops

Confession time… pork chops are probably my least favorite meat.  That said, I buy it from time to time to get a break from beef and chicken.  As long as I can find a good recipe to prepare the chops with, I’m satisfied.  Another confession… I can’t, for the life of me, remember where I found this recipe!  I’m sure I just Googled it and something fast, easy, and delicious popped up – so props to Google 😉 .  The recipe I found called for 4 bone-in pork chops, but I buy the 6 pack boneless and lean package.  We partnered this with homemade red-mashed potatoes, a family favorite, salad, and baguette.  It was a tasty dinner.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 boneless pork loin
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1.  With machine running, drop garlic through feed tube of food processor to mince, then add fresh basil and process until chopped.  Add lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper and process to make a thin rub.

2.  Spread both sides of pork chops with basil mixture. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes.

3.  Prepare grill.  Grill pork chops over direct heat, turning once, to medium rare doneness, 5 to 6 minutes per side, followed by a 3-minute rest.

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It’s Summer and It’s Busy!

It’s been since April 29th since I’ve blogged!  Ugh!  Trust me, I’ve thought about blogging… A LOT.  But let’s face it, life gets busy.  Between work, 2 toddlers, and it being SUMMER, we have been VERY busy.  The more time has passed, I kept asking myself, “What should I blog about next?”, “Should I post a recipe?”, “Should I post something about a specific subject?”  No, No, No.  None of those were calling me.

I decided that in order to get back on track and start posting again regularly, that I would do a recap of what’s be going on these last two months!  And everyone likes pictures, right?  So that’s how I’m going to blog today!  Here we go…

The first week of May we went on a cruise!  We sailed on the Carnival Triumph for 5 days to Cozumel and Progresso.  We had an amazing time and will definitely cruise again.  What’s better than having delicious meals at any time, planned activities throughout the day, a nice concierge to take care of your room, and most of all, FUN in the SUN?!?!  What was even more special about this trip was number 1, it was Lexi’s first vacation (Joe’s first vacation was a road trip to San Antonio/Sea World) and number 2, we got to stop at the place Danny and I got married 4 years ago.  The hotel manager let us go inside and get a picture.  It was really special.

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Family photo at Cozumel Palace

 

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Here we are getting ready to watch one of the spectacular shows on the ship!

 

The day after we got back from the cruise was Mother’s Day.  Danny and the kids really know how to spoil me.  First, they gave me a new Coach purse, then they let me take a “break” for the whole day…meaning Danny tends to the kids, diaper changing, crying episodes, picking up the house, etc.  It’s so nice!  We spent most of the day relaxing because we were still in vacation mode and for dinner went out to eat for some yummy Mexican food.    Mother’s Day is so nice.  My family really knows how to make me feel special.  With all the relaxing they let me do, I have time to just sit back, watch my kids play, and reflect on how lucky and blessed I am.

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Me and my precious Lexi

 

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Me and my sweet Joe

May was definitely a busy month.  Not only was it busy at my full time job, which is probably always the case when you get back from vacation, but I also spent the following weekend working my AdvoCare booth at a local event.  We made some sales, got the word out, and most importantly, spread the word about living a healthy lifestyle!

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Me and my stepmom working hard!

All work and no play?  Not at our house!  Here are the kids playing in their fancy blow up pool.  We have a very large backyard and maybe one day we’ll fill it with an in-ground pool, but for now, this is all we really need.  The kids are safe and contained.  And yes, I get in it too!

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Summer fun

The month of May flew by!  My husband and I are both Veterans.  Danny serviced in the Marine Corps and I served in the Air Force.  We flew our flags proudly on Memorial Day then headed to the horse races for some family fun.

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It looks like Joe is saluting, but it was so bright outside, we were all squinting our eyes!

 

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Fun at the horse races… and not to mention, stylin’!

Now we’re into June!  Speaking of the military, I’ve had a wonderful friend be a constant part of my life since our tour in Korea nearly 14 years ago!  Jamie came to visit us and we got to go to the George Strait, The Cowboy Rides Away Tour, concert at the AT&T stadium.  Needless to say, we enjoyed Jamie’s visit AND the concert!  It was amazing!!!

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Fun at Fred’s Texas Cafe in downtown Fort Worth

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I know, he’s perfect 😉

Argh, right after the concert I got a horrible migraine that turned into a sinus infection.  I was down for the count for about 2 weeks.  It was my first sinus infection ever and hopefully my last!  But what made it all better was my sweet little Joe bringing me flowers.

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The best flowers are the ones picked right outside our front door

Then, we celebrated Father’s Day at Saltgrass Steakhouse.  It was a great day.  My kids love their daddy soooooo much.  He is our center.  He worships the Lord, provides for us, and does more for me and our kids than I could have ever hoped for out of a partner.  We are so blessed!

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That’s a lot of love right there

Oh, and in the middle of all this… we’re growing a garden!  This was our first pick, a VERY LARGE zucchini!  We ate it at nearly every meal for 2 weeks and it was good every time.  It’s our first garden to plant and we’ve gotten some nice tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, and a few watermelons are still growing.  For being rookie gardeners, I think we’re doing pretty good!  There’s nothing better than fresh vegetables right out of your own back yard.

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My favorite recipe is slicing the zucchini and putting it straight on the grill. No need to add anything! The natural flavor is perfect!

More summer fun going on!  The kids absolutely love the playground!

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Playing at the park

We enrolled Joe is soccer for the summer.  He’s a little timid, shy, and reserved, but he’s good at the game!  He does just what the coach tells him to do.  It’s really fun to watch.

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There is Joe right in the middle in the turquoise shirt, dark grey shorts, about to kick the ball!

We’ve had a wonderful summer so far and by taking this time to reflect on it, I know just how fortunate I am to have my family with me, happy, healthy, and safe.   Our lives on this earth are so precious.  We live to protect our kids from accidents, illness, and harm of any kind.  A part of you (at least I speak for myself here) feels like nothing bad would ever actually happen to us, at least nothing so tragic as an accidental death.  But it does happen, and it happened very close to home…

It’s with a heavy heart that share that our very good friends lost their sweet little boy, Landon.  He passed away on June 19th from a tragic drowning accident at the young age of 4.  This precious boy was ALWAYS smiling, so happy, and so full of life.  I remember meeting him for the first time when he was just a baby.  He came right to me with open arms and a huge smile of course.  He had a way of making anyone fall instantly in love with him.  We were all blessed just to know him.  I realize now that this place here on earth is just a temporary home.  We’re all longing to be next to God in Heaven, and Landon was just chosen to come home early.  Now, his family and all that loved him will grieve and hurt for our loss, but we take comfort in knowing that he’s safe and sound in Heaven.  He was an angel here on earth and now a guardian angel for his family, especially for his big sister, Eliza, and little brother, Greyson.

Landon, we will miss your laughter, your hugs, and your smile.  We love you buddy.

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Landon, me, and Joe a couple of years ago. Landon called him “Baby Joe”. They were best buds. I’ll always remember Landon’s sweet face.

 

 

 

Copycat Chick-Fil-A Nuggets

As I was browsing around on Facebook yesterday for some healthy lunch ideas, I came across something that caught my eye… an at home version of Chick-Fil-A Nuggets!!!!  I found this courtesy of Little B.  She mentioned that she modified a recipe from skinnymom.com, but I made Little B’s recipe exactly how it reads here and it’s perfect!

Seriously, these are SO good!  I batch cooked these yesterday so that I could have them at work this week.  Well, once I made them and tried them, I couldn’t stop eating!  YUMMO!  I eat chicken a lot so I’m really excited to have this new recipe to change up the flavor of chicken from time to time.

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Such a sad, blurry picture taken with my phone 😦 This picture does not do these nuggets justice!

 

Ingredients:

• 3-4 chicken breasts
• ½ cup pickle juice
• 2 egg whites
• ½ cup almond milk
• 1 cup oat flour
• 1 Tbsp sweetener
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ tsp black pepper
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• ½ tsp celery salt
• ½ tsp dried basil
• 2 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions:

1.  Cut chicken into bite size pieces and marinate the chicken pieces in the pickle juice for 30-60 minutes.

2.  Beat the egg whites and almond milk in a bowl.

3.  Combine the oat flour, sweetener, and spices in another bowl, then Dip each of the chicken pieces into the egg mixture covering on both sides.

4.  Add chicken pieces to a Ziploc bag, then transfer flour mixture from the bowl to the chicken in Ziploc bag and close to seal bag tightly. Shake the bag to cover chicken evenly with flour mixture.

5.  Heat the coconut oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.

6.  Fry the chicken pieces for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and outside is crispy.

7.  Remove chicken pieces and place on a plate. Blot the chicken on paper towel and serve!

Chicken Primavara

I have a confession… I LOVE spaghetti!  I have tried whole wheat spaghetti and spaghetti squash to substitute.  Sure, those taste “okay”, but they just aren’t the same thing.  And I prefer the real thing!    All in moderation, right!  🙂

I found a Chicken Primavara recipe on Aldi’s website, then I took it an made it my own.  It called for ingredients like yellow squash and mushrooms…neither of which I’m a fan of.  I also added more chicken to my recipe to pack more protein in.  The great thing about this recipe is that is has a ton of vegetables!   I just love the variety.  This way, I don’t feel too guilty about my spaghetti!  Ha!

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Pre-chopped veggies

This recipe made 8 servings.  Here’s a tip that I find very useful:  As soon as you are finished cooking dinner, pack your leftovers.  I made 5 bowls/tupperware of pasta and set them aside to cool before putting it in the fridge.  There were 3 servings left for dinner – and honestly, this dish could probably have made 9 servings, but I gave us slightly larger portions for dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 2 zucchini, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 chicken breast tenderloins
  • 2 cups raw spinach
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
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How gorgeous!!!

Directions:

1.  In a large pan over medium heat, cook chicken, about 5 minutes per side or until done.  Remove and cut into small pieces, set aside.

2.  Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add pasta and stir gently. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broccoli and cook 5 minutes longer. Drain and set aside.

3.  Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Sauté garlic, onion, zucchini and bell peppers for 5 minutes.  Add chicken and red pepper flakes and stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste

4.  Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to sauté pan. Stir in spinach and tomatoes. Continue to stir until spinach is wilted.

5.  Now that everything is prepared, you can do 1 of 2 things, (1) add spaghetti and broccoli to the veggie/chicken mix and toss to combine or (2) place desired about of spaghetti/broccoli in separate bowls (should make 8 servings), then top with veggie/chicken mix.

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I’m excited to get to eat this all week!

Haircuts and Happenings

For those of you with long hair, you may relate to this.  Have you ever felt defined by your hair?  Have you ever cried if you’ve gotten even more than a couple of inches cut off?  Well…I have.

The last time I had short hair was in grade school and I can only remember a couple of times that I had a short hair cut (meaning shoulder length).  So most of my life I’ve had long hair.  It’s been long, and it’s been longer.  I say that because there have been times that I’ve been to get a trim, they cut it, I either looked shocked or cried a little, and their comment would be “it’s still long!”.  Don’t ask me what my obsession is about my hair and having it long…I can’t tell you!  All I know is that I’ve loved it.  I liked how it looked when it was curled, put in a bun or pony, the fact that I didn’t have to wash it every day, just to name a few of it’s perks.

Here lately I’ve felt the urge for a change.  I’ve seen a trend called the “long bob” and think it’s so cute!  And being a mom of 2 little ones, having my long hair get in the way so often and having it pulled in every direction has not been fun.  It was also taking me way more time to style than I wanted.

When I made my hair appointment I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.  I knew that I at least wanted to get a trim and highlights like I always do, but about a week before my appointment I made the decision to get it cut off.  This was, of course, after talking to my friend, Suzanne, who recently went from long to short (she had a hand in making me feel good about my decision), and from looking at a ton of pictures online.

And the results…

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Before

 

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After

It’s fun, it’s light, and it’s easy to style.  I’ve only had the cut for a few days some I’m still getting used to the fill of it, but I really like it!  It’s made me feel a little more sophisticated.  I’m definitely happy with my decision and the best part… there were no tears!  😉

I guess it was a big weekend for haircuts because it was time for my husband and son to get there’s too.  I am amazed that at only 2 and a half, Joe is so good when getting a haircut!  The stylist used scissors on the top and clippers on the sides and back and Joe never even flinched.  He just sat there having a conversation about going to the potty and how much he loves his sister.  Such cute toddler talk.  He was such a big boy, he didn’t even need me to stand by him.  I was very proud.  Although, when he was done, I tried to get a couple of pictures but it was not a “smile for the camera” kind of day.  I guess he used up his the good mood during the haircut.  Haha!

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When he gets bashful, he’ll stick his tongue out.

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He’s too interested in the sucker to give mommy a smile.

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This was a pre-haircut picture taken that morning. To get them BOTH to smile for the camera is really rewarding!!!

How do you feel about your hair?  Are you ready for a change?  

Thanks for reading today!  If you haven’t already, please sign up with your email to receive by posts!  I’d love your feedback on how I’m doing and what you’d like to see more of.

xoxo,

Lindsay

Baked Dijon Salmon

So driving home yesterday from work I googled a salmon recipe on my phone (don’t worry, my husband was driving).  I found a couple of recipes that looked yummy, but the further I read the directions, I realized that most call for the sauce to marinate for an hour.  I don’t have an hour to marinate people!!!  I actually have zero time to marinate unless it’s on the weekend and I actually plan ahead of time, which of course rarely happens.  Luckily I came across a quick and easy recipe from NatashasKitchen.com.  What’s even better is that it calls for fresh parsley… and I just happen to have some since I recently planted some herbs in my flower bed.  I was excited to run out to the front yard with my scissors!

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Ingredients:

  • 4-6 pieces of Salmon
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon slices

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking pan with foil, spray with olive oil and arrange salmon skin side down.

2.  In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well (except for the salmon).

3.  Generously brush the top of each salmon with sauce, then top with a lemon slice.  

4.  Bake for about 12-15 minutes.  Remember not to over-cook the fish or it will come out too dry.

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Meal Planning, Grocery Shopping, and Saving Money!

Who wants to save money on their grocery bill???  I DO!  I DO!  I mentioned on my last post that I would be talking about my shopping experience at the fabulous grocery store called Aldi.  As promised, I’m about to break it down for you!

Since I had Lexi (she just turned 1), our budget for groceries/hygiene products has been $600 per month.  But keep in mind…that also included diapers and formula.  Now that Lexi is on whole milk, our bill has really gone down.  Side note:  about once a month I purchased formula, diapers, and wipes online at Costco.  It was the best value, free shipping, and I didn’t have to worry about filling my grocery cart with it – instead it got delivered right at my door!  So Lexi is still in size 3 diapers and we buy those about every other month (1 box for home and 1 box for the daycare), and Joe is in a pull-up at night so those last us about 2 months as well.  So now that I’ve got that under control, I’ve been really motivated to see if I could find some other savings.

My Monday’s are always the same as far as chores go – I get all the laundry done and I grocery shop.  I was noticing that each week when I would make my trip to Walmart, I was easily spending at least $150.  I would cringe every time the cashier would tell me my bill.  What is it about Walmart?  I go in with a list and come out with so much more!  Then I get home, put it all away, and wonder what the heck I just bought!  So about a month ago, I took a stand.  A stand against Walmart!

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Groceries from Aldi – $67

There is an Aldi in the next shopping strip down from Walmart.  I’ve been there a time or two but never made it a regular thing because it never failed, I would end up having to make an additional trip to Walmart ANYWAY…and ain’t nobody got time to make 2 trips!  Sooooo…this took some planning.  I decided to get better organized.  We don’t need hygiene or cleaning products every single week.  And if we absolutely run out of something, I bet you we can get by for 7 days without it.   I mean really, if we run out of toothpaste, we have a drawer full of free samples from the dentist!  And oh, it was actually pretty sweet of my husband…on Monday mornings he sets out the item that he’s run out of (or running low on), and last week, he set out his shaving cream bottle.  Well, due to my diligent planning, it wasn’t the week for me to make a trip to Walmart.  So I didn’t get his shaving cream.  When he got home, I was the bearer of bad news, but in return he said, “I have a travel bottle in my luggage so if I run out, I’ll just use that”.  Awwwww, so sweet!  😉  To simplify things even more, I simply take a picture of the items we are about to run out of.  This serves as my shopping list for Walmart.  Does anyone use Jergans Cherry Almond lotion?  Ah, I love it!  I got hooked on it when I was in high school because my Grandmother used it and I thought she smelled so good.  I’ve tried other lotions through the years, but I always go back to Jergens.  Also from Walmart, I bought Chobani non-fat Greek yogurt, Stevia, and Kashi granola bars (I’ve tried the brands at Aldi but I didn’t like them).  My total bill at Walmart was $38 for 8 items.  I literally went in with tunnel vision and ONLY bought was on my list!

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Walmart shopping list

So here’s the deal… my plan is to spend $200 on groceries alone (per month).  That said, most months are made up of 4 weeks, but on the months that make up 5 weeks, I will bump it up to $250.  Will this be a challenge?  Maybe!  But it’s a goal, and a good goal to have for my family!  As far as my little lists for Walmart, I plan to make a trip every other week and simply stick to the list.  If I could get it under $100 for the month (diapers included), that would be ideal.  We shall see!

I went shopping at Aldi yesterday, attempted to get enough groceries to last for 2 weeks, and spent $71.  Here is what I have planned for dinner:

Week 1

  • Monday – Spaghetti and salad (leftovers for lunch)
  • Tuesday – Salmon, brown rice, asparagus
  • Wednesday – Left over salmon dinner
  • Thursday – Steak, red potatoes, zucchini and broccoli (leftovers for lunch)
  • Friday – Chicken Primavera (I will post the recipe soon)
  • Saturday – Date night!  The kids will go to the church and have pizza
  • Sunday – I typically don’t cook on Sundays.  I’ll make sandwiches, nachos, or we’ll have whatever is leftover in the fridge (possibly the chicken primavera)

Week 2

I will have to make a quick trip to Aldi for the ingredients for the casserole I plan to make on Wednesday.  But after making this dinner plan for the week, everything else will be items I already have on hand.  Yay!

  • Monday – Beef Carnita Tacos, black beans (leftovers for lunch)
  • Tuesday – Grilled Chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans (leftovers for lunch)
  • Wednesday – Tex Mex Turkey Enchilada Casserole (I will post the recipe soon)
  • Thursday – Leftover casserole
  • Friday thru Sunday – We are going to East TX for Easter weekend so I don’t have to worry about meals!!!

For those of you interested in my daily meals (because I do eat a lot during the day to support my workout routine), here is what I’m having:

  • Meal 1:  Protein shake (Advocare Muscle Gain, water, spinach, 1 tbsp almond butter, 1/2 banana, oats, ice)
  • Meal 2:  2 egg whites, 1 egg, 2 slices of turkey bacon, 1 slice of whole wheat toast with almond butter
  • Meal 3:  Grilled chicken, salad, sweet potato
  • Meal 4:  Ground turkey, bell pepper/onion mix, brown rice and quinoa
  • Meal 5:  Dinner listed above
  • Meal 5:  Yogurt and almonds

My husband has the same breakfast/snack items every day.  He is so easy!  He has oatmeal, a granola bar, a banana, and V8 juice.  He’ll take any leftovers for lunch that I give him.

Lexi doesn’t really have snacks just yet.  When we get home she’s still napping, so we wake her around 6:00, she has milk, then dinner.

Joe has an afternoon snack.  It varies depending on his mood 😉  We’ll give him fruit, pickles, cheese and crackers, goldfish, or cereal.  He’s pretty easy to please.  Most of the time he goes for the fruit which makes me happy!

With the exception of 3 dinners which were purchased last week (spaghetti, tacos, and casserole), everything else listed above was from yesterdays trip.  Also included in that bill were 2 jugs of milk, eggs, cereal, almond butter, bread, fruit, chips, juice, and water bottles – all of which will last for 2 weeks.  Again, it was only $71!  And last week I spent $67 and had 3 dinners leftover.  SCORE!  Here is where I stand so far:

  • March 31st – $67.55
  • April 7th – $71.44
  • April 14th – $10.00 or less (I should only have to purchase the items for the casserole)
  • April 21st – Spend no more than $50
  • April 28th – Spend no more than $50

So there you go.  As a mom and meal planner for my family, it’s rewarding that I’ve found a way to save money all while providing nutritious and tasty meals.

What do you think?  Does this sound reasonable?

What money saving ideas do you have?