What We Ate: March 2016

What we ate-March 2016I started a tradition at Budget for Health by sharing various meals I’ve made and loved each month. This has been a fun post to write and it’s been a form of accountability because I want to lead by example when it comes to meal planning that is easy, budget friendly, and healthy. Be sure to check out what we ate in prior months.

Another round, shall we?kid friendly mealKid-themed potluck
I’ll just start with this and get it out of the way: chicken nuggets, pigs in a blanket, ants on a log, mac and cheese. Not the best night nutritionally but it was a lot of fun. Also, as a dietitian I’ll chime in and add that I don’t think kids need to eat “kid” food and can eat the same as adults. Here’s a list of ideas for kid-friendly snacks if you’re curious. For example, Nora’s got salmon (protein), avocado (fat), and sweet potatoes (carbs) for a balanced meal in the photo above. She doesn’t have to like it (not a fan of the salmon some days, other days she asks for more) but she does have to try it.

Mama’s house
We’ve been staying the night at my parents once a week to give Dave an extra night of studying for an engineering exam coming up in April and we also visit on weekends occasionally. My mom makes the best food and never has a recipe written down. This month we had corned beef, turkey legs, ribs, stir fry, homemade meatballs, and grilled BBQ chicken. Sides are always veggies &/or a salad and I find some way to throw a lot of butter on something to round out a balanced meal. I didn’t realize how often I eat dinner at my parents until I wrote that all out. She always has the best homemade chocolate chips waiting for Nora too. Thanks, mom!

Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken, etc.

I say etc because I thaw a whole organic chicken on Thursday, make it on Monday, and it stretches into multiple meals for the week. We had the legs & wings with sides Monday & Tuesday, burrito bowls Wednesday, and I used the carcass to make overnight chicken stock which led to Thursday and Friday’s meal- zuppa toscana (Olive garden inspiration with spicy Italian sausage, kale, & potatoes). We did this again later in the month but the soup I made was just a mix of veggies like kale, bell peppers, and spiralized sweet potatoes instead of noodles.

Coworker surprise
Dave’s coworkers graciously put together a meal for us to give us a night off from cooking. It was like a Greek salad- chicken, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, olives, feta, and some muffins that had bran, flax seed, raisins, and dark chocolate in them.

sweet potato hash skilletBreakfast
Per usual, we had breakfast for dinner twice a week this month. It’s a cheap option and we love it. We always have eggs and alternate between making a skillet with shredded sweet potatoes, homemade hashbrowns, or homemade protein pancakes.

Pan-fried Cod or Salmon
I stocked up on fish when I found a great deal on wild-caught varieties. I’ve made black bean salmon or just pan fry some kind of fish to serve alongside asparagus & sweet potato coins/fries or as a burrito bowl.

marinated chickenMock Chipotle burrito bowl
I marinated 5 pounds of chicken in a Thai marinade and another that just had a mix of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, rosemary and garlic. I cooked, diced, and froze them in a ziploc so we could throw them in a salad for our lunch or in a burrito bowl for dinner. I even mixed the rice with cilantro, salt, and lime 😉 We did the same with ground beef and homemade taco seasoning another night.

Goodbye Frank
We ate the last cut of our beef share this month. It was a roast and it was a delicious one. Frank was a great cow and we look forward to our next bovine friend that makes it’s home in our deep freezer.

Stuffed peppers
I mixed rice with some spicy pork sausage, diced peppers, onions.

A favorite choice, especially when we have a BOGO coupon.

What were some favorite meals you enjoyed this month?

What we ate: February 2016

I started a tradition at Budget for Health by sharing various meals I’ve made and loved each month. This has been a fun post to write and it’s been a form of accountability because I want to lead by example when it comes to meal planning that is easy, budget friendly, and healthy. Be sure to check out what we ate in prior months.

What we ate February 2016Well, that month went by fast. Clearly, since my last post was what we ate in January! I’m happy to write up a summary of meals I make each month since I know many of you are always asking me for the recipes when I share a meal on social media and I want to show you that it’s possible to make healthy, simple meals without spending all day in the kitchen. Here we go with another round for February:

I tallied up how many times we had breakfast this month: Homemade hashbrowns & eggs 4 times, homemade protein pancakes and eggs 2 times.

We had an Asian-themed potluck with friends. I made my infamous chicken curry stew and there was a shrimp curry stew, Thai steak salad, Korean BBQ chicken, and other good stuff.

Turkey chili with butternut squash
Dave’s coworker made us a meal after Etta was born and we kept it in our deep freezer until this month!

Fish taco bowl
Bowl-based dishes are our go-to. I just cooked up some cod and sauteed veggies we had on hand then topped it with avocado. Protein + fat + carbs for a balanced meal.

free burritoChipotle
Did you get your free burrito from Chipotle?! It was phenomenal and I didn’t even get E.Coli. Sorry if you missed this delicious opportunity.
Mama made this one for us when my parents came to visit for the day. There’s just something about a mom’s home cooked meal that’s always so comforting. We had brats on the grill with my parents the next day too. Summer can’t come soon enough!

Another homemade meal from my mom. She made these massive meatballs and froze them awhile back so all she had to do was heat them up and serve them alongside some mashed potatoes, salad, and broccoli.

what we ateTaco night
Our friend invited us over for tacos and the meat was this SUPER tender and flavorful beef brisket that fell apart when you just pulled at it with some tongs.Rotisserie chicken
This whole chicken in a crockpot is so east it shows up on the menu at least once every month since we can stretch it out to a few meals. We had it with bbq sauce, broccoli, and sweet potato with butter one night, paleo pad thai with cabbage the next night, and taco soup the next 2 nights. It helps when I use the chicken as PART of a meal instead of having it as a centerpiece like the first night because I can stretch it into more meals. I used the homemade crockpot overnight chicken stock as my base and threw in random things I had like shredded chicken, corn, beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and homemade taco seasoning.Photo_2016-02-27_03-29-52_PMGrilled cheese
We try to have dinner with some good friends of ours every couple months and our meal of choice is always grilled cheese with an egg on it with tomato soup.

We grilled up our last steak from Frank, our beef share. It was a whopping 3.75 pounds so it was our dinner for 3 nights in a row!

Other meals:
Salmon burger (from Costco) and roasted cabbage & sweet potato coins
Black bean salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts
BBQ chicken with sweet potato and broccoli

Shrimp stir fry
Meal prep tip: Cook extra batches in your rice cooker and freeze flat in a quart-size bag. It makes for a quick dinner. I had a giant bag of stir fry veggies in the freezer so all I had to do was thaw & cook the shrimp & veggies while the rice warmed up.

Family visit
We got to meet our precious niece this weekend! We had pizza the first night for dinner and I savored 2 big slices and decided to pass on the breadsticks. It’s all about balance, right? Dave’s mom made a delicious soup the next day with ground turkey, kale, butternut squash, and white beans. Our third meal before heading home was rotisserie chicken, sweet potatoes, and a kale salad mix from Costco.

What are some go-to meals you make at least once a month?

What we ate: January 2016

I started a tradition at Budget for Health by sharing various meals I’ve made and loved each month. This has been a fun post to write and it’s been a form of accountability because I want to lead by example when it comes to meal planning that is easy, budget friendly, and healthy. Be sure to check out what we ate in prior months.What we ate- January 2016Homemade rotisserie chicken 
We got a few meals out of this one 4-pound chicken. We ate just chicken with some delicious sides and had quesadillas and paleo pad Thai for the next few dinners.

Mom’s meatloaf
My mom’s meatloaf recipe with some homemade mashed potatoes are a winner on cold days like we’ve been having in Michigan.

Beef roast in the Crock Pot
We now only have one steak and one roast left from our beef share. Sad days a comin’…

beef roast, meat loaf, chickenBreakfast
Always. Eggs with either homemade hashbrowns or my protein pancakes.

Zuppa Toscana
This is a homemade version of Olive Garden’s zuppa toscana. Spicy Italian sausage, kale, potatoes, and homemade overnight chicken stock I made in the crockpot with the leftover bones from our rotisserie chicken.

Thai chicken salad with homemade Thai peanut salad dressing
Oh my word I couldn’t stop talking about how good this was! You can get the dressing and the chicken marinade in the link above.

We love having friends over for dinner. One couple had recently learned how to make Pho so we picked that for our next meal. It was so so good!

Stir fry bowls
Shrimp, lots of veggies, and rice I pre-cooked and kept in the freezer for a night like this when we needed a quick and easy meal.
thai chicken, stir fry, breakfast, phoPaleo Pad Thai
Instead of noodles we sauteed cabbage and I mixed up chicken and green onions with the Thai peanut dressing.

hello fresh meals

Hello Fresh
My oh my all three of these meals were phenomenal! We’ll just pretend I took these photos 🙂
Here were the 3 meals we got this time:
– Oven roasted chicken with roasted brussels sprouts, carrtos, and parsnips over lemon-thyme basmati rice.
– Marinated flank steak with roasted zucchini, potatoes, and bell peppers
– Ground pork & apple burgers with rosemary potatoes and a side salad with balsamic vinaigrette

What new recipes have you tried out this month?

2016 goals

2016 goalsI never set real goals for myself until I started this blog 4 years ago. We’ve been able to accomplish so much in less than 5 years! It’s one thing to set a vague example (like “try to make extra payments our mortgage”) compared to setting a SMART goal like paying an extra $10,000 toward your mortgage this year.

Here’s to another year of smart goal setting!

2016 goals

#1 Max out our Roth IRAs
We have automatic withdrawals set up to fund our Roth IRAs but now that we are only budgeting off of Dave’s income our scheduled monthly allocations alone will not get us to this goal. We budget in a unique way in that we only budget for income from 2 paychecks per month but there are two months each year when there are 3 paydays in the month. I’m sure these two “extra” paychecks will go toward this goal as well as any annual bonus or raise Dave gets.

#2: Help more people with their nutrition and fitness goals
I had the false understanding that if I wasn’t employed by someone and working a “real” 9-5 job that I wasn’t making use of my dietetics degree. I started off with a few “real” dietetics jobs by working for a hospital, teaching at a community college, and at and local health department. Since I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom someday this was one of my reasons to start Budget for Health. I know I shouldn’t expect feedback from people I’ve inspired but it really fuels my excitement for what I’m doing here. Now that I’m running my nutrition and fitness challenge groups I’ve loved seeing how much more I can help people by still being a stay-at-home mom since I get to set my own hours and “work” from home. I’m confident that lives will be changed this year and I get to be a part of people’s journey by offering accountability and support.

#3 Start building our home gym
Dave and I love lifting weights and dream about having our own home gym. We aren’t looking to become body builders but it’s one of our favorite forms of exercise and being able to do some kind of physical activity every day has a huge impact on our mood and energy levels. However, the only weights we currently have in our home are 2-pound dumbbells since we’ve used weights at a gym in the past so we are basically starting from scratch. Having our own equipment would definitely pay off within a couple of years compared to paying a monthly gym membership since we’d use it every day. Dave has his eyes set on a barbell set that will cost around $1,000 with the amount of weight we want so that’s first up on our list. We bought a chin up bar as a Christmas present for each other so it looks like birthday and Christmas gifts are going to be adding to our home gym from here on out!

#4 New City Catechisms
I typed out all 52 catechisms and put them on notecards last year but we fell behind and eventually stopped going through them. Dave and I set this goal together to focus on one each week. It would be great to memorize them all but the long term plan is to go through them every year and they will stick to memory more over time. There’s even a shortened version for kids and an interactive iPad app we love!

Here are our goals from 2012, 2013, and 2014, and 2015 if you want to see all we’ve accomplished. Some are my own goals but I say “our” because Dave plays a huge role in most of them.

What are your 2016 goals?

Thai Peanut Dressing and Chicken Marinade

thai peanut dressingFirst- props and thank yous to my sister who got me a beautiful collection of dishes so my food picture don’t look so ugly.

Let’s just get right to it. My friend made me a phenomenal Thai chicken salad with homemade Thai Peanut dressing last week. I love anything with ginger, soy, or peanut butter in it so I immediately asked her for the dressing recipe. Now I have it and so do you.

Thai Peanut Dressing


  • 3 Tbps Natural Peanut Butter
  • 1 tsp honey (not necessary)
  • 2 teaspoons Freshly Grated Ginger (or jarred works too!)
  • 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • juice of 1/2 lime


  1. Add a splash of sriracha if all the eaters are up for spicy)
  2. I always add cilantro and chopped red and green onions for flavor in the salad, but those can also be mixed into the dressing if you are using it right away
  3. You can sub a different vinegar but mine was made with rice vinegar

The salad itself included chopped greens & cilantro, edamame, yellow bell pepper, green onion, shredded carrots, shredded purple cabbage, radishes, chopped peanuts, sesame seeds, and marinated chicken.

…as for the chicken marinade:

  • 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger 
  • 1-2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • Sriracha red pepper flakes to taste
  •  1 Tbsp of Rice vinegar or lime juice

What’s your favorite homemade dressing recipe?

What We Ate: December 2015

I started a tradition at Budget for Health by sharing various meals I’ve made and loved each month. This has been a fun post to write and it’s been a form of accountability because I want to lead by example when it comes to meal planning that is easy, budget friendly, and healthy. Be sure to check out what we ate in prior months.

What We Ate-December 2015One present I got for Christmas that you’ll (hopefully) benefit from was a bunch of stylish dishes from my sister! This might be the last month of unappetizing photos. I’m not guaranteeing this though; I try to be real with you and show you my food how it’s served and most of the time we have dinner in a bowl and things are smooshed together. My first photo felt like one of those memes. You know…

feel like versus look like when working out

Mine goes like this:

What I want you to think meal prep looks like:
taco bowl

Zoom out to what meal prep really looks like:
meal prep

With that said, here’s what we ate, December edition:

*Meals I made*
Taco Bowls
My default is to throw everything in a bowl for dinner. With tacos, my protein is usually fish or ground beef, fat comes from cheese and avocado, and carbs from greens, tomatoes, salsa, any other veggies I might add and a little rice. I didn’t even use a bowl for this pic; I just mixed everything together in the mixed greens container!


We had steak & eggs and pancakes & eggs various times throughout the month. We grilled a couple steaks and I froze some to use for future breakfasts. It makes me sad that Frank is almost gone.

Veggie corn chowder
I made a few batches of this before Etta was born. What a lifesaver for nights I don’t want to cook.

*MealBaby meals*
As I write this out I’m realizing how amazing it was to have 9 meals provided by friends. We has some good eats this month!

This friend did lasagna right and loaded it up with veggies.

Cilantro Lime Chicken
A friend of mine got together with a group and made a bunch of freezer meals. She made an extra one for me. I love set-it-and-forget-it crockpot dishes!

Meatballs stuffed with mozzarella and cornbread
Our friends love 100 Days of Real Food as much as we do so this meal was inspired by Lisa’s recipes. Here’s the cornbread recipe.

chicken curryCurry
This meal was so good I ate the leftovers for breakfast since I didn;t want to wait until lunch. It was made with potatoes, chickpeas, bell peppers, and a side of cous cous.

Applebee’s & Qdoba
We were given gift cards and these have been great for nights when we’re out all day and need a quick meal we can pick up on the way home.

Turkey & sausage chili
We have Dave’s coworker to thank for this one.
IMG_20151202_175609283Whole Foods
This meal was Dave’s favorite. We looove brussels sprouts and can I just direct your attention to that chocolate cake for two? Heaven. Gone in 60 seconds.

Chicken & broccoli casserole
Another delicious 100 Days of Real Food recipe.

*Other meals I didn’t make*

Dave’s work holiday party
It’s easy to fill up on starchy carbs at events like this so I scanned the options for appetizers and meal and filled my plate with an appropriate amount protein, fat, and carbs. I did eat a lot of brussels sprouts because those are my favorite 😉

Grilled chicken
Mmm. I don’t know how my mom does it but she can make some mean grilled BBQ chicken.

Mon Ami
This is a winery in Ohio that my family loves to visit when my sisters are in town.

One of my sisters was in town before Christmas so they came up to visit and we got sushi. It was my first time having sushi in awhile since I was pregnant this past year! Nora liked the chopsticks/drumsticks and edamame.

christmas dinner
Christmas week

My family does food well. Look at this spread and it was just appetizers! Can you spot the PFC?

What was your favorite dish you enjoyed over the holidays?

What We Ate: November 2015

I started a tradition at Budget for Health by sharing various meals I’ve made and loved each month. This has been a fun post to write and it’s been a form of accountability because I want to lead by example when it comes to meal planning that is easy, budget friendly, and healthy. Be sure to check out what we ate in prior months.

What we ate November 2015 What a month! Miss Etta arrive November 6th and we have been enjoying our newborn snuggles. Nora loves being a big sister and has been very helpful with the transition. We were blessed to receive homemade meals from friends through a free online meal registry, Meal Baby (<– I wrote about my experience when we had Nora here), so I put these meals in a separate category for this month. Many of the meals stretched into two dinners and even a lunch! Not going to lie, I forgot to take pictures 90% of the time since it didn’t cross my mind but, let’s be honest, the photos I take of my food aren’t that flattering to begin with 😉

walk with my girls

Meal Baby
Homemade pizza- fresh mozzarella and sliced tomatoes
Breaded chicken with sticky rice & homemade sauce, broccoli, tuna, and egg rolls
Turkey & wild rice soup
Chicken pot pie
Chicken chili with tortilla chips and homemade pumpkin bread
Breakfast casserole (eggs, bread, mushrooms, spinach, ham)
Beef rendang (delicious Indonesian dish) and baked acorn squash
Roasted pork tenderloin with a wine & cherry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, and broccoli
Chicken noodle soup & superfood salad
Homemade lasagna
Meatballs & cornbread

Meals away from home

We took a dinner shift when visiting family over Thanksgiving so Dave and I made a batch of ground beef with my homemade taco seasoning a day ahead so all we had to do was heat it up, grate some cheese and we were ready to go!

Wedding meals
Dave got to open a wedding ceremony for a friend so we attended both the rehearsal and wedding ceremony. I got steak at both events! Yay for an iron boost!

Fruit, cheese, nuts, & olive spread
This was a creative lunch put together by my mother- and sister-in-law. I passed on the crackers and chose my carbs from the grapes, apples, & pears.

Our brother-in-law treated us with chili and biscuits as one of the meals while visiting family

Thanksgiving dinner
Turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, green beans, and pie. Almost all of the recipes were from Cooks Illustrated so everything tasted phenomenal!!

Grilled chicken & sweet potatoes
The day after we got home from the hospital with Etta we stayed at my parents for a night. My mom treated us to one of Dave’s favorite dinners- grilled chicken thighs. There’s no secret to her method but my mom just makes really good grilled chicken.

Hospital food
Hospital food typically gets a bad wrap but I enjoyed the meals at the hospital. I had pot roast twice, a quesadilla, and an omelette.

Meals at home

We had an entire bag of leftover chips from a potluck so we had the neighbors over for a pan of nachos for dinner!

This is probably the lowest number of times we’ve had breakfast for dinner in one month. With all the Meal Baby deliveries, I only cooked a handful of times!

Chicken Noodle Soup
My parents, sister, and Nora welcomed us home from the hospital with balloons, signs, and homemade chicken noodle soup! It was a great gift 🙂

Fish taco bowls
Homemade taco seasoning for the win again.

Dave grilled some ribeyes from our grass-fed beef share for dinner to go with sweet potatoes and roasted asparagus. The steak was cooked perfectly and was soooo good!

What meals did you enjoy this month?