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?

Homemade protein pancakes

protein pancakesWe have breakfast for dinner at least twice each week. We just love it so much! I don’t think you’ll ever see a “What we ate” series without breakfast showing up multiple times. We always have eggs (we go through around 20 dozen each month!) and then change it up between homemade hash browns or homemade protein pancakes. It’s one of our favorite meals and I think Nora’s #1 favorite meal.

blueberry pancakes

I initially found this recipe from La Creme de la Crumb an have since tweaked it to result in our favorite protein pancake recipe. Here it is!

Homemade protein pancakes

Yield: 12

Serving Size: 3-4" pancakes



  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 scoops Naked Whey protein powder
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1.5 cups water or almond milk
  • Blueberries or preferred topping


  1. Preheat griddle to just above medium heat
  2. Mix dry ingredients
  3. Mix wet ingredients
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and whisk until all ingredients are combined; don't overmix
  5. Pour a 3" circle of batter and let it spread out. This is when you add blueberries (or chocolate chips)
  6. Flip pancakes after 2-3 minutes or when edges start to look dry and bubbles start to form
  7. Top with REAL peanut butter and a wee bit of REAL maple syrup


4g fat, 12g carbs, 6g protein


This is how we enjoy our pancakes. Feel free to swap things out. For example, sometimes I put walnuts in the pancakes instead of peanut butter on top. I like using almond milk because it add an extra calcium boost but I don’t always have it on hand. I also use a gluten free flour I found at Costco, Namaste, and you would never know (Dave is probably learning these pancakes are gluten free as he reads this article). The batch makes twelve 3-4″ pancakes and we always put chocolate chips on 2 of them (one for me, one for Dave) while the rest get blueberries and cinnamon. Two pancakes would bring you to a max for the amount of carbs you typically want at a meal so be careful with the syrup. There’s only 4g of fat and 6g of protein per pancake so this is where the peanut butter topping and eggs on the side come in for the win and provide a balanced meal.

What are you favorite breakfast foods? What toppings do you put on your pancakes?

What we ate: October 2015

what we ate: October 2015I 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.

Meals at Home

So many eggs
Guess how many days we had eggs for dinner this month? A total of 10/31 days. Eggs with homemade pancakes, eggs with homemade hashbrowns, and egg skillet thing with all sorts of veggies and sweet potato hash mixed together.

Homemade rotisserie chicken
We had some of the homemade rotisserie chicken for dinner with BBQ sauce and sauteed broccoli then I froze the rest for a future burrito bowl or stir fry night.

Salmon burgers, spaghetti squash & homemade kale pesto
Spaghetti squash is so effortless to make, I’m not sure why I don’t make it more often. I had some homemade kale pesto I had frozen in individual portions in an ice cube tray so I mixed that in and then cooked up a salmon burger from Costco to throw on top. I’d say 80% of our meals are random foods thrown together and served in bowls like this meal.

Chicken noodle soup
My parents are so wonderful. They came to visit for the day and my mom painted Nora’s room while my dad helped Dave finish hanging cupboards in our basement. My mom brought all the fixins to make homemade chicken noodle soup so I threw that together while my sister entertained Nora. It was such a good fall dinner and we made a peach cobbler for dessert with peaches we prepped and froze last summer.

thai peanut tuna burger, butternut squash soup, blueberry pancakesStir fry
Nothing fancy about this meal- rice (one of the many pantry staples I cook big batches of and freeze), chopped carrots, celery, broccoli, bell peppers, and a few eggs scrambled in there. I pan fried a couple Thai peanut tuna burgers from the freezer and served it on top of the fried rice.

Butternut squash soup
I’ve been roasting butternut squash a lot lately but I decided to make a soup since I had just finished a batch of beef bone broth in the crockpot. Immersion blenders are a wonderful thing, folks. The “soup” was more like a puree but I liked the texture so we stuck with it. I warmed up a few hot dogs we had in the freezer (non-crappy kind…check your labels) and sauteed some broccoli to go with the puree.

Grilled cheese & tomato soup
Friends of ours recently had a baby so we made them a meal. We’ve had grilled cheese and tomato soup the past 3-4 times we’ve hung out with them so we continued the tradition with this delicious comfort food.

Meals away from home

Kimbap and Asian burrito bowlKimbap
I tried kimbap, the Korean version of sushi, for the first time this summer and I got to make it for the first time this month at a potluck gathering with friends. It was delicious and I probably ate 20 pieces.

Asian Chipotle
There’s a unique restaurant I took my dad to that is like Chipotle but with an Asian flare. I got steak served over greens with bean sprouts, shredded carrots, corn, and broccoli with a side of crispy fried brussels sprouts. The bowls come with your choice of sauce on the side so I got one that was like a healthier version of szechuan sauce and just dipped my fork in it each time I got a bite rather than pouring the whole container on my bowl.

This was a month of trying new things. There was a Vietnamese restaurant on every corner where we lived in Calgary but Dave and I never made it to one in the 6 months we lived there. We had a surprise birthday party at a restaurant known for its Pho and I was not disappointed. My pho had broth, noodles, thinly sliced beef, bean sprouts, and mint leaves. I only added a few jalapenos and the flavor was wonderful but the spiciness soaked into the noodles and I was sweating and fanning myself most of the time I was eating. Good stuff.

Halloween party
Our church hosts a harvest party every year so our dinner consisted of 8-10 different samples of chili from the chili cook off. My favorite was a really spicy one that had potatoes in it.

Taco Tuesday
With baby #2 arriving any day, Dave and I made the spontaneous decision to eat out since there are a lot of great restaurants that do Taco Tuesday in town. It was a cheap date night since we got 6 tacos for $10 then walked to a mom & pop ice cream store and shared our homemade bear claw (Dark chocolate ice cream with chocolate covered cashews & caramel) with Nora.

Our bible study has a potluck twice a month over the summer and once a month when fall hits and schedules get busier. Our most recent potluck was Asian-themed so there was orange chicken, a pork dish, spring rolls, spicy green beans, ginseng chicken soup, and other sides.

Chipotle x 2
We got a gift card from friends and used it to get Chipotle twice this month. We love making our own burrito bowls with homemade barbacoa but I won’t turn down free Chipotle.

What are some new favorite fall recipes you’ve tried lately?