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30 Jan 2009   ·   20
Money Saving Mom

Bacon-Wrapped Apple BBQ Chicken

bacon wrapped bbq chicken

Guest Post by Erin from $5 Dinners

Creativity is a key part of making my $5 dinners every night. It would be much easier to make spaghetti or chicken and rice every night. But there’s no fun in that! A little imagination with some basic ingredients can really add some spark to your meals.

Here’s a delicious dinner I made recently for, yes, $5:


If you’d like a $5 Dinner meal, just like this one, delivered to your inbox every night, come on over to and subscribe to our email updates!

30 Jan 2009   ·   4
Money Saving Mom

A few great reads

::My friend, Jaycie, has put together a very creative challenge involving exercising and earning vacation money. Go here to read more about it.

::In the middle of morning sickness or another difficult season of life? You don't have to let your food budget fly totally out the window. Stephanie shares some practical tips and helpful ideas here. (By the way, I took a similar approach a few months back when I was in the throes of morning sickness. Read more about that here.)

28 Jan 2009   ·   248
Money Saving Mom

Ask the Readers: Frugal wedding gifts


photo by Bonnie BonBon

I was wondering if any of your readers had ideas for
frugal wedding gifts? My youngest sister is getting married and I
would like to give her something nice but our budget is limited. I'm not very creative or crafty, so it has to be something
simple to do. I am a mom of 7, as well, so time is limited. -Michelle

I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions for Michelle. With "wedding season" fast approaching, I'm sure many of us could benefit by hearing about your frugal but thoughtful wedding gift ideas. Post away!

27 Jan 2009   ·   11
Money Saving Mom

This week’s ~$60 menu

Here's the planned menu for this week using these groceries and what we already have on hand in the freezer and in our cupboards:

Cream of wheat, fresh juice
Whole-wheat waffles (from the freezer), strawberries, yogurt
Granola over yogurt with fruit
Banana muffins, scrambled eggs
Pancakes (from the freezer), strawberry smoothies
Whole-wheat waffles, hard-boiled eggs, fresh juice
Oatmeal, juice

Annie's Mac and Cheese, oranges
Shrimp, steamed veggies, toast
Egg salad sandwiches, apples
PB&J, veggies
Spinach rice and cheese casserole, strawberries
Leftovers x 2

Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans
Roast over noodles with gravy, steamed veggies, grapefruit
Meatballs, mashed potatoes with cheese, steamed veggies, muffins
Chicken broccoli rice casserole, grapefruit, scones, green beans
Beef hot dogs, steamed veggies, homemade bread
Chicken burgers with cheese, broccoli, fruit salad, homemade bread
Dinner out

Banana muffins
Granola bars

24 Jan 2009   ·   39
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Dillons Mega Sale!


See all that stuff?

13 packages of Kraft cheese
5 packages of Smart Chicken (ground and chicken breasts)–reduced by half price
7 cans of organic cocoa powder–reduced to $0.25 each!
organic eggs–reduced to $1.85
beef hot dogs
2 bags Hershey’s chocolate chips–reduced to $0.99 each
Cottonelle toilet paper–free after coupon
4 Green Giant Steamers–free after coupon
Dove shampoo
Herbal Essence shampoo/conditioner
6 Johnson’s Buddies soaps–free after coupon
4-pk Yo-Plait yogurt
2 packages Fiber One bars
3 boxes Quaker oatmeal
2 boxes Orville Redenbacher natural popcorn
1 quart whole milk–reduced to $0.99
3 bags Chex Mix

Before reductions, sales, and coupons, it would retail for $140-$150. After reductions, coupons, and sales, I paid $49 for all of it!

The best deal of all, in my opinion, was the cheese. It was $1.49/bag or block if you bought 10 of the mega sale items. However, their were $1/1 coupons in a little dispenser right next to the cheese. So I paid $0.49 each for all 13 packages of cheese!! I’ll be freezing most of the shredded cheese to use in some of the meals I’ll be making up and freezing for the baby’s birth.

Many of the “snacky” items I’ll be saving for after the baby is born. I’m trying to build up a good stockpile of food and household items to have on hand then so we don’t have to worry much about shopping (you can read more about this here). This should also save us money because I usually am not thinking clearly enough after a baby is born to be using coupons or shopping the sales.

For those of you who shop at “my” Dillons store be sure to hit this cheese deal! Also, check out the section of the store (at the back) where they have mark-downs. There were boxes and boxes of Hershey’s chocolate chips reduced to $0.99 back there!

I also went earlier this week while I was out running errands and got the following items:


From the health food store: a bag of organic apples reduced to $0.99, organic toaster pastries reduced to $0.99, Kashi granola reduced to $1.99. Again, I’m saving the toaster pastries for quick breakfasts after Baby comes.

From Dillons: 5 bags of cranberries reduced to $0.50 each. I stuck all of these in the freezer to use in baking.

And then yesterday, a friend found strawberries at a steal and bought some for me, too:


Can you guess how much all those strawberries cost? $6.49!!! We’ll be eating some of them fresh and I’ll freeze the rest to use in smoothies. Yummy!

I was planning to go to Aldi and buy some more fruit and veggies for this week, but after getting all those strawberries and surveying what’s still in my refrigerator and freezer, I think I’m going to hold off doing so for at least a few more days and make sure we use up the fresh produce we already have!

And I’m still quite a bit under our $60/week budget allotment for this month. All I can say is that God is so good and so faithful to provide for us as I seek to trust Him, pray for His blessing upon shopping trips, and do my best to be a wise steward of the resources He’s given us.

I’ll post our menu for what we’re eating this coming week on Monday, for those who are interested.


How’d you do this week? Post about the deals and bargains you were able to snag this week or other ways you saved money on your blog (with pictures, if possible!) and then come back here and leave your link below. **To make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.**

23 Jan 2009   ·   30
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: How I Save Money by Planning a Menu


photo by jen maiser

Guest Post by Karen

It’s a popular refrain sung by all who would be truly frugal: “If you want to save money, you must menu-plan!” There’s no getting around it—it does require thought and… well, planning. But like any discipline, it’s well worth the effort!

If you’ve been following MoneySavingMom for any length of time, then you probably already understand the “why’s” for menu-planning. Nevertheless, a little review never hurts!

Some of the perks of a menu plan:

1. You save yourself a daily headache by knowing in advance what’s for dinner (truthfully, the biggest draw for me!).

2. You give your budget a break from all the “pick-up-a-few-things” stops at the grocer or convenience store.

3. You save time and money at the grocer when you do go shopping, because you’ve got a plan!

4. You spend far less dining out or picking up takeout.

We’re probably all in the same boat as to the “why” of menu-planning. But surely some of us simply haven’t a clue as to the “how.” Do I get stuff on sale and make a menu from that? Use what I have and shop for the rest? Plan my menu and then shop?

It can be overwhelming at first, for sure! Everyone approaches it differently; what works for me may not work for you.

However, I’ve experimented and played around over the years, and here’s what I currently do:


1) Take inventory of existing food items. This is my first priority—using what I already have (another hard-and-fast frugal rule!). This includes any meats, beverages, dessert items, everything. I try to come up with meals that I could put together with what I already have and I’m always surprised at how far my pantry actually stretches!


2) While I’m completing step 1, I also make a note of what meals I could make, if only I had _____________. Many times, I lack something very inexpensive, such as a can of cream soup, or a stick of margarine. I jot those items down, and my grocery list is underway!


3) Check and compare sale fliers and coupons. I shop at only two grocery stores now; I found I was spending what little I saved on gas for all the trips! Plus, I have 2 small kiddos. I’d swap a couple dollars for time and energy any day!

Often, the sale ads jog my memory about a coupon I have stashed or a favorite meal I’ve forgotten about. And I try to ask the hubby whether there’s something special he’d like to eat that week. He appreciates that, and he’s usually ready with an answer!


4) Once I’ve got 10-12 meals written down, I slot them into my calendar. For me, this takes up the most time, but I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful. I use a whiteboard, and I plan meals according to the specific days’ events.

For example, my husband is home for dinner only three days per week, so I plan the nicest meals for those evenings. Wednesday night is a church night, which means planning something quick and easy. On Sundays we uphold a
time-honored family tradition: Nacho Night! And I always designate one night as “Leftover Smorgasbord Night.” This practice also helps to achieve variety; no one wants rice three nights in a row!

In addition, planning out my meals forces me to be a good steward with what I have. If I don’t plan carefully, my 3-pound bag of salad greens that was on sale will certainly wilt and rot, wasting money! Instead, I’ll plan a nice big dinner salad
(with chicken, per the husband’s request!) for Tuesday, spaghetti and
a side salad for Wednesday, and then I’ll have a sandwich and salad
for lunch on Thursday.

5) After double-checking the menu plan and grocery list, making sure nothing has been forgotten, it is time for The Big Shop. I make sure I’ve got my shopping list, any related coupons, and a full belly. (Really! You’ll spend less if you’re not ravenous!)

I feel good about grocery shopping when I’ve thought through my menu intelligently. And the best part? No more feelings of panic or
frustration when the husband asks, “What’s on the menu tonight?”

When she’s not fussing over her 2 sweet girlies (and when is that, exactly?), Karen writes about a little of everything at

22 Jan 2009   ·   102
Do you have a baby on the way, but you're worried about your finances? Read this encouraging series on how to have a baby without breaking the budget! TONS of great tips!

Having a Baby Without Breaking the Bank: Part 1

Do you have a baby on the way, but you're worried about your finances? Read this encouraging series on how to have a baby without breaking the budget! TONS of great tips!

My wife and I are expecting our first child. We were wondering if you had any tips that we could put into place now to start saving as we shop. And also if you had any websites that offer freebies for mothers, and any other good info you may have out there. -Jonathan

I often receive questions like the above from new parents-to-be and while I don’t feel like I’m the most-qualified person to talk on the subject, since we have had two babies (so far!) without spending much money at all in the process, I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far in this new series Having a Baby Without Breaking the Bank. I hope that those of you who have had children will also chime in and share what you’ve learned as well!

Despite what you often hear, having a baby doesn’t have to cost you an arm and leg. We had our first daughter when my husband was in law school and we were living on around $1000/month. By the grace of God and lots of creativity, we managed just fine!

There is often a tendency as soon as one finds out they are pregnant for the first time, to want to start buying things–baby things, maternity clothes, baby books, nursery furnishings, and on and on and on. My advice? If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

There are so many things that pregnancy books and magazines and even friends will tell you are must-haves. And you can fork out hundreds (or even thousands!) of dollars on these items needlessly.

In my first pregnancy–when we were living on our very meager budget–we actually didn’t buy anything aside from a few maternity clothes, a few blankets, a few packages of diapers, and a few sleepers. Everything else we needed for the pregnancy and our little girl we either borrowed from some one, were given as a gift, or did without.

My mom had advised me not to buy anything since it was our first baby and she was pretty sure many folks would be generous in their gifts to us. She was exactly right. Though we were in a small town that was new-to-us and didn’t have a lot of local friends, we still ended up having three baby showers and receiving plenty of gifts. We didn’t have an abundance, but we had exactly what we needed.

The good news was that since we were living in a tiny basement apartment, we didn’t have room for much of anything either so if we had purchased a lot of stuff, we would have quickly run out of space to store it. And we also learned that you can survive quite fine and have a happy baby without all of the dozens of gadgets and gizmos advertised everywhere as the latest and greatest things for wee ones.

So if you are a first-time parent, I’d advise you to think twice before buying a lot of stuff before your baby is born. You might end up with being given almost everything you need–or even more than you need!

In the next installment, we’ll begin discussing the items I see as necessities for pregnancy and the first six months of a child’s life and ways to get these inexpensively or even for free. Stay tuned…

21 Jan 2009   ·   26
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day – Part 5

As promised, here's the final installment of this week's Baking Day posts. Only, unlike yesterday when I was baking up a storm, I didn't bake or cook anything today.

Instead, my sister came over to help me today and she made all of this for me–plus, she took the pictures! Yes, I'm very spoiled to live close to family again.

Here's what she stocked our freezer with:


Whole-Wheat Banana Crumb Muffins–These are delicious! The recipe is here and was passed onto me by Donielle. She used some applesauce in place of the butter/oil and I don't think you can tell at all.


Spinach, Brown Rice, and Cheese Casserole–I love this stuff! I'd recommend putting in a little less spinach (unless you really like the taste of cooked spinach, more cheese, and maybe some extra seasonings in place of the Worchestershire sauce). It makes such a nutritious and delicious lunch; I always crave it when I'm pregnant, too!


Cranberry Orange Bread–Another great recipe! My friend found cranberries marked down to $0.50/bag at our nearby Dillons store and she tipped me off to the deal. Plus, she gave me this great recipe!

Cranberry Orange Bread
2 cups flour
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar                           
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder               
1/2 teaspoon baking soda                               
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
3/4 cup orange juice
1 egg                             
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Cut in shortening (like for a pie crust). Beat the egg. Stir in orange peel and orange juice. Add these to the
dry ingredients and mix. Then fold in cranberries and nuts. Bake in a
greased large loaf pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

And, not only did she make all of that, but my sister also made a double batch of pancakes, too. Whew! See why I'm so blessed to have family nearby?

20 Jan 2009   ·   32
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day – Part 4

Well, I ran out of energy today before I ran out of items on my to-do list (that seems to be a fairly regular occurrence these days!) but I did get a big batch of meatballs made and a double batch of granola bars made before dinner time.

I have this big goal of having our second refrigerator/freezer stocked to gills with dinners, healthy snacks, and so forth by the time the baby is born. I've always made some extra food, but have never had the luxury of having an extra refrigerator, so I wanted to take advantage of that.

I'm also thinking that this being our third baby in four years and all, it's probably a wise idea to be as well-prepared as possible. I'm just guessing that cooking and baking in that first month or two after Baby arrives is not going to be the top priority.


Seeing as I'm 11 weeks out from being full-term, I figured I can go ahead and get started with filling the freezer. So I made this batch of meatballs with that in mind. There's enough here to last us for five dinners so I'm going to freeze two dinner's worth to use before the baby is born and three meal's worth to use after the baby is born. I'm freezing these on baking sheets and then will divvy up into freezer bags once they are fully frozen.

(By the way, for those who may be interested in reading more about how we're preparing for Baby #3, check out my other blog, Mom of Littles. I post updates on my pregnancy over there and will be sharing a lot in the coming weeks on details of how we're gearing up for this big event and trying to be as organized and ready as possible!)

After the meatballs were finished and in the freezer, I tried out this new-to-me granola bar recipe. I've never made granola bars before, but these looked so good and so good-for-you that I couldn't resist. They were pretty easy to make, though I feel like I need to make them a few more times to really perfect the recipe.


As always, I did some tweaking to it. I used some slivered almonds and flax seeds instead of some of the peanuts and sunflower seeds and added in extra oats to make up for the rest. Since I made a double batch, I added dark chocolate pieces to one of them as well. My hubby is quite fond of chocolate chip granola bars, so I figured he'd enjoy these better with some chocolate in them.

I wished I wouldn't have let the liquid mixture simmer for as long as I did; the bars turned out a bit crunchier than I was hoping as a result. But I'll know better next time! I also think that it was a little more complicated to make a double batch since you need to get them in the pan and shaped into bars quickly and doubling the recipe added extra time to it.

All in all, though, I was very happy with the recipe and will definitely be making it again.

That's all the cooking/baking that's happening for today. I still am planning to make pancakes, bread, muffins, and the spinach casserole that everyone's been asking for the recipe for. But that will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon. I promise that I'll do my best to share a post on that since so many of you have requested the casserole recipe.

And now, I'd love to see any baking you've been doing at your house today! If you've blogged about it, post your link or links below so we can all be inspired and motivated (and probably pick up some new ideas and recipes, too!). Thanks for joining in today and sharing another Baking Day with me. It's always so much more fun to have you all following along!

20 Jan 2009   ·   46
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day – Part 3

Kaitlynn is napping and Kathrynne is quietly reading books. The house is so quiet it almost feels as if I have no children here at all… which is very, very rare!

I'm trying to take advantage of the quietness by getting a lot crossed off my list. I just finished up mixing up a quadruple batch of whole-wheat waffles and making a double batch of sweet potatoes.

Waffles are such a great thing to make when you're going to be spending a few hours in the kitchen since you can just easily stop every few minutes to take another waffle off the waffle iron and pour some more batter on.


Waffles are a great way to use up reduced milk, too. I often find milk reduced at great prices at Dillons so I snatch it up and then store it in the freezer to use for making waffles and pancakes on Baking Days. I try to set it out to thaw the night before and then in the morning, it's ready to go!

Here's our favorite whole-wheat waffle recipe, adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook–a cookbook I think every woman should own!

Our Favorite Whole-Wheat Waffles
(Makes approximately 6-8 waffles. I usually triple or quadruple this recipe for Baking Days and it will make enough to last for at least 4-6 breakfasts for us.)

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup milk (I usually use half milk, half water–unless I have a lot of excess milk to use up!)
1/2 cup oil or melted butter (I usually use half oil, half applesauce. You can use all applesauce, but we don't think they turn out quite as well that way. I've also substituted other pureed fruits and veggies and those work as well. So long as you do half oil/half puree, it doesn't make much difference.)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)


Mix together dry ingredients in one bowl. Lightly beat together wet ingredients in another. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Pour batter onto lightly-oiled waffle iron and bake until done.

To freeze, I normally just let them cool and then stick 5-6 in each freezer bag. To thaw, just pull them straight out of the freezer and heat in the microwave, in a toaster oven, or in the oven.


After whipping up the waffles, I peeled and cut up the sweet potatoes and stuck them in a pan with water on the stove to boil.


Once they are cooked through, I mashed them, divided them into two
glass baking dishes, dotted them with butter and sprinkled them with a
little brown sugar. I just heat them through for around 20 minutes at 350 degrees before serving. We'll have one pan tonight for dinner and one
pan tomorrow night.


Our whole family enjoys sweet potatoes made this way. And it's so easy to do and quite healthful, too. I stocked up on sweet potatoes when Aldi had them for $0.99/bag and have been slowly cooking them up like this.

I just cleaned up the kitchen and did the dishes for the third time today (trying not to leave myself a disaster to deal with at the end of this baking/cooking marathon!) and now I'm off to make BBQ meatballs and granola bars…

20 Jan 2009   ·   36
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day – Part 2


We have so been enjoying our JuiceMan juicer that we just got recently! Our old juicer had been so well-used that finally a part came off of it. We tried in vain to fix or replace this part–to no avail. We ended up deciding to retire it.

I'd been missing fresh juice ever since but we didn't have any extra in any of the appropriate budget categories to buy a new one. Well, guess what? Thanks to patiently waiting, I earned enough Swagbucks gift cards to be able to buy the JuiceMan juicer. But combining the Swagbucks gift cards with a deal and an online code, we got the above-pictured juicer without paying a penny out of pocket! I love it when I find a way to practice "creative frugality" like that.

This morning, I made apple/orange juice this morning using free organic oranges someone had given us and some of the bag of organic apples I picked up at the health food store yesterday for $0.99! Yum!


After I'd cleaned the juicer up and passed out the fresh juice, it was on to the next thing on my Baking Day list: cooking up the brown rice and wild rice. My uncle and aunt gave us a rice cooker for Christmas so I enjoyed trying that out this morning. I filled it to the max and am anxious to see how the rice turns out.

Once it's cooked, I'll use some of it in the spinach, brown rice, and cheese casserole and then freeze the rest in 2-cup portions. I use these to include in quick casseroles or crock pot meals or to serve as a side with dinner. Since brown rice takes fairly long to cook, having it pre-cooked and ready to thaw, heat, and eat is much easier for me.

Now I'm off to cook up sweet potatoes and make a big batch of waffles. Are you doing any baking today? If so, what are you making?

20 Jan 2009   ·   21
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day – Part 1

I have a lot of different deals and freebies to share with you right now, but I'm going to take a break from those for awhile today because I'm going to be "live-blogging" another Baking Day.

I'd love to have you join me and do your own Baking Day today or some other day this week. When I finish today, I'll post up a Mr. Linky post so you can add your link if you've done some baking and blogged about it. It's fun to find new recipes and ideas from the wealth of knowledge lurking out there in the blogosphere!

For those who might be new around here, once every few weeks, I take a morning or afternoon to bake up a bunch of things for our freezer. I use the term "Baking Day" fairly loosely, since I often cook up rice, meat, and so forth in addition to making baked goods.

The overall goal is that I do a large chunk of necessary food prep for the next two weeks in order to make meals much smoother on an everyday basis. Have a Baking Day also saves us a lot of money since it helps keep our freezer stocked with foods to make meal prep easier and thus often avoid the temptation to hit a fast food restaurant on those very busy or harried days.

To have a successful Baking Day, I've found it's best if you pick a day where you'll be home all day (this is especially important if you have little ones underfoot!), wear comfortable clothes (today I'm sporting my tennis shoes, favorite maternity yoga pants, and a hoodie), and begin with a clean kitchen.

It's also imperative that you have a plan for what you'll be making, a basic idea of the order you'll be making it in (to be the most efficient), and, of course, be sure you have all of the necessary ingredients on hand! There's nothing like being halfway through making up a big batch of pancakes to find you're out of eggs or flour!

Here's my plan for today:


Make juice (to start the morning off with a nutritious kick!)
Cook up rice and wild rice
Cook up sweet potatoes
Make BBQ meatballs
Make granola bars
Make loaf of bread
Make pancakes
Make waffles
Make spinach, rice, cheese casserole

We're having salmon for dinner so I'll just thaw that and throw in a pan with marinade sometime along the way as well. Baking Day wasn't very successful if at the end of it, we have to order pizza or go get carryout!

There are a dozen other things I could add to this list, but I'm also trying to be realistic given the fact that I'm almost in my third trimester and have two little ones, too. I'd rather accomplish a shorter list than barely touch a huge list!

Before I get started, though, I need to follow my own advice and clean up the kitchen a little bit:


I'll be back soon with a report on my progress!

19 Jan 2009   ·   33
Money Saving Mom

This week’s almost-$60 menu


I'm happy to finally be jumping back into more normal menus, baking, and cooking around here after a few weeks of stepping back from all but the basics for Christmas, New Year's, and traveling. However, I'm still trying to keep things simple since I'm 6 1/2 months pregnant and not usually oozing with energy as a result!

You can see what we bought for $62 at the grocery store this week here. And you can see why we've temporarily raised our grocery budget here (in case you missed it earlier).

One thing I do know I'm going to make a priority this week is to get back on track with having a bi-weekly Baking Day. It helps so tremendously when our freezer is stocked with breakfast, snack, and bread items. My planned Baking Day for this week is tomorrow and I'll be inviting you to join me, if you'd like. Stay tuned for more…

And without further ado, here's what's on the menu this week:

Granola over yogurt with fresh apple/orange juice
Whole-wheat waffles with blackberries, scrambled eggs, orange juice
Oatmeal with brown sugar and apples, orange juice
Peanut butter banana smoothies, toast
Bran muffins, yogurt, fresh apple/orange juice
Whole-wheat pancakes, yogurt, orange juice
Breakfast pita pockets (whole-wheat pita pockets with scrambled eggs and cheese), grapefruit

Spinach brown rice and cheese casserole, oranges
Shrimp, brown rice, steamed veggies
PB&J, yogurt, oranges
Whole-wheat pita pockets with melted cheese, steamed veggies
Annie's Mac and Cheese, applesauce, broccoli
Egg salad sandwiches, oranges

Steak, sweet potatoes (I just cook and mash sweet potatoes and then bake in the oven with a little butter and brown sugar–yum!), homemade bread, steamed veggies
Roast with gravy over noodles, steamed veggies, homemade bread
Turkey burgers with melted cheese, steamed veggies, homemade bread
Steak, green beans, mashed potatoes, grapefruit
Salmon, wild rice, steamed veggies
Beef strips with gravy over noodles, green beans, sweet potatoes
Dinner Out

Bran muffins
Peanut butter toast

See more menu plans for this week here.