Friday, November 15, 2019

How to make folded paper window stars

Here is a video tutorial I made for how to make folded paper window stars. They are a popular Waldorf craft for elementary age kids.

Affiliate links to the products used in this video:
As I explain in the video, rectangles for folding need to be cut in a ratio of 6:10. For 8.5" x 11" paper, the suggested cut sizes are 4.25" x 2.5". For DIN A4 paper, the suggested cut size is 11 cm x 6.6 cm.

Link to the PDF with the folding instructions (in German, but the graphics are obvious): Please note: I cut my paper in a different size than they suggest. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Birth announcement

Eva Rose was born healthy and safe on Sunday, September 22nd, at 10:35 a.m. weighing 7 lbs 10 oz and measuring 20 in. You can listen to me tell her birth story here.

We chose her name "Eva" in keeping with the Biblical theme for first names, picking a new first initial for each child. "Rose" is in honor of both of my Grandmas, who went by the German and Hungarian equivalents of that name.

 The weight shown on this board is slightly off... mommy brain... eek!

Eva has been a very sweet, easy, mellow baby. She has been smiling from Day 1! She is also a great nurser (no tongue tie - yay!).

To see more updates, please visit us on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Read Yourself an Education FREE trial pdf now available!

I am excited to announce that I have released a free pdf version of the first semester of my new homeschool book, "Read Yourself an Education, Volume 1 - Around the World, Country by Country."

The full version is due to be released through Amazon later this fall. In the meantime, the pdf will allow you to get started using the book for the upcoming 2019/20 school year, if you so wish.

Get the pdf and sign up for the newsletter at!

Friday, June 28, 2019

How to make cultured (real) buttermilk video tutorial

Made a 5-minute video tutorial today for how to make real, fermented, probiotic-rich buttermilk quickly and easily at home.

Any local peeps who would like to get some buttermilk starter from me (for free), please just let me know.

Milk can be curdled with any acid (such as lemon juice or vinegar) to mimic the consistency of buttermilk, but that is not real buttermilk. In a pinch, that will work for a recipe, but you are getting none of the health benefits that fermented foods such as real buttermilk offer.

This is the starter culture I am using:
2-quart mason jars:

(affiliate links)


Check out my new cookbook at

If you sign up for the newsletter, you get Week 1 FREE as a PDF download so you can give it a try.

Order the cookbook here:


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

How to buy a smaller (non-standard) Willow breast pump flange

The Willow wearable breast pump only comes in 2 standard flange sizes: 24 mm and 27 mm. If neither of these sizes work for you, please watch the video below to learn of a hack that makes it possible to size the flange down to whatever size you need:

Even though I have breastfed all of our babies, the older I get, and the more babies I have, the more I struggle to provide enough milk for them. I think it's a mixture of being more busy, getting older, and inevitable hormonal changes. I have heard the same from several other moms of many.

With Peter, in addition to supplementing him with formula, I also pumped to help build my supply. However, traditional breast pumps are time consuming and inconvenient, which made it difficult for me to pump as often as would have been ideal.

I am excited to have discovered this hack to make it possible for me to pump much more often after the arrival of baby #11 to help establish a solid milk supply.

 Please let me know in the comments below if you have a question.

Monday, June 10, 2019

What we eat and spend on food in a month - Week 4 of 4

This is over a month late. Eek! 

Week 1 here
Week 2 here
Week 3 here

Monday: Costco - $118.90

2 x 5 lbs tangerines, 2 x 4 lbs fish sticks, 2 lbs parmesan, 4 dozen organic eggs, 11 lbs lbs pork loin, 2 lbs organic strawberries, 4 lbs organic peaches (first of the season, yay!), 1 box ice cream bars, organic apple sauce packs, granola bars, 2 x 3 lbs organic bananas, 3 lbs organic baby carrots

The only conventional meat I buy is some pork (roasts, ribs) because finding organic pork is so difficult. We get our grass-fed beef from a local ranch, and the organic chicken from Costco.

Monday - Alpine Valley Bakery: $37.50

5 loaves organic raisin bread, 9 loaves organic white bread

That's probably the most I have ever spent in that store in one trip. The breads I bought that day were at full price, which at $3/loaf is still about 50% cheaper than how much they sell for in store. I normally only buy if they are $.50 - $1.50/loaf, but it had been weeks since they last had the white bread so I bought all they had while I could. 

I bake most of our bread at home using einkorn, but ready bread holds up better for sandwiches that the boys take to work, plus I won't be baking bread for a while after the baby comes. 

Click here to read why we don't eat whole grains. 

Tuesday (delivered): Dairy - $35

5 gallons milk, 2 quarts cream. We get the first 10 gallons each month at half price for being a drop point for the dairy, so this week was cheaper than the previous two. 

This picture is of an order from a couple of weeks ago that was exactly the same, so please ignore the bottling dates on the cream. 

Tuesday: Jovial Foods (online, delivered) - $111.65

Four 10lb bags of einkorn flour. That's about how much we go through every month. I had some loyalty points I redeemed for a bit of a discount.

Saturday: POWWOW market - $12

Not all organic, but mostly: 2 honeydew melons, 6 English cucumbers (plus they gave me a whole extra box to give out at church), 17 cucumbers, 9 beefsteak tomatoes, 7 orange bell peppers, 7 red bell peppers, 4 acorn squash, 8 tomatoes on the vine, 4 zucchini, 15 Roma tomatoes, 3 spaghetti squash

Saturday: Sprouts - $95.87 (delivered by Instacart)

4 boxes organic cereal, 1 bag Love Crunch granola, 3 lbs organic onions, 3 lbs organic egg noodles, 5 lbs organic apples, 5 lbs organic Russet potatoes, 2 organic avocados, 1 bunch organic cilantro, 1 bag organic garlic, 2.5 lbs organic leeks, 2 dozen organic pasture-fed eggs, 4 organic Siggi's Icelandic yogurts, 1 24-oz organic sour cream, 5 lbs tangerines, 30 jalapeno peppers

Total for Week 4: $410.92

Total for all four weeks: $1,811.85

Since four weeks are not quite one full month, I'm guessing this month's total will climb a little higher to maybe around $2,000. I do feel that these weeks represented well what we eat and spend in one month. I went into it with a lot of foods in stock already, but still have a lot of the foods I bought during this time left to make meals with.


Mon: Crepes
Tue: leftover birthday cake
Wed: Banana Bread Pancakes*
Thu: Pudding
Fri: Danube waves cake
Sat: German Apple sheet cake
Sun: Oatmeal cale*


Mon: Calzone Pizza
Tue: Chicken Paprika and spatzles
Wed: leftovers
Thu: Pork roast w/ veggies*
Fri: Schnitzel, potatoes, cauliflower
Sat: ate out (Burger Fi)
Sun: Creamy Tomato Soup


Birthday Cake for Boaz
Strawberry ice cream

Pizza Calzone. I am planning to include these in the Einkorn Baking Book I am currently working on.

Crepes - it's hard to tell how large they were, but the ones on the left are 9" diameter, the ones on the right are 15". They are on my massive Thanksgiving turkey platter.

I can't believe my Boaz is 5 years old now!! Where does the time go!?!

I hope you have enjoyed this mini-series. Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

New book: Read Yourself an Education, Vol. 1

Calling all homeschool moms!

I am looking for volunteer testers for my new book series, "Read Yourself an Education - Volume 1: Country by Country Around the Globe", to be released later this year.

I would like to get feedback on the overall concept, layout, content, user-friendliness etc. from real homeschool moms.

The book is intended for literature-based unit studies. This means that all students, regardless of grade level, study a common topic (in this case geography-based), each at their own learning level. Books (rather than textbooks) are used as the primary source of learning.

My book is a compilation of extensive book suggestions for each chapter, complete with short descriptions, and the catalog number for public libraries in the US to make locating the books fast and easy.

I have six different chapters available for review:

From the section "The World (general)":

- Basic geography: The continents and oceans
- World exploration and using a map
- Global perspective: Life in other countries

From the section "Asia":

- China
- Koreas
- Japan

Each chapter covers enough material for about 2 weeks of learning, tying in history, geography, social studies, science, literature, and related activities. Resources are included for all grades K-12. (The only thing not included is grade-specific Math and English.)

For your reference, I will also include the book introduction in each section being reviewed. 

If you are interested, 
- have at least one child in 3rd grade or higher 
- with at least 2 years of homeschool experience, 
- have access to a local library with an average or better selection,
- would be available to give one of the chapters a trial run during the weeks of May 20 - June 1st, and then 
- share your feedback with me, 
please comment below (will not be published) or message me on Facebook to let me know which chapter you would like to try out. Please choose only one so you can really put it to the test. You would need to take a trip to your library to locate the suggested books. If I do not know you in real life, please include a couple of sentences about yourself and your homeschool in your message to me. IMPORTANT: Please include your email address to send the pdf file of your chosen chapter to.

Disclaimer: The first chapter, "Basic geography: The continents and oceans," has limited book suggestions of books available at public libraries due to the fact that library books tend to be steeped in evolution. There are suggestions for books to purchase, which you are under no obligation to do for your chapter review. The chapter does contain topic-related picture and other fiction books.

Future volumes, Lord willing, will follow the same general concept and layout, each covering material for 2 years: 

Volume 2: State by state around the US
Volume 3: World History
Volume 4: US History
Volume 5: Companion book that will contain lists of fiction books sorted by age group and author

I am hoping to release one new volume per year. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

What we eat and spend on food in a month - Week 3 of 4

Week 1 here
Week 2 here

Last week was very busy for our family, filled with extra appointments. I was not able to get most of my shopping done on Monday as I like to do, and had to make a second day of it on Tuesday. 

I typically go shopping in the morning while Peter naps, the big kids do their school work, and the little kids come with me so they don't disrupt the kids that are working/napping. Last week however, both Monday and Tuesday, I also had appointments during the afternoon nap time hours, and then tagged on errands that I had been putting off too long. So I spent pretty much all day Monday and Tuesday out of the house, doing errands and appointments, being home only for breakfast, lunch, and then dinner and the rest of the evening. 

For example, my Wal-Mart list had been accumulating for 6-8 weeks. I don't like going to Wal-Mart very much because I never leave there feeling accomplished - the minute I am done checking out, I remember something I needed to buy but forgot to put on the shopping list, but there's no way I'm going back through the store right then and there. So I always leave somewhat exasperated. Eventually, we get to the point where we really need some essentials urgently, and I finally drag myself there again. Last week was that week. And while I didn't forget anything that time, there were two items the store was out of stock on so again, no feelings of accomplishment. 

I did, however, feel very accomplished with some awesome deals I scored on organic produce last

Monday: Superstition Ranch Farmer's Market - $49.79

All organic: 20 bell peppers, 2 huge watermelons, 9 lbs Fuji apples, 12 pints blackberries ($1 each!). The bell peppers alone would have cost $40 anywhere else (normally $2 each). We ate about half of those fresh this week, the rest went in the freezer for fajitas another time. The blackberries have been on sale for $3 each everywhere else, and the watermelons were $2 cheaper than I paid at Costco the week before.

Monday: 99 cent only store - $17.92

All organic except the limes: 6 x 2 lbs strawberries ($2 each! - I have been paying $6-$7 at Costco lately), 4 lbs apples, 1 pack romaine hearts, 1 bag limes.

We eat SO. MANY. APPLES. Stephen (6) told me, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away, so I eat ten apples every day so I can live a thousand years. If that's even possible." Ha!

Tuesday: Costco - $372.07

This was a huge Costco trip. I only had 30 minutes to get in and out the store, checked out, packed up, and all in order to make it to a prenatal appointment. Talk about fast! I definitely didn't have time to stop and smell the roses (and get sucked into impulse purchases).

I bought: 12 lbs organic b/s chicken breasts, 12 lbs organic b/s chicken thighs, 4 lbs organic pre-seasoned b/s chicken breast, 10 lbs organic sugar, smoked salmon, 2 x deli chicken, deli roast beef, deli Black Forest ham, Canadian bacon, 1.5 lbs organic string cheese, 5 lbs each organic: cauliflower, green beans, peas, corn, strawberries, 8 dozen organic eggs, 1 pineapple, 2 x 5 lbs tangerines, 3 x 3 lbs organic bananas, organic ketchup, organic salsa, organic Greek yogurt, 2 lbs Kerrygold butter, 2 lbs Rumiano sliced organic cheddar cheese, ciabatta rolls, 2 x 12 organic orange cream popsicles

Tuesday: Whole Foods 1 of 2 - approx. $47 (I lost the receipt)

all conventional (but uncured): 2 x bacon, 2 x liverwurst, 1.5 lbs pepperoni, 5 lbs Muskat grapes

I normally do not buy conventional grapes, but make an exception for Muskat grapes. They are SO GOOD!! They taste like the grapes I ate as a child growing up in Hungary, where my grandparents had a vineyard I would sometimes "help" in. I go through about 1 bag per day when they are in season (right now), especially because I also share them with the two youngest kids, Peter and Chloe, who love them as much as I do. The other kids can be kept at bay with a bumper crop of other fruit. 

The deli meats are mostly for the boys who pack them in their lunches for work.

Tuesday: Whole Foods 2 of 2 - $43.21

The first Whole Foods was out of organic ground pork, so we stopped by another branch later in the day while we were in that area. 

all organic: 5 lbs ground pork, 3 lbs on the vine tomatoes, 1 bottle buttermilk

Tuesday: Trader Joe's - $50 and change (lost the receipt)

2 x 5 lbs organic potatoes, 2 pints organic heavy cream, Oreo cookies, 4 x salami, organic garlic, 3 x organic bread crumbs

Tuesday (delivered): Dairy - $70

5 gallons milk, 2 quarts cream

You may wonder what we do with that much cream every week. The quarts I get from the dairy are mostly used for making ice cream, or sometimes in cooking (soups, sauces, biscuits, etc.). The cartons of heavy cream I buy at Trader Joe's are always used for making whipped cream in my whipped cream maker, such as for strawberry shortcakes.

Total for week 3: $649.99

Total for three weeks: $1,400.93

Starting this coming week, I am starting on getting ready dinners into the freezer. By the time baby comes, I'd like to have about 30 frozen dinners and 30 frozen breakfasts on hand, which allows me to not have to cook for about six weeks postpartum. I try to stay within my approximate $500/week budget in spite of buying the ingredients for these extra meals, which isn't too difficult because I spread it out over such a long period of time. Then when baby comes, we spend very little on food for the first 6 weeks (mostly just for dairy and fresh produce). The extra funds are usually needed for unforeseen expenses related to the baby, like a lactation consultation, unexpected doctor bills, etc.

Meals marked with an * are those which I made extras of to freeze. During the week of April 29 to May 5th, we ate:


Mon: leftover pancakes, chocolate oatmeal
Tue: Strawberry Shortcakes
Wed: PB & J oatmeal
Thu: PB Banana Muffins*
Fri: Overnight waffles w/ fresh berries
Sat: apple walnut waffles
Sun: Toast, eggs, sausage


Mon: Ham, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, Hawaiian rolls
Tue: Fish sticks
Wed: Ham and Bean soup*
Thu: Hungarian Bean soup*
Fri: Chicken Fettuccine a la fuente*
Sat: Chicken Paprika and spatzles*
Sun: leftovers


brownies (made by Miriam)

Peter loved the spatzles just plain with butter and salt. 

Buttermilk pancakes and fresh berries 

Monday, April 29, 2019

What we eat and spend on food in a month - Week 2 of 4

Week 1 here

I typically have a routine of getting most of my grocery shopping for the week done on Monday, with pit stops later in the week if necessary. I like to avoid leaving the house to run errands as much as possible. More trips to the store = more money spent, not to mention time wasted. This week, I went to the store even less than usual, due to ingredients left from the previous week, and just generally not wanting to make more shopping runs. 
Here is what we ate during the week of Apr. 22-28 (lots of carry-over from the previous week due to extra leftovers that week):

Mon - leftovers (cinnamon rolls, scones)
Tue - Apple Walnut granola on yogurt w/ fresh strawberries
Wed - Poached eggs on avocado toast, banana milk
Thu - French Toast Bake w/ maple syrup
Fri - Chocolate Oatmeal
Sat - Puff Oven Pancake with jam
Sun - Buttermilk Pancakes with fresh berries

(I cook double and serve the leftovers for lunch the following day)

Mon - Easter dinner (ham and the usual sides)
Tue - Brioche bread sandwiches
Wed - Steaks, mashed potatoes, green beans
Thu - Mac & Cheese
Fri - Molasses oat bread sandwiches
Sat - leftover mac and cheese
Sun - Mongolian BBQ

  Cinnamon walnut ice cream
Chicken broth
strawberry kombucha
Brioche dinner rolls
Brioche bread
molasses oat bread

Monday: Costco - $86.68

(ciabatta rolls, 2 pints blackberries, 2 pints raspberries, 4 lbs strawberries, 2 loaves sourdough bread, tortilla chips, 4 dozen eggs, 10 lbs bananas, 4 lbs baby carrots, 1 watermelon [the organic ones are finally in season - YAY!!!!], 1 pineapple, 10 lbs tangerines, 2 lbs string cheese)

Tuesday (delivered): Dairy - $40

3 gallons milk, 2 quarts cream. We typically go through 5 gallons of milk of milk each week, but my husband has been drinking less than usual so there was some left from the previous week.

Wednesday: Trader Joe's - $16.85

6 lbs onions, 4 bottles ginger ale (Boaz was feeling sick that day), 1 bag powdered sugar, 1 bag turbinado sugar (I use it in place of brown)

Sunday: Whole Foods and Sprouts - $28.54

There were originally two pints of blackberries, twice as many apples, and 5 bags of grapes. By the time I went to take a picture in the evening, they had disappeared. Also 2 bags of PB Chocolate Love Crunch granola that I forgot to include in the picture. 

Total spent for the week: $172.07

My target grocery budget is $500 per week. So while week 1 was almost $100 over, this week I was considerably under by using freezer/fridge/pantry staples rather than going to the store, and serving simpler meals of sandwiches for dinner.

I am currently working on another cookbook - "The Everyday Einkorn Baking Book". In the process, I am experimenting with a lot of recipes, so there is a lot of bread to consume in the process. My family doesn't mind - they call it "German dinner" when I serve platters of cold cuts, cheeses, veggies, and hardboiled eggs alongside freshly baked bread. Works for me!

And some pictures of our meals:

 Easter dinner - ham, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, peas and carrots, Hawaiian rolls. We had the Easter dinner the day after Easter

Puff oven pancake

Buttermilk Pancakes

Brioche dinner rolls

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

B.R.A.K.E.S. pro-active teen driving school

I now have two licensed teen drivers - Solomon (17) and Isaac (16). Let me tell you, as a parent, I have never prayed for my kids as much as since they started driving. 

We followed the same protocol with both: They get their learner's permit at 15 1/2, then spend the next 6 months being taught how to drive by me, followed by a professional driving school (that even without prior teaching fulfills the AZ learning requirements), and also administers the on the road test required to get their license around the time they turn 16. The driving school is not mandated by law in our state - the law only requires kids pass the theory test administered by the MVD and complete at least 30 hours behind the wheel with a parent instructor - but personally I feel a lot better knowing that a professional driving school is going over everything a second time with them, covering any bases I might have missed. Not to mention they get driving practice and learn how to parallel-park in a normal vehicle and not just my 12-passenger behemoth van - ha!

After they get their license, I continue to have my new drivers get as much practice as possible, making them drive every time we are riding together, with me in the passenger seat providing feedback and instruction. I also don't let them drive by themselves just because they have a license until I am fairly confident in their (obviously limited) abilities. Ideally, kids really should not get behind the wheel by themselves until they have had at least 100 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction. Time takes time. Experience and muscle memory take time, and there are no shortcuts for that. The more you can drive with your teen, the better off they will be.

Even so, with all those safeguards in place, that's still ridiculously young and inexperienced to be driving on public roads in our busy city after relatively few hours of guided instruction.

Did you know: 

- Car crashes are the #1 killer of teens ages 15-19.
- 50% of teen drivers crash in the first month of driving. 
- Teens are 400% more likely to die in a car crash than 25-34 year-old drivers.
- Half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating from High School.
- 6 out of 10 teen crashes involve driver distraction. 
- Teen drivers receive the most calls from their parents. 
- Teen driver fatality risk quadruples with multiple young passengers (increases 44% with one passenger, doubles with two passengers, quadruples with three or more passengers).

A couple of years ago, I read in a magazine (Costco? Geico?) about the non-profit organization B.R.A.K.E.S. that offers free pro-active driving courses for teen drivers. Tragically, the founder lost both of his teen sons in a car accident. He turned this tragedy into a stepping stone to help other parents avoid the heartache of losing a young driver by starting BRAKES. Teens who complete BRAKES are approx. 64% less likely to get into a car crash in the first three years.

When I first learned about BRAKES, Solomon did not meet all the requirements to sign up, but I got on their email newsletter to be alerted the next time they came to the Phoenix area.

I was in the middle of frying food for dinner (stressful with little kids in the house who could get underfoot) when the email came that BRAKES was back in town. I stopped what I was doing, turned the stove off, put a big kid in charge of guarding all access to the kitchen, and immediately registered both Solomon and Isaac.

BRAKES offers four sessions on most weekends in different cities, but registration fills up quickly at most locations. Thankfully, I was able to secure a spot for both boys. 

Early one Saturday morning (check-in begins at 7:30 a.m.), I took Solomon and Isaac to the course while my husband held down the fort at home. The first half hour is spent in the classroom going over the basics of the day. The rest of the time (8:30 to noon) the kids are behind the wheel getting real-life practice. The ratio is 3 students per instructor, which is fantastic, and gives the students ample time to practice maneuvers over and over again. By comparison, when these same instructors teach law enforcement these same classes, the ratio is 9 students per instructor.

The parents had another half hour or so of classroom instruction on how to best and most efficiently teach their teen drivers. Then we, too, headed outside to do some of the same exercises the kids were doing, except not nearly as in-depth.

Even after over 20 years of driving experience, I learned a lot myself. I can only imagine how much more the boys benefited. The course covers skid avoidance, crash avoidance/slalom, distraction, panic stops, drop wheel recovery, and car control & recovery.

There were other exhibits on display that day: the Wal-Mart safety team had a semi on site for teens and parents to get into the driver seat and see first-hand how large their blind spots are. U-haul was there with a hands-on exhibit about safe towing and trailer loading (60% of weight in the front half of the trailer). The local police department had "drunk driving goggles" that the kids got to try out while trying to drive down a straight lane.

At no point of the morning was anyone bored, not even during the classroom instruction. While the kids spent most of their time behind the wheel, there were brakes for the parents. The classroom had drinks and snacks set up, all of which were free. The entire class is free. There is a $99 deposit to hold the spot for the class, but if that deposit is paid by check, the check can be picked up at the end of the class.

I do suggest that if you are at all able to, waive that deposit and let BRAKES keep it as a tax-deductible donation. This will help make it possible for them to continue offering these classes, and make them available for free to those who truly could not otherwise afford to attend. 3 out of 4 parents donate their deposit after experiencing the awesome benefits of the class first-hand (as did I). By comparison, the Bondurant driving school right here in Phoenix charges $1,225 for one-day high-performance driving instruction, and does not have the same high success rate.

More than anything, I was touched by meeting Mr. Doug Herbert, the founder who lost his two sons, in person. He is a very humble man, who truly wants to save other teens from the tragedy that forever altered his life.

Every member of his team was outstanding. Having put on many large-scale church events myself, I had a faint idea of how much planning and logistics must go into pulling off four classes with 45 students each in two days. I looked over their schedule for the day - they pretty much work without taking much of a break from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturdays and Sundays, most weekends of the year, and traveling between stops with all their cars and gear the rest of the week. It takes a special person that wants to get into a car with a cocky (or timid teenager), and teach them how to drive responsibly, how to speed toward an obstacle, pedal-to-the-metal and to swerve at the last moment. It's not something I would ever volunteer to do if it weren't for my own kids. I have even told them there are three things I never want to teach the grandkids: potty training, how to read, and how to drive. If I survive teaching those things to my own 10+ kids, I will go into retirement in those areas as grandma. Hopefully.

If you have a young driver in your family, I encourage you to take a look at the class schedule to see if one is offered in your area, and to sign up for the email to be alerted when there is one in the future. I am already looking forward to taking John and my other kids there in the future, Lord willing.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

What we eat and spend on food in a month - Week 1 of 4

The topic of feeding a large family can be a fascinating one. Some questions I often see asked:

- What type of foods do you make?
- How much food do you make?
- How much money does it cost?
- How much time do you spend in the kitchen?
- Do you menu plan and use grocery lists?

To answer these questions and give you a glimpse of what things look like "on average" for us, I am doing a 4-week mini-series documenting what we eat and spend over the course of one month, broken into four weekly posts.

As to the types of food we eat and the menu planning, I use my very own cookbook, Busy Family Menu Planning

Each week contains 5 breakfasts, 5 dinners, and 1 dessert. You can find out more about the cookbook here, and even sign up to get Week 1 free. 

I add to these weekly menus by incorporating one or two other breakfasts and dinners each week that are either a special meal for holidays and birthdays, a new recipe I'm trying, etc. I also add a list of "other" foods I am making each week, such as bread, kombucha, broth, etc. 

The last couple of weeks, we had done Weeks 4 and 6 from the cookbook. Due to our schedule, some meals got pushed back so I finished up the odds and ends left from those two weeks.

Here is what was on the menu this past week (Apr. 15-21):


Mon - Yogurt and granola parfaits
Tue - Breakfast Potato Skillet
Wed - Poached eggs on avocado toast, banana milk
Thu - Toast, breakfast sausages, eggs
Fri - Puff Oven Pancake with fresh berries
Sat - Chocolate Chip Orange Scones, Orange Julius
Sun - Marble Bundt Cake

(I cook double and serve the leftovers for lunch the following day)

Mon - Chicken Chili
Tue - Gyros
Wed - Sloppy Joes
Thu - Mac & Cheese
Fri - Steak Fajitas
Sat - Easter dinner (ham and the usual sides)
(we always serve it the night before b/c Sundays are too busy to cook or enjoy a large holiday meal)
Sun - Calzones


Butter Pecan ice cream
Pico de gallo
applesauce donuts
Banana boats (made by Anna)
Italian seasoning
hamburger buns

I also make a list of Weight Watchers friendly alternative breakfasts and dinners for myself, but will not include that list here as it's off topic and only applies to me.

Please note: That was what was on the menu. As it ended up, my two oldest boys ended up working late a couple of days last week and ate dinner out instead of at home, which made for extra leftovers (1 teen = 2 hungry adults), shifting some of last weeks menu items to the current week. We were also too busy on Saturday with church events to have the Easter dinner then, and pushed that back into the current week, so you will see those items again in the next post in this series. 

I try to do all of my shopping on weekday mornings, or better yet, online. I get one monthly delivery directly to my house from Azure Standard. I am a drop point for a local dairy which delivers to my house every Tuesday. I buy all of our beef from a local rancher that delivers every 4-6 months. Locally, I use Instacart to shop at Sprouts and Whole Foods. (The Instacart link will give you $10 off your first order if you are a new customer.)

That only leaves a few grocery stores I have to hit up in person: Costco (Instacart prices for Costco are higher than the store so I try to shop there in person to save money), Trader Joe's, Alpine Valley bakery outlet, and Superstition Ranch Farmers Market. Of these, I typically only go to Costco weekly, and get enough at the other stores to avoid going there but once every 2-4 weeks. 

Last week, with so many ingredients having shifted over from the previous two weeks, I already had a lot of ingredients in the house. For example, I didn't have to buy any meat last week because I already had plenty frozen on hand, as well as a large variety of produce, 6 dozen eggs, and many other staples. On the other hand, I bought extras for the Easter dinner, and ordered other foods that will last us longer than this week, such as the monthly Azure delivery.

Like I said in my previous blog post, we buy about 95% of our food organic, buying conventional only when an organic alternative is not available. This reflects in higher (though still very affordable) prices. 

Also, I am only including the cost of foods I purchased, not other things I got at the stores listed below. For instance, I bought Easter gifts for the kids and paper goods at Costco, as well as supplements, cleaning supplies, and other household goods at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Azure. They are neither pictured nor included in the prices listed. 

I like to get to Costco 15 minutes before they open, so I can park my big van close to the store before things get crazy, and be in and out quickly. This also coincides with Peter's morning nap, so I can leave him home with my husband. I also leave the older kids home so they can do their school work, and only bring one big helper plus Stephen (6), Boaz (4) and Chloe (2). As much as possible, I try to stick to my list, and avoid any impulse purchases (a real temptation at Costco!). Having set meals and a prepared list helps me not to buy extras "just in case" I might need them or because I'm not sure if I'm low on a particular ingredient, since I know exactly what I actually need. 

Monday: Costco - total $119.82 

(3 lbs Greek yogurt, granola bars, crackers, tortilla chips, 5 lbs pears, 10 lbs tangerines, 10 lbs bananas, uncured deli chicken and ham, 4 lbs frozen cherries, 4 lbs strawberries, 1 lb blueberries, pineapple, seasoning mix, ciabatta rolls)

Monday: Whole Foods - $9.39

(1 lb uncured pepperoni. Isaac likes this for his lunches on days he's working.)

Monday (delivered): Sprouts - total $92.10 (including tip)

(granola for my husband, 4 dozen eggs, 4 Icelandic yogurts for myself, 1 gallon milk [I ran out last week and needed some for Mon night and Tue breakfast], 1 pint cream, marshmallows, 1 lb mini peanut butter chocolate cups [Anna needed these for her dessert], 1 lb tomatoes, 7 bell peppers, 1 lb kiwi, 6 lbs apples, 5 lbs potatoes, 2 lbs frozen corn, frozen pomegranate arils, garlic, 2 pints blackberries)

Tuesday (delivered): Dairy - 5 gallons milk, 2 quarts cream - $35

(The milk is normally $10/gallon, but I get the first 10 gallons each month at half-price, for $5 each, in return for being a local drop point where others can pick up their milk.)

Wednesday (delivered): Azure Standard - $186.77

(4.5 lbs mozzarella, 5 lbs corn masa, 2 lbs cream cheese, 15 lbs butter, 12 packs breakfast sausages, 5 lbs quick oats)

Wednesday: Trader Joe's - $123.37

(2 lbs corn, 1 lb salame, 3 lbs onions, 2 bottles Ranch dressing, 20 lbs Easter ham, 1 lb tomatoes, 1 box mushrooms, 10 lbs potatoes)

Friday: Sam's Club - $12.12

(3 lbs bananas, 2 lbs strawberries, 3 lbs kiwi - the kids eat a ton of fruit, so I typically buy a lot at the beginning of the week, and then add a little more fresh later in the week)

Total cost for week 1 of 4: $578.57

This is above my target budget of about $500/week, but weeks with holiday meals usually are (the hams alone were almost $100). Plus, like I said, I ended up shifting several of the meals over to the current week, including the big Easter dinner, so this weeks grocery bill will reflect that.

With that, I am feeding a total of 12 people: 2 adults (one pregnant), 3 teen boys (who each eat like two adults), and 7 kids (who eat like adults by the time they reach about age 8 or 10). So really not expensive considering I spend about $2.25 per person, per meal on average for eating mostly organic and all clean foods.

Thank you for reading, if you have come this far. Below are some pictures of the meals we had:

Chicken Chili

Poached Eggs on sourdough toast w/ avocado

 Cinnamon rolls, fruit pizza


Chocolate chip orange scones

Steak fajitas, Spanish rice, refried beans