Easy Weeknight Meals {With Homemade Lasagna Sauce Recipe}

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on October 1, 2013

Our kiddos have been back to school for three weeks now. I feel like we’re just getting in to a good routine. Well, it’s a routine anyway.

Home.   Snack.   Homework.   Playtime.   Dinner.   Chores.   Showers.   Bed.

Every night. The same thing.

There is one thing that is generally not ever the same (in the same week, anyway!). And that is our evening meal. Dinner during the week has to be easy and quick to prepare, affordable (totally possible when shopping at Walmart), healthy, and delicious. Most of our kids like to help in the kitchen, so many of the meals we prepare are made with that in mind.

Monday is generally a rough day. You know how it is… everyone is tired and grumpy when the kiddos get home from school, and generally VERY hungry! Easy is the keyword for dinner on this day. Something prepared beforehand that can just be popped in the oven is best. The Breakfast Casserole can be thrown together in the morning, while the eggs and milk are already out, and then it’ll be just right to bake while the kids are burning off some of that negative energy on the trampoline.

Thursday is another challenging day around here. All homework and reading logs need to be turned in the next day, and there is studying to be done for quizzes to be taken on the morrow. Throwing a frozen HOMEMADE lasagna in the oven, is just the ticket for a smooth night.

By Friday night, we’re ready to PAR-TAY!!

Easy Weeknight Meals

Here is a sample of how our weekday meal plan would look ::

Monday – Breakfast for Dinner
Breakfast Casserole

Tuesday – A Family Affair
Sourdough Pizza
Garden Salad

Wednesday – Comfortable and Tasty
Meatloaf
Green Bean Casserole (It’s not just for the holidays!)
Mashed Potatoes

Thursday – A Taste of Italy
Lasagna with Homemade Sauce (recipe below)
Caesar Salad
Garlic Bread

Friday – Grill It Up!
Italian Inspired Pork Chops
Grilled Peppers and Asparagus
French Bread

~~~

Homemade Lasagna Sauce 

Ingredients:
2 28 oz. cans of tomato sauce
1 28 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
1 pound of lean hamburger meat
2 large chopped onions
8 cloves of fresh diced garlic
2 Tbs. olive oil
4 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1 tsp. salt
This should be enough sauce for two 15 x 9 inch lasagnes.

Directions:
In a large stock pot add tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, seasoning and
salt, cook on low and stir occasionally.
In a frying pan with 2 Tbs. olive oil lightly sauté the onions and garlic and then add the
meat. Cook slowly until done. Drain off any excess liquid and add meat, onions and
garlic to tomato sauce. Cook on low heat for two hours or until thickened to your liking. Add several more fresh chopped garlic cloves to the sauce before putting the lasagne
together.

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Walmart’s Holiday Meal Deal {$30 Gift Card Giveaway}

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on December 21, 2009

Are you all set for this week’s big meal? Well, Walmart has good news for moms seeking to save money without sacrificing holiday cheer – a Christmas meal to feed eight, for under $30 (that’s less than $4 per person)!

I was a little skeptical when I heard this, but with the following menu it makes complete sense:

· One 10-pound select hickory smoked, spiral cut half ham
· Three 8-ounce cans Del Monte green beans
· One 10-pound bag of Russet potatoes
· One 12-count package of Sara Lee dinner rolls
· One 10-inch pumpkin pie

You can check out Walmart’s Holiday Meal page, featuring tips from Food Network stars Aaron Sanchez and Melissa D’Arabian, for unique recipes – all doable, even on a tight budget.

Chef Aarón also created a party-ready fiesta spread for up to 10, for as low as $40 – perfect for a New Year’s Eve bash! This feast includes:

· Shrimp Tray (5 servings)
· Vegetable Tray (10 servings)
· Hillshire Farms Little Smokies (8 servings)
· Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (6 servings)
· Land O’Lakes Egg Nog (8 servings)
· Red Velvet cake

walmart gift card

For the first giveaway of the week, I have a $30 Walmart gift card to give one lucky From Dates to Diapers readers, TODAY ONLY!

Here’s what you must do to enter:

  • Leave me a comment, by 1:30 pm (pst) on December 22nd, telling me which recipe you’d like to try from Walmart’s Holiday Meal page. Easy peasy!

For additional entries, you may:

  • Link to this giveaway on your blog and/or Facebook wall. Be sure you leave me a separate comment for each link.
  • Tweet about this giveaway and include a link, using the hashtag #D2Dgvwy, as many times as you’d like before tomorrow at 1:30pm, and leave me a separate comment for each tweet.

One winner will be selected at random, and will be emailed. Winner will then have 24 hours to respond before forfeiting their prize.

Walmart provided me with a $30 Walmart gift card for myself as well as giveaway gift cards for my participation in this promotion.

Save Time and Money with Menu Planning

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on September 2, 2009

After a long day with the kiddos, the last thing I feel like doing is making a decision about what to eat.  I am drained, they are hungry and McDonald’s looks, and even sounds, very tempting.  But, we don’t do that quite as much now that I menu plan.

I started to menu plan to help avoid the overspending of either take-out or grocery shopping at the last minute.  It has helped us ensure we are saving our money and are eating healthier meals.  Quite honestly, I can plan better to ensure that the kids are getting items on the menu they also enjoy!  Although, they have never complained about Ronald and friends. :)

Menu Planning is simply creating a menu for your family meals.  If you are interested in 1) preventing headaches, 2) saving your money, and 3) saving your time you may want to give it a try.

Here are a few tips to help you if you are interested in Menu Planning:

What does your family eat?
What they *actually* eat.  I have a Menu Planning Recipe Box that includes the meals my family eats the most.  This is a great resource to utilize as you are creating the meal ideas for your family and will be helpful as you plan too.  Your list will help you focus energy on the meals your family enjoys.

What is on sale?
With the list of your family favorites, look at the grocery ads to find ingredients you can prepare on the cheap.  By doing this, you are getting these items at a discount.  You will probably have items in your pantry or freezer that you can use as well (stockpiling items at low, low prices is a good thing to consider).  Your menu plan will help to prevent last minute trips to the store.

How often will you Menu Plan?
I personally plan my menu by the week, but some menu plan by the month.  Just pick a frequency that works for you and start planning.  With your list of meal ideas and grocery list of menu ingredients, creating your actual menu plan will be an easy step.

Creating your Menu Plan
Keeping a written/printed menu plan is the easiest thing to do.  Each Sunday, I create and print off our Menu Plan for the upcoming week.  I pull or print required recipes.  I then clip all recipes together and hang on the fridge for quick access when I’m ready to cook.  This step helps to execute your plan.  I can quickly look at the menu plan and get meat thawing in the fridge or bring items up from our stockpile.  So, when it’s time to cook, the prep is done and I just prepare our feast!

Menu Planning helps tremendously, but sometimes life gets in the way and I don’t prepare each meal as planned.  But, at least I have a plan in place so I don’t overspend trying to pull something together on the fly.  I feel better about what I do accomplish because at least I took the time to prepare a plan.  And, knowing I saved time, money and a few headaches makes it worth it for me!

Photo Credits

This post was brought to you by @MommySnacks. She can be found at MommySnacks.net, where she brings you great tips on saving money and how you can have fun doing it!

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Shopping with the Kiddos

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on October 30, 2008

My kiddos go most everywhere with me, including grocery shopping. I know, go ahead and ask – Are you crazy? Aren’t you afraid you’ll lose one of them? The answer is YES, but I take them with me anyway!

Shopping with my kiddos certainly is challenging, but we have some simple rules that we follow to make things easy, as well as time and money saving. Can I share them with you?

Never shop hungry
I try to strategically plan the best time of day so as to avoid unnecessary items ending up in our shopping basket. You know the items about which I am talking – the cookies, snacks, and total junk food. We all know that these items are not great additions to the every day diet, because they are just not healthy. But, we like to keep them out of our cart for another reason, as well… the snacks sure add up quickly and can suck that budget!

Always have a plan
As I mentioned the other day, I typically try to plan for two weeks’ worth of meals at a time. This means my shopping trips usually consist of nutritious ingredients for healthy meals. Now, I’m not generally a “by the list” kind of gal, but a shopping list is a must! I find that if I have a list, I generally stick to it, saving time and money. Protein-rich foods – like milk, yogurt and eggs – are high on the list, and are a part of every meal, as well as fruits and veggies.

Have the kids help
My older kiddos are usually pretty good about helping me keep an eye on the younger kids, but they also help me gather the items from my shopping list. They are just the right height to grab the canned goods off the shelves and throw them in the cart (literally!). So, don’t be afraid to let the kids help… If they are busy helping, they won’t keep asking for this or that!

Don’t give in
Impulse buying is not only the biggest culprit to breaking the budget, but it leads to unhealthy food choices, as well. Don’t grab that bag of chips at the end of the aisle, just because they’re on sale. And certainly don’t give in to your children who are begging for a bag of licorice, or a bottle of chocolate milk! Make a rule – Do not ask mommy for anything. My kids know that one all too well!

Do you have any rules when you are shopping with your kids?

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Easy French Toast

October 18, 2008

This French Toast is so easy to make that even the kiddos can do it! 8 slices of bread – I like to use thick “french toast” bread5 eggs2 tablespoons milk1 teaspoon cinnamon Makes 8 pieces Bon Apetit!

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My Breakfast Casserole

October 16, 2008

After I had one of my babies (I can’t remember which one – there are too many) one of our friends brought us a casserole like the one I made here. I couldn’t find the recipe any where, but this is about as close as one can come to creating that fantastic breakfast. I can [...]

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Mom’s Quiche

October 14, 2008

This quiche is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner… You could even make it the night before and enjoy a leisurely breakfast! It’s a huge family hit! 6 – 8 eggs, beaten well with ¼ cup of half and half.3 handfuls of sliced mushrooms, and ½ diced onion, sauteed in 3T butter.1 pound of washed [...]

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Meals Should be Enjoyed By All

October 13, 2008

I am faced with many challenges as the meal planner for a family of eight. Taking every one’s preferences – their likes and dislikes – in to account is quite the task, especially when I can sometimes be faced with eight different requests. Breakfast and lunch are pretty relaxed in our house. I will usually [...]

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