Feeding a Large Family Tips

I often get asked about meals, cooking, shopping for a big family.

“How do you do it?”

“I bet that costs a fortune!”

“Is it hard to cook for so many?”

“Do you plan out your meals?”

“Will you share your recipes?”

And the list goes on…

I am not an extreme coupon-er, although I certainly wish I was! A certain level of jealously hits me when I see all these people saving butt loads of money at the store with coupons and here I am handing the check out person 3-8 coupons saving a few bucks. I have always wanted to do it but can never quite figure it out, the only coupons I ever get are for toothpaste, deodorant, all the name brand laundry stuff etc. And it is for all the stuff I don’t use so am I missing something!? Am I not looking in the right place for the right coupons!? I prefer store brand stuff on most things I but (except for fabric softener and Mac and Cheese, no just no!) And I feel I am saving a good amount of money by doing that so this my friends is how I keep the coupon jealousy down to a minimum! I do however follow the Krazy Coupon Lady’s blog and do follow some of her amazing tips and use some of her coupons etc! http://thekrazycouponlady.com/

As for our family I will share with you what works for us and what we also plan to try to see if it is a fit.

Ever heard of a fruit/veggie co-op? We have used several and really enjoy the produce and the savings! Now these may or may not be located in your city so a quick Google search should let you know. We have used Market on the Move http://the3000club.org/ and they always have an abundance of produce! Not sure if this is only located in AZ but you can always check. 1 we really love and have used for years is Bountiful Baskets! They are in many cities so chances are good you will find 1 near you, if not contact them and start 1! http://bountifulbaskets.org/. They have more than just produce that you can purchase as well, like honey, breads, combo packs etc all at a discount price! Check them out!

Menu/Meal Planning We plan out all our meals, recipes, etc and then make a list based on that for at least 2 weeks and then shop for those items. I use the sales ads to plan the meals and talk about saving time, money & headaches! It saves me from having to go to the grocery store often (which is great for me considering we live 20 min from any major grocery stores) and cooking is so much more fun when you have all you need ahead of time! Plus the kids like knowing what we are having for dinner each night of the week. http://mamabearplus6.com/meal-planning-or-go-with-the-flow/

Quality Discount Meats. We also have used a discount place for meats, chicken, fish, produce, and the best bacon, called Zaycon! https://www.zayconfoods.com/. This is where you buy meats by the case. You can buy the case if you can afford it or go in with another family member of friend to stock up. I have heard there are other places like Zaycon but I have yet to find them so if you know of any please share! Also too, we are considering buy a whole cow and/or pig and spiting it up between our family and my daughter and her hubbys households and may even add a friend on with us. It is a great way to stock the freezer and splitting the cost to make it affordable for everyone. And it supports local farmers, win win!

Grow your own! A GREAT way to feed the fam and eat healthy and what a wonderful experience it is! Seeds are cheap and with effort and love you can have a hearty garden to put food on the table! Our very 1st real garden experience this last summer and I am in LOVE with it! Looking forward to growing it bigger and better every year!

Find your local growers! We spent many days in Greenbluff, which is a local farming area that grows ALL sorts of produce! We would go and pick pounds of fruits/veggies for a great price and so so yummy too! Find a local grower in your area!

Sales! If I groceries on a good sale, I stock up! Meats, boxed sides, household goods etc. Check your store ads weekly so you know what is coming up on sale and can prepare to buy those items and stock up on them. If it is produce that is on sale, buy it, chop it, freeze it, you will be so glad you did! The stuff you cant freeze, create a weekly menu, meals and snacks based on those items that you bought while they were cheaper.

Buy bulk when it makes sense. I say this because it is not always cheaper to buy bulk! On some things yes, but not on everything. I LOVE Costco and I have certain things I will only buy there but there are some items that I can get cheaper like spaghetti sauce hahaha! Always check prices and see if it is a great deal. I love how my teens now always check labels and sue their math skills to see what is cheaper per unit etc. A few seconds of time to do this can add up a great deal of savings over time!

Bulk meals. Something we are new too and just beginning to try is bulk meals. We will be shopping with our family along with my oldest daughter and her hubby to buy bulk, make numerous ready to cook crock pot freezer meals to stock both of our freezers for the winters. I am excited to start this and will surely blog about how it goes. We will include recipes, shopping lists and how the overall experience goes. Stay tuned 🙂

P.S. These are just a few ways that we shop, cook etc and save money! What tips/tricks help you save money!? What would you add to this list!?

 


Mama Bear Plus 6

Pumpkin Roll Recipe

Yum yum pumpkin rolls! Something this yummy should pretty much be illegal hehe They are so good yet so bad, ya know the kind of food you will literally only eat around the holidays and feel guilty about if you have more than 1 piece, which my friends, is sooo easy to do with these things!

Over the years we have making pumpkin rolls starting in October till right about New Years. We make them for our family, gifts and we actually make and donate and/or sell lots of them. Not really for profit but to share the pumpkin cream cheesy goodness with others without going broke. I mean let’s face it, not everyone likes to bake, not everyone wants to bake, not everyone has time to bake and then there are some people that should never even attempt to bake so that is where we come in to save the day, the party, the dessert for the family gathering etc.

I have to say that the very 1st year I made them I was not sure what to expect since these are so fragile and need to be handled with  a gentle hand and well… I wasn’t sure I had the gentle hand they require. Not to mention I had NO idea that  my entire kitchen would look like a powdered sugar factory just exploded in it! And didn’t know I would be working at a high speed rate of pace from all the inhaled sugar (which could have easily been mistaken for cocaine everywhere by sight and my actions! coffee+inhaled sugar=wild, but productive mama) But now I get excited to make them, I get excited to smell them, share them, eat them and well breathe in lots of the powdery substance, sugar people just sugar! Plus having a freezer full is pretty exciting too!

I started out with a recipe I got from a friend. But as with every recipe I am given, find, come across and use I change it up a bit and make it 1 of our own. I will share it with all of you. This is how I like to make it and the people that enjoy them seem to love. Please feel free to add or take out any ingredient you desire, like nuts which I do not use, etc.

 

Mama Bear Pumpkin Roll Recipe

 For the cake part of the roll

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup canned pure pumpkin or 10tbsp (if you are like me and want to make several cakes in 1 day, just an FYI, (1) 30 oz can of pumpkin will make 4 pumpkin rolls)

1 tsp lemon juice (I use the Real Lemon Juice in the green bottle)

 

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 ½  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (you can find this in the little cans in the seasoning isle, it is an “all in 1” so you don’t have to use ginger, nutmeg, cloves but you can if you want to split it all up)

1/4 teaspoon salt

Approx. 1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel, or more if you want to sprinkle on cake before serving, etc)

For the creamy filling

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

6 tablespoons softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F.

Grease 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll pan (NOT a regular size cookie sheet folks!) and set aside (I use cooking spray, generously and don’t have any problems with any of it sticking).

In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar, beating with an electric mixer until thick and light yellow color. Add pumpkin & lemon juice; beat until well mixed.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in small bowl. Add to egg/pumpkin mixture, mixing well.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with walnuts, pecans, etc, if desired.

Bake cake for 13 to 15 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched (this is so important, do not overcook the cake, set a timer if you have to, I do otherwise there goes 20 min and a ruined cake)

While your cake is baking, arrange a clean thin, cotton kitchen towel on counter; sprinkle with powdered sugar to cover most of the surface. Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel so when you roll up the cake it will not stick.

Immediately loosen cake from edges of pan; invert onto powdered sugar covered towel.  I always sprinkle a lil powdered sugar on top of the cake and spread it around as well. Roll up cake in towel while hot, starting with 10-inch side. Cool completely.

Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Loosely re-roll cake trying not to “push” the cream cheese mixture out.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Or freeze them for later use. I like to refrigerate them and then when they are firm slice the cake then re-wrap and freeze. This makes them easy to pull out and serve when you have unexpected guests or just want to have a few slices to serve after dinner or with hot cocoa (http://mamabearplus6.com/hot-cocoa-mama-style/) on a chilly day. Feel free to sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving!

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All the tools you need to make your pumpkin rolls awesome and all at a GREAT price!

P.S. Have a great pumpkin recipe that you want to share!? Please do so in the comment section!

Mama Bear Plus 6

Dreams can become reality

I was born and raised in Tucson, AZ. I lived there for 36 years, till July 17th of 2012 when I packed up 5 of my 6 kiddos (my oldest daughter would soon learn she too had outgrown Tucson and join her mama along with her then fiancé just 2 short months later) & my 2 labs in my suburban and left behind all I ever known following the moving truck with all we owned in it!

 Tucson, when you get burned out on a place you just know it is time to go & I was burned the heck out. On top of the fact it is not voted to greatest place to raise kids, and I have plenty of those! As for us, we had seen and done it all! Is it a bad place to live? No not really. There are actually people who love it there and will never leave. There are people who have it on their list of places to move when they retire, which is a great idea for those who love the heat and desert!  And even weirder, people vacation there in the summer & never leave the hotel pool!

I was ready for a change! Ready to leave behind the negative memories. Ready to create a new life in a new place with new people. Ready for a peaceful place. Ready for water, lots of water and trees lots of trees! A new beginning!? YES please!

I had been burned out of Tucson for several years but as time went on the urge to go got stronger. Even when I tried to convince myself that I should stay I couldn’t and let’s face it I am good at talking myself into stuff & could not get past the desire to GO! I had spent many hours researching places to move to  over the years that was very family friendly, places that had water, green and trees. Places that had stuff to do, places that had nightlife but not overcrowded with clubs, places that had good schools and affordable living. Places that had NO natural disasters, that it is important you know!

After having a list of 10 I narrowed it down to 5 then to 2. My finals- Colorado Springs & Spokane. How do I choose!? Write them on paper, put them in a hat and draw!? Eeney Meeny Moe!? Look  for jobs in both places and see what happens!? Geez this is hard! As I am praying, contemplating, and struggling with this I decide to start looking for a house. Do you know how scary Craigslist can be!? SCAM City! Found so many nice houses that were attached to scam after scam… Then it hits me! Place my own “searching for house” in both places and see what happens! As I pray God please bring the house that is meant for us in the place you want us to be!  Yes I am a big dreamer aren’t I!? But I can never dream bigger than my God can make happen!

 We received many emails about houses, some scams yes but some real people with real houses in both places. Most not for us but a few that would work.  We got excited over a few and even placed deposits on 2 that fell thru, both in Spokane. Frustration sets in… Maybe He wants me in Tucson. Why would He want to punish me like that!? He taught me patience during those trying months no doubt! Then the email that changed my life came in the early months of 2012! An email from a couple that live in a house and had another house that they wanted to rent out/sell  in a little place right outside of Spokane, Nine Mile Falls. Isn’t the name enough to put a smile on your face!? It just sounds beautiful! After many emails and phone calls back and forth I knew this was it! SO much so I sent my daughter & future son in law to WA to see it & take lots of pictures for me since I couldn’t go due to work (well just being honest, to make sure it wasn’t another scam hehe)

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The week they were there they fell in love with the area, the house, all was a go 110%! My daughter kept saying “Mom this house and area is so you, it is so beautiful, everyone here owns labs, it is somewhere  you will love to no end, you must go! And the kitchen mom, it IS the kitchen of your dreams!” (she wasn’t kidding!) That girl knows me all too well! Spouse at the time lined up a great job offer while I would spend my time working on the business we planned to open there, schools checked out to be beyond excellent, all seemed to just fall into place…

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Fast forward past the crappy next few months of my marriage ending, closing businesses, almost backing out of move (after all what crazy lady would pick up 5 kids and 2 dog and move with no spouse, no job, no plan to a place I had never even visited!), SO many life changes and we are right back to where dreams really do come true! July 17th 2012 we leave “all we ever knew” to a new “all we could ever dream of”!

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P.S. If you could move anywhere, where would you go!? If it is somewhere other then where you live now, what is holding you back!?

Mama Bear Plus 6

Must wear pants and bra for this

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I would never be able to count how many times I have heard people talk about their desire of working from home. Ah living the dream, not having to wear pants if they don’t want to or even a bra hahaha of course depending on what type or work at home field they choose. I ran a home child care for 8 years and yes I wore pants M-F 6am-6pm but I was working from home! I also ran a plumbing company from home virtually and on the phone and if I wasn’t already teaching preschool I could be pants & bra free all day! Truly loved what I did for numerous reasons! Work at home looks different for each individual!  I have also heard a few say that they could never work from home for various reasons. I myself am an entrepreneur, always have been. Whether I work from “home” or not my desire to work for myself runs my life.

 

I am a mama of 6,  #1 was born 20 years ago and with her birth my desire to be with my children every day was born with her. I was 17 when my 1st daughter was (go ahead, gasp, its expected). I had already had my 1st and 2nd jobs by then.

 

The  1st being at Dunkin Donuts and the 2nd at a childcare facility. When she was born I had taken time off from my job and had planned to go back when she was 8 weeks old. My plans were shifted as I dealt with the death of my mother just as I was suppose to return. (You can see more about that hurdle in a blog post on here “I wish Heaven had a phone”) Until my daughter was a year  old I stayed home with her before I returned to the childcare field where I could take her to work and be with her at all times. All this time wondering what kind of business I could start to be home with her and my future children.  I was young and dumb (as they say) I like to refer to it as naive. I had tried all sorts of stuff that I got in the mail from stuffing envelopes to babysitting to answering phones from home. None of this worked out for several reasons, scams and not enough inner drive or self discipline. Fast forward about 12 years & 3 more daughters! During which I went to college for medical assistant, pharmacy tech, computers, worked in childcare and still tried & failed numerous “work at home” scams & offers. None of it stuck, no passion, no drive, no fuel in any of those things aside from working with kids. Found myself pregnant with my 5th daughter and wanted out of the workforce but needed the 2nd income, I wanted to be a fulltime mother and knew there were other mothers that wanted their kids out of daycare facilities and if they couldn’t be with them they would love for another mother to be with them that could and would love them so I decided to open a childcare in my home.

 

8 years of awesomeness! 8 years of loving, nurturing, teaching & caring for numerous children most of which came to me less than 6 months old and stayed till they went to kinder! Many sets of amazing parents that became lifelong friends for which I am beyond grateful for! During the years I worked from home with the childcare I was also able to go school and get my Associates in Business Management. While I was running the childcare my spouse at the time and I also started a plumbing/handyman business that I managed from home which was also a neat adventure! As with any business it had some ups and downs but by far life changing in such a positive way and if I had not outgrown this adventure I would still be doing it. Anyone looking to work from home, love children & to teach, has tons of patience, and a safe environment should certainly look into running a licensed childcare facility in their home!

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With 95% of the children I had in my care going to kinder and knowing that I would have to start with a almost all new batch of kiddos, plus all my kiddos in school fulltime during the day, I chose to close my doors with the childcare (although I kept managing the plumbing company) and step out in the work force once again and put my degree to work as an office manager at a wonderful Alzheimer’s facility where I stayed till my children & myself relocated to WA state (yet another blog post if you want to read about that adventure) I enjoyed working outside the home and met a great team of people but the entrepreneur in me & the drive to help others just can’t be contained any longer!

 

When we got to WA state I knew for sure my plan was to work from home & was not going to pursue anything else but chasing my burning desire to help others and change the world 1 person at a time! We have been here over a year and I have worked from home since moving here along with studying at the School of Online Business and Coaching Cognition to become a life coach and grow my own business and create my own products. Who knew!? So my exciting, well paying, financial freedom, debt free future, chasing my dreams, living life to fullest, dream is all falling in place and coming together  & I truly owe it all the Man above for His guidance in my life every step of the way!

 

P.S. Are you or someone you know looking for a life coach, need some guidance in your life & with your future? You can reach me on Ingenio 🙂 http://life-coaching.ingenio.com/Coaching%20with%20Kelly

 

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Mama Bear Plus 6