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Mom On A Budget

with Ashleigh

Hello! I'm Ashleigh! I live in Michigan with my family of 3 girls (4 year old twins and a 2 year old), husband and abnormally large lab mix. Since I was little, I have loved to save money, but my bargaining skills were kicked up a notch when we found out we were having twins. I can spot a red clearance sticker from a mile away! I write tips and recipes on my blog Being Cheap is Easy and also on Recipes4Living. I love to cook, read, listen to music and watch anything on Bravo (so addicting!). Say hello on Twitter or Instagram!

5 Kid-Approved Lunch Ideas

Categories: budget friendly, budget skills, lunch, recipe

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Since my twins are in preschool, I haven’t packed lunches yet.  Next year, kindergarten is full day, so I better get prepared this summer!  I do make lunch every day for my kids and it gets hard to think of new ideas.  You can only make a sandwich so many different ways!

Last fall, I got the book Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord and in the book there are so many tasty ideas.  If you follow her on Instagram, she posts the daily lunches she sends with her kids. They are all SO creative, even I wouldn’t mind eating them.

Here are some of our favorite lunches…all quick and easy!

Wrap It Up

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Whenever whole wheat wraps go on sale, we make sure to stock up–they can be used for so much! (Note: they freeze well!) Favorite way: wraps!  The possibilities are endless, but these are some big hits for us:

· Hawaiian Wrap: sliced ham, diced pineapple, swiss cheese with mayo

· Club Wrap: smoked turkey, cucumbers, avocado and bacon

· Pizza: fill with all of your favorite toppings, mozzarella and sauce

· Veggie: cucumbers, red pepper, spinach and hummus


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Open up a pita and fill it with favorite pizza toppings, grill on the Foreman and you have an easy lunch!  This is great cold, so go ahead and pack it to-go, also!


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I can eat soup any season, so I like to make big batches and freeze in lunch sized portions.  I know time is limited on the week days, so I suggest making a batch or two on the weekends or a free weeknight to fill up your fridge and freezer!  Here are some basics to get you started…once you make your own, you’ll never go back to canned!  To take in lunches, just fill up a thermos.  Soup is a great opportunity to fill your kids with veggies without a big fuss.

· Broccoli Cheddar

· Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper

· Loaded Baked Potato

· Chicken & Dumpling

· Turkey Meatball Minestrone

Veggie Filled Mac n Cheese

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I won’t lie and say we never just pull a blue box out of our cabinet, but sometimes homemade mac n cheese just tastier.  I like to boil noodles with some frozen peas, carrots and broccoli.  Drain, then toss with some milk and Velveeta cheese.  So simple!

MYO Skewers

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This can also be called a “fridge cleaner”.  I chop up any fruit, cheese or veggies I can find.  Also, I roll up lunch meat to be speared.  Add some dippers: yogurt for the fruit and ranch for the veggies, and you’ve got a lunch.  I like to use flat (not sharp) toothpicks to spear the items.  This can be transformed into the lunch box easily, too!

What’s your go-to lunch?

Bored With Breakfast? 5 Fun Ideas!

Categories: Breakfast, budget friendly, recipe

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We love breakfast in our house.   I actually don’t eat normal breakfast food in the morning; I usually grab a smoothie to-go.  I reserve a whole breakfast spread for dinner or weekend mornings.  The girls often request Brinner (aka-breakfast for dinner) at least once a week.  It’s an easy and cheap way to get dinner on the table quickly.  Here are some of my favorite breakfast recipes.  (Hint: Share this with your significant other for Mother’s Day ideas!)
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No More Boring Salads: 5 New Ideas!

Categories: budget friendly, budget skills, healthy, recipe

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If something isn’t convenient for me, I tend to avoid it.  Lunch, for instance.  I know I should eat a nice, hearty lunch every day…but if I open up the fridge and nothing jumps out at me, I just make myself a cup of coffee.  SO not healthy!  By the time dinner rolls around, I’m famished and grouchy.

I have a collection of salads that are easy and all stem from the same base chopped salad!  One night, you can spend less than 30 minutes in the kitchen chopping up your salads for the week.  Using a few different marinades and toppings, the salads will never be boring again!!

Base Salad (of course add or subtract to taste)

  • 5 cups of chopped greens- mixture of romaine, spinach, kale or iceburg
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped green or red peppers (about ½ a pepper)
  • ½ cup chopped radishes
  • 1 cup chopped cucumbers (English are best to prevent soggy salads)

Chop everything in a uniform size and place in a large bowl to toss. I aim for about 2 cups of chopped salad per lunch (before toppers), so you might want to double this for 5 days of salads.  Do what you want, though!  The recipe above is what I use for two dinner salads.

Once you chop the salad, store in Ziploc bags with a dry paper towel on each side.  Make sure you get as much air out of the bag as possible.  This will help keep it fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days!

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Now here comes the fun part!  I love to experiment with different spices and marinades. See photo for my favorites.  You really can’t go wrong with any of the McCormick Perfect Pinch or Mrs. Dash spices…they all add a burst of flavor for any grilled chicken or meat.  You can also marinade chicken in dressings for great flavor.  I like to put chicken breasts in individual bags with the marinades in the freezer.  Just take one out the night before and grill it on your Foreman/stovetop.  You can also grill a bunch of chicken or steak and have it ready for the week!

1.       Asian Chopped Salad.  This is sort of like the one from Applebees, but MUCH healthier.  You don’t even want to know how bad that dressing is for you!  This one I use an Asian Sesame dressing (I like Kraft or Newman’s Own), the chopped salad, green onions, cilantro and chopped pea pods.  Add mandarin oranges or sliced mango for a touch of sweetness.

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2.       Greek Salad. Marinade some chicken in the Kraft Greek vinaigrette for at least 2 hours. In addition to the chopped salad, add ¼ cup feta cheese, ¼ cup chopped red onion, handful of grape tomatoes, ¼ cup Kalamata olives and extra cucumbers.  This is great with a side of my Naan bread.

3.       Mexican Salad. Grill chicken with the Fiesta Citrus seasoning.  To the chopped salad, add ¼ rinsed canned black beans, ¼ cup corn, ¼ cup salsa, ½ chopped avocado, ¼ cup shredded Colby jack cheese, handful of chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of crushed tortilla chips.  This is great with leftover taco meat too!  I like to mix ranch and salsa for dressing, or just mash up the avocado more.

4.       Buffalo Chicken Salad. You can marinade the chicken in Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo Chicken marinade OR you can bread it with buffalo pretzel thins (see my recipe here).  Use Bolthouse yogurt Blue Cheese dressing and add chopped celery to your salad.

5.       Chef Salad. For protein in this salad, I either marinade chicken in balsamic dressing, or I simply cut up whatever lunchmeat we have on hand. Amazing tip for hard boiled eggs: bake them in the oven at 300 for 30 minutes! They turn out perfect every time (unless you forget about them….long story!).  To the chopped salad, I add tomatoes, red onion, 1 hardboiled egg, ½ chopped avocado, ¼ cup of shredded cheese and croutons.  For dressing, I like Bolthouse yogurt ranch.

I hope I’ve given you some fresh ideas!  Play around with different dressings and spices and you’ll be amazed at what you can come up with!  I like to wait until there is a sale on McCormick spices or Kraft dressings to stock up.  Usually they can be found for under $1 during a sale!

Breakfast Protein Shakes: Save Time AND Money!

Categories: budget skills, recipe

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Mornings are hectic for everyone…especially Moms.  Most of the time everyone else gets taken care of and then later when your stomach is growling, you realize you have forgotten to eat.  Before I was a Mom, I would think “How can someone forget to eat?!”…now I totally understand how!

Keeping quick, easy staples on hand to get some nutrition in the morning is essential.  I love to make protein shakes to fill me up and I can just blend and run out the door.  In my shakes I add spinach, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit or whatever I have on hand.  You can buy a big tub of vanilla or chocolate protein powder at the grocery store and it will last all month!  I also really love the new Kelloggs to-go protein packets.  Those are always on sale!

Having a great breakfast saves money, too!  I also love to pack little snacks in my purse to hold me over…almonds are my favorite.  Otherwise, I crash and get that hangry (hungry + angry) attitude.
This pumpkin spice protein shake is a nice switch up from a normal fruit or green smoothie.  This time of year is prime time to stock up on canned pumpkin.  During my monthly shopping trips, I grab 8-10 cans to add to breads and other dishes.  You can even make brownies simply with the mix and a can of pumpkin!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ¼ canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla Almond milk (or skim)
  • 1 packet of Kelloggs To-Go vanilla protein powder (or 1 scoop of any protein powder)
  • ½ cup 0% Greek Yogurt
  • 1 frozen banana
    • TIP: When you see markdown bananas, GRAB THEM! I peel them and put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Perfect for bread and smoothies!
  • Dash: cinnamon & pumpkin spice
  • Handful of ice

Blend and you’re set to go!
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Aside from the recipe, I also have a special treat for you!  You can enter to win one of these awesome Hamilton Beach Single Serve blenders in whatever color you want!! I’ll announce the winner next week!

To enter, use the link below to enter the Rafflecopter.  All entries will be moderated and invalid ones will be deleted!  If you have any questions about using the link, please ask! GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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