Crockpot Lasagna Soup

This post features me comparison shopping at three different grocery stores.  This trips were sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers.  And while they compenstated me for the post, the opinions are all my own.  Including my disgust with Whole Foods.

I’ll admit to really loving the grocery store.  I like looking at packaging, products, marketing and new items.  I laugh out loud at the companies who label apples at gluten-free, and then wonder who exactly falls for that?  I get excited when new products are released or my favorite mini-sweet peppers are on sale.  Crazy, maybe.  But I love to wander the aisles and look at what is being sold.

I do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi’s and Kroger’s.  Plus I visit the locally owned Amish market for my lunchmeat and cinnamon rolls that are better than I ever make.  Those are the only places I shop.  Today I was shopping for ingredients to make Crockpot Lasagna Soup.

Easy, Comforting, Crockpot Lasagna Soup!

So to my surprise, I learned that I was going to need to shop at a Whole Foods.  Let’s be clear, Whole Foods goes against everything I stand for as a hog and grain farmer.  I believe in using clear concise measure in selling foods.  Whole Foods markets gluten-free apples.  I believe that consumers should choose how they spend their food dollars.  Whole Foods tells customers that if you don’t buy their food, then you are not feeding your family correctly.

For this trip, I took my friendly dietician Kim and my blogger friend Crystal with me.  We were going to shop three different stores, buying the same recipe ingredients at each store, and compare prices.

First stop was Kroger’s.  Since this is one of the stores I shop often, i breezed through the aisles and found my ingredients. I purchase store-brand on nearly everything I buy, except tomatoes.  I always buy Red Gold tomatoes.  As an Indiana company with Indiana growers, I love the tomatoes and the company!

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Cost? $20.61 total.

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Then she told me we were going to Whole Foods.  I was less than happy.  I didn’t want to spend one dime of my hard-earned, hog-raising, corn-growing money at that store.  I thought the store smelled bad and I was upset that I couldn’t find every ingredient I needed, as they didn’t sell pork sausage.

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And the real shocker?  The cost.  $33.17 for the ingredients that they did sell.  Don’t forget they didn’t have sausage.  And to top it off, the ground pork I did buy for this recipe was rotten when I unwrapped it.  I pulled it out one day before the best-by date and it was stinky and rotten. So that was a waste of $6 on a pound of meat.

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Then it was off to Aldi’s.  I really love shopping at Aldi’s.  It is my go-to for pantry and kid snack staples.  I usually don’t buy meat at any grocery store, so I was happy that they had the meat I needed.

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I was most excited about the price! $17.13 for the entire meal!  Almost $16 cheaper than Whole Foods.

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As a hog and grain farmer, I support people spending their grocery income however they choose.  If you want to shop at the Whole Foods stores, then please do so.  If Aldi’s is your favorite store, that is great.  What I don’t like is a grocery store telling me that I’m not feeding my family the “right” way if I don’t shop their store.

Now for the recipe!  I made a Crockpot Lasagna Soup.  This is a simple, filling recipe and perfect for fall nights!

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Crockpot Lasagna Soup



Crockpot Lasagna Soup
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Super easy, crockpot soup that is tasty and will please the entire family!
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb. pork sausage
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup vegetable juice or V8
  • 2 cups uncooked shell pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Brown pork and sausage on the stove.
  2. Mix together the can of tomatoes and tomato paste in crockpot.
  3. Add broth, beef, garlic, parsley, basil, onion, vegetable drink, salt and pepper
  4. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours.
  5. Just before serving, boil pasta in a saucepan. Add prepared pasta to crockpot and stir.
  6. Serve with salad, garlic bread and cheese for topping!

I’m hooking up to my lovely friends Whatcha Crockin’ weekly blog fun!

Whatcha Crockin Logo


Opening the Farm to a Visitor

Our farm is a very busy place.  There are always baby pigs being born, crops to harvest and animals to take care of.  We get many requests to visit the farm.  Because baby pigs are cute and people want to see them.


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Baby pigs

But we don’t let the public on our farm.  It takes a lot of time to have visitors go through the same bio-security measures we must take on the farm.  And then it takes time to show guests around and explain the farm to them.  So the answer is almost always no.  Until recently.

In an effort to bring some “city moms” to the farm, I recently had my friend Crystal from Mom For Less come out to the farm for a visit.  She brought her cute little guy with her to see our hog farm.

I worried she would panic because our farm smells like a farm.  It’s hog manure.  Not a rose patch.

I worried that she would be put out by our requirements that she and her little guy taking a complete head-to-toe shower before they could come in the barn.

I worried that my answers to her questions might not explain our farm well enough.

I think I worried for nothing!

I had a blast hosting Crystal on the farm!  She asked great questions and truly appreciated the hard work that goes into our 4th generation family farm.

You can read her account of the farm visit here.  I’m glad she came for a visit!  And come back in a few days as I’ll share a recipe that ties to her visit to our farm!

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In Case You Were Waiting For Me to Fail

When I put my entire weight loss journey out for everyone to see, I assume there might be someone who is just watching to see if and when I fail.

Your wait is over.  I feel like I’ve fallen.

I decided a month ago I would only be weighing myself once a week.  And I hid the scale.  Put it way on the top shelf of the closet.  And I piled sheets on top of it so it would be harder to get!

I’ve worked out for 26 days in a row.  I’ve never done that.  Even when I used to run marathons, I took days off from running.  This time I decided I need daily movement.  I’ve been lifting weights and walking, running, or slow jogging on days I’m not lifting.  I feel much better.  I don’t mind waking up at 4:30am to go to the gym.  I’m finally making myself a priority. That’s something I’ve never done before.

In my first 21 days of working out, I lost 16.2 pounds.  I felt like I was sailing through this weight issue and pictured myself sitting on our boat next summer in a yellow bikini.  Then I weighed myself on Friday for this weeks weight check.  I wanted to chuck the scale through the window.

I lost .6 pounds this week.  That’s less than a pound.  About the weight of 2 bananas.  whoopee. That makes my total weight loss 16.8 pounds.  And my entire self-doubt and fear came creeping back.  The confidence I had felt shaken.  I wanted to go find a giant Diet Pepsi, skip the workouts and make some cheesy comfort food to feel sorry with.

Thankfully, I’ve at least gained the strength to keep moving forward.  I put on my workout clothes and went to the gym.  I was so mad the entire workout I hit my head on the squat rack bar (picture a large metal pole) I had loaded with weights and have a nice goose egg on the top of my head.  Then I tried to gash my leg open when rearranging some equipment i needed to use.  It was bleeding before I took the picture.

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What a fun morning of workouts.  At least I gave the gym rat men something to laugh at.

On a positive note, I’ve been dealing with a heel spur off and on for 4 years.  It starts flaring up and hurting every two years.  For the past month, I’ve only worn heels when not in workout shoes.  The heels don’t hurt my feet.  Walking flat-footed kills me.  So I finally bit the bullet and went to visit the podiatrist.  I was the only person in that office wearing cute red heels!

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Love these shoes!  After a quick shot (OUCH) and a prescription to help the foot swelling go down, my foot should be feeling better in a week.  It will make my running feel much better.

I know all of my cheerleaders will remind me that the scale shouldn’t be the sole source of my success.  But I have so much weight I need to lose.  I did measure myself when I started and will report on that in my next weigh-in.  And I know muscle weighs more than fat.  But I want that number to go down.  And quickly.  That’s where I have to change my mindset.  Slow and steady…I’m more like the turtle than the hare.



Overwhelmed and Motivated

I posted last week about my weight struggles.  And since sharing my awful fat-feeling stories, I’ve been overwhelmed with the messages and support you all have given me.  Seriously.  You know how to make a girl cry!

I’ve had lots of people ask me what diet I’m following.  And a few who want me on their pill, shake or powder plan.  I get it.  Everyone needs to make money.  And I loved hearing from everyone!  But I’m choosing not to follow any diet or consume a powder this time.  No colorful drinks, or shakes to consume.  It’s awesome if that’s how you’ve lost weight.  But it has never worked for me.

So what am I doing?  Quite simply, I’m going to the gym.  Lifting weights, walking, sweating, getting stronger.  Nothing more than 30-45 minutes a day thus far.  All I have done is searched for weightlifting workouts and picked one to follow.  I found this one.  It’s easy to follow, has videos on exercises I may not understand and includes some nutrition information as well.  A few of the exercises require equipment my small-town gym doesn’t have.  In that case, I substitute crunches or another exercise that might be similar.  I love to feel strong!

My key to workouts is this.



That clock says 4:43am.  That is what time I need to go to the gym to get a workout done.  That’s early.  Honestly, I feel better when the workout is done.  I’ve spent too many years thinking I’ll workout at home after work.  Then something happens on the farm, with the kids or The Farmer gets pulled away and I can’t get away from the house.  So my time is now in the super early AM hours.

After 7 days of workout out every day, and consumer NO Diet Pepsi over the course of those days, this happened.



I lost 10 pounds.  Truly.  10 pounds.  I’m not crazy enough to think that will happen every week, but I’ll take it for my first week!  I’m only weighing myself once a week.  Saturday mornings the scale comes out from hiding and I will get on it.  This week I nearly fell over by the results.

I lay all of this out there to thank you.  Thank you for believing in me, for offering encouragement, for jumping on your own #healthyfencerows journey.  I know in a few weeks I’m going to need a kick in the pants.  So get your punting shoe ready, just in case a Diet Pepsi calls my name.  In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me on the journey.  It’s a long road ahead.  One that is requiring baby steps the whole way.  My next obstacle to overcome is sleep.  I don’t get enough of it, EVER.  This one may take a while.


Saying Goodbye and the Last Meal

This is my Grandpa.

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I took this picture when we were butchering hogs this past winter.  Butchering is a time-honored tradition my family has done for decades.  We all gather, even the youngest kids, to process and prepare the meat from hogs and cattle raised on our family farms.  The meat goes in our freezer to be used throughout the year.

Butchering with Grandpa is one of my favorite things to do by his side.  And now it’s tucked safely away as a great memory.

We lost Grandpa a few weeks ago.  While he hadn’t been in the best of health, I never expected him to be gone.  Grandpa was very solid in his faith and I have no doubt that he is in the presence of God now.  Yet, I long for a hug, kiss on the cheek or a chat with him.

Grandpa called me Jammer.  It was a nickname he gave me when I was quite small.  I loved hearing him holler “Jammer” at me.  I’m not sure I ever really heard him call me Jeanette.

The last time I saw Grandpa was just two weeks before he passed away.  As we were enjoying the day, I had a fleeting thought that I should take a picture of him and I.  It had been some time since I took a picture of us together.  But the negative voices in my head talked me out of it.  Because I look terrible in pictures.  Because I’m fat, my butt is big, my face is too round, my hips are ugly.  So I didn’t take the picture.  And now the moment is gone.  I can’t get rid of that horrible, negative selftalk and blame placed squarely at my feet.

I am the oldest grandchild on this side of the family.  I was blessed to have him for 41 years.  Who actually gets to say that anymore?  He lived a great life, worked hard, and enjoyed the simpler things in life.  I treasure every memory, but long for so much more.

Since he passed away, I’ve been feeding the empty feelings and pain with food.  I already was overweight, but the number on the scale is approaching a ridiculous amount and I’ve gone into panic mode.  I never want to eat again.  I want to try some crazy quick-fix diet plan to get the weight off.  I want to go explore bariatric surgery and subject myself to something that truly scares me.

Instead, I’m trying to take a deep breath and make a plan.

Starting with looking back.  This was my last crazy meal.


I ate this one night after a very long day at our Indiana State Fair.  It’s high fat, extremely tasty cajun food.  Complete with cheese bread that is so very yummy.  Yet I know my arteries were clogging as I enjoyed it.

So what changes are going to be made? Small ones, baby steps, one at a time changes.  Anytime I’ve tried to lose weight, I’ve jumped in feet first and end up falling on my butt. So I’m going to take it little by little.  This week, I’m starting with ending my affair with Diet Pepsi.  I drink a 32 ounce Diet Pepsi every morning on my 85 minute commute to work.  I know those are not good for me.  So this morning I drank water.  And a bit of coffee.  Let’s not lie, I still want caffeine.  But only a small cup of coffee.

I’m also going to start lifting weights this week.  I’ve found a plan that is a 12-week lifting/cardio plan.  But there aren’t rest days built in and I’m a bit hesitant to once again jump in feet first.  So I’m going to modify it to include a few days of rest and see what kind of progress I will make.

I’ve often wondered if I would have more friends if I was skinnier.  Are people ashamed to be seen next to the girls with big hips?  Do we only want to hang out with people who make us look good?  Don’t get me wrong.  I have a big group of friends and a few who I know are by my side through thick or thin.  I love them immensely.  But have you ever wondered if someone would talk to you if you were thinner? I guess I have.

Want to join me?  I could use some accountability!  Now, for my local friends who may see me drinking a Diet Pepsi at an early morning cross country meet or basketball game, feel free to question me!  Just be prepared to step back. I  may bark at you!

I’ll blog my ups and downs.  The good and bad.  And will hopefully be able to show an improved me in about 6 months.  Maybe then I’ll share my weight and what I’ve lost.  But until then, that number is too embarrassing to share!  I’ll also tweet my progress.  Find me on Twitter as @indianawinebabe.  Follow #healthyfencerows to link to the blog and let’s share the journey together!

Loosing Grandpa was a big wake up call.  I miss him so much.  But I can’t keep feeding the emotions with food.  I’ve always fed my emotions.  And it’s taking its toll on my body.  Time for a change.

Now I’m off to find my workout clothes.





Wilted Lettuce Dressing

I’ve always loved to plant a garden.  I think as a farmer, I just have a super fondness for dirt.  However, the garden is always ready to be weekend and picked around county 4H fair season.  So the weeds grow and I get frustrated and stop tending it like I should

This year I tried something different.  I put on a few “vital” plants in pots on my patio.  Tomatoes, leaf lettuce, peas and herbs all found a spot in my pots.  There are now weeds to tend, and I don’t get overwhelmed with all of the work!

I love to plant leaf lettuce but not for healthy eating reasons.  I make wilted lettuce dressing.  It’s a hot bacon dressing that you pour on leaf lettuce to make the lettuce wilt.  And it’s so good!

The salad is a recipe my Mom made often when I grew up.  I’m not sure where the recipe came from, but it is one I don’t even need a recipe to make.  It’s committed to memory.

The first thing you’ll need is leaf lettuce.  If you don’t have any in the garden, you can but some in the grocery.  It isn’t quite as good as homegrown, but once you pour hot bacon grease on it, you’ll love it!


The dressing is simple.  You need to cook 3-4 slices of bacon.  Remove the bacon from the pan and add 2 TBSP of flour to the grease.  This will thicken the grease.  In a separate bowl, mix 1/4 cup white vinegar, 3/4 cup water and 1 cup brown sugar.  Add that mixture to the bacon grease.  Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil.

That’s it!  Your salad can be whatever you like.  I will add a hard-boiled egg, the cooked bacon, a few nuts and the lettuce.  Pour the dressing on top.

It’s delicious!

What recipe do you have committed to memory?


Where can you buy the pigs we raise?

I’m often asked where people can buy the pigs we raise on our farm.  The answer isn’t exactly an easy one.

We do butcher our own hogs.  Every year over Christmas, my family gets together to butcher, cut and wrap up meat for our own consumption.

Grandpa supervises.
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We always have ham, ribs and lots of bacon.

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We also grind plenty of sausage.

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And the kids usually wrap and label the meat.

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But that’s for us.  So where can you buy the hogs we raise on our farm?


Keep calm.  There’s plenty of bacon for everyone.  We sell a large amount of hogs we raise to Indiana Packers based in Delphi, IN.

Indiana Packers is a 20-year veteran pork production plant that has seen tremendous growth and is now looking forward to an even brighter future, with plans to expand its operation and capacity.

Since the founding of the business in 1991, Indiana Packers has grown to become a national leader in the processing of premium pork products.

One of those products is sold under their Indiana Kitchen label.  Bacon.  Yummy, tasty, bacon.


When we run out of our own bacon from the hog we butchered, and I NEED a BLT sandwich, I always buy Indiana Kitchen bacon.  That bacon may be from the hogs we raise.  Indiana Packers purchases hogs from many family hog farmers in the Midwest.  It’s a company we have worked with for many years and I am proud to have our hogs carry the Indiana Kitchen label.

So where can you find Indiana Kitchen bacon?  Look at their website for a store locator.

And eat more bacon!! Your purchase could likely be hogs that we raise on our family farm.




Hot Dog Casserole

I’m continuing my look at our monthly grocery bill with a challenge of seeing how cheaply I can feed my family of 5 hungry people!  This series, brought to you by my friends at Indiana’s Family of Farmers, features four meals of breakfast, lunch dinner or a combo of all three.  And each meal much contain protein.  My house can’t live on salad alone!

As I stated last month, what is difficult for me is realizing the cost of meat in the grocery.  I believe beef, pork and chicken are very affordable and we enjoy the safest, most affordable food of any country on the planet.  But I don’t buy meat in the grocery.  We butcher our own hogs every winter and I buy half a beef from a cattle farmer friend, thus avoiding the grocery store.  We don’t raise our own chickens, yet, so I will buy those in the grocery.

This week’s meal plan is based on eating around baseball games and fieldwork!  All three kids are playing baseball and have practices or games every night.  The Farmer has been busy hauling hog manure to use as organic fertilizer in our fields.  And when he’s not hauling manure, he’s planting corn or working ground ahead of the corn planter.  It’s been a crazy few weeks.
I feed a family of 5 every night.  And I always need at least one serving leftover to pack for my Little Man’s lunch at daycare the next day.
Meal #1
Hot Dog Casserole
Green Salad
Fresh Fruit
White or Chocolate Milk
I’m almost embarrassed to admit my family eats Hot Dog Casserole.
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Maybe I’m even more embarrassed to say it actually tastes pretty good!  I found this recipe in a 35-year-old cookbook written by farmwives.  It sounded disgusting, but the kids and The Farmer told me to make it.  it’s super easy to make and very easy on the budget.  This meal costs about $15 total, including the gallons of milk.
hot dog casse
Hot Dog Casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
A cheap, easy meal that the kids will love!
  • 1 16 oz bag of wide egg noodles
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 16 oz package hot dogs, cut up
  • ¼ c. brown sugar
  • ¼ c. mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp prepared mustard
  1. Cook the noodles using package directions. Drain
  2. Heat the butter in a saucepan until melted. Add the flour and salt and stir well.
  3. Add the mild gradually, stirring constantly. Cook until thick. Stir in the cheese
  4. Add the noodles and mix gently.
  5. Spoon into a greased 9x13 casserole dish.
  6. Combine hot dogs, mayonnaise, brown sugar and mustard in a bowl.
  7. Spoon over noodle mixture.
  8. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes
Meal #2
Taco Salad
Fruit Salad
White or Chocolate Milk
Taco Salad is my go-to quick meal when I need to throw something together.  This is a pretty healthy version of what could be a fat-laden meal.  My taco salad is made with lettuce, browned hamburger, a few cans of red kidney beans, taco seasoning, and reduced fat french dressing.  Mix all of that up and serve with baked chips! I will serve it with fruit because fruit salad is easy to make and we will eat fruit nearly every night during the summer!  I can make this entire meal for $10.
Meal #3
Slow Cooker Mushroom Pork Chops
White or Chocolate Milk
I mentioned we have a freezer full of pork from butchering this winter.  However, I priced pork chops at Aldi’s and found I could purchase a package of 5 chops for $8.25.  Does that seem like a good price?  I added a few cans of mushroom, a can of cream of mushroom soup and a bit of chicken stock.  All of that cooked in my slow cooker on low for the entire day.  The chops came our fork tender and were a big hit!  This meal costs about $18, including the milk I’ll need to restock.
Meal #4
Slow Cooker Eggs and Sausage
Peanut Butter Toast
White or Chocolate Milk
I’m down to about $7 left in my meal budget.  Breakfast for supper is always my go-to meal when I need a cheap meal that is filling and fast.  This meal is a mixture of french bread, eggs and breakfast sausages.  It cooks in the slow cooker for a few hours.  Add some cheese at the end of the cooking process and serve while hot.  Serve with toast and enjoy a fairly cheap meal.
Those are my meals for this week.  What can you make for $50?

Key Lime Pie

I love all things citrus.  I’m not a fan of chocolate so citrus is always my go-to dessert recipes.  And since spring planting season is upon us, I’m always seeking recipes that I can take to the field and feed our big crew of planting and manure hauling folks.

This pie is one that I’ve never taken to the field but my family loves.  I’ll be adding it to the menu lineup this year!


key lime

Easy, Amazing Key Lime Pie


Key Lime Pie
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 slices
A great recipe for an easy, amazing key lime pie!
  • Crust
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • Filling
  • 1½ tablespoons finely grated lime zest
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • ⅔ cup fresh lime juice (from about 1 dozen tiny key limes or 4 persian/regular limes)
  • Whipped topping
  • ¾ cup (heavy whipping cream
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. To make the crust combine graham crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl and stir until mixed. Add butter and stir until crumbs are evenly coated. Press crumbs into the bottom a standard 9-inch pie dish or square dish. Bake crust 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned.
  3. To make the filling: Zest limes. Beat zest and egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until thickened again, about 3 minutes more. Whisk lime juice into yolk mixture until combined. Pour into graham crust and bake pie at 350 degrees for another 10 minutes. Let pie cool completely before adding topping.
  4. To make the whipped topping: In a medium bowl, beat cream and sugar until soft peaks are formed. Spread over top of chilled pie.




Can you Feed Your Family for $50?

As a farmer, feeding people is my priority.  I want to make sure families are eating three good meals a day, each meal with meat, veggies and milk to drink!  But how far will $50 go in the grocery store?

I’m excited to bring you this new series, from my friends at Indiana Family of Farmers.  For the next 4 months, I’m going to see how many meals I can make for $50. I will not only share a recipe for an affordable meal, but I’ll also share a few meal plans, why I’m cooking those meals and challenge you to make  your own affordable meal plan.
I’ve been asked to follow a few guidelines.  The meals can be breakfast, lunch, dinner or a combo of all three.  Each meal must include one meat protein.  As a hog farmer, that isn’t hard in this house.  We LOVE our pork chops and bacon!!
What is more difficult is realizing the cost of meat in the grocery.  I believe beef, pork and chicken are very affordable and we enjoy the safest, most affordable food of any country on the planet.  But I don’t buy meat in the grocery.  We butcher our own hogs every winter and I buy half a beef from a cattle farmer friend, thus avoiding the grocery store.  We don’t raise our own chickens, yet, so I will buy those in the grocery.
This week’s meal plan is based on how much we aren’t home at night!  All three kids are playing baseball and have practices every night.  I have some work travel as well and will be gone one night this week.  That requires me to plan ahead so The Farmer doesn’t hit up the local fast food joints!  So my slow cooker is going to get a lot of use.
I feed a family of 5 every night.  And I always need at least one serving leftover to pack for my Little Man’s lunch at daycare the next day.
Meal #1
Chicken Tetrazzini
Green Salad
Garlic Bread
White or Chocolate Milk
Meal #1 is a Sunday night supper.  The tetrazzini was a big hit for the entire family.  My kids love anything that includes pasta and cheese.  They are also big salad eaters.  The garlic bread was to round out the meal.  And the meal must have milk on the table as well.  Cost of meal – $13
chicken tetrazzini
 Easy Chicken Tetrazzini
Easy Chicken Tetrazzini
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 servings
A tasty, easy chicken tetrazzini that your family will love!
  • 1 lb linguine
  • 4 large chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
  • 5 TBSP butter
  • 12 ounces sliced mushrooms, portabello or button
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese
  1. Cook pasta per package directions. Drain.
  2. Saute mushrooms in butter until softened and browned. Add garlic and chicken broth and continue to cook until liquid is reduced by half.
  3. Add cream of celery, cream of mushroom, sour cream and milk to mushrooms. Mix. Add chopped chicken breasts to mixture and stir. Dump soup mixture into pasta and stir to combine.
  4. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Dump mixture into dish. Put cheddar cheese on top of mixture and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Meal #2
Slow Cooker Chicken & Bean Nachos
Blue Corn Chips
Sliced Veggie Tray
White or Chocolate Milk
Chicken thighs are a cheap, go-to meat in my house.  And canned beans are a great shortcut and cheap meal maker!  Many of the ingredients for this recipe were purchased at Aldi’s.  My secret weapon for saving money is to do the majority of my shopping at this store.  It is so much cheaper than the bigger retailers!  Chicken thighs were on sale.  My package of 6 skinless thighs were just $2.  Pretty cheap!  Aldi’s blue corn chips are very good and only $2 a bag.  I don’t buy many of my veggies at Aldi’s, making another trip to Kroger or Marsh for a wider variety of vegetables.  Cost of meal – $10
Meal #3
15 Ham & Bean Soup
Crusty Bread
White or Chocolate Milk
I had leftover ham from our Easter celebration.  I froze most of it and will pull it out for this super easy soup!  A precooked ham is very inexpensive around the holidays and can be stored in your freezer for some time before being used.  My spiral cut ham was cooked for a few hours and enjoyed on Easter and the rest frozen.  This recipe uses a double dose of protein, with the ham and the variety of beans.  A loaf of crusty bread, dipped in some olive oil and vinegar, rounded out the meal.  Cost of meal – $10
Meal #4
Maple crusted pork loin
BBQ Green beans
Orange brown rice
White or chocolate milk
This meal is my most expensive of the week.  While I don’t buy pork loin at the grocery since I have my own in the freezer, I realize it is a more expensive cut of meat.  But it is one of The Farmer’s favorite foods!  So I pulled mine out of the freezer for this meal.  I did price the pork loin at the local grocery and found it on sale for $1.99 per pound. I could have purchased a decent size loin for $10.  BBQ Green Beans are also a big favorite in our house.  I use green beans I canned from last years garden and add a homemade BBQ sauce.  You can buy a big can of green beans.  I then fry a few slices of bacon.  To the bacon, I add brown sugar, ketchup and  worchestershire sauce.  Voila!! BBQ sauce!  Add to the green beans and stir.  Whip up some brown rice and the meal is done.  Cost of meal – $16
How would you use $50 in your meal planning?  Can you make $50 stretch to make 4 dinners?  Or maybe a combination of lunches and breakfasts?  Let me know how you would use $50!