To read part one and two of this series, go HERE.
As a kid, I always wanted be a homemaker. (Weird, right?) Other girls wanted to be teachers or lawyers or doctors; I wanted to be a mom. I convinced myself there would be some challenges to that one though. At the age of 15 I weighed over 200 pounds, and by the time I headed to college I topped out at 220. (Not many girls become mommas who've never been asked out on a date!)
(READ MORE ON MY WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY HERE)
Well, in college I had an awesome roommate who inspired me to tackle my weight problem, and I dropped over seventy-five pounds in five months. (Truly, I was 225 New Year's Day, and 145 on Derby Day in May just five months later). I met my to-be hubby that May, and had my first date 🙂 shortly there after. Who knew?
Fifteen years and three babies later, I still hang out around the same weight, but it's definitely something I struggle with and I'm no “skinnie minnie”. The reason I feel so strongly about menu planning (and you've probably noticed me hopping up on my pedestal every once in awhile), is that a huge part of my weight issues as a child stemmed from daily fast food eating during my teenage years (literally, every single day, sometimes two meals a day.) Because of my mom's busy work schedule she simply didn't have time to cook, (let alone coupon!), so the easiest way to feed four hungry kids was to swing through every fast food restaurant in town.
I know many of you are also working mommas and I have no idea how you do all that you do, but if I can encourage you a little in your menu planning, maybe it'll be a tiny bit easier to eat at home despite your busy schedule. (Even if you can't stand a single meal deal on Passionate Penny Pincher, hopefully it gets you thinking!) You can probably tell from the recipes I share that we don't eat amazingly healthily around here (I really need to work harder on that one!), but we do eat at home. And I believe a LOT of my weight management comes from portion control which is so difficult to do when McDonald's regular meals are beyond super-sized. (However, don't dare leave me home with a roll of chocolate chip cookie dough – I would take chocolate over a Big Mac any day!)
I'm sharing this to remind you (again!) that there is that there is purpose in homemaking. (whether you work or stay at home as a mom – you're still a homemaker!) IT MATTERS. Cooking a meal for your family isn't just a way to be frugal, it's a way to care for your family. It's how we take the opportunity God has given us and use it to care for those closest to us. And whether you work or stay home, whether your kids are grown up and out of the house or still just babies, even if you're single, all of us as women are given the opportunity to make our house a home. (Sorry any men out there!)
So today, set aside a few minutes if you're able and plan a few meals for your family. Consider your evening schedules over the next week, what's in your pantry, and how you can reasonably cook the majority of your meals at home throughout the week. If you need recipe suggestions check these out, or visit All Recipes for a HUGE list of ideas.
I'm curious . . . do you have any tips on healthy eating that work in your home? Many days I feel like I'm the only one who in the whole world who battles my weight on a daily basis, but maybe a few of you understand where I've come from!
Stop back next week for the last in this Homemaking Series . . . assuming I can handle one more week of baring my soul with you guys. . . it's a little painful! 🙂
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Zoe Rohr says
I just recently started following you and using coupons. I want to thank you so much for this post. I have been struggling lately with staying home with my twins and feeling like what I do with them daily is not of worth because it doesn’t bring in money… this is just what I needed to hear today. Thanks for all your information on coupons too- it has already saved us a bunch of money :).
Thank you so much for sharing Zoe! YES, there is value in what you’re doing – I promise. So many days it’s hard, but it is worth it. There are tons of great work from home jobs you can think about too as your kids get older (I’m so thankful for that!) and while it’s not easy, it really can work! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m so glad you’re here!
I was just wondering how you lost 75 lb in 5 months . I’m in desperate need. I started meal planning and prepping last week . But working 8-5 and dropping off kids and picking up making dinner and other daily duties I don’t have a lot of time for exercise . Any suggestions?
Thanks and I love PPP !
Hi Jessica! It’s HARD – and I can’t imagine doing it working full time with kids! I did it when I was in college and other than school it was my complete mission for those 5 months. You can read more on my story here – https://passionatepennypincher.com/2013/12/keep-a-new-years-resolution/
I really am working personally to lose a little more weight now (20 years later!), and right now am doing the 21 day fix. I really think it would work for you – see more about it over here (it’s not easy, but if I can do it you can too!)
Laurie, I go to church at Asbury and have been to a couple of your couponing classes. I really appreciate all your hard work in giving us the good buys and links to the coupons! I would have never guessed that you were ever overweight. Your post is truly an inspiration to me! I am retired and have plenty of time to cook. But, we find ourselves eating out when we are out and about instead of going home and cooking. These are the times I should have used the crock pot. I have never used menu planning. This is definitely going to be one of my New Years resolutions! Thanks again for this post! I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments too! Lots of good info!
I was never really big as a teenager, I thought I was big but I was really between 135-150 which at 5’9″ isn’t too bad at all. Well when I turned 19-20 that is when everything changed. I just kept gaining weight. I got married when I was 21 and all we did was eat out all the time. After I had my daughter two years ago I weighed in around 255. January 2013 I decided it was time to do something about it. So I would lose 5 pounds and then gain 10 pounds. I was not sticking to anything. In March 2013 I joined a gym and everything changed for me. I changed my eating habits drink only water and workout strength training. So far from March to December I have lost 90 pounds. I rarely ever eat out anymore. We do all homemade meals and I make everything from scratch. One big thing that worked for me is I cut out processed foods and we eat pretty much everything organic. Unfortunately it is so much harder to find organic coupons. So I am not saving quite as much money with my coupons on groceries, but we do eat smaller portions so I have to make less or a meal will go for several meals now as opposed to only going for one meal. Also we are not spending money eating out so that saves a lot right there. It is a constant battle for me. I have to work on it everyday. Trust me I don’t always want to be in the kitchen making a meal from scratch, but when I think about how much healthier my kids and husband are eating it makes it all worth it. I really enjoyed reading this post! Great job on the weight loss and for keeping it off.
HI. This is my first time to see your blog and I like what I see. Thanks for the encouragement. I’m a stay at home mom who is expecting a second baby anytime. We eat at home almost every night, but it’s one of my least favorite tasks as a wife/mom. So it’s good to remember how important it is.
I studied exercise science in college and have a special interest in nutrition and helping getting/keeping people in good health. If you were able to lose weight and keep it off, you may know plenty of tips already and what works for you, but here’s a little of what I do. I don’t buy junk snack food. If it’s not at home…we can’t eat it. Now, not everything I buy is healthy, but you will not find greasy chips, oreo’s, or soda, etc. in my pantry unless it’s a special occasion. It’s just not there, so we don’t eat it, or miss it. I have something green on the table with every dinner. I try to serve as many colors as possible. If you have a sweet tooth, like I do, try PB&J or cereal as a snack or bedtime snack instead of dessert. Drink a glass of water while cooking. Set your fork down between bites. If you have a fork of food waiting in front of your face while chewing, you’re probably eating too fast. If you have food on your plate that you are not going to save for another meal and you no longer feel hungry, pour salt all over it…lots of it. You won’t reach for another bite if it’s ruined with salt. This works for me at restaurants, when you’re just talking at the end of a meal and nibbling thoughtlessly. When you are shopping…look in your cart. Ask yourself what kind of items are in there. Will they go bad? If it won’t go bad soon, it’s probably not that good for you. If it has a long shelf life….it might have a long shelf life on your hips too!
Hope some of these ideas are new to you and are helpful. Let me know if they help!
Again thanks for the encouragement on making food at home….I know how good it is, but it does get daunting at times.
Thanks so much for the reminders Laura! I am HORRIBLE about slowing down to eat – with three kids and so many activities we do cook at home but we’realways racing to the next activity. I know all the tips you mentioned, I just don’t DO them – so I needed the reminder!
Thanks so much for stopping by & reading – I really do believe this is such an important part of taking care of our family, but it’s often something that’s hard to enjoy. I’m hoping to tackle it well in the coming week!:)
(BTW, we LOVE pb&j for dinner too – I’ve realized that we don’t always need a huge meal for dinner, and that definitely helps!) 🙂
Thank you for baring your soul. You are an encouragement in all that you do. I do agree that menu planning plays an important role in both healthy eating and saving money at the store. That container of cream cheese that I got on sale is doing me no good unless I plan to include it in a meal 😉
My snacks this week are carrots and string cheese with a max calorie count of 70 instead of crackers at 120 calories. So planning for healthy options is one of my strategies that works for me as long as I plan because crackers were more portable and easier for traveling.
Thank you for your yummy recipes. I made the white chicken (turkey) chili, and it was very yummy and healthy 🙂
Thanks so much Crystal for the tips and encouragement! I’m so glad you liked the white chicken chili – that’s one of my favorites and I may need to add it to our menu this week 🙂
We’re a family of 8, when I make Baked Rice (plain rice, use in a lot of recipes or as a side) I put two 9 x 13 glass dishes in to bake, it doesn’t take much more time. Rice ready for the next meal, keep some in fridge for a bit/handy or freeze cooked rice, which makes it handy to have cooked & ready to throw into other dishes (soups/casseroles/etc).
Thanks so much for all your tips and encouragement. I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this, and I really do believe that eating at home makes it SOOOOOO much easier (and I’ve got to tell you I felt really guilty taking my little one to McDonald’s for lunch today after posting this!)
Thanks so much for reading and for your kindness everyone!!!
Tracy Abney says
I know that we have, at least briefly, talked about Weight Watchers in the past. I still struggle with my weight. Every.single.day. Even though I’m at a “healthy” weight, I don’t feel like its a good weight for me. I started running, and got down to where I am now, (which is my smallest since having babies) but I’ve been stuck here for quite a while.
For me, its really about the quality of food we have in the house. If we have snacks/junk, I’ll eat them. If we don’t have them in the house (or, they require steps to make- like cake) then I don’t eat it. So, I try to skip over “good deals” that I know are snacks that I might eat all of.
One of the easiest changes we made was to mainly buy whole wheat flour products. Occasionally I’ll buy white flour pasta for dishes that I may bring to people, but for the most part we stick to that whole wheat flour rule. Breads, pasta, snacks, cereal, etc. I even bake with almost all whole wheat. (If I’m making cookies, I use white flour. Because, let’s be honest, cookies are cookies. They are meant to be a treat.)
It was good seeing you yesterday. 😉
I am a new reader to your blog and I love your blog! I love all the tips and stories that you share!
I am a stay-at-home mom that also struggles with deciding what to cook that is healthy for my family and easy to make. I feel like we eat the same things over and over again. I do try to plan out my menus in advance based on the sales at the local store. We do quite a few crockpot meals, it is just so easy to do as long as I remember to put the meat in on time 🙂
One thing that has really helped me maintain my weight is to keep a food diary. It makes you think twice about putting that extra cookie in your mouth when you have to write it down. I also realized how much I was eating in preparing food for the kids and at dinner before the meal even started. A website like sparkpeople.com will then show you how many calories you have eaten in a day based on your food diary. It is amazing how fast the calories add up.
You know I am a BIG fan of your posts… I love how you hit EVERY topic. It is encouraging to all of us moms. I am not sure if that was my sister n law (Brooke) that just posted…I just know she does CardioFit. Anyway… I am thankful for all the inspiring people in my life. It helps us all to know we are all normal and struggling with the same issues. I look foward to my small doses of “down time” here to read what has been posted! haha! Thanks Laurie for your time in your blog….it really is beneficial to so many people. Angie
Laurie – you personally know how much I struggle with my weight!!! I weigh more now than ever; however, I have hope that will change. My problem is keeping it off – I love it all the bad sugary, fattening stuff. Thanks so much for reminding us how important it is to take the extra time to cook for our families. It will truly make a difference in their health for years to come. You know how much I LOVE this blog and all the time you put into it. May God bless you tonight! See you at CardioFit in the am!
Thanks for your post. I am not a stay at home mom, and honestly I couldn’t do what I do without the support of my loving husband. We work very hard to have a meal around the table every night. That is the best time to talk as a family and see how everyone’ day was! We treat our selves to dinner out on Sunday after church..usually with friends. The rest of the week we cook at home. I have two refridgerators and a deep freeze. I try to buy a very easy to prepare meals very week when I go to the store (with my coupons of course:) then I have just the basics in the house-canned veggies, frozen meat, fresh veggies things to make a dessert or desserts that we just mix up and bake.
I try to work off a meal plan for the week, but it doesn’t always work. I have been doing this for the past 10 years, and it works. Frankly you can cook some kind of dinner in the time it would take you to run to get fast food…and if you are just too tired to cook at night, the crockpot works great! They key is plan ahead and put some thought into it.
I coupon and I cook. I do these both becasue I love my family and I want them to to always know that even thought I had to work outside the home, I still love them and they are a priority!
Thanks for all you do Laurie! To all you stay at home moms…keep up the good work!
Tammy Y says
I love your blog! I think that this is why when you asked if there was anything we thought you should do to change it, I suggested “Wordless Wednesday”. I’m sure that PPP takes so much time away from your family. I really admire you for the honesty you share.
I agree about eating at home. It’s not only healithier, but so much less expensive than eating out. It kills me to spend $50.00 to eat out when I know that I could easily have filled lots of space in my pantry- freezer. I love to make a monthly menu plan just so that I have a basic idea of what we’ll be eating. It’s very flexible and I keep a running list of fresh produce, etc. to restock what I use.
Amanda von H says
Yay! So glad I found your site – this is just what I need – meal planning, especially around the sales/coupons. Can’t wait to read further and get started.
I enjoyed this post a lot. (Did I miss the third installment somewhere?) I’ve tried to become a lot more responsible in the past few months about eating at home as a way to control our budget. Even though we were eating a lot more at home, it was also the time of year where we just don’t eat WELL–October, November, December (you know, pumpkin breads, and spice cakes, and cookies…). Despite our junk food habits, both my husband and I realized that we were actually LOSING weight. It wasn’t until we had a stretch where we were eating out more due to some unforseen circumstances and a couple of pounds came back to visit, that we realized that our mysterious weight loss was related to no longer eating at restaurants and drive-thrus. Even though we weren’t eating great at home, it was still apparently what we had been putting in our bodies at all the restaurants around town.
I am very thankful to now be able to stay home with our two girls, but when my first daughter was born in 2007, I was teaching full time while my husband worked part time and went to school full time. Staying home with her at that point wasn’t really an option. During that time, in order to have homemade meals, I did a lot of cooking in my crock-pot. I would prep whatever I was cooking the night before (cut meat, get out cans, cut vegetables…whatever) then I would dump it all in the crockpot first thing in the morning and let it cook on low all day. When I came home, dinner was ready with the exception of a side or two. I also made a lot of freezer meals–I’d triple a recipe when I cooked on the weekend so I could freeze two portions of it to use on a busy day. Even though we didn’t eat at home as much as we would have liked, it helped us not eat out all the time.
Katie – you didn’t miss anything – I messed up the title! Thanks (I fixed it!)
Love the crockpot ideas – it’s amazing how much a little preparation helps, but I know it’s so hard to actually do it!
Sarah B. says
This post was great. For healthy eating, I try to portion out food onto plates and then pack it up for leftovers, even before we eat. My problem is going back for 2nds because I know the food is there. When I’ve already packed it up, it makes it much more difficult. I’m full any ways, just eat extras because it’s convenient. And of course, this works because we do eat at home and don’t go out – it has helped so much in keeping the weight off!!
Thanks so much for this! I also struggle with being reminded to stay home for dinner – it’s so easy to just go through the drive-thru when we have busy weeknight activities rather than taking the time to plan a meal, but it’s SUCH a budget buster! Thanks for the reminder of why this matters, already working on our menu plan for the coming week 🙂
We sound so much alike. I know exactly where you’re coming from. I battle my weight all the time. I’ve lost the same 25-30 pounds many times over. In fact, I used to work for Weight Watchers. I really try keeping a handle on it now with exercising, especially as I get older. (Currently training for 1/2 marathon) The other thing is as I work full-time outside of the home, I really try to keep healthy snacks in the house and really try not to have a lot of candy or sweets. I only do baking for special occasions or company, otherwise, my husband and I will both eat it which is not good.
And as far as making your house a home, I’m all about that. And even though my children are grown and are out of the house, I love being at home and really making it feel like home. I think that is very important and I definitely see that as one of my roles as a housewife, being a homemaker. I think I have created an environment where my husband and my children love to come “home” to, and I love having them there. I look forward to the day when I will no longer work outside of the home and can really be a full-time homemaker.
Thanks for all you do. You are such a blessing.