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Category: From My Kitchen

This Week’s $70 Grocery Budget

Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to . See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

Kroger Shopping Trip #1

  • Rotisserie Chicken — marked down to $4.19
  • Broccoli Pearls — marked down to $1
  • Bag of Nectarines — marked down to $0.99
  • 2 bottles of Kroger salad dressing — marked down to $0.79 each
  • Butter — $2.89
  • Eggs — $2.99
  • Green Leaf Lettuce — $1.79
  • 4 cans of Campbell’s soup — on closeout for $0.50 each
  • Loaf of Quinoa Bread — marked down for $1.79 each
  • Brown Rice — $0.69
  • 2 boxes Kellogg’s cereal — on sale for $1.79 when you buy 5 participating items, used $1/2 coupon = $1.29 each
  • 3 boxes Mom’s Best cereal — $1.49 each when you buy 5 participating items
  • Total with tax: $28.86

I’ve been finding so many closeout deals at Kroger recently! If you have time when you’re at Kroger, I recommend going through each aisle and looking for the white closeout tags to see what you find!

I was excited about the Friday-Saturday deals at Kroger. And, as you can imagine, my kids were pretty excited about the $0.99 ice cream!

Kroger Shopping Trip #2

Sprouts Shopping Trip

Dollar Tree Shopping Trip

(We stopped by to buy a few things for a project Kathrynne was working on so I grabbed these two things while we were there.)

  • 1 package of lentils — $1
  • 1 package of swabs — $1
  • Total with tax: $2.18

What We Ate On Our $70 Grocery Budget This Past Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here.

Our Menu Plan


  • Scrambled Eggs/Avocado/Salsa, Fried Eggs, Cereal, Blueberries, Bran Muffins


  •  Leftovers, Salad/Toast, Blueberries, Cereal, Soup, Banana Muffins, Watermelon


  • Popcorn, Cookies, Blueberries


  • Sunday — Leftovers/fend for yourself
  • Monday — Brats, Corn on the Cob
  • Tuesday — Chicken Casserole, Peas, Banana Muffins
  • Wednesday — Rotisserie Chicken, Rice, Fruit
  • Thursday — Broccoli and Rice Stirfry with Leftover Rotisserie Chicken, Watermelon
  • Friday — Olive Garden Take Out
  • Saturday — Meatballs, Peas, Leftover Olive Garden Breadsticks

$70 Grocery Budget Totals

Total spent on groceries: $59.54 

Cashback earned this week: 100 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards + $0.10 for submitting my receipt to iBotta rewards.

Cut your grocery bill!

Want to cut your grocery budget? Go here and sign up (it’s free!) I’ll send you my 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50.

Easy Meals for 20+ People | Our Vacation Menu Plan for 28 People

Need some easy meals for 20 people…or maybe just some easy recipes for large groups? Here’s how we fed 28 people on our recently family vacation including the meals we made + how we divvied up the responsibilities.

Be sure to also check out my post on last year’s Big Family Vacation Menu Plan!

Easy Meal Plan for a Crowd of People

Easy Meals for 20+ People

We recently went to Utah with my entire extended family (parents, 3 brothers, 3 sisters, and their spouses and kids). My dad and we all pitched in and helped with the food.

I thought it would be fun to share what we ate and how we planned and divided up the responsibilities. This might give you some inspiration in case you need some suggestions for easy meals for 20+ people!

large family group

easy meals for 20 people being served

How We Planned and Divvied Things Up

My sister planned the menu with easy meals that would feed a crowd and sent out a sign-up form using (it’s free and so easy to use!). Each family signed up for the main dishes and side dishes they wanted to be in charge of.

Perfect Potluck website

(A screenshot of the sign up form on .)

Whatever meals or parts of meals you signed up for, you were in charge of bringing the ingredients for and cooking/baking.

This time around, we also had a sign-up for kitchen clean-up, too, so that my dad wouldn’t spend the entire trip doing dishes. (He’s always working in the kitchen, it seems! He says he loves it, but 28 people make a LOT of dishes!)

easy meals for 20 people: baked oatmeal for a large family

pancakes for breakfast

easy recipes for large groups: pancakes and bacon for breakfast

What We Made for Breakfast

When you’re serving meals for 20+ people, breakfast is the simplest meal (in my opinion)!

Here’s what we served for breakfast:

  • Pancakes, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Orange Juice
  • Baked Oatmeal (my sister made the mix of the dry ingredients ahead of time for this), Sausage, Orange Juice
  • Cereal, Fruit, Leftover Pancakes & Eggs

easy meals for 20 people: salad bar

What We Made for Lunch

For lunch, we had a huge Build-Your-Own Salad Bar (most all of my family loves salads!). We also had bread and meat/cheese for sandwiches for the kids and any adults who didn’t just want a salad. In addition, we set out any leftovers from breakfast or dinner.

Having a Build-Your-Own Salad Bar is such an easy meal for 20+ people — and frugal, too! All the ingredients can be stretched a really long way, since you’re only using a little bit of each ingredient on your salad.

Build-Your-Own Salad Bar Ingredients: A variety of Greens and Lettuce, Canned Tuna/Salmon, Boiled Eggs, Raisins, Seeds/Nuts, Avocados, Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, Chickpeas, Cherry Tomatoes, Dressings

easy meals for large groups: hot dogs and hamburgers

easy recipes for large groups: preparing vegetables for a big dinner

easy meals for 20 people: hawaiian rolls, chicken, and fruit

easy meals for 20 people waiting to be served dinner

What We Made for Dinner

If you’re looking for some really easy recipes for large groups, here’s what we made for the dinners:

  • Build-Your-Own Haystacks, Homemade Guacamole, Rice
  • Grilled Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, Fruit, Green Beans, Homemade Rolls
  • Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, Tater Tots, Corn on the Cob, Watermelon, Veggie Tray, Steamed Broccoli

budget grocery shopping for large groups

Here’s what our family contributed contributed (I went to Smith’s — a Kroger affiliate — and was able to get all of this for around $50!) + I brought some salad toppings, canned tuna and salmon, and some extra snacks in our luggage.

It’s amazing how it’s not too much work on any one person to feed 20+ people if we all pitch in and help!

What other ideas of easy meals for 20+ people or easy recipes for large groups do you have? I’d love to hear!

Cut your grocery bill!

Want to cut your grocery budget? Go here and sign up (it’s free!) I’ll send you my 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50.

Easy 4th of July Recipe | Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins

Looking for some really easy 4th of July recipes? These Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins are delicious and super simple to whip up in a pinch!

{Looking for 4th of July desserts? Check out this Patriotic Mason Jar Ice Cream — so much fun for the whole family!}

Patriotic Muffins for 4th of July

Easy 4th of July Muffin Recipe

The 4th of July is right around the corner and will be here before we know it!!

If you’re looking for creative 4th of July recipes to take to an Independence Day potluck or family gathering, try these fun Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins!

ingredients for strawberry and blueberry muffinsmaking blueberry and strawberry muffins

These Patriotic Muffins are ridiculously easy to whip up and they’re seriously some of the BEST muffins I’ve ever tasted!

They’re super moist and delicious — and it’s difficult to eat just one! You might want to make an extra batch just in case. 😉

4th of July muffins ready for the ovenbaked blueberry and strawberry muffins on cooling racks

If you’re looking for easy 4th of July recipes, these Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins are really versatile!

You could use them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even snack/dessert! I’d think they’d also be perfect for a brunch gathering!

4th of July muffins slathered in butter with confetti

You can eat them cooled or warmed, but I recommend them warm and slathered in butter. YUM!

I love the extra flavor twist that the strawberries add to the traditional blueberry muffins taste. But if you love the tart taste of raspberries, you could always substitute the strawberries for raspberries and still have a fun patriotic-themed 4th of July recipe!

patriotic muffins lined up

The best part of these Patriotic Muffins? They freeze really well!

Make them ahead of time a few days or even a week before you need them, and then all you have to do is pull them out of the freezer a few hours before serving them! Eat them as-is or pop them in the microwave to warm them up.

Oh — and if you’re looking for a dairy free version, just substitute the yogurt with your favorite brand of dairy-free vanilla yogurt. Voila!

close-up of patriotic muffins

Easy 4th of July Dessert | Patriotic Mason Jar Ice Cream

Looking for easy 4th of July desserts? This Patriotic Mason Jar Ice Cream is super delicious, so easy to make, and great holiday fun for the whole family!

{Psst! Be sure to check out our Oreo Ice Cream Cake recipe, too!}

Homemade 4th of July Patriotic Ice Cream in a Mason Jar

Note from Crystal: I’m so excited to have my youngest sister, Olivia, sharing this fun patriotic dessert idea today! After SO many of you loved her Easter Candy Recipe, I thought it’d be fun for her to share a 4th of July dessert!

There’s nothing quite like a bowl of fresh, homemade ice cream! As a child, one of my favorite memories was pulling out the old wooden ice cream maker and cranking up some delicious goodness!

Sometimes we made it even easier by just using Ziplock bags! With ice, salt, and some vigorous shaking, the delicious ice cream was ready to sample. I can still remember the taste of that cold treat on a hot summer day!

ingredients for homemade ice cream

This Mason Jar Ice Cream recipe is incredibly simple to make and takes just a few ingredients that you most likely already have on hand in your kitchen.

The mason jars serve as a fun, mess-free way to involve your kids, because they will love getting to shake up their own jar! Also, since the ice cream is mixed, made, and eaten out of the same mason jar, it really saves on dishes and clean-up.

shaking up homemade ice cream in a mason jarwet paper towel around a mason jar of ice cream

This Mason Jar Ice Cream is a perfect 4th of July dessert, but it is also such a fun activity for the whole family to do together on the fourth!

Everyone can shake up a jar a couple hours before sunset. After the jars are frozen, everyone can enjoy their tasty treat while watching the fireworks explode!

ice cream on a spoon from a mason jar

Just look at that creamy vanilla deliciousness! Yum!

And the best part of this Mason Jar Ice Cream? It’s super versatile! Make it a patriotic 4th of July dessert using all kinds of different toppings — marshmallows, M&M’s, skittles, jelly beans, sprinkles, or fruit.

vanilla ice cream with strawberries and blueberries

Anything that’s red, white, and blue will do the trick! I prefer fresh fruit, so I used strawberries and blueberries. (Raspberries would work, too.)

And sprinkles are just festive, so I had to try that, as well! 😉

vanilla ice cream with patriotic sprinkles4th of July ice cream dessert with blueberries and patriotic sprinkles

4th of july ice cream dessert

What are some of your favorite 4th of July desserts? Please share in the comments!!

55 Ways to Use Up Ripe Bananas

Wondering what to do with ripe bananas on your kitchen counter? I love banana recipes, so I decided to put together a HUGE list of 55 things to make with ripe bananas!

(Psst! Be sure to check out our family’s very favorite Freezer-Friendly Banana Bread Recipe! We also really love these Homemade Breakfast Cookies!)

55 ideas for what to do with ripe bananas

We love bananas at our house, but occasionally, life happens and it’s easy to let bananas go past their prime. Or, sometimes, I’ll find bananas marked down at the store because they are starting to get too ripe.

I’m really weird in that I prefer to eat bananas when they have some black spots on them, but the rest of my family won’t touch them once they are at the “Black Spot” stage.

When we have an abundance of over-ripe bananas, I either freeze them to use in smoothies and baking later, or I go ahead and make one of our favorite banana recipes with them.

ripe bananas on counter

What to Do With Ripe Bananas

I thought it might be fun to put together a list of some of my favorite things to make with ripe bananas!

The recipes on this list are a mixture of some of my favorite banana recipes right here on this blog, some other recipes I gathered from other sites that I hope to try soon.

Most of them are fairly healthful (with a few exceptions) and many of them are family favorites. Enjoy!!

homemade breakfast cookies


peeled bananas on cookie sheet for the freezer


homemade banana bread on a white plate


ripe bananas on white counter


banana green smoothie on wooden table


banana chocolate chip bars on white plate


What are YOUR favorite ideas for what to do with ripe bananas? Tell us in the comments!

Need to overhaul your grocery budget?
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I want to help! Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to my new eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. Sign up now!

Want to take better control of your grocery budget?

Do you want to take better control of your grocery budget? If so, you’ll want to read my newest eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget!

This eBook will give you all the tips, tricks, and practical advice you need to create a grocery budget tailored to your family’s needs that you can actually STICK to (because that’s the key!)

In this eBook, you’ll learn:

  1. How to create a grocery budget that fits your family’s needs and your finances!
  2. New systems to help you keep track of what you spend at the store!
  3. How to actually stick with your new budget and save money for years to come!
  4. Ways to save up to $50 off your grocery bill THIS WEEK by using the 10 simple strategies outlined in this eBook!

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