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Category: From My Kitchen

Healthy Homemade Protein Bars

This healthy homemade protein bar recipe is super delicious and SO easy to make!

{Looking for more healthy homemade treats? Check out this list of Delicious & Healthy Freezer-Friendly Snack Ideas — including Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Bars, Good For You Peanut Butter Fudge, Honey Sweetened Truffles, and Homemade Energy Bites!}

healthy homemade protein bars

Almost a decade ago now, I decided to do the P90X program. I remember it being a really fun time of coming up with creative, nutritious recipes that I could make from scratch on a budget.

And this homemade protein bar recipe ended up being one of my favorite go-to snacks during that season of my life!

I actually found the inspiration for this recipe in the P90X forums, but (in my usual fashion!) I decided to tweak it to my tastes.

The result was these delicious homemade protein bars — which every single person in my family ended up loving! Scroll to the bottom of this post for the printable recipe!

ingredients for homemade protein bars mixing up protein bar ingredients in a bowl healthy protein bars in a pan with chocolate glaze homemade protein bars with chocolate on top sliced homemade protein bar squares plated healthy protein bars individually wrapped protein bars for the freezerhealthy homemade protein bars ready to eat

protein bars on a plate

Looking for more recipes? Try these!


$70 Budget: What We Ate & What We Bought This Week

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.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our .

I Found a Great Deal on Ground Beef!

I was so excited to get a good deal on higher quality ground beef this week as part of our $70 budget.

We don’t use a lot of beef since it’s more expensive than many other meats and I don’t often find good markdowns on it, so I’m always excited when I find a deal! We used one pound this week and put the rest in the freezer.

Kroger Shopping Trip #1

Stocking Up on Oatmeal & Cheese & Peanut Butter

I was excited, because the Kroger weekend deals this weekend were great stock up deals on some of our favorite foods: Cheese, peanut butter, and oatmeal!

Kroger Shopping Trip #2

  • 5 packages of Kroger cheese — $0.99 with Kroger Weekend Digital deals
  • Half & Half — $1.49
  • Vitamin D milk — $2.69
  • 5 boxes of Kroger oatmeal — $1.49 each, used $0.50/1 (limit 5) = $0.99 each
  • 5 jars Kroger Natural peanut butter — $1.79 each, used $0.50/1 (limit 5) = $1.29 each
  • Total with tax: $21.81

What We Ate 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

Breakfasts:

  • Cereal, Oatmeal, Scrambled Eggs

Lunches:

  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Carrots, Oranges, Salads, Leftovers, Cookies

Snacks:

  • Fruit, Cookies, Popcorn, Ice Cream, Crackers & Cheese, Carrots & Hummus

Dinners:

  • Sunday — Fend for yourself
  • Monday — Meatballs, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Roasted Potatoes, Mangos
  • Tuesday — Salsa Chicken, Rice, Fruit
  • Wednesday — Leftover Meatballs, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Roasted Potatoes, Mangos
  • Thursday — Chicken Fajitas, Fruit
  • Friday — Dinner out
  • Saturday — Salads topped with leftover meatballs & roasted Brussel Sprouts, Toast (Jesse and I brought food and ate it on the road while we drove to Destin, FL. The kids stayed home with Jesse’s dad this weekend and they told me that he took them out to dinner.)

Grocery Budget Totals

Total spent on groceries: $64.15

Cashback earned this week: 50 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards + $1.35 for submitting my receipt to iBotta rewards.

How to Save Money on Organic Food

Is it possible to save money on organic food? In this post, I’ll share 8 easy ways to save money on organic food — even if you have a tight budget!

Looking for more ideas? Check out this post where Jennifer shares 10 Ways They Afford to Eat Organic Foods on a $100 Monthly Budget.

You can afford organic food on a budget! Here's how!!

Can You Save Money on Organic Food?

So many people have a misguided idea that the only way to eat healthfully is to spend exorbitant amounts to do so. If you live in Alaska or some remote part of the country, this might be the case, but in most areas, you can feed your family natural, unprocessed foods without spending hundreds of dollars each week to do so.

Sure, you might spend a little bit more than someone who is eating a diet composed mostly of processed foods, but it really doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg as some people will make you think — especially if you’re willing to get creative and think outside the box.

Here are eight ways to afford organic food on a tight budget:

1. Plan a Menu Based Upon What’s In Season and On Sale

If you want to , the first step is to have a plan for what you’ll be eating. Make your menu plan mostly based upon what is on sale at the natural foods store, what is in season at the Farmer’s Market, what organic food is on sale at Aldi or your other grocery store, and/or what you’re reaping in abundance from your garden, you’re going to significantly reduce your grocery bill.

2. Practice the

If you happen to come upon an incredible sale on tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market, or the health food store has organic frozen vegetables on a great sale, or Sprouts has a great weekend sale, or Aldi is offering some great deal on organic products, or you find a great markdown deal on organic food at Kroger, . Buying items you routinely use when they are at their lowest price is another surefire way to savings.

3. Plant a Garden (Or Barter With Someone Who Does!)

Produce is typically only pennies per item from your own backyard, it’s tremendously fresh and you know exactly what you did or didn’t spray on it. Plus, you can can or freeze your extras — or bless your friends and neighbors with them!

Have a brown thumb? Find a friend who loves gardening and trade services (babysitting, bread-baking, car maintenance?) in exchange for their garden excess.

Note: When I’ve done the math on how much time you invest to plant and weed and water and harvest food from the garden, for me, it just wasn’t worth the return on my investment of time. However, if organic food is something you want to prioritize and you love gardening, it might be a great option for you!

4. Stick With Simple Meals

When you’re planning your menu, think about how much your recipes will cost you to make.

It doesn’t have to be a scientific to-the-penny figure, but just having a good idea that there is a $10 difference between the price of making one meal as opposed to another meal can help you decide whether you can afford to make something or perhaps should save it for a special occasion.

Sprouts Natural Foods Market

5. Serve Meat as a Condiment

I shamelessly stole this idea from because it’s so brilliant. Serving meat in soup or on pizza is going to be a lot less expensive than serving roast and sirloin, especially if you’re buying high-quality meat.

6. Buy in Bulk

It is usually much more cost-effective to . Call around to local farmers and see what they would charge you for .

In many cases, it’s at least $1 cheaper per pound to purchase in bulk. Buying grains, beans, as well as many other basic ingredients with long storage lives in large quantities will almost always save you at least 20%, if not more.

Costco, as well as many bulk foods stores and local co-ops, offer great pricing. You can also check with your local health food store to see if they’d offer you a discount for bulk purchases.

7. Consider Joining a CSA or Co-Op

If there is a , check into pricing and details for joining. You might find that it is an affordable and money-saving option for your family. If you can’t find an affordable co-op in your area, you could consider starting your own co-op.

8. Use Coupons on Non-Food Items

I know a number of my readers don’t eat processed foods, but to save money on toilet paper, toothbrushes and other non-food items which they purchase. Your savings might not be so exciting as others who use dozens of coupons each shopping trip, but even saving $5 each week by using coupons can start to add up over time.

What other tips do you have to add for saving money on organic food? I’d love to hear!

$70 Budget: What we ate, how much we spent, and how we splurged

I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 grocery 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.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our .

Our $70 Budget

This week we didn’t eat at home as much as we usually do since we traveled to Kansas for Easter Friday through Sunday. But we did get some great deals at the grocery store — and we used our extra money from the past number of weeks that we’ve been under budget to pay for our extra dinner out this week!

Sprouts Shopping Trip

Sprouts had some good weekend deals last weekend and Jesse ran by to pick up a few of them. He got 4 mangoes for $1 and 4 grapefruit for $1.

Total with tax: $2.14

Jesse also ran by Kroger for me after he dropped the kids off at school. I asked him if he could pick up any marked down lettuce/salads he saw. Well, went around and looked at markdowns throughout the entire store! And he found some great deals!

Kroger Shopping Trip #1:

  • King’s Hawaiian Hot Dog Buns — marked down to $1.99
  • Bread — marked down to $1.89
  • Pita Bread — marked down to $0.99
  • Bananas — $0.96
  • Strawberries — $2.99
  • 3 bags of potatoes — marked down to $0.99 each
  • 2 bags of avocados — marked down to $0.99 each
  • 6 packages of blackberries — $0.99 each
  • Salad bowl — marked down to $1.99
  • 1 bag of fruit — marked down to $0.99 each
  • Organic lettuce — marked down to $1.49
  • Total with tax: $25.69

I got some great freebies in the mail this week, including MyKroger magazine (which has great coupons in it!), a free copy of Real Simple magazine, free issues of Health magazine, some other great freebies!

Kroger was having some fantastic weekend deals this week. We were supposed to leave on our trip to Kansas at 9:30 a.m. and we weren’t going to be getting back until Sunday night. Of course, the sale only ran Friday through Sunday!

I really didn’t want to miss it, so I got packed and ready early on Friday morning and then ran to the store early. I’m so glad I did, because I got some great deals!

Kroger Shopping Trip #2:

  • 5 boxes (family size) Kellogg’s cereal — $1.49 each with Friday-Sunday Digital Coupon deal
  • 5 tubs ice cream — $1.99 each with Friday-Sunday Digital Coupon deal
  • 1 10-lb bag of potatoes — $1.88
  • 4 bags of fruit — $0.99
  • 1 gallon milk — $2.69
  • Miracle Maize Corn Muffin Mix — $1.89, used $1.50/1 Kroger Digital Coupon = $0.39 (we bought this one other time when it was on sale and it was SO good)
  • Total with tax: $27.92

Walgreens Shopping Trip

Walgreens had bags on sale Buy 1, Get 2 free — which made each box less than $1.

For some reason, we also got an additional 25% off at checkout (does anyone have any idea why? It said E25% next to the price). At any rate, they only charged us $2.09 per box and then we got 2 boxes for free!

So that meant we got six boxes for just $4.18 + tax!!

Total with tax: $4.59

What We Ate 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.

Breakfasts:

  • Cereal, Oatmeal, Scrambled Eggs

Lunches:

  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Carrots, Oranges, Salads, Leftovers, Cookies, Protein Bars, Popchips
  • Dinner at Spangles on Saturday

Snacks:

  • Grapefruit, Cookies, Popcorn, Ice Cream, Crackers & Cheese, Peach Cobbler, Carrots & Hummus, Popchips

Dinners:

  • Sunday — Cheese quesadillas/snack-y dinner
  • Monday — Taco Casserole/Peas/Blackberries/Peach Cobbler
  • Tuesday — Dinner at Cracker Barrel (we had a gift card)
  • Wednesday — Leftover Taco Casserole
  • Thursday — Pork Roast/Twice Baked Potatoes/Fruit
  • Friday — Dinner out (we decided to use the extra grocery money from the last few weeks to go to this place in Wichita we love that offers really healthy meals all pre-made for you)
  • Saturday — Dinner with Jesse’s family

Total spent on groceries: $60.34

Cashback earned this week: 100 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards+ $1.10 for submitting my receipt to iBotta rewards.

Easiest Homemade Easter Candy Recipe (Easter Basket Idea!)

Note from Crystal: I’m so excited to have my youngest sister, Olivia, sharing this fun homemade Easter candy recipe — a spring variation on our family’s favorite homemade Christmas Candy recipe! We typically make this candy to give as gifts during the Christmas season, but I never thought of the brilliant idea to make it for Easter baskets!

Looking for non-candy Easter basket ideas? Check out this Easy Homemade Slime Recipe that my daughter loves making!

Easiest Homemade Easter Candy Recipe

Looking for unique and different Easter basket ideas this year? This homemade Easter candy recipe is sure to be a hit with your kids!

This delicious recipe is a spin-off of Crystal’s incredible Christmas candy recipe — and if you’re a white chocolate lover like me, you might end up actually liking this one better than the original! 😉

(Not a fan of white chocolate? Just use milk or dark chocolate chips instead, but don’t forget to put on the festive colorful sprinkles!)

ingredients to make homemade Easter candy

This recipe is SO easy to make and only uses a few ingredients! It’s hard to believe this recipe could be so yummy with just these few ingredients, but it really is.

There’s just something about the concoction of crackers, chewy caramel, and chocolate! YUM!

layered Easter candy in a pan

I brought a bowl of these to a recent family gathering, and not only did the kids absolutely love it, but the adults raved about it, too!

This is a super simple dessert that you could totally use for Easter Sunday, if you want something a little different than usual. Just make a big batch ahead of time and you’re ready to go.

white chocolate chips on top of layered Easter candy in a pan
And it’s SO easy to make ahead of time, because it keeps really well in the freezer. I recommend making a batch and breaking it up into individual baggies to freeze for later.

Then just pull a baggie out when you’re ready to use it for a get-together or Easter basket!

white chocolate Easter candy with sprinkles

I love the fun colors of the sprinkles — and this recipe is really perfect for just about any spring parties or get-togethers! You could even use them as frugal end-of-the-year teacher gifts.

crumbled homemade Easter candy

This homemade Easter candy recipe will add such a personal touch to a kids’ Easter basket — even if it’s the only thing in it! You could even make some of this Homemade Slime to add a little non-candy gift to the mix!

close-up photo of broken Easter candy with sprinkles

Easter candy packages for an Easter basket

Related Links:

What other unique Easter basket ideas do you have? I’d love to hear in the comments!

$70 Grocery Budget (+ what we ate this past week!)

I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 grocery 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.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our .

Thank you so much for your encouragement on my last Grocery Post letting me know how much you enjoy me sharing my menu plans. Your kind words meant a lot to me; thank you for taking the time to share!

And yes, I realized based upon all the comments and emails that many of you really find the menu plans helpful and inspiring — even if most of the social media comments/emails in recent weeks have been from people who have felt frustrated by the menu plans. So I’ll plan to continue sharing them! 🙂

Two of the kids had their yearly testing at school this past week, so they asked if I could make Energy Bites — and we ended up going through 3 batches of these this week! We’ve eaten them for breakfast, lunch, snack, and after-dinner snack! 🙂

Also, I showed on how I make Roasted Broccoli — and literally just stick the frozen broccoli straight from the bag into the oven!

Sometimes, I go to Kroger and find all sorts of great deals and markdowns. Sometimes, I go and basically find nothing.

My first Kroger shopping trip of the week was a complete bust. See above. 🙂 I hope this encourages you to know that it’s not like every single time I head to Kroger I strike gold!

Kroger Shopping Trip #1:

  • 3 Dannon Yogurts — marked down to $0.49 each
  • 2 bags of carrots — $1 each
  • Total with tax: $3.67

A few pictures of my salads from this past week. For more salad inspiration, see my post on 10 Days of Salads.

Kroger Shopping Trip #2:

  • Kroger Pork Roast — marked down to $4.99
  • Ground Turkey — marked down to $2.49
  • Ground Pork — marked down to $2.50
  • 1 multipack of Kleenex travel tissues — $1.69
  • 1 bag of peppers — marked down to $0.99
  • Spinach — marked down to $1.79
  • 3 bags of Mission Street Tacos — $0.99 each when you buy 6 participating items
  • Palmolive Dish Soap — $1.49 when you buy 6 participating items, used $0.50/1 = $0.99
  • 2 boxes Creamette Pasta — $0.49 each, got $1 back from iBotta = free after iBotta rebate
  • 2 bags of carrots — $0.99 each
  • Rice bowl — marked down to $0.29
  • Ortega Skillet Sauce — marked down to $0.49
  • 2 cantaloupe — marked down to $0.99 each
  • 2 bags of Goldfish — $0.99 when you buy 6 participating items
  • 3 bags of cookies — $0.99 when you buy 6 participating items
  • Pringles — $0.99 when you buy 6 participating items
  • Jarlsberg cheese — marked down to $1.69
  • Grapes — $0.99/lb. = $2.11
  • 1 bag Taco Bell Cheese, 1 bag Kraft cheese — $2.29 each when you buy 6 participating items, used Buy One, Get One Free = $1.10 each after coupon
  • 2 cartons cottage cheese — $0.89 each when you buy 6 participating items
  • Half & Half — $1.79
  • Kroger Vitamin D Milk — 2.59
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup — $0.49 when you buy 6 participating items
  • 1 box Kellogg’s cereal — marked down to $0.50
  • Total with tax: $46.65

Have you tried the Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls recipe yet? Cassey made them and posted them on Instagram stories this past week. YUM!

Kroger Shopping Trip #3:

  • Deli Chicken — marked down to $4.19
  • 2 cans of Green Beans — $0.49 each when you buy 6 participating items
  • 2 cans of Pringles — $0.99 each when you buy 6 participating items
  • 2 bags of Goldfish — $0.99 each when you buy 6 participating items
  • 5 bags of Popchips — $0.99 each as part of the Friday-Saturday deals
  • 18-count eggs — $0.99
  • Nestle Crunch Bars — $1, used $1/1 = Free
  • Total with tax: $16.26

What We Ate 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.

Breakfasts:

  • Cereal, Oatmeal, Scrambled Eggs, Peanut Butter/Banana Toast

Lunches:

  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Carrots, Oranges, Salads, Leftovers, Cookies, Protein Bars, Energy Bites

Snacks:

  • Cantaloupe, Cookies, Popcorn, Ice Cream, Crackers & Cheese, Refrigerator Pickles, Energy Bites

Dinners:

  • Sunday — Fend For Yourself
  • Monday — Chicken Tetrazinni, Oranges, , Carrots, Hummus, Roasted Broccoli
  • Tuesday — Pancakes, Sausage, Oranges
  • Wednesday — Sausage/Peppers/Potatoes, Cantaloupe
  • Thursday — Leftovers/Fend For Yourself
  • Friday — Rotisserie Chicken, Green Beans, Cantaloupe, Twice Baked Potatoes
  • Saturday — Chipotle

Total spent on groceries: $66.58

Cashback earned this week: 205 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards + $1.10 for submitting my receipt to iBotta rewards.