Budget Day 12: A Real Happy Meal

I discovered what should truly be called a “Happy Meal” at Earthfare last night. The only thing is I have no idea why it took me so long to figure this one out! Not only did the organic real food meal that came in a fun little bag complete with a prize at the bottom make my daughters (and me) very happy, but since kids eat free on Thursdays it only cost $7.59 for all three of us to eat dinner there (click to see picture)! And not to mention I had printed Earthfare’s weekly “free” coupon so with our purchase (that had to be at least $5) I also got a free pineapple. Now that is a freaking deal! Especially when we budgeted $20/week for the four of us to eat out.

In addition to their kid-oriented meals they also had a complimentary balloon artist providing entertainment! Forget the frosties…I told my daughters if they ate all of their dinner they could get a balloon. For their meal they each chose a grilled cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread, applesauce, and white milk (with a little help from mommy). My 5-year-old also chose carrots with ranch dressing and my 3-year-old had raisins with her meal. Everything was organic from what I could tell and free of course!!

This outing was the perfect end to what felt like a long week with my husband gone on a business trip. Making all of this real food and cleaning up afterward really is a lot harder when I don’t have his help…because yes, when my husband is home he does help me with that kind of stuff! I should really plan better and not make labor-intensive meals when he is gone, but somehow it never seems to work out that way.

On Tuesday night I made chicken nuggets with whole-wheat breadcrumbs out of some of the chicken I bought earlier that day. And I thought why not make it an extra special meal for my girls so I made some homemade whole-wheat macaroni and cheese and a side of green beans to go with it. They scarfed down so much of this meal that they pretty much ruined my plan for leftovers! So on Wednesday night without any leftovers or wanting to make another big mess I just put together a very hodgepodge meal with items that we had on hand. I had some caprese salad and as you can see in the picture we also had egg salad, crackers, celery with peanut butter & raisins (ants on a log), with some South Carolina cantaloupe I bought last weekend with the one dollar I had left after apple picking (click to see picture). I just want y’all to know I don’t make fancy meals just because I know I will be taking a picture of it for the blog. This is the kind of stuff we eat around here…picture or not!

For breakfast we’ve been enjoying lots of our beloved granola, and I also made some banana pancakes last weekend. For lunch it seems like we’ve been making a lot of smoothies lately to supplement other stuff like PB&J or some form of a “roll up” (which is whatever we can find to roll up inside a whole-wheat tortilla). Today I actually made what tasted like a “pina coloda smoothie” with my free pineapple from Earthfare. I put in the yogurt, milk, and bananas (to sweeten the plain yogurt) like I usually do and then added some shredded unsweetened coconut and lots of pineapple. It was good and if it wasn’t the middle of the day I would’ve thrown in some rum for the adults!

After Wal-Mart, Earthfare, and our milk delivery this week I now have $21 (of our $125 budget) left that I was saving for local produce. Although, instead of getting produce from the Matthews Farmer’s Market like I usually do I am going to spend it at Hillbilly Produce when I am there tomorrow at their festival! They also sell locally raised meat from some of our favorite vendors so it is almost like a farmer’s market of their own except on a much more convenient schedule (they are open every day of the week). I will have a table set up from 1:00 – 3:00 P.M. at the festival to chat with people about eating real food, so if you are in the Charlotte area please stop by and say hello!