Sunday, December 1, 2013

Small Business Spotlight - Allechant Boutique

Sorry for the gap in posting  I took an actual vacation with my husband and daughter.

Today's small business is one of my favorites.  Allechant Boutique in Plymouth, WI.  This is a boutique store with reasonable prices.  Most everything in the store is under $100.

This is a fun shop with scarves, jewelry, clothing, purses, vintage jewelry and vintage clothing as well.  My daughter calls it "the fancy shop" and she always finds something she likes there.  I took my husband to the store one day, and he was surprised.  They carry a lot of items that he didn't expect.

This is my go-to shop for gifts.  I can always find something unique.

You can shop via their new website.  It's a work in progress right now, but if you see something you like and you're looking for a similar item or a different color, just give them a call.  The number is in the photo above.  You can also find them on Facebook.  You will find photos of many of the items they carry.  Again, if you can't find something, give them a call.

If you, or the gift recipient, is a plus size, not to worry.  Allechant has you covered.  There is a great selection of plus sized items as well.  The smaller sizes work well for teens, as well as the jewelry, scarves and other accessories.

Check out Allechant for gifts for the ladies on your list, or treat yourself to something wonderful.  You're worth it.  If you stop in the store, don't forget to sign up for the free drawings they have, and sign up for text alerts for sales.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Small business spotlight - Etsy

Continuing with our small business theme... Let me introduce you to Etsy if you're not familiar with it.

I call it the E-Bay of crafters.  Etsy itself is not a small business, but it is a collection of small businesses.  Etsy consists of individually owned shops.  The shops sell things from clothing to jewelry to vintage items, to just about anything you can think of.  Many of the shop owners don't have a brick and mortar store.  They work from their homes.  It is the epitome of small business.

Here is an example. This my shop.  I have mostly sewn and knit items.  If you are a crafter, you can find patterns for various things as well.

One of my favorite shops is Sky Feathers Trading.  They sell beautifully hand crafted Native American items.  Many of the items can be customized.  I bought an amazing hand painted feather when our pastor left to go on to a new job.  The painting was customized for the journey she had already been on, as well as where her life was taking her.  It turned out beautifully.

These are some samples of the feathers.

In case you think you can't find anything for someone on your list, let me challenge you.  My father-in-law is one of the hardest people to shop for.  However, he loves Silverton, Colorado. I did a quick search on Silverton.  I found a wide variety of things, and one thing in particular that I think he'll love.  If he's reading this, no... I'm not going to disclose what it is.

Check it out and support these home based businesses.  They'll be happy to help you out.  Many stores have the ability to custom make gifts for you as well.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Small Business Spotlight - Olivu 426

Our family is doing something different this year.  We are going to make a point of shopping small businesses for our Christmas gifts.  Yes, it's easier to shop the big box stores, and online, but I have met some amazing people, who own great businesses and we want to  support them.  I'll be spotlighting various small businesses over the next few weeks.  Below is our first business.

I met an amazing young woman at a business meeting.  (She's just 30 years old and to me that's young.)  Her name is Caitlin and she owns Olivu 426.  She sells all natural beauty care and body care products, but here's the kicker.... they're AFFORDABLE! Her most popular product is an anti-aging oil, and it sells for a mere $12.  Bet you can't find that in a big box store.  

While Olivu 426 may be a small business, this is a woman with big ideas, and she's not afraid to share them.  She has an amazing presence when you meet her, a warm smile and a great sense of humor.  

If you live in the area, I encourage you to get to her shop in Sheboygan, WI.  You will find a warm welcome and fabulous products.  If you're from out of town, you're in luck.  Olivu 426 has a fabulous website and you can order online.  

There is something for everyone on your Christmas list. From the smallest to the tallest, you can find something in your budget.  Start with Caitlin's first product; an all natural lip balm, just $3.  There are gift baskets and stocking stuffers, men's products, baby products, and products for every lady on your list.  

If you see something you like, but want a different scent, or for many people, no scent at all, just let them know.  They custom make products, and one of the things you can do if you go into the store, is make your own products.  They even host parties where you can make your own products.  The parties aren't just for adults. What little girl wouldn't love to have a party where she and her friends can make their own beauty products, and you can feel good knowing that they're not filled with chemicals and preservatives.

Being the wonderful woman that she is, Caitlin is offering a discount for readers of the blog.  Use the code HALFBAKEDLIFE and get 10% off your order until December 1st.  

I also happen to know that Olivu 426 will have some great sales for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.  Be sure to check them out!!  I was lucky to get some of the deals at the meeting we attended. I promise, you'll like them.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Give Away

Unless you're living under a rock, you know that October is breast cancer awareness month.  There is pink everywhere.  I'm sure you know someone who has been affected by breast cancer.  It's very personal for me.

In 1998 I lost one of the greatest women I've ever known to breast cancer.  My Aunt Lin died when she was just a few years younger than I am now.  Far too young.  She was a mother to 4, a step-mother to 3, a sister, a daughter, an aunt and a wife.  Many people miss her.  My children never got to meet her and she never got to meet her grandchildren.

I also have many friends who have fought the battle, and won, and a courageous young woman who had genetic testing, discovered that her odds of developing breast cancer were astronomical, and she voluntarily had a double mastectomy before the cancer hit.  They are all courageous women!

Cancer hit us again a few years ago when our former pastor, and dear friend, was diagnosed at the age of 40.  Her daughter and my daughter were the same age, so the reality of cancer struck my daughter.  She watched our friend, and one of her best friend's mother, going through this horrible disease.  It was hard for her to watch and we spent a lot of talking about what happens.

In honor of all these women, but especially my Aunt Lin, I am doing a give away.

I like to sew and knit and run an Etsy shop.  I made this apron, and it is only available on the give away.

The main fabric has the words faith, hope, love and charity throughout.  The pocket, band and ties are the pink ribbon material.

This is a one size fits most.  I am a size 14/16, and as you can see, it fits me fine, and there is plenty of room in the ties to expand it.  If you're smaller, you can wrap the ties around.

It's cotton material, so it is washable and dryable.

This give away is open to everyone of any age, and there are many ways to enter.

Comment and tell me how breast cancer has affected your life.
Comment and tell me you're a survivor (YAY!) and get 2 entries.
Share on Facebook, Twitter, via e-mail, on your own blog - comment and tell me where/how you shared it and get an entry for each method you shared.
Comment and tell me what month you had your mammogram.
If you haven't had your mammogram, get on the phone and get it scheduled!!  Then comment and tell me when it's scheduled.
Comment and tell me where you did a breast cancer walk.
Comment with your favorite breast cancer saying - "Save the TaTas" and so on.

Yes, this means you can have multiple entries.  One for each comment!!

The whole purpose of this is to spread the word.  I had my mammogram earlier this month and everything is fine.  (Thank you God!!)  Yes, it's not the most comfortable, but the whole thing takes 15 minutes and can save your life.

Have a conversation with your friends and family.  Pester them if you have to. Let's not let this just be a month where we wear pink.  It's not about a fashion statement.  It's about screening and being healthy.  It's about being proactive.

That being said, my Aunt Lin would hate this apron.  She was not a pink girl at all and she wasn't about  "advertising" that she had cancer.  She wasn't frilly at all.  She was a hard working, strong and loving woman, and I wonder how different our lives and family would be if she were still here.  So, I want to do this in her honor, and hopefully help a woman get screening that she might otherwise put off.  Please get checked.

Drawing will run through October 31st.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Foot Smart

I may have found my new favorite catalog.  I have very bad knees and high arches.  I need to pay good money for shoes.  However the kind of shoes that are available in a retail store are usually ugly and expensive.

A co-worker turned me on to the FootSmart catalog.  They have CUTE shoes that are good for your feet.

The best part is, the listings show what shoes are good for arch support, cushion, bunions, etc.  They also carry things besides shoes.  There are circulatory socks, bunion cushions, arthritis products, braces for knees and ankles and much more.

Yes, these things are pricey, but I have found that I cannot buy inexpensive shoes and not have problems.

If you have foot, knee or arthritis issues, check this out.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Meals on a budget

I went grocery shopping today for the next 2 weeks. I spent $106.  Here are my purchases.

As you can see, there is produce, meats and pasta.  Being frugal does not mean you have to eat junk.  In fact, I am renewing my commitment to get healthy, so health was a large decision in my shopping.

If you know me, or follow this blog, you know I despise grocery shopping and cooking.  The nearest grocery store is 15 miles away, so I must plan meals.  There is no quick running for a missing ingredient.  I have ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner here.

This is our menu for the next couple of weeks.  Maybe a little bit longer because there will be leftovers.

One of my keys, which I have blogged about before, is my slow cooker.  Several of my meals will be bagged up to go in the slow cooker.  But I do all the prep in one day, so my cooking time is minimal each night.  In fact, I set up that my husband can actually have dinner on the table when I get home.

Right now my slow cooker is working with a whole chicken.  Part of it will be used in salads for me for lunch.  The rest will go in

Moroccan Couscous Salad - I am not a fan of chick peas, so I take them out and put in chicken instead to keep my protein.  I also change out the raisins for dried cranberries.  I like the tart taste with the chicken.

Chili - Fall is approaching and that means chili around here.  The recipe is not hard.  1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, 1 6 oz can tomato paste a can of kidney beans and some ground meat.  I use ground turkey for the health benefits, but you can use whatever you want.  In our area, we are known for putting pasta in our chili.  Try it some time.  It's quite good.  This is all bagged up and will go in the slow cooker.  A nice slow cooker all day brings the flavors together.

Spaghetti-  Since I made the ground turkey for the chili, I made all of my ground meat at one time.  I bagged the cooked meat with the spaghetti sauce.  It just needs to be thawed and combined with the hot cooked pasta.  Add a salad and we're ready to go.

Pork chop, veggie and rice bowls- This recipe is just for a veggie and rice bowl, but my husband doesn't do vegetarian, and I struggle with keeping my protein up, so I'm adding pork chops to this.  The boneless chops were the cheapest this week, so that's what we got. They will go in the slow cooker with a little bit of apple cider vinegar and some soy sauce.  This will tenderize them enough to be stirred into the rice and veggies and just break apart. The soy sauce will work well with the rice.  I use a quick cooking brown rice, again for the health aspect.

Slow Cooker Pepper Steak - My husband is a beef man.  This recipe works for him.  I bought a bag of mini peppers.  They were around $3.  If you have ever tried to buy colored peppers, you know they are expensive.  This bag of peppers is affordable and has enough for this dish and the couscous salad above, plus a few left over to top a salad.  Served over rice, this is a meal in itself.

Chicken Alfredo - This is often requested at home and it's a quick dish.  I know jarred Alfredo sauce is loaded with fat, but I don't have time to make it from scratch.  What I do is buy a small jar, and add one half to a full jar of skim milk to it.  It stretches the sauce, and reduces the calories because you're not getting as much sauce.  I cooked a 3 pound bag of chicken breast.  Some of it is diced for this dish, and the rest will be used in another dish to come.  Cook the pasta of your choice, and steam some broccoli.  Mix together and you're good to go.

Chubby Chicken and Cream Cheese Taquitos - My husband loves "messy food" so this one is for him.  This is where the rest of the chicken breast will go.  It has spinach in it, so it helps with the veggies, and it will use low fat cream cheese.  Again, add a salad and we're good to go.

Fish tacos - I eat these when I go out to lunch with my friends from work. I love them and our daughter loves fish, but hubby, not so much.  I have tilapia in the freezer so we're using that and we have fresh veggies from my trip to the farmer's market.  Tortillas will be used for this and the taquitos.  I bought an extra package, which I'll explain in the breakfasts.  Corn tortillas make this a great gluten free meal.

Grilled Kielbasa and Pesto Penne - I cooked this tonight and put it in a bag.  It will just need to be reheated.  We're going to have Roasted Okra along with this.

There's one recipe that's going to be an experiment to see if it goes over.  Hopefully my husband has quit reading by now and doesn't see this.  It's Pasta with Eggplant Sauce.  I bought an eggplant at the farmer's market, so I'm trying this.  I like eggplant, the child has never eaten it and hubby says he hates it.  I'm wondering if he'll notice it in this sauce.  It's loaded with veggies and when I add a salad, even more veggies.

OK, that's the dinners. Yes, this is from the $106 that I spent, and I still have more to go.

For lunches I can eat things that I know my husband won't eat.

A great fall lunch is a Stuffed Acorn Squash, which also happens to be gluten free.  I made the ground turkey for this when I made the rest for my dinner dishes.  

I found this Tuna and Asparagus Salad.  It calls for being made in a bread bowl, but I'm just doing it as a salad.  Who needs the extra carbs?

We have a toaster oven at work so this Baked Avocado Dish is a quick lunch.  I also got some artichokes to add to this.

And my dinner tonight after a couple of hours in the kitchen is a grown up version of grilled cheese.  It's a Tomato, Avocado and Mozzarella Grilled Cheese.  Here I'm using up the leftover avocado from the recipe above.

I'm still on the same $106.  And remember, I have leftover chicken to make salads or sandwiches.  And I can have leftovers from other meals for lunches.  I did buy 2 frozen dinners in case I run out of stuff, but that's still in my $106.

Now for breakfast.  You may have noticed that I bought fresh berries.  I also have a couple of bags of pears from a friend that had an abundance.

I have the extra tortillas and some English Muffins.  I'll put peanut butter and fresh berries on the English Muffins, or rolled up in the tortillas.

I can also roll up the tortillas with peanut butter and some of the pears, thinly sliced and some granola.

I also have a quick breakfast from my childhood.  My grandparents had a farm so we grew up with fresh dairy products.  One of my grandfather's things was to put sliced cheese on buttered toast.  Very simple, but very good. You don't melt the cheese.  Try it sometime.  I'll eat it on the English Muffins.

And all this on $106.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Whole chicken in a slow cooker

One of the easiest, and most economical, things is to cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker.  There really isn't a fancy recipe.  Buy a whole chicken, add the seasoning of your choice, about half a cup of stock/broth, plop the top on and away you go.  8 hours on low will produce a juicy chicken that falls apart.

My favorite seasoning is from Costco.  It's an organic no-salt seasoning.  It has a bunch of different spices in it and works in everything.  I just sprinkle some of that on top.  If you don't have a Costco nearby or don't want to get a membership, you can order it on Amazon as well.

You can serve the chicken for dinner, or I use it for various meals.  It works perfect on salads, mixed with rice and vegetables, or one of my favorites, a Moroccan Couscous Salad.  I've changed up the ingredients using whatever happens to be in the pantry.  I throw in chicken breasts and it makes a full meal.

You can use the chicken in soup, sandwiches, kids meals.  All kinds of things.

Experiment with different seasonings and see what you like.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Getting Healthy

Yes, I need to get healthy.  I've seen this simple "solution."

Really, how much simpler can it get?

A few days ago, we got an extended lunch hour (actually 2 hours) to go to the farmer's market.  I actually LOVE fruits and vegetables.  The farmer's market was a plethora of wonderful finds.

I got green beans, beautiful red tomatoes, assorted lettuce (which my husband actually liked), eggplant (which my husband does not like), okra and a bouquet of flowers for myself.  And I spent under $20.  I could have bought a lot more, but the 1 mile walk back to my office with arms laden with produce did not sound appealing.  Hitting the farmer's market tomorrow, does.

I'm also trying to set a good example for my daughter of making healthy choices and setting new habits for our family.

I'm making a commitment to get back in shape, so I'm looking for some good, healthy recipes.  What's your favorite?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Freebies, Extreme Couponing and Helping Others

I've been very absent lately.  I started a new job in March and many other things in life have had me very busy.  But back to posting....

If you do couponing, or participate in rewards cards offers, you probably get free items.  What do you do with them?

We donate them to homeless shelters or abuse shelters.  We keep a paper bag that we drop our freebies or samples in.  Once a year we donate them to a shelter.

This is the start of our donations.  

If you read my blog, you know that I shop at Ulta and get free gifts.  I don't need the free gifts, so I throw them in the bag.  There is toothpaste, razors, make up cases and various other things.  

I also use Facebook and other sites to sign up for free items or samples. Anything we don't need goes in the bag.

If we are using coupons and getting free items, anything that is more than what our family needs goes into the bag.  

Shelters can always use personal hygiene items, and these items often end up being free with coupons if you're really watching your coupons. 

So, instead of amassing a massive stock pile that will take you years to use, how about giving some things to people who are truly in need?  I assure you every donation we have given has been greatly appreciated.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Product Review - Immaculate Baking

I discovered this brand purely by accident.  My family loves carbs.

I needed a quick breakfast items.  While I was checking out the canned cinnamon rolls (yes, I know they're unhealthy) I found these.  The brand is Immaculate Baking.

I happily bought them when I saw the label.  No bleached flour, no high fructose corn syrup, organic and non GMO (genetically modified).  A convenience food that I could feel good about serving to my daughter.  Double bonus, she LOVED them.  We also blueberry and cinnamon rolls.

Triple bonus, I found out they have gluten free products as well.

I found this cookie dough when I was picking up some more breakfast food for the kiddo.  They had this Fudge Brownie and Chocolate chip.  The chocolate chip is OK, but these are just fantastic.  There is no way to tell they are gluten free.

It's so rare to find a brand that is healthy, convenient, and better yet, affordable.  Yes, they are pricier than other brands, but I'll pay the little bit extra to feed my family some healthy food.

Most of the time I do my own baking, but when I don't have time.  It's nice to know I have an alternative.

I found these in the refrigerator section at a Super Walmart.  I haven't really looked other places for them.  You can also like them on Facebook.

Dinner for the next 2 weeks

Whenever I post on Facebook that I'm doing my 2 week batch cooking, people ask what's for dinner.  Here's what we're having.  My total on checkout at Aldi was $120 and that included snacks and lunch items as well.  Some of the leftovers will be used for lunches as well.

So here's the menu

Mexican chicken - I traded kidney beans and used black beans instead

Cheesy Chicken & Rice - A family favorite.  However, if you're GF, you know that cream soup has gluten in it, and face it, it's really not all that good for you.

I found this homemade substitute online.  It has just a few simple ingredients.  I call it "Cream of No Crap Soup."  This is the first time I'm using it, so we'll see how it does.

Sausage and baked beans - Again, I made some substitutions.  I bought turkey polish sausage and used canned baked beans.  I don't really like beans, but I can suffer through baked beans.  The black beans in the Mexican Chicken is a stretch for me.  But you can use whatever beans you want.

Bacon Quiche - This is a versatile dish.  You can throw in any veggies you want.  Add ham or leave out the meat altogether if you want vegetarian.

Pork Chop Meal - A simple one dish meal.

Peach Pork Chops - Pork Chops, a bag of frozen peaches, some seasoning and a little bit of chicken broth to keep the moisture content correct.

I even got the 11 year old involved this time.  She enjoyed bagging up our meals and she did some chopping.

Our last slow cooker dish is Beef Stew.

I used a pound of stew meat, but I checked prices on other cuts.  Since it cooks long and slow, you can use different cuts.  Round steak, top sirloin or cube steaks work well.  Stew meat was the cheapest per pound this time, so that's what we're using.  Since there are three of us, we cubed three potatoes and sliced a bunch of carrots.  Add some seasoning and  some beef broth or bouillon and water and you're good to go.  

I make my own gravy.  I'll use the juice from the stew after it's done cooking.  Bring it to a boil, and add a slurry of corn starch and water.  No, I don't have measurements. I have done it this way for so long I just know by looking.  This also keeps it gluten free and doesn't lump like using flour does.  

My "just in case" meals, (in case we forget to put something in the slow cooker) are Ravioli and Poor Man's Stroganoff.  That's one pound ground turkey, the Cream of No Crap Soup mix and some rice. I also have a pizza for the hubby and kiddo when I'm not home.  

I have several containers of already cooked rice in the freezer.  I can thaw them as needed.  I'll mix them into the Mexican Chicken and the Chicken & Rice as well.  

We will also have leftovers, and some of the leftovers become lunch as well.  I use them for my lunches quite often.  

I love Pinterest for my recipes. I find things that are good and healthy and I can "keep" them all in one place and not have to dig for recipes.  

Happy Eating!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Product review - Enjoy Life not nuts!

I found this product at a local Festival Foods in the gluten free and health food section.

I don't like nuts, except peanut butter.  I don't like the taste or the texture.  So many trail mix blends contain nuts.  I don't want to pay for trail mix when I'm not going to eat half of it, and I don't want anything with carbs.

I was delighted when I found this, even more delighted when it tasted good!

For any of you out there with allergens, this product is free of wheat, tree nuts, fish, dairy, egg, shellfish, peanuts, soy, casein, potato, sesame and sulfites!  Even better it is made in a gluten free and nut free facility, so there is no cross contamination.

Here is the nutrition information.  6 oz bag contains 6 servings.  8 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat.  13 grams of carbs with 2 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.  Not too bad.

There are two varieties of the seed and fruit mix.  You can view them here.

I don't remember the exact price, but I want to say it was around $3.  I used this as a snack on my way home from work.  I eat lunch at noon and don't get home until almost 6 PM.  This allows me a healthy snack that won't fill me up before dinner.

I think I'll be stocking up on these.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gluten Free Lunches

I brown bag it, because I'm frugal.  My office is just a few blocks from a wonderful public market with gluten free and organic food, but I can't afford to eat there every day.  I wish I could.

Here are some things I pack for lunch.  If you are trying to cut carbs, these will help you since they are all gluten free.  I avoid using gluten free replacements.  They are expensive and quite frankly, most of them don't taste very good.  There are some good ones, but it takes a lot of trial and error, or the recommendation of friends, to find them.  So most of my lunches are naturally gluten free.

I found these great lunch containers at Wal-Mart. They were $4 each for a set of two and come with the  fork, and knife in the rectangular containers.  The salad containers have a separate cup for the dressing, so you can make salads up ahead of time.  These containers allow me to make lunch at one time instead of every day.

Salads - I buy the bagged lettuce and spinach and mix them together.  You can add whatever vegetables you want.  For protein I use chicken breast, tuna, salmon, whatever I happen to have on hand.

Quesadillas - Corn tortillas, cheese and your choice of other ingredients.  Chicken, beef, spinach, beans, whatever you want.

Portabella mushrooms - Flip a mushroom cap upside down.  Top with spinach, marinara sauce, sliced tomato and mozzarella or provolone cheese.  Bake at 350 until the cheese is lightly brown.

Veggie lasagna - I made this veggie lasagna last week.  It makes a 9x13 pan and I'm the only one who will eat it, so I cut it into single serving pieces and froze it.  I can just take out a single serving and put it in my lunch container.

Breakfast - Eggs are good protein.  Scrambled with some veggies and you're good to go.

Egg salad is a good option.  Mix in a half of an avocado for extra protein.  Spread it on sandwich bread, put it in a lettuce wrap, or eat it plain.  Here I added some cottage cheese and I'll grab a pear for my fiber filled fruit.

Last week I experimented with a recipe.  I made a spaghetti squash. (If you want to save time, pierce the squash a bunch of times, then microwave it for about 15 minutes. )  I mixed the squash with some parmesan cheese, a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese and some canned salmon.

Wraps - Just because you're gluten free doesn't mean you can't do wraps.  Use corn tortillas or lettuce instead of bread.

Get creative with your meals.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Frugal Living - Gluten free batch cooking

I've been absent for several months.  Life has been just plain crazy.  I think things are getting back to normal, so I have several blogs planned.

In the last few weeks I have gone gluten free.  No, I have not been diagnosed with Celiac, but I am doing it because of arthritis in my knees.  When I talked to my wonderful friend, Ruth, she explained to me how going gluten free had helped her Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I suffer from arthritis in both knees, no cartilage in either knee, and my knee caps slide, bone on bone.  I am in pain on a regular basis.  So, I decided to give it a shot.  Within about a week, a lump on my left knee disappeared!

If you are gluten free, you know how expensive some of the products can be. I cook so that we are naturally gluten free, not adding expensive items to our budget.

Today I did my grocery shopping for the next two weeks.  I still use my slow cooker, especially since from the time I get up in the morning, until I get home, it's 12 hours.  I'm too tired to cook.

Here is what I bagged and froze for the next two weeks.  Just click on the title of the recipe to be directed to the recipe website.  These are not my creations, so I want to give credit where credit is due.  All of my meals come straight from the freezer and get dumped into the slow cooker.  They usually cook for about 8 hours on low.

BBQ Pork Chops - This one doesn't need a recipe.  Take some pork chops, put them in a plastic bag and pour on your favorite BBQ sauce.  Our family favorite is Sweet Baby Rays.

Pork Chops Cacciatore

Peach Chicken - I ditched the fresh peaches and used a bag of frozen peaches.  I'm all about saving time.

Cube Steak with Gravy - I ditched the packaged gravy mix and just added beef broth.  I'll add a little slurry of water and cornstarch to thicken it up.

Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps - This is not a slow cooker recipe, so I don't know how it will turn out.  However, my husband is thrilled with recipe.  It has bacon, brown sugar and chili powder.  It is a bit messy to put together, but it sounds good.

Beef and Broccoli- This is a family favorite. I alternate between stew meat, sirloin, or top round steak.  Depending on what is on sale. They all work out fine.  Go with the cheapest.

Applesauce BBQ Chicken - I used chicken leg quarters because they were cheaper.

Crockpot Mexican Lasagna - I put this together in a dish lined with foil.  When it's frozen, I'll put in a bag, still in the foil.  Then it can be easily transferred to the crock pot.  My husband will put it in when he comes for lunch, since this one doesn't need to cook as long.

Edit:  I discovered if you are cooking this from frozen, it does need to cook for 8 hours.  If you're not freezing it, 4 hours is fine.  

I have some meetings this week and won't be home for dinner, so I have ingredients for spaghetti and pizza since the rest of the family doesn't have to be gluten free.

There are some things that I do to save time.  It doesn't affect my budget very much and the time savings is SO worth it to me.

1) I use slow cooker liners.  They are from Reynolds and they can be found in the aisle where you'd find bags and foil.  They are awesome.

2) I don't measure seasoning.  I have a blend from Costco that I love.  It's an organic no salt seasoning and I use it on everything.  The link is to Amazon if you don't have a Costco near you.  It's a little pricer than Costco, but it is so worth it.

3) I buy pre-sliced when I can, if it's not that much more.  At my favorite Aldi store, the pre-sliced mushrooms are reasonable and save me a bunch of time.  There is also a jar of chopped garlic.  It's only a couple of dollars and worth every bit of it.

The other thing that I love about Aldi is that they carry their own brand of food and most of it is naturally gluten free.  If you're gluten free, you know about hidden gluten.  Aldi's brands don't have it in the places you have been looking.  Not in the Teriyaki sauce, or the chicken broth, or the other hidden places.  It's such a treat to find a naturally gluten free item that you can afford!

4) I make a big batch of rice at one time.  I use long grain rice, so it has to cook for 45 minutes.  I make the entire package at one time, so I'm not spending 45 minutes each night making a small batch.  All I have to do is spice it up.  Some nights I add some diced garlic and a little bit of olive oil, other nights I add veggies, and some nights it goes into the dish I'm making.

I spent a good bit of time making breakfasts and lunches for the next week as well, and those will be coming in future posts.  Enjoy your meals.

If you're on Pinterest, follow me and you'll see some of the recipes I use.  Not all are gluten free.