(Photo Courtesy of the Walt Disney Company)
Ooooooh, ya’ll, Spring Break is upon us.
I know I’m not the only mama who is nervous.
Some of you are off to various warm weather locales. Some of you are heading to the most magical place on Earth. And some of you, like me, are staying put right where you are, wondering what you are going to do with all that time your kids are home from school.
The challenge I fall into with school breaks is not eating out on day excursions. Your kids are home, and you don’t want them just sitting around all day, so you plan fun outings. The zoo, museums, plays, all kinds of great stuff to keep them engaged and entertained. But then you’re out, and your littles are hangry, and you’re still 35 minutes from home. You say to yourself, “Ok, self, just this one time we’ll get Chick-Fil-A”. Next thing you know you’ve had Chick-Fil-A for lunch so often the nice gal at the window remembers your name.
You commit to having lunch at home, or bringing lunch with you, but that takes extra work. And you’re already a little stressed out because you’ve got more kids with you than usual, doing more stuff than usual. Things get really fun if you have kids in different age ranges, so you’re trying to accommodate a 4 year old and a 10 year old, two creatures who have very different ideas of what fun is. Don’t forget you’re also making dinners, doing laundry, keeping the house clean. It’s a lot to be getting on with.
Maybe that’s just me, though. Maybe you’ve got school breaks all figured out and it’s smooth sailing.
Teach me your secrets.
But if you’re with me, dreading rocky waters over the break, here’s a little pro tip I’m leaning on. Don’t make this the week when you’re cooking new, fancy meals. Your plate is full. (Forgive the food pun.) Lean in on meals your family knows and loves. Think of dinner as a time to enjoy each other and decompress a little from holiday mode. Resist the stress of unstructured vacation time, and instead allow yourself to enjoy the extended time with your kids.
Meal Plan 3/1-3/8
- Breakfast-Scrambled Eggs with Crackers
- Lunch-Pepperoni, Berry Medley and Gouda
*You may have noticed that I’ve had dishes with shrimp the past few months, but have not purchased any shrimp from Kroger. Where is this magic shrimp coming from? A little while back, I got an amazing deal at Target, where one pound bags of shrimp were $5.79, 5% off Cartwheels were popping up, and you got a $5 gift bag if you bought $20 work of meat. That was an easy take. But I’ve noticed that the shrimp prices haven’t gone back up from that deal, they’ve stayed low. So when I have a little bit leftover in the home budget, I grab a crazy low priced pound of shrimp. It never touches my grocery budget and it’s a great way to keep a versatile protein on hand.
- Breakfast-Breakfast Burritos with Bacon and Green Chile
- Lunch-LO Jambalaya
- Dinner- Birthday Party!
*Breakfast burritos are another easy way to dress up the same old egg and cheese routine. Scramble your eggs like usual, spoon into a flat flour tortilla and re-butter the pan you just used for scrambling. Sprinkle your favorite cheese over the eggs, fold the side of the tortillas in, and then wrap the reminder of the tortilla around those folds, so you have a cylinder. Two minutes on the heat in the buttered pan, making sure to brown all asides equally. Two minutes tops. You can make some bacon before hand and add that. Green Chile is my favorite, but Red Chile Sauce would also work really well.
- Breakfast-Mango Smoothies and Strawberries with Honey
- Lunch-Chicken Caesar Salads
*Lunch was a suggestion from Mr. B and I actually couldn’t believe we hadn’t done this already. Turns out Caesar dressing is pretty easy to make! All you need is some Dijon, Olive Oil, Parmesan cheese (I substituted Pecorino Romano), egg yolk, garlic, and vinegar. The internet will tell you that you need anchovies, and that may be true, but I didn’t have any and my dressing came out great. Coat your lettuce, and serving with grilled chicken, crispy bacon, and your favorite salad toppings.
- Breakfast-Cereal with Bananas
- Lunch-LO Pizza
- Dinner- Pigs in a Blanket/Egg Hunt
*Notice those five packages of hot dogs in the picture? Were you curious, because you’d never seen us buy hot dogs before? We’re going to a Potluck Easter egg Hunt, where our Potluck assignment was a very specific “kid friendly appetizer”. What’s more kid friendly than hot dogs? I do my Pigs in a Blanket a little differently. I prefer to use full hot dogs and cut them to the size I want, rather than use the little minis. First, I cut the croissants in half and apply a very light spread of whole grain mustard. I place half an uncooked hot dog in the center, and cut two vertical lines in the hot dog. Cut so that there is an opening, but not so deep that is cuts through. Sprinkle mozzarella over those openings. Wrap the dog in a spiral, place on baking pan and cook in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees. Those fancy dogs are for the adults. Kids will get the basic treatment: just dog and crescent.
- Breakfast-Fruit Salad with Mango, Blackberries, and Strawberries with Chocolate Smoothies
- Lunch-Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs
- Dinner-Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
*We’ve got a play date at our house on Monday, and I’ve got to feed four hungry little humans. What did I tell you about Spring Break craziness? While messy spaghetti may not be the first choice for a play date, it actually works out quite well because you can customize it for each picky little palate. The kid who likes a lot of sauce, the kid who wants butter and shredded cheese, and the kid who just wants plain all get what their little hearts desire, guaranteeing at least ten minutes of peace.
- Breakfast-Peanut Butter Banana Quesadillas
- Lunch-LO Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
- Dinner-Taco Bar with Steak, Chicken, and Shrimp
*The original recipe I found for these breakfast dillas has them warmed up, but we prefer them cooled. A layer of peanut butter on a tortillas, and sliced bananas. Fold the tortilla into itself and cut into three even pieces. You can add jelly and call it the “Elvis”, or you can chocolate and call it the “Reeses”. You can substitute fruits, or spreads, to your heart’s content.
- Breakfast-Cereal with Strawberries on the side
- Lunch-Taco Salads
- Dinner-Buffalo Chicken Soup with Homemade Bread
*Ya’ll will remember I tried Buffalo Chicken Soup for the first time on these meal plans. I liked it, and definitely became obsessed with Buffalo sauce. The second time I made the soup I liked it, but it wasn’t quite at the level I wanted it to be. There are a couple of things I would do differently, notably the cheese inclusion. I’ve been adding it during the cooking process and it just blends into the soup immediately because of the heat. It doesn’t add to the texture, and so my soup is missing the creaminess I’m looking for. I’m going to try again, make a few adjustments, and get back to you.
- Breakfast-Fruit Smoothies with Hard Boiled Eggs
- Lunch-LO Buffalo Chicken Soup
- Dinner- Dealer’s Choice!
*Leaving this one up to chance and the grocery store! Leaving your dinner open on the day of your shopping allows you the opportunity to push your savings further. Pay attention to manager’s specials, discounted unattractive (but still delicious!) produce, and bakery items priced to move. You can create an amazing meal for a lot less keeping an eye out and your imagination open.
Is it Spring Break yet for you? What are your plans? Are you nervous about Spring Break or are you an old pro? If you’re an old pro, I’m serious, gimme all your secrets! Hit me up in the comments!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey three years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!