What is WIC



WIC stands for Women, Infants, and Children. It is a supplemental nutrition program for pregnant women, mothers, and children under the age of five. It is mainly for lower income families, but much like medicaid you do not have to live below poverty level to qualify. I’ve been on and off WIC a few different times over the past 10 years, but right now I am on again. There are three main benefits that have been most impactful to me. I hope that by sharing them it could be an encouragement for any women out there struggling with a young family but reluctant to seek help.

1.Free food

The biggest benefit for my family is the $20 worth of free fruits and vegetables we get every month. I have a card with a chip in it that I can use to purchase WIC eligible items.


For some items it’s tricky to even now which ones are free and which ones aren’t. Produce is easy though because as long as your balance is under $20 it’s all free. We also get free milk, baby food, eggs, bread cheese, cereal, beans, peanut butter, and tuna. You have to buy certain brands and sizes along with limited quantities, but most eligible families can save over $100 a month with WIC.

2. Farmer’s Market Vouchers

This isn’t year round and it’s probably not in all states, but I thought it was really cool that over the summer I got $60 worth of vouchers for the local farmer’s market.


I love buying local, but usually can’t afford it. This is such a great opportunity for the government to support local farmers, and the farmers to support women and children in need. I would love to see this program really take off.

3. Breast Pump

This could potentially be a hot tip for any breast feeding mothers on, or considering going on WIC. I got a free breast pump to keep!


My sister in law got one in Kentucky, but I was never offered one. She suggested looking into it. All I had to do was ask and within days the breast pump was on my door step. This $200 bonus was something I really needed so I was grateful for the help.



To find out if you qualify for WIC check with an office in your area, or look over the income eligibility guidelines. For more information on the Farmers’ Market Nutrtion Program go to USDA.gov .

Hopefully this helpful information to some mothers out there in need of assistance. There is no need to be ashamed of getting help for you and your babies. I am available if you ever have any questions. You can email me at the link at the top of this website. WIC can be a wonderful option to get you through to the next stage.

Captain of the Kitchen



This post is a part of a 31 day challenge. For the rest of the series click HERE.


By | October 26th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Make Your Groceries Last Longer


On Sunday I exposed our weekly grocery budget ($145.00) and yesterday I shared a few simple tips that I use to help reduce my grocery bills each month. Today I am going to dive into how to get the most bang for those precious bucks you spent at the grocery store.

1. Water down beverages

I know this is going to sound gross and weird to some, but in the season of unemployment we recently experienced I figured out all kinds of ways to save. When we did drink juice we diluted it to make it healthier, but it’s also making it go further. WIC forces us to go with 1% milk, but before that I would buy whole milk and dilute it. Another thing I’ve done is add ice to milk shakes. These aren’t huge changes here, but it does make stuff go just a tad bit further.

2. Freezing Food

Of course freezing your food is the most obvious way to get it to last longer. This is a great way to save by buying items on clearance and then freezing them until you can use them. Almost all of the meat I buy goes straight to the freezer these days. I know it’s a hassle to have to thaw it out, but I’ve had too much meat end up trashed that I don’t take any chances anymore.

3. Put asparagus, celery, or herbs in water


I just learned about this one last year. Cut off the tips and stand up the asparagus (or other food) in a glass of water like it’s fresh flowers. It adds days to the shelf life when you store it this way.

4. Do it yourself slicing and prepping

Not only will buying your food unsliced save you money, it last longer if it’s not cut. I used to love the convince of sliced mushrooms, but I got sick of how quickly they became mushy. Now I buy all my veggies whole.

5. Have an organized meal plan

The Food and Agricultural Organization state that 1st world people generally buy more food than they need. They noted that “generally speaking, consumers fail to plan their food purchases properly … that means they often throw food away “ I use an app called List Ease to keep track of what I need from the store and create an ongoing shopping list. I already shared my meal planning techniques. The more you plan your food purchases the more likely you will consume all of it.

6. Eat left overs or make something out of them

Unfortunately with young picky eaters I do throw a lot of food away, but I really hate being wasteful. Anytime I can make fruit that is overly ripe into a bread  or pie I do it. Even if I am not ready to make it right that moment, I’ll freeze it to make something later. We also recently started composting.

7. Take inventory on what you have before shopping for more

Another way to plan out your meals and shopping trips is to see what you have that you need to use up. There is a website called Super Cook that allows you to put all of the ingredients you have into a search bar and it will show you recipes that use those ingredients.

8. Eat food past it’s best by date

This is not medical advice here so I don’t want anyone getting sick and blaming me. However there are a lot of items that are fine well beyond the “best by” date. I had salad dressing last week that was past the date shown on the bottle and it/I was fine. Even the FDA states that with the exception of expiration dates on infant formula and some baby foods, use-by dates that appear on food packages are simply guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. A little sniff test and some common sense may help your food last longer than what the packaging claims.


Those are my tricks for really getting the most out of my groceries. Join me the rest of this week as I continue to talk about saving money on groceries.



By | October 25th, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Ways To Save Money on Groceries


I only have time for a super quick post today. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but here are 10 ways we save money on groceries.

1.Reusable containers

I use fabric sandwich bags and tupperware as often as I possibly can. This saves money because I don’t need to buy ziplock or plastic wrap very often.

2. Growing things

Gone our the days when we did serious gardening, but we still have a few plants in our yard. Even the smallest of places can accommodate fresh herbs which is always way cheaper than buying them.

3. Couponing

I used to be an avid couponer. I would dumpster dive for coupons and scour dozens of websites for deals. These days I just use the ones that I get in the mail or at the end of my receipt. Every little bit helps though, as long as it’s something you know you’d be buying anyway.

4. Buying in bulk

Now that we have six mouths to feed and the mouths are getting bigger everyday we finally have entered into the world of warehouses membership. Buying in bulk doesn’t always safe money, but in a few days I’ll explain how I know when to buy in bulk or not.

5. Shopping once a week 

I’ve read this on money saving websites before and it really does make a difference. Make a list, stick to it, and then make that list work no matter what! A bunch of little trips to the store will definitely have a negative impact on your grocery budget.

6. Always looking at price per unit

Most places have them listed on the price label. I shop everything by the cheapest price per unit unless it’s a brand or product I feel is worth the extra cost (like toilet paper, amen?)

7. Comparing prices between stores

This is another one I’ll touch on later, but you never know which store is cheapest until you research for yourself.

8. Don’t hesitate to return things

You would be surprised how many brands and stores have money back guarantees. One time I got some cheap toilet paper from Kroger. It was awful. Then my mom told me if it is Kroger brand you can bring in the container even without a receipt and they’ll give you your money back. So I did that. I was a little embarrassed to show up with a half empty container of toilet paper. I explained to the employee that I would have returned it sooner, but I didn’t know that I could. Once I found out about the return policy I thought Why suffer? The more I tried to explain myself, the more awkward it got, but hey at least I got my refund.

9. Filtered water

Drinking water is a great way to save tons of money. Drinking water filtered at home verses buying it saves even more!

10. Buying generic

One time I had a rabbi (it’s a long story) told me he knew a guy that worked in a factory for Neosporin and when they changed to generic all they did was switch out the tubes. It was the exact same product!  I know this isn’t the case with everything. For the third time I will bring  up toilet paper. There are a lot of things though that I will not waste my money paying for the brand name. Check back tomorrow for my post about how to get more bang from the groceries you buy.


Captain of the Kitchen

This post is a part of a 31 day series. For the rest of Captain of the Kitchen click HERE.

By | October 24th, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

How Much Should You Be Spending on Groceries?

How much money you should spend on groceries

How much money should you spend on your groceries each month? I feel like it’s a trick question. The amount you should be spending on groceries for your family is the amount that works for your family. No one else can determine that for you.

However, if you are the type that prefers to have some guidelines you are in luck. The USDA (United States Daprtment of Agriculture) has taken all the guess work out by calculating four levels of food plan budgets for families of different sizes and and ages. You can choose from the thrifty plan, low-cost plan, moderate-cost plan, or the liberal plan.


According to the chart a family of 4 with young children should be able to eat at home for $557.70 a month if they had all of the lowest cost meats, fruits, and veggies.

I consider myself very thrifty so I wanted to see how we faired. I went to Iowa State University’s research page where they have a calculator that allows you to enter the age and gender of each family member along with how many meals are eaten away from home.



The results according to the USDA’s Low-Cost Food Plan indicates that we could spend $211.82 per week ($917.81 per month) for our household.

How much money you should spend on groceries

I was pleased to see that answer because we spend less than that amount. The USDA food budget is just for food and our grocery budget also includes our paper products and toiletries.

So how much does my messy family spend? Drum roll please…

Less than $600 a month!

As far as the budget we usually spend $145 a week on all of our groceries. We also eat out about twice a week so that doesn’t count all of our food, but it does include diapers, paper towels, batteries, saran wrap, toilet paper, shampoo and all that other stuff that you pick up when grocery shopping.

There are a couple things to consider with these numbers. First of all, I am on the WIC nutrition program which I will talk about later this week. That saves us about $100 per month. Also, this is a give or take number. We don’t follow our budget to a T all the time.  Even without WIC or fluctuating receipts we are still below the USDA’s Low Cost Food Plan and I feel like we eat well.

We obviously don’t skimp on our meat and I am not a big couponer either. So how do we feed a family of 5 (6 if you include the baby) for below the average american’s food budget? I am going to be explaining all week long so I hope you will stick around.

Captain of the Kitchen

This is day 23 of Captain of the kitchen a 31 day series for the month of October. To catch up on the rest of the series click HERE.


By | October 23rd, 2016|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Organization in the Kitchen

Confession. I didn’t claim the title Messy Mom because I thought it would be a cute alliteration. Nope. I am the messy mom in a very literal sense. So when I decided to do a series about the kitchen I figured kitchen cleaning and organization would not be included in any of the 31 days of writing.

A lot of people with the intentions of curing me of my messiness have asked if I have read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” It’s life changing! from what I hear. The problem is I have read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and her zen voodoo magic had no power over me.

I went into it with an open mind because I used to do yoga so I the idea of spiritualizing my sock draw didn’t scare me. Despite my best efforts I finished the book and was still messy. Maybe it was just bad timing.

There is a cleaning book however that I have recommended before. It’s called 8 Minute Organizer: Easy Solutions to Simplify Your Life in Your Spare Time by Regina Leeds.


It’s less spiritual than The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and more practical. And although it didn’t REVOLUTIONIZE my entire life, it was really helpful. The author goes through each room in the home and gives really straight forward step by step advice about getting your house in order and most of challenges take 8 minutes. I talked about the mail system before and that has been great.

Another cool tip from the book is to have a kiddie corner in your kitchen. You choose a low shelf or cupboard for the kids to have access to the dishes that they use.


This fits in perfectly with what I shared about kids in the kitchen. Now my little guy can get his own plates and cups which is a win for both of us.


Also each chapter has an exit ritual. These are things you should make an effort to do each time you leave the room. I loved this concept for maintaining a clean house. When I read this book the first time,  I made an exit strategy for each room in our house, printed them out, taped them in each room, and had a family meeting to explain our new system. Now, if my husband is reading this he is probably belting out the laugh heard ’round the world because while the exit rituals are still displayed in each room no one even glances or thinks about them. img_1943Or maybe they are just hard to spot behind ALL THE CLUTTER. Another messy mom fail. As the saying goes the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Fortunately, my messy house doesn’t result in eternal damnation.

I’m going to get my act together one of these days. Until then, this is my mantra (and yes, this is my kitchen).

clean as you go


By | October 22nd, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Favorite Recipes from Pinterest

Pinterest is great for finding new and delicious recipes. Except, how many times do we actually follow through and try what we pin? What takes 1 second to pin takes hours to execute.



Then there are the times we do finally try one of the hundreds of pins and it ends up being a pinstrosity! I’ve been there myself. Check out these awesome mushroom cupcakes I made for Z’s birthday one year. Pinterest idea on the left. My rendition on the right. Oh the horror.



Then every once in a while you try a recipe, it works, and you make it over and over.


These are my top 10 favorite food pins.

1. Sticky Pecan Cinnamon Buns from Southern Bite

Top ten pins

Half of these recipes I used my own photos from when I cooked them and this is one of them. These cinnamon rolls are to die for. Or maybe I should call them killer cinnamon rolls because they are so bad for you, but so good if ya know what I mean. They are really just cinnamon rolls from a can jacked up with all kinds of sweet buttery goodness. I want some right now!!!

2.  Crock Pot Mississippi Chicken from Funny is Family 


This is another recipe that I am a little embarrassed to share because it’s not healthy either, but my husband raved and raved for days the first time I made this dish. Not only is it moist and flavorful, but it is the simplest recipe you will ever make in your life.

3. Slow Cooker Asian Lettuce Wraps from The Comfort of Cooking


I had to include this pin because it is my personal favorite. If you like lettuce wraps or sweet asian cuisine you will love it too. Even half of my kids like it (and that’s saying a lot).

4. Chicken Enchilada Casserole from Gimme Some Oven


My friend sent me this pin because she has made it on multiple occasions when we have come over for dinner and it is delicious every time. It’s a great recipe for company because it feeds 8. It’s become a hit in our home.

5. Strawberry Lemonade Cake from Easy Baked


I am not going to suggest this light, fluffy, sweet, and citrusy layered cake right now, but go ahead and pin it for later. Because in 6 months when the sun is out and temperatures rise you are going to want to try this amazing cake. It’s not anything fancy made from scratch, but it is wonderful.

6. Kid Approved Spinach Stuffed Shells from MyRecipes.com


This dish said kid approved, but I had my doubts. Seriously though, my kids devour these spinach filled pasta shells. They really are kid approved. It’s not the hubby’s fave because there is no meat. Too bad he’s outnumbered because the rest of us give the stuffed shells two thumbs up and that’s a lot of thumbs.

7. Smores Bars from Wit and Whistle 


Every time I make this dessert people beg me for the recipe. Every time. One year I made it for a teacher in service day and the staff threatened to not return my pan until I shared the recipe. It’s kind of a pain to assemble if you are lazy like me, but it’s really not that bad and it’s definitely worth it for how incredibly tasty it is. You will savor every forkful.

8. Honey Balsamic Chicken from The Recipe Rebel 


Spoiler alert! This dish has ketchup in it. Yes, ketchup. I know. It’s weird, but somehow it works. I’ve made this several times for friends and family because it seems to be a very classic taste that a lot of people enjoy.

9. Crisp Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Slaw from Smitten Kitchen


This recipe is pretty basic, but it’s yummy yummy and it’s tacos. It’s got a tangy almost caribbean flavor from the lime and cumin. J and I both love it!

10. Spicy Chicken Rigatoni from Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour


None of the recipes I am sharing are gourmet here. If you are looking for easy peasy you’ve come to the right place. This dish is fabulous. It’s a knock off from something on the menu at Bucca Di Beppo, but it’s so easy to replicate. I’ve also found it to be a good meal to prepare when you’ve volunteered to bring a dish to family needing a break.


Those are my top ten pins tested and retested. In no particular order I recommend all of them. Enjoy your meal!


This post is day 21 of a 31 day series called Captain of the Kitchen. Click here for more.

Captain of the Kitchen

By | October 21st, 2016|Uncategorized|7 Comments

A Week of Meat

I remember asking my brother for a recipe once and he was going off of memory saying things like

A pinch of this. A sprinkle of that. Eye ball it.

I was not impressed. I needed increments!

Because I didn’t consider myself a natural chef I relied on recipes. I liked knowing exactly what to put into something step by step.

However, I mentioned that J is low carbing and it’s really helped me to branch out and try cooking different types of meats. In a way it’s taught me how to cook. Once you understand how to cook whole foods you don’t need recipes. I still love trying new recipes, but it’s great to know that when I want to I can really on just a handful of ingredients.

Now I am the one that going off memory, adding a pinch of this and sprinkle of that.

So excuse my lack of details in the following menu examples, but here is a list of some of the meats I cook regularly. I’ll list one meat for each night of the week.

1. Steak- Cast iron skillet


My husband and I prefer the strip steak. It’s thin and has less fat than a T-bone. To prepare the steak you season both sides with salt and pepper then heat up the cast-iron skillet.


After a couple minutes when your skillet is nice and hot add the steak. Cook it for 3 1/2 minutes on one side then flip it over and cook another 3 1/2 minutes. Cut into it to make sure it’s not too rare. Boom! Done.


2. Pork Chops- Crock pot


Season with lemon pepper on both sides. Add the bone-in pork chops  to a crockpot. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7. That’s it. It couldn’t be simpler.


3. Chicken thighs and wings- Oven

Season your thighs and wings with Italian seasoning. Throw them on a cookie sheet with olive oil. Add a bunch of cut up vegetables then drizzled with balsamic. Bake at 425 for an hour. Seriously easy and seriously delicious.


4. Sausage- Cast iron skillet

Chop up onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach and a couple cloves of garlic minced. Heat a frying pan and add the garlic first then the other veggies.


After about 5 minutes add the sausages and cook for another 8-10 minutes until hot. This picture is with random vegetables from the farmers market, I hadn’t added the sausage yet.

5. Ribs- Crock pot


Slice up some onions and garlic and put in a crock pot with 2 pounds of ribs. You can season with a dry rub or salt and pepper and add a cup of your favorite barbecue sauce. Or you can buy ribs that are already seasoned. Either way cook them on low for 7 hours.


6. Pork tenderloin- oven or crock pot

Pork tenderloin is so easy and delicious. You can bake it in the oven with a bunch of roasted vegetables at 350 for one hour, or crock pot for 4 hours on low, 6 hours on high.


This is the worst picture ever, because I basically forgot to take a picture. Sorry. I am mortified by most of these pictures actually, but cooking while mothering four children takes all of my focus. I’m lucky to have any snapshots at all.

7. Salmon- oven

You may see a pattern here. I cheat and buy a lot of stuff pre-seasoned, as is the case with Salmon.


All I have to do is take it out of the freezer and put it in the oven at 400 for 25 minutes. I save this for nights that I know I’m too slammed to cook.


There you have it. A little glimpse at our low carb menu.


This post is day 20 of a 31 day series, Captain of the Kitchen. For the other 19 posts check out the table of contents HERE>



By | October 20th, 2016|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Peanut Free Kids Lunches

Ideas for Peanut Free lunches

There was a time at my kid’s schools that I had to adapt to peanut free lunches. It was a rude awakening considering they liked to eat peanut butter with apples, peanut butter on celery, peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and honey on tortillas. Seriously, none of them ate deli meat or any of those expensive peanut butter alternatives. I was stuck.

Then one day it occurred to me that if I offered hot foods then it would open up so many more options. I realize that the food isn’t going to be super hot when they eat it, but they don’t care at all! In fact they prefer it.

So I ordered a couple of thermoses on Amazon and I often just heat up left overs to piping hot and put them in aluminum foil in the thermos inside of an insulated lunch box. Some options include Mac and Cheese, Pizza, Chicken Nuggets, anything they eat at home!

Once you think beyond the confines of cold lunches it isn’t too hard to come up with peanut free lunches for even the pickiest of eaters. I have to admit I haven’t done any hot lunches in a while because my daughter has been on a kick where she really loves having bacon and cheese inside a tortilla. I know that’s weird, but most days her go to is water, grapes (or other fruit), and a tortilla with a slice bacon and two slices of colby jack cheese topped with another tortilla.


So, for all of the desperate parents on Facebook asking about peanut free lunches, I hear ya. But I would encourage you to experiment with different things. Don’t worry about if it looks like a typical lunch. Your child may eat a yogurt, carrots, strawberry’s and edamame for lunch. Or maybe you have left over meatballs with a side of oranges and strawberries. If your kid likes it then who cares!  Sometimes you’ve got to think outside of the “lunch box”.


I hope these tips were helpful. For more kitchen related advice check out the whole 31 day series. Captain of the Kitchen at MessyMom.com.

By | October 19th, 2016|Uncategorized|6 Comments

Low Carb Lunch on the Go

J doesn’t eat hardly any sweets, carbs, or processed foods. He has lost 20 pounds and feels better overall since implementing this lifestyle per his doctors request. Breakfast is a snap because he eats eggs with a breakfast meat and drinks coffee. Dinners have been really simple. I just have to prepare a meat for the main course and veggies for a side.

Lunch is the kicker. Sandwiches and hot foods are pretty much out. That leaves salad. Lucky for J he genuinely likes salads. His favorite one is from a restaurant called Buffalo Rings and Things. He raved about it, told me what was in it, and I did my best to come up with a knock off. Here is my recipe

Blue Cheese Salad with Chicken

7 cups of mixed greens

1 sliced chicken breast

1/2 sliced avocado

1 sliced hard boiled egg

1 piece of bacon crumbled

1/4 cup of kalamata olives

1/4 cup bleu cheese sprinkled

1/4 cup blue cheese dressing


This is what his daily to go meals look like when he leaves for work.

Eggs in a mug, coffee with cream in a mug, and salad with dressing on the side in an 2 quart tupperware. We change it up sometimes, but for the most part this is the routine and it’s been working out well.


Tomorrow I’ll give some examples SJ’s lunch on the go. For the rest of the series Captain of the Kitchen. Check out the table of contents HERE.



By | October 18th, 2016|Uncategorized|5 Comments

Our Weekly Meal Prep


It’s seems like there is a lot of buzz these days surrounding meal prep. I am not a fanatic about it, but I do a little bit of advanced cooking every week to have some protein ready for breakfasts and lunches.

The three items I always prep ahead of time are chicken, bacon, and hardboiled eggs.

1. Chicken

J loves this olive oil chicken from Kroger.


He likes the taste. I like that and the fact that I don’t need to thaw or season it.




You just throw it in the oven at 400 for 50 minutes. After it cools I put it in the fridge. I make enough to be able to chop up one breast for each week day.



2. Bacon

We buy our bacon in bulk from Costco because it is a staple in our house.


I used to fry bacon, until my friend who owned a restaurant taught me the superior method of using the oven. It’s so much more convenient because you just have to set it forget it.

To bake your bacon you set your oven to 375 degrees and lay the pieces side by sided on a non greased cookie sheet.


Then slide them into the oven for close to 15 minutes. Oven times vary so keep an eye on it after 10 minutes.


We use cooked bacon all week long in scrambled eggs, tortilla wraps, salads, you name it. Sometimes the kids will grab a piece and eat it cold like beef jerky.

3. Hard boiled eggs

I already went through my egg boiling process yesterday. I boil at least a half a dozen eggs each week.


They make great salad toppers, quick breakfast on the go, and my two youngest kids love them for snacks. When Ezie wants a hard boiled egg he asks for a “circle egg”.


That’s usually it for my weekly food prep. It’s not a ton of prep so it’s really manageable.

Check back tomorrow to find out how I use all of these ingredients for J’s favorite salad.


And to catch up on the rest of my 31 day series “Captain of the Kitchen” go to the table of contents page HERE.


By | October 17th, 2016|Uncategorized|7 Comments