Salads in a Jar – for only $1 each!

salad in a jar pic

I love salads in a jar.  They take all the prep out of lunch, and they are so yummy and healthy.  I’ve had a few people recently ask me about how to make them and what to put in them, so I thought I would break down our latest at-home salad in a jar “party.”

When I first heard of salads in a jar, I thought I wouldn’t like them.  I have never been much for trying new foods, and I never used to put many toppings on my salads.  I also didn’t think I liked many different dressings, and thought I would get bored quickly if I made several.  I finally agreed to try out a salad in a jar party – where everyone brought their own jars and greens, plus 2 toppings to share.  That way you get a large variety of toppings to choose from, without having to buy it all.  I left with 7 salads.

They.were.awesome.  The first one tasted so good, I couldn’t shovel it in my mouth fast enough!  I sometimes ate more than one a day, and they were gone fast.  My husband snuck a few bites too, and loved them.  I went to another party to fill up, and then decided we should try making them at home ourselves.

salad 1

Our only concern was cost.  Would it be more expensive to buy everything ourselves, and would items go bad before we could use it all up?  Well, we have now had 3 of our own “salad parties,” and I’m happy to say it has worked out so well!  We like being able to stay at home, completely customize our salads, and even our kids have tried out some new toppings.  Not only will I share with you how to make the salads, but I will also share the cost of making them.  They come out to be about $1.00 each, and we have a great variety!

salad 4

As for how to make the salads, it’s super easy.  If you don’t already have mason jars, you’ll need to get some.  The wide mouth jars are easier to pack.  I’ve also seen people use recycled mayonnaise jars.  You can get creative here.  To start building your salad, put the dressing in first.  Just put in as much as you use on a normal salad – maybe 2-3 tablespoons.  Then add in toppings that you don’t mind getting wet.  Maybe sweet peppers, onion, carrots.  I like to put my broccoli and tomatoes in here because it mixes those flavors with the dressing, but some people may not like it if those get soaked.  Once you’re done with fruit and veggies, add in any nuts and cheese.  Lettuce comes last, so it doesn’t get wet.  Done!  Easy peasy.

salad 3

I don’t follow any recipes.  I just throw in whatever sounds good.  You can do a southwest salad with spicy ranch, beans, corn, peppers, onion, and cheddar.  You can do a greek salad with tomato, olives, onion, and feta.  You can have a fruity salad with vinaigrette, or something more traditional with ranch, carrots, and broccoli.  Get creative and try new things!  I thought I didn’t like onion very much, but I put red onion in every single one of my salads now.

salad 2

We bought almost every item at Aldi.  I love love love Aldi.  It saves me tons of money and time and sanity.  I no longer have to coupon, and my groceries are cheaper than ever.  The quality is great, and I don’t have to go anywhere else to buy food.  We do, however, make an occasional trip to other stores if they have incredible deals – like when Schnucks had a deal on Kraft salad dressing for 98 cents each.  They have it going again this week (June 29-July 5).  All other items were from Aldi.  Here is my detailed price list.  I have put “x” (times) and “/” (divide) after each price to say how much we used during this “party.”  From experience, I know the leftover items will be used before going bad – whether that be in more salads later on, or just to eat throughout the week.

We made 17 salads out of this.  We have lots of toppings left, but this used up all of our lettuce.  (Those marked by * are estimated prices, but I guessed high just to be safe.)

Artisan lettuce $1.99 x2 = $3.98
Iceberg lettuce head $0.69 x1 = $0.69
Blueberries $1.29 /2 = $0.65
Mandarin oranges* $1.49 x1 = $1.49
Strawberries $1.49 x1 = $1.49
Feta $1.79 x1 = $1.79
Red onion $1.89 /4 = $0.47
Black beans $0.59 x1 = $0.59
Baby carrots $0.99 /2 = $0.50
Sweet peppers $1.89 /2 = $0.94
Broccoli $1.69 /2 = $0.85
Corn $0.48 x1 = $0.48
Peas* $0.99 /10 = $0.10
Slivered almonds $2.99 /10 = $0.30
Sunflower seeds $1.99 /10 = $0.20
Tomato $0.99 /3 = $0.33
Cheddar* $1.69 /4 = $0.42
Dressings (6) – Kraft $0.98 (4), Aldi $1.29 (2) – estimating using half = $3.25

TOTAL cost of items used = $18.52

Divided by 17 salads = $1.08 per salad!

I was even surprised by how cheap it was.  You may spend a little more or less, depending on what toppings you choose.  These salads are so good, and can save you so much money.  You can bring them with you on the go!  Take them to work, bring them in your cooler to the ball field, or eat on a picnic.  Eliminate some of your out-to-eat costs with these salads, which are probably healthier (and tastier) than your regular option!

salad 5

What are some of YOUR favorite salad toppings?

Continue Reading

Easy, Nutrient-Packed Summer “Dinner” – plus one of my favorite smoothie recipes

Easy Summer _Dinner_

Summer is in full swing at our house.  My teacher husband has finished almost all of his summer work, and we are loving having him home with us!  Our days are full of sun, water, playgrounds, and sidewalk chalk.  We still get in a few household chores here and there, but we’re mostly in the business of making memories right now.  That doesn’t leave a lot of time for me to make dinner.

Okay, let me rephrase.  I hate making dinner, and this is my current excuse to get out of it as much as possible.

Even though I don’t like to cook, I dislike overspending on food even more, so instead of going out or ordering in, we have to get a little creative.  Or lazy.  But I like the word “creative” better.

We drink smoothies year-round at our house, but we make them even more during the summer.  They are a creative and yummy way to get veggies, fruit, protein, and all kinds of healthy and yummy things into our kids, and ourselves, without much effort.  We love to pack them full of things we wouldn’t normally eat, and mask it with the flavor of berries.

Often times, our summer “dinner” will consist of a nice big smoothie, a cheese stick, and a handful of pretzels.  Those last two items can be whatever other snacky items you have on hand that you can convince yourself have some kind of nutritional value at all.  It’s summer.  Rules are flexible.  The kids are happy that dinner completely consists of “special treats,” and I’m happy because dinner took me all of 5 minutes to make.  Plus, they can keep on playing outside and graze.  We’re all out there together, so it still counts as valuable family time!

Here is one of my favorite summer smoothies to make.  It’s yummy, and full of healthy things like protein, fiber, omega-3, calcium, magnesium, potassium, healthy fats, and antioxidants.  This easy drink really is a filling meal that packs an awesome immune-boosting punch!  We made this yesterday.  It was perfect timing, because we had extra watermelon and a banana that both needed to be used up fast.

IMGP5849_edited

Watermelon Blueberry Smoothie Recipe

2 cups watermelon
1 cup frozen blueberries
3 cups fresh spinach
½ cup plain yogurt
½ avocado
1 banana
2 tablespoons chia seeds

Throw it all in your blender, and blend until smooth!  No need to add any more liquid – the watermelon will take care of that!

This recipe filled up our whole blender, but ended up only making about 3 ½ cups of drink.  That sounds weird, looking at the amount of ingredients above.  But I promise, it did.  I could have packed my spinach cups tighter, but then I’m not sure if it would have all fit in there!

IMGP5855_edited

If you don’t like something in it, that’s okay – just omit it, or switch it out with something else.  Before you decide omit it, though, maybe you should just try it.  You may not even notice it’s in there!  You can also add in other items too.  That’s one of my favorite things about smoothies – you can just throw in whatever you have around the house, and it ends up tasting awesome (almost) every time.  Some of our other go-to smoothie items are: strawberries, peaches, mango, carrots, broccoli, kale, flax seed, greek yogurt, and orange juice.  I have friends who put all kinds of weird things in smoothies – like cucumber and cilantro.  I haven’t branched out into that arena yet.  But who knows – I might sometime!  For now, I’m excited to be getting so many healthy things in my body without having to taste it.

IMGP5862_edited

What is one of YOUR favorite smoothie recipes?

Continue Reading

Who is the Modified Mommy? …And why you should be one too

Hi, I’m Angie!  I am the modified mommy, and this is my blog.  Together, you and I will explore marriage, parenting, budgets, fitness, and homemaking.  Life has taught me that things don’t always turn out the way you thought they would.  Sometimes life throws you curveballs, and you have to learn to roll with it. But through it all, the most important lesson I’ve learned is that God’s plan is better than mine.  Every day is a blessing, and I’m learning to adapt and find joy in every part of life!

Before I got married, I pictured my future life as a stay-at-home mom, completely relying on my husband’s income to support our family.  I would happily follow a color-coded cleaning schedule, joyfully prepare home-cooked meals every night, and have a steaming hot love life to boot.  I was going to submit to my husband’s authority without question, lead a couple’s Bible Study with my leadership-gifted hubby, and DIY the heck out of every part of my life.  I told myself I would read lots of books, wake up early every day, and produce obedient, genius children who would never dream of throwing a fit at the grocery store.  *I’ll pause here so you can get a good laugh in.*

Boy, has my life been flipped upside down.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’ve learned that it’s okay not to fit into some stereotypical mold.  It’s freeing when you stop trying to be somebody else.  And I’ve learned a secret that I’ll let you in on…NOBODY fits that mold.  I’m not even sure who that “somebody” was that I was trying to be.  But I have a feeling we all have tried to be a certain “somebody” at one time or another.  God has beautifully created each one of us uniquely, and the diversity is extraordinary.  It’s beautiful.  So let’s celebrate it!

Does that mean I don’t clean, cook, or work hard in my family life?  Of course not!!  But I modify.  I am learning about my unique gifts from God, and modifying my original expectations to fit my natural leanings, desires, and callings from Him.  Over and over throughout different areas of my life, I hear my fitness instructor (and friend), Jessica, in my head: “You can modify, but you can’t quit!!!!”

For example, I always dreamed of the day I would send my kids off to the private school I attended, and then felt the calling to homeschool.  WHAT?!  I don’t like crafting or routines, and I’m terrible at follow-through.  “You can modify, but you can’t quit!!!”

Or when my third child was born and surprised us all by having one normal leg & one extremely short leg with a tiny two-toed foot.  We wondered if and how he could ever walk, run, and do the physical things our other kids enjoyed so much.  He has taught us over and over, “You can modify, but you can’t quit!!!”

So, here we are.  Adjusting when we need to, but not giving up.  There is so much freedom in this, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned as I’ve “broken the rules” over and over again!

Need to provide budget-friendly and healthy meals for your family, but hate to cook?  …Modify; don’t quit.

Love fresh food and flowers, but have a brown thumb?  …Modify; don’t quit.

Have early-rising kids, but function better as a night owl yourself?  …Modify; don’t give up!

 

God bless you, and I appreciate you following along through this journey!  I hope you will be blessed beyond measure!

What is something YOU would like to modify in your life?

Continue Reading