1. Love it! I, too, struggle with the balance between healthy eating, budget, and time spent in dinner prep. When we first started eating healthier, I felt so guilty if we had a meal of hotdogs or chicken nuggets. Now, I feel like I’m striking a good balance. I try to focus on what we are doing right and what small changes we can make to keep moving in the right direction. Work-in-progress. 🙂

  2. Anonymous

    I’ve stayed away from deli meats b/c of nitrates. Thanks, I didn’t know Hormel was nitrate-free AND cost effective. We need both!! Thanks for your post!!

    • Yes! I just double checked the ingredients! They are a little more expensive than the other brands like Hillshire Farms, but not nearly the price of Applegate farms which Trader Joes sells. They even Hormel at Target for sometimes as low as $2.99 a package! But it should be in any major grocery store depending on your location.

  3. Good ideas! We’ve really been having to keep it simple around here lately. We don’t need to avoid gluten, but I eat spelt rather than wheat, so “convenience” foods can be tricky and often end up being gluten free. We also do the mac and cheese, but we like it with salsa instead of peas. Jarred spaghetti sauce w/ whole grain pasta is a regular item here. Lots of times we just put a bag of frozen veggies with the sauce and put it in the microwave. Also, about once a week we do a frozen pizza and I do leftovers or a frozen dinner that’s safe for me. Lately, with colds getting us down I’ve been having boxed chicken broth and rice noodles pretty frequently. Sort of my version of chicken noodle soup. I also like the “Pacific” brand soups in a box. Lots are GF and the tomato, at least, is really tasty. It’s kind of expensive, though. We’ve also been doing rotisserie chicken and bag salad a lot – sometimes with deli salads.

  4. Love your tips! My mom used to make me Kraft mac n’ cheese with peas, and I loved it. I still consider it comfort food today. Is my husband impressed with it? No. But he’ll eat it just the same! I actually like Aunt Annie’s Mac n’ Cheese better, so I spring for it.

  5. Diane

    Thank you! This article was encouraging, reassuring and inspiring! Which I needed. Really needed. I ended up here after a Google search and this was about the fifth page I clicked and the first I liked. So again, thank you. Also, I love adding veggies to mac’n’cheese…it’s the only way I like it. I’ve added spinach, tomatoes, finely diced onions, canned beans, peas… anything that I don’t have to add cook time for.

  6. Diane

    As a busy mom, I have found my crockpot to be my best kitchen helper. Also, breakfast for dinner is a quick meal. I also prebrown and drain hamburger for the freezer which greatly reduces cooking time. Most of our dinner meals are under $10 for six people. It can be done on a budget with planning in a minimal amount of time and energy.

  7. Nora Melesio

    I am also an allergy mom who has spent the last six years trying to juggle cooking, constant need to read labels, looking for the healthiest food possible, and keeping the budget on track. It is exhausting. At some point, I also had to put some limits on what I could do and not feel so guilty about some processed foods like finding the best lunch meat. I have recruited my husband and kids to try to help with food prep and cooking (especially now that my kids are a little older and can help in the kitchen). Thanks for sharing your frustrations because you are definitely not alone.

    • I think there comes a point where we have to realize that stressing about healthy food can cause just as much damage as eating the processed stuff. For a while, I almost cried every time I went shopping. Now I’m so glad to be free of the feel of CHEMICALS and just try to eat good, healthy food.

  8. Dani

    I just want to say that you’re a great mom and person, and your food made with love is probably healthier on the soul than if you were cranky and making a gourmet meal.

    I work full time and go to school while getting minimal help from my husband and I feel like such a failure at times.

    Other ideas I use are sweet potatoes , breakfast for dinner like scrambled eggs , and sandwiches. I add tomato and avocado to them !

    • I wish I liked sweet potato and avocado. They are SOOOO good for you but no matter now many times I try, I still don’t like the taste! We do eat eggs for dinner though!

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