Trials in Cooking and Meal Preparation September 05 2013

Ever heard the phrase "you are what you eat?" This is one of the basic principles behind why our family sincerely tries to eat whole and organic foods that truly nourish the body. In the past I even extensively looking into elaborate meal planning blogs and considered making it happen.

I also thought that since I stopped working full-time at school I figured I would have time to do this task.
Guess I didn't think that one through... 
We are now on a tighter budget without 2 incomes and since we also have two young kids and a small business, most time is allocated for those things and not elaborate meal plans like those food blogs I read about. 

At one point in time our 2 year old would help prepare meals almost daily (as much as a 2 year old can ) but it would limit what I felt comfortable cooking with her and a young infant in tow.

Since our recent and drastic life changes, we have had to rethink meals.

I have tried planning a week's worth of meals (heavy with crock pot meals),with  traditional grocery shopping. 

I also briefly tried more frequent trips to market to try and help eliminate food waste but all that resulted in is complacency, dread of grocery shopping and frequent eating out & huge food bills! not what I wanted at all!!

We recently have a fix for our problem and a new favorite store!

Have you ever been to Trader Joe's?
We had been before but our recent move, moved us closer to one and we have been enjoying their frozen meal section!
From tasty lasagna & quesadillas, to quick alfredo & tons of others we have yet to try!

We also enjoy the very large trail mix section, seasoned and ready to cook meats, and overall atmosphere!
The almost 3 year old pushes her own shopping cart too... Can't beat that!

A couple of family members tried to tell us in the past about how awesome it was but now we can truly attest!

What are your favorite stores, brands, or products that are essential to your family's survival? How does your family manage busy schedules AND meal planning?