Easy Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Easy Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

One of the healthiest, easiest, budget friendly meal to make is homemade chicken noodle soup. If you invest in a crock pot for no other reason than making homemade chicken noodle soup, you’ll earn your money back in grocery savings and save time.

Before, I used to use canned chicken broth to make this soup when I had leftover chicken. Now I have learned how to make my own chicken broth, that is also a cinch (especially with a crock pot).

If you’re cooking the chicken fresh, with the soup, the stock makes itself at the same time.

Today I’m going to share two recipes with you. One is for chicken noodle soup and the other is for chicken stock. Learning to make chicken stock was a Life: Simplified Project goal of mine in the Food category.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves 4-6 adults

Ingredients

4 Chicken Thighs (or any bone-in chicken)
4 Carrots
2 Stalks Celery
1/2 Medium Onion
1 1/2 T Parsley
1 1/2 T Oregano or Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
6-8 Cups of Water
Egg Noodles

1. Chop carrots, celery, and onion.
2. Place into crockpot
3. Add Chicken
4. Add seasonings
5. Cover with 6-8 cups of water (depending on crockpot size)
6. Set to low and simmer for 8-10 hours.
7. During the last 15 minutes or so, cook your egg noodles according to package direction. Drain and add to crockpot. I usually make 3-4 cups of egg noodles.

Serve with bread or rolls!

Now, if you find yourself with leftover chicken and want to make soup out of it, don’t grab the canned broth. Think ahead. When you buy a whole chicken or any chicken with bones in it, save the skin and bones to turn into chicken stock/broth.

Homemade Chicken Stock

Ingredients

Whole chicken carcass or bones and skin from previously cooked chicken
3-4 Carrots
2-3 Stalks of Celery
1 Onion
1 1/2 T Parsley
1 1/2 T Basil or Oregano
Salt and Pepper
6-8 Cups of Water

1. Fill Crockpot with all ingredients.
2. Turn on Low and simmer 10+ hours
3. Once complete, drain stock into storage container(s) with a strainer
4. Store in air tight containers and freeze or use within a few days

If you save the bones, you can repeat the process, making another entire batch of stock from them. I cannot think of a more budget friendly, healthy, and easy way to keep chicken stock on hand.

It can be used in soups, casseroles, rice or couscous (in place of water), mashed potatoes in place of milk (a great way to cut calories) and so much more!

The health benefits of making your own stock include vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and gelatin which helps maintain healthy cartilage. It’s no secret that homemade broth is medicinal; it boosts the immune system.  With all these health benefits and the simplicity of making this stock, I think everyone needs to know about it. It is one of the easiest foods to simplify in the kitchen.

If you, like me, are wanting to simplify all the processed foods in your pantry but feel overwhelmed at the task, check out this Healthy Eating eBook Bundle. It’s available only this week and it offers a huge amount of savings to purchase them through this deal.

Bundle of the Week #50: Real Food for Every Day Does the idea of serving your family “real food” overwhelm you? Are you convinced that it’s important but unsure where to start? Or are you looking for more real food recipes to add to your collection? If your answer to any, or all, of those questions is yes, this bundle is packed full of information just for you. With dozens of tips, hundreds of recipes and a complete 7-day meal plan, plus a shopping guide and activities for children, this collection is the perfect how-to for anyone on a real food journey.

Worth more than $100, this week only you can get this collection of ebooks for 95% off!

And now you can choose between the PDF, Kindle or ePUB versions of the ebooks in each bundle. Select your format at checkout!

Get yours today!

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

 

 

What are you simplifying this week? Link up your posts below!

Follow our Life: Simplified board on Pinterest for encouraging and helpful resources on simplifying in 2014.

Follow us on Pinterest

7 Ways to Conquer Your Morning Routine

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Mornings are the time of day when my children thrive. They are most awake and most alert and it’s the best time for lessons and learning and all things the [potentially] disciplined mind requires. The house is wide awake with wonder and that curiosity needs direction.

7 Ways to Conquer Your Morning Routine.jpg

As a blogger, my first inkling is to jump on the computer and sip my coffee while browsing the new posts filling my Facebook timeline and my Twitter stream. It doesn’t matter how well laid out my plans are or what the schedule is for my children. If I am not actively involved in directing them, they lose focus easily and nothing gets accomplished.

There are 7 things I aim for to help us stay on schedule, especially in the mornings when we are all at our best.

1. Wake up early.

This is probably the most important foundation for me in getting a great head start on the day. Ironically, I do not consider myself a morning person. However, I recognize that this is the best way for me to get ready for my day in a variety of ways. It allows me adequate time to wake up, spend time with Jesus, drink some coffee, and be prepared when the children wake up.

2. Look over my schedule

Maybe it seems redundant, but if I don’t look over my schedule everyday, I easily forget what I’m supposed to do. Parts of my schedule change seasonally, so it’s not hard to forget what lies ahead for my mornings. Looking over my schedule allows me to make another mental note of what I can expect.

3. Don’t sit down.

This may sound strange, but for me, if I sit down to do something, such as check Facebook, I struggle to get back up. I need to keep moving in order to keep up.

In fact, I need to be dressed in real clothes and shoes in order to be motivated and remain productive.

4. Complete a task before moving to the next one

I really try to complete one task before moving on to the next one. If I leave half a dozen projects undone, I don’t accomplish anything.

If I’m working through homeschool lessons, I cannot stop in the middle to work on a cleaning project. I’ll lose the attention of my children and it’s hard to get it back! I’m not talking about taking a break, but getting distracted.

5. Avoid distractions.

Don’t stop to do research on curriculum while you’re homeschooling or look through photo albums while you’re cleaning. Distractions kill productivity. Stay focused and stay on task.

6. Follow up and inspect my children’s work.

It does no good to set our children off to do their chores or independent lessons if we do not follow up and check on their work. Make a habit of this and we’re sure to create laziness in our children who are unsure of their expectations and lack accountability.

7. Be all there.

Find joy in your schedule, don’t just mechanically get through it. The schedule is a guide in order to help us maximize our time and accomplish the most important things. But if we aren’t all there, in those moments, we miss the point. When our heart is somewhere else, we will not give our children our best.

A combination of these 7 tips can make for a powerful, productive morning.

What tip can you add that helps you get through your morning routine?

FREE Cleaning Schedule

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

I am the type of person who gets overwhelmed very easily. I need something or someone to point me in the right direction and tell me to do this.

So, I created a cleaning schedule that will help me with just that. Looking over my house can get overwhelming when you have five children. The house deteriorates quickly and short of strapping everyone to their beds and not allowing them to touch anything, there’s really no way to stop it.

There are ways to help it, but not stop it.

Today, I’m sharing my cleaning schedule with you and offering it to you as a FREE PDF download.

To download your FREE cleaning chart, click the image below. The chart will open in a new tab, and you’ll need to save a copy to your computer.

A quick note: Only the top third of the chart is morning/noon/evening. Everything below it is simply sectioned for easy viewing, but does not need to be done at those specified times. If you look at the “Weekly” header, there’s no time frame underneath like there is for the “Daily.”

Cleaning Schedule Download *I do ask that you respect the copyright of my work and not share this file with others, but instead share this post so they can come and download their own copy. Thank you!*

Need some great resources on cleaning and organizing? Check these out:
(affiliate links)

Get help with organizing, cleaning and laundry

For more help with organizing, cleaning and laundry, take a look at the Keeping It Clean e-books.

Clean Enough: Simple Solutions for the Overwhelmed Homemaker by Jenni Mullinix

Getting It Together: Your Guide to Setting Up a Home Management System That Works by Kayse Pratt

Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews

31 Days to Clean by Sarah Mae

The Duty of Cleaning House

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Cleaning-Duty

Today I’m sharing over at The Better Mom about how I try to remember to keep a good attitude about cleaning and keeping house. Come on over and share your own thoughts with me!

Simple Herbed Chicken Breast

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

I promised my Facebook community that I would share the recipe to this yummy picture I posted earlier in the week. It is so so delicious! In addition, it’s not expensive, it’s simple, and quite healthy.

Simple Herb Chicken Breast

 

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 4-6 chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup fresh italian parsley
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 TBSP fresh grated lemon peel
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped garlic
  • 3 TBSP Butter
  • 1/4 c Low Sodium Chicken Broth

Directions

1. In small bowl stir together parsley, oregano, lemon peel, and garlic. Set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
2. In 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat cook chicken in butter for 6 minutes or until browned, turning once. Transfer to plate. Remove skillet from heat; stir in half herb mixture. Return to heat. Add broth; bring to boiling, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Return chicken to skillet; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 8 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
3. Serve with pan sauce; sprinkle with remaining herb mixture. Makes 4-6 servings.

{Affiliate I love}

Join me at Plan to Eat — my favorite online menu planning system.
Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Linked with:

A Week’s Worth of Groceries and a Menu Plan

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

This post contains affiliate links. Anything I share I use and support 100%.

A Week of Groceries

My friend Kelley is doing a really neat link up where bloggers share what a week of groceries looks like for their family. We currently have seven people in our family, two adults and five children ages 11, 7, 6, 4, and 2. We are slowly working at getting more and more whole foods in our diet. I used to be really good about avoiding packaged and processed foods. But being pregnant consistently for 5 years made me desperate for any kind of help and relief from things like cooking. Five years is a long time to develop a habit and then try to break it. So, we’re getting there!

Yesterday I made a dinner menu. Our breakfasts and lunches remain pretty consistent though they need to be replaced with more homemade options. So here’s what it looks like this week.

Breakfast:

Bagels, instant oatmeal, eggs and toast, pancakes, french toast

Lunch:

Chicken nuggets, ham sandwiches, beef hot dogs, mac n cheese (boxed, unfortunately)

Dinner:

Monday: Spaghetti, salad, and rolls
Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Salad, rolls, roasted peppers
Wednesday: Rosemary roasted whole chicken, cous cous, veggie
Thursday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn or green beans, rolls or biscuits
Friday: BBQ Chicken Breast, brown rice, veggie, rolls

Snacks

Hard cheese
Sliced fruit
Sliced veggies
Crackers

I have a membership to Plan to Eat  and absolutely love it. It allows me put in all my recipes and import new recipes I find through websites super easy. Then, I just click the recipes I want to add to my menu and wallah! It also creates my grocery list for me based on the items on my menu that week. Out of all the menu planning tools I have come across, so far this has been the best one for me!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

You can try a month for free and see how you like it. I personally think it is worth every penny because it saves me SO much stress and time.

Here are some things I’d like to rid our diet of based on this picture of things we normally buy:

A Week of Groceries 3

Right now we are working to reduce our refined sugar intake. The thought of cold turkey elimination is overwhelming, so we’re taking it a step at a time. When you’re accustomed and your body is accustomed to eating a certain way, it is very difficult to change. Not impossible, but difficult none the less. Your body will rebel in ways and crave more until it has adjusted to the new way of eating. So it can definitely be a battle.

This is why I’m reading Made to Crave, by Lysa TerKeurst. It helps me face some reality and turn my craving toward God and run to Him rather then food. There is so much wrapped up in food! Comfort and satisfaction. I don’t want to be addicted to certain kinds of food. Planning helps me to avoid buying the wrong kinds of foods. If I don’t have them in the house, I’m less likely to run to them.

In order to break a bad habit or addiction, it needs to be starved out. (No, do not starve yourself! Just your addiction! Eat something healthy in place of the craving if you’re hungry or need a snack to munch).

Eating healthy also helps my energy levels and my mentality. I can think more clearly and am a lot less grumpy. You’d be surprised at all the ill effects refined sugar and a lack of vitamins has on a body!

I won’t get into that here, but the goal of this post is to share the reality of what we eat in a week and why I want to change some things. It was also to show a bit of my menu planning, which I have struggled with so much up until I got the membership to Plan to Eat.

What do you use to menu plan?

6 Tips to Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

6 Tips to Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh and Clean

Sometimes we don’t even know our house has a less than pleasant odor coming from it because we are there all the time. Maybe when you leave the house and return, it may hit you like a wave and you begin to search for it’s culprit. Here are six things I have found that can leave your house smelling less like delicious baked goods or sweet smelling flowers and more like getting a whiff from a garbage truck–along with 6 tips on how to keep it that way.

Dirty Laundry.

Laundry that sits and sits can leave a room smelling awful, especially if there are wet items left in the pile. Wet clothes start off with a mildew smell that is hard to remove once it forms. If it continues to sit much longer, that mildew turns to mold. You don’t want moldy laundry stinking up your laundry room, or any other room in the house.

Tip: Lay wet clothes, towels, and wash clothes over the bathtub or laundry tub to dry before tossing them in the dirty laundry.

Dirty Carpets.

The dirt that accumulates in the carpet and put off a dull, stale smell in the home. It won’t be a strong, in-your-face-smell like mildew, but it certainly isn’t pleasant. This happens when we fail to vacuum on a regular basis and/or we don’t wash our carpets with a carpet cleaner, once or twice a year.

Tip: Dust a sprinkling of baking soda on your carpet after you vacuum up the dirt. Let it sit for about 2 hours, and then vacuum. This is something you can do if you’re on your way out to run errands.  The baking soda will help absorb the smell without adding chemicals into the air or your carpet. Once you vacuum up the baking powder, your’re left with cleaner smelling carpets and fresher smelling air.

Dirty Dishes.

Dishes left in the sink day after day (even if you’re filling the dishwasher, but leaving certain ones behind), can smell up your kitchen. Food gets old and smelly very quickly. Sometimes we forget about cups with a little milk left in the bottom. We’ll leave the house and notice when we come home when a wave of rotten milk hits our nose. That’s like the worst thing to walk into (except maybe rotten baby formula!)

Tip: Gather all dirty dishes from around the house every evening. If something doesn’t fit in the dishwasher and it has food stuck on it, scrub it off while it’s still easy. At that point, you may as well just hand wash it and put it away.

Dirty Bathroom.

Can someone say gross? I don’t think I need to go into much detail here. A bathroom not cleaned regularly (read: daily) will quickly begin to smell all kinds of disgusting.

Tip: Wipe down surfaces and toilets daily. It only takes a few minutes. Then you don’t need to worry about buying those smelly plugins to cover up the smelly bathroom.

Dirty Stove.

Leaving your stove to clean another day, especially if you have a gas stove, can reek up the house. Gas stoves always have the pilot lit, thus baking on whatever food is left behind. The smell can be an awful, burning stench. Then it’s a pain to scrub off.

Tip: Wipe things as they spill whenever possible. At the very latest, wipe the stove down right after dinner. Keep the kitchen smelling fresh by eliminating the odors, rather than covering them up.

Un-emptied Garbage Cans.

Forgetting to empty the garbage cans, even the little ones in bedrooms or bathrooms, can result in unpleasant smells. We don’t always remember what we throw into these cans, nor we do know what our children throw in them!

Tip: Empty garbage cans daily. Take them straight outside.

 

A Few Finishing Touches

A delicious smelling candle.

I love food scents, such as hazelnut cream, and I enjoy candles more in the fall and winter months.

Fresh cut flowers.

Lilies are my absolute favorite and I love having them mixed in with a spring or summer bouquet on my kitchen table.

Baked Goods and The Crockpot

Chocolate chip cookies. Fresh baked bread. A winter roast. Mmmm mmmm mm! Need I say more?

What other tips can you offer to keep our homes smelling fresh and clean?

How My Dinner Menu Saved My Days {and My Budget}

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Before I say anything, I have to thank my sweet friend Lauren because she gave me the idea to do this. When I sat down to think of  enough meals for a week rather than a month, my stress levels minimized 50%–no joke! Dinner always had me on edge because I rarely had a plan.

I couldn’t find time every month to sit down and write out (or even think up!) enough meals for an entire month. It was just too much overload on my brain. But one week? I could do that.

I use this same menu every week.

What I love about this menu is I can still be very flexible. The meals are already laid out in front of me. Some times I switch the days based on our schedule. But seriously, knowing what I am making everyday helps me know what to thaw out in the morning, helps me plan ahead so I can begin prepping the meal earlier in the day, and makes grocery list making a cinch!

Speaking of groceries–knowing what I’m making each week actually helps me create a solid grocery list rather than a choppy one. I will list only the ingredients I know I need rather than throwing a few things on there in fleeting thought and then realizing mid-week I need another ingredient or two in order to complete a meal.

Less food is wasted because it’s getting eaten, not just sitting on a shelf in the fridge waiting.

I have tried different menu making tools and they are all neat tools. I just couldn’t find one that really worked for me in this particular season.

Once spring/summer hit, I can change the menu to more seasonal meals. It will give us a break from this menu and allow us to try something fresh.

My menu carries a lot of chicken options because my husband is sensitive to too many saucy or greasy foods. I used to have Tilapia on our menu but one night my 4-year old daughter had a reaction and I am not certain if it was from the fish or something else. She has eaten fish before without any issues and has since had another reaction from something completely unrelated. By reaction, I mean she broke out in hives.

So, in the future that will hopefully end up on our menu again. In the mean time, I am thoroughly enjoying this simple menu plan where I don’t have to worry about coming up with new meals every week. My children are still young and many of their taste buds aren’t allowing me to make too many dishes, let alone try anything new. I’ve finally accepted that and worked with it.

What do you find most frustrating or challenging about menu planning?

Our Winter 2013 Schedule

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

I’ve mentioned before I’ve tried doing life with a schedule and without a schedule and we do MUCH better on a schedule.

So I dusted off my old schedule (I think the last one was dated Spring 2011), updated it and am ready to give it its first run.

{Click to Enlarge}

It’s Flexible

This will most likely be tweaked and updated a bit more as we try it out, seeing that things might work better in different time slots or certain activities may need more, or less, time.

Although this schedule is broken into 30 minute increments, that doesn’t necessarily mean I will follow it perfectly. I am quite open to being flexible and moving activities around as needed on any given day.

With 5 children, the simpler a schedule is, the better. It takes a bit longer to get through certain activities and doing too much can simply be overwhelming for everyone.

In slots labeled “Free Time”, any number of things can fill it. The children may play freely or I may have a more organized activity available (such as a painting project). It pretty much depends on how much direction they need that day. Sometimes too much free time leads to trouble {fighting with siblings, for example}.

At other times that spot might be best filled with extra time with me. They can also offer a little more breathing room if something is taking longer than the allotted time. We don’t necessarily make a hard hault when the half hour is up. Unless there is a specific reason, we push through until the task is done.

Specific reasons could include being overwhelmed with a math lesson. We could take a break from it, and come back to it later (most likely during a “free time” slot).

Know Your Family’s Needs

It’s important to have a finger on the pulse of your family so you know their needs well.

The schedule is meant to be a guide. If I have a guide telling me what needs to be done and which times are best for getting those things done, it takes the guess work off me day after day. Without my schedule, I was lost and overwhelmed not knowing where to start.

Additionally, my children thrive on the routine and predictability. When our two girls come home from Ghana, this will be a much needed asset for their security as well.

Having a schedule not only helps me know what I need to do and when it’s best to do it, but it allows me to do things I like to do, such as read and write. I get up early to do my writing because that’s the best time for me to think clearly. For the most part, I’m hit by the evenings–drained of anything inspirational that I need to create.

I also love to read, so I created a time for me to be able to read in the afternoon and require that my children have a quiet reading time as well. I tend to read some before bed as well.

This schedule runs Monday-Friday. The weekends are my “days off” of any formal schedule, other than our normal, daily rituals (meals, chores, bed times)

What Program I Used

People have asked me what program I used to create this schedule. It just a simple Excel Document (which I moved over to Numbers when I got a MacBook Pro for Christmas).

I used Manager of Their Homes, an excellent resource on scheduling, to help me create my first schedule several years back. I’ve been updating it ever since.

What questions do you have regarding scheduling?

House Purge {Week 1}

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

OK, so I actually got some good spaces purged last week. And I learned something in the process! Just because there is room in a space, doesn’t mean I need to fill it with stuff. Good advice, huh?

Here are my accomplishments in pictures:

Homeschool Cupboard (in kitchen)

Junk Drawer

Hall Closet

Have you done any purging?

I’m getting ready for the coming new year by doing a house purge! Join me by linking up your post any time this week!