Today I’m going to be sharing something way different than I ever have before on my blog. I recently found out about the Dave Ramsey podcast and have been listening non stop. There are 3 new episodes every week day and I listen to EVERY SINGLE ONE. This has spiraled into me being a little obsessed (Hugo would say) with budgeting and saving. What can I say, I’m a nerd! =D But I’m actually not going to be talking about money today. I’m going to talk about something that I have come to love through budgeting, and that is meal planning!

I’ve always been a lover of food. Literally everyone in my life can attest to that statement.

Side story: I worked at Applebee’s in my teens and early 20’s (woah, I’m not in my early 20’s anymore!) and we did a little fun game of superlatives throughout the co workers. You know, the one’s in high school that were ‘best smile’ and ‘most likely to succeed’? Yeah, well I won ‘hungriest’. YUP. That’s me. Back to the meal planning… 

Meal planning our dinners for the week has been a life saver. For my sanity, our budget and our health. For the longest time I worked in restaurants and wouldn’t be home for dinner time. Once we got married back in April I was able to finally step away from side jobs and just go full time with my photography business. The main reason I wanted to be full time was to be home for dinner with Hugo. Yes, I was getting a little tired of working non stop, but I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic so I was used to it. But being here to make my husband dinner and spend time with him when he got home from work was something way more important to me than some extra cash. I was home and it was great, but I realized really fast that I didn’t have a plan. It would drive me insane going to the grocery store and buying things that I didn’t need and leaving without something important for dinner. This led to me running to Walmart when I have something on the stove for dinner and spending so much more money than I needed to. Has anyone else been here? Tell me I’m not alone! =D

When I found Dave Ramsey and starting making my budget (which I’ll get into in another post) I realized that they way I was doing things wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I couldn’t tell you how much I was spending on groceries a month, but I gave myself an estimate and ran with it.

$250 a month.

That’s our grocery budget for the month. This is for consumable goods ONLY. There is another category in the budget for things you need at the grocery store like toilet paper and cleaning supplies, don’t worry!

I decided to break the budget down into weeks and plan our meals that way, because it was way easier for me to handle. This way I know if we are going out for dinner one night and I can plan to not make dinner at home. I have three of the weeks meal plans that I did for February here and I’m going to list them out for you. I’ve also linked all the recipes I used so you can try them out too! I lost week two somewhere in Aldi… sorry about that! I have a $62.50 budget for the week. I get all the ingredients I need for dinners and of course some stuff for lunch like deli meat and bread or salad. For breakfast I usually have eggs or cereal. I’m not perfect at this yet… not even close. But it’s really helped to have a plan for the week and knowing what to get.

TIP: I go food shopping on Wednesday’s because that’s when Aldi starts their Weekly Meat Deals. They have a limited supply so I want to make sure I get in there fast so I can get the best deals. You can check ahead of time what is going to be on sale from their flyer or on their website www.aldi.us

Week One

Thursday: Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos – pretty good but we didn’t end up eating the left overs so…

Friday: Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken over Angel Hair Pasta – OMG loved this.

Saturday: Shrimp Cocktail – this is a staple in our house.. we make it at all the time. So fast and easy. No actual cooking required!
We put ketchup and Valentina hot sauce in ours… It’s SO good. We also eat this with saltine crackers.

Sunday: Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas – Delicious!!! 

Monday: Homemade Pizza

Tuesday: Carne Asada Tacospretty good

Wednesday: Left overs

Week Two (I had a friend in town so we ate out more than usual)

Thursday: out to eat

Friday: out to eat

Saturday: Homemade Chicken Pesto Pizza – I wasn’t feeling good this night so I didn’t actually eat it, but Hugo approved!

Sunday: Left overs

Monday: Salisbury Steak – We loved this!

Tuesday: Southwest Chicken Burritos – Hugo said this was the best burrito I’ve ever made so I say this is a winner!

Wednesday: Chipotle Mexican Grill Copycat Recipe – Another amazing meal. This one has a lot of moving parts so the kitchen gets a bit messy!

Week Three

Thursday: Chicken Cutlets, mac and cheese and sautéed zucchini and mushrooms – no link for this one because it’s something my mom and grandma always made growing up.

Friday: out to eat

Saturday: Taco bell (haha.. this was not on purpose!)

Sunday: Chipotle Lime Chicken Soup – Another staple in our house. A little spicy but so, so good!

Monday: Shrimp Cocktail

Tuesday: Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa – First time making this one. I didn’t grill the chicken because I was too lazy. I pan fried it but it was pretty good!

Wednesday: Shrimp Pasta – No link because I just put this one together. I make it all the time with either spaghetti or angel hair pasta, garlic, oil and parmesan cheese.

I hoped this helped some of you! I’m not sure if I’ll keep posting these here or make a new blog specifically for meal plans, budgeting and all that fun stuff. Either way, let me know if you’re interested in seeing more things like this from me!

 

Right in the middle of December I got an email from Stephanie. She explained that she and her fiancé were ready to get married and they didn’t want to wait any longer. “Are you available in 3 weeks?”, she asked. UM.. YES!

This was the perfect jump start to my 2017 season and their wedding couldn’t have been any sweeter. Their immediate families and closest friends walked with them to the courthouse and watched silently as they took their vows.

Here are a few of my favorites from their day.

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Vendors:

Dress: Bhldn
Coat: Kate Spade
Hair & Make up: Mirror Bomb Studios
Florals: Nectar Floral Boutique

If you enjoy Amore Vita Photography, please LIKE the photography Facebook page.  Julia Tinajero is a North Carolina wedding photographer based in Charlotte, specializing in romantic and timeless wedding photojournalism, seeking to capture beautiful imagery.  Her dedication to her craft is only paralleled by her desire to make sure her engaged couples are comfortable and taken care of.  She frequently provides  North Carolina wedding photography, and is available to travel for destination weddings worldwide.  For a little more about what she does, don’t hesitate to send an email!

Marianne reached out to me before she and Lance were engaged and I immediately fell in love with her. This girl is the bubbliest, most adorable person I’ve ever met and I seriously wish we lived closer to each other. I’m so glad she saw some images of mine on Facebook and sent me an email! Lance was just as sweet and I had such a blast spending the weekend in Alabama for their winter wedding. Here are a few of my favorites from their day!

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Ceremony: First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham
Reception: Clubhouse on Highland
Coordinator: Becky’s Brides
Dress: Bustle Gowns
Bridesmaids Dresses: Bridesmaids Inc.
Florals: Studio Flower
Cake: Magic Muffins
Band: Derek Sellers
Hair & Make up: Beth Russell

If you enjoy Amore Vita Photography, please LIKE the photography Facebook page.  Julia Tinajero is a North Carolina wedding photographer based in Charlotte, specializing in romantic and timeless wedding photojournalism, seeking to capture beautiful imagery.  Her dedication to her craft is only paralleled by her desire to make sure her engaged couples are comfortable and taken care of.  She frequently provides  North Carolina wedding photography, and is available to travel for destination weddings worldwide.  For a little more about what she does, don’t hesitate to send an email!

It’s always a great feeling when an inquiry comes in through my website from a bride-to-be wanting me to be their photographer, but this one was extra special. Katie’s sister, Julie, got married just two months ago and I was her photographer as well. So when I got an email from Katie just a few weeks after, telling me that they were planning small, simple and private wedding just a month away I was ecstatic! Katie and Nick’s wedding was simple and perfect. They finally realized that the big weddings, while beautiful, just wasn’t the direction they wanted to go in. Instead they gathered their immediate family in Charlotte and took a walk to the courthouse. There was no photography allowed in the actual courthouse (shh, we snuck a few before the ceremony) but I loved getting to follow along and tell the story of their perfect day.

Katie wrote about her wedding experience and gave some tips on how to get married at the courthouse. Check it out here!

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Ceremony: New County Courthouse
Dinner: Halcyon
Hotel: Le Meridien
Invites: Chynna Hansen Designs
Desserts: Suarez Bakery
Hair & Makeup: The LALA Girl Makeup Bar
Florals: Nectar Floral Boutique
Tux: J. Crew
Dress: Bariano Australia
Dinner Dress: Besty and Adam
Coat: Kensie
Videography: Discover Love Studios

If you enjoy Amore Vita Photography, please LIKE the photography Facebook page.  Julia Tinajero is a North Carolina wedding photographer based in Charlotte, specializing in romantic and timeless wedding photojournalism, seeking to capture beautiful imagery.  Her dedication to her craft is only paralleled by her desire to make sure her engaged couples are comfortable and taken care of.  She frequently provides  North Carolina wedding photography, and is available to travel for destination weddings worldwide.  For a little more about what she does, don’t hesitate to send an email!

“And all of the voices surrounding us here
they just fade out when you take a breath” 
-Ed Sheeran

Most people would think moving states away from your boyfriend when you’re about 15 would be the end of that relationship, right? Well, not for Kristin + Brian. There might have been some sneaking around and road trips that parents didn’t know about at the time (this all came out during toasts at the wedding) but these two could not stay away from each other. Now, 10 years later they are finally married and the days of secretly traveling to see each other for a weekend are long gone 😉

Here are a few of my favorites from their day!

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Venue: Noah’s Event Venue
Hair & Makeup: Jacquelyn’s Salon & Spa
Dress: Poffie Girls
Bridesmaid Dress: Bridal Suite of Louisville
Florals: Oberer’s Flowers
Videography: Will Campbell Productions

If you enjoy Amore Vita Photography, please LIKE the photography Facebook page.  Julia Tinajero is a North Carolina wedding photographer based in Charlotte, specializing in romantic and timeless wedding photojournalism, seeking to capture beautiful imagery.  Her dedication to her craft is only paralleled by her desire to make sure her engaged couples are comfortable and taken care of.  She frequently provides  North Carolina wedding photography, and is available to travel for destination weddings worldwide.  For a little more about what she does, don’t hesitate to send an email!