Shandra is the owner of the grocery and meal planning service Deals to Meals, as well as the author of her food blog www.dealstomeals.blogspot.com. She is a self-taught expert on food storage, cooking, meal planning, and saving at the grocery store. She helps people all over the United States become better prepared, teaches classes on simple ways to becoming more self reliant, has appeared on t.v. several times, and has a love for creating and making up new recipes. She is a busy mom with five small children and loves cooking, going on vacations, grocery shopping, getting a good deal, and hosting parties.
What inspired you to first start writing your blog?
My blog began nearly three years ago after I received several emails of people wanting to see pictures of my food storage room. I had never even been to a blog before, let alone know how to set one up. (I am not the most techy person!) My sweet sister helped me make my first post, make a video of my food storage, and upload some of my pictures. I really didn’t think people would be interested in food storage, but over 400 posts later, here we are!
What kinds of posts are your favorite to write? What do your readers seem to like the most?
I love good food, so any recipe I post is tried and true and one I have added to my ‘family favorite’ list. My readers also come to my blog for practical and simple ways to better prepare their families as well as fun family tradition ideas. There is a little bit of everything on my blog!
Do you plan a weekly menu? If so, what inspires your menu?
Of course I do! That is what our website is all about. The company I started, Deals to Meals, is all about meal planning, saving money at the grocery store, and helping families become better prepared—which, in turn makes meal planning much easier. I try and plan my family’s menu for a 10-14 day period. I try to shop only a couple times a month, buy the best deals for that week and then use our recipes for that month to plan my menu. I then keep a list of recipes. I have the ingredients for on my fridge so I can glance and see what recipe sounds fun (and realistic time wise) to make. This seems to work for our family.
What is your favorite kind of food to make?
My favorite meals are made from scratch, homemade and made from fresh ingredients. Although my blog is about food storage, I believe it is important to eat healthy and homemade meals from fresh meats, vegetables and whole grains. If I had to pick a favorite type of food, it would definitely have to be something Thai. I love curry, coconut and any meal with those sweet, sour and salty flavors. I am also a sucker for anything covered in cheese!
What is your favorite recipe posted on your blog?
I crave a good salad! Some of my favorite posts are of salads:
I love all of the fresh ingredients, homemade dressings and I think they are just pretty to look at. One of my absolute favorite salads is the one I recreated to taste like the Winger’s Sticky Chicken Salad. Personally, I think our recipe is even better. Enjoy!
Will you show us your kitchen? What is your favorite thing about your kitchen?
Here is my kitchen. This is the heart of our home and family. My favorite part of my kitchen is the large counter. I can make a triple batch of cinnamon rolls, roll them out and still have room for the children to be doing their homework at the counter. I feel like I spend 90% of my day behind this counter. I cherish being in my kitchen—sometimes a little too much! I thoroughly enjoy hosting parties, cooking with my children, making dinner while the kids tell me about their day at school, or having neighborhood kids over for a snack. There are great opportunities in the kitchen for bonding and growing closer together as a family.
What is your best tip for getting dinner on the table?
Have a plan, have a well stocked pantry/food storage, and a freezer full of the basics—meat, cheese, vegetables, tortillas, bread, etc. Have your own ‘store’ in your basement.
Where do most of your recipes come from? (Family favorites, you make them up, magazines, cookbooks, etc.)
Family favorites for sure! I also love to go to restaurants and then come home and recreate those recipes, but make them even better AND less expensive. You can usually make a meal for your entire family for the price of one dish at a sit down restaurant. One of my favorites is our Smothered Chicken. It tastes just like the Alice Spring’s Chicken from Outback Steakhouse, but can be made at home for a fraction of the cost.
What would you eat as your last supper?
Cheesy lasagna with homemade French bread.
What is your favorite part about blogging?
I receive great satisfaction in hearing people’s success stories. It is humbling to think that something you share is able to help someone’s life be a little easier, or that you have helped a family become better prepared. I am thankful for my readers and for this journey the past three years. This blog is more than just food to me, it is about changing lives for the better, and helping families live a more self reliant lifestyle.
Any suggestions or hints to have great food photos?
I need help in this area! I am an amateur photographer. I care more about how the food tastes than how it looks. I need to work on this—you know, between work, children, volunteering, church service, etc. Maybe in my next life I will have good photos!?!
What kind of food did you eat growing up? Do you cook the same kinds of things today?
My mom was (is) an amazing cook and her recipes will always be my favorites! She taught me everything I know, from food storage, cooking, saving money, grocery shopping, meal planning, sewing, home organization, etc. She is my hero and I am thankful for her patience in teaching four girls the basics of how to be good homemakers and mothers. To have a good mother is such a blessing!
When you really want to cheat, what do you eat?
Something homemade, gooey, chocolaty and filled with calories!
Take us through a typical day of eating in your house.
I love to make big breakfasts on the weekends. During school days however, we usually have scrambled eggs, a piece of whole wheat bread or a bowl of cereal. Nothing fancy for lunch. I usually look forward to having leftovers from the night before. Dinner is when the real fun begins! The possibilities are endless. I try each week to make at least one new recipe that I have never made before. Some I keep, others I toss out. I love having a good variety of meals. Variety is what makes life interesting. Don’t be afraid to add more spice, or try new flavors. Be creative! Cooking is a way for you to be creative—have fun and don’t be afraid to fail. You will have another chance to get it right the next day.
What is your best tip for saving money on groceries?
Deals to Meals. What can I say more? It works. It’s practical. It’s easy (no coupons). It’s smart. It helps your family become prepared and plan for the future.
What is your best tip to becoming a successful blogger?
Find your passion and don’t compare yourself to other blogs. No two blogs are the same. Find what you love and have a passion for, find ways to help others, and you will be successful.
Thank you Shandra! Your food storage is quite impressive! If you want to see more of Shandra and her blog, here is where you can find her: