Monthly Archives: March 2015

Why Menu Plan

Have you ever wondered, “Why menu plan?” Someone recently found their way to this blog searching that exact thing. Sure, people talk about it all the time but does it really matter if I do? What’s the point of it?

Menu Planning is HUGE in my house. These are the big reasons we do it and you should too! Saving time and money, umm yes, I think we all want that.

That hour I take every couple of weeks to plan the menu and shopping list are a must do in my mind for many reasons. If you are single or there’s just you and a spouse in the house, there is a possibility you might be able to pull off not planning, but throw kids into the mix and it just doesn’t work not to.

Why bother taking time out of your busy life to menu plan? Sure, there are a lot of other things that could be done in the that hour but there are 3 big reasons I take the time to make a menu.

Menu Planning Saves Money

There is no way I’d be able to keep my grocery budget so low if I didn’t plan! When I sit down to plan, I check the fridge and pantry for ingredients that are going to need to be used up so I can be sure to include them in my menu plan. I also check the grocery ads to see what’s on sale. I can plan for the ingredients I purchase to be used in a couple meals to get the most bang for my buck.

Not only do you spend less when you are at the store, but having a plan also means you avoid the 5pm “what’s for dinner” stress that causes a last minute grocery trip or running to the restaurant.

Menu Planning Saves Time (and Stress)

Ummm. When I don’t know what I’m going to feed my family, people get whiny. Hey, even I get cranky. “Mommy, I’m hungry. What’s for supper? Can I have a snack?”

Having to only think about what I’m going to feed everyone twice a month saves me so much time over having to come up with a plan every day! I have to grocery shop less and think about it less.

Menu planning also saves time (and stress) because it allows me to use the tips in this post on how to spend less time in the kitchen! I now know what prep work I can tackle on the weekend and have leftovers built into my week.

Menu Planning Saves Me From Unhealthy Choices

No menu plan means the likelihood of grabbing some pre-packaged fast meal in a bag or box at the store goes up greatly. The chances of running for pizza or fast food also go up.

Nothing against restaurants. We indulge in a quick pizza occasionally,  but it’s not in line with what I try to feed my family the majority of the time. I try to save those “cheats” for a real emergency, not a lack of planning emergency. If your family likes eating out, plan a time or two on your menu. Just make it a scheduled event.

Knowing I’ll be feeding my family more nutrient dense food, saving money, and saving time and stress are the big reasons why I menu plan. I don’t have the energy or creativity to pull off making an impromptu menu each day.

Has menu planning made a difference in your life? How do you answer the question, “why menu plan?” I highly recommend you give it a try if you don’t already.

Menu Planning is HUGE in my house. These are the big reasons we do it and you should too! Saving time and money, umm yes, I think we all want that.

Linking up to these fun parties!

Enjoy Parenting Little Kids When You are Exhausted

Parenting is never exhausting and I’m never ready to go to bed at 6pm.

Cue the laughter. We all know taking care of kids, managing a house, and the rest of life isn’t easy. Being a parent is great, but man can it ever be exhausting. You want to enjoy these years but it's hard. These are some ways to enjoy this time when the days are long but the years are short. “The days are long but the years are short”. Countless times we’ve heard and read those words. Moms and grandmas that have been there before encourage us not to let the days pass by and to cherish the moments with our littles.

We hear how they miss those moments when their children were little. It’s true. We know it. The days seem long yet our children grow so quickly.

We want to savor and enjoy the time we have with them. It doesn’t change the fact, though, that It’s hard. It’s exhausting.

When month after month you are waking up multiple times through the night with a crying baby or toddler. Then there is a clingy, drooling child wanting you throughout the day. A toddler is pushing her limits, testing you to see what she can get by with. Then there are the normal tasks of diaper changing, bottom wiping, laundry washing, nursing, making meals and (minimal) cleaning.

Life is overwhelming. It’s hard to appreciate what you have when you are exhausted and have a to-do list a mile long.

I want to share with you 12 suggestions for helping us to enjoy life when the days are long.

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1. Early Bedtime

Having my children go to bed early has been a sanity saver, especially since the toddler stopped taking naps shortly after she was two. I know I just need to get to 7:30 and then I will have some time to tackle one of the projects that need to be done and enjoy a little quiet. Being a parent is great, but man can it ever be exhausting. You want to enjoy these years but it's hard. These are some ways to enjoy this time when the days are long but the years are short. 2. Hot Shower or Bath

At the end of one of those chaotic and exhausting days, there is nothing like relaxing in the shower. It helps relieve stress and clear my brain. If you take a bath, add an Oatmeal Lavender Bath Tea Bag  for added moisture and relaxation!

3. Chocolate

A little secret indulgence to look forward to. Sometimes a piece of dark chocolate makes everything look better. Or make a batch of fudge and put it in the freezer!

4. Prayer

Tell God what you are going through. Ask Him to help you. Take praying without ceasing to heart. When you are stressing or don’t know if you can follow through with your child another time, whisper a prayer to Him.

5. Do Something Out of the Ordinary

Sometimes breaking up the routine does wonders for attitudes and helps you enjoy the small moments with you children.

On long days where there seems to be continual drama, I’ve been known to put the kids in the tub for an afternoon bath. They love baths so this always makes them happy. The water is cold long before they want to get out. I can also spend some time reading while I sit and watch them so it’s a win win.

Maybe turning your lunch into a picnic on the living room floor or taking an impromptu trip to the park will enable you to leave your to-do list behind for an hour and enjoy making a memory with your children.

6. Take a Walk

This is a great one for when the weather is nice. Even if it’s less than desirable, you can bundle everyone up and keep it short. Exercise and being outside typically helps the moods in my family. It’s a great way to blow steam, burn energy, and get rid of some stress. If your kids are stroller age, you will get a good workout in. If they are older, let them walk or bike down the sidewalk and burn off some of their energy.

7. Keep Movies and TV Time Special

Don’t make movies and television a normal part of your routine. Keep them special. Then when the kids are being especially clingy, under the weather, or you have a project that really needs to be done you can put in a movie and they will be excited.

8.  A Cup of Tea (or Coffee)

Coffee is not my thing, but I love a good cup of hot tea. Yogi Egyptian Licorice is one of my favorites and it’s fun to buy a box of a new one to try every once in a while. I brew myself a cup to sip on during the day. Sure it might need reheated a time or two, but there is just something relaxing about a hot drink.

Being a parent is great, but man can it ever be exhausting. You want to enjoy these years but it's hard. These are some ways to enjoy this time when the days are long but the years are short.

9. Let Things Go – Lower Your Expectations

Don’t think you can (or even have to) do it all. Realize a perfectly tidy house isn’t realistic. Know your child will misbehave on occasions. Don’t compare yourself to others.

10. 5 Minute Pick-Up

Stuff and clutter cause more stress in my life. I know I won’t eliminate it, but I can decrease it. A 5 minute pick-up has made a huge difference in our home. I feel so much better after we are done.

11. Simplify

Don’t try and be fancy and creative. (Unless it’s something that makes you excited.) Your kids won’t know the difference. Don’t put pressure on yourself for big birthday parties, gourmet meals, and extra curricular activities you feel pressured to do. Simplify and just do what is right for your family at this time.

12. Rest in Him

We will be exhausted. But through the longest of days we can remember the promise in Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

What ways have you found to help you enjoy the everyday moments with your children when the days are long? If your children are grown, what advice do you have for those of us in the midst of it?

Being a parent is great, but man can it ever be exhausting. You want to enjoy these years but it's hard. These are some ways to enjoy this time when the days are long but the years are short.

Linking up to these fun parties!

Easy Menu Plan and Goals

Eeek. So posting really didn’t happen last week. Shaun worked late every day because of Pledge Drive at the Christian radio station. This past weekend was busy with family time and catching up on things around the house. We’ll see how this week pans out, but with unexpected company this week (my mom!!!) there will be plenty of help with the kiddos and maybe I can even tackle a blogging project that’s been on the back burner (subscriber freebie, editorial calendar and newsletter perhaps) or maybe that’s thinking a bit too ambitious. We’ll see what happens.

This weekend we had a little daddy daughter (belated) birthday date. She was pretty excited and knew right away which restaurant she wanted to pick. I think that Chick-Fil-A would have come out on top if we had one here just because of the play area. She had to deck herself out in all of her “jewels” as she likes to call them.

Easy peasy menu plan for our family and our little girls birthday date with her daddy!

The weather was gorgeous so we did a park trip as well and let the kids burn off some energy. The little guy might be braver than his sister now (which makes me a little nervous).

Easy peasy menu plan for our family and our little girls birthday date with her daddy!

Last week it worked out well feeding the kids the same supper all week. Since Shaun is eating at work, we are taking it easy around here. This week will be the same – making up a big batch of mac and cheese for them.

Easy peasy menu plan for our family and our little girls birthday date with her daddy!

Suppers:

  • Homemade biscuits, eggs, and bacon
  • Leftover Pizza
  • The last of the leftover baked spaghetti from last week for the kids Monday
  • Mac and Cheese the rest of the week for them
  • I’ve been eating leftovers that Shaun brings home. . . not the healthiest but it’s easy and I think we’ve done this every pledge drive we’ve been married. I’m all about a week off of cooking.

Lunches:

  • Salads for me
  •  Bean Tostadas was our typical Sunday lunch. But I think they might be getting old, so after this stuff is gone, I might have to give them a rest for a while.
  • Birthday date for Shaun and the 4 year old and leftovers for us two at home
  • Cheese tostadas and fruit (and bites of my salad). . . the kids have really been enjoying these lately

Breakfasts will be some of:

Goals:

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Easy Menu Plan and Goals

We had our first real snow of the winter here in Oklahoma. It probably was over 2 inches (which beat the dusting we had back in November) and the kids loved getting out into it to play. I’d rather stay warm watching them from inside. :-)

What our family of 4 is eating this week - it's going to be a simple week.

This week’s post will be short and sweet. It’s Sunday evening, the kids are asleep and I’m ready to be too. It’s been a long several weeks with the little guy waking up and last night was one of the worst. I know someday (soon, I hope) we’ll get the sleep thing figured out but in the meantime there’s a lot of just surviving going on.

Starting Tuesday, the next two weeks are the pledge drive for the Christian radio station my husband works at. That means they have meals provided to them so food around our house will be really basic – I just have the kiddos to feed so I’m looking forward to a lot of nights “off”.

What our family of 4 is eating this week - it's going to be a simple week.

Suppers:

  • Chili x 2
  • Small Groups
  • Ladies Bible Study
  • Mac and Cheese for the kids x 3

Lunches:

  • Sandwiches
  • Bean and Cheese Tostadas (not terribly exciting, but I’m all about only having to cook once a day so these make a quick and easy no-cook after church lunch)
  • Salads – Me (Shaun will be having pledge drive food)
  • Cheese Tostadas – the kids (Kenna loves eating them with just cheese)
  • Maybe guacamole one day with some leftover chips

Breakfasts:

Goals:

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Sometimes, when you are exhausted, making goals sounds like not very much fun. I didn’t get any of my books read last week, but did finishing reading  A Bear Called Paddington aloud to Kenna. She now wants to watch the movie (which looks nothing like the book). This weeks goals are just going to be my basic 4:

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday