Monday, June 18, 2012

Menu Planning- 5 Simple Steps to More Organized Meal Plans

Recently I have had a few friends ask me about meal planning.  Simply put, this is what  I do:

1.  Find all your favorite recipes and organize them in a way that works for you.

I chose to use a binder.  I only put recipes in that I have cooked several times and I know my family loves.  In a perfect world each recipe would be beautifully type, but I just had my oldest daughter help me hole punch my recipes and put them in.

2.  Choose a theme for each night.  

This is an idea that I learned from the "Food Nanny,"  (look at her website, it is a great resource)  This is a great way to narrow your search for each day.

Our themes are:
Sunday- Crock-pot
Monday- Chicken
Tuesday- Italian
Wednesday- Meatless or Seafood
Thursday- Mexican
Friday- Homemade Pizza
Saturday-  Beef

3.  I prefer to divide my recipes in my binder into different categories for quick menu planning.  

Yes, it is true, some meals that are crock-pot are also chicken.  I just choose which group I want to store it in.

4.  Write out your plan.  

Menu Planning takes time.  For many years, each week I sat down and planned my menu.  I slowly transition to planning my menu every 10 days and then every 2 weeks.  Now I plan for 3 months at a time.  It is nice to have the plan set up.  I just type what is for dinner on my google calendar that  I do all of my planning on.  When something comes up or I need to change what we are having for dinner it is easy for me to move that nights plan to another day.  There are only a couple of repeat dinners in a 3 month time period.   I love to have a variety of healthy meals.

5.  Write out a shopping list.

I plan for 3 months at a time.  I go to Sam's Club at the beginning of each month and buy things that we will need that month: cans of chicken broth, diced tomatoes, frozen chicken, diapers. . . Each week I write out a menu for what I need to get at the grocery store that week.  In an ideal world I would only go to the grocery store every other week, but we always run out of produce, milk, or someone needs a birthday present for a party or a special treat for school, so I end up at the grocery store every week.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


By the world's standards I am very uneducated; however, there is one degree that I am currently working on. . . a PhD in Motherhood.  

Most of the course is hands on experience, although I must say I do have a lot of book work also.  The majority of the book work is found here:

Aside from daily studying the scriptures and conference talks I always have one other book I am reading to improve my skills in organization, marriage, teaching children, or cooking (I have read many cookbooks from front to back).  The point is that when all is said and done I hope to have a PhD in Mothering!  

 A few favorites:  

1. Daryl Hoole: all of her books
2. Richard and Linda Eyre:  currently reading "I Didn't Plan To Be a Witch" (all of their books are great)
3. Peter Walsh, "It's All To Much" 
4. Barbara Barrington Jones, "The Confident You, A Woman's Guide to Eternal Beauty"
5. All of the above books (in the picture) are highly recommended

What are some of your favorite books?

The Master Bedroom

We got new bedding!
  I know, I know, it looks like our old bedding.  Go with what you like-- you know I like white!  We had our old quilt for 11 years and it was showing some wear!  

I ended up getting the new quilt at TJ Maxx for $39.00.  
I did splurge on the shams and accent pillow and went to Pottery Barn (my favorite).  
We received the duvet cover for our wedding.  I made the ticking stripe pillows.  I think they tie in the chase lounge that you see in the corner.  

 I love the sequin detailing on the accent pillow.
If you look closely you will notice the 
her sham/his sham.  Mine has ruffles Justin's doesn't.  Fun little details :)
I love the all white look.
I used this picture in my search for bedding.
(picture from Pottery Barn)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Stages in Life: Young Mother Stage

Life is full of stages: infant, toddler, childhood, elementary years, pre-teen, teenager, college. . .  For the past ten years I have been in young mother stage.  It is my favorite stage.  Unfortunately, like any other stage in life I recognize that slowly time marches on and  I will reluctantly move to the next stage in life.  

I never want to forget how life was at this stage.  I feel so overwhelmed with gratitude to have the chance to know what it feels like the first time you feel a baby kick inside your stomach.  

I feel so grateful for the chance to touch Heaven on the day a new baby is born.  

I love watching the first time a new baby smiles and the chance to cuddle a little infant.  I love watching a two year old roll in the grass and pick wild flowers.  I love watching a three year old master the ability to ride a bike with training wheels.  I am grateful for the chance to cry as a child starts the first day of school.  I thrill at the new found freedom of a child who discovers the love of reading.  I love cheering from the sidelines at soccer games.  I love laughing over dinner.  I am grateful for the chance to watch as they come up out of the water with smiles on their faces as they are baptized new members of the church.

I know that I'll love the stages yet to come, but I never want to forget the days of diapers, sleepless nights, endless homework, and teaching children to read.  This is my remembering place so that the experiences of this time of life will live far beyond the days of toddlers and crumbs on the kitchen floor.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Days Gone By. . .

September 2010

I am a mother who cries when the weather turns cool and it is time to send the kids back to school.  I cry because I love having everyone home.  I love having lazy days playing in the backyard where kids can just be kids.
I love loading up towels, life jackets and snacks to take kids swimming.

I mentioned last year that I set aside one day a week for adventures with mom.
(look at last year)  This year it was Thursday.  Every Thursday we did something amazing.  Here are a few favorites:

  Art lessons under the play equipment at the park.

One Thursday the kids and I traveled to Harmony, MN to find out what life is like for Amish people.  This is the home of a wonderful Amish family with 6 sons.  We bought dried apples from them.  Our kids stared at each other while I visited with the mother.  Look at all of her laundry on the line! 
While in Harmony we also visited a purple Angora goat farm.
(The goats are not purple but everything else is.)

Some Thursdays were spent at home and I had one on one dates with each kid.   I read books,  I played dolls,  I played legos,  I drew silly pictures, and I sewed with them.  

On another Thursday we ventured back in time the birth place of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Pepin, WI.  We saw the replica of the "Little House in the Big Woods."  Some of us have read the book and the rest of us have listened to the book on tape.  We all loved this adventure!

Most Thursdays we had a picnic.  Every time we ate lunch together I would say, "Oh, I hope you look back and remember this!" . . .and as a mother I would memorize their little faces and try to somehow save the moment forever.  I often remember Elder Ballard's counsel in his conference talk entitled, "Daughter's of God."  I particularly appreciated his quote from Author Anna Quindlen:

She said: “The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. … I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less” (Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11).

I want to take full advantage of the opportunity I have been given to be a mother.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Saturday Work

Keeping a house clean is a big job.  Having everyone help with extra Saturday chores helps me stay on top of things and teaches them to work.  I have typed up list of what I expect everyone to do on Saturday morning.  I keep it in my binder and pull it out on Saturday morning and put it on the fridge.  It is in a plastic sheet protector so that they can use a dry erase marker to check off chores that they have completed.  After everyone is done I take the chart down and put it away until the next week.  

If we know that Saturday is going to be a busy day I sometimes offer an incentive (extra screen time or fun activity) if they get their chores done on Friday.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chalkboard Spotlights

Every Monday night at Family Home Evening (time we set aside to spend together) we spotlight someone in our family on our chalkboard.  

We all say things that we like about them. 

They tell us their favorite color, food, what they want to be when they grow up, and any other exciting facts.  They love to be in the spotlight and feel so special!  
 My friend, Crisitina, made the chalkboard for me.  She bought an old frame from Goodwill and painted the glass with spray-chalkboard paint!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Three Months of Meals

I am planning my next three months of menus.  Here is what meals I am planning to make.  I keep my calendar on the computer and each day says what we are having for dinner.  I plan to have meals in the freezer for busy days that I don't end up having time to cook.  

Sunday is Crock Pot Night:
Asian Honey Chicken
Beef Stroganoff
Deluxe Baked Chicken
Italian Vegetable Soup
Chicken Salad
Chimichangus x 2 (I plan to make an extra pan for the freezer)
Crock-Pot Chili
Roast Beef, Potatoes, Carrots
Tai Turkey and Noodles
Vidalia Onion Chicken
Warm Chicken, Cranberry, and Walnut Salad

Monday is Chicken Night:
BBQ Chicken
Chicken Azteca x 2 (I'll make enough for a second meal.  This is also a Crock-Pot meal.)
Chicken Divan x 2
Chicken Bundles
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Tenders
Parmesan Chicken
Sweet and Sour Chicken

Tuesday is Italian Night:
Lasagna x 2
Pesto (make extra Pesto sauce for Pizza or another meal)
Italian Vegetable Soup
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Bow Tie Pasta and Cherry Tomatos
Vegetable Lasagna
Spaghetti and Creamy Cheese Sauce
Pasta and Quick Tomato Sauce
Fetticini Alfredo with Shrimp
Tuscan Minestrone Soup

Wednesday is Meatless or Seafood Night:
Crock-Pot Bean Soup
Boca Burgers
Clam Chowder
White Chili
Classic Tuna Melt
Broccoli Cheese Soup
Crock Pot Corn Chowder
Seven Layer Salad pg. 416
Chef Salad
Deluxe Mac and Cheese

Thursday is Mexican Night:
Chicken Enchiladas x 2
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Bean, Corn, and Cheese Burritos
Fish Tacos
Bean and Beef Enchiladas

Friday is Pizza Night:  
(I make a homemade pizza crust using whole wheat flour.  I like this recipe best.)

Three Cheese Pesto Pizza
Pepperoni Pizza
Canadian Bacon and Pineapple Pizza
Vegetable Pizza
Alfredo Chicken Pizza
BBQ Chicken Pizza
Margarita Pizza
Pita Pizza
Taco Pizza
Cesar Salad Pizza

Saturday is Beef Night:
Beef Stroganoff
Cheeseburger Buns
Cincinnati Chili
Easy Southwest Stroganoff
Sweet and Hearty Beef Stew
Beef Stew
Rice Casserole


I get such a thrill out of teaching our kids. I love the summer when I can be the teacher.    Today we started our first book for "Five in a Row."  (a very simple program that uses classic Children's books to teach) This week we are reading "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel," by Virginia Lee Burton.  I love books by Virginia Lee Burton.  Her Illustrations are always so detailed and I love the creative way that her classic words fill the page.  Each day we will focus on a different subject as we read the book.  Today we talked about vocabulary words and made books to write the vocabulary words that we learn throughout all of our "Five in a Row" books.  

For us it is just a few minutes in the morning of teaching, the kids read their scriptures, read another book of choice, do their chores and they are free to be kids for the day! Happy Summer!
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