A Simple Guide to Mom Proof Meal Planning

Cooking has always been a struggle for me ya’ll. Until the last year or so, I rarely cooked at home (my poor husband). I have always dreamed of being the mom in the neighborhood with the best cooking. You know, the mom that EVERYONE wanted to come home from college to visit, just so they could get one of her home cooked meals. Yeah, that’s who I want to be. The only problem is, I’m no Giada when it comes to the kitchen. I like to think of myself as more of a Chef Boyardee 😉 I never really cooked much as a kid, and was struck with a slap of reality in college. I made your basic pasta dishes and a mean grilled cheese. But calling myself a ‘great cook’ still seemed so far out of reach. Fast forward 5 years – and before having our daughter, I worked in food service and literally was around food 9+ hours a day. So naturally the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was cook. This led to a lot of eating out, and wasted food in our fridge. It took the birth of our daughter, and becoming a stay at home mom for me to finally embrace my inner chef and really embrace cooking at home. Mainly because of our now one person income, I was forced to strap down in the kitchen. I created the resources I’m about to share with you for myself, and have been using them for the last nine to ten months or so. I have found a system that really works for me and my family, and we have finally found our groove when it comes to cooking at eating at home! I am SO excited to share with you my latest project – A Simple Guide to Mom Proof Meal Planning.

Before we get started, I would like to say this. Every family is different and functions differently, so take from this what you will. I’m going to share the steps and simple tricks that help myself and my family, however they may not work for you and that’s ok! Take these resources and use them however you see fit! I will say, that a lot of what has helped me stay on top of meal planning is keeping everything in one location and easy to access. It does take some work up front. Successful meal planning takes some effort and yes – planning. However if you’re like me, you’re tired of eating out, not knowing what you’re going to eat and wasting food. This system has helped my husband and I so much, I can’t wait to share it! And yes, I’m going to make you scroll all the way to the bottom of the post to find the freebies 😉

Alright, before we get started I just want to share to real pictures with you. Here are two photos of our fridge and pantry, un-edited, not cleaned up, nothing. I just wanted to share with you how a little ambition and staying on top of things can work to your benefit! Our fridge used to always be full of pyrex containers with old yucky leftovers, expired eggs and overall filth! Our pantry was in a constant state of disarray, had little organization, and the shelves were literally overflowing with expired products and old boxes. Since I have started meal planning, Our fridge naturally cleans itself out, we finish all of our leftovers, and the pantry stays at a manageable chaos 🙂

 

The Recipe Box 

So my first tip to successful meal planning is this – find a simple way to store your recipes! For me, that’s a recipe box. A lot of my recipes have came from Pinterest and various cookbooks/magazines, so at dinner time I was always stuck hunting for the right recipe. Ten minutes later, and I’m already cutting into precious cooking time! It takes some time up front, but sit down and convert ALL of your recipes to cards or in a notebook, and store them in one location. If you want to, you can even go all out and alphabetize them – you do you girl!

I found this recipe box in the Target dollar spot (which is where 75% of my house is from) and I am SO glad I found it! I was storing my recipes in a notebook that I kept beside the fridge, but it just wasn’t functional enough for me to pull out and use while I was cooking. This little box is so simple and cute, it will match any of my future kitchens, and it’s small enough to not take up too much precious counter space.

Like any good recipe box should, this one came with several pre-printed recipe cards and dividers. If you can’t find a recipe box with pre-made cards, I gotcha girlfriend 😉 Just hold out to the end of this post! I labeled all the dividers with the appropriate labels for my style of cooking, and boom! One centralized home for all of my recipes.

Here’s a quick glimpse at the recipe card. You can print it on your own index cards, or just print several on one sheet of paper, whatever suits your fancy. I included the prep time and cook time right at the top of the cards, because to me that’s the most important part. Whether you’re looking for something to whip up quick, or you have more time to labor in the kitchen you know what you’re looking for. Step one of our meal plan, complete!

The Master Grocery List

Now I will admit, I’m sort of skipping a step here. In between the recipe box and these lists, I would add in the master grocery list (again, see bottom of this post)! However I have been using this system long enough, I no longer use my master list, and it’s empty 🙂 So I figured it would be useless to include a cute photo of an empty list, so instead I will briefly explain it to you.

The master grocery list is designed as your ‘build to’ list. If you’re newly married, or just moved out on your own, you’re probably still working on building an arsenal of recipes. As you do this, take the time to sit down and write common ingredients together on a list for yourself. You can also add in typical items that you buy weekly like eggs, milk, your favorite cereal etc. Once you have the master list compiled together, you have a basic grocery list outline to shop off of! This is seriously one of the easiest ways to control your spending, help your meal planning, and feel like a total boss in the kitchen. You won’t be walking into the grocery store empty handed, and walk out with a cart full of junk food. The master list will help you nail down your pantry staples, so you always have what you need to cook with on hand! I suggest printing it out and sticking it on your fridge so you see it frequently. That way it is easy to add items to, and easy to remind yourself of what you need to pick up in the store.

The Fridge Fancies

Next up we have the real bread and butter of this meal planning system. I am a visual learner, and an overall visual person. I have to see something and physical write things down if I want them to stick. That is why I decided to create these lists! Now I will also note, these have been MUCH more effective to me as dry erase boards, instead of just printing a new sheet every week and putting them in a binder. The binder gets stuck under a pile of junk and never gets looked at again, you know the drill. So my tip to you is to stick these bad boys up on the fridge where you can see them every day!

So to make these lists super functional, I purchased these simple document frames from Wal-Mart (make sure you get the document ones, that fit an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper) and glued magnets to the back of them. Stick your lists inside and – boom! You have yourself a reusable weekly meal planning and grocery list. Having these front and center on the fridge has been so beneficial to me. I can look and see what we have planned for dinner the next day, and thaw my meat and ingredients accordingly. My husband gets paid bi-weekly, so we go grocery shopping on pay day and try and make the trip last for two weeks at a time. We buy our meat in bulk, freeze the majority of it and thaw it as needed throughout the week. This is where the problem always came up. I would forget to lay meat out the night before, and we wouldn’t have anything to cook by the time we got home from work. Seeing our nightly meals in front of the fridge helps remind me what I need to lay out!

I will also note, take into account the week’s events when it comes to your meal planning. My husband has softball games on Friday nights, so he usually will grab dinner on his way home – meaning we don’t need a meal that night. Taking a few minutes to plan your families meals and events will help save you money in the long run!

Beside of the weekly layout, I also have a re-usable grocery list printed up! This is a serious game changer ya’ll. Meal planner’s exist all over the place, and you can even get cute pre-made ones in Target. But can you find a cute and re-useable grocery list to match? I don’t think so 😉 Keep this wherever it will be easily accessible in your kitchen, and for me that’s right beside the meal planner.

To keep things as functional as possible, this awesome little basket lives underneath my lists. I actually got this several years ago in the school supply section. It’s one of those locker accessories that we all just had to have in middle school – but it also serves a great purpose in my kitchen! I keep a few pens, sharpies and my dry erase markers in it for easy access. And this is where the functionality comes in! As your cooking or snacking throughout the day, when you run out of an item – write it down! Instead of just tossing it in the trash can and forgetting about it, take the extra few seconds, grab your expo marker and add it to your grocery list. When it comes time to grocery shop, your list is ready to go – no more scrambling at the last minute to sort through your shelves and decide what you need. This has been SUCH a huge help to us, and we don’t buy extra items and things we don’t need.

When it comes time to go shopping, you can do one of two things. You can either snap a photo of your list on your phone, and you have your list with you in your pocket! Or if you’re like me and a little extra OCD, you can transfer your list to a traditional paper.

I also will pull out the recipe cards for the week, and place them in the basket as well. Instead of shuffling through my box at dinner time I have everything I need at the tip of my fingers.

The Grocery List

I always have notepads on the side of the fridge, ready for random scribblings and grocery lists. Call me old school, but I somehow shop quicker and more effectively if I have a paper list that I can cross items off of! So when it comes time to go grocery shopping, I simply transfer all the items on my dry erase list onto my notepad.

This is where the OCD really kicks in ya’ll, so bare with me. However I have learned that staying organized and planning ahead is key to saving money when it comes to grocery shopping!

My husband and I do our grocery shopping between Aldi and Wal-Mart. Most things we purchase in Aldi and LOVE, however there are those few things you just can’t skimp on and need the name brand. That’s where Wal-Mart comes in.

So when it comes to fashioning my lists, I start off by going through my recipe box and pulling out anywhere from 10-12 meals for the next two weeks. I’ll write all those meals down on a list, along with some sides, desserts and snacks for us throughout the two weeks. Then on two other lists, I’ll write down what items we need from both grocery stores. I’ll go through the meals I have planned, and make sure we have all necessary ingredients, and add anything if necessary. Ten minutes later, and I have my lists ready to go!

And there you have it ladies and gents, my quick and simple routine when it comes to meal planning. It’s nothing fancy and extremely simple, but I’ve found it works perfect for my family. Below you’ll find a free download for the resources that I use! I left them as plain and simple as I possibly could. They’re neutral so they’ll match any decor, and spacious enough for your own writing. They’re plain enough and you can be as detailed or as simple as you want with them, so I hope you enjoy!

Freebies

Download the Master Grocery List here.

Download the Weekly Grocery List here.

Download the Weekly Meal Planner here.

Download the Recipe Card here.

DIY Wooden Farmhouse Sign

Hey friends! Today I’m sharing with you a super easy project that even the crafty challenged can complete! We all see those gorgeous farmhouse signs all over Pinterest, but they cost an arm and a leg. I’ve got a quick tutorial for you so you can make your own DIY wooden farmhouse sign!

Supplies

To start things off, take a trip to your local craft store. For me, that’s Hobby Lobby. I’m usually not allowed in there unsupervised 🙂 Just browse around until you find a few things that speak to you! I picked up these sweet scalloped edge wooden signs. The unfinished wood is perfect for the farmhouse feel.

For paint, this little beauty steals the show. I used a basic white acrylic that I already had at home, and I picked up this beautiful blue chalk paint. Chalk paint is the key to getting that true farmhouse feel. It dries completely matte and is a bit easier to distress than your typical acrylic.

Next choose some pretty embellishments. I went into the scrapbooking aisle and found these gorgeous fabric flowers. Less is more when it comes to a farmhouse style, so you don’t want to pick anything too crazy and distracting.

And that’s it! Pretty simple supply list, and you can easily find everything for under $15.

The Process

Now for the fun part! Take your wooden piece and give it a quick white wash with your acrylic paint. I used a sponge tip brush and only applied one coat to the surface. Since we’re putting the chalk paint on top, this coat doesn’t have to be perfect! Make sure you cover the edges evenly so the piece will look good from every angle.

Once the white coat is completely dry, it’s time to have some fun with the chalk paint. For this step, I used a wide and coarse bristled brush. Typically when you’re painting you want to use even strokes to minimize brush lines, but that is not the case with this project. I applied the paint in smaller amounts at a time, and let the coarse bristles of the brush do the work for me. You want to be able to see the white paint through your brush strokes. If you find that the paint is applying too heavily, keep a wet paper towel close by, and wipe down the paint as you go to give it the distressed look. Once you’re pleased with paint, it’s time to move on to the creative part!

The Stenciling

This next step is where things get fun, and you can get creative! Search around for a sweet quote, word or whatever you would like for your sign to say. I created these signs as mother’s day gifts for my mom and mother-in-law, so I decided to cover the majority of the sign with their name, and then a simple quote underneath that reads “(noun): one who spoils; gives lots of kisses.”

Once you have your quote picked up, you can choose how to stencil them onto the wood. You can pick up some letter stencils in your craft store and easily piece together your phrase or word, or you can make a stencil yourself, or you can even freehand it! The point is to paint your quote on, however you decide to do it. Instead of applying a perfect vinyl cutout or overlay, the slight flaws and blurry lines from stenciling give that perfect rustic touch to the farmhouse feel.

I myself have a Cricut Explore (I highly recommend it) so I decided to create my own stencil through their design space. I chose a font that had a typewriter feel to it, to help the text look more authentic to the farmhouse style. I cut the phrase out on thick cardstock so the paint wouldn’t bleed through, and started painting! To paint the letters on I used a dense sponge brush to make sure the paint was as evenly distributed as possible.

I used the same acrylic white paint that I white washed the pieces with. It took about two coats for me to get the paint as opaque as I wanted it. Make sure you let the paint fully dry before removing the stencil, or you may have a mess to clean up!

Here’s a close up of the text on the wood. I love how the style of the font is still clear, yet the imperfections from the paint and stencil make it look worn and rugged. I’m usually such a stickler for my projects looking perfect, so this was really refreshing! It was nice to not have to worry about every little detail of the stencil, and the end result is beautiful and rustic!

 

The Final Product

Here are the two finished farmhouse signs! Once all of your paint from the stencil is completely dry, you can add whatever embellishments you want – or leave it be! There is so much beauty in a simple farmhouse style, so you can totally just paint your piece and call it a day!

I however chose to add a few embellishments for a little more flair. I glued on the beautiful fabric flowers with some basic all purpose glue to each of the corners. For a finishing touch, I added some white mini clothespins so each Grandma can clip their favorite photos of their grandbabies to display. Because let’s be real, there aren’t many grandparents who don’t enjoy showing off their grandkids.

And that’s it! Wasn’t that a simple project? These simple farmhouse signs are kind of like the perfect pair of jeans. You can easily dress them up with a few simple embellishments, or you can leave them simple and let them speak for themselves. They are fully customizable, the possibilities are truly endless! I hope you found this inspiring and helpful, happy crafting friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Must Have Products for Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

I don’t know about you – but I love Spring cleaning. I’m a strange woman, I know. I’m just that type of person that can’t go to bed while the house is a mess, it’s a downfall truly! While I was in college I procrastinated from doing my homework by cleaning my apartment. Let me tell you, I probably had one of the cleanest apartments at that University. Five years later and I still haven’t lost my touch!

After the Winter months are over, it’s time to open those windows and let the fresh Spring air inside! Colder weather causes us to spend more time inside, which means more gunk and dust builds up in our homes. More than likely, you entertained and had house guests at some point over the holidays – leading to even more gunk and grime in your home. The warm Spring weather gives you the perfect opportunity to freshen up your home and give it a good cleaning!

Now I know, everyone has a different definition of clean, so I’m not here to tell how you to clean your house. I don’t have a perfect schedule to help you clean your home top to bottom in 30 days. I don’t have any crazy cleaning hacks to make your home clean itself. Instead, I’ve rounded up some of my most favorite products to help you clean your home – no matter how or when you decide to do it!

A Multi-Purpose Cleaner

Spring Cleaning Multipurpose Cleaner

The first and more powerful item in our lineup is a great multi-purpose cleaner. You want to find a cleaner that you can use on multiple surfaces because let’s be real – you don’t want to be walking back and forth throughout the house with 3 different bottles of cleaner. Find something that is safe and effective for all the surfaces in your home!

I personally love this All Purpose Cleaner from J.R. Watkins. It can be found in many grocery stores, but I usually buy mine in Target. It comes in several scents, I love this coconut one – it will make your whole house smell like the beach 🙂 While this isn’t an all natural cleaner, I love to use it because it’s free of harsh chemicals, dyes, perfumes and bleach. I can use it around my daughter while she’s playing and not worry about the fumes bothering her!

As far as it’s cleaning power goes, I have yet to find a mess that this won’t clean up. I use it on our kitchen counters, kitchen table, shelves, coffee table, you name it. That’s what makes this so easy to use, and that’s why a multi-purpose cleaner is so important! I grab an old wash cloth and spray any surface in my house I want to wipe down. Within 10 minutes I’ve wiped down surfaces in our bathrooms, the living room and kitchen all with one product – and it’s clean and smells fresh!

A Powerful Disinfectant

Spring Cleaning Disinfectant

Germs germs germs. Nobody likes them. Nobody wants to share them. Yet they spread like wildfire. That is where a great disinfectant comes in! Specifically, a spray disinfectant. A spray disinfectant is one of the most efficient ways to cover all the surfaces in your house, and keep them germ free (relatively 🙂 )

This spray disinfectant from Seventh Generation is relatively new to me, but I LOVE it. I currently have it in the Eucalyptus, Spearmint and Thyme scent. They also have a Lavender one I’ll try next! The beauty of this specific spray is that it cleans without using harsh chemicals, meaning I can use it on all of my daughter’s things. Unlike other sprays, it doesn’t require rinsing – even on children’s toys and food contact surfaces! In other words, you can literally spray this everywhere. Remotes, toys, faucets, counters, couches you name it. It’s definitely a one stop shop in terms of the disinfecting department!

A Microfiber Cloth

Spring Cleaning Microfiber Cloth

Last in our lineup, and probably the most versatile is a microfiber cloth. These little babies are truly awesome! I try to use paper waste as little as possible in our home, so microfiber cloths have been a great addition!

There are so many brands out there that you can buy, some more expensive than others. People tell me I need to dive into the Norwex world, but honestly these little $5 cloths from my local grocery store work perfect for me! I keep two different colored cloths in our home. I use this brown one for dusting, and I keep green ones in our bathrooms and kitchen to wipe down surfaces daily.

The main purpose of microfiber cloths is to clean surfaces without any added chemicals. I find that they’re perfect for the more tedious tasks around the house! I’ll wet them and wipe down the baseboards, cabinets, windowsills, blinds, pretty much anything you don’t want to spray a cleaner directly on to. They also are perfect for cleaning glass and mirrors without leaving streaks. Once you’ve used up every bit of the cloth, simply toss it in the wash! I will add, most companies recommend not to put their microfiber cloths in the dryer, as their static charge can be ruined.

And there you have it! Three simple products to help you get your home freshened up and ready for Spring. I love all of these products because they serve multiple purposes, work effectively and are safe for me to use around my daughter. They can tackle any area in your house from the everyday wipedowns to the nasty forgotten baseboards.

What are some of your favorite items to clean your home with?

A Hearth and Hand by Magnolia Style Guide

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years, you’ve probably heard of Chip and Joanna Gaines. Like the rest of America, my husband and I love sitting down on Tuesday nights to relax and watch their hit TV show, Fixer Upper. They released their own home decor line in what I like to call the motherland (Target) called Hearth and Hand with Magnolia. Basically everything on my Christmas list came from this collection.

Before we get into the pieces I love, let’s take a moment to appreciate the simplicity of this line! When it comes to decorating, I’m definitely a less is more type of person. I love simple lines, designs, prints and accents – and that is exactly what this line encapsulates. Joanna did an incredible job putting everything in this line together, and genuinely made it idiot proof! You can pick and choose between all the pieces and not worry about them matching your own decor or each other.

So without further adieu, here are my favorite pieces!

Dinnerware

I have always wanted to have a beautifully set table ready for my guests when they walk into the dining room, and this line has fulfilled just that.

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It starts with the galvanized charger with gold welding. While these are a little more rustic than my usual taste, the plates and linens I chose help to balance them out. On top of the chargers are the cream dinner plates. They have a smooth glossy finish, but still have that beautiful handmade feel. If you look closely you can see tiny dips, grains and imperfections in every plate. No two plates are alike, and their unfinished edges set them apart. On top of the dinner plates I chose the black salad plate. They are probably my favorite of the whole set! They have a matte finish opposed to the gloss of the cream plates, and the contrast of the two is just stunning. The simple contrast of the matte black against the shine of the creamy white is such a powerful style statement that I just love!

DSC_0945

Linens

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For the linens, I chose not to incorporate a table runner. Instead I picked out the X pattern napkins. Once again, the neutral tones of the napkins would match absolutely anything from the line, but sitting on top of the black salad plate just makes them pop! For now I’m keeping them folded and held together in the galvanized napkin ring, tying in perfectly with the chargers.

Living Room Decor

For the living room, I chose to keep things pretty simple as well (are you seeing a pattern here 🙂 )

DSC_0948On our coffee table, I have the black stoneware pitcher on top of another galvanized charger. Side note, the pitcher was the first thing in the collection that I saw, and I told my husband that if it wasn’t a gift I was going to buy it for myself 🙂 Anyways! I love how the pitcher plays up the dark metal we have on our coffee table as well as our bookshelves.

On the couch are the lumbar pillow and throw.

To my knowledge, they are actually no longer available after the release of their new spring line. I feel bad taunting you with little pretties that are out of reach, but I have to share them, right?

Speaking of their new spring line, there are a few new items on my wish list! I’ll be sure to share those items with you if they join the family 🙂