What’s For Dinner? Menu Planning Tips for Busy Moms

funnyDinner is the last meal of the day and a time when families can get together and discuss their day. It is also a hectic meal for busy moms who are just getting off of work or who have been busy with other activities all day. If you are a busy mom or you know a busy mom, here are some menu planning tips to help make dinner meals easy and even fun.

1. Schedule your meals a week in advance. This is one of the most important planning tips for meals. Knowing what you are going to eat throughout the week means less chance that you will stop off at the closest fast food joint for a convenient, but unhealthy meal. Decide on the last day of the previous week (let’s say Saturday for the sake of argument) what the menu will be for the following week. Create your shopping list from the list of ingredients to avoid buying what you don’t need at the grocery store.

2. Look for bargains. Clip coupons, read advertising circulars and the like to decide where the best grocery to shop is for your menu items. If one ingredient is a common denominator in many meals, consider buying in bulk to save money. Common staples like milk, eggs, bread and sugar can be bought in bulk as well. Some stores will have double or triple coupon days when you can save even more.

3. Search online. After a while your family will get tired of chicken and rice every Thursday. You can get into a menu rut sometimes. Use the Internet to search for new and exciting recipes. Learn to put a twist on old recipes for a new taste.

4. Have a leftover night. After preparing meals for five or six days, there is bound to be some food left over. Designate one night to be leftover night and let everyone mix and match for dinner. It saves mom from having to throw away any food.

5. Cook your meals in advance. After deciding on a menu plan for the week, go ahead and fix as many meals as you can. Choose a day when the entire family can help like Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. Each person can take one meal and fix it for the following week. Once everything has cooled, store it in sealed containers or casserole dishes to be frozen until the night it is needed.

6. Do prep work in advance. All of the meals can’t be cooked at once. Some foods just taste better freshly prepared. For them, so as much prep work in advance as you can. Enlist your kids to help chop (give them the kitchen shears instead) vegetables, dice cooked meat and mix together dry ingredients. The night of the meal, all that is needed is to add the wet ingredients and bake.

Meal time doesn’t have to be all on mom. The entire family can help with dinner so it is a relaxing meal for everyone.



Lack of Balance

StressingI feel like lately I am really struggling.  I can’t seem to get any of my ‘boxes’ under control, the house is a mess, school is really hard this semester, I feel like I am not spending enough time with my 4 year old, my health is falling apart because I can’t get enough sleep or eat right lately, and I am simply unbalanced all around.  

It isn’t that any of my daily tasks are all that difficult- there are just sooo many of them I need to do and so little time and energy to go around.  Then the cycle starts, don’t get everything done, more for tomorrow-  I am constantly adding more and more to my list because I couldn’t finish everything. Until eventually we run out of laundry, an assignment comes due,  someone gets sick, etc that makes it where I HAVE to do whatever it was that I was putting off. 

If I could just get my house clean and organized, but it has gotten so ‘messy’ that I have not been able to make progress, as soon as I get one room nice and clean it seems to explode in the other room- as I am cleaning that room- the room I had just cleaned seems to get used more.  I am sure it would help if I didn’t have a 4 year old and a husband that do not seem to care where ANYTHING goes- ever… lol I am out of luck there! I have thought about hiring someone to come in and help me get it done- but I am not rich for one, and for two- I kinda don’t want anyone to see the ‘forgotten corners’ you know, the parts of the house everything goes when I am cleaning the parts everyone sees? lol

I really need to get everything balanced, make a schedule, stick to it, make a doctor appointment about my insomnia and headaches so I actually have the energy needed to get stuff done once and for all. Sadly, I KNOW how to fix it, I just can’t seem to get it done.  Maybe writing this post will help to motivate me- it is out there- everyone can see how unorganized I am- now I have to fix it! :-)



Day 8, 9 pounds down!

screenshot_win8_recipelistMy new ‘diet’ has been going well- I did cheat a bit this weekend, but I have read that that is ok as long as you get back on the wagon ASAP! I have been loving finding new dinners to cook and logging all of my calories in I am also LOVING pepperplate, it is a free meal planning, recipe sharing, awesome site.  It is much like all of the other meal planning sites, but my favorite feature is how many food websites it ‘works’ with, meaning I can go to another site, find a recipe I want to try and click the ‘add to pepperplate’ bookmarklet and it gets added in perfectly, pictures, ingredients, everything.  I can also add it to my weekly planner, the shopping list, etc.  All for free!

I wish I had thought to take a picture of last nights dinner experiment, it was bold! We didn’t feel like going shopping so we decided to try to throw something together with what we had left in the fridge… Here is how it went; 

4 chicken breasts

1/2 green bell pepper

1/2 red bell pepper

3 stalks shallots

1/3 onion

1 can diced tomatoes

lots of seasoning- onion, basil, thyme, salt, pepper, etc. 

about 1/2 pound of fresh Cauliflower

some shredded mozzarella cheese 

5 small red potatoes (all we had left!)

In a big casserole dish we diced all the veggies, except the Cauliflower we just chopped into bite sized pieces. Drizzled on some olive oil, just a little though. Then added the chicken breasts on top, seasoned everything,  and finally poured the whole can of diced tomatoes on top. We covered it in tin foil and put in in a 375 degree oven for about 60 minutes, at the end we removed the tin foil and sprinkled on the cheese and put it in under broil for a few minutes just to melt the cheese.  

It was really really good! The bell peppers and chicken went together much better than I thought they would! We will be making it again with a few changes- definitely more veggies- more potatoes, maybe some carrots and squash even- and my hubby thinks maybe some rice on the bottom next time but I tend to get sick when I eat rice so I don’t love that idea…. even the baby loved it, and she is super picky! 

I really want to start a garden this year to save money on veggies, but I have NO green thumb so I don’t know about that! I am planning on getting one of those small food chopper upper things- so I can buy a bunch of bell peppers when they are on sale, chop them up and freeze them for later use- I think that will help a lot with quick cooking too! 



Late Night ‘Mental’ Energy Surge

I hope I am not alone in this problem! I battle with insomnia pretty frequently, so often I am too tired to get a lot done that isn’t absolutely needed. At night when I am finally feeling tired and relaxed, trying to go to sleep I tend to get this amazing positive energy burst, at that moment; often 2am or later; I feel like I am going to be able to clean the house, organize the closets, dust the cobwebs; even work out the next day…. Then the next day comes and I am just as tired as the day before!

So, for about 30 minutes most nights I feel amazing, I don’t know if it is the relaxation that is giving me the false sense of being rested, or if I am just plain crazy. I have even tried to get up right then and start cleaning or working out- just to quickly peter out after about 20 minutes and feel like crud and head back to bed!

I am hopeful that one of these days I will wake up feeling as good as I imagine the night before; until then the clothes stay folded on the couch, the fans are dusty, and the cobwebs are happy. Has anyone else experiences this kind of feeling? Any tips to make it last to the next day? :-)


Unreal Candy- Amazing Taste Testing Party

I had the opportunity to host a party for my friends to taste the new ‘Unreal’ Candy- Unjunked candy with no bad stuff. I had a ton of pictures but my wonderful four year old got a hold of the sim card off my desk before I could download them- and it is ruined now. We still had fun though so at least we all got to have some great candy!

My favorite were the Unreal 77- the peanut butter cups- while they didn’t taste exactly like a reese’s they were amazing! My daughter and her friends loved the Unreal 41, like M&M’s the most, and the men preferred the Unreal 5; saying it tasted like a snickers.

The party was a blast, everyone got to take home lots of candy and information and the video was super fun to watch, the kids loved it of course! Candy is candy to them, the adults were just happy it was a cleaner candy! We all got #GetUnreal and pledge to help others get unjunked by sharing the story of how their candy got made with no artificial ingredients, all natural good stuff, no GMO’s, no saccharin, glucose, additives or preservatives. It’s just better for us in every way. #GetUnreal and #GetUnJunked today!

I was given this opportunity by The Global Influence and Unreal Candy. They provided the party supplies and compensation for this post. All opinions are our own!