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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.

 

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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! :-)

 

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Email As a Communication Aid for Sissy’s

Thank you to Yahoo! Mail for sponsoring this post about staying connected. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

I love email, it allows us to be more open and direct than if you are face to face, of course, this is great for sissy’s like me. I can’t even count the number of times I have broken news to someone through email just to avoid having to ‘see’ or ‘hear’ the reaction. While many look at this as a bad thing, I have to say that it has been very helpful to me!

For example, if I have a client that is requesting too many changes for a small job, I would rather email them with the details of the contract laid out, explaining that the scope has changed and what his/her options are moving forward. This accomplishes two things- first, it is documented, with a phone call it is easy to get messages lost in translation, either by not paying attention or by plain ignoring what you say. Secondly, I am HORRIBLE at business matters, hence why I am shutting down and going to nursing school now, so to tell someone on the phone that they are going over the scope of the project is incredibly hard for me, and I usually end up giving in and overworking for little pay.

I can recall many emails over the years with family and friends where I had to let them know about something I did or was doing that I knew would not get a ‘happy’ response… totally sissy, but I embrace it! Check out the video for a great example lol, I would rather get a reply back with the disappointed person than to hear it over the phone! :-)

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Starting Over… Refreshing the Mind

fresh start in 2011Our little family has had a lot of changes over the last year.  Not many of them have been good ones.  We found out we were pregnant back in August, which was a welcome surprise, but then in mid-November everything fell apart, not only did we YNAB at 21 weeks but I got very very sick and had to be flown to Orlando for intensive care for two weeks or so.   This created a huge financial and emotional strain on the entire family.

Shortly before we lost the baby we were planning on moving into a nicer place, had paid nearly $850 to move in and everything, then that fell apart and we couldn’t get our money back- then me getting so sick made us move that fight to the backburner for a while.  During that time we had all be passing the flu back and forth and getting more and more behind financially.  All in all the last 6 months or so have been horrible.

Thank god for small favors though, we filed our taxes and got a better refund than we anticipated, we are all feeling better physically, we recently got our money back for that failed moving experience (5 months later lol) As of today we are finally out of the ‘hole’ so to speak, I am finally caught up on work (web design) and working on new clients again.  Bills are paid, we have our new ‘toys’ we have been wanting for a long time.  I am back to budgeting with YNAB again to keep us on track and I have my own online projects going well.

2011 has been a lot better than 2010, and I hope and pray it continues.  My baby sister got engaged, my daughter is almost completely potty trained, and I am trying with all my might to keep my head on straight and not let everything that has happened get me down.  I know april will be a little tough, as that was when we were due, but I am keeping busy and working on distracting myself to keep from getting down.  We are making a fresh start this year, emotionally, financially, and with working and career moves.  I am enrolled to begin nursing school in late April and working now to get my online projects finished and ready to move them to a part time status before that begins.

What about you, how has 2011 been different for you? What changes are you making to make it better or more successful than last year? A fresh start- new beginnings?

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You ever feel like your going in circles?

Today has been one of those ‘modays’ where instead of actually getting anything done I managed to add on more things to do!  I worked all day, between blogging, researching, design, etc. etc. but I didn’t actually accomplish anything!   In fact I managed to create more work :-)

I am hoping tomorrow I will be able to actually finish some of the tasks I started on today and finally mark some things of that dreaded list instead of just making it longer!

How about you, do you have days like this? How do you manage them, and tips or advice on getting past this issue?  Time management has never been my strongest ability but today took the cake!  I just want one day where I can say I finished everything I set out to do.  Maybe I need to make easier lists or something!