Mom Life, Printables, Recipes

Meal Planning Made Easy

I think the # 1 asked questions in everyone’s home is “What’s for dinner?”

And I think the # 1 thought most moms have is, “What on earth am I going to make for dinner tonight?”

I hate deciding what we are having for dinner because I almost can guarantee someone won’t like it or feel like that, or I will hear, “we just ate that like 2 weeks ago.”

And then on top of that, we have to think who has practice tonight?

Who has church activities?

Do we have any meetings?

From the time the kids get out of school until bedtime we hit the ground running hard with all the different events going on in the kid’s lives, which leaves little or no time for me to think, “What’s for dinner after 3pm because if I haven’t done anything by then, it is simply too late!

I used to think that at least, but now I am no longer plagued with the all too familiar question, “What’s for dinner because thankfully I got smart about a year ago and started family meal planning.

I know that you are probably thinking, “I’m too busy to sit down and plan out the meals for the week.” I know you are thinking this because I used to also, however, I can tell you when I sat down and took the time to start meal planning it not only SIMPLIFIED my life, but it also SAVED ME MONEY at the store and at fast food restaurants, as well as STOPPED THE KIDS FROM COMPLAINING as much about what we were having each night for dinner.

Have I peaked your interest and you want to know more about how to meal plan?

Here are the 8 Steps on how to Effectively Meal Plan Each Week to Save you Time and Money!

Step 1- Make a List of your favorite Meals

The first thing to do is to make a cheat sheet of your favorite meals. Print off our FREE Our Favorite Meals Planner Here! Write down what the favorite meals are in your house! It doesn’t matter if they are complex like Chicken Madeira or as simple as tacos… Have this be a family affair where everyone gets to put their input in for their favorite meals. This can be a list that you continually add things too! This will serve as your go-to cheat sheet while meal planning!

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Step 2- Print out our Weekly Meal Planning Guide

Next print off a bunch of copies of our FREE Weekly Meal Planner here. This provides you spaces for each weekday as well as your grocery list all in one! Don’t just print one at a time, print a bunch so you can start meal planning for the following week without having to come print off more.

Weekly Meal Plan

Step 3- Before Meal Planning, check your schedule

You can’t even think about what you are going to make for dinner before you know what is going on in your life that week, so check the calendar and write down the things that are happening in the late afternoon or night that would impede you from cooking anything you plan!

Step 4- It’s Planning Time!

After you have made your master list of meals and printed your free meal planning guide it’s time to plan. Some people plan meals according to what they have on hand in the pantry/ freezer or what is on sale that week. These are both ways to save at the store!

What works for our family is we have family meal planning, it’s actually a job in our house because I was seriously tired of the kids always complaining about what we were eating. What we do is every Sunday we gather in the living room for 10-15 minutes and we plan out what we want to eat. We pick easier things on our busier nights and more complex things when we are going to be home. Everybody has a say in what we are eating, which means they can’t complain at dinnertime. We always have our master list out just in case we need some ideas. Sometimes I will throw in there a new recipe I found on Pinterest to the schedule.

A couple of tips I have learned:

-Don’t try to have a complex dinner idea every night. Throw in some Go-to Lazy Girl Meals, especially on busy nights!

-Don’t plan to cook every single night. It’s okay to have Pizza night or burger night at your favorite hamburger stand.

-Keeping it simple is best with meal planning so you don’t get overwhelmed, especially starting out!

I know meal planning as a family does not work for everyone. Some people like to take a few quiet minutes and do it on their own that is great too! You need to do what works best for you and your family!

Step 5- Create Your Grocery List!

At this point, everyone is excused in our family to go off and play again so I can focus on making a grocery list. If I am headed to the store I use the side of the Menu Planner, but let’s be honest I am addicted to Walmart Grocery Pick up for several reasons so I usually just do that!

Here are the Reasons Why I love Walmart Grocery Pick Up!

  1. It is so convenient to pop on the computer and start my grocery shopping with my recipe right in front of me. I can go recipe by recipe and I have a lot smaller chance of forgetting something.
  2. I don’t have to wander the isles for 10 minutes looking for the obscure items I can never find at the store.
  3. I know my total for the most part! Walmart Grocery gives you a running tab of how much your groceries cost, which is awesome for budgeting. The only thing that is not exact is the stuff that needs to be weighed, but from my experience, it is within a couple of dollars of the total with what they estimate.
  4. After the shopping is complete. I pick a convenient time to pick up my groceries at my local Walmart.
  5. I drive there park in the spot and they bring my groceries out to me.
  6. I don’t have to worry about getting the little kids dressed bright and early on Monday morning to go to the store to do our weekly “big shopping”. Okay who am I kidding, I am usually still in my Pajamas too!
  7. If you haven’t tried Walmart Grocery they give you $10 to try it out. Just click here!

Step 6- Include Everything You Need on the Shopping List!

After you have planned all the dinners for the week, don’t forget about the things you need to pack lunches, items for your pets, cleaning products, and laundry detergent. As we as your hair care products and toilet paper. The last thing you want to do is have to go back to the store to pick this stuff up!

Step 7- Go Grocery Shopping (if you didn’t already online for pick up)

If you still love going to the store, take your grocery list and head out shopping, if you are doing an inline pickup order feel free to go in your pajamas like me!

Step 8- Post Meal Plan

It’s time to post the Meal Plan on the fridge for all to see! By doing this your kid’s will never ask you what’s for dinner again! (okay they will, but direct them to the list to look). Posting it also gives you a reminder of what to get out and what you planned, so you know longer have to stand in front of the freezer wondering, “What on earth should I make tonight?”

So are you up for the challenge of saving money and time by Meal Planning? Meal Planning Made Easy Or print the Our Favorite Meals or just the Weekly Meal Plan

Let us know your meal planning strategies in the comments!

Did you like this article? Pin it and share it with others!

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Mom Life, Recipes

15 Go-to Lazy Girl Meals

Do you ever feel like you are running around crazy ALL DAY and it somehow becomes 4 pm and you have nothing planned for dinner? You then are running around the kitchen like a crazy person trying to figure out what you can make for dinner! Trust me I am right there with you, every single night it seems! And then on the nights where you ACTUALLY PLAN out what you are going to have, your kids bicker and complain, “Chicken again? I hate Chicken…” And then they sit there throughout dinner commenting just how dry it is, or how it has no flavor, or how not even the cup of Ranch they dumped on it doesn’t help make it edible (in their eyes).

As a family, we plan weekly what we will have in the coming week, but of course, life happens and we need to alter the schedule a little bit. We always try to include something everybody likes, as well as some healthy options. On occasion, I try to throw some new things in there, but when I do this I am greeted with some very stubborn children “who don’t like it.”

To have a plan is all fine and good, until 1. You forget to get whatever you were supposed to get out of the freezer or 2. Something comes up which causes you to alter the plan or 3. You Simply Don’t feel like cooking because you are EXHAUSTED!

This is when I bring out the Go to Lazy Girl Meals. These meals are all quick and easy (less than 20 minutes) and require very little clean up (my favorite part about them!). Another great thing about MOST of these is the fact that it is easy to keep most of the stuff on hand! And bonus points that it is not takeout because that can get pricey with a big family! Don’t get me wrong we do have our fair share of takeout and Costco Pizzas. I always pair these Go to Lazy Girl Meals with a glass of milk and call it good for the night!

So Here are my 15 Go to Lazy Girl Meals!

Tacos/ Nachos/ Taco Salad- Pretty much anything that relates to tacos is on our go-to list. We always have taco shells, always have tortilla chips, hamburger meat, and cheese. We add any other fixings and call dinner good in about 20 minutes from start to finish.

Quesadillas- You can put anything in a quesadilla and everyone is happy! We have used leftover steak or chicken or just cheese! Our family favorite is some chicken with BBQ sauce with some black beans and corn, with a little bit of cheese! So amazing!

English Muffin Pizzas- Buy English Muffins and your favorite pizza sauce. Everyone makes their very own mini pizzas on the muffins with their favorite toppings. Toss them in the oven on a big tray and Viola! Dinner is served!

Spaghetti With Jar Sauce Fancied UP!- I know what you are thinking, Jar Spaghetti sauce, but I promise you by adding a few things to it you can make it taste amazing! Saute some onion and garlic in a pan then pour in your favorite sauce. Add some chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh) throw in some oregano and about 2-4 tsp of sugar. Put the lid on and let it saute down while the noodles cook! You will have a new family favorite way of making spaghetti!

Pesto Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese- This one is so easy to make! Cook your pasta, then when it is done mix it with a pesto sauce, halve cherry tomatoes and throw in some freshly grated parmesan for a great meal!

Pasta- Who can go wrong with pasta and it is easy and we all have canned alfredo sauce or another family favorite in the pantry. We love to buy frozen raviolis and have them on go to Pasta nights.

Salmon Burgers/ Hamburger- We always have Salmon Patties or burgers in the freezer with a pack of buns. Pull them out and toss them on the grill and you have a great meal in a matter of 15 minutes!

Breakfast for Dinner- Breakfast for dinner is a familiar favorite in our house! Whether it is quiche, or omelets, or scrambled eggs with toast and bacon. It can even consist of waffles, pancakes, or muffins. Whatever you decide I am sure you will have some happy kids for dinner!

Baked Potatoes with Toppings- With an instant pot you can be eating baked potatoes in a matter of minutes! Pop them in and turn it on, open a can of chili, grate some cheese, throw some sour cream on the table and you have a great meal! Need other instant pot recipes? Check some great ones out here!

Chicken Pesto Paninis- With this one, it is a little more prep because you have to cook the chicken, but it so easy! Cook up the chicken in a pan, fillet it to make it only about ¼ inch thick and then take your bread olive oil the outside, put pesto on the inside, throw the chicken in with some tomato, avocado, and onion and you have a great pesto chicken sandwich!

Crescent Style Hot Dogs- Here is another quick and easy win! Take some hot dogs, wrap a raw crescent roll around them. Pop them in the oven and cook them according to the crescent roll directions and you are done!

The Works Sandwiches- Sandwiches are always a great alternative for dinner. We buy the rolls, make a few kinds of lunch meat, with all the fixings. Throw a couple bags of chips on the table and everyone is happy!

Hot Pastrami Sandwiches- This is a family favorite! Grab a piece of parchment paper, lay your pastrami on it with smoked gouda on top. Then pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Pull it out plop it on some bread with pepperchinis, tomato and onion and you are done!

BLT’s- Who doesn’t love BLTs? Cook up a whole pan of bacon, some lettuce and tomato and even some avocado if you want to be fancy!

Grilled Cheese and Soup- Grilled Cheese is a great alternative. You can throw tuna in it or I have even put turkey and ham as well! Open some soup cans and heat! 

So there you have it! My 15 Go to Lazy Girl Meals that we make all the time for dinner! What are some of your favorite go-to Easy Meals? Comment below, because I can never have too many Lazy Girl Meals with our BUSY SCHEDULE!

Do you Love these ideas?  Share with your friends on Pinterest!

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Freebies, Printables, Recipes

Instant Pot Recipes to Make Your Mouth Water!

This post contains affiliate links.

Have you jumped on the Instant Pot cooking trend yet? It is a must-have appliance in my home.  I use it daily because I often forget to pull my meat out to defrost in the morning, or I just need a meal that I can throw into the pot and get some of my endless to-do list tasks done.  I LOVE my Instant Pot and can’t imagine life without it. It’s fast and the cleanup is unbeatable!

Interested in buying or learning more about an Instant Pot? Click here

Today we are sharing with you some of our FAVORITE EASY recipes as well as a FREE DOWNLOADABLE beginners guide to get you cooking with your Instant Pot!

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Here are some of the Basics of the Instant Pot:

  • Make sure you have the vent set to sealing when you want to pressure cook.  If it isn’t closed, your pot can’t come to pressure and cook your food.  The knob moves back and forth between sealing and venting.
  • There are two different kinds of pressure releases. You use the knob for venting for pressure release.
    • Natural Pressure Release (NPR or NR) and Quick Pressure Release (QPR or QR).  When you do a natural pressure release, you let the pressure come down by itself after the pot has finished cooking the food.
    • A Quick Pressure Release is a little more daunting. There is a vent seal on the top of the pot that needs to be turned in order for the steam to release quickly.  As the vent is turned, steam instantly pours out and can make a startling sound. Never fear!  It’s normal and you will get used to it as you use your Instant Pot more.
  • The amount of time it takes for you pot to come to pressure depends on the amount of liquid. More liquid=more time.
  • You know that your pot has come to pressure when the pin (floater) is up and the countdown starts on the display.
  • There are many safety features built into electric pressure cookers so don’t be scared! They aren’t like the old stovetop ones. You can’t open it until the pressure pin goes down and there is also a feature that stops the pot if it senses burning inside as well.
  • Be careful with dairy and flour! These ingredients bubble up and can scorch easily and can make a huge mess! Add it at the end when all of the actual pressure cooking is done.

You can download your Beginners Guide here

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Side Dishes in the Instant Pot

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Bacon Ranch Potatoes in Pressure Cooker from Sweet and Savory by Shinee

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Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs from Cooking with Curls

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How to Make Perfect Instant Pot Eggs: Soft, Medium & Hard Boiled! from The Kitchen Magpie

Instant Pot Cream of Mushroom Soup from Pressure Luck

Main Dishes in the Instant Pot

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Pressure Cooker Mongolian Beef from Pressure Cooking Today

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Easy Sweet Pork from Six Sisters’ Stuff

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Pressure Cooker Chicken Tacos from Skip to my Lou

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Instant Pot Beef Stew (One Pot Pressure Cooker) + Video from Life Made Sweeter

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Pressure Cooker Chicken and Rice Casserole from Simply Recipes

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Instant Pot {Pressure Cooker} Hamburger Stroganoff from Julie’s Eats and Treats

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Creamy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese from Family Fresh Meals

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Balsamic Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin from Eating on a Dime

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Instant Pot Crispy Mojo Pork Shoulder with Spicy Slaw from Zen Belly

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Old Fashioned Pot Roast from Bread Booze Bacon

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Instant Pot Spaghetti from Cooking Classy

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Beef Stroganoff from This Old Gal

 

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Instant Pot Chicken Alfredo from Nature Moms Blog

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Slow Cooker Cheesesteak Sandwiches (Instant Pot too) from Lauren Greutman

 

Desserts in the Instant Pot

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Oreo Cheesecake from My Baking Addiction

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Instant Pot Cheesecake from Amy + Jack Pressure Cook Recipes

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake from isaveA2Z

Are you ready to buy your own Instant Pot?

Happy Instant Potting!

What recipe is your favorite?

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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Christmas, Holidays, Recipes

20 FUN CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES

It’s that time of year when our sweet tooth seems to awaken and cries, “Satisfy me!” Not only do we love cookies for ourselves and our families, but they are great gifts to give neighbors, coworkers, and friends. We have compiled a list of 20 of the best mouth-watering cookies we can’t wait to eat this holiday season! These cookies look adorable, taste delicious, and are sure to be a hit on your cookie platters this holiday season! Enjoy baking this year! 🙂 Merry Christmas!

20 Fun Christmas Cookie Recipes You Need to Try This Year

 

Melting Snowman Sugar Cookies, “My Frugal Adventures

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My Favorite Gingerbread by, “Wanna Come With?”

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Incredible Holiday Oreo Recipes, “Kids Activities.com”

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Christmas Cookie Sticks,

“Creations by Kara; Feeding your Creative Side”

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Snowflake Sugar Cookies, “What Should I Make For…”

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Four Christmas Cookies from one Basic Dough,

“The Gunny Sack”

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Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies, “A Whimsical Charisma”

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Blizzard Cookies, “Sugar Spun Run”

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Candy Cane Cookies, “Home Cooking Memories”

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Hot Chocolate Cookies, “Averie Cooks”

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Snickerdoodle Cookies, “Six Sisters’ Stuff”

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Christmas Tree Peanut Butter Blossoms, “The Java Cupcake”

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Christmas Wreath Cookies, “Dinner at the Zoo”

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Twix Cookies, “Mandy’s Recipe Box”

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Chocolate Croissant Cookies, “Spicy Southern Kitchen”

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World’s Best Sugar Cookie (I Bake, I Don’t Decorate),

“Guilty Chocoholic Mama”

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Funfetti Shortbread Bites,

“Cooking Classy with a Sprinkle of Fancy”

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Christmas Lights Cookies, “Fire Flies and Mud Pies”

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Rugelach Cookies, “The Kitchn”

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Hanging Gingerbread Cookies, “Food, Folks, and Fun”

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Recipes

Grandma Betty’s Secret Potato Salad Recipe

As #1 would say life over here has been cray cray with school starting, early morning football practices, late night football practices and games, baseball practices, and trying to squeeze in family time in the middle of all that! Throw in midnight feedings twice a night and I am running on a prayer and Diet Coke!

 

I wanted to bring you one last summer favorite that my family loves for your last BBQ before the weather changes and it becomes fall/ winter. Growing up Grandma Betty was known for a few things: her apple pie, her caramel corn, and her potato salad! We loved when she would bring it down and we could all enjoy it! Well… After years of practicing I am happy to report I have finally mastered it and I am sharing the recipe with you today!

 

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Recipes

Chicken Corn Chowder

We are coming into my favorite season: kid’s football games, cooler weather, cute shirts with cardigans, and warm dishes for dinner, which means it is soup season! Chicken Corn Chowder is one of my families favorite recipes and we are sharing it with all of you today!

Chicken Corn Chowder

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: around 40 minutes

This makes enough soup for my family of 2 adult, and 4 kids with leftovers

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