Monday, February 24, 2014

Meal Plan Monday: How I Simplify the Dinner Routine

I don't really like cooking, it's basically something I do because I have to.  For this reason, I try to make our dinner routine as easy as possible.  I explained in this post how I plan my meals and make my grocery list.  After I make my meal plans it's time to actually cook.  The easiest way for me to explain my method is to just tell you what I'm going to cook this week and how I go about cooking it.

My Meal Plan
Monday: Tacos
Tuesday: Grilled Stuffed Burritos
Wednesday: Grilled Chicken, Baked Potatoes, and Steamed Vegetables
Thursday: Cheesy Chicken Mac and Cheese
Friday: Pancakes and Bacon
Saturday: Campfire Stew
Sunday: Cheesy Corn Chip Skillet

Ok, so tonight on the meal plan is tacos and tomorrow night is grilled stuffed burritos.  Both of these meals use taco meat.  So tonight I'll make up one whole pound of ground beef, 1/2 a pound for tonight's dinner and 1/2 a pound for tomorrow.  This isn't really a ground breaking idea but it does make things a lot easier and it reduces the amount of time I spend in the kitchen.  Another thing I try to do (but don't always) is to cut up veggies as soon as I get home from the grocery store.  I didn't do that this week but if I did, I would have tomatoes and lettuce already ready to go along with the tacos and grilled stuffed burritos.  We don't eat a lot of "sides" with our meals, we prefer to have a more substantial main course so all I'm making tonight is tacos.  No beans or rice as a side, although it wouldn't be that hard to add a side of beans and rice to this meal.  Tomorrow night when I go to make dinner all I will have to do is heat up the taco meat, place it in a burrito, and then grill it on the George Foreman!

Wednesday and Thursday follow the same kind of pattern.  Wednesday, I will make enough chicken for two meals so then Thursday all I have to do is assemble the meal and throw it in the oven.  Friday is pancakes which isn't too hard to begin with.  Saturday I will make two meals worth of ground beef and then on Sunday I just have to heat up meat. 

Like I said, this isn't really an original or ground breaking idea BUT it does reduce your time in the kitchen.  If you don't like having the same kind of meat two nights in a row this probably will not work for you but if you're like me and just eat to survive, you will probably like this method!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Time Management: My Filofax

Today I'm going to be talking about how I manage my time! One way that I manage my time is by using a Filofax or day planner.  I've used a planner my whole life and although I've tried to go digital a few times I always come back to using actual paper and pens.  Something about physically writing down what I need to do makes me more likely to do it.  
This is my Filofax! It is personal sized Domino in Black.  I'm actually not using this one anymore I'm using a black Malden but my set up and the way I use it is still the same.  I know the Domino gets a lot of negative comments but I actually have really enjoyed using it.  It is inexpensive, light, it lays flat, and it holds a TON!

This is what you see when you immediately open the  Filofax.  On the left I have my Starbucks card, Target Card, and my Barnes and noble card.  I also keep one of my debit cards in the top card holder. In the bottom card holder, I have a little jot pad from Filofax. When I got the jot pad from Filofax, I was actually a little disappointed because it's not sticky but I'm using it more than I thought I would.  The page on the right is just a piece of paper that I stuck in after I did my Bible study that morning.

This is the next page.  It's a card protector that I have stuck a bible verse in.  It says, "You can make many plans but the Lord's purpose will prevail" Proverbs 19:21.  It's just a reminder for me not to become to attached to any plans I make!

The next page is another bible verse and on the right I store any papers or things I need handy. 

The next page is just the plastic Filofax sheet.

The first part of my Filofax holds things I need to see a lot. 

I attached a "schedule" tab to a fly leaf.  The first page is my MWF schedule.

The page on the left is my Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday schedule.  The page on the left is a list of chores and when I need to do them.

The page on the left is just a continuation from the last page.  The page on the right is a list of chores that my 3 year old can do.

This horizontal planner used to be my bible time tracker but I just got a new one and I think I'm going to use it as an exercise tracker.
This next section is my monthly section.  It holds 12 month on two pages: January-December.

This is February.  I basically use this section for bills, birthdays, preschool events, etc.  The little green dots represent a bill that needs to be paid.  When I pay it, I put a little check mark in the dot.

The next section in my planner, section 1, holds my weekly pages.

This is the current week.  I basically list out anything I need to do either on the actual weekly page or on a sticky note that I attach to the flyleaf. 

As you can see, the sticky notes are just attached to the flyleaf.  I also attached a "Today" tab to the flyleaf so I could easily find the current week.

This is the page on the other side of the flyleaf.  I washi taped a big to-do list to the other side of the flyleaf.  This list holds things that don't have a definite due date but still need to get done. 

Another view with the to-do list folded in.

My next section, section 2, is my to-do list section.  It holds my current to-do lists and well as extra to-do list sheets.  Right now I'm using the to-do lists that Filofax sells but when I run out I'll probably find some printable ones on the internet because I do not really like the Filofax ones.

My first to-do list is a list of preparedness stuff I need to get done. 

My third section, section 3, is my important info section.  I can't really show any pictures of this section because it contains sensitive information.  The first page in this section contains my information, my husbands information, emergency information, and our doctors.  I also have insurance information and blood types in this section.  I also keep birthdays and addresses in this section.

The next section, section 4, is my meal planning and cleaning section.  Right now I only have meal planning stuff in there.

I basically plan our meals a week or two at a time.  I attach a sticky to the current week so I can easily find it.  I got this meal plan from here.

I also have a list of easy and cheap meal ideas. 

The next section, section 5, is my notes section. 

 I don't have any notes in this section right now so it's just a bunch of lined paper.

My final section, section 6, is my financial section. 

This section holds a list of all my due dates, a savings plan, and check register pages that I use to keep track of specific saving's accounts.  This page is my vacation sheet.  On it I have how much we want to save a week and how much is currently in the account. 

In this section I also have a set of tabbed month-on-two-pages.  I use these sheets by highlighting in red all of the paydays.  Then I write every bill that's due and how much we owe.  When we pay it I just put a check mark in the box.  This set up really helps me see which bills need to be paid with which paycheck.   

After my financial section, I have some stickers! I don't remember where I got these but they are awesome because they were already hole punched to fit in a personal sized planner. 

This is a multi-purpose holder that holds more stickers.

My final page is a credit card holder that holds the rest of my cards. In the pocket on the back I have my Dave Ramsey envelopes.  In the pen holder is a purple Frixion pen.  I'm actually not that crazy about the Frixion pens. 

This is a picture of my Malden! I got  it a couple of days ago but I had already taken all of the above pictures.  The set up though is exactly the same.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Organizing Wednesday: Baby & Toddler Closet

Today I am going to be talking about organizing!! This is my daughter's closet.  She is 3 years old and has a ton of clothes!  I also use this closet to store baby clothes for my 2 month old.  They do not share a room yet, only a closet.  I use this closet mainly for clothes storage but I also use it to store extra toys and arts & craft supplies. 
This is the view immediately when you walk in the closet.

This side of the closet has my 2 month old's clothes.  I basically hang up anything that can be hung up.  The pink shelf also holds clothes which I will explain in more detail later in the post. 

Above the baby clothes.  In the egg crate, I have extra sheets and blankets,  The banker's box and Pamper's box are for clothes that the girls have grown out of.  The sand bucket holds chalk and bubbles.  The blue plastic box holds play dough and play dough toys. 

A close up view of the baby clothes.  I organize the clothes by color.  On the very left I have shirts, then onesies, then sleep & play's and finally dresses and winter coats.  This is only size 0-3 months.  The rest of her clothes are stored in storage containers until she needs them. 

This pink shelf holds clothes and baby accessories.

The black shelf holds books, learning supplies, my older daughter's socks and shoes.  The white laundry basket holds extra stuffed animals and baby dolls. 

This shelf holds extra toys and art supplies.

My 3 year old's clothes.

Close up view.  As you can see, it holds crayons, paper, paint stuff, glue, etc. 

The bottom of this shelf holds toys and balls.

Stuffed animals

Extra books.  This is basically any book that I think is too advanced for her or that I don't think she would be interested in.  On the bottom left shelf, I have old homeschooling supplies.

Socks and Shoes

Flash cards, Bob books, and music stuff (Song books, Cds, etc)

This is the top left bin on the pink shelf.  It hold baby pants and diaper covers.

Top middle.  Baby swaddlers.

Top right.  Baby socks.

Middle left.  My oldest daughter's pants.

Middle middle.  Bibs and baby hats.

Middle right.  Oldest daughter's PJ's.

Bottom left.  Sheets for my 3 year old's bed.

Bottom middle.  3 year old's night gowns. 

Bottom right.  My 3 year old's summer clothes (Shorts, skirts, capri's).

This is on top of the pink shelf.  I use these paper holders to store papers my daughter brings home from preschool.  I try to go through them about once a quarter. 

This is behind the closet door.  Tent, baby gate, jackets, bookbag's, and a snow suit.

Close up view.  This container holds play dough supplies.

Close up view: This bucket holds chalk and bubbles.

Close up view: These two boxes hold clothes that the kids have grown out of.  Once the box is full I'll move them to a plastic bin and store them somewhere else. 

Close up view: The egg crate holds extra blankets and sheets.

The corner of the closet is where I put all the hangers.  The Pampers box is empty.  I'm not sure what I'm going to use it for yet. 

MESSY!!  I'm not very proud of this part of the closet.  My goal is to get all of this stuff in similar containers so it looks neat.  Starting from the left: Holiday bags, Crib bedding, the blue container is my oldest daughter's memory box, I'm not sure what's in the brown box (haha), the pink bag holds extra bookbags, the white box hold baby clothes, the large pink container holds baby clothes (size 6-12 months).

Extra toys
Organizing this closet cost me very little money.  I used shelves and containers that I already have.  A lot of the containers came from the dollar store or were bought on sale.  I also used unconventional items as storage too.  Using the beach bucket to hold outdoor toys.  Using shoe boxes to hold markers and pencils.  Use your imagination when it comes to storage.  And don't get discouraged if you can't have all matching containers.  I'd love to have all matching containers but using Pampers boxes and boxes my husband gets from work is FREE!  Hopefully, in the future I'll be able to get matching plastic containers but for now this works!