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Easy Meal Planning

I meal plan every Sunday, and I grocery shop every Tuesday.  That is what works best for our family.  So before we get too far into this, you need to pick days that work for your family.  My way is NOT the only way to meal plan, but it works for us!

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How do I do it?

Get ready folks, this is ground breaking…. I pick 7 meals and write them down.  That’s it!  I don’t really assign them a day, if I know I am planning to use leftover I make sure to make the first meal early in the week.  Once I have my meals on paper I see what I have in the freezer and pantry, then I make my shopping list.  I don’t really plan breakfast and lunch, we all eat the same breakfasts and lunches weekly.

Sample Easy Plan:

  1. Chicken Caeser Pitas- 2 Chicken breast in the crockpot or pressure cooker with caeser dressing.  I shred the chicken and serve them on warm naan bread with bag caeser salad.
  2. Sausage, peppers, and potatoes- I use chicken sausage from Sam’s Club, mini peppers, and red potatoes.  I chop and toss veggies in olive oil, chop sausage into bite size pieces and roast.
  3. Pot roast and mashed potatoes, asparagus- I use this recipe for my pot roast, and I roast the asparagus in the over with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Spaghetti and meatballs with brussel sprouts- Doesn’t get an easier than this.  Whole wheat pasta, jar sauce from Aldi, meatballs (I make mine and freeze) and roasted brussel sprouts.
  5. Tacos
  6. Pork loin, grilled veggies, sweet potatoes- Use your favorite dry rub on your pork loin and grill it!  My veggies of choice for the grill are asparagus and zucchini because they don’t fall through the grates very easily. For the sweet potatoes… I just cube them and roast them.
  7. Fried Rice- Use leftover pork loin, veggies, cooked brown rice, 2-3 eggs, and soy sauce.

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I realize this is not gourmet, this is not the healthiest meal plan on the planet. BUT… it is easy, and it is waaaaaayyyy cheaper than eating out!  It’s also much healthier than eat at the drive through or serving boxed macaroni and cheese 7 nights a week.

 

The End Game

In the end for me it’s about putting healthier food on the table for my family.  It’s about not going broke eating the food our bodies need.  It’s also about keeping my sanity, I always have a plan for dinner this way.  No more running to the store at 5pm or ordering pizza, or furiously trying to throw a meal together while my kids cry that they are starving. Sitting down to a meal together each night is important to us.  It our time to check in with each other and a little meal planning has made that a whole lot easier for us.

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A is for Affirmations

I am a self help book addict, there I said it.  WOW that feels good!

 

Here is the problem, I start reading the book and then it gets to the icky part (you know the part where you need to search within yourself) and I close the book… and never open it again.  I am always hoping that the book will say do these 3 easy things and then BAM you will be effortlessly awesome.  I have not yet found a book like that.

I did find a book that I was actually able to read cover to cover.  There was never any icky feeling.  The author did not shame you into confessing all the things you should have been doing.  There were steps to take (not 3 easy ones, but not too hard) and there were a few ideas given on how to make it tailored to your own needs.  All through the book I kept thinking “I can do this!”  That book is The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.

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Folks, it’s a game changer!

I picked up the book because morning in my house can be rough.  Getting myself up and dressed, then waking both kids, feeding them, dressing them, packing lunches , and leaving the house all before 7:20 am… Well it would be a miracle if I could do it without lose my cool.  I had always tried to pack lunches the night before, or wake up earlier, but it never really seemed to help.  It never failed that everyday at 7:30 I sat in my car after putting them on the bus and I felt like shit.  I thought about how the last thing they would remember was me yelling to hurry up.  I couldn’t keep doing it like this, something had to change.  So I figured with a title like The Miracle Morning I had to try it.

 

What happened next

I read the book cover to cover in just 3 days.  I loved it.  I felt empowered.  I was ready to put it into action.  The short summary is that Hal created S.A.V.E.R.S. that your should wake up and do each morning.  Now this can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours depending on what you choose to do.  But today I want to talk about my favorite of the S.A.V.E.R.S.

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A is for Affirmations

Affirmations are my absolute favorite because I feel like I can really fine tune them.  I can make my affirmation about anything I feel like I need to work on that day or week or even month.  There really aren’t any rules to  affirmations, just choose a positive saying that speaks to you or create your own.  I usually have a short one that I can repeat to myself throughout the day as needed and I have a longer one that I have been using for a little over a month.  I stand in my bathroom and smile at myself in the mirror and say:

I am a good parent.  I can be the mother my children need me to be.  I can guide them without fear, anger, threats or spanking.  I love them with all my being.  I will hug them often, tell them I love them, speak with a smile and praise them.  I will be a better parent than I was yesterday.

 

It really is a great ritual that only takes 3 minutes of my morning, but I can feel it working!

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Do you have an affirmation that you say daily?

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Review, Renew, Reset: Life in my Mid 30s

Today while I was leaving Target I stopped to give a mom a hand.  She had a toddler and TWINS (that’s right 2 babies at once people!)  She had this cool seat that you put in your cart so both babies can ride and I commented how I wish I had one of those when my kids were small.  As I walked away I realized that I don’t have babies anymore, I have kids… maybe even Big Kids.  In that 50 foot walk from her minivan to mine I fought to hold in the tears (I’m fighting them right now too.)  How is it possible? How did they grow up so fast?  I miss those babies.  But my thoughts quickly turned from nostalgic memories of nursing an infant to self destructing thoughts like “wow you missed so much” and “man you should have played more peek-a-boo and cleaned less.”  It’s been a theme over the past 5 years now, I feel like I have done it all wrong.  I keep searching for a way to “fix” myself or be a better mom, wife, friend, etc.  But what if this is it?  What if I don’t need to be fixed?  What if this is just exactly how my life is supposed to be and I am missing it all worrying about how to be better?

 

30 is Pretty Awesome

I am about to be 35, isn’t this the perfect time to stop and live?  I mean c’mon now, your 30s are pretty good years.  If you are like me you have already found your partner, you are out of the diapers and bottles phase, and you probably have a lot more stability than you did in your 20s.  In your 30s you still feel young and alive and you care less and less about what everyone else is doing.  I was recently reminded how great my 30s are when I joined a gym last month.  I walked in there on the first day and gave zero f#@*s that I was the new girl and guess what? No one else did either!  I am really giving it my all and trying to enjoy the time right now!

BUT

Sometimes I really get stuck in a rut of trying to make everything better.  I forget how great my life really is.  We live a comfortable life, I mean we aren’t rolling in piles of cash but we are better than okay.  I don’t worry how we will feed our family.  I don’t go to sleep at night wondering if our car will be repossessed.  But that’s just money stuff, we are far more rich in family and friends!  We have two beautiful healthy children! We have a rock solid marriage that has been going strong for 11 years!  We have friends and family that would drop everything to be here by or side if we needed them. So then why do I feel the need to be better, better than I am? or better than I was?

 

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I’m sure there are any number of reasons, but for me I feel like I see myself as a HELPER.  Kids need help, I am there.  Husband needs me to run an errand, I am on it.  Friend needs me to pick up their kid, you bet I can.  In fact I offer to help people even when they don’t want my freaking help!  And then I get upset that they reject my help… only seconds later to feel overwhelmed by the number of people that need my help.  The HELPER has kinda become my identity, and I feel lost without it.  I take on too much and then I take on a little more because I am no quitter.  Eventually I am spent, I have nothing left to give.  But here is thing, while it’s happening I love it.  I live for the chaos of rushing around and always having someplace to be or something to do.  I don’t know how to relax or just go with the flow.  It’s not something I have ever done really well, and I’m not sure why.

 

I don’t think being the HELPER is a bad quality, I don’t think I need to fix it.  I think I just need a reset.  Just a few days to remember what I really care about most in life.  During this reset I need to focus on what I want more of, not what I am doing wrong or what needs changed.  It’s like pushing the button on the old Nintendo system when your game would freeze up.  It doesn’t matter what happened before, I can only work on what I want to happen now.  Resets are so important to me and lately I have just pushed them off my to do list.  I got so caught up in being better that I had forgotten that I am already pretty good.

 

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What is next?

Over the next few weeks I am going to figure out how to make sure I get more of what I want.  I’ll be sharing my tips on how to review your current situation, renew your love, and reset your plan.  Join me…

 

 

Part 1 of Back to School Lunch Tips

I pack lunch because it ensures my kids are getting the fuel they need for the day.  It’s the worst when they come off that bus hungry, tired and crying…. not how I want to spend my afternoon.  So I put together a few east tips to make packing lunches easier.

 

Tip #1 – Know How Much your Kids Need to Eat Everyday

My son is 65 lbs and nearly 4.5 feet tall, at our last doctor appointment I asked how much should I be feeding him.  I feel like he is a bottomless pit, often he eats more a meal times than I do.  The doctor laughed and said for his size and activity level about 2000 calories per day was good for him.  2000 Calories per day!  That is more than I eat!  Now to be clear I don’t count calories for him, that would drive me crazy.  I do however portion out his food because I know he only has 30 minutes and his stomach isn’t even the size of a fist.  If I over pack his lunch he will eat some of it and probably throw the rest away.  Why waste the food?

There are several resources on the internet to find out just how much your child needs to eat daily or you can call your doctor for an appointment.

 

 

Tip #2 – Know your School Rules

So many school are nut free these days due to allergies, in fact my daughter school was shell fish free one year.  And let’s not forget the year there was no red dye allowed because the lunch room had new carpet. (Who puts carpet in a preschool lunch room?)  The truth is some kids have deadly allergies, so if your school had restrictions you need to respect them.  I also know that any extra attention for a teacher or lunch monitor would make my shy oldest child wither up.  School is hard enough as it is, make sure you know the rules and follow them from day 1.

 

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Tip #3 –  Back a Healthier Lunch

Make a few small changes to create a healthier lunch box. Remember that time you went cold turkey and cut all carbs?  Did it suck?  Now think about your kids, if you throw their normal lunch out the window and replace it with tofu skewers and star fruit they aren’t going to be happy.  And you know what else? they aren’t going to eat it!  My favorite example for a healthier option would be PB&J.  You can switch to whole grain bread, use all natural peanut butter (just peanuts and salt) and use no sugar added jelly.  Simple changes to make lunch a bit better for you child!

Later in the week I’ll share the second part on my Lunch Packing tips.

 

Back to School Lunches

Lately I feel like school lunches have become a huge topic of discussion.  Are the “hot lunches” that schools provide the best option for our children?  What makes up a school lunch? Is it mystery meat like that talk about on TV?  How much does a school lunch cost? Now, let’s not forget about packing lunches!  I feel as though it’s turned into some kind of crazy competition to make the most outrageous lunch for your child.  You don’t need to search very hard to find hundreds of ideas for cutesy lunches, some of them are really great ideas.  Some ideas look like you need to have a culinary arts degree to pull it off!  

I have news for you…  There are no awards given to the parent that packs the most expensive lunch.  There are no awards given to the child that eats the most exotic food.  There are no awards given, because there is no competition.  Parents we have enough to worry about, why try to one up each other over lunches?  

 

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I’m turning my focus toward learning what my children need to fuel their bodies.  Being in school all day is hard work and they last thing I want is a hungry crying kid to get off the bus.  Over the next month I’ll be posting my top 5 tips for packing your child’s lunch.  I will also include photos of some of the lunches I pack and where I have found the best deals on lunch and snack supplies.  If you want to see my daily lunch photos be sure to follow me on Instagram Almost_Supermom_Fit and follow me on Facebook.

My Basic Monthly Meal Plan

Meal planning is a big deal to me, it keeps me sane!

We are busy and dinner is the one time of day that all four of us can sit down together and reconnect.  Between work schedule, kids sports, and life in general it would be easy to get take out several nights a week… but I make it my mission to avoid it.  There are tons of other things that I am willing to give up, but making my family a decent meal isn’t one of them.  Honestly it brings me joy to cook and to hear G say “good dinner Mom.”

Before we get much farther… If you are expecting beautiful “food porn” photos, a complete grocery list including prices, a cute little printable, nutritional information,  all organic ingredients (gluten free, paleo, dairy free) or anything else like that, you can look away now.  I don’t have the time or the technical skills for that. I WILL give you my basic list of easy meals that we eat (and like) on a regular basis.  Each meal has 30 minutes or less of hands on time and no hard to find ingredients.

All these meals can be doubled for larger families.  There are 4 of us, but my kids eat like adults and each meal is plenty enough for dinner. (Most days the hubby takes left overs for lunch the next day.)  You can always double them and save one for later too!

 

Click here to view my list: Basic meal planner  It contains 9 recipes, so if you double it that’s 18 meals!  I also gave you a few small changes you could make to shake up your menu.  For instance make Parmesan Pork Chops one night and the next week sub chicken for pork, it’s like a totally different meal.

So let’s just say you don’t double the meal, but you do use my substitutions… you end up with 13 meals.  So what do you make the rest of the month?  I try to make 3-4 new recipes a month.  If it is something we like then I can add it to our regular rotation. I also have my stand by meals, the ones I always have ingredients on hand for:

Breakfast for dinner (Pancakes, bacon, and eggs)

Fried rice (I use left over meat and 2 scrambled eggs for protein)

Whole wheat pasta and salad

Chef salad

Spicy Pork Noodles

Burgers on the grill

Pork Tenderloin on the grill with veggies

 

Of course we have our nights when nothing goes my way and we eat frozen pizza or grilled cheese.  I’m no Mary Poppins! I also plan that we will eat out once a month (twice if I have a coupon.)  That pretty much covers dinner for 20+ days.

 

Do you already meal plan or are you new to it?  What are your stand by meals?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Outside

Today my kids get to leave school a bit early (thanks Grandparents day!) and I cannot wait to take them to the park.  Lately life has been so busy.  I have had a hard time being the mom.  I have had a hard time balancing work, kids, sports, my marriage, and keeping up my house.  But today I am going to put all that on the back burner and I am going to play with my kids, because they deserve it and I do too!

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