5 Reasons to Meal Plan

Meal planning is one of those topics that either excites or agitates people.  I fall into the first category of people. I can’t say that the actual act of meal planning makes my heart flutter, but it does put a smile on my face once it is done. It certainly makes me happy as the week progresses and the plan is in place. Meal planning has made a big difference in my life.  Here are my top 5 reasons you should meal plan.

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  1. It saves you time.  Who wants to spend the good part of your Saturday morning wandering around the grocery store trying to figure out what you are going to feed your family for the next week? Who wants to go to the store almost every afternoon in search of the necessary items for that night’s meal? Who wants to stare into the cupboards each evening hoping some meal idea pops into your head? Our time is precious, and meal planning saves time. Taking the 15 to 20 minutes to meal plan each week will save you hours that might be wasted wandering the store on a Saturday morning, rushing to the store each afternoon or staring at your cupboard each evening.
  2. It saves you money.  If you don’t have a plan then you aren’t focused when shopping for the week. You pick up more items than you need. You forget to buy something, return to the store later and get that forgotten item plus a few more (expensive) extras. Lack of a meal plan can also result in calling for expensive take out which equals a hit to your wallet once again. Meal planning saves you money because you have a focused purpose when shopping, you have the items you need for each night’s meal, and you aren’t calling for take out in a moment of desperation.
  3. It saves your sanity.
    Trying to come up with a meal idea each night is exhausting. We’re often tired, the kids might be cranky, and everyone is hungry. It’s not an ideal time to make a decision about a dinner choice. Meal planning ahead of time allows you the opportunity to carefully consider your calendar, your food options and your needs for the week.
  4. It makes grocery shopping easier.
    When you have a meal plan you can create an organized shopping list. When you have an organized shopping list you can shop with ease.  Grocery shopping is not one of my favorite tasks, but meal planning has made a not-so-favorite task more bearable.
  5. It brings health and variety to your meals.  I don’t believe every meal has to be complicated or fancy. In fact, I am a strong supporter of the simple meal. A meal plan allows the opportunity to think through your choices for the week and choose a variety of foods that are tasty and healthy and good for your family. You can also plan ahead for surprise ice cream sundaes on an ordinary Thursday night!

I am such a big fan of meal planning, and it’s a favorite topic of mine.  It doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. I believe that if you start making it a part of your weekly routine you will be happy about the time, money and sanity you save and about how much easier and healthier your grocery shopping will be.

I plan to do an upcoming post on how I meal plan, but for now I want to know, what about you? Are you a meal planner?  If you are not meal planning now, what are your hesitations?

Until next time,

 Charissa

 

5 Ways to Pray Throughout the Day

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When I was growing up I would usually wake to find my mom reading her Bible and praying each morning. Seeing her that way was so familiar and comforting. I, too, have always liked the idea of rising early and spending time in God’s Word and in prayer. There have been various seasons of my life when this has worked out very well; in others, an early wake time has just not been possible. I have found myself in one of these seasons again because of my early rising 3 year old. I desire to get up early (before my children), but there is (for me) a “too early”. Prayer and time with the Lord is a priority, but I know I need a certain amount of sleep, too. My early rising child has made the early time alone with God more challenging. I have been thinking about and implementing creative ways to pray throughout the day as I do life.

Here are 5 of my favorite ways to pray throughout the day:

  1. Text or email a prayer to a friend or family member. It’s common to pass along the phrase, “I’m praying for you”. What if instead you chose to write out the prayer for that person? It doesn’t have to be long or fancy. Just include a line or two of prayer and hit the send button.
  2. Place prayer bookmarks in some of the books you are reading. I create lists of names of people for whom I want to pray, and pop the lists in the books I am reading. When I open up the book and see the bookmark I stop and pray for the list of people before reading.
  3. Create a prayer list or journal and keep it in your purse or car. This is a practice I am hoping to establish this year. Many years ago I created a small poster with the names of close family and friends. I hung this poster in my closet, and it was a reminder to pray for these special people. Similarly, keeping a list of people and requests in a purse or car is a great way to encourage prayer during unusual blocks of time throughout the day (like waiting in the pick up line or sitting in a waiting room).
  4. Pray over your children while they are sleeping. I am a big fan of praying with your kids, but I also like to pray over my children as they sleep. I check on my children before I head to bed and find that it is a great time to kneel beside a bed and pray for them. I can pray for those things that I might not be as comfortable praying about with them. It’s a beautiful moment.
  5. Do the alphabet prayer.  This type of praying can happen anytime throughout the day. I use it when I am struggling to fall asleep. I start with “A” and think of someone I know who has a name beginning with that letter. I say a quick prayer for them and then move to the next letter.  This is a unique way to pray, and I am normally asleep by “L”, so it’s a good sleeping tool, too!

I hope you have found a tip or two here that encourages you to pray throughout your day.

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

What about you?  How do you pray throughout your day?

Until next time,

~Charissa

Quick Tip: Use a timer to keep yourself from running late

quicktiptimer1Prior to being a mom I was quite good at getting myself to appointments, meetings, and events on time. With the addition of each child I found myself running just a few minutes late and this newfound habit was troubling me. My current solution? Use a timer to keep me on track. Usually 45 minutes to 1.5 hours before leaving for an appointment, event or just a simple gathering, I will set my kitchen timer. I determine what time I want to be in the car with all three children settled into their seats and set the necessary time needed between the current time and the “everyone’s in their seats ready to go” time. The kitchen timer is the best option for me because it is centrally located, and I can check it as I do a quick clean up, get my youngest dressed, and complete any other last minute tasks. This one simple act of setting my timer has brought me back to a place of being on time, and that makes me happy!

What about you?  What do you do to make sure you are on time?

Until next time,

Charissa

DIY Mirror for $2!!

I am not a DIYer. I repeat, I am not a DIYer. I am not crafty. I am not artsy. I want to be better in this area, so I am taking some baby steps in that direction. Below I am sharing a DIY mirror I created for $2 with two items I purchased at the Dollar Tree.

I was looking for a small mirror for my daughter’s room, but I was not looking to spend a lot of money. I decided to check out my favorite place to shop when I’m looking to save money, the Dollar Tree!!

I purchased a mirror. It was a boring mirror. Yawn.

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I also purchased duct tape. It was interesting and original duct tape. Yay!

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Together these two inexpensive items made a cute mirror for my daughter’s room. She is more than pleased with her very own mirror. I am pretty satisfied with my first DIY.

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What about you? Do you DIY? Anyone else DIY-challenged?

Until next time,

Charissa

 

5 Ways to Simplify a Child’s Birthday Party

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Celebrating a child’s birthday is an important and special tradition, but parties can become stressful especially if you feel like you need to compete or keep up with the other parties you hear about or those your children attend. Perhaps your circle of friends is throwing elaborate and fancy first year birthday parties. Maybe your neighbor rented a tent and a pony last summer for her son’s fifth birthday. Maybe your child’s best friend had a huge party with a band to celebrate his 16th year. Whatever the circumstance, you can quickly feel the pressure to throw the birthday of the year (or your child’s life). Here are some of my ideas on how you might simplify your child’s next birthday party.

  1. Decrease the number of attendees. It’s normal for a child to want to invite every student in his class or the entire neighborhood.  Perhaps larger numbers mean more fun and presents for your child, but it also equals more time, energy and chaos. Consider decreasing the amount of people you invite. Ask your child to choose 2 or 3 special friends. If your child attends school send the invites through the mail or by email to prevent hurt feelings from other classmates.
  2. Decrease the duration of the party. A party doesn’t have to last the entire afternoon to be a fun. A party that lasts 2 hours is a reasonable and welcome length of time for both the host and those celebrating. 
  3.  Forgo party favors. Yes, it has become quite popular to pass out favors at a child’s party, but it isn’t a requirement. I have never passed out favors at one of our parties, and I have yet to receive the evil eye in response to my choice. Do any of us really need extra candy or small toys in our homes? A favor-free party might just be a welcome change for you and for those attending your event.
  4. Take the celebration to a free venue. There are many places that advertise and rent space for birthday celebrations, but they obviously cost money.  If you want to spend your money in other ways think about taking your celebration to a free venue. We have had a number of friends and family host parties at a local playground. We hosted a September birthday party for our oldest at a nearby beach, and everyone had a blast! A memorable birthday doesn’t have to happen at an expensive venue; so look at free options around you, and try something new.
  5. Skip the party. Two of our children share a birthday month, and this year we decided to skip hosting a party for them. Instead, we made a family trip to a children’s museum and enjoyed a day of fun. We told our children that this was the plan for the year, and they were completely on board with the change. Parties can be fun, but if you are looking to try something new and give yourself and your children a break, perhaps skipping the party is a good option for you.
    birthdaypresentI hope this post has given you some ideas to inspire your next party.  Please know that big, elaborate, expensive parties don’t have to be the norm. A simple, smaller, and meaningful event could be the birthday memory your child talks about for years to come.

What about you? How do you simplify your child’s parties?

Until next time,

Charissa