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- Wake up earlier in the mornings. If you wake up with your kids, you may start off your day frazzled and unorganized. Start off with waking a half hour earlier; just enough time to get in some coffee, maybe a shower. You need that quiet time to recharge and prepare yourself. Soon you may find you crave more time and will start waking up earlier. Being an early bird has made me a better mom because I feel like I’ve had that “me time” and can better handle what comes my way.
- Dump all your to-dos and worries on paper first thing. If your mind is constantly swimming with things you have to do that day, you tend to focus on that and stew on it rather than focus on your kids that need your attention. If you can get everything on paper, you may feel better about seeing everything in one place; and from there, you can prioritize and figure out what really needs to be done that day.
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 cup uncooked rice (We used brown)
- 1 bag frozen stir-fry veggies
- 1 bottle prepared General Tso sauce
I am absolutely exhausted after a long and fun weekend! We spent the entire day at Kings Island Saturday, our first visit for the season. It was cold and windy, but zero rain, and the weather kept the crowds away; it was just perfect! I’m glad to be back to a normal day, though.
My biggest excitement with my shopping trip was pork loin at Meijer for $1.29/lb. I ended up buying almost 8 pounds of it for right around 10 dollars; the bigger one is going in the slow cooker today for 4 meals this week, and the smaller one will go in the freezer for a future date. Buying bulk meat when it goes on sale has saved me money, because I can turn something like this pork loin into meals that will last us the whole week. Now, I can probably stretch this meat a whole lot further, but I’ve been extra hungry lately due to taking up running again and upping my workouts. The extra protein certainly helps! Here’s what I bought this week.
Shredded cheese: $12.98
Cinnamon apple straws: $1.99
Baking soda: $.49
White cheddar popcorn: $1.79
2 bags of grapes: $1.98 each
2 bags dark chocolate chips: $1.79 each
Beef jerky: $3.29
Green bell peppers: $1.29
Green onions: $.99
Umbrella: $12.00, got $1.80 off from a 15% off Apparel mPerks. I wouldn’t normally put this in grocery, but we had some extra money this week.
Generic Midol: $4.99
Red onion: $.61
White whole wheat flour: $2.39
Pork loin: $10.04. It was $1.29 a pound, so I got almost 8 pounds!
2 packages strawberries: $2.00 each
5 bags frozen vegetables: $1.00 each
2 bags cole slaw mix: $1.00 each
2 jars salsa: $1.00 each
Sweet potatoes: Free from the 10 for $10
Total: $41.33 after a $2.00 reward I received last week
Weekly Total: $77.71
Lunch is always leftovers. Items marked with an asterisk (*) were purchased in previous weeks.
Tuna noodle casserole* (Pasta and Greek yogurt already purchased), grapes
Pork fried rice* (Rice in pantry), frozen broccoli and peas
Pork taco bowls* (Pork, rice, black beans*, bell peppers), roasted sweet potatoes
BBQ pork pizza (Homemade pizza dough, BBQ sauce*, pork, red onion), coleslaw
BBQ pork topped sweet potatoes, frozen veggies
Pancakes (or extra leftovers night)
Freezer breakfasts* (Carrot cake muffins, blueberry baked oatmeal, pumpkin bread… we’re getting low on these so I’ll have to cook more breakfasts soon!)
What’s on your menu this week? Share below in the comments!
“Just a minute, Allie.”
“Let me finish this first.”
“Let go of my leg, I have to get the laundry.”
I hear myself say this every day. It doesn’t sound like much, but sometimes at the end of the day, I look back and think, “Did I actually play with Allison today?” I fill our day with activities outside the house, lunch, movie, park, dinner, and sometimes another trip after that. And of course, when we’re home, there’s laundry, cooking, and cleaning to do. Everything seems so important and urgent, and then I realize something horrible. I’m essentially ignoring my daughter. Do you feel that way at times? Like you’re just so “busy” that you don’t have time to just sit and enjoy your family? I need to tell you today that you’re not alone.
It’s easy to let little things get in the way of what matters most.
You never really mean to ignore your kids. First you make them go play after breakfast while you empty the dishwasher. Then you have to transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer before you forget. Then you kind of sit and play with them for a couple minutes before you make them go potty, brush their teeth, and get dressed so you can go out for your morning activity. There’s interaction, yes, but is it meaningful? Or is it just enough to get through to the next activity?
I feel like I struggle with this every day. I wake up each morning and tell myself it’ll be different, that I’ll spend more quality time with Allison. But every time, I fail. My priorities are not where they should be, and it affects my entire day. The to-do list swims through my head constantly, and I think to myself, “How can I get out of this???”
You have to keep telling yourself you’re not a bad mom.
There’s nothing wrong with being busy. It’s okay to sometimes fill your day with activities, especially when they’re fun things that your kids enjoy. You’re taking them on playdates, to the park, to the museum… you all have a great time and your kids will remember these moments.
But sometimes that feeling of guilt comes in. What exactly did you do during these activities? Did you interact with them, show them the cool things around you? Or did you stand back and just supervise and watch them play? Neither of those are necessarily good or bad, but you start doubting yourself over the quality of the time you spent together. Was it enough? Did you bond? It’s so hard not to feel guilty that you supposedly ignore your kids, yet that guilt still creeps in and consumes you.
Listen, because this is something I’ve realized and have to keep telling myself: If you feel guilty and concerned about being a bad mom because you feel like you ignore your kids, then you’re not a bad mom at all. You’re making a conscious effort to try. You care. And you can get through this.
You have to overcome your shortcomings, one step at a time.
Maybe you’re just tired. Tired of the monotony of everyday life: Waking up, getting the kids ready and fighting over brushing their teeth, preparing all the meals they may not even eat, and entertaining and teaching them the best you can. At some point you realize you haven’t taken a moment for yourself in who knows how long. If your mind is weary, your whole day will be affected and the cycle continues. Here are some things to try, to clear your mind and make yourself more present for your kids.
Take a deep breath, friend. No matter how deeply stuck you think you may be, you can get out. Tell yourself you don’t ignore your kids; they adore you. You can break those chains of failure and not let your busy-ness get in the way of those mini-yous that just want your presence. You’re an amazing mom who loves her kids and don’t let anything tell you otherwise, including yourself!
Sometimes I just need something simple for dinner, to use what I have in my pantry (see yesterday’s post!). And this General Tso Chicken was super easy! Aldi had bottles of General Tso sauce on sale and that’s my favorite thing to get when I eat Chinese food, so I had to buy one to try out. We weren’t disappointed! Here’s my simple list of ingredients:
Prepare your rice using your desired method. I love my rice cooker for hands-off cooking! While the rice is cooking, heat a pan on the stove and cook the chicken until it’s no longer pink. Add the cooked rice, stir-fry veggies, and General Tso sauce and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are hot and fully cooked.
It serves 4, and is so delicious! You could also add a bag of coleslaw mix (cabbage and carrots) to bulk up the meal, and is super good that way. Adding extra veggies is always nice! Sometimes simple is best, and being able to make dinner using only ingredients in your pantry is even better! Let me know what you think. And if you have a favorite homemade General Tso sauce recipe, please share!
Open up your pantry and take a look. What do you see? Do you even know what’s in there? Utilizing your pantry correctly is an amazing way to make free meals every week; I do it all the time! You’ll soon be able to look at your pantry list, and with just a few ingredients come up with a frugal yet delicious dinner. Here’s an outline of steps you can take to fill your pantry, keep track of your stockpile, and plan meals like a boss!
Stock up when items are on sale
Creating a stockpile in your pantry and freezer is key to being able to make free meals. Keep an eye out for sales on your favorite pantry staples! If salsa is usually $1.69 and right now it’s on sale for $1.00, buy enough to last you a few weeks. I do this constantly with miscellaneous items, even if I don’t need them that week. If they’re at a rock-bottom price, don’t feel bad about getting more than you need right now as long as you eventually use them! I cover the specifics of how much you should stockpile in a previous blog post, but know that having multiples of different items is the best way to start making free meals.
Keep track of what’s in your pantry
Now that you have an amazingly-stocked pantry, you have to start using those items and rotating out the old ones before they start to expire. But food can get lost in the very back, and it can be hard to remember everything you have. That’s why it’s important to keep track of how much food you have, whether it’s in a notebook or on an app like Out of Milk.
The Out of Milk app is also web-based, so you don’t necessarily need to put it on your phone/tablet. But it is convenient to have the app installed, especially if you use their Shopping List feature and go paperless on your shopping trips!
The cool thing about using an app is that some of them can sync multiple accounts, so if your husband takes the last bag of cheese out of the freezer, he can update that on the app and you’ll be able to see it, too. It can take awhile to set up, especially if you have a lot of stuff. But once it’s done and you keep up with it, having a pantry list will help you tremendously!
Use resources to help meal plan
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to look inside your pantry and think, “What can I make tonight/next week?” Luckily, the internet is a vast wealth of information and people have created resources to help you with just that! My favorite website to use for times like this is SuperCook.
On SuperCook, you type in the basic ingredients you have- like pasta, mozzarella, and pizza sauce like above- and the website will pull up recipes that contain those ingredients. The bottom of the page has a suggested ingredient list, so in case you suddenly remember that oh yeah, you DO have chicken in the freezer, you can just click on Chicken and more recipes will show up for you. This site is really handy if you’re not that creative (like me) and just want some meals that don’t contain weird and expensive ingredients you don’t have!
Confession: I actually have a really hard time keeping track of what’s in my house. I keep telling myself I’m going to keep an inventory, but I never get around to it; or when I do, I forget to update it. So this is something we can work on together! Once you get the hang of filling your pantry and keeping track of what’s in there, it becomes much easier to meal plan and stay on budget thanks to those free meals! Do you utilize your pantry to help with grocery shopping? Share any tips you have in the comments below!
Be sure to check out all the posts in my ABCs of Frugal Living series!