Checklist for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Do you want to know my secret for a stress-free Thanksgiving? (or any big family meal for that matter…)  Yeah? Okay. Just have your Dad, who loves to cook, prepare all the main dishes and Turkey, then all you have to do is bring along the dessert. ;)

While this is a realistic scenario for our Thanksgiving and special occasions, (my dad is the best!) I’m sure it’s not for most families.  We can get away with this because we usually have a maximum of 8 people to serve.

Since I know big family meals can be hectic (I’ve experienced many of my husband’s extended family get-togethers), I thought creating a checklist would be really helpful to those of you that want to cut back on some chaos.

This checklist doesn’t tell you what to cook (I trust you have your family favourites) but I’m hoping it will give you a guideline for when things can be completed.  Also, I realize that Canadian Thanksgiving is only a week away, but I think this checklist can be used for any holiday dinner. Simply click on the image below or click here to download your free Checklist for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving.

Checklist for a stress-free thanksgiving

How to you lessen the stress of big family meals?  Also, I’d love to hear what goes on your Thanksgiving menu in the comments!

DIY Recipe Binder (with Free Printables)

recipe-binder

Do you love to keep your favourite recipes in a binder?  You’ve got to check out this easy DIY recipe binder from SimplyKierste.com!  She’s got free printables for you so it’s easy to organize a recipe binder!

How to Meal Prep for a Week

How to meal prep for a week

Preparing meals ahead of time can be a big time and money saver. You’re doing all of your cooking on one day, and will be saving money because you’re only buying the ingredients you know you need.

Cooking all your breakfasts, lunches and dinners for a week, in one day, may seem daunting, but with these tips you’ll be able to meal prep for a week and not have to wonder, “What’s for dinner?” anymore!

Find your recipes. Before even starting the process, you should print out the recipes you will be using for the week. This means printing or writing down recipes for all meals for 7 days. If you will be making snacks, like homemade granola bars or protein bars, print those recipes as well. Now you have a master list of all the ingredients you will need.

Divide up your grocery store list. Go through each recipe and categorize each item. Your grocery list should have sections broken down into protein, carbs, vegetables, fruits, spices, and other. Doing this will make it much easier (and quicker) to find the things you need when you’re at the grocery store.

Buy the right containers. If this is something you will be doing on a regular basis, you want to make sure you have durable containers that are made to last. Don’t skimp out on this.

Cut your vegetables and fruits. Once you’re back from the grocery store, start by chopping up your vegetables and fruits. Organize them by whether you’re using them as a snack or will be using them as ingredients in a meal.

Use the oven. The oven is great for baking meats, potatoes, vegetables and more. Make a list of every item that needs to go in the oven and put it all in. If your oven is going to be on, you might as well cook everything at once!

Use your slow cooker. Many people who meal prep like to make freezer meals. This can be preparing something, like meatballs, and freezing them to cook at a later date, or preparing an entire meal which will then be thawed and cooked. If you have a slow cooker, doing this is especially easy. Take a look at my post 9 Slow Cooker Freezer Meals or you could Google slow cooker freezer meals to find recipes. Even if you don’t want to freeze your meals, you can still prepare all of the ingredients you’ll need and use your slow cooker to cook the meal. It will save you time all week!

Use different seasonings. One can only eat so much plain chicken. When you go grocery shopping, make sure to pick up different seasonings for each meal. Get creative with how you season or marinate your protein options.

Make one huge dish. If you don’t want to prepare 5 different dinner options, you can make enough of one recipe that will last you a few days. Find one you really like and cook it in bulk. If you have meals or items that will last longer than 3 days, put the leftovers in the freezer and cook it when you’re ready.

Make grab and go meals. The last step is to just divide everything up into your containers. Take each meal and put it in a container so it is ready to go for each day of the week.

Meal prep can be a great way to save time throughout the week. Although it may take a full day on the weekend, once you know what meals you’re making and what ingredients you’ll need, you’ll become more efficient at it. No more worrying about what’s for lunch or dinner!

Do you do any sort of meal prep at your home?  What does your current system look like?

Non Planner’s Guide to Menu Planning

NonPlanningMenuPlan

Do you like the idea of planning a regular menu, but have difficulty with actually making plans or sticking with them? Check out this Non Planner’s Guide to Menu Planning over at I Heart Planners.

150 Dollar Store Organizing Ideas

dollar store organizing

Organize your home on a budget!

DIY & Crafts has rounded up 150 dollar store organizing ideas and projects for the entire house!  What are your favourite things from the dollar store that you use for organizing?

14 Free Home Management Printables

Family-Management-Binder-Collage

Check out this great freebie!  Perfect for those that want to get more organized at home!

Amy from MomAdvice.com is offering 14 FREE Home Management Binder Printables when you sign up for her email newsletter!

Cozi: Free Family Organizer App

300x250 Free Email Registration Banner

Are you looking to get your family a bit more organized?  You should check out the Cozi app!  It’s FREE to sign up for!

Cozi is a free calendar app and website (that was named a must-have app by The Today Show!) that helps families stay organized and manage it all:

  • Everything in one place: calendar, shopping lists, to-do lists and more
  • One account the whole family can share
  • Accessible on any device (iPhone/iPad, Android, PC and Mac), at home and on the go

Sign up for Cozi today and you’ll finally have one place to manage school schedules, sports activities, meal plans, chores and more.

What do you use or do for family organization?

The Benefits of Being Intentional

Benefits of Being Intentional

I’m sharing a bit of my life with you today.  I hope to do this more often, because Simply Frugal is my “voice” and behind my voice there is more than coupons, freebies and sales! :)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.  About life in general but also about being intentional.  Intentionality is something that has been lacking in my life to some degree for some time now.  Since becoming a mother just over two years ago, I’ve really noticed my need to be more intentional.  It’s taken me getting to some of my lowest points in my life to come to the realization that things aren’t just going to get better without some work and intentionality. Whining won’t fix it either ;)

Relationships, the website and other areas of my life have taken a hit.  I’m sad, because those things are important to me!  But I guess I needed the lesson of hitting bottom in order to wake up with a new zest for life.  While I’ll always be a work in progress, I feel as though I know some of the steps I need to take at this moment in order to gain traction.

Being intentional has many benefits:

  • Better relationships
  • Better grip on finances
  • Better time management
  • The creation of things that have impact
  • More rest
  • More happiness

Here’s how, I intend on implementing more intentionality into some areas of my life:

Relationships:  Speak kind and encouraging words to friends and family, especially my husband.  Less whining (especially in front of my husband.)

Finances: Create a budget and keep track of all spending and income, thus creating more intentional spending habits.

Time: Make to-do lists every day.  I flounder without a list and I’ve too often gone without a list and felt discouraged at the end of the day because I “didn’t get anything done”.

Menu planning: I plan on revamping my menu plan system to create something really easy to follow.  Stay tuned for details

Simply Frugal:  Along with the daily coupons, deals and freebies, I want to create helpful products for you that will help you be more intentional in your life.  I’ll roll out more details as they become clearer to me.

Myself: Take time to read Take naps on Sunday afternoon if I feel like it.  Take time away from the website to enjoy a morning out and not feel guilty “a certain number of posts” aren’t up.  Because it’s only me behind Simply Frugal, I feel a lot of pressure to do all.the.things. all.the.time.

Mothering: Take the time to talk and snuggle with Sienna.  Also take the time needed to implement some discipline even if it isn’t “convenient” for me at the time. (Does unruly behaviour ever come at a convenient time?)

Friends, how are you doing?  Are you struggling with any areas in your life?  Do you need to implement more intentionality into your life? How can I help?

5 Inventive Ideas for Mason Jars

5 Inventive Ideas for Mason Jars

Mason jars can be found in almost any store these days.  They even make plastic containers that look like mason jars!
While they are easy to find brand new, thrift stores and garage sales are great places to find older mason jars.

If you happen to have some empty mason jars around your house, here are 5 inventive ideas for mason jars:

Pantry Storage

Mason jars are great for pantry storage solutions.  Make your own labels and use them to organize your pantry. (I love these printable Chalkboard ones from World Label)  The larger mason jars are great for items like pasta or rice.  Mason jars are generally  a great solution because they’re decorative and because they’re made of glass, you can see exactly what’s in them.

Bathroom Storage

Mason jars are also great for storing bathroom supplies like cotton balls, cotton swabs, makeup sponges and even little soaps.  You can also store bobby pins.  I have found they are especially great to hold makeup brushes or toothbrushes.

Sewing Kit in a Jar

All you need to create a sewing kit in a jar is fabric, batting, spray paint and of course the mason jars.  Here is how to make them:

  1. Spray the lid whatever color you want it to be.
  2. Then, use the lid of the mason jar to draw a circle on the fabric; you want the circle to be about an inch wider then the jar.
  3.  Cut the fabric circle out.
  4. Turn the lid upside down and place it on the fabric circle.  Using a hot glue gun put a line of hot glue almost all the way around the lid and start folding the fabric over onto the lid bunching it as you go.   When you are about 3/4 of the way around the lid, take the batting and stuff it into the opening of the fabric so it is on the top of the lid.  You want it to be even and poofy.  Now glue the last section of the fabric to the lid.
  5. Now on the outer piece (the rim) you will need to make a line of hot glue.  Press the fabric covered section of the lid into the outer piece and let it dry.

Now you can fill the inside of your jar with sewing essentials like thread, thimbles, sewing needles, mini scissors etc.  Once you’ve filled it, screw the lid onto the jar.  Because of the fabric the lid will be a little difficult to screw on.  Now you have a beautiful little sewing kit with a pin cushion lid!  These make great little gifts for teachers, moms or really anyone.  They’re handy to keep in the car incase you have a little fashion emergency that requires a little sewing, such as a fallen off button. (or a broken soccer shin pad in my husband’s case!)

Cookie or Soup Gift Jar

This is a simple gift idea that can look beautiful when everything is carefully put layered in a mason jar.  The best way to layer the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies, for example, is to start with an ingredient like flour and add the other white ingredients like baking soda, baking powder and salt which will mix in with the flour.  Next, add the quick oats or M&Ms or chocolate chips.  Finally, add the brown sugar and/or white sugar.  Tie a ribbon around the top of the jar and add a tag with the directions on what wet ingredients they will need and directions on how to bake the cookies.

For the soups you can add different beans or noodles and other spices and dry ingredients the soup calls for.  Again, layer the ingredients in a way that it looks visually appealing. Don’t instructions on how to cook the soup.

Gift containers

Mason jars make great little gift containers for things like a DIY manicure kit.  Just get all the manicure must-haves like a few
different shades of nail polish and some nail art supplies.  You can find some super cute nail art supplies at dollar stores. Take everything out of the packages so it will fit into the jar better.  Then, to fancy it up a bit, wrap some of the smaller items
in tissue paper and tie it shut with a little thin ribbon or twine.  Add a few cotton swabs and cotton balls and you have your manicure in a jar all ready to give as a wonderful gift!

How have you put mason jars to use in your life?

Creative Ways to Use Ordinary Objects for Organizing

30 creative ways to use ordinary objects for organizing!

Last year I compiled a series of posts featuring creative ways to use ordinary objects for organizing.  The objects featured, are ones that I’m sure you’ve got on hand right now! The ideas are also quite brilliant so I thought I’d bring attention to the posts again to help get your creative organizing ideas rolling!

What’s your favourite idea?