3 FREE Printables I Use To Meal Plan

I am a visual person. I like to have everything laid out in front of me. I have been using the “inventory, plan, ad shop” method for awhile now, but always used notebook paper. Once I made these printables, it made it much quicker and easier.  Click on each step to read more about my process and enjoy the 3 FREE printables!

1. Food inventory

Click on the picture to download.

Inventory Planning Meals

2. Meal Planning

Click on the picture to download.

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3. Ad Shopping

Click on the picture to download.

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Must Haves For Babies 0-6 Months

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This one is for all my soon-to-be-moms!

There is so much baby equipment out there that it’s sometimes difficult to determine what you really need for a baby.  Babies don’t need that much if you think about it. Some items are a total waste of money, in my opinion.  I’ve picked out some of the items we actually used the first 6 months of Laikyn’s life.

Teething Bibs – Dual purpose!

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Banana teether – this has been her favorite teether!

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Britax B Agile Travel System – The carseat we used for the other 3 girls was outdated, so we got brand new for Laikyn. Our old travel system was Graco and it was bulky.  The stroller is easy to fold down and open up with one hand.

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Fleece zip up sleeping bag – This is perfect for putting over jammies to keep baby warm at night in place of a blanket.

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4Moms Mamaroo – This was given to us as a gift from my MIL and it was a lifesaver in the beginning.   It rocks 4 different ways (car ride, kangaroo, etc.) AND it has different sounds. Laikyn had to have white noise, and that is included as one of the sounds.

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MAM Bottles and pacifiers – MAM was the first pacifier we found to work with our oldest so we stuck with them. BONUS: Some of the pacifiers glow in the dark!

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Glove Teether – This was one of the first teethers Laikyn used before she could hold anything in her hands.

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Lightweight Carseat Cover – I love this because it slides on and off so easily, and you can use it in the grocery cart as well.

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Fisher Price Sit Me Up – Baby is a lot more stable in this than a Bumbo!

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Velcro Swaddles – These are a THE BEST for a mom who can’t quite perfect the blanket swaddle!

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Ergo Carrier – This is a lifesaver!! Having 3 older kids and a busy life, it was so nice to stick Laikyn in here.  Mine came with a newborn insert that sits her up a bit and wraps her like a cocoon. As she got bigger, I was able to take that out. This is coming from someone who could NEVER figure out those huge long pieces of fabrics people call wraps. LOL!

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White Noise Machine – This has 6 sounds, but we stuck with the white noise.  This was a must for allowing Laikyn to sleep with 3 other kids running around the house making noise. In her room, with this on, you can’t hear anything going on outside of her room!

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Medela Hands-Free Pumping Bra – I never would have lasted very long pumping at work without this bra. I was able to get work done while I pumped instead of holding the bottles on!

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Taking a Food Inventory

Taking a food inventory

A food inventory is ALWAYS my first step in meal planning. Before looking at Pinterest. Before looking at my Meal Categories binder. Before thinking of any meals.

“That will take forever!!!” you are probably thinking.

BUT. If you are consistently doing this method and using up your inventory, this doesn’t take long AND you are saving money by using what you already have. A stocked freezer or pantry is nice in theory, but food is money.

So, moving on to the method.

Inventory Planning Meals

Inventory

1. Inventory your pantry.

Write down anything you have that is useful for a family meal.  No, not the half bag of chips or the 1/2 cup of rice.  I’m talking canned goods, 1/2 or almost full boxes of rice, enough potatoes for your whole family. These are all components that can be used to make a complete meal.

2. Inventory your refrigerator

Same rule as above. Only usable items. This also helps you see what you can quickly throw together for a snack or meal to use up before grocery shopping. 1 nectarine and 1 plum? Great, cut it up for your kids’ snack this afternoon. Use it up! Food. Is. Money.

3. Inventory your freezer

I count freezer meals I’ve prepped in this one as well.  When I freezer prep, it’s because I’ve made a double batch of something or saved some leftovers. These meals are usually used up within a month.  Sometimes I have extra meat because it was an insanely great ad price.

Plan

Look at your list of ingredients and mentally put them together to make a meal. For example, I have rice, tortilla, chicken in the freezer, and Rotel.  All I need is some sour cream and cheddar cheese and I can make enchiladas.  Another example: red sauce and spaghetti noodles. All I need is some ground beef, or we could have a meatless spaghetti. Add these ingredients to the list on the inventory sheet.

Sometimes you will be able to make a full meal without buying anything additional. The key is to look for meals that only need 1-2 ingredients. This way, you are using up what you have and your grocery list is going to be short.

Download your FREE copy of the Inventory sheet I use and check out how I shop for these ingredients and plan my remaining meals: Ad Shopping.

 

 

How I Shop The Ads

How I Shop The Ads

I have 3 main goals when I look through the ads.

  1. Find ingredients that I need for the meals I came up with from my inventory sheet.
  2. Check for staples we always have around the house that may be on sale. Things like salsa, bread, certain produce my kids love, etc.
  3. Look for great deals that can contribute to a meal. This might be meat at a great price, produce on sale that we will eat as a side, or other components like rice and tortillas.

Other tips:

I almost always “settle” for an ad item. What I mean by this is instead of eating broccoli as a side, we will have asparagus because it’s on sale cheaper than the broccoli.

Don’t buy an item just because it’s on sale. Buy it if it’s cheaper than the store brand and you actually NEED it or will USE IT for a meal.

Color code the stores as you make your list. You will be able to see which store has the best deals at a glance, then decide if it’s worth going to that store.

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If there are only 2-3 items in an ad that you need, will use, and is cheaper than store brand, it’s not worth going to the store. I only go to the store if there is a significant amount of sale items.

If you’re new to ad shopping, I suggest starting a price sheet just to start seeing what good prices are. This opened my eyes a ton to seeing what is actually a great sale price. You can read about how I did that here.

Download my Ad Shopping sheet below!

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Meal Planning Made Easy

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How many times have you stared at a blank sheet of paper trying to plan meals but the same meals come to mind? This happened to me so often…probably every week! Luckily, sometimes I wrote down our meals in my planner, so I would flip back through. I wasn’t consistent so it only helped a little. I knew I needed a better system.

Insert my meal planning binder!

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I began thinking of meals in categories. I’m not organized or consistent enough to actually have themed days like Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday. (I would rather have a list of meals and choose the one I feel like making that night.) But once I started listing down meals by category, it was so much easier to think of all of the possibilities.  In order to keep it all in one place, I created this printable and store it in a 3-ring binder.

Click below to get yours! You can print off the pages that apply to your family.

Meal Planning Categories

Monthly Must-Haves [January]

I wanted to start a new monthly series sharing some of my current favorite things. I love product recommendations because I can spend waaayy too long in the aisle or on Amazon trying to decide what to get. I would rather someone just tell me! So here are some things I am loving this month:

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Stress Away – Not sure if this makes me any less stressed or the kids any calmer, but I LOVE the smell of this. Find an oils lady! I have one I can refer you to if you don’t know anyone!

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Thieves – We have been running this through the diffuser like crazy.  I am not convinced that it does much for preventing illnesses, but people say it works so I guess it can’t hurt?? Get with your oil lady, or I can give you the name of mine!

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Diffuser – We have a diffuser in each bedroom and one in the main living room. I am not partial to any certain one that we have, but I do like these that have the lights for the girls’ rooms. I got all of these from Amazon, decently priced, and they all work the same!

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Osmo – This was a Christmas gift for the kids, and it has added an all new use for the ipad.  They are playing and learning without realizing how much work they’re actually doing.  It’s a great addition to inside winter activities. I will do another in-depth post on this soon!

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3minutemiracle   3-Minute Miracle – Our kids’ hair is SO tangly and unmanageable. I saw this at Walmart and thought we’d give it a shot. They use it once a week and I can notice a difference! Jadyn and Breckyn have thin, wavy hair so it’s always frizzy and tangly, but this helps make it smooth.

growshampoo Hair Lengthening Shampoo – We just started using this because Jadyn and Breckyn’s hair never seems to grow.  I can’t say we’ve noticed any difference yet, but it may be too soon. I’ll report back later on this!

Meal Replacement Shake – Look, I can’t get up early during the winter to save my life because of the darkness.  I barely have time to get the kids and myself ready, let alone eat breakfast.  This is my go-to breakfast every weekday morning. I mix it up, stick it in the freezer, then drink it on the way to work. 16g of protein keeps me full until lunch AND it has load of vitamins.

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Old Navy 7/8 Leggings – I ordered these online and crossed my fingers that they fit. Short girl problems means full-length workout leggings are scrunched at the bottom.  These fit perfectly!! They’re supposed to be a little shorter, above the ankle but for short girls, they work for full-length leggings! Also – I prefer the mid-rise in these…high rise are just too high!

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lotionAveeno Lotion – As a teacher, I wash my hands or use sanitizer more times than I can count, leaving my hands dry and cracked. I keep this at school and put it on often.

lotion2Shower Lotion – I tried this because I received a sample from a Walmart Beauty box. At first, it’s kind of weird because you put the lotion on while you are still wet, but you get used to it and it definitely helps!

drops   Pink Eye Drops – This month, my whole family was sick for a week with influenza and then I ended up with pink eye somehow! We had been to the doctor so many times that I wasn’t about to go back. John picked this up and surprisingly, it cleared up my pink eye! My daughter got pink eye the next week, and after 3 doses of this, hers cleared up as well!

Feature Friday: Kari

Every Friday, I hope to do a Feature Friday to introduce you to bloggers/people I enjoy.  My first ever Feature Friday is my good friend, Kari over at My Wildflower Life.  We met in an airport because we both had won an Advocare incentive trip and proceeded to spend the next week together in Vegas.  She has such a big heart and keeps me motivated to continue to do the things I love.  We remind each other that nobody’s opinion (other than God’s) matters.  Her writing is open, honest, and relatable. I know you’ll love her! 

 

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Last year around this time, I was a lost soul. Completely broken. Didn’t think I had a purpose in this life. I was in a deep, dark hole that had no light in sight.

When my blog came to life I was scared and insecure. I wasn’t sure what my blog would be and where I would go. But I started it anyways.

Knowing my blog will be a year old this week, I’ve honestly struggled with what this next year will bring. What should my blog offer? What do people even like to read?

I’m not a great cook, so can’t post recipes. I like to think my style is pretty simple and boring, so fashion posts are out.

I’ve come to realize that me being completely honest with my readers about my struggles, my journey of self worth and finding my purpose is what my blog truly is. I only know what goes on in my head (mostly crazy thoughts) and the experiences I have.

My purpose in this life is to help others. To share my story. Being able to share the good, bad and ugly about my life will help someone else. That’s all I want. I want to give hope to someone else.

I have such big dreams and visions for this “blog thing.” It’s time to make those a reality.

In order to make my visions come to life, I have to stop worrying about what others think. I have to stop wishing I could be like those other ladies on Instagram. I’m not them and their life & blogs are different for a reason.

Letting go of all that fear will bring my spirit to life. And you, sweet friend, you can let your soul come to life as well. Stop comparing yourself and your life to others. We are all out on this earth on purpose, for a purpose.

Your purpose is different than mine and that’s okay! Maybe our purposes can go hand in hand and change the world.

I’ve made friends on Instagram that have taught me to stop comparing. Stop pretending to be something you’re not. Be YOU!

Stop comparing your kids, your parenting skills or mistakes, your marriage, and your weight to others around you.

We can all learn from each other if we just stop trying to compete and compare. Wouldn’t it be amazing to walk into a room and not be scared of what others think of you?! Do it! Walk into that room and don’t care what others think.

Be confident in yourself. Be YOU. When you’re confident, you shine bright. Don’t let anyone steal your sparkle. It’s yours!

I’m excited  to see where this “blog thing” takes me this year. Who knows, maybe this hobby will turn into a book someday. (That would be pretty rad!) Dream big. Start living your life the way you were supposed to.

 


You can find Kari on Facebook and Instagram too!

December Acts of Kindness

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If you’ve been trying to think of ways to get your kiddos involved in acts of service or kindness, look no further! I’ve got you covered with 16 activities – 4 per week – for you to do with your children.

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Download the printable strips, cut them out, and choose how you want to reveal them to your kiddos.   If you don’t want to print them, you could write them on a calendar to plan ahead when you will do each one.

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Download here:

December Acts of Kindness

I put ours in a cute, little stocking.

I hung it in our kitchen, and I’ll let the girls take turns choosing one out of the stocking. If it happens to be something we can’t do that day (ie: take coffee to a teacher on Saturday), we will just re-draw.

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I hope you are able to use this with your kiddos! I would love to hear other ways you are spreading kindness and Christmas cheer this month!

Gift Ideas For 4-Year-Old Girls

After making a gift guide for my 6-year-old and 8-year-old, I thought I may as well do it for the other two girls! These are all items that my girls currently have, but are played with the most by my preschooler.

She received these last year for Christmas and all of the girls get them out to play with pretty often! The little rubbery pieces just pop together. You can make bracelets, rings, necklaces, and crowns!

 

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The most-played-with toy of all time in our house is Magnetiles. The real Magnetiles are pretty expensives, so we usually buy the off-brand. We have 2-3 different brands and they all hold together really well! One Christmas, we bought some windows, small rectangles, and a piece to make a car.

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My 4-year-old is obsessed with every Look & Find book we own. She will probably be getting another one this year because I am bored of doing Minnie’s Look & Find at bedtime!!

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We have a few different sets of these Memory games. Definitely a fun past time for all of the girls!

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I can’t count how many times we have played tic-tac-toe on this little board this week alone!

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Kinetic Sand is more messy than Play-Doh, but it’s super cool how it molds and falls apart at the same time.

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Breckyn does a puzzle a day and especially likes these floor puzzles!

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This little cash register is perfect for playing store!

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We have had a couple of these and they’re a lot of fun for preschool age. They have to match the sticker to certain spots on the page.

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Girls like Legos too!

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Gift Ideas for an 8-year-Old Girl

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I am an Amazon Prime shopper 100%. My memory isn’t as good as it once was, BUT I believe almost all of my Christmas gifts were purchased from Amazon last year. I like being able to find the best price and the “You might also like . . .” feature is amazing for gift ideas.

Below are a few ideas I am considering as Christmas gifts for my oldest daughter…

She is very into making things right now….you know, the “s” word. Dare I say it? Slime.  I’m ready for them to move on from the slime fad, so maybe buying her a bath bomb kit might help?

 

She loves journals and diaries. I have purchased a few in the past that have fun questions and prompts, which were her favorite. This looked like something my journal-loving girl would enjoy:

 

Every girl needs some smelly gel pens to go along with her journal.

 

This summer, she was very interested in trying out her cousin’s guitar so we have been throwing that idea around. We probably wouldn’t purchase off Amazon, but putting this here as an idea!

 

How to draw with step-by-step directions…

We already have this book, but it is worth mentioning incase you don’t own it already. It has been read and reread so many times that the pages are ripping! It’s the best book if your kiddo loves learning and is always asking questions.

I know my 8-year-old would think this book is amazing just because she enjoyed the above book.

All of my girls were obsessed with baking shows on Netflix this summer and decided to have their own baking competition show. I can see her loving to try new, actual recipes!

And to go with the cookbook, an apron!

 

If you missed it, be sure to check out my gift guide for 6-year-olds!

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