Meal Planning for Busy Moms


Oh, busy mama.  I know that you’re tired.  It’s late afternoon and you’ve almost survived another hectic homeschool day. The clean laundry is dumped out over the couch.  The baby’s about to awake from his afternoon nap.  One child is still working nearby, trying to correct their math.  Two kiddos are sent outside to play, but before closing the door, one looks up and asks the dreaded question…

‘What’s for dinner, mom?’

Stop!  Let’s halt this scenario. 
This daily question doesn’t have to be faced with apprehension.

Here are a few easy steps that have kept this mama of five sane over the last several years…

1)  List the Main Dish
Make a list of 20-30 main dish dinners that your family enjoys. When plotting out our meals on the Menu Plan sheet (step 2), I refer to my Main Dish List sheet which contains about 25+ meals that we can rotate through.  Having a Main Dish List makes the chore of planning meals for each night of the week so much quicker!  It means that I don’t have to recreate a meal each time.  I just need to choose one and write it in!

2) Print and Plot
I use a printable Menu Plan sheet for each week in which I chart out our dinners. I like the sheets because I can add any notes about activities we are doing each day, evening commitments, a reminder to thaw a meal the day before it is needed, etc.  The sheet also has a sidebar to list items required to purchase.  I usually plan meals for 2-3 weeks at a time (marking them in pencil for flexibility), utilizing my Main Dish List.  Although planning for several weeks may sound daunting, I’ve found that it actually saves me time and mental energy in the long run. 

3) Shop, Wash, & Chop
Once you’ve made your meal plan and have a list in hand, you are ready to shop!  Since you are planning in advance, you could easily choose to visit the store less frequently, but our family still gets groceries weekly.  That’s just how we roll.  You may wish to wash and cut any fresh fruits and vegetables after returning from the store in order to save you even more time during the week as well.

4)  Follow the Plan
As much as possible, try to stick to the meal plan that you have written.  It can save both time and money.  However much you plan though, it is inevitable that you’ll choose to have company over at the last minute or have an activity come up that can throw off your meal plan.  If you wrote your plan in pencil, you can easily switch a couple of meals around or circle them as a reminder to save them for your next round of meal planning.

One last suggestion…. Consider choosing meals that can either be prepared in the crockpot or can be doubled and frozen.  It isn’t much trouble to either double a meal or divide it in half for two 8 by 8 dishes.   By doubling or splitting the portion (depending on your family size), you can then eat a meal that night AND freeze an identical meal for a future date!  (Do make sure to keep track of what’s available in your freezer.)

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The ‘What’s for Dinner’ question should be anticipated daily.  With one quick look at your Menu Plan sheet, you’ll have the answer!  Now, if only the meal would make itself. =)

This is just one way we’ve attempted to make meal planning manageable in our own home.  What meal planning suggestions do you have for busy mamas?

Meal Planning Printables

FREE Meal Planning Printables!
Printable Main Dish List– to list your family’s favorite dinner meals
Printable Menu Plan– a sheet to plan your dinners and grocery list
Printable Freezer Meals – a sheet to keep track of what’s in your freezer

Crockpot Ideas and Freezer Meals on Pinterest

Persevering in the Race

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We began our 2016-2017 school year with an Olympic theme
– “Racing Into a Great Year!”

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Much more important than the flag decorations, Olympic ring colored streamers, yummy special foods, and fun activities, I pray that the kids and I will continually reflect on the verses we studied during our devotional time that day.

perseverance

Our main verse was from Hebrews 12:1-3…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

What race are we on?  Well, obviously, we are not in an Olympic running race.  However, if you have accepted God’s One and Only Son Jesus as your Lord and Savior, your race is your daily life.  The ‘race’ we are referring to is our daily Christian walk that we are on with Jesus.

We read passages about how to prepare for the race.  To prepare to run in any race, one must know the rules and go into training.  We learned that, as believers, we need to know God’s rules — and those are found in His Word the Bible.  We need to read, meditate, and memorize His Word so that we can know Him, His heart, His desires, and (yes) even His perfect rules for our lives.

We also looked up Scriptures to try to figure out HOW we can run with perseverance – without giving up when things get hard.  Hebrews already spoke of a huge way to endure – by not letting sin hinder us in our race!   Unwholesome thoughts, desiring our own way, temptations, mocking by others, wanting to give in… are all real struggles that can slow us down and trip us up on our race.   Being prepared by knowing God’s Word will help tremendously.   But, it was when we read Romans 15:4-6 and 13 that we began to see how God has already equipped us to be able to persevere.  We can gain endurance through trusting Jesus, through the reading of His Holy Word, and through the gift of His Holy Spirit that He has given to live within us!  He has provided all of these to bring us hope, joy, peace, and encouragement to press on.

WHY do we need to endure?  What is at stake?  A gold medal is not our end goal and prize in this lifetime.  Hebrews 12 says that we are to keep our focus on Jesus!  We look forward to one day being with Him in heaven, united face to face, no sin, no struggles, praising our Lord and Savior.  Don’t be confused, we are not working our way to heaven.  Our ‘reward’ isn’t earned.  It is a free gift from God that is promised to us once we have repented of our sins and accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  But, we are called to run this race well and to bring glory to Him!  He is faithful.IMG_8404

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With Christ as our foundation, we are looking forward to a great homeschool year.
May we fix our eyes on Jesus!

Summer Olympics 2016

DSC_2709Are you ready?  Opening Ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil begin Friday, August 5th!

DSC_2718Photo from our 2012 Summer Olympics

Ideas for Hosting Your Own Backyard Olympics…

Printables from Hubbard’s Cupboard
Olympic Sign
Tickets
Drink Labels
Welcome/Olympic Creed
Running with Perseverance
Colossians 3:23

Game Ideas
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Backyard Olympics From Hoosier Homemade
32 BackyardGames from Listotic
10 Wacky Olympic Games from Ministry to Children
Pool Noodle Backyard Obstacle Course from Learn/Play/Imagine
Nursery Rhyme Olympics from Hubbard’s Cupboard

Olympic Food cupcakes
Olympic Torch Cupcakes from Hoosier Homemade
Printable World Flag Cupcake Toppers from Hoosier Homemade

Bible Olympics
Printable Bible Studies from Bible School Resources

Olympic Crafts / Decorations

Homemade Torch from Busy Kids
Country Flag Printables from Homeschool Creations
Olympic Colored Friendship Bracelets
Olympic Torch Chalk Pastel Tutorial from Hodgepodge IMG_8424
Olympic Rings Chalk Pastel from Hodgepodge
3D TorchIMG_8423

STEAM inspired Olympic Events
Race to Build from Moss Wood Connections
5 Olympic STEAM Related Track Events from Views From a Stepstool

A Peek of  Some Past Olympics at our Home
Our Summer Olympics 2008
country flags

Our 2010 Indoor Winter Olympics
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Let the games begin!

Bursting Into…

A New School Year at HomeIMG_5499 (3)   …with grades eighth, sixth, fourth, second, and Kindergarten!

First Day of School – July 2015
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Following in our homeschool tradition of having a Fun First Friday themed to align with a topic we will all be learning in the new year, we celebrated the first day of another new school year ‘bursting’ with red, white, and blue and all things Americana!

Here is a glimpse of what we did…

A Special Breakfast…
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(Yes, we enjoyed the celebratory ‘cupcakes for breakfast’, along with scrambled eggs and bacon. =)  )

Traditional First Day Photos…
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First Day All About Me/ Growing in Grace Sheets
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A Biblical View of Wisdom from God’s Word/ Praying for our Nation and Leaders

An Outside Obstacle Course (just for fun)

Fun Red, White, and Blue Art…
American Flag Pastel (for the older three kids) IMG_5578 (2)
Paint and Pipe Cleaner Fireworks and Patriotic Windsocks (for the younger two kids)IMG_5583 (2)
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Review Meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance

Lunch and Reading of our Encouraging Notes from Siblings…IMG_5493 (2)IMG_5590 1 (2)

Some Fun Math….
including Patriotic Symbol Roll/Tally/Graph (for the younger two kids)
and The Money Race (a game created by the kids)

Treasure Hunt that Ended with a Special Treat

United States Geography Review (a quiz for the oldest kids)
and Scrambled States of America card game
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And, we ended the day with daddy and a
Late Night Dessert
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and Sparklers!
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From the kids’ expressions and reactions, I believe that it was a successful, fun, and exciting day to kick off our new school year!    Now, it’s time to hit the books.  =)

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I simply adore these kids and am looking forward to a great year of learning with them.

Come check out how we’ve celebrated some of our previous First Days of School!
Patriotic (2009)
Love Theme (2012)
Flying Theme (2013)
Ocean Creatures Theme (2014)

His Great Grace

I remember this photo, this captured moment in time…
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That year our family grew from four sweet kids to five blessings aged eight and under.
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When our youngest child was born, we were a month or so away from wrapping up our homeschool year with a 2nd grader, kindergartener, preschooler, and toddler.

Yes, we were in the thick of it then– a beautiful mess of sleepless nights, diaper changes, toilet training, beginning reading, meal preparation and cleaning with little helpers wrapped around my feet, singing Bible verses, tears and crying out to God, survival mode, princess dresses, all the fun from this precious group of little kids, the exhaustion, the love, laughter, and hugs!
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And, as long and lonely as some of those days felt, I can never forget that this mama was being wrapped in the strong arms of God and His great GRACE.  Grace to say ‘yes’ for reading one more book, grace to keep going on planning and schooling through all the doubts and fears, grace to juggle and be spread thin each day, grace to grow through the reading of His Word, grace to have encouragement sent through a loving husband and friends, grace to share His love with these precious children that He sent to us.

His grace found me in the midst of it all.
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I look back at these photos and I can’t help but get all teary eyed.  Friends with older kids tried to tell me…  They’d say that the kids wouldn’t always be that little and to cherish every moment.  I think it was hard for me to believe.  You know, when I was in the midst of it, the days seemed so long, the nights too short, and it appeared as though those little ones would be at that stage forever.

But, five short years later, as if in the blink of an eye, I can honestly say that those years passed –way –too –fast.

Those tiny eight and six year old little girls… are now young ladies, bright, cheerful, helpers who come alongside their mama, independent learners, middle schoolers (gasp), and rivaling me in height!  That sweet, sun shiny toddler who would run around the school room and steal our hearts (and erasers) is now an upcoming second grader herself – still giggly and in love with her siblings and her Savior.
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And, oh, those sweet boys (the once so small baby and the eager preschooler) are now handsome young boys – one preparing to enter kindergarten (how can it be?) and the other one a big 4th grader.  They love to wrestle with each other, build wonderful contraptions from Legos, are adorably goofy, help their mama, and of course argue as only brothers do.
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GRACE.

The seasons change.  Our kids grow and blossom.  The challenges are different.
But God’s great GRACE and love towards His children never change.

I’m praising Him for all these years – the past, the present, and those yet to come!
I’m still in need of God’s grace and am thankful for His loving arms wrapping me tight.  He is faithful and His Grace still finds me…

  ‘ Your Grace Finds Me
by Matt Redman

It’s there in the newborn cry
It’s there in the light of every sunrise
It’s there in the shadows of this light
Your great grace

It’s there on the mountaintop
It’s there in the everyday and the mundane
There in the sorrow and the dancing
Your great grace
Oh, such grace

From the creation to the cross
Then from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

It’s there on a wedding day
There in the weeping by the graveside
There in the very breath we breathe
Your great grace

Same for the rich and poor
Same for the saint and for the sinner
Enough for this whole wide world
Your great grace
Oh, such grace

From the creation to the cross
Then from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

There in the darkest night of the soul
There in the sweetest songs of victory
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

Your great grace
Oh, such grace
Your great grace
Oh, such grace

So I’m breathing in Your grace
And I’m breathing out Your praise
I’m breathing in Your grace
Forever I’ll be
Breathing in Your grace
And I’m breathing out Your praise
I’m breathing in Your grace
And I’m breathing out Your praise
Breathing in Your grace
For our God, for our God

Yes, Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

 

”I’m breathing in Your grace and I’m breathing out Your praise…”

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