The dreaded Meal planning.

A miracle has been done in my household. After 5 years of culinary chaos, I have finally figured out "meal planning"

Prior to this, I would have an anxiety attack everyday around 3 pm.
My husband would be home around 5 from school. So for 2 hours, I tried to figure out what we would eat for dinner that day.
Sometimes I would book it to the grocery store to buy a frozen pizza. Or we would have "left overs"..which would end up really being he would end up making something for himself while I and the kids ate was a sad fate for our family. It definitely was the cause of many feuds between my husband and I. I was so focused on how annoying it was to have to make dinner me me, right? And my poor husband came home exhausted and hungry to a wife who wasn't doing her role in making sure he was fed.
Sigh, pathetic!
I got sick of being pathetic. I was sick of being disappointed myself in not doing my part. And my husband was most likely sick of me not making dinner! (I may be exaggerating. This didn't happen every night but it sure felt like it!)

So what changed? Well it hit me after having my 3rd child. It hit me hard. Things were very chaotic and disorganized. I rarely had time for me and my thoughts. I was having a hard time juggling 3 kids and everything else I had to do for my home. Plus, I had to cut out dairy from my diet for my baby boy. That added more stress in finding meals that were dairy-free and still easy/good to eat. And it was at that point that I knew I needed help.

I had read up on meal planning and had tried to do it in the past but nothing ever stuck.
I think the main thing for me was that I was doing it alone. I felt lost in what my family wanted when all I needed was to just ask! Most of the time when I would pick a meal, it would be something my husband or kids didn't even like.
So finally it dawned on me to include my kids and husband with planning the meals :)

Here's what I did:
-I grabbed all my cookbooks and recipes I had. I went through each of them and browsed for meals that had no dairy in it. How would I remember these meals? I wrote a list. First writing what cookbook it was from, then the title of the meal and page number, like below: (please excuse the scribbles. My daughter got a hold of this :) )
After you get a good-sized list, include your other family favorites that you like to eat too. I just had my husband write a list of meals he likes. So then I had PLENTY of meals to work with!

-Next grab a calender.
You can use your one hanging in the kitchen or you can go buy one at Michaels for $1...something that you can view quickly.

I plan weekly.
That's just me.
You can easily plan 2 weeks or even a month! It's up to you and what you like.

-Then you plug in meals. Remember to include things going on with your family. Tuesdays nights, you might have soccer practice or carpool so you'll want to do something easy for dinner...maybe a crockpot? Or left overs.
***don't underestimate the power of crockpot meals!!*** (time savers for sure. Great for when you will be busy around dinner)

Here's a pic of my meal planning calender. There are family favorites that we repeat. We also have leftovers a couple times a week. Thursdays is for sure leftovers because that's when my husband works at night and brings a meal to work. Once you do this, you realize that you don't need 7 meals each week! You only need 3-5 meals, depending on what kind you'll be making. So the idea of it can be scary but realistically, it's not that bad :)

It's definitely a work in progress. I usually fill in the week then go over it with my husband. He's must more realistic with leftovers and making sure we use the food we have as much as possible. So there are arrows and crossed lines.

-Next Start making your grocery list.
Start with essentials like milk, bread and whatever else you ran out of that week. Next, look at your recipes you are using this week. Add any ingredients that you need for them. Here's my list I made this past saturday.

-I go to the store on Saturdays.
I am still in no shape to go to the store alone with 3 kids during the week. We have made it into a fun family outing on Saturdays.
I rarely go to the store anymore during the week, which helps save $$ and gas. And if I do need to go to the store, it's for perishable items, like veggies.

So that's it! We repeat this process each Saturday morning. It has become a tradition in our home! Things run more smoothly when 3 pm come around each day.
I hope this helps you in your organization with meals too. And let me just say I am no master to this. I am still in training. But I am happy to say that I am a work in progress and glad that I have started on this path.

Find something that works for you and your family. I promise things will become more orderly and less stressful!


We got "dressed up" before going to gymnastic on Friday. I can't get over how big Kate is getting!

Joe's brother Spencer was getting married in Omaha on Saturday in Omaha, NB, where his fiance, Sara is from. Friday night, we flew out to Omaha. and when I say we, I mean all of us! I was definitely terrified. We bought dog backpacks that had leashes disguised as tails for the airport. Then I had Luke in a sling. We had 2 huge suitcases and a pack n play plus 3 carry-ons...our arms were definitely full so we could push around a stroller. But we gave ourselves plenty of time to get from A-B. And looking back, I am AMAZED at how well the kids did. There was so crying whatsoever the whole time. Even on the plane. I was smart to buy new coloring books and markers for the plane. They did that the whole time.
Another miracle was the nice ladies sitting next to me on the plane with Luke. They were the sweetest ladies ever and loved babies. It couldn't have been any better. Luke did awesome, no crying at all. What else can I say than it was a serious miracle wrought by the Almighty.
We got into Omaha pretty late and drug our luggage to the car rental to find that our minivan was actually a mini Suv...and that there were no car seats that we had
Luckily our hotel was a few miles away from the airport so we felt it would be okay to drive there that night then Joe could drive back to get the car seats the next morning before all the wedding events. So we got to the hotel around 10 pm.
We caught up with Joe's family for a bit and then put the kids to bed. Another worry was the 1 hotel room with our family, especially Luke.

How will they sleep?
Will they continually wake each other up?
Am I going to get any sleep this weekend?

So I just prepared myself for the absolute worst.

And what do you know?
The kids outdid themselves again. They all fell right asleep. Luke woke up once but I rocked him to sleep again. They were champs.
Saturday, Joe's siblings watched the kids while we went to the temple ceremony. It was very special. I was honored to be at the Winter Quarter's temple.
Afterwards, we had lunch at the in-laws, took some pictures then got read for the reception. The girls had way too much attention from Joe's family. They love them to death. I am truly grateful for their admiration they have for my kids.
Here are some pics from the reception.

Sunday morning, we were the last to go back home. We packed up our stuff and check out.
But our flight wasn't until 4:30 so we went over to Winter Quarters and walked around. The girls had fun in the visitor's center.

The flight back home, we had a layover in Chicago. We thought we had more time between flights to catch a bite to eat. But by the time we got over to the new gate, they were already loading. So we boarded and luckily had a bag full of food to snack on until we got home.

The kids were exhausted.
This little trip was kind of humbling. It showed me that Heavenly Father does listen to our worries and struggles. He listens and helps us when we need help. Whether by promptings, miracles or through service from strangers, He hears and answers prayers!

4 months!

My little baby is 4 months old.
I love this stage!
He smiles at anything I do.
He lights up with I walk in the room.
He goes to bed at 7:30 and sleeps until 6:30.
He's a snuggler and would prefer to be held all day.
I love this little guy to pieces.
March 1st, he weighted 16.8 lbs and was 26 inches long (95%!!!). I can't get enough of his largeness.

What was life like without Luke in it?! Not a life worth living, that's for sure :)
He started rolling from his back to his tummy 3 weeks definitely makes for an interesting night.
I can tell he's just waiting until his physique is stronger so he can explore everywhere. He loves to explore. He's already starting to move in circles while on his tummy.

There is no stopping him!

We put Emma in a gymnastics class and she loves it.

Mad Hatter sighting! My sister Jenny and my Dad came to visit for the weekend. We saw Alice in Wonderland. The girls loved it. I thought they might get scared but they are pros at this movie stuff. When we got home, they were very creative. But I must say, Hatter's hair does look just like a tutu.

Hair Pin Giveaway

Our very own Celeste is doing a giveaway over at her Baby Bands and Beyond Blog
Look at what you could win!

Head on over there for details! While you are there, check out all her stuff she makes. They are adorable.

I am pathetic...

yes, it's true. I will never stop entering Emma into contests. I have never considered myself one of those "pageant moms". I would never do that to my child.

I am more of a "photo contest Mom". I have tried to stop in the past but I just can't stop entering my kids in competitions. I just think they are just too adorable to keep all to myself...I want to share them with the world ;)

Anyways, I would love for you to indulge me in voting for Emma in this contest here:

It's a daily vote so if you can remember to do that, that would be AWESOME.

If...IF Emma does win, she gets $100,000 for college, trip to LA and 1 year contract to Wilhemna Models

Not too shabby.

Thank you for your help!
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