Tackling Meal Planning

mealplanningAfter my post, Financial Trust, I had a few readers ask me to share my meal plan. So this is a practical post sharing this weeks meal plan, recipes and some resources and tips I’ve found helpful to learning how to meal plan.

This might seem so unspiritual, but let me tell you I have learned a lot about being a Proverbs 31 wife and mom from learning how to budget and plan healthy meals for my family. These things are disciplines that equip you to better serve the Lord in the future. Organization is key to being able to handle all that God might put on your plate.

If you have dreams in your heart and plans you want to fulfill, your finances will have to be in order, and your time in check.

Don’t be overwhelmed. This is a process. I’m still learning too!

I actually plan my meals in two-week blocks with the pay periods, but I will just share one week today.

Here are some helpful tips I keep in mind when meal planning:

  • Shop your pantry first. Why make rotini pasta this week when you’re stocked up on penne?
  • Be flexible with your meal plan around the sales of the week.
  • Plan healthy baking to curb the unhealthy sugar purchases.

These websites/blog posts have been very helpful to learning how to meal plan and budget my groceries:

This is the routine I have for my weekly meals:

  • S is for SIMPLE. Saturdays and Sundays are easy. Frozen pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc are a part of our weekend life. Family time is more important to me than cooking!
  • Have one meatless meal a week.
  • Assign one meal to chicken, one to ground beef and one to fish.
  • Thursdays is always leftovers because I have my break that afternoon and do not want to mess around with supper!
  • Tuesdays and Saturdays are dessert nights. We’re trying to cut down on our endless sugar intake.

Superstore’s coupon this week is that when you spend $250 you receive a $25 gift card. I will buy all my groceries  for the next two weeks there to get that. Usually I browse the flyers for the best deals.

There is another deal for the long weekend that if you buy frozen burgers you receive buns, pickles, juice and chips for free. This is perfect for our Labour Day Football BBQ!

Here is our meal plan. Lunches and snacks aim to be school and work friendly since I have a high school student as well as a husband who needs food at work!

Weekly Meal Plan

Breakfasts: Fruit, Toast, Cereal, Oatmeal

Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese (for those at home)
PB + J Sandwiches
Deli Meat Sandwiches
Leftovers x3

Muffins & Cheese
Apples & Peanut Butter
No Bake Energy Bites

BBQ Hamburgers (Superstore Meal Deal)
Black Bean Soup & Biscuits
Thai Chicken Stir Fry & Rice
Tuna Egg Noodle Casserole
Cheeseburger Meatloaf (with real cheese, not cheese whiz), Potato Wedges & Steamed Veggies
Frozen Pizza, Salad

Whole Wheat Bread
Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Muffins
Carrot Apple Muffins
Dessert for the Football Party, Tuesday and Saturday

What’s on your menu for the week? Share your meals, ideas and tips!

Choosing The Perfect Gift

This year my husband and I have been trying really hard to think creatively and, especially, make some homemade gifts. I’d LOVE to give away what some of them are, but since probably some of the recipients may be reading this, I will restrain myself. After Christmas I’m going to post some of the things that worked well for us.

Are you familiar with the Five Love Languages? If you are not, this page will give you a quick definition of all them if you scroll down past the description of the book. A basic understanding of the love languages is must to get the most out of my thoughts on creating or choosing a perfectly satisfactory gift to anyone you are buying for (this will apply for any gifts, any time of the year).

Recognize the love language of the person you are giving the gift to. Once you know what love language they have, then you can think of the type of gift, or how the gift should be delivered, that they are more likely to enjoy receiving. Some of the love languages are more easy to think ideas to go with than others, but we’ll try to be creative here.

Remember…most people have a secondary love language, which can make it easier to mix and match up ideas for gifts. Our nature is to show love in the way we like to be shown love, but my hope is that this will encourage you to be objective and analyze that unique persons true desires.

1. Words of Affirmation – A card is really important to this person, and you should take the time to write a truly encouraging note. Don’t flatter them, but write something from the heart. The card may be even more important than your gift. When putting together their gift, try to incorporate different items that speak to who they are, things you appreciate about them and that offer encouragement. Some examples of this are:

  • Sentimental Gifts  – Willow Tree Angels or another item that represents something
  • A Devotion Book or encouraging daily calendar
  • Inspiring Painting or Plaque
  • *Never forget a card with someone who is a words of affirmation person! 

2. Quality Time – Giving this person the gift of time will be incredibly meaningful to them. Any gift that you give that show you either spent time and energy making it, or that involve you and that person spending quality time together after, will be a big hit. Here are some examples:

Time Together Ideas:

  • Tickets to an event where you have time to connect, maybe a sporting event, bridal show, etc. 
  • A promise of a meal, coffee or other food date (high tea is a fun one too)
  • *for kids* an assemble together gift, or something that you need to build or create together. 
  • A board game or other group activity 

Time Spent Ideas:

  • Homemade gifts that show you are aware of their likes and interests. If they love fancy coffees make them a homemade Vanilla, Raspberry , Coconut or Caramel Syrup and take time to decorate a jar. You can find so many ideas online if you just think of what the person enjoys. 

3. Receiving Gifts – Since gifts are such a big thing for this person, a lot of thought needs to be put into it. In my opinion, always go over the top with this person. I’m not meaning put yourself in a hole financially – but pay attention to what they are asking for, what they are interested in, and then take time to add a personal touch.

  • The person mentions to you they would really enjoy the new movie “Courageous”. You would take that one item, and build around it. Turn it into a “movie night” basket with popcorn, hot chocolate, and homemade decorated popcorn bowls. 
  • You know your friend is stressed out and really needs to relax – find a homemade bubble bath recipe, decorate a jar, and make a “relaxation basket” with tea, bath time items, new loofah, nail polish, etc. 
  • These people are also wonderful to go in on big gifts with friends because they love the excitement of receiving a gift so much! 

4. Acts of Service – Anything that would improve this persons life and help them out would be much appreciated!

  • Homemade meals – can some of your homemade soup! Bake fresh bread, etc.
  • Make “free babysitting” cards or offer some other needed task for free
  • If you must buy a gift card, this would be someone who would really appreciate something practical – like a car wash card or oil change.
  • If you know of a project that they’ve been needing or wanting to get done, go ahead and do it! It could be as simple as getting their favourite picture matted and framed. 

5. Physical Touch – This one I think comes down mostly to execution of the gift. Thankfully most people have a secondary love language, so you can try to figure out what that is for the main portion of the gift and then make sure that when you give the gift they get a hug from you and really sense that you love them!

Okay, I’m ready to hear some of your suggestions! Feel free to comment below and share with others some practical ideas for giving meaningful gifts that will bring joy to every love language, and show the deep appreciation you really have for your loved ones!

Happy dreaming, creating and giving! You may just have more fun thinking of what to give people, than you do actually receiving a gift yourself!

Big Marbles

Okay before I come across sounding like I have everything figured out, I just want to say that I have talked to a lot of “first time moms” like myself who have had a hard time feeling like they’re moving from “surviving” to “thriving”. I have been praying for wisdom a lot because I’ve really needed some extra help in managing my marriage, my baby, my house and myself. I want to share with you the strategy God has given me. Honestly – I did not come up with this, the Lord really has given me really practical advice that I want to share, and I hope it speaks to more people than just first time moms. Also, I do not always live up to this and I know this will adapt and change as more children are added to the picture. However, I know there is less peace in our home when I don’t keep these 7 commitments. Each persons commitments might be different, but I hope that by me being transparent about mine, I empower you to evaluate your schedule and hopefully move from a place of scrambling to get everything done, to maybe even enjoying the moments you spending cleaning, cooking, etc.

In Master’s Commission, Pastor Rob Reimer would often talk about an analogy of big marbles. Picture a large jar. If you had a bunch of varying sized marbles, sand and water, and you needed to most effectively fit it into the jar, how would you do it? Does the order you place all these things make a difference? The answer is, yes. Most definitely. When you fit the “big marbles” in first, the smaller ones settle right into the empty spaces, then the tiny ones, and so on. You can look at the jar and think its full of marbles, but pour sand in and it fill ups every tiny crevice. Add water on top of that and it can soak right in to that sand. The jar has been most efficiently used for space.

Now apply that to our lives. If we get the big marbles put in first, we will then have time to fit the smaller, less important things. Subsequently, if we fill up the jar with the sand, little marbles and water, we will not have any room for the big marbles. How we prioritize our time is vital to moving from “surviving to thriving”.

Consider these my “Big Marbles”:

Monica’s 7 commitments that lead to a peaceful week

1. My Relationship with Christ – I am first and foremost committed to my relationship with Jesus. I will love, serve and seek Him regardless of any other circumstance in my life.

2. My Husband – I am then committed to my husband. I made a life long commitment to him in the presence of God, before having my baby, and I am committed to encouraging, loving and helping him.

3. My Baby – I am committed to ensuring that my baby has a peaceful, loving home and that he is taken care of very well. I will try to take opportunities to play with him, talk with him and read to him before chores and cooking. His needs go before my own.

DISCLAIMER: Though I wholeheartedly believe that in God’s eyes my husband comes before my son, if you have a hard time with the concept, think of it as if you want to put your baby first then you’ll put your husband first. The best gift your child can have is an intact family.

4. Our ministry and church family – I am committed to helping and encouraging others in ways that I can. We as a family are committed to the Student Leadership Program and the Regina Apostolic Church. I may not be as involved as I have been in the past, but my commitment has not wavered.

5. Personal growth – For me this comes in the form of listening to programs like Focus on the Family, blogging to help me process what I’m learning and going through, reading encouraging and uplifting books.

6. A weekly meal plan –  This is not a commitment to cooking daily! This is a commitment to plan out meals so that I am not scrambling. I can then plan ahead to cook enough for leftovers on certain days during busy weeks. When I commit to this, I save money on my grocery bill because my shopping is more organized and my week is way less stressful.

7. I am committed to my daily, weekly and monthly chores – This is not a commitment to having a spotless house. That is completely unrealistic. This is a commitment to my cleaning schedule that ensures that by doing a couple of chores a day I am staying on top of what needs to be done in my home. (I did not implement this until Caleb was 3 months old).

Thanks to multi tasking I can accomplish some of these things at the same time. While Caleb is having a nap I might turn on Focus on the Family while I accomplish my “Monday Monthly Chore” of more extensive dusting. Or I spend time in worship while I do my weekly Wednesday chore of cleaning out the fridge. You can get creative!

I have found my life has become much more manageable when broken down. When I fit these big marbles in, everything else falls into place.