Favorite Time Savers for Busy Moms Part 3: Meal Planning/Prep

I’m going to be honest with you…I don’t like making meals.  I’m picky when it comes to my own cooking (although I’ll eat almost anything if someone else makes it!), and I’m always trying to find new “favorite” recipes because I get tired of eating the same thing over and over.  And, with three small children in the house, I need meals that are quick and easy to make, that are still healthy and taste great.

I’ve found three things that have really helped make meal planning much more efficient (and less painful) for me…and thought I’d share them with you today!

5 Dinners 1 Hour

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Why it’s fast:
– Your shopping lists are pre-made.
– Five simple recipes that can be prepped in one hour.
– Many one-pan meals make less dishes to clean up.

Cost: $2.50/week subscription (cancel when you want), FREE sample plans and FREE recipes on their blog.

My thoughts: I love that the recipes are very simple and can be prepped for the entire week…or you can quickly throw together one meal in just a few minutes.  I’ve tried their Classic Meal Plans, and the dinners come out pretty basic.  Nothing fancy, but most are ones our family enjoys eating.

This is my go-to when I don’t want to spend any time choosing meals or wait until the last minute to go grocery shopping.

custom-meal-plans-graphic5 Dinners recently came out with a Custom Meal Plan (officially launching Aug. 19), and I really like that option!  Before, there was usually one or two meals a week I didn’t really want to repeat in the future, making the pre-made shopping list less useful.  Now that I can choose all five meals myself, I’m guaranteed to get all meals we will actually eat!  It also lets you customize the serving size, so you can adjust it to fit your family (or double recipes to freeze for later)!

Meal Bundles with Wildtree

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Why it’s fast:
– Comes with pre-mixed all-natural, organic cooking spices & oils make meal prep faster.
– Uses very few dishes to prep meals, so little clean up is required.
– Keep prepped meals in the freezer until you need them.
– Many crockpot dump meals make prep and clean up easy.

Cost: Varies between $58-$78/bundle, unless you host a workshop…then you can get your meal bundle for FREE.  This includes the spices/oils and over eight recipes that you can make again and again.  You can find tons of FREE recipes on their website.  That comes to about $2.50/meal, if you buy a bundle.

My thoughts: If you’re looking for fast, flavorful meals, Wildtree is an excellent choice.  Of the meals we’ve tried, I’ve liked them more than any other meal planning bundle I’ve tried, and I’m happy to make them again and again!  These recipes are definitely family favorites.

Wildtree uses all-natural, organic products, which makes it a great choice if you or a family member have food allergies.  You can read the ingredients and know EXACTLY what you’re putting in your food!

If you host a Wildtree workshop, you can get your meal bundles for free, which is awesome!  I’ve found that I can use the Wildtree spices to make 2-3 sets of each meal plan, so they last a long time.

Organize Recipes with Trello

Finally, I was just introduced to using Trello to keep a digital recipe book of all my favorite meals!  I love how it keeps everything organized for me, it’s beautiful (you can include pictures of each meal), and I can easily access it from home or on my phone, if I’m shopping at the store and need to look up the ingredients for a recipe.

Here’s a screen shot of my Trello meal planning board.  I copy recipes from different categories in to my “Weekly Meal Plan” section, and now I have meals lined up for each day of the week in just seconds!

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Want to learn more about how to use Trello?  Check out this FREE class to learn all the basics you need to get started planning, organizing and managing your life with less stress and more peace.  Click here for instant access: http://bit.ly/2wMRFom

Leave me a comment…what’s your favorite time saver for meal planning and prep?

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Favorite Time-Savers for Busy Moms Part 2: Grocery Shopping

After each of my children were born, our wonderful friends provided us meals for the first few weeks.  Then, I had another month’s worth of freezer meals stored up so I was still able to avoid the daunting task of grocery shopping with a newborn.  However, reality finally set in, and with Jeremiah and Evelyn, I had to brave the grocery store each week with a two year old and baby (and sometimes an extra one year old when I was babysitting my friend’s daughter).  Haha, I can’t tell you how many mixed looks of sympathy/you’re crazy I got from other shoppers with all three kids in tow!

Thankfully, shortly before Caleb was born, my local grocery stores introduced a new way to shop, and it has made my life significantly easier.  Online grocery shopping means I can order groceries, drive to the store, and be home…all in less than 30 minutes total!  I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve actually taken all three kids to the store with me since Caleb was born in December because grocery pick up is SO much more convenient.

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Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to the store’s website or app, and add items to your shopping cart, just like any online shopping.  I love this because I can order any time of day or night.  There are many times I’ve done my “grocery shopping” at 2 am during a night time feeding session.  It also helps me avoid any extra spontaneous purchases I’m tempted to make when I go through the store.
  2. The store employees do the shopping for you.  I’ve always been satisfied with the quality of food selected, and you approve any substitutions they make if something you order isn’t in stock.
  3. Schedule a pick up time (usually for the following day), and arrive any time during the window given to pick up your groceries.  The employees will even load them in the car for you.  No getting kids in and out of the car, and the wait is usually less than five minutes.  The Walmart I shop at actually lets me check in from home when I’m ready to head to the store, so everything is ready and waiting when I get there.

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Let me tell you, I LOVE grocery pick up!  It has given me back at least an hour each week that I would have spent shopping at the store.  It’s easy, and I can shop from any time, anywhere.  And I can schedule pick up for when I’m already out in the area running errands, so I don’t have to make an extra stop.

Here are the stores that I’ve used for grocery pick up:

  • Walmart – This is a free service.  My favorite part?  I regularly see the same employees each week when I pick up my food, so we chat as we load up the car.  It’s a fun, and the personal touch makes a huge difference in the experience.  If you’ve never ordered before, CLICK HERE TO GET $10 OFF your first grocery order!

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  • SAMS Club – This is also free with great customer service!

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  • Dillons (other Kroger stores may offer it as well) – It costs $5 to do grocery pick up.  However, Dillons is great for people who like to coupon, or if you participate in their Community Rewards Program, because you can still participate when you order online.

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Have you tried grocery pick up before?  What has your experience been like?

And if you haven’t already, check out Part One of my favorite time savers here to see how I save tons of time cleaning my floors each week.

Favorite Time-Savers for Busy Moms Part 1: Cleaning Floors

With three kids four and under keeping me busy now, my time is SO precious, and I want to spend it in meaningful ways.  That’s why I am excited to start a new blog series of my favorite time savers.  I love them so much, I knew I needed to share them with you!

Today, I’m going to start out with a big one…my vacuum cleaner.  I’ve owned a Dyson for the past four years, but honestly never really loved it.  When we moved, the previous owner mentioned that their Dyson actually unraveled a large section of carpet, and they later found out, was not recommended by the carpet’s manufacturer.  She said she loved her Shark vacuum cleaner, so I thought I’d better give it a try.  Boy, am I glad I did!

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If you have hard floors, the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Deluxe vacuum will save you TONS of time cleaning them each week.

Here’s why the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Deluxe is such a great time saver:

It’s easy to transition between all types of flooring.  With the switch right on the handle, it’s a quick button push to change from carpet, to hard floors, to rugs.  I have all three kinds on the main floor of my house, and this is so handy.

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Cleaning tools are always available.  The handle quickly detaches and becomes a hand-held vacuum tool!  I can vacuum the floor, sweep up crumbs out of a booster seat, and get the dog hair off the stairs without running back to the closet to grab an attachment.  Because, let’s face it, when you’re in the middle of cleaning, you never stop to go get an attachment…it just sits unused in the closet.

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Long power cord means you can vacuum most of your house without plugging/unplugging the cord.  When you have it in the pull-behind canister mode, you can reach even farther!  We have about 2000 sq. ft. on the main floor of our house, and I only have to move the plug ONE time to reach everything!

And my number one reason: The hard floor attachment is AMAZING!

 

The attachment comes with washable microfiber pads that dust behind you as you sweep.  Before, I had to use my Bona to mop the floors each time after I vacuumed.  Now, I just use it once a week, and the Shark attachment does the rest!  Check out all the dirt it picked up after one time vacuuming (this is in addition to the dirt it actually collected in the canister!):

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Other bonuses the Rotator Powered Lift-Away offers:

  • Lights help you see in dark spaces.
  • Easy to dump collection canister.
  • It reaches far under most furniture.
  • Low price tag compared to competitors.
  • It works…great!  I think it cleans much better than my Dyson that was twice the price.  And with three kids, a huge golden retriever, and dust/debris from a basement finishing project in progress, that says a lot.

Ok, I’m sold…where can I get one?  There are a bunch of different models available, but if you want to maximize your time spent vacuuming multiple surfaces, you want the lift-away model with the hard floor attachment.  Here is the one I have.  Since I bought mine, Shark has come out with a newer model, and the Powered Lift-Away TruePet may be an easier model to find, and still has all the time saving features I love.

I want to hear from you…what is your number one time saver when it comes to cleaning your home?  OR…what thing in your life do you need to spend less time doing so you can spend more doing what’s most important to you?

Check back here soon…I will be featuring 4-5 more of my favorite time savers for busy moms in the next few weeks!