3 Budget Saving Fixes

Oh, Girls!  I am in such a good place right now.  My adrenals are almost completely recovered. I have energy and life doesn’t feel overwhelming.  I know the blog has been quiet, but it’s not because things aren’t well here.  I’ve been enjoying my family and working on things behind the scenes at Grocery Shrink Plus and organizing our home.  I will be posting pretty randomly as I finish up some big projects.  If you are subscribed to the blog (form on the right), you’ll get an email when a new post is up.

I’ve made a few updates to the kitchen.  We are back at Baby Step #2, building our emergency fund, after our foundation repair last year drained it.  I’m content with letting the kitchen be unfinished for as long as it takes to get that emergency fund done.  It helps me to be patient now that the space is functional for cooking and family meals.

As I finished up a little project in the kitchen today, I noticed several things we did as temporary fixes to help us rebuild our savings.  I thought it might be fun to describe all of those in a video and show you our space.

Compared to where we started, this kitchen is a dream!  Oh my!  It’s so big and so much counter space.  I really love it.  Here are a couple of  before pictures:

Kitchen before (current) view 2

Kitchen Before

And here’s the most current view:

Kitchen after

It really is the same space and the same angle. We took down a few walls so it can be hard to realize it’s the same view.DSC_3541

I know the plastic cover on the island is “Grandma Chic,” but I don’t mind.   I have 6 kids that are good at rubbing mustard and chocolate into pretty things, and then feeling terrible about it, so the vinyl makes us both happy.

After I finished the video, I thought of a few things I didn’t put in there, like our big round folding table that we use for our meals. It was left in the basement when we bought the house.  We were excited to find it because it seats 10–which means a couple of kids can have a friend over and we can still sit together. In our previous house the table only held 6 and we took turns standing during meals.  I’m wondering if I could add some kind of skirt under the table similar to what I did to the island, except looking like a pedestal?  It would hide the folding legs and make it look more like permanent furniture while still letting us get our legs under comfortably.

The chairs around our round table were salvaged from a restaurant that closed.  We got 15 chairs for $100 a year or so ago.  They are pretty ugly right now and covered in food bits, but the padded seats are comfy and I like the craftsman style.  A little scrubbing, paint and upholstery will make them amazing.  It’s on my project list, probably over the summer.

Have you ever made a temporary fix while you saved up for something nicer?  Tell me about it in the comments.

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Posted in Frugal Living, Kitchen Remodel | 4 Comments

Hold the Phone!!!

GroceryShrink Logo 1014

…literally!  Our menu service just added smart phone enabled shopping lists with the free Out of Milk app.  (No smart phone, no worries.  The pdf shopping lists aren’t going anywhere.)

out of milk

This means no more printing shopping lists.  It works on both iphone and android devices.  Family phones can sync up and share lists and changes. (So your spouse can shop from the list too.)
  • Upload the appropriate amounts for the size of your family (You’ll be able to choose from 2, 4, 8, or 12 serving sizes.)
  • Edit or delete list items
  • Add or edit prices to see what your shopping trip will cost
  • Cross off items as you shop with one touch
  • Items are uploaded by where you will find them in the store, but you can also drag them around to change the order
  • Lists available for both the everything and dinner only plans
  • Free for all current subscribers

This service starts Friday!  

I’m just a little excited.

Here’s a video tutorial on how to use it:

If you are a current menu subscriber, ignore the message below:

This Friday at midnight the menu subscription prices are going to double.
If you subscribe now you will lock in at the current low rate.  You have 3 days left to save.

Our guarantee: 

Once you enroll, your price will never go up as long as you are a subscriber.

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How to Make Homemade Fortified Almond Milk

How to make homemade fortified almond milk
I turned my nose up at vegan milks for years.  Real milk has protein and calcium, it’s affordable, and tastes great.  Why mess with a good thing?

Lactose Villain

Then I met up with the symptoms of lactose intolerance.  Sometimes I could eat dairy products without consequence and sometimes I would be doubled over in pain.  It was like a dietary game of Mumblety peg

Almond milk sparked my interest when I found out it only has 30 calories per cup, is low in carbs and tastes pretty good.  It boasts a good serving of calcium, but only because it is added artificially.  This is not a drink for babies or kids unless the diet has other rich sources of fats or protein.

Almond milk makes good smoothies, custards, cream soups, cream gravy, and fettuccini sauce.  It costs about $3 for a half gallon, or $6 a gallon.  The cost is about 50% more than regular milk, and recently there has been some concern about the additive carrageenan in the more affordable almond milks.  My children do not show signs of lactose intolerance or milk allergy so I do not feed them almond milk.

It’s not hard to make homemade almond milk and homemade costs quite a bit less than store bought–PLUS Almond flour is a by-product of almond milk production.  That’s good news for low carb and gluten free bakers everywhere.

At Costco, almonds are $15 for 3 pounds.  It takes 2 oz of almonds to make a half gallon of milk.  So one 3 lb bag of almonds makes 24 half gallons (plus almond flour) at $.62 each.  If you want fortified almond milk that has the same nutrition as milk, you will want to add 8 calcium, magnesium, vitamin d3 tablets.

Adding vitamins adds to the cost slightly.  These tablets* are $.07 each and I would need 8 of them to create a homemade nutritional profile comparable to store bought almond milk.  Homemade fortified almond milk is $1.18 per half gallon vs $3.28 for store bought for a savings of $2.10.

Here’s how to make your own almond milk.

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Measure 1/4 cup of almonds into a class cup and cover with twice as much water. 1/4 cup of almonds makes 1 quart of milk.  1/2 cup makes half a gallon–the same as in the typical grocery store carton.  Let stand for 8 hours or overnight.

 

Almond milk 1

After 8 hours, drain your almonds, then place in a blender.  Add a generous pinch of sea salt and any supplements or flavors (like vanilla and honey or stevia) you are adding.  I used 4 calcium tablets so each cup of milk would have 30% RDA of calcium, plus magnesium and vitamin D3.

Almond milk 3

Cover with just enough fresh water to keep the blades running smoothly.  Too much water will allow the almonds to get away from the blades and not grind as fine.

Almond milk 4

Blend for a couple of minutes until the nuts are all ground up into tiny bits.

Almond milk 5

Strain though a nut bag (I use a huge straining bag that I purchased for Kombucha.)  Amazon* has nut bags also, or you could use cheese cloth, a clean flour sack towel, or even a coffee filter.  They all work, but the nut bag is fastest and easiest.  At the end, give the mass of ground nuts a good squeeze to get as much water out as possible.

Almond milk 6

Pour the strained milk into a canning jar.

Almond milk 7

Pour in enough fresh water to make a quart (or half gallon–whatever you used enough nuts for.)  My water is cloudy because I used it to rinse out the blender and cup I strained into so I could get all the goody.

Nut Milk 7

Voila!

Almond Flour

Now scrape the nut meal out of your straining bag (or whatever you used.)  Spread it onto a silicone mat, wax paper or parchment.  Let it dry thoroughly.  (In the dry weather, mine dries overnight.)  If it’s humid, you can spread it on a cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours.  Then turn off the oven and let it stay in there for a few hours more. Transfer the dry stuff back to a clean dry blender cup and pulverize it super fine.  Use it as you would any almond flour.

Q.  How long does the almond milk last?

A.  If you are using raw almonds it will go “sour” in 3-4 days.  Costco’s almonds are  blanched and the milk lasts longer.  I’ve gone a week and it was still fine.  It’s never lasted longer than that, so I can’t say when it sours.

Q.  Shouldn’t you remove the skins from the almonds first?

A.  Who’s got time for that?  The milk tastes great either way.  With the skins on the almonds, the almond flour will have flecks of color in it, compared to commercial almond flour which is just white.  I haven’t noticed a difference in performance between the two flours.  And the almond milk comes out white either way.

Q.  I don’t like almonds.  Can I do this with other nuts?

A.  Yes.  Cashews and sunflower seeds work especially well.  Let me know if you try it :).

More questions?  Concerns?  Put them below.  Have you ever made your own almond milk?

* P.S. The Amazon links are for your benefit only and are not affiliate links.  As a Missouri resident I am not eligible to be an Amazon Affiliate.

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Posted in Allergy Free, Frugal Living, Recipes, Tutorial | 4 Comments

Allergy Free Creamy Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Creamy Wild Rice Chicken Soup

One of my strategies for sticking to my elimination diet is making a big pot of something delicious and eating it for every meal until it’s gone.  Then making something new.  My family doesn’t touch it (except to taste it’s amazingness), and I cook them a traditional yummy dish.  It sure beats cooking 2 different meals every time and we can still sit down together for a family meal.

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My first big delicious pot was this Creamy Wild Rice Chicken Soup.  I splurged on fresh mushrooms and it was worth the extra $1 over buying canned.  A little treat like fresh mushrooms made it feel like a privilege to eat it instead of a sacrifice. It really was delicious.  I sprinkled some crushed Van’s gluten free crackers over the top.  Soooo good.

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I always feel funny typing the words “allergy free,” because nothing is truly allergy free.  I have a friend who’s allergic to chicken….and another who’s allergic to almonds and coconuts. But really, you can sub for almost anything in here.  Plain rice milk will work fine, and another oil can be used instead of coconut oil.  Flaked white fish would work instead of chicken. Own this recipe and make it fit your needs.

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This is also Trim Healthy Mama friendly under E meals.  And Fit Yummy Mummy friendly too.  It’s gluten free/dairy free.  But still super delicious.

Creamy Wild Rice Chicken Soup

1 lb fresh mushrooms

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 Tbs Coconut Oil

1 cup of wild rice (Plain, not the mix kind.  I found mine in the bulk food section of our health food store.)

3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

4 cups water

2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp each thyme and rosemary

2 cups almond milk

Melt the coconut oil in a skillet and sauté onion, garlic, celery and mushrooms until fragrant and tender. Stir in wild rice and cook a few minutes longer, until toasted.  Transfer everything to a stock pot and add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until rice is done.  Shred chicken with two forks (or pull out of the pan and chop with a knife.) Stir in almond milk and chicken and heat just until warmed through.

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New! Looka French Pastries

Looka Pastries

I was shopping at Wal-mart today grabbing things for Brandon’s birthday cake and saw these in the frozen section.  I think I misunderstood something, forehead smack.  You can just grab these, at the last minute and everything.  Genius.

Would you do this?  If you were having a special gathering of important people, would you like to have Delicious, Fresh Pastries delivered for the occasion?  Did you know that you can buy yummy French pastries in your frozen section and skip making homemade dessert?  If you bought them, what would you do with the extra time?  Clean? Spruce yourself up? Think of ways to make your guests more comfortable?

Sunday Lunch

We had a chance to find out.  Our guest was a young friend over to play with Dub after church.  Our pastries were a box of Macaroon cookies (vanilla, chocolate, raspberry and pistachio)

Macaroons

A Box of Key Lime cheesecake

Key Lime Cheesecake

and a box of Chocolate Mousse cake.

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They came packed in dry ice and thawed to a texture as fresh as if they were just baked and picked up from the bakery down the street. The kids were especially excited about the dry ice since their scientist uncle showed them how to use it to make homemade soda pop.

Frozen French Pastries

Here’s where my true character unfolds….

I hid the boxes of cake (since they had 2 servings each.)  Then we cut each of the cookies into 4 pieces and passed them around so everyone could taste every kind.  (Yes, we were that family you saw at the fair sharing a single funnel cake among 8 people.) Then I expressed amazement and delight over what a delicious and lovely treat we just had and dismissed all the children from the table.

Mousse Cake

When they were completely out of sight, I brought out the cakes.  And savored lingering bites with my husband.  When our two girls sauntered back into the kitchen, we shared a taste with them, and swore them to secrecy.

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Guilt got to me an hour later, so I baked chocolate chip cookies for the rest of the kids. Then I read the back of the boxes for the cakes and was amazed at how great the ingredients were.  It was pure, fresh, stuff that I would bake with in my own kitchen.  Except nothing that came out of my kitchen ever tasted this good. That didn’t mean the cakes were calorie free though and I ate well more than 1 serving….should have shared.

All of this was before my allergy free diet and I’m glad I had the experience. They were delicious..but the macaroons were our favorite. Especially the raspberry.

Would you consider having something like this delivered for a very special occasion?

If you’d like to know more about Looka pastries you can visit their website or Facebook page.

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Tough Decisions

It was one of those mornings. Brandon was screaming for a half an hour, because he couldn’t find his backpack.  No one could find the backpack, and I was asking him to move on, “Make your lunch.” He’s in first grade, his backpack is empty.  We have other bags. Seriously.  But it was super important to him.  Important enough that he screamed for a half an hour, kicked everything he could find and went to school with an apple for lunch, because I handed it to him on the way out the door.  And he still didn’t have his backpack.

Brandon's Dinosaur Backpack

He’s cute when he’s not screaming.

I could have made his lunch, but the rule in our house is “Nothing good comes when you’re screaming.”  We don’t negotiate with terrorists, ever. That was hard.  Right now his class is eating a decent lunch and he’s hopefully munching an apple. I’m praying for him and hoping his teacher doesn’t bail him out.  I want him to see that actions have consequences and if he can learn it now, the rest of his life will be better.

Right now, my brother-in-law (45) is in ICU after suffering a massive stroke.  He has 2 sons and a loving wife and has been active and fit his whole life.  In a few hours they have scheduled a surgery to remove part of his skull to relieve pressure on his brain. When I think about that situation the other decisions I’m dealing with don’t seem relevant, but they are.  (Just throwing that out there in case you might say a prayer for Greg and his family Gayla, Jordan and Brayden.)

I went to IKEA yesterday.  Our local store has been open for 12 days and I was hoping I waited long enough for the crazy crowds to be over.  It wasn’t too bad.  The show room was mesmerizing.  We only set aside an hour to shop (definitely not enough) so went home empty handed.  This sounds random, but it relates, bear with me.

I had a garage sale last week and sold the rest of my baby stuff and everything else I could put my hands on.  I cleared over $600 and still have a generous pile to donate to Disabled Veterans and clothes to pass on to friends. My plan for the garage sale money was to buy a rug and an Ektorp love seat and chair (now on sale) for the attic sitting room in Dub’s new bedroom.  Right now the room has a cedar chest in it–that’s it.  I threw some pillows on top to make it more of an inviting seat, but it’s not awesome.

With Brandon’s outburst this morning, I’m thinking the money might be better spent building an organizational system for backpacks and such.  Like this: ⇓  And a working garage door opener.Mud room

Decisions. Decisions.  Darren said, if I could scrape together a bit out of our budget, he would start building our bathroom.  That is very tempting too.  (How soon I forget the pain of no kitchen for 9 months and no flooring for 12….and am ready to start a NEW project.)

AND–if you follow me on Facebook, you already know I found a doctor to treat my strange illness.  She confirmed it to be adrenal fatigue, plus food allergies, plus thyroid stuff.  We are waiting on test results to pinpoint how bad it is and exactly what to do to make it better.

For now, I’m on an allergy free diet.  Which is mostly protein free, since most allergies are to food proteins.  It’s a 180 turn from the way I’ve been eating for years, the way I’ve felt the best.  I have toxins coming out through my skin, my tonuge and other places it isn’t polite to talk about.  She said I would feel even worse for awhile, and she was right about that.  After 4 weeks of this, they will reintroduce one protein at a time and see what happens.  I’m hoping eggs end up on the ok list.  But I digress.

The bottom line. I can spend my garage sale money lots of ways: garage organizer and opener, beautiful sitting area for the kids in the attic (and it’s on sale!), one project in the master bathroom, or beef up the emergency fund for the medical bills that are likely to come in.

What would you do?

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Frugal Weekend Shopping from Your Sofa

A friend of mine shared a gift card with me to ThredUp.  I’ve been hearing about them, but never checked it out before now.  I looked around their site and was amazed at the selection of stylish stuff for thrift store prices.  Some of the items are brand new, some are gently used.  Each description is clear on what you are buying.  If there is a flaw, it’s clearly described so you can make an informed decision.

I picked out 2 dresses, a pair of studded skinny corduroy jeans, and a tunic top with a fun leaf print.  After my gift card savings it was shipped to my door for around $35.

Now here’s the part I wasn’t expecting:

polka dot box

Polka Dot Box

Polka Dot Promise

Cute little note on the inside flap.

Enjoy sticker

Tissue gift wrapped and sealed with an enjoy sticker.

Stuff Thred Up

There’s my stuff–it’s clean, inspected, and tagged.  Definitely not a thrift store shopping experience. (Ever feel like you need a good hand washing and maybe a shower after shopping at a thrift store?)

Thred up Tag

Thred Up Tag Back

Part of the reason why I ordered a few new clothing items is I’ve gained 20 pounds since I became ill last December.   I chose things that would fit me now and still look nice when I find healing and get my body under control.

Black Lace Dress

This is a stretch black dress (I brightened it and messed up the color so you could see the cool detail.)  The star burst style is Very figure flattering and the stretchy fit means it will still look great even if I get smaller again.

Studded Courderoys

Navy Blue Studded Corduroys.  I heart studs right now.  The low rise cut means they still fit in my old size (because of my hormone imbalance I’m only gaining weight in my middle area and my thighs and hips are staying the same size.) These are probably the highest quality pair of pants I’ve ever owned.

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This leaf top was listed as a dress, but it is just a few inches longer than my bum.  It is an adorable tunic top to wear with my white skinny jeans and a belt to accentuate what’s left of my waist.

Sun dress with yellow belt

The last item I bought was this yellow belted strappy dress.  I thought I would be a safe choice since it is an empire waist, but it wouldn’t zip :(.  This is tucked in the back of my closet as inspiration to keep making healthy food choices.  Heidi might borrow it while I’m working towards being able to wear it.

Overall, I’m thrilled with my whole experience with ThredUp and will definitely shop there again.  If you’d like to try it, here’s a $10 gift card to get you started.  If you shop with that link, not only will you get $10, but they’ll send me $10 too :).

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Posted in Clothing, Frugal Living | 4 Comments

Are you Cheap?

Cheap.

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Growing up, I didn’t know that word was an insult.  If someone said, “I like your shoes?”  I’d reply, “Thanks, and they were cheap!” Like it was the their best feature.  And if you looked interested, I’d probably tell you how much they cost and where you could snag your own deal.

It wasn’t until I became part of Mary Kay that I learned that telling people how much an item cost was not very classy.   Not that they wanted us to pay a lot for stuff, just to make it our secret.  I’m destined to be unclassy.  It’s hard to break a long standing habit, especially when I think I’m really just helping people with good info, lol.

When Extreme Cheapskates called me up to do the show (which you can see on Netflix if you missed it,) I didn’t think much about the name. Then I watched the first episode.  Oh My!  They really went out of their way to emphasize the extreme, no?  They were making fun of us a little.  I’ve heard of some of the other people on the show. (The guy on after me was a famous NY Times best selling author.) They made him look a lot weirder than he really is. Shocking to me, there’s a culture out there that looks down on frugal people and values paying lots of money for stuff….go figure.

I think there’s a difference though between cheap and frugal.  I didn’t look this up; I’m making this up. Both words mean not spending a lot of money, but in addition they might mean:

Cheap: Poor quality, low class, low value, breaks easily, loose morals, trashy, stingy

Frugal: Hard working, savvy, patient, responsible, DIY, generous, faithful, conservative

Retail industry has a vested interest in making us love spending and judge quality by price.  When you think about it, their advertisements run our newspapers, magazines, TV, radio… the media that is shaping our culture. They tell us our clothes are out of style the minute we cut the tags off; our homes should be redone every season; and everything is subject to fad,  even our food.

It’s gotten so bad that people are drawing their personal worth from what they drive, where they live, and what they wear.  Some even measure other’s peoples love for them by the price of their gifts. Let me tell you something.  You are valuable.  And worth just as much even dirty, naked and homeless.  Simply because you are created in the image of God.  He paid a dear price for you and you belong to him.  And then, He set you free.  If your house is a mess or decorated in some other fashion than blogger style, so what?  If you rock mom jeans, no worries.  If you have peanut butter on the front windows of your door–it doesn’t change anything. You are priceless.  And when you look in the mirror you see a piece of God staring back at you—You are in his image!  Don’t tell me THAT isn’t beautiful.

What do you think?  Is there a difference between cheap and frugal?  Are they both bad, both good?  Is your favorite color blue? (Just to see if you’re still reading….)

(FYI if you want that shirt it’s for sale on zazzle.  Click the photo to go there.  But I’ll have to warn you–it’s not cheap….)

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Posted in Frugal Living | 12 Comments

How to Get Your Husband to Budget with You

couple calculating their domestic bills at home

Hi Ladies! Long time no see. I’ve been back in bed for a bit, except to teach choir and maybe another hour or two.  Technically I could blog from bed (like I’m doing now) but sometimes even that takes too much energy. I don’t want to dwell on that, though.

I want to talk about manipulation.  Wait.  What?  What I mean is getting your husband to do something he really doesn’t want to do.   We should call it motivation instead.  That sounds better.

Sometimes we get on the saving money kick and our other half doesn’t get it.  If we save money while he spends it.  That can make for a rough relationship.  So how do you get a reluctant husband to budget with you?

1.  Budget naked.  Put the kids to bed.  Find a location behind a locked door and have a naked budget meeting.  He’ll show up at least, and that’s the first step.

2.  Have snacks.  Good ones.

3.  Do most of the work ahead of time.  Draw up a rough draft budget and have a short explanation of each category.  Then ask for his input.  Let him change stuff and don’t get your feelings all hurt if he does.

4.  Talk less than you want to.

5.  Make the budget meeting a safe place.  He needs to be confident you will not yell, cry, or question his manhood or his character.

6.  Cheer him on.  Tell him all the things he does that you appreciate and never follow up with BUT.

7.  Have a common goal together.  When you both believe in the destination, you’ll both be willing to sacrifice to get there.

8.  If all else fails, let Dave Ramsey tell him what needs to be done.  That’s easiest done at  Financial Peace University class.  If he doesn’t want to go, do your own class at home….naked.

My husband does most of the budgeting (being an accountant and all) but sometimes it’s hard for him to set the time aside and get it done or include me in the process.  Seriously, the naked tip is the only one I need to motivate him, lol.  The keep it short and talk less than you want to, is what makes me show up.

What about you?  Does your husband like to budget?  Do you have any tips for making the budget meeting more fun (or at least happen?)

And yes the alternate title of this post was “Budget Naked.”

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Free Printable Lunch Planner

Free printable Lunch menu planner

How do you feel about school starting again?  I love my hour I spend with the High School choir every day, and I love that my kids go to school in a place with small classes where the scriptures are woven into every subject.  One the other hand, we trade a little bit of peace and calm in the mornings and evenings for that privilege (vs homeschooling), and all day alone with a 3 year old is harder than it sounds.  Last year was so stressful and the summer was so awesome, that I’m not ready to let go of that yet.

Part of what made last year so hard was our level of disorganization at home.  I love being organized, but half of last year we didn’t have a functioning kitchen.  There wasn’t a room in our house untouched by the chaos of remodeling. The kids were going in all different directions and every night had an activity of some sort. I craved a quiet evening at home. We were often late or forgot to show up places, stayed up all night to finish assignments that were assigned long before, tried to dress when there were few clean clothes (We own 10 red ties and you can’t even find ONE?!!!), and THIS:

“Ring, ring”

“Hello, This is Angela.”

“Um, Mom…..Were you going to pick me up?”

I became “That Mom.”

So instead of freaking out about doing that again, I’m getting organized.  I <3 labels.  I just bought these from Amazon, and have been using Power Point to print Business Card Size labels on cardstock to slip inside.  Here they are in action.

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Labeled Laundry Basket

Next I will be putting labels on each shelf so the baskets end up in the right spot. Don’t hate me because it’s beautiful.

And yes, we labeled both sides, so no matter which way you put the laundry basket away, it’s still labeled.

In honor of not freaking out because school is starting, I made a little printable lunch planner gift for us.  I printed mine out on cardstock and then laminated it to use over and over with a dry erase marker.  You can download your own here: Brown Bag Lunch Plan.

Lunch Planner collage

 

It comes with several different background choices.  But they all have cupcakes and cookies (over the top of headings like produce and protein) just because I’d rather look at a cupcake than a carrot–true story.

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The one thing we did well last year was the kids made their own lunches every day.  It’s the only way we got out the door on time.  Even my kindergartener made his own lunch.   The only thing more stressful than packing 5 lunches every day is paying an extra $300 a month to buy them, lol.

Sometimes the kids are late/lazy or forget their lunch in the car.  Then they borrow money to eat a school lunch and pay back the cafeteria from their own piggy bank.  Yes, it feels really mean and I’m sad when this happens.  But if I helicopter mom in every time my kids are irresponsible, they’ll never stand on their own.  (Ok, I did go back a couple of times when I saw it in the car before getting all the way home.)

Snack Baskets

Here’s how we do it: After dinner I pack leftovers into lunch containers and stick the in the fridge..  In the morning, the kids choose from those or make a peanut butter or meat sandwich instead, then choose a couple of side dishes from their snack basket.  They drink water, so no juice boxes for us, unless it’s a special occasion.  The school provides silverware and napkins and has a couple of microwaves to use.  Though sometimes the line is so long, there’s no time to eat once they get their food warmed up.

This year, I plan to cook the packable lunch dishes from the GSP menu with Grant at noon.  He and I can eat together and then have the leftovers ready to go for everyone else the next day.

How do you stay organized for the school year?  Seriously, I need ideas, (especially if they involve labels.)

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