Meal Planning

I am once again trying to get on top of things before the busy school year begins. There are so many areas to be organised in otherwise I feel like I am drowning. I confess I am a bit of a planner junkie and always feel so much better when I have a list or a planner in hand.

The first Planner I have updated and would like to share with you is a Weekly Meal Planner. I like to plan dinners for the week, so if everything goes to plan we know what is happening. On the odd occasion we might end up eating something different but I find it frustrating to be thinking about what we will have for dinner, on the day, and then having to shop for items. I am using a weekly planner to start with but would like to progress to a fortnightly one. I like to shop kid free (for the big one) so I will be doing the weekly shop, on a Wednesday. This suits us as I work on a Monday and Tuesday, kids activities on a Saturday and other plans for Thursdays and Fridays. Hence, our meal plan for the week, will start on a Thursday. I will race to the shops on a Saturday, after swimming lessons, to get any fresh food that might be needed, as well as bread and milk.

HOW TO MEAL PLAN

1. Sit down with your family planner (so you have an idea of who is where during the week) and your new free Meal Planner sheet.

2. Note the days when you will be late home from work or a kids activity, as well as times when someone might not be home at all.’Choose meals that will be prepared beforehand or are quick and easy to put together. This makes deciding between cooking or take away easy. Obviously choose the former.

3. Now plan the rest of your meals. I try to alternate with red meat, chicken, fish and vegetarian. We try to eat fish at least twice a week and vegetarian once.

4. Remember to check your fridge, freezer and pantry for food you may have and base a meal around this. Maybe make this a focus for one of the meals. Also check the fresh fruit and vegetables so you don’t buy too much. We waste so much food and should try to cut back on this.

5. After checking what ingredients you need for the grocery list, confirm you don’t already have this. Last year I kept finding I had doubled up on spices which was such a waste of money.

6. On the Meal Plan, I have included a space to add some baking for the week. I like to do this for the kidlets (and husband) so we buy less processed food.

Now, download the free Meal Plan sheet and print it off as many times as you like. This is for personal use only and can be shared with as many people as you want. It is not to be used for commercial use, without permission. Click on the snapshot below and it will take you to a PDF instantly.

Meal plan snapshot

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Labelling School Clothes and Other Items

This is a repost from again with some changes to keep it updated. Now that I have most of the things the kidlets need for school, the idea of how best to label them has been playing on my mind, again.  There are a variety of ways you can label these days. A few might be:

  • The good old permanent texta
  • Sewing labels onto clothes
  • Iron on labels for clothing
  • Commercially bought, commercially designed labels
  • Your own designs made up and printed out on the home computer

I am going with the commercially self designed and ordered kind. I sat down with each of the kidlets and they chose their design. It was great to see their eyes light up when choosing the design and colour. This year we went with a company called Tiny Me. They had a great special. Gabby chose the Woodland Creatures and Rogan went with Transport.

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Below are a couple of other links to help you get started.

www.stuckonyou.com.au

http://www.brightstarkids.com.au

http://www.identikid.com.au

http://www.mooo.com.au/name-labels

Have fun choosing some exciting designs.

Paula

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Building a Better Blog

Do you have a Blog? Have you just started out on the Blog journey? Are you trying to improve your Blog? I have been blogging for over 2 years now and would really like to improve on what I have been doing and take it to the next level.

A little while ago I came across a great place to learn how to improve my blog and it is also a platform where you can share your blog. Bloggy Moms is a “a place to find support and encouragement throughout the social media journey.  – See more at: http://www.bloggymoms.com/page/about-bloggy-moms#.Ut57-qywqcw”.

I have rediscovered my download from them that walks you through the first 3 months to improving your blog or setting one up. There are additional downloads but I am going to go through the first 3 months again. It will take me less than that but I want to check out every step again and see what I can do. If you are in the same boat as me or would like to set up a blog of your own, pop along to Bloggy Moms and have a browse. The link below will take you there. I am addicted.

Guide to a Better Blog

Choosing the Right School Bag

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This is a repost from a couple of years ago as I have been so busy with the move that my plans for posts have been thrown into chaos. The rules for choosing the right school bag hasn’t changed as the comfort and long term benefits are still so important. Some of the names and school dates have changed to try and keep it current.

It is a very exciting time for our little family as we prepare for Rogey Bear to begin ‘big’school – Pre-Primary and Gabbylocks heads into Year 2. As I have also been in Education for more than 20 years, I have been made well aware of the need for the correct school bag for students. 3/4 of young students complain of back pain before they are in high school, which is mainly due to bag size and weight. Now that we are looking for a bag for our baby boy we have been doing some research, again, as we did 2 years ago. I have listed some of the main points to consider when choosing the right bag.

  • The backpack must be firm and adjustable
  • Straps should cover both shoulders
  • A waist strap should be included
  • Choose the right size backpack carefully
  • Always be aware of how much weight is put into the backpack

The care of our childrens’ backs is paramount.

Happy hunting!!!

Paula

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Moving Home (Tips and insights)

Our little family is on the move. This will be the cats and my husband and my 5th move in 9 years. Our daughters 3rd move but she doesn’t remember the others and our son’s first. Over the years we have gathered so much and we always try to de-clutter before we go but never seem to do enough. This is a bittersweet move. We are finally heading back to our home state but will still be about 6 hours drive from family. Hopefully after a few years we can make that final move close to family and then settle. There is so much to consider for this move.

Our daughter will be going into Year 2 and our son is meant to start in Pre-primary so we have to enrol them into a new school. This is not proving to be easy as we send, and want to continue to send them to a catholic school. There are waiting lists at the moment so we have to hope and pray. Hopefully my posts will help others who have such a big move to make. We have got better every time we have moved and have learnt the right questions to ask. I hope you will join me on this journey and please feel free to throw any of your tips my way.

STEP 1: Plan your move.

I am a planner and need to have a calendar, weekly outlines and daily tasks in front of me so I can keep on top of things. You can make your own plan up but we are limited on time as there are only 8 weeks to go. Search online for Moving Planners and print one out, put it into a file and start planning. I paid for and downloaded this one from The Organised Housewife.

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STEP 2: Do a rubbish tip run

Go through all the carports and sheds to see if there are items you have that cannot be sold or you do not want anymore and take them to the tip. You will come across other things as you go. Store these to one side and do a tip run as needed. This is our job this weekend. My husband will have a rare day at home so we are dumping what needs to go. This will make the moving quotes so much easier.

STEP 3: Sell or donate big-ticket items that are too good to throw out.

While you are organising your tip run put items aside that can be sold or donated. Photograph and advertise them on a local selling site. I would prefer not to use the bigger ones as pick up is always an issue. If they are not sold in a week, lower the price slightly. If they are not sold in another week, donate them. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. I will just want to get rid of some of our pieces.

STEP 4: Removal Quotes

My husband’s company requires 3 quotes as they pay for the move and then we pay them back. Some removal companies allow you to do a quote online. This would be ok if you only had a few things to move. I do not feel comfortable with this as we have soo many things and I know I will get it wrong. Ring the removalists and make a time. When they are there make sure you have all the questions ready. We have two pets and two cars. One car has to go earlier so those were questions that needed to be clarified. Ask them for two quotes. One for them to do all the packing and one for them to supply boxes so you can pack yourself. I am going for the latter, except all the breakables. I will get them to pack those. Don’t forget to tell them the dates you are looking at. I remember one time going through this whole process only to find the cheaper quote couldn’t move us on the set day.

STEP 5: Home and schools

Decide whether you will rent or buy. Get onto some good real estate websites and start looking. I like to look and save some to our favourites. We have always bought when we have moved but will be renting at the moment. Every couple of days I check the sites and save my favourites. When my husband heads there a month before us he will look around and make more definite decisions.

If possible, find out about the different schools in the area. We have been lucky that my husbands new admin manager has been there a while and could give us some feedback. Phone schools immediately and ask for enrolment packages. Don’t forget to ask if they have waiting lists. We will be putting our enrolments into both schools and hoping for the best.

These steps should get you started. We have 2 more quotes next week and hopefully s decision on a removalist will be made by next weekend. I have started sorting through cupboards but just want to get packing. Our envornment is going to be different so here’s hoping a change is as good as a holiday.

OUR CURRENT LIVING ENVORINMENT

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OUR FUTURE LIVING ENVIRONMENT

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We will definitely miss the beautiful tropical surrounds but so many new adventures await us.

Childrens’ Birthday Parties

It is that time of year again, in our family. Our precious little lady turns 7 on Sunday. I love organising and having themed parties. Personally I am not the most creative person when it comes to having my own ideas so it takes me a little more time. I still love it though. I made a decision at the start of the year to alternate party time between our 2 kidlets. However, when it came to the crunch, I felt bad not letting them have a party. I think I have come up with the best of both worlds. Our son had his party earlier in the year. It was the full deal. Food games and cake. Our daughter understands that she is not having a big party. We decided on inviting a couple of the girls at school to go to the movies. A small celebration? It has not stayed that way. I can’t seem to help myself. We have ended up inviting all the girls from her Year level at school to our house. There are only 12 of them all up and some will be away for the school holidays.

We are having a pizza, movie and fondue night. The girls are wearing their Pjs and bringing a pillow and a blanket. Below is the invite I made up. There will be no games. I will make the pizza bases and the girls will put their own topping on. The plan is to then settle in for a movie and once this is complete we will celebrate with a chocolate fondue. This is going to be the cake.

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Children’s Chore Charts

I believe that all members of a family need to be responsible for jobs that help the family work together. A friend of mine told me her analogy she tells her kids so they understand why they have to do jobs around the house. This works well as there are 4 of them. She told them that their family was like a lawnmower that had 4 wheels. If one of the wheels were broken or not working well, then the lawnmower would not get the job done. Each member of their family was like a wheel on the lawnmower. They had to all work together so everything would get done. I loved it so I shared it with my 2. Thanks Jody.

As the kidlets get older and are capable of more I revamp their job charts. I have just done this and thought I would share them with you. Our son is 4 and our daughter will soon turn 7. There are jobs that they each have to do every day: Make their bed, take their lunchbox and dishes to the kitchen, hang their towels up and make sure their washing is in the laundry basket.

Then we have jobs that are completed only on some days and jobs they share. They were only feeding the cats, in the morning, twice a week and my husband I were having turns as well. Then they started fighting over who would let them in and out. So now they take turns to feed them and we don’t do it at all. That worked out well. Their daily jobs are common nature for them now. I check the charts every morning to make sure the right kidlet does the right job. As they get older, their tasks will be increased slightly. Gabby has started feeding the cats at night, once a week, with their wet food. Once she has got this under control I will increase it to twice a week. They each have turns emptying the dishwasher but are at different levels. I usually empty it all except for the plastic dishes they use and the knives and fork basket. Rogey Bear just packs the plastic dishes away and Gabbylocks puts them and the cutlery away. This will again be increased with confidence and control over certain items.

Click on the link below to see how I do their charts. It is so simple to do. I just use Microsoft Word to design it and then save it as a PDF.

Gabby's job chart

Rogan's job chart