3 Things I Use to Keep My Home Running Smoothly

Keeping a home clean, food on the table, activities coordinated and life somewhat structured is a bigger task than first meets the eye!

Today I want to talk through a few things I do to keep our home running (somewhat) smoothly!

Every day I use these three things:

1. Calendar planner

2. Simple lined notebook

3. 3-ring binder

How I use my planner

I highly recommend the planners that Hobby Lobby sells. They have the month-at-a-glance as well as each week laid out in a much bigger space for organizing all the nitty-gritty of your day.

The monthly page I use for keeping track of bigger events; church activities, company coming, meeting, etc. So when we need to schedule one of those kind of events I can glance at that page and know what days are already booked.

The weekly page I use to help me know where I am going each day and how to get there. 

I write everything on these pages–from my husband’s meetings to when I need to take meat out of the freezer.

 How I use my notebook

A huge part of keeping a home revolves around food. We need to eat 3 times a day, at least, and with kids that means several snacks thrown in there too.

Just a cheap lined notebook helps keep all things food planned and organized.  On one page is our weekly menu. I always know that I have enough food and what meal it is going towards for a whole week. 

On the other page is a constant, on-going shopping list. Whenever I see something almost gone I jot it down on the list. This eliminates so many “opps I forgot” trips to the store and ultimately saves money. 

How I use my binder

The third thing I use is a 3-ring binder. Here I keep recipes and also a master list of meals our family enjoys. This list is all divided out by meat types and what cookbook it is found in. This system makes meal planning and grocery list writing so much easier! 

These three books work hand in hand to help me stay organized and our home running sufficiently. Meals our family likes are organized in the 3-ring binder which I refer to as I make our weekly menu and shopping list in my lined notebook. I then make notes into my daily planner: what day I will make that shopping trip, when I need to start prep for certain meals, events and details of our week. 

I hope these ideas will help you as you seek to serve your family well! Caring for our families is a gift! 

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Meatless Meal Ideas

Looking for ways to save a little extra money? Running out of time to thaw and cook meat before dinner time? Today, Rachel shares a compilation of favorite meatless meal ideas. Meat can be one of the most expensive parts to a grocery bill, so why not try and cut down costs a bit? If you challenge yourself to cooking one or two meals a week without using meat, you might just be surprised at how delicious and easy your menu planning can still be.

  • Black bean tacos
  • Cheese or bean quesadillas 
  • Potato bar with any left over veggies in your fridge or a can of beans
  • Quiche
  • Pancakes/waffles
  • Eggs and toast
  • Zucchini tacos
  • Egg salad sandwiches
  • Black bean and rice skillet
  • Black bean burgers
  • Omelets
  • Bean and cheese chimichangas
  • Baked oatmeal
  • Tomato soup
  • Veggie grilled cheese
  • Regular grilled cheese
  • Garden lasagna
  • Potato Au gratin
  • Frittatas
  • French toast
  • Meatless Taco salad
  • Bean burritos
  • Veggie chili
  • Shakshuka (an Israeli dish)
  • Falafel (Israeli dish)
  • Cream of mushroom soup
  • Ratatouille
  • Lentil spaghetti
  • Granola and yogurt with fruit
  • Hash-browns and eggs
  • Crepes
  • Potato or zucchini fritters
  • Oven roasted root veggies
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Ways to Use the Meat You Have on Hand, Part 2: Pork Roast, Ham, Sausage and Kielbasa

Today we’re continuing with “Ways to use the meat you have on hand, part 2.” If you’ve scrounged in your fridge recently only to realize you’re going to be eating the same leftover meat for the next four days, check out our ideas below. You just might find yourself inspired to whip those leftovers up into a completely new dish!

PORK (roast, loin, chops, etc)

Fajitas/tacos

Enchiladas

Carnitas 

Stir-fry

Pork, potatoes, and onions skillet (think “Steak and potatoes”)

Pulled Pork sandwiches

HAM

Ham and potato soup

Egg scrambler

Monte Cristo sandwiches

Quiche

Ham and pineapple pizza

Stir fried rice

Frittatas

Chef Salad 

Biscuits and Ham Gravy 

Lentil/Split Pea Soup

White Bean and Ham Soup

Sliders

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham Casserole

Loaded potatoes

Breakfast casserole

Ham and Cheese Crescent Roll Ups

Ham Salad

SAUSAGE

Scrambled Eggs

Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast Pizza 

Pizza 

Biscuits and Gravy 

Egg Frittata

Zuppa Toscana Soup

Sausage sandwiches

KIELBASA

Hobo dinners 

Jumbalaya 

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Ways to Use the Meat You Have on Hand, Part 1: Chicken and Beef

As women, we are constantly thinking about what to make for the next meal. Sometimes my husband asks me how I just “whip up” something for a meal, with seemingly very little effort put into it. I usually respond that I have only been agonizing for several hours about what to make! Ahh, sometimes the coming up with an idea is the hardest part! (And yes, this happens even when I meal plan, because some days I just don’t feel like making the particular meal that is scheduled for that day!)

Another challenge that we often face is how to be frugal and use up what we already have on hand, say a whole bunch of taco meat or that ham that was leftover from Easter. Or what about the eight-pound pork butt that we cooked up? How can we change how serve it so that it doesn’t feel like we’re eating the same thing over and over again?

I’m sure many of you can identify with these struggles. For this reason, we have put together a list of some of our favorite ways to use up specific meats that we already have on hand.

This post will cover chicken and beef. Our next post will cover pork and other meats such as ham and sausage.

CHICKEN

Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Pizza (BBQ Chicken, Chicken Alfredo, Fajita)
Chicken Alfredo
Salad Topping
Chicken Pot Pie
Broccoli Chicken Casserole
Quiche
Fajitas
Enchiladas
Chicken and rice soup
White Chicken Chili

BEEF

Shepherd’s Pie
Spaghetti/Baked Spaghetti
Traditional Sloppy Joes/Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes Goulash
Frittata
Quiche
Stroganoff
Korean Beef Bibimbap
Spanish Rice
Tator Tot casserole
Taco Casserole
Taco Pizza
Mexican Loaded Potatoes
Taco Dip
Beef and Bean Burritos/Smothered Burritos
Tacos/Taco Salad
Quesadillas
Vegetable Beef Soup
Cheeseburger Soup
Chili (Leftover chili can also be used for loaded potatoes, quick taco salad, chili dogs)

What are some of your favorite ways to use leftover meat? We would love to hear about them!

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At home activities for kids

Sometimes life consists of the mundane. Dishes, bills, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. Our children learn from us just by participating in our everyday tasks. Sometimes, however, we need some fresh ideas for how we can interact more closely with our children in order to make memories they won’t forget…or we may just need some new ideas for how to  keep them busy while we get a few extra chores done! Either way, today we’re providing a list of our favorite activities. If it helps you to structure your day, think in blocks of time, having specific activities assigned to each segment. For example: 9:00-9:30–Chores/clean up, 9:30-10:00 -Crafts/Projects,10:00-10:30 – Independent play and so on. The following activities are simple and don’t require a ton of random supplies so we hope that you find these helpful as you continue to love on your kids!

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Outside

– Go on a walk and plan things you are going to look for (red houses, labrador retrievers, old cars, etc)

Go on a walk and flip a coin at every intersection you come to. Heads you go right. Tails you go left. 

– Look around in your backyard and see how many different shades of green you can find. 

– Sidewalk chalk

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Inside

– Read a book out loud

– When reading picture books, talk about what’s going on in the picture: count items, identify characters (mom, dad, baby, etc), identify attitudes. 

-Turn on some music and sing together

– Build a fort out of couch cushions and pillows

– Bake something yummy together

– Assemble a puzzle

– If you have a little girl, paint your nails together

– Have a tea party

– Play musical chairs

– Facetime a friend

– Have your child pretend you’re a mummy.  Tell him he needs to build you a great pyramid by covering you with toys/blankets, etc. Remember, mummies can’t move. You get a nap and your child learns some history. Win!

– Pop some Popcorn and have a family movie night

– Work on scripture memory together

– Bubble Bath

– Play a game such as Dominoes, Uno or Spot It. Check out this post on modifying games for young kids. http://heartsrefreshed.com/2019/07/30/5-games-you-can-modify-to-play-with-your-young-child/

– Play I Spy: use a little plastic animal or person and take turns hiding and finding it. 

– Get wiggles out acting out different animals: milk a cow, gallop like a horse, flap your wings like a bird, slither like a snake, roll in the mud like a pig, and so on.

– Clean the house! More often than not when I am doing some deeper cleaning around the house, my toddler will get right in the middle of it and want to help! 

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Crafts/Projects

– Make crafts out of toilet paper rolls (a simple google search will give you hundreds of ideas!)

– Make paper airplanes

– Draw simple designs such as a flower, tree, house, etc., and then “color” them with rice (mix food coloring into the rice and let dry, then use glue)

– Make a mosaic using cut up pieces of construction paper. 

– Make simple designs from construction paper and then have your child put together the picture. For example: cut out the trunk of a tree, the leaves, and fruit and then glue them together onto the tree you drew.

– For young children learning their alphabet, write out names of family members or friends for them to trace. As they trace the names, point out the different letters.

– Playdough More than likely you have all the ingredients to make your own playdough! Homemade playdough stays soft for so long and is super easy to whip up! I use this recipe – https://www.iheartnaptime.net/play-dough-recipe/

– Color (google “free coloring sheets for kids”)

-Write a letter to Grandma or a friend

– Create your own book- Fold multiple construction paper pieces and then staple together. Let your child write or draw pictures inside to create their own story.

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Independent Play

– Play store with canned goods, cereal boxes, etc. 

-Fill up the sink and let your child “wash dishes”

-Use masking or painters tape on your floor to make roads that your child can drive their cars on. Legos/Blocks can be used for making houses/parks/stores. 

-Listen to an audio book (look on your libraries website and see if you can check out an audio book online).

-Set your toddler inside a large cardboard box and let him color away with crayons or markers

-Finger bathtub paint https://www.food.com/recipe/kids-bathtub-paints-66418

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Online

-Cincinnati Zoo is offering a Facebook Live Safari every week day while the zoo is closed! https://www.facebook.com/cincinnatizoo/

-“Scholastic” has put together a great set of free learning resources! https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html

-“The Relaxed Homeschool” facebook page offers lots of freebie worksheets that you can print off. https://www.facebook.com/therelaxedhomeschool/ Laminate them or use a sheet protector for repeated use of the same page!  

-Check out this list for 50 ideas on ways to sneak in learning! https://www.theunlikelyhomeschool.com/2015/03/50-easy-ways-to-sneak-in-learning.html?m=1


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