Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April's mom panel (part 2)

Our April meeting was a huge hit... we had four of our own MOPS mamas take the "hot seat" as our speaker panel! A huge thanks to Meagan, Margaret, Bekah & Sonia for sharing your tips & tricks with us! Here is Part 2... be sure to check out Part 1 as well!

Meal Planning (by Sonia)

Do you ever realize it's almost dinner time & you have NO idea what to feed your family? Sonia provided an awesome handout for the moms at the meeting, but here are just some of her fabulous tips on how to plan ahead & avoid that panicky, unprepared feeling!
  • Make a list of 7-10 meals that your family loves (or will at least tolerate), as well as a few new recipes you want to try. (Use this printable to help get organized!)
    CLICK HERE for printable!
  • Ask the kids for their input... the more involved they are in meal planning, the more likely they'll eat it!
  • Have designated meal nights to take the guesswork out of planning (like Spaghetti Saturday or Taco Tuesday)
  • Every once in a while, play a game of "Chopped" with your family! Put out a variety of ingredients & leftovers (whatever you have onhand) & let each person create their own dinner masterpiece!
  • Figure out which nights need to be fast & easy... do your kids have ballet lessons or softball practice? The crockpot is a great option for those nights.
  • Once you have a list of 7-10 meals, make a grocery list based on the recipes. Be sure to check your pantry first so you don't buy ingredients you already have. 
  • Figure out the best time for you to go to the grocery store, & put it on your schedule. If you use coupons, prep them ahead of time. 

AFTER GROCERY SHOPPING... 
  • Wash & dry your produce before putting it away. The kids can help with this!
  • Set aside a designated time for food prep. It's an easy step to skip, but it saves lots of time in the long run! Prep ingredients for all meals (chopping, slicing, washing, etc). 
  • Pre-portion snacks, lunches, lunchbox items before storing so packing lunches isn't a rush & snacking is healthier.
  • Save leftovers! Freeze or keep in fridge for leftover or "Chopped" night. 

MORE TIPS... 
  • Buy family-size packs of meat & pre-portion into 1- or 2-lb amounts before freezing
  • Take advantage of the discounted "Manager Specials"! The meat is still good... it just needs to be used or frozen. 
  • Buy frozen veggies if you're not able to buy fresh
  • Shop the perimeter of the store first - focus on the fresh & frozen options. Try to avoid boxed or canned foods. 
  • Shop at ALDI
  • Skip the meat once a week & have a vegetarian meal
  • Try to have fish once a week... it's healthy!
  • Bake, broil, boil or grill if possible. When necessary, saute in a small amount of oil.
  • "Color your palette"! Having various colors on your plate makes your meals more appealing.


Managing your Budget (by Bekah H.)

Money can definitely be a stressful topic, regardless of how many incomes or kiddos your family has. Here are a few tips on how to make things run more smoothly:
  • Use a shared family calendar to keep everyone on the same page. Using an electronic version is a great idea because it allows you & everyone else to check the family calendar even if you're not at home.
  • In a relationship, there's almost always a spender & a saver... which are you? If you're the saver, you are probably the one who does the finances in your household. If you're the spender, you may not feel super enthusiastic about budgeting. However, it's important that both partners be involved in the finances... it keeps the lines of communication open!
  • Consider having family business meetings. Once a year, sit down & talk about goals & the big picture for your family. Once a month (or quarterly), sit down & talk about upcoming expenses such as birthdays, vacations, or car taxes.
  • The envelope cash system is an awesome concept. But it only works if you & your partner hold yourselves accountable! 
  • Looking for a tool to help you & your family get on the same page? Check these out:

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