Budget Friendly Valentine’s Gifts for Him

Budget Friendly Valentine’s Gifts for Him


This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Saying, “I love you” doesn’t mean spending a lot of money. In fact, showing someone you care is more about moments than items.

That said – I still love gift giving!

Here is a roundup of budget friendly gifts to show that special man in your life, that you care. (I tried to stick below $20, but there are a few that are a bit above that).

The Techie

The Foodie

The Musician

The Man’s Man

The Dad

The Romantic

Some of my favorite ideas are creating a memory book, a coupon book of dates or special things you’ll do for him, or the date night idea cards.

It’s not hard to find gifts that are both affordable and thoughtful.

If you have any other ideas that boyfriends or husbands might love, please share them in the comments below!

 

Gift Guide: Budget Friendly Valentine’s Gifts For Your Man
8 Romantic and Budget Friendly Valentine’s Day Ideas

8 Romantic and Budget Friendly Valentine’s Day Ideas

My favorite way to show others that I care for them is through gifts. Unfortunately, that language of love isn’t always the best for my wallet! This year, with saving being one of our main goals I’ve had to think about some ways that my hubby and I can have a special time together without blowing our budget.

Did you know that a study done by the National Retail Federation says that the average American spends $136.57 on Valentine’s day plans and gifts?! That’s quite a bit…especially considering our entire budget for the month to eat out is $100!

So, for those of you who are on a budget like we are, but would like to have a romantic time with your significant other. Here are 8 ways that you can save money, yet savor the moment with your honey.

Dine In

Who says you have to go out for a fancy meal? Valentine’s can be memorable and special without going out dinner! Instead of sitting in a packed restaurant or waiting an hour to get a table, enjoy the opportunity to slow down and cook your favorite meal together. With some mood lighting, the right music, and that special someone you can have an even more romantic experience then in a bustling restaurant.

For those with kids, yes I know that doesn’t seem relaxing; however, there are a few options for you.

1. Feed the kids a special dinner of their favorite foods and then tuck them in for the night. Once they are snuggled in bed you can turn on some slow music and start cooking a tasty meal together. While it’s cooking, you can dance in the kitchen, change into that special outfit you have for your dinner, or share a smooch 😉 What really matters is for one evening to truly slow down and take the time to enjoy each other’s company!

2. Send the kids off their grandparents and let them have a special Valentine’s party together, while you and your love get to enjoy some peace and quiet at home!

Go Out for Dessert

I truly believe chocolate should be a love language…or more specifically, chocolate pastries or baked goods! An easy way to cut down on expenses, yet still go out is to make a homemade meal and then go out to your favorite coffee shop or restaurant for an indulgent treat. Indulging in a decadent cheesecake or chocolate mousse is even more enjoyable when it’s not getting added to your dinner tab!

Play Outside

I know for us it is hard to find the time to go outdoors like we want to. With work and then going home to have dinner and finish a few chores before bed, there just doesn’t seem to be a way to fit it in.

If you are a nature lover, like me, but are having a hard time fitting it in, then this special occasion might be just what the doctor ordered. Exploring the great outdoors with your special someone can be quite romantic – and the best part, it’s free!!!

In warmer climates you could head to the beach or go on your favorite hiking trail. Or, if you live in an area that tends to more frigid temps this time of year, perhaps a snowshoeing adventure or snowball fight is what will allow you to spend some quality time together.

Have a Movie Night

It has been a very rare occasion for us to watch a movie in the last 8 months. With a baby who has decided that sleep is not his favorite thing our nighttime hours are generally filled with much bouncing and “shushing”. For us, an excellent option for a budget friendly date night is cuddling on the couch with a romantic comedy and some salty snacks and simply enjoying each other’s presence.

This is a great option whether there are kids in the picture or not. Sometimes, the best thing we can do in this crazy life is just sit down and rest together. With the frantic pace of life these days there is nothing more enjoyable than snuggly pj’s, some comfort food (snacks), and sinking into the couch with your person! And, once again – it’s free!

Snuggle by the Fire

I have always thought a fire in the fireplace to be terribly romantic. A sweet and budget friendly activity to do with your honey is to grab some hot cocoa and some s’more making supplies and enjoy the warmth of the fire and each other’s presence.

Trade Massages

Grab some lotion or massage oil, put on your favorite relaxing playlist and then spend the evening giving each other a calming, romantic massage. *bonus points for some homemade chocolate covered strawberries to enjoy* It is so easy to become preoccupied with every day necessities and stresses, which can in turn cause tension between couples. Being able to help each other relax can help you reconnect and get back on the same wavelength.

Memory Lane

If you find that life has you feeling stressed and making it hard to connect, than this might be the perfect Valentine’s Day activity for you. Spend the evening reminiscing about your journey together. Take time to look at photos from the beginning of your relationship. Dig out the love letters or saved texts and remember some of your favorite moments. You could even create a video or slideshow, complete with your favorite songs, and document your journey together.

Insider Tip!

This is what we personally did last year, and most likely will do this year. We have just come from the holiday season and at some point you were most likely given a gift card to your favorite spot to eat, or a special place you don’t usually get to go to. We saved the gift card that we were given last year and were then able to go have a special meal out on Valentine’s without spending any from our budget. If you can’t do it this year, just keep it in mind for the next time someone gives you a gift card to your favorite place!

There really are an abundance of ways that you can spend time together with your special someone without having to spend much, if any, money! As I have gotten older and life has gotten busier, I have come to realize that it isn’t about the gift, it’s about the person behind the gift. Things don’t matter. Moments do. That’s what Valentine’s Day is about. I hope you have a wonderful day taking the time to enjoy and cherish the people you have to love.

The Working Moms Guide to the Holidays

The Working Moms Guide to the Holidays

This season of thankfulness and joy have you feeling frazzled? Here are 10 tips to take back the holidays and experience the peace and joy you so long for!

This is my first Christmas both as a mama and as the host to the festivities. My Type A, freaky planner self is both raring to go and absolutely quaking as I think about how to balance planning for the holidays with full time work, wife life, being a mom, and still trying to keep up with growing a blog.

Don’t get me wrong, I am super excited about planning for this holiday season. I have dreamed of the day when we would have a home where I could decorate to my heart’s content and host Christmas parties that would be filled with warmth and good cheer (and aaaalll the good things to eat!). 

However, I do have to consider all the things I have on my plate and take some time to come up with a plan as to how to get all the things done, stay within budget…and keep that dream of a peaceful, joy-filled Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends and family alike.

It is on these occasions that I am especially grateful for my crazy love of all things planning and organization! So many talk about how stressful this time is and how overwhelming trying to balance all the extra activities the holidays bring on top of their all ready busy lives; however, though I might feel a bit stretched in all directions, I know the steps I need to take to make the holidays less stressful and filled with good tidings of great joy.

It really isn’t all that difficult! A few small changes can make a big difference as to how you go through the holiday season.

Here are a few things I’m implementing to ensure that my holidays are fully enjoyable and far less stressful.

1. Update Your Calendar

The last thing I want to do during this time is forget what day my work Christmas party is or get called asking where I am for our church Christmas program rehearsal!

In order to stay on top of all the extra activities going on this time of year, the best thing I do is to have an at-a-glance calendar where I can see all those, meetings, rehearsals, parties, etc. 

My advice is to find a free printable monthly calendar that you can use, not only to keep track of those events, but to also program your other holiday tasks. Pick a day where you will decorate the home, do the Christmas shopping, or wrap gifts. No more events sneaking up on you or wrapping gifts late into the night on Christmas Eve. Assigning a date to all those to-do items helps to ensure they get done.

2. Reflect on your family values

Take some time to reflect on what the holidays mean to you personally and for your family. For me I know this means time with family and friends gathered together enjoying moment’s that we might not have during other times of the year. Thanksgiving and Christmas should line up with my families values of quality time spent together, love, and gratefulness.

Throughout the year it is so easy to become caught up in the daily grind and lose focus of what really matters. Use this holiday season as a time to come back to the basics and focus in on what truly matters to you and your family.

Thanksgiving and Christmas, though a flurry of extra work and activities, also provide moments to reconnect to our family, friends, and children. In order to make the most of these moments, select activities and events that align with your own family’s personal values. Don’t feel guilty about saying, “no”. As you select engagements based on your family’s values you will find that the holiday season becomes an even more grounded, special time as you pursue what matters most.

3. Prioritize

I find it is particularly important to prioritize all the extra tasks and activities during the holidays. Once you have spent time considering what matter’s most to you and your family, take those values and then apply them to all the possible tasks and activities you have available to you.

Take time to go through each event that you could attend, gifts you need to buy, tasks you need to complete and select those which align with your family’s values and desires.

For example, it might be a bit difficult to fit in the community holiday parade, the school Christmas pageant, caroling with friends, Christmas Light show, or just a fun night of Christmas cookie baking during the month of December…if it does all fit, wonderful! But if it makes you feel stressed out and stretched thin consider each of those events and how they fall in line with your families values. Which of them is the best fit? This is the event (or two) that you can prioritize.

As for gifts, while you may enjoy gift giving (and getting) with your famiy and friends, there’s no rule that says you can’t institute a White Elephant gift exchange or even a Secret Santa system for groups of friends or extended family. Sometimes, just the moments you get to spend together are precious enough that you don’t need many (or any) gifts. This practice can add a sense of fum to your holidays while helping all of us avoid the post-Christmas credit card hangover.

4. Start planning EARLY according to your values and priorities

Unfortunately, no amount of planning will help you be organized and stress free if you start the week before Christmas. The biggest boost you can give yourself in the joy and peace department is to give yourself enough time to get ALL THE THINGS done.

Believe me, it’s no fun to head to the store to pick up that Thanksgiving turkey and there are none left, because it’s Wednesday night…or, realizing that you don’t have enough wrapping and gift bags for the presents and it’s 11pm on Christmas Eve…not that I’ve ever done any of those 😉

Any type of headstart you can give yourself on the menu planning, gift purchasing and wrapping will go a long way towards minimizing those last minute headaches (and crowds!). 

I like to start planning for Christmas the moment it ends! “Whoa, she’s crazy,” you’re probably thinking. Perhaps I am, but I can’t pass up all those amazing deals the day after Christmas!

Here are just a few things you can do the day after Christmas to get a jumpstart on the next year.

•  Stock up on all the discount gift giving tools (wrapping paper, ribbons, tape, etc.)
•  Those Christmas gift sets that are now on super discount…stock up for easy teacher or extended family gifts!
•  Have a few items that weren’t purchased from this year’s Christmas list? See if there are any good deals on those items and save them for next year.
•  Did you want to add to your Christmas decor this year, but just couldn’t see it fitting in the budget? Take advantage of all those day after Christmas sales to keep decorating easy on your wallet. Plus, you’ll have everything all ready to go for next year without have to make a trip to the store through the crowds!

Shopping the day after Christmas is just one of the ways I help myself prepare early. A few other things I like to do is maintain a running list of things that my family or friends mention that they would love to have throughout the year. This way, when Christmastime comes and they are having trouble remember just what it was they wanted…I’ll already know 😉

The Busy Mom's Guide to the Holidays

5. Online Shopping

There’s just no time to get to the store! I completely get it, girl! As a working mama I feel I barely have time to do the weekly grocery shopping, much less go out and find the perfect gift for my family and close friends!

I don’t know what I would do without being able to shop online! Amazon and I are best buds, but this time of year…we are absolutely inseparable. Christmas shopping does not have to be about traffic, crowds, and walking all day trying to find the perfect gift only to find out it’s not in stock.

In fact, it can actually be relaxing and enjoyable! I mean, what’s better this time of year than snuggling up in your pj’s in front of the fireplace with a cup of cocoa? Add in your favorite electronic device and Voila the perfect Christmas shopping experience!

6. Make a list…and check it twice!

Now, we might not be the jolly man in the red suit, but we can certainly follow a bit of his planning expertise 😀 

Lists are my thing! Whether it’s to-do, groceries, goals…you name it…I will probably have a list for it! This time of year lists are going to be your best friend. I highly recommend having one for…well pretty much everything. And just as the song says…check it twice!

Whether it’s for groceries, gifts, guests, Christmas Cards…I think you get the gist, having a list helps keep us on track, minimizes forgetfulness (and last minute trips to the store, and simply keeps mom brain on track and focused. 

As a mom I have found my brain is generally a jumbled, sleep deprived mess. Keeping lists for everything is my way to stay sane and keep my brain clear to remember all the important things!

7. Set a Budget

As much as you have tried to save throughout the year it’s easy to breeze through those funds and then find yourself racking up more on your credit cards than you thought possible in such a short span of time.

The best way to combat this is to create a budget. You’ll want a budget for your presents, holiday décor, supplies, food items you’ll need at home as well as for socials. You may not know the exact costs of these items right now, but setting a range that will work within your general monthly budget will keep you from overspending on the holidays.

8. Keep Things Clean

One of my absolute favorite parts about the holidays is being able to entertain family and friends. There is nothing I enjoy more than being able to prepare a meal and a welcome environment for them to come relax and connect.

In addition to all the planned festivities, whether you are ready or not company is coming. There will always be some friends and family will be dropping by unannounced, of course.

A great way to prepare for guests, whether planned or surprise, is to make sure that your home stays clean. The best way to do this is to put your family to work and all contribute to cleaning up and then maintaining it. While it will be a challenge to keep your house clean over the holiday months, everyone, even the kids, will have less cleaning to do if you all give the house a major overhaul before your days get even more crazy. That way you can tackle just one or two simple tasks every day to keep everything neat and tidy.

9. Stock your pantry and bake ahead of time

With all the extra cooking during the holidays, it’s easy to find yourself low, or completely out of necessary items. To make sure this doesn’t happen stock up on those things you know you’ll need more of such as flour, sugar, baking powder, chicken stock, etc. If you have go to holiday recipes, check out the ingredient list and make sure you have enough on hand for a few of those meals.

Give me aaaaalll the Christmas goodies…well, maybe just one or two. Trying to stay healthy 😉

The great thing about all those baked goods that we make this time of year is that they can generally be made a few days or even a week or two ahead and then be stuck in the freezer. This minimizes trying to figure out just how you are going to time everything and fit it in the oven. Getting those baked goods done a few days ahead of time means less time in the kitchen once family gets here and more room for that Christmas ham, turkey, or whatever your traditional meal is.

*side note* my family always did hors d’oeuvres for Christmas dinner. We each got to pick an item to include on the menu, which made for a very personal and tasty Christmas dinner. It also made planning and cooking on Christmas day super simple for my mom, which was great because it allowed her to spend more time with the family on Christmas day. I’m always super curious as to other’s Holiday traditions. What did your family have for Christmas dinner? Feel free to share in the comments below!

10. Reflect

The best way to fully embrace the joy and peace this holiday season brings is to take a quiet moment to yourself and reflect on your values and what these days truly mean to you.

There are so many things to be grateful for, and this is especially true during the holidays—whether it’s a classic Christmas song on the radio, some ridiculously cute wrapping paper, your child’s delight at holiday decorations, or even the joy of indulging in hot cocoa with marshmallows, there truly is beauty in the details.

And remember, despite all the planning, there will always be something that does not go exactly as planned…and that’s OK! There might be small failures or mishaps, but it’s all right. It’s okay to not be a “perfect” mom…in fact, it is pretty much impossible, so give yourself some grace! It is not the things that matter, but the people and the memories you are creating together. That is what is important, even if things do not go as planned.

The truth is, we really can’t buy or cook or decorate our way to happiness—the real gift lies in simply being present for our families and loved ones. Spending time together is what makes this season truly magical. May you and your loved ones have a blessed holiday season!

Healthy Soup Recipes

Healthy Soup Recipes

Every year I go back and forth trying to decide which is my favorite season…it truly is a toss up between spring and fall. I love spring with its fresh smells, new life and bright sunny skies; however, fall holds a special place with the crisp air and leaves, crackling fires, and snuggling under blankets with a warm mug of cocoa.

The temps here in South Carolina have finally become a bit chilly and, as a result, it brings the return of soup season and there is nothing than I enjoy more at then end of a long work day than a bowl of comforting, soul (and body) warming healthy soup! 

Reasons why I love a good soup!

•  Warms the soul (and stomach!)
•  Budget friendly
•  Delicious leftovers
•  Chicken soup is known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties, which is great for flu season!
•  Everything all in one pot…less mess for this busy mama to clean!
•  Most can be thrown in the crockpot…another win for this working mama!

Now, although soup is one of the best comfort foods there is that doesn’t mean it has to have the stigma of sticking to the ribs and never leaving 😉 There are an abundance of healthy, yet absolutely delicious recipes that can keep you going strong on your journey to health and fitness.

Because I’m such a huge fan, I put together this collection of the “Best Healthy Soups And Stews Recipes” for you this fall! I’m sure you’ll find one (or two) that you’d love to try. All these fall soup and stew recipes will not only keep you warm and fill your tummies, but it will HEAL you, boost your immunity and surely satisfy you. Can’t wait to hear which ones you like the most.

Enjoy!

21 Day Fix Soups

21 Day fix is a meal plan focused on eating from all food groups, but limiting your portion sizes with the help of portion control containers. How many portion containers you use will be determined by your weight bracket. Here’s an easy to follow guide you can save.

Having the portion containers makes life so easy by not having to count every calorie or macro. Simply place the food in the container to measure it out and tada you are done!

•  White Bean and Kale Soup
•  Zuppa Toscana
•  Chicken Tortilla Soup
•  Sausage, Vegetable and Barley Stew
•  Beef Stew
•  Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
•  Pasta Faggioli
•  Stuffed Pepper Soup
•  Cheesy Potato Soup
•  Broccoli and Cheese Soup
•  Butternut Squash Soup
•  Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
•  New England Clam Chowder
•  Italian Wedding Soup
•  Thai Curry Sweet Potato Soup

Paleo Soups

In a nutshell the Paleo way of eating is to consume whole foods that can be found in nature and eliminating all processed foods. This back to basics way of eating has many health benefits as it reduces or eliminates completely the amount of preservatives, trans fats, and sugars that we consume.

•  Chicken Pot Pie Soup
•  Cauliflower Chowder
•  Cabbage Beef Soup
•  Roasted Pumpkin and Ginger Soup
•  White Chicken Chili
•  Creamy Coconut Carrot Soup
•  Sweet Potato and Bacon Soup
•  Chicken Tortilla-less Soup
•  Tomato Basil Bisque with Italian Meaballs
•  Tumeric Chicken Stew
•  Minestrone Soup
•  Sausage, Kale, Sweet Potato Soup

Keto Soups

The ketogenic (or keto) diet is a lo-carb, high fat diet that reduces your carbohydrate intake and replaces it with healthy fats. The goal with this way of eating is for your body to be in a state of ketosis, where your body become more efficient in burning of fat for energy. Because, you are upping your intake of fat it helps to keep you full even while losing weight.

•  Beef Stroganoff Soup
•  Creamy Spinach Artichoke Soup
•  Broccoli Cheese Soup
•  White Chicken Chili
•  Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup
•  Bacon Cheeseburger Soup
•  Green Chile Enchilada Soup
•  Jalepeno Bacon Cheddar Soup
•  Chicken Fajita Soup
•  Buffalo Chicken Bacon Soup
•  Pumpkin Soup
•  Chunky Chili
•  French Onion Soup
•  Lasagna Soup
•  Crab Chowder

Trim Healthy Mama Soups

Trim Healthy Mama is a way of eating that many have had great success with. Basically you separate eating your fats and carbs. You will always have a good source of protein and veggies in your meal, but you will alternate between complimenting that meal with a fat/satisfying source (S) or a carb/fuel source (E). The reason for this is that it helps your body to more quickly burn through what you’re eating (turning your food into the energy your body uses to run), rather than having to work through processing both fats and carbs (which usually cannot all be burned through and are thus stored as excess fat). Generally you should try to wait 3 hours between eating a satisfying (fat focused meal) and an energizing (carb focused meal).

•  Sweet Potato Bisque (E)
•  Bacon Tomato Soup (S)
•  Turkey Pot Pie Chowder (S)
•  Spicy Bean Soup (E)
•  Chicken Gnocchi Soup (S)
•  Taco Soup (S)
•  Cream of Broccoli (S)
•  Chicken, Barley, Veggie Soup (E)
•  Cream of Mushroom (S)
•  Happy Harvest Soup (S)
•  Vegetable Beef Soup (E)
•  Thai Soup (S)
•  Loaded Baked “Potato” Soup (S)
•  Mom’s Chicken Soup (E)
•  Our Favorite Soup (S)

I’m hoping you found this roundup of healthy soup recipes to be helpful and filled with delicious recipes that will keep your family warm, healthy and happy all fall long!

Enjoy!

xo, Rebecca

Simple Meal Planning for Busy Moms

Simple Meal Planning for Busy Moms

To those unfamiliar with meal planning it can feel like an overwhelming task, but that’s usually because we view meal planning from the end point. As newbies look at those delicious dinners created and long grocery lists, it can be a tad intimidating. It all looks amazing; however, you may ask…how do I do it?

Meal planning, even as a busy mom, is not as difficult as it seems. I have come up with a simple, effective system for meal planning and broke it down into three key steps: selecting recipesshopping for ingredients, and prepping your meals.

These steps might seem pretty obvious, and yes, they may be, but there’s a strategy within each of them. It’s the strategy that makes meal planning worth it! Along the way we’re going to cover what you need for success, what is inessential, and share a few bonus tips you can implement as you settle into the routine.

You’ll leave this post with a solid understanding on how to craft your own meal plan so  when that eternal question of what’s for dinner is asked you’ll have just the right answer 😉

Basics of Meal Planning

Before we dig in, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what meal planning is and what it isn’t.

What it is: Meal planning is asking the what’s for dinner question once for the whole week, instead of every night, and then shopping for and prepping the ingredients before cooking. The simplest format is following these three steps:

• Select your dinners and their recipes, if needed.
• Shop for ingredients.
• Prepare those ingredients.

Start on a Friday: This is what works best for me personally. The weekends are the only time I have to get out and do grocery shopping as a busy working mom, so I kick of the weekend by creating my meal plan on Friday night then shopping on Saturday then I will meal prep for an an hour or so on either Saturday or Sunday.

What it isn’t: Meal planning can change you’re life as a busy mom; however, it can be easy to blow its effects out of proportion. While it does solve many problems, you’ve got to tailor it to fit your needs. You need to take some time for trial and error to find a system that works for you. You’ve also got to make room one free night…enjoy a date night or pizza night with the fam!

What you need to get started

Consider asking yourself a few questions as you begin your meal planning journey. You need to figure out why it is you are interested in meal planning. Is it to…

• Eat healthier?
• Save money?
• Save time?
• Have more variety?
• Spend more time with family?
• Prevent wasting food?

If you’re just getting started with meal planning, only choose one or two of the above and keep them in mind when you do (my favorite) part of meal planning…picking out the recipes.

Choosing your recipes.

Choosing your recipes the reasons behind your desire to meal plan into action. In fact, this is the most critical step since it starts of a chain reaction, because you shouldn’t really just choose a bunch of recipes and hope for the best. Start thinking about and researching your meal plan a few days in advance before you want to give it ago. This will give you time for the full process of making a shopping list, shopping, and then prepping. Here’s how I recommend you pick your recipes.

Decide how many meals you need and how they fit into your day.

Take a look at your calendar or through your planner for the coming week and which nights you will be making a home cooked meal. Five nights is generally the most common. Then, you need to consider the details. On the nights that you’re cooking, how do those meals fit into your day? For example, on the nights where you stay late at work, a 10-hour slow cooker recipe is a good idea. If you have to go out for a church meeting after dinner, what recipes do you have that take 30 minutes or less?

I also like to take a look at the weather forecast for the week. Is it going to be rainy (perhaps a nice soup would work well) or uncharacteristically hot (a light salad with grilled chicken might hit the spot). I tend to crave certain foods depending on the weather, so taking a look ahead will let you know if you need to plan some comfort food to warm the soul, or lighter fare to help keep things cool.

Where will you find  your recipes?

There is no end of recipe options out there! Taking a look at your reason for meal planning will help to narrow them down. Are you looking for quick 30 minute meals? Recipes that can cook in the crockpot while your at work? Do they need to fit into a specific eating plan like Keto or Paleo? These will all help point in the right direction.

When you have the general idea of what you want there are cookbooks, cooking sites, Google, or my personal favorite….Pinterest, that will provide you an abundance of ideas to choose from.

Rules for picking the right recipe:

Choose meals that provide leftovers: They’re the gift that keeps on giving.

 Only add one or two new recipes: For the rest choose family favorites that you know they will love. This helps keep you from feeling overwhelmed by cooking a new recipe every night.

Pick recipes based on common ingredients: This starts with looking at what you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Shopping your own kitchen can help you avoid wasted food. Additionally, this saves money and helps you not to end up with 4 bags of brown rice and 10 cans of diced tomatoes. Plus, if recipes have the same common ingredient – say you choose 3 recipes with chicken – one day you can cook the whole chicken and have that with a few sides. The next day you can take the leftovers and use them for quesadillas or a casserole…then with whatever is leftover you could make a soup. Talk about money saving!

Choose things you’ll love: It might take some trial and error, but you’ll soon figure out what types of recipes are your favorites. There is nothing worse than planning a whole meal and then not enjoying it and having it go to waste. Only cook what you’ll eat!

Crafting your grocery list

You’ve done the hardest part of choosing your recipes! Awesome job! Now what do you need to make them? I tend to go through a two step process to creating my list. Don’t get overwhelmed! It’s not difficult 🙂 

Make a master ingredient list

 This is not your grocery list, but it is the first step in creating the perfect one, while also helping you take inventory of what’s in your kitchen. Start by going through each recipe’s ingredient list to make up the master list of things you’ll need for the week. For example: right down every ingredient for each recipe and then consolidate them (if you have 3 recipes that call for eggs, then add them up and you’ll know just how many you need for the week). Then, take some time to through your kitchen and cross off anything you already have. No more coming back from the store and realizing you now have 3 tubs of greek yogurt.

Make the grocery list

Don’t jump in the car yet! There’s one more simple step that will help save time at the store and keep you from forgetting any important items. This is to group your grocery list by the the various food departments in your store (produce, meat, dairy, etc.).

I like to take it one step further and list the items in the order I find them in the store (for me this looks like: veggies and fruit, bread, canned goods, baking necessities, meat, dairy and then frozen goods). If you are a mama you know the layout of your store by heart…that’s why it takes you 5 seconds to run in and grab the item you forgot, while it takes your hubby 15 minutes!

Prepping for the week

Don’t let your excellent recipe planning, list making and grocery shopping bite the dust by not following through with a little bit of meal prep. Meal prepping will help stave of the desire to grab take out because you really don’t want to take the time to chop up all those veggies for stir-fry after work.

Set aside some time Saturday or Sunday to do some batch cooking and prep work. Things like chopping up veggies, portioning out fruit and pre-cooking your chicken are all helpful activities you can do to lessen your time in the kitchen during the workweek.

Meal planning is not difficult, but it’s no piece of cake either, especially when you’re new to it. So if you showed up here seeking to make your life in the kitchen a bit calmer, you’re well on your way. Each time you go through the process of meal planning you learn what not to do, where you can improve, what you can do without, and how to personalize the process to fit your needs. Keeping consistent will only makes you better.

Morning Routine to Transform Your Life As a Working Mom

Morning Routine to Transform Your Life As a Working Mom

I’m seriously in LOVE planning and routines! However, as far as having a steady morning routine…I must be honest. I struggle!

Wanting to wake up and start the day has never been my forte. No matter how much I have wished to be a morning person. Coupled with the fact I have a 4 month old, any desire to get out of bed has gone out the window!

Despite feeling like my eyes need to be propped open with toothpicks in the morning, I have found that creating a morning routine helps to keep my mornings as a working mom flowing smoothly. And…even helps me to enjoy them a tad more.

I am falling in love with my morning routine more as the days go by, so I’d share it in a little more detail with you.

While I love doing trying to do this routine every morning, this post isn’t about trying to get you to do it too. This post is just my way to share how I figured out what works best for me so that it might help you figure out the same.

I am working on following this routine almost every morning, even if I haven’t gotten as much sleep as my heart so desires. But, I’m am going to become morning person!

The point of this whole thing is figuring out what will work for you! So, I’ll just say now that if you’re like me and are not a morning person, try to set yourself up with a morning routine that will give you the best chance of succeeding. Make sure you only choose a few things and be proud of yourself when you do them. This is about you, not about comparing yourself to anyone else.

Focus on your strengths instead of trying to improve your weaknesses.

As you read through what I do, try to think about whether it fits your own personal needs and goals or not. Don’t do something just because I’m doing it! My morning routine gets me feeling productive and awake and ideally yours will do the same. There are a thousand ways to end up with that result. Do what works for you, it does not need to be the cookie cutter copy of mine.

To help you create your perfect morning routine, I’ve created a free easy to follow guide to share the exact process I used to create my morning routine. The guide includes worksheets to help you plan your morning routine as well as a morning routine tracker.

All right…let’s get to the good stuff!

1. WAKE UP

Ok, so I know that waking up is a pretty obvious part of this whole morning routine. But, I can attest to the fact that this first step is often the hardest. 

Seriously, as a working mama it is a struggle of enormous proportions to even think about leaving my warm, cozy bed. The desire to hit snooze and get “just 5 more minutes” is many times overwhelming. I’ve definitely been there.

But it is possible to train yourself to get up in the morning. Here are some things that have helped me.

  • Only setting 1 alarm and stick to it. I have come to the realization that I will get better sleep if I just set one alarm and wake up when it goes off. I only feel more groggy when I decide to hit that snooze button.
  • Putting my alarm clock/phone on the other side of the room. I havne’t gotten to this point yet; however, it is an excellent option to propel yourself from the embrace of your favorite comforter.
  • Don’t shock your body by all of the sudden waking up an hour earlier. I have found it easiest to get up earlier in the morning by gradually moving back my alarm in 15 minute increments. This will help you stick to your routine and not hit that snooze button.
2. OPEN THE BLINDS & MAKE THE BED

Unless my husband is still sleeping, I always make the bed and open the blinds as soon as I wake up. This is a great way to keep yourself from diving under the covers again. Who wants to have to make their bed twice?! If I don’t do it as soon as I get up, I will as soon as hubby gets out of bed. Not only does it help me to keep from crawling back in, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment to see my bed nice and tidy.

3. MORNING SKIN CARE ROUTINE

The next thing I do after jumping the hurdle of getting myself out of the bed taking care of my skin. Plus, a splash of cold water help to jolt the last bit of sleep out of my system. Not only does it help to wake up, but it helps your mindset to have a short moment of self-care.

4. DRINK SOME WATER

I love drinking water! I have come to find that my body truly does run at its optimum level when I have had enough water. However, as a busy working mom I sometimes forget to get in the recommended amount of 8 glasses. So, I make it a point to drink at least 25 oz before I even get to work. 

Side, note…I also in this time frame will drink my pre-workout, because the next step is:

5. GETTING IN A WORKOUT

The final stage in waking myself up is doing some exercise. I have found that if I don’t get exercise done in the morning, it most likely won’t happen. I have found there are so many benefits to getting in a workout. For me these benefits are:

  • Knocking out those last waves of sleep that try to reel me back in.
  • Endorphins…exercising really does help my mood and mindset!
  • Sets the stage for a great day…I’ve gotten off to a good start, why would I want to mess it up with bad eating habits?

I have always struggled with putting together a good workout routine, especially at home. BUT, then I discovered BeachBody. I know I’m seriously late to the party with this one but for some reason, even though I’ve heard AMAZING things about it for the past year, I was really resistant to checking it out. However, a few months ago when I was on Instagram I came across another mama on her fitness journey who was a Beachbody coach. Her transformation and posts got me so excited about how I could have the same results, so I finally checked it out and I’m so in love with the programs and support that is offered.

So far I have done Liift4: an awesome program that builds muscle and burns calories, with 40 min. workouts only 4 days a week. Perfect for this working mama! I can’t tell you how great this program is! Plus, with their “Netflix” of workout programs I have so many options to choose from!

There are several free workouts that you can follow too! Which I find is always awesome 😉

6. GET DRESSED AND DO MY MAKEUP

Again, this seems obvious but it’s so important.

I find that if I get dressed into a cute outfit and make sure my makeup is on point. Not full glam, just enough so that I look like my best self 😉 Feeling like I look good helps to change my vibe towards myself and the day. 

I also try to always have my outfit picked out the night before so I don’t have to make any decisions the next morning (which can seriously fatigue you, as you probably know when you’ve tried on 30 outfits and still don’t know what you’re going to wear).

6. HAVE MY QUIET TIME

My favorite tool for my quiet time are the studies from She Reads Truth.
I don’t like to simply wander around in my Bible without a plan. It helps me to be more focused and learn more in my devotions when I have a guide/plan to follow for my Bible reading. 

The devotionals from She Reads Truth are always timely and I have grown immensely since I found them. An additional benefit is being able to connect with like minded women in the comments section. Connecting over struggles or blessings is a great encouragement.

I also try to take a few moments during this time to create a list of things I am thankful for. Whether written or mental, spending some time considering the things I have to be grateful for, helps me to be in a better mindset and less likely to complain or be grumpy.

7. PLAN AND GOAL SET

As a working mom I have a lot on my plate. Taking a few short minutes in the morning to check and prioritize my to-do list goes a long way to accomplishing my daily goals. I’m also less likely to forget about any appointments, payments, or other important tasks I need to get done.

I highly recommend finding a paper or printable planner that will help you schedule out your day. I find that if I don’t have it written down, it isn’t going to happen! Plus…mom brain, it’s a real thing and some days I have it bad. Having a planner is crucial to me staying on top of everything.

8. BREAKFAST

The final part of my morning routine is breakfast . As a working mom I find it really hard to be able to make a good breakfast each morning. So, I almost always have the same thing…a smoothie. Or, if I have prepped a breakfast casserole at the beginning of the week I will have a piece of that. Find a good option that works for you and your schedule. Having breakfast planned out will make it less tempting to get drive through on your way to work.

HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN ROUTINE

As I said at the beginning, this post isn’t about me trying to tell you that you should do my morning routine too. In fact, I don’t really recommend it. If you’re starting from scratch, it’s best to build up your routine. This routine didn’t just happen overnight. Little by little I added in a step until this complete routine came to be.

Focus on one or two things and do them every morning for a month. Then add another the next month, and another the next month. If you want to create a routine that you’ll actually keep doing, don’t try to do everything at once!

I think it’s super important to make a morning routine that involves you making as few decisions as possible while you’re doing it. After playing around with your routine for a few weeks, choose an order that you’ll do things and stick with it. I always do my routine in the order I listed it so I don’t have to decide what I’m going to do next. Thinking clearly in the morning is not on of my strong points!

Best of luck as you create your own life changing routine!

xo Rebecca

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