Get Dinner on the Table With Way Less Hassle: 25+ Free Meal Plan Printables

by Robin

I’m not going to give you an exhaustive list of why you should plan your meals – you already know, amiright?! We ALL know.  Just like we know why we should floss and do our Kegels daily...

What we actually need is to:

Just. Get. Started.

I KNOW that’s true for me. My meal planning goes in spits and spurts. I’m so well versed in the benefits – heck - I teach this stuff as a Registered Dietitian!  I’ll be on top of it for weeks and months – and then my resolve peters out.  I suffer for it - and my family suffers too!  We don't eat nearly as well and I am definitely more stressed out. Having a plan calms me - NOT having a plan electrifies my anxiety.

I just need to commit to gettin’ er done. You’re probably the same – that’s why you’re reading this!  Let's get on top of this right now - together.

So here’s my quick start guide (and kick in the butt) for our meal planning:

1. Just do it. Just start.
Don't over think this.

2. Print one of these meal planners. 
It really doesn’t matter which one – they’re all great – just pick any one that you like the look of.
  • If you’re out of ink – don’t let that stop you! Grab a sheet of paper and write the days of the week down the side. Tada! Free meal planner!

3. Pull out your Master List.  
If you don’t know what this is – check out this post. It’s a great first step that will save you time and headaches later.

4. Consult your calendar.  
Which days are busiest? Start there – pencil in your quickest meal to prep. Which days do you have more time? Which days are you away from home? Etc.

5. Explore through your fridge. 
What’s in there that needs used up.  Pick a meal that will prevent this food from going to waste.

6. Write in your meal ideas. 
Be realistic! Sure you’d like to try that new amazing recipe from that magazine – we all do -  but will you?  
Also, give yourself some grace not every day is a “from scratch” kind of day – if it’s an especially crazy day - write in a frozen meal that you’ll heat up when. That’s perfectly fine.

7. Add ingredients to your grocery list that you’ll need. (If you want to save time at the grocery store - try our list - it works!)

8. Bam! You’ve got a plan.

AND! Be super duper nice to your future self and save this plan. Tuck your weekly plans away somewhere and pull them out to help you make decisions next time. Heck – maybe even repeat the exact same week again.

Let's start: which planner will you choose?


Healthy Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips - and introducing our new contributor!

Intro by Robin & Recipe by our new contributor!

Our New Contributor...

I am over the moon excited to introduce to you our new contributor!  She's our 13-year-old daughter, Charlotte!  I AM ALL CAPS LEVEL EXCITED ABOUT THIS!!!!  This is her very first post of our classic family recipe.

Charlotte adores baking - she has for as long as her memory goes back.  We've always encouraged our kids to learn in the kitchen and when Charlotte was a preschooler we kept a special sturdy stool in the kitchen just for her (and later her brother).  "The Helping Stool" we called it.  She would perch herself on this stool beside us and help in ways only she could.  (Oh, there were incidents! Like when she pulled the electric beaters out of the chocolate icing while they were still running.  Chocolate splatters covered every surface: the ceiling, the floor, her brother, the dog...)

What made me smile (and tear up a bit as I type this): during her photo shoot for this recipe she used this very same Helping Stool to get some shots from up high.

Now she has a much calmer way of expressing her love of baking.  And she expresses her love with baking. Try to stop her from baking a special treat when someone has something to celebrate!   She has an attention for detail and patience that her slapdash momma doesn't - if the recipe is complicated she rises to the challenge.

Regular readers of our blog have  seen some of her creations here before:

This Yule Log:

Recently, her mature baking skills have expanded to include a keen interest in experimenting with developing her own recipes and food photography.  She's a natural addition to our family blog!

Those little hands!  Charlotte's even recruited an assistant for her photos - our son.
(I wonder if he's going to bill her for his hand modelling?)

The Recipe...

The original recipe for this banana bread came after we begged Ed's colleague for it.  Irene had baked us a lovely banana bread as part of a gift when our son was born.  It was characteristically thoughtful of her - and amazingly delicious!

Now, I can't help myself when it comes to recipes; I have to mess with them to add fruit or vegetables, increase fibre and cut down sugar, sodium or fat.  And so I've fiddled with this recipe since Irene gifted it to us.  My goal was to capture the flavour of the original - so the kids would still rave about it - but make it just that little bit healthier.

The health factor was amped up in this recipe to make room for the chocolate chips that the original didn't have.  (Because: chocolate.)  I cut out the butter completely and cut back the sugar to do this.  I also added more banana and substituted whole wheat flour for much of the white. 

This recipe is ultra simple to make and makes a lovely addition to breakfast or packed lunches.  Those are the ways we use it most.  Of course, it's delicious any time of day.


Back to School Shopping: 10 Ways to Save Your Money and Your Sanity

by Robin

If you have kids, you know that school is starting up again (Yay!? Boo!?).

If you have left your home in the last month, you know the stores are screaming about “Back-to-School”! According to Deloitte's 2017 Back to School Survey, the average American household will spend over $500 on BTS items.  Do you really have to spend that much? We don’t think so and today we’re sharing our best frugal tips to Back to School time.

First off...

Don’t believe the hype!

If you believe the ads, all kids everywhere are getting all-new everything for the first day of school. Watching commercials, you could infer that if you don’t spring for all new duds, your child will be left out from day one.  Advertisers know a thing or two about preying on our biggest fears, don't they?

Don’t believe the hype! Sure there are parents that go nuts and buy every single thing new – but if the families we surveyed are any indicator – they are in the minority. If things still fit, most families are sticking with them.

We've got more tips for saving your money, time and sanity this year...