7 Steps to Meal Planning Success

#homeschool meal planning

7 Steps to Meal Planning Success

1. Organize your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Throw away anything that has expired and anything that you’ve had for a year and haven’t used yet. Sort everything out and shelve it by type: Canned soups, veggies, and fruits lined up on one shelf; rice, pasta, and boxed side dishes in one place; a designated drawer for frozen meat. If everything is easy to see and access, you will be more motivated to cook, and you’ll save money by knowing what you have when you make your shopping list. Cleaning out the freezer is like going on a treasure hunt!

2. Choose simple storage options. Clear plastic containers with snap-on lids are great for keeping cereal, crackers, and cookies fresh. Small baskets make single-serve snacks easily accessible for kids. Recycled jars are great for storing beans, dried fruit, rice, and nuts. When you come home from grocery shopping, empty things into containers and put everything in its place. Freezer bags are such a money saver, allowing me to purchase large family-size packs of meat and divide it up when I get home.

3. Sort through cookbooks. Weed out the ones you never use and whittle down to a few that have recipes your family likes. Store them front and center on a pantry shelf or on the kitchen counter so you can easily grab them for inspiration. Use sticky tabs to mark pages to find favorites quickly. Write notes inside to remind you of alterations or substitutions, or for meals that bombed or were especially successful. Bookmark your favorite recipes online, and pin them to a Pinterest board to find later. Many cookbook recipes are available on the author’s or publisher’s websites, so you really don’t need as many cookbooks as you think.

4. Write down, or type out, every meal you can think of in your repertoire. Ask your family for help. Once you have all of them listed, sort them by common ingredients. For instance, group spaghetti, chili, sloppy joes, and beef tacos; and chicken pie, chicken stir-fry, and chicken parmesan. Now, consult your recipes for any additions you want to make to your list. Strive for at least 25 options. Check out my Easy Meals Pinterest board for some ideas.

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5. Create a master shopping list. Decide what common ingredients you need to stock in your pantry, such as canned tomato sauce, pasta, spices, flour and sugar, cereal, and staples like coffee, tea, and chocolate. Determine what ingredients you can live without, and don’t be afraid to skip them when following recipes. I will buy some specialty items, but I hate to waste money on a spice I’ll only use for one recipe, only to have it get dusty on the shelf. When planning your weekly shopping trip, consult your master list first.

6. Make your monthly menu plan. Look at your calendar, and choose meals accordingly: Crockpot meals for game nights; more involved meals for at-home days; quick and easy meals for field trip or co-op days. Be strategic about planning meals that you grouped on your list so you can cook large portions of a common ingredient and store the rest for another night. Take advantage of leftovers to create another meal: spaghetti becomes chili bean casserole; leftover chicken chopped up goes into chicken pie or becomes BBQ sandwiches.

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7. Keep family mealtime a priority. A little advance planning will ensure that you’ll always be able to answer the question, “What’s for supper?” and you can gather your family together at mealtime. Enlist the kids to help with prep, cooking, setting the table, and clean up (Click here for some Kids in the Kitchen ideas). You can even incorporate cooking lessons into your schoolwork. Gather around the table together at the end of the day to celebrate, reconnect, and share.

 

 

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

The Homeschool Balancing Act

homeschool balancing act @homeschoolsurvival

 

Homeschooling and Getting it All Done

We moms know that life in general can be a balancing act, but when you throw homeschooling in with all the other stuff you have to get done, it can seem like an overwhelming task. On top of that, you might be teaching multiple grades, tackling high school subjects, or dealing with a curious toddler. Field trips, errands, sports activities, and trips to the vet keep you on the road A LOT. Some days, it seems like it’s time to get supper started before you’ve even pulled that first load of laundry out of the washer.

So, how do you manage the homeschool balancing act?

Well, I don’t really have all the answers, but after eleven years of homeschooling, there are a few things I’ve learned that I can share with you. First and foremost, accept that right now — this moment — this is life. Life isn’t a “someday when I catch up” moment. When you are in the thick of it with dirty dishes, piles of laundry, science projects on the kitchen counter, and fussing kids, embrace it, enjoy it, and make the best of it. You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating, your kids are only young once. Don’t save your best for “one day.” Live it now: enjoy this time with your children.

This realization brings me peace, which helps me maintain focus. And that leads to number two.

You will never catch up. Accept it. There will always be more meals to plan, more dirty towels to wash, and more math problems to figure out. So instead of wasting your time playing catch up, chart a course for what you want to accomplish each day, and let the rest go. It will be there tomorrow. My household list includes getting the dishes out of the sink and starting a load of clothes before bedtime. (I can, however rest easy even if there’s a pile of unfolded laundry hidden away in my closet and a full dishwasher waiting to be unloaded.)

For school, instead of looking at a daily schedule, I focus on where I want us to be by the end of each week. Which leads to my third tip: plan ahead, but be willing to go with the flow. Having a written plan for schoolwork helps keep us moving forward, but I also embrace those “light bulb” moments when they arise. Sometimes, spontaneity brings about the most memorable learning experiences.

If you’re in the midst of planning for the new school year, and the task seems daunting, relax a little, celebrate this season of life, and give yourself some grace.

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

$25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway + Freebies & Giveaways Link up


Homeschool Freebies & Giveaways Link Up - Every Monday

Homeschool Moms Giveaways & Freebies Linky Party – Week 17

Welcome to Week 17 of the Giveaways & Freebies Linky party!  We’ve been having so much fun these last few months with some amazing giveaways!  Thank you to all of the sponsors so far! and Thank YOU for showing up and participating in the giveaways and freebies!

I have an important announcement!  Starting next week, we’re going to try and improve the giveaways and freebies even more!  Each week, the giveaways will be worth $50 or more!  You won’t want to miss the next few sponsors that we have lined up!

This Week’s Giveaway is sponsored by Homeschool Survival

Today, I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Amazon.com.  Why?  There are so many curriculum choices on Amazon and I have a feeling they will have one that you are going to need for next year.  Let me tell you about a few of our favorites!

Amazon Gift Card

This post contains affliliate links 

1.  Mystery of History.  We’ve done Mystery of History both in a group setting and one child at a time.  This year, my 13 year old daughter is reading it on her own for history.  We love how straight forward Mystery of History is!

2.  Explode the Code – All of my children have used Explode the Code in their Elementary years.  I feel like it gives them a good beginning grammar foundation while making mom’s teaching life a bit easier.  The workbooks are pretty self explanatory and I’ve never bought the Teacher’s books to go along with them.

3.  A Reason for Handwriting.  I like this program because it has the kids writing verses through the Bible and then drawing a picture.  It encourages them to  give it to a relative or friend or send it in the mail.

 

4.  Singapore Math – My kids always start math in Singapore Math and then we move to Teaching Textbooks when things get a litlte more complicated.  I love the way Singapore Math teaches you to think.  It’s different than my way of thinking, but it makes so much sense.  Keep in mind, Singapore Math is generally well ahead of other math programs of the same grade level.

 

5.  Christian Liberty Press – Nature Readers – I love how they tell a story about each specific animal or insect.  My children have learned so much by reading through these each year!

What about you?  What will you be buying from Amazon this year for your curriculum needs?  Don’t forget that you can sign up for a free 30 Day Trial of Amazon Prime where you can get free 2 day shipping, plus streaming movies!

 

If you’d like to enter the giveaway for the $25 in Amazon spending money, just enter into the Rafflecopter below:

 

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Other Giveaways & Freebies:  Lets Link Up!

It’s time to link up!  If you’re a blogger linking up, I only ask that you link back to me, if possible.  I can’t wait to see your giveaways and freebies! (If you’re reading this in an email, be sure to click to the site to see more giveaways. More could be added all week!)  

Interest-Led Learning for High School

Interest-Led Learning for High School via homeschoolsurvival.com

My son is becoming passionate about filmmaking, from script writing to directing to camera-operating. He started with a flip camera, then added a camcorder and a stop-motion animation program with a webcam.  He’ worked all summer one year cutting grass to save money for a “really nice” camera, and everything on his Christmas list is related to that (boom mic, lights, reflectors.) He now spends most of his free time writing scripts — pages and pages of scripts. Because of his passion for the art of filmmaking, I decided to craft an interest-led learning elective course for him for high school fine arts credit.

Stop Motion Animation

My son has already produced both live-action and stop-motion movies to the delight of all of our family members (grandparents make an especially appreciative audience.) Stopmotion Explosion: Animate Anything and Make Movies- Epic Films for $20 or Less has been a great jumping off point into the live action stuff that he really wants to do.
For part of his literature/language arts and elective studies, I have scoured the internet and other avenues to find resources to fit into our curriculum. It hasn’t been easy to find resources appropriate for teens, but I have managed to put together some things that are working so far.

Free Resources

Educational guides and lesson plans for movies such as Because of Winn Dixie, Hoot, Where the Red Fern Grows, Bridge to Terabithia, Narnia, Holes, City of Ember, and more are available as free downloads from Walden Media. We have used these guides along with the novels and the movies as “going beyond the book” studies.
We also found tons of resources for teachers and students at Oscars.org, including screenwriting, animation, visual effects, cinematography, and more. Although I don’t have any filmmaking experience, I’ve been able to piece together enough resources to help my son pursue his interests.

Film Curriculum

I’ve found some filmmaking books and curriculum as well, such as Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts and Movies as Literature curriculum from Design-a-Study. These are the base for our coursework, with all the other above-listed resources as supplements to this course.

The Movies as Literature course is an intensive study of movies as short stories. This program is not just about watching movies. Each movie studied includes 25 discussion questions, including topics for compositions and extended activities with either reading assignments, history research, or other movies related to the one being studied. Movies include both classic and modern selections, including ShaneThe Quiet ManRear WindowThe Maltese FalconE.T., The Philadelphia Story, and several more. For Shane, we read the novel before watching the movie, then the topics studied in this lesson included:

  • Character development vs. stereotypes
  • Film techniques
  • Plot development
  • Character motivation
  • Foreshadowing
  • Setting
  • Mood
  • Symbolism
  • Underlying messages about:  what makes a man, what makes a hero, whether or not the end justifies the means, whether ‘A man who lives by the sword, dies by the sword,’ the positive contributions of God-fearing families to settlements in new territories.

The student workbook isn’t required for the program, but I bought it so that I could make notes in my book and my son could have his own book to follow along in as we discuss the material.  Although this is a high school level course, a child strong in language arts could easily use this for eighth grade.

Enthusiasm for Learning

Above all, I want my kids to be excited about learning. If I can incorporate their interests into our curriculum, a huge plus to homeschooling, they are more enthusiastic and motivated. I love it when they ask me to “do school.”

I’d love to hear what you do for interest-led electives in your homeschool!

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram

 

The Ultimate Library for a Homeschooling Mom!

Get The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle--Hurry: Sale 6 Days Only!

By popular demand, 100+ homemaking bloggers are bringing back The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, and it’s better than ever!

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is a complete library of great eBooks on homemaking—a truly valuable knowledge base you’ll use for many years to come.

Unlike a library, though, you don’t have to spend years building it up. The Ultimate Bundles team has done the hard work for you, searching the web to find the very best eBooks from top homemaking authors and combining them into one essential collection that you can buy in one simple purchase.  (this post contains affiliate links)

Act now to get the ultimate eBook collection on homemaking at a once-in-a-lifetime price. 

Buy the PDF BundleBuy the Kindle Bundle

 

I’m confident you won’t find a more comprehensive set of homemaking resources anywhere — and certainly not at this price. Bought separately, they’d cost a total of $698 (not including $200+ in bonuses!). But you can have all of them for just $29.97!

Or, for just an extra $10, you not only get the full set of PDF files, but also a bonus set of Kindle editions, perfectly formatted for easy Kindle reading. This has been a popular request over the years and I’m excited to say it’s now available!

I believe it’s the best deal on homemaking eBooks anywhere on the web. But it will only be available for six days. So grab yours before it’s gone!

You get ALL THIS in The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

This huge wealth of information and guidance will be right there on your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or Kindle, whenever you need it.

Here’s what you need to know about the sale:

When? 8 a.m. EST Wednesday, April 23 until 11:59 p.m. EST Monday, April 28

What? 78 eBooks, 2 eCourses, 2 audio files, and 2 printable packs PLUS over $200 worth of bonus products you’ll really use!

Where? Purchase the bundle here.

How much? Well now, that’s the best part. The entire package is worth nearly $900, and it’s selling for less than $30. Sweet deal, right?

Get ALL of these eBooks for 1 LOW Price! One Week Only!

What’s in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle? ($698 value!)

Homemaking

Food

Motherhood

Marriage

Faith

Faith {For Kids}

Financial Stewardship

Health & Wellness

Holidays & Special Events

Homeschooling

Pregnancy & Babies

Self-Care

Working from Home & Blogging

What are the Ultimate Homemaking Bonus Offers? ($200+ value)

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In addition to all the amazing eResources, this bundle includes the best bonus offers it’s ever had. These deals are worth over six times the price of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. So you’re up on the deal right away!

  1. DaySpring—A FREE 10-pack of Premium Greeting Cards. ($20.00 Value. Standard shipping applies.)
  2. HopeInk—$15 HopeInk store credit to be used towards anything + a FREE 8×10 Art Print with order. ($39.00 Value. Standard shipping applies.)
  3. Redeeming Beauty Mineral Makeup—3 FREE eyeshadows of your choice from Redeeming Beauty. ($16.47 Value. Standard shipping applies – only ships to US and Canada.)
  4. Marie-Madeline Studio—A $15 store credit for anything in Marie-Madeline Studio’s online store. ($15.00 value. Standard shipping applies.)
  5. Once a Month Meals—A FREE One Month Pro Membership from Once a Month Meals. ($16.00 Value. No shipping required.)
  6. DizolveFREE 64-load pack of Dizolve Laundry Strips for you PLUS a Free 64-load pack of Dizolve Laundry Strips for food banks. ($25.98 value. Standard shipping [$3] applies. Only ships in the US.)
  7. TrilLight Health—Get a FREE 2 oz. bottle of a liquid health formula OR $15 store credit from Trilight Health. ($15.00 Value. Standard shipping rates apply.)
  8. ListPlanIt—Free 3-month membership OR 3 free ePlanners from ListPlanIt. ($15.00 value. No shipping required.)
  9. Bulk Herb Store—Instant download of the instructional video Making Herbs Simple Volume 2 for FREE from Bulk Herb Store. (up to a $15.00 Value. No shipping required.)
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Buy the PDF BundleBuy the Kindle Bundle

Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 8 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, April 23 to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, April 28th.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print[ about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

Simplified Dinners Giveaway + Freebies & Giveaways Link Up!

Homeschool Freebies & Giveaways Link Up - Every Monday

Homeschool Moms Giveaways & Freebies Linky Party – Week 10

Welcome to Week 10 of the Giveaways & Freebies Linky party!  We’ve been having so much fun these last few weeks with some amazing giveaways!  Thank you to all of the sponsors so far!

This Week’s Giveaway is sponsored by Mystie Winckler of Simplified Dinners

Mystie has also written the following guest post:

Simplifying Menu Planning

Have you noticed that most home management systems claim that having a menu plan is essential? It’s true. Knowing what is for dinner and having the ingredients on hand promotes peace in our minds and homes. But do you realize how many steps are actually involved in menu planning?

Typical menu planning involves multiple dependent steps:

  1. Find out what’s on sale or what coupons you have.
  2. Find recipes you can cook and want to eat.
  3. Figure out what ingredients you need to cook those recipes.
  4. Try to mesh the ingredients you need with what’s on sale.
  5. Make the grocery list.
  6. Shop.
  7. Remember what you’re going to make for dinner when, and pull it off.
  8. Use the perishables before they go bad.

No wonder we often dread it, forget to do it, or procrastinate. Five years ago I decided I needed a better solution than spreading out recipe cards, ads, calendars, and lists, and attempting to make them all magically come together into a plan.

I decided I wanted a system that met these criteria:

  • Grocery shopping and recipe choosing had to be independent rather than integral.
  • At the store, I wanted to be able to buy whatever cut of meat was on sale, or take advantage of a discovered discount without disrupting my menu plan or spending an hour at home searching for a recipe.
  • I wanted to be able to pick up whatever vegetable looked good or was on sale at the store or farmer’s market and know I could do something with it when home — with what I already had at home, without any special trip to the store to secure some special ingredient.
  • I really wanted to keep staples on hand and never run out of them and be forced to run emergency errands.
  • I wanted to keep the items on my master staple grocery list as minimal as possible, and I wanted those items to be basic ingredients, not packets and boxes containing who-knows-what.
  • I wanted meals I could throw together in less than an hour, and I wanted them to be flexible recipes I could cook off the top of my head, or with a simple glance at a reference.

That reference became my ebook, available now: Simplified Dinners and Simplified Dinners: Gluten- and Dairy-Free Edition You can win a copy of Simplified Dinners or Simplified Dinners: Gluten- and Dairy-Free Edition or have it instantly for the reduced price of $9.99 (retail $12.99) with discount code survival.

Enter into the giveaway below:

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   Mystie Winckler is a wife of one, mother of five, homemaker, home-educator, and home organizer. She blogs about simple cooking and menu planning at Simple Pantry Cooking and about creating and maintaining a cheerful home at Simply Convivial.

 

 

 

Other Giveaways & Freebies:

It’s time to link up!  If you’re a blogger linking up, I only ask that you link back to me, if possible.  I can’t wait to see your giveaways and freebies! (If you’re reading this in an email, be sure to click to the site to see more giveaways. More could be added all week!)

Paperless Home Organization Giveaway ++ Freebies & Giveaways Linkup

Homeschool Freebies & Giveaways Link Up - Every Monday

Homeschool Moms Giveaways & Freebies Linky Party – Week 8

Welcome to Week 8 of the Giveaways & Freebies Linky party!  We’ve been having so much fun these last few weeks with some amazing giveaways!  Thank you to all of the sponsors so far! If you’re new here:  We are hosting one giveaway each Monday that is put together especially for homeschooling families!   We’ll have pampering items, curriculum, e-books, print books and more!  After the giveaway, we’re  featuring a spot where other bloggers can share a link to their own giveaways that they’re hosting on their own blogs.  It’ll be fun!  It’s a great place to come where you can enter several giveaways for homeschoolers AND get some freebies for homeschoolers all at once.  Plus, it’s an easy way to get to know some new products and try them out for yourself.

This Week’s Giveaway is Hosted by Mystie Winckler, Author of Paperless Home Organization!

Mystie also wrote the guest post below:

ubiquitous capture for moms Do you have a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, or an iPod Touch? Do you wish you could use it more effectively? These devices hold out the promise of being an all-in-one organizational tool, but using them to their full potential instead of duplicating places we keep information is a daunting task. With a small, portable piece of technology, we can keep as much information as we want in our pocket! No matter where we are, we can keep an up-to-date calendar, task list, notes and lists and files, menu plan, grocery and shopping lists, an address & phone book – and all that without an internet connection or data plan. Besides the size factor, it is the search feature that really makes digital information so much more useful. Being able to search inside every document, address book contacts, and calendar is the biggest boon of the digital age. Flipping through a binder or file folder or pile, wondering just what you did with that note you are sure you made? A thing of the past. I also use my iPod Touch (I don’t have a smartphone or a data plan, just a smart-iPod) as a timer (15 minutes of decluttering! Go!), alarm (3pm afternoon chore time, everyone), weight-tracker, reader (with the Kindle and Instapaper apps), and audio book supply for the car. I love being able to track whatever I want, list whatever I want, and look up whatever I want, just on my little iPod in my pocket. Plus, I always have waiting-room or car-ride reading & listening materials at hand. paperless organization digital home management Paperless Home Organization is my own instruction booklet for moving the household management notebook into the current decade, utilizing technology to work for our unique, diversified, and very personal roles. In addition to step-by-step instructions for setting up a home management system on Evernote, there are also detailed instructions in this ebook for customizing the application for blogging and homeschooling, since those are also two areas requiring lots of organization in my own life. Along the way I have not only tips for using these programs to their full ability, but also tips on getting and keeping organized that apply regardless of what form your organization takes. For those who don’t want to wait until the end of the giveaway to get started on organizing more effectively, you can use the discount code survival to get $1 off the already-low price of $3.99. This code will work for both Paperless Home Organization and GTD for Homemakers.

 

 

 

 

paperless organization digital home managementgtd for homemakers and homeschoolers

 

Would you Like to Win a Copy of Paperless Home Organization & GTD for Homemakers for yourself?

Win a Copy of Paperless Home Organization!

Enter your information into the Rafflecopter below:
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Other Giveaways & Freebies:

It’s time to link up!  If you’re a blogger linking up, I only ask that you link back to me, if possible.  I can’t wait to see your giveaways and freebies! (If you’re reading this in an email, be sure to click to the site to see more giveaways. More could be added all week!)