Why I Meal Plan

Cooking.  Meal planning.  Trying new recipes. Sharing a meal around the table.  These things are life giving for me.  A hobby more than a necessity.  While some find it a chore, I can genuinely say I enjoy it. Grocery shopping however is a different story….but quite a necessary task.

I’m a planner by nature and so it’s only natural that I plan out our family’s meals.  I don’t remember exactly when it started.  When I was single I definitely wasn’t meal planning – more or less just throwing together lots of stir fry with whatever I had in the house. Around the time I got engaged, Pinterest was really beginning to take off.  Now I’m not much of a recipe follower, but I love browsing Pinterest and scouring through cookbooks for inspiration.

Friends who know I’m a faithful meal planner often ask me what I’m making for dinner that night and request tips for getting started with meal planning.  I’m always more than happy to share. For me meal planning does so much more than just gratifying my planning nature.  There are some real, practical reasons that meal planning can enhance your life (I know that sounded dramatic, but I am serious!).

  1. It helps us save time and stress.
  2. It helps us save money.
  3. It helps us eat healthier.
  4. It helps us waste less.

If this resonates with you, check out my weekly meal plans.  You’ll generally find meals that are healthy, frugal, varied and family friendly.  I’d love to see your meal plans as well!  Share them in the comments.

Life with Toddlers: The Fast Food Play Area

We knew it was inevitable. And this Monday, the inevitable happened. Until this past Monday we’ve kept Charlotte blissfully oblivious to the play areas at fast food restaurants. Now truth be told, we don’t eat much fast food so I suppose it really isn’t that impressive that Charlotte has been so sheltered her whole life.

I’m not sure why I wanted to keep her from these play areas. I’m not really a germaphobe mom. Maybe it relates back to when I was a kid – a young child climbed into the hamburger at our local McDonald’s Play Place and got too scared to come back down. Don’t worry – I saved the day and climbed up there to help the child down. Maybe I wanted to protect Charlotte from the trauma that child faced of being stuck in the hamburger forever. Anyway…

After our weekly walk around the Rose Bowl we were sitting at Chick Fil A enjoying our free soup (thanks to the Chick Fil A calendar cards) – chicken noodle for Than and Charlotte, chicken tortilla for me. We were happily enjoying our soup and making sure dear Charlotte didn’t scald her tongue out of excitement to eat all the noodles out of her soup, when suddenly she looked up and gleefully shouted “Car!!!”

It was at this moment I knew things would never be the same. The yummy noodles, the straw, the water with ice (a current favorite thing) – they were all forgotten. She had eyes only for the car in the play place.

We’re obviously rookies here. Seasoned parents would know that you ALWAYS sit your child facing the opposite direction of the play area. It’s too late for us, but perhaps that little tidbit of wisdom will help someone else.

There was no possible way we were saying no to her adorable excitement, so off Charlotte and Daddy went for her first fast food play area experience as I finished up my soup.

When I was done I entered the play area to find Charlotte happily climbing up the stairs to the tunnels that lead to the slide and that car up in the sky. She thought she was big stuff – playing with the big kids and all.

I think the big kids were enjoying her just as much as she enjoyed them. She followed them around and gave them a cute little smile as she toddled her way cautiously around. This was all new territory for her. As time went on they coaxed her to be brave and finally she crawled her way through the enclosed tunnels to the car she so desperately wanted to play in.

She was having the time of her life – until it was time to go. While the big kids were great at coaxing her into the car, they weren’t quite so successful at coaxing her out. Not for lack of trying (seriously parents, make friends with the bigger kids – they are super helpful) but Charlotte was determined to stay in that car.

There was only one option. I folded my 5’11” frame practically in half and started my way up the play equipment. I figured if I just went part of the way up there I might be able to coax her over to me and we could descend the stairs together. Oh no. She was not budging. It meant I had to brave the tunnels. Let’s just say that those tunnels are NOT intended for tall adults (or adults at all for that matter). Miraculously I didn’t get stuck and I made it far enough to pull her out. Yes, I had to pull her. She can be a determined little one!

Of course as I (awkwardly) start making my way down a whole swarm of kids starts making their way up – unsure what to do with this adult with her legs all twisted trying to go the “wrong way” as everyone else was coming up the stairs.

Pretty sure I broke a little bit of a sweat by the time all was said and done. But we survived. Charlotte had a blast (and wore herself out in time for bedtime). And of course she went around and gave each person in there a hug on her way out. That’s our sweet Charlotte.

Charlotte at Chick Fil A