Surviving the first few weeks…

my little guy, Owen

First of all, congratulations to all of you who have just survived “Back to School”. Every time I think of this I imagine that Staples commercial with “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” playing in the background and I think “Yeah right!”.  For many back to school means the end of a great summer with our kids and creating a brand new household routine which can be a challenge. I am going to admit that I am a planner. I hate chaos in the household and in our family routine so back to school means a lot of pre-planning. In return, I get to sit down for supper (almost) every night with my family and spend some quality time together before the kids are off to bed.

Here are a few tips that some of you might consider helpful:

  • Plan your meals for the week (including lunches for everyone in the family, I forget myself in this this part sometimes) then make your grocery list. This might seem like a simple thing but how many of us actually do it regularly. This will not only make your week much easier but cut down your grocery bill because you won’t be buying things you don’t need or too many of anything and potentially throwing it out later.
  • Even better than just planning a week ahead, make up menus for an entire month. Seriously, I did this back in January when my husband and I decided we wanted to lose some weight and eat healthier and it was amazing. I created 4 menus that included breakfast, lunch and dinner on each. Then I created coordinating grocery lists to match the menu.  The grocery list has all the ingredients needed for that week including snacks and household staples like toilet paper. Before doing groceries I would inventory the pantry, fridge and freezer to cross out what I did not need and everything else was there. It meant even my husband could go do the groceries.
  • If you tend to do your groceries at the same store, format a grocery list based on the aisle in your store. This will mean less time in the grocery store. I also have regular things like fruit, veggies, milk and eggs on my template just so we (and when I say we, I really mean me) don’t have to write them down every week.
  • Plan a day/afternoon to prep and make meals in advance. I use Sunday afternoons for this. I wash all my veggies, fruit and pre-bag as much as I can for meals and lunches. Then I make complete two meals which will mean that Monday and Tuesday night I only have to re-heat. I choose Monday because my daughter has Girl Guides so it means an easier night to get her there for six but make it work for you family. If you need to use your meals later in the week, then freeze, thaw in fridge overnight or during the day and throw it in the oven when you get home.
  • Cook for a day and eat fuss free for weeks! Once a month I take a Sunday and just cook.  I make a large pot of spaghetti sauce then do up some lasagna, cheesy stuffed pasta shells, and other dishes to freeze. Then I make an amazing carrot ginger soup, separate into serving sizes and freeze. Then I do up some mini muffin size meatloaves and freeze. Are you seeing a pattern? By the end of the day I am exhausted, have done dishes I don’t know how many time but have filled my freezer with some great meals that I know I can take out on weeks that I am feeling lazy.
  • Learn to love your crock-pot! Unfortunately, I have to admit that I do not practice this because I just can’t seem to master the crock-pot but know lots of moms who love it!!
  • Buy baby/toddler food from Baby Yums!!

While some of this may seem like a lot more work up front, (and I’m not going to kid you here because it is at first) the payoff of having more family time is far greater than the extra work you might feel at first.

If you have any tips or tricks that help your household run smoothly we’d love to hear them feel free to comment below!

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