• Christina

I don't know about you, but the words "meal planning" can feel overwhelming to me sometimes. When I first got married, I remember sitting for hours looking at cookbooks and Pinterest to find new recipes to try every day. I have loved cooking and baking for a long time, so it was fun to have my own home to cook in. However, when kids came on the scene a few years later, it became much harder to have time to do that. My meal planning has been much more sporadic in recent days and I think it has cost me time, money, and health in the process. I completely believe that God gives grace for that and it's ok to have some crazy years that things are not as well planned, but I have been working at getting back into the meal planning game, especially for our health and budget. So if you're feeling like meal planning is something you can never get a handle on, I totally get that and hope this will help.

 

So on day one back to meal planning, I first wrote down a bunch of things we had in the cabinets and then I got out some paper and a pen to begin writing a menu. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks...I wrote all those words down for a week or two week period and then just stared at the paper. For some reason, it was so hard to even know where to start! I finally scribbled down a few things that are staples for us, and somehow I still needed like ten more meals. I felt like I couldn't think of ten more meals for my family these next couple of weeks. Then my kids started fighting and my baby began to cry, so the menu planning was put on hold. A day later, I realized it was time for me to run to the grocery store, so I quickly wrote a list based on my half finished menu and grabbed what I remembered at the store. This scenario is one that has happened many times for me! I have good intentions of being on top of things, but then end up behind and feeling like I can't be creative enough to plan my meals well. I know meal planning isn't for everyone, but for me, when I plan my meals for the week, it just makes things go so much more smoothly.  So I was determined to figure out how to do it in a better way. 

Recently, I started having some lightbulb moments with my menu. First off, I realized that we don't have to eat a different thing every meal. I was trying to have so much variety that I was trying to come up with 30 different breakfasts, lunches, and dinner every month. That's a bit much! (at least for me in this stage). I decided to write down a list of several breakfasts and lunches that we really enjoy, and have those ingredients on hand so we can have those repeatedly throughout the month. Here are some of the things I wrote:

Breakfasts:

  • Smoothies

  • Cereal

  • Breakfast Sandwiches

  • Eggs & Toast

  • Waffles (we started Waffle Wednesday!)

  • Muffins, Pancakes, Pastries and breakfast meat

Lunches:

  • Leftovers

  • Sandwiches

  • Wraps

  • Salads

  • Cheese & Crackers

These are just a few things that are all easy and quick. I have started doing very simple breakfasts on weekdays, since we are busy with work, and then on weekends do something like the breakfast sandwiches or pastries. It has made life so much less stressful to not try to make a hot breakfast every morning. Some people do and it works great, and maybe I will again someday, but for now it's working well for us and has taken the pressure off. For lunches, I try to do as much prep work ahead of time as possible. During the mornings, I'm trying to spend time with my kiddos and work around the house, so it's nice to just take ten minutes getting lunch out and not having to spend an hour a day getting it ready. I have done things like make all the chicken for salads and wraps on Sunday night for the week, make pulled pork in the crockpot for the week, cut up cheese and meat, and put salads in mason jars to just grab out of the fridge for the meal. Leftovers are always great for this meal too!


So with breakfasts and lunches made easier, this just left dinners (which for some reason are always hardest for me to plan). Just last week, I finally came up with a plan that I think will work great for us. In the past, I have fallen into either having the same meals over and over til we were sick of them, or trying too many new things and making it too complicated for reality with three small children. This plan below is nice because it balances both of those things. I picked a different "theme" for every night, and then within that theme I can do something different every week. You could pick any themes or types of meal that you love! Our family loves making traditions together, so it's also fun to have them know what to look forward to. Here is what I came up with so far. It's made things soooo much easier already, because I don't just have to stare at a blank paper. I have something to start with and just add on the details.


Sunday: Snack Night (we usually do "special popcorn" and other light things)

Monday: Crockpot Night

Tuesday: Pasta Night

Wednesday: Grilling Night

Thursday: Box/Bag Meal Night

Friday: Pizza Night

Saturday: Mexican or Asian Food Night


This list might be different for everybody, but these ones work perfect for the little kid stage we are in right now. When making my menu, I can see Monday and instead of having 1000 dinners online to choose from, I just look at my crockpot favorites and pick one out. For Tuesday, I can look at my pasta recipes. For Wednesday, I just pick what we want to grill that week. I am loving this so far because it helps my brain not be so overwhelmed. Someday, I will go back to more spontaneous meals, but right now, I'm excited to have a plan that takes off some of the pressure. I've also found I spend way less money when I go into the week with a plan instead of just randomly shopping and then realizing later everything I forgot:P

A couple other quick things that helped me with meal planning is to make a list of basic sides like veggies, salads, potato dishes, etc and then when I pick out my main dish, I can just look at the side dish list and add one to the menu. Then, just like that, I have a meal planned for the week! I also did that with snacks and desserts. One last thing I did was decided to try to just do one new recipe a week. I love that because I can still learn and try new things, but also do a lot of staples that I can make quickly. My daughter was given a kids cookbook that we like to make new recipes together as well, so we like to try one of those together weekly too. I hope this post can help someone who is overwhelmed and stuck in a rut like I was! Like I said before, I JUST started doing most of these things, so we will see how they go in the future. I'd love to hear about any fun ideas you have in the comments below. Happy meal planning! 




  • Christina

I didn't know this until a few years ago, but I really enjoy decorating and fixing things up. In fact, when we were looking to get an RV to live in, I got most excited about the fixer uppers because of all the potential, but I am glad we were able to get a new one since it's safer and easier, especially with little babies. For anyone who has been in or lived in an RV, you know they come with very standard kind of plain fixtures and walls. The one we got actually looked very nice, so for the first year, we basically did nothing to touch it. We were just enjoying living in something so clean and new! The second year we had it, we started doing some little things to make it cozier and more "ours." I have loved doing these little fix-up projects and am excited to share some of them! When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I wanted to share more RV life stuff, but with toddlers in my home for several years straight, I didn't have much writing time:P. For the first time in several years, I don't have any toddlers- we currently have two preschoolers who play pretty well together, and a baby who isn't mobile yet. I am really enjoying having a little extra time to sit down and write or read while the older kids play. Hopefully over the next few months, I will get to share some fun things I've done and learned from living in an RV full-time! Honestly, I love it! It's an adventure to live with 5 people in 500 square feet, but it's nice to simply life and we have more than we need! 


One of the first projects we did last summer was to take down all the curtains and valences that came with the trailer and put up nice light and airy ones. It made such a big difference in making it feel more like a home and lightening up the place so much!

This is what the place looked like before. Not bad, but a little dark. Actually, there used to be a sofa there as well which made it even darker. We took that out and it gave us SO MUCH extra room, but I'll share that in another post. Anyways, so I knew I wanted white, possibly sheer, curtains. Curtains are not super cheap, so I took weeks to research and look for good deals. I finally found some sheer ones with a pattern that I thought would look good. They were on clearance from Bed Bath & Beyond, which made them very affordable. I also decided on the small windows that I would just put one curtain instead of one on each side. It saved me from having to buy two more sets of curtains, so made it even cheaper!

I was able to get all the curtains for seven windows for only $70! I loved the way it turned out and they made the place look so cozy right away. They were pretty easy to install and not too hard to take down for washing. If you change out curtains, just make sure you get ones that will work with the hardware already in your RV and it will save lots of money buying new hardware.



Another thing I did recently was add some wallpaper to our bedroom. Since we have an RV, we don't have a headboard. I had thought of someday adding one, but that's a lot of work and actually might make things more uncomfortable. This is what it looked like before. Not bad, just kind of boring. And the lines off center in the wallpaper didn't look too great. 

Again, I began researching a lot to find some options. I came across this peel and stick wallpaper stuff. I ended up finding some from Lowe'=[s with 30 square feet on a roll for only $40! I only used part of it for this wall, so now I also have extra to use for another project. It took me about 30 minutes to get it put up. It really wasn't hard to line it up and it stuck very easily and well on the wall. I haven't had any problems with it peeling at all either! Below is a picture of how it turned out.

 You can see that it just added such a nice touch to the room. I love how it looks like wood, but it's just a super easy to put up sticker! So if you want a quick and fairly cheap way to change a wall without hours of painting, sanding, etc, look up peel and stick wallpaper. There are tons of options of it out there! It would work great whether you live in an RV or not. I look forward to sharing some more tips and tricks of RV life in the future! 



It's been a crazy last couple of months for us. Whether you've been directly affected by the virus or just indirectly in the fact that you can't go your normal places, everyone in the world has been touched by this. One thing that God has especially been teaching me through this time is how to be "settled" in Him (the title of my website), including how to give thanks more.


First, I just quickly want to say that I know this (giving thanks) is a very hard thing for many people to do right now. This isn't the primary purpose of this post, but I want to say my heart hurts for the people in the medical field watching people die alone, the people at high risk who have maybe been stuck at home alone for weeks, the same people who soon have to make the decisions about what to do to stay safe until there is a vaccine, and people who have lost their jobs and possibly their businesses forever. Those and many other things are very scary and hard situations. I think it is VERY important, if we want to truly love others well, that we acknowledge that these things are very real and challenging, as well as realize that our world as we know it is changed completely (at least for the foreseeable future).


But, despite those things, we can STILL be thankful. I think it is very important to empathize with others and listen to their feelings, but I also think it's very important to admonish and encourage others with truth. Because of this, we can't just sit around and wallow in our sadness. We must choose to take the grace that God extends to us and choose joy. I think that joy is not smiling all the time or being giddy, but a true settled peace deep inside us knowing that no matter what happens, we have God and He is taking care of us.


Because of these things, we have been working on choosing to look at things to be thankful for. For some people, that's pretty easy still. For others, it seems almost impossible. But we must remember God's gifts in order to take our focus off ourselves and turn it back to Him. We have been writing down things with our kids at dinner. This is a great time to sit down together and think about the day and what happened and what we enjoyed the most. Of course, for the kids, it often just turns into listing the different foods they like haha, but that's not a bad thing to be thankful for. So I challenge you- make a list. Maybe daily, weekly, once, whatever works best for you. Write down gifts that God has given you that you can be thankful for. And when you get discouraged (which happens to all of us), look at that list. It will help encourage you to focus on what God is doing and all the good things He has given us. The Bible tells us many times to remember what God has done. If you need somewhere to start, read Ephesians and start writing things down. The first half of the book is especially packed full of all we have in Christ. Praise the Lord today for what He has given us in Him!

© 2018  SettledJoy

  • Settled: Finding Joy in the Journey