Search Results for: lunches

10 Simple Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas

Anyone else feel like they are cooking LOTS of meals right now?  Just me?  However, I will say that my kids don’t mind eating the same thing even though I feel the pressure to provide ample variety int their diet.  So, I thought I would share 10 simple kid-friendly lunch ideas that are on repeat around here in case you are on the hunt for new ideas like I am!

10 Simple Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas


1.  BBQ Smokies or Meatballs

This simple and delicious recipe takes no time at all and is perfect paired with some raw fruits and vegetables for a quick and simple lunch at home.  I made these the other day and there were no leftovers.  You can either use little smokies or meatballs for this 3 ingredient recipe. check out all the details in this post.


2.  Peanut Butter 

Peanut butter on anything.  Peanut butter sandwiches, peanut butter toast, peanut butter crackers, peanut butter with celery.  You can even warm up a dollop in the microwave and drizzle over cut up bananas.  Cutting up the bread in various shapes and sizes make the meal new again.  One day you can do squares, the next triangles and then strips (as seen above).

3.  Snack Trays

Clean out your fridge and place all the little leftovers, fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses on a tray and enjoy.  Check out these simple smoothie recipes!

4. Grilled or Baked Sandwiches

Elevate a plain old sandwich by grilling it and serving it warm.  Try the classic grilled cheese or add some pepperoni for a fun grilled “pizza” cheese.  You can add some meat to that as well for a little added variety.
Instead of grilling, try a baked sandwich like this baked pesto turkey sandwich.
Speaking of sandwiches, you should try this apple chicken salad recipe.  It’s so good!

5.  Quesadillas

There is no limit to creativity with quesadillas.  You can make simple cheese ones.  Try breakfast quesadillas filled with egg, cheese, and meat.  You can add some cheese and pepperoni and serve with a marinara sauce for an Italian twist.    You can even do peanut butter and banana quesadillas.  They are so simple but so tasty and fun!

6.  Crescent Roll Roll-ups

I keep a sleeve of these in my fridge at all times.  They make a great base to whatever you want to add inside.  From hot dogs to string cheese, breakfast sausage or pepperoni.  Bonus — your kids will love helping roll them up.  These are perfect for kids to help prepare.  I have found when you invite your children to help prepare the food, they are way more likely to eat it. 
To make pizza roll-ups, as seen above, grab a sleeve of crescent rolls, pepperoni, and 4 string cheese.  Cut the string cheese in half.  Unroll a crescent roll and layer on 4-6 pieces of pepperoni then place 1/2 string cheese on and roll-up.  Cook as the directions indicated on the wrapper.  Usually, that is 9-11 minutes at 375 degrees or until the crescent rolls are golden brown.  You can dip in marinara sauce!



7.  Breakfast for Lunch 

I mean everyone’s favorite meal of the day is breakfast so why not have it for lunch?  You can either make up some homemade pancakes and freeze them or buy pre-made frozen pancakes or waffles to microwave or toast!   Cut them up in strips, triangles, or bite-size for fun twists.  You can serve eggs, breakfast meats, and fruit smoothies too.  Check out these simple smoothie recipes!

8.  Homemade Lunchables

My kids love Lunchables but they can get expensive fast.  So, we will pull out a plate-like above or serve in a bento box like this and make our own Lunchables with a variety of meat, cheese, and crackers.
You can make a week’s worth of meals just with those 3 items.  Who doesn’t love a meat and cheese tray? It’s like your very own homemade Lunchable.  I do love the bought ones too especially when they are on sale for a $1 ;).

9.  Macaroni & Cheese

No matter what type of diet you follow, there is a box of macaroni and cheese that probably fits it.  It’s normally a kid favorite and easily made and stored for leftovers the next day.
My tip with macaroni and cheese leftovers is rather than just microwaving it, place the leftovers in a saucepan with a little bit of milk and stir as you rewarm.  It turns back into what looks like original macaroni and cheese.  My kids will not eat macaroni and cheese rewarmed in the microwave but I have found a way to trick them ;).

10. Don’t Forget Freezer Favorites

Don’t forget about all those things you can stock up in the freezer section.  Serve alongside some fruits and veggies to balance it all out!
  • Pizza rolls
  • Taquitos
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Mini corn dogs
  • Frozen Pizza

Don’t Forget About Leftovers…

Never underestimate the power of a good meal rewarmed.  I know not all meals are a hit but plan your dinner meals to include extras for leftovers.  Leftovers my kids especially love leftovers are pizza and taco/Mexican dishes.  I try to include both of these into our menu every week for this purpose.

These recipes make great leftovers – 

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

Baked Mexican Casserole

Slow Cooker Chicken Stuffing Bake


When All Else Fails…

Sometimes, you just need to go through the drive-thru or text a friend to meet at Chick Fil-a!  One friend used to always go out on Friday for lunch with her kids.  Remember variety isn’t as important to them as it is to us.   If all else fails, having some fun items to make eating more appealing never hurts.  Here are a few ideas to add to your wish list!


Mix up Your Meal  with Fun Utensils

We have these plates and I pull them out when we are going through a particularly rough phase with eating or I know dinner might not be a favorite ;).  My kids also love to eat with different utensils so those cute animal toothpicks are so fun.  We have the construction silverware and they are in high demand along with these spoon/fork combos.



Just remember this when it comes to kid-friendly lunch ideas…

Mealtime with littles can be downright crazy but hopefully, these kid-friendly lunch ideas will help you to get on the right track to smoother meal times so everyone enjoys eating.  If you have a picky eater, check out these 15 tips to get your picky eater to eat.  

As moms, we feel the need to serve a great variety because we like variety and we feel the pressure too!  I have come to find if I stick to these basic and simple kid-friendly lunch ideas and rotate, everyone is happy.  What kids lunch ideas do you have?


Need Some Family Meals Ideas? 



Want help with meal planning?  

I wrote down this recipe along with the rest of my meal ideas for the week in the Simple Purposeful Living 52-week meal planner.  Get yours here.   Join the Meal Plan Simple on Purpose group on Facebook for more meal planning ideas and support.  Join here.


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

Let’s Connect | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest

crescent roll pizza with text 10 kid lunch ideas


15 Tips to Help Get Your Picky Eater to Eat

One of the most common questions I get when it comes to meal planning has nothing to do with how to meal plan at all.  Rather, nearly every day someone asks me, “how do you get a picky eater to eat what you meal planned/made?”

Yes, I have picky eaters at my house.  Yes, we have learned a few tips and tricks that help us overcome picky eating so I thought I would share them with you.  Dinner time is more fun and enjoyable when you aren’t in a fight over food, amen?

It goes without saying to keep an eye on your child’s response to food.   One of our children had a hard time eating certain foods and would gag when they were younger,  it wasn’t that he didn’t like the food. It’s important to rule out allergies, intolerances and physiological reasons first.


little girl eating dinner


1. Remember Everyone has food preferences & Be A Role Model

I am sure there are certain foods you don’t love.  I can’t stand olives!  Gross!  We all have food aversions and foods we don’t care to eat.  I also can’t stand a fish that still has its head on, ew!  Kids are no different.  Don’t forget our kids are watching so be a role model when it comes to trying and eating new and different foods.


2. Create a Bite Rule

Since kids often assume they don’t like things before they even try something, it’s important to have them get in the habit of trying at least one new bite of new food.  Ask them to try a “no thank you” bite.

Studies show that we have to try new food between 10-15 times before they “like” it.  So, don’t give up too soon and assume they “don’t like it.”

In our home we also have our kids eat the number of bites they are old to be excused.  So, if they are 4 years old that’s 4 bites of an item.  You could also stick to a 3 bite rule for everyone.  


4. Pair New Food with Food They Like

If you are trying out new meat like shrimp and your child loves tacos, pair the shrimp with a taco.   If it’s a food you know they don’t love, make sure you also have healthy sides like fruits and vegetables that they do love.  

Create connections between food.  If your child refuses to try asparagus but they love green beans, help them make a connection that both are green.


5. Serve A Food in A New Way

Maybe it’s not the food they dislike but rather the way it’s prepared.  I don’t love cooked carrots but I love raw carrots.  How can you serve food your kids don’t love in a new and different way?


6.  Let Your Child Experience the Food

Let your child experience the food with all 5 senses.  Allow them to smell it, touch it and maybe even just lick it.  

grocery shop with picky eaters


7.  Invite Your Kids to Help Meal Plan

Kids love to have some control and say, who doesn’t?  So, if your kids aren’t loving what you are serving, ask them what they would like for dinner.  Then, pick a meal they want and add it to the meal plan.  If they want macaroni and cheese one night, great!  Then, serve something you want another night.  Then, invite kids to go to the grocery store with you to pick out the food.  


 8.  Offer Choose Your Own Adventure Meals

We also called these “bar” nights.  Think taco bar, salad bar, or pasta bar.  Leave the foods “deconstructed” and let them choose their own adventure so to speak as they put the foods on their plate.   Give them rules like you need to have at least one vegetable, one fruit, and one meat and let them choose how they do it.


9.  Limit Snacks

We all eat better when we are hungry.  I don’t know about your kids but my kids LOVE snacks.  They would eat snacks all day long if I let them but when we fill our bellies with preferred snacks we are less likely to try new things.


cook with picky eaters


10.  Have Kids Help in the Kitchen

I know it can be messy and chaotic to have kids joining you in preparing dinner but occasionally invite them to prepare dinner with you.  They will have a sense of pride and will be more inclined to try the food they prepared.


11.  Communicate Why

It’s important we let our kids know we have food preferences too.  Explain to your children that different foods help nourish and fuel our body so we can be strong and healthy.  


12.  Offer Praise

Don’t forget the power of praise.  Praise them profusely when they try new things.  We all love positive reinforcement and we are more inclined to do it again!


13.  Offer Condiments

I don’t know what it is about ketchup but my two-year-old will dip ANYTHING in ketchup including fruit.  He loves it.  


14.  Be Consistent

Whatever you decide is your family’s policy stick to it.  You know your kids best so what you decide for your family is the right choice.  Just keep the policy simple and be consistent, they can sniff out inconsistency quick.

switch up dinner with picky eaters


15.  Make Mealtime Fun

Instead of a fork, try letting them eat it with a toothpick.  Grab plates that are divided so their foods can stay separate.  Skip the table all together and dine on a picnic blanket.  If things are stressful at the dinner table, think about how you can make it less of a fight and more fun again!  One of my kid’s favorite parts of mealtime is sharing their highs and lows from the day.  We call them roses & thorns!



Just remember this when it comes to your picky eater…

Food doesn’t have to be a fight.  You also don’t have to eat chicken nuggets for the rest of your life and you don’t have to cook a different meal for each family member.  

Trying new things or in this case, new foods is an important life lesson.  If you don’t try something, you might just be missing out on something great.  You won’t know unless you try! Don’t give up on your picky eater too soon, you’ve got this!   How do you get a picky eater to eat?  Share your best tips in the comments below?


Need Some Family Meals Ideas? 


Want help with meal planning?  

I wrote down this recipe along with the rest of my meal ideas for the week in the Simple Purposeful Living 52-week meal planner.  Get yours here.   Join the Meal Plan Simple on Purpose group on Facebook for more meal planning ideas and support.  Join here.


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

Let’s Connect | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest


Simple Snack Tray Supper


Snack trays are the family-friendly version of the ever-popular charcuterie boards and I have never met a charcuterie board I didn’t like.  Snack tray suppers are going to be your new best friend.  Try a snack tray for your next family meal and your kids will think you are a genius, you are welcome!



Snack Tray Supper – A Happy Accident

Our Sunday night snack tray supper tradition started by accident which is usually how all good traditions get started!  We were running low on food since I grocery shop on Monday mornings.  We are on a tight budget at the moment since we are adopting so going out to eat was not an option.

So, I just gathered up all the random leftovers and pantry staples we had on hand and put them on a big tray.  To make it a little more fun, since I wasn’t sure how it would go over, I pulled out a waterproof picnic blanket and we ate our snack tray supper in the living room.



Love at First Bite

It was love at first bite!  Not only could my kids pick what they wanted to eat off the tray, but we also sat on a picnic cloth in the family room.  From my perspective, I fell short and from their perspective I was genius!  Just goes to show, we can be awfully hard on ourselves as moms!



A Weekly Tradition

I now write “snack tray supper” for every Sunday on my weekly meal planner (get yours here).   The snack tray is never the same week to week because it’s based on what we have leftover.  Some weeks it’s heavy on the popcorn (because I always have popcorn in the pantry) and other weeks it’s heavy on refrigerated leftovers.    I thought I would share a few ideas to help you get started with your own snack tray supper tradition.



What to Put on the snack tray?

Nothing is off limits and the options are endless.  Literally, start by pulling out leftovers from your fridge and your pantry.  I try to include lots of different food groups but some weeks the pantry and refrigerator are a little leaner than others.   Here’s a list of popular favorites for our family!

Raw sliced vegetables

Fruit – Dried and fresh cut

Cheeses – string cheese, sliced cheese, block cheese, spreadable cheeses

Cured meats – salami, summer sausage, braunschweiger, jerky



Pita Chips



Dips – Hummus, Salsa, Guacamole, Queso Aldi’s Frozen Buffalo Chicken Dip, Aldi’s Frozen Spinach Artichoke Dip, Ranch Dressing, layered dips, yogurt dips


Trail mix



You can even add in desserts and candy or you could make a separate dessert snack tray!  Now that I say that out loud, my kids are going to want that stat.  The options are endless when it comes to snack trays.  You can be as creative and in as many things as you want.  It’s perfect finger-food and kids love the chance to choose their own adventure when it comes to dinner.


Snack Trays Are Not Just for Dinner

Snack trays aren’t just perfect for dinner, they are perfect for lunches and get-togethers too!  Summer is coming, save on the dishes and make up a snack tray and eat on the driveway or outside in the grass.  Avoid sweeping and your kids will think it’s the coolest thing ever!  Take it on the road!  The options are endless.


Before you know it, your kids will be making snack tray suppers for their dolls!  How cute is that pint-size snack tray supper?


Do you want more meal ideas?


If you said yes, sign up here to get access to my free meal idea printable with over 50 meal ideas to help you get started meal planning today!

Snack Tray Supper Must-Haves

You might also like…

7 Steps to Meal Planning 
Aldi 7-Day Meal Plan + Grocery List
25 Simple Dinner Ideas
10 Kids Lunch Ideas
Easy Spinach Artichoke Dip
Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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Linking up with Becky and Andrea

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Aldi Shopping List + Weekly Meal Plan

Aldi has always been my go-to for inexpensive diapers, wipes and guacamole (how about that combo ;)!  I always drove a half hour to stock up.  Now, Aldi has finally opened up a store just 5 minutes from my home and I did a happy dance.  

Now, 3 out of 4 weeks a month I go to Aldi for my weekly groceries (the 4th week I still do a Wal-mart pickup)!  I thought I would take you along this week and show you what I got, how much I spent and the 7 meals I plan to make as a result!  Did I mention all 7 meals cost less than $50?

A Few Quick Aldi Tips

Don’t forget your quarter.  One of the ways Aldi keeps their prices low is by having you rent a cart for 25 cents.  You put in a quarter to unlock your quarter and you get the quarterback when you return it.  If you are feeling generous, you could leave your quarter behind and make someone’s day!

Bring your own shopping bags.  Just like Sam’s Club and Costco, Aldi does not provide shopping bags.  The cashier will load all your groceries back into a cart and you bag all your groceries.   The good news is you can sort groceries based on where they go if you want!  Pantry staples in one bag, frozen in another and so on!

Aldi sells mostly off-brand merchandise.  This means that you won’t find too many name brand items but not to fear, the quality is still amazing.  Aldi’s is owned by the same parent company as Trader Joe’s!

Check the specials aisle.  Or don’t ;)!  If you are trying to stay on budget, steer clear of the specials aisle that is full of seasonal items.  I got my kid’s bike helmets at Aldi!  If you see something you like, grab it.  It’s often limited stock so it might not be there when you come back!


Get your meal planner here.

Aldi Grocery List and Meal Plan

You know every Friday I love to finish off the week prepping for next week so I can enjoy the weekend with my family knowing I am all ready to go.  You can read more about how I meal plan in this post.

The most important step for meal planning for me is looking at our week first and then planning meals that work with our schedule.  There’s nothing worse than planning a yummy meal and not eating it because you have to eat at the baseball field!

So, after I scheduled our week out, I planned 7 meals and then made my grocery list to match.  Of course, besides the 7 dinners I planned, I also wrote down breakfast, lunch and snack supplies too.


Aldi Grocery Haul

My daughter and I took our quarter and reusable grocery bags to Aldi and got all our groceries for the week.  We got frozen waffles, English muffins and rice squares cereal for breakfast.  Bread, applesauce pouches, Goldfish and chocolate chip cookies for lunches and found granola bars and peanut butter crackers for snacks.  As well as some other staples like milk, eggs, butter, and garbage bags.

I also love to grab a few extra quick meals to have on hand just in case our schedule changes.  So, I picked up some frozen mini corndogs and a box of macaroni and cheese.

All total I spent $123.10 and our weekly grocery budget is $125. Wahoo!


Weekly Menu Meal Plan

Dinner #1 – Cheese Ravioli with Vodka Sauce

A perfect meal for Meatless Monday.   All you need is a jar of vodka sauce and ravioli.  Each ravioli package has 2.5 servings so I got 2 packages for our family of 5 and we had leftovers.  I paired this simple dish with a french baguette, a salad, and fruit.  It took about 15 minutes to make and serve!

Pasta sauce $2.89

Ravioli $2.98 *1.49 each

French bread $1.69

Salad and fruit on hand

Total for the meal – $6.56


Dinner #2 Pot Roast with Steamed Broccoli

Another perfect meal for a busy night.  Throw the pot roast and sauce packet in the slow cooker in the morning.  Then, right before you serve it steam up some broccoli and slice up some leftover french bread.

Pot roast sauce $2.49

Pot Roast $11.61

French bread (leftover from the night before)

Broccoli $1.19

Total for the meal – $15.29

Dinner #3 Sandwiches & Chips

If you are anything like us, generally there’s one night that constitutes fast food.  However, fast food doesn’t have to mean eating out.  I like to plan for sandwiches and this week we will be eating them at the baseball diamond.  The Aldi “pringle-like” chip is perfect because they don’t get crushed while being transported.

Lunchmeat $2.49

Sliced Cheese $1.99

100% Whole Wheat bread $1.49

Chips $0.99

Condiments on hand and served with veggies & fruit

Total for the meal – $6.96


Dinner #4 Jambalaya and Corn Bread

A friend made us this meal once and it was so easy, I love it for busy weeknights.  Follow the directions on the Jambalaya package and add in a drained can of kidney beans and sliced up kielbasa sausage.  Serve it with cornbread, fruit and raw veggies!

Jambalaya $1.19

Kidney Beans $0.69

Kielbasa Sausage $2.29

Cornbread $0.47

Total for the meal – $4.64


Dinner #5 Make and Take Pizza & Breadsticks

By Friday night we are ready for pizza and a movie.  Aldi’s take and bake pizzas are extra-large and add in some breadsticks and you have enough for your whole family without breaking the bank.

Pizza $5.99

Breadsticks $3.79

Total for the meal – $9.78


Dinner #6 Breakfast For Dinner

Breakfast for dinner is always a fan favorite and there are so many variations of eggs and meats not to mention sides like hashbrowns or sweet rolls.  This week I had supplies to make Resurrection rolls (recipe here) and I just learned you can bake bacon in the oven on a foil-covered cookie sheet for 20 minutes and then broil for last 2 minutes to crisp!  s

Bacon $3.49

Dozen eggs $1.08

Crescent rolls $1.49

Sometimes, I will add a fruit smoothie with spinach!  Find my smoothie recipes here.

Total for the meal – $6.06


Dinner #7 Snacktray Supper

By, Sunday night mom is ready for a break from the kitchen so we gather up all the leftovers and place them on a snack tray and enjoy a family room picnic for dinner.  It’s the whole family’s favorite meal of the week.

Total for the meal – $0

Total spent on 7 meals – $49.29


Do you need help organizing your meal plan?

Check out the meal grocery list and meal planner here.

I wrote down this recipe along with the rest of my meal ideas for the week in the Simple Purposeful Living 52-week meal planner.  Get yours here.   Join the Meal Plan Simple on Purpose group on Facebook for more meal planning ideas and support.  Join here.


Why I love Meal Planning & Shopping at Aldi

7 meals for under $50!  Now, I know that doesn’t include the staples, fruits and raw veggies I use as sides but when we go out as a family of 5 we easily spend that much on one meal.  Meal planning and eating at home really does help save you money and stay on budget.  Check out my meal planner and meal planning course if you want help getting started!

Do you meal plan or shop at Aldi?  What are your favorite Aldi products?  Sound off in the comments, I love a good recommendation!

You might also like –
10 Items to Buy at Aldi
7 More Aldi  Meal Plan Ideas 
7 Steps to Meal Planning 
12 Things I Stopped Buying at the Grocery Store
25 Simple Dinner Ideas
10 Kids Lunch Ideas

Want more family meal ideas for your meal plan?





Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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10 Frequently Asked Questions about Meal Planning

When I tell people I meal plan for our family, they always want to know how I do it.  I shared how I meal plan in this post, read here.  Then, after I explain how I do it they have lots of questions.  So, I thought I would answer a few of the most frequently asked questions I get pertaining to meal planning today!

Download your free meal idea printable here.

1. How do you think of meals to make your family?

1. Ask your family for suggestions.

2. Create a list of your favorites.  Read this post for 25 go-to meals our family loves.  

3. Make a  board on Pinterest for main dish ideas, here is mine!

4. Go through the main food types – Italian, Mexican, all-American, soups, meat & side, within each of those categories you will come up with several ideas.  For example for Mexican cuisine, you can make fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas to start.

2. Do your kids eat everything you make?

No!  However, I only make one meal at dinner so the rule of thumb at our house is they have to eat the same number of bites as their age.  So, my 3-year-old has to eat 3 bites of each food item to be excused from the table.  I do ask my kids for any meal suggestions and they are always excited when their request is granted. #tacos #alwaystacos

3. How do you come up with new meal ideas and not get stuck in a rut?

I try to incorporate a new recipe one time every week or every other week, depending on our schedule.  New meals take more time to prep so I might save that recipe for the weekend.  Some new recipes are winners and some are losers.  With the Simple Purposeful Living Meal Planner, I will circle ones we like and cross out ones we don’t!

I also can flip back in the 52-week meal planner and see what foods we have been eating a lot and which ones we haven’t had in a while!

You can download my free meal idea printable full of more than 50 meal ideas to help you get started.  Sign up here to get your download.

4. What do you do for breakfast?

My family has a few basic choices and I make sure to check my pantry for what we need when I make my grocery list.  My husband loves cereal and orange juice so I just ask him what kind of cereal he wants next and order that for him.  The kids usually go between frozen pancakes & waffles, cereal, bagels, and toast.  I usually just do a Lara Bar with my coffee!

5. What do you do for lunch?

Once again, I just make sure my kids have items they like to take in their lunches.  They are creatures of habit so they like to take peanut butter sandwiches or meat and crackers with raw veggie, fruit and a small dessert.

My husband takes leftovers every day to work so I make sure to make more than I think we will eat of most meals.  Lucy and I either eat leftovers or she eats what the big kids pack in their lunches.  I sometimes like to eat those bagged salad mixes too!

Buy your meal planner here.

6. How often do you meal plan?

I like to meal plan once a week.  It works well for our family so that our meal plan matches our schedule.   If you are just starting out, I would suggest meal planning once a week so you don’t get overwhelmed.

7. Why do you meal plan?

I hate that feeling of not knowing what to make for dinner and then not having the right ingredients on hand to make something.  We don’t have the budget to eat out very often, so meal planning helps me to make simple meals that match our busy schedule without a headache.  A little planning ahead makes my world go round.

8. How often do you go to the store?

Once a week.  Once I meal plan, I order all my groceries online and pick them up usually on Mondays’ for the week.  Occasionally, I forget something or something comes up I didn’t account for and then either my husband or I will run to grab that item but that’s rare!

9. Do you use coupons or shop at different stores?

I don’t.  I online grocery shop.  Not being in the store, I am not as tempted by all those things not on my list.  I save a substantial amount of money and stay under our weekly grocery budget ($125) almost every week!

10.  What tools do you use to meal plan?

I use the Simple Purposeful Living 52-week meal planner.  You can create your meal plan and jot down your grocery list on the adjacent perforated grocery list.  When I get stuck on what to make, I can flip back and see what I have made in the past.  You can buy yours here.

You can download my free meal idea printable full of more than 50 meal ideas to help you get started.  Sign up here to get your download.

Need some more help?

I have you covered, check these resources out!

52 Week Meal Planner

7 Steps to Create a Weekly Meal Plan

10 Frequently Asked Questions about Meal Planning

25 Simple Meal Ideas + Free Meal Ideas Printable

How do you meal plan?  What questions do you still have about meal planning?  Make sure to leave them in the comments and I will answer them!  Don’t forget to head over to the Simple Purposeful Living shop and check out our new products!  They make perfect Christmas gifts.  Give the gift of simple and purposeful living this holiday season!


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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12 Items We Stopped Buying at the Grocery Store to Save Money

We have a growing family and each member seems to have a growing belly so I am constantly on the hunt to find ways to save money at the grocery store. I barely ever actually grocery shop and most of the time prefer online grocery shopping in my PJs while watching Friends.  Not only are Ross and Rachel better grocery shopping partners, it also saves money, time and my sanity.

There are a few things no longer on my grocery list and I thought I would share what we have opted to stop buying in an effort to save money.  What do you forego to stay on budget?  So, let me share with you some items to skip when trying to save money at the grocery store.

12 Items to Stop Buying at the Grocery Store to Save Money

1 – Name Brand

There are very few products I have to have the name brand for, if there is an off-brand equivalent I will buy it.  Often times, it can save a substantial amount of money.  Everything from canned soups, baking supplies, cereal to lunch meat.  I buy generic.  If you are an Aldi shopper, you know generic doesn’t mean poor quality!

2 – Kleenex

I know this might be weird but we just use toilet paper.  Right now, there is a box of tissues on our guest toilet because my mom came to visit and brought a box with her.  Is it weird we don’t buy kleenex?

3 – Pre-made baked goods

I still occasionally buy the break and bake refrigerated cookies to bake for an event but I love to buy the muffin box mix and whip those up.  Brownies are my go-to for a frugal but delicious dessert treat for a crowd.  A boxed mix is just a dollar or two at most grocery stores.

4 – Pre-made frozen meals

When I worked full time they were my go-to for lunches and a quick dinner but I just make extra of the meal I make for dinner to have as leftover or as my grandmother calls them planned-overs.

5 – Margarine & Butter Spreads

We just buy butter sticks.  We keep one stick in a covered butter dish in a kitchen cabinet so it’s soft for spreading on toast and bagels.

6 – Out of Season Fruit

We eat berries of all types in the summer, apples in large amounts in the fall and then choose more seasonal fruit varieties in the winter.  Not only is out of season fruit extremely expensive, it also doesn’t taste as good when it has to be shipped halfway around the world.  Frozen fruits are a great alternative in the winter months along with unsweetened jarred fruit.

7 – Bottled Water

We have plenty of reusable water bottles for the whole family and most of my kids are old enough to independently fill their own water bottles.  When we head out somewhere, they all grab a water bottle to go!

8 – Dryer Sheets

We stopped using these when our oldest child was born and had some skin sensitivity.  I got out of the habit and although I miss the scent, I just use dryer balls instead and the wrinkle release cycle on the dryer to help with static and wrinkles.

9 – Multiple Types of Shampoo

We buy baby shampoo for Lucy and the rest of all use the same kind of shampoo and conditioner.  Right now I am buying Panter Pro-V because it makes my hair extra soft.

10 – Decorative Napkins

Just like my fine china is white, I buy white napkins.  White goes with everything and is nice and classic.  There are always exceptions to this rule like kid birthdays but whenever we entertain, I just buy white.

11 – Candy

I am the queen of chocolate (I never was until I had children) and not buying it not only saves money but it saves my waistline.  I have a hard time saying no!  The great thing about online grocery shopping is I don’t even see it :).

12 – Bottled Juice

This is all my husband, he was raised on juice concentrate so we made the switch when we first got married.


So, there you have it 12 items we don’t buy at the grocery store to save money and stay on budget with our grocery bill.  We budget $125 a week for a family of 5 for groceries. Don’t forget to share what you skip at the store in an effort to save money in the comments!  Soda is on my list to go but I haven’t kicked that habit yet! Someone tell me I can do it!

stacked coins budget basics online course

Speaking of budgets, I am going to be sharing more about how we got purposeful with our finances and formulated a realistic budget for our one income family.  You can learn more about the class here.


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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PS – Blogging friends Monday is our monthly 10 on the 10th link-up, this month we will be sharing 10 favorite places to travel, can’t wait to read all your ideas :)!

Linking up with Andrea and Becky – check out their blogs for more fun!

Life Lately Volume 3 May 2018

We are officially on summer vacation today!  Yesterday, was the last day of school and I am ready to not have to pack lunches and pry kids out of bed although my guess is now everyone will be up and ready to go for the day at 6 AM!

When Solon started school we started a few traditions by accident (meaning I did them and then the kids didn’t forget ;)!  I chalked the driveway and sidewalks, the neighbors and I served ice cream sandwiches to the neighbor kids as they came home and we went out to dinner to celebrate a successful school year.  It serves as a reminder to me that the simplest things are what matter most!  So we celebrated hard and now we hope to kick off summer with a trip to the pool as a family today! YAY!

Let’s look back at life lately around here during the last few weeks of MAYhem as I will now henceforth refer to May!

We have been enjoying the lovely weather outside and we have enjoyed the pools for one again this year.  I shared that and a few other backyard water ideas last year!  They are still favorites!

I shared last Friday in my 5 Things Bringing Me Joy post that we enjoyed a Framily night out for pizza, ice cream and playing at the park.  Summer evenings outside with friends are some of my favorites :)!

Solon’s Nana and Papa live in town and they try to attend every single baseball game.  It’s so fun to see them so often and that they come and cheer Solon on!  We have two more weeks of baseball, we keep getting rained out!

It’s graduation season so we headed to a few graduation parties.  One of my first-grade students attends our church and it still blows my mind to see him all grown up.  How am I that old – ha!  The kids loved all the food options and we never turn down a photo booth!

At the start of baseball season we wear our warmest coats and now the girls take umbrellas to shade themselves.  The girls play happily in the wagon and with friends during games!


We kicked lake season off on Memorial Day weekend with record-breaking heat in Minnesota.  The highs topped out at 100 degrees, let me remind you that 3 weeks ago the ice finally was off the lake.  We rarely swim on Memorial Day but we had to, to stay cool.  The boat wasn’t even in since they are so behind with the crazy late spring.

We made the most of it with jet-ski tubing, swimming, floating, hot tubbing, family baseball, grilling, s’more-eating and playing games!  Lake life is my favorite, you can read why here.

My cousins (more like brothers) were able to join us along with Alex’s fiance Marcie!  My kids adore them and they had a blast playing with them all weekend!

Vera is going to be their flower girl at their wedding and she pretty much was attached to Marcie all weekend long!

On the way home from the lake, we stopped by Scott’s sister’s house to see our cousins.  We had lunch together and went swimming all afternoon.  A perfect way to beat the heat.  The kids slept most of the way home and we finished the last 3 days of school!

And just like that, it was the last day of school.  The kids rode their bikes off one more time and we celebrated with ice cream, dance class and baseball practice :)!

So long kindergarten – hello first grade!

Bye bye 2nd grade – What’s up 3rd grade?

So, there you have it a little life lately!  I love this time of year.  We get to enjoy less strict bedtimes and lazier mornings, some fun camps and clinics, a few road trips and some quality family time!  Bring on summer :)!  Have a great weekend!

Just a reminder I will be doing a Facebook/Instagram Live at 11 am today, I hope you will join me!

For more life lately, check out my monthly recap —

What’s Up May 2018


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Linking up with Andrea and Becky – check out their blogs for more fun!

6 Ways to Survive the End of the School Year

crayon school supplies

It’s almost the end of another school year and it makes me think of a story my grandma used to tell me as a little girl. She used to go get some chickens from the farm, come home and chop their heads off so they could prepare them to eat.  She said they would run around the backyard like crazy.  As gruesome as the story, I always thought the vision of chickens running around headless, was funny!

Now I am the chicken, head cut off, running around like crazy at the end of the year!

It’s not as funny, when you are the figurative chicken.

The end of the school year is crazy.  There are programs, graduations, gifts, games, awards, field days, special outfits, special days, meals and festivities.  Not to mention the day to day chores and duties that still needs to get done.

I find myself in a constant state of panic.   There are crazed stricken texts to my friends — what do I need to send for that camp, you know that one, by some funny name I can’t pronounce.  Have you figured out how to do the dance recital hair?  Then, looking at my calendar to see when I can fit in the washing of the underwear since turning them inside out is frowned upon.  Dinner?  Are you trying to send me into a tailspin?

All jesting aside this time of year can leave you down-right exhausted.  Dog-tired.  Bone-weary.  Frazzled.  Kaput.  Sapped.  Shot.  Spent.  Ready to drop.  Outta gas.  You get the idea.  Maybe you know the feeling. After a few years of navigating this time of year, I have found there are 6 things I can do to help prevent me from becoming a headless, crazed chicken!

crayon pinterest pin

1 – Go to God for rest.

In the middle of the chaos, God will provide comfort with His peace as only He can do.  No amount of flexing our weary muscles will do what we He can.  I like to take time with my prayer journal and continue on in my daily bible study.  I don’t always get to it everyday but when I take the time I feel less frazzled and more ready to take on the day.  It doesn’t have to be long but just taking a little time helps so much!

2 – Sit down and plan out your week.

It might be good to do this with your spouse so that in case you forget something, they can remind you and they might have their own additions to add to the calendar.  It helps me to visually see it all written out.  Then, we can form a plan of attack.  Sometimes, we have to divide and conquer because we simply can’t be at all places at all times, especially this time of year.

3 – Meal plan & make a grocery list.

Even if it’s not part of your normal routine, after you plan out your week, meal plan.  Keep it simple with easy to prepare or frozen meals.  If you have time one night, make a bigger meal and then eat leftovers for subsequent meals.  This post has 10 simple meal ideas kids love.

4 –  Get sleep.

I find my inclination is always to stay up and keep working and getting things ready for the next day but then I wind myself up and I have a hard time falling sleep which becomes a vicious cycle.  Instead, if I make a to do list for the next day and go to bed, I can get up an hour earlier to work on the list.

5 – Ask for help.

It’s hard for me to ask for help or even accept help that is offered but there is no way I can do everything on my own.  Asking my kids to help with additional chores and my husband to help too is not a bad thing.  I sometimes have to ask friends or family to watch my kids or carpool.  It’s all hands on deck to keep the ship afloat especially at the end of the year.

6 – Give yourself grace.

I sometimes forget that it’s a season and that soon the end of year chaos will give way to a much lighter summer schedule in just a few short weeks.
So weary friend, keep on, keeping on in this busy, pandemonium, you are not alone.  This time of years you really do start to feel like a chicken with your head cut off but this too shall pass. Remember whose you are and who will give you rest if you simply seek Him.  Shortly we will be in the throes of summer and I can’t wait!

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Linking up with Heather  for Oh Hey Monday- check out the link-up!

Kid-Friendly Way to Organize Kid Dishes

Kid Dish Organization that Promotes Independence

With 3 kids, the amount of times someone needs a drink is too many to count. Someone is always thirsty and they have a strong opinion on their glass type and color, amen?   So, I asked myself this question, “Is there a spot in the kitchen that the kids can easily access and can store their dishes?” 

Setting up an organizational system to promote independence in the kitchen is important.  They can get their own drinks and help with household chores.  Double win!  My kids have a few daily chores and that includes setting and clearing the table as well as unloading the dishwasher.  In order to do that successfully, their dishes had to be accessible so they could independently take care of the tasks.

In our home, we have a kitchen island with a couple of large drawers.  The middle drawer houses all of our towels.  This is important because there are plenty of spills around here (just us?) and they can quickly run and find a towel.  The bottom drawer was a perfect place to store all the plastic dishes, glasses and water bottles my kids used.  In addition, I placed the kid silverware in the front of a drawer where they could easily see and grab what they needed.  Now, not only our own kids, but our tiniest guests know what to do when they are thirsty.

Kitchen Chores

When they set the table, I usually set out the adult plates and glasses they will need on the counter.  They grab their own dishes, fill all the glasses with water and add napkins (or folded up paper towels 😉 to the table.  When we are finished with dinner, they know to put their dishes by the sink,  push in their chairs and wash their hands before dashing off to play!  Once they learned the routine, it became second nature to them, most of the time ;)!

When they unload the dishwasher, they stack anything that they can’t reach on to the counter right below where it belongs.  Then, all I have to do is open the cabinet and quickly put the item away to finish the job.  Lucy (2) happily assists with the silverware and kids dishes.  I always make sure to grab anything sharp and stow that before they begin!

How do you store your kid dishes?  How does your family help you with kitchen chores?  Around here, it’s all hands on deck to keep this ship sailing smoothly!  I remember unloading the dishwasher as a kid and setting the table.  I have always remembered the silverware are set in alphabetical order – fork, knife and spoon and that the fork goes on the left because it has 4 letters like left and the knife and spoon go on the right because they have 5 letters like the word right!

Here are our favorite Kid Dishes —

Plates, Bowls & Silverware

Picky Eater Rewards Plate

Read this post for more of our favorite kid lunches and kid kitchen products


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Linking up with Lindsay – check out her blog!

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Easy Baked Mexican Dip


The Super Bowl is this weekend and it’s always a scramble to figure out what to make because let’s be honest I am all about the halftime show, the commercials, and the food.  I plan on making this easy baked Mexican dip recipe because it’s always a fan favorite and great served with guacamole, salsa, and chips!


Ingredients –

1 8 oz Bag of Taco Blend Cheese
1 small bottle of mild taco sauce (Taco Bell is the only brand I can find that has the smaller bottle)
1 can diced green chiles
1 can Traditional refried beans
1 lb. ground beef (I use ground turkey)

Directions –

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and then brown your ground meat and chop until finely ground.  After its cooked, I like to rinse it to get out the excess grease and then add the taco seasoning packet and add water according to the package specifications.  Then cook through.
While your meat is cooking, you can add the refried beans to the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.  Spread the refried beans into a thin bottom layer.
Add your seasoned ground meat on top of the refried bean layer and then sprinkle the green chiles over top of the ground beef to make a 3rd layer.  Then, pour the entire bag of shredded cheese on top to make an even 4th layer.
Finally, evenly pour the taco sauce over the top.  The oven should be pre-heated and its ready to cook.  Since everything is cooked through, you really are just warming it all up.  You will cook the dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. You know when it’s done if it’s bubbling on the sides.

How to serve it –

Take it out and allow to set for a few minutes.  Then you can dish it on to a plate and serve with taco chips or you can spoon into tortillas with lettuce and toppings if you wish.

Perfect for a weeknight meal or appetizer!

This easy baked Mexican dip recipe makes a great casserole for a quick weeknight dinner or a great dip to take with you to a party with your friends.  It can be made ahead and stored in the fridge until you are ready to make it and it makes great leftovers.  You all know we live on leftovers for lunches during the week so I often make this early in the week.  Don’t forget the guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos and salsa for fun sides!
Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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