Create a Stress-Free Home with These 14 Tips and Resources

Ever walk into your home at the end of a long day and think, "this place is just one more thing on my to-do list"? Don't sweat it, busy mama: I've got 14 tips and resources to help you create a stress-free home you love coming back to.

Ever walk into your home at the end of a long day and think, "this place is just one more thing on my to-do list"? Don't sweat it, busy mama: I've got 14 tips and resources to help you create a stress-free home you love coming back to.

Please note: There are (or likely are) affiliate links included in this post. This means if you make a purchase through one of my links, I’ll receive pennies on the dollar commission for sending you there. I would never recommend a product I don’t know and trust. For more info check out my disclosure page. 

Creating a stress-free home sounds like something other people have, doesn’t it?

I walked in the front door, set down the diaper bag and 3 bags of groceries, slung my youngest down from the baby carrier, reminded my daughter to put her shoes away for the millionth time, tried to think of what we were making for dinner, looked around the general mess of our apartment and thought, “this whole freaking place is just one more thing on my to-do list.” The mere idea of a stress-free home felt like an impossibility. I had had enough.

I hated walking into our apartment and immediately feeling stressed out about everything there.

I mean, I already feel as though I’m juggling a million things at once, and since 90% of said juggling items are located within my house, the entire place felt like one big mountain I needed to scale.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way. And I was determined to find resources to get my little place in order and create a stress-free home I felt calm in.

Since living with young kids means the chances of having a clean home are next to impossible, I knew I could do the best thing: concentrate on the things I could change, and felt like I had some sort of control over.

After all, the messes kids make won’t last forever.

(I repeat that to myself like a mantra as I use a baby wipe to furiously scrub yogurt stains off my favorite jeans.)

Here are the things I’ve started implementing that save me time, reduce the overall stress and overwhelm of my house, and get me closer to the stress-free oasis of my daydreams…while ignoring the day-old, half-eaten banana I found behind the couch the other day.

AROUND THE HOUSE 

1. Get it together the night before.

I will confess, I struggle with this one. After my kids go to bed, I’m usually too wiped out to do a whole lot. But I make an effort to at least pack their babysitter bag, clean out their lunchboxes, and pull out clothes they’ll wear the next day.

I do this for me, too! My husband is usually sleeping in the mornings when I get my kids ready (he works late) so I grab my clothes the night before so as to not wake him up rifling through our dresser.

I also preset the coffee maker every night before bed.  We have a Keurig, so before I go to bed I’ll top up the water canister, fill the reusable pod with fresh coffee grounds, and place a coffee cup underneath the spout. Then when I wake up, I just press the start button!

2. Keep a stocked bag at all times

I keep my diaper bag and purse stocked at all times, as opposed to refilling it as needed. The second we run out of diaper wipes, snacks, diapers, changes of clothes, crayons and paper, etc- it gets restocked.

We don’t have a car here in NYC, but when we visit my parents in Michigan, I also pack a ‘survival bag’ to keep in the trunk. This bag has things like extra band-aids and batteries, an umbrella, raincoats, blankets, and towels.

Why don’t you keep a survival bag in your stroller in NYC? Because I hate pushing around a giant stroller and I love my super lightweight Zoe stroller! I figure if we need anything while we’re walking around, there’s always a bodega or a Duane Reed no more than a block away to pick up supplies. That’s the beauty of living in the city!

3. Water Your Plants the Lazy Way

This tip was lifechanging for me, since I kept inadvertently killing the cute little succulents I have all over the apartment. So I started tossing ice cubes into the planter pots and now watering the plants is SO EASY. Much easier than going around with a heavy watering can, stopping to refill it, etc.

4. Have Mommy Hiding Places

While there is something to be said about “a place for everything and everything in its place”, I sometimes find new places for things- even temporarily – that save me tons of time and hassle.

For instance, the hinges in the glider in the kids’ room from time to time gets super creaky. My solution? I keep a can of WD-40 stashed away at the back of my son’s pajama drawer. I can grab the can, lube the hinges, and replace it quickly- without mentally adding it to my to-do list.

Other sneaky things I have hidden around the place that save time: 

  • candy in my underwear drawer for late night binges (every mom does this though, right!?)
  • Roku app on my phone so I can control the TV from the kitchen and turn off the Mickey Mouse Club when it’s time for dinner
  • a phone charger in the kids’ room, for the nights I’m up in the middle of the night rocking a teething baby back to sleep
  • garbage bags in the kids’ room so I can quickly change out a stinky diaper pail
  • kids’ pajamas in the bathroom so I can change them in straight after their bath at night

IN THE KITCHEN

5. Whenever possible, batch it out

I batch cook as much as I can, whenever I can. I find that batching my prep always saves me time later on.

Batching can mean different things depending on that you’re cooking. Here are some of the things I tend to batch prep together:

  • When I make pancakes for the kids, I’ll cook up another 5 or 6 at the same time, wrap them, and then reheat for breakfast the next morning
  • When I’m making lunch for myself one day- say, a sandwich or a salad- I’ll double it and store for the next day, so I can grab it and go. (This is a great tip for those of you who don’t have the time or motivation on the weekends to make a week’s worth of lunches!)

You know the adage “cook once, save twice”? It really works!

6. Make lunch at dinner

This goes hand-in-hand with my batching trick- while you’re making or cleaning up from dinner, get lunch ready for the next day.

My kids bring lunch to their babysitter and eat there before coming home and taking a nap here. And the mornings are already insane enough without packing a full lunch for them!

So, while I’m cooking or while I’m cleaning up, I’ll make sure to portion out their lunches for the next day. This might mean putting leftovers into small containers so I can grab and go in the morning. Or it might mean that while the casserole is cooking, I put pretzels into baggies and set them aside.

Whatever makes my life easier in the morning rush is a huge help!

7. Get the rotisserie chicken

For whatever reason, I was always against picking up those $5 rotisserie chickens you see turning on a spin in the grocery store. Why was I so resistant? No freaking clue. Because once I started picking one up with just about every trip, I realized how amazing they are.

It’s not just about a deliciously juicy chicken with crispy skin. It’s about what you can do with that chicken that saves so much time!

I’ll give some chicken to my kids at dinner, then I’ll shred the rest and store it. It goes into chicken salad sandwiches or a quick chicken noodle soup, and then I toss the bones and some veggies in the crockpot with water and let it simmer all night long. In the morning I have free chicken stock.

$5 chicken for the win!

 

OTHER RESOURCES

Here’s a few of my favorite products and resource from around the web. Click each image to learn more- I’ve used and can vouch for each of these products!

8. The 26 Ingredient Pantry

With just 26 ingredients, you can create over 100 gourmet dishes… all without ever heading to the store first! Basic recipes to make staples including pasta, sweetened condensed milk or chocolate cake and fancier delights such as lemon meringue pie are included, along with tips on what to do with leftovers.

Original Price: $4.95

9. Freezer to Slow Cooker Meal Plan

Get 3 months of a full meal plan that gives you 12 weeks of 6 dinnertime slow cooker recipes, along with grocery lists, recommendations for side dishes, assembly instructions, freezing tips, and more.

Original Price: $4.95

10. Start Your Own Freezer Club

I love this idea! Start your own neighborhood freezer meal club and connect with your community while filling your freezer.In this easy-to-follow course, Amylee lays out step-by-step what you need to do to start your club, including how to plan for dietary restrictions and allergies, people with small freezers, and more.

Original Price: $49.99

11. So Many Littles, So Little Time

When you have a lot of little ones, it often feels as if there isn’t enough of you to go around.  You meet yourself coming and going most days, and you desperately wish you had more hours in the day…or a maid…or both. 

This book is your guide to navigating a busy household full of little ones!  It won’t magically give you more hours…or a maid…but it will give you practical ideas to find more margin in your day, more energy in your parenting, and more joy in the journey of raising these precious little ones.

Original Price: $7.99

12. 31 Days to an Everyday Clean Home

Does this happen to you, too? My kids follow along behind me as I clean, making a mess of something the second I’ve wiped it down or put it away neatly. I sometimes feel as though I’ll never be on top of the cleaning, but this 31 days challenge walks you through getting on top of the mess and keeping a clean home- always.

Original Price: $8.97

13. The Clutter Handbook

I need this for my closets! The Clutter Handbook is a 50-page pdf guide designed to take the guesswork out of decluttering your home.  If you’re starting from a room you can’t walk into or just a couple clutter piles, this guide is designed to take you from clutter to decluttered in simple, manageable steps.

Original Price: $12.00

14. Boss Mom on a Budget

Looking for extra money, or have a great business idea but don’t know where to start? This course gives you everything you need to create a real profit-based business out of your home- while managing little ones at the same time.

Original Price: $79.00

That’s it!!

What do you think? Is the idea of creating a stress-free home a little less overwhelming now? I know I’ll never quite have the clean, orderly home of my Type-A dreams. But with a few handy tips and hacks, I can get a little closer. What about you?

Easiest Dinner Hack Ever – Naan Pizza Freezer ‘Kit’

This dinner hack has seriously been saving my life this week, since it has been so crazy around here! She's right about the naan pizzas tasting exactly like regular pizza dough, so no using raw or frzoen dough! And I love the tip she includes for how to make a freezer pack diy meal kit thing. Good idea!

Naan Pizza is the easiest dinner ‘hack’ you’ll ever use; baked naan makes a chewy crust without having to use raw dough, you can use whatever leftovers you have on hand, and as a bonus, naan pizza works great in a DIY Freezer Meal ‘Kit’!

I first wrote about naan pizzas on this site over a year ago, when the site was brand new, my photography was horrific, and I was still finding my feet in this space.

But now, a year later, I feel the need to touch on this incredibly simple dinner. Nann pizza are still my favorite last-minute, shit-has-hit-the-fan, crap-whats-for-dinner go-to standard.

Know why? It’s not just because this is an incredibly tasty dish (it is). Or its propensity for using up leftovers (something I love doing).

It’s because naan pizza makes the best DIY Freezer Meal Kits!

What’s a DIY Freezer Meal Kit? I like to describe this little timesaving approach to freezer cooking as ‘Make Ahead Meals Meets Blue Apron.”

How a DIY Freezer Meal Kit Works.

The beauty of a meal kit, such as Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, or Sun Basket, is that they send you a box of prepared ingredients along with a clear-cut, easy-to-follow set of recipes. They take any sort of guesswork out of your dinnertime cooking, which can be a huge relief for busy people.

The popularity of meal kits lies in three things:

  • It solves ‘decision fatigue’ about what to make for dinner.
  • It brings new, fresh recipes to your family table.
  • The whole thing is packaged in a way that your ‘mise en place’ is more or less done for you already.  

But a make your own Freezer Meal Kit is better than a mail order option – because YOU choose the dish!

You control the budget, and you control what you make and when.

Not every recipe makes a perfect DIY freezer meal kit, but many do.

Naan pizza is one such recipe.

See, the beauty of a naan pizza lies in its simplicity.

I mean, that’ss what’s so great about pizza itself, right? It’s customizable and versitle, can be eaten hot or cold, and everyone loves it.

Naan pizzas take what’s great about regular pizza… and makes it even easier.

You literally couldn’t get pizza any easier unless you called for takeout.

Here’s the big, scary ingredients list:

naan bread

pizza sauce 

cheese 

topping 

THAT’S IT.

Naan Pizzas are a great recipe to get kids helping in the kitchen.

In fact, I made naan pizzas with my 2 kids in a Facebook Live earlier this week in my Facebook group, Busy Mamas Cooking.

I put the dish together with my two kids hanging off of me in my tiny little galley kitchen, and the results were sometimes funny (my son ate practically a whole naan bread while I faced the camera from the other direction, for starters. And my normally ‘shy’ daughter acted like she was on Star Search and this was her chance at a big break. But other than that, it went off without a hitch).

I edited the Live broadcast down for this post, but you can see the highlight reel right up above- where I put the pizzas together for a freezer kit:

DIY Freezer Meal Kits are so easy, you’d feel crazy for not thinking about them before! But yep- put everything that you need for one dish in a big plastic bag, and puot that plastuic bag in the freezer. When you want to make the dish, pul it, thaw it, and cook it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Naan pizza works wel here because it can all fit inside a platic bag and the components freeze fanulously. And then once thawed, you have dinner on the table in like, 10 minutes.

I mean, what can be better than that!?

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Here’s a list of my favorite naan pizza toppings: 

Spanish chorizo and manchego cheese

Fried egg, sausage, bacon, and cheddar cheese

Ricotta cheese, honey, and almond slivers

Monterey jack cheese, salsa, and pulled pork

The possibilities are literally endless! 

How about YOU!? Have you tried naan pizza? What about a freezer meal kit? I want to hear about it!

How to Survive Cooking Your First Thanksgiving In 6 Important Steps

Thanksgiving Survival Guide | Percolate Kitchen (click to read the full post!)

Cooking your first Thanksgiving can be nervewracking. It’s a big day with SO MUCH pressure, it can feel overwhelming!

So you’re the person in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year. Lucky you!

Except…. not. There are so many moving parts to Thanksgiving, how can you keep track of them all!?

Maybe you’re freaking out about cooking your first Thanksgiving because you’ve never cooked for these many people before?

Or, last year you cooked and it was a disaster. Cold turkey, chewy mashed potatoes (how!?), and a dinner that finally got on the table 3 hours after you meant it to.

 

Or, your mom/grandma/aunt/uncle has always cooked an AWESOME dinner but they’re not able to this year, and the pressure is on!

Or, your kitchen is teeny tiny and you have zero space for a normal week’s groceries and gadgets, let alone the amount you’ll need for MORE.  

Fear not, my busy friend. I’ve been there, I’ve burned the mashed potatoes, and I lived to tell the tale.

You will, too!

But before that, here are 6 steps I learned from the ground up that can help you survive cooking your first Thanksgiving, whether you’re new to the game or just plain freaking overwhelmed.

Before we get into the 6 steps, download your copy of the Thanksgiving Game Plan! I’ve got a FREE packet for you, with 2 cheat sheets and a checklist for your Thanksgiving prep. Leave your name and email down below and I’ll send it to you!

6 STEPS TO CONQUERING THANKSGIVING DINNER

STEP ONE: WRITE IT ALL DOWN

This is the first, and possibly the most crucial step of the whole process of Thanksgiving dinner: get it all out on paper.

Start with an enormous list; include every single thing you’ll need to remember. Just get it all out, then work backward from there, breaking the list into smaller parts.

Write your whole guest list first.

As you’re figuring out the guest list, now is the time- before you decide on the menu- to find out who’s got allergies, who’s vegan, who’s able to bring their famous pumpkin pie along, etc.

Don’t forget the kids!

For example, do you have an uncle who likes to pour gravy all over everything, even his salad? Make a quick note of that on your guest list, so you don’t forget when you’re writing out your menu.

Then, write your entire menu.

This is the fun part! Keeping those with dietary restrictions in mind, figure out the recipes you’ll be making for the big day.

Cruise Pinterest, magazines, blogs, Google, ask your friends and family on Facebook for recipe recommendations. Keep it simple, but have fun!

If a recipe is super new to you, try to fit in a ‘practice’ run in the week or so before Thanksgiving. Being familiar with a recipe helps to take the edge off the stress of cooking on the day of.

Another important tenet of writing out your menu is deciding on what you can make ahead of time and chill or freeze until Thanksgiving Day; I’ll touch on the specifics of that later in the post. But it helps to, as you’re writing out your menu for the day, make a mental note of what can be made ahead to take some of the day-of pressure off.

How do I know what to serve at Thanksgiving dinner?

If you’re drawing a blank on what a typical T-giving day menu includes, no sweat. Here’s what I always make sure to have on the big day:

  • the turkey, turkey seasoning, and stuffing/dressing
  • gravy, made with the turkey drippings and extra gravy made ahead of time with chicken stock
  • mashed potatoes
  • salad
  • 1-2 casseroles/side dishes
  • cranberry sauce
  • bread rolls/biscuits/etc

THAT’S IT. Anything else is extra. Trust me on this one. You do not need to pull out all the stops!

Write a rough timeline

This is where the dirt meets the road, my friends. Once you have the particulars like guest list and menu figured out, your timeline (or ‘game plan’) will be the single most important process of the meal- before you start cooking.

I’d wager to say it’s more important than the actual cooking. With the right game plan, your stress load will be remarkably minimized! 

The trick is to start early. 

No matter how much more time there is between now and Thanksgiving, take a few minutes and write out everything that needs to be done between now and the morning of.

This includes grocery shopping. Turkey ordering. Booze procurement. Make-ahead items. The breakdown of cooking Thanksgiving day itself.

Still feeling overwhelmed? 

I’ve got a great download that will help you – and it’s FREE! Download this ‘Game Plan’ packet that includes three helpful cheat sheets: one to help figure out your overarching gameplan, one to figure out how much food to serve, and a Thanksgiving Day checklist. 

 

STEP TWO: UTILIZE YOUR GUEST LIST

Accept the help!

I get it, I do. It’s hard accepting help. I struggle with it all the time.

But with a dinner like Thanksgiving, it’s okay to lean on people. When someone asks, “what can I bring?” be honest. Tell them!

Here are some suggestions you can ask people to bring
    booze
    desserts
    whipped cream
    ice cream
    serving dishes and spoons
    napkins, cutlery, glasses, tablecloth
    side dishes

In all actuality, everything but the turkey can be brought potluck-style by someone else.

(And technically, the turkey can be brought in from somewhere else, too!)

What about the cleanup?

Don’t forget to figure this out! Try not to make it all on you; you’ll be doing enough that day!

Add extra plastic storage containers, cling film, and ziplock bags to your grocery list so that you store leftovers and send stuff home with guests.

If someone asks how they can help, ask if they’ll chip in with cleaning and storing food after the meal. It’s a cheesy old adage, but it’s true: heavy hands really do make light work!

STEP THREE: FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH FOOD YOU’LL NEED

Check out the image below; I’ve created an easy primer for figuring out how much food you’ll need for each guest. Obviously, you can play around with this; kids will eat less, some adults will eat more.

And don’t forget the leftovers! Turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving is one of my favorite parts of the holiday!

Click the image to enlarge. You can also fill in your email address in the box below the image to download this AND the gameplan primer AND a checklist for the day, all in the one go!

STEP FOUR: CREATE A GAME PLAN

What’s your Thanksgiving game plan?

Think of a football coach in this way; you need to have a full ‘game plan’ mapped out ahead of time. This is what helps you create a clear path to Thanksgiving victory.

The best way to create a ‘Cooking Your First Thanksgiving’ game plan is to start big, then whittle it down to actionable steps.

Here’s what I mean by starting big, then whittling down:

BIG THING: grocery shop

WHITTLED DOWN:

Decide on the items you’re making (don’t include the dishes guests may be bringing).

Write down every single ingredient you’ll need, then check your cupboards and fridges to see what you’ve got and what you can substitute in.

Then, write your grocery list.

Clear your fridge for the onslaught of new items you’ll be bringing home.

Bring your list to the store (aside: Somehow, I manage to forget this every year 🤦 Don’t be like me. Remember your list!)

BIG THING: Cook Thanksgiving dinner

WHITTLED DOWN:

Decide the time you want dinner to be on the table, then work backward from there: How long will the turkey take? That’s when it goes in the oven.

Other questions to help figure out your timing: How long to prep the turkey before it goes in the oven? What items can be cooked beforehand and then reheated for dinner? What can be made in the ~20 minutes while the turkey rests after it’s out of the oven?

Tip: To avoid looking at your now enormous list of clear steps and getting overwhelmed, start with the smallest, easiest things first. Not only will it feel good to cross a handful of things off your list in a short period of time, but it will get the ball rolling in a ‘snowball’ effect; more things done means more momentum for the rest.

Need help organizing your thoughts? Here’s a game plan primer to download!

Click the image to enlarge; OR, leave your name and email below and get this game plan, plus the food amounts cheat sheet I mentioned in the last step and a master checklist.

You can do this!

 

STEP FIVE: WORK THE GAME PLAN

Getting down to business on the day of Thanksgiving

Now comes the real balancing act: cooking (and reheating) everything on the day of Thanksgiving, and getting it all on the table at the same time.

This is the step that I struggled with for years! I would find myself frantically mashing potatoes while everyone else was sitting down to dinner, privately cursing my mismanaged time.

But I’ve gathered a few tips in the meantime that will help you not make some of the same mistakes I did early on! Click the images below to enlarge. You can also pin them to save for later!

STEP SIX: HAVE A PLAN FOR CLEANUP

It’s the least fun part of the day, but don’t forget the post-Thanksgiving dinner cleanup and storage.

Having a rough idea of how this will play out will make it go much smoother and faster. I personally kind of enjoy cleaning up after Thanksgiving, although I’m usually beat after all that cooking. But it’s a nice time to reflect and chat with people on a more casual, one-to-one level.

Plus, when you’re in the kitchen you’re located at the prime advantage point for sneaking another piece of pie or a glass of wine. Score!

When people ask if they can bring something to help, sometimes I’ll tell them not to bring anything but to plan on chipping in to wash dishes.

I also make sure to always clean as I cook, which cuts down on the anxiety-inducing pile of post-dinner casserole dishes.

And lastly, I make double sure that there’s plenty of big ziplock baggies, plastic storage containers, cling film, tin foil, etc to both store food easily and send people home with leftovers.

There you have it; the Six Steps to Cooking Your First Thanksgiving!

If you’re a veteran Thanksgiving cook, or you think I forgot something- I wanna hear about it! Do you have any extra tips and tricks you wish you knew before jumping into cooking a Thanksgiving dinner? Leave a message in the comment section below!

Don’t forget to download my FREE Thanksgiving Game Plan by entering your email in the boxes below. You’ll get access to a gameplan breakdown cheat sheet, a checklist for the big day, and my food amounts cheat sheet. It’s a really helpful little packet!

Still nervous about cooking for the big day? I got your back, busy friend. Click here to buy my whole Thanksgiving meal plan, including recipes, grocery lists, cheat sheets, worksheets, storage and make-ahead ideas, and fully itemized grocery list. It’s insanely helpful and jampacked with info that will save you a TON of time planning, prepping and getting ready for Thanksgiving!

Tips and Ingredient Substitutions To Make You a Damn Better Baker

I like how she lays out really easy to follow tips and ideas to be a better baker! I saved the pdf to my phone and it's super easy to use, with ingredient substitutions and little hacks i can use when I'm baking stuff like cookies or cake. Super handy!

I like how she lays out really easy to follow tips and ideas to be a better baker! I saved the pdf to my phone and it's super easy to use, with ingredient substitutions and little hacks i can use when I'm baking stuff like cookies or cake. Super handy!

I’ll ‘fess up: baking is not my strong suit. So over the years, I’ve hoarded all the baking tips, hacks and ingredient substitutions I could find, hoping they could help me learn to be a better baker.

And you know what? They’ve helped!

I’ve gone from making horribly rock-solid cookies, sunken cakes and dirty-tasting brownies, to making deliciously airy meringues and moist, yummy cakes.

I’ll probably always be on the lookout for sneaky tricks that make me be a better baker, but I’ve gotten a heck of a lot better than I was.

I’ve been keeping most of the hacks, tips, and tricks I find stored away in a big fat Evernote file.

Because I’m me and I’m obsessed with organizing my Evernote, I’ve got every tip tagged. That way, I can quickly search something like “butter substitution” when I find myself stuck.

(Which reminds me. The image below is one of my fave baking hacks, especially for when I suddenly discover I’m short on butter!)

In any case, I’ve got the whole list of all my fave hacks, tips, ingredient substitutions right here for ya!

Keep this list handy in your back pocket and you’ll maybe be a halfway decent baker like me someday (HIGH FIVE!)

Oh, and I have a bonus for you! I created a handy-dandy little printable of my fave baking ingredient substitutions. Print it out and hang it up, save it, or even just save the pdf straight to the home screen on your phone. It might come in handy!

Just fill out your email below to grab it!

HERE ARE MY ALL-TIME FAVE BAKING HACKS AND TIPS TO MAKE YOU A DAMN BETTER BAKER:

»Take the chill away: Let your eggs and milk come to room temperature before using.

»Weight over volume: When possible, weigh your ingredients instead of using a measuring cup or spoon. It’s a lot more accurate!

»Turn them around: Rotate your baked goods in the oven halfway through baking.

MAKE LIGHT AND AIRY BISCUITS:

KEEP THAT FLOUR FRESH

»No peeking! Keep the oven door closed while your item is baking. This one I learned the hard way (it’s the number one cause of sunken cakes!)

»Make your own powdered sugar: pulse it in the food processor or blender until it’s super fine.

»Cold hands, warm heart, better bread. It’s way easier to knead with cool hands, but I tend to run hot in the best of situations (especially when I’m breakin’ a sweat kneading dough!) If my hands start to get too hot, I’ll run them under cool water for a bit. It helps the dough knead way easier.

SKIP THE FLOURED SURFACE

MIX YOUR BUTTER BETTER

That’s it! Go forth and bake like the badass you are.

Got more tips and ideas? I wanna hear them! Leave your favorites in the comments, or drop me a line on social media. My profile links are at the top of the page!

HERE’S THE DOWNLOAD LINK  TO THE PRINTABLE BAKING SUBSTITUtION AGAIN! IT’S SUPER HANDY- I HOPE YOU LOVE IT!

Is Online Grocery Shopping with Thrive Market Really Worth the Hype?

[disclosure]

Like all busy city-living people, I often find myself doing my grocery shopping online… like, a lot.

What can I say? I’m a busy working mom. We walk and take the train everywhere we need to go; I don’t even own a car. I want my kids to eat healthily and not break the bank. And I’m not crazy about dragging them around the grocery store since I usually acquiesce to terrorist toddler demands for juice boxes.

 

And so, I have fallen in love with online grocery shopping. I love the ease of it, especially that I can do it at 10 pm in my pj’s while drinking a glass of wine and half-watching Netflix.

I can comparison shop much easier when I can go online grocery shopping. I find it helps me stay in my budget much better. And when I do run out of something too fast, or forget to put it on my list, I can run into a physical store, grab the thing, and get out before my 3-year-old can even say “CHEDDAR BUNNIES!”

So when I discovered Thrive Market, an online grocery store that offers organic and natural foods at drastically reduced prices compared to physical stores, I was like this:

Here are the two BIG things I love about Thrive Market:

• Their amazing prices. Seriously, I spend less on pantry items and snacks here than I did before. Like, way less. Thrive estimates I’ll save over $600 with them before the year is out!

•Their kind heart. I admit, it’s a bit of a bite spending $59.95 a year on membership, even if their prices are awesome. BUT, for every membership purchased, Thrive donates a FREE membership to a family in need. 

Honestly, that was my nail in the coffin. If my membership can help our family save money AND get quality, lower-cost organic and all natural ingredients and household goods to another family, then sign me up, man.

But of course, when you get right down to it, the best online grocery shopping experience offers great products at great prices.

Thrive offers this and more (if you don’t believe me, check out their awesome app. #lifesaver)

Guys, I’m not buying something if it’s not worth my time, dollars, or effort.

I don’t care if it’s coconut oil hand harvested by virgins and cold pressed with vintage heritage wood, if it’s eleventy jillion dollars or requires actual effort on my behalf, I’m gonna pass.

So I thought I would order a few of my favorite items (the kind that cost significantly less than eleventy jillion dollars while also making my life easier), do a quick ‘unboxing’ video, and let you see how the process works!

I ordered all these items late on Friday afternoon and they arrived on Tuesday with the regular UPS delivery. Not bad, I’d say. Amazon Prime has them beat but isn’t that the case with everything?

Here are my favorite products from Thrive, along with the approximate price structures that I found on Amazon for the same products. (not all products are on Amazon; I linked the ones I could find!)

*Note since Amazon prices change on the reg, I used a little system here. $ is anything under $5, $$ is between $5 and 15, and $$$ is above $15)

(all links below are affiliate links, just so you’re aware!)

Want to see the unboxing of my snack haul in action?

Watch the video below!

That’s it! If you have ANY questions about WHY Thrive Market is the best organic online grocery store, the total bee’s knees, and why I think you’ll adore it, drop me a message!

Happy shopping!

7 Easy Steps for Meal Plan Beginners

Meal plan beginners can have it rough- figuring out how to start can be overwhelming! Here are 7 tips to get you started where you need to be.

Meal planning and meal prep can feel overwhelming if you’re new to it, and believe me, I’ve been there! Here are 7 easy steps any meal planning beginner can sink their teeth into, without feeling totally lost in the process.

When I first started out meal planning, I was confused. I felt ‘tied down’ to some random list of recipes that I had arbitrarily decided on earlier that week.

I’d write my meal plan on Saturday, and then by the time I got to Wednesday I would just throw the whole thing out the window and pick up the phone for takeout.

 

But alas, our budget is not to be trifled with, and this whole meal plan disaster thing wasn’t doing me any favors in the wallet or waistline. So I sat my butt down, and I read everything I could on meal planning, and eventually, I crafted myself an awesome little plan that worked gangbusters for our family.

Are you new to meal planning, like I once was? It can feel archaic, and boring, I know, but that’s only if you’re using yo’ momma’s old school meal plan, and let me tell you: it’s a new century, bud, and meal planning has come up along with it.

However, I also know that once there’s a solid plan in place, meal planning for beginners can usually just mean following a certain strategy of steps.

And before you know it: you go from a meal planning beginner to a Master Meal Planner.

Meal Planning Queen, if you prefer.

Meal Planning Messiah.

(Too far? Ok; we’ll stick with ‘master’)

 

But don’t take my word for it! I checked in with 6 other awesome bloggers and asked their advice for how to start meal planning if you’re new to it, what steps should you take first, and what to do once you’ve started to pull together a plan.

They’ve all got awesome advice, some have handy printables, and they’re all in your corner.

Here’s what they have to say!

If you’re a meal planning beginner, start with the basics.

(Yep, the first one is ME!) this is one of my favorite posts about meal planning on this site (and I have quite a few!). I break it down, step by step, how I started meal planning and what you can do to get your feet wet, too. Read: My Top Three Meal Planning Basics

Even if the recipes says it’s 30 minutes, figure out the real amount of time it will take.

Shelley, from Two Healthy Kitchens, knows the pain we’ve all felt when dealing with a “super quick omg!” recipe: it doesn’t always take the amount of time it says it will. So, figure out how to “read” a recipe right, work that into your timeframe, and you’ll have a better idea how to plan appropriately. Read: Estimating REAL Prep Times

If you hate writing meal plans, try theme nights.

I love this take from Tracy at Simple Living Country Gal. She says to keep a “go-to” list that she can refer to whenever she’s pressed for time. Don’t have a list written out? Ask your family’s input- they might remind you of a dish you can make super quick! Read: Make Dinner Time Easier Without a Meal Plan

You Might Also Like These Other Meal Planning Posts!

Get your kitchen in order to make things run smoother

Jenny, at the Jenny Evolution, has a great list here of how to get your ducks in a row before you even put pen to paper; after all- what good is a meal plan if you can’t find your ingredients or cookware? Read: Easy Meal Planning For Busy Moms

Get your kitchen in order to make things run smoother

Jenny, at the Jenny Evolution, has a great list here of how to get your ducks in a row before you even put pen to paper; after all- what good is a meal plan if you can’t find your ingredients or cookware? Read: Easy Meal Planning For Busy Moms

Start with an easy-to-follow printable to write your meal plan on

Lena, from What Mommy Does, knows the basics of meal planning starts with actually writing the dang thing! I love her simple, easy-to-use meal planning printable with clearly defined spaces. Just click to save and download! Read: Free Printable Weekly Planning Template

When it comes to accommodating different family members, roll with it.

Rachel, at The Mashup Mom, touches on a pain point I think a lot of us have: what to do when your entire family isn’t down with the same eating schedule, diets, or preferences. She spells out steps you can take to mitigate the mess of trying to figure out what to feed everyone.. when everyone has different food needs! Read: How to Modify a Meal Plan for Your Family

Skip the processed stuff and work real food into your meal plan.

Elaina, from The Rising Spoon, has a list of 10 ways you can make sure your meal plan isn’t full of over-processed junk; without taking tons of time out of your week! I love her tip for leftovers (which are my fave, too!) Read: Ten Meal Planning Tips for Beginners Using Real Food

There you have it: 7 awesome tips for meal planning beginners, all designed to help you get groovin’ on your meal planning schedule!

Which was your favorite? I’m excited to get digging into my meal planning routine now!

If you want to take a peek into what I’m cooking each week, then join my brand new member community: Busy Mamas Cooking In Tiny Kitchens!

Each week I add in my own family meal plan so you can see what I’m cookin’ Also get access to what others are cooking, swap recipes, vent about picky eaters, and more.

Leave your info below to join, and I hope to see you there!

Heck yes, that sounds awesome!

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