Today is Monday, this means it is the start of a new week. How you plan to manage your time is critical. The hustling and bustling of your day has just begun. You are probably contemplating how you are going to meet all your deadlines at work for the week around your kids’ school conferences, rehearsals, and various extracurriculars. It might be morning, but your feet have instantly hit the ground running and there is absolutely no time to slow down. You have an important meeting with your superiors that you must be punctual for. If you don’t allow enough time to get to work, you could be facing traffic jams and your child(ren) receiving a tardy slip for not arriving in their seat on time. You answer the phone as you begin to prepare school lunches and it is your boss wanting you to stop by and pick up coffee and donuts for your morning meeting; after all presentation is everything. You open the refrigerator door when you realize you have completely forgotten to grab ingredients to make dinner for that evening. You open the pantry only to find random ingredients left over from the week before. There is even more undue stress and pressure as you attempt to figure out when you are going to make dinner in between practices and helping your child(ren) with their school work, and still having that 15 minutes to yourself once you get your family through their evening bath and bed routine. It then dawns on you that you are so focused on your children, that you forget about your spouse, where do they fit in to the equation?
If only you could find an extra hour in your day to connect, but what if you could? Does your life really have to be this way? What if you stopped focusing on what the problems are and what you ‘can’t do’ and focus on implementing a solution? What if there were a way to add that extra hour in a day, would that extra hour be worth it to you? In a previous post I made, I mentioned to you as a part of priorities and time management, learning how to meal plan. Time is money, but so is your freedom with your family. Having that extra hour in helping your child with a math problem they are struggling with could mean the difference between a C to an A on their midterm exam. Having that extra hour could be the difference in whether or not you and your spouse were able to spend quality time together communicating rather than arguing about something comparably minute. Having that extra 15 minutes to yourself could mean gathering and collecting yourself, separating work from home and feeling you could give the best of yourself to your family. Having that extra few minutes at the dinner table could mean planning a family activity for the weekend where you could be building memories together. You could be figuring out a way to cross a goal off your list instead of your goals remaining unplanned dreams. Your dreams could become a reality for you and then you would be living that quality life by design. Your dream circle doesn’t have to be a silly pin dot on a piece of paper. Your income circle could become your dream circle, IF you are ready to allow your excuse circle to shrink down to that silly dot on that pad of paper. Are you tired of struggling and your situation never changing? You do realize you are that part of the equation that must change FIRST? Only YOU can propel change for better or for worse. if you tired of beating your head up against the wall and are ready to make that change, YOU have to be the one to take that initiative. All you need to do is be willing to put one foot in front of the other. That change could be YOU, so lets focus on the start of a simple set of steps that can lead to a BIG change. Now that you are ready to focus and move forward, lets take one step at a time in reaching your solution. The topic I want to focus on with you is meal planning.
Lets take a look at your meals for the week and how you plan for them. Instead of your time telling you where to go, how about you tell it where its going with your everyday meals:
1) Is there food in your cupboard and the freezer? Is that extra trip to the grocery store necessary?: This sounds like a simple question, but it’s not always that simple. You might have ideas of meals you would like to try and prepare for your family, but there may be just that ‘one’ ingredient missing and you are feeling the need to go on a shopping trip. We all know, as soon as you hit that store, your one item that you ‘plan’ to shop for turns into an item of 5!!! You proceed to check out at the counter and realize, you really didn’t need those 5 ingredients, but there was probably a ‘sale’ you saw with a deal you thought you couldn’t beat. Better yet, you saw that same sale, looked in your wallet, and realized that you had a coupon where you could get ‘2 for the price of 1’ or ‘buy 6 and get the 7th item FREE’. Instead of spending what you thought was $3.00, you have now spent $20.00 worth on items you really didn’t ‘need’. That doesn’t sound like much, but that one extra trip to the grocery each week is $100.00 that you could have used towards a special family outing. Multiply that by 12, and that is money that you could have been applying towards that family vacation of yours. You have now delayed that vacation an extra 5 years because you thought YOU could not afford it!!!
Now, I want you to do me a small favor, go back and look in your freezer for a second. Go to your pantry door for a minute and look at the ingredients you have again. You probably see a couple packages of meat in your freezer, maybe it’s crammed full of items that with one other item from your pantry that you don’t have, you could have a well-planned meal. How do you KNOW you don’t have a meal? Are you ‘assuming’ because it wasn’t the meal you had in mind? Are you not sure of what ingredients to put with the other? A simple step you can follow to resolve that 2-3 times a week run to the grocery store, is by going online and exploring your resources. With Internet technology today, you can plan any sort of meal imaginable surrounded by the ingredients you already HAVE. You can do this by clicking on Internet explorer, typing in the ‘google’ search engine or better yet using ‘pinterest’ . There are all sorts of resources, ways, ideas, to use existing ingredients, this is a great way to explore your inner CREATIVITY that you maybe didn’t know you had in you!
2) Do you experience what I call, ‘the picky child syndrome’?: Do you have that one or two children in your house that don’t seem to want to eat what everyone else is having, so you find yourself making 2 & 3 meals to compensate for that one? Do you find when you do this your child(ren) still aren’t eating what is on their plate? The solution is simple, STOP giving your kids ‘choices’. The only reason they are not eating what is on their plate is because YOU allowed that to be an option. Instead, pick one meal that you will be fixing. Prepare the meal and serve it to each member. If your child refuses to eat what is on their plate, wrap it up, put it in the refrigerator, and save it to heat up at the next meal. When you are reading to fix the next meal, your child(ren) who did not eat the previous meal, will now have this same meal re-heated as the rest of your family enjoys the next meal. This may not seem ideal at first, but your child will learn that it is not about giving them options and YOU are the one in authority that they need to honor and respect, this includes what they are eating. This will teach your child(ren) to be thankful for the food that has been blessed and put forth on the table. This will also teach your children that you are not going to argue and justify with them ‘why’ they are being asked to eat the meal. This will also eliminate a guilt trip and your anger and frustration that isn’t necessary.
Your meal should not be up for discussion. You worked hard to provide that meal for them and you worked to prepare a place that could be a safe place, open for discussion. Eliminate the argument before it even happens. Diffuse the situation by turning it around and using this as a ‘lesson’ time to teach your children about other children across the world who are starving and are ‘hoping’ for a meal like yours. It’s time to step up an teach them the ‘value’ of a dollar, the ‘value’ of respecting and honoring you as a parent, and that it is ‘okay’ to not always have what we ‘want’ so long as our ‘needs’ are met.
3) When you do go shopping for groceries, how do you spend that time in the store?: In the time you have set aside to grocery shop, include in that time for an itemized list. The meals you have generated from looking online, look in your pantry and your refrigerator to ensure of what ingredients you have and do not have. IF you find that you do not have a ‘certain’ item, write that item on your list. This itemized list will go for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This list will be for work and school lunches as well. When you do arrive at the store, STICK to your list. Any item that is not on your list, DO NOT BUY IT, even if it is on SALE. Even if your child(ren) are bothering you to buy it, remember who is in control of the situation, YOU or them. Remember, you are asserting your authority as a parent.
4) Do you buy extra snacks as options in your house?: Are you a parent that buys ‘extra’ snacks for your child(ren)s lunches or for after school? That extra $15.00 dollars you spent on your last bill were probably on the ‘extras’ that you and the family thought you ‘had’ to have. Cut out the ‘extras’ as ‘options’. This goes back to that plate of food your child decided not to eat because they weren’t hungry or this wasn’t what ‘they’ had in mind. You will find ‘eliminating’ these extra options will ensure your child has a healthy appetite and eats what is on their plate. You will find that by doing this, that extra savings of not buying snacks can be applied towards your ‘fun’ budget in planning for that vacation! IF your child is hungry after school, the bag of apples you decided would work well in work and school lunches and also as a breakfast option, can be had as a snack. I guarantee you that bag of apples was bought at a fraction of the cost of your extras and is a much healthier option that promotes brain function especially while your child(ren) is doing their homework.
5) Do you allow your family CHOICES?: Choices aren’t a bad thing, but remember, you are trying to cut that extra ‘FAT’ and expenses out of your budget in planning for the vacation. This means getting serious about what items are in that cart. In breakfast alone, what options do you have lying in your cart that are able to be put back on the shelf? Do you find that you have 2-3 cereal options in your cart for the child(ren) to choose from? Do you have bacon and sausage to go along with the carton of eggs you just put in the cart? Do you find your kids going through the growth spurt so you put in 5 produce options to compensate? Wait remember, you are in a hurry in the morning, so it only made sense to put the instant waffles and pop-tarts in your cart for on the go breakfast. STOP, what are you teaching your child(ren)? Not only are you ENABLING options, but you are teaching them that rush, rush, rush is a good thing, that on the go is the way to go.
What are we really in a hurry for? What are we promoting to our kids? What are we teaching them about the value of nutrition and what they are putting in their bodies? How are they really functioning in school? Was your child caught by the teacher ‘dozing’ off in school and you are just now finding this in the notes section of their report card? This may have been due to all the processed sugars and ‘extra’ ingredients found in your ‘version’ of ‘on the go’ breakfast. It’s good to have a plan in place and to have breakfast foods for each meal per family member, but sticking to the parameters of the store and the necessary ingredients on your list means you are in control of what your family receives, you are in control of your finances, and you are in control of where your time is now going. This might be difficult at FIRST, but over time, you will be living in FREEDOM rather than bondage to your options and choices. You cannot serve in bondage and freedom at the same time. When you eat foods that are not right for your body they have negative and reverse ramifications, therefore, what I am saying is take control of the situation, YOU are the part of the equation propelling these changes for the better. Remember, you wanting to serve in EXCELLENCE being a good steward in ‘ALL’ areas, this includes what you ingest,
6) Do you have blocks of time during your weekend that are FREE? In between your child(ren)s game times and house cleaning, maybe you have an hour or two window that you could spend preparing and cooking meals with the ingredients you just purchased at the store. Simply put, take the extra time you do have set aside and make as many meals as possible. This works well if you have similar ingredients to cook and prepare at the same time. Focus on getting as much of the meal prepared ahead of time as possible. This doesn’t mean you have to cook it right then and there, but if you have ingredients that go together to make a soup, or a casserole, for example, cook the chicken ahead of time and save the stock (this works great for making yummy soups). Cut up all the vegetables ahead of time and put them in Tupperware or gallon zip lock bags to store in the freezer. You can even portion off the meals to make several meals worth of serving at a time. Doing this will even eliminate a meal for the following week, saving you on time and budget. When you are ready to serve that meal, you may season it and heat it up in oven for the allotted time.
Now I have shown you how to save money, eliminate stress, while having fun, and maximizing quality time with your family, while still yet, accomplishing your goals!!! For more information on how to be a good steward in applying these areas to your everyday life, visit www.danijohnson.com. Click on ‘products’, Click on ‘career, finance, & everyday life’. You can also, type in the search engine at the top, ‘time management, debt free’ any of these searches will give you strategic articles or tools to listen to that will guide you in these areas as well! Also, if you click on her events section, you will see the calls that our trainer, Dani Johnson has available to listen to as well as what event venues she will be speaking at next. Blessings my friends!!!