Well, here we are in the middle of July and I am in full swing with Back to School planning and prepping. That means finishing up my house to-do's (can't wait to show ya'll what we have been up to), taking a clothing inventory for our upcoming fall thrifting, coordinating schedules with all our activities, making new goals for our family business- Flourish In Thyme and MEAL PLANNING. Last July I shared my strategy for planning a six month outlook, MEAL PLANNING ON STERIODS and it was such a blessings for us. For my first go at such a big project it was such a huge blessings for our busy family.

Along the way I took note of ways I could improve the process and incorporate those ideas into my next meal outlook. I'm definitely type A and have systems and organization in my blood, which is why I LOVE this kinda work.

I shared in great detail last year, but wanted to make sure to update y'all who have asked for this years outlook. Below are just to improvements to compliment last years post.

Step One: I gathered my recipes FIRST using all my favorite cookbooks, online recipes and good ol Pinterest. A sweet friend loaned me one of her favorite cookbooks once upon a time and I loved how she wrote in it to remind herself what she liked and didn't like about certain recipes. I just loved that and have been making love notes to my self in my cookbooks ever since. It makes it super easy to reference back when meal planning.  I run through my books and use a post-it to mark the ones we loved, making it easy to jump back to when I get to the next step.

Step Two: I used this cute lil template to type out my recipes.

Step Three: I created a calendar to help manage my meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Step Four: I started to fill in the calendar with birthdays and special events I knew in advance I would not be cooking for.

Step Five: I began filling in the rest of the menu with breakfasts and lunches, which are usually always on a two week rotation for the entire year. I am NOT a morning person and since we homeschool, I need all the time I can get to wake up and prepare my heart for the day. 

I do take into consideration what our days events look like when planning what we will eat. For example, Wednesday mornings we have bible study and are out the door fairly early so the meal is usually cold cereal. Knowing your families activity schedule will make this so much easier. 

Step Six: As I filled in the meals on the calendar, I color coordinated them with the recipe card template for easy reference and consistency. Red-breakfast, Yellow-beef, Pink-fish, Blue-chicken, Gray-Sides & Misc.  

Step Seven: Fill in dinners. I like to keep daily themes, such as Mondays are fish night, Tuesdays are beef and Fridays are ALWAYS pizza night. I have gathered enough meals to rotate them for the month every two weeks and then maybe once again a few months later as fill-ins. That means we eat the same meal every other week. I do this so that I can maximize our grocery budget and buy items in bulk for the month. This time, I decided to not fill in meals for the weekends because I like the freedom to have left overs or to treat ourselves to a family date. 

Step Eight: Laminate the calendar and recipe cards. This is totally not necessary but for the type A's- it is :)

Step Nine: Shopping list made simple. I have used all kinds of shopping list but never fit to my families needs...... so I made my own. Notice I made a space of young living products. I include all my oils and products in my grocery budget because they have replaced all our cleaners, beauty products, wellness regimen and nutritional support.

Step Ten: Refer back to MEAL PLANNING ON STEROIDS for details on snacks packing, the color coding system and how I incorporated cooking responsibilities with my kiddos.  

I hope this inspires you to make the most of your school year and avoid stressing about meal planning. I know we all don't have the time to sit and meal plan this extensively, so I would love to offer mine for $20.  I will include all the documents for your personal use which will include: recipe templates, 45 recipes (gluten-free, low glycemic, and some paleo/whole30 options), 12 month calendar template, 5 month meal schedule, and a shopping list template.

*Once I receive payment confirmation I will email you the complete set of documents.


I am always excited to share what I find to be helpful in our busy families schedule, and if you'd like to follow more of our little journey, follow me over on Instagram @heatherbuelow


Organizing with Intentional Gratitude: Managing your Follow-up

Over the last two months I have had the pleasure of sharing some of my deepest passions with a group of women whom I adore. The passion that has been woven into my every being and how I love to serve others. ORGANIZATION. When I was asked to share I was over the moon with excitement. I knew exactly what I wanted to share right down to the last detail. It's an area that most people get hung up on. "How to Organize your Business Follow-up". In the depths of a very detailed outline I shared one small piece of magic that has transformed the way I follow-up with the members of my business. For the most part we are wives, moms, sisters, friends, teachers, leaders and motivated entrepreneurs. The tricky part of all those roles is finding the space in your life to manage all these things and manage them well.

Follow-up is hard and requires organization in order to do it effectively. How do you know who to follow-up with if you have no plan? What one thing could you do to make a huge impact? Easy, become intentional with your gratitude by a simple gesture to capture the heart and loyalty of people in your organization using the lost art of sending snail mail.

It's the same routine, we grab the stack of mail and flip, flip, flip, bill, bill, pre-approved credit card, bill, pre-approved credit card and then, there it is, in all its glory: the Holy Grail of snail mail - the handwritten note. It's the real thing. Blue cursive writing, a familiar name in the upper left hand corner, and a genuine, US postage stamp!
You smile with anticipation as you slowly open the envelope and pull out the note card. It feels great. You can't really explain why - it just does. Technology and the speed of communication in the 21st century have made the personal note, a dying art. Most of us have to think really hard to remember the last time we got one. There is good news though. In this void, your simple, handwritten note will stand out.
Your customers will remember you. They will associate you with the good feeling they received when they pulled your note out of their stack of junk mail. With just a little extra effort, you can connect with future prospects, strengthen your business network, and build stronger personal relationships.                                         Cyndi Gundy 

So how do I do that? Snail Mail Organizer.
I picked up these photo boxes at IKEA, which happen to be the perfect size for greeting cards and other misc envelopes.

I looked high and low for sturdy dividers, but came up empty handed. Luckily I have a super creative friend who is a whiz on this AMAZING machine, Silhouette Cameo. I gave her the measurements, idea of the overall look and before you knew it she had made 240 tab dividers. Each box contained 12 dividers labeled for the months of the year. These divers can also easily be made by cutting card stock to fit as well. 

Here is exactly how I use my box.

I buy cards, stamps and even address the cards ahead of time. If these things are missing, its more likely I'll get busy with life and will decide to just skip sending them out.

I go through my calendar and figure out who I will be sending cards to this year and for what occasion. I then place them (addressed and stamped) in the appropriate month tab.

When I have a new member in my business I look through my follow-up outline and figure out when I will send out snail mail (that could be monthly, quarterly or yearly). Then I follow suit and place the card in the appropriate tab

Each month I go through the current stack of cards, fill them out, add something special and mail them.

There's nothing more simple and manageable in terms of keeping this all together and easy to access. No going back to my calendar, excel spreadsheet, online database..... I just pop open the box and go from there. I place this box in my office next to my out going mail bin. Its a visual reminder for me to be intentional. 

Such a simple way to show your members gratitude that they chose you.


Road Trip Activities

Road tripping with 7 girls =  lots of FUN. Our normal road trips usually consist of movies but I didn't want that for them. I was hoping for time these girls could fellowship and really be silly together. So what does everyone do when they need some inspiration...... you stalk Pinterest. 

Our drive was a little over three hours so surprise package were in order. The girls took turns opening them about every 45 mins. Talk about suspense and anticipation. It was so sweet to see how fun they made the countdown and how they delegated the responsibility of keeping time and opening the packages.

What was in the packages? Super simple activities to keep them entertained and spark some creativity and imagination.
  • pipe cleaners and tin foil- create something fun
  • individual jelly belly packs- make chart of the flavors you like and dislike
  • collection of Cd's- car dance party and singing competition
  • checkers and hang man travel games (target dollar spot)- friendly competition and strategic thinking
  • american girl quiz book- everyone got a turn to read the quizzes and learn about each others likes and dislikes

Of course they also needed cute lil travel survival bags. When I stopped to pick all the girls up we handed out the bags and set the rules...... only rules was that this had to be the "PARTY VAN".

Their survival bags included:
  • gift bag (target dollar spot)
  • pad of paper (target)- to doodle and use for the quiz games and jelly belly fnn
  • pencil (target dollar spot)- for obvious reasons
  • fun socks (found a pack of 7 at target)- so they all had something fun that matched and to keep their tootsies warm
  • glass bottles (target dollar spot)- keep them hydrated after the salty snacks
  • cloths pin so they could add their own special essential oil and either put in the vent or near them (target dollar spot)- to smell yummy and to keep everyone chill
  • trail mix- snacks... duh!
  • pringles

I packed a pitcher of water so they would be able to refill their  water and not have to buy drinks when we stopped. I also packed grocery sacks so they could keep their trash together (I'm even a neat freak in the car)

Let the party begin! Just me and the 7 girlies. 

Some of our fun.



You make all things NEW: Spring Thrift

This past weekend we opened the windows in the house and sat in awe of how beautiful the sounds were. They were the sounds we longed for over these last few months; the swishing of the curtains and the hustle of  kids playing outside. Something seemed so new. Our four girls are at that age now that they can ALL play and understand the unwritten code of sister play- ok maybe not all, but they're close.There is nothing more joyful than witnessing your little people dive into their imaginations and create new memories and experiences together. 
I saw this print and fell in love. It's so perfect! Stop over at The House of Wood for a free download of this beautiful print.

It feels like spring. 

That means only one thing........ time to pack away our parkas and keep an eye out for bright, happy spring outfits. 

Goodwill (Fond Du Lac, WI you never let me down)
Teal Kirra top $2.99
Brown Nine West heels $4.99

Savers (Olathe, KS)
Gray VeraWang purse $7.99

Grand Total $16.


DIY Gifts: Essential Oils

"Soaking in Truth: Relax & Release"
Glass Jar- Target Dollar Spot
Wooden label- Target Dollar Spot ( I always add a few drops of oil to use as a diffuser)
Himalayan Bath Salts- Be Naturally Prepared
Lavender Oil- Young Living (samples from the Premium Starter Kit

"When You Get Knocked Down,You Gotta Get Back Up"
Mug- Target housewares clearance (I stock up on mugs when they are crazy cheap)
Wooden label- Target Dollar Spot ( I always add a few drops of oil to use as a diffuser)
Kleenex- Target travel section
Green Tea- Find some good stuff
Sweet Treat- When your sick you don't care about anything else :)
Essential Oil Lip Balm- Made by a sweet Oily Friend 
Thieves Oil- Young Living (samples from the Premium Starter Kit

"Don't Sweat the Little Stuff"
Glass Bottle- Target Dollar Spot
Wooden label- Target Dollar Spot ( I always add a few drops of oil to use as a diffuser)
Protein Bar- OatMega (Target)
Ningxia Nitro- Young Living (FAVORITE energy booster)
Lemon Oil- Young Living (samples from the Premium Starter Kit

 "Coffee because ADULTING is hard"
Mug- Target housewares clearance (I stock up on mugs when they are crazy cheap)
Wooden label- Target Dollar Spot ( I always add a few drops of oil to use as a diffuser)
Sweet Treat- You pick
Coffee- Share your fav
Peppermint Oil- Young Living (samples from the Premium Starter Kit)


Jumping into Spring

The hubs was out of town and I had this fantastic idea to move our master bedroom night stands to the girls room, which then left me with TV trays as make shift night stands. That was def not going to fly with the hubs. He is super particular about the size, the height, the look..... (crazy!). So what do you do when you have an idea in your mind of what you want?????? You hit up the hot thrift store.

The mission was to find some night stands for our master bedroom and ended up coming home with this FULL outfit. What?!

Black Express Jumpsuit $12.99
Black Candies Strapy Shoes $7.99
Gold Bracklets $2
Cream & Gold VeraWang Purse $12.99

Total Outfit $34.98
Plus I donated a TON of bags so I received a 30% off coupon -$10.49

Grand Total $24.49


Let's Flourish in Thyme togetheer

I’m Heather, I’m chasing Jesus daily, adore my hubs, delight in being a mama to four precious girls, am learning about Gods obedience as I homeschool, can’t wait until I can scavenge through another thrift store, get giddy about organizing, am horrible with grammar, all things “white” = my love language, and I’m fighting through life with the Armor of God.

I have been a stay at home mom now for 8 years and this marks my 5th official year of homeschooling. I am learning through this journey that the Lord has big plans for our family. Plans to teach us about love, patience, contentment, deep gut wrenching heart ache, GRACE, integrity and OBEDIENCE.

I definitely don’t think it’s an accident you found me here. The beauty of this community is being able to speak abundant life into one another. I will be praying over each of you. Pray for me too. Pray that the intent of my heart remains pure and honest as I capture the mundane AND magnificent on my journey of building a family legacy; driven by Faith, given with love, shown by example and encouraged with experience.

I’m a crazy planner and wanted to really know what my goal was going to be for this life journal of our journey; in that process I was overwhelmed with these very specific ways it would impact others.

This would be a place to Educate & Influence
- All who visit me here would feel at home -you would wrestle with choices in your life, and find ways to incorporate something NEW. That you would have an open mind to impacting your health and wellness no matter how big or small it is. That God’s wisdom would be sprinkled throughout, and you would be willing to share my blog with people in your life.

This would be a place to Expose & Confide- As I share our life with you and the “inter-webs”, I will be honest and transparent; not only in sharing the abundant blessings, but also in the real struggles. That all of you who share in return, will know I will do my very best to protect your heart.

This would be a place to share Trials & Triumphs- You would see that we are all broken, but there is always places to find joy and God’s grace and mercies are REAL. You would see that we live in reality and not picture perfect (event though I try hard to make the messy look beautiful)

This would be a place to Nurture & Encourage- Many people don't understand that building a business as an entrepreneur comes with any struggles and battles with the enemy. Why am I sharing all this with you? We cannot fight the “enemy” of self-doubt, naysayers, strangers, or skeptics alone. The “enemy” wants to steal our joy, our passion, our ability and our confidence. The “enemy” wants us to question the possibility and to give up when things get tough.

When you support any MLM, you’re investing in those you love. You’re supporting your friend, neighbor, sister, or mom. You’re helping a little girl get gymnastic lessons, a family the freedom to homeschool, the opportunity to finish school, the immeasurable dream of time to pursue passions. When you support your friend/family, you are ultimately saying, “I believe in you, and your passion to pursue this business”. MLM= supporting local entrepreneurs.

Pray that I will continue to learn how to lead and help others and will continue to build strong relationships lined with integrity. This community is one of the most beautiful and unexpected blessings in my life - our team is truly like family.

That this would be a place to Expect & Fight- That our family would expect God to move - that He will do great things. We will expect to see hardships along the way, none of which are outside God’s hand. We will fight for our marriage, kids and family.

We live in reality not picture perfect and it’s a beautiful mess full of LOVE. 

Welcome to Flourish in Thyme!

Winner of the New Premium Starter Kit is.....

Winner: Free Premium Starter Kit from Heather Buelow on Vimeo.

Congratulations April Conley!!!!

We've gone paperless

I dislike clutter. I dislike the idea of junk drawers. I dislike holding onto TONS of papers and documents to one day MAYBE referencing them. I dislike that every few months I find myself trying to figure a better way to organize my darn papers and documents. Yes, I drive myself nuts thinking about stuff like this. It has been even more consuming being a homeschooling family with multiple kids. I have found over the past 4 years that we have accumulated a lot of papers. How do I know what to keep and what to toss? Goodness! I had purged so much that I was starting to regret some of the sweet treasures my girls have made over the years that were victim to my madness. In addition to our school work I despised the two giant, ugly, space taker filing cabinets we had in our basement office area. We kept all the important documents filed nicely and occasionally I would sift through and toss all "old" items. There was a point that I just never looked in them because so much was outdated and we no longer needed but didn't have time to overhaul the filing system. 
Picture two of these beasts side by side

So I set on a mission to go paperless. 
Step One: unload filing cabinets

 Step Two: Sort documents into a keep & shred pile

Step Three: decide on a small storage container for the documents I must have on hand, originals or can not be scanned. I found this small container from Target and worked perfect.

Step Four: Make storage container cute of course :)

 Step Five: Decide what to keep and file neatly

Step Six: Scan EVERYTHING else and file via Neat Scanner. This is a must have item!!!!!!!! No joke. 

 Step Seven: Shred like crazy (the kids loved this part)

I mean, how stink'n nice is it to have all your papers on your computer ready at any moment to be viewed, sent as a PDF or printed. There are probably a thousand more ways to use it, but for now that's all I have attempted. 

It was definitely time consuming to get everything scanned, filed and reviewed before I actually shredded the original documents, but in the end TOTALLY worth it. 

*** Can't wait to share how we've UP-CYCLED the ugly file cabinets***

Today & everyday HE is our new begining: 2015 Goals

hello 2015!
Do you ever just sit back in awe of how you have been blessed with such genuine, unique, honest and loyal friends and family? I ABSOLUTELY do! God knew exactly what my heart and soul would need in a spouse, children and friends in order to journey this time on earth with humility and conviction. He knew where I would be weak, times I would be weary and areas I would fall to sin. He put these people in my life with purpose and desire.
But take HEART I have overcome the world John 16:33
Today one of those friends spoke with fierce faith into my heart. Her words were encouraging and convicting which stirred my spirit to move.

Earlier this sweet friend connected with many of her "people" (as Jennie Allen calls them)to know our prayer requests and for us to hold her accountable to the upcoming year.  I began to fret about not having actually written my goals for friends and family to see and hold me accountable to. I read further through what was so intimidating to the assurance that all will be well with my soul also, if I too do not succeed in all my great desires and plans for 2015/rather life.

I have a long list of goals and changes I want to make.... To be a better child of God, wife, momma, friend and ME. As I thought through each detail with how I would actually put them into action I felt unworthy, a failure before I began, a fraud! God sees me and I fail to see HIM.

My 2015 will be focused on the LIGHT & DARKNESS. Seeing him in them both and being present with him in them all. I know this year like all the rest will be filled with pebbles and mountains that will require moving. Let it go {cue Frozen theme song}! Our journey is changing and it will be wonderful, straining, joyful and exciting. It will be God who holds us up through it all and provides strength when we feel weary and laughter when we feel complete joy.

Enough babble and self talk already. Here is what I wish to be held accountable to:
1.    Control- Let go more . Allow the girls to be kids . Not be slave to my schedule and my to-do list.
2.    Alone time- Make mornings my time with God ( I hate mornings so this is a big challenge but only realistic way to set my spirit and mind to be full of joy and ready for battle before the day begins).
3.    My body- Take care of it. Be consistent and committed to eating the way I feed the girls ( strict, clean diets). Stay active ( not necessarily to lose weight ((wont' hurt)) but feel good). Treat myself to feeling pretty (pay for a hair cut, paint my nails, buy non thrifted clothes occasionally) . Be attractive for my hubby and not just mom grubby.
4.    Contribute financially- Even though it's not needed I want to. Tithe that money. Enjoy what I do. Continue to pray on the idea of starting a referral organizing /de cluttering biz.
5.    Give - Be able to serve others with what I am passionate about... ORGANIZING. 
6.    Blog- I started it a year ago and have not done much with it. Silence the fear of my voice that consumes me each time I start to write open and honestly.
7.    Mentorship/ Friendship- I have had desires for so long to have a mutual life giving relationship that is encouraging , loyal, challenging and Christ centered. I have prayed but not stepped out in faith.
8.    Our home- Continue to use for His Kingdom( fellowship, connecting). I love to host and entertain. We have always loved to invite families into our home as a way to know them better... but we need to be more intentionally about reaching beyond our comfort zone.
9.    Text/ email less- Call and face to face more. 
10.My Hubs- Quality time. Creative ways to be connected without spending oodles of money on a sitter to do so. Give him my best even when I feel at my worst.
11.My Girlies - Be gentle, loving, encouraging and PRESENT. Give them my best again, even when I feel at my worst.
12.Family & Friends - Stay connected and honestly seek to pray for them. Be encouraging ,be life giving, and be ME. Let the burden of hurt in past friendships and the daunting feeling the influence others have on me and my relationships. Know it's not my place to judge and speculate . Forgive and move on for my sake.
13.Hobby- Work on my way way back logged scrap books
Well if that didn't just over load your mind, I hope you can ask me how it's going and remind me often that.... "the fresh grace and mercy I desire is mine every time the sun rises" (-she reads truth). It's not bound by a new calendar year to be turned. 

May blessings be showered in 2015 and valleys be filled with Faith & Friends

Meal planning on StErOiDs

Every year July seems to be so busy for our family. It’s the sweet spot of summer where our cheeks are sun-kissed from long days at the pool, our hair stinks of smoke from late night bonfires with neighbors {who mock my magical oil bug spray, but still always want to use it}, our home is filled with lots commotion as we connect with friends, our counters are consumed with school curriculum in excitement of the year, and our grocery bill is out of control because we are always on the go and have had no time to meal plan. Anybody with me on that?

I use the month of July for planning out our school curriculum, syncing our weekly schedules and updating household responsibilities. Each year proves to involve more of our time and resources- which is only to be expected when homeschooling multiple grades. As I started to look at all these things REALITY hit me. There is no way I can keep on top of our specific diet needs without a plan.

I am a planner. I like organization. I like things pretty. I like systems. I like challenging myself. I dream big. I am a doer. All these things are what make me tick. Literally! It certainly can be overwhelming and utterly exhausting just thinking about my long list of to-dos, but it’s exactly what I LOVE to do.

So, I began planning…

Planning big picture...

6 months ahead.

I have always meal planned. Like so many people, I have tried all kinds of different avenues of planning; monthly subscriptions, Pinterest, cook books, blogs and always end up coming back to the simple meals our family all enjoy. I easily get caught up in the "doing" and totally over complicate things while investing more time and effort into something that falls apart with in days, so I decided to make this process realistic for us.

This is going to seem OVER the TOP with detail but please know this is not intended to overwhelm you. It is the best way for me to explain how I do it. I hope you find a nugget or two and are able to use it in your family meal planning.
I am not going to lie in saying it was super quick. It was time consuming. I worked on this project for a week as I had time. The pay off of that time spent will be in the days, weeks & months to come knowing that I will NOT have to do this again. This will give me more time with my God, husband, girls, friends, and building relationships in my oily journey. Totally worth it in my opinion. 

Here we go.


Step 1: Use a calendar to map out your plan. {always have a rough draft to start}
Here is the super cute one that I used from Mrs. Prince and Co. monthly calendar printable . It goes perfect with my iheart organizing planner. planner

Step 2: Decide how often you want to rotate your meals. 
I am not a morning person at all, so our morning meals are NEVER grand or exciting. They are simple, healthy and quick. Same goes for lunch since we are usually knee deep in school at that time. For dinner we have decided that in order limit the waste of produce we would rotate the the same meals every other week each month. For example in the picture below we have Stir Fry listed on two Sundays. We eat the same dinner meal twice a month then move onto a new meal rotation the following month. {that sounds complicated but its not, just look at the picture below}

Another reason I wanted to rotate the meals this way is so that our oldest daughter, Bryten could continue working toward 'mastering" her abilities in the kitchen. About 2 years ago we decided that Bryten could start helping with family dinners. We let her choose one recipe and over a month or so she would make that meal once a week. Eventually she was able to make the entire meal start to finish with NO help and from memory. Memory isn't the goal, the goal really is to learn the skills needed to contribute to our family and to help teach her sisters to do the same. 

This has been such a blessing to our family and given Bryten such ownership. One day all four of our girls will be cooking side by side. When that day happens I know my heart will EXPLODE with thankfulness and joy for the time we have spent in the kitchen training and equipping them to nourish their body's and spirit with these skills. 

Step 3: Make a large list of the meals your family enjoys. 
I wrote them out in categories to make it easy. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner- Chicken, Beef, Seafood, and Meatless/Misc.

Step 4: Decide on a color code system (this will prove beneficial further on). 
Choose a color for each meal type. ie. beef recipes will be in blue. I heart sharpies so these are what I use in all my planning.

Step 5: Fill in days that you will not be cooking or have out of the norm meal plans
You will need to look at your family calendar and see what you all have going on over the next few months. Birthdays, take out, traveling, entertaining {love love love having people in my home, so this happens a TON}...

Step 6: Start filling in the calendar with breakfasts and lunches. 
When I put down a meal I always consider what we will be doing that day and how much time I can allot to preparing meals. We always have bible study on Wed mornings, so that means we will have a quick easy meal. 

Step 7: Based on your families schedule, fill in appropriate meals.
We ALWAYS have family night on Fridays which include homemade pizzas so that makes it easy to fill in. I'm weird like that and always have the same meat type on the same day of the week and usually try not to do back to back main meats.

Step 8: Gather your recipes {cookbooks, online, social media}

Step 9: Write out your recipes using a cute template like this one recipe cards

Go back to the colors you choose for your main dishes and write it out on the corresponding recipe card. Here is how I did it; pink-meatless or misc, light blue- beef, orange- chicken, and red- fish. I hand write my recipes but feel free to use something like PicMonkey to edit your cards.

Keep your families restrictions in mind when writing them out. I take this time to add in any substitutes that we need so that when my daughter or husband prepare the meal there is no guess work as to which ingredient to use.

Step 10: How to use the COLOR CODE SYSTEM- When it comes time for dinner prep, all you will need to do is look at the calendar see what meal you are making and the flip through your recipe cards looking for that color item. So easy and quick.

Step 11: I decided to laminate because, well I have little people with messy hands who like to help and I wanted these to last a LONG time. 

I plan to add to this collection over time. I used a ring to keep them together.

 I purchased a little metal basket from Office Max to hold these cards in because they can get to heavy for a magnet. You may want to just put in an old fashion recipe box, but keep it close to the menu.

Step 12: Keep it visible. Make a station. 
I laminated the monthly calendars as well so that we could use dry erase on them to make adjustments if needed. HEAR ME LOUD AND CLEAR... we are not slave to this plan and therefore have set the expectation that we will need to have grace and room for change. 

I dislike clutter. I like to keep things simple and visually pretty. Having "stuff" all over my counters would be so distracting for me, so I made a little station on the side of my refrigerator. Everything is in one spot. When the kids ask me whats for breakfast, I tell them to go look at the menu. My little ones love asking whats the dinner meal so they can help take that item out of the freezer if needed. Its so darn functional. 

Step 13: Make a master list of all the snack options you allow your family. 

Keeping this list handy helps eliminate the guess work and reduces impulse shopping. 

Step 14: Have a grocery list available for list making throughout the week. When its time to actually write my list for the meals, I take the calendar, recipe cards, list and sit and jot down what I all need. I usually will buy the items in bulk if I know I am using in more than one recipe. I use another Mrs. Prince and Co. printable for my lists grocery list

Plan to have at least one meal on the list that you can take to someone who could use it. Have a friend who recently had a baby, friend who has been sick or had an injury, someone struggling, or a just because I love you meal? 

After I shop for all my goodies, here is what I do almost immediately.

Step 15: Portion out snacks. 
If I do not do this, we will literally be our of snacks by day three. Once they know we have a fresh batch of yummy snack items they feel the need to eat them all as fast as possible. I implemented this little system a few weeks back and it has been AMAZING!!!! 

I can not keep my snacks in hands reach of my kiddos. They are like sneaky super spy's who find ways to distract me and grab a snack without permission. I use these baskets from the Dollar General for organizing all of my kitchen stuff. 
I use LOTS of zip lock bags. I'm ok with that because I know it's saving me money. I will often re-use any bags that did not have produce in it. The baskets below all are refrigerated snacks. The kids know that they must always ask for any snack item in a basket. The fruit in the drawers are free for snacking without permission. That would include apples, oranges, peaches, pears, plums and whatever seasonal tree fruit is out. 

These baskets go right into the refrigerator

Then I move to the snacks that will end up on the top of my refrigerator. Let me tell you, one bag of corn chips will last us well over a week now. Each bag is just the perfect amount for snacking. My husband has really like this system as well. 

My kids no longer dig in the cabinets for food. They know that all snacks are prepped and ready to go and must be asked for. We rarely eat processed or convenience foods, so our cabinets are always pretty bare. I am hoping to stock up on some staples as I am shopping more in bulk. 


Step 16: Don't stress about making your meal planning exactly like mine. Not everyone likes to get this detailed. I do, so that's what works for me. Do what works for you. Give your self GRACE. You will make mistakes in the process and that is OK. If one month seems more doable, do that.