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7 ways to make eating at home a breeze

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Eating at home is tricky. I understand. I have to admit to you, we used to eat out a lot. Between work, family, and home sometimes planning and cooking meals is the LAST thing we want to think about. 

When we committed to using the baby steps to pay off all our debt, the first area of our spending we knew we needed to tackle was our food budget. We have used these percentages are a GUIDE to track our spending and pay down debt. At the time, we need to cut our food bill in half to stay afloat. Eating out was no longer an option. 

I"ll be honest. It was not easy. I had never made an actual meal plan before.

Did I mention I really didn’t know HOW to cook?

Ten years later, we try to eat at home 6 nights a week.

Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot along the way. I’ve made plenty of mistakes. I’ve cooked food nobody wanted to eat. I’ve blown the weekly food budget many times.

But eating at home can mean MANY different things to different families. What works for you neighbor or you friend or your mother-in-law might not work for you and THAT’S OKAY!

You have options.

So many options.

Do want works for you.

Here are 7 great options for eating at home. Try one or try them all! You can do it.

  1. BUY A MEAL PLAN

Some people just don't love meal planning. I'm one of those people. It takes time to dig out cookbooks or find pins on Pinterest. Then you have to make a list and add side dishes. Did I mention, you have to do this every week? 

I'm a big fan of buying meal plans. Each week you receive a meal plan, recipes, AND the shopping list in a single document. You simply print and go to the store. 

You can get meal plans for any dietary restrictions or preferences.

Most meal plans are just a few dollars per week. Even if your budget is tight, I would strongly encourage you to purchase a meal plan. It is worth it! 

Some of our favorite weekly meal planning services:

Emeals (they even have an Aldi specific plan)

PrepDish - Great for Paleo and Gluten Free Meal Plans

Eat at Home 

2. HAVE SOMEONE GROCERY SHOP FOR YOU

Maybe you don't mind making meal plans but you don't love grocery shopping. Let's face it , grocery shopping takes a lot of time! If your weekends are full of family time or house projects, who wants to make time to shop? 

Take advantage of grocery delivery or pickup. Many store now offer grocery delivery. It's easier than ever. Check with our local store. I heard Aldi is considering partnering with Instacart soon!

We recently tried Walmart pickup on vacation. I loved it. It was so easy. If you have a busy weekend planned, consider setting up grocery pickup instead of going to the store!

3. MEAL DELVIERY KITS

Another great option is the purchase a meal delivery kit. Sure, you will pay more for the food but for our family this is cheaper than eating out. When my husband's work schedule to hectic, I order a meal kit.

It is a life saver for me. 

You can pause weekly kits to fit your schedule. You can also select certain meals based on preference or allergies.

If you have teenagers, meal delivery kits are a great way to get them in the kitchen. The directions are perfect for beginning cooks. My older can kids make these meals while I am shuttling siblings around town!

It's a win for all of us.

Meal Kits to Try:

Blue Apron

Hello Fresh

Plated

Sun Basket

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4. FREEZER COOKING

Freezer cooking used to overwhelm me. I'm not one to spend an entire day prepping freezer meals. I don’t have the time for all that.

I few years ago I started doing smaller freezer cooking sessions. I’d double a batch of cookies or granola and freeze one. I’d buy double the ingredients for dinner and prep the extra food for another night that month.

I also started using FreezEasy a few years ago. It is perfect for busy people who need to prep easy delicious food fast! It is one of my favorite things.

FreezEasy is my go to for busy people who need healthy, fast, meals in your freezer. Erin's recipes are fantastic. She has shopping lists and recipes ready to print or save to your phone. It could not be easier. Find out more here.

5. INSTANT POT

I was skeptical at first, but I love my instant pot. If you are curious, we have this one.

Especially if you have kids in sports, this small appliance is worth it! Figuring out what to cook in the instant pot is tricky.

Here are my main go-to for instant pot recipes. 

Freezer in an Instant by Erin Chase

Pinterest. I love Pinterest. I created a board for all things Instant Pot here.

6. SLOW COOKER 

I still use my crockpot too! Your instant pot will pressure cook and slow cook, so technically you don't need both!

I love my crockpot during the winter for soups and stews. I love it during the summer when I don't want to heat up the kitchen from the oven! 

My go-to Slow Cooker receipes: 

FreezEasy 

Sidetracked Sarah Freezer to Slow Cooker Meal Plan

10 Aldi Slow Cooker recipes you can make in one hour 

7. START A SUNDAY PREP

Another great option is to do a weekly prep. Pull out your meal plan for week and prep all your food on the weekend.

Precut all your veggies. Slice and season your meat. Prep any lunch or breakfast items for the week. Basically reduce your time in the kitchen during the week by prepping it over the weekend.

I set a timer for one hour, divide my tasks amongst any kids hanging out in the kitchen, and get to work. 

I like to divide up all my tasks into the following categories:

  • Chopping (veggies, fruit, potatoes, etc.)

  • Meat. Slice and season meat. Place in baking dish with a lid.

  • Lunches. Bake or prep any quick-breads or protein needed for lunches this week.

  • Snacks. Lay out yogurts, string cheese, and hardboiled eggs for quick snacks.

Need more meal planning help? Check out my FREE resources.

 

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EASY DIY GARLAND 8 WAYS

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Holiday decor that looks stunning and fuss-free? That's my love language. 

I love to add handmade touches to our home and the Holiday season is no exception! I am absolutely in love with garland. You can make it 100 ways. 

We've curated the cutest, no-fuss, easy garland that you can actually make. Create a tradition around it. Involve your people. Garland is almost fool-proof. Even kids can join in on the fun! 

 Here our favorite easy DIY garland ideas.

1. BUTTON GARLAND

Buttons make the cutest garland! You probably have everything you need in your house. Round up some buttons and twine. Thread the twine through the button holes until you have the desired length. 

You can customize the colors of the buttons to match your style. Personally, I like all white but you could use red, green, or a combination of colors! 

SUPPLIES YOU WILL NEED:

BUTTONS

TWINE

Check out Jaclyn's cute tutorial for button garland here. 

2. FELT GARLAND 

You make just about anything with felt. It is such an affordable and adaptable medium to work with! Grab some sheets of cheap from the felt store and cut it into strips. Tie it onto twine in a knot. Repeat until you've reached your desired length. 

SUPPLIES YOU WILL NEED:

ASSORTED COLOR FELT

 TWINE

Check out Tell Love and Party for a full tutorial. 

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3. POM-POM 

It is no secret, I love pom-poms. It might be a problem. Pom-Pom garland is so easy to make. Mine cost me about $2 to make! You can customize it to fit any decor. I prefer white, but you can do ANY color. Grab a pom-pom maker and some yarn and let's get started!

See our full tutorial on DIY POM POM GARLAND HERE. 

SUPPLIES YOU'LL NEED:

YARN

POM POM MAKER

(OPTIONAL CROCHET HOOK)

 SOURCE: TARGET

SOURCE: TARGET

4. FELT BALL GARLAND

I love felt ball garland. Our inspiration for this came from Target a few years ago. You can make this at home to customize your decor. Heck, even your kids can help you make this garland! 

Simply string felt balls onto twine using a tapestry needle.  You could use natural twine or a colored twine. I prefer black and white for a great contrast. You can keep your felt balls close together or space them out. Continue to the desired length. 

SUPPLIES YOU WILL NEED:

FELT BALL IN DESIRED COLORS

TAPESTRY NEEDLE

TWINE

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5. WOOD BEAD GARLAND 

Wood bead garland is so easy to make. If you prefer a simple, farmhouse vibe purchase wooden beads. I prefer the natural unstained look but you can purchase your beads stained. OR if you like a more colorful option, purchase painted beads! 

CHECK OUT OUR FULL TUTORIAL HERE

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6. ORANGE SLICE GARLAND 

Dried orange slices make excellent, cheap garland!  You can string dried orange slices with twine or string. Simply take 2 or 3 oranges and slice them 1/4" to 1/2" thick. Pat dry.

Place them on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet and bake in your oven, 200 degrees for 5 to 6 hours. Turn and check them every hour.

If you don't have a cooling rack you can also cook on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper!

String with twine or cotton string. 

SUPPLIES YOU'LL NEED: 

2 ORANGES 

COOKIE SHEET +DRYING RACK

7. BEAD AND POM GARLAND 

How about pom-poms AND beads? My two favorite things in one garland? Check out Thistlewood Farms for a full tutorial

You can use our pom tutorial here. 

SUPPLIES YOU'LL NEED: 

POM POM MAKER

BEADS

TWINE

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8. PINECONE GARLAND

Yes, pinecones! The best part of pinecone garland is that you can put it up in October and keep it up all winter long! It transitions from Fall to Winter beautifully. 

Simply gather some pinecones at your local craft store. You'll also need some moss colored wire, from the wreath section of the craft store, and twine. How to Decorate gives a great tutorial on how to put your garland together. 

SUPPLIES YOU'LL NEED:

PINECONES

MOSS COLORED WIRE

TWINE


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