When Your Meal Plan Falls Apart

When Your Meal Plan Falls Apart {how to get back on track} | RaisingArrows.net

My menu plan pretty much crashed and burned the past few months.  We moved, and I lost my groove.

I told you several months ago how a solid menu plan is the backbone of your day. Well, let me tell you, having mine fall apart made this beyond clear! Without this “backbone”, I had one seriously loosey-goosey day, that turned into a week, that turned into a month plus!  It was a mess!

Sadly, this isn’t the first time my menu plan has fallen apart.  Every time we have some major life event, it seems my menu plan is the first thing to take a nosedive.  However, I’ve learned a few tricks for getting things back on track quickly, and today, I’d like to share those with you (cuz I’m guessing I’m not the only one with a messy meal plan. ;) )

The first thing I did was go back to a pantry list.  I already had an old one on hand from my Once a Month Shopping series.  I had to do some revamping to make it fit our current eating habits, but that didn’t take much.

Simplified DinnersSimplified Dinners is an ebook that operates off this same principle, only it takes it a step further and gives you a pantry full of foods that will make many different meals all from the same list.  All the recipes and instructions and lists are included in the book, making it a no-brainer (precisely what you need when your meal plan has fallen through, eh?)  Working from a pantry list is one of the quickest ways to get back on track without needing to think too much.  It bought me time I needed to keep working on unpacking the house and getting back in a routine.

A couple of weeks later, I had more time to think through meals, so I pulled out my planner pages and my little red index box full of tried and true recipes.  Everyone needs the equivalent of my red index box.  You should KNOW what meals are family favorites.  You should KNOW what your family will and will not eat and how often they will eat it.  These are your GO-TO meals.  Pulling from tried and true meals to create a meal plan takes a little more energy than a static pantry list where you just cook from whatever you have on hand, but it would be beneficial to eventually create a pantry list around your tried and true meals.  (When your meal plan has fallen apart may not be that time, though.)

I’ll be honest, during this time, Pinterest was calling my name.  It wanted me to come and try NEW recipes, but when you’ve fallen off track as badly as I had, experimenting from Pinterest is NOT the answer.  I needed to get back to business first…then, get creative.

It wasn’t too long before I was back to my regular menu planning, pulling from several different resources and being much more creative!  I have found that one of the fastest ways to get me back in the meal planning mood (because let’s face it, you HAVE to be in the mood), is to find inspiration from others.  Looking through websites, cookbooks, and ebooks are a great way to find your inspiration to jump back into meal planning.


This past week, I decided to start being even more proactive with my meal plan.  I decided to make a 4 week rotating schedule with grocery lists on the back to keep on hand for times when my menu plan falls apart.  This coupled with a solid pantry list should help to keep everyone in the house on track and eating well!

A Homemaker’s Dream Come True!

Get The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle--Hurry: Sale 6 Days Only!

This is hands-down the
for homemakers available!

{NOTE:  Read through the entire post – there is a lot here and I don’t want you to miss any of it!  And feel free to share this post with your friends or your husband so they get a good idea of what is included here.  Thanks, Amy}

I am always amazed by the quality of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. These are books I actually WANT and NEED!  Last year’s bundle was great – this year’s is just as wonderful!  My ebook, The Homemaker’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule, is one of only a handful that were included in last year’s sale.

Nearly ALL of the the books & resources are

You get ALL THIS in The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

I’m really excited to get my hands on The Sweeter Side of Candida!

The Sweeter Side of Candida

I’ve had my eye on this book ever since it came out!  It has 70 recipes of some of my favorite desserts with the sugar removed (which I desperately need), but at $14.95, I was having a hard time justifying the cost.  When I saw it was part of the bundle, it made it totally worth it for me!

Another part of the bundle I’m excited for is this bonus:

Making Herbs Simple Vol2

That’s right! You get Making Herbs Simple Volume 2 download for FREE!  Yippee!

to get the
 Ultimate eBook Collection on Homemaking
at a once-in-a-lifetime price.
This sale only lasts 6 days, so hurry!



I’m confident you won€™t find a more comprehensive set of homemaking resources anywhere — and certainly not at this price. Bought separately, they€™d cost a total of $698 (not including $200+ in bonuses!). But you can have all of them for just


Or, for just an extra $10, you not only get the full set of PDF files, but also a bonus set of Kindle editions, perfectly formatted for easy Kindle reading!

You can also purchase extra bundles for friends at discounted prices!  Buy 2 at regular price and a 3rd is FREE!  In the past, I’ve purchased these for friends as a way to bless them, this makes that an even sweeter deal!  No need for a special coupon, you will be asked if you want this deal at CHECKOUT.

This huge wealth of information and guidance will be right there on your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or Kindle, whenever you need it.

Here’s what you need to know about the sale:

When? 8 a.m. EST Wednesday, April 23 until 11:59 p.m. EST Monday, April 28

What? 78 eBooks, 2 eCourses, 2 audio files, and 2 printable packs PLUS over $200 worth of bonus products you’ll really use!

Where? Purchase the bundle here!

How much? Well now, that’s the best part. The entire package is worth nearly $900, and it’s selling for less than $30. Sweet deal, right?

Get ALL of these eBooks for 1 LOW Price! One Week Only!

What’s in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle? ($698 value!)

{You’re sure to find several resources you’ve been wanting!}

What are the Ultimate Homemaking Bonus Offers? ($200+ value)

bonus-imagesIn addition to all the amazing eResources, this bundle includes the best bonus offers it’s ever had. These deals are worth over six times the price of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. So you€™re up on the deal right away!

  1. DaySpring€”A FREE 10-pack of Premium Greeting Cards. ($20.00 Value. Standard shipping applies.)
  2. HopeInk€”$15 HopeInk store credit to be used towards anything + a FREE 8×10 Art Print with order. ($39.00 Value. Standard shipping applies.)
  3. Redeeming Beauty Mineral Makeup€”3 FREE eyeshadows of your choice from Redeeming Beauty. ($16.47 Value. Standard shipping applies – only ships to US and Canada.)
  4. Marie-Madeline Studio€”A $15 store credit for anything in Marie-Madeline Studio’s online store. ($15.00 value. Standard shipping applies.)
  5. Once a Month Meals€”A FREE One Month Pro Membership from Once a Month Meals. ($16.00 Value. No shipping required.)
  6. Dizolve€”FREE 64-load pack of Dizolve Laundry Strips for you PLUS a Free 64-load pack of Dizolve Laundry Strips for food banks. ($25.98 value. Standard shipping [$3] applies. Only ships in the US.)
  7. TrilLight Health€”Get a FREE 2 oz. bottle of a liquid health formula OR $15 store credit from Trilight Health. ($15.00 Value. Standard shipping rates apply.)
  8. ListPlanIt€”Free 3-month membership OR 3 free ePlanners from ListPlanIt. ($15.00 value. No shipping required.)
  9. Bulk Herb Store€”Instant download of the instructional video Making Herbs Simple Volume 2 for FREE from Bulk Herb Store. (up to a $15.00 Value. No shipping required.)
  10. Fit2B„¢ Studio€”FREE 2-Month Online Fitness Membership at Fit2B„¢ Studio. (up to a $20.00 Value. No shipping required.)


Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 8 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, April 23 to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, April 28th.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

The Motivation to Make a Home {Welcome Home Wednesday}

What is it that makes a woman happy to work in her home?

There are many factors and many answers to this question, but one thing that helps me to joyfully work in my home is when I have motivation and encouragement.  That was the whole reason behind the Welcome Home Wednesday Link Up – to bring motivation and encouragement to today’s Christian homemaker.

Well, I have a treat for you…

On April 23 (2 weeks from today) The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle will be released for 1 week only.  This is my favorite bundle of the year because the resources are so inspirational and practical, and cover ALL facets of homemaking.  Having these resources on hand MOTIVATE and ENCOURAGE me to joyfully make a home for my family.  They teach me to be a better wife and mother.  They focus my heart on Christ, and give me the energy to keep going.

I can’t share all the details of this bundle with you today, but I will tell you this bundle is AMAZING – from special opportunities to wonderful freebies and bonuses, to ebooks and ecourses that alone are worth more than the asking price of the entire bundle – this is something I would highly encourage you to put aside money for so you can snag the entire collection come April 23!  You will not be disappointed!

And now for the weekly encouragement found here at Raising Arrows…

**Last week’s #1 clicked post was “Do I Really Want to Be Alone?” from Just One Day at a Time.**

Now, it’s your turn! Link up as many as 3 posts from your blog and enjoy the other links left here!  {If reading via email, please click over to see the links and leave yours!}

Welcome Home Wednesdays
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.raisingarrows.net" title="Welcome Home Wednesdays"><img src="http://www.raisingarrows.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Welcome-Home-Button3.jpg" alt="Welcome Home Wednesdays" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Making Your Mealtimes More Leisurely

Leisurely MealsHaving kids sort of sucked the joy out of mealtime for me.  It meant no longer focusing on myself and my own food.  I now had the full time job of cutting up meat, cleaning up spills, and trying to have an adult conversation over the din of childish chatter.  The thought of having a leisurely meal was laughable, and rather discouraging to boot.

But several years ago, I was blessed to learn from another family what taking leisurely meals with a lot of little ones actually looked like.  It was like a ray of sunshine in my day!  I realized I really could have a wonderful mealtime with my family, but it would mean letting go of a few preconceived notions and a whole lot of anxiety.

A glimpse of Heaven…

When we sit down to fellowship over food with our family, we need to keep in mind that this is a foretaste of our fellowship in Heaven.  Things are not perfect here, but they can still give us an idea of what we can expect when we are truly Home.

Start the meal calmly…

It is so easy to start a meal with chaos.  It happens all the time here.  If we don’t all sit down together, take a deep breath, and thank the Lord for His provisions, we end up resembling pigs at a feed trough!  Don’t expect a meal to be leisurely if you don’t begin it that way.  And if it does begin in chaos, it is never too late (unless someone has left the table) to start over.  Have everyone put their forks down, take a deep breath, and begin anew.

Be aware of your surroundings…

Sometimes we forget to even look up from our food, let alone take the time to notice and engage the other people at the table.  When you eat with adults, conversation typically naturally flows, but it isn’t the norm at a table full of hungry little people and tired parents.  You have to make the effort to look up from your food and smile at everyone seated with you.  Start with the littlest one and work your way up.  Ask each child a question or simply smile at them.  This is the start to healthy dinner conversations.

Expect mishaps…

Because this is not a perfect world, we need to expect mishaps and be as prepared for them as we can be.  Have a towel handy for cleaning up spills, and try to take the attitude that the little mishaps in life are not something to dwell on and fuss over.  Remember, a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11) – in other words, speaking calmly and kindly when mishaps occur is a thing of priceless beauty.  Don’t let your words be ugly over something as minor as spilled drinks, dropped forks, and the like.

Learn to be still…

This isn’t just for wiggly little boys, this is for wiggly mamas who jump up and head off to the next thing on her list after wolfing down the last bite on her plate.  Train yourself to stay seated after you are finished, or better yet, slow down your eating altogether.  Give your brain a moment to relax.  Put your fork down, take a deep breath, and wait.  You might even want to bring a book to the table that you can use as a read-aloud at the end of the meal to help everyone stay in their seats and learn to be still during mealtime.

Feast & fellowship…

We don’t often think of eating with our family as a time of feasting and fellowship, but it truly is!  It is a time to reconnect after everyone has been about their own business during the day.  It is a time for you to share and for you to listen as others share about their day.  It should be fun!  It should be a celebration!

That’s where my free gift to you comes in…

FREE 33 Family Dinner Games | RaisingArrows.net

Our family has compiled 33 Family Dinner Games that don’t require a ton of forethought and preparation.  You can print out the list and instructions, and keep it handy in your dining room.  These 33 Family Dinner Games are FREE to subscribers of Raising Arrows and will be delivered to your inbox shortly after signing up so you can begin to enjoy your family mealtime tonight!

Get your Free Gift!

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Each game spans multiple ages and encourages an open and festive atmosphere for your meals!

Now, go and give those babies a big hug and kiss, do the same with your husband, and welcome them all to family mealtime tonight!

(Already a Raising Arrows subscriber? You’ll find the 33 Family Dinner Games on the Subscriber Freebie page!)

How to Keep the Kitchen Clean

How to Keep the Kitchen Clean (clear the clutter, get it clean, and keep it that way!) | RaisingArrows.net

Early on in our married life it became apparent a clean kitchen was not going to come naturally to me.  Even before I had children, I couldn’t seem to keep up with the kitchen work.  It was not uncommon for me to throw towels over the messes whenever company showed up unexpected.

It’s no wonder that FLYlady and A Slob Comes Clean start with learning to clean your kitchen.  It seems to be a common trouble spot for all struggling homemakers.  In fact, I think you can tell a lot about a homemaker’s skills based on her kitchen.  Ouch.

Honestly, I still don’t have an immaculate kitchen, but I have learned what it takes to clean a kitchen sufficiently and keep it that way.
{affiliate links included}

How to Keep a Kitchen Clean {clear the clutter, get it clean, & keep it that way!} | RaisingArrows.net

1. Reduce clutter

Clutter is the enemy of clean.  Keeping a kitchen clean depends on keeping a kitchen clutter free.  Because the kitchen tends to be the hub of a household, it also easily becomes the dumping ground for all sorts of stuff, i.e. clutter.  There are several ways you can reduce the clutter in the kitchen, but ultimately, this will be a never-ending battle.  Do not despair.  Follow these suggestions, and stick with it!

*Don’t use more dishes/pots/utensils to make a meal than you have to.  I’m a large family mom, so this has become painfully clear.  The more things you use to cook your meals, the more you have to clean!  For me, this means not only do I have all the dishes we eat off of to clean, but I also have all the dishes I cooked the meal with too.  That can easily become an overwhelming pile!  Learn to do more with less.  Serve in the pans you cooked in.  Make one-pot meals.

*Minimize what you have on hand.  Do not have every plate and cup you own stored in your kitchen because every plate and cup you own will end up on your counter.

If you’ve been reading Raising Arrows for any length of time, you know we are big fans of DrinkBands for this very purpose.

DrinkBandsWe stowed away most of our cups and kept only the cups with DrinkBands (and a few extras for guests) in our cupboards.  Each child has their own color DrinkBand so I know whose is whose and we can reduce the cup clutter.

You can do something similar with plates and silverware as well; however, I’ve found it is not nearly so daunting to have a lot of silverware.

*Keep your counters clear.  A few years ago, Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom wrote about how she keeps her kitchen counters clear.  I was inspired by that post, but at the time, I didn’t have the storage space to really make it work.  In our new house, I do, so I’ve been working at keeping my counters as clutter-free as possible.

*Don’t let the kitchen be a dumping ground.  I know this is easier said than done, but with a little concerted effort, you can make your kitchen a clutter-free zone.

Start by looking for the places people dump their clutter.
-Where do these things belong?
-Do they have a REAL home?
-WHY are they getting dumped there?

This is your starting point for ridding your kitchen of clutter.
-Do you need to retrain (or train) certain individuals?
-Do you need to create homes for the things that are getting dumped?
-Do you need to get rid of some things or find a better organization system?

2.  Clean as you cook.

I’m still not as good at this as I should be.  The concept is pretty simple, though.  The idea is to clean as you go.  Hot, soapy water in the sink is a great way to do this because you just throw things in as needed.  However, we use a lot of cast iron and stones which should not be in hot, soapy water.  These we save to the end after we’ve loaded the dishwasher and washed the knives.

And be sure to wipe down counters and appliances as you go too.  Dry, caked-on is typically MUCH harder to clean.  The only exception to this is bread dough.  I let my Bosch set until the dough is dry so I can easily dump the dried dough remains in the trash.

Keeping the Kitchen Clean Tip - let the dough dry in your Bosch, then dump the dough remains in the trash | RaisingArrows.netIt is also easier to clean up cooked pasta and rice if they have set just a bit to dry out.  This is especially true when it comes to sweeping the floor.  You’ll end up with mushy streaks if you don’t clean it up by hand or wait just a bit until it isn’t so mushy.

{Don’t forget to mix up a batch of my All-Natural All-Purpose Cleaner to have on hand!}

3.  Make a Kitchen Clean Up List & post it.

Our list looks like this:

Kitchen Chores List {helps to keep your cleaning on track} | RaisingArrows.net

{remember, your list will look different, but this is a starting point!}

It hangs on the wall where the individual Clean Teams can easily see it and follow it.  You may not have a clean-up crew of children, but if you struggle to keep your kitchen clean, YOU need a list to keep yourself on track the same way I need a list to keep my kiddos on track.  In fact, I regularly refer to the list when I’m doing clean-up duty to make sure I don’t inadvertently miss something.

The Kitchen Clean Up List is basically an orderly list you work through after each meal to ensure the kitchen gets back to a clean slate every time.  A clean-slate kitchen makes cooking a joy!

4.  Build an efficient kitchen.

This one takes time and patience, but has a nice pay-off in the end.  A kitchen needs to be efficient.  Items in your kitchen need to be organized in a logical manner.  Having recently moved, I find myself moving the things in my kitchen around frequently as I try to find my “kitchen groove.”  Utensiles, pots and pans, dishes and cups, plates and appliances all need to be where they are used the most.

If your kitchen is small, consider storing rarely used items elsewhere to give yourself more room.  Don’t make things difficult to access because if they are hard to get to, you are less likely to put them away.  Place things where they are most likely to save you steps, and place like items together.

5.  Be consistent.

Here is the key to the entire thing – consistency!  You have to WORK to keep the kitchen clean.  You have to clean the kitchen over and over and over.  It is not going to clean itself. You have to do the work (and enlist the help of others).  The more you work to be consistent, the more it will become second nature, and soon you will automatically do the work.  Autopilot is a very good thing!

One more piece of advice when it comes to cleaning your kitchen is to make it fun!  Build memories!  Cleaning a kitchen takes time, but turning on music, having meaningful conversations as you work alongside your children, or even cutting loose and being silly while you work will make the work more enjoyable.  Kitchens are natural memory-makers. Consider what memories you want that room to hold.

Want to have a little fun with us in the kitchen?  Here’s a taste of what our kitchen clean up  is like!

Looking for more Homemaking help? Click the icon below!
Homemaking Basics plain 500

A Birthday & Two Super Exclusive Discount Codes!

Blake and Megan

Today, is my first born’s 16th birthday!  Wow!  Where did the time go?  He is an amazing young man and we are so very proud of him.  Happy Birthday, Blake!

Remember how I told you a few weeks ago about my new household binder system that was entirely paperless?  Well, I have an awesome discount code for the ebook that taught me how to set it up (it was a HUGE lifesaver during the move!).

Paperless 125Not only can you get Paperless Home Organization for 40%, this code will work for ANY and ALL of Mystie Winckler’s products!

CODE:  raisingarrows
gives you 40% off:
Paperless Home Organization
GTD for Homemakers
and/or Simplified Dinners
{expires 3/1/14}


And I have another code from another company near and dear to our hearts – DrinkBands!  They are celebrating a milestone just like my son -whose DrinkBands color happens to be blue!

The Miller family has owned the company a whole year now and they are celebrating by offering Raising Arrows readers a super exclusive discount code!

CODE:  rafirstyear
gives you: 20% off
your entire DrinkBand order!
{expires 2/28/14}