Printable Thanksgiving Planner

Save time and get organized this Thanksgiving with this printable Thanksgiving planner. Seven pages included!

Hey there, friend. I hope you’re having an awesome November. Novembers are so hectic. I love the crackling fires and and brisk days. But as we approach Thanksgiving, it feels anything but calm in my house.

Several years ago, I took over the responsibility of hosting during the holidays. With two kids and all the other responsibilities on my plate, I always felt frazzled when it got close to Thanksgiving. So much to remember! So much to prepare for!

Thats why, I created this printable Thanksgiving planner to help me create my guest list and gather my recipes. I’m able to keep track of all my annual Autumn decor. I use the monthly calendar to space out my responsibilities so I’m not saving everything for the last minute.

printable thanksgiving planner

Planning Ahead

Here are my tips:

  • If you haven’t already decorated for Fall, you can do that in late October. I like to keep an inventory so I know if things get lost or broken. It forces me to look at every item and see if they are getting too raggedy. It also helps me see how much I really have so I don’t go crazy buying during every season. I make note of where I store it (I number my tubs) so I know exactly where to look to find it.
  • The first week of November, make your guest list and set your food budget. Give guests at least two weeks notice for an invitation. Three or four weeks is even better. Paper invitations are always more personal and elegant.
  • On the second week of November, I would start gathering recipes. Consider what entertainment or music you’ll have for guests. Order or create any table centerpieces.
  • The week of Thanksgiving, buy your groceries. Wash all your plates and dishes that have been sitting in storage.
  • If you’re using a formal dining room, consider setting your table the day before to save time.
  • Also the day before, you can bake your pies and do a lot of the prep work (like chopping) to help save time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day.

I hope my planner helps you get a handle on entertaining the way it has helped me. I’d love to hear about what things have helped you!

Here is What You Get

  • 2 Planner Covers or you can use them as signs to frame or hang.
  • A Party Planner sheet with guest list and menu
  • Decoration Inventory Worksheet to keep track of all your decor and where it is stored.
  • An undated monthly calendar to use year after year
  • A Recipe page
  • A Thanksgiving music playlist for your dinner party

Get Organized This Thanksgiving

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I hope you love your Printable Thanksgiving Planner! Thank you so much for supporting my blog. Your purchase helps me keep it going. Have a blessed holiday!

20 Life Hacks For Busy Moms

Life on the struggle bus is rough, but there are some things that can make life easier. Here are 20 life hacks for busy moms.

20 life hacks for busy moms

Hey there, mama! I feel how busy you are. There is so much to do and not enough hours in the day. We’re always looking for ways to save us time and energy. Am I right? So today, I’m sharing 20 things, small hints and tips that have helped me in the past. Maybe some of these aren’t new to you. If so, congratulations on figuring this stuff out before me! But if you’re a struggling mama like me maybe these things will help you get through the day. Here are 20 life hacks for busy moms.

20 Life Hacks for Busy Moms

1. Disposable Placemats

I was first introduced to these things at Chick-fil-A. Then I discovered Amazon sold these in packs. These were amazing for me as a busy mom, which suddenly create any surface in a clean eating space when I was on-the-go. (Yes, even at restaurants. I don’t trust the rags they use to wipe down tables). I’ve always stashed these in the car and diaper bag.

2. Online Grocery Ordering

I’m a Texas gal and we have the best supermarket ever, H-E-B. That said, their online grocery ordering system has literally changed my life. First, I find myself buying less because I can see how much I’m spending when I add stuff to the cart, but I found it also stopped a lot of impulsive buys. Lots of grocery stores are following suit and getting into the online ordering game. Even Target, Wal-mart, and Sams Club now offer curbside or online pick-up-in-store ordering. If you haven’t checked out Shipt, they offer a delivery service from stores in your area.

3. Norwex

Let me introduce you to your new best friend – Norwex. Norwex is a brand of green cleaning products. It’s the best cleaning product you’ll ever use. Best of all, all you need is water. NO CHEMICALS! The special silver infused microfiber is designed to pick up bacteria once and for all. You’ll never go back to Clorox wipes again! All the products are enviro friendly because they are reusable and sustainable. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars over the last two years because I’m no longer using toxic commercial cleaning chemicals around my family.

But hey, don’t take my word for it. Just check out some of the amazing demonstration videos on YouTube.

You can purchase Norwex through independent sales consultants, directly through their website or even through Amazon. This was a game changer, y’all! Here are some of my favorite Norwex products.

4. iRobot Roomba

I admit. I was skeptical when my husband first suggested getting one of these. Certainly, I thought it would do a terrible job and have no real suction power. Boy was I wrong. My hubby surprised me with one for Christmas a couple of years ago and let me tell you – it’s impressive!

As it vacuums your house, it learns the layout of your house and will become even more efficient the more you use it. It has a downloadable app where you can schedule cleaning. I love to set it when I leave the house with the kids. I come back and the house is vacuumed!It has a soft rubber all the way around so it won’t damage the bottom of furniture. In addition, it automatically adjusts it’s height so it can go from carpet to hard flooring without any problems! It even detects stairs and steps. Also, it moves around objects that it bumps into. It’s self-charging meaning it heads back to the docking station when the battery is low. For the mama who doesn’t have time to clean, this is worth every penny!

5. Command Hooks on The High Chair

All you have to do is apply a large command hook on the back of the high chair and hook your bibs so you always have them at hand when you’re serving your little one.

command hooks

6. Potty Pads

Potty training is so much fun, I can’t wait to do it again with baby #2. I lie. Potty training is a nightmare and I’d rather have my head sewn into the carpet than do that again. That said, I found something that really helped. One of the hardest things to do is to get your toddler to stay seated on the potty. They don’t want to sit still and you’ll resort to anything, including bribery to get them to stay seated. That said, accidents happen.

I can’t count how many accidents we had early on. From standing up too early to simply not telling me when he needed to go, we had lots of pee accidents on our floors. Trust me, after you’ve mopped the floor for the fifth time in one day, these things will look awesome to you. It saves your furniture from urine and from you mopping all day long. Puppy training pads. Just put them under your toddler to catch accidents without all the awful clean up.

7. The Instant Pot

Maybe you’ve heard of the Instant Pot and don’t know what it is. Well, let me introduce this amazing whatchamacallit to you. It’s basically an electric pressure cooker and pressure cookers allow you to cook food very quickly and efficiently. It’s like if a microwave and a slow cooker had a baby. You get the amazing tenderness of a slow cooker, but 2 to 10 times faster than a conventional oven. Unlike a microwave it doesn’t dry out food or make it hard. What is really nice is it’s programable so you’re cooking things properly. Most of them also function as a slow cooker or just keep things warm as well.

If you’re looking for great recipes, take a look at my Pinterest board filled with loads of Instapot recipes.

8. Freezer Meals

I did this when I had my first baby and I’ve been doing it ever since. Freezer meals! There are lots of casseroles and dump dinners you can freeze and dump into the oven or crockpot on a busy night where you don’t have time for a lot of kitchen prep. Instead of eating out, you can still offer your family a home cooked meal. A lot of times when I make things like chicken pot pie, lasagna or enchiladas, I make two batches. One for that night and one to freeze. I can’t tell you how many nights they come in handy.

Take a look at my Pinterest board for ideas on Freezer meals.

9. Amazon Subscribe & Save

Make life easier with Amazon subscribe and save. If you are an Amazon Prime customer, this makes a lot of sense to do. You can automatically set up regular subscriptions to things you use all the time. Things like paper towels, toilet paper, Goldfish crackers, diapers, wipes, coffee pods, etc can be delivered right to your door on a schedule. Setting this can up saves you both time and money. Lighten your grocery load and let Amazon do some of the work for you!

10. Restaurant Busy Bag

Please tell me I’m not the only mamas whose kids suddenly decide to get fussy, moody, and full of energy any time we decide to have a nice dinner out at a restaurant. With my oldest son we struggled to enjoy dinners out. Then I decided to create a restaurant busy bag. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of busy bags. its just a bag you have full of small toys or activities that keep your kid busy by themselves. So I made one just for eating out and it was a life saver. You can see how I made ours here.

how to make a restaurant busy bag

11. Pacifier Clips

My oldest was so addicted to his pacifier. These things are so gross. They fall between seats, on the floor, etc. They get so dirty and you are constantly washing them off. Did I mention they get lost? Like all the time. But I found something that really helped. Pacifier clips. These little things helped us so much and minimized all the washing and hunting for pacifiers.

12. Door Latch Cover

There are times when you might need to check on your little one face to face instead of using a monitor. I don’t know why, but my boys would immediately startle themselves awake no matter how quiet I was turning the door knob. Before the door was open they’d be standing at attention at the end of the crib. So much for the rest of nap time! That’s where these door latch covers are a godsend. Hook it to both door knobs and it holds the latch back so the door makes no sound when it’s opened!

13. Car Seat Lap Table

Okay, I found this when my son was about 2 ½ and it was a game changer for us on our road trips. This handy dandy disk straps around the car seat to turn it into a portable table. This was great for keeping his little hands busy. He could play, color, and eat in the car all without ever leaving his seat. If you spend a lot of time on the road, I can’t recommend it enough.

14. The Potette

One of the most nerve wracking things when you first potty train your little one is being on the road for a long period of time without a potty. Suddenly trips across town or road trips seem impossible. That is where the lovely Potette comes in handy. This awesome potty chair is completely portable. This is great for storing in your car for potty emergencies. Best of all, it comes with disposable liners. So you can throw their “business” in a trashcan when they are done. It’s a lifesaver on long road trips.

15. Rubber Band Baby Proofing

I too have spend lots of money on baby proofing products, but I’ve also learned that having some spare hair ties or rubber bands around is super useful. Slip rubber bands around cabinet knobs and other things so your baby can’t open it. My favorite use? For toilet paper. It makes is harder for them to unravel the roll.

toilet paper

16. Mattress Pad & Sheet Layering

I don’t know what mama came up with this one, but I could kiss her. I can’t even remember where I saw this, but early in my mom journey I came across this nifty little bedding trick. You layer your baby’s crib mattress with a crib sheet, then a waterproof mattress protector then another fitted crib sheet. If you have a terrible poop-splosion or vomiting in the middle of the night, you can whip these off in the dark and have clean sheet ready in a flash without having to turn on lights and wake your child up further.

17. Pacifier Medicine Dispenser

My little one hated taking medicine, but then who could blame him. Most baby and toddler medication comes with this syringe and you awkwardly squirt it into their mouth. It was always a fight until I found this. This is just an ordinary pacifier except it has a vial to dispense medication through it so it isn’t a traumatizing syringe. For mamas who are at their wits end, this might help. It did for us.

18. Mess Free Baby Art

I did this with both my kids when they were around a year old. Put a piece of paper in a large gallon zip lock bag. Squirt some tempera paint and close up the bag. Tape it to the high chair and let your little one smear it and mix it within the bag. I used to love doing this activity when I was busy making dinner. It kept my little one occupied and bought me a few minutes and I didn’t have to worry about a mess to clean up.

19. The Yeti

I’m an avid coffee drinker. Since I’ve been a mom, the Yeti has been awesome. First, as a mom, you rarely get to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee while it is still hot. But now you can keep it warm even if it takes you a while to drink it. The Yeti is the best hot thermos I’ve found. But here is the clincher! I’ve also used it to keep water warm for formula feeding and I’ve even kept chicken nuggets warm for my kiddo while we were out of the house. The Yeti is great!

20. Keep Your Fridge Clean with Bins

I’m gonna share a secret. I’ve finally figured out how to keep my fridge clean. I use bins. How many times have you opened up the fridge to discover something has dripped all over the fridge? It’s over all the shelves and somehow manages to find its way all the way under the veggie and fruit bins. Suddenly, everything has to come out and you are washing every crevice with hot soapy water.

I found these bins. Not only do they keep all my food grouped and organized but if anything spills it catches it in the little bin instead of escaping all over the fridge. Here is a sneak peek into my own fridge. It cuts down on how often I need to remove, soak and scrub the shelves and drawers.

That’s it. 20 Life Hacks for Busy Moms. I’d love to hear about the things that have helped you. Have you learned any tricks? Don’t forget to PIN this post or share with a mama who needs it!

How to Make a Restaurant Busy Bag

Has going out to dinner become a nightmare? Here is how to make a restaurant busy bag to tame your toddler while they wait for food.

how to make a restaurant busy bag

I remember when our oldest son was around one. Something changed. Going out to dinner started to get difficult. He knew being at a table meant yummy food was coming. By the time he was 18 months he was really getting cranky at restaurants. So, I came up with something that ended up being a life saver! A restaurant busy bag!

Its a bag filled with the necessary things like bibs, utensils, placemats, etc. Plus it had things to keep my little boys busy while we wait for food. I even kept a couple of snacks in there so in case they were inconsolable, I had something to keep their hunger at bay. Hey, mamas gotta do what mamas gotta do!

The Bag

All you need is carry style bag that has some compartments. A hanging cosmetic bag actually works really well for this purpose. See my examples below.

Items to Add

Here is a list of some of the things I put in our busy bag. You certainly don’t have to copy me. These are just ideas for you.

  • Mini slinky
  • Crayons
  • Coloring book
  • Card Game
  • Little People / Toy Figures
  • Hot Wheels
  • Small dinosaurs
  • Board book
  • Mess Free Color Kits
  • Travel games
  • Bib
  • Disposable Placemats
  • Clorox Wipes / Wet Ones
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Kid Utensils
  • Stain treatment
  • Snacks

I always keep some disposable placemats and bibs in the busy bag. I never understood why some restaurants bought hot plates to the kids. Also if you are like me and you don’t trust the rags they wipe down tables with…then this is for you! I also kept some kids utensils since my little ones struggled with adult sized ones. In addition, I kept some Clorox wipes or Wet Ones to wipe their hands or surfaces. I even kept a couple of stain remover wipes because accidents happen!

The rest is for them to keep their little hands busy. Really as long as it fits, you can bring it with you in the bag.

I always kept this in our car so it was ready to go. It was so nice when my boys no longer whined and fussed at restaurants. Now they have a distraction. Over time, kids will learn how to sit still and patiently wait at a restaurant. But until then, I hope this idea helps you like it helped us.

Thanks for Reading

Don’t forget to PIN this post for later and please subscribe to my blog before you leave! Looking for other things to do with your kids? Take a look at Usborne Magic Painting Christmas Cards and Fun Holidays to Celebrate With Your Kids.

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Radiate Positivity Plan With Me

The Happy Planner has a new summer release coming to Michaels stores this summer. Let me show you how to use in this Radiate Positivity Plan With Me.

radiate positivity plan with me

Hey friend and welcome back! I love it when the Happy Planner comes out with new accessories. This summer, we’ve had so much Happy hit stores. First we had the Back to School release with both student and teacher planners and accessories. Then we had a whole new summer release of an all new Color Story as well as two main themes Radiate Positivity and Womankind.

Today, I’m doing an all new Plan With Me with a new sticker book, Radiate Positivity. Me and My Big Ideas (MAMBI) surprised us this summer with an all new release of planner accessories exclusively to Michaels stores.

Also, if you haven’t seen it they’ve also come out with these awesome Block Paper Pads (9.99). They are classic sized and ready to tear off and punch for your planner. All the block paper pads come with 100 sheets!

Supplies

You can purchase it at Michaels Stores or on the MAMBI shop. Michaels runs regular sales, but remember you can always get 40% off one regular price item by using the Michaels app.

Here is flip through of the value pack sticker book before we get started.

Radiate Positivity Plan With Me

Why tell when you can show? Here is how I used to two books in my vertical weekly spread of my classic Happy Planner ®.

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Printable Back to School Signs

School time is upon us! Memorialize you child’s first day of school with these cute printable back to school signs.

Back to School Signs

Wow! Can you believe we are in August? It’s hard to believe that summer vacation is coming to an end and our little ones are going to heading back to school. I’ll be honest. We didn’t do much this summer. It was just so hot here in Texas. Also, with all the uncertainty we had with our job loss and moving life just kind of got put on hold.

We are homeschooling this year and I can’t wait to start preschool with my little guy. I know most kids are heading back to school in August and what better way to start than to memorialize their first day of school.

Printable Back to School Signs

That’s why I created some printable back to school signs. I’ve made one from tot school (2-3 years), preschool, kindergarten, and from first to eighth grade. I’ve also included a “Back to School” signs that don’t include grade years. These are great if you don’t want to disclose which grade your child is in or if you want your non school age children to participate with their siblings in the photos.

You can get all 12 signs for just $5.

You can purchase it through my Etsy shop or through my shop here on the blog. All you have to do is print them out one your home computer or at a print shop and have your child hold the sign while you snap some photos. The signs are sized for 8.5 x 11.”

Purchase Your Printable Back to School Signs Here

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Before You Go

Before you leave, don’t forget to check out some of my FREE printables. Also, be sure to subscribe to my blog for free printables sent directly to your inbox.

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12 Tips For Happy Planner Newbies

So you bought your first decorative planner! If you are new to the decorative planning world, I’m proving 12 tips for Happy planner newbies.

12 Tips for Happy Planner Newbies

12 Tips for happy planner newbies

Make It Your Own

There are no “rules” when it comes to using your planner. These days there are literally hundreds of Facebook groups and thousands of Instagram feeds with beautifully curated spreads. Ultimately, your planner should reflect you and your personality. It should be functional and actually help you get organized. It’s okay if your handwriting is terrible or if things are crossed out or highlighted. Your planner is yours and no one else’s! Don’t copy or compare yourself. Find your own planner “voice.”

Start Slowly

Confession time: I own every sticker book made by The Happy Planner ®. In fact, I even have duplicates. But then, I’ve been a Happy Planner since 2015. I’ve had a long time to acquire them. When you first get your planner it’s tempting to go a little overboard and buy every sticker book and accessory on the market. But I can tell you, it gets overwhelming for a lot of newbies. Most sticker books have around 1,000 stickers in them. Some people are overwhelmed by spending time flipping around sticker books looking for that one sticker they want. Start slowly. Buy two or three sticker books to start with. You can build your collection slowly (if you choose) over time.

Find Planner Peace

With the October release last year, I was so excited to get the Super Mom planner. After all, I’m a stay-at-home-mom, right? I should rock this thing! Until then, I had always used a vertical planner. This planner was a dashboard layout, meaning it grouped tasks into categories for you like errands, shopping lists, phone calls, etc. Four months into it and I couldn’t make it work. I struggled to decorate it. Then I suddenly realized I needed things by the day, not by the task. I went back to my vertical planner. The one that was tried and true. My point is, don’t be afraid to change what’s not working for you. Don’t hold onto it because you spent money or invested time into it. If something is stopping you from enjoying your planner or staying organized, switch things up. Find what works for you.

Decorating on a Budget

No one says you have to fill up your page with stickers. Some people use washi tape, highlighters, and markers to decorate. Washi tape is a Japanese masking tape. It’s colorful, but it’s also very inexpensive for how much you get on a roll. It comes in all different thickness and some even come with foiled metallic designs or glitter. This makes it a very inexpensive decorating option. When first buying washi tape, I recommend starting with basic colors. The Happy Planner has their own washi tape which coordinates well with a lot of their stickers. But Michaels, Joann, and Hobby Lobby all sell tubes and single rolls of washi tape.

Washi tape
Photo by Mary Lentz

Decorating Ahead

I love to decorate 3-4 weeks ahead. I basically plan for the current month. This is easy to do since my life is very routine oriented. But for some people, they’re a little fearful about planning in advance. Others like to stay within the current week because their decorating corresponds with their current mood. That’s fine. As I said earlier, your planner is yours. However, your planner is also supposed to be functional. One thing that helped me, is using sticky notes as placeholders for future events. If you are worried about plans changing between now and a future event, sticky notes are a great solution. If something changes, you can easily remove or adjust without losing any real estate on your planner.

Scheduling Planner Time

Using a planner is about creating a habit. For people who have never used a planner before, it might be hard to remember to open it up. I recommend scheduling time to plan. For me, I make time on the weekend, typically on a Sunday. I sit down decorate and go over all my goals, appointments and tasks I need to get done. I found I have to prioritize planner time. That sounds silly, doesn’t it, but it’s true. Making time to plan has to be just as important as an appointment or anything else I have to remember. I’ve also found that it helps to keep it open on my workspace. For me as a stay-at-home mom, it’s my kitchen. I keep it open on the counter and refer back to it all day long to make sure I accomplish things.

I Bought A New Planner But I Can’t Use it Yet

So perhaps you purchased a planner, but it doesn’t begin until July or January. Fear not, if this is a classic planner, you can buy a monthly extension pack to start right away. The extension pack is available in the classic vertical and in the hourly formats. The pack comes with six months of undated sheets (date stickers included).

Do I Need More Than One Planner

Technically, no you don’t. The beauty of the Happy Planner is that you can do everything from one planner. Wellness, fitness, budgeting, faith (bible study) can all be done from your planner by using stickers as your guide. However, there are definitely people, myself included that prefer more in-depth planner help.

For example, I own a Wellness planner. I really needed some self-care after giving birth to my son. I use it to schedule me time, things that bring me joy, and even use it as a journal to pen thoughts and work through emotions. If you want a look on how to use it, see my post How to Use the Wellness Happy Planner. Truth be told, I own 5 planners that I use on a regular basis. (One to run this blog, my everyday, my teacher planner, my wellness and my faith planner which I use for bible study.) Other people want a large focus on fitness or budgeting. If that’s the case, there are options for you, but it certainly isn’t necessary.

Wellness planner

Dashboards

I’m a little surprised by this one, but I often hear, “what are dashboards and how do I use them? Dashboards are effectively bookmarks. They are placeholders you can use to easily flip to your monthly or weekly spread. One thing, I also like to use it for is sticky notes! I love to place sticky notes on them as little reminders for things that don’t actually need to go in my planner. I know some people use it as a dry erase board. The choice is yours.

Dry Erase Boards

Which leads us to the next topic. Over the last year, the Happy Planner (MAMBI) has come out with dry erase inserts. Lots of people love the idea. I picked up as many as I could find. However, after they first came out with it, people complained that the dry erase smudged from opening and closing the planner. I highly recommend using wet erase markers like Vis-a-Vis.

New Releases

I always get asked, “when does Happy Planner come out with new product?” The Happy Planner actually has a pretty easy schedule to follow. The new year for Happy Planner actually begins in the fall, normally October. This is when the Happy Planners for the upcoming year start hitting store shelves. In the Spring, often around March or April, there is another release of sticker books, accessories and 18-month planners. These planners begin in July and continue from January to December of the next year. Later in the summer, the Teacher and Student planners and accessories are released. In between the seasonal releases, Happy Planner has started to release few other limited edition releases such as the Be Happy Box.

Planner spread

What Is the Happy Planner Squad

The Happy Planner Squad is a group of Happy Planner enthusiasts (fans like you and me). Using their Instagram accounts, they promote Happy Planner products by illustrating their designs and ways they use Happy Planner in their every day life. These ambassadors are hand selected by the MAMBI (Me and My Big Ideas – makers of the Happy Planner) team. Once a year, they accept submissions and the rules and guidelines will be on the Happy Planner site. All are encouraged to apply, but competition is fierce. Currently, the ambassadorship commitment is one calendar year.

Before You Go

Don’t forget to PIN this post, 12 Planner Tips for Happy Planner Newbies, for later or share it with a fellow newbie. Also, don’t forget to check out my other Happy Planner posts:

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8 Ways To Menu Plan With Happy Planner

Girl, Happy Planner makes menu planning fun. At the very least, you won’t mind doing it! Today I’m going to show you 8 Ways to Menu Plan with Happy Planner. You can thank me later.

8 ways to menu plan with happy planner

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Hey there and welcome! Today we’re going to talk about menu planning. No wait, don’t go! I have good news. Happy Planner makes it fun. If you don’t know about Happy Planner, make sure you read my post How Happy Planner Changed My Life.

Now we aren’t going to get into how to create menu plans, as in how to choose which meals to rotate. I actually discuss that in another post. If you haven’t read my post, Easy Menu Planning, go read it. Go on, we’ll wait for you.

Today we’re just going to chat about how to record your menu plans. So I’m going to show you 8 ways to menu plan with your Happy Planner.

Ways to Menu Plan With Happy Planner

Menu Planner Half Sheets

Okay, you may even wonder why I bring this up. Chances are if you’ve been using Happy Planner ®, you’ve been using these forever. Well, I’m sharing it because there are still a bunch of newbs out there! Every day, Happy Planner converts more people into the obsessive, creative planning world. That’s right, come to the dark side…we have stickers! God knows I have converted more than 30 friends and acquaintances.

In all seriousness though, I’m writing this first idea for the planner newbie who isn’t sure about the basics. Happy Planner actually makes half sheets that are specifically for meal planning. On one side are the days of the week. The reverse side has a grocery list. Super. Easy.

Whether you are doing a online grocery order or heading out to a bricks and mortar store, this will save you time. A piece of advice: splurge on the Food Value Sticker Book. It will make menu planning extra fun!

ways to menu plan with happy planner

The Weekly Spread

This is probably one of the more popular ways. This is how I used to record my meal plans until I was more selective about my weekly planner space. It doesn’t matter what layout you have, there are stickers for every need and every space. Can I get a Hallelujah?!

Also, don’t rule out the power of the dash board. I love using it to write sticky notes to myself. Additionally, the Happy Planner came out with a meal planning coordinating pack and clear stamps.

Menu Plan Weekly Spread

Household Extension Pack

Back in the old days, one of the first extension packs was the Household Extension packs. I loved it and helped me keep my chores done so I could sip wine and have a bubble bath instead of folding clothes at the end of the day. #WINNING

Then, like always Happy Planner outdesigned themselves and came out with an updated version of the Household Extension Pack.

It includes:

  • Chores
  • Menu Planning
  • Budget
  • Projects

On the front you have all seven days of the week with a side-by-side grocery list. On the back, the grocery list continues as well as a planning section for snacks and quick bites. It also includes an area for meal prep or for a recipe. I love this section for writing down recipes so I don’t have to search for it on Pinterest when I’m trying to make it on a school night.

Menu Planning extension pack

Monthly Spread

Wait…the monthly spread? Hear me out, girl. I know planning a month at a time scares the bejeezus out of you. Let me tell you, you can actually save money by doing so. You can include staples over the month so things like Costco and Sam’s Club make sense. You can plan to actually use leftovers. I know what you’re thinking. What if my plans change?

Monthly spread menu planning

If you’re really freaked out by planning so far in advance, don’t. You can fill it in a week at a time. Also, don’t forget about those super cute Happy Planner post-its. Like the ones you’ve been stashing away in your craft cart? Come on, girl. Use them! Post its are great for things that you don’t want to memorialize (e.g. like concrete) in your planner. If plans change you can easily move it to another day. Also, if plans fall through completely, simply throw it away and you haven’t lost any prime real estate on your planner. I always use post its for plans that are tentative. You’re welcome.

Daily Half Sheets

My next suggestion is to use any weekly half sheet. What?? Like the ones that just have the days of the week on them? Yup, those! They can capture any schedule you choose, including your dining schedule! Again, it’s up to you if you plan on capturing all three meals or just dinner plans.

Below, is a picture of one of my actual menu schedules. As you can see, it’s very easy to use. Just don’t judge me for having Tuna on Rye twice. I love it.

Menu Planning with Daily Schedule

Sidebar

One of the simplest, yet best features in a Happy Planner is the sidebar. The sidebar can be used for so many things, but personally, I love using it for lists. Enter…menu planning. That’s right, girl. Just go ahead and park that sweet little menu plan in that parking spot. It makes it easy to refer to it all week! In fact, some value sticker books have heading stickers and list style sidebar stickers. However, the Household value sticker book contains weekly menu plan stickers that fit perfectly in the sidebar.

Menu plan sidebar

Fitness or Wellness Planner

Both the fitness and wellness planner can also be used to track menus. In fact, if you’re dieting, it really does help to write down what you eat because it makes you conscious of what you put in your mouth. Take it from someone who once lost 183 pounds.

There are two fitness planners: the classic fitness and Healthy Hero. Both allow for tracking meals. One thing I started doing this year, was merging my fitness into my wellness planner. If you aren’t familiar with the wellness planner, it’s a planner that focuses more on your body, mind, and soul as opposed to just your body or fitness. But you can certainly adapt it to include your menu or dieting plan.

Ways to Menu Plan with Happy Planner
Menu Planning with the Wellness Planner

Dry Erase Boards

Okay, now for the pièce de résistance…dry erase boards. Dry erase boards made their appearance with the late year / New year release. The dry erase boards were part of the Super Mom, Socialite, Faith Warrior, and Healthy Hero product lines.

I would make one small caution. The dry erase can sometimes smudge off if you are opening and closing your planner a lot. I don’t have that problem because I keep it open all the time on my desk or counter. However, if this becomes a problem for you, simply use wet erase and the problem is solved. I’ve put some of my favorite dry erase and wet erase supplies below.

ways to menu plan with happy planner

There you go, 8 ways to menu plan with Happy Planner! I hope I’ve made this humdrum chore a little easier!

If you currently use a Happy Planner to menu plan, I’d love to hear which is your favorite way to plan in the comments below.

Easy Menu Planning

Are you having a hard time figuring out what to feed your family? Well I have a great method for easy menu planning.

No Plan of Attack

Planning might seem like a lot of work, but I promise it’s worth – and I have a method for easy menu planning. Years ago, I would go nearly empty handed to the grocery store, barring a small list of items we were totally out of. So I would wander the aisles at my grocery store, filling my basket haphazardly with any and all items that were appealing. I’m embarrassed to say how much I spent.

Here in Texas, we have an amazing grocery store: H-E-B. Texans have a strong loyalty to the store because of how much they give back to the public and how well they treat employees. They also have amazing sales. H-E-B does a lot of “buy one get one free” sales as well as well as free items (you buy a meat and they give you the rest of the ingredients free to make a complete meal). They also do something ingenious. They tape all coupons to the item on sale. So as you browse through the store, you seek out items with their bright yellow coupons attached like a scavenger hunt! Therefore, you end up buying a lot more than anticipated! Sly, H-E-B. Sly.

Small amounts add up. Just ask anyone who has bought out of the Target Dollar Spot. That’s why sticking to a list is so important.

Beware of small expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.

Benjamin Franklin

Benefits to Menu Planning

  • Reduce Spending
  • Regular rotation of meals
  • Reduce food taking up space in freezer, fridge, and pantry
  • Reduce trips to the store
  • Order quickly with pick-up or delivery services

Guide to Easy Menu Planning

I recommend doing a weekly shop. However, you can plan your meals on a monthly basis to make it easier and I’m going to show you how – the easy way!

I recommend category planning. This is a regular, rotating schedule of cuisine types. For example, I save crochkpot or Insta-pot meals for Mondays since they are always very busy for us. Tuesday’s are for Mexican (Taco Tuesday) or any other international cuisine you want. Wednesdays are reserved for Italian or pasta based dishes. Thursday my husband often comes home late, so I do a casserole, one-pot meal, or sheet pan dinner. We often go out on Fridays, if you have a night out, you can simply omit a category that week. Saturdays I keep really simple (hot dogs, pizza, etc) and easy. Soup is also a favorite of mine, especially during the fall and winter. I love having a traditional Sunday meal. Since I’m from the South, it’s normally Southern Comfort Food or a Cajun dish. You pick the category types.

Meal Planner by Happy Planner ®

Using this method, you can put together a whole month of menu planning in just a few minutes. I’ve created a sample menu plan in pdf format to give you an idea. You can download it here

Tips to Help

  • Save past menu plans. When you don’t have time to plan, just redo an old week
  • Make a list of all the dishes you know, then choose from that every week
  • Create meal plans around items you already have on hand to save money
  • Sometimes using online ordering can help you curb impulse buys

Menu Planner

Happy Planner has some cute meal planning sheets and extension packs to help you get organized. If you don’ know about Happy Planner, take a look at my blog post, How Happy Planner Changed My Life.

If you like a cheaper, simple, more sleek look, I’ve made a menu planner that can be printed as many times as you need (and you never have to buy again). You can purchase it through my shop here on the blog or you can purchase from my Etsy shop.

Menu Planner
My Beautiful Mess Menu Planner

I hope you like my tips for easy menu planning. In the comments below, I’d love to hear what things you do to make grocery shopping easier.

How Happy Planner Changed My Life

I know what you’re thinking. My title is dramatic! It’s just a planner. Wrong. It’s a Happy Planner and true to it’s name, it actually made me happier! Here is how Happy Planner changed my life.

Happy Planner Changed My life

One Hot Mess

With an appointment based job, I had always used a planner. When I left the workforce, I remember throwing away my dull, black hourly planner. After all, I was going to be a stay-at-home mom. What did I need a planner for? Stay-at-home moms have all the time in the world, right? Seriously, I thought there would be time for Netflix, Beachbody and scrapbooking. I know…I was clueless! Believe me, I learned the hard way.

Can I be really honest for a second? It’s going to sound awful. But for the first part of that first year, I really hated being a stay-at-home mom. I had lost my identity. But worse, I felt like I was failing at everything!

Mounds of laundry stared at me from my couch. Hampers were spilling over. Dishes were piled in the sink. I’m a hard worker. But I was seriously failing at every chore and responsibility I had. I double-booked myself all the time and flat out forgot my appointments. Also, I was struggling to adjust to only having one income supporting us. I was a mess.

Nothing Else Calmed the Chaos

I tried putting appointments in my phone. After all, this thousand dollar iPhone has to be good for something, right? It can set an alarm to go off so you don’t miss things. Honestly, half the time I forgot to even put things in it. I’ve always worked better with paper, where I can scribble thoughts and write notes to myself. The phone’s calendar really doesn’t allow for that. I even went back to my boring planner, but I had no motivation to open it up.

Discovering Happy Planner ®

I can recall the first day I discovered Happy Planner. It was an exceptionally rough day. I felt like a failure. I was at Hobby Lobby for some scrapbooking stuff and I stumbled across a Happy Planner. Let me say, this was years ago. Back when there was only a couple of covers to choose from. It was a simple black and white striped cover. I remember reluctantly putting it in my cart. Almost like it was a waste of money. Would I really use it? I specifically remember thinking, “maybe if it’s pretty and I can decorate it, I’ll want to use it.” (I’m pretty sure that is the business model of Happy Planner.) Isn’t that why many people don’t use a planner? They forget to open it up and use it!

And the sticker books? Girl, I was a Happy Planner babe before it was cool! Me and My Big Ideas had been around for a while. I had bought their scrapbooking stuff before. But this was still in the infancy of the Happy Planner. This is back in the day before value pack stickers even existed! There was a handful of 4 page sticker packs and the designs were fairly simple still. Can you imagine a time before metallic foiled stickers? It existed. I was there for it! These days, there are hundreds of gorgeous accessories!

Menu Planner

Happy Planner Changed My Life

It Got My Creative Juices Flowing

Switching to Happy Planner totally worked. If you are unfamiliar with it, the pages within are beautiful and cheerful. The monthly dividers are gorgeous and often have inspirational quotes and sayings. Just thumbing through the pages is like opening a book of happiness! And no….Eric Condren doesn’t even come close to measuring up! (Sorry not sorry, Erin). These days, the stickers are to die for…like so pretty you almost don’t want to use them! So pretty, you convince yourself you need every single sticker book. So pretty that you’ll stand near an empty display shelf while a Michael’s employee unboxes the newest release. (Yes, I’ve done that!)

But in all seriousness, it worked. I had no time for arts & crafts. I was a trained artist in Europe. Living without creativity in my life was depressing. Being able to decorate my planner totally made me feel like I got my artistic yearnings out everyday!

Happy Planner stickers

It Increased My Self-Worth

Let me be even more personal. Being a stay-at-home mom is really hard. There are no raises or promotions if you do a good job. There are no IDPs and annual performance reviews. No one is there motivating you to do better. You can feel alone and invisible.

I doubt the ladies over at Happy Planner know just how much those cute little motivational quotes actually do motivate me. No one was feeding me positivity…that is until I found Happy Planner. There are days where I totally don’t feel like adulting and I open my Happy Planner and see exactly what I need to get moving. And as much as I hate to admit this publicly, I need my “gold stars” for a job well done. I need to feel like it matters.

I know what you’re thinking. “It’s a planner for goodness sake!” Happy Planner changed my life. First, it keeps me on task and helps me accomplish things (duh, it’s a planner). Secondly, it’s a record of my motherhood journey – every playdate, every birthday party, their milestones and memories are lovingly recorded in it’s pages. I use their wellness planner to maintain a work/life balance as a mom. It helps me prioritize “me time” and has helped me with my anxiety and depression issues. Their fitness planner helped me track my Gestational Diabetes diet (even my OBGYN was impressed). Furthermore, I use their budget accessories to keep me financially disciplined.

Happy Planner Stickers

It Gave Me Back Control

When I first started staying home, I felt out of control. Frazzled. Overwhelmed. I was a steamy, hot mess! But using a Happy Planner has helped me gain control in every area of my life. I use the Faith Planner to help me maintain my relationship with God. Before the kids get up, I make my coffee, read The Word, and do my bible study. I use the Miss Maker one just for this blog. I use the Teacher Planner for our homeschooling. Honestly, I love it. When I wake up and am tempted to take a day off from homeschooling, all those inspiring teaching and learning quotes, make me want to get back at it and slay the day! It reminds me why I’m doing this! Happy planner changed my life.

It’s Flexible

One thing everyone loves about the Happy Planner is that it is completely customizable. It doesn’t matter if you need hourly, weekly, or a dashboard layout. They’ve got them all! But my favorite part is the discs. The innovative disc system allows you to remove and place any accessories where you want them. And boy do they have accessories! Plastic envelopes, dividers, folders, daily sheets, dry erase boards, more. I’ll be sharing more about the accessories in a follow up post on how to use a Happy Planner to get organized. My point is just that you can tailor it to work for you and your needs. Above all, I love that it’s so flexible to fit my needs.

Over the last few years, I’ve converted so many people over to Happy Planner: friends, family, old co-workers, other moms – even my husband. I had to find a way to make it less girly for him, but he was anxious to see if would help him since he saw a miraculous transformation in me. It worked for him too. I’m so enthusiastic about Happy Planner because it really did help me plan a happy life.

Be sure to check out some of my other Happy Planner posts:

8 Places to Cash in Clutter

Before you dump your items off at a donation bin, try these 8 places to cash in clutter!

8 places to cash in clutter

It’s a never ending battle to declutter. I struggle with decluttering. I paid good money for something, thus I have a hard time just giving something away. Over this past year, I’ve been trying to sell things before I just dump it at Goodwill. I’ve been surprised at what people are willing to buy. Today I’m sharing 8 places to cash in clutter.

Just this month, I made over $100 selling things I would have otherwise donated. For example, I sold an old roaster ($10) and rice cooker ($20) that was taking up space in my kitchen cabinets. I sold a corn hole game ($40) I had made for my son’s first birthday. Then I let go of a car seat ($25) left at our house by a guest. Lastly, I sold some box fans ($10) that had been sitting in my guest room for 5 years!

I’m not bragging! My point is that just because you don’t find it valuable anymore, doesn’t mean no one does. If you’re like me, you’re tired of garage sales. You have to gather tons of items to make it worth while. As a rule, you need a city permit. Usually, you sit for days in the cold or heat only to argue with someone who wants to give you a quarter for your brand new Ralph Lauren blouse you wore once. It’s not worth it, right? That’s why today, I’m going to show you 8 places to cash in clutter – that’s actually worth it!

8 Places to Cash in Clutter

Etsy

If you haven’t discovered Etsy, I’m sad for you. Just kidding…sort of. Seriously, Etsy is an absolute great find for people who love to buy and sell handmade things. If you have something unique, one-of-a-kind, or something that is antique or collectible, Etsy is a great market for you! By the way, check out my shop where I sell my handmade greeting cards and digital printables. You do need to set up a shop, but once you have it set up, it’s very easy to add items.

It’s free to create an Etsy store. However, Etsy charges a $0.20 listing fee for every item you list, making it one of the most affordable places that charges. Furthermore, Etsy allows multiple ways for customers to pay, including PayPal.

Ebay

Ebay has long been a trusted source of selling used items. Even though the big Ebay boom is over, it continues to have a strong marketplace. Last year, I made $200 back selling baby clothes. (Tip: the best way to sell baby clothes is in large lots.) Ebay has a wide array of categories and the selling fee structure is a little complicated.

First, Ebay offers various ways to sell. You can sell it as an auction. You can sell it at a flat price (Buy It Now) which can also include “best offer” flexibility. The charges depend on the category, but as a rule Ebay charges about 10% of the amount you were paid (that includes shipping). Also, if they buyer is paying through PayPal (which is typical), you’ll incur an additional 2.9% fee for the transaction. So you’ll need to carefully choose what you sell. Ebay is known for shipping items and has a super easy, built in way to print labels once your item sells. However, they also have a local pickup option which is especially helpful for large items.

Facebook Marketplace

This is where I have had some of my best success. I am shocked to see how easy it is to sell things. Best of all – it’s completely 100% FREE to sell. You get every penny. No store setup. Just find Marketplace within Facebook and list your items by following the prompts. Customers can pay through Marketplace or they can give you cash. You can also accept PayPal or Venmo if you want to guide them that way.

It’s up to you, but people will ask you to hold things until a certain day. I caution you from doing that. I’ve been burned more than once. There are lots of flakey people out there! I’ve held something for someone who flaked out, meanwhile I turned down 5 other interested buyers. Now I specify in the description that it is “no holds.” This means that if they can’t come until Thursday and someone is willing to buy it and pick it up before then, I won’t hold it. You can choose whether you have the buyer pick up the item or whether you deliver it. You must specify in the description. People will always try to get you to deliver otherwise.

Facebook Groups

Facebook groups is another one of the places I’ve had good success. Like Marketplace, you can post pictures and description of what you’re selling. There are lots of pages that are designed for your city, area of town, or neighborhood. Find some, follow the selling rules and make money.

Like Marketplace, you will need to specify whether the buyer need to pickup or if you’ll deliver. If they pay in advance like through PayPal or Venmo. Incidentally, I recommend posting directly in Marketplace. Facebook now has a feature where if you post in Marketplace, you’ll have the options of sharing in the Facebook selling groups of which you’re a member. There are no selling fees involved with Facebook groups.

Pro Tip #1: If you are posting on multiple sites, be sure to include the acronym “POMS” in your description.

LetGo

The LetGo mobile app has slowly been gaining popularity (30 million users have downloaded it) after Google listed it as the Best of 2016 apps. It still has a fairly good reputation. It’s most attractive feature is that there are absolutely no selling fees – you set your price and get every penny! You choose how the customer pays and the app has a review system (don’t worry – you can dispute negative reviews).

LetGo doesn’t have a way to make payment. You will need to work that out between the buyer. Also, you are restricted to selling within your geographical location. Similarly to Craigslist, you’ll need to meet up with buyers to exchange goods and money – and anyone can sign up for it without any kind of check into who they are. So always be careful when meeting up with strangers.

Just Between Friends

So as I started to get rid of baby things, I tried local consignment shops. I was surprised at how little they offered. Pennies on the dollar. It was honestly, a little insulting. What they offered, wasn’t even worth my time to drive down there! That’s when a friend introduced this awesome bi-annual sale to me. If you’re willing to live with the items for a few months, this can bring in some money for all your maternity, baby, child, and teen items.

Just Between Friends is a nationwide consignment organization. Search their website to see if they have a sale in your area. They are in most major cities and have two sales per year – Spring and Fall. They will only accept seasonal appropriate items. Items are inspected to make sure they are not broken or stained. They will reject items that have a safety recall on them.

You will tag them using their online tagging system. As a rule, clothing must be on hangers. You have the option to put your items half off as a ditch effort to sell them. Additionally, they have an option to donate items that are unsold, so you never have to deal with them again. The day before the sale, you will need to check-in and put out all your merchandise on the sales floor. During the sale, you can see live results of your items selling. You set your own prices. You get 60% of the selling price. If you volunteer at the sale, you 70% of your sale, plus your $12 consignor fee is waived. Last year was my first year selling, I didn’t take a ton of stuff, but what I did netted be a couple hundred dollars – and I didn’t volunteer.

Amazon

Wait….you can sell old things on Amazon? Yes, you can. Amazon offers an individual seller account where you can sell gently used items. In my experience, books do well, but other things can be listed. However, it only permits forty items per month. After that, you’ll be directed to upgrade your account to a Professional selling plan. It is a monthly subscription of $39.99 and you have the awesome Amazon name and traffic behind your goods. So depending how much you plan to sell depends on how much it costs. The individual plan costs $0.99 per listing (some categories include additional fees).

Pro-tip #2: The acronym PPU stands for Porch Pick Up – a way of the buyer picking up without having to physically interact with them.

Offer up

Offer up is available on both online and a mobile app. It is fairly easy to use and even offers selling solutions for the private selling of vehicles.

It is free to use for buyers and sellers. However, just recently they included a shipping service so sellers could reach a wider audience. You decide wether you want to offer shipping or not. If you do offer shipping, they charge a 7.9% fee when the item sells. If you want to avoid seller fees, consider doing pickup only.

That’s it. In conclusion, yard sales are almost a thing of the past. Yes, it takes some time to list items individually. But, the return you get from these 8 places to cash in clutter, has proven to be worth it!

The post, 8 Places to Cash in Clutter, first appeared on My Beautiful Mess.

Learn about other decluttering tips in the post 50 Things To Throw Away Right Now