Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Family-Friendly Meal Tips & Planner Perfect Giveaway!

I'm so pleased to bring you some family-friendly meal tips and a GIVEAWAY from a special guest poster today! Have you added a post to this week's Family Friendly Food Week link-up? Any recipes, kitchen/pantry tips, meal planning or couponing ideas are welcome. If you add a link back to me within your post(s), I will give you an extra entry in this week's Giveaway!

Please help me welcome Jenny from Planner Perfect.

I'm excited to share some of my family-friendly meals and tips, with you. Thank you, Amanda!

Hi, my name is Jenny, author of the Planner Perfect and Planner Perfect Meals blogs. Planner Perfect offers great tips, an eBook on getting organized, and how to stay that way with the ultimate planner: Planner Perfect. My eBook is chock-full of how women can stay organized and become masters at managing their homes; today one of you can enter to win Planner Perfect's eBook! Stay tuned for the details on how you can win! 

Feeding our families well, simply, and on a budget is on every mama's mind. I am a mama of seven hungry children and four of them are boys! Just when I've finished washing the counter-tops and greasy stove-top after a big, wonderful dinner, one of my teenage sons is already pouring himself a bowl of cereal. Unreal! They can eat me out of house-and-home if I'm not prepared! I have no options but to be organized when it comes to feeding my family, keeping costs down, and all without compromising on the quality. 

I have three important tips up my sleeve that every mama must do in order to keep organized in the kitchen and I have some tried-and-true family-friendly, recipes, too, I'm excited to share with you:

1. A Baking Day
Incorporate one day each week for a baking day and create some baked goods from scratch. I love to bake muffins, waffles, cookies, breads, and pizza crusts, making some for the week and then enough extra to freeze. This creates great foods for the week for your family, the bread is wonderful for lunches and compliments your dinner meals, and freezing the extras creates homemade meals you can pull-out in a snap on a busy day. 

Get inspired by your favorite magazines, foodie blogs, and the season, and plan-out each week what you'll bake on your baking day and get it on your grocery list so you can make sure that you'll have your ingredients needed on hand. 

This also saves money. Planning a baking day each week means I don't need to buy the processed cookies in the store, a hundred boxes of cereal and 5 gallons of milk, store-bought pizza crust, or Bisquick for breakfast.

Another great tip for saving time when preparing pancakes and waffles is to mix your dry ingredients together of your favorite pancake recipe in a plastic container, labeled with the wet ingredients left to add. Easy and fast to prepare on a quick morning before school or before a morning Saturday soccer game. When it comes to waffles, I quadruple the batch so I can serve them that morning and to freeze them for an easy, nourishing breakfast to pop in the toaster any day of the week. 

Add some quick scrambled eggs with any of these baked goods and you've got an easy, wonderful breakfast!

Pizza crust is great to prepare on your baking day and can be kept dormant in your fridge in a bowl, covered in plastic wrap until ready to prepare on the quick!

Baking each week keeps you organized, saves you money, and keeps you in control of the ingredients in your family's meals. And the best part is when my children run over to the oven as I'm pulling out my homemade bread; begging for me to cut them a hot slice with butter and honey. Believe me, you'll be their hero!

Planning your menu ahead of time is a necessity if you want to save time and money. 

Plan a day each week to be your grocery day. I love Mondays, so I spend a little time on my menu the day before and write out the days of the week with what I'd like to make for dinner each night with careful consideration of what the happenings are each evening with my family. (I also list out some breakfast menu plans and lunch.) 

Soccer games and kids' schedules usually seem to interfere with dinner-time. With menu planning, you won't have to be relying on fast-food joints to feed your family anymore. Be prepared, plan quick meals on those fast nights (use some of your freezer goods to help) and you will be organized and feeding them well!

I like to also write a baking day list on my grocery list. This way I know what I'll need for my baking day as well and to remember what I'll be baking. I also keep this baking day log in my planner; this keeps me organized.

Remember to be inspired by the seasons...fall is the perfect time for baking-up some apple muffins or pumpkin spice bars. Let the season inspire you in your cooking and baking! 

3. Adjusting recipes.
With so many different tastes to consider, I'd go mad trying to please them all. But my goal is to make every meal something they want to eat. With some small adjustments to your children's plates, everyone is a winner! 

I love creating wonderful menus throughout the week, and boy do I love feeding my husband. He loves the smells wafting through the kitchen when he comes home from work and this just keeps the great food coming. 

One of the tips I use is when making a meal I know my children may not enjoy--I just alter their plates. If I'm making a wild mushroom rice, I make an extra cup of plain rice and in my children's rice, melt some cheese or just butter, salt and pepper. And making at least one common food that we all can agree upon on the plate, even if it's the homemade dinner roll, I'm a happy mom and they're happy, too!

I hope my tips have inspired you! Here are some of my favorite, family-friendly, recipes:

Just click on the links for the printable recipes
These pizza bites are shaped into a muffin tin, and topped with my family's favorite toppings. They are a kid-hit sensation and big kids like them, too!

The most amazing cookies in the world...you must make some of these and the rest, if don't get gobbled up, can be frozen in a Ziplock bag for another time.

Bread Sticks...The great thing about bread sticks is that they can accompany almost any meal and be a hit. These are fast, and easy with no rise time! Your family will love these bread sticks.

Breakfast wraps...I love flour tortillas because of their versatility. This wrap was made with some baby tater tots and scrambled eggs. My kids love this!

Quick glazed doughnuts and doughnut balls...your children will go nuts and you can make this in under 30 minutes.

Multi-grain bread that can be made into muffins, too. Delicious!

 Pesto Italian Sausage and Chicken PizzaYour children will even love this pizza. But, to adjust the recipe if need be, I always have some of my favorite tomato pizza sauce on hand with pepperoni and mozzarella (just in case). 

Thank you, Jenny, for sharing with us! You can find all these printable recipes and more on Jenny's blog, Planner Perfect Meals. Jenny is a homeschooling mom of seven children, wife to self-employed lawn and landscaper/hunter, and she loves to inspire women to get organized. Jenny created Planner Perfect, The Complete Home Management System; the only planner a woman will ever need.
Visit her over at www.plannerperfect.com and www.plannerperfectmeals.com

Time for the Giveaway!

Jenny is giving a FREE copy of her eBook to one of you!

Tips on home management: party planning, keeping a clean home, and utilizing your strengths and talents...just to name a few things. Jenny and I thought that this would be a great prize for Serenity Now readers!

Here's how you can enter to win (Please leave a separate comment for each entry!):
1. Leave me a comment telling me your #1 meal planning tip or challenge.
For Extra Entries-
2. Leave Jenny a comment on her blog and then be sure to let me know here!
3. Tweet the following (copy and paste): Win a Planner Perfect Organizing eBook during Family Friendly Food Week via @SerenityNowGirl! http://bit.ly/pgIvBj
4. Facebook this Giveaway with a link to this post.
5. Link up to the Family Friendly Food link party and include a link back to me within your post(s) for an extra, automatic entry. 

*Giveaway is open to US residents only, please. Open until 10 pm (ET) on Friday, September 23rd.

Good luck!


  1. Hi Amanda! This is such a fun idea. I just linked up to your party & I'm looking forward to going through the ideas others submitted. My #1 meal planning tip is to make sure to write out a plan that uses your ingredients to the fullest and spread one ingredient throughout several meals. If you are going to buy a pack of bacon, then fry some up for a breakfast casserole, save some crumbles to top baked potatoes for lunch, and use some to make bacon wrapped BBQ chicken later in the week. also, plan out how to use your leftovers. I put half a package of spinach in my lasagna, so I know the next day there will be half a pack left & we can have omelets with spinach & cheese for breakfast. :)

  2. My #1 meal planning tip is to plan meals around items we already have in our pantry. I sit down on Sunday afternoon and plan out the week's menu, write my grocery list, and then shop. Keeps us from running to the store during the busy school week, and less food gets wasted.

  3. Thanks for sharing Jenny's blog...I am a new follower of hers!

  4. My biggest challenge is that I don't meal plan which means 10 minutes before my hubby gets home I am scrambling to find something to cook! I need to be a better planner. I know it would make my afternoons a lot easier and probably save me a lot of money too! Thanks for the great post.

  5. My #1 meal planning tip is to plan meals that stretch for a few days. This gives me a few days a week off in the kitchen. Who doesn't want that. Of course, I only have to plan for two I could see how this might be more of a challange once children are added to the mix.

  6. Hello Amanda!! Thank you for this great opportunity. My #1 tip is to work with your spouse and children to come up with a meal plan for the week/monthly. That way everyone invested in the process and may help in preparation.

  7. LOVE the idea of a baking day! I need to make more treats from home, rather than relying on store bought treats. (relatively healthy, but still, boxed.) Thanks for the tip!!

  8. My tip is to embrace the crock pot! There are so many unique recipes out there that can be made in the slow cooker and they taste delicious. There's nothing better than having a machine cook dinner for you while you are out running around all day! I try to plan for at least one crock pot meal a week at my house on our busiest day.

  9. I am terrible at menu planning, this is what I am trying to focus on now! I use my freezer like its my job!

  10. Just left Jenny a comment and started following her precious blog :)

  11. my #1 challenge is not planning for meals and what is going on in our week-i get stuck on days when the kids have sports or school events at dinner time instead of planning ahead and being ready

  12. tweeted http://twitter.com/#!/7alltogether/status/116199476112269312

  13. Thank you Amanda and Jenny for sharing this! We have to try the pizza bites--what a delicious kid-friendly recipe! The real treat is the pesto Italian sausage and chicken pizza. It really is just a compilation of all the best pizza toppings!

  14. I'm amazed at Jenny's organization. . . but I'm trying not to be intimidated. I'm so naturally disorganized that it's easy for me to feel disheartened when I see how well some people plan!

    My #1 meal preparation challenge is deciding what to cook. I don't mind shopping, cooking, or cleaning up--I just hate choosing what to fix. Probably need to talk about that with a therapist! :)

    I'd love to win this giveaway. Thanks for hosting!

  15. Oh, I visited Jenny's blog and I linked to your party and including a link back to you. I think I was supposed to leave a second comment to let you know about that, right?

  16. My biggest challenge is finding meals for my 1 and 3 year old to eat. They LOVE sweets but are not fans of veggies or anything super healthy! I don't buy many boxed or processed foods so I am always having to come up with recipes to please them!

  17. I left a comment on Jenny's blog! She has such great info!! So excited to have discovered her through her guest post! Thanks Amanda!

  18. I have liked up 5 posts from my blog gatheredinthekitchen.com to your party!!! So excited about it!! Thanks SO MUCH for hosting! (all of my posts have link backs!)

  19. Really, the giveaway is only open to US residents? Ahh, oh well.

    My meal tip is, using leftovers to make a different meal for another night of the week. Here's one example, on Tuesdays it's usually taco/burrito night. I'll cook a little extra taco meat, chop a lot of extra lettuce, grate a little extra cheese and make taco salad for dinner on Thursday. It takes just a few minutes to toss it all together and add some crushed up tortillas chips or left over taco shells. I love that dinner is ready in a flash!

  20. Great post! I can't imagine feeding that many people. I can hardly handle Ryan and I (and the pugs of course).

    I love the baking day idea. I really want to try to make more of our breads/etc., and this is a great way to do it. Thanks for the tips.

    And those pizza bites? Yumm-o.

  21. Shoot...tip? I'm lucky to remember to pull something out of the freezer to thaw.

  22. My best tip is to plan ahead. On Sunday I try to plan out what we'll eat each night until the next Sunday and then purchase the groceries so that I don't have to make an emergency grocery stop after work during the week. The hardest thing for me is that by the time I get home, it's usually late and I am so hungry and tired that I don't feel like cooking. To remedy this, some Sunday evenings I make a casserole or two that we can eat all week. This is also great for nights when Mr. SP has tennis and needs to eat before I'm even home.

  23. My biggest challenge is making something that everyone likes and doesn't leave a ton of leftover food.
    marcee dot rodgers at gmail dot com

  24. I left Jenny a comment:

    marcee dot rodgers at gmail dot com

  25. I Tweeted:

    marcee dot rodgers at gmail dot com

  26. I shared on FB:

    marcee dot rodgers at gmail dot com

  27. My advice, get a deep freezer. Seriously, if you don't have one, they are GREAT! If you make a lasagna, might as well make 3 lasagnas and freeze 2 of them. Making shepard pie? Skip the step where you peal the potatoes. Skins are healthy. Boil up the whole bag of potatoes and make multiple shepard pies and freeze!!! Now if I only followed my own advice.

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