Weekly Menu Plan: FREE Printable

IMG_0878

We’re continuing on with our “Feeding a Family” theme and today we’re talking MENU PLANS!

Let me start by saying…menu planning is NOT my favorite thing to do. There…I said it. In fact, I can usually find 500 other things I need to do like now instead of planning the menu. The thing about it is, I know it benefits me so much to have a game plan for the week ahead.

Additionally, there are so many different styles of menu planning that it’s going to take time to find the “right” way to do it for your family.

Oh, and then there’s that whole as seasons change, so must your meal plan. Ha.

So…I think what I’m trying to get at is. Meal plans are good. Very good actually, BUT…you shouldn’t be so rigid about it that you can’t allow for life to happen and change plans. Because really, that would defeat the purpose of that meal plan, wouldn’t it?

The best recommendation I can make for you is this, shop around and pull ideas from lots of folks. Find the one that best fits your family and the current season you’re in (i.e. babies, picky eaters, eat you out of home(ers) or all the above).

Remember why you’re doing it in the first place. To help your family eat well and avoid unnecessary stress about what to feed that little army of yours.

IMG_0732

Keep it simple and don’t forget to add in some fun things…make sure everyone in your family can find something in the mix to get excited about. Trust me, you won’t please every member every day and some days you may not please anyone BUT a good meal plan will help you overall make it easier on you to please them and feed them healthy more often.

Ok. now that all that is out there…here’s a basic run down of how I plan:

*I usually plan my meals Sat/Sun because since Covid craziness became a thing I’ve been shopping weekly on Saturdays (I used to shop biweekly at multiple stores). Now I go to one store and order anything I can in bulk from Amazon. I start planning before I go shopping and then I finalize it after I get back because I still seem to have trouble finding everything I planned to use for meals at one store.

*We have a couple of meals that we do each week like “Friday night Pizza night” & “Taco Tuesday”. This is both fun and gives me a couple of “freebies” each week.

IMG_0681

*I try to have a couple of “back ups” on my radar and in the pantry and freezer. Think homemade Einkorn PBJ or “snack lunch”. Again, life happens and with four kids…it happens a lot and the whole point of all of this is to make life easier not more stressful, right? RIGHT.

*If something from the meal plan doesn’t end up getting used I shift it to the next open day and if necessary sometimes I switch meals from one day to the next…for example, this morning I made tomorrow’s breakfast because I was running behind and tomorrow I’ll make today’s instead.

*Don’t forget to plan what snacks you’ll have available for the week (if you have small kids you know what I’m talking about).

*It’s also a good idea to plan for a couple of desserts for the week too. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice treat a few times a week. And…if you at least plan to bake something you can make sure you have all of the ingredients at home when you go stock up for your week of meals.

donut

As you can see, I’m pretty easy going when it comes to my meal plan. I don’t have time or mental space for complicated things right now so simple is how I prefer things. If you’ve never done a meal plan but you’re interested in starting one, you can give this little worksheet a try. I created it especially for ya’ll (well…and myself). It is super simple and embarrassingly basic (don’t judge me) but it follows the basic principles I outlined for you and it will get you going.

Weekly Menu Plan

Happy planning people! ❤

 

Bagels From Scratch

One of the best things I ever did for myself and for my family was taking meals that we already love and making healthier versions of those things at home from scratch.

The next best thing I did for us is make a list of regulars for each meal that we rotate through on the weekly meal plan.

As promised, we’re starting off with breakfast and at the conclusion of the series we’ll give you all a free printable e-book with all of the recipes we’ve discussed OR you can just print each of the ones you love most right from the blog post.

Today we’re talking about one of our favorite breakfast items to make, Bagels. Fresh bagels straight from the oven with a nice cream cheese or homemade butter and jam are an AMAZING breakfast. Even my picky eater approves. Not only do they work wonderfully for breakfast, but those left over breakfast bagels can easily be turned into a bagel sandwich for lunch.

A couple of things you’ll want to consider:

  • Fresh baked goods will not store the same as the store bought versions. At most I can get 2 days out of homemade breads because they contain no preservatives. Typically when we bake breads here at our house, we eat them the same day OR we freeze them the same day and then stick them in the oven when we’re ready to eat the rest.
  • Use good flour…I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a grain mill this year so I can use the best quality of grains possible but if you can’t take that step, just make sure you’re getting the most nutricious flour you can afford. There are many reasons why freshly ground flour is the best option nutritionally speaking but it is a big investment. Consider using jovial foods or something like it to order a good quality flour. Check it out here: https://jovialfoods.com/organic-einkorn-all-purpose-flour-2lb/ 
  • When you’re baking breads, you have to know what breads require a higher gluten content. It’s certainly possible to use a low gluten grain like Einkorn alone for bagels but for us, we prefer to do half Einkorn and half white hard wheat. It gives us the texture we’re looking for and a great flavor.
  • Some breads require a little extra time and a few steps. Bagels are one of those. Consider making these in bulk, partially baking them and letting them cool. Store in the freezer and then pull them out and bake the rest of the way when you’re ready for more.

Let’s get started:

Homemade Bagels

bagel

*I’m using a blend of Organic Einkorn flour (freshly ground) and Hard White Wheat (freshly ground). You will need to experiment a little to get the texture and flavor your family prefers but generally a mix of both a good All Purpose flour and Bread flour (for gluten) works well. I usually do a 50/50 mix.

Preheat your oven to 415 degrees Farenheit & prepare a large pot of water for boiling the bagels.

1 1/2 tsp yeast

1 1/4 c water

1tbsp pure maple syrup

4 cups flour

1tsp salt

Add yest and approx. 1/2 cup warm water to mixing bowl along with the maple syrup and let sit for 15 minutes until bubbly.

Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until gluten is well developed (dough is good and stretchy).

Let the dough rise for approximately 30 minutes.

bagel dough

Separate into 9-12 even balls of dough and let rest for a few minutes.

dough balls

Shape into bagels and let rise for another 30 minutes.

shape

**you need to pinch the dough ends together to make sure the bagels hold their shape**

shaped

risen

Boil the bagels for 2 minutes on each side.

boiled

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

baked

 

Simple, Natural & Low Waste Dental Hygiene

Dental 1

There’s a lot more to oral health and hygiene than sparkly white teeth and fresh breath (though both of these things are quite wonderful). An unhealthy mouth can increase your chances of many other health issues. Cavities and gum disease are known to result from poor oral health, but heart disease, cancer and diabetes are also believed to be linked to the same. Keep in mind that genetics may also either work in your favor or against you. Some of us come from a long line of unhealthy teeth and gums and as a result have to work extra hard to minimize the damage to our health. Regular brushing, flossing and cleanings are the best way to prevent dental issues, so choosing the right products for oral care is essential.

If you’re like me, you want your products non-toxic…but powerful. We’re also on a mission to live a more “low waste” lifestyle so things like packaging and the material of the product itself are important to us. Those three factors play heavily into what we’ve chosen to use for dental care.

Here’s what we’ll cover in today’s post:

  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • floss
  • mouthwash
  • tooth whitening

Let’s start with toothbrushes. Roughly one billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown out each year in the US. Even though toothbrushes are small, that’s A LOT of plastic!! I consider myself to be a little bit of a realist in regards to waste (I don’t think the “no waste” movement is practical or feasible in today’s culture) BUT I am very much aware of our culture’s lack of stewardship and the havoc it’s wreaking on our environment. GOD has blessed us with a beautiful world to enjoy and as believers it is our responsibilty to be good stewards of the Earth while on it. So while I realize some plastics are necessary, I want to do better to avoid it when possible and choose biodegradable options when I can.

Because we are trying to do better as a family in regards to stewardship, a while back we switched to eco friendly toothbrushes and haven’t looked back since.

Dental 2

The funny part…I have actually LOVED these biodegradable toothbrushes! I don’t know why I didn’t switch many years ago!! All of my kids like them too. I have sensitive teeth, receding gums and other issues and these toothbrushes have been far better for my teeth than their “cheap” plastic counterparts. The bristles are so soft. They have actually lasted us longer and honestly work out to be less expesnive as well. For example Oral B goes roughly $26 per 12 pack. A basic Colgate 12 pack is over $12. Now prices will vary slightly of course depending on where you purchase your brush but either way, the biodegradeable version was certainly no more expensive than the plastic version at roughly $12-15 per 12 pack. I reccently purchased the EVE ECO brand brushes for $9.99 on Amazon!! For us, there’s no going back to the plastic. As strange as it sounds, I have fallen more and more in love with the look of the natural products than any of the colorful plastic options out there! There’s something about the natural wood that I just love!

Ok so toothpaste…this one I’m still researching DIY recipes and I’m going to be switching to a DIY version asap because I think I can make a more cost effective but powerful version without all of the packaging that ends up in the landfill. Small glass jars are perfect for DIY toothpaste and can be reused over and over again.

As I imagine most kids do, my kids use way too much toothpaste. Someone is always either dropping it on the counter, in the sink or on the floor (occasionally even on a sibling…I don’t know how they manage it but they do). While I want to save as much money as I can, I just can’t make peace with the chemical laden toothpaste that’s less expensive. For years I went back and forth as the budget got tighter and tighter the more kids we added but over the last few years I’ve cut out every possible unnecessary expense I can in order to afford toxin free products.

While I’m excited to try a DIY toothpaste, I need to buy myself some time to do more research and try out different recipes, so in the meantime, we’ve been using the HELLO brand toothpaste. It works very well, has a nice and minty flavor that leaves your breath much more fresh than Colgate or Crest ever did. I ordered it from Amazon and it was reasonably priced there ($15.88). Crest and Colgate were anywhere between $8-16 on Amazon for a 4 pack so the natural version wasn’t much more expensive and I find myself using less of it because it is more potent.

Dental 5

Next, let’s talk about Floss. We have always preferred the single flossers (mostly because it’s much easier for our kids to use) but to be honest, I like those better as well. The problem is, just like the toothbrushes, they create a large amount of product that ends up in the landfill. I don’t like that. Enter these fantastic little flossers I found on Amazon:

At $14.99 for 200 of them, they are not terribly expensive and they work very well! They’re made mainly from cornstarch and packaged in eco friendly packaging. Since I’m not likely to DIY my flossers in the future, I consider these guys a winner!!

Dental 3

Now let’s talk about mouthwash. For years we’ve used Tom’s mouthwash which worked very well and we liked using it, BUT at $4 per bottle and 5 people using it (including littles who either used too much or occasionally spilled half a bottle down the drain) it got to be a bit costly. Additionally, the mouthwash comes in plastic containers which I honestly want to get away from.

So I got myself some glass bottles from Amazon, used my trusty YL Peppermint oil, baking soda and some water and made my own mouthwash for very little cost. I will say, without added sweetners and other ingredients, this mouthwash is very potent and will require a little getting used to BUT it works very well at freshening your breath and is very cost effective. The kids were not a huge fan at first but they got used to it.

There are numerous different versions of DIY mouthwash to choose from on Pinterest. Some are made using Thieves oil instead of Peppermint, Tea tree oil and some using clove. You could also include Copaiba oil if you have issues with inflamed gums (which I sometimes do).

Lastly, let’s talk about tooth whitening…

I love a good cup of coffee. I survive on coffee some days. I look forward to it in the morning, around lunch and in the afternoon. With 4 young kids and very little sleep…some days I may have up to 4 cups a day (I jokingly tell the kids that as I’ve had each kid I’ve needed to increase my number of cups per day to match the number of children). Unfortunately, coffee stains teeth. So while I’m not about to use those over priced, chemical laden tooth whitening kits EVER AGAIN, I want white teeth!

Boy do I wish I had known half of what I know about beauty products and toiletries now when I was younger! All the chemicals I put on and in my body!

Fortunately there is a natural, very effective option out there to whitening those teeth!! I’ve done both DIY and purchased activated charcoal whiteners. If you’re not a DIY fan, this one by Oalen is super inexpensive (I think I paid $5.99 and it came with a biodegradeable toothbrush), works great and lasts a long time because you only need a tiny bit at a time. Use it roughly once per day (or a couple of times a week if you have my memory).

If you want to save a few dollars, buy some activated charcoal, pure unrefined coconut oil and a glass jar…mix and brush. It’s as simple as that!

Btw…it wouldn’t hurt to have some activated charcoal capsules on hand for stomach bugs and food poisoning anyway…just thought I should share that.

Do some research on that one 🙂

Dental 4

So there you have it! Natural, effective and affordable dental care with the added bonus of being low waste.

If you have any other great products or tips for dental care to share, please tell me in the comments below! 🙂

Slow, Simple & Intentional

f

I was going to post an update on the garden, in fact I’d even started writing it multiple times, but each time I start writing, I keep coming back to this topic. It’s been a bit of a personal mission for our family for some time now and we’re still working to figure it all out but it’s the story of the blog. The name and the why.

Scripture is a large part of our family’s life and while we would never claim to live it out flawlessly, it is the driving force behind all that we do. Because of it many will never “understand” us and many will disagree, even ridicule our choices. Nevertheless, we strive as a family to live differently from the world and are learning more about what that looks like each day.

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 1:14

Many years ago, even before our first son was born, I remember reading this scripture from Ecclesiastes. I remember it struck my interest…and digging into it more. King Solomon, was powerful and wise…he’d done it all and seen it all. Much like most of us are striving to become and do. Participating in the daily race for more and success.

He’s speaking of our material pursuits while here on earth and how no matter how hard we work or how much we work…these things are all like chasing after the wind…the wind which cannot be caught. Materially, we can never have enough. We’re always striving for more success, fame and fortune. Big, shiny, flashy, fancy…popular…fast…disposable. These words and many others come to mind when I think about what’s considered desireable today.

This fast paced, make lots of money so you can buy all the things, don’t get your hands dirty, hire it out, eat it out and grow apart lifestyle that has been made the norm is meaningless…a chasing after the wind. A life wasted.

Marriage is all about my needs being met. Children are a nuisance and anything that requires work is undesirable. This is more often than not the norm of today’s world. Even in the church.

We’ve decided that want to live slower…not because we’re better, because we desire more.

…a marriage that is valued and fits into the schedule. Children that we invest in, even when it’s inconvenient and hard…take the time to raise and teach and cherish.

d

We want to live simply without the bells and whistles and do as much of it ourselves as we’re able. The cooking the cleaning, the fixing. When did such things become beneath us? There’s dirty, hard work yes, but satisfaction too.

Homemaking and raising children is not a life wasted, it is the ultimate career.

home

“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.” CS Lewis

Living intentionally in terms of devoting our lives to God’s plan no matter where that takes us, a strong marriage that outlasts the disposable nature of our lost world and striving to raise up godly children who love and appreciate the little things that the Lord has blessed them with.

“We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” Charlotte Mason

So what does that look like for our family, right now in this season of life?

us

Family time…as much as we can manage. The six of us…as much time together as possible because these children grow up too fast. Of course work and visits and appointments and such are a part of life but we have chosen to prioritize the time we have together.

s

Of course not everyone will agree on this, but for us schooling the kids at home enables us to have even more time together, teaching them about the things that we feel are important and gives them the extra opportunity to slow down and play more while they are little.

“I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” John Wesley

Get dirty…imagine…have fun. It also enables us to take more time teaching them the things that are harder for them as well as move on faster when they naturally grasp something quicker. Less boredom is a wonderful thing.

a

Making meals with love and care at home and learning old skills…less disposable and convenience. Less artificial and more real.

c

We’re a work in progress ourselves and we fight the flesh as much as everyone else. We’re on a mission to slow down and live a simple life of chasing God’s good gifts rather than the wind…to take great care of what he has blessed us with.

It’s a journey we’re on as a family.

My hope is that through our journey others will be inspired to join along. That it will leave a positive mark in the world.

 

Easy Vintage Floral Banner DIY

Are you looking for some super simple ideas to spruce up your home for spring and summer? I’m always on the look out for easy and very inexpensive crafts to add charm to our home. Today I have one for you that’s as easy as can be and very inexpensive! If you’re like me, most of the supplies needed for this project you already have at home, the others are either free or a few dollars at the craft store.

 

banner

 

What you’ll need:

Twine (or yarn of your choice)

cardstock (I wanted something light and bright…this pretty cream color almost matches our walls perfectly and looks fabulous against the pretty brown antique armoire)

free printables of vintage floral

gluestick

hole puncher

Could these materials be any more simple? Now let’s create that banner…

 

Step One:

Choose your favorite free printables and print them…I simply typed in free vintage floral printables into google and went through a few that I liked and then chose my favorite few to print.

Something like this…

blue-and-yellow-gallery-wall-printable-art

https://www.simplymadebyrebecca.com/2015/03/16/free-printable-royal-blue-and-yellow-botanical-art/#jp-carousel-1500

or this…

printable-botanicals-

https://www.onsuttonplace.com/library-of-free-printable-botanicals/

You can even use a vintage Patriotic print like this one for Memorial Day and Independence Day:

https://www.tinkerabout.com/4th-of-july-print/

**this specific printable is formatted for an 8×10 frame but I thought it was a great inspiration for a 4th of July banner as well. I’m hoping to find some other fun freebies and inexpensive 4th of July decor and DIY’s to share with you all soon** 

Step Two:

Once you’ve printed your images, cut your cardstock and prints into whatever shape you would like. I really enjoy the triangles, but anything you prefer will work.

Step Three:

Glue your prints to the cardstock and punch holes at the top in the center.

Step Four:

String the banner and hang it.

 

We don’t currently have a fire place so I hang our banner on our antique Armoire in the living room but it would also look lovely hanging on a mantle or even the wall.

It’s a wonderful way to add a little extra charm and seasonal decor on a small budget.

 

 

Easy DIY Handsoap With Essential Oils

soap2Let’s talk about handsoap. It plays a very important part in keeping our family healthy. Particularly in light of all that’s currently going on in the world with this Coronavirus. I’ve seen friends posting on facebook and instagram about stores running out of handsoap and having to go to multiple stores to find some over the last few weeks so I wanted to share this quick and easy DIY handsoap tutorial because handsoap is not something we can go without, especially during times like this.

Around our home, with 4 little children and 2 adults, we go through A LOT of handsoap. Depending on the kind of soap you’re buying, that can get a little pricey. We generally opt for all natural products in our home and that means we often have to pay a little bit more for certain products. Handsoap is one of those items.

The good news is that buying the ingredients to make a natural & effective handsoap here at home works out to be much less expensive. I also typically always have the ingredients around the house as long as I keep myself well stocked so I don’t ever have to worry about running out of soap and having to run to multiple stores to find handsoap.

So, let’s get started on making some natural & effective handsoap!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Soap dispenser bottles

A couple of years ago I switched to these foaming handsoap bottles because it seems like the kids don’t waste quite as much of it this way.

I have both glass and plastic bottles currently. I prefer glass but I also use the plastic ones for the bath soap I make for my kids. I purchased these from Amazon and so far they’ve worked quite well.

Pure Liquid Castile Soap

I’ve used Dr. Bronners Baby Unscented for many years. I usually purchase the big bottle because I use it for handsoap, bath soap and dish soap as well.

Essential Oils

You could leave this ingredient out if you don’t have any but honestly, I think it’s 100% worth it to invest in at least a few quality essential oils for your home.

I’ve tried many different brands over the years. For the last few years, I’ve used Young Living oils because I trust their quality. I don’t buy separate oils for my household products and personal products so it’s important that our oils are safe for us to use on our bodies as well as internally, not just for our cleaning products. I can trust Young Living to be safe and effective for our family so after researching them myself, that’s my number one choice. 

I use Essential oils in my handsoap to help kill bacteria and viruses (they smell so good too). Thieves oil and Citrus blend works extremely well for handsoap, dishsoap and cleaning products. You can look into that some more here:

https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/thieves-essential-oil-blend

https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/citrus-fresh-essential-oil-blend

*Be sure to do your own research on oils. If you’re interested, you can check out Young Living’s seed to seal quality commitment and its three pillars- sourcing, science and standards right on their website! They’ve been doing this for 25 years and have made it their mission to be the best available on the market. You can also ask me as well! 

The only other ingredient you’ll need is water. 

So, now that you know what you’ll need, let’s get started. This is literally so easy to make that you’ll have handsoap for all the bathrooms in minutes!

Step one: 

Fill the bottle about 1/4 of the way with castile soap. It doesn’t have to be exactly 1/4 but try to get it to about 1 part soap 3 parts water.

castile

Step 2:

Add about 7 drops of Thieves oil and 3-5 drops of Citrus oil.

soap1

Step 3: 

Fill the rest of the dispenser with water. Just make sure you leave some space at the top to add in the pump.

soap4

That’s it! It’s so easy and believe me, it works! It smells pleasant and saves you money! Give this soap a try…you won’t regret it!

Hang in there guys! Hopefully this Covid19 nightmare will be over soon! Make sure you stay home as much as possible and wash those hands!

DIY Laundry Soap

It’s been a chaotic and uncertain time for many of us these past couple of weeks so this space has been quiet a bit longer than I’d intended. Fortunately we are all well in my home and I pray those of you reading are healthy too!

As promised, I wanted to share a simple tutorial on making inexpensive (and easy) laundry soap. The more things you can make from home (using simple ingredients that we typically keep at home in bulk anyway) the less trips to the store you have to make. At the moment that’s a wonderful thing!

Even when life returns to normal, skills like making your own laundry soap help make life a little slower and more simple. If you’re like us and living on a small budget, DIY laundry soap along with other simple laundry ingredients and accessories, will save you quite a bit of money. 

laundry soap4

Here’s some info on the basic items that I buy regularly and try to keep on hand at all times:

A large jar like this one is what I use to store my powder laundry soap. You can find these at Walmart for roughly $9. I believe this one is their Anchor Hocking line. I can’t remember where I got the scooper from but I am pretty sure I didn’t buy it. It came from some other packaged item.

laundry soap

Next, you’ll need washing soda, borax, baking soda and Fels Naptha bar soap. I usually buy the large box or bag of baking soda but during my last grocery run they didn’t have any so I had to settle for the little boxes. I usually keep multiple boxes and bars at the house so I have extra and can make it without having to run to the store for ingredients. With 4 kids I have a lot of laundry and make a lot of this stuff!

I also bought a grater from the dollar store that stays with my laundry supplies specifically for making laundry soap.

The washing soda is approximately $4 per box. The baking soda is $4 for a 5lb bag. The borax is $4.50 and the Fels Naptha bar is less than $1.

cd2

In addition to the ingredients listed above, I have purchased the dryer balls in place of dryer sheets. Mine are old and need to be replaced so I’ve been looking around on Amazon for a replacement. These are what I’m going to be ordering soon:

SnugPad Wool Dryer Balls XL Size 6 Pack, Natural Fabric Softener 100% Organic Premium New Zealand Wool, Chemical Free and Reduces Wrinkles, 1000+ Loads

They go for about $9 on Amazon.

cd1

Lastly, I use white vinegar in place of fabric softner as needed. Walmart has it for less than $3 for one gallon. I store some in a small glass jar with a lid to make it easier to use.

Ok, so now you know approximately what it’ll cost to get you started and what ingredients you’ll need. Now lets talk about what to do to put it all together. It’s going to take you about 10 minutes at most to make it. It really is that simple.

You’re going to fill about 1/4 of the jar for each of the powders (baking soda, borax and washing soda). Leave about 1/4 of the jar for the bar soap.

laundry soap2

Next, you need to shred the soap into fine shavings and add it in. Then mix it all together with a spoon.

laundry soap3

Now you have about a gallon of laundry soap. Depending on how much laundry you do, this will last you quite a while. I think for us it usually lasts about 2 weeks. I typically will use about a scoop to 1 1/2 scoops depending on the size of the load. The soap works very well to remove odor and stains. In fact, for stubborn stains, keep a whole bar of Fels Naptha on hand and soak the item in cold water and rub with the bar soap. Be sure to always use cold water with stains.

Side note: if you want the laundry to have a stronger scent when you pull it out of the dryer, you can add some drops of your favorite essential oils to the dryer balls. I really enjoy using Young Livings Lavender or Geranium oils for my laundry.

Another laundry tip: if you have problems with mildew odors in towels, use hot water to wash them and add a few drops of Melaluca oil. It’s an antifungal and significantly decreases that problem.

You can use this laundry soap on all of your laundry, delicates, towels, baby clothes and cloth diapers!

You can check out my post on what cloth diapers we use here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/02/26/cloth-diapering-essentials-favorites/

You can also check out how I care for our cloth diapers here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/03/08/caring-for-cloth-diapers/

I hope you find this information helpful and that it inspires you to live more simply.

Feel free to share any great laundry tips and tricks in the comments! 🙂

Stay healthy friends!

Caring for Cloth Diapers

So you’ve picked out the perfect cloth diapers and accessories, you’ve placed the order and now you have to figure out how to take care of them once they arrive. Rest assured, it’s really much easier than most think. There’s a plethora of information out there on caring for cloth diapers but honestly it’s largely a matter of preferance.

Getting Started:

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you check the manufacturer’s instructions and warranty info.

Generally you’re going to have to wash your diapers multiple times prior to using. This helps the diapers absorb better. I usually wash them about three times before the first use.

You’ll want to be careful with laundry soap. Choose one that does not contain a lot of fragrance, enzymes, softeners, etc. I make my own using a few simple ingredients. I’ll share the recipe for my laundry detergent with you in the next post so stay tuned if you’re interested. It’s easy, inesxpensive & works very well.

You can use plain white vinegar along with the detergent to help soften and deoderize if needed once you start using them.

Drying your cloth diapers is going to depend on your preference/manufacturer. I’ve seen lots of different opinions on drying the diaper shell in the dryer, but generally drying the insert seems to be fine. During the warmer months I dry the shell on a drying rack outside in the sun. When it’s cold out, I prefer to dry them in the dryer because it just takes too long to air dry.

Regular Washing:

Once you start using the diapers, you’ll want to make sure to wash them about every three days. So roughly twice a week.

I store the dirty diapers in a garbage can with a wet bag in it.

cd5

Since my daughter’s still breastfeeding a lot, her poop isn’t solid enough yet to use the diaper sprayer, but once it gets to that point I’ll be spraying the poop into the toilet prior to placing the diaper in the can/wet bag. For now all I do is open the diapers and take apart the shell/insert & take out any cloth wipes. I place everything in the washer together, along with the wet bag.

Next, I run the rinse & spin cycle on my washer with cold water.

After that, I change the soil setting to “extra heavy” and use hot water and detergent/vinegar.

cd1

At this point I will either hang them to dry or place them in the dryer with my wool dryer balls. I usually have to dry them for two cycles to get them completely dry.

Once they’re dry, I sort through everything and get them ready to use.

cd4

cd3

cd12

That’s it! Super easy and takes only a little extra effort and time.

In addition to regular washing, I usually “strip” my cloth diapers about every six months or so depending on how they smell/perform. Over time oils and dirt build up causing the diapers to hold onto odors and leak. I will say, I’ve had very few issues with this brand and even after nearly 10 months I still haven’t had to go through the process yet! If you’d like more info on what kind of diapers we’re using and loving, check out my previous post here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/02/26/cloth-diapering-essentials-favorites/

Stay tuned for a post on my DIY detergent next! I’ll also be sharing a post on stripping your cloth diapers to freshen them up every so often.

I hope you found this post encouraging and helpful if you’re new to cloth! There’s a lot to love about cloth diapers! If you have used cloth and you have some great tips, please share them in the comments! 🙂

Cloth Diapering Essentials & Favorites

Have you ever thought about cloth diapering but weren’t sure you could handle the extra work involved? Did you think it would be to expensive to get started? Thought there was too much to learn? It seems so complicated…I’ve been there too. When I was pregnant with my first son almost a decade ago now, I was doing a lot of research on natural living and one of the things I’d wanted to try so badly was cloth diapers. Unfortunately it took a while after he was born for me to finally work up the nerve to try it out. Even since then, there have been seasons where we only cloth diapered part time or not at all for a time (with my second son I worked full time and was in grad school), but we never fully gave it up with either of our four children and overall we have grown to love it. With baby number 4, we’ve almost exclusively used cloth since she was big enough. I say almost exclusively because we do drop her off at the nursery at church where they’re typically not familiar with cloth diapers so we use disposables there. We also have periods where baby just gets too wet at night for the cloth diaper so it’s just easier to use a disposable at night. You could certainly just change baby half way through but for now this as been working best for me. Once they don’t nurse as often through the night and no longer get so wet, we go back to cloth diapering through the night. So now that you know some of the back story, let’s talk about what we use and how we use it.

First of all, I’m pretty simple when it comes to most things. Cloth diapering is no exception. I only use what I truly need and try to get it for a good price.

What you really need:

cd1

  • Approximately 15-20 cloth diapers (and a basket to store them in)
  • bottle for water
  • cloth wipes
  • wet bag for dirty diapers (as well as a trash can to store it in)
  • cloth diaper friendly ointment
  • diaper sprayer

I bought a couple of smaller wet bags for when we cloth diaper on the go this time but honestly I don’t need them that often. They are nice to have but I wouldn’t consider them a necessity. You could always use a grocery bag for wet diapers if you wanted to save that money.

The Diapers:

Between the four kiddos I have used a wide variety of diapers, prefolds, pocket, all in one. The prefolds worked wonderful but I didn’t like how bulky they were. I used those with my third son and wanted to switch with my daughter. I didn’t have any of the diapers left from my first two so I ended up buying all new diapers. I am able to use the inserts from the new diapers with the shell from the old ones which is nice but I have enough shells for her to where I’ve contemplated selling or donating all of those with the prefolds.

I’ve used some of the pricey diapers and frankly don’t think they were worth the extra expense.

With Everleigh I settled on these Alva baby diapers and we have loved them! They are adorable, easy to use and care for and well made! Here’s the best part, they’re super affordable!

I purchased mine from Amazon for about $30. They came in a set of 6 covers and 12 inserts.

cd9

cd19

cd14

cd10

Wipes:

I use mostly reusable cloth wipes. It just made the most sense with cloth diapers because I just keep it all together in the pail and then throw everything in the washer. The wipes I bought from Amazon are nice and thick, soft and easy to care for.

cd3

These are by Babygoal (bamboo) $8.99 for 12! I think I purchased 2 sets for a total of 24 which is more than enough for us. Compared to the price of disposable wipes and it’s no extra laundry since I’m already washing the diapers.

The bottle I use was free, it came home with me from the hospital. I’ve used baby castile soap mixed with water but most of the time it’s just water.

The Wet bags:

This is the wet bag that I purchased, also from Amazon. It’s by Alvababy, like the diapers. This one is their large bag. It has great reviews and has held up very well. I wash mine every time I was a load of diapers. It’s inexpensive at $14.99

Then I also have the small ones (from Amazon). They came in a two pack for $9.99!

The Diaper cream:

cd4

I’ve used a few different ones over the years but I always come back to this one. It’s by Grandma El’s and comes in a 3.75 oz tub for $12.99 from Amazon. It typically lasts me about 6 months even when I use it almost daily (all of my kids have had sensitive skin).

The Sprayer:

I purchased this one by Easy Giggles from Amazon for $29.99. I haven’t had to use it much yet but I know those days are coming and it’s so much easier having a sprayer (I’ve done without one at times and wanted to make sure I had one this time). It has over 1,200 reviews and almost 5 stars so I think we’ll be happy with this one. The price is great and from what we can tell it looks well made. It’s installed and ready to go for when we need it.

That’s it! Store them in a pretty basket, ready to use just like disposables.

cd12

If you add everything up, that comes to less than $200. I’ve been using the same diapers and wipes for almost a year now and I’m on my second jar of ointment. That’s a price I feel good about. It honestly pains me to buy the disposable diapers when I think about how quickly they’re gone yet how expensive they are.

I hope you feel inspired to make the switch! You won’t regret it!

Next up, I’ll share with you what I do to care for my cloth diapers.

cd11

Saving Money on Groceries

gh6

Groceries. They are vital in all of our homes and use up a significant portion of our income. With a family of six, we have to be very intentional about how we plan meals, purchase and prepare food.

Let’s talk about five simple ways we save money on groceries:

Consistency

This is probably the hardest for me. At least in this current season of life. There is always something that seems to come up that stops me from being able to get my menu plan done or go through the pantry, fridge and freezer, make the trip to the store etc. The problem is when I don’t consistently go on the same day, we end up running out to the store for “just a few things to get by” and spend much more than we would have.

Typically for us it’s best for me to go either Friday on payday or the Saturday after since by the end of week two we’ve used up pretty near everything we have. Haha!

Bi-weekly or monthly shopping 

As I mentioned earlier, bi-weekly or monthly grocery shopping can drastically cut your grocery costs while feeding your family good, whole, from scratch foods. It’s also a lovely perk that it helps keep you out of the store. I know not everyone may feel the same, but I’m not much of a shopper. I just don’t enjoy it, so if I can suffer through a larger shopping trip and have to do it less often…I’ll do it! When the time comes and space allows for it, you’ll likely find me jumping on the “once a month grocery shopping” bandwagon!

g1

Shop the right stores

This ones a big one for me! So many times I’ve found myself in the wrong store thinking I can make the shopping trip easier by shopping for everything in one store without over-spending, but I end up paying far more than if I’d just made a couple of extra stops. For our area, I hands down recommend Aldi for the bulk of groceries.  It’s always worth the trip. Even when I don’t really feel like driving the extra distance.

g5

Some things I can’t find at Aldi and usually purchase at Walmart or Kroger. For most everything else like cleaning supplies and toiletries/household items I usually use Walmart and purchase the least expensive version without compromising quality.

Cooking from scratch

This one is something that so many write off immediately because they’re “just not much of a cook” or they “don’t have time for that”, but you’d be surprised at how easy and fast some of these “from scratch” items actually are.

If you’re new to cooking from scratch, I’d suggest starting with one or two new things at a time and working at getting good at it. For example, say you’re used to buying store bought pizza or ordering pizza, start by trying out different pizza dough recipes and find one that your family prefers and work out the kinks. Over several weeks of making it repeatedly, you’re going to get faster. You’ll save quite a bit of money and eat food that’s made with real ingredients that you yourself selected. No extra preservatives. Just real food. Once you master something like pizza dough, move on to bread. Similar ingredients and process so it’ll be a relatively easy new product to learn. Start small and build on it to avoid burn out and don’t get frustrated. I’ve been baking for many years and still mess up more than I’d like. Just the other day I was prepping breakfasts for the week and managed to forget to add yeast to the dough since I knew I wasn’t going to have time to let the sourdough rise the dough and ended up with hockey pucks instead of bread. It happens.

Preparing food ahead of time

Oh this always makes for a day of hard work but it’s always so worth it in the end. My week goes so much smoother when I make the time to prep meals ahead of time. We don’t find ourselves in a pinch running to the store to grab something quick or eating out. Planning out and cooking/baking in large quantities also helps save money in most cases since purchasing ingredients is most of the time less expensive than purchasing the smaller quantities.

Get yourself a simple meal plan going and plan out everything from breakfast and snacks to lunch and dinner.

Check out this free printable planner page:

https://niftymom.com/2016/01/printable-weekly-meal-plan/

Prep what you can ahead of time and then eat it through the week. For example, one of my favorite things to prep ahead of time is breakfast. It’s always a stressful meal to make and clean up with homeschool, baby and chores so simple and fast is key! One of the things I like having on hand are items like from scratch english muffins and bagels, regular breakfast muffins, pancakes, frittata, etc. All of these keep well either in the freezer or the fridge and are simple to make.

Another little food prep tip…come up with weekly themes, like Taco Tuesday or Friday Pizza night, this will not only make meal planning easier but will also ensure you’ll always have ingredients on hand for a meal if you do end up in a pinch. We usually have homemade pizzas every friday night so at any given time I will have what I need to throw together a pizza if I needed to. Speaking of prepping ahead, did you know you can make multiple dough balls for homemade pizza, throw them in the freezer and thaw them as needed?!

25

Mix up a few fancier meals each week with simpler/less expensive ones

This is probably one of my best tricks to keeping the kids and hubby happy with meals on a small budget. I love meals like Spaghetti and black beans and rice but a good portion of the rest of the crew isn’t quite as thrilled with it so it helps for me to sprinkle in the “good stuff” in between the not so favorite items.

You can make a couple of vegetarian meals in between heartier meals with meat to please the family too. Most of our family enjoys a good big salad so every so often we’ll just make a big salad and either substitute boiled eggs for the meat or leave it out entirely. You could also make some chicken to go on the salad if you’re just not into meatless meals. It’s a quick meal with ingredients we typically always have on hand and it’s healthy!

What are some of your best tips for saving money on groceries?!

g2