Category Archives: Step Eight

Planning my Meals – The Digital Way

Can I just say that I LOVE how digital some things are getting.  Let’s take planning your menus.  My friend just recently introduced me to this website about a year ago. I didn’t take her seriously until 2 months ago when I tried it free for 30 days.  I was HOOKED!!!  Plan to Eat is a terrific company that makes it so easy to plan and shop for my meals.  I can even plan up to many months at a time if I am feeling really ambitious and organized!!!  I love how I can add my own recipes and then drag them to my calendar and it in turn creates a shopping list for me.  I can add to and edit that shopping list based on what is in my pantry. I can access that list from my phone when I am at the store.  HEAVEN!  (Sighing here.)

Shopping and meal plan have never been easier, and I still can use my Menu Item Cards as well.  I can also add recipes I find on the internet with the click of a button. SWEET!!!!!!  I can also just copy and paste, or I can add them line by line.  They even have a blog where they share their own recipes with everyone as well. Click to add it to your own recipe book.

Guess what else you can do???? Add people to your friends and click and save THEIR recipes to your own recipe book!!!! Yes, so serious here. CAN YOU IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES???? I am in such a happy land right. My best purchase of Black Friday for sure and I didn’t even have to leave the comfort of my own home! (Have I used enough exclamation points yet?)

I am sooooooo excited for this that I just HAD to share with you.  PLUSSSSSSS, the bonus part????  They are having a BLACK FRIDAY WEEKEND SPECIAL.  I had been waiting to officially subscribe until I could justify the cost and BAM they go and create this fabulous deal that  I couldn’t resist.  Seriously, you have to at LEAST take a peak at the easiness of this program, and they aren’t even paying me to advertise for them!  (Wait……….how DO people get paid to do that anyway?) There is a link at the bottom of this post if you are interested in seeing what they have to offer for you. ENJOY!!!! HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Menu Planning – Menu Item Cards

Planning menus can be a huge dilemma for some people.  Others find writing the shopping list a pain.  I started using my Menu Item Cards years and years ago.  After 5 years of using them and sometimes no doing so good using them, I can testify to you that my life is so much smoother when I use the tools I have to be better organized.  When I don’t, my life is hectic and meal time is not that great, nutritious, or even very budget conscience.  The other thing I like is that my family knows what we are having for the next 2 weeks when I use this.  No more, “What’s for dinner?”  They know exactly where to look to find the answer to that question. (Our video on our Step 8c gives you great information on our menu item cards as well.)

What is a Menu Item Card?   It’s about the size of a business card and it lists the items that you have for one meal.  Laminate the card, attach a magnet and place it on your fridge.  Everyone, including you,  can see exactly what you have for dinner during the week.  Once you’ve made your yummy meal, take the card off the fridge and store it for the next time you make it for dinner.  I love being able to see ahead of time what I am making.  The headache and stress of trying to plan “what’s for dinner”, at the last minute, is gone.  It not only saves me time in making dinner, but it saves me time and money at the grocery store.

The PDF that we have available for you to print is our actual Menu Item Cards.  It is a fill in PDF and you can even save it too, if you need to come back and work on it at a later time.  On a seperate piece of paper, list all of the meals you want to have for the week. You can also add snacks and extras. This helps you feed your kids nutritious snacks as well as balanced meals. The order in which meals are made can be changed, but no matter what, you will have the ingredients to make meals every day for two weeks (or whatever time period you plan for).  Once you have all your meals listed, you can then start typing them up on the cards.  For example, this is how I would type up one of my cards:

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Mashed Potatoes

Sweet Corn



Remember that on another Menu Item Card you could list the main dish but have other sides.  Writing down your meals this way helps you to realize just how many possibilities there are to your menu choices.  I have included my Word Document that I used when first typing up my cards.  It has my Menu’s already listed as well as somethings you might not have thought about.  If you are like me, I like to copy and paste, rather then rewrite.   You are welcome to use any of my meal suggestions to help start you off on the right path.

Once again, these are Tricia’s creation wayyyyy back before we even started our company.  The older ones have different graphics, but the concept has stayed the same.

Step 8d – Organizing your Cookbook and Recipes

I don’t know about anyone else, but I had tons of recipes stuffed in my previous recipe book because they weren’t the same size as my recipe holder.  It got to the point that I had so many that were loose, that there would be an avalanche when I would take my book out.  It was time for an overhaul.  Luckily our Relief Society did a Fantastic Friday on just such an idea.  After taking a good look at it, I decided that it’s what I wanted and yet it wasn’t exact.  So I tweeked it just for me and now I am sharing the idea with you.  I found all my supplies at the Deseret Industries, except for the tabbed pocket dividers, which a I found at an office supply store. The most expensive part were the dividers and I think those were about 5-7 dollars.  I will take pictures today and add them to my post so that you can see a close up view of the different parts of the cookbook.  I have LOVED LOVED LOVED using this and I love having it on the counter as a wonderful display and easy access to all my recipes.  I will also work on getting my dividers finished, so if you would like to use them you can.  I really am not sure of all the different creators of digital scrapbook pieces I used.  I hope to make a good list and put it on.  A special thanks to those people who created these wonderful pieces digitally!!!

By taking the time to go through and organize your recipes, it will make your menu planning and shopping list making a much faster and more efficient job to do.  Taking less time to do these tasks means more time for your family, yourself, and even more money in your wallet!

Main Cover Page:



Step 8c – 4 Week Menu Planner & Menu Item Cards

Having trouble knowing exactly how to plan your menus and then stick with them?  Watch our video to give you a better explanation of just how easy it can be.  We also have some freebies for you as well after the video.  Enjoy and remember just one more step gets you closer to where you want to be!!!

Step 8b – Mixes, cookie dough and breakfast repeat

So we covered freezer meals and cooking in bulk in step 8a.  Now we are moving on to mixes, frozen cookie dough and the breakfast repeat.

Mixes can make mornings easy if they are made ahead of time.  Of coarse if you like Jiffy or Bisquick those are always good too.  However, it is a good idea to find some recipes that you like.  You can make healthier choices that way and you can also make them from your food storage!  Making them up ahead of time and only having to add the wet ingredients makes for a quick and easy morning.

Frozen cookie dough can be a lifesaver if you need a treat in a hurry.  What is it about life these days that we are always in a hurry???  Get together with friends and make it a party.  Everyone brings their favorite recipe and the ingredients to make a whole bunch of them and then you make them up and swap recipes together.  It is so much fun and you have your treats for Family Home Evenings the next couple of months!

Breakfast repeat is a fabulous idea.  Thanks Tricia!  Most mornings are crazy and hectic.  Just getting my little ones of out of bed and dressed can be a challenge.  Then there is making breakfast, lunches, brushing teeth, getting shoes on (is there anything worse???) and then getting to the car (is that a 10 minute process for anyone else?).  Anyway, not having to think about breakfast makes life a little easier.  The idea is to make a list of what you will eat for breakfast Sunday through Saturday.  Then post this somewhere in your kitchen and add all the items to your shopping list.  You will no longer have to ask the question “what do you want for breakfast?”  and you will no longer hear the phrase “we’ve had oatmeal everyday this week!”  Planning ahead always makes the day start a little smoother.  It may free up just enough time to read a few verses of scripture and have family prayer in the morning. 🙂

Here is our freebie for you.  Enjoy!

Breakfast Repeat Planner

Step 8 a – Freezer Meals & Cooking in Bulk

“What’s for dinner?”  Is this a common question at your house?  It seems like my growing boys want some sort of meal all day long!!  Thank goodness for school or they would eat nonstop. 🙂  Menu planning can save you time and money.  Steps a covers Freezer meals and cooking in bulk.

Freezer meals can be life savers!  Having an extra meal in the freezer has saved me on several occasions when I am running around and have no time to cook.  Cooking in bulk can save you a lot of money if you watch the sales and buy meat and other items when they are on sale in bulk.  Preparing them ahead of time is a huge time saver.  We have created a video that explains in a little more detail….

What’s on the menu? – Amish Friendship Bread

One of my friends gave this to me 11 days ago.  Yesterday, I finally was able to bake the bread and fell in love with this recipe.  It was so simple and easy to make.  I was very hesitant at first because I am not the type that likes to do the whole pass along to friends deal.  I hate it in fact.  If people send me emails saying I have to send it to 10 friends or something happens, I delete it.  So when I received this Ziploc bag full of weird liquid and a paper that said I needed to squish and mush, I thought, oh boy, what am I in for now?  I faithfully followed the directions and wham-mo, I almost ate the whole 2 loves by myself.  Luckily I have a house full of 5 boys and 1 husband to help me make sure I didn’t gain 10 pounds in one day!  Thanks guys!  I have included the PDF you give to people when you give them their own starter and also the recipe for the starter.  Enjoy and share the love of this FABULOUS bread.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  DO NOT SKIP the step of sprinkling the sugar/cinnamon mixture all over the bottom and sides of the pans.  This is a crucial overall yummy effect that you will miss the flavor of if you don’t do it.


Amish Bread Recipe

What's On The Menu? – Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

My oldest son was in the mood to fix dessert for the family last night.  I told him he could pick what ever he wanted and he decided on a new recipe.  We REALLY loved it.  Remember to have plenty of vanilla ice cream to serve with this.  One 9×9 pan was enough for our family of 7 for one serving each.  He made two pans so we will some more tonight!  Another reason why I like this recipe is it’s all made in the pan you bake it in.  No mixing bowls to clean up afterward.  This is also a GREAT food storage recipe as it uses everything you have in your storage.  No store bough items.  LOVED IT!!

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

1 cup flour                         2 Tbl oil

3/4 cup sugar                  1 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbl cocoa                       1 cup chopped nuts (opt)

2 tsp baking powder     1 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp. salt                      1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup milk                     1 3/4 cup super hot water

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flour, sugar, 2 Tbl cocoa, baking powder, and salt in an ungreased 9 inch square pan.  Mix in milk, oil, and vanilla with a fork until smooth.  Stir in nuts.  Spread batter evenly in the pan.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa.  Pour hot water over batter.  Bake for 40 minutes.  While warm, sppon into desert dishes and top with lots of ice cream.  Spoon sauce from pan onto each serving.  Note: sauce will thicken as it cools.

What’s on the Menu? – Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

I LOVE homemade mashed potatoes. I HATE the long process of making them. I don’t know what it is about them, but if I had to choose between fixing them and fixing pre-packaged stuff, I would choose the pre-packaged for ease of time. Yet, the taste of homemade mashed potatoes cannot compare to anything at all. This year I will be making mine the day before, so my Thanksgiving Dinner isn’t filled with me in the kitchen all day long. This recipe can be made a day or two ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you are ready for them. I am sure it’s all a mental thing, but sometimes we need those mental times to help us along life’s road.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

5 pounds potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 8oz. package cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. garlic salt
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients. Mix well and place in a large, greased casserole dish. If making ahead, refrigerate. Otherwise, cover and bake at 325 for 45 minutes. (If refrigerated first, let stand 30 minutes at room temperature and then bake as directed.) Makes 6 to 8 servings.

A Great New Dinner Recipe

During General Conference, I became a brave woman and fixed real BBQ baby back ribs on the grill, with the smoked wood and everything.  It was quite the process but turned out sooooo delicious.  I found a great website that has a fantastic array of recipes and ideas for barbequing.  My favorite recipe I found was for their Memphis Dust.  This is the rub that I used to flavor my ribs with.  Mmmm, I thought, until I tried this rub on chicken.  Oh man was my whole family in heaven!!!!!  It was made for chicken.  Wow!  I can’t say enough of how good it was.  I wanted to share this recipe with you.  You will make a quart size bag of the rub with this recipe but boy is it worth it!  Side note:  Everything in here is important, so don’t leave any ingredient out or try to substitute.

Memphis Dust Recipe

Yield. Makes about 3 cups. I typically use about 1 tablespoon per side of a slab of St. Louis cut ribs, and a bit less for baby backs. Store the extra in a zipper bag or a glass jar with a tight lid.
Preparation time. 10 minutes to find everything and 5 minutes to dump them together.

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
4 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons dried rosemary, ground to a powder

Keep it stored tight in a bag in a dark place.  You can’t go wrong with this rub.