Meal Planning for Beginners: 5 Helpful Tips for Millennials

Meal planning is a vital skill, yet not always easy to master. My boyfriend and I have been homeowners for over a month now and our grocery bills have certainly increased! We’ve been spending our evenings and weekends tackling small home renovation projects (more to come on the blog soon) so preparing a healthy dinner hasn’t always been the priority. I know how important this is though, not only for our budget but for our overall wellness too.

Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve been using the past little while that seem to be working well for us.

1) Write down a weekly menu

After coming home from work, the last thing I feel like doing (most of the time) is thinking about what to make for dinner. This tip eliminates that need to think by planning a menu in advance. Every weekend, I write the menu for the week on our menu board, including the cookbook page number if applicable. By doing this, we’re able to see what meat we need to pull out of the freezer and any other preparation we may need to do in advance. As an added bonus, if my boyfriend gets home from work before me, he knows what to start for dinner.

mealplan

To create the menu board, I simply bought an 8×10 frame and printed off this free menu from blogger The Creative Index.  I love it! It’s easy to use, looks great and wipes off easily when you use an erasable marker. If you don’t like this design, I came across Fab n’ Free’s amazing blog with tons of free options.

2) Use your cookbooks

When I started to meal prep, I found I would plan our meals as follows: meat, vegetable, starch, repeat. This is certainly a fine way to eat, but it wasn’t very interesting. I started to combine items in meals by looking at recipes and that’s when cooking got much more enjoyable. I tend to plan for a few meatless dinner meals every week, a leftover night, a casual (quick) dinner and a chicken and beef option. I’ve also found some great cookbooks hat provide quick recipe options for busy weeknights.

Here are a few I recommend:

  1. Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook
  2. Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook
  3. Taste of Home Healthy Cooking Cookbook
  4. The Looneyspoons Collection

3) Read the flyers or use the Flipp app

Do you receive a lot of flyers? We do and while they used to go straight into the recycling bin, or were used to protect surfaces from paint splatters, I read them now and use them in my meal planning. What meat is on sale? Is pasta on for a good price? Over the weeks, we’ve built up our pantry and freezer with items on sale. This means that many of the key ingredients we use over and over, we already own. To easily search items in flyers in our community, I use the Flipp app. You can type in an item like “eggs” and it will search all the flyers and pull up where it’s on sale. You can add coupons in the app and show items at the register for price matching.

4) Work backwards

With our basics covered, I try to limit the number of items we need to purchase each week that are not on sale. As a meal planning technique, I prefer to work backwards. I see what needs to be used up in the fridge and plan our meals around these ingredients. I also try to include meals that use some of the same items in other recipes so nothing goes to waste. This is just one technique though. There are many others – like cooking everything for the week on the weekend and freezing in batches, choosing theme nights, etc. This blog post digs deep into the various options and is worth a read.

5) Use Pinterest

I am a huge fan of Pinterest. I use the platform with my style coaching clients and personally find it’s a wonderful way to explore different topics. Meal planning is no different. While watching my favourite show, or simply relaxing on the weekend, I regularly ‘pin’ recipes I would like to try. This is helping expand my cooking repertoire and is also a great way to start a conversation with my boyfriend on foods he would like to include in our menu. This is helpful, particularly for finding beginner recipes that include exotic foods.

Have you used any of the above apps to help with meal planning? What works for you? We would love to hear! Comment below.

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5 Tips on Organizing Your Wardrobe When you Share a Closet

Moving in, and buying a house with a special someone is a wonderful experience, but it is also about compromise. This is something I’ve been learning, and practicing the last few weeks. With a dresser and a standard size closet (luckily with closet organizers installed), it has been a challenge to comfortably and neatly organize our clothes in an effective way. I’ve worked with many clients on wardrobe organization, but when it comes to your own pieces, it isn’t as simple it seems. 🙂

As we’ve been working to integrate our wardrobes together, here are a few tips I’ve found helpful.

1.Invest in closet organizers: If your closet only has the standard hanging bar in it, organizing your wardrobe will be a challenge. This is because clothes take up far less space when they are folded. You can pick up closet organizers from places like Canadian Tire, Home Depot, or Ikea, which will all help to maximize the space in your closet. They can then be customized to match what your unique needs. Do you have a lot of suits and dresses? You will need the hanging room. Do you have more sweaters and t-shirts? You would benefit from some pullout drawers. These are just a few examples.

2.Learn an effective folding technique: How you fold your clothes will also impact the amount of space they take up. I recently read Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” and she offers readers a wonderful example of how to fold anything. Check out the video below for more details.

3.Keep only what you wear: The fewer items you have to organize, the better when it comes to combining wardrobes. Take turns. Go through each person’s clothes one at a time, and create four piles: keep, donate/consign, toss and repair. The keep pile are clothes which you wear regularly and make you feel great. The donate/consign pile is for items that are not damaged in any way and could be enjoyed by someone else. The toss pile is for clothes which are beyond repair, and are ready to be taken to a fabric recycler (like The Kidney Foundation). The repair pile is for clothes that need to be fixed or taken to a tailor. With reduced wardrobes, it’s easier to fit clothes into a smaller wardrobe.

4.Group like items together. A great way to organize wardrobes is to group like items together e.g. blouses and dressy tops, or skirts, and dresses together, etc. Sharing space, we found grouping our like items together was the most effective way to organize our clothes. We put all of my dressy tops, with his, to share the hanging space, for example, and all of our t-shirts and sweaters in the dresser (in different drawers). We carried this over into other areas, putting all of our shoes in the same place, as well as accessories. This way, if you are looking for something specific, you always know where to go.

5. Use drawer organizers and other closet storage solutions to your advantage: A clean, organized closet is an effective closet that helps minimize the stress of getting ready in the morning. Some items, however, don’t fit nicely into a regular wardrobe like belts, ties, bags, scarves and more. Luckily, stores like HomeSense and Solutions have plenty of options to help in this way, which minimizes visual clutter. Another tip is to purchase wide bins which are short enough to fit under your bed. We use these to store our off-season items.

How did your experience merging closets go? Any advice for a newbie? Comment below.

Choosing a Paint Colour for Our Master Bedroom

Dear readers. It’s been a while since I’ve written on the blog consistently, and a lot has been happening in the past year.  I launched my wardrobe styling business (in-person/virtual), traveled abroad, and purchased a house with my boyfriend. Being a homeowner is new for me, as is living with another person. I hope to explore some of these changes on the blog, along with my style posts, with the hopes of learning from you. This is a big step and a big responsibility, and while I have lots to learn, it is also an exciting new adventure.

With bedroom furniture arriving on October 25th, our first task was to select a paint colour for our master bedroom. It’s currently a soft green, which is lovely but won’t work well with our duvet and furniture.

I fell in love with this gorgeous bedding from Simons, a collection created by interior designer Samantha Pynn. It’s sophisticated, neutral, and will allow us to pull in many different secondary colours. The duvet cover is a natural linen and the tassels are black, white, and grey. My boyfriend was convinced we needed to purchase a wooden bed, so after comparing prices, and looking at store after store in our community, we purchased the Quinden bedroom set from Tepperman’s. To be honest, I’m not thrilled it’s a full bedroom set we purchased. I’m not a fan of everything matching, especially in a small room. But you can’t really beat the price, especially as we got a significant discount. As a first-time homeowner, price does matter, and I will do my best, over time, to layer in some more vintage and unique pieces.

 

From the colour decks provided at Benjamin Moore, I narrowed down our room choices to two colours: Violet Mist and Abalone.

According to their website, Violet Mist is described “as fleeting as the mist hanging over a garden in the early morning hours, this sweet shade of violet has the softest grey undertone.”

violetmist

From the photos I could find on other design blogs, this colour is absolutely gorgeous. It is slightly feminine, which suits my personality. I also love how crisp the colour looks against white, but also seems to work with wood tones.

The-Decorologist-lavendar-bedroom

{Walls} Violet Mist by Benjamin Moore {Ceiling} Whisper Violet by Benjamin Moore at The Decorologist

Abalone is described as “a never-fail neutral that is an instant classic, and is as charming in a cottage as it is distinctive in a grand estate.”

abalone

When I placed this colour next to the Samantha Pynn bedding, it looked stunning. It pulled out the subtle brownish-grey undertones in the linen while complementing the overall look.  It also looks great with blues, which is a colour I hope to layer in throughout our entire main floor.

abalonedesktop

{Walls} Abalone by Benjamin Moore at The Creativity Exchange.

After going back and forth, I finally chose Abalone for our bedroom. While I haven’t painted yet (stay tuned for a photo on Instagram), after reading about the colour more, it also seems to have a subtle lavender undertone. I’m excited to give this a try, and it if doesn’t work out, at least it’s just paint. I can choose again, and learn from my mistakes.

Which colour would you have picked? Violet Mist or Abalone? Comment below.

Express Yourself: Using Clothing to Showcase your Unique Characteristics.

Since the earliest centuries, clothing has been used by people to characterize themselves. Textiles have represented our development as a society, reflecting which materials were available and the technologies mastered in each decade. This is as true today as it was in the past. Clothing even has a social significance suggesting characteristics of an individual’s lifestyle before ever starting a conversation.  For example, some occupations can be identified by their uniforms, celebrations by a guest’s attire, or ambitions by an employee’s chosen garments.

Moral of the story?

Express yourself. Who do you want to be? What do you want to become?

We are all individuals with unique facial features, body shapes, and lifestyles. We must dress to suit our own personalities. As such, it is important to study the self. Determine what suits you and what does not; find the colors that flatter and emphasize your uniqueness; and, when shopping, pay particular attention to the fit of your garments.

According to Christian Dior, “simplicity, good taste, and grooming are the three fundamentals of good dressing and these do not cost money.” It is possible to be elegant without spending a fortune on clothes if you choose items that suit your personality. The rules of fashion? There are no rules, only guidelines that aim to flatter your singularity.

So take charge lovelies. Wear what complements you. And do not be afraid to mix your mall finds with those pieces that are completely individual.

You have a story to tell. Share it with the world.