Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WFMW - Success for Today

Photo by aloshbennett

I've been working to get my life in order these last few months before babylet #2 arrives in January - several thoughts have been very helpful to me:

  1. Two Minute Rule - if it takes less than 2 mins...just do it now!
  2. Do the next right thing - seems like I saw this on another blog
  3. What one thing would make me successful today?
A few weeks ago I saw a video clip of a department staff meeting at our church, and Tony had each of his staff members answer question #3 - What one thing would make me successful today? Ever since, my husband and I have been asking each other that question, and it's been quite helpful.

For me, I suffer from 2 different issues...I have so much to do that I get overwhelmed by it and don't get enough (or the right thing) accomplished. Some of my previous GTD posts detail how I've helped deal with that issue.

Now that I'm crossing more and more things off my list, however, I've been confronted with another problem...I have some free time, and am not so overwhelmed with a million things, and sometimes that means I don't get much of anything done...I end up staring at my computer screen trying to decide what to do blogs and spend way too much time reading about other people's lives instead of running my own. Asking myself what would make me successful for today - it's really helped keep me on track! And oftentimes, I get way more than that 1 thing accomplished!

So if you want to be successful today - ask yourself that question - what one thing would qualify your day as successful and then get busy doing it! One step at a time makes a huge difference for me!

Don't forget that Christmas is just around the corner...8 weeks from tomorrow - have you started planning and getting ready? Join me for a stress-free Christmas season this year - check out my Monday posts, Christmas Planning, to help get and keep us on track to an enjoyable Christmas this year!

For more great WFMW ideas, head on over to Rocks in my Dryer!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Christmas Planning - Eight Weeks & Counting

Only 41 More Shopping Days Till Christmas!
photo by Sister72

Just over 8 weeks to Christmas - are you making your list & checking it twice? I don't mind telling you - while I didn't get 100% of my list accomplished this past week, I did make good progress and with that I am very happy! In reflecting this past weekend, it absolutely astounds me that it's still Oct and I am making significant progress towards my family having a peaceful Christmas this year - definitely not the typical me! :)

If you haven't gotten started yet - don't fret - it's not too late! Grab a piece of paper and start jotting down a list - what do you want Christmas to look like for your family this year? What do you need to do to make that happen? How can you break it down over the next 8 weeks to make it doable? Progress today = accomplishment for tomorrow...jump in & get started! Christmas is coming, ready or not!

Christmas Accomplishments
  • gift list made - several gifts purchased (6 more this week!)
  • holiday budget tweaked
  • purchased replacement Christmas tree lights (that we hope we don't need) LOL
  • purchased gift cards & World Vision gifts on Christmas list
  • moved Trigger downstairs
Christmas Goals 10/27-11/2
  • work on Christmas card list (oops - never got to this one last week!)
  • put tree up on Sat - (we love the lights on the tree, so we often put it up around the beginning of Nov and enjoy it with just lights until we decorate after Thanksgiving - just seems to make Nov a little more homey & festive)
  • gather Christmas craft supplies
  • design Christmas tee for W & A
  • transfer Christmas Club $$ into Savings Account so that it doesn't get mixed into regular spending
  • keep an eye on Craig's List for one possible present
  • get recipe for Fruit Cake cookies from MaMa
  • check wrapping supplies - what needs restocking?
Thinking Forward
  • Christmas card pic
  • Christmas stamps
  • think through decorations
  • think through Christmas "schedule"
  • Christmas dish towels
So what do you say - are you ready to get started this week? or have you already? Let me know - I'd love to hear how your Christmas plan is coming!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

give a gift that keeps on giving

We all have people in our lives who seem to have everything - people that no gift seems to be a good fit for - for several years, we struggled with what to do for those loved ones for Christmas. Then a few years ago we found the answer... the World Vision Christmas Gift Catalog.

Before we were married, Brad sponsored a child through World Vision for me - a little girl in Guatemala who we continue to support today. It's been a gift that has kept on giving over the years! The more we've learned about World Vision, the more we love the organization. 86% of monies donated to WV go to help those in need - few charities are that efficient.
Goats have been a favorite gift over the years - this year chickens are of appeal, as Walker loves eggs and eats several for breakfast each morning. The thought of providing an impoverished family with livestock that can change their lives - it's a gift for both the recipient and the giver! There are 7 gifts priced under $20 - so don't feel like you have to spend a ton to help someone in need. You also have the option to purchase a "share" of a larger item if that's of greater appeal to you.

He's not quite there yet, but we can't wait until Walker is old enough to pick out gifts with us. What a great way to help your children learn more about giving and helping those in need. So if you have someone on your Christmas list who doesn't "need" anything - give the World Vision Gift Catalog a look!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WFMW - Blogging - The Accountability Factor


Photo by blucassidy

Everyone who blogs has a little bit different reason...I've been thinking lately about blogging for me - why I like it, how often I do it and what its purpose in my life is. It's a great place to keep family & friends up-to-date on what's going on with Walker and the new baby, but for me, I've realized it's also more than that. Blogging for me, provides accountability.

As you may remember, I've been working on getting my life together for awhile now - in this post, I talked about my quest to get things in order around here before our little girl is born in January. I shared several pics of my desk...some that were looking good, others that showed some of the work-in-progress! I'm pleased to report that I have continued to make progress - my desk is looking pretty good and has been for the last couple of weeks (which for me, is a huge accomplishment!)

I believe we all need accountability in our lives - and while it comes in many different forms, we need to identify what works best for us. I'm accountable to my husband and that is definitely a motivator for me. Especially as my children grow older, I will also be accountable to them, though that's not as much of an issue right now. I'm accountable to extended family and friends - but what I've also come to realize is that I don't have any super-close girl friends right now that I get to see on a regular basis. I have several great friendships...we just either live far apart or don't get to see each other often enough. We've changed churches within the last year, and while I've begun to cultivate some friendships there, none of them are to the super-deep friendship level yet. We don't live in a neighborhood - we're out in the country, so it's not easy to see a friend on a weekly (or even monthly) basis unless I do see them at church...let's face it...all of us are busy these days and it takes dedication & commitment to see folks outside of an ongoing, scheduled commitment (like church) on a regular basis.
Photo by tatianasapateiro

I have come to realize that blogging provides some of that form of "friendship accountability" for me. Not only has blogging provided me the accountability to continue forward getting my life in order, but has also spurred me on to think about and more importantly be consistent with exercise. I have decided that I'd like to exercise at least 4 times a week, and have started posting my exercise list in my blog side bar - and let me tell you...I'm just on week 3 of this plan, but already have had 2 successful weeks and am well on my way this week as well! When we got up last Sat, I told Brad we had to go for a walk or some type of exercise that day, because I wasn't missing my exercise goal for the week - without posting here...that would never have happened!

Warm Christmas 2006 - 312F
Photo by kris decurtis

I'm also using this space to make sure that Christmas is more peaceful and enjoyable for our family this year. W is 2 and can really start to participate in some Christmas festivities and traditions and we want to make sure that we are creating traditions that we want for our family. Every year I have the best of intentions, but let time get away from me, and before I know's Dec 22nd and I still have WAY TOO MUCH TO DO!!! Definitely destroys any prospect of a peaceful holiday. This year I'm determined that Christmas will not sneak up on me! I'm already making my list and checking it twice and will continue to do so here on Mondays between now and you realize that as of tomorrow Christmas is 9 weeks away? Does that blow your mind, freak you out or do you already have a plan in place? I am so thankful that I am the latter this year!

ekuverikamakee, gadha fadha baareh

Photo by notsogoodphotography

So as you're continuing on your blogging journey - don't forget to utilize the accountability factor! Blogs give us the ability to benefit from community and that creates the perfect environment for accountability. Enjoy the journey, but make sure that it's helping to better you along the way! Any areas where you could benefit from some additional accountability these days? Accountability through blogging certainly works for me - head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for other great WFMW ideas! And head back over here on Monday - let's enjoy a peaceful, memorable Christmas together this year - remember, it's 9 weeks and counting!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CLR Tackle

This is a before shot of our shower door this morning - I put Walker behind it to help illustrate how cloudy it was.

After using the CLR Bath & Kitchen spray to clean the door - look - now you can not only see through the door, you can see clearly enough to see the bottles sitting on the shelf in the shower! I was really pleased with the way that the CLR cleaned the door - the lime build-up was definitely much easier to remove using it. It's still not 100% perfect, but that is largely due to the fact that a 2 year old was trying to open the shower door and get in the entire time I was doing the cleaning! I'm hoping to get to give it a once-over again this weekend when Brad is around to help corral the Walk-man....or better yet, maybe he'll be willing to do it when I can keep W occupied...I have no doubt, that it will finish knocking out the job. After seeing the cleaning power of CLR Bath & Kitchen, I know that we'll continue to use it around our house.

My only real beef with this product is that it is much harsher than any of the cleaners I normally use. You're instructed to wear gloves while cleaning - that is definitely something new for me. It was also a bit difficult to clean the inside of the shower doors while avoiding any contact with the cleaner. Using it on a kitchen sink, or other exposed item would definitely be easier than shower doors - but that was what I had that really needed to be cleaned! Thanks CLR for giving me the opportunity to try out your product - definitely earns a thumbs up in my book!

For other tacklers, head on over to 5minutesformom!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Christmas Planning - 9 Weeks and Counting

| Feliz Navidad / Merry Christmas |
Photo by Arquera

In the continued effort to "get my life together" it is my goal this year to have an enjoyable non-last minute Christmas - which would definitely be a first for me! One of the most important things in making that happen is the decision to have a plan and use it! In my earlier post I threw out a couple of ideas/ways to get started and am now working to continue that. Each Monday, I'm going to share my accomplishments from the past week as well as what I have before me in the upcoming week and I'd love to have you jump in and join me! So how about you - are you thinking about Christmas already? Do you have a plan brewing? Let me know - I'd love to hear where you are in the process!

Christmas Accomplishments
  • several gifts purchased
  • gift list made
  • started working on holiday budget
Christmas Goals 10/20-10/26
  • fine tune/finish holiday budget
  • pick up replacement Christmas tree lights
  • work on Christmas card list
  • pick up gift cards on holiday gift list
  • pick out World Vision gifts and order
  • move Trigger downstairs to make room for tree
Thinking Forward
  • Christmas card pic
  • think through decorations
  • think through Christmas "schedule"

Friday, October 17, 2008

What makes exercise work for you?

in step
Photo by patrick dentler

I make no bones about it - I'm not a HUGE exercise fan. I've always had friends who were...friends who reveled in it, seemed to truly enjoy it and couldn't wait for more. Folks - that just IS NOT ME! I have always said that the only way to get me to run was if a bear was chasing me...and then I'd think about it! LOL

Adidas for workout
Photo by kekka

We go through spells around here of exercising consistently and then something seems to happen. Last year we did really great - in April, we both started going to the Y regularly and watching our diets....and we both lost weight....and were very dedicated....even took the jogging stroller and walked most every morning of vacation (last year) and then when we got back home, we crashed and burned. Ugh! The especially bad part is I was starting to get some real muscle definition and just gave it all up!

Bootcamp Harness Exercise
Photo by ggvic

We've recently been talking more about exercise and the need for it, and Brad, who had then been going to the Y almost daily for 2 weeks asked me - "What would make exercise work for you?" that was a great question! As I pondered it, I really couldn't come up with any one great answer other than I let a lot of excuses get in my way...
  • it took too much time to go to the Y
  • W didn't enjoy staying in the nursery and would cry when I left him
  • I had other "stuff" to do
  • I didn't enjoy it
  • blah, blah, blah
Photo by ericmcgregor

I agreed that I definitely needed to get back with it, and made the decision to get started the next day. I've also given thought to what could make exercise more positive for me...
  • have music I like on my ipod
  • pack a bag the night before
  • use Brad's going as a challenge for me
  • put a list in my blog sidebar
  • be accountable to Brad for going/not going
  • strive towards 4 days of exercise a week
and then I found one that motivates me most:
  • have podcasts I enjoy on my ipod
I know - again - not rocket science...but I'm somewhat "music-ed out" days, and don't have anything else just calling my name. But there is some great Christian teaching out there that I love to hear, I'm just often not by a radio at the right time each day to hear it...but downloading the podcasts is easy and free - and it really works to keep me motivated! In fact, I'm looking forward to finishing a podcast today that I started tomorrow, and that will help make sure that I get to the Y!

Paddling her way to fitness
Photo by Michel Filion

So how about you - what's standing in the way of you and exercise? What would make exercise work for you? Are you ready to get started living a healthier life? Jump in - it's never too late!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blueberry Cake - Afternoon Delight

A few Saturdays ago, our church had a big Saturday baptism event (602 baptized at 2 campuses) - before the actual baptism started, we did a tailgate to celebrate people publicly professing their faith in Christ. One of the ladies we tailgated with brought the most wonderfully delicious blueberry cake and was kind enough to share the recipe. We have enjoyed it immensely, so I thought I would pass it on here! Walker (who won't hardly eat vegetables or fruit) will wolf this down, blueberries and all, with no problem. We don't let him eat a lot of sweets, but I figure a cake with real fruit in it has got to be better than just plain cake! Hope you'll enjoy!

Blueberry Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 block cream cheese
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Mix all ingredients together with mixer - after blended well, fold in 2 cans of drained, rinsed blueberries. (Make sure that you use blueberries in juice, not the pie filling type.) I actually used frozen blueberries, and they worked fine too. Grease bundt pan before filling with batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes until browned. Cake will be moist (and delicious)!

Giveaway Alert

It's another Lisa Leonard giveaway! Head on over to Small Notebook for your chance to enter and while you're there, take a look around - it's one of my favorite new blog finds! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

WFMW - Is Christmas sneaking up on you?

A few weeks ago, while reading one of my current favorite blogs, SimpleMom, she brought up the point that Christmas was 12 weeks away - WOW - and now that 2 weeks have gone by, that means that as of tomorrow, Christmas will be 10 weeks away - where does the time go???

I'm a procrastinator by nature, and tend to let significant days like this catch me off guard - not sure why - but it's definitely something I'm working to change! I've said for the past 2 years that I would not be doing my Christmas shopping in December...and both years I've done the majority of my shopping the 2 weeks before Christmas - yuck!

I am DETERMINED that this year will be different! For starters, I'll be 8+ months pregnant by the time Christmas rolls around...the thought of hauling me, baby belly & Walker through the crowds doing last-minute shopping is down-right distasteful! order to prevent that happening - it's time to take action now! And that means a plan! Start thinking now (and making lists) - who do you need/want to buy for? What do you need to buy? Who do you want to spend time with? What decorations do you want to enjoy for the season?

When we were first married, we never had super extravagant Christmases, but we also didn't do a lot of budgeting for them either. Thankfully we were typically able to cash flow them, but it can still make for a hectic, stressful holiday season. A few years back, we started a Christmas Club with our local credit union and now, every month, they deduct $100 from our checking account, and to be honest, we never miss the money. Then come Nov 1, we get $1200 to spend as we want on Christmas - and knowing that money is budgeted and available makes such a difference! (Now I realize that amount may not be right for everyone - but it's the idea that matters more than the amount - you can adjust that for your family.) It's also obviously a little late in the year to start looking at a Christmas Club for this year - but that doesn't mean that you can't go on and get started for next year! It's the planning ahead that makes the difference!

But for this year - what can you do? I have a friend who knows that they do the majority of their Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart & Lowes - so she picks up a $20 or $25 giftcard every time she goes in to help spread the load out some. Even if she's not ready to start buying actual gifts in October, she is still spreading the monetary load of Christmas and that makes a difference - and it's not too late to give it a try. You could also take some cash out of every paycheck and stick it in an envelope at home and begin to build a Christmas fund. Do you have holiday baking to do? Start picking up extras at the grocery store now. There are lots of options - the main one is just to do something and not be caught off guard come Dec 15! If you know you're going to spend money on Christmas (and most of us are) - start working on and through that now...don't wait til the last minute and think that credit is the only answer...which leads to my next point...

Vow to use only cash this year for Christmas - don't fall for the temptation to "charge it" - so many families spend MONTHS in the new year trying to recover from Christmas. DON'T DO IT! All it takes is one year to break that horrible cycle! Tell your friends and family that this year is a homemade Christmas - they won't mind and if they do...well, that's another post! We've done this several times a few years back when we were working hard to get out of debt (thank you Dave Ramsey!) and no one ever minded and we still get requests for our homemade toffee popcorn!

It's also okay not to buy your children a million gifts! Our little guy just turned 2, and honestly, we haven't bought him much of anything for the past 2 Christmases - he just didn't need it, and got plenty from the rest of the family. This year, we do have several items planned (and already one purchased!), but we're only buying things we want him to have, not gifts just to have a big stack under the tree. I have other friends whose kids (they have 3) get 3 presents from them each year (and I'm pretty sure none of them are super extravagant) - Baby Jesus got 3 gifts from the Wise Men, so their kids get 3 as well. What a great thought in this age of commercialism!

As Brad and I have been out and about the last few weeks, we've already picked up a few things for Walker - one thing that we both love is to have memorable/meaningful ornaments on our tree. We've already gotten 3 for him this year and I don't think any have cost more than $3 - he is super into tractors, and we found a John Deere one at Wal-Mart & then last week at World Market, Brad spotted 2 cute giraffe ornaments. Walker loves giraffes at the zoo (GEE-raffes as he calls them) - so these were also a natural. As we look back over the years, how neat to be able to remember what he loved and was interested in during 2008 when he was just 2. We've also picked up a bigger ticket item - this one was one I had wanted to get for awhile, and last week, found it and was able to use a 55% off coupon on it as well- woo hoo! Now that's what I'm talking about!

So all of that to say - start thinking about Christmas TODAY! Don't let it sneak up and catch you off guard. I'm trying to follow along with SimpleMom as she works through her 12 weeks of Christmas - feel free to join in! Flylady also has a Holiday Control journal that she gives away as a free download on her site - I've used it in years past and it's also an invaluable tool. I'm going to work to start posting my progress here on Mondays to help hold me accountable - feel free to come back and join in so that you too can have an enjoyable holiday season this year! For more great WFMW ideas, head on over to RocksinmyDryer! Hope to see you next week!

Wordless Wednesday - Birthday Party Fun

As you can see - Walker was a big fan of the cake at Zach & Thomas' birthday party this past weekend - he ate at least 2 pieces!

For other Wordless Wednesday posts head on over to 5minutesformoms and check out some other great pics!

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Sleeping Angel

5minutesformom is hosting a great bedding giveaway this month in which South Shore Furniture is giving away a bedroom set to one lucky winner - how fun! Sneaking pics of Walk-man sleeping is a favorite thing of mine, so I knew I had lots of sweet pics that would work and that it would be fun to enter! Head on over to 5minutesformom to find all of the other links to sweet sleeping young'uns. And while we'd love to win the Summer Breeze set to use for Walker...we're just thrilled to have such a cutie pie to watch sleep!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Baby News & Walker's 2 Year Checkup

Sorry for the slowness in getting this post out...there's been lots going on lately, and posting is lower on the priority list in order to continue to work to Get Things Done!!! However, I did finally manage to change my blog template last week in anticipation of letting the world know that in January 2009 we will have a sweet baby girl make her apperance in the world! My due date is Jan 15th, and if she follows Walker's lead, who knows when she'll be born! :) (He was 9 days late and I was induced at that!) We'll see :)

We also went in for Walker's 2 year check-up last week - he's always been low in the weight percentiles (usually around 20th% or so) - he's now up to 28.09 pounds, which bumped him to the 52nd% - I've never been super concerned about his weight, but it's certainly nice to know the percentile is going up and not down! He's 36 inches tall - which puts him in the 88th% - about where he's always been. I love that he is growing and healthy and his doctor is pleased. And, barring any major sickness this year, other than a flu shot in a few weeks, he isn't due for a check-up again until he's 3! Woo hoo!

On another positive note, we've had great family time and a lot of fun lately - Brad and I are continuing to make progress on some of the changes we desire to make both personally and in the business. We were up at 5 this morning (though somewhat begrudgingly) to go to the Y - we are both on a quest to exercise more and live more healthfully. To help me out, I'm going to try posting my exercise days on my sidebar - hopefully it will provide some much needed encouragement and accountability! I do love that although we're now in our 30s we're both continuing to evaluate our lives and to try to be the best stewards of what God has given us and make changes when need be. Some areas, we're really doing well in - others, not so much - but we're working together as a team to conquer those, and together, I really do believe we can do anything! How about you - anything you need some accountability & encouragement with this week? Hope you have a great week!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

WFMW - Use Your Pantry

It's no big secret that the economy is not doing as well now as it has been at other times over the past years...while I'm not a purveyor of gloom & doom, I do think that we as moms & home managers can be doing our part to mitigate the situation! Enter your pantry!!

When I was pregnant with my little boy, the smell of food cooking would turn my stomach, and we fell into the bad habit of eating out more often than we should. He turned 2 last week, and unfortunately, we have only recently begun to curb this bad habit. And a lot of it had to do with my lack of planning!!! Suddenly it would be 6:00 and no dinner, no plans & a restaurant seemed like the only resort. Some folks can walk into a kitchen, throw a few things together and always walk out with a spectacular meal. Folks, that simply is not me. We have discovered that I like to cook from a recipe - I like to have a plan - I like to know that dinner has a good chance of turning out well. That realization about myself was very important!

1. Know what's in your pantry, keep it organized & use it! A pantry is a great tool that we moms have - we can buy items when they're on sale and use them accordingly. This can lead to a great savings in the food budget (not to mention the savings created by simply eating at home!) In the pic below, you can see a shelf in my pantry that is somewhat in disarray right now...that's because I have 3 boxes of tacos and too much pasta to count. This happened because I didn't quite know what was lurking on that shelf before one of my last shopping runs. I intend to work through some of these extras in the coming weeks and return this pantry shelf to a bit more order. Figure out what works for you - do you keep a running grocery list on the kitchen counter, your fridge, in the computer? Keep a list, use it when you're menu planning and don't over-buy and don't under utilize what you already have!

2. Remember that your pantry extends beyond your physical pantry!
For me, that means my freezer & my baking cabinet. I have dedicated one kitchen cabinet to my baking goodies (flour, sugar, baking spices, chocolate chips, boxed mixes, cookbooks, etc. Unfortunately it could also use a little help right now (my recipes are definitely out of control!) - but when it's time to bake, I know right where to go!

I also am fortunate enough to have a standing freezer - at times in our marriage it hasn't had much in it, but we now try to stock it when we find sales (especially on meat) and then work through those to eat week-to-week for less $$. You can check out this post for how we deal with buying those meats in larger quantities - it's specific to ground beef, but we do the same thing for other meats as well. Just remember to label (Sharpies are a blessing!) so that you don't have to guess at what you've got! One of the other things we try to do - especially in the freezer - is keep a running list of what's in there. Sometimes we do better than others, but it certainly is handy to know (without having to go look in a cold freezer) if I have 2 lbs of ground beef or none.

2. Have a weekly plan!! Some folks plan by the week - some by the month - but however you choose to do it, JUST DO IT!!! I truly don't mind cooking - I hate coming up with the plan - that has led my husband and I to our current arrangement. We do menu planning together - usually on a weekend - that takes the pressure off of me and we have a game plan for the week. I've also found some great resources both online & on FoodTV.

Leanne Ely, aka the Dinner Diva, has a website with tons of resources for us moms. She has traditional menu plans that you can purchase in 3 month increments - I've used these in the past and they're fantastic. She has also expanded to include freezer menus, meat-specific menus, heart-healthy menus...the list goes on and on. She also offers some free samples so that you can get a taste of what she has to offer before needing to subscribe. Definitely check her out!

Another favorite of mine is Robin Miller on FoodNetwork - her show usually showcases 3 meals, 2 of which come from the same meat base, so that you're only cooking that meat once, and then utilizing the leftovers in a 2nd recipe. All of her stuff is quick and easy and great for someone like me who doesn't want to be in the kitchen for hours. One of the best things about her show, is it has helped train my brain to look for ways to "reuse" left0vers and to plan for leftovers that I can then use later in the week. Her way of cooking has been a great resource for me!

And then who hasn't heard of Rachel Ray? Quick, easy, tasty meals that are fun to make - again - a great resource!

So at the end of the day ladies - make sure that you have a plan and make sure that it includes your pantry! Not only can you save money, you can also save your sanity at the same time! I am happy to report that we greatly tightened up on our eating out budget for the month of Sept and that caused us to really rely on our meal plan - and we did it! We had a significant eating out surplus as of the end of the month! And we really didn't ever feel deprived...we just only ate out when we planned to, and not as a last resort. For us - that's huge - and the pantry played a huge role! For more great WFMW ideas, head on over to Rocks in my Dryer and check out other great kitchen ideas!