Healthy, Back to School Meals to Make Your Life Easier!

I am so excited to share this post with my readers.
I asked my good friend & Holistic Nutritionist, Stephanie Long, if she would guest post on my blog and share some easy ways to keep kids healthy in the chaos of back to school and busy morning routines and she said Yes!

Easy Overnight Oats

It’s that time of year again, back to school! For some of you, this might be your time to shine, prepping lunches, picking out stylish outfits for your kiddos, and jumping full force onto that PTA committee….and for others, it might be a time where you feel burnt out and ready to call it quits. We all do life a little differently, and today I want to let you in on some easy tips and tricks to help you to maintain a little more balance. Get ready for eager and not-so-eager moms to unite!
A good habit to get your kids into would be to start drinking a full glass of room temperature water upon waking. A dose of H2O in the morning will help to cleanse their digestive system, leading to less belly aches, more regular bowel movements, and decreases the chances of your little ball of energy getting dehydrated throughout the day. Keep them drinking water all day long, and replace those artificially flavoured, sugary drinks with good old H20!
It’s also really important that you start off your little ones day by getting some healthy, blood sugar stabilizing food into them. We want to fill them up with loads of nutritious vitamins and minerals and avoid all of those sugar laden cereals that will only lead to a disastrous crash within hours.
A quick breakfast option for your little one is overnight oats. This new breaky will become your best friend because of how simple it is to make! Simply fill half a mason jar with rolled oats (approx. ½ cup), top with fruit of choice like blueberries, strawberries, apples or bananas and top with some full of fibre seeds like hemp or ground flax. Fill the jar with milk of choice (coconut or almond are always great non-dairy alternatives, especially if your little one has a dairy sensitivity) and place in the fridge. In the morning you will be greeted with an oatmeal bowl that took next to no time to prepare. You are also avoiding any refined sugars by naturally sweetening the oats with fruit, maple syrup or honey, or a spice like cinnamon. You’re also doing an A+ job by stabilizing their blood sugar levels, which will avoid any teenager-like attitudes mid-morning, and also pump them full of beneficial B vitamins. B vitamins help to bring stress levels down and reduce any anxiety that your little one might be experiencing.
Now that we’ve got breakfast out of the way, a great snack that you can give your growing little nugget is a small container of trail mix. Nuts and seeds are full of protein, and your little growing one needs all the protein they can get. Think of protein as the building blocks of their body, and ensuring that they are getting enough is helping their cells shine and get super healthy and strong.
If your little peanut (no-pun intended!) has a nut allergy, try a snack of hummus and cut up veggies. Chickpeas are also full of protein, and hummus is so simple to make on your own. Simply toss 1 can (go for BPA free whenever possible) of chickpeas, 1 clove of garlic, juice of 1 lemon, ¼ cup tahini, ¼ cup water and 1 tablespoon of EVOO in a food processor or blender, and voila! Homemade, preservative-free hummus for your little one to enjoy.
Starting the day off feeling well-fed and less stressed will definitely set the mood for the rest of the day. Remember that making small, consistent changes over time with your little ones will set them up for a lifetime of success!

Stephanie Long is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist who specializes in digestive issues, food sensitivities, anti-inflammatory diets and skin care. She provides one-on-one consultations to clients through You can also check her out on Instagram @stephanielongnutrition or on Facebook – Stephanie Long Nutritionist.


Free Anniversary Date Ideas

Next week my husband and I will celebrate our 7 year wedding anniversary!
These past 7 years have been some of the best and most challenging years of my life. 
We welcomed three babies into the world, bought our first house, sold that house, bought our second home, went through career changes and learned a whole lot about who we are as individuals and as couples. 
In the past we have gone away for our anniversary but this year we are going to stay local and enjoy each others company.
As part of journey to find simplicity and choose making memories over purchasing material items we have decided to keep our anniversary low key this year. 
I sat down and came up with a list of 25 Free Anniversary Date Ideas.

Free Anniversary Date Ideas

1. Farmers Market

2. Make your own Pizza Night

3. Go to the beach

4. Write out your love story together with pictures 

5. Have a picnic and talk about future goals

6. Go Fishing

7. Tour Open houses for Design Inspiration

8. Go to Costco and eat the samples

9. Visit your favourite Main Street and window shop

10. Visit the place you were married 

11. Visit the place you met

12. Create and hide a time capsule

13. Fly a kite

14. Look through old photographs

15. Do Karaoke

16. Have a dance party in your living room

17. Play Board Games

18. Play Truth or Dare

19. Play Tennis at a local court

20. Attend Free Festivals in Nearby towns

21. Have breakfast at sunrise by the beach

22. Write love notes to each other

23. Slowdance in your living room to your wedding song

24. Learn a new language together

25. Each record a video of wishes for each other for 

the future and post it to youtube to look back on

I like to extend any holiday/special occasion as long as I possibly can and  plan on crossing off as many of these activities as possible over the next week. 
What are some ways you celebrate your special someone without breaking the bank?
Have a great Weekend.


How I Cut Our Grocery Bill in Half

In the past 6 months I've spent a lot of time thinking about money.
I started working when I was 15 years old and most of high school I had at least 2 part time jobs. 
 In the past 6 months I've cut down to working a maximum of 20 hours a month so I can spend more time raising my children. 
This has forced me to be aware of every penny that comes in and out of our account.
It has become almost addicting to budget and be accountable for every penny.
One place we used to  spend  blow a lot of our money was on Food. 
I believe at one point we were spending close to 1,200 a month on groceries for a family of 5.
 I justified our over spending by telling myself that Food is a necessity.
Yes, food is a necessity but it is not necessary to spend as much as 1200 a month on groceries, even for a family of five.
The past 6 months I've become really good at saving money on groceries, really really good at it actually.
I went from spending close to 1200 a month on groceries to spending under $600 a month for our family of five and I don't even coupon!
Here is how I changed our spending habits in 7 Easy Steps.

Make a budget at stick to it 
I know, I know.
Budget is a scary word. 
Guess what - being an adult is scary and life will be a whole lot scarier if you do not have a budget in place. 
Sit down with your spouse, take a look at your finances and see how much your grocery budget should be and Stick to it! 

Shop Your Pantry and Make a List
I used to go to the grocery store and pick up whatever my stomach desired.
I didn't even look at the price which is SO crazy to me now. 
Now I don't ever go grocery shopping without first taking inventory of what food we already have in our kitchen and writing out a detailed list of what I need to complete meals based on what we already have. 
I find I can go a lot longer between big shops now that I take inventory of my pantry before I go shopping. 

Meal Plan based on your Pantry Inventory
6 months ago I used to come home from work and have no Idea what I was going to make for dinner so we would end up ordering in. 
Not only did I waste our money by doing this it wasted food that I already had in the house. 
After I take inventory of our pantry, I sit down and write out a weekly meal plan with the items I already have on hand. 

Price Match
Yes - I'm that woman in line price matching all her food.
I'm fully aware that most of you behind me in line are giving me dirty looks.
 I get it - because once upon a time I used to get annoyed too.
Do you know what is even more annoying than waiting in line behind someone who is price matching? 
Spending hundreds more a month on groceries than you need to. 
I have saved anywhere from $5 to $150 per grocery shop by price matching. 
It doesn't have to be time consuming either as long as you are organized. 
I will save this for another post though.

Buy meat in bulk
I used to buy meat every week and every week meat would get thrown out and wasted.
Now I buy meat once a month in bulk at Costco.
I usually buy a big thing of ground beef, chicken and sausage and divide them up into freezer bags and place them in the freezer to have on hand when I need it.
We don't eat a lot of meat in our house so this is perfect for our family.
We used to throw a lot of meat out and now there is no need to waste the food or the money.

Do not shop on an empty stomach.
I swear this will save you at least $20 every grocery shop.

Shop alone at first.
I know grocery shopping is a wonderful opportunity to teach your little ones all sorts of things from the Food Groups to Budgeting, but if you are trying to get into a new spending routine yourself leave the kids at home if possible to avoid over spending. 
When I first experimented with cutting my grocery bill in half I shopped alone so I could get a feel for sticking to my budget without little ones throwing all their favourite treats into the cart. 
Now that I'm pretty much a grocery shopping expert, I bring the kids along with me. 
They know that Mommy has a list and budget to stick to and they have become really good at understand needs vs. wants. 
I usually leave room in the budget for them to pick one snack each under a certain dollar amount.
 If they know they have $4 to spend on a treat they know they can buy one thing for $4 or two $2 items. 

I would love to hear how you save money on groceries. 
Do you price match? Coupon? What works or doesn't work for you?
Let me know in the comments below. 

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