Introduction: Meal Planning

My Mom is an excellent cook.

She is the type of cook that can make anything without looking at a recipe and make it fabulous. Everyone comments on her cooking. She came to the United States from Singapore in the 80’s and met my dad. Her cooking is an amazing fusion of Asian and American. Everything has flavor- blah foods are not her style.

I am not a cook. I tell this to people all the time, but I never take time to explain. My standards for good food are always judged against my Mom’s food. When we go out, its always, “the food is good but…” While, we do have our favorite restaurants and our favorite dishes, we usually are quick to judge them. Because of this, I am critical.

I feel like my story is common- everyone has a good cook in their family and some people learned to become good cooks themselves.

“I learned from my Grandma.”

“I learned from my Aunt.”

“I learned from my Dad.”

Well, I didn’t.

This isn’t to say I am not adequate. I know how to chop onions, boil eggs, and follow recipes. In fact, I follow recipes very well. Recipes are in-tune with my personality- a set of plans that I follow. I am not a rule breaker- I don’t stray from plans or recipes. I don’t add more of this or take away that. This is what makes me, in my mind, an adequate cook.

So where does this leave me? Clean kitchen… frozen meals… mac n cheese?


I am about to turn thirty with two young boys, and I am was generally a mess with meals. I was all over the place. We were eating out too much and spending too much money on food that was all the same. So I came up with a plan.

After scouring Pinterest for ideas, I came up with a plan to stick with. I visited and searched for the most reviewed, most “stared” recipes in the following categories:

  1. -American
  2. -Mexican
  3. -BBQ
  4. -Casserole
  5. -Italian
  6. -Asian
  7. -Misc. (appetizers, desserts, breakfast, smoothies)

6 Categories for 6 nights of cooking, 1 night to go out.

I decided to use because I feel confident with reviews. When I buy something on Amazon, I read reviews. When I book a hotel, I read reviews. I figure if 4,000 other people have made this recipe and they generally love it, then I have a higher chance of my family enjoying it too. My main goals are to:

  1. become more organized with meals
  2. learn different recipes of different genres

I am going to be sharing my weekly menus, with links to the recipes on here so you can follow along. I love using because I am able to see the nutrition content per serving, and I am able to change the number of portions easily on the site. So whether you are cooking for 1 or 10, they have you covered. I also planned out a different breakfast for each day of the week. This has saved me a tremendous amount of time.

Here are some of my guidelines:

  • Each recipe I cook has at least 1000 reviews with 4.5 or better stars.
  • I follow the recipe as written.
  • I stick to the genre for the day (Mexican, Asian, Etc.) except….
  • BBQ day is also a flex day. If it is too hot, cold, or inconvenient to BBQ, I will substitute for cooking the meal in the oven, or cook another recipe of another genre.
  • We eat out one day a week.
  • First day of the week is Monday. I generally do my planning and publish the next week’s plan on Friday. I do my shopping for the week on Sunday.

Also keep in mind:

  • I will not estimate the time it takes to prepare and cook. Allrecipes includes an estimate on each recipe, but I am not sure how accurate it is.
  • I cannot promise that each meal will be $XX.XX for the week. I will start posting my receipt for the items that I purchased for the week. This should only be used as a guideline because I may have a different amount of people I am feeding, I may already have items needed for the week’s recipes, etc. Too many variables.
  • This is a good guide to start learning an array of recipes in different genres and become more organized with your family’s meals.
  • The first two weeks are a little crazy because we planned our vacation to California. Stick with me! I promise plans will be consistent.

Let me know if you are following along! Let others know what you think of the recipes. Let others know how long its taking you to prepare.

Check out Week 1 Meal Plan here!


Family Cleaning Schedule


Contreras Family Cleaning Schedule


  • Dishes
  • Take out the trash
  • Make beds
  • Pick Up and put away toys
  • Wipe bathroom counters
  • Vacuum (as needed)


Sunday- Planning Day

  • Meal prep
  • Grocery store
  • Mow Lawn
  • Kids Weekly Clothes Organized

Monday- Kitchen & Breakfast Room Day

  • Sweep and mop floor
  • Wipe baseboards & Cabinet Doors
  • Clean out fridge and pantry
  • Clean oven, microwave, Stove
  • Organize cabinets and drawers
  • Clean sink & Counters
  • Laundry- Daddy’s Clothes

Tuesday- Living Rooms & Dining Room Day

  • Wipe baseboards & Walls
  • Dust & Vacuum
  • Vacuum out furniture
  • Wipe Tables
  • Clean High Chairs
  • Clean windows
  • Laundry- Mommy’s Clothes

Wednesday- Bathrooms

  • Sweep and Mop Floors
  • Take Out Trash
  • Wipe baseboards & Walls
  • Dust
  • Clean toilets & Showers
  • Wipe mirrors
  • Laundry- Sheets & Towels

Thursday- Deep Clean

  • Clean vents
  • Clean fans
  • Vacuum stairs
  • Wipe down Doors & Door Knobs
  • Clean Windows
  • Tidy Up Backyard

Friday- Kids Bedrooms

  • Wipe baseboards & walls
  • Vacuum
  • Dust
  • Organize toys & Clothes
  • Laundry- Kids

Cleaning Schedule

Click here to download the Family Cleaning Schedule

Daily Schedule

Family Daily Schedule

6:30 Wake Up

6:35 Potty, Wash Face, Do Hair, Get Dressed

6:50 Breakfast

7:15 Brush Teeth

7:25 Shoes on, Gather Backpack

7:30 Leave for School

8:30 Arrive Back Home- Breakfast for zane & Change Clothes

9:45 Independent Play- Daily Chores

10:45 Quiet Time- Read, Cuddle

11:10 Make Piersons Lunch

11:30 Leave to Pick up Pierson

12:30 Arrive Back Home- Independent Play- Daily chores

1:30 Quiet Time- Nap or Read

3:00 Snack

3:30 Outside Play

5:00 Dinner Prep

6:00 Dinner is Served- One good thing about your day

6:30 Everyone Cleans Table/ Dishes

7:00 Bath Time

7:20 Get dressed, Brush Teeth, Potty

7:30 Clean up toys

7:40 Read

8:00 Goodnight Talk & Sleep





Daily Schedule

Click here to download an editable docx. Family Daily Schedule

Meal Plan: Aug25-Sept1

This is my first week! It is a little different because I am starting and ending on a Saturday because we are visiting home in California starting Saturday evening. I did not take pictures of the first meals, but I will try to in the future. has a huge collection of pictures for each recipe as well.

I have included the links to each recipe on this page, and a printable PDF that can easily be hung on the fridge for easy access.

Please review my “Introduction” post about general things to keep in mind when following along with me.

If you have the time, please drop us all a note about how it is going!

Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs
Wednesday: Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs (in the oven)

Meal Plan August 25-September 1 2018

Monday- Breakfast Burritos, American Night

Tuesday- Smoothie & Cereal, Mexican Night

Wednesday- Yogurt Parfait, BBQ Night/Misc. Night

Thursday- Eggs & Hash Browns & Toast, Casserole Night

Friday- Pancakes & Fruit, Italian Night

Saturday- Breakfast Casserole/Muffins/Misc., Dinner Out Night

Sunday- French Toast & Fruit, Asian Night

Snack Ideas:

Vegetables- carrot sticks, sliced bell peppers, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, broccoli, cauliflower, sugar snap peas

Fruits- apples, pears, grapes, fresh berries, bananas, orange slices, mandarin oranges, peaches, nectarines, melon, pineapple, apricots

Proteins- hard boiled eggs, hummus, Greek yogurt, cheese slices, cottage cheese, nuts, peanut butter, trail mix

Grains- granola bars, english muffins, graham crackers, waffles, crackers, bagels

Saturday August 25-

Sunday August 26-

Monday August 27-

Tuesday August 28-

Wednesday August 30-

Strawberry & Spinach Salad

Thursday August 31-

Friday September 1-

Saturday September 2

Weekly Meal Plan

Download the Weekly Meal Plan Aug25-Sept1 here.

Do not copy, cite, or distribute without permission of the author

Benefits of Wool

The following was adopted from the awesome Sierra Trading Post. Check it out here: “The Wool Guide.” Sierra Trading Post,

To begin, it helps to understand some of the benefits that all types of wool offer. Wool has several characteristics that other natural fibers like cotton and linen simply can’t compete with.

Wool is water resistant.

Unlike human hair or animal fur, wool fibers are actually hollow with a durable, flexible and water-repellent exterior. The structure of wool fibers is composed of small, overlapping sections, kind of like shingles on a roof. Each fiber’s core absorbs up to 30% of its weight in moisture vapor without becoming damp or clammy. Meanwhile, the hard outer layer protects against outside moisture from rain and snow.

Wool wicks moisture.

Aside from blocking most external moisture, wool fibers wick perspiration away from the body. Normally, as your sweat evaporates, heat is drawn away from your skin. This effect is comforting in hot weather, but can dampen your clothing and give you chills in colder weather. Unlike cotton, which absorbs moisture and tends to remain wet, wool actually wicks perspiration and allows it to evaporate quickly, thus keeping you warmer.

Wool is a wonderful insulator.

Wool fibers are not perfectly smooth or straight. Instead, they’re crimped, which helps produce tiny insulating air spaces that retain more heat. In a way, wool functions similarly to the puffy fiberglass insulation inside the walls of a house.

Wool is breathable and regulates temperature.

Wool has a wide comfort range, which is very helpful for adapting to changing weather conditions. This unique property makes wool the perfect fiber for crafting outerwear and insulating apparel, since it has the ability to provide warmth in colder conditions and also breathes well as temperatures warm up.

Wool is naturally odor-resistant.

You may have noticed that synthetic fabrics like polyester and polypropylene can begin to retain odors over time. Wool is much more resistant to retaining odors. Sheep’s wool is also naturally resistant to wrinkling and static.

DIY Outdoor Wedding Lighting Tips

We married in July on my grandparents property in Aptos, California (in Santa Cruz). Since we had the space to do an “at home” wedding… we leaped at the chance. My parents married on the same property 24 years prior.

Here are my tips for lighting an outdoor at home wedding.

Make sure you test out the lighting a couple days prior for the following reasons:

  • some lights can only be strung together so many times without the whole strand getting dim. Make sure to string them together before hand so you know how many can be strung together.
  • if you are running the electrical from a home… make sure to to run the lights before because your house may not provide enough electricity from one outlet.
  • make sure you have enough extension cords (extra is helpful in case of an emergency).
  • don’t use small bulb Christmas lights… I say this because we rented both and wasted money on the Christmas lights. Although Christmas lights can be strung together the connection looks tacky. Unless you find a safe way to hide the connection… I wouldn’t do it. Too much work.
  • the lights that we got from the rental store were not able to be connected together (no male and female ends) BE SURE TO CHECK WITH YOUR RENTAL COMPANY BEFORE HAND!
  • If you are stringing the lights on poles in the ground…. make sure the poles are deep enough. You have to pull the lights pretty snug so there is not too much “droop”. You don’t want your guest ducking under lights, and you don’t want the poles falling down. We used 4×4 redwood posts dug in a couple of feet. We did this months in advance.

I cant express this enough… GET THE LIGHTS EARLY… set them up days in advance.

Good luck!

Thank you for Jor.Dan Photography in Santa Cruz, California for this picture. 


Wedding Set

My husband took great pride in picking out the perfect ring for me. I only told him I wanted something with a vintage feel. My set was from Kay Jewelers line from the Neil Lane collection. It is a custom 1.2 carat center, has hand finished milgrain beading and scroll work. It is accompanied by the matching band.

Photograph taken by Jor.Dan Photography from Santa Cruz, California.