I’m a people watcher. I’m really not trying to be rude… I’m simply intrigued by the personalities various people have and the way they interact with others. So, not surprisingly, I found myself people-watching in the slow-moving check out line at Wal-Mart one day. Directly in front of me was a mother and a couple of her teenage daughters. As they emptied their overflowing carts onto the conveyer belt, the following conversation ensued: “Ugh! Look at all of this crap food. It’s embarrassing!” You could tell they felt that the food they were buying wasn’t the best and regretted the effect on their health, but likely their reasoning would be the belief that it costs much less than healthier options.
Next to the belief that a gigantic bowl of “whole grain” cereal is a healthy breakfast, I think the greatest myth we believe when it comes to food is that eating healthy means added expense. Eating well does not have to cost you any more – and with a little work, will likely cost less. Case in point: Three years ago we made some pretty major eating changes. As I piled my cart with more protein and produce and fewer packages, I really anticipated my grocery bill to be higher. Instead my bill was less on average. What?!
So, what are some easy tips to follow to make eating healthy a possibility on your budget?
Choose your store wisely. Shopping at Aldi has been the single best decision for our grocery budget. On average my grocery shops are about 30% less than I would spend for the same thing at any other grocery store. Obviously, not everyone has one located conveniently, so consider your local options for budget friendly shopping.
Shop in season. It’s not new advice, but it can save a lot of money to enjoy produce that’s currently in season
Shop the ads. Plan your weekly menu around the weekly specials where you shop. Remember: the goal is eating healthy food. Focus on those produce and protein pages of the flyers.
Cut the junk food. Junk food isn’t good for you, doesn’t truly fill you up, and it’s expensive.
Consider shopping at Sam’s or Costco on a regular basis. Prices for meats, fruit, and veggies can be hard to beat at these stores. Let me advise you to make a list before you go and really stick with it! It’s super easy to get sidetracked and overly attached to seasonal gift sets, beautiful (and giant bottles) of shampoo, etc. That kind of shopping won’t save you money.
Take an honest look at your fridge and pantry and determine whether you NEED to go shopping or not. How often have you (or I!) stared into the refrigerator and bemoaned the fact that there was nothing to eat… when really there was. Before you go shopping, look through the food you already have and honestly evaluate what you have to work with. You’ll most likely find that you have plenty of meals waiting for you to put together.
Comment below and tell us your favorite grocery budget-slashing, health-increasing tip!
For years, I had been wanting to create a vision board before I bit the bullet and created mine. I don’t know why I waited so long- it is something I love having in my office every day, reminding me of why I do what I do and inspiring me to keep at it. There were some very helpful things that made my vision a reality (pun intended) and today I want to share those with you.
What is a vision board and why should you make one? A vision board is some sort of board you can hang things on to serve as inspiration and reminders of the “why” behind the “what” you are a part of and working towards! It can sometimes be called a dream board, inspiration board, or mood board, but I most prefer vision board because I found in the project something I could connect my vision with for each area of my life in a visible way. This serves as a tangible reminder each day for the vision behind these activities.
Throughout my long process, I’ve collected a lot of tips and information! Find below some of the best tips and tutorials I’ve discovered and come across!
Just buy a board that works- don’t overthink it. I searched and searched and searched for the “perfect” board for almost a year before going with a black-rimmed cork board. It has worked wonderfully and in retrospect, I think I kept putting off buying the board so as to not feel guilty about not starting it because I was making it too hard.
Don’t make it too hard. Sacrificing on the cutesy factor a bit for the sake of getting it done isn’t a bad thing if you won’t do it otherwise! (Case in point: I put mine off for almost a whole additional year after buying my board(!!!)- and only got it done when I decided to just start with the basics and not try to do something I didn’t have time for.)
Make time to get it done. It’s worth it!
Make sure to include inspiration for all of the things you have your hands to. For me, that was school, work, ministry, personal development, future, and relationships! Now, when I’m in the midst of a busy season across all areas, I have inspiration that serves to remind me of any I’m doing what I’m doing!
Close to My Heart presents a streamlined process for creating the content of your vision board, and ultimately I very much copied the entire look of the vision board presented here! Check it out here to find out how to get started with the plan for your vision board.
Cover a cork board in fabric for a lovely look that adds beauty to any space! Homemaking Rebel provides all of the info on how to do this here.
Go simple and chic with a monogrammed board. Landeelu does a spectacular job of making a beautiful board very simple here.
Get fancy with fine frames. Bachelors Way has a great tutorial on an easy way to upgrade your board here.
Go for another type of frame with this one from the House of Smiths. Find out step by step instructions here.
Get burlapped! Learn how to create this rustic look curtesy of All Things Heart & Home here.
Use printables- Dawn Nicole Designs has some beautiful ones that easily add inspiration to your board! Check those out here.
Set practical content in front of you with this fabulous example from The Fit Switch- find that here.
Take a look at this formula for inspirational success from Studio McGee to take your board to the next level. Find that here.
Go more simplistic and understated with this beautiful example from Nicole at the Odyssey Online here.
Which of these is your favorite? Have you done a vision board before? Tell us in the comments below!
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The great outdoors. Sleeping under the stars.Hiking.Cooking on an open fire. S’mores. Crisp nighttime air. Two toddlers.
Whoa, Nelly. Hold it right there. Toddlers? Camping? Are you crazy?
Yep. And we’ve been crazy three times. That is, we’ve taken three camping trips with our little brood. Our first trip as a family was just a weekend away at a nearby state park with my husband’s family. Our boys were 6 months old and 2 1/2 years old. The second trip was a weekend away – just the four of us – for my husband’s birthday. Our most recent camping trip was a 9 DAY event – it was an organized retreat of sorts. For perspective, our definition of camping is tent camping at a water/electric site.
We’ve learned a lot from each trip and today I want to share those things with you, so that you can also enjoy successful camping trips with your youngsters.
–Pack extra flexibility. Expect overtired kiddos, early naps, a restless night here and there, and lots of memories. Pull out the flexibility to make them good memories. Your camping trip will be different from your pre-kid trips, but they’ll be fantastic if you come with the right expectations.
–Careful campsite selection. If you have potty trained littles, pick a spot within just a short walk of a bathhouse. I prefer clearer spots away from water and brushy areas…. just for peace of mind. We also try to avoid busier areas if possible. Toddlers are going to wander a little – even under close supervision – and if we can avoid them wandering to busy streets, we can all rest a little bit.
-Which brings me to another point… Take a sharpie and write your camp site location on your toddler’s hand. That way – God forbid – should they wander off, they can easily be returned to their family.
–Dirty kids. This is something we’ve got to improve our game in. Expect your kiddos to get grimy – and enjoy letting them have the opportunity to do so. Just bring along a plan for a way to wash them. Both of my boys are gun-shy around showers – which is about all you’ll find in a bathhouse. My plan of attack next time is to bring a simple plastic bin to prepare some warm (an electric kettle really simplifies the camping life!) soapy water and a big stack of clean wash cloths and towels so we can make sponge baths happen nightly and have clean kids without the unpleasant shower experience. Also, bring SEVERAL changes of clothes. I can’t count how many times our boys have gotten muddy or wet to the point that a change of clothes was mandatory.
-Bring a collapsible high chair or a booster that will securely strap to a picnic table or folding chair. This most recent camping trip, we had some major issues with our youngest (21 months) playing the old popcorn game (up and down, up and down…just sit down and eat already!) during just about every meal. It dawned upon me – too late- that he’s used to being confined in a highchair during meal time and he’s just not ready for the freedom of sitting in a chair without straps during meals. Also, think through a plan for a table of some sort (If your child is in a booster, they’ll have a tray of some kind). My 3 1/2 year old’s lap isn’t big enough to balance a large paper plate. We found it helpful to drag an ice chest over next to his camp chair to make a little table for him.
–Pack snacks. Lots of snacks. Camping usually involves a LOT more physical activity than most of us are used to at home… which means ravenous appetites. Granola bars, yogurt cups, applesauce pouches, and crackers all make quick and easy snacks. I’d also advise packing some juice boxes. My boys are great water drinkers, thankfully, but I still find it helpful to have something extra (and tempting for them!) to encourage them to stay hydrated. If you’re concerned about the extra sugar, the Honest juice boxes can be a good option, as they’re not nearly as sugary.
-We enjoy picking out a special camping chairs and sleeping bags (for those old enough to not sleep in a pack-n-play) for our kiddos. It makes it fun for them and makes them more likely to sit/sleep in their designated spot. We found some cute patterned items at Walmart for great prices and they’ve held up over several trips.
–Pick your season wisely. We’d take a chilly fall camping trip over a warm spring/summer trip any day. It’s darker sooner, which means greater bedtime success and it’s cooler, which means our boys sleep better/later because their warm, snuggly blankets feel so good.
–Camping with little ones isn’t the time to go hardcore and really rough it. Don’t hesitate to pack a small space heater to warm your tent up before bedtime, if you expect cold nights.
–Take a sound machine. It can drown out so much noise – cars driving by, new arrivals setting up camp, or the loud card game going down at the campsite next to you.
–Prepare for the elements and unexpected, like rain or bug bites. Rain boots, Crocs, or flip flops can really help if there are puddles to splash in or mud to run through. A lightweight hoodie is going to be a lot more practical and effective to keep heads dry, rather than trying to keep an umbrella over them. As far as unexpected ouchies and itchies, I make sure to pack my most used, diverse essential oils. Quick, easy, and they don’t take up much room.
-Just like any out-of-town trip, make sure you set your kiddo up for success by packing their favorite (and most critical) routine items… this is not the time to leave the paci, bottle of warm milk, or special lovey behind.
–One thing that we’ve found challenging up until our last camping trip was naptimes! It can be so challenging to young children to halt play and be stuck in a sleeping bag or play pen in broad daylight. I’m not sure I’d sleep very well, either. This last time, I finally found something that works (at least for our kiddos). We buckled our child (only our youngest naps at the moment) into the stroller, laid the seat all the way pack, gave him his nap time usuals (paci, milk, and stuffed puppy), and went on a shaded walk. Each time he was out cold within minutes. You can continue the walk or go back to camp and park in the shade at your campsite for the remainder of the nap. Obviously, this is what worked for one baby…. and the solution for your child might be different, but think about your plan before your ever leave home and set your toddler up for success.
-If you plan to do some light hiking, come prepared with either a good stroller or baby carrier.
-For two of our camping trips, we had a baby who was not yet walking. Having a pack-n-play for the baby to play in helped keep him happy while hanging out at the camp site. Also, bringing along a cushy picnic blanket to put on the grass helps give them a clean and protected area to crawl around on.
-For us big people, sitting around and drinking a cup of coffee might be enough entertainment, but little ones need variety. I pack a variety of outdoor toys when we camp… a ball to kick, trucks to roll around, and something to dig in the dirt with will all be helpful.
–My in-laws are awesome campers. Seriously. They’ve spoiled me forever. One of my favorite things they do is set up a large tent to be the kitchen. It’s a great place to store ice chests, prepare a cup of coffee (again – an electric kettle will be your friend!), contain kiddos while you tackle food prep, etc.
– Danielle C. tells me that when they go camping they have a small tent (2 person size) that is the designated game tent. They clean up the kids, get them ready for bed, and then let them go to town with games, flashlights, coloring books, etc.
-Rachel reminded me of a great tip… Pack a TON of baby wipes. They’ll make clean hands and freshening up before PJs so much easier.
-Holly and Rachel both suggested keeping a toddler potty at your campsite. That sounds like a really great and simple solution if you’d rather not venture out for 2 am potty trips with your kids.
-Ashley suggests the following, “As for bathroom issues, we camped close to the trees and the boys just went and did their business there during the night. I have a woman’s funnel that I bought off Amazon called a P-Easy that [my daughter] and I use. I know! Weird! BUT it works Amazingly well! I would just use an empty water jug with a lid to use the bathroom in and keep a Thieves cleaner bottle close to clean everything. I don’t like getting up during the night so it saved me from having to make a lot of noise leaving the tent .”
-Danielle P. agrees that bringing an abundance of outdoor toys will be helpful. She says her kids especially enjoy having every kind of sports ball available for play time. As a bonus tip, she suggested making sure each child has their own flashlight. (We’ve found some good little ones for $1 each at Walmart.)
-Camarell suggests simplifying your trip by doing as much food preparation ahead of time as possible. Some tips she offers are premixing pancake batter or cracking eggs into a container before you ever leave for your trip.
–But will my children sleep? Yes. They will! Just remember to set them up for success – don’t leave behind their normal bedtime routine, pack a sound machine, bring favorite blankies and lovies to make their sleeping bed or pack-n-play feel as much like home as possible. We’ve had a cumulative two weeks or so of nights spent camping with our sons and have had maybe two rough nights. Your children are going to play SO hard that they will be completely wiped out come bed time.
–What about campfire safety? We teach our boys to not go near the fire pit, even if there is no lit fire. While on our most recent camping trip, however, I saw a family that have built a barrier – a short fence of sorts – out of scrap wood (it wasn’t this sophisticated, but here’s an idea to get you started). Just be sure to do enough to prevent little ones from toppling over and getting hurt. But ultimately, if you’re nervous about this aspect of camping, skip the fire. There is not set-in-stone law that requires a campfire and there’s nothing that says that you won’t have a fun trip without the campfire.
Leave a comment below and tell us YOUR best tips for camping with toddlers!
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Should you order through these links, we will receive a small commission off your purchase from Amazon. Don’t worry- this does not affect the purchase price of the product. Thank you for helping support this blog so that we are able to continue bringing you fresh content!