There's an App for that...3 things that make my life easier

Oh my goodness, guys. Why do I fight technology so much when it comes to planning?! There must be some little Wendell Berry living in my soul fighting against the technology that exists to make my life easier because I fight and I fight and then I try something and bam - my life is changed and I wonder why I waited so long. Because I've got three smallish kids and I homeschool and Norah just slept through the night for the first time (like a real sleep through the night, waking up at 7am sleeping through the night!). I'm tired. My brain is mush. And if there is something I can do to keep things running smoothly, well, I do not need to be fighting it.

YNAB - Y'all should know I love YNAB like crazy. I wrote all about it here just because I wanted to share it with y'all. So when they announced an affiliate program, I knew I could do that and feel good about it. Because affiliate or not, I love to talk to people about YNAB. I also love my new (to us) minivan that YNAB helped me save for and I love not having student loan payments anymore. Also, I've had to use their customer support (because of a silly error on my part) and I was very happy with the quick response I got and the fact that they didn't laugh at the silly error that was messing me up. (I'd share what it was but honestly, I'm too embarrassed. It was a blonde moment on my part).

Plan to Eat - This one is newer to me but so far, I'm in love. I have been struggling with meal planning lately. I'm done a weekly meal plan every week for the past 10 years so you'd think I'd be better at it! But far too often lately I'd just sit and stare at the blank paper, feeling uninspired. I also have a bad habit of writing my grocery list on the same piece of paper as my menu but then losing (ahem, recycling) the list after I finish shopping and there is no way I can rely on my memory these day.

Craig had encouraged me to look into some meal planning services several times but I didn't like the idea of someone else picking out what we'd fix. With fluctuating dietary needs and kid's taste (mine aren't picky in the traditional sense but they have weird tastes. Like Lucy doesn't like pasta and they both love fish and soup. Jonah's also decided he no longer likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which seems like a cruel trick but that's a different story), I felt like I'd be making too many adjustments for it to be worth it. So I brushed off the idea.

But a little while ago, I stumbled upon Plan to Eat and after dismissing in 2-3 times earlier, I actually stopped and looked at it. Plan to Eat is different. I use my meals, either imputing them manual or using their url input feature to get them easily from websites and then I can plug them easily into the calendar and it makes my shopping list for me. I did the free 30 day trial and wow, game changer! I can also tag them with things standard tags (crock-pot, quick, vegetarian,etc) but I can make my own. The kids are doing an cooking class this semester so when I find a recipe that they can do most of themselves, I can tag it.

Make your own pasta salad night. Jonah peeled the veggies and cut the mozzarella (knife) and pepperoni (scissors), Lucy made the Italian dressing and cut up the peppers and carrots. All I did was cook some pasta and opened a can of beans. They picked what they wanted and we shook it all up - and then they actually ate it! Even the bell peppers! (But no, Lucy didn't eat her pasta. I'd sigh but she ate her beans and cheese and veggies so it was still a win)

I'm also starting up a sourdough starter so I've saved a few recipes and tagged them with sourdough. I'll be honestly, I've never succeeded in my sourdough attempts in the past so that may be unreasonable ambitious of me but its growing really well so far and I'm just days away from being able to bake with it!

Baby Sourdough. So cute! Okay, not really. But bubbly - which is even better!

 I'm excited about meal planning now. It also includes my prep automatically on the calendar so no more scrambling to come up with a different dinner because I forgot to take the meat out to thaw or soak the beans. I think one of my favorite features is the freezer list though. It tracks what I put in the freezer! I love to make doubles of meals and stash them away but too often I forget what I have and its not exactly easy to dig through my deep freezer in the basement to look around when I've also got 1/4 of a cow in there.  Basically, I'm in love. I'm back to spending my time in the kitchen cooking and baking, which I love, instead of  deciding what to feed all these people that don't want to starve, which I don't love. at all. So I'm paying for it now and I've signed up to be an affiliate for that as well. It's only a couple of bucks a month and for me, it's definitely worth it.

Cozi - Okay, this one doesn't cost anything (for the basic one which is what I use) and I'm not an affiliate. I just like it. Cozi is an app that you share with someone. It has a shared calendar, to-do list and groceries list. We only use the shared grocery list although as the kid's get older and involved in more things, I can see using the shared calendar. It makes it so easy for me to let Craig know what he needs to bring home. Gone are the days of my texting him over the day with "can you get this" ...oh, and this...but nevermind about that." We can also both add to our running Costco and Home Depot lists so whenever someone gets there, we get it all. Or most of it all. You still have to remember to put things ON the list which has occasionally been an issue with me and apparently neither Craig not Cozi is a mind reader. But it does help.

I got the baby pool at Target but didn't get the sippy cups (the take and toss straw cups which they were out of. I rarely do the toss part but Norah's become a straw bitter and we use them twice daily for Jonah's meds so I really need enough.) I forgot to check it off but I actually did get the manly cough drops (as opposed to the breastfeeding safe "mama cough drops" :-)

Now, there are some areas I just can't hand over to a program. Like, as I said, my calendar. I've tried. I have. But nope, doesn't work for me. I need to write it down. And my to-do list. Clicking a box or tasks completed does not give me the same thrill as using a pen and marking in complete. So for that stuff, I love my bullet journal, I love my bullet journal. So much love for one little notebook.
It basically contains my mind and I feel lost and confused without it. And I actually lose it less frequently than my phone so its still a good thing all that info isn't on my phone. So, I won't ever be going all digital with my planning and organization but I'm learning to try. I attempted Evernote last year but gave up on it. It just wasn't my style. But I've been hearing good things about Trello from some homeschool moms and I'm not sure if it is different enough that it might be worth spending some time on. Hmm...

What about you? And tried and true technological ways to make my mama life easier you want to share?

Both the ynab and plan to eat links are affiliate links. I can earn a discount on my plans if you use them but both programs are ones I pay for because I think they are well worth the cost.  

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