10 Quick and Tasty Family Meal Ideas

What are you serving for dinner tonight? How about lunch on the weekend? It can be a daunting task to come up with meal ideas especially if you have kids. Here are ten quick ideas for family meals try one tonight.

Spaghetti with creamy crab sauce1.    Spaghetti – It’s easy to quickly boil noodles and simmer some spaghetti sauce. Spaghetti has so many add-ins your family will enjoy: Italian sausage, hamburger, diced vegetables and a variety of herbs and seasonings. For a low calorie meal, use spaghetti squash in place of traditional noodles.

2.    Tacos – Olay! If your family likes Mexican food, whip up a batch of tacos for dinner. Use hard and soft shells for variety. For family menu planning, dice the fixin’s ahead of time so you can just pull them out on taco night.

3.    Macaroni and cheese – What kid doesn’t like this as a dinner main dish? Spice it up with diced tomatoes, crumbled bacon, sliced hot dogs or hamburger.

4.    Pizza – This is not the store-bought or the delivery. Keep several prepared pizza crusts on hand (like Boboli for instance). On pizza night, let the entire family choose which toppings they want on their pizza. Prep time is fun so it doesn’t last long and it takes about 20 minutes or so to bake.

5.    Skewers – you can create tasty chicken, pork, seafood or beef kebobs quickly. Skewer the meat and your favorite vegetables and place them in a sealed container until meal day. This is the benefit of meal planning – getting prep work done early. Cook your tasty kebobs on a gas grill or use a grill pan indoors.

6.    Hot dogs – Nothing could be easier than throwing them in a pot of boiling water or grilling them up. For the health-conscious family, use light franks or turkey franks by Oscar Mayer or Ballpark.

7.    Chef salad – Salads are always quick to fix but they usually lack something in the taste department. With a chef salad you get your portion of protein from lean ham or turkey. The taste comes from the add-ins: bacon crumbles parmesan cheese, tomatoes, shredded cheese, black beans and cucumbers. Use others that your family likes.

8.    Grilled cheese sandwich – Dinner doesn’t need to be a four-course meal. For a new taste, add deli meat or a juicy tomato.
Lunchtime salad wrap
9.    Tortilla wraps – Create delicious quick sandwiches with your favorite flavor of tortilla. Glaze with mustard or low calorie mayonnaise. Add crunchy veggies and diced chicken, pork or beef.

10.    Leftover creations– Use leftovers to create salads, casseroles, sandwiches and soups. Don’t let anything go to waste if it can be used for new meals.

Let these ideas spark your interest in having a great meal with your family.
photo credit: Takanori Ishikawa

photo credit: WordRidden

Get Organized with Daily Routines

Apparently Americans are an unorganized lot because there’s a lot of talk, both online and offline, about how to get organized. You’ll find magazines with featured articles about it and television shows devoted to nothing but organizing your home. If you listen to many of these sources, you’ll find that one of the easiest ways to get organized is with a daily routine.

What is a daily routine and how can it help you get organized? A routine is another word for a habit. It’s something you’ve done much the same way for so long that you don’t even have to think about it anymore. You can easily create a routine for getting organized. Let’s look at the concept and see how it can be used to get your home organized.

Bedtime routine – Take 20 minutes to work in one area of the house:

  • Kitchen – Waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes is enough to make anyone dread getting up in the morning. Before you go to bed, make sure your dishes are done. Either wash them by hand or start the dishwasher.
  • Living room – Pick up anything that doesn’t belong in that room and take it where it goes.
  • Bathroom – Make sure all clothes and towels are picked up off the floor and put into the laundry.
  • Bedroom – Put your clothes into the laundry and pick out your clothes for the next day.

Take some time to plan your day. Think about what you have to do tomorrow and write down anything else you may remember. This will give you a chance to clear your brain and allow you to sleep better.

Morning routine – This will help you get your day off to a good start.

  • Empty the dishwasher.
  • Make breakfast, washing dishes as you go. When you’re done eating, put dishes into the dishwasher to start later.
  • Check your calendar to make sure you’re aware of any appointments.
  • Thaw a frozen dinner by putting it in the refrigerator.
  • Start a load of laundry.

Afternoon routine – If you’re at home during the day, use the time to clean areas you may not have gotten to earlier. Dry, fold, and put away the load of clothes you washed earlier. You may want to take time to make a tentative schedule of when you’ll complete other weekly cleaning.

The more things you can create a routine for when cleaning and organizing your home, the better. Routines, when they’re done often enough, become second nature to you and you don’t have to think about what to do next. Take the time to create your own and then get organized with daily routines.

Custom Closet Organizers

Do you dread going to your closet? Is it full of clothing, shoes, and accessories? Do you have to dodge falling objects, and then search endlessly for something you know is in there? If this describes the closets in your home, that you should look into custom closet organizers. They come in many styles and are made from various materials including plastic and wood. This is a great way to divide your closet into sections, making a space for each item. You will love being able to open up your closet and see everything neatly arranged and very simple to find.

The first order of business is to take everything out of your closet! I know this can seem overwhelming at first but it is necessary. Go through each item and place it in a pile depending on how you want things to be organized. Some people choose to organize their closet by colors of the clothing; others do it by the style of the clothing with piles for blouses, skirts, sweaters, etc. Pick a system that is going to work well for you. Once you have all of your piles in place you can start allocating closet space to meet those needs.

Custom closet organization doesn’t have to be difficult. You can be creative or you can use the internet or magazines to help you make a decision. Adding a second clothing hanging rack to your closet is a very simple solution if you have too many clothes to hang up. You can also use various types of hangers that put several pairs of pants onto one, reducing the amount of storage space they take up.

You can choose from various dividers, shelves, and baskets to customize your closet storage space. Many closets have a deep shelf on top but it is hard to keep piling more stuff on it. Putting in shelves or dividers will help you use more of that available storage space at the top of your closet. These products are quite inexpensive so organizing your closet won’t be too harsh on your budget.

Shoes are a common issue when it comes to closet organization. Install a shoe rack or even a wooden shoe storage box that attaches to the inside door of your closet. These are great ways to get your shoes together without taking up a great deal of space. It will also ensure you are able to find the shoes you want quickly on any given day.

Once you have installed the items you are going to use to keep your closet organized you are ready to start putting items in. This will be the really exciting part of the entire project. As you see your closet transform into an organized location for your clothing, shoes, and accessories, it will look more approachable and less like a jungle that swallows up your things. This memory compared to your old closet organization will help you stay motivated to put things back into their place.

Custom closet organization may seem overwhelming at first, but if you break it down into small tasks it will be easier. The time it takes you to complete the transformation will be a very worthwhile investment. You will save time each day as you go to your closet and find everything in its place. Who knows, you might even create enough extra space that you have an excuse to go on a shopping spree!

Closet Organization Tips

Making the decisiCloset organizerson to get your closet organized is a step in the right direction. The task can see too much in the beginning, but with some helpful tips you will get the job done. The amount of closet space isn’t what is important – how you use it is! Break the entire task down in to small, achievable steps. This will keep the project from seeming like it is too much to tackle. The first order of business is to decide to eliminate clutter from your closet forever.

Remove everything from your closet. Be honest about what you find in there. Analyze each and every item. Getting rid of things if very easy for some people, but harder for others. Why keep dealing with these items though each and every time you open up your closet? I understand some articles in your closet may have sentimental value. Store them in an air tight container in another area of your home.

If you have worn out shoes that you never wear get rid of them. If it doesn’t fit then get it out of your closet. If you have items that need to be sewn or have alterations done, this is the time to do it before you place those items back into the closet. Anything that you have just stuck in your closet for lack of a better place for it needs to be removed from your home or given a proper location.

Come up with a system for organizing your clothing. This can be by color, style, or season. You can also choose to separate them by where you wear them such as around the house, work, and casual. A good idea is to hang all the pieces of a particular outfit together. Keep in mind the goal is to maximize the amount of space you have available in your closet.

Make a list of what you want in your custom closet organization. Do you love shoes? Then you might need a great deal of storage for all of them. Maybe you need shelves for your sweaters or your favorite books you keep in the closet. Start planning your closet organization by measuring the length and the depth. You will need this information to start figuring out how many shelves and shoe racks you can install.

What type of look do you want to accomplish and how much money are you willing to invest in this project? Do you want the organization shelves and items to be permanent or something you can easily remove later? The answers to these questions will help you determine the type of materials you will use to complete your closet organization. You can choose from wood, wire items, baskets, canvas, plastic, and anything else you want to consider.

The key is to eliminate anything you don’t really need from your closet and then set the remaining items up in a way that works well for you. All of us have different ways of organizing so make your system unique to you. This will help you stick with returning items to their proper location in the closet. Take some time to research the various types of closet organizers and come up with a plan you will love.

photo credit: Dvortygirl.

Free Webinar: Is It Still Christmas?

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It’s mid-January. Is it still Christmas at your house? Are the kids asking if Santa is coming again? Or maybe you want to avoid decorating your tree with Valentine’s Day decorations…

I’m holding a Free Emergency Webinar this Wednesday at 8pm (EST). I’m Calling It Put Christmas Away – Finally!

If you’ve procrastinated long enough and want some motivation, encouragement and tips on cleaning-up and organizing your Christmas decor, I invite you to participate!

Plus I’ll share with you my Storage Inventory Worksheet - straight from my own household binder.

To join me, simply subscribe to my list below and the webinar login details will be sent to you. (Note: If you are already on my list, there is no need to sign-up below – you’ll automatically get the login info!)

First Name:
Email Address:

I hope to see you there!

Tips for Planning a Trick-or-Treat Party that Doesn’t Cost a Fortune

Halloween is a fun time of year! It’s a time to think about costumes, carving pumpkins and just plain fun. A Halloween party is an alternative to the normal trick or treat. You can plan an inexpensive party for your child. From the invitation to saying your goodbyes at the end of a fun filled night, this article will give you affordable ideas for the perfect party.

The Internet has some inexpensive invitations that you can download for the price of the ink and paper. Choose a color that would fit the season or theme of your party. I would deliver or mail these invitations to arrive three weeks prior to the date of the party.

Costumes are a huge part of a successful party. If you choose a theme, such as Star Wars or Character theme, you want to put that on the invitation so people can dress accordingly. Choosing a comfortable costume is in your best interest. You can often find what you’re looking for at thrift stores. Throughout the year I look for white sheets, full skirts, old vests, boots, scarves and other things that I can put together to make easy outfits. Colored hair sprays, wigs and gloves are some things you will want to look for. With some planning you can easily make a costume that will be comfortable and cute.

Next comes feeding your guests. Whatever you choose, use key words in your recipes like Zombie Punch and Graveyard Chips with Blood Salsa. I make iced pumpkin bars and design black spiders on them. I call these Spider Bars. For Zombie Punch, I take one each of 12 oz frozen orange juice and limeade. Mix with half the water as the recipe calls for. Refreeze these into tubs. At party time put them frozen into a punch bowl and add key lime sherbet and 7-Up to taste. For Graveyard chips and Blood salsa, I buy blue corn chips and find a very chunky salsa.

For games, the web is full of ideas. Mummy Bingo is fun for young children. I bought orange poster board; cut it to the size I wanted and with a black marker made the Bingo pattern. Candy Corn made great “bingo chips and was fun for munching.  You can laminate these and re-use. A white sheet simply placed over a child creates another game; Guess the Ghost!

Let’s get our decorations up and we will be ready to party. Carve 5 to 6 pumpkins prior to the party. I found a cool carving set at Wal-Mart’s and I use it each year. There are a lot of ideas in the package that you simply follow. Put one pumpkin in the window closest to your entryway. You can line your porch or steps with a few as well. No matter where you place your pumpkins, remember safety in keeping them lit. You might choose a battery operated LED light. They flicker like a candle and are safe. Hanging creepy spiders and cobwebs are an inexpensive way to decorate and can be bought in discount stores. Keep spooky music playing in the background.

These are just some ideas for an inexpensive party. Whatever you choose to do, be safe, have fun and Happy Halloween!

Easy Additions for Perfect Halloween Meals

It’s Halloween! With just a few little changes or additions to things that you probably already make, you can put the spirit of Halloween on your table.

Scary Eyeballs – Add a little more mustard into the egg centers or a thin dollop under where you will lay a black olive into the creamy center.

Ghost Sandwiches – Cut your bread into ghosts, add the filling of your choice and your children will have a ghostly treat for their school or after school sandwich.

Wormy Hot Dogs – Thinly slice your hot dogs and then microwave. This will make them curl to look like worms. Put them on a hamburger bun and dress with mustard, catsup and pickles to make a slimy swamp underneath.

Ghostly Toast – Toast your bread. When it is cool enough to cut, with a gingerbread girl cutter or a plain knife, cut to make a ghost body. Top with whipped cream cheese or flavored yogurt with raisins or dates cut for eyes.

Orange Jack O Lantern – With a toothpick, gently carve a face into the orange. Careful not to injure the meat/pulp of the orange, your child will have a small version of the Jack O Lantern that is healthy and edible.

Graveyard Snack – Take a cup of plain or buttered popped popcorn; add a half cup each of mini pretzels, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, goldfish crackers and raisins.

Spider Snack – Taking two round crackers, such as the ritz, put peanut butter in the middle. Take 8 small pretzels and stick all around, 4 on each side to make the legs. Add raisins for eyes.

Salty Bones – Making breadsticks for your spaghetti tonight? Here’s a Halloween twist. Unroll a tube of refrigerated breadstick roll and separate the triangle pieces. Stretch each individual piece to make a long bone like figure. Cut about a 1 and a half inch slit in each end with your kitchen scissors. Roll the remaining 4 flaps into what would make the end of a dog bone. Sprinkle with coarse salt and bake as directed.

Goblin Tongues – Using mini bagels, spread cream cheese or mayonnaise, your preference, onto bagel. Cut slices out of circular pieces of bologna lunch meat to look like tongues and put into the top center of the bagel, leaving it to hang out like a tongue.

These are just a small sampling of things you can do to impress the kids or grandkids. Nothing fancy, quite simple for you but they’ll love them. Presentation and excitement is part of children accepting new and different things. Let them help you when creating these treats and they may just be a little more receptive to the new Halloween changes in foods they already love.

Fire Safety and Kids

If you are looking for ways to teach your children fire safety in the home, it is not always necessary to find the information on the internet or in the local library. When it comes to fire safety there are no actual rules that apply. It is more like the commonsense steps to take to ensure the safety of your home and children during a fire. Child outgrowth education includes formulating some sort of plan. It is important that your house is well equipped with working smoke alarms. You should develop a plan that will inform the whole family, yet keep in mind it should be simple enough for children under the age of 12 to understand.

Children have the tendency to be very curious so it would be good to beat them to the punch of finding out the hard way. Educate them about lighters and matches and the hazards that they cause. Try to make sure that they fully understand the use of these items and that they are not to be looked at as toys. If possible try to keep these things out of their reach. Also make sure to emphasize that fires are not always caused by children, as a matter of fact adults are more likely to set off a fire than children. For example the kitchen is one of the main spots that house fires begin. Food and other flammable products such as oil left on the stove at a high temperature are one of the many reasons that fires that tend to begin in the kitchen. It is a god idea to keep children away from the kitchen when you are cooking.

Another thing to stress to kids when discussing fire safety is the steps to take if they ever catch on fire or in case of heavy smoke. The main steps to remember if you or your clothes catch fire are to drop down to the ground and proceed to roll around until the fire dies out. Also notify them that in case a heavy smoke arises you will wrap the children in a wet blanket and instruct them to creep low, below the smoke. It is also good to keep in mind the parents are the ones who the children will depend on to keep them safe; so don’t panic, it will only make matters worse.

Child fire safety education is never ending process; most of the responsibility is placed on the parents. You may be confident that your house is fully child-proof and safe but never assume a house is completely safe; there are always dangers hanging around somewhere. Therefore make sure that the gadgets that are installed in your home are effective. Try vocal smoke alarms which are cogent alternatives to the traditional smoke alarm. It allows you to use your own voice to configure the alert; you can even record instructions on what to do, which will be great for younger children as well as elders.

For the sake of their safety remember to keep them up to date on what to do in case of a fire emergency or any other danger constantly. Always remember that your child’s safety lies in your hand so it is also critical that you are aware of the safety information as well.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday BOGO Sale

Things have been going really well for The Household Helper – for which she’s thankful!

To show her thanks, she’s throwing a Black Friday/Cyber Monday BOGO Sale. Yep – Buy One Get One Free!

  1. Visit The Household Helper’s Ebook Shop
  2. Purchase one ebook(how-to guide or cookbook)
  3. Forward your email receipt to cara@thehouseholdhelper.com
  4. Tell her which other ebook you want for your freebie (must be of equal or lesser value)
  5. Within 24 hours, you’ll receive the link to download your freebie!

The sale begins Thanksgiving Day and ends Monday.


Economic Stimulus – Advertising Sale

ECONOMIC STIMULUS SALE! Your business needs some economic stimulus for the holidays, doesn’t it? From now through the end of the year, I’m offering 30% off my regular advertising rates to help you! Advertise on The Household Helper – click here.

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