How to Motivate Yourself to Make Dinner

Do you scroll through your Instagram feed and see beautiful homemade meals prepared by your friends? While they are sharing healthy, beautiful meals you are struggling to motivate yourself to make dinner.

We’ve all been there. We barely make it out the door with the kids, work gets crazy, and then come home and the last thing we want to do is make dinner. When we’re sick or not feeling up to it, it can be extremely challenging to get dinner on the table. Takeout or heading to a restaurant is convenient, but is expensive over time. If you’re trying to cut back on eating out, or just need some motivation, here’s how to motivate yourself to make dinner.

how to motivate yourself to make dinner

Keep it simple

If your meals take hours to prepare, you’ll never make them. It’s more important make dinner, not make the world’s best dinner. Sandwiches, fruit, and salad is dinner, and is probably cheaper and healthier than anything you’ll order at a restaurant. Keep your menu plans simple to combat the urge to eat out.

When my kids were younger I asked them what their five favorite dinners were. I combined their answers and added a few extra ideas to come up with 3o days of meals. I used this list for several years, plugging in dinners from my list to create my weekly menu plan.

Make a menu plan

Coming up with a fresh new dinner each night is exhausting. Save yourself some trouble by making a menu plan. When you have a menu plan you no longer have to think about what’s for dinner. The menu plan tells you what to make for dinner!

Do you need meat out of the freezer, you can plan for it.  If you need to put everything into the crock pot in the morning, you know how to do it. When you know what you’re making, it’s takes less brain power to make it.

Give yourself the night off every once in awhile

Giving yourself the night off doesn’t necessarily mean eating out. It could mean peanut butter sandwiches, frozen pizza, or leftovers. If you can treat yourself to a night out every once in awhile, do it! But if you can’t, there are other ways to give yourself the night off.

This will keep you from cooking burn out, and still ensure you get dinner on the table.

If you plan for a night out, you can find restaurants were kids eat free or maybe they have 1/2 price appetizers during happy hour. If you plan your meals out, you can capitalize on coupons and discounts and save.

Make Fast Food

After one of my children was born I realized I needed some quick go-to meals that took less than 30 minutes to prepare from start to finish. I came up with my fast five meals. These were meals my family enjoyed and I could have on the table quickly.

To make your list of fast five meals look for recipes with short prep and cook times. It’s easy to motivate yourself to make dinner if you know it will only take 15 to 20 minutes.  If you don’t mind waiting for food to cook, look for recipes with short prep times so you can have dinner in the oven in just a few minutes.

Make Dinner in the Morning

I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but I have more energy in the morning than I do after 5pm. This works best for crock pot meals (throw everything in before you leave for work, school, or start your day) but it can be done with most meals.

While my kids eat breakfast or get ready it is simple to chop vegetables for a salad, brown meat for tacos, or other dinner prep that can be done ahead of time.

Freezer Meals

For years I avoided freezer cooking like the plague! I tried it once and destroyed my kitchen, spent nine hours cooking, and never wanted to make dinner again. To make matters worse, my family didn’t love a lot of the meals I made.

However a few years ago I decided to give it another try, except this time I decided to freezer cook with a friend. This was a totally different experience and I highly recommend it! We had meals for two months and it made dinner time so easy!

Do the Math

The one thing that motivates me to make dinner more than anything else is when I do the math. It costs approximately $35 for my family to eat dinner at a fast food restaurant (a cheap one like McDonalds- not Panera, FiveGuys, etc).

It costs about $10 to feed my family dinner and we typically have leftovers for at least one lunch. For each meal I make at home I save $25. If we swap out one fast food restaurant meal for a dinner at home each week for a year that’s a savings of $1,300. Over 18 years that’s $23,400. I don’t know about you but I’d rather eat chicken quesadillas and a salad a few times a month at home and have $23,000 to show for it after my kids grow up!

How to motivate yourself to make dinner

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How to Get Slime Out of Carpet

If you have children, you need to know how to get slime out of carpet. Even if it hasn’t happened yet, I can assure you, it will. Perhaps it won’t be carpet, but it will be your couch, drapes or favorite shirt.


You are a horrible, evil, crafty concoction that my kids discovered on the internet. There is a large part of me that wishes slime had never, ever been invented. (I mean who really wants to drive around town looking for a gallon container of Elmer’s glue!)

There is another part of me that loves slime because it manages to keep Cora busy for hours with no requests for the Kindle, television or the computer.

However a few months ago I had to BAN SLIME FROM MY HOME. Yes, I realize I’m not winning mother of the year, but my girls had taken the slime into their bedroom and managed to get it all over their carpet.

how to get slime out of carpet

I’m not talking about a few small spots that could be ignored or chalked to up the nail polish spill of 2016 or sharpie-gate 2015. I’m talking about basketball sized globs of slime in my less than 3 year old carpet.

(note: there was significantly more slime on the carpet, however I didn’t think to take pictures until they were halfway through removing slime)

It was so bad that I ended up buying this pink rug to cover their carpet. (This is a catalogue picture- their room has never been this clean.)

Recently, my daughter told me she thought vinegar would get slime out of carpet. Since the carpet was ruined anyway I figured it wouldn’t hurt to let them try to get slime out of the carpet. If the slime stains disappeared that would be awesome.

If not, we still have the pink rug to cover the slime stains and who doesn’t love the smell of vinegar?? ?

how to get slime out of carpet

Now, there is a small catch to this method. We used a “Spot Bot” type carpet cleaning machine to clean the carpet. You can clean slime out of carpet without a carpet cleaner, but I wanted to make sure we were able to suck up all the excess water/vinegar from the carpet.

(because I was kidding about loving the smell of vinegar)

This is the carpet spot cleaner that we have, because two years ago I lost my mind and decided to get a puppy, but I digress.

But there are cheaper options like this Hoover Spot Scrubber.

In my opinion if you have children, pets, or messy friends – you need a spot remover machine. I cannot believe I waited so long to purchase one.

Random photo of girl (and carpet slime culprit) and puppy (pee all over my carpet culprit). Aren’t they cute? It’s hard to stay mad at them when they are this adorable…. 

how to get slime out of carpet

Okay back to the topic at hand, how to get slime out of carpet. This is what we did and it worked amazing! However the room did smell like vinegar for a few days.

How to get slime out of carpet

How to get slime out of carpet without a spot scrubber

  • Pour white vinegar over the stained/slime covered area.
  • Let vinegar soak in the carpet for 3-5 minutes.
  • Scrub stained area with a scrub brush, toothbrush, or clean rag.
  • The slime should start to disappear.
  • Once the stain has been scrubbed out, spray the area with a light mist of water.
  • Then sop up the excess liquid with clean rags or paper towels.

It is important to make sure that the carpet is nearly dry when you are finished removing the slime. After we got all the slime out of the carpet I did run a fan in the room for a few days to make sure everything was dry and to help get rid of the vinegar smell.

You will be happy to know that slime is no longer banned from my home, however it is required to never leave the kitchen. So far, so good.

How to get slime out of carpet

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Age Appropriate Chores for Kids

For years I’ve talked about the importance of age appropriate chores for kids on this site. It took me a while to realize that I couldn’t do it all and I needed my kids to pick up after themselves and help out a little.

After I realized that my kids were capable of doing chores at a very young age I implemented daily and weekly chores in our home. Vital to our success was assigning age appropriate chores to each child.

Reader Nikki asks….

Can you write posts about each age – what you have them do total? I am not naturally organized, so this would help me implement gradually.

I’ve always believed it has more to do with ability than age. Some of my children were ready to use the stove at eight or nine and others I’ve felt needed more time to mature. Only you know what your child is capable of doing when it comes to chores.

Remember to keep in mind your child’s age, ability, and maturity when assigning chores around the house. Most importantly, young children need supervision while doing age appropriate chores for two reasons. First, you want to make sure they are learning the correct way to do each chore and second you want to make sure they are not doing anything that could harm them or the house.

Finally, don’t mistake laziness for inability. I’ve found that the earlier you give your child age appropriate chores the more they can do at a younger age. Most children are very capable, you just need to motivate them.

I’m sharing with your our family’s chore list. Remember, because the two-year old can do the chores on the list doesn’t mean she does all the chores on the list. I use the list as a guide when it comes to assigning chores. Each child does one to two age appropriate chores each day depending on the size of the job.

Age Appropriate Chores for Kids

Toddler (ages 2 and 3)

  • Pick up/ put away toys
  • Unload the dishwasher (silverware, plastic cups, tupperware)
  • Dust with a feather duster or microfiber rag
  • Swiffer the floor
  • Put clothes in the dirty clothes hamper
  • Collect dirty clothes
  • Help get clothes from washer to dryer
  • Put clothes away
  • Make bed
  • Wipe cabinets
  • Wipe baseboards (soapy water)

Preschooler (ages 4-5)

  • Any toddler chores
  • Load the dishwasher
  • Vacuum couch/ chairs/ cushions
  • Take out recycling
  • Set table
  • Clear table
  • Wash dishes (with supervision)
  • Clean windows
  • Wipe out bathroom sinks (baby wipes work great for this chore!)
  • Match socks
  • Fold dish towels
  • Weed

Early Elementary (ages 6-8)

  • Any toddler and preschool chores
  • Meal prep (wash produce, find ingredients, simple cutting with butter knife)
  • Wipe bathroom sinks, counters, toilets
  • Hang out laundry
  • Sweep
  • Vacuum
  • Collect garbage
  • Get mail
  • Fold/hang laundry
  • Clean microwave
  • Rake leaves

Elementary (9-11)

  • Any previous chores
  • Make meals
  • Take garbage/ recycling to the curb
  • Wash/ dry clothes
  • Clean toilets
  • Mop floors
  • Vacuum out cars

Middle School (12-14)

  • Clean tub/ shower
  • Make full meals/ meal plan
  • Clean out fridge/ freezer
  • Mow yard
  • Wash car
  • Supervise younger children’s chores

High School (15-18)

By the time my children reach high school age I expect them to have the ability to do any chore around the house. While they don’t do everything I know they are capable in all areas of home management.

When a child becomes proficient at a chore it is time to pass that chore to a younger child. I take the lowest common denominator approach to chores in our house. This means the youngest child who is able to do the chore gets the job. When the child is learning their chores they are supervised by a sibling or a parent.

While our family isn’t perfect when it comes to chores, my kids are encouraged to work together to keep the house clean and organized.

My only regret is that I wish I would have given my kids age appropriate chores when they were younger. When I only had two young children it was easier to just do it all myself. Not anymore. Having kids that can help around the house keeps the house cleaner and frees up more time for fun activities as a family.

Finally, remember to keep it fun! Most little children WANT to help out around the house. Assigning small chores like the ones listed above allow your kids to feel like a contributing member of the family. Put on some fun music, sing a favorite song (we use to sing the Clean Up song from Barney) and work together to make it enjoyable for everyone in the family.

Age Appropriate Chores for Kids: Printable

To download your free age appropriate chores for kids printable click on the button above. The chart will open in a new tab. Right click to save or print the chart. 

A few of my favorite chore/ reward charts for kids

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Magnetic Responsibility Chart

Melissa and Doug Chore Responsbility Chart

Magnetic Dry Erase Rewards Chore Chart with Marker and Magnets

Reward Chart 

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How to Menu Plan on a Budget

While it can be challenging to menu plan on a budget, it can be done. If you have a tight grocery budget, you can’t afford not to menu plan. When you don’t know what’s for dinner, you will find yourself eating out or making multiple trips to the store and spending extra money.

If you’ve stumbled across this post it’s probably because you have a limited grocery budget, and need to learn how to cut back where you can.

I’ve shared my meal planning story many times, but years ago I found myself needing to cut back on spending and after taking a look at our family’s grocery budget I realized I could cut WAY back! I was shopping multiple times a week and never really had a plan.

How to menu plan on a budget

After I start to menu plan and shop the sales (and use a few coupons) I was able to cut our grocery budget in half!

How to menu plan on a budget

Print or look up your grocery store’s weekly ad. 

Every week, stores change their prices on hundreds of items and print flyers that usually arrive in your mailbox or the newspaper. You can find these store circulars online if you don’t want to go to the store each week just to grab the flier. (I highly recommend getting it online, why waste gas with an extra trip to the store.)

Usually these store circulars are found near the entrance or near check out. Even stores like Aldi and Walmart have them. Before you start menu planning for the week, pick up a copy of the ad for reference. Shopping sales is one of the best ways to save money on your menu plan, so you’ll want to have this handy.

For example, if your local grocery store has chicken breasts on sale that week, then add several chicken dishes to your menu plan. Since meat can be one of the biggest grocery budget busters, finding ways to save is a key component to menu plan on a budget.

Also, if you have a little extra money in the grocery budget, stock up on sale items that you know will last and you can use in a future menu plan.

Check for coupons.

Check online, in the newspaper, or ask friends and family for coupons. The best way to save on
your grocery shopping is by combining deals and coupons. Taking the extra time to check
around for coupons could save you hundreds of dollars per year! Once you have to store ad, be sure
to round up all your coupons so you can see if there are any great deal match-ups.

There are many blogs out there who do this for you, so save time and find a website that posts coupon match-ups every week.

Don’t forget that many stores now offer their own store coupons and coupons in their apps. These don’t even have to be cut, you just need to virtually clip them in the app and they are automatically deducted from your total.

Check to see what you already have in your freezer and pantry.

Smart shoppers shop their own kitchen before heading to the store.  Go through your fridge, freezer, and
pantry and write down everything you have. Using food you’ve already purchased will save you money (you aren’t throwing away rotten food) and time because you’ll have to buy less at the store.

Grab your free freezer and pantry inventory printables here.

Maybe you have a bag of rice in the pantry and some frozen beef in the freezer. Purchase some fresh or frozen vegetables and you have a full meal using up what you’ve already purchased.

Look at your store circular to see if you can combine what you have with something on sale to make a meal.

Write down your meals.

Once you know what you have, what’s on sale, and what coupons are available it’s time to meal plan. Start by looking at what match-ups. Are you able to make a meal from one of the match-ups of either what you have and what’s on sale, or what’s on sale and a coupon?

Need menu planning worksheets? Download our free resources here. 

You can even do all three!

Once you’ve exhausted the possibilities, search online. Can you find any recipes to make using the ingredients available to you through sales or what you have?

There are even websites that allow you to list ingredients and they search the web for recipes based on what you already have or what is on sale.

Often I had trouble coming up with meals my kids would actually eat. I ended up creating a list of “go-to” meals that I would pull from when I created my menu plan. I explain more about how I created a list of meals my family would eat here.

Keep your meals simple.

One of the best ways to keep your grocery budget low is to plan simple meals. Meatless meals are very inexpensive or consider mixing your meat with beans or rice to make it stretch.

Create meals that will yield leftovers that can be used for lunch for additional savings.

Can you use some of the leftover ingredients for breakfast? For example one might we might have tacos and the next morning we can use some of those ingredients for egg burritos.

Stay away from fancy meals with ingredients you will never use again. It’s easy to bust your budget by spending $5 on an spice or sauce that you will only use once. If you have children they probably prefer the simple meals anyway.

menu planning resources

When I learned to menu plan on a budget it dramatically changed our family’s finances. We were able to get out of debt and save hundreds of dollars every month (without using coupons!) just by creating a menu plan every week.

Not only did we save money, we ate healthier because we avoided those late minute trips through the drive-thru because I didn’t have a plan.

If you need to trim your family’s budget, start with menu planning. I promise you will save money and you will never wonder what’s for dinner again.

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Makeup Brush Storage

I have a small bathroom. I wanted a place to store my make-up brushes and still have easy access to them.

Using a leftover glass vase and some rocks I was able to put together this make-up brush storage in about 5 minutes.

My make-up brushes are right next to my sink and it is easy to find the right brush when I need it.

I used a short glass vase (about 4 inches tall). If you don’t have a vase use any container that is short and wide.

If you don’t have one, you can usually find them at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn’s, or Amazon. However, if you aren’t in a hurry, I would recommend yard sales. I frequently see vases for less than a dollar.

I used decorative rocks in my vase. If you don’t have rocks you can use marbles or anything with a little weight to it. You want to make sure your brushes stay upright in the vase. Once again these can be purchased at any craft store or Amazon, or reused from an old fish tank. ?

Here are a few fun variations I found on Amazon (click on the image to see the rocks on Amazon). You will probably end up using only half of the rocks or marbles so this is a great project to do with a friend and split the cost.






This make-up brush storage helps keep my side of the bathroom counter organized and I always know where my brushes are.  

For more ideas to help you simplify and organize one day at a time, visit the Organized in 365 Archives.

Have you shared a great organizing tip on your website? I’d love to feature it on Submit your Organized in 365 tip.

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Inexpensive Ways to Increase Home Value

Have you ever looked at a home and wondered how they make it look so good?! There are many ways to increase home value, that are inexpensive and simple. It always amazes me how fixing the smallest things can increase the value of your home.

Even if you don’t plan to sell your home, small home improvements will increase the value of your home and if one day you do decide to sell, you’ll have less work to do to get it ready.

Not sure where to get started? Check out these tips!

Increase home value by ripping out old shrubbery.

Say goodbye to ugly landscaping and hello to increasing your home value. Ripping out old shrubbery helps your house look not-so-ugly. While you are ripping up the shrubs remember to lay down some new mulch in the beds. Mulch is very expensive (especially in the spring when Lowe’s and Home Depot run their yearly sale) and can really make the outside of a house pop!

I always lay down some weed blocker fabric in the beds to keep the weeds at bay. It’s inexpensive invisible when covered by a layer of mulch or stones.

Improve curb appeal by removing clutter from the outside of your home.

When you drive past a home that has a lot of clutter on the outside, it makes you wonder about the inside. Remove the clutter and increase the value of your home. We do a yard clean up several times a year and everyone works for a few hours getting rid of sticks, dead plants, and random things that have migrated into our yard. It’s amazing how much better it looks after only a few hours of work.

Increase home value by adding a fresh coat of paint.

It’s sad to see how quickly walls become dirty and gross at my house. However, a quick coat of paint can guarantee an increase in home value. Check out my $60 total room makeover from several years ago.

Painting is a home improvement you can do yourself in a day and is very inexpensive. If you want to really make your room pop, clean and/ or paint the trim. It’s amazing how incredible a room looks with fresh white trim.

If you don’t want to paint, try washing the walls with warm soapy water and a sponge. A little elbow grease can go a long way. The same goes for cleaning your baseboards. This is a job kids love to do (especially bored children on summer break!)

Improve first impressions by minimizing the clutter inside.

If you are trying to sell your home, having less on the inside always seems to do the trick. Start getting rid of items you no longer need and keep the inside looking tidier. This is a great way to start your journey to minimalism. Every time we’ve sold a home we’ve done a major declutter. I always wish we did it while we were living there rather than when we are moving, because I enjoy my home so much better with less stuff!

Not only will your house look better, you will be able to find the things you really do need!

Increase home value by updating the bathroom.

An old (and dingy) bathroom can decrease the value of your home, especially if other homes in your neighborhood have been renovated. A total bathroom remodel is expensive but you can make some inexpensive changes that have a big impact.  If the overall bathroom is ugly, you may have to spend some money updating the floors or painting. However, there are small things you can do to make your bathroom look awesome. Try adding a rug, scrubbing the walls, or even adding a few hand towels.

If you want to make a bigger impact, consider changes the vanity mirrors or lighting, or replacing the faucets with an updated style. We purchased a bathroom faucet on Amazon for around $50 and installed it ourselves. Just removing the fifty year-old faucets made a big difference.

Another home improvement we made in our bathroom was to install peel and stick vinyl plank tile over the existing fifty year-old floor. The results were amazing and it cost under $100.

If you want to invest a little more money into your bathroom consider having your tiles or tub painted or reglazed. If the tile is in good shape, painting or reglazing the tile is about 1/10 of the price of replacing it. We recently painted the tile in two of our bathrooms and have been pleased with the new look.

All these bathroom improvements will increase your home value and are significantly cheaper than a complete bathroom renovation. We renovated our bathroom for under $200 when we moved into our most recent home.

Improve rooms and closets by adding organization features.

One of my favorite ways to increase the value of a home is more organizational space. People love storage! Adding something like a closet to your home is cheap. You can also buy closet organizers or closet systems to help you get that space you’re looking for. When all else fails, adding shelves is a great idea to help you get those features.

One of my favorite organizing tools is the inexpensive over the door shoe organizer. We’ve used it for Barbies, toddler clothing, sewing supplies, underwear, socks, and my favorite use – winter/ summer gear.

The nice thing about this storage container is that you can fold it up and pack it away if you aren’t using it.

Increase home value by updating the flooring.

Hardwood flooring has always been popular. If you have an older home, you may have hardwood flooring underneath. If you don’t want hardwood flooring, you can still update the flooring in your home in an inexpensive manner.

If your carpet old, stained or outdated? Add a throw rug on top of it to take the attention off the carpet. If replacing the flooring is not in the budget, have the carpets cleaned at least once a year. This really makes a difference if you have pets. Most carpet cleaning companies run specials all the time, so it’s easy to find a good deal on having your carpets cleaned.

One flooring style that is very popular now is vinyl planks. It’s significantly cheaper than hardwood (although more expensive than carpet) and very durable. There are even peel and stick vinyl planks that you can grout to look just like porcelain tile or hardwood. If you really need to replace floors but have a small budget, vinyl planks might be a good option.

groutable vinyl tile

These vinyl planks were installed right over the existing tile flooring. 

Before you tackle a huge home renovation project, think about what small projects you can do around your house that will make a big difference. Most of these projects increase home value and can be completed in a day (or a weekend). The impact is big, however the cost and time commitment is small.

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