Organization? Not my strong suit…

I have been trying so hard to get my life to feel a little more organized. At other times I haven’t felt as much need, but with a house full of kids and all the other curve balls life keeps throwing us, I feel like we need some better systems. I have bought a couple simple things, like a mail organizer thing where I can put all our mail so it doesn’t take over the counters, and an updated calendar that has all of our different stuff on it. I have been on a mean cleaning streak and am so aware of my shortcomings in this area. I feel like we are all making progress though, and it’s bringing a different calm to our days. Well, most days anyway.

We are also trying to do a little bit of a food overhaul. I have started to see how tied (I know, you’re all like…really, Ang? Just now figuring this out?) my kids behavior is to what food they are eating. Kate in particular. She has had a few REALLY hard weeks and I finally broke down one night and told Todd I was going to lose my mind if we didn’t figure out a way to make it easier. So, I pulled sugar out of her diet (for the most part…she still gets treats every now and then but we are much more conscientious of it). We are giving her snacks every hour and a half to keep her blood sugar up and we are making sure she is getting a lot of protein. I don’t want to speak too soon but I will say that we have seen a HUGE difference in her behavior. Her impulse control is better and she seems to be happier. She gets so frustrated when she has a tantrum, and she always realizes later that it was a bad choice and will come and apologize about it, but this seems to help on the front end. I have also had to be a whole lot more intentional about seeing the signs that she is starting to get out of control and I have learned to pull her aside and redirect without letting it get so far that she can’t pull herself out of it.

She is not an easy child to parent, but she is incredible. Every night I just pray I will know how to love her without breaking her will and her heart while I try to help shape her into a Godly woman.

It can be so, so hard. If you think to pray for my patience, it would be much appreciated :)

I wanted to share this with you all because there are a couple of simple things I have started doing around the house that have really impacted us. One thing I am TERRIBLE at is meal planning (and grocery shopping, and cooking. But I am the most devoted fan of the Food Network ever. Irony is my BFF). I think I love cooking shows because it’s all so organized and all the stuff is prepared and pretty. This is a little silly but I decided I was going to start a new meal system so that I would be better about cooking. Don’t laugh at me, because you might like it for yourself!!!!

First, I make a list of what I am going to make that week, and then if they are recipe cards from magazines  or printed from the internet, I make a little index card. The front has a picture of the recipe on it and the back has all the directions. Want a picture? Good. Because I am about to go all Pioneer Woman on you.

So, then I get all the ingredients (except for the dry stuff, which I set aside in the pantry together and pre-measure if it makes sense) and put them in a tub like this with the cute little picture on the front. I can fit four across the fridge shelf. I even chop stuff beforehand if it makes sense to do it.

 Then, when it’s about time for dinner, I just pull out the bin and go to town.

As I cook, I use the little plastic tub for all the trash so it stays nice and neat. You know, like on T.V.

I’m just throwing these in because I’m pretending to be Ree.


Annnnnnnd, VOILA! I did it in about half the time it would normally take me because it was all waiting and the clean up was a breeze.

And bonus, everyone said it was delicious. This is huge.

So, it’s a little thing but the bin system (I haven’t made up a fancy name yet…) is working out wonderfully for me. I even called Todd the other day to ask him to get started on dinner and told him to just grab it out of the fridge and follow the directions. He called me back 15 minutes later and told me he thought I was a genius. So, you can make great food and be called a genius.

I’m like three sentences away from an infomercial here, friends.

But, before I sign off, I have one more “organizational thing I love” to mention (that name is copyrighted, so please give me credit if you choose to share these nuggets of wisdom).

I was on Jess’s (Jess’? I hate the apostrophe after an s. It stresses me out).

I was on Jessica’s (better) blog (she just updated it and you have to hope over and see how great it looks!) and read about this incredible (FREE!) program you can download. I’m just saying it has changed my life. You will LOVE this if you have kids old enough to get the hang of it. Basically you spend a few minutes setting up a list of their mandatory/optional chores and you assign a point value to each. They get their own little log-in and they can go in and check the boxes when they have completed the task. Once they have enough points, they can purchase things (it is linked to Amazon and they pick what they want beforehand so it is sitting in their “shop” until they have enough to buy it). You can also do any kind of reward you want if you don’t want to do the Amazon thing. They can also “save” money or “share” it and you set up whatever charity you want to link it to, and then it sends you an email when the child has donated points. You can send your kids little notes of encouragement and they can write back…it is precious. My children are SUPER motivated, and my house looks phenomenal. They are jumping at the chance to help with stuff because it’s so fun for them…LLLLOOOOVVVEEE this little tool. For the record, I am not being compensated to stalk this company. I just stalk by free will.

So, I hope these little tidbits are helpful, and I would LOVE to hear any tips you want to share for how you keep your lives organized and running smoothly….anyone? Please?


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  • Bee

    What a great idea! I am going to have to try that. Here is a website I love for kid-friendly healthy food if you are interested: She takes pictures of her kids lunches and has some great tips.

    • Bee

      not that your food isn’t totally kid friendly, i just read over my comment and it sounded odd. Just if you wanted some less sugary options for treats if you are switching to a lower sugar diet. Whew. better.

      • angelac519

        fabulous. going to check that one out!!! thank you for mentioning it…exactly what i have been trying to hunt down… :) thanks!

        • Bee

          Oh I have national medical boards to study for, I really shouldn’t be browsing my favorite blogs at random hours of the evening….but, I could talk about pediatrics and nutrition all day. You might find this site interesting..
…I trust what he has to say, for the most part. I think food dyes and such have merit in hyperactivity in children, not to say they have ADHD, but in modifying behavior. The omega 3 studies are also interesting.

    • confessions of a martha

      I am going to check out this sit, too. Thanks for sharing!

  • Cristina

    Great job Angie! I know exactly what you’re dealing with. I am there now too! I have 5 boys ages 11 to 19 months. My third child sounds alot like your Kate. His name is Jorryn and he is 7 years old. I suspect food is part of the problem too! A great book that I found helpful for him and the rest of the family was Processed Kids The Real Mom’s Guide to Raising Natural Kids in a Processed World by Lisa Greene. I heard her on the radio one morning and I cried because it finally occured to me that things as simple as diet can play a huge role in how we ALL function. You’re a great mommy. A true inspiration. I pray the Lord will bless you and that he will continue to give you wisdom. Blessings from a mama in the same ” boat “.
    PS love the bin idea! I did something similar in our pantry.

    • angelac519

      i am totally ordering that book right now! thank you for the suggestion!

  • Wvgurl

    Have you ever looked at She has lots and lots of tips and ideas. The biggest thing is to do something for 15 mins. She breaks the home into Zones, and you focus on 1 zone a week. It has helped me tremendously, because organization isn’t my strong suit, either. Thank you SO much for sharing this, too. I think we (women, wives, mothers, Christians) look at other women, wives, mothers & Christians and feel inadequate because it looks like others have it all together. I’ve really struggled with not being the best homemaker or cook or Mom or Christian, but God is trying to change how I see myself… not easy, and I fight Him a lot, insisting that I’m overall Not Enough, but He’s trying to teach me that though I may not particularly be gifted at say, organization, I am good at other things. So, all that to say, thanks for letting me know I’m not alone. Thanks for being transparent so that someone else can feel less like Not Enough. :-)

  • Djkoll

    I see someone else mentioned Flylady – I love her :-) I’ve been flying for years and it really makes a differance. I do love your fridge idea. I’ve been thinking about doing something like that recently but now that I see it works, I might have to acctualy do it!

  • confessions of a martha

    Wow! I can see that you and I are on the same wave length again! I recently wrote about getting more organized in my kitchen on my blog, too
    (Love from the heart, no stomach!) . Well, more like getting rid of my MEDIOCRITY in the kitchen because good food is one of my husband’s love languages! I am trying to be more healthful in what I prepare as well, so I am watching more food network and printing out recipes (some of Ree’s, too!) I am planning ahead more so that I don’t forget things at the store. It is hard for me! I don’t particularly enjoy cooking – but I think that I am starting to now!

    As for the kids and sugar, etc… I have been reading an EXCELLENT book that I think you would really enjoy called “The Seven Pillars of Health” by Dr. Don Colbert. It is a very easy read, and explains how our bodies use food and things like why sugar does that. I have a little girl who sounds a lot like Kate so I am thinking about getting rid of sugar, too. It will be hard…

  • Mcmegs

    Oh! My! Word! Angie your bins are complete G!E!N!I!U!S! Love it sister, just love it! Thank you for sharing friend! I can call you friend right?! ;)

  • Meg

    Oh! My! Word! Angie your bins are complete G!E!N!I!U!S! Love it sister, just love it! Thank you for sharing friend! I can call you friend right?! ;)

  • Teamcarterjay

    I really like the bin idea! I’m going to have to try it out!

  • Anonymous

    That bin idea is amazing!! And I find the blood sugar thing very interesting! Kennedy has serious impulse control issues and I’ve never even linked the two! I have blood sugar problems myself (hereditary, prehaps?) and am now wondering if this is why I am Mrs Cranky McCrankiness when I don’t have time to eat/eat poorly. So snacks. What kind? Oranges? Apples? Nuts? Chocolate chip cookies? I’m really hoping that last one is in there because I ate at least a half dozen all by myself the other day.

  • caroline

    Such a great idea! I hate most of all picking out what to make. For some reason that is most stressful to me.
    Tub’s would be prefect….it’s just getting myself to do it :)

  • Nicole King

    Like the new dinner system! Definitely will have to keep in mind once kids come along, but for now I pretty much do your same thing minus the bins – I have a grocery notebook, write Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc at the top, pick 5 or 6 meals for the week, and then below, have categories listed (Jar/Box/ Misc, Dairy, Frozen, Meats, Produce, Personal) and write out my grocery list based on what my meals are. It’s a system I stole from my mama and works like a charm :)

    Anyway – love stalking your blog. Keep up the good work!

  • Anonymous

    Those bins are absolutely genius!!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Rachell Henderson

    I absolutely LOVE the bin idea!! I’m with’re a genius :-)

  • Crystal

    When we were on a calendar meal planning system, I also noticed that I spent less on groceries because I wasn’t buying ridiculous stuff. I love the bin idea!

  • Stacey

    My word! these ideas are great! Thank u so much for sharing! I must say that Meal Planning has changed our lives! Im not even joking We have the 3 kids and it saves so much money and time, and most importantly My Sanity. Then I feel more on top of things too which is great! One thing I learned from my mom which I didnt like growing up but now LOVE is she had a day for everything like cleaning so that she wasn’t so overwhelmed with everything and This is how I have adapted it to fit my week;
    Mon.- Dust and Vaccum living room dining room and mop kitchen floors ( i hate that shark mop so its takes no time at all) and of course laundry (but thats everyday haha!)
    Tues-Dust and Vac. bedrooms
    Wed.- Sheets and Towels days and clean bathrooms
    Thurs- clean and tidy entry way and laudnry room area and office area
    Friday-Clean up and re vacuum
    Sat.- usually evening get everyone’s church cloths out and ironed so SUnday isnt a mad house trying to get things together!
    Sun.- REST (well we serve @ our church and things litke little clean up and pick but over all not much of anything!) Its the Lords day so us Mommas deserve a little bit too!

    I do say too that I do Vacuum more than this depending on what the little ones drag through the house haha!! Thanks again for writing this and love reading your blogs

  • nuttymom

    What great ideas! I don’t know about you, but with my kids lunch is always hard because the meals seem so monotonous. So, I came up with a little way to get them more interested in the food they eat! And it keeps them eating good foods because you can’t really pull it off without the colors of natural fresh ingredients ;-) Come check it out!

  • Soni Henry

    love the bin idea… I have seen this on a “food” blog… haven’t tried it yet, but I am switching jobs in a week and this would help me with my dinner preparation. Thanks for the tips!

  • ginabaynham

    Oh Angie,
    I try try try so hard to be organised. I feel a bit like I sway between complete disorganised mess with household chores piling up faster than I can cope, or total manic “I will be organised” mode where I run my house like a drill sargent. When I try to put systems in place I put more energy into the planning of them and not enough into the implementing. This week I start a new timetable with my work as a nurse. I drop to two days a week and am hoping to do a Monday food shop to set me up for the week. I hate when I clean my fridge and find something has gone to waste, like a packet of fresh herbs. With your bin system it seems so simple and flawless. Less items falling to the back and spoiling. Easier on other people in the house to make a start on dinner if they get in early.
    Thank you for sharing,
    I can feel the tingle of excitement as I imagine implementing a similar system in our fridge. I just hope I can follow it through!

  • Bethany

    Oh, I do love you! ;) That bin system is genius!

  • Mary-Lindsey

    GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait to try this!!!!!

  • ouashlee

    I love love love the tub idea! I will totally be borrowing that one! I already try to get meals ready one day a week this will make it so much easier during the week. Thank you!

    I don’ t know if you do it already but I make up my grocery list in the order things are in the store so that I can just go through one section at a time to make sure I never back track. (also if you have a helper that can go off by them self (I use my boyfriend) they can just take one section and bring everything on that part back) It really cut down on my grocery shopping trip time.

  • Joni

    Okay- so I usually turn my nose up at “organizational” ideas- we have five kids so I am happy if I can find all five of them at the same time in my house…. much less organize everything else in the house…. BUT- this food in bins for dinner- GREAT IDEA!!!! I LOVE it!!! I am soooo going to go do this tomorrow! One of the draw backs to cooking for the family is trying to think of things on the fly and not having the ingredients- this will solve that! I love it!!!! Thanks!!!!!

  • Alysa (Inspired RD)

    Oh my goodness, what a wonderful idea! I am totally sharing this on my blog this week. Did you really come up with this? So smart!!! I can just see it now, your next book “The Bin System”

    Glad to hear you have noticed an improvement in Kate with the change in diet. I really notice issues with my son when he has too much sugar or if he has something with food coloring in it. Food coloring REALLY seems to get him out of control. Like he knows what he is doing is wrong but just can’t stop himself.

  • Katie Lewis

    I love the food network for the same reason you do and I love your bin idea. I might have to give it a try. :)

  • ren ren

    OK dear one, I realize I’m loading you up with links (and truly they go on and on if you look for them), but my friend’s daughter has huge reactions to food dye and preservatives. Crazy tantrums, screaming, total loss of control, crying, etc. I’ll include some of them for you here, but highly encourage you to get away from ALL processed foods (it’s not just the sugar)! I think you’ll see a huge change for the better in everyone’s overall health.

    This is my favorite new food site (and cookbook)! LOVE Carrie, she makes eating right easy!

    Ask for wisdom and the Lord will give it! Blessings to you, and the bin idea ROCKS!

  • Patty Mullins

    Kudos to you for looking to diet as a means to get a handle on sweet Kate’s behavior! We’ve been doing the Feingold diet ( since 2004 when my middle child was in kindergarten. Eliminating artificial colors and flavors made a HUGE difference for us. My youngest was diagnosed with autism in 2005 and we have her on a gluten and casein-free diet as well. Again… it’s makes a big difference.

    Love your bin idea! Maybe one day I’ll decide to get organized, too! ;-)

  • Jabross40

    I would like to share the following
    1. On organization. Check out this woman is phenominal at organization. I have friends who use her systems in various forms. My self included. She is very detailed. Its a beautiful thing.
    2. While my kids are older now, this past year while staying with my sister, we noticed that with red food dye my 4yr old niece seemed to have moments of out of control behavior. She is generally somewhat out of control, but what I am talking about was OFF THE CHART out of control. So I would say that it definately makes sense to watch what Kate is eating.
    3. Food organization: I LOVE THE BIN IDEA!!!! To further help with this, there is a web site that Jon Acuff at It is called “e-mealz” this site sets up your recipes with local grocery ads to help you get the most bang for your buck. It is VERY VERY COOL!!! I hope this helps…


  • Brandy @Brandy’s Brood

    Your meal bins? OH MY WORD!!! GENIUS!!!!!!!! Absolutely LOVE that idea!! May have to “borrow” that from ya :-D

  • Jennifer Price

    That is SO funny that you say that about your lack in the kitchen but yet you watch Food Network and such, because I am the exact same way! I could sit there and watch someone cook up the most amazing seafood dinner but I HATE seafood. I agree that it may come from the fact that they are organized. I like your little idea about the dinner prep and I might just try it too :)

  • Contactmekelsey

    The BIN SYSTEM is nothing shy from AMAZING! This idea I am using and taking credit for in my personal life :) (Just kidding)

  • Jennifer

    I always find yummy looking things in cookbooks when I am just browsing through them, but when I NEED the recipe, I can never remember where it is. I take 4×6 cards, write the name of the recipe on it and list the ingredients, and in the corner I write the cookbook/cooking magazine it is in. I keep THESE cards in a small photo type album listed by type (fish, salad, bread, etc). It is sooo easy to just look through this album, pull the cards of what I want (helps when I am shopping for ingredients), find the right cookbook for instructions, add any comments for next time and put it back in the album.

    I bet my system would work great in conjunction with your bin system!!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Angela S.

    Good post! I totally hear you. When things are organized for us, our whole family runs smoother. We have a better atmosphere in our home and everyone is happier. I’m also big on trying to feed my children healthy food because it really improves the way they function and it makes me feel good. It sounds like you have made huge progress towards meal planning!

  • Jennifer Durgeat

    I try to do the chores on the same days… Like laundry on Saturday, grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon…. bed making EVERY morning… girls baths every other night. Then I don’t have to stop and think about what needs to be done!

    Great idea on the pantry/bin thing!

  • Amy Kirkland

    First, I am a Pioneer Woman want to be also. Her food always looks so amazing in its presentation. Mine…not so much!!! Secondly, I think your fridge bins are genius. I love the idea. I have always used bins for trash (Rachel Ray), but never thought to store a meal in the fridge that way. My question is…what do you do with all the other “stuff” in your fridge? Or is your fridge just that clean? I think I might have to try this. Last, going to have to check out the kids job charts. We are needing something like that in our house. Love it!!!

  • Julesmpg

    I am excited about this chore thing! My kids are older and need some more motivation! Love the bins, what a great idea. I do menu planning and find it makes life so much easier, these bins take it a step further. I might be going back to work and this is something that would help the kids and Marty in the evenings.

    Please pray for a friend. Her baby passed away today, he was born yesterday at 25 weeks. This was their first baby.

  • Jen

    Housekeeping is not my strong suit. Mainly because I’m a ridiculous perfectionist, and if it can’t be done to my standards in one go, I just won’t begin. Also, if I don’t have everything I need (say I’m out of toilet cleaner) I won’t begin, because I can’t do it ‘right’. Then of course it all builds up and it becomes too hard and overwhelming :(

    Cooking, however, I rock at. Meal planning is easy, as I rotate with about 10 meals a fortnight. If that. My family are creatures of habit… They know what they like, and ask for it often. Sadly, it looks like a bunch of our meals are going to be banished from our house due to high gluten and wheat levels… And we don’t have the cash that afford gluten and wheat free pasta. We are having Drew tested soon for Caeliac and/or gluten intolerance, and it is much easier to feed the family all the same thing than make multiple meals. I have a few cookbooks that should help with this, so I’ll be back in the kitchen finding new family favourites :)

    And I have a Kate. Actually, I have 3 of them. I’ll pray for you if you pray for me, ok? ;) And you are a much better mummy than me… I’m at the point of not so much praying for my children at the end if the day, but that I’ll just survive them tomorrow.

    Love you, Precious mother. Be blessed abundantly xx

  • Jenny

    I meal plan as well, and I think your bin-meals are genius!!! I wish I had a bigger fridge then I would try that as well!! Girlfriend, I think you are on to something!

  • Amanda Gibson

    Jess’ is correct ~ if a word ends in s the apostrophe goes after without adding another “s”.

  • Amanda Gibson

    Jess’ is correct ~ if a word ends in s the apostrophe goes after without adding another “s”.

  • Alicia

    Oh my goodness, I’m so with you on the ‘apostrophe after a word ending in s’ thing! So confusing. I know ” Jess’ ” is right, but it looks weird!

    I so love the bin idea! Not sure if our fridge is big enough to handle 4 bins… where do you put all the other stuff that needs to be in the fridge too? Maybe you have a super industrial sized fridge haha?!?!

    Great idea though… and your meal choices look fantastic! Giada would be impressed!
    (Incidentally, I was on Raechel’s blog earlier today and she had mentioned and put a link to Barefoot Contessa’s website- I have a look, then click over to her page on the Food Network and start clicking over there too…see Giada’s page… all the while thinking of you! I still remember the time you mentioned that you find watching The Food Network calming during a storm- because “Giada keeps on cooking”!

  • JD

    I have OCD. CDO in alphabetical order, thankyouverymuch.

    The thing I love the most is to organize the Compassion kids correspondence stuff. With ten Compassion kids and 2 more on the way, organization keeps it simple to write to them at least once a month.

    I wrote a post about it here:

    Speaking of Compassion kids, how are Sangita and Mohit — I think those are their names…?

  • JD

    P.S. For us, sugar wasn’t the culprit, it was dairy products, especially milk.

  • Paola

    Oh man, it’s the little things that thrill me. I just love this. Meal planning is my nightmare. I do have a little help though. I own a dance studio and one of my mom’s barters with me. She owns a dream dinner. Don’t know if you have any there. While they certainly aren’t frugal, they are a lifesaver. You pick out wonderful meals (which by the way I would never think to make at home) and then you to Dream dinners and they have all the ingredients out for you to assemble your meals. You freeze them and take them out as needed. Love it! However, dance year is coming to a close and I am going to need a new way to make dinners. Thanks so much for sharing these little things.

  • Southern Gal

    Oh, that menu planning, plastic bin thingie is going to make me a better woman. I just know it! Thank you for sharing this. My days go much easier when I have everything all planned out. I don’t often do it, but when I do it’s easier. And the chance to be called a genious, too? Well, I’m on it.

  • Anonymous

    For what it is worth, it is Jess’s. :) I was REALLY stressed out about this for Elias’s name, but it has to do with how you say it for if you put the apostrophe with an s or without an s. Elias has a book called Dr. Suess’s ABCs. I figure Random House knows what they are doing. :) xoxo Love you much.

  • Joyce

    I normally just read and don’t comment here but I wanted to encourage you in regards to your daughter Kate. I have/had a “Kate” at my house. She is almost 21 now and we can laugh in hindsight but I like to tell her she made me old or kept me young…still not sure which. Oh the strength of her personality as a young girl had me in tears more than once. This child taught me the importance of staying on my knees. My firstborn was the easiest child in the universe but with this one I saw my own shortcomings in BOLD…she and I are quite similar, ahem. Anyway, those girls with strong personalities can grow up to be the most amazing young women. You sound like you’re working out the best way of managing your own strong girl…don’t give up. Pray hard. Today mine is so wonderfully independent and capable, confident and warm and funny and just the best girl I know. She loves the Lord with passion too….it can be done! I will pray specifically for you and your girl.

  • Dana Calverette

    I, too, have been blessed with children who have strong wills and personalities. I just wanted to encourage you and tell you that you really are doing the right thing. I have discovered that each child NEEDS to be parented differently. It makes such a difference when you can figure out their motivations and pitfalls. Keep it up! Things WILL get better!

    I love your bin ideas. And my interest is certainly piqued about the “online chore chart”. I’m certainly going to check it out!


  • Kandi

    I had to laugh when you said you’re the most devoted Food Network person. I intensely dislike cooking and ESPECIALLY the cleanup afterward. But I adore Food Network. It makes me desire to be the kind of cook they feature on there. And I think you’re right…part of the reason is because it’s all pretty and organized. I bet they just put the dirty dishes out of the frame and an assistant cleans up later! :) I need to get me one of those assistants…

    Anyways, thanks for th organizational tips. I do think it’s an awesome idea you have for the bin system!!! I think I will try this out because meal planning makes me stressed. Have a great day!

  • melissa

    you are so darn cute! i am working on getting my house (life) organized. the meal plannings that way sounds like a time-saver. great job!!

  • Beth

    You are really organized for your meals, Angie! I get as far as making a meal plan for the week and shopping for the ingredients off my recipe. But sometimes, our week goes sideways and we end up not cooking some of the meals and then I am thrown off. LOL! I recently organized my hall cupboards and pantry with small tubs (for OTC meds, first aid, and toiletries in the hall and teas and coffees in the pantry). It has certainly helped me find things faster and keep everything neat.

    Off the top of my head, I forget how old Kate is, but I know from experience and in discussions with an elementary school teacher friend of mine that around 4th grades, kids go through a pre-puberty stage, so she may be in that. I agree though that reducing or eliminating sugar from all of our diets is a good thing. So glad you can see an improvement!

    Have a blessed day, Angie!

  • Anonymous

    Love your system! I saw the chore chart system on Jessica’s blog the other day, and next term I will be using it….with my class!


  • Anonymous

    My mom taught me to clean up as I cook. Get all the ingredients on the counter before you start and put them away as they are used. It really does make a difference. I’m 55 now and can’t break the routine without looking over my shoulder. My mom has been gone since 2002 (she was nearly 40 when I was born) and these little habits keep her with me.

  • Amber

    They are so helpful! Thanks for sharing!!!

    I’m a little bit OCD (self-diagnosed… I’m a nurse & we self-diagnose EVERYTHING! haha) but you’d never know it by looking at my house right now. The problem is, I over-organize and my husband grew up with a mother whose primary love language is Acts of Service A.K.A. (picking up after everybody!) and who just so happened to major in Home Ec. and be 18 years older than my mother. So anyway, I not only have trouble keeping my uber-organization the way I want it, but I also get nervous when my MIL is around because I know I’m not doing domestic things the “right” way.

    Sorry for the tangent, but really, thanks for sharing. I LOVE the meal prep bins. I’m notorious for spending boo-koodles of money on tons of groceries only to realize that we’re out of one of the ingredients to each meal!

  • Connie L Amato-Mahle

    Hello there, Angie.

    Hmm… Organization?? Organization and structure keep me sane. Without it, I go slightly bonkers. In fact, when I’m stressed – I organize, clean, pay bills, etc. It’s quite therapeutic for me.

    I am a HUGE advocate for to-do lists. I make lists for everything – errands, chores, daily/weekly goals, groceries, bills. I usually make more of them when I’m feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Once it’s down on paper, I can give my mind a break from running around in circles.

    One simple organizer I bought was a large corkboard (4×3?) that I keep in my home office. It keeps the bills from invading my counterspace. Every bill that arrives is attached in the order that they are due. I also have a spreadsheet that keeps record of the bills that I have paid each month.

    LOVE your food bins idea – very clever, girl! Meal planning is a tough area to prepare and organize, especially for a family. But you, my friend, have it down to a science!! ; )

    Thoughts and prayers for you and little Miss Kate. My older daughter is a ‘bit’ of a BOLD-ie. Very strong-willed, however lovable. Some nights I go to bed feeling guilty for failing to be more patient with her. It’s reassuring to know that others out there grapple with this area, too.

    Have an enjoyable Sunday, Angie!! Take care!

    Love & friendship,

  • Coby

    I LOVE the idea of the bins in the fridge! I may have to give that a try!

    Here are my favorite tips:
    *I have a pre-printed grocery list of things I buy on a regular basis. That way, when I run out of something during the week, I can just circle it on my list. Or, after planning our weekly meals, I circle what we need to get.

    *The grocery list is organized according to the layout of my grocery store; makes shopping go much faster.

    *I have several Sterilite bins for toys, e.g., one big one for the Little People, one for all things Thomas the Train, one for Tinker Toys, etc.

    *Chores have certain days, e.g., bathrooms on Fridays, dusting on Thursdays, vacuuming on Mon., Wed., Fri.

    Re: Food & Kate. We did something similar with our twins. We cut out all high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes, and as many preservatives as we possibly know how to do. We have seen a MAJOR difference in our twins’ behavior. I’m a believer in the effect that sugar can have on kids!!!

    Happy organizing!

  • Meghan Russo

    Thanks Angie!! What a fun post…love it!

    First, I would like to ask you to PLEASE SPONSOR ME:)Every day, thousands of babies are born too soon, too small and often very sick. I’m walking in The March of Dimes Walk for Babies because I want to do something about this. And I need your help. Please support my walk. On May 1st I will be walking with my twins in Central Park, NYC for March of Dimes “March for Babies” 2011. My personal goal is to raise at least $1,000 to donate to this great cause!! Please visit my page below to sponsor us! Any donations would be much appreciated!! Making a secure donation is easy, just go to thre following link to sponsor our walk ~

    As for your post….The bins are a FABULOUS idea and seriously an answer to my prayers! THANK YOU!! Caring for 7 month old twins at home by myself I am often overwhelmed with the houshold tasks. I am making homemade purees for the babies and my hubby and I often end up ordering out because of lack of time. I am going to try the bin idea this week in hopes that my hubby and I can get back to having some yummy home cooked meals!!! He thanks you too:)

    As for Kate and the new diet…kudos to you. As a 1st grade teacher I can tell you that diet is often related to behavior. One of my best friends has a 5 year old daughter that had trouble with outbursts, tantrums, and hyperactivity. She was often called “spirited” at school and my friend found it very hard to handle her on the weekends. After reading the book below she actually discovered her daugheter had allergies and once those items were removed from her diet she was a new child! It might make for some interesting reading…here is the book she says “saved her life” ….. Is This Your Child? by Doris Rapp, M.D. I realize Charlotte is almost 1 and probably eating more than my 7 month old twins, but I love this book for my twins food/solid diet, Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. I have also found tons of great info on thjis website for baby food ~

    Have agreat week! Looking forward to your next post and thinking of you during what I assume is always a very emotional month/time of year for you and your family. Much love and prayers as you approach April 7th.


  • Anchored ByHope

    I don’t know if my comment made it so forgive this if it is a duplicate! My name is Kristie and I am one of the cofounders of Anchored by Hope ministry online. I am also the author of Unforgotten Children. We are contacting you to ask if you would be interested (or even available) to do a short 30 minute interview with our online blogtalk radio show in October for pregnancy and infant loss month. If the timing is an issue, we would be glad to rearrange that to your convenience. I contacted you by email, saw the automated response, and didn’t feel this was an emergency so I came here to point out the main reason for our contacting you. Thanks so much for your time, all God uses you to do is such a blessing to so many! Lovingly in Christ…

  • Handsfull

    Cool idea with the bins! Cooking has never been a problem for me, but organisation and general housekeeping… hmmmm, lets just say that 4 kids hasn’t helped in that area!
    Until VERY recently, I have been the queen of piles. Piles of papers on the benches, piles of clean folded clothes in the kids’ rooms that haven’t made it to their drawers, piles of clean unfolded clothes on the sofa, piles of grown-out of clothes waiting to be sorted, piles of shoes, piles of… you name it, I had piles of it, lol! And then I discovered Flylady (actually from an old post of Ann Voskamp) and she is AMAZING! Very encouraging, very kind, and very helpful.
    And now my bedroom (which was the worst room in the house) is actually a pleasure to be in, my husband is commenting on how much better the house looks, his stress levels have gone down and my daughter (a hoarder at the age of 7, sigh…) has started going through her stuff, trying to downsize! These things might not sound much, but they are miracles, lol! If you struggle in this area, I totally recommend her – go Flylady!

    • Kaira

      I love FlyLady too – but her daily emails were overwhelming!

      • Handsfull

        Apparently you can get a digest version, which condenses them all into 1 – I just delete the ones I don’t want to read and read the rest. Reading some each day helps to keep me motivated, otherwise I start feeling overwhelmed again and stop doing all those little bits that actually make the difference! :)

    • karen

      Love FlyLady!! I don’t even stick with my routines as seriously as I should, but many of them still happen, without me even thinking!

      Some days I go through and zap all the emails, but most days I atleast skim them.

      Angie – I love your bins!! I am attracted to anything that requires the use of a bin of any kind. My husband cringes when I come home with more bins. He is going to pass out when he sees them in the fridge!!

  • Kaira

    Hey Angie,

    I really love the bin idea for meal planning and prep but I’m not sure how to fit enough bins in my fridge. Do you have a side by side fridge – that would make a lot of sense because I think there is so much more room in that style fridge. I’m going to have to really think about how to work that out. It’s a GREAT idea and I’d really like to implement it.

    Someone in your comments, can’t recall who or I’d give credit, suggested the site – wow – THANK YOU! I have spent the past FIVE hours there, getting new ideas and being really inspired. I think you would really like it if you haven’t checked it out yet.

    Now, if only I can figure out how to fit 7 bins in my fridge…

    It’s good to see you posting everyday stuff. You’ve been such a stranger. Miss you.

  • Thelynns_1999

    Wow… the food thing and behavior sounds like my fave 4 year old. Does anyone have protein suggestions? This little one does not each much protein. PB&J is her fave food. She also eats cheese… but she can’t live off these foods alone!

  • mel

    I am very interested in what Kate is eating. I have a child that sounds a lot like her. What have you found for snacks (every hour = a lot of snacks!). I could use some suggestions for that many healthy snacks. Also, what have you been giving her for protein? Thanks so much!

  • Leslie

    Love your bin system! I think I may have to start that!
    Also, I just saw on another blog that Suze Orman financial guru recommended the myjobchart site and I researched it and LOVED it! I just set up my account and am so excited to start it tomorrow!!!

  • Big Fat Mama!

    Wow, can you come to my house and organize!! I have a label at the top of my blog called “Easy Dinners.” I use my blog to help me stay organzied. I try to list a few new Easy Dinners in my blog posts throughout the week, so this keeps me thinking about what meals to plan! I have 4 kids, and I’ve assigned a day for each of their laundry – one child per day (my boys are both on Wed.), my husband and I one day, sheets one day, and Sunday – a day of rest! :)

  • Heidi

    I’m sure you get lots of suggestions on diets for you daughter, but if you have a minute, check out the Feingold diet website. My first daughter (I have 4) was almost 3 when we started it and it literally changed our family’s life.

    I never thought I would be one to stick to this, but we saw such an incredible change in our daughter’s behavior and sleep patterns, it was worth it. She is 10 years old, attends a rigorous school and does so well – as long as she sticks w the diet.

  • Natalie

    YES! I am currently in the throes of life-changing, paradigm-shifting, organization-inducing ecstasy thanks to the book “Organized Simplicity.” Just speaking for myself here, but this book is the right book for me at the right time as I’ve recently struggled with some of the same issues you mention. And as a homeschooling mom who likes to have everything organized and tidy and planned out, I just feel scattered so much of the time and want to simplify but don’t know what area of my life (schooling, housework, closets, dinner, desk clutter???) to organize first or the easiest way to go about it. This book articulates the many thoughts I’ve had swirling around in my head about how to swim against the current of our culture and make life simple without getting all complicated about the whole thing (isn’t it ironic how we are so often advised to take some pretty complicated measures in order to simplify?!?). Blessings to you as you organize and simplify!

  • Shelli

    Hi Angie,

    I’ve read your blog for quite a while…but have never commented! I just wanted to say that we changed our daughter’s diet(dramatically) at the age of three, for many of the same reasons you mentioned. It changed our life and her life in a huge way. Many were telling me that the items we removed can’t affect behavior, but I was witnessing a miracle in my own home! The Lord led us to remove food dyes and preservatives, and we significantly reduced her sugar intake. If it’s not natural, she doesn’t eat it. I was very alone on this journey for many years…but so much has changed since we began, with many now realizing the benefits of natural and organic foods, and acknowledging the affect of food on the brain. She is 15 now, a very focused, brilliant, amazing girl. We were at our wits end with her behavior and sleep problems from birth…but knew she also had this wonderful sensitivity, perceptiveness, and brilliant mind. Changing the diet wasn’t a perfect cure-all ( but it was the miracle that God sent us)…she is still a sensitive kid…to chemicals and foods etc(but also in many wonderful ways)…but the diet changes leveled the path for her to have a much better starting point to work from…and brought much more peace to our home life. My other children were not challenging like her, but I even saw improvements in them in many areas. God did not design our bodies to process petro-chemicals. I recently read that the FDA is now expanding their research on the affects of food-dye on children’s behavior. There is a non-profit called the Feingold Association, that the Lord led us to to assist us in making these changes. It may not be what you are looking for, but it can explain the affects of chemicals on the brain….therefore behavior.

    Bless you on this journey.

    ps: after I had finished this, but before I posted I checked out the comments and saw the comment from Heidi…sounds SO much like us.

    • mg

      That’s wonderful…I’m really surprised that people said removing those things couldn’t improve her behavior. I thought most people would know that. I’m a believer for sure.

      Oh, I’m noticing her age. I bet it was harder 12 years ago hey?

  • Cindy

    The bin thing will give me an excuse to buy a 2nd fridge! ;)

    One thing I do is when I mix up a meatloaf, I make a couple of extra, put them in ziploc bags, & throw them in the freezer. (When I’m really efficient, I do this as soon as I unwrap the big package of ground beef from Costco.) I have a few meals that I do this with, and it works so well. Especially when I want to give someone a dinner – pull it out of the freezer, add cooking instructions, a little container of veggies, rice, and shazzam!

  • misslissa

    If you’re a microsoft girl, You should get acquainted with OneNote. It’s like spiral notebooks in your computer. Brilliant!

    Ubernote is a great free online version. I also love

  • misslissa

    If you’re a microsoft girl, you need to get acquainted with One Note.
    Ubernote and are great too!

  • Sajmorris

    From an old grandma: What an excellent post!

  • Jennifer

    WOW!!! LOVE the Job Chart site! I have been getting so frustrated lately at how “mommy” is expected to do so much stuff! I appreciate this motivational tool! It’s great!!!!!

  • Sarah

    Well I just have to remind you of something that may help you put things in perspective. I attended the Rachel Ray show for my birthday two years ago. Now aside from the fact that it was one of the best days of my life(everyone in the audience that day won over $1200 in prizes!) I was shocked at how much prep her staffers did in between commercials. Rachel leaves the set and all these people come out and wipe the counters, straighten all her tools and bowls up,etc… giving the preception of perfection, no messes,etc… for the TV. Just another reminder that its all staged.
    On another note, I LOVE your bin idea! This may be the premise for your next book…hahaha:) Its a great idea though; esp for hubbies to be able to follow.

  • Rhonda

    Great idea! I was trying to figure out how I could pull that off myself. Praise God for divine wisdom and innovation!

  • andrea

    Hi Angie-
    Thanks for sharing these tips – the bin idea is great!

    Usually the meal planning for me is the biggest pain – probably because there are six of us with varying palettes from (almost) vegan – me! to bring on the steak – my husband! One simple thing I started was to write down all the meals the majority of my family enjoys and post it on the inside of the cupboard where I keep some of my cooking supplies. I also created seven categories for each day of the week (e.g. chicken/turkey, casseroles, stew/chile/soup, veggie options, bean dishes, pasta other). Then, when I planning meals for the week I just plug one of our favorites into the categories and create my shopping list from there. I also try to plan at least one meal that can create leftovers for another night so it saves me a day of cooking.

    I also started writing down things I was getting low on up on our erasable message board so that I wouldn’t forget to include them on my shopping list.

    Last thing unrelated to the above… I wondered if you’d ever come across this homeschooling blog: Anyway, they’re going to be doing a “curriculum clean out drive” at the end of this month and I thought this might be something you’d be interested in.

    Love in Christ,

  • Marilena

    The bin idea is brilliant! I love to cook and meal plan but I have never thought of having all of the meals ready to go like that.

    We’ve also have been using “my job chart” for a few weeks and my kids love it!

    My Michaela sounds a lot like your Kate. She’s my third and she’s also my hardest child to parent…I thought I had it all figured out until I had her! She is so funny but I think she might drive me crazy if I don’t help her to have self control…We just watched the movie “Ramona and Beezus” and we all said that Michaela is our Ramona. Ha!

  • Robin

    ummmm….I am so excited right now! This bin thing is AWESOME!! I cannot wait to try this system out w/my fam. Dinner time is so chaotic and this could be just the trick to calm things down some!! You go girl!!!

  • TT

    Love this idea! I think of myself as an organized person but I HATE cooking. The pictures are what sells it for me (very visual). Plus having everything doable done when I have time, not when I’m so hungry I can’t function. Thank you.

  • Jenny LWM

    Because of a writer on (in)courage, I picked up “Organized Simplicity” by Tsh Oxenreider. It is CHANGING. MY.LIFE. I am in the process of majorly de-cluttering our home and it feels amazing. Yes, all of the contents of my bathroom are on my dining room table right now, but, generally, everything has a place now and I absolutely LOVE everything in my house. Anything I didn’t love is long gone. It’s a great feeling.

    • Natalie

      Love it! I was wondering if anyone else on here had found this life-changing book! (See my comment about 13 comments before yours :-)

  • Sally Cannon

    You are such a sweet person! I love your blog, have been reading for a long time! I work full-time (unfortunately) and have 5 wonderful kiddos and a hubby, and we survive on freezer meals and crock pot meals. My friends and I have started a blog with the freezer meals,
    it’s so nice to have a months worth of food in my freezer! Now I spend more time with my kids after school instead of cooking! :)

  • Katy

    I love your tub idea with the meals. Great idea! So glad it’s working!

    My oldest is 11 and has been gluten free for almost 2 years. It made a huge difference in his behavior. He was real edgy, cried over dumb stuff, didn’t talk much, brain fog which was looking like a learning disability! Then when I took him to a chiropractor/holistic dr. he told me he had a wheat allergy. Oh yeah, and constipation was a problem from day one. So to make a huge story shorter, I took him off all wheat and gluten instantly . He became happier, more relaxed, talked more, doing better in school. He suffered from a lot of strep throat and ear infections too but since being on the diet, he hasn’t been sick in 2 years (no cold, no sniffles, no flu).

    I am a huge believer that a big part of the kids today i have learning issues and behavior issues due to food allergies and all that crap that is put into our food to preserve it.

    I won’t lie, it was rough to find things for my son but I stuck to it and hunted on line for his treats, like a cinnamon roll etc. He knows that he feels better and he won’t even eat wheat. I make sure there’s always treats in the freezer that I can grab for a party at school or a friend.

    Good luck!

  • EmilyM

    LOVE your dinner bin system!! You ARE a genius! :) Just wanted to commend you on the diet correlation with Kate. My 4 year old has gluten/casein allergies. She also is sensitive to corn, soy, chicken,’s crazy! Yes it’s been a hard transition (not going for sympathy here) but just wanted to say that it’s totally worth it to see your child able to relax, focus and just overall function better has a human being. Hope you able to continue to see results! Blessings! ~Emily

  • Jasmine

    Dude! That is some organization, and some yummy looking food….

  • Rhonda Unruh

    I’ve just started the meal planning too because I hated trying to figure it out on the way home from work… and I didn’t like throwing away food that didn’t get used because plans changed. I love the bin system and think I’ll have to try it – mainly because it worked for your husband! Last week, I called my hubby to remind him of the dinner plan and he still abandoned ship and took the kids out to eat! Argh! Maybe the bins can change our lives too…

  • Anonymous

    My husband said that your bin system makes me look like “a disorganized slob!” And just to let you know I have been meal planning for over a year but NOT doing the bin system and I am drooling over your pictures because now I SO WANT TO implement it :)

    Thanks for sharing. I stay organized by making lists. All over the place. All the time.

  • Allison Stephens

    I have just found Inspired to Action, she has some free e books that have been awesome! I have been really searching because I have been struggling for so long and really couldn’t take it anymore. I also have stopped thinking that if I don’t have a perfect house I am not a great mom or wife, and it has been so freeing. Thank you for being honest, you seem to have it so together and to know that you struggle with the same things I do, makes me feel less alone!

  • Ann Morton Voskamp

    Yep. Brilliant. Genius.
    Lead on, sister!
    I’m bringing my bin :)

  • Mar

    Our family jokes that once we figured out our (now-grown) son’s tantrums were because he needed protein, we would say, “Quick! Someone get him a piece of cheese!” when he would begin a meltdown. Sometimes we think something is a “spiritual problem” when it is actually very physical … that happens to adults as well. Lack of sunlight, thyroid, food allergies, etc can be affecting adults and they assume they have a spiritual issue they can’t overcome … I applaud you for connecting the dots with Kate and you’re seeing results already!

  • shanna

    Thanks for the bin system for cooking, i hope it will change my life too :) .

    I don’t have children yet, but i have plenty of firends with children who all have issues about what clothes they are going to wear everyday to school. My idea is to take a 5-tier box shelf, label Monday – Friday, and on Sunday night before bed, the children pick out 5 outfits (including socks & undies)they want to wear that week. Have them put the outfits on the shelve of the day they want to wear the particular outfit. My friend is doing this and she said it saves a lot of time and argument in the morning.

    Thank you for being such an inspiration to so many people.
    shanna from sc

  • Thewhitehousefive

    Angie – let me just say … way to go figuring out on your own that Kate’s stuff is related to food … I had to have my mom point it out to me 15 years ago on a family trip with regard to my son. I was clueless (just mainly overwhelmed with parenting 2 children 54 weeks apart – my son being #2) … we addressed the food issue and it made a HUGE difference (mainly blood sugar dips) … we still continued to parent hard but I just wanted to encourage you with this … our son is turning 18 at the end of this month, finished community college during his jr/sr years of high school and is heading to Azusa Pacific in September. He has grown into a GOD loving, self controlled, self-disciplined young man full of wisdom and I am AMAZINGLY grateful to God for him. Hang in there … you can do it … also … for what it is worth … when I noticed Ann’s post regarding the peace chair … sure wish I would have used that with our son Cole … “awful big feelings” were common and a peace chair would have been a blessing! May God richly bless your home as you seek to bring glory to Him in all you say and do! Terri

  • Melanie Bleem

    I’m sure in 99 comments someone has mentioned Emealz. Dave Ramsey suggested it while we were doing Financial Peace. We use the Portion Control plan which are healthier versions of any given meal. LOVE it. Going to the Grocery Store once a week is a real blessing! All the food is in the fridge and ready to go!
    Keep up the Blood sugar monitoring. It makes a huge difference with kids. They know something doesn’t feel right but they can’t always express what it is. Growing up as a kid I could ALWAYS tell when I was going to get ‘out of control’. It happened REALLY quick! I was conscious as an adult that my kids melt downs were because they were really hungry or thirsty! Good job on catching that one!

  • Deborah Boutwell

    I love the idea of the bins in the fridge. Cooking, cleaning, organizing ….anything like that is my downfall. My son asked when I was going to grocery shop again…it’s been a few weeks. My husband does all the cooking now, but he fries everything…not so good on the body. But I think if I organized things for him it would be easier. I’m going to give this a try….along with Ree’s cook book that I really just bought for the pictures!

  • Erin

    Good for you for figuring out Kate’s food issues. I also have a Kate(y) with major food issues and it helped immensely to feed her often and concentrate on protein together with a carb as often during the day. Actually, all three of my dds are hypoglycemic but I didn’t really get a heads-up from the doctor. Trial and error and a whole lot of tears and yelling! Dd1 used to cry when she had low blood sugar, dd2 would become very angry and dd3 was off the charts with her tantrums. Getting a handle on meal and snack time schedules was most helpful and for dd2 it was essential she not have any dyes in her food. Before I knew about this, I could watch the brain change as the chemical affected her behavior–very creepy. I’m relieved to finally see this make it into the news this past week and hope more parents will realize the dyes and preservatives are bad, bad substances. All three dds are grown now and know how to eat properly to keep themselves on an even keel. It WILL get better, Angie. And thank you for realizing “bad” behavior isn’t always willful behavior.

  • Clean Mama

    Love the bin idea – very clever :)

  • B’s Mom

    This is a FANTASTIC idea. I love it. I’m also going to do the chore chart. Thanks!

  • Jeanie Cullip

    I love love love the idea of the bins.. I will be able to find everything I need for dinner- whoo hoo!!!

    blessings & giggles

  • Jennifer George

    I love menu planning. An idea I use is on my blog. I will try to put in the link but I know some blogs don’t accept them.

    I do like your bin system too. I know that would really help me to have others able to do a meal as it is all set out for them.

    Best wishes
    Jen in Oz

  • Rebecca

    Angie, I read another blog … and her second last entry is called “housekeeping. part 1″ She uses a filing card system to organise her home, and it looks very intriguing. I really like the idea of that, as it will get all the clutter out of my head, and into a visual filing system. Perhaps it is worth checking out …

  • Mimijw

    You should look athis website…..its very nice. does meal planning, gives you a grocery list (from the grocery you use) would go very nicely with your bins.

  • Guest

    Such a fabulous idea with the bins! I may try something similar with meal freezing. I read an idea of freezing the components to a meal instead of the whole thing (since some meals just do not reheat from freezing very well).

  • Karenmarieberger

    Oh my goodness! How many tips can a woman give in one blogpost? I think you’ve met the quota, for sure. Thank you, thank you! I don’t know what I’m more excited about – spring cleaning, cooking, or chores for the kids!

    Resting in Him Alone,

  • Karla

    Okay this idea really is genius! I’m going to start doing this! It definitely will help when at 4 pm I get a call at work asking what we’re doing for dinner. Like you, I love Food Network but am horrible about organizing and stuff. Glad Irony can have more than one BFF. :)

  • melakamin

    That’s a great idea! I’m not there yet, but I have been doing better at planning what’s I’m cooking, so I don’t wait until 4:30 to decide (tell me I’m not the only one). Yesterday’s non-healthy snack item was inspired by Man vs Food on the Travel Channel – inspiration comes in many forms … this time – bacon wrapped tater tots. I know – SUPER healthy – but so yummy and I felt somehow justified because they looked like fancy appetizers. We just started using the MyJobChart tool and love it … another similar rewards-based item I’m interested in is the Switch2Health Replay monitor. It’s designed to get kids (and adults) moving and when they work out or actively play for a certain amount of time, they earn points, which … you guessed it – can be redeemed for items online.


    Well…clearly this IS genius! You may think you’re disorganized (what mother of 4 little ones doesn’t??) but, sister, you’re way ahead of most of us with this cool dinner prep idea. Thanks for sharing it!

    I’ve checked your blog inside out and can’t find any way to subscribe? Is is hidden somewhere? I love to have notices dropped into my emailbox when a blog I love has a new post – so if there’s a way to do that with this one, I’d sure like to know about it!

    Also…about Kate. I had a Kate, too – a dear, sensitive, highly emotive and dramatic child with a flair for humor and a temper that mystified me. And I prayed almost exactly the same prayer – help me to form this little one without breaking her will or changing who she is at the core, where she resembles Jesus most clearly. And I made a lot of mistakes, a lot of them. And she had some hard things in her life. But….God is good and God is faithful and what a person she grew up to be! An elder in her church, mom to 3 remarkable boys whom she parents far more beautifully than I parented her, a marriage that I admire and treasure, a profession that involves teaching blind students how to navigate their environment. All of that energy as a little person came together, by God’s grace and the gift of time, into this amazing, loving, fun and deeply committed adult. It is worth every moment of anguish and uncertainty while they are Kate’s age to see who they grow to be. Hang in there. You’re doing a great job.

  • FaithForever

    Wow! You are organized! That’s fabulous. Wish I could be like that.

    Your comments about your daughter really stuck out to me because I am going through a lot with my son who has a diagnoses of AD/HD. for many years. I have been praying and praying for the Lord’s help, in regards to my son, on many different levels. Then I had a parent suggest a book. I read it and really got a lot of good information. I would like to suggest it to you so that you may gain access to the tools I have. The book is called Disconnected Kids by Dr. Robert Melillo. It shed a lot of light on my sons behaviors. According to your post, it sounds like your daughter has some behavioral issues as well and I really think this book will help your whole family. Of all the books I have had, this is really the one that helped me with my son. I am starting to see some BIG improvements in him through the recommended exercises and I feel I am starting to connect with him – something I NEVER thought was going to happen. I pray that many families can benefit from the knowledge being offered in this book.

    • brsbride

      I second “Disconnected Kids”- our son w/autism has made remarkable (dare I say miraculous) progress after going through the Brain Balance program. The book has excellent suggestions for simple exercises to help children. Our family has been so blessed by Dr. Melillo’s work- we are truly a re-connected family. I know two other families with children who made amazing strides after the Brain Balance progam.

  • Ashlea Speer

    OH Angie, I LOVE LOVE the bin idea!! I am terrible at the whole cooking thing mostly because I just get so aggravated by the time it’s all over. I forget ingredients and have to run to the store or the mess just gets overwhelming or my husband acts completely clueless if I ask for help….and I just give in to the easiness of ordering out most of the time. But I am going to give this a try because I know it would help us financially and healthwise to eat in more.

    And….I have kind-of a favor to ask of you. I have just found a new blog about a christian woman, her husband and their children, some natural and some adopted. She is an amazing person from what I can tell through “blogland” and has already been such an inspiration to me (like you have been). She just posted about a little boy in another country who desperately needs a family to call his own. He is about to be transferred to a place where he won’t be able to be adopted anymore and he will just have to live there until he reaches adulthood and then who knows where he will end up.

    I know your blog reaches so many people and I was hoping maybe you could just mention this so the word will get out. He needs a family but in the meanwhile he could use some good old-fashioned prayer too!

    Her blogpost all about this little boy is at

    This little man deserves a loving home and I think the possibility of him getting one will be greatly increased if we can reach more people!

    Thank you so much for any help at all!

  • Robin

    Just saw this link through fb and LOVED it. I am pretty organized but cooking is not my thing. In fact I am not very good at all. But, I do love bins! That is how I organize my kids toys and just about every thing else. I buy a bin for whatever toy they have and label it. Art supplies, playdough, etc.It has worked very well. I never thought to do it with our meals. I think this will be my project next time I go grocery shopping. Thank you :) Keep on organizing :)

  • Karen

    I LOVE MY CROCK POT and it made my life SOOOOOO much easier when my kids were little. If you can cook it in the oven you can cook it in the crock pot….baked potatoes, chicken for tacos, casseroles. Congrats on the progress and being called a genius! WOO HOO!!!!!

  • Carrie Hester

    I am not a newbie to your site but I have NEVER posted a comment ( I don’t think – I have sort of lost my mind since going back to full time teaching last year)
    Your bin system is pure genius and I absolutely LOVE ideas that one can “make and take” (see the idea and then take it with them)
    Are you willing to post a picture of your calendar and mail organizer? I am a little OCD in the organization catagory and always LOVE to see what others are doing.

  • Amcdougalls5

    Angie, love the bin idea, I went out and bought two of them today! I struggle so much with organizing, it’s always wonderful to get new ideas that have worked for someone else with a “larger” family like mine. I was also very intrigued by what you were saying about your Kate and food and how it affects her behavior. I have a Kate, only her name is Charlotte :) she is my third girl as well and I feel like I am in constant battle with her. She can be the sweetest child I know but she can flip her switch and become the nastiest child so quickly. I am truely at my wits end with her behavior and I was wondering if you had any good book suggestions on helping with this issue. I feel like I am doing a constant diservice to her because I am always so frustrated with her. Any help or suggestions would be so very much apprciated!!

  • jill

    Love this idea! Can you share some of your other index cards?

  • jennibell

    Yea for you on the bin system!!! That is great.
    On the diet thing, have you tried taking milk/dairy out of her diet? That’s a HUGE trigger that not many people know about. More so than sugar and red dye. Maybe other people have already mentioned this? We can always tell when our youngest son has had dairy. . .he kind of flips out.
    We have a giant chalkboard in our kitchen that I write our daily schedule on. The kids love it and it keeps us all on track. When we’re getting ready to go away for the weekend or something, I list what they need to pack on it. Most weekends I put a chore list on it and then have them mark the ones they did. I will have to check out the site you were talking about though. . .it sounds great.
    Well, this is enough from me. . .I see you already have 120 comments so I’m sure most of this is just duplicate anyway.

  • Danielle Johnson

    As a mom of 5, and my children being on spring break this week, I have come to realize I need a new system….b/c the ship I’m sailing is quickly sinking. Thank you so much for these great ideas! I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and get started,

  • Vermontsw

    I love this idea…I really like that Todd could help in a pinch if needed. And as a mom that has run out of creative meals lately I think I might give this a try. Thank you.

  • Joriec

    Brilliant!! This makes you want to cook, doesn’t it? I’m gettin’ me a bin! :-)

    My big hurddle is that i plan meals for the week, buy all the stuff and then life happens in the middle of it and i end up throwing away produce or whatever else that didn’t make it b/c i didn’t get to cook that meal on the day i needed to cook it. Any ideas anyone? All i can do is just not buy it till i need it and you know how that can be. If i do that i would never cook and we’d weigh 5 million lbs from all the take out we would get.

    I also need a space to keep incoming mail and calendar and chore chart etc…the space in my kitchen – although large enough – just seems too pretty to mess up with bits of paper and things added to the walls (my wonderful husband is 85% through a kitchen refurb and i hate to mess it up!) Any ideas? where does everyone keep all this kind of thing so it’s useful but not unsightly? I might mention we don’t have a dining room – our dining area is part of the kitchen. So i think that’s why i dont want all this cluttering up the kitchen b/c when we do have guests then i’m paranoid about it being too home-y. Hope i’m making sense and not sounding stupid…
    ok enough blog comment hogging.
    thnx Angie.

  • Meghan Russo

    Dearest Angie~

    I have had you on my mind all morning as I know today, April 7, 2011 is the 3 year anniversary of the birth of your beautiful daughter Audrey. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers today. I know each day without Audrey in your life is hard and I am sure April 7th will always hold a mix of memories from extreme love and joy to overwhelming sadness and loss… I know this must be a very emotional day for you and I just want you to know I am thinking of you and praying for your peace. In memory of Audrey today I am making a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s hospital. “To those who believe in you O Lord Life has CHANGED not ended” ~ Audrey is a little angel that has touched us all and on this day I give thanks for her beautiful life. Warmest Love, Meghan

    Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Do not stand at my grave and weep,
    I am not there, I do not sleep.

    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glint on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn rain.

    When you wake in the morning hush,
    I am the swift, uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circling flight.
    I am the soft starlight at night.

    I am the song that will never end.
    I am the love of family and friend.
    I am the child who has come to rest
    In the arms of the Father who knows him best.

    When you see the sunset fair,
    I am the scented evening air.
    I am the joy of a task well done.
    I am the glow of the setting sun.

    Do not stand at my grave and weep.
    I am not there, I do not sleep.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry.
    I am not there, I did not die!

  • Mary

    Today is “Audrey’s Day.” Thinking about you. Remembering sitting in Sioux Falls for a Selah concert and being told Selah would not be there because of Audrey’s birth. My heart broke for you guys. Wishing you a day of very sweet memories of your special girl!

  • Amber

    I must use your bin system! Just last night when asked what was for dinnerb- my responsevwas something with chicken?

  • Anonymous

    Praying for you. I thank God for the work He has done through you and your family. I pray that He continues to heal you because I know being in God’s will has been painful. May He bless you with peace and grace.

  • Jocelyn Merkel

    Praying for you today, Angie. I lost my baby boy, Everett, at full term 6 weeks ago. Beth Moore postde this on the LPM blog a few weeks ago, and it brings me comfort:

    Hold tight to Jesus un the ebb and flow of this temporal world. One sweet day this convulsing earth will be made new. The skies will tear open like a veil, and every eye will see. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

    Love, Jocelyn

    • joyce

      May the wonderful strong and gentile arms of Jesus hold you tight as you continue on without your little one.

      • Drmomjoyce

        oops gentle was the right word, not gentile.

  • Iliveforjesus7

    Angie I love your idea!!! Yay for organization!!! Now, could you post that recipe?! :) I am ALWAYS looking for new chicken recipes! God bless you and your sweet family. I just read that today is the 3rd anniversary/birthday for audrey I just want to tell you that I am so sorry for your pain and sorrow. I am also very moved by your testimony and have been amazed at what a MAGNIFICENT(sp?) God we serve, even and especially in times of heartache and hardship….God bless!
    Sarah Tidmore

  • jamie

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE post the recipe. I went looking for it online and couldn’t find a match. Then, it can be the first “take out tote” meal I buy for the new system….which I LOVE!!

  • Jenny Pennington

    Seriously, “the bin system” is such an AMAZING idea!! Thank you SO much for sharing it. I can’t ever decide what to make for dinner and truthfully, my hubby is the cook in the house. I always beat myself up because I feel like I should be the one who cooks since I’m the wife/woman, and this truly seems like something I could handle. :) Thank you again for sharing your idea. You may have just saved my sanity and self-worth! <3

  • Jenny Pennington

    Seriously, “the bin system” is such an AMAZING idea!! Thank you SO much for sharing it. I can’t ever decide what to make for dinner and truthfully, my hubby is the cook in the house. I always beat myself up because I feel like I should be the one who cooks since I’m the wife/woman, and this truly seems like something I could handle. :) Thank you again for sharing your idea. You may have just saved my sanity and self-worth! <3

  • Kristi

    That bin system idea is incredible!

  • CherMarie

    I love your boxed up meal idea with picture of the meal! That is so wonderful!

  • Fern Rappaport Katz

    I love your “bin” idea–it is genius. I realized a long time ago that if I planned out dinner for the week, I was much calmer and so was everyone else. At 6:00I am tired and do not want to have to think. I learned this about myself: I can make dinner, what I can’t make is a decision. But the whole idea of the bins just takes it one step further. The less I have to think at that time of day, the more energy and calmness I have for my family. Thanks for a great idea!

  • joyce

    ‘She is not an easy child to parent, but she is incredible. Every night I just pray I will know how to love her without breaking her will and her heart while I try to help shape her into a Godly woman.’

    This statement is exactly (well except for changing the she to he and the woman to man…) how I feeel about my son. How do I parent without breaking his will?
    But when I hear him sing O canada for 9 minutes straight at the top of his voice with such joy – I know we are doing ok – through Grace alone.
    Blessings as you raise all your beautiful daughters.

    • Kerry C

      same with my son… brilliant, strong willed, opinionated, good hearted and loving – just want him to direct his energy towards God-pleasing things and not lose the energy that makes him “him”.

  • House of Lovelock

    Goodnight. I have container obsession here at my house and never thought of this. You are a genius. I’m trying this tomorrow.

  • Christine

    Sheer brilliancy! Love this!

  • Pritchardshannonl

    I just finished reading your book “i will carry you” and it was beautifuly sad. I fealt your pain and saddness to core of my being. What you have been through is nothing short of amazing. I have a disabled child who is 12 and I live every day not knowing what tomorrow will bring. I would give my life tomorrow for my daughter to be normal. the other day my husband said something that shook to the core he said,”Do you realize we will never be grandparents?” I have not been the same since and it doesn’t even compare to the loss you lived Aubrey is beautiful and I will carry her with me also the rest of my life. If you have a moment please look at my blog I would love your feed back. You are an amazing mother and person.

  • MSwann2003

    I also didn’t comment since you are at 143 and well my mom used to always write 143 on my lunch bag in high school {because I was too cool for the words then} and well, 143 has always been special to me since then.

    Anyways, I LOVE this system!!! Do believe I will be trying it out on my end as well!!! Thanks for sharing and the pictures too, because I’m a picture kinda gal!

    • Mswann2003

      to clarify- 143 is “I love you”. :-)

  • Janice Croze

    Oh my goodness I am SO impressed you your meal planning! I am SO bad at that . I just get overwhelmed even thinking about it!

    I just tremble at organization. So that is why I love My Job Chart too! :)

  • Renee Balassaitis

    I am totally taking your tips to heart – I’ve been in a ‘clean house’ mode for a bit now!

    We have 6 children (4 will be adopted this summer!) and with all their appointments, DYFS visits, activities, school stuff & my husband’s work schedule my chunky calendar thingie wasn’t cutting it!

    But! We have found a GREAT online dayplanner: . It’s awesome! You color coordinate each child and parent. They also have apps for smart phones, sends you email/text reminders for events – so now Brad & I only hafta enter something ONCE on ONE calendar and we’re automatically on the same page! You can do other things, too – like make shopping lists, but honestly – i’m not there yet!

    I’m off to visit Jessica’s blog for the Chore points info!

  • Kerry C

    I’m trying to overhaul my way of doing things, too. I love, love, love that dinner idea :-) My kids are older (14 and 15) and my daughter recently cleaned the whole house (except my room and her brother’s room) for me – I paid her $60. She gets money, it’s cheaper than a maid :-) Which got me thinking – since my son says no fair, he wants $$ too. (I don’t give an allowance). So, I’m in the process of making a chart with household (yard, too) jobs, what monetary value they have, and how frequently they can be done for pay. Then the kid who does that job can put the tag in his/her envelope… or something like that… and then on “payday” I’ll tally up the jobs.

    • Christy

      My mom did something like that for us, it worked beautifully. :)

  • Patti

    Absolutely brilliant idea! I have the same organizational “issues” :) so I look forward to trying this dinner bin idea out! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • Missy @ It’s Almost Naptime

    I have four kiddos, ages 4,5,6 & 7, and I can tell you my latest thing that has CHANGED MY LIFE.

    My kids put away their own laundry.


    I bought these elfa drawer thingys from Container Store, and they stack right next to my dryer. I fold the clothes and put them right in their drawer – I also drop in random toys and books and hair nices I find about the house during the day. Then it is one of their chores to empty the drawer and bring it back.

    And – sit down – last week I told them they were gonna be in charge of putting away their HANGING CLOTHES TOO.

    Yessssssss. Glory.

  • Christy

    LOVE your idea! Daily cooking is my daily dislike. BUT…it SAVES money, it’s SO much better for you. I will have to try it. I have been much better with planning out my meals for a week or two ahead, so maybe this will be the next step. :) My husband enjoys the cooking part, not so much the conjuring up meal ideas, so this would fit in our house so well. :)