What to do When Your Meal Goes Unplanned

You know those nights where you have dinner all planned out then something happens and your “planned meal” goes unplanned? The tomatoes you planned to put in the pasta aren’t good, you planned a fun night out but it got cancelled or you just weren’t in the mood for the meal you planned? Whatever your situation is, try to selvage any food you have in your kitchen to make a meal work.

Here are my tips on what to do when this happens…

Tip 1. If you’ve already begun cooking dinner and one ingredient is bad, mix in something similar. This literally happened to me tonight-hello post inspiration! I was planning on making pasta with chicken and tomatoes and found that most of the tomatoes I had bought three days ago went bad…so instead I replaced them with spinach and mixed it into the pasta. Cooking with fresh ingredients can be challenging because you don’t know how long the food will truly last-I have trouble using avocados all the time because if I don’t check on them regularly to see if they are ready to eat they can go bad pretty fast.

Tip 2. There have been many times where I will take out chicken to unthaw it and think it’s going to be ready to go the next night but turns out it’s not. When this happens my whole dinner game is thrown off. Also, the opposite has happened where I’ll forget to take the chicken out of the freezer to unthaw then I have to wait until it unthaws for dinner the next night. So what then? I’ve learned this year that it’s best to keep the freezer stocked full of food you can cook on the stove in less than twenty minutes such as turkey and chicken burgers. These are perfect substitutes when things go unplanned because you were planning on cooking anyway.

 
Tip 3. There is ALWAYS something in your kitchen you can cook for dinner. You might need to be creative-try mixing ingredients, looking online for inspiration (search for recipes where you already have most of the ingredients), cook something simple like pasta but make your own dressing. Or try my favorite, have breakfast for dinner-this can be anything from eggs on toast to an omelet with cheese and veggies. Don’t overthink the recipe and don’t get overwhelmed, as long as you’re grocery shopping on a regular basis and stocking up on food like pantry or frozen foods, you’ll always have something you can substitute when dinner goes unplanned.

Tip 4. For the nights when you thought you weren’t going to be home but your plans changed-instead of running out to the grocery store to buy food (since you were planning to spend money anyway on dinner) see what you have in the kitchen that you can cook up quickly. My mindset when this happens is that I’m not in the mood to cook because I was planning on having a fun night out, so if I can quickly cook up something in the microwave, in the oven or even make a sandwich I will. If all else fails, do what my grandmother would do and have a bag of popcorn! She always said that a bag of popcorn counts as dinner!

 
Tip 5. When you had a meal planned but you aren’t in the mood for it. This happens to me when I’ve made a big batch of something like pasta, and have eaten it for the past three days, it means it’s time to eat something else! Mood and cravings are everything when it comes to food, so ask yourself what are you REALLY in the mood for? If you can’t quiet figure it out, just make something that comes to mind or if it’s something you have in stock make that instead.

Do you have any solutions to unplanned meals? Let me know in the comments or on social media! @stylestomakeyousmile

How I Stock My Kitchen

When I go grocery shopping each week, I normally have a list of items to buy, but what I’ve come to realize is that I can add value to my shopping trip and stock my kitchen if I buy at least one extra item from the list below. This is helpful in case there were ever a time when I couldn’t run to the grocery store like getting sick or having a busy week.

Below are lists of items I stock up on:
Freezer-Organic chicken and beef and turkey burgers, pizza, vegetables (you can get bags of these for under a dollar at certain stores), fruits-strawberries and mixed berries, vegetable rice/quinoa and Greek yogurt pops.
Fridge-Water, Almond milk, yogurt, eggs
Pantry-Cereal, peanut butter, soup, pasta, tuna, cereal bars, rolled oats.
Other-Apples, oranges, avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers

Stocking up on these items means I will always have a full kitchen. It also means I’ll never run out of ideas on what to cook. While I might buy something one week, it means I can eat it when I’m in the mood for it later on. None of these items listed costs more than $10 total, so it won’t break my budget. For more information on budgeting read: How to Stick to a Weekly Food Budget When you give and take on your budget it all comes out the same-stock up on one expensive item one week-like organic chicken-then next week stock up on frozen vegetables.

How do you stock your kitchen? Let me know in the comments below or on social media @stylestomakeyousmile

Motivational Monday: Staying True to Your Values

Values are what you hold true in your life. As you mature, your values make you into who you are and you’ll put the energy from those values into everything you do-at work, in your relationships and within yourself. When you stay true to your values it shows outwardly who you are as a person. The things you value in life show other’s what is important to you. It is good to find people who value the same things as you.
Below are some of my values in life:

Spending time with loved ones.
Being appreciative and respectful toward others.
Staying positive in any situation.
What are your values in life and what do they mean to you?

Motivational Monday: Celebrate Life

People all want the same things in life which are to be happy, overcome struggles, find themselves, and be surrounded by people who love and support you and have great times turn into great memories.
For anyone who celebrates birthdays, always remember to treat every day as good as a birthday. You should celebrate being alive today. There is always something good in every day whether it’s something you did for someone or something someone said to you or something you did for yourself. Treating yourself as good as you treat others is can make a difference in your own happiness. Think of what you would say to a friend in a time of need and repeat that to yourself.

Wake up each morning to decide that today will be worth it. Any struggles you’re facing can always be worked through. As long as you don’t let your struggles diminish you, you can get to a point where the struggles you face today, won’t be your struggles for tomorrow.

There will always be a balance of struggle and celebration in life. If you can recognize the work you’re doing to win against the struggles than that in itself is a celebration of life. ❤

The Art of Browsing Clothing Stores

Whenever you’re feeling the urge to go shopping but don’t want to spend money, you can browse your favorite stores. In my lifetime I’ve worked in two malls. I often found myself shopping after work and since I would shop in my favorite stores consistently, I would see when the stores would have the best sales. I also got to see how long it would take an item to go on markdown.
*In the picture I’m wearing a beautiful dress from LOFT that I just LOVE! I’m waiting for it to go on sale so I can wear it all summer!

Here are my tips for browsing clothing stores:

Shop full priced items when the new product hits the floor. This is the perfect time to try on your size. Most stores will have at least 3 or more clothing items of your size available when the item is brand new. Trying on the items now allows you to see what items you like and what fits properly. By browsing the store and trying on clothes it really gives you the opportunity to think about what you’ll wear the item with, how it fits into your wardrobe and how often you’ll wear it. Want more tips? LINK TO SHOPPING TIPS.

My three favorite sales are 1. The ones where an item is on markdown AND it’s 40% or more off. 2. Final Sale Items because this is the lowest prices you’ll find in the store. I’ve found some great final sale items for $9! 3. Buy one, get one free! With all three sales you can find some really amazing deals and it won’t cost a fortune to update your wardrobe. In order to purchase from these sales it may take some waiting but that’s okay because if you’ve done your browsing ahead of time then by the time these sales hit you’ll be able to purchase from them.

Watch the merchandise’s cycle. New merchandise is always set up in the front of stores. This means it has a while before it will go on markdown. However, it will go on a percentage off sale at some point, so if you don’t want to wait for markdown, wait for it go on sale or until you receive a coupon in the mail. If the item is in the back of the store that means it’s been in the store for a while and it will go on markdown soon.

Another great reason for browsing is if you know you’ll be getting a coupon in the mail soon-whether it’s a birthday coupon, store cash or you have a coupon already but it can’t be used for another week/month. So, if you don’t want to wait until the day the coupon is active, start browsing now and you won’t have to wonder what you’ll buy when the time comes.
My ONLY exception to browsing, is if you LOVE IT, BUY IT. If you really can’t wait for the item to go on sale then buy it!

Do you browse stores often? What are your tips for browsing? What are your favorite stores to shop? Please let me know in the comments below or on social media! IG: Stylestomakeyousmile FB Page: Stylestomakeyousmile

How To Get Out Of A Food Rut

While driving home from work, I realized I didn’t want what I had planned for dinner-chicken fried rice with veggies. While it is a simple dish to cook it didn’t sound appetizing. I caught myself wanting to drive to the grocery store to pick up something to eat, so I started to think about what I could make with the ingredients I’d already had that could be incorporated with the dish. Since I had fresh food at home I didn’t want to waste the money I’d already spent and waste another night of not eating the fresh food. I knew I had kale, zucchini and eggs. Since none of those ingredients take long to cook, I decided to cook them all, throw them on a plate and call it dinner. It came out really good and was a very filling meal.
Here are my tips when you find yourself in this rut while driving home from work:

1. Think about the foods you already have in your kitchen. If you have a lot of fresh ingredients cut up some or all of them and incorporate them into the dish you originally planned to have. Just thinking about creating a new dish will get you excited about dinner and will make you want to eat at home.

2. Think about the possibilities for two meals instead of one. If you make enough food to last two days or more, come up with ideas on how you can make the meal a different way for leftovers. Small things like adding new dressings, seasonings, bread or cheese will really add to the dish to make it taste new.

3. You’ll save money. If you’ve convinced yourself that the dish you’re about to make will satisfy you for dinner that night, then you’ve saved money. The fresh food sitting in your kitchen is something you picked up from the grocery store for a reason, don’t let it go bad for another day.

4. You get to be creative. Coming up with several ways to prepare a meal stretches your mind-you become versatile in cooking.

5. You’ll get to cook. Going to the grocery store to pick up dinner is really easy. However, I find that after work I enjoy cooking because it gives me something to focus on. Plus, every time I cook something new it helps to further my cooking knowledge and ability. It also shows me what I enjoy eating and is a meal I can cook again in the future.

 

Do you have any ideas for how to get out of a food rut? Any meals you enjoy making with fresh ingredients? Let me know in the comments below!

Tips For Your Next Clothes Shopping Trip

To start off  The Smarter Shopper Series I wanted to state my five tips that will be helpful for your next shopping trip! I created this list as a way to make clothes shopping easier. It’s also a great way to think about how the clothes fit into your wardrobe and lifestyle. Check back every Wednesday for new content! Enjoy ❤

My top 5 tips:

  1. Style-Everyone has a style. Whether you like classic, trendy, casual or dressy, the pieces in your closet should make a statement about your style. When going on your next shopping trip, think about how the styles you buy today can complement the pieces that are already in your closet. This applies to shoes, jewelry and accessories too!

 

While shopping, see what you gravitate towards most. Do jeans always have the same color, shape or fit? Consider trying on clothes or accessories you normally wouldn’t wear to see if you like the style and fit for your body type.

 

  1. Fit-The type of fabric will make a difference in the fit of the clothes. You don’t want anything pulling, creasing, showing the line of your undergarments, or sticking to the fabric. What you do want is for the fabric to push away from your body so that it makes one smooth line from the top of the garment to the bottom.

While trying on clothes it’s a good idea to move in them; sit down, walk around the fitting room, and lift your arms up to see how high a shirt will come up or to see how much room you have to move in a jacket. If you wear a lot of layers during winter, it might be a good idea to go up a size in a winter coat, this way you’ll have more room to move your arms. Pants are a great example of fit. If there’s a gap, can it be fixed with a belt? Does the gap come out too far when you sit down? Some stores will provide a definition of their different “fits.” Try on the ones you think will work best for your body type. If you’re having difficulty finding the right fit, always ask an associate for help

Remember if you find a dress you love but it doesn’t fit quite right, it can always be tailored. It usually doesn’t take very long and generally isn’t costly. Bonus points if you can do the tailoring yourself 😉

 

  1. Wearability/longevity-If you’re on the fence about whether or not to buy floral capris, consider its wearability and longevity. Think about the pieces in your closet you repeatedly wear and ask yourself, ‘is this an item that can be worn with those pieces too?’ Be mindful of the colors too. Does the floral capris coordinate with the others, or would you need to buy something else just to wear it? For example, if you own a lot of printed capris focus on buying solid/neutral pieces to go with them.

Also, think about whether or not you’ll be wearing the item(s) for a long period of time. Is this an item you can only wear once (and do the first few points already mentioned make it good enough to buy) or each week? You get bonus points if the item can transition from season to season (which is great in my opinion). If this is true, think about how and what you can wear it with each season. Example: A striped shirt can be worn with a cardigan and denim in the fall and floral shorts in the summer. Can the item be dressed up or down? Again, if the answer is yes to both, then great! What you don’t want is to buy items you’ll wear a few times only to then sell online or donate after one season.

 

  1. Price-If you can justify the first three points for buying something, then it may be worth the price. You just need to determine whether buying it today is worth it or if waiting for it to go on sale may be a better option. Note: Some stores don’t have sales, so you may want to buy the same day before the stock runs out OR make sure the item is available online and buy at a later date. Also note, when buying at a later date, you risk the item going out of stock both online and in-store. However, you can ask an associate if the item is available at another store. If the store has a lot of sales, keep track by either going back into the store or looking online.

 

5. Buy it if you love it-Regardless of everything else that has been said, buy it if you love it. If all four points come across in your favor and you absolutely love the item(s), buy them! You don’t want to have buyer’s remorse later on. Stores tend to carry different trends, colors, fabrics, and styles throughout the years so if you find something you really love at a great price and it fits well, go for it! You may never know when you will find something you love again.

What shopping tips do you have when you’re clothes shopping? Let me know in the comments below ❤