Stress Free Weekly Dinner Planning

I previously wrote a post on how I plan dinners for the week.   Since writing that post, I’ve added an extra element to my little system, that has made dinner planning even easier. I was finding that on busy weeks when my husband and I had limited time to actually sit down to think through what we wanted to eat that week, browse through cookbooks, online recipes, etc., we would end up just rushing to come up with ideas last minute on Monday mornings right before heading off to the grocery store. This would often result in us just deciding on the same few go-to meals over and over since those were what we could think of off the top of our heads.

dinner-planning-howto-arianna-belle-blogTo add variety and help make things as stress free and easy as possible, I decided to take the time one day to list out as many dinners as I could think of that we know how to make and love, as well as a few new ones we’ve been wanting to try out.  I then typed them all into a business card template (one dinner per box) and printed them on business card paper (I used this because it had a nice decorative border).  Once I had everything printed out, I grouped the dinner cards by category (photo above left) and used little post-it tabs to create category dividers.  I put all the cards in a business card holder (photo above middle), which I adhered strong magnets to the back of (photo above right), so I could stick it up on our fridge – a convenient accessible spot that’s right next to the pantry where we keep our dinner planner sheets.

dinner-planning-arianna-belle-blogSo now, when it comes to deciding what we want to make for dinner on any given week, we can grab the cards, quickly look through them and choose one (or two) card(s) for each day. Once we’ve picked our cards, I fill in a dinner planner sheet with all the ingredients I need to shop for, and then stick up the cards up on our magnetic weekly board. If we change our minds in regards to which dinner we’ll make on what day (which often happens), we can easily move the cards around without having to erase and re-write things on the board like we used to.

There are several things I like about this routine. It makes deciding what to make quick and easy so it doesn’t feel like a chore.  It eliminates the dreaded “what should we do for dinner?” question. It helps us eat more healthfully since when we have our dinners planned out and all the ingredients on hand, we’re less likely to order take out.  It prevents multiple last minute trips to the market, so it saves us time. It helps us avoid getting into a dinner rut by putting into rotation all the dinners we know how to make and love – not just the ones that seem to come to mind most easily.

It does take some effort to set things up, but once you have a system in place, and you use it a couple of times, it’ll become habit and you’ll find that it makes life a bit easier. For anyone thinking of setting up something similar, here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Magnetic board with the days of the week – the one I have in my home is this one by Three By Three Seattle
  • Magnets
  • Several copies of the Dinner Planner (free printable!)
  • Something to hold and store the planning sheets in a convenient spot – I have a transparent pocket adhered to the inside of my pantry door.
  • Business card paper to make the dinner cards – index cards folded and cut in half would also work well
  • Filing tabs to label and separate your categories
  • A business card holder to hold your dinner cards – if you’ll be adding magnets to it like I did to stick it up on the fridge, be sure to get one that has a flat (non-slanted) back

Tips:

  • For recipes you don’t know off the top of your head how to make, include a note of where you found the recipe on the card (for example, the name of the cookbook and the page). That way, you can easily find it the day-of.  You can also write on the back of the card the key ingredients for that recipe that you don’t usually keep on hand so that you can easily and quickly fill in your dinner planner/shopping list.
  • Keep a few blank cards on hand for adding new recipes
  • If you usually go to more than one grocery store each week like I do, when writing out your shopping list, use different colored pens for each store.  In the dinner planner shown in the photo above for example, I used an orange pen to write ingredients I wanted to get at Trader Joes and a purple pen to write the ingredients I wanted to get at Ralphs.  So when I was at Trader Joes, I just had to focus on the items in orange, and when I was at Ralphs, I just had to focus on the items in purple. I was able to go in and out of each store quickly.
  • Choose a convenient day of the week that you can integrate dinner planning into your routine.  For me it’s Sunday so I have my list ready for when I go grocery shopping Monday morning.

@Arianna_Belle(instagram)To follow the system:

1.  Browse through your dinner cards and pick out a card (or two) for each day of the week that you plan to cook at home

2.  Fill in the dinner planner sheet.  Dinners go in the furthest left hand column then ingredients you need to shop for go in the appropriate columns to the right (Produce, Dairy & Refrigerated, etc).

3.  Stick your dinner cards for the week up on your magnetic board.  Assign a card to each day keeping in mind you can always easily move them around later if you want.

4. Grab your dinner planner sheet and go shopping.  Note that the columns on the sheet correspond to the aisles of most grocery stores, making it easy to shop down each column.

5.  Feel good knowing you’re prepared for the week!

Let me know if you give this a try. Hopefully I explained things well enough. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below.

This post was brought to you by Office Depot.  All thoughts, ideas, and opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting Arianna Belle sponsors!

Posted in organization, planning tools | 2 Comments

Fall

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Although we’re bound to continue to have days of summer-like weather over here in California, I’m happy that it’s officially fall and soon enough the air will get crisper and the leaves will turn. Looking forward to cozying up with warm drinks, indulging in everything pumpkin and apple, and pulling out the scarves, sweaters and boots. What do you love best about fall?

image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4
Posted in breakfast nook, entryway, fall, interior decor, lifestyle | Leave a comment

2 Year Anniversary

Tomorrow it will be 2 years since I opened my little pillow shop.  The day I opened it, I was a bit nervous yet excited and hopeful.  I was jumping into new unfamiliar territory and I wasn’t sure what to expect exactly, but my intuition told me I was headed in the right direction and I felt optimistic of what lied ahead.

Having gone through, and working our way out of, a very rough economic period, my husband and I had very little money at the time. Somehow though, I found a way to come up with some money (less than $1,000) to invest in starting up the business.  Upon opening the shop I offered only 6 pillows, all in one size.  The idea was to start small with what I could, and re-invest any profits to grow the business over time. I figured if it didn’t work out, it wouldn’t be too huge of a financial loss, so I felt okay about taking the risk.  I think that had I waited to come up with enough money to open the shop with as many pillows as I have available now, I possibly would have never done it.

With a little luck and a lot of hard work I’m so grateful that the business has steadily grown over the past two years. I was able to quit the part-time job I had when I opened the shop, and I’ve been a full time shop owner for over a year now.  It’s been a dream come true to be my own boss, work in an industry I am passionate about, and have the freedom and control to mold, create, and grow my business however I want to.

Arianna Belle the Shop Pillows

While there’s no way of foreseeing what the future holds, I do have some things planned for my third year in business that I’m very excited about and hope will lead to other positive things.  I’ll be taking a business training program led by a woman I greatly admire and respect, I’ll be launching a re-vamped version of the shop website (currently in the works!), adding several new pillows, and I’ll most likely be hiring an assistant.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who have been so supportive and spread the word about the shop via your blogs, social media, and word of mouth, and of course those of you who have been customers and chosen to make Arianna Belle pillows a part of your beautiful homes.  My shop would not be a success without you all!

In celebration of my 2 year anniversary and the start of my 3rd year in business, I will be offering 15% off everything in my shop starting midnight tonight, September 22nd, through end of Monday September 23rd. To get the discount, just enter this code at checkout: AB2YEAR

Thank you again for all your support!! xx

Posted in interior decor, my shop, pillows | 4 Comments

My Pillows on the TODAY Show!

My leopard velvet pillows appeared on the TODAY show yesterday morning during their Fall Fashion & Home Decor Trends segment! Here’s the video clip (they show up towards the end):

Although they didn’t include an on-screen credit, it was still very exciting to see my pillows make their debut on national television! Hopefully this will be the first of more to come!

Posted in interior decor, my shop, pillows | 3 Comments

76 Main Nantucket Luxury Boutique Hotel

The talented team over at Rachel Reider Interiors recently helped revamp a newly reopened boutique luxury hotel in Nantucket and they included several pillows from my shop in their design of the lounge! Here are a few photos:

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I love that they took their own unique approach to Nantucket design and created a space that’s unlike what you’d expect to see in a hotel.  They did such a great job of mixing patterns and making the lounge feel so inviting.  The rest of the hotel is beautiful as well -see more of it here.   Hopefully I’ll get a chance to visit someday – maybe next summer? Seems like it’d be a perfect place for a nice little getaway.

p.s. If you’re unfamiliar with Rachel Reider Interiors, be sure to take a peek at their portfolio – you’ll love it!

Posted in interior decor, living room, my shop, pillows | 4 Comments

Bedroom Decorating Progress: Artwork + Dresser Lamp

With all there is to do, oftentimes decorating our place gets put on the back burner. I’ve made it a goal though to squeeze in at least one decorating task per week, no matter how small, to make progress. In a way I think the fact that it has been a bit of a slow process has allowed me to appreciate and enjoy each individual little update more so than if I had done everything at once for a quick turnaround.

One of my most recent updates was hanging artwork in the bedroom. I got these beautiful photography prints I ordered from various Etsy sellers and put them in matching white frames from Ikea.  I love how they look together:

bedroom-art-arianna-belle-blogFrom Left to Right: Photography by Anita, Abbie and Pabbie, Matt Vogt Photography

Another recent addition is this table lamp which I put on our dresser:dresser-top-arianna-belle-blog

As you can see, the dresser doesn’t have a lot of surface space, so I needed a lamp that was fairly small. I also wanted it to be all white and a simple elegant shape.  The Continuum Lamp from Lamps.com fit the bill. It’s just the right size, color and shape, and works nicely with the rest of the room’s decor.

In an upcoming post, I’ll share a photo of my bed which I’ve outfitted with beautiful embroidered sheets, and of course some great decorative pillows. I’ll also show you what I added under my little bedside shelves to make space for some books and magazines. Stay tuned!

p.s. Follow me on Instagram for mini updates! 

Posted in artwork, bedrooms, our apartment | 3 Comments

Chic Leather Storage Tote Baskets

Two recent finds for stylish organization:

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gildem Leather Storage ToteChic_Leather_Storage_Tote2_Arianna_Belle_BlogbyAMT Leather Strap Large Basket

Perfect for holding current reading material like books and magazines and stylish enough to integrate into the decor of a space. Can’t decide which one I like best!

Posted in organizing products, organizing with baskets, stylish storage | 2 Comments

Loving Lately…

The color story of this photo…

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The relaxed vibe of this fresh outdoor patio area…

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The ornate detail on this pink gate door…loving-8-10-ariannabelleblog_3

The idea of a dinner party on the beach…

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 image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4
Posted in color palettes, outdoor living, summer | 3 Comments

My Stylishly Organized Drawer

I recently gave one of my drawers a little makeover with a clear organizer and a roll of duct tape. I used the organizer, which I picked up from Ikea, to separate all my items. It has lots of little compartments that make it easy to designate a spot for each thing. When everything is in it’s place, I can quickly find what I need.

As for the duct tape, I used it to create a stylish drawer liner.  3M has a great snake print tape from their new Expressions line that can be used in a lot of creative ways.  Kelly of Fabulous K recently used it to cover a photo frame and Megan of Honey We’re Home used it to cover a mousepad and a tray.  To make my drawer liner, I simply measured the bottom of my drawer, cut a piece of poster board to size, covered it with strips of the duct tape and then fit it inside the drawer. Super easy. Looks great and as a bonus, it helps protect my drawer.  If anything spills, I can easily wipe it off. This is what I see when I open my drawer now:

Organized Makeup Drawer - Arianna Belle Blog

What do you think? Not too shabby huh?

If you’re thinking of using snake print tape for a little project of your own, use this coupon for $1 off.

This post was brought to you by Office Depot.  All thoughts, ideas, and opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting Arianna Belle sponsors!  

Posted in bathroom organization, makeup organization, organization, organizing products, vanity organization | 3 Comments

Zebra Pillow in Adore Magazine

Delighted to see my Zebra pillow in the August/September issue of Adore Home Magazine! It’s featured on page 117 as part of the spread that features the home of designer Maria Barros who is known for her fun and colorful interiors:

adore_aug2013-pgs106-107 adore_aug2013-mariabarros

adore_aug2013-pgs116-117-ariannabelle-zebra-pillowView the full spread and issue of Adore here.

Posted in accessories, arianna belle pillows, dining rooms, get the look, living room, my shop, online magazine, pillows | 2 Comments