Sep 212014

As our children grow, teaching them the basics of the kitchen and meals that they can cook are both essential. They will eventually move out and have to fend for themselves, so sending them out with a few great, inexpensive meal ideas outside of Ramen Noodles or frozen dinners is necessary.

Rather than just showing them how to make something, having them pitch in with dinners is a terrific way for them to get the hang of making the meals as well as helping out the family!

Meals for Teens

Meals for Teens

In our house, we take turns making dinner. That way, no one person is always responsible since everyone works and deserves a break. Here are a few easy dinners that your teen can prepare:

Healthy Chef’s Salad – this is a great meal idea for any family. Not only is it healthy, but easy to create without any cooking or baking. Simply cut up some lettuce, tomato, and onion, if desired. Layer these ingredients in a large bowl with your favorite salad meat (we use both turkey and diced ham) and shredded cheese. Everyone can then take as much as they like, add their own salad dressing, and top with hard-boiled egg, bacon pieces, or croutons. Healthy and filling!

Simple Spaghetti – instead of cooking a sauce from scratch, let your teen know they can make a very easy spaghetti in a few short steps. Brown a pound of ground beef and drain. Poor in any canned or jarred spaghetti sauce. Add mushrooms, diced onions, or diced green pepper if desired and simmer for an hour. Next comes your family’s favorite type of pasta – simply follow the instructions on the packaging. Easy peasy!

Manwich Sandwich – it is a pretty easy main dish to make and some may prefer homemade, but a can of Hunt’s Manwich can always come in handy! Brown a pound of ground beef and drain. Poor in a can of Manwich, simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, and serve on hamburger buns. Done!

Even different packaged meals can be great for your teen to prepare such as Hamburger Helper, Kraft or Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese, or Zataran’s.

As much as I would love for my daughter to go to culinary school and practice her creations on the family, that is just not going to happen. So, I try to teach her how to make really simple things, that will not cost her a lot after she moves out, but will provide her with something outside of fast food drive-thru-s.

Do you have any easy meals that your kids help create for dinner? If so, please leave a comment to share with others!


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Aug 252013

Many parents provide their children with allowances or make them earn their money by doing chores. This is a great way to teach them about earning money and even spending money on things that they really want. But, do you teach your kids the value of a dollar? Do they know how much is too much to pay for something? Do they know how to shop, bargain shop, or know whether or not the item they want is worth the money?

Photo by:, stock.xchng, knox_x,

Photo by:, stock.xchng, knox_x,

This is something that they really do need to know, especially as they grown into an age where they are buying their own things or ready to leave the house.

Here are 5 tips for teaching your kids all of the above:

  1. Spend time with them at the store on pricing items. When you take your kids shopping, talk about prices for the items which you are buying. When you look at a food item, for example, let them know whether or not the price is too high or just right for the product. Explain to them why the price they see may be too high, a great bargain, or just right.
  2. Explain why the money they have earned should be saved and not spent. A tendency for our kids is to buy something right away with the money they have earned from allowances or jobs. But, they also need to know that saving up for something better or for a rainy day is also important.
  3. Lead by example. If you are a big spender or are buying big ticket items every chance you get, your kids will think that is how life is lived. It is great to have nice things – we all way that – but leading our kids to believe that they can just buy, buy, buy will not let them know that bills and obligations need to be paid first. Not everyone can afford to buy everything they see.
  4. Remember the basics and teach them. We all know that when we buy products at the store that tax is added and when we buy online that shipping and sometimes tax is added there as well. Make sure your kids know this and can figure it in when making purchases. Tell them to add on a little each time they choose to buy something at the store for tax and show them when buying online how much that shipping can really be!
  5. Discuss ways to save money on items and shop frugally. This is especially important as your kids are getting ready to leave the nest. Show them the ads you receive in the mail, coupons they can obtain, and discount store prices compared to other stores. Grocery store and home products can be purchased at cheaper stores. Dollar stores and discount grocers can be their best buddies once they move out. Make sure they know where to shop, what is worth the trip, and why!

We as parents and guardians are responsible for teaching our children how to survive out there! Financial aspects of life are no different and responsibility with money is a huge lesson for them. The actual value of a dollar, knowing what is priced well and what is not, how to read the fine print, and not let them overspend is also a part of our jobs. Also, teaching them to be very careful when shopping or buying online is essential these days.

Do you have any tips of your own? Leave us a comment below.

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Jun 012013

Depending on whether or not your teen will be doing their own thing (with a car) this summer or at home wishing they could, are they ready for summer?  Do you have a plan for them?  Or, have they found a job of their own to keep busy?

I work a full-time job and although I am in contact with my teen during the day, it does not mean that I really know what she is doing.  What I did last summer is the same thing that I will be doing this summer, since she does not yet have a job to keep her busy.  She knows that she needs to pitch in and is old enough to substantially help around the house…especially since I am at work all day and she has summers off!

Mowing the lawn

Mowing the lawn

  1. I leave a list of chores to do.  I leave her a list where she is sure to see it.  When she wakes up she has from that time until the time that I arrive home from work to accomplish it all.
  2. I keep the list of chores short.  This allows me to spread it out over a week and still allows her time to do her own thing.
  3. I remain flexible.  If a friend wants to spend the day with her at the beach, I either ask her to do the chores before she leaves, ask her to do some before and some after, or tell her to add them to the next day’s list.  No matter which way we go, the chores get done and the responsibility is still hers.

My teen is still looking for a job, so until she finds one she will keep busy working at home.  I also make sure to let her enjoy her summer by spending time with friends.  #3 on the list – remaining flexible – is a good thing to do.  It keeps everyone happy and still gets the job done!

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May 182013

We all have some sort of routine in our lives.  We may have routines that take us through the morning, the whole day or even longer.  We all get set in those particular routines and it can be hard to veer off that path.  However, I learned from my daughter that it’s okay to steer a different direction once in a while.  It can actually be a good, healthy, fun thing to do.

I have a pretty set routine during the week.  I work 8am – 5pm, Monday through Friday.  After work I come home, relax for just a bit by doing a little writing.  I then make dinner, watch some TV, and then head off to bed by 10pm so I can rise early and do it all again.  Quite a routine, isn’t it?  Sound familiar?

Alarm Clock Photo By Sandy Stachowiak

Alarm Clock Photo By Sandy Stachowiak

My teenage daughter likes to keep busy and do things.  She likes it best when we are constantly moving rather than sitting around.  I tell her it is because she has a lot more energy than me and because she does not know what it is like to work 40+ hours per week.  I do not like to go out anywhere after I get home from work.  But lately she has been trying more and more to get me out of this routine.

Although I do enjoy relaxing and trying to recoup after a day’s work; I have to admit I am now veering off my routine a bit to do things with my daughter.  Going out to dinner during the work week, doing some shopping after work, or just being out after dark on a Tuesday are all breaks from the routine.  And you know what?  It’s not so tough, it’s not so bad – it’s actually nice and it’s actually relaxing too!

She tries the same thing with me on the weekends and I cannot blame her for trying.  Spending weekends doing chores or yard work is not exactly fun.  So, I now try to use one day to work around the house or yard and the other day to get out and do something fun.  I feel it is a good compromise and it works for us.

So, the moral of my story is that my daughter has taught me it is okay to break from the routine.  It’s actually better than okay – it’s fun!

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Mar 032013

No one likes chores.  It does not matter if it is indoor cleaning, yard work or running errands; I do not know anyone who likes doing chores.  However, there really are ways to do them where you can have some quality time with your kids and even have a good time.  Yes – even have a good time!  Here is what my daughter and I have learned from each other about making chores fun…

Sweeping the floor

Sweeping the floor

Indoor Chores
I taught my daughter that music is key – especially with a teenager, but it works with little ones too because I did this when my daughter was younger.  Put on some music you all like and clean to it. Vacuum to it.  Sweep to it.  Dust to it.  Soon you will find that you are all dancing and singing while cleaning.

Running Errands
My daughter taught me that if you have several stops to make, try to work in lunch or dinner afterwards.  It will give you all something to look forward to when the errands are done.  Turn up the radio in the car (yes, music again) and sing along to something you all enjoy while travelling between stops.  If you have a lot of driving to do, work in some car games like “My Father Owns a Grocery Store”.  Grocery or household goods shopping can also be fun by simply looking at fun things – try on some silly sunglasses, look at new decorations for the kids’ rooms, pick out some different snacks or visit the bakery for a special treat, or if you are able to spend a few extra dollars try the “dollar aisle” if the store has one.  Depending on where you have to go and what you have to do, there are ways to make the journey as fun as the destination!

Cutting the lawn

Mowing the lawn

Yard Work
This one is the little tougher, but there are ways to make it easier on everyone.  My daughter has a goal of paying off her cell phone with each grass cut, so she is anxious to mow the lawn to pay off that debt!  She is also at an age where getting a bit of sun on her skin is an interest, so she puts on some suntan lotion while doing work outside in hopes of improving her tan.  When we lived in the Midwest and she was younger, raking leaves into piles and letting her jump into them when her part was done also made it fun.  Depending on the part of the country that you live in and the season it is, there are ways to make outdoor chores less icky.

You might have some suggestions on things your family does to make chores a little more fun as well.  Feel free to share!


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Jan 302013

I know there are days when I feel like I have to do everything.  Go to work, take care of the home and family, make dinner, and still try to find time for writing.  Then I need to make time for myself and my relationships; friends, family, etc.  (Yes I know, finding time for ‘myself’- what’s that?)  It can be so hard to keep with everyone and everything all the time!  I think that I actually feel like this MOST days not just SOME days.  It can make me feel like I need to be a superhero to even make it all happen, much less master it all.  But, there is something that I realized recently and working moms have to realize and that is that we do NOT have to do it all., stock.xchng, julosstock,, stock.xchng, julosstock,

Tell yourself, “I’m not alone here.  I have a family.  I have help.  I don’t have to be Supermom!”

Now, the trick to admitting that you do not have to do it all yourself is actually accepting it.  THAT is where I get stuck.  I have a really hard time asking for help.  I sort of expect other people in the house to just offer up help and I find myself saying, “I shouldn’t have to ask!”  Well, that does not always work and if you have tried it then you know.

So, this year I am trying a different approach.  I am going to actually ask for help and have already started!  If someone pops in while I am preparing dinner and asks to help I say, “yes” and give them a job.  If I am cleaning and someone asks what they can do I say “here you go” and give them a job.  If someone else offers to play chauffeur for the night and drive my daughter somewhere I say “sure” and let them go on their merry way.  If no one offers help then I say “hey” and ask them for help.

At first doing this made me feel sort of selfish and I really am still getting used to doing it.  But I also thought about this; when they are doing something and I offer to help they say “yes”.  When I am not around and they need my help they yell for me.  It is a two-way street!

No matter how you look at it, a family is a team.  There is nothing wrong with everyone pitching in to help.  It is honestly good for the family and the individuals both.

So if you have as much trouble accepting help as me, give this idea a try too.  Do not be afraid to accept or ask for help.

Now if you want to be supermom then I say “go for it”!  But me?  I would rather be part of a team than the Lone Ranger. ;)

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