SLT039: Simple Meal Planning & Paying For Excess Baggage

Let’s face it, there are some situations in life that cause us stress that we just don’t need. The bad kind of stress…the kind that holds us back. Not the good type of stress, the kind that propels us forward. Two things that came to mind for us. The first was meals and how we overlook some simple meal planning techniques that lead to fueling us to take on the day ahead. Another was the “excess baggage” we carry through life.

Simple Meal Planning

So, let’s take a look at simple meal planning and paring down some excess in our lives to see where we can makes some changes, and hopefully, improvements! Read more…


Vanessa’s Topic: Simple Meal Planning

After Dan talked about doing a Personal Review in Episode 037 it got me thinking about doing one of my own.   As I was doing this self-reflection, I discovered a couple of things I was doing that were causing undue stress in our lives:

1) My waiting until the last minute to get dressed when we were going out or had to meet someone for dinner causing us to be a couple or so minutes late.

2) Not having our dinners very well planned out.  

So, I decided to work on those two areas: being early and having a meal plan …which is what I decided to talk about for this episode.

The number one key to simple meal planning is to…well…plan! Yup…as much as I wish it was the case…that dinner isn’t going to magically make itself. Here are some ways to make meal planning a little easier:

    • Plan 1 week of meals at a time.  That includes breakfast, lunches, dinners and after school snacks.  Yes…take the time to plan all of your meals…it will save you time and stress in the long run!
    • Review your calendar for the week ahead to see if there are any nights where you won’t need to or be able to make dinner.   Maybe there’s too many activities and it would be better to eat out than to try and make a meal for the family.  Or maybe you can make a simple crockpot meal on those busy nights where it’s  a “self-serve” dinner.
    • Plan for a leftover night.  Some meals are easy and cheap to make in bulk so why not make a little extra for lunch the next day?
    • Pick 1-2 theme nights and have the same meal  every week on that night:  Mondo Burger Monday, Taco Tuesday, Nacho Ordinary Wednesday…etc.
    • Shop only 1 – 2 times per week.  I’ve said this multiple times before, but for consistency, pick the days you want to go shopping and block that time off on your calendar.
    • Speaking of shopping….shop only at your favorite grocery stores…1-2 max!  Don’t waste time going to different stores just to get 1-2 items or to get the best deal!
    • Keep a grocery list in open view so that you and your family can write down items to get when they run out.  Dry erase boards, sticky pads, and magnetic notepads stuck on the fridge work great!
    • Organize your grocery lists by Store and then by Category. For example:  Walmart List: Dairy, Meats, Produce, Canned Goods, etc.  A cool way to create multiple lists in one spot is to use Grocery Gadget
    • Batch shopping with other errands if possible.  Let’s say you’ve got to go to the post office, then gas up the car and drop off dry cleaning.  Maybe you could finish up your errands with grocery shopping.
    • Get into a routine of making your lunches the night before.  Please, please, please don’t stress yourself out by trying to make lunches in the morning!
    • To piggy-back on the lunch routine, you may also want to review your meal schedule the night before too so that you are prepared to make tomorrow’s dinner.  This is very helpful especially if you’ll need to pull out items from the freezer to thaw out overnight.
    • Get kids and/or significant other involved.  Have them plan the meals they want for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    • In line with getting the family involved, be sure to define roles and responsibilities as well as when dinner is expected to be ready.  Don’t assume anything…make sure everyone knows their role.
    • Keep meals simple during the week.  You can get creative on the weekends when you have more time, but simple meal planning should focus on simple meals, right? I plan a lot of really simple meals in the crock pot like: tacos, pot roast, bbq pork sandwiches, italian sausage skilletini, and chili.
    • And if you want to get really crazy…try creating a 31 Day Meal plan!  I made one 5 years ago and still use it!

Major Take Away: Communication and Planning are key!!!!

 Dan’s Topic: Paying For Excess Baggage

When we travel these days, especially by plane, we do our best to limit ourselves to one carry-on bag…yet I still never seem to get through/wear everything that I brought...especially the “just in case” stuff.

Well, recently in my typical surfing around the Internet I came across an article talking about airlines charging for checked bags and was surprised how emotional people were about the subject! So, I started thinking about that and followed the mental rabbit down lots of different holes. 

A few things that went through my mind:

    • Why do people need to travel with so much stuff? I mean, I know logically that most people have more stuff than we do now and that I was guilty of this before, too.
    • So I did a little 5 Whys analysis on myself and in the end, there are some valid reasons for packing a lot, such as climate changes, the need to take work AND “play” clothes, etc.
    • But I think the reason most people end up carrying way more than they need comes right back down to two things that are directly related to each other: Good old “just in case” and delayed decisions

I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, it’s just mental conditioning. It’s like a misaligned Boy Scout “Be Prepared” syndrome. The Boy Scouts don’t teach you that you need to take everything or have everything with you. That saying refers to your own personal state of readiness to improvise, adapt and innovate.

As for delayed decisions, when it comes to packing, often things are packed just because it’s an attempt to delay their decisions on what they will need. People just end up throwing everything in their baggage at the last minute…and the decision was delayed until they’re forced to make it…at the destination.

So taking just in case and delayed decisions into consideration, hopefully all these excess baggage charges have prompted some behavior modification in your travel packing. Love these limits or hate them, they’re reality if you want to fly from Point A to Point B. If you want to bring along more, you’re going to pay.

With all this in mind and carrying the point a bit further…what about the rest of life? LIFE doesn’t have excess baggage restrictions!

So, what kind of excess baggage am I/we carrying through life and what are those costs to bring them along?

    • Our Florida house:  We bought the house with the best of intentions in the down-trending housing market of 2008. It could only go up, right? Thankfully we have great tenants, but we still rent the house at a $600 per month deficit, plus, little things like having to write a $6000 check for a new air conditioner system like we had to last week can quickly sap the old emergency fund.
    • My tools: because of all the DIY stuff I’ve done, I’ve collected quite a big collection of tools. I’ve gotten rid of a bunch of them but I have a way to go…some of these have become “excess baggage”. They take up space in the garage and they’re probably more valuable to someone else at this point than they are to me.
    • Some of my old military gear/records: Keeping that kevlar helmet around just because I wore it through a bunch of parachute jumps and deployments is probably not the best justification. I also have probably 5 bins of documents, certificates, awards and plaques.

But I have to understand that there is a cost:

    • Keeping that excess baggage around can sap your energy, your time, your freedom, your flexibility and in some cases your financial security

Major Take Away: Just because life doesn’t publicize it, don’t think it’s not charging you an excess baggage fee. Take some time to really evaluate the stuff that is holding you back, try to figure out why you’re letting it remain an obstacle, and deal with it. In military operations we dealt with obstacle by either breaching it, destroying it, or maneuvering around it.  In other words, get through it, eliminate it or avoid it. Ignoring it was never an option. And it shouldn’t be in life either!

THING Segment:

Dan’s Thing: Updates to Google Docs to automatically search for links

Vanessa’s Thing: Appreciation for teachers and their involvement in our kids’ lives


The Google Drive/Google Docs tutorial is now FREE!  Why?  We just want to put out good content that’s helpful. You can get the tutorial by clicking the Tutorials tab.  If you feel compelled to contribute there’s a “Buy Us a Coffee” button when you click on the link! Thanks and we hope it helps.

And the Side Gig Website Guide is now open without passwords, sign-ups or anything!  Just use it and get inspired to start your own side gig!

We’re attending Michael Hyatts’ Platform Conference 3 -5 November, in Dallas TX at the Omni Dallas Hotel at Park West. This is a top-notch conference to help you build your online presence /platform.  Michael and his team have given us a discount code just for Simple Life Together listeners that you can even use on top of the special Early Bird Pricing. So if you’re interested, to register for the event or to just learn more, go to, use Coupon Code SIMPLE to save $100 off your registration!

Resources and Links:

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One thought on “SLT039: Simple Meal Planning & Paying For Excess Baggage

  1. What great tips! Getting into a chore plan is a great way to simplify your life. After we moved in together, my husband and I established specific chores for each other. This was decided by what we enjoy the least – so he cleans the bathroom, vacuums and does the laundry. I do the shopping, dishes, most of the cooking and general tidying up (we only live in 650 square feet so it’s not hard!). It is so much easier to have specific chores instead of wondering when your partner is going to finally do x,y, and z when you did it last! Of course, these chores are flexible and we switch off depending on our personal work load. Also, finding has changed my cooking routine! I am an awful cook but now people think I’m a good once thanks to that site, haha. I save all the recipes that have more than 800 reviews, 90 percent of these recipes are excellent! Although I am often tempted to I never sway from this routine because too often I am burned by “looks good online” but “tastes awful in person”. I print out and save every recipe we love – I don’t save any of these that we only like. Over time, this has given me an excellent and easy “meal plan” to rely on. Every week (usually on Sunday) I review what we have in our cabinets to my recipe book to the advertisement and plan accordingly. This supports me in not having cabinets bursting with food (I hate that) but also saving money. Anyway, great podcast!