Once a Month cooking tips

Once a month cooking is the best way I've found to balance my life as an actress, blogger and mom of four kids. We believe in a whole food diet and that can take a lot of time and energy. Menu planning is a great step, but is not nearly as helpful as filling my freezer with ready to eat meals.

I have been doing this for over a year now whenever I am about to start acting again. When I'm not in a show, I have a lot more time to cook for the family, so I just cook every night for dinner. That all changes when I have been cast in a show or have signed a new contract. Once a month cooking becomes my family's best friend to make meal time relaxing instead of a scramble as I head out the door to rehearsal.

Once a month cooking tips from The Acting Mom

Here are my tips to making once a month cooking work for you.

1. Use someone else's planning. There are lots of bloggers and websites out there that have menu plans, shopping list and day of cooking steps. Use them! Don't try to create your own plan your first time out. Enjoy all of the free resources out there. My two favorite are the free archives from Once a Month Meals and New Leaf Wellness. Also check out my Pinterest board for lots more ideas and recipes.

Follow Karissa Barber // The Acting Mom's board Once a Week/Month Cooking on Pinterest.

2. Start off small. Don't try to tackle having a dinner for every night of the month. Try pre-making three meals a week and maybe a lunch or two. Once you have the hang out that, add a couple more the next month.

3. Get a babysitter and cook alone. Trying a full day of cooking with kids around is not something I recommend. You will be able to work quickly and efficiently without little ones under foot.

4. Label everything. Either print labels with what the meal is, how to thaw and prepare it or simply write it on your freezer page with a sharpie. This will make it easier to see what you have and how to prepare it.

5. Plan some crockpot freezer meals. These are a gem to have on your cooking day because you simply dumb all the ingredients into the bag, label and freeze. All that is required is having the ingredients, a little chopping and can opening. It's a great time saver.

6. Switch out what doesn't work. If there was a meal you didn't care for, or you thought of a better way to do something, switch it for the next month. Make a schedule and plan what works for you and your family.

Now that I've found this method of cooking, I won't go back to a traditional meal plan. With a little planning, one day of shopping and one day of cooking, I save myself hours throughout the month. I also know that I am providing healthy and nutritious meals giving myself and my family the energy we need to tackle whatever we need to accomplish. That makes this mother of 4 a happy lady!

p.s. check out this great list of whole food blogs or how I work out with all four kids.

Bookmark and Share


Exercising with all 4 kids

FIT4MOM Lakeland is a company I had heard about, but it wasn't until the owner of FIT4MOM Lakeland, Ginger Johnson had invited me to attend a Stroller Strides class with my quad stroller that I learned more.

My quad stroller weighs 61 pounds on it's own without adding my four, healthy children. I was not thrilled with the idea of pulling and pushing them throughout the hour long workout in addition to what other exercises Ginger was going to lead us through, but I am always up to try something at least once. And it is time to get this body back into shape, so I headed to my first ever Stroller Strides class.

Exercising with FIT4MOM Lakeland's Stroller Stride class

The Stroller Strides class

I was a little late, but I jumped right into the exercises with the other ladies. My stroller wasn't able to do one of the ab activities because of the safety feature hand break on the quad stroller. Thankfully, Ginger knew exactly how to modify it for me so I was getting a great burn with the limitation of my equipment.

We alternated between a walk/jog/run, whatever you were most comfortable with and metabolic exercises using our own body weight as well as using tension bands, soup cans (or 3 pound weights), and a yoga mat. We would continue reps of a strength training movement Ginger had modeled until she gave us new instructions and then we would push the strollers to the next station to begin another exercise. This kept our heart rate up and the kids engaged as we moved around Lake Mirror for our group workout.

Fit4Mom's Stroller Stride workout with The Acting Mom

Christmas music and nursery rhymes filled the air from Ginger's portable speakers as we completed our workout. The music kept the mood lively as well as kept the kid's attention. As we performed the stationary activities, we would join together in song entertaining the kids with "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" and "Down on Grandpa's Farm." This engaged the kids as they all watched the moms getting fit.

My workout with Stroller Strides took place on Thanksgiving break, meaning schools were not in session. Ginger was very accommodating to some of her regular attenders who had school age children who needed to be at the Stroller Strides class. She thought first of the safety of all the women working out and gave modifications to the mothers with older children, like having the child lay down below the mom doing stair climbers to keep the child engaged and out of harms way.

Fit4Mom's Stroller Stride workout with The Acting Mom

My opinion of Stroller Strides

For me, it was an amazing workout! Pulling the 180 pound quad stroller and my four children up that hill backwards was no easy feat, but it was rewarding to have done it. Each of the strength training exercises were easy to complete and engaged all of the different muscles from the top of my body to the bottom. It was not too strenuous, but just enough challenge to still be that good kind of sore two days later. The best part of the workout was getting the encouragement and support from the regulars in the class. They would give advice or just a fun chat while we jogged to our next location.

I've struggled with maintaining a consistent workout schedule, but joining a class like Stroller Strides would provide the accountability I need. And the best part is the kids would be a part of the class! This is a great family-friendly activity for moms with young kids and that can be a very hard stage of motherhood to find time to take care of yourself. As Ginger said, "This takes away the excuses." You don't need childcare. All you have to do is sign-up and come. This is a class I would definitely take again and wish I had known about when my children were itty-bitty and I was working on burning off that pregnancy weight.

Fit4Mom's Stroller Stride workout with The Acting Mom

Check out my YouTube video about FIT4MOM Lakeland and see me workout with all four kids! Ginger also shares more about the other classes FIT4MOM Lakeland offers and a great deal for new people who sign-up. 

Want to join and take advantage of that Black Friday sale (Lakeland location only)? Head to their Facebook page for more details! And don't forget to tell them The Acting Mom sent you.

Post contains affiliated links.
Bookmark and Share


Make your own peg people

Peg people are simple to make and so adorable. I decided to make them for my family just because, but thought it was a fun idea anyone could do as a personalized gift for Christmas. All you need are a couple of supplies, a study hand to paint and your creativity.

This is an inexpensive gift with a lot of charm and thoughtfulness. It can be as simple or intricate as you have the time and ability to make. My family of 6 took about an hour to make as I experimented with what I was doing. I am looking forward to making new ones for different seasons and occasions now that I've mastered it. And I am excited to try making the different characters I've listed at the bottom of the post. These can make great durable toys for kids of all ages.

How to make peg people


-Wooden peg people (Amazon or Hobby Lobby)
-Acrylic paint 
-Small paint brushes
-Mod podge
-Patterned paper


-White picket fence
-Wooden bench
-Seasonal decorations (leaves, wreathes, miniature lights, etc.)
-Miniature airstream 

 1. Paint the skin color. At Hobby Lobby they have a flesh tone color for caucasian skin, but I had yellow on hand and decided to go with it. If you have a different color flesh tone, I would suggest buying brown, yellow and white and mixing until you find a color that matches. For my youngest sons, that was what I did.

2. Paint their clothing, or mod podge on clothing. All of my kids have a color assigned to them, so I simply painted their clothing one color. There are some great examples of clothing choices out there (here, here, and here), so have fun with it! Here is a YouTube video of a woman using mod podge and patterned paper for clothing.

3. Decide their hair style. I think this is the step that really makes the dolls unique from one another. It can be challenging to try to come up with a different way to paint a round peg to look like different styles, but there are lots of examples (boys and girls).

4. Give your peg people eyes, a mouth, or none. The choice is yours. Some people add a specific eye color, some leave them black. Others will paint mouths and pinked cheeks and many leave just the eyes. It all depends on what you want your peg people to look like.

5. Find them a home. This whole idea started for me from something I pinned using a cookie jar to create a Christmas scene. My mind started racing as I thought of so many different ideas for each season. So, find a cookie jar or a cake stand and top or glue your family together to make ornaments. Decide where your little peg people will call home.

-Make a nativity set
-Make an entire Thanksgiving scene

I'd love to see what you created! Share a photo of your finished peg people on my Facebook page.

Post contains affiliated links.
Bookmark and Share