Thrifty and Practical

A minimalist guide to baby gear

Diving into the baby world is intimidating and overwhelming. Everyone has opinions about all the things and different experiences with their baby needs. Your values and personality will frame the way you prepare and get set up for having a baby. Simplicity, quality over quantity, and items that have longevity and multi-use are all important to preparing in a minimalist way. Here is a small breakdown of must-haves, almost essentials, and nice-to-haves.

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Must haves:

stroller: the Babyjogger frame can become a double stroller and works with a car seat 

-car seat 

-place for baby to sleep: some type of crib plus bedding as well as something more portable when they are tiny like a Moses basket or bassinet or pack n play 

-some type of carrier: Solly, Ergo, Boba, Ktan

-change pad and change pad cover

-diapers and wipes 

-something to clear out their nose like a Nose Frieda

-burp clothes

swaddle

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Almost essentials:

bottles: glass ones last longer and don’t stink like plastic ones — life factory bottles become sippy cups if you buy the sippy cup top when they’re at the age to transition from bottle to sippy

-pacifier

-blankets: lightweight muslin are the best

-plain white onsies 

-sleepers

-baby monitor

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Nicetohaves (borrow if possible):

-swing

-bumbo

-playmate with hanging toys 

-exersaucer 

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A few other thoughts:

Because I’m super basic, we never bought a diaper pail (just used a regular trash can). I don’t use a diaper bag — just a nice big purse with a diaper clutch that holds diapers and wipes. 

Having a dresser that works to put a change pad on is super wonderful because it’s longer lasting and more functional than changing tables. 

If I were registering again, I would just register on Amazon. It’s simpler and more direct than Target and Buy Buy Baby. Doing gender neutral colors for all the essentials and almost essentials helps big time if you plan on having more kids! You will get clothes and toys without asking for them so there’s no need to register for them.

If you plan on trying to breastfeed, there’s a whole other list of mama essentials but I never assume that’s the plan because it’s such a personal choice/decision. 

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Breastfeeding essentials:

-These gel pads are amazing to use the first week of breastfeeding

-Healing cream for weeks 2-4 of breastfeeding

Breast pads: I used disposable for the first month because it’s easier and you need easy for the first month

-A breast pump

-nursing tanks are super helpful

-2-3 nursing bras are a must have

Also

-A box of kleenex: because there will probably be tears of exhaustion as you get used to the rhythm

-A good friend you can call on and be totally vulnerable with during this brand new season

Thrifty and Practical · Uncategorized

Reasons and ways to make meal planning happen

“No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” (Julia Child)

Growing up we ate the same two week rotation of meals until I graduated high school. I can still recite the 14 dinners my mom made for us throughout my childhood. Because of this, I avoided meal planning for years. It felt like returning to the predictable meatloaf Mondays and taco Tuesdays.

All this changed when Josh and I graduated college and both began working full-time. Cooking, health, and budget suddenly became vital aspects of our lives. We each took two nights in the kitchen and spent the other three nights eating leftovers or going out. Spending time chopping, sautéeing, baking was a welcome break from teaching — it became meditative and restorative.

During this season, I began looking to cookbooks and specific cooking websites for inspiration rather than Pinterest, which I found overwhelming because of the infinite amount of available content.

Reasons why meal planning helps your budget, health, and daily rhythm:

  • Going to the grocery store with a list of specific items keeps you from impulse purchases and overspending. Taking stock of what’s left in the fridge and cupboards before heading helps too.
  • Having a list of meals planned for the week prevents those 5 p.m. munchies from happening. When you have a dinner on the docket, you aren’t scrambling and eating the easiest, least healthy thing in sight. Whenever I’m cooking, I pull the trail mix out and munch on some nuts and dried fruit to hold me over. Not having unhealthy foods in the house to begin with leaves the snacking options limited.
  • When you meal plan, pay attention to what else you have going on during that day leading up to dinner. If you’re aware ahead of time how much energy and time you’ll have for preparing dinner that day, you won’t overload yourself with an intense meal on busy days and you can enjoy a longer more involved cooking session on days with more space.

How to make meal planning a part of your life:

  • Set aside time every week to go through the fridge and cupboards to see what’s available and to sit down and create your weekly menu.
  • Write it down. Write down the meals you will make and write down the items needed to make those meals. I use pen and paper for the meals and keep it on the fridge. I use my phone for the grocery list.

Things to consider when creating your menu and grocery list:

  • The current season. Using ingredients that are seasonal prevents getting stuck in food ruts. It also promotes sustainable farming practices and supports local and regional economies.
  • Your season of life. Working full-time? New baby in the house? Give yourself grace to find a pace for meals that works for you.

Some caveats and resources:

  • Be flexible. Sometimes you need a break, so take a night off and make some grilled cheese or pancakes.
  • It takes time — start small and slowly change habits and practices incrementally. If you start small and go slow, change is sustainable and long-lasting.
  • Include some easy days and leftover/clean out the fridge days each week.
  • Maybe you’re in a season when a meal planning service makes more sense than anything (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Daily Harvest are all great options)
  • Try to mix up the protein throughout the week and have at least one vegetarian night (this is good for your health and the environment!) This provides a loose structure and helps to narrow the choices. For example:
    • Monday: beef
    • Tuesday: chicken
    • Wednesday: vegetarian
    • Thursday: leftovers
    • Friday: breakfast for dinner (could be as simple as eggs and toast)
    • Saturday: fish
    • Sunday: take-out or restaurant
  • Cookbooks are inspiring and informative. They don’t just include recipes, but provide valuable insights from experienced cooks and chefs. Here are some of the most helpful ones (budget friendly tip – check them out from your library for free to see if they work for you before purchasing):
    • Simply in Season – this is helpful for a crash course in seasonal cooking
    • The Art of Simple Food – one of the most foundational cookbooks full of cooking wisdom and knowledge
    • Salt Fat Acid Heat –  the cookbook that completely transformed my approach to cooking (FULL of amazing information and beautiful illustrations that will elevate your skills)
    • An Eater’s Manifesto – not a cookbook, but an essential resource that will change your mindset surrounding food and eating habits
  • Those four are foundational resources. Here are a few more if you want to dive deeper:

“Every repast can have soul and can be enchanting; it asks for only a small degree of mindfulness and a habit of doing things with care and imagination.” (Thomas Moore)

Thrifty and Practical

Rhythm series: rest

Ever since I can remember I have been a planner. Sometimes to a fault. You know those kids in school who write everything down in their agenda? The adults who buy all the stationary goods?  Love or despise planning, natural skill or not, paper or phone, figuring out a way to set rhythms for our lives is essential to living an intentional and purposeful life. Annie Dillard said it best: “How we spend our days is, of course how we spend our lives.”

There are certain seasons when it feels like the things we spend our days on are not important. Seasons when everything feels mundane and unimportant. And then there are seasons when it feels like the train is barreling down the tracks so fast that it won’t stop and you can’t get off. Seasons when everything feels urgent and important.


In this rhythm series, I hope to pass along some keys I’ve learned that establish rhythms that work for your life. Before diving into the nitty gritty details of schedules and planning, this post’s focus is rest.

It really is senseless to work so hard from early morning till late at night, toiling to make a living for fear of not having enough. God can provide for His lovers, even while they sleep. (Psalm 127:2, The Passion Translation)

In our lives there will always be a time to work and a time to rest. If we don’t give ourselves permission to rest, the fear of lack and scarcity will rule our choices and decisions and our actions become frantic and aimless. It could be fear of lack in any area of life that prevents rest; scarcity in finance, relationships, time, opportunities, and a hundred and one other things that can keep you up at night.


Things in life produce and grow when given periods of rest. Bread dough bubbles up and rises with rest. Soil is most nutritious when given a break every few years. The muscles in our bodies heal and grow with recovery time. I’ve been guilty of striving and toiling and things get ugly quickly – small stresses and annoyances suddenly become a huge deal.

Rest is a space cushion, that safe distance between your car and the cars around you, in our lives keeping us safe and giving us room for movement. It’s the margin that allows for flexibility and overflow.

Here are some keys to establishing rhythms of rest:

  • Figure out what brings you rest
  • Find ways to gracefully say “no”
  • Disconnect: turn the phone on airplane mode or off
  • Do one thing restful everyday (even if it’s only 15 minutes)
  • Plan one extended restful activity once a week (could be half a day or a whole day depending on your season in life

Figuring out what brings you rest can be tricky. Resting is different than crashing; it’s intentional not mindless. Maybe it’s taking a walk, reading a book for pleasure, listening to music without doing anything else, going to an art gallery, running, journaling, browsing the aisles of your favorite store, road tripping, taking a bath.

Regardless of everything else going on in your life, set time aside each day and once a week that is sacred and immovable to rest. In the beginning of creation the need for rest was established – we are at our best in every other area of life when this is a rhythm in our lives.


If you want to dive deeper into this topic here are some good resources:

Rhythms of Rest by Shelley Miller

Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner

Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung

Deep Work by Cal Newport

In Praise of Slowness TED talk 

The Art of Stillness TED talk