Child Planning Checklist

As much as baby brings joy to the family, baby also adds major set of responsibilities for parents. Whether you’re thinking of planning for a family or currently pregnant, a little preparation for the upcoming Bundle of Joy helps you better prepared for your baby’s future.

Doctor Checkup:

Before planning for a baby, do your annual checkup (if you haven’t done one in the last 12 months), take that multivitamin, and workout. If you have any issues such as thyroid, PCOD etc, it’s time to address them. Reg multivitamins, I was told by the doctor to take prenatal vitamin at least 3-4 months before we start planning.

Insurance Needs: 

Health Insurance:

Does your employer offer health insurance? If not, search for the one that fits your upcoming needs. If your employer offers one, check your current enrolled plan to see if it fits your needs. For us, HSA was a little expensive than the PPO plan. My pregnancy was better covered under the PPO plan and we didn’t pay much other than the deductible for our second delivery. Even though we paid high premium, considering the delivery cost and doctor visits after delivery, PPO plan worked for us. For our son (my first delivery), we were under HSA plan. Comparing both the plans, PPO was a better plan for my pregnancy.

Life insurance:

Life Insurance itself needs a separate discussion. In summary, if you don’t have life insurance already, make sure to have term life insurance (why “term life insurance” is another big topic) to cover the baby needs until he/she becomes independent. I’m talking about 20-25 years term life insurance here.

Plan a Trip:

My husband is a big travel bug. We traveled quite a lot until our son was born. Even though it didn’t stop us from taking trips, the trips are shorter and planned completely around the baby for the first few months.

We took our baby moon trip to New Orleans just few weeks before my delivery. We are so glad we took it. Take that baby moon and travel as much as possible before delivery (if you health permits). Life takes a 180 degree turn after the baby is born.

Childcare:

I’m not kidding when I say some good daycares have long wait-lists. One childcare I know, had 2.5 years wait-list. Research the area you live and understand the available childcare options. Even if you don’t need to register right away, it’s good to have it in your list.

Baby Furniture:

If you are having a girl, get a full size ladies dresser. If you having a boy, get a man’s chest of drawers. If you do not know if it will be a boy or a girl, wait until the baby is born. By doing this, you eliminate the need to buy baby dressers etc. which will become useless after a few years. If you start off with full size furniture, it will be useful for many years to come.

Baby Freebies:

Here is a full list of baby freebies available for expecting moms. Babies add additional expenses. So, don’t forget to take advantage of these freebies.

Baby Essential Checklist: 

There are millions baby essential checklists available in Pinterest. Buy only the essentials until the baby is born. I got checklist from multiple sources and started putting together one of my own when I was 3 months pregnant. In the next 6 months, I tweaked it so many times and bought only the essentials.

For first time parents, until the baby is born you might not be able to predict the exact things your baby needs. Let me tell you, each baby is different. For example, my son hates the crib and my daughter loves it.

Education Plan:

If you are planning to contribute to your kids education plan, explore the options available in your country. 529 is an education savings plan in US. Here is more on how to choose a 529 for your kids. You can start investing in 529 plan in your baby’s name after he/she is born.

If you planned anything else other than what’s in the list, do let me know. I’d love to add them here.

Choosing the Pediatrician:

Start interviewing pediatricians as soon as you can; there are a LOT of well baby checkups and vaccinations the first year. If you can, talk to all of the doctors and nurse practitioners in the practice since your pediatrician won’t always be available in an emergency.

RELATED:

Post-Delivery Freebies from the Hospital

8 Baby Freebies For Expecting Moms

How To Choose A 529 Plan For Kids Education?

12 Tips to Entertain Parents Visiting NRI Children

We had both the set of parents visiting us back and forth in the past few years. Considering that they don’t drive here and have limited social circle, we have to get creative in entertaining them. Here are some ways to avoid boredom and create a memorable visit every time.

Internet is your friend:

All the serials that both my parents and in-laws watch are uploaded on YouTube an hour after they’re broadcasted. Even if not in YouTube, you can find them in other regional websites.
Our smart TV is connected to a laptop and we have a keyboard remote through which we access the laptop without carrying a computer keyboard. Just make sure you install a good AdBlock software to avoid them clicking unwanted ads.

We bookmark those regional websites in the browser and all they need to do is click each link for each serial.

We have been using this Lenovo multitasking keyboard remote for 5 years now. We broke one couple of years ago and bought the same one again. It’s easy to use and there is a blacklit option that helps the remote lit up at night. With few minutes of training, our parents started using the remote without any struggle.

Even if you don’t have a smart TV, a laptop is enough to do all the above. They can watch all those serials online. No need of expensive cables.

Community:

if you live in a community where you can find other parents who talk the same language, connect with them even before your elders visit. If not, reach out to people in your regional Facebook group.

Get them a cell phone:

You can get a prepaid cell phone plan for just $10 a month. We get one every time our family visits us. That way, they can go out for walking without worrying about getting lost. They also can feel the independence of going out on their own even if it’s just for walking.

Cook with them:

Currently, my parents are with me. I make snacks in the evenings and cook dinner. I cook with my mom and we both try different recipes together. My dad and the kiddos join us in the kitchen and we talk about everything under the sun. I’m sure I’ll cherish these moments once they’re back home.

Spend time with them EVERY DAY: 

The main reason parents are here is to spend time with us. It’s understandable that we are busy. Still, make sure you spend some quality time with the elders. Sometimes when my toddler demands all my free time, I put the kiddos in the stroller and take them for walking with my mom. That way, my mom and I can talk and my toddler can enjoy the walk.

Take them to movies:

If your elders like to watch movies, take them to movies when there is a new release.

Games:

Have you played your favorite games with your visiting family? One time when we had friends at home, my mother-in-law joined us and played carrom board with us. Until then, I didn’t know she plays carrom. She played better than me and she was the gold star player in that game.

Find their interest:

My mom loves sewing. I bought her a small sewing machine when she came here the first time.

One of the elders likes to visit historic places. So we try to visit nearby historic places with them whenever we can. Find their interest and do things that they enjoy.

Take them to local library:

My father in law reads a lot. When in-laws were here, we frequently went to the library and check-out the books he wanted to read. That occupied him quite well.

Temple classes / events:

Our nearby temple offers classes and events for elders. Check out your local temple and see if there are any events just for elders. It’s also a great place to find like-minded people.

Get-togethers:

Try to arrange get-togethers and take them to your friends get-togethers whenever possible. Visiting parents love to be around people who speak the same language.

Watching movies together:

We try to watch movies on Sunday afternoons when the toddler takes naps.

Last but not least, take it easy:

My mom is my best friend. We talk a lot of things, even then sometimes we have our differences. It’s important to create a light atmosphere and make them feel home. Keep in mind, they’re far away from their own home and the very last thing we want to do is to make them feel alone.

Indian Menu Planning – Week of March 20, 2017

I’m back to sharing my weekly indian menu planning with you and there are few changes in the planning going forward. Typically, I post breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu for 7 days a week. However, below are the changes you’ll see going forward:

  • Menu planning only for week days (Mon to Fri)
  • I’ll be linking the recipes for all the meals. These recipes are from multiple different sources, not just from my blog
  • I’ll list of all the required ingredients for the weekly menu except basic Indian spices
  • The menu for the upcoming week will be up on the blog by mid of the previous week. For example, I’m updating next week menu today itself (Thursday). That way, you’ll have time to buy the ingredients listed before the week starts. Once the week started, all you need to do it follow the recipes I linked. How simple is that?

Here is the menu planning for next week:

BreakfastLunchDinner
Nut butter oatmealRoti with cabbage kootuBaked Pasta
Cheesy slowcooker breakfast potatoes (I put only half of the recommended quantity of cheese)Rice with sambar and potato currySalsa black bean casserole (I make the vegetarian version by leaving the chicken out and adding soya chunks)
Dosa TacoRoti with Dahi Wali GobiSpicy Tofu Masala Burger
Whole wheat pancakeVegetable BiriyaniVegetable BiriyaniIdly with hotel sambar
CerealRoti with mushroom gravyBrown rice vegetable risotto (you may replace brown rice with millets as well)

Below are the ingredients you need for the recipes:

BreakfastLunchDinner
Potatoes

Instant Oats

Peanut Butter

Goji berries

Chia seeds

Flax Seeds

Honey

Milk

Bell peppers

Onion

Cheddar cheese

Eggs

Whole wheat flour

Baking powder

Baking soda

Your favorite cereal 🙂

Cabbage

Shredded coconut

Moong dal

Sambar powder

Bottlegourd

Coriander powder

Potatoes

Cauliflower

Green peas

Gram flour

Soya chunks

Lemon

Mushroom

Garam masala

Coconut milk
Penne pasta

Basil leaves (optional)

Any kind of cheese (I've even tried sharp cheddar cheese and it came out well)

Pasta sauce

Black bean

Sweet corn

Extra firm tofu

Sesame oil

Drumstick

Carrot

Celery

Broccoli

Couple of ingredients such as green peas and potatoes are on both lunch and dinner menu. But I’ve included them only once for simplicity.

One of the readers reached out to me and recommended me to add ingredients list in addition to the menu. It’s a great idea and I really hope you find it useful. If you have any questions or want me to add anything else, please reach out to me.

If you find this useful, please share it with your friends who may find this useful.

EDIT TO ADD:

Here is a Facebook support group for Indian weekly menu planning. This group is a great place for sharing cooking pictures, menu , and recipe suggestions. I’ll be posting the weekly menu planning in this Facebook group every week.

 

Veggie Pizza Cups

When the clock hits 5 PM and you crave for snack, this pizza cups will save you from becoming HANGRY 🙂 One day when I opened the refrigerators, these wanton wrappers were staring at me. The hungry me decided to try veggie pizza cup recipe that is super simple and hardly takes 20 minutes. I only used 1 tea spoon of oil and 1 cup of cheese for a recipe that satisfies 4 adults and a toddler. So can we consider it as a healthy pizza?

Ingredients:

  1. Wanton wrappers – 10 nos
  2. Frozen bell peppers – 1 cup
  3. Sharp cheddar cheese – 1 cup
  4. Pasta sauce – 1/2 cup
  5. Salt and pepper – to taste
  6. Oil – 1 tea spoon

Directions:

  1. Add a tea tea spoon of oil in a pan and sauté  the vegetables with salt, and pepper until they are half cooked
  2. Cut the wonton wrappers into 4 squares
  3. Place each square in a muffin pan hole
  4. Fill the squares with a teaspoon of pasta sauce first
  5. On top of it, fill up the sautéed veggies and cheese
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes
  7. If you have veggies burgers or chicken pieces, you can add them as well

These pizza cups are a hit in our home. I made them as snack last time. This time, my family asked me to them make as a side for soup dinners. Good idea, right?

 

Paying Cash to Grocery Shopping – Final Report

We had so many changes happened within a short timeframe. Before the move, our grocery budget was $400. Few days before the move, our parents landed. And few weeks after we moved to the new place in a new city, our refrigerator died.

With all the changes, I had no idea how much to budget for grocery shopping. To give a little perspective, we buy good quality ingredients/organic products and eat at home majority of the time. Even though we enjoy eating out, we eat at home for health reasons more than saving money. However, spending $1000 a month on groceries are not ok with me.

To recreate a budget to accommodate the changes in our life, one of the steps I took is to go all cash-in for grocery shopping. We use credit cards for all our shopping (FYI – we pay the credit card bill at the end of the months before it’s due).

Paying Cash To Grocery Shopping:

The concept is, you pay cash for all your grocery shopping rather than using credit/debit cards. Before February started, I withdrew $500 cash from the ATM, carried it in an envelope and paid only from that amount for all my February grocery shopping.

Until the last week of February, I spend around $419 (here is mid-month update). so, I had $81 left when the last week of Feb started. Since I started work during the last week of February, we did some major shopping at the Indian grocery store (the one closer to us is 15 minutes away. So, we stock up the grocery and only visit there once a month).

In that trip, I spent $144.87 for Indian groceries. So, the total spending for the month of February was, $564. My budget was $500 + $50 flex budget.

$564 is for 4 adults and 1 toddler. Even if we consider just the adults, that’s like $5 per adult per day. Even though, I went over the set budget, I’m happy.

My Opinion About the Concept:

It’s quite a different experience than swiping the card. To be honest, I could have reduced the bulk purchase and stayed within the budget. After all, I had $81 left for Indian grocery shopping. With me going back to work, we didn’t want to take a chance as we know time is more precious at this phase of our life.

If you’re struggling to stay within the budget or if you’re someone who wants to put together a grocery budget, I strongly suggest you try this method at least for a month.

When I started this challenge, I thought I’ll be spending too much time counting $$ at the checkout counter. To my surprise, it’s not the case. I probably spent few more seconds than before.

My New Grocery Budget:

This past month, I didn’t splurge much and I was doing more couponing than before. Even then I spent $564 on groceries. Groceries include food, toiletries, diapers etc. This clearly shows, we need at least $564 per month. So, I’m increasing the budget to $600 per month.

Continuing Paying Cash to Grocery Shopping:

The primary intention of this challenge was finding out grocery budget for our family. Now that I know our set budget, I’m going to go back to using credit cards. Why leave the rewards points that we get from credit cards.

But I’m definitely open to trying to challenge more often. After my parents leave, I’ll try this concept again for our family of 2 adults + 2 kids (toddler + newborn).

I’d suggest you give it a try at least once. You’ll be surprised how it affects your shopping mindset.