woman in front of freezer

Plan for the Unplanned

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? It’s a weekday (usually a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday). It’s about 5 p.m. – you know, about dinner time – and you don’t have a plan to get dinner on the table within the next 30 to 60 minutes. Well, if that sounds familiar, you are not alone  57% of dinner decisions are made within an hour of eating, reports the NPD Group.

Ideally, everyone likes to be prepared…but then life happens! Not just for weeknight dinner, but for so many other occasions in life. You can become your best self when you can plan for the unplanned. It’s inevitable … you’ll become busy right when something is needed. There are a number of ways that you can “Plan for the Unplanned”. Here are 9 simple items to have on hand to help you plan for the unplanned:

9 Essentials to Stock Up on

1) Birthday, sympathy and get well cards and stamps.

Sure, you probably know the birthdays of the important people in your life. But by the time you remember the date, go out and buy a card, get stamps and mail it, you may have missed the birthday. Having a few cards on hand allows you to get it all done in a timely manner. And stock up on sympathy, get well, and thinking of you cards, too. Having a few of each card on hand can be a time-saver you and ensure you are sending sentiments when loved ones need them the most. Depending on your life stage, you might need baby, wedding or retirement cards as well Get some stamps while you’re stocking up.

birthday card

2) Thank you cards and gift cards.

You don’t always know when a friend or neighbor will do a good deed for you. You’ll want to thank them – and do it in a timely manner. Stock some hank You cards in a desk drawer along with a series of $5 and $10 gift cards. It’s so great to be able to send of a token of appreciation without planning a trip to the card store.

thank you cards

3) Coffee

If you drink it, you know that you never want to run out. Having a back-up container of coffee and tea means you’ll never face a morning without caffeine. This safety stock not only keeps you energized, it allows you to offer unexpected guests a cup or two. Stockpile a cannister of coffee, a box of tea bags, and some shelf stable coffee creamers.


4) Pound of Ground® Crumbles®.

Everyone freezes ground beef but remembering to thaw it is a whole other This game-changing product cooks right from frozen and is ready to save any unplanned dinner. Pound of Ground® Crumbles® are small pieces of ground beef that have been quick-frozen. You buy it frozen, store it in the freezer, and it cooks from frozen in less than 10 minutes, which is as fast as cooking fresh ground beef. And because ground beef is a family pleaser, there are so many dinner recipes you can make with Crumbles® and common on-hand pantry staples. Some go-tos are tacos, spaghetti, chili and tater tot casserole.  Find more quick dinner ideas and recipes for ground beef here.

Pound of ground

5) Single packs of stain remover.

You have probably been there – spilling a drink or food on your clothes when you are away from home. No one plans for a spill, so now you can be ready for that unplanned mishap. Carry a travel size stain remover with you to treat the stain immediately and look crisp and clean for the remainder of your dinner. Stock Tide Pens or Shout wipes in multiple places – car, briefcase, backpack, desk drawer, purse and carry-on bag. As long as you are buying Shout packets, throw in some individual packs of Clorox cleaning wipes to clean messy surfaces.

tide detergent

6) Illness necessities.

No one plans when they will be sick – and it often happens at an inconvenient time. So it is important to stock up on medicine, tissues, chicken noodle soup, cough drops, antacids, and All of these things don’t take up a lot of storage space and will come in handy for nursing you or your loved ones back to health. You never know when you’re going to need it and you won’t be in the mood or condition to run out and buy it when you need it.

noodle soup

7) Weather

Mother Nature strikes at unexpected times and when you may not have planned for it. If you watch a fair number of outdoor activities for kids, relatives and friends, you will find it invaluable to have a stock of items in the trunk of the car – an umbrella, rain ponchos, blanket, and old sweatshirt or coats and gloves. You will be surprised (and delighted) with how many times you will pull out that bag and use the gear – and share it with the other families and friends at the outdoor event.

weather supplies

8) Emergency Snacks

Hunger is unplanned (that is, you don’t plan to be hungry), especially when you are on the go. And the “lunch hour” is a thing of the past. You eat when you can, and sometimes you don’t have the time. So you will thank yourself later when you have stocked up on some snacks. Nuts, trail mix, fruit snacks and granola bars are all crowd-pleasers. Be sure to stock snack in several spots – desk drawer, glove box, briefcase, and purse.


9) Host and Hostess Gifts

If you’ve been invited to your friend’s house, you need a little something to bring them as a thank you. It is important to have host and hostess gifts ready so you can grab them on your way out – no time to run to the little boutique and find a gift. Bottles of wine, wine accessories (wine markers, wine stoppers), gourmet treats, and kitchen gadgets all make great gifts.

wine house gift

While you can’t plan for everything that is unplanned, stocking up on these nine items will save you time, effort and anguish. Your cards will go out in a timely manner, your dinner will get pulled together, you’re ready for an illness or stain, and you’ll always be ready to thank others for their kind deeds. If you have some favorite items that can help with planning for the unplanned, be sure to share them.

Written by Sarah Meyer

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