Family Meals

The holidays are over and the decorations have been taken down.  I always miss the beautiful lights of the Christmas tree when it’s gone, but I also appreciate the house being put back together.  I love organization and order (although you wouldn’t know that if you saw my house)!  With David and Ethan, I have had to learn to let go of that a little bit, although it’s not a battle that I’m done fighting.  If I could just purge a whole bunch of stuff from this house, I would be so happy!  There’s a certain serenity that comes to me with de-cluttering.  It’s definitely an ongoing mission for me.  (I did manage to unload some old Christmas decorations and clean out a desk drawer today!  A little every day, I hope!)

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With the holidays gone, it’s also back to meal planning for me.  I’ve found a process that works for me and all it takes is a simple spiral notebook.  In the beginning of the notebook, I have a list of the family favorites and my “go to” recipes, along with a reference to the location of the recipe (website, hard copy, cookbook & page number…).  Behind that, I use one page for each week, and list Sunday through Saturday in the left column.

Each weekend I check the calendar on the fridge for any appointments or events during the week that might require a quick meal and note that on the corresponding days in the notebook.  If there is a night that we need to eat out, that is noted also.

I then go through the list of recipes on the first page, as well as my stack of cookbooks, to sketch out what I will make on each day.  Recipes that take a little more preparation time get slotted on the days when I think I will get out of work on time and when there are no nightly activities.  As I note each recipe, I go through the ingredient list to see if I need to purchase anything.  If I do, that goes on my grocery list.

Once the week is sketched out, I add any additional instructions (for example, if I have to soak beans or prep something the night before) and I’m done.  I then rewrite my grocery list to sort like items, and I’m all set.

This has really been working well for me.  It ensures I’m only shopping for what I need and that we have a healthy menu planned for the week.

I only do this for dinner meals.  For breakfast, it’s typically fruit for me (with mixed nuts for a mid morning snack), pancakes or waffles for Ethan, and David fends for himself.  For lunch, we usually have leftovers from another night.  I also make sure I have some staples for quick lunches, in case there are no leftovers!  Examples:

  • organic natural peanut butter (that I will eat with an apple for lunch)
  • chickpeas, so I can make hummus (I’ll eat in a pita/tortilla, with raw veggies, or with whole grain crackers)
  • an array of veggies (I’ll eat a can of red beets or fresh cucumbers, pickled with apple cider vinegar… and no, this wouldn’t be the “only” thing I eat for the day.  Since they are veggies, I’ll use these to supplement whatever else I take.)
  • organic vegetarian soups (like Pacific’s black bean and kale)
  • yams that I can quickly “bake” in the microwave

I hope this is helpful!  I have found that planning is the key to success!

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Family Meals (Croatia) (2012) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2273227/

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