Serene Summer: One Small Step #4

 

Our small steps for a happy homelife continues today with menu planning.  Menu planning is important for those of us on a budget, and it is also  important in terms of saving time, energy and for providing healthy foods in as close to their natural state as possible.

So,  after our other small steps of  decreasing commitments so you can actually be at home, spending time with your spouse or rejuvenating yourself, and having a well-ordered home, menu planning is right up there.

After all, nothing goes well if everyone is hungry and there is no food in the house or no food prepared, right?  Small children and hunger leads to whiny, not peaceful,  times!

We have talked about meal planning before on this blog, but I have a few things that have been working well for me lately that I want to share:

1.  Consider having a consistent market day  as part of your weekly rhythm. I like to put my market day on Thursday, so I can use Friday to be at home and get ready for the weekend.

2. It is wonderful to clean out the  refrigerator and pantry the day before market day so you know what you have and what you need in accordance with your meal plan  (see next point!).

3.  Make a menu plan that lasts two weeks or even a month and rotate that list for a bit.  Lately, I have been  planning  breakfast and dinner along with a general list of snacks and smoothies, and will soon be adding in a rotation for lunch.  A few more pointers about menu planning:

  • Do make sure that your menu planning coincides with cooking crock-pot meals on the days that you are busy outside the home, and cooking what you need the day before your day of rest or Sabbath if that is a consideration
  • If you need to soaking grains ahead of time if you use grains or have other dietary needs, that is also an important consideration.  If you can get in a habit in your kitchen regarding the foods you regularly make, it helps greatly.

4.  Establish regular meal times and decide how you want to handle snacks.  Some families make up things in the morning the children can get out at snack time fairly independently, and some families choose snacks that the parent has to make  or prepare with the children.  I think that is up to you!

5.  Establish your before and after meal blessings.  This is a lovely way to start and end meals.

6.  Think about your table.  What could you pick up at thrift stores that would make your table pretty?  Linens, dishes, small dishes to hold certain items?

Here are a few blogs I have been enjoying lately in order to garner some new recipes:

http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/recipe-index

http://thenourishingcook.com/recipe-index-2/

If you have any blogs regarding food and recipes that you love to follow, please leave your links in the comment section below.  And, if you have a blog where you post your meal plans, please also leave a link so other families may serve healthy, warming and nourishing food to their children.  Thank you!

Small, steady, encouraging steps!

Many blessings,

Carrie

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11 thoughts on “Serene Summer: One Small Step #4

  1. This is so true. Taking the time to mealplan is so rewarding, and yet I really need to work on disciplining myself enough to actually do it on a regular basis. I pull myself together and then things happen (like all of the sudden we have unexpected guests staying for a weekend, or dropping by, or someone is sick, and a zillion other events/excuses) because it makes our days run more smoothly, not to mention our cash flow ;) At least I’ve figured out why it is kinda hard to do sometimes. I have three kids and while little one only eats breastmilk, the other two are – difficult to cook dinner for. I don’t really know how we got to this, because I had everything planned out in order to NOT get picky kids, it just seems they’ve missed out on the plan. I love to cook but I lose some of my joy and motivation when they taste the food, then say they don’t like it (and to me it looks like they’re already making The Yuck Face before they’ve even tried it). Oh and yes, they’re great helpers and we make dinner together and they’re very involved in cooking and setting the table and cleaning up. Sigh.

    • Stella,

      I can so relate. I also brought my oldest to farms, included her in gardening, keep her helping in the kitchen, let her choose new (and favorite) foods in the grocery store – all since she was tiny. But alas none of these things have worked; she is as you said “hard to cook for”. It has truly taken my joy when it comes to preparing foods as well. It’s really sad actually – I used to own a restaurant and consider myself a pretty good cook – but now I just feel awful when it comes to preparing food. I try not to let it get me too down. I try to continue to encourage healthy eating. and I try to let go of some of the stress and control that I have felt around food and feeding my children. It must be somewhere that I need work. :)

  2. thenourishinggourmet.com is also good, as it thefoodrenegade.com, both in line with the two you shared, regarding traditional foods. Thanks for the tips – we are starting with just trying to plan dinner and do the same dinner (at least “theme”) each night for the whole season, using ingredients that can very throughout Summer so we can shop mainly at the Farmer’s Market. It is hard to cook in the summer – I don’t want to stand over anything warm when it is over 100 degrees outside! But we’ve managed to have a few sandwich nights and salad type meals, so that helps. I can’t even begin to think about planning out breakfast, lunch, and in between snacks yet – baby steps. We almost always have something with eggs for breakfast and then lunch is whatever leftovers or quick veggie dip or something light like that.

    • I second thenourishinggourmet (and the foodrenegade, though I don’t use it quite as frequently). I do like a lot of Passionate Homemaking’s recipes, and I FINALLY nailed down her soaked whole grain bread recipe… phew! It took work, since bread and I have never been baking buddies. But for the last month I’ve reached success (finally!).
      Meal planning is something I MUST do, since going to the grocery store only happens once a month… we have certain meal themes most days of the week, which give me direction in my planning.
      Carrie, on an entirely different note, the other night I dreamt that I met you in the check out line of some store. You were very nice :).

  3. Great tips above Carrie & everyone, thanks! Something that has helped us ensure more healthy home made meals as well as motivate us to broaden our diet and make new recipes is committing to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture program) for the entire growing season. For us its through November so cheaper but there are even CSA’s that are pay as you go. Once a week we head to a beautiful demonstration garden a block away to pick up our large pre-paid produce “box” and stock up the fridge! It simplifies our meal planning to have the farmers select and deliver a variety of organic, seasonal and locally grown veggies & fruit picked within 24 hours so its very fresh & nutritious. And its less research and decision making for us and eases our shopping burden. My little boy loves the exciting surprise of finding out what the farmers “have grown for him” and is eager to help cook it up. It always looks so freshly picked (imagine carrots with abundant leafy tops still attached) that it connects us to where our food comes from too and makes us grateful for the hard work of our local farmers which we’ll meet soon. We joined in part to save money on organics since CSA’s are usually considerably more affordable than stores. We’re happy to be out of our previous food rut. We’re still figuring out how to meal plan in advance with the surprise factor. We do have a list of what to expect from the CSA for each season, have a lot of recipes we know, and we found recipes in advance for the handful of new-to-us veggies that will come in order to be prepared. Our CSA also shares weekly recipes. Salads and pizzas are things you can make with a variety of produce. We have several insert-any-dark-leafy-green recipes. Poached chicken with a side of a grain and a steamed veggie is a weekly meal. Anyways just something families might want to consider in their meal planning. We have adventurous eaters in our family and love veggies so it works. CSA’s are all over the place if you look. This link helps you find one: http://www.localharvest.org/

  4. One of my faves is http://www.onceamonthmom.com These ladies have all kinds of menus, recipes, and meal planning tips. There are menus for gluten/dairy free, diet, traditional, etc. Most of the time I pick recipes here and there, but you can cook for a month at a time, too. Their monthly spreadsheets include adjustments for family size, labels for freezing with serving day instructions etc. It is the epitamy of organized meal planning. Whether you go all out and have a monthly cooking day or double up here and there, they are fantastic. Thanks, in part, to these ladies, I cook cheaper and healthier for my family (check out the apple spinach chicken nuggets. yum!) and I have more time to spend with my kids during the ‘dinner witching hour’. :)

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