Working well together takes communication. Some things can be done on the fly as long as everyone is in sync with what is going on and can adapt as things change. Other things, I’ve found go more smoothly with a little advanced planning.
Weekly meals are one of those!
On the Fly
My typical chaotic week includes a daily 45 minute commute to and from work. That cuts significantly into my ability to make meals on the fly. The result of that is the “what’s for dinner” question and 4:30 PM when we are all getting hungry (and cranky). With no plan in place, convenience food is typically the answer… fast, expensive and not always healthy.
When we plan ahead, everyone knows what’s for dinner. Sometimes I plan out the week on my own, but I usually get input from my family on what they want to see on the menu. When everyone has ownership in what we’re eating, everyone seems happier.
All on One Page
I have used many different templates over the years. I created a meal planner with a supply list, a shopping list for the items I don’t have, and a place to track my leftovers. Click below for my template.
Having everything on one page keeps me organized. It consolidates my shopping list so I make less trips to the store (which is essential during this COVID-19 social distancing). Hanging the menu in the kitchen keeps everyone informed, and nobody has to ask “what’s for dinner!”
It leaves me time to contemplate our toilet paper supply, and enjoy a glass of wine and a piece of cake! Happy meal planning everyone!
Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. I’m not a morning person, so it’s not easy to squeeze in breakfast most days. I get up with enough time to get ready, get everyone to school on time, and get out the door myself. There’s no time to make breakfast.
We always have boxed cereal on hand, and a box or two of granola bars to grab and go. If I plan ahead, there may also be fresh berries, yogurt and granola for a quick parfait. The kids get something for breakfast, but it’s not warm, delicious comfort food.
Then I discovered steel cut oats.
Steel cut oats isn’t the normal, mushy oat meal I grew up with. Don’t get me wrong, I like rolled oats…but I love steel cut oats! The warmth, creamy nutty flavor and texture had me hooked the first time I tried it! It’s a “stick to your ribs” type of breakfast that keeps you happy and full for a long time!
I’ve experimented with quite a few ways to prepare them (I’ll blog about that another day), but my favorite is making them on the stove top.
On the stove top
I start with almond milk. I bring it to a boil and then stir in the oats. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Getting up 20 minutes early is worth it! (…or just save this meal for weekends) I follow the instructions on the box for proportions of milk/water to oats.
A small amount of oats goes a long way.
I use 1/4 cup oats for each cup of milk.
Then it’s time to get creative with toppings!
Sometimes I toss in apples and cinnamon, and other times fresh raspberries and blueberries. The great thing about oatmeal – It goes great with anything! I add whatever I have on hand.
This morning I went to the pantry looking for canned peaches – I found pineapple slices. I knew I had maraschino cherries on hand…add a sprinkle of brown sugar and voila – pineapple upside down surprise oatmeal!
setting up the surprise
served with cherries and brown sugar
warm delicious surprise
If you haven’t tried steel-cut oatmeal, you should!
Do you make steel cut oatmeal?
How do you prepare yours?
What do you like to top it with?
As each year comes to and end, we often find ourselves discussing resolutions for the new year. I tend to make my “resolutions” year round, so January 1st isn’t a big deal in my book, but I always enjoy thinking about and planning ways to make the world a better place, and I enjoy hearing everyone around me plan and dream as well.
I have realized, over the years, in order to successfully keep my resolutions, they have to be keepable. (I may have made that word up.) It’s fairly simple. There are four key “ingredients” in all my successful resolutions…
What makes a resolution “keepable”?
First, a resolution should be something important to you. If it’s important to you, it’s easier to be motivated to stick with it. It should be something you want to do, or need to do…for you. That’s not saying that the intent of a resolution can’t be doing something for someone else, it definitely can be! The outcome should be important to you. Seeing the joy your actions bring others, is sometimes the best outcome of all!
Second, it should be something you can actually do. It should be a goal you can reach with a reasonable amount of effort. It doesn’t have to be some huge, earth-shattering, overwhelming big deal. A resolution can be something small, or a handful of small things. If you can break a large resolution down into several smaller ones, do it! I like being able to “check” boxes when I complete things. It feels great when you reach your goal and fulfill your resolution.
It should be measureable. I do better with my resolutions if I can tell I’m making progress toward my goal. Some resolutions lend themselves to counting your progress in numbers. This isn’t always the case, but even “soft numbers” are good here. Whatever you’re dealing with, you should be able to tell you are making progress.
It should be maintainable. Some resolutions may be complete when you finish a task or reach a specific goal, but many resolutions help develop good habits, and become a way of life. I enjoy knowing that I can maintain those resolutions, and they become part of who I am, and will continue throughout life.
How have I done with resolutions in the past?
I have had success and, of course, some failures. Failures always help to keep me humble and challenge me to try again. Sometimes a failure is a good reason to evaluate my goals and really decide if I want to try again, or move on to something else. There’s no shame in reevaluating and switching gears!
I have resolved to learn to play guitar 3 or 4 times in the past…and each time, I got a couple months into practicing, and realized I’d rather be spending my time doing something else. Playing the guitar dropped off the priority list, and that’s completely okay. (I think it failed because it really wasn’t that important to me)
There are probably a few more, but I resolved to focus on the positive…so lets just jump to that!
In February of 2015, I resolved to be more “green” and lessen my carbon footprint. I worked at a company that had a cafeteria employees could purchase breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the workday. They served all their meals in Styrofoam “clamshell” containers. I ate lunch there 3 times per week. I was going to use foam containers and plastic cutlery 3 days a week for 52 weeks a year. I resolved to be more green. I bought a plastic tray from a thrift store, brought in my own silverware and cloth napkins. That’s 156 foam trays and plastic forks and napkins that WON’T be going into a landfill because of me.
In addition to reducing the disposable items I used, I also inspired other people to do the same. Although I don’t know how many people stuck with it, I always had people ask about the tray…and it started the conversation on how and why I was doing my small part to save the earth. Setting an example with my own resolution made an impact on others to do the same.
Why was this a success?
First, being environmentally responsible is importantto me.
Using a tray, my own silverware and cloth napkins is something I can dowithout much extra effort
I can countthat 156 containers are not going into a landfill because of me
I am able to maintainthose green practices. I even use cloth napkins at home more too!
My Next Resolution:
Weekly meal planning and scheduling is my new resolution.
I live a busy life. (That may be an understatement) It is difficult to juggle household tasks, work, personal activities and activities of three busy kids and a bunch of pets. Time keeps ticking and things need to get done. We all get where we need to go (on time most of the time), everyone has clean clothes and everyone gets fed. Schoolwork gets done, carpets get vacuumed, dishes get washed. Everything seems to work out, albeit with a bit of chaos. That chaos leaves me a bit stressed.
Last summer, on a Sunday afternoon, I sat down with a calendar and wrote out all the upcoming activities for the week. I took a look and figured out when I could fit some meals in. Wednesdays I would work from home, make dinner promptly at 4PM and eat by 4:20 so we could be out the door by 4:45 for whatever activity started at 5PM that night. The summer was a blur. Thursdays would be leftovers from the day before. I planned cereal and yogurt parfaits for breakfasts, sandwiches and salads for lunches, etc. I mapped out all the meals for the week and made a grocery shopping list…and went shopping.
It was one of the busiest weeks of the summer…and ended up being one of the LEAST stressful ones. Everything was planned, and everything was scheduled. I planned in some “backups” if plans changed…everything went smoothly. I didn’t have to stress about what we were going to eat, or who had to be where, when…it was all planned out, written down and I didn’t have to think about it. IT WAS AWESOME. So yeah…I want to do that again. What if I did that every week? How much more smoothly would life go?
It’s important to me that I reduce some stress. It’s important to me that I can plan healthy meals for my family. I’ve done it before, so I know I’m capable of it! I may not be able to count units of stress, but I’ll definitely be able to feel the impact…and I can count the weeks or days that I plan if I want to. I’m also sure that I will waste less food and I won’t need to grab convenience foods as often. That will have a measurable impact on my pocket book too! If I can do it on a regular basis and make it a good habit and part of my life, I can maintain it and improve the quality of life for my whole family.
I can do it! I’m looking forward to it! I will let you know how it goes!
What are you resolving to do?! I’d love to hear about it!