Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Friday, March 11, 2011

one less wheel spinning

hi sisters!! (cause i don't think the men-folk, other than my hubs, read this.) so i am nearing the end of the second week of enjoying the ease that was brought on by my epic cooking day. several of you have asked how it's been going, so i'm here to report.

first off, we'll address the OCD/list maker tendencies that i have. i'm not proud. a few years ago i found a weekly menu form (breakfast/lunch/supper) on the Cheap Cooking website that i use to plan out our menus every single week. now, before you think i'm a good mom, let me preface this by saying i'm not a breakfast cooker, so that column looks something along the lines of pop-tarts every other day (because my kids would eat them every day if i'd let them) alternating with something else (usually cereal or muffins or cereal bars.) i'm not really a breakfast eater and they are way picky, so...ya know. lunches vary as well. luke has his own lunch menu schedule (which helps micah, who is the one who packs it) and the other two kids usually eat hotdogs or sandwiches and me, just whatever i can find. (that is also an area i need to reign in a little better.) next, i printed out a blank march calendar from my microsoft program. (we typically have a copy or two lying around somewhere because with having kids who refuse to share, we put everything except the toilet on a rotation schedule. forced sharing is total win, justsoyaknow.) Then I sat down with my inventory list and tried to make the best mix/rotation of foods that i could, and still accomodate the baseball schedule. (is it any wonder i am #1. insane, #2. unreachable by phone, and #3. completely out of touch with what is going on in my friends' lives.--Hey Lindsey! I didn't know you moved or that you were homeschooling!--Hey Darby! Thanks for the book rec of The Mission of Motherhood. It's the first book that i paid for on my Kindle.--Hey Tara M.! Thanks for the info on "farm shopping.")

ok, where was i? oh yes, under a mound of lists. see, i like to be able to see everything at a glance. I also like variety, so having an inventory list, a master monthly menu and then a weekly one (for general grocery shopping and so that the kids know what we're having) works well for me. it really is organized chaos. I'd let micah take a picture of me doing this, but i'm fairly certain that i don't actually show up on film. so, in my week, i do plan an out to eat meal once a week. i thought about doing sunday lunch, and occasionally we will, but i'm thinking that it may vary between saturday night and sunday. still working on what works best for us on that one. there have been some days that i had my menu all planned out and then that day, i just wasnt' feelin' it. the good thing is that it didn't matter. i had several other things that i could choose from b/c they were already waiting for me in my freezer. problem solved and it didn't come down to a last minute, "let's just go pick something up."

i still have plenty in my inventory for the moment. this is a pay week, so i'm going to pick up some ground hamburger/turkey and make and grill some hamburgers and then freeze them. i mean, they sell them already cooked in the freezer section. surely i can do it and make them healthier, right?

another thing i might suggest is browsing some of the menu planning sites that are out there and giving one of their 3-month subscriptions a try. they usually give you a shopping list and a prep list along with the menu suggestions so that it takes the guess work right out of it. If nothing else, it will give you a few items to add to your repertoire that you may not have had or thought of before. it helps break me out of the cooking the same ole thing every week or two rut. try e-mealz or 5Dinners1Hour.

thanks for the interest while i get it figured out. any mom on the go should give it a try for sure!

oh, question for my SAHM friends...if you had a job outside of the home before you had kids and now stay at home, do you ever plan on working outside of the home at a later time? i'm just curious.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

the day i cooked

first of all, it took 3 tries to upload these pics, this top one especially. so i would adore it if you'd take the time to click on the top and bottom one as they have details.
now...on with it...
last time at five mockingbirds, the mama bird was ranting a little bit, she noticed, as she read back over what she wrote...after posting it.
who cares?
anyway, i spent my friday researching, folks. i read blogs and took suggestions tried to come up with some sort of plan. a dear friend of mine from my childhood actually does the once a month cooking with a friend of hers so i can't wait to get some recipes from her. until then, i took some pointers about freezing.

let me start by saying this. while i surely am not one that has anything against anything generic...there are sometimes you need to spring for name brand. i hear that is the case with freezer bags (if you don't have one of those food saver things.) and i also hear double bagging is a must on some things. we will see and report back later on that.

so...after getting an idea of what i wanted to freeze this first go 'round, i made my list and set out to buy my meats. let me just go on record as saying this...i am starting this at a particularly insane time in our lives. i mentioned the baseball practice, right?? well, the need for something quick that we could eat after 7 on those nights was really what dictated what i chose this month. there are basically 2 weeknights that i'll be able to cook what i call a "real meal". you'll see what i mean.

folks, i headed out to walmart on a friday night, because i'm an idiot even though i know better. i didn't want to drive to sam's and i at least took the time to look at the publix and kroger ads to know that there wasn't anything i would be missing out on with meat deals.

y'all, they had boneless/skinless chicken breasts for 1.78 a lb. i admit that i have totally neglected haven't been good about comparison shopping and couponing for the last year lately because time is precious and i just wanna snatch and go. however, in my awakening, i'm going to be smarter than that. it's part of my job as house manager, right? (i'm assuming the only thing that hasn't gotten me fired as of yet is the fact that i can cook well and am kinda funny...sometimes.) anyway...people, i left there with 12.5 lbs of chicken and 6 lbs of ground beef. now, normally i don't buy the ground beef. i buy the ground turkey b/c it's cheaper and b/c i feel like it's healthier, but they didn't have it (fresh). like i said, this was sort of spur of the moment. i'll plan better next time.

i got my meat and a few other ingredients home to plan out what i'd be cooking the next day. micah would be gone a few hours doing field clean up and otherwise it was our last free saturday until the end of may. it was do or die. (i'd like to take this time to mention that i nearly died in the doing...but it was done and i'm glad i did it!)

the next morning, i realized that i forgot the veggies that i was going to add to the ground beef to bulk up our good-for-you-foods-but-the-kids-won't-eat quotient. i also needed to finish off the grocery shopping (which i never do with the kids unless someone is holding a gun to my head) at some point and i figured since i'd already be there...


i looked at the three kids. i said a prayer. i grabbed a sippy cup. i slapped a pull-up on the sis (just in case 'cause i WAS NOT stopping in the middle of publix to take her to the potty, but i didn't want an accident either. she's good and trained now thankyouverymuch) begged the boys not to fight, and set out to finish up so that i could get home and get to cooking.

three kids club cookies, 3 boxes of barnum and bailey's animal crackers, a bottle of water and some money saved later...we were home. i only had to say "get out of the middle of the aisle" and "if you touch anything else i'm going to cut your hand off" and "don't even look at those toys" 100 times. so about two-thirds less than i normally do. not bad.

finally, at 1100...i started cooking (which included lunch preparation.) i'd also like to go on record as saying that you should make sure your kitchen is clean and all superfluous dishes are put away before starting. i was armed with my ziploc bags and my aluminum foil and my sharpie marker and my 3 crock pots and my food processor and i was ready to go.

and i call these meal starters, by the way. cause you'll need to add to it, but for me the hard part is in remembering to get meat out and thaw it or "what else can i possibly make with this lb of chicken?" so, in one pot i put chicken, salsa and fajita mix. in another, chicken, bbq sauce and a little DP, and in another i put just chicken that i seasoned with house seasoning (salt, pepper, onion & garlic powder). oh, and i rinsed and defatted alllll of that ahead of time.) for the ground beef, i mixed 2 lbs with taco seasoning, corn and black beans. the other 4 lbs i mixed with carrots, bell peppers and onion that i chopped in the food processor. 3 lbs went towards spaghetti stuff and the other one towards meatloaf fixings. (i should have done some plain...but hey, next time. trial and error.) i also bought those little sweet rolls, you know the rectangle kind in the little aluminum pan that people put ham and cheese in and cook them for baby showers and pot lucks at church and the like? well, i bought those and made some for lunch that day and then just put the ham and cheese inside (no sauce) of another batch and have frozen those. i'll let you know how they turn out. i also had a few other ideas of things i already had to add into the mix.

i started around 1100 and finished around 5pm. that also included some dish washing time in there as well. so far this week i haven't once said, "let's just go grab something." and that is one of the main purposes to this whole thing. saving time and waist and money. trust me when i tell you that if i can do it, anyone can. next week i'll give you the menu...weekly and hopefully the month at a glance.
like i said, click on the pictures to make them bigger to see how things got divvied up and for my comments on what the kitchen looked like afterwards!!

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