Saturday, May 15, 2010

Meal Planning

I was meal planning pretty diligently a few months ago. Every Thursday or Friday I would clear a space on the kitchen table big enough for my calendar, computer, grocery list, and meal plan, and go to town. Googling new recipes, checking the pantry to see what needed used up, anticipating work nights with slow cooker meals... it was lovely. But then my husband had surgery and I fell off the planning wagon. I've been back to $20 grocery store runs for whatever we need whenever we need it, and grabbing whatever fixes the quickest for dinner; cereal, PB&J, eggs, instant oatmeal. Not all bad, but definitely not well-rounded nourishment.
Well, this week I am jumping back on the wagon. I finally feel like my life and home are back to a manageable state after surgery and I'm ready to work out a weekly menu once again! Here is my plan for this week's dinners:

Sunday (tonight)
Smokey Oven Chicken with Bacon Corn Couscous
Spinach Salad drizzled with Lemon Juice

Slow Cooker Chicken with Apricots and Dates
Brown Rice

Quinoa Soup

Orzo with Chicken, Garlic and Scallions

Grilled Salmon
Fresh Dill Veggie Platter

Turkey Burgers
Oven Crinkle Fries

(and Saturday we are going out to celebrate our 5th anniversary!!)

As I was browsing through a few home-making blogs tonight, wouldn't you know I stumbled across a great article on, you guessed it, meal planning! You can check out the article here, at Keeper of the Home, a blog I've been reading more frequently. It was an encouraging read and gave me lots of tips for how to be more successful with my plan. I will be trying them all!

Tonight we cooked up that first meal on the list, but subbed chicken for the salmon because my father-in-law is in town and he loathes fish (won't even eat a tuna sandwich). I did spinach instead of watercress, and also omitted the pepper from the couscous (because I loathe peppers). The couscous was AMAZING! Look at all the gorgeous colors in the dish!

And it smelled so good cooking! I honestly love having fresh food on the table. It makes me feel as if I'm doing something good for my family, which... I am.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Handle Once

This is how I've been feeling in my kitchen lately...

...and not just in my kitchen. Imagine dishes all over the house, but it's not always dishes. Sometimes it's laundry, sewing, toys, papers, you name it. My husband doesn't believe me when I tell him it drives me crazy, because to him it's so simple. If you don't want to live in a mess, just clean up. Well for some people that just isn't realized so simply. But enough is finally enough. I can't live like this anymore! So I've instated two new rules over my life at home:

1. Every night the dishwasher gets run, every morning the dishes get put away, and all day the dishes go in the dishwasher (because it is not full of dishes!).

I know, I know, you're thinking, "It took you 5 years of marriage to figure that out??" Why yes, yes it did. I'm not so quick with the house work.

2. The "Handle Once" Rule. Now this is the big one, and certainly most challenging. I was reading an article recently on how to de-clutter your life and the writer suggested only handling a piece of paper one time. When you open it from the mailbox or bring it home from work or pick it up at the store, you either file it or trash it or manage it in whatever way is required right away. You do NOT set it aside in a pile to "get to later." Oh how guilty I am of doing this. Paper piles all over our house. So I thought to myself, this is a good rule. And if it can be applied successfully to paper, then surely it can be applied to all kinds of other things around the house! Dishes, dirty laundry, clean laundry (how many times have I handled my clean laundry before it finally, if ever, gets put away!), toys, bags, electronics. Basically, I am now trying to take care of things on the spot. This has really been applied to dishes more than anything else so far, and my kitchen has been clean for 3 days straight! It is a miraculous accomplishment. And I don't say this lightly; I have prayed on many occasions that God would help me improve around the house. So from now on I will try to handle everything only once.

While watching The Biggest Loser on Hulu tonight I realized, I may not be in a struggle to lose weight, but I have felt a sincere sense of accomplishment when glancing around my kitchen this week, knowing I am tackling the beast in my life!
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