Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Feeding the Multitude

Sometimes getting healthy meals on the table is a real challenge.  It seems like we rush from school to athletic events to bed and back to school.  We really fell apart -- healthy eating wise -- the first two weeks of school.  Suffice it to say that at the end of that two weeks, "sandwich" was a dirty word in our house. 

So it was back to the menus.  Menu planning really works for me.  It saves money (because we are not grabbing fast food or convenience foods), it saves calories, and it saves time. When I make up a menu, I go do all the shopping for that menu at once, even if I go to two stores in order to take advantage of coupons.  Since every time I go into the store it takes 45 minutes to an hour (not including travel time), that saved time adds up quickly when I am not constantly going to the store.  I also save time because a little forethought means I can do prep work for more than one meal, slicing carrots for example.  Finally, not standing around thinking "what are we going to eat" somehow saves time.  No searching the pantry or fridge for answers.

My system may or may not work for you, but maybe it will spur your creativity and that's all that counts, right?  I have one picky eater and one two year old ('nuf said, right?), so I try to accommodate their tastes at least some of the time.  I plan for 5 servings of fruit and veg a day;  I get 3 and sometimes 4 of these into lunch.  I either use a handwritten form like this one from Just Bento, or I type them in excel.  This depends mostly on my whim.

I start my menu with weekday lunch because it now the main meal of our day.  Most days I plan bento boxes (see this post for details) because they are easy for Pepper and Dear Hubby to transport and we all love them.  What I love about the bento boxes is that even though we are in 3 different places, we are all eating the same meal, and it's almost like we are eating together.  It's a heart thing not a logic thing.  I usually send an extra piece of fruit because that's what we will be snacking on at home.   ( I have another post on bento boxes here.)

Next I fill in weekday suppers while consulting the calendar for games, meetings, etc.  That said, I do have a basic formula for the week:
  • Thursday is pasta night, so the pasta chosen depends largely on complexity and time.  If we have had a lunch that is new and unusual I will serve "regular" spaghetti or homemade mac and cheese to appease my two special cases.  I make both of these in large batches and freeze them so some forethought on Wednesday makes it simple.
  • Mondays are often meatless;  this is a night for 9 bean chili or a quiche or "breakfast for supper."  
  • Fridays I do try to serve some sort of fish.  The whole family loves all things fishy though I am not a fan myself.  
  • That really only leaves two weekdays to fill in with something easy.  We often have a very light meal at night; big salads, sandwiches, tacos, "snack plates" or leftovers. 
  • If we have ballgames, I switch the "light meals" for the other meals;  I cook very little on ballgame nights.
  • If I am in a hurry when I plan, I don't include veggies on my supper plans because my freezer and fridge are always stocked with veggies.
Now I fill in weekday breakfasts, and basically, I have a revolving list.  I just fill in from our list of  favorite breakfasts  based on what I feel is lacking from lunch.  Here are some of our favs (all served with milk):
  • Scrambled egg and toast
  • Yogurt, banana and "plain" cereal (like Cheerios)
  • Pancakes (I make the mix ahead of time so they are fast)
  • Boiled egg, dry cereal or toast, cheese
  • Baked oatmeal
  • Cold cereal with milk and fruit
  • Cheesy scrambled eggs and tortilla
  • Refried beans, egg "over" and corn tortilla
Finally, I fill in the weekends.  We have breakfast late and aim to have our big meal around 2:00.  This is when I try new recipes or make more complicated meals.  Also, if we are ever having waffles, it will be on the weekend.  The big girls and Dear Hubby know they will be fixing their own supper.  The little kids will be having a snack plate or leftovers.  

I keep all my menus and mark out anything that wasn't a show stopper.  If we didn't love it, we don't make it again.  I muse through these menus when doing my planning;   I sometimes just rerun an entire week from the past.  I take feedback from Dear Hubby and the Bigs about what they like and try to get a few favorites into every menu.

Last year I planned three weeks of menus for a friend.  It made me think through how I time-save so it has a lot of notes.  If you are crazy enough to want more detail, you can find it here.   These are clearly not bento lunches; more like lunches with a microwave available.

Now you have had a glance into my crazy mind, tell me how you keep from losing yours!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bad, Bad Baby Part Deux

Maybe this post should be titled, "Stupid, Stupid Mommy."

So after a minor medical procedure I slept all day.  Then I was awake most of the night so I did what all night owls do, I sewed.  Did I mention I have a brand new sewing machine?  She's a beauty.   I have a pretty big pile of costumes to conquer and I was really into it so next thing I knew, it was 4:30 a.m. 

Since The Littles are unsympathetic to my lack of sleep, I quickly tidied up and went to bed.  But I neglected two things;  first, I did not put the cover on the machine.  I always, always cover it so that it's beauty doesn't entice little fingers.  Secondly, I left a black sharpie out.  All I can say by way of excuse is that I was still not quite in my right mind.  I have never, never left a sharpie out and have delivered plenty of lectures on same.

I thought I never let him out of my sight this morning.  But it probably only took 30 seconds:
He was thoughtful about it -- he carefully hit all the buttons most of the places that were already written on.
You gotta admire his fine motor control hitting those buttons.
I did manage to clean off the stitch selection window with a glasses cleaner. 

Hey Mom, I know I let Jason draw on your quilt with markers when he was 2-1/2, but can you please call off the curse?  I thought we were even when Sunshine wrote "Sisssssy" on my bedroom carpet in foot high letters!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bad, Bad Baby

No, we don't really call him "bad."  But we do have a funny riff off a rock song that we sing to the other "bigs" from time to time.  I'll spare you the audio experience but the lyrics are, "Bad, bad, baby; naughty, naughty, baby.  Bad, bad baby; drive me crazy; it's good I love you, baby!"

This was one such occasion:

 It's not as bad as it looks.  It is thankfully only sidewalk chalk.  I was seeing out their godmother and took my eye off the culprit for one second.  His artwork included both sofas, the floor and the hobby horse!

Here is the offender cleaning up the mess.

Bad, bad baby.  Lucky for you, Daddy was at work!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Groove

Pepper got tired of getting up 45 minutes early every day to flat-iron her hair.  She decided (yes, on her own) that going with nature instead of against it made more sense.  Here is the evidence:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

An Apology to my Son's Teachers

Dear Mrs Rose and Ms M:

I'm sorry.  It started out as an innocent game, really.  Perhaps I didn't think it through.  It's hot.  We were going for some indoor fun and late-day energy burn.

I don't know why I called the game "Fathead."  It was funny.  And it did get a laugh.  Once I said it, I couldn't "unsay" it.

We know we should never call people "fathead."  And I'm sorry if he does! I'll try to make up for it with cupcakes.