Thursday, April 28, 2011

Defining "It"

I was trying to think of something useful to post in my blog this month. I had nothing. The well was pretty dry.
My two year old is coming into full bloom and I'm just running all day. Pretty typical for any parent of a toddler. Except in my circle most, okay no one, has five kids. So people ask me all the time, "how do you do it ". Honestly, I've had a hard time defining "it". I guess sometimes we tend to look at other people and think that they have it all together. It's a pretty subjective word - IT.

I've decided that IT might be all the daily grind. So here's the secret..... shortcuts. I cheat.

Two and half years ago my sister and her family moved on the same day as my family did. To the same city. Their move was beautiful. Everything in uniform boxes, neatly labeled and sorted. Her husband had the space in the moving van all mapped out. Quite the contrast from our day. We had boxes of every size, plastic bags, loose things all mixed up crammed into a truck.

When my sister's family arrived in their new home every box went directly to its appointed room. Not us. We shoved it into the house, set up the beds, ordered Swiss Chalet and went to bed.

Well, the next day we invited them over for dinner.... frozen lasagna (cheat, cheat). They came in and our house was completely set up. when they mentioned their surprise we very casually said, "of course, isn't your house unpacked ?". IT was great ! I still can't help but laugh. See, my husband and I took everything and hid it in the crawlspace. Oh yes, just to mess with them.  We are cheaters.

So I thought  over the next little while I'd share my cheat sheet with you. Since the last post was a menu I thought I would go ahead and talk about food tonight.

* Look for recipes with few ingredients. I aim for five. You can always add to it.
* Menu plan (beg , borrow or steal these. Best yet just record your meals for a couple of weeks and you already have a start to a plan for another time)
* Cook once, eat twice. Mash potatoes , next day Shepherd's pie. Pasta sauce, then casserole. Rice with dinner, fried rice for lunch.
* Use a mix. Just get over it. I happen to love homemade cranberry sauce so I will make that ahead of time but I refuse to spend the time making stuffing... it's a dollar a box. Bread crumbs everywhere, crying over onions, mincing celery, good grief.
* Crock. Pot. Get your pot set up while the kids are in bed. Take it out of the fridge in the morning and plug it in.
* Summer salads; stock up on some yummy sunflower seeds, raisins, croutons, toss in your leftover meat and veggies, splash on some oil and vinegar and pile it all on a bed of greens.
* The more you cook, the more creative and resourceful you will get at it.

I'm not saying I will do this forever, I like cooking. But when time and energy are low these are good ways to get the job done.

So here's one of my new favourite food ideas. Oatmeal. Use steel cut oats . Plug it in at night and enjoy in the morning. You can change up the flavour any way you want. This is my current favourite;

I got my basic idea for making overnight oatmeal from ;

So happy Thursday everyone ! What's your favourite way to "cheat" ?

Daughter of the King, wife to Richard
                                                                                     Mother to five beautiful boys.
                                                    "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength " Philippians 4:13

Monday, April 4, 2011

What's on the Menu

So the delay in posting a monthly menu is that I have been actively trying to figure out how to make a chart. Seriously. I recently borrowed "Blogging for Dummies" from the library. Wow. It's like they wrote it just for me and yet there were more questions that I needed answered ! I suppose I will have to wait until they write "Blogging for Idiots".... It's okay. Laugh it up. I never claimed to be computer literate, not even close.

With any luck your menu will be appearing right under this sentence.......If not I will resort to taking a picture of it, and posting that, lol....
So you can imagine the brawl I just had with the computer.....

Again, I don't usually use recipes so I will just explain a couple of the dishes.

Hamburger Pizza - you can make your own dough or buy it. Spread the pizza sauce on it. Sprinkly cooked ground beef. Top with tomoatoes, onions , cheese... the idea here is that you will tell your kids that they are enjoying both a pizza and a hamburger at the same time. Build up some excitement. If adding bacon helps - go for it. Whatever your kids would like to see on their burger/pizza !

Chicken Schnitzels - This is a "cheat" meal. I find it is very helpful to plan ahead for not having time or patience for at least one meal a week ! With this one I buy precooked chicken burgers. I put pasta sauce in a casserole dish, lay the chicken on top. Spread on a couple more tablespoons of sauce on each piece and top with cheese. Bake it according to the box directions for the chicken and you can either serve them in a bun OR turn it into chicken parmasean on top of pasta. Look at that, two meal ideas from one box... GOLD NUGGETS my friends :)

Crock pot ideas; You can drop your sausages (pork/turkey) in with a can of diced tomatoes and frozen corn on high for 6-8 hours and presto, ready meal. Serve over mashed potatoes. Make your kids peel the potatoes, it's good for them and will keep them busy for a long time. Not only that but they are so much more likely to eat the food they think they made and advocate for their siblings to do the same.

Roasts and chickens can go in with a couple of boullion cubes and chopped veggies. All you need to do is use the broth to make a gravy.

When you make a casserole to freeze line your dish with foil. When you've frozen it simply pop it out with the foil and put in a zip bag into the freezer. Don't forget to label it. Now your casserole dish is ready for further use and when you are ready to make that frozen meal, pop it back into the dish.

When you freeze just about anything-  Freeze it in a zip bag laying flat. It takes up less space and helps keep your freezer organized, especially if you only have the small fridge freezer compartment. Don't forget to label the bags and put on the cook time and temperature. Hello ??? We want our men to have no excuses ladies ! Pure gold...

My main idea with the menu planning is not so much that I have to have meatballs if I feel like casserole but this way I know I have all the ingredients I need in order to make enough dishes throughout the week and I don't end up frustrated trying to come up with creative meal ideas. I mean really, I can't be the only woman at 4:00 pm to look at a package of ground beef in total frustration.

Lastly, I was completely honest here. I marked down the times we ended up at McDonald's or otherwise. Life happens and oddly enough I get tired. Don't sweat it !

So, I challenge you to make a menu for at least a month. I do mine one week at a time. If you keep it up after a few months you will be surprised at how many meals you have in your repetoire and hopefully you will feel a little lighter knowing it's one less thing to think about !
On a side note. Blogging is a little complicated for me so I decided to try my hand on facebook. I created a page "Freeman's Homeschool and Frugal Life". Feel free to "like" it. I'm going to try and get more organized on that and save the blogging for when I have substantial things to share or when I figure out how to make it "better". Thanks !

Daughter of the King
Wife to Richard
Mother to five beautiful boys