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I am relearning the value of meal planning and organizing my grocery list.
After a few hectic weeks, lots of frustration and a constantly disorganized home, I had to face reality and get back to the basics. I got myself a new inspiring cook book called Eating Forward by local Albertan Sandi Richard and pulled out my grocery list and meal planner. in this book Sandi explains how planning your meals is in fact a way to serenity in ones life. I agree. She advocates that eating together as a family can restore good health, financial balance and happiness.
What I am loving about this book, is it has easy to follow recipes, shopping lists and a well rounded philosophy.
In the back of the book, it has a shopping list for the evening dinners that is easy to put on my grocery list. I fill in the rest for lunches, snacks and household cleaners as needed. After a much simplified grocery shop, we are set for the week. I enter the week with a plan knowing that each day will not be faced with the dreaded, "what am I going to make tonight?"
Each night we pull out the cook book and get busy together as a family.
The meals include not only the main course, but a nutritious compliment of sides, so you can prepare a whole meal. The kids pick one part each to prepare and are happy to be part of the project. They chop, mix and measure and enjoy the time to create. As we get familiar with the recipes and the individual needs of each one, I think we will become better at pulling these meals together. So far we have had some home runs and a few that are borderline. My kids still are at the phase where they prefer their foods separate rather than mixed up.
We are two weeks in, and I am already feeling the tides shifting.
The order in my home is restored and I am feeling like captain of this ship. I have had the brilliant opportunity once again to witness how wonderful the Meal Planning and Grocery List pad I created years ago really does work at any level you are at. This time I needed some new inspiration and have found it in Sandi's cookbook. I needed someone else to take the reigns for a while as my creativity for meals was stuck on repeat.
Now I am finding that as this area of my life has been relieved, my creativity is returning for other areas.
For example, this morning for Halloween, I made some ghoulish Zombie fingers. Made with cheesy biscuits and pumpkin seeds for fingernails, I rolled the dough into long ghoulish fingers. I felt happy knowing I could engage once again at this funny level and bring joy to my family first thing in the morning.
One thing that delights my senses is a trip to the
farmers market with my kids. We arrive early on a Friday morning to avoid
weekend crowds and are joined by throngs of retirees and other moms. Quickly we
are drawn into one of our favourite stands and are met with the gorgeous colors
of all the farm fresh vegetables. It is like they have been waiting for us.
All of us immediately find our moods heightened and are exploring the tantalizing
fruits and vegetables with our eyes. We are competing with each other to notice
the amazing foods we have discovered. Hearing lots of "ooos," "aahs," and "look
over here's"! The kids have become just as excited about fresh food as I am.
What really makes me glow is when they discover a new food and are curious to
ask " what's this Mommy?" Then comes the wonderful conversation to discover
something new. I usually answer with "let's give it a try."
This week we discovered the most gorgeous dragon fruit.
I had always been intimidated to try it due to the high cost at our grocery
store. But on this day they looked too enticing to pass up. At the checkout we
asked the clerk if she knew how to eat what we were feeling was an exotic fruit.
She told us to slice it in half and scoop it out. She explained that it would
taste similar to a kiwi.
When we did cut it open, we were delighted to find the
most beautiful colors. Inside was white flesh with small poppyseed like seeds
and the most luxurious pink outside. The color alone was just amazing. We all
sank our spoons in with great abandon and were met with the most refreshing
fruit flavour. Needless to say we devoured it.
The only thing missing was a fear to try something new, and the familiar "I don't like it" before they try.
After years of similar kinds of experiences, I see a wonderful connection with
my kids to food. They want to participate in buying, making, eating and
exploring new recipes with it. Not all discoveries are a home run, but the
conversation is open at least. I hope these experiences will inform them to take
risks in other areas of their lives too as they grow older. In the moment,
though, I am thrilled to have them dive into a box of raspberries or cherries
with the same kind of joy that I have. To giggle and delight in the simple
pleasure of fresh food. That makes me feel good.
Simply Mom Approved
I believe in good food; food that tastes good and is good for
you. To feed my family of five, I had to get organized, to feed them the way I
wanted. I created a list that could work with my changing tastes, and level of
organization. This is my list and I hope it works for you too.
Kim McCrimmon B.A. M.E.des
1. Get the right tools - Find a meal planning and grocery list tool that works for you. Consider using a tool like
the Unbusy on Purpose Grocery List and Meal Planning pad so you can keep track of what you need, delegate jobs, and easily see your list as you do your shopping.
2. Get out your recipe books - Pick the recipes you would like to cook. Plan for leftovers and freezing options. Keep track of the page numbers.
3. Shop the sales - Get out a big sharpie and grocery store flyers. As you look through the flyer, circle the
items that are of interest to you. Keep track of these items on your grocery list. My neighbour makes a spreadsheet with the list of stores on top and items down the side as a tool to compare prices. I just choose the store with the best overall sale to suit my needs. My favourites are buy one get one free. I have saved hundreds of dollars buying non perishables that way.
4. Stock up and save - As you are shopping the sales, pay particular attention to non- perishables, paper products
and meats. I rarely ever pay full price for toilette paper anymore. Whenever I see it on sale, I buy in bulk. Meat is another great way to save. If you stock up on the meat on sale, you can freeze it. Each week if you do this, you will
have a freezer full of an assorted variety of meat.
5. Keep freezing bags and pans on hand - Make sure to stock up on various sizes of zip lock freezer bags and
tins to freeze your favourite meals and leftovers.
6. Make a plan - Use a meal planning tool like the Unbusy on Purpose Meal Planner pad to map out how you would like to eat for the week. Include spots for leftovers, eating out and special events. Here you can plan what you need for school
lunches and dinners before evening activities.
7. Make your list - Use a grocery list like the Unbusy on Purpose Grocery List pad to keep track of all
the items you have chosen. Easily navigate the grocery store, make more nutritious choices, save money and time and better reflect your eating preferences.
Getting unbusy on purpose has been a process. I'm here to share some of what I have learned and the tales of its making.
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