Monday, December 24, 2012

Meal Planning Saved My Life

Meal Planning Saved My Life

(or just saves me gobs of time)

Many ladies have asked me about my once a month meal planning. I promised to post my menu from last month on Face Book, but I’ve decided to blog about it instead. I hear all the time from other mamas about how they should be better at meal planning or how they could never plan a whole month at a time. It’s really not that difficult. It just takes a 2-3 hour commitment once a month, a good day planner, your collection of recipes, and some peace and quiet. I know that last part will be the hardest to come by :oD

Before I post my menu from last month let me give you a few tips and ideas to maximize your efforts. 

  1. I’m sure you all do like me. You print out a recipe you find on the net and then it disappears, gets thrown away, or ruined. Well, no more!  Get a 3” three ring binder to place all of your recipes in. Buy clear report sleeves to slide in your recipes. This keeps them clean and easily organized. You can also conveniently tear a page out of a magazine with a recipe on it, slide it in your sleeve, and try it out when you feel inspired. Organize your recipes in any way you like. Mine are in this order; breads, soups, main dishes, sides, desserts, drinks, and “to try later”. I also have a box of recipes on index cards.

  2.  Go through your recipes and find your favorites. Now is the time to plan for a small budget or upcoming holidays in mind.

  3.  Get a nice Day Timer. I use one from Walmart called Family Plus. It’s a perfect weekly/monthly all in one planner and will fit most needs for being organized.

  4.  Plan out holidays or special meals first. This allows you to get the hard stuff out of the way and gives you an idea of how to budget the rest of the month’s meals. For me I go straight for the holidays - and there are a lot in the Bible :D- and birthdays, again there are a lot when you have nine kids. After that I just start planning out the rest of the month saving Sabbath meals (Saturday) for planned freezer meals. This keeps my prep day more gratuitous, if you know what I mean. 

  5. As you pencil in your meals for the week, write down the grocery list directly at the top of your planner (if you use the one I suggested there is a place for this). This saves time and keeps some of the monotony at bay. I shop for all of my non-perishables and freezable foods once a month. This tremendously cuts down the time I spend during my weekly shopping trips. Not everyone can do that, but you will still have your weekly list already made out for you. It’s so nice not to have to worry about it on a weekly basis.

I’ve always wanted to do the whole Once a Month Cooking thing, but cooking 30 meals for 11 people sounds like a breakdown just waiting to happen. What I can do is double quite a few of my meals to freeze for another time in the month. It takes very little extra time to double your meal since you’re already chopping, peeling, sautéing, etc. anyway. For example; one of my meals was Fettuccini Primavera, Salad, and Garlic Knots. I doubled the veg part of the Primavera, bagged half in a freezer bag, and labeled it Fettuccini Primavera. It was then put in the freezer for whatever day we would have that meal later in the month when I would thaw it and prepare the rest of the meal. All that was left for me to do was boil pasta, throw a salad together, and make garlic knots (these can also be pre-made and frozen). The other nice thing about having pre-made meals in the freezer is when you don’t feel like having whatever is planned out that day you can grab one of your freezer meals instead. This works out nicely when you have a particularly taxing day or kids get sick.

 So, here it is: 
November Menu 

This will give you an idea of what I do and how it works. I’m not including recipes. THAT would be too much work ;) If you want you can just Google the recipe and find one that will work for your family.

I hope this blesses your home as it has blessed mine.

Friday, December 14, 2012

I Love Fluffy Bottoms


Yes, I love fluffy bottoms with leopard prints. I never, and I mean n e v e r, thought I would be that weird, crunchy, cloth diapering mom. I mean that’s just sick. Ya know! But here I am. Sitting back watching all those other moms with their babies in those old plain, white, noisy diapers with the exact same character on them as everyone else’s kid and thinking to myself, “my baby sure does look super cute in her awesome fluff that makes her bottom look twice as big.” You want to know what’s worse?!? Come a little closer and I’ll whisper it. Shhhhh! I make and use reusable baby wipes. There. I said it. I know what you’re thinking, cause I thought the same thing. Gross, right?!  Not even close.

Cloth diapering has opened up a whole new world to me. Anyone who cloth diapers or has looked into cloth diapering these days knows that there are about a jillion different options and levels of commitments. Seriously! It’s mind blowing. I began this adventure almost a year and a half ago and if you read my original post My New Adventure you’ll know that I made a commitment to CDing no matter what. Well, I stuck to it and it’s been almost too easy.

A jillion different options. You think I’m kidding!? Just do a search for cloth diapers and see how many different companies, types, fabrics, colors, shapes, sizes, etc. come up. The list goes on and on. I’ve used just about every type of CD that’s out there which is important since every baby is different and every momma’s needs and preferences are diverse. It’s good to find a friend or CD community that you can draw knowledge and experience from. I had a friend give me multiple types of diapers, so I was able to get a feel for what I liked best.

What am I using a year and a half later? Pretty much the cheapest pocket diaper out there. I started out using pre-folds and covers. I thought they were nice and easy until I ordered two KaWaii bamboo minky pocket diapers from theluvyourbaby website. Is it possible to fall in love with a diaper???I do believe it is :o) And it was love at first sight. Anyone who has gotten fluff mail can tell you how exciting it is to open up that package and pull out the coolest accessory a baby can wear. It was so soft and fluffy and bright and….well, I know... it’s just a diaper, but it felt like the Ferrari of diapers to me. These diapers cost me less than $11 each which is a great price considering the piece of junk Fuzzibunz brand diapers cost me $20 bucks a pop. Those things didn’t hold in vapor.

My KaWaii bamboo minkies are soft, absorbant, easy to use and care for, adorable to look at, and nowhere near as bulky as most CDers. I have about 20 of them and they’re just as beautiful and functional as when I first purchased them. They come with two inserts and I use them both. I have a toddler and a two y.o. who wear them at night with only a rare leak to speak of. That’s way less than when I used disposables. What’s even more amazing is in almost a year and a half I’ve only had one blow out of the back of the diaper and it happened just the other day. A.MAZE.ING. I’ve never had a disposable hold in messes like these do. The few times that I’ve used disposables since my journey in CD Land I've found myself grumbling under my breath about how I "hate stupid disposables." And I sure hate throwing money in the trash, too!

If you want to know all the mesmerizing details of my CD life (the how tos) you’ll have to check out my next post :o)