2 Ways To Avoid Menu Planning!

menu planning hacks
Soup is on the menu

Ladies of the House,

Can I get a raise of hands, who has yet to figure out the mysterious world of freezer meals and menu planning??? I am over here with both hands in the air! I can’t do it, I am just to spontaneous!

Menu planning is not enjoyable to me, because it involves thinking about food when I am not hungry! I also do not shop at a traditional  grocery store, as a general rule, so I don’t always have the same ingredients in my cupboards. When I am hungry for something specific, then is when I like to cook it! Menu planning also involves recipes and cookbooks! Cookbooks do not interest me much, never quite understood why some of my friends read them like they are a good novel! I am a dump and pour kind-of cook!

Apron wearing time!

But cook we must, because the little’s in our house depend on us to eat, so I will be the mom and wear the apron! I am discovering as my boys grow , that I know even less about cooking than I thought. These boys of mine eat like lumberjacks, this leaves me with very little leftovers. If you are a mom, you know that leftovers are GOLD!

I have discovered a few shortcuts that help me have leftovers for later meals and quick fix options on hand for the busy days!

#1 Precooking

What do I mean by precooking, you wonder?? Well as I type, there is a handy little maid at work in my kitchen called a crock-pot! This crock pot is cooking dry beans. A whole crock pot’s worth!! I’ll only need about 1/2 of that amount for the spanish rice for supper but, I’ll freeze the rest in my handy Tupperware freezer containers that hold about 2 c.. In a few days we will be in the mood for tacos or haystacks or seasoned beans and these little gems are just hanging out waiting to be used! Precooking can be done with rice, meat, root veggies, lentils, etc and then frozen or refrigerated ready for easy quick use!

I have found that dry beans and rice are very budget friendly items! These items are not time friendly tho, if you don’t plan far enough ahead. I have discovered by cooking extra every time I cook beans or rice and/or by precooking I am building a stash of quick-er fix meal options! Who doesn’t love that?

#2 Leftovers

The other item that is a sanity saver is leftovers!! Any kind of leftovers are my idea of menu planning! To cause this to happen, I have to cook more than what we actually need for the current meal!

Sometimes this looks like two pans of lasagna rather than just one, or baking 3 winter squash to mash and freeze, or cooking the whole big bag of frozen veggies at one time! I also like to make more potatoes (white or sweet) than needed because they fry up nice for an addition to eggs on Saturday morning! Leftovers turn into really great soup! A bit of leftover meat, a few different veggies, that last bit of onion,and those beans out of the freezer, and you have yourself a meal!!

The Hidden Bonus

I have discovered a hidden bonus in this type of cooking!! Less dirty dishes, this makes me happy!! When you precook or cook extra you do not make as many dirty dishes as when you cook each meal individually! I know this is not rocket science but, having the kitchen clean for longer than an hour is a win in my mind!

I am not knocking menu planning or freezer cooking at all, I wish it was in my skill set! If you are good at this than I am so happy for you! Keep up the great work. If you are like me and find this is not easy for you, take heart, try these tips, and do what works best for your family!

Now I gotta go, those beans might need more water and the wash in the washer was done an hr ago!

Dory ~ Copilot for The Delightful Cottage.

 

Breakfast Options For Busy Mom’s

Do you wonder what to eat some mornings? What breakfast options are there for busy moms?

Fruit loops,

supper left overs,

juice box,

granola bar,

Or ice water!

We all know that breakfast is a very necessary part of a successful day! Who doesn’t want a successful day? It just seems almost pointless to stop and eat some mornings, but if we have a bit of a plan it helps. Moms especially, need to feel good, the household depend on us!

I am not a morning person; night owl would describe me much better! But as life would have it, I am married to a man whose job takes him out of the house most mornings before the rooster even stretches on his roost! I arise and pack my man his lunch and make him a mug of hot coffee or tea! Honestly tho ladies who want to eat breakfast at the crack of crazy???

A breakfast plan is a life saver.

I have come up with a bit of a system to get breakfast in this mom’s face.             Two  breakfasts, yes, 2 breakfasts, one at 4-5 am and the second around 9 am.  In the early am I drink a mug of bulletproof coffee, because it is easy, I just made a hot pot of coffee for the Man. Once the boys are off to school I eat a yogurt with fruit, or granola. If I actually take time to cook a hot breakfast for the boys then I have that option, such as oatmeal, or cornmeal. Some mornings one of the boys or I make fried eggs, these can be consumed with a slice of cheese or sour dough bread.

Sometimes you just need the biggest mug possible!

This system has really helped me stabilize my blood-sugar levels. I also take my supplements with the mid-morning breakfast. You must do whatever works for you, But, not eating is not an option!

Ladies we must take care of ourselves, we are the guides and map writers for the next generation!  We can do this, we know it is best for our health, both physically and mentally!

Eat your meals,

Research and take supplements.

Jump and run with your children to get your heart rate up.

Fill your mind with positive encouragement from Gods word!

Show by example, let them see us doing what is good and right for our bodies. By making healthy choices for ourselves we then have the mental and physical health to do what is best for the family!

“Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates”   Prov. 31:31

Dory ~ Copilot for The Delightful Cottage!

3 ways to keep boys busy!

Boys at play

Y’all know the challenge of keeping boys busy. It is a sun-up to sun-down job!  It must be done, this is the only way to retain a sense of sanity and peace.

Boys are men in the making….take a  look around you at the good, full-grown, income producing, contributing, males in your life…. they are busy by choice! There are many ways to be busy, maybe it is mental and maybe its physical.

I have found for me, as a mom of all boys, that I must encourage them daily to stay busy! There is a lot less time for fighting and bickering and straight-up mischief! Here are three ways I use here at my house.

#1 SCHEDULED RESPONSIBILITY

I know, I know, I am one of the last people you expected that from, but stay with me a minute! I have very very simple schedules for the requirements around the house and the time slots they need to be accomplished in. This is only changed up about once a year.

By having this simple chore schedule there is no question who does what! I require these chores be finished before they are allowed extended screen-time. They are also responsible to empty their lunch bags after school (ice packs back in freezer, dirty dishes in sink, lunch cooler wiped out and stored correctly) as well as putting their own laundry away sometime during the evening.

Example: A simple schedule of the household chores they are responsible for, and who cares for what animals. Glenn does the kitchen on Tue Thur & Fri, The living-room on Mon. & Wed. and feeds the chickens morning and eve, Wyatt  Does those same Jobs on the opposing days  and he feeds the goats morning and eve. Reese is still in the chore learning stage but I assign him something each day (vacuum a specific area, line up shoes, shake out rugs, empty silverware) and he is responsible to feed & water the dog morning and eve.

Sweeping the floor while listening to music.

#2 Hobbies (an activity that is enjoyed more than once)

Hobbies are very important in any child’s development and should be encouraged. I also see this as a good time for them to work together with other siblings, or this may also be a good time to encourage independent play time!

EXAMPLE: Paper air planes were a big big deal here for Wyatt & Reese for several weeks. They worked together to perfect the craft and make the “best paper airplanes in the state”! Glenn is collecting the supplies right now to make knife and flashlight cases out of Kydex. These hobbies do not require a lot of parental assistance but provide hours of busyness that is productive and skill building.

Some other Ideas: Strategy Games, Puzzles, Lego’s, Good books,

#3 PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

As I mentioned above, boys are men in the making! There are few men who don’t enjoy physical activity of some type. It might be hiking or hunting, sports, weight lifting, running or working around their property. Boys need this as well, and it is a very important developmental issue especially for boys.

EXAMPLE: Put up a hoop so they can shoot baskets, Bikes to ride, a football, a set of 5lb dumbbells, a soccer ball and a net to kick into, the ideas are endless! Right now at TDC, basketball is the activity of choice, although Reese & Wyatt are also in a running challenge, they run around the outside of the house after school and see who can put in the most laps before they give up!

Boys enjoy things like riding their bikes over ramps, maintaining their bikes, working on small engines, Rip sticking in the garage, Throwing softball or football to each other.  Here at TDC they like to go and explore/hike the overgrown pasture behind our house.

I also have the boys help me with most of the physical jobs around the house such as mowing, power washing, weed-eating, washing the SUV & truck,  animal care (trimming goat hooves, cleaning out the chicken house, fencing issues) trimming bushes, and even mulching & weeding the garden & flower beds.

Small Engine Repair

One thing I will point out tho is, if you don’t have someone for your young man to play with, you may need to go out and catch the football or at least be a spectator/cheerleader. It is a good thing to show them that we value the activity, plus the fact that boys (and men) thrive on competition. Last Sunday the boys were all out together shooting hoops, and they called me out to tell me how far they had shot and made the basket. It doesn’t take much to let them know we value them!

And in the spirit of real life and honesty, these are our goals and they happen regularly but not absolutely always. I do find tho that we function well in this plan.

What are your favorite ways to keep your boys busy?

Go out and parent your children with confidence, this is love in its true form. You can do it!!

Dory ~ The Co-pilot of  The Delightful Cottage!