Monday in my notebook – meal planning

Let me start with a disclaimer— we don’t have kids at home and my husband will eat anything I make and say thank you. Your mileage may vary.

I have been using this meal planning format for years. I created it as a Word document. On Saturday, I add the evening activities to the planner before I add any meals. There have been times when I would be gone during the dinner hour or had to leave right after dinner and that was an important factor. Then I fill out the meal plan and post it on the fridge door. This is very helpful when there was food in the fridge that needed to be reserved for a certain night. (Nothing worse than planning for leftovers only to discover the leftovers were gone!). I am current,y using a small white board on the fridge to list meals. Makes it easy to switch things around if needed. Once I have the meals planned, I can add things to the grocery list too. This has really made my once a week grocery store outing a lot more efficient.

After I plan our meals and write them on the board, I tape the paper meal planner into my notebook. (This is a new step and is helping me keep track of what I am eating.) I don’t have to leave the house for meetings but I do have a few evening/online activities so I still put those in first. Friday night is always wine and cheese so that is easy. Then we have Meatless Mondays and Taco Tuesdays. One or maybe two nights we have some sort of bowls (Thai, burrito, curry). I try to have one night for leftovers and one night for pasta or the occasional pizza. I am working toward more plant based eating so on the flip side of the planner, I am making notes about recipes. In the box with the heart, I write down some prep ahead ideas. On Sunday afternoons I like to chop veggies and make a batch of rice and quinoa so they are ready to go. This week I made black bean burgers one night but the recipe made 6 burgers so I froze four.

Looking ahead is a huge part of successful meal planning. I love to have a salad every night but I don’t like the chopping part. When the veggies are all chopped and stored in the fridge, it makes having a salad more likely. Same with rice. If it just needs to be warmed, it takes away that “oh man, I’d want to eat now and the rice will take 40 minutes!” I also cook more chicken than we need for the week and freeze that too.

My next project is figuring out how to store my favorite recipes, I have a big pile of printed recipes and a few stacks of recipe cards. But that story is for another day. If you have notebook stories to share, be sure to visit Katie too.

Fiber Friday

Sewing is my first fiber love. I learned to sew when I was six and return to it time after time. For me, sewing is a great stress buster. This is the first time I have tried this type of a post. Please be gentle with me.

I am working on eating a more plant based diet. That means I wanted to cut down on spoilage so I don’t need to go to the store more than once a week. I searched articles about how to store veggies and learned a lot! A few mentioned using muslin or mesh bags. I know we can’t take our own bags to the store but I am transferring them to my cloth bags as soon as I come home. I thought I would share my process for the produce bags I made. My bags are patterned after something I saw online. I know there are Etsy stores selling fabric food storage bags too. I have been using them for a few weeks and I am happy to get my greens out of the plastic for storage. I am going to make a few more for cucumbers and radishes. These are very basic instructions. If you have questions, I am happy to give more details.

I cut the fabric 12” x 16” – I made my own bias tape because I was out of packaged tape. The fabric I used is a muslin with a waffle texture. I think you could do this with regular muslin, maybe doubled to give is more shape. I bought this at Joann’s last summer – around $5 a yard. The selvage edge is finished enough that I didn’t add binding to that edge.
Sew bias tape along one 12” edge. Fold the fabric up 5” and pin the two longer edges.

Sew bias tape on the two longer edges (where the fabric is pinned). Turn the upper and lower edge of bias under so you have a smooth edge.
And you are done! I am using this size for my salad greens. I wash the greens and put them into the fridge still a bit damp. They are staying really fresh and crisp and I don’t have my greens wrapped in plastic.

On being busy

Someone, maybe Anne Lamott or Brene Brown, has written about busy-ness becoming a badge of honor. And I am noticing how often the response to “How are you?” is “So busy,”

I have been wondering if this being so busy thing might actually be cultivating rudeness. Yesterday a young store clerk was giving me the “if you get our store credit card” speech, (which I am sure they are required to give). I looked at her and smiled while she gave all the glorious details and then said, no thank you. She said “Thanks for letting me finish. Most people stop me and won’t look at me when I am ringing their purchase.”

Being too busy makes me distracted. What am I missing? Because some of those things I pass without looking might have been the brightest of moments in my too bust day. A wise co-worker told me that I need to get away from my desk and eat lunch with people. And she was right. Those lunch conversations are the place where we build relationships.

Most of us pack our days to the hilt. I know when I am feeling that crunch, I am mostly responsible for feeling stretched. I try to see where I could have said no or even more realistically, where I am making a task more important than it needs to be. Funny how the world keeps moving even when my TO DO list isn’t completed.

Next week, Courtney Carver is hosting a Busy Boycott. My first thought was, I don’t need one more thing on my list. But I am currently reading Courtney’s book and I think she might have something I need to hear. Let me know if you are joining in.

Three Things

Last week we had a food box from Hello Fresh arrive on the porch. Our daughter had told me about trying this meal delivery option and she had a coupon code for a free box. Can’t beat the price. So I hopped online and placed an order for three meals. Here are three things (thanks Carole)triggered by my Hello Fresh experience:

  1. I love to cook – I seemed to have forgotten that lately but preparing these three meals helped me remember how much I used to like making dinner.
  2. Herbs are an important part of a delicious meal. One meal has a dill sauce and used fresh dill – it was very good! I have herbs in my garden, I just need to relearn how to use them to jazz up my cooking.
  3. Leftovers are an important part of cooking for us. I rely on leftovers for lunches and this plan only included enough for two people/one meal.

I won’t be ordering another box but I will be pulling out my cookbooks and getting back into a food prep/cooking routine.