Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Cooking meals is not my favorite thing in the world. Scratch that. I actually really dislike the hold that meal prep has over my life. If I were to list in order of preference, even cleaning toilets comes before cooking. Granted, most of that has to do with the fact that toilet cleaning takes less time and doesn't have to happen 3+ times a day, but still, it says something.
Breakfast is a fairly simple affair, if anything can be simple with 5 kids. Roman has 1 piece of toast with cinnamon sugar and a couple bowls of cereal. He can manage his meal himself. Deacon has toast, which he can do himself, although I usually help him with it if I am in the kitchen. Lincoln has toast as well. Berean has toast or cereal or a banana. She is not a big breakfast girl. Everyn eats toast and bananas. I eat toast.
Not too complicated, but that is a lot of toast to decorate.
For lunch we have mac and cheese, french toast, pancakes, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, pizza, dutch babies, waffles, eggs, quesadillas. We have fruit, yogurt and applesauce for snacks.
But supper is so daunting. After we finish up school for the day, and I tidy up the house and take care of any other random things that need to be done- the absolute last thing I want to do is make supper. Especially since I usually don't have a plan.
I do make freezer meals, but Noah doesn't like to have those every night of the week, and it does take a fair amount of time to make them all at once. We usually eat one freezer meal a week, and I think that adds a nice balance.
I have tried to plan the weeks menu and make up my shopping list, but I will be honest with you: it doesn't happen. I may plan the menu but not get the list made, or I may not ever get to either, or I may miss my opprotunity to get to the grocery store and end up sending Noah without a list because of a time crunch. Even if I get to the store, I gotta make sure I have the recipes and that I prep what needs to be prepped and often all those things just don't come together.
All of this food drama leads to multiple trips to the store, random meals, pizza all accompanied by a lot of mealtime stress.
What to do? What to do?
Last month I joined emeals. (this is in no way an endorsement for emeals, they don't even know I am writing this. This is just me saying what I am using for meal planning right now). I signed up for the Paleo family plan and now once a week they email me the recipes and a grocery list for 7 paleo-style meals.
I don't make 7 suppers a week, so when I get the email, I print it out and glance over it. I highlight the 4-5 meals that I am going to make and cross the items off the grocery list for the meals I am declining (this is super easy because the grocery list is all numbered by which meal it goes to). I see if I have any of the items in my cupboard or freezer and cross those off too. All this takes approximately 10 minutes.
I set the list aside and grab it or give it to Noah when one of us has a chance for the weekly shopping trip. Come home from the store and pin the recipes to the refridgerator. Whoever is home to make dinner can just grab a recipe, knowing that all the ingredients are in house and ready to go.
Some of the meals are crockpot, some need to be marinated before hand, but on the Paleo diet everything is pretty simple and healthy.
The picture above is part of our supper tonight (isn't it pretty?) We are eating lots of veggies, but they are prepared well and have been delicious. There is usually enough food for Noah to take for the lunch the next day, and the boys have been no more whiny than usual.
Yes, I am taking time to prepare meals but I gotta tell you, the stress is (for the most part) gone. I am finding that I actually dislike it a lot less when I actually have everything right there and I don't have to go hunting or discover that the can of beans I thought I had was really corn.
I am hoping that I don't just love this for awhile and then get tired of it, I am hoping that it inspires me to be more creative in the kitchen, to make healthier meals and to get my kids to be more adventurous!