Monday, November 25, 2013

Menu Planning

Okay.  I'll try to be back and present on the blog.  That was my longest absence yet.

I won't quite get you caught up in everything that's going on around here because it's a bit much, really.  And that kind of thinking stops me dead in my tracks and I won't write ever again.

Basically, I've been easing my way back into fulltime employment.  I'm not there yet, but it's threatening to happen in the new year.  Last November I started working a very casual job that quickly became not-so-casual.  This September it turned into a 20 hr/week  job which greatly cuts into my time spent on homemaking.  Part-time work sometimes doesn't make sense though.  Although it's only 20 hours a week, it means adding hours for travel and time for lunch every day and suddenly I find I'm away from home for 8 hours and only billing for 5. 

So an opportunity came up to apply for a fulltime job.  Maybe I wasn't ready, but it felt like it might have been a good fit.  I didn't get the job, but another one seems to be presenting itself right away which may work out better.  Anyway, we'll see what happens in the new year.

I've let some things in my life slip a bit.  Apples were picked and went bad.  Pears as well.  Swiss chard was left to freeze in the garden.   Kale as well.   A few leeks are also buried in the snow.  I missed my usual trip to the Okanagan for wine and fun, and I didn't can any peaches and only a bit of applesauce.

And I've only managed to watch Beth play one game of volleyball on her first-ever school team.  I hate that.  Way more than I regret not canning things.  I don't want to have to miss things that are important to the girls, especially while they still want me to watch.

I do realize that I can't do everything as if I wasn't working.  I'm really not beating myself up about it, but it is an adjustment. 

One of the things I've successfully been doing to help make things manageable is to plan my weekly meals.  Just the dinners. 

Once a week (Mondays), I sit down and try to watch a cooking show for inspiration.  Usually it's Rachel Ray's Week in a Day.  Then I plan my meals, go shopping and cook as much as I can for the week.  It doesn't eliminate the rush at dinner time totally, but it helps a whole lot.  It means that if I get home before Yvon, I can sit with the girls for a while and chat about our days, find out about homework or friends and keep in touch.   Dinner just needs reheating or a few things done to finish them.

For example, this was last week's menu.

       Potatoes, Corn,  Roast Pork Loin with apples (already in the freezer ready to go)

       Turkey bean casserole (So yummy - inspired by Rachel Ray)

       Gnocchi with creamy artichoke sauce (meh)

       Elk sausages, carrots and polenta (not everyone's favourite, but I love it)

Then when I had no ideas for Friday (and I don't  plan Saturday and Sunday), Alice filled in every blank day with "Sausage, sausage, sausage".  I guess I don't have to ask her what she likes for dinner anymore. We actually went out for dinner.  Which is precisely why I like to plan.  It's way to expensive to got out with 6 people (we had one friend with us) and means I worked all that day and only broke even.  What's the point of that? 

Lunches consist of leftovers, and weekends give us a chance to empty the fridge and have things like KD, scrambled eggs or pancakes.

One day last week (? maybe the week before) my neighbour called and asked if I wanted to grind fresh moose meat in his garage while he butchered one leg.  I went home with about ten packages of ground meat and stew meat.  Now I have to incorporate more game into our menus. 

This week's menu is:

      Curried chicken and veggies, coconut rice and gingerbread cake (brought to a monthly potluck dinner)

       Moose meat with BBQ sauce, stuffed potatoes and beans

      Moose shepherd's pie (I made an extra for my generous neighbour)

      Pasta with creamy shrimp sauce (I don't work Thursdays, so I didn't have to pre-make this)

     Shrimp and sprouts in rice wraps, ginger/soy dip

I've gone through phases of menu planning before, and just making the plan eases the stress of feeding my family every day.  Preparing as much as possible is helping that much more.

Is there anything you do that could help me even more?  As finals at school approach and my workload increases,  I may need as much help as I can get!