Making My Life Easier: Menu Planning

Twenty-nine years times 365 equals 10,585

Why that calculation?

That is approximately how many times I have had to make a decision about dinner. Now obviously, I have not made dinner that many times over the course of the last twenty-nine years, but probably pretty darn close to that number.

No wonder I am stuck in a rut and just a bit plain tired of planning dinner each and every week.

A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook recently about dinner planning and all that goes into it.

It is just not planning what to eat each night of the week.

When I sit down on Monday morning to plan our week of dinners, I look at the weather, who is going to be home each night, what ingredients we have on hand, is anything on sale, what additional items I need to purchase, what ingredients need to be prepped, does anything need to be taken out of the freezer, when do things need to be taken out of the freezer…. I think you get the picture.

Obviously, my individual family situation is much different than many other families.

Up until a couple of years ago, I was pretty much a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom with time to shop for and prepare a good portion of our meals.

But now that I am substitute teaching a good number of days a month, and traveling to Compassion events at least once a month, my schedule is all over the place.

And our kid’s work schedules are not consistent.

So, to make my life easier, a few months back, we had a family meeting to discuss menu planning and dinner.

The solution…our two adult children are each responsible for dinner one night a week.

This week, our menu looks like this:

Menu planning

I have even started making notations for each day so I know who will be home for dinner.

This is just one thing I have implemented that is making my life easier these days.

What one thing are you doing to make your life easier?

Baking Bucket List

At the beginning of this year, I wrote down a few goals I wanted to accomplish this year. Since I love to bake, I decided to make a list of things I have never made before. My list included the following:

Baking Bucket List

Basically, this is my Baking Bucket List for 2019.

As you can see, I have not made much progress.

But I have made a couple of batches of macaroons (macarons? does anybody know the correct way to spell this word?):

Making macaroons
homemade macaroons

I still have quite a bit of almond flour, so I really should make another batch or two and experiment with different flavors and colors.

They really are not too difficult to make, you just need to make sure to really pay attention to the details.

And bagels?

Homemade sourdough bagels
Homemade bagel and coffee

I have been using a homemade sourdough bagel recipe from this cookbook: Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa

If you have a sourdough starter, you will want to give the bagel recipe a try. They are so delicious and really easy to make.

As far as the rest of my baking bucket list, I am not sure how many recipes I will try this summer.

After all, summer is not the usual time of year to spend a lot of time in the kitchen with the oven on.

What would you put on your baking bucket list?

Bringing a bit of Italy home to our table

After spending ten days in Italy last month, all I want to do now is learn to make homemade pasta, cappuccinos, croissants, and authentic Pasta e Fagioli.

If anyone has the most amazing recipes for any of these, please feel free to pass them along!

Over the past few years, I have made a Pasta e Fagioli recipe, but when I ordered it for dinner one night in Orvieto, the recipe I make looks nothing like this:

Pasta e Fagioli in Orvieto Italy

It was cold in Italy and all I wanted was a bowl of soup for dinner. This was so amazing! Rather than being tomato based like I was used to at home, this was more like a white bean soup filled with homemade pasta.

So I began to search the internet for a recipe that might be similar and I was happy to find one and made sure to add it to one of my Pinterest boards.

This week, I added the ingredients to my grocery list:

Ingredients for Pasta e Fagioli

Today was the day to give the recipe a try:

Homemade Pasta e Fagioli

This recipe came together pretty quickly. Since I have not tried to make homemade pasta yet, this is probably as close as I am going to get to the soup I had in that restaurant in Orvieto.

Have you ever tried Pasta e Fagioli like this?

My To Do List

As much as I love technology and all that is available to do with technology, there are a few paper things I still enjoy.

I prefer actual books over my Kindle.

I prefer to write out my grocery list on paper over any app I have found.

And I prefer a 'to do' list on paper over my phone.

I know there are many systems and apps out there.

I have tried many systems and apps.

Here is the thing...whoever created any particular system or app, that system or app worked well for that person. Maybe the person shared that system or app and it worked well for a bunch of people. Doesn't necessarily mean the system or app will work for you or me.

Maybe you have tried countless systems or apps, and none of them work for you.

That is okay.

Why?

Because you have to find what works for you.

Just because 'something' works well for 'everyone', doesn't mean it is right for you.

So why am I sharing about my to do list?

Because it works for me.

And maybe it might work for you.

It is simply a junior legal pad and a pen.

My To Do List

This is not a daily to do list.

I started this list on Monday, and today is Friday.

I added things to the list each day this week.

Some of these things I finished earlier in the week.

Some of these things I finished yesterday.

As you can see, I still need to do a couple of things on this list.

I keep a running to do list because there are things I need to remember to do, and I won't remember to do them unless I write them down.

So now that this blog post is written, I need to write letters to my Compassion kids!

How do you keep track of your to do items through the week?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kickstart to Clutter Free - Day 14

Finally, I have made time to tackle day 14 of Kathi Lipp's Kickstart to Clutter Free challenge! Today's challenge...the Dining Room...

Kickstart to Clutter Free - Dining Room

This is what my dining room looked like this morning. Yes, there is a bunch of stuff on the table and on that end chair. The dining room table is an easy place for me to dump stuff as we come into the house. Flat surfaces and I are constantly having a battle in our home. I know what I 'need' to do, but there are times when I am just too lazy to tackle it.

So this morning, I grabbed my Kickstart to Clutter Free checklist and started working on clearing off the table.

Kickstart to Clutter Free - Day 14

First thing I did was correct and look through my daughter's school work. As a homeschool mom, this is a constant task for me. But rather than put her books at her place on the table, I actually walked them back to her room. Less clutter on the table!

Then I started working my way through old mail and other things that found they way to trying to be permanent fixtures on the table.

I changed out the table cloth and stopped for some flowers on our way home from Bible study.

Kickstart to Clutter Free - Day 14

Amazing how just 15 minutes of clearing out the clutter can change the look of a room!

Now I know it has taken me a whole lot longer than 14 days to complete this challenge, but I am glad I was able to make it work around my life. I am looking forward to doing some deeper de-cluttering around our home over the next few weeks and months.

If you are looking to start de-cluttering your home, I really recommend Kathi's Kickstart to Clutter Free challenge. Just think, in 14 days you can clear out over 500 items in your home!