|Tuesday night's Mince & Macaroni, with vegetables.|
I have been feeling a bit out of control lately. My house is a mess (no surprise there, for those who know me!); it was getting to 5 o'clock every afternoon and I would dread having to think of something for dinner, going from the fridge to the pantry and back again on the hunt for ingredients to throw together, invariably cooking up a quick pasta dish. Again.
The constant state of disarray was doing my head in. I was becoming one very grumpy mummy.
Enter 'Planning With Kids'. The release of this book couldn't have been more perfect. It came out just as I was throwing my hands in the air and crying "something has got to give!!". The purchase was done online. The delivery was the very next day. The day after that, I'd finished reading it. I felt hope. An enormous amount of hope. Here was a plan that I could use. I wasn't being preached at and told I was a horrible person for being out of control, I was being shown how planning certain aspects of my day - such as meals and housework and all those other repetitive tasks - would leave me with more time and energy to focus on the fun parts of being a mum.
As my first step, I put together a menu plan. You can find a template on Nicole's blog, here. I took certain aspects of Nicole's plan and added my own little things - I have included the regular activities for each day, plus extra activities that might be on, as well as my husband's roster (he does shift work). I decided it would be no good planning a roast if we were out all day and a night shift was on the cards. I needed it all out in front of me, so I could then plan that night's meal. I ended up doing a plan for 4 weeks - both my daughter (nearly 4) and my bub (8 months) fell asleep while I was working on the spreadsheet for week 1, so I figured I may as well keep going! In future, I will do 2 weeks at a time - I was running out of ideas by the end of the 4th week.
Once my menu plan was printed (each week a different colour, just to look snazzy) and stuck up on the pantry door, it was time to go grocery shopping. I was absolutely amazed at how little I came home with. I didn't have to grab 6 packets of pasta to allow for that last minute cooking frenzy each night. I didn't need any 'just in case' purchases. For once, I really did only need what was on my list. I bought a lot more fruit and vegetables than usual, knowing they would be used and not end up as alien life-forms in my refrigerator.
And the results? Well....there have been a few hiccoughs. For example:
- Night one's peanut chicken apparently burnt my daughter's mouth, so she decided not to eat it. We also had complaints about having it with rice instead of pasta. It seems some habits are hard to break.
- Night two's mince and macaroni, which I assumed would be a huge hit, was met with outrage after I dared to serve it with vegetables.
- Night three's pumpkin soup was enjoyed by all. Well, my daughter loved it at lunch time. Just not at dinner time, when she decided she hated pumpkin soup.
- Night four's meatloaf with vegetables was actually eaten and enjoyed by all. Hooray!!
- Night five was a night off - I went out with my sister and the 2 big kids had a sleep-over at their Nanna and Grandad's. Hubby bought himself Chinese takeaway.
- Night six was leftovers - the 2 big kids had the meatloaf and hubby and I had pumpkin soup.
- Night seven's corned beef with vegetables started off shakily, with claims of it not being liked, but ended with every plate empty and every tummy full.
My next change will be a housework plan. I'll let you know how we go.