When it comes to crossing things off my “to do” list I have found I am best at big event planning, you know
holidays, trips, parties and classes, traditions, special occasions and simple celebrations.
And while planning a holiday party or putting together a child’s birthday party is easy breezy for me, the every day tasks are not. Unfortunately it is those everyday tasks that make up the majority of our lives.I think this is why I depend on schedules and routines. Without a schedule to direct me through my day I find myself wandering, overwhelmed by the many tasks that lay before me, uncertain of where to begin.
I love “one time events” because they can be crossed off the “to do” list and then you don’t have to think about them anymore.
– host Christmas party….check! Done.
It is the never-ending, daily tasks, those things that can never truly be completed, and reappear daily on my “to do” list, that leave me weary and resentful.
Nothing makes me want to cry more than walking past the laundry basket, minutes after I’ve folded and put away the last load of dirty laundry, and seeing a newly deposited pair of dirty socks taunting me from the bottom of the basket.
Or shutting off the light in my clean kitchen after washing dishes, sweeping the floor, and shining the sink, only to have a teenager pass by me with a dirty ice cream bowl in hand. All I want is ONE morning where I wake to an empty sink…Ahhh!
And then there are meals…
I feel like the majority of my life is spent planning meals, shopping for food, putting away food, preparing meals, and then cleaning them up.
Just imagine the time I would have on my hands if nobody wanted fed,
and it doesn’t matter how much I feed the troops, they always want to eat again when the next mealtime rolls around. :P
I try to remind myself daily of the great blessings associated with these daily chores:
How blessed we are to have the means to feed our children daily and tuck them into bed with full bellies.
How blessed I am to have a sink full of dirty dishes because it means everyone was fed.
How blessed I am to have a washer and drier in my home to wash those dirty clothes made by kids making childhood memories.
I know my ancestors would roll their eyes at my whining,
as they recall laundry taking all day to wash, done on the shores of a creek…
which is why I try to keep my grumbling to a minimum.
I know a day will come when I miss the fingerprints on the window and the mess of Legos on the living room floor.
As Thomas S. Monson said:
But even with that realization I can’t help but always be seeking an easier, more efficient way to tackle those never ending, daily tasks, so I can move on to the tasks I can actually cross of the “to do” list. :)
With the start of school and nightly football practices I have been searching out a better way to handle dinner preparations. Our evenings are full and I would love to spend more time sitting around the table eating with my family than fixing meals and eating it in a rush to get boys into bed on time.
As I was cleaning out my recipe book cabinet I came across a recipe book given to me years ago by a friend. She was in a season of life in which this book was a great blessing to her and she wanted to share this helpful tool. At the time I wasn’t in a season of life where I needed that time saving tool. I was home all day with little ones so I couldn’t relate to her time pressures,
but I took it gratefully
knowing someday it would be a blessing for me too.
That season has arrived and when I came across it in my cabinet I had a “Eureka” moment.
The book is:
And the premise is simple…
Devote a day to planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning up dinner and have meals for a month.
Rather than going through those steps daily you make it a big one time event for the month.
This REALLY appealed to my love of big event planning
and the best part:
At the end of the day I could actually mark “Make Dinner” off my “to do” list for the month!
Having never tried this before I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but having done it once I am sold. Not that I won’t allow for the flexibility of an impromptu menu change if I suddenly have the urge to cook, but how nice that I don’t have the dreaded “What’s for dinner?” question hanging over my head all day.
Having done it once and seeing the fruits of that labor, I can see how it would be a great solution for busy moms, single moms or working moms.
The process for making two weeks worth of meals to put in the freezer took us 3 hours. (Next round I’m going to try a month’s worth.)
The cookbook is broken up into sections based on the protein used in those dishes. There are a few chicken sections, beef, ground beef, turkey, pork, salmon, tuna, and vegetarian dishes.
I picked a chicken section and a ground beef section of recipes for our first time attempting this.
We began with grocery shopping. The beginning of each chapter of recipes has a shopping list printed out, already organized by sections of the grocery store, to make for easier shopping.
We came home, laid out all the groceries on the counter and turned to the next page in the book that listed all the advanced prep work needed. It is in this section you find out what meat needs precooked, which pasta needs preboiled, and what vegetables need to be chopped and sliced.
The kids were HUGE helps with this process and it became a fun family project as we worked together.
After the prep work was done we began assembling individual dishes. It was so easy since all the prep work was done.
Then each kid picked a recipe from that section of the cookbook to be in charge of. That completed recipe then became their dinner night meal that they would have been responsible for on their individual nights. Now they only have to warm it up and choose their side dishes when their dinner night rolls around.
During the next few hours we assembled 12 dinners. Each dinner was placed in a freezer bag or casserole dish, labeled with the date and cooking instructions and placed in the freezer. If additional ingredients were needed, like shredded cheese, we placed it in a smaller freezer bag and stapled it to the dinner bag.
It was a lovely thing watching the freezer fill with completed meals. :)
I also gave Molly the job of assembling salads for the week.
All over Pinterest you can find “salads in a jar.” It is the latest fad as you can see in this tongue-in-cheek definition of Pinterest:
It is a clever idea. You layer the ingredients of a salad in a large mouth mason jar, beginning with the dressing, meats and cheese, vegetables and top the jar off with lettuce or spinach. The result is fresh salad all week with none of the hassle of daily chopping.
Molly was in charge of making 10 salads in a jar.
By the time our cooking session ended we had 10 jars of salad and the following dinners in the freezer:
Cheese and Chicken Shells
Artichoke Chicken Bake
Chicken Mushroom Rolls
Spiced Chicken Sandwiches
Chicken Broccoli Noodles
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Meatballs and Sauce
Macaroni and Beef
Next time I think I’m going to try out some crock pot freezer meals that can be dumped straight into your crock pot in the morning and cook all day.
Since I must accept the fact that my family will continue to expect meals on a regular basis, regardless of my reminders that they just ate at the last meal, this seems like this is a good solution.
It is either this or a family 30 day fast.
Hmmm, I wonder….