Skip to main content

Avoiding Convenience Foods

Photo Credit http://www.whattomakefordinner.org/
I absolutely know what it's like to be dog tired. I know what it's like to get to the end of the day and realize that I haven't even THOUGHT about dinner.

I also know the temptation to drive to the drive thru at that point. I've been there and done that.

Fast food and even most store-bought convenience foods are hard on the budget. And over the last few years we have gradually cut out 95% of our fast food/convenience food consumption. I do still buy the occasional box of Dino Bites and even less often we go for fast food.


The thing is, I still have days where I'm dog tired...and realize at the end of the day that I have no idea what we're gonna have for dinner. All of this has been a learning experience for me and I've discovered that there are a few things that profoundly effect the peace of our home around 5 o'clock in the evening and make dinner a much more pleasant experience for my whole family.

1.  Meal planning. I don't do anything fancy. There are some really cute, free (woohoo! who doesn't love free stuff?!) menu planning pages out there. Sometimes I'm all fancy and use one of those and sometimes I use a blank sheet of paper that nobody but me could make heads or tails of. My family really enjoys it when I post my menu plan on the fridge so they can check it and either get excited about dinner or check their attitude and count their blessings that they get to have their least favorite meal instead a bowl of grasshoppers.

I should note that I don't necessarily decide in advance on what day we will have which meal. Sometimes I just make a list of the assortment of meals we'll have for the next two weeks and then decide on a daily basis what we'll actually have on that day.

2.  Make a grocery list based on my meal plan. I try to base my menu plan around a few key ingredients. Like if one recipe calls for half of a whole chicken I would either have that meal twice or find another recipe that calls for the other half of the chicken...so I don't end up wasting half a chicken because we're having beef all the other nights...you know what I mean?

3.  Make a big batch of ingredients that take a while to cook, like brown rice (which takes 25-40 minutes) and beans (which can take HOURS to prepare) to keep in the fridge (I know that you can buy canned beans but I just think dried beans are healthier). Tonight I did a variation of Cheesy Beef and Rice. The rice was already cooked so I threw it in the casserole, and since I had them in the fridge I included lentils...so I cut at least half an hour off of dinner prep time (and the dishes I would have had to dirty to cook them are already done!).

4.  I unload my dishwasher before starting dinner prep so all I have to do is stick the dishes in as I am done using them and most of the dishes are done before we even have dinner. The kids are also in the habit now of putting THEIR plates in the dishwasher. So I don't have a sink full of dishes staring me down and overwhelming me after dinner and I can sit and enjoy dinner with my family in a stress free environment!

Convenience foods are...convenient but it's not that difficult to make homemade dinners more doable. And nothing beats the fun (and confidence boost) of my kids trying to think of the name I should give the restaurant they think I should be head chef of.

And that works for me!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Who is Gonna Tell the Child?

Last night, for the first time, our family had the privilege of attending an Eagle Scout ceremony. 
Our oldest boys were asked to be a part of the ceremony.  They were put in charge of the ceremonial fire.  Fire.  In a public building full of people and expensive things. FIRE. :)

As a recovering helicopter parent I appreciate situations like this one because I almost always learn something from them.

I've read a lot of parenting books. But in recent years I think that God has really redefined my view of my job as a parent. I see my job as more of a guide. I give them a job, some instructions if/when necessary and then I step back to let them figure it out. It's my job to get them ready to fly off into the sunset without me.

Events like this one often teach me about an area where I haven't given them growing room. So I go away better prepared and more enlightened about what my kids are capable of.

Anyway, one of my favorite parts of the ceremony happened when the young man …

Help Wanted

The other night I saw the movie The Help. I read the book a few months ago and I couldn't put it down!!

While I will admit that I did enjoy the book a bit more than the movie (some of the castings didn't seem quite right to me) I did enjoy both a good deal.

What gets me most in stories like that (and about the Holocaust) is not the actual perpetrators of the crimes...because they actually are deluded into thinking they are right (and as much as I hate to admit it...and I pray it is not to that grotesque extent...we all have blind spots). What gets me is the people who see that the crimes are wrong but are too afraid of what will happen to them or what their friends will think if they actually do the right thing (like Skeeter's mother).

Well, I know you'll probably find this dramatic...but from what I hear people who blog tend to be on the dramatic side...so...I guess it's to be expected.

Today while I was walking home from my 5k training there was a woman unloading…

Exhibit A

Being the mom of five wild indians makes my life interesting.

Exhibit A:

Yesterday I loaded them all into our Wild Indian Wagon and stopped to get gas.

Okay, so apparently our local fillin' station has had problems with people leaving the pump nozzles clicked down and spilling gas everywhere so they took the little whatchamacallits that hold the trigger on the nozzle down off. And a 47 gallon tank  takes a while to fill when you've run the tank purty near empty.

Meanwhile...back at the ranch...err...back inside the Wild Indian Wagon...my very wild Wild Indians decided to reenact Custer's Last Stand...on a very small scale since I'm pretty sure Custer and the Native Americans had a much larger space to battle it out in than the backseat of a Suburban.

I'm pretty sure you couldn't get hydraulics to make that thang move in the way it was moving. For reals...you know in cartoons when a group of kids gets into a fight and all you see is a cloud? There's a reaso…

Gettin' Real

It's no secret that I was pregnant when I got married (I do want to be clear, getting pregnant was not the sin, the actions that led to it are).  I'm pretty open about it.  Not because I'm proud, I am absolutely NOT proud of it.  But it's my past.  It's my story. It's my mess. It's part of the story of how God has redeemed my life from the pit.

I am saved. My sins are gone, I've been set free.

I'm still learning to live in a constant state of free-ness...I have a tendency to fall under my own condemnation. It's a work in progress! I am a work in progress.

Here's the deal though, I want to speak to those who might find themselves in a cycle of sin similar to the one I found (actually, I didn't FIND anything, I PUT myself there...let's just be honest about it) myself in. I know that the chances of this helping anyone are slim. I'm not eloquent and typically only the people who really love me even read what I write. But I want to s…

Rejected!

I received a rejection letter today.

Before you feel the need to comfort me, please know that I'm completely fine.

A while back I learned that (in)Courage was accepting submissions for blog posts to be used on their site. It needed to be something original that had not been previously published and it should fit the tone for the site and the theme for the time frame it would be published.

I immediately wanted to submit something. I wanted honest feedback about my writing from someone who doesn't already love me or like me or feel connected to me in some way. But I decided that I was not going to submit anything unless I felt prompted by God to do it. I wasn't going to force it. (On a side, but relevant, note I'm actually not sure if I stuck to this decision. I'm still asking God to open my eyes to blindness and denial...so He may reveal to me that I didn't wait for Him at all...that I jumped ahead in my own timing instead of His.)

So one night I sat down and wr…