Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Reluctant Meal Maker: Meal Planning

I know this is kindergarten stuff for many of you, but meal planning was truly a foreign concept to me. Once I learned a bit about it, I spent the second half of last year giving it a shot, and flailing at best. I wasn't detailed enough. I didn't consider snacks or breakfasts. I'd forget a couple ingredients from most recipes and either find myself at the grocery store more often than I'd prefer, or resorting to whatever backup box I could dig out of the cupboard.

I'm still not a pro, but it's definitely getting better. The tricks for me have been DETAILS and FLEXIBILITY.

Details. I have to get super detailed with my meal plan. I have to consider breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and beverages. For a while, I was trying to just come up with 5 dinners, then I'd decide that day what we'd have. Fail. Didn't work for me. What is working for me is sitting down with the calendar and really considering our week when I plan the meals. Will Raf be home late? (Don't try something complicated when you don't have help distracting the kidlet.) Are we planning to be out most of the day? (Keep dinner simple, or use a slow cooker meal.)

Flexibility. As much as being detailed has helped, I also have to be flexible. Sometimes plans change. Then the meals change too. Sometimes I get home and have zero energy left in my tank, or Lana can't handle flying solo. Leftovers, it is! Sometimes I still forget to add things to the grocery list. Time to substitute! (This doesn't always work out well, but I'm glad that I'm at least getting comfortable enough in the kitchen to give it a go!)

While my days are going much more smoothly because of meal planning, I still have my challenges...

Time. Meal planning is time consuming! It takes time to scour Pinterest and cookbooks for healthy, whole foods-based, seasonal, TASTY meals! It takes time to go through each ingredient list line by line and check the cupboards and fridge. It takes time to shop at 3 or more stores.

I just have to keep reminding myself that it's less time consuming to do this once a week than to do it every day of the week. And I'm assuming that like everything else in life, with experience, the process will become second nature and it won't feel like it takes any time at all.

Eating on the Go. I've always had a hard time planning food for myself when I'm out and about. And I really do hate having to hit the closest drive thru in order to avoid yet another intense hangry episode! I'm better about planning for Lana. I pretty much always grab one of her covered snack cups and at least a couple levels of her Zoli on the go feeder before I head out the door. But I still can't seem to pack a snack for myself. Or water. And now that Lana's down to one nap a day, it's gotten much worse. We're out on playdates during lunchtime at least a couple days a week now, and I never know what to bring for lunch. Lana's happy with a bunch of snacks, but I'd prefer getting something more substantial in her so that we have more success with her afternoon nap. And I need to eat too, darn it! I just don't have that many recipes up my sleeve that don't require reheating or reliable refrigeration. I need to come up with some, quick! Any (toddler friendly) ideas out there??

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bitty Update

Curious what the little one has been up to lately? A little of this, a little of that...
 ...adopting cloth napkins as the BEST.TOY.EVER!
...making early fashion statements. Stylish? Maybe. But not nearly as cute as when she was running around naked after her bath last night and brought me her boots to put on!
...checking out Christmas photos while mama sews. The dogs were especially popular. (She climbed into the chair on her own, btw.)
...dragging around her favorite quilt.
...exploring sunlight and shadows.
...and wedging herself into really tight spaces!