Both my girls are sick today and Ted is working. This translates into no church. In an attempt to keep some sort of spirituality in my day (hopefully it will carry over into the whole week, as we all hope each week, I think) I read essentially the entire March Ensign. I saved a few articles to peruse later but I read it nearly cover to cover. It was lovely to sit down and do that in one sitting.
One theme that JUMPED out at me was preparedness, especially food storage. We're encouraged to keep food in supply for emergency purposes, whether financial necessity or disaster related. Our family has some long-term storage but as of late I haven't been great at keeping a stock of all the things we use on a regular basis. I was SO good at this when we lived in Flagstaff . Ted built storage shelves for me in the second bedroom of our house there that we took apart when we moved. I have room here but I just haven't been as good at it making good use of it.
The articles I read today reminded me of the importance of this, especially, I feel, for a family in our station. We don't know what's around the next corner (moving? job offer? unemployment after graduation?) and where life will take us next. I know I'll feel better prepared with a short term supply of things we use regularly.
I decided to make a list of meals we all like that are inexpensive to make and easy to prepare. After I made that list (broken down by category - chicken, turkey, pork, beef, meatless, sides, and easy baking) I opened up a calendar and planned the month. I've never done well with planning for more than 2 weeks a time but with my calendar by my side, I typed in all the dinner time constraints. I have things going on 2-3 days a week, but I'm almost always free by 4PM, quite purposefully.
I then proceeded to fill in the spots. I wanted to keep variety the name of the game by trying not to repeat a meal in the month even once, with the exception of pizza. Also, I always have at least 1 meatless dinner a week, sometimes as many as 3 - but not this month. (Out of all the meals we all enjoy, I have almost double the number of meatless meals when compared to any meat category.)
I think it turned out pretty well and it gives me a good starting point on what I need to buy for our short term supply. Also, by design, all these meals are very reasonably priced, downright cheap in some cases. We buy our chicken and ground turkey in bulk and so all that is paid for. Most of what I'll be buying will be canned goods and grains to store and use as well as our regular load of fresh fruits and veggies.
Here is what our month looks like. You can click it to get a bigger view. I couldn't figure out how to save a Word document as an image so this is a cropped screenshot. Oh, one thing I should mention is that we have dinner with friends ever Sunday and just bring dessert. Awesome, right?
Not only is this going to be a great project for March but it was a great project today, on Sunday. I feel it was a great way to prepare and plan and a good Sabbath activity. I'm excited to see how well we can stick to our menu and curious as to whether I'll do it again. One issue I already have, however minor, is that there is no wiggle room for new recipes. It's all tried and true family recipes. That's awesome, don't get me wrong, but I love to try new things and be creative in the kitchen. Not a lot of wiggle room but it's worth it for 1 month. Baking will help, I'm sure.
For breakfast we do toast, yogurt, oatmeal, cream of wheat, cereal, pancakes, eggs ... sometimes a combination of those things. For lunches, we're pretty boring. We normally have either left overs or sandwiches (turkey, ham, pb&j, tuna) with fruit. I keep our snacks pretty limited for sanity sake - cheese, crackers, fruit (bananas, apples, oranges, kiwi, berries, pears) and veggies, yogurt, or something I've baked recently. This all makes shopping pretty simple and I think this system might simplify it even more. We'll see!