Friday, May 15, 2009

Meal Planning: Wicked Awesome

So I have stuck to the meal plan all week, and I have to say that it pretty much rocks! Here are some (subpar) photos to chronicle our culinary delights this week:

Rustic Black-Eyed Peas and Mushrooms over (Leftover) Biscuits, with Simple Sauteed Kale

This was adapted from Rustic White Beans and Mushrooms from Vcon. I had planned to make it and then when I went to soak my white beans the night before I came to find that I had none. But I did have B-E Peas, so I figured, why not? I always leave the carrots in this dish, because we are big fans of cooked carrots. I had planned on serving this over the leftover Coconut Rice, but biscuits from Sunday were glaring at me from their place on the counter, so I dutifully heeded their call.

Silas had his beans earlier, and enjoyed some apple slices on the side.
Nearly Instant Thai Coconut Corn Soup
This is from Vegan Express, which I checked out the library recently, and it was AWESOME. I was kind of freaked by how much coconut milk was in it, but then I just got over it and enjoyed it. Plus it makes a lot - we froze 3 cups. Oh, and heres a mama tip: I knew Silas would turn his nose up at this because of the sliced scallions and red pepper, so I broke out my favorite kitchen utensil: the immersion blender. I blended his portion up and it was so pretty and orangey pink. He thoroughly enojoyed his "chowder."

Two Grilled Pizzas

I officially love my bread machine. It's so easy to dump in the ingredients for dough and come back an hour and a half later to make it into something delicious. In this case, I divided the dough in what I thought was half but turned out to be more like 1/3 & 2/3rds. I threw the dough on the hot grill while I prepped the toppings. One was leftover pesto (taken out of the freezer earlier this week), local sun-dried tomatoes and sliced kalamata olives. The other was jarred marinara, with sauteed onion, garlic, mushrooms, kale and a touch of white wine. OMGYUM! They were both sooooo good.

Silas kept saying, "'Hank you mama, for the dewishus food!" You're welcome, little buddy.
In other news, I took a Thai cooking class last night with Pranee at PCC - so fun! The food was so good - grilled shiitakes, homemade red curry paste made into Phanang Portabello Curry which was served over Grilled Eggplant, Stir-Fried Lemongrass Rice with Tofu and Edamame, some delicious Prik See Ew (a spicy soy sauce condiment - my new love!), and a delicious Pineapple-Lemongrass punch. Pranee was a really fun instructor with lots of good stories. She kept saying, "See? It's so easy," while we looked on in total bewilderment. I mean, it was great to demystify techniques (like how to deal with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves!) but it also looked pretty complicated to the Thai cooking novice. So I had to giggle every time she said that. But I'm sure, like everything, that with practice it will become easy. Just not quite yet. I predict that these recipes will appear on a menu plan soon!

Mindful Home Goals: Update!

So this week I've been really successful at sticking to some new goals. Here's what I decided to officially concentrate on this past week:

1. Keep the kitchen sink empty and shiny - this means dealing with dishes immediately. What a great one this is. It's so simple, and yet so profoundly affects my mood. It's so wonderful to go into the kitchen and have no guilt-inducing dirty dishes staring back at me. It's amazing to have every tool I could need to prepare the next meal ready and clean and waiting. It's just plain groovy to have a clean kitchen. And, like anything, it's easy to do if you stay on top of it. A few times I've wanted to leave a dish or pot in there to deal with later, but I forced myself to just deal with it now. And it only takes a few minutes! Really! Cleaning as you go is so much faster - 2 or 3 minutes here and there over the day instead of 30 minutes at once, where I stand feeling resentful and grumbly. I really thing that this goal (combined with meal planning) can save me a ton of money, because when I have a sinkful of dirty dishes, many times my mind has screamed "GET TAKE OUT!" instead of dealing with them.

2. Make the Beds Daily - another weird one, but like the clean sink, it greatly improves the overall feel of the house. It just feels more peaceful and streamlined to have made beds. And it takes like 2 minutes. It's a good psychic investment.

3. Meal Plan - This has been great. It's so nice not to have to worry what I'm going to make every day, because it's all planned out. It's a great way to use up the stores of frozen food and pantry staples that I have in the house instead of buying more. And I'm tracking my grocery budget really closely to see if we're saving money. I don't see how we won't, since nothing is wasted.

4. Keep the Dining Room Table Clear - we're REALLY bad at cluttering up every surface in the house. To cut down on this, I've implemented a new Inbox for incoming mail - now Chad and I both know where to go to deal with it. I also have to watch my piles of cookbooks and meal planning notecards (more on that another day). But I've been really good about keeping it clear and clean. Another psychic boost.

5. Get on Top of Laundry - sure I do laundry. But I almost always have a backlog. This week I've reduced the backlog significantly. I only do full loads, but this week, I've probably done 8 loads of laundry. I KNOW, right? But the plan is to get on top of it, and stay on top. Take the dirty clothes down every morning, assess to see if there is enough for a full load of anything, and do it. Fold and put away the same day, no excuses. We have been known to dress out of laundry baskets for weeks, so again, this might seem like a no-brainer, but not so much in our case. By next week I predict that we'll be down to laundry 2-4 times a week. And THEN I want to get my clothesline up! Bwahaahahaa!

At first I felt really boring and lame posting all this stuff, but then I reminded myself, "Hey! This is YOUR blog! You can put whatever you want on it!" And it's true, it's not like I'm trying to make money from this thing! So I hope I didn't bore you to tears.

Stay tuned to see if my dedication to a clean house flags! And what will be on the menu for next week! Hugs to all.

7 comments:

warbler said...

ugh. yeah we are the same way with laundry. i have gotten out of a lot of bad habits but that one seems to linger.

i do <3 meal planning though! i started in 2003 when i went back to grad school and HAD to because if i didn't stick to a budget we'd be screwed, and now i just love everything about it (most weeks! some weeks i feel uninspired and then it's a chore. but normally i love that ritual.)

carrie said...

I've been doing meal planning for a long, long time, and I don't think I could do it any other way....I'm way too unorganized in other aspects of my life not to have some sort of plan when it comes to shopping and cooking.

With two kids my laundry habits are pretty good. I do laundry twice a week, 3 to 4 full loads each time, fold and put away fresh out of the dryer.....it's the only way I can keep up with it.

Bed making is a different story though....I am ashamed to say that sometimes the only time the bed gets made is when we change sheets. My toddler's bed doesn't get made very often because there is usually a nap in the afternoon, and it just seems so pointless to make the bed and then unmake it in a few hours. Fortunately, our bedrooms are upstairs, and the rest of our living space is downstairs, so unkept beds don't really disturb the feel of the house too much.

Your little guy is such a cutie, and he's grown so much since the last pics you've posted of him.

Bethany said...

I do meal planning about every 3 days and that seems to work ok.

the thai cooking is easy. I've made lots of her recipes from earlier classes and they turned out the same as they were in class. you can totally do it.

Silas is so cute!

mek said...

These goals are exactly what I want to get a handle on. Thanks for the inspiration with meal planning-

zerbert said...

I, too, love the bread machine for making dough. Especially with a toddler in the house! My little girl helps me put the ingredients into the bread maker, then we turn it on and go have some fun while it does it's thing! When she goes down for her nap I get the dough out and shape and bake it. Today it was bagels!

Val said...

Ciao!
I came over from MDC (vegetarian/vegan living) to check out your blog! ;-)
Love your posts and pics!

As to a clean house etc., have you ever checked out the Flylady? (www.flylady.net) I'm still a Flybaby myself but her routines do help a lot of getting daily things straightened out better somehow.
Just thought I'd share the thought!

I'll see you around on MDC and will most likely peek in here again!

=) Sunny greetings from Italy.

Mama and Lochlan said...

I'm super psyched to see you updating again!! Wonderful on the organization! I must say that I do all the things that you have listed and it has been a sanity saver for me, and excellent habits to have with the chaos of 2 children. Meal planning is such a treat for me. I usually do it Sunday morning before I shop, but I'm finding that I am doing it earlier and earlier in the week because I get such pleasure from it! I also get a thrill out of hanging laundry. Its been raining for the past 2 weeks straight and I HATE using my dryer. I try to do one load a day from start to finish. Making beds is something I started doing just this past year. Its great to peel back the covers at night and fall right in.

Oh- I clean my bathroom when Lochlan is in the tub and Griffin is on the changing pad on the dryer. Works great because they are both happy!