Meal planning: is it a good fit for you?

I have always struggled with meal planning.  I just hate the idea of being tied down what I am going to be cooking or eating on any day let alone in 7-14 days time. What if I don't feel like eating that day's designated menu that night, let alone whether I am up to it now that I have frequent attacks of fatigue after my cancer diagnosis?

On the other hand, I have a wonderful friend who home-schools her 5 wonderful kids and who makes up a yearly meal plan covering 6 different meal categories. If your want to or need to be super organized then I recommend Simone's plan here. Whilst I admire her talent and may even desire to emulate it a bit, but it just doesn't suit my personality, even more so now that I have only my husband at home to cook for aside from myself. If you need to learn the whys and how to then I recommend Meal Planning Magic blog which also gives you weekly meal plans to follow until you get into your own groove.

Over the years my 'meal planning' attempts have changed along with my circumstances. In an effort to save dollars, I bought half a side of beef once only to discover that I truly didn't save that much money as I didn't like a lot of the cuts of meat. Next I tried a hind quarter of beef since that gave me more beef for my dollars (taking into consideration the waste of bone, fat and offal - which I absolutely detest the idea of cooking.) The hind quarter was much better value for us and I went down this road for a few years. My hubby loves steak and I love mince and casseroles and I certainly made good use of my slow cooker back then as I do now except I tend to use my Dream Pot both in my RV and at home now days. However I can only eat so much beef in any given month! I crave variety!

For most of my 30 odd years of marriage I have been a stay at home mum but one with a family business. As the kids grew up, I became more and more involved in our business. The 'office' was just 3km away and I go past a big name grocery store with a decent butcher and greengrocer next door to them, to get to work and back each day. I ended up making use of this and picked up food every few days in small amounts especially fresh milk, bread and cut deli meats. I found that by sticking to my 'shopping list' and not buying much more than what was on my list I rarely went over my weekly budget.  The only exception would be when I bought bulk orders of some items that were on special that wouldn't spoil before I got around to using them. This way does take up a little extra time each day, but really not much more than the 90 minutes or so that a 'big shop' when I did it every 2 weeks. I also found that I didn't end up spending more than if I did my fortnightly 'big' shop.
Another way to save money is to buy seasonal fruit and vegetables only.  In these days of a global economy, you can usually find whatever produce you want any time of year, however if the items aren’t in season locally, you’ll end up paying a lot more for it.

A selection of food magazines

I have always cooked more or less from scratch without out using 'packet stuff'. In the early years, I felt more confident using a recipe but as time and confidence increased, I tended to use a recipe as a kicking off point and for inspiration rather than adhering to them religiously.

So just how do I do my meal planing? We do prefer fresh steak, fish and chicken and so occasionally I will pick up something when I am out & about, knowing that I will cook something with that item within the next few days! I also have a well stocked pantry and I have all the meats that we tend to have on a regular basis in the freezer. I would hate to have to run down to the store just for a single item at the last minute.One thing I have introduced in the last few years, is that I aim to try one new recipe per week. Now the reality especially with me being sick these last 7 months is that this generally happens only once every two weeks, but still we try something new every now and then.

Now that my kids have left home and that most of the time there is only my husband and myself, I find that I am cooking too much and so I need to freeze left overs (or we'll consume too much in one sitting - that's a huge part of why we are struggling with a weight issue!) On the days when I am too tired to cook and Robert has to take over, he knows that in addition to the 4 or 5 meals he is comfortable with cooking, he can choose to pull out a pre-made meal to defrost in the microwave oven and dinner is done!

Image from Raw Food for Life
It's much healthier and often tastier than saying you'll pop down & get takeaway tonight and a whole lot cheaper too. So do think about how you plan meals. There is no right or wrong way, as long as you are giving your loved ones healthy, balanced meals from as many raw and 'real' food basics as possible rather than relying on takeaways (takeouts) or package foods including convenience foods.

Sympathy Cards

One of my favourite ways to sit quietly is with some crafts and I decided to join the CAS On Sunday Card challenge this week, which is for Sympathy Cards. Their Clean and Simple policy is very easy on a sluggish brain too! ;)

I ended up making 2 cards in the same lilac colours. Which do you like better?

Unfortunately we occasionally need Sympathy cards and it is always handy to have some on hand. Here is my entry for this week's card challenge. Pop over to CAS on Sunday to see all the wonderful cards to inspire your next card creation. The second card also fits with the monochromatic theme over on the Paper Players Challenge this week too! Popover there to see more ideas too.

I loved having my 3 of my 4 kids here over the weekend along with my daughter in law and 2 young grand daughters however, I am feeling absolutely exhausted. I really must remember I can not do anywhere near what I used to be able to do pre-cancer. Still one must make the most of every opportunity one can even if I have to conk out when they leave and have a few very quiet days afterwards to recoup my energy. I can see a few quiet days doing queit craft work is just what I need to start this week.

Have a wonderful week yourselves!

Fingerprint Owl Cards

The Less is More challenge this week is to adapt a fingerprint on a single layer.
So many times we discard a botched card that has a stray print on it esp if we can't cover it up some how. So this week's challenge is a fun one where we are to actually create a finger print on a card and turn it into something.

One layer cards have always been a challenge for me... I love the simplicity others seem to create but for me I find it extra ordinarily difficult to not to add a layer or accent of some sort. I just have to keep practicing. You know the saying, "practice makes perfect" ... well some of us need one heck of a lot of practicing!

The word art was computer generated. I would be willing to post it up if someone would teach me how to do that.
Do join in this fun one and show me how it is done! These finger print cards would also make a terrific craft to do with your kids and grand kids too!

Asking God a few questions

I had a dream where I was able to ask God a few questions. It went like this:

"Come in," God said to me, "what would you like to ask me?"
 "Do you have the time," I began tentatively.
God smile and said "My precious child, I have all the time to talk to you. My time is called eternity and is enough to do everything. What questions do you have?"

I asked. "What's the one thing that surprises you most about humankind?"

God answered,
"That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up, and then long to be children again.
That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health.
That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present nor the future.
That they live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived..."

God held my hands in his and we were silent as we thought about his response.
After a while, I asked if I could pose another question, which was this:

"If you were a parent, what would you ask your children to do?"

He replied with a smile.
"To learn that they cannot make anyone love them. What they can do is to let themselves be loved.
To learn that it takes years to build trust, and a few seconds to destroy it.
To learn that what is most valuable is not what they have in their lives, but who they have in their lives.
To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others. There will be others better or worse off than they are.
To learn that a rich person is not one who has the most, but who is contented with everything they already have.
To learn that they should control their attitudes, otherwise their attitudes will control them.
To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and that it takes many years to heal them.
To learn that one learns to forgive by practicing forgiveness.
To learn that there are people who love them dearly, but simply do not know how to show their feelings.
To learn that money can buy everything but happiness.
To learn that while at times they may be entitled to be upset, that does not give them the right to upset those around them.
To learn that great dreams do not require great wings, but a landing gear to achieve.
To learn that true friends are scarce, he/she who has found one has found a true treasure.
To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others, but that they forgive themselves. To learn that they are masters of what they keep to themselves and slaves of what they say.
To learn that they shall reap what they plant; if they plant gossip they will harvest intrigues, if they plant love they will harvest happiness.
To learn that true happiness is not to achieve their goals but to learn to be satisfied with what they already achieved. Happiness is a decision: that they can determine to be happy with what they are and have, or die from envy and jealousy of what they lack.
To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see something totally different.
To learn that those who are honest with themselves without considering the consequences go far in life.
To learn that even though they may think they have nothing to give, when a friend cries with them, they find the strength to appease the pain.
To learn that by trying to hold on to love ones, they very quickly push them away; and by letting go of those they love, they will be side by side forever.
To learn that even though the word "love" has many different meanings, it loses value when it is overstated.
To learn that they can never do something extraordinary for Me to love them; I just simply do love them. The shortest distance they could be from Me is the distance of a prayer."

I awoke from my dream and remembered everything He had said. I will write this up and read it frequently to remind myself of these great truths!