Happy New Year, time to get organised again!

Happy New Year to all of my followers. I have taken a little time out these holidays, and not looked at anything work or thesis related for just over a week. Now I am getting back into the swing of things and preparing for a year of full time work, PhD confirmation in March and then data collection. There are a number of considerations when planning for this year to run smoothly. These include making realistic timelines and goals. With this ‘realistic’ idea in mind, I will be changing my blogging to be fortnightly for this blog, and monthly for my other blog (One Mad Tatter). I have also gotten back into meal planning in a serious way, and have set up my calendar until the end of March with nutritious weekday dinners that either WH or I can prepare quickly. I have added a Sunday cooking list to the calendar too, so that some bulk cooking and preparation can be done for the week ahead. Today I am making some yoghurt, flat bread to freeze and a big batch of bolognaise sauce to freeze too.

Thinking about getting more organised with my writing and thesis, I was trawling through some draft posts I have on wordpress and found this link to Michael Hyatt’s post on organising Evernote for maximum efficiency. How to Organize Evernote for Maximum Efficiency | Michael Hyatt. Having over 1,000 notes now, I think it is a good time of year to sort and tag my notes to increase my ease of searching in the future. Another feature of Evernote is that you can sort the notes that contain checkboxes, which is great as I am a fan of check boxes, and use them to indicate my ‘to-do’ tasks.

 

Knowing that any plan is only going to work if it is actioned, I’d better get into the cooking 🙂

Fiona T.

 

 

Bulk Meals and Freezing: some links and tips

My menu planner has served us well this year. The post linked here is a little updated with a new link or two to online versions of the recipes I have used. The Spinach impossible pie is fabulous, and fits into my allocated 1 hour of preparation and cooking time. Ditto for the Devilled Sausage Casserole from Liss at Frills in the Hills, I won’t be buying the packet one again.

Something I also referred to in the above post was cooking bulk meals and freezing them for later dinners. I have been a fan of freezing for many years and when we moved and acquired a deep freezer, well I was in heaven! I have many old and new books on freezer friendly meals, but in discussions with some of my Mum friends it seems many are not so confident. So here are two things I have found to help those who are presently ‘uninitiated’ into the fun of freezing meals.

  1. Super Food Ideas is a magazine I have been buying every month since around 2000. The recipes are easy to follow, use pantry/easy to obtain ingredients and they WORK. They also have great tips and features, here is a link to their info on freezing: http://www.taste.com.au/super+food+ideas/blog/super+food+ideas/freezer+tips,900
  2. This week while on Facebook I saw a post from ‘stay at home mum‘  who has written a book promoting bulk cooking and freezing called “Once A Month Cooking“. For under $10 it is a great read and resource. It is well structured to support the freezer shy to begin to save time and sanity, and has some yummy recipes for those who maybe don’t want to do the full months cooking in one day. It is Australian, using healthier ingredients in recipes that families will enjoy.

So as I trudge back to do my marking, I am wondering what your families favourite quick meals are, please comment below and let’s see how many we can get!

Fiona T

Planning Meals

In a previous post I mentioned that I plan my meals in a 3 month block.

First I print off a calendar for the month I want to plan (or three months as the case may be).  I had originally wanted to type it, or use drop down menu fields to select meals before printing, but these took to long to try and set up. The ones I found already set up online were American and the food was just too different to what we eat. At this stage handwriting is working for me (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). I also like to sit with the calendar at the table with my latest cooking mags and books around me to put in things I would like to try to cook. It is a nice experience to plan this way. It takes approx 2 hours in total. That sounds like a chunk of time, but it seriously saves me so much more time than this over the next 3 months, as well as relieving anxiety everyday, the 2 hour investment is worth it.

Meal planning has been so helpful in a number of ways:

  • It aids speedy grocery shopping, as I know well in advance what is on the menu and can buy certain things when they are on sale.
  • It provides much more balance to our meals, as well as variety. We are not eating the same things every week and are also able to try new recipes regularly.
  • It means we are wasting less food and also eating less takeaway. Takeaway is now once a month, or if our day has gone pear-shaped.
  • It stops that 4.30ish anxiety of ‘what’s for dinner…’ This in itself is brilliant, I can have relaxed time with my LT after school and not be flipping through recipes and racing to the shop for last minute ingredients.
  • It also means that I plan the days I am cooking bulk meals and can freeze them to use on busy work/study days.
  • I also am able to have a few emergency meals from the bulk cooking that I can share with family or friends in case of illness etc. I love to be able to help people out every now and then, and a spare lasagne or soup can give someone else the night off.
  • Oh, and sometimes we don’t feel like the meal on the planner, that’s OK too…it is flexible.

A number of my friends are now using menu planners too. They are finding it helps with all of the above things. It takes one thing off the constant list that runs through a Mum’s head, and that has to be a good thing.

Below I have attached the excel spreadsheet I downloaded from the internet earlier this year. I don’t recall which site it came from, but will reference it if I find it again. I have also compiled a list of the meals we have on our list for this three month block (May-July) with our winter selection, in case you are interested. Some have links to online versions of the recipes too.

Click this Link to download the ‘monthly-menu-planner‘  it is an excel document. When you open it, make sure you enable macros (it will prompt you to do this) otherwise the calendar will not update to the month you enter.

sfi= super food ideas

Favourites from the summer planner include:

I generally have at least 3 veggies in a meal. If they are not hidden (as in sausage rolls) then they are either steamed, roasted or eaten is a salad. I have some ‘nutirent dense’ (N) food too, these recipes have been either chosen because of the extra nutrients in them or I have adapted them to have more ‘good things’ in them, like my morrocan casserole, or the nachos.

I hope this  post helps to generate ideas. I look forward to seeing what others are cooking too, always like to try new recipes 🙂

Happy Planning!

Fiona

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