Disclaimer: real women can skip this post. It's just the thoughts of a novice.
I feel like I'm coming out of the cloud I've been in for the past nine months. It was one of those icky clouds where good food smelled bad, I was eating (motivated by near starvation, it seemed) about every half hour (and going to the bathroom at least as often), and somehow feeling a complete lack of energy or motivation to do much of anything. Then, yesterday, I hit a point where I wanted to make real meals and be somewhat of a real homemaker. If you've known me at all while I was pregnant you realize what a big deal this is. I really only cooked a handful of meals the entire nine months.
I think this desire to feed my family was triggered by Bryan's remark about what he took for breakfast and lunch yesterday. I won't tell on him, but let's just say I want my wonderful husband to have more nutrients than that, especially when he's working hard in his schoolwork and being really nice to me (i.e. getting up with our baby girl during the night). So, for family night last night I gave a lesson on the importance of eating good meals. (This was in no way a lame guilt trip as it was as much- or more- for my sake than Bryan's.) I started by reading "Six Dinner Sid" by Inga Moore. (Why is it my family night lessons are always portrayed through children's literature? Someday when I have teenagers I might have to grow up and do something else.) Then I read a few things I found on lds.org and Bryan and I discussed how much easier it would be to eat healthy if we plan ahead.
Next, I had Bryan write down a list of things he'd like to have in the lunches he takes with him to campus. Hopefully this will help me pack foods for him that will make him happy instead of the random stuff that sounds good to me. So far so good. Then we perused a few of our favorite cookbooks and took note of some of the meals that looked good (and reasonably easy). We wrote down the name of the meal, the title and page number of the cookbook the recipe was found in, and a list of the ingredients (and amounts of each) needed. This way we could do a quick check to see if we had everything. This method wasn't really planned, we just kind of did it that way. But after we had realized the greatness of our method we decided to preserve it. In other words, I'll be copying what we wrote last night (on just plain old computer paper) onto 3 by 5 cards so we can use these for dinner ideas in the future.
Also, get this, we even planned side dishes to go with each meal. Now I know this may seem like a bit much. After all, up until this point in our marriage we have generally only planned side dishes when company was coming, but I thought it might be time to step things up a notch. Well, that and the first recipe I wrote down had side dish suggestions with the page numbers of their recipes and that sounded good, so I figured, "why not?"
Then I went over to our calendar...
I must side track for a moment and brag about our calendar. Credit for this idea goes to my friends Stephani and Todd since we got the idea when we saw it in their home during our Thanksgiving visit last year. The idea is genius. Or at least Bryan and I think so. Rather than splurge on a fancy wall calendar, they got a regular big desk calendar and hung it on their freezer door. (We did this by using 3M sticky tabs- oh how I love those.) This puts the calendar in a place where it will actually get looked at and used every day instead of off on some wall where you can actually hang it up. I may never go back to regular calendars. Unless I get one of those cool new fridges that has the freezer on the bottom or has two long skinny doors instead of the short freezer door on top and the... nevermind. Back to meal planning...
As I was saying. Then I went over to our calendar and actually wrote the meals (and side dishes!) down on the calendar so I'd know what ingredients I would need to buy and how soon and so on and so forth. For this week I planned three days of prepared meals and then a day of left overs and a day of whatever (Saturday). I feel excited.
Final step: grocery shopping. Luckily my wonderful sister who happens to live in the same stairwell I do (how convenient!) offered to watch my baby girl for me while I went to the store last night so Bryan could keep working on his not-so-fun chemistry homework. Or perhaps when I say sister I mean brother-in-law who was even so kind as to change her poopy diaper while she was there. Thanks guys! I sped through the grocery store as fast as I could picking up the things we needed for meals for the rest of the week as well as some of the lunch foods that Bryan requested. "Shopping" is already on the calendar for Saturday, so there was no need to buy ingredients for next week's meals.
This has resulted in prepackaged (by me) lunch food for Bryan today and the wonderful smell coming from my kitchen. Today's menu comes from the cookbook "Anyone Can Cook" from Better Homes and Gardens. This is basically the dumbed-down version of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook with the red and white checked background on the cover, you know the one I mean. Anyway, despite my having majored in Home and Family Living and having taken a number of cooking classes, I still prefer the easy stuff. So I secretly love this cookbook. Why? Because it has pictures of almost everything. My favorite. Anyway, today's menu: Salsa Swiss Steak and Cornbread. The steak is already simmering away in the crock pot and the cornbread is all served up in a muffin pan, ready to get popped in the oven (just in case my baby girl isn't asleep when it's time to get dinner on the table).
Hooray! Perhaps I'm on my way to being somewhat more of a real woman. Let's just hope the prep for tomorrow's meal runs as smoothly as today's did. And that everything is actually ready at the same time. Isn't that just the hardest part of preparing meals? You know, other than deciding what to eat and actually spending the time to make it. Okay, the end.