Tag Archives: family

Back to School Refresher

Hi all,

Sorry to have gone on hiatus again. Summer has been crazy around here. Lots of travel, lots of home repairs, lots of cleaning from said home repairs…. My oldest started school this year, and I’ve honestly been looking forward to an enforced schedule to regulate our days.

Many people feel like this time of year is almost like a New Year’s, a time for resetting and making goals. Hopefully, you are trying to get into a groove with menu planning, eating healthy, etc. Here are a few tips that have been helping me lately.

1. Find something you WANT to cook. We all need lots of quick meals in our arsenal. But, I think it is a good idea to find something that you really want to cook/make that maybe takes more time. For example, I recently grew my own sourdough starter. I’ve used it to make bread, waffles, pancakes, and pizza crust. Does it take time? A little, but actually not that much active time. The key was I WANTED to make it. So I didn’t mind the time. Think outside the box: homemade nut butters, jam, curing/smoking meat, bread, sauerkraut. Maybe it is taking time to stock your freezer with items. But think of something you’d be willing to spend time cooking. I bet you’ll find the time.

Sourdough Bread

2. Think through all the food you need when making your grocery shopping lists. Most kids need to take a snack to school. Maybe you’d have a better day if you took a snack with you to work. Make sure you have accounted for these in your shopping. If you don’t buy healthy snacks, they won’t magically make it into bags. It seems like a no brainer, but it’s important to think about it. One box of crackers and one package of string cheese isn’t going to keep you all going for a week.

3. Try to eliminate decision making. Planning a menu can be a lot of work. Try to streamline or simplify where you can. We always eat breakfast for dinner on Wednesdays. Tuesday is leftover night. Maybe every Tuesday can be taco tuesday. Pizza Fridays. Meatless Monday. These systems either remove or simplify the decisions when planning your menu. Help yourself out!

4. Pick one day for a fancy dinner. Our family recently started having a more formal dinner on Sundays. We sit at our nicer table, use a tablecloth, kids get real dishes, use cloth napkins, etc. We are hoping to break out candlesticks. I try to make sure food makes it into serving dishes rather than putting pans on the table. I often try to have a special drink. Taking this time to enjoy food as a family has been great for our relationships. My kids love it and are SLOWLY improving in table manners. And even if the dinner isn’t super complicated, it feels fancy because of our surroundings. Try it!

Hope these three tips help you as you go back to school. I’ve got some fun recipes coming soon!

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Back to School: Menu planning

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Back to school season feels a bit like New Year’s.  Time to make goals/resolutions.  Time to get back to a regular routine and schedule.  I hope menu planning is on everyone’s list of goals for this upcoming school year.

I know that menu planning seems like a time-consuming, painful task.  I do my planning on Tuesday nights, and I kind of dread that time.  But I do know that it saves me time and money in the long run.  Here are some tips to make menu planning easier and more useful.

– Have pre-set dinner nights.  At our house, Wednesday is breakfast for dinner, and Tuesday is leftover night.  It is incredibly nice to have two nights I don’t have to think of an idea for dinner.

– Look at your calendar while planning.  Don’t plan to make a lasagna from scratch the same night that you have 3 places to be.  Planning quick dinners for nights with full schedules will save you headaches and fast-food runs.

-Don’t plan too much at one time.  I think one week is plenty of time to plan at one time.  Fresh produce won’t last too much longer than that.  Plan less time and you’ll be running to the store frequently.  But plan the amount of time that works well for you.

– Have contingency meals.  I try to plan an all or mostly pantry or freezer meal at least once a week.  (Example:  Spaghetti with meat sauce and steamed veggies where the meat sauce and veggies are waiting in the freezer.)  Then, if something comes up, food isn’t going bad.  I can even move that meal to next week, making one less meal to plan!

– Involve your family.  Ask your spouse and kids what they want to eat this upcoming week.  If they picked it, you might curtail mealtime battles by reminding your child that he/she requested that meal.

– Post your menu somewhere visible.  This will remind you what in the morning what is ahead for the day and help prevent the “what’s for dinner” questions from hounding you.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, as my menu board above illustrates.

Hope this helps and happy menu planning!  Please share any other tricks you found to help in the comments.

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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