Tuesday, April 28, 2009

4 Week Menu

As mothers, sometimes it takes extra time to make life easier, but it is so worth it! Yesterday I took about an hour and made myself a new 4 Week Menu, as I prepare to go shopping for the month. (Once a month-- this should be exciting!)

Let me share my thought process behind all of this. I have ten children, and sometimes getting them all fed is a big job! My four oldest children now do most of the cooking, and so I have simplified most of our meals to facilitate and teach them, while giving them the best chance to be successful in cooking. (And making the meals more edible for us all! LOL!)

Each week, I have Breakfast and Lunch already decided, with room for variation and personal tastes. It just makes it easy when kids ask what they should fix: "Mom? What should I make for breakfast?"

(Insert whine HERE.)

My response usually goes something like this: "Well, it's Tuesday, so you can make pancakes or waffles. Would you like help making a special syrup (like strawberry or peach)?"

Sometimes my comments are followed with wailing and gnashing of teeth, and sometimes with skipping to the kitchen, but either way, breakfast eventually gets made.

It's all about choice and simplicity, people!

Just for fun, I thought I'd share our family's newest 4 Week Menu, in the hopes that it will inspire and/or motivate you in your meal planning. (I use a spreadsheet to make life easier.)

Below is my 4 Week Menu (as a Google Document) and the accompanying shopping list. (I won't give amounts, because I'm too concerned about putting my sweet readers into anaphylactic shock. Sam's Club loves us-- need I say more?!)


Staples to Replenish, as Needed
  • wheat*
  • oil
  • salt
  • yeast
  • sugar
  • oats
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • popcorn
  • Mapeleine
  • brown sugar
  • rice
  • chicken boullion
  • beef boullion
  • honey
  • grits
  • raisins
  • chocolate chips
Canned Goods:
  • peaches
  • pears
  • fruit cocktail
  • applesauce
  • refried beans
  • tomato sauce
  • pineapple chunks
  • tuna
  • cream of chicken soup
  • olives
  • black beans
In the Dairy Section:
  • cheddar cheese
  • mozzarella cheese
  • butter
  • eggs
  • cottage cheese
  • sour cream
  • milk
  • pepperoni
  • chicken
  • ham
  • hot dogs
  • beef roast
  • hamburger
  • bacon
  • ground sausage
Frozen Foods:
  • frozen fruit
  • corn
  • broccoli
  • hashbrowns
  • mixed veggies
Breads and Pasta:
  • flour tortillas
  • corn tortillas
  • spaghetti noodles
  • macaroni noodles
  • Ramen noodles
  • tortilla chips
  • peanut butter
  • jam
  • ketchup
  • mustard
  • mayonnaise
  • pickles
  • soy sauce
Fresh Produce:
  • tomatoes
  • carrots
  • lettuce
  • green onions
  • bananas
  • potatoes
  • fruit in season
  • other veggies in season
*(I'm planning on making our own bread, rather than buying it. My eldest daughter is game, and my husband is willing to teach her, so why not?)

Feel free to copy, change, adjust, or reject. *grin* I'll post some of my recipes soon.

Please post any questions or recipe requests in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you! :-)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Motherly Tips Courtesy of Ma Ingalls

The past couple weeks, my husband and I have been reading aloud to our children from the book "On the Banks of Plum Creek" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The third book in the Little House series contains just some of the great principles to be learned in the series, but it has reminded my husband and I of some important lessons:

1) Live Simply. Ma never made 3 course meals, unless it was a holiday or celebration. And even then, the fare wasn't fancy. But she made sure her husband the children were fed three meals a day, right when they needed it. (How is it she always knew when Pa would walk through the door?) She also had very few dishes, gadgets, pots and pans, or decor. Yet she got along just fine with her crisp white curtains and cast iron skillets. With no extra items or paper clutter, it was easy to keep her house clean.

2) Wives Should Stand Shoulder-to-Shoulder with Their Husbands. Whether it was prairie fire, chores, or an infestation of grasshoppers, Ma always showed her readiness for the challenge at hand. Though she was always feminine and womanly, she also knew how to work, sweat and strain. She had learned that a woman does not need to cower in a corner and faint away when troubles come, but that her place was by her husband's side, facing whatever came their way.

3) Mothers Teach Daughters to Keep House. From the time they were small, Mary and Laura, and then Carrie and Grace, were all taught how to keep a neat and tidy home. After every meal, the girls cleared the dishes from the table, washed and dried them, and swept the floor. (Even when the floor was a dirt floor!) There was no whining or complaining. Rather, they found joy and pleasure in their work!

4) Children Should Be Obedient. Because of Ma's and Pa's parenting, the Ingalls girls chose to be obedient, even if their parents weren't around. Laura, the "wild" one, was also taught some hard lessons in obedience by the forces of Nature, but she did always compared what she wanted to do with whether Ma and Pa would say it was good or bad. Sometimes, in those harsh pioneer days, if a child didn't obey, they or someone else could end up very injured or even dead. The act of obedience could mean the difference between life or death!

5) Thriftiness in a Homemaker is Important. Ma knew how to remake new dresses from old clothes or fabrics. She also mended and patched every item of clothing until it was absolutely unwearable. She even patched shoes and boots, until new ones could be afforded. She lived the phrase "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

6) Don't Go into Town Often. Unlike most homemakers in this day and age, who go to the store every day, and sometimes more than once a day, Ma rarely traveled off to town to provide for her family's need. She grew a garden, and then carefully preserved and stored food for the family to last the whole winter. She knew what they had, and kept an accurate inventory. If she was not careful with their food supplies, her family could starve. (And not just think they're starving because there's no more Fruit Loops in the cupboards. ;-D)

Our foremothers had loads of knowledge that we have lost in the hustle and bustle of modern life. By studying homemaking history and the lives and skills of women of the past, I believe that we can better serve our families, homes, and communities. I'm going to do my best to simplify my life, and I invite you to do the same. Think of how we could change our families and the world, just by following some of these simple principles that Ma Ingalls exhibited!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Family Preparedness

Lately I have been trying to do better about being prepared and getting my family ready for-- well, anything! I have recently come across some really great blogs that have been helping me in my preparedness pursuits, and I'd like to share them with my readers.

So, let's get more prepared, shall we?

1) Food Storage Made Easy (http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/)

Jodi and Julie have created a very helpful, detailed website that makes preparedness seem much less overwhelming. They have a free e-mail service that delivers preparedness baby steps directly to your inbox every two weeks. Did I mention that it's FREE? They also have free checklists, "how to" videos, product recommendations, recipes, links, and great online tools. They also have a new e-book that contains ALL of their baby steps in one place, downloadable immediately for a reasonable price.

There is a LOT of information on their site, so you may want to give yourself some time to explore all that they have to offer. I'm using their baby steps program, and loving it!

Safely Gathered In
2) Safely Gathered In (http://www.safelygatheredin.blogspot.com/)

Safely Gathered In is an informative blog created to help you gather, organize, and rotate your food storage so you can have confidence knowing that you are prepared for whatever comes your way. They have free printable sheets, "how to" guides, recipes, and step-by-step instructions for gathering and storing food storage and emergency supplies. A great resource!

3) Fun with Food Storage (http://funwithfoodstorage.net/)

This site is a network of food storage sites that include the Food Storage Made Easy website listed above. Here's how they describe themselves: "We are a group of young moms on a mission to change the way you look at food storage. We make it FUN and DO-ABLE."

Their site will be re-launched soon, and they will soon be having a great giveaway for a Wondermill Wheat Grinder. See their site for more details!

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