Debby McCuiston, the “Queen of Clutter-Free”, does a segment for us each Sunday on simplifying our lives, getting rid of “clutter”, and focusing on what’s important. We look forward to her words of wisdom each week & hope you enjoy it too! Take it away Debby….
Do you get as tired of doing the same things day after day as I do? It’s the things that you can’t stop doing, you can’t change the way you do them and you can’t even take a break from them. Preparing meals can be the most time consuming thing we do all day every day. Unless you are the primary meal planner in your home you will not understand how much time it takes to get any meal together from start to finish. I don’t believe there is another task that we do daily that requires so much of our time from the planning to the cleanup.
To begin the week long task of preparing meals you need to do some planning if you don’t you will wander aimlessly though the grocery store just waiting for something to pop out and say “take me home, I will make your life easier” or driving to the nearest fast food restaurant and ordering one of everything on the menu, hoping you can keep everyone full and somewhat happy.
If you are a couponer the added step of cutting coupons makes this planning so much easier, because you shop according to what coupons you have that matches up with what is on sale in your area then you plan your meals around your shopping trip. Or if you are a seasoned couponer your meal plan for the week will depend only on the amount of stock piling you have done in the past so you skip the whole grocery store shopping trip, you shop from your pantry in the comfort of your PJ’s.
The amount of people depending on you for their meals can dictate the amount of planning that is required each week to make meal time preparation easy and no longer a nightmare. Since there are only 2 people for me to feed most nights my planning consists of a conversation about what do you feel like eating this week. If you have children to add into the equation you will need to plan meals that will be healthy, filling and take as little time as possible.
I will tell you how we do it and you will need to expand or down size to make this work for your family. My husband and I are watching our diets, trying to get in better shape and live a healthier life style so we are doing this through the Weight Watchers plan. It is what is working for us, but if you need to change you eating to become healthier make sure you find a plan that works for you.
In a perfect world this will go as planned, no hiccups, no problems and no drama, but in the real world stuff happens and changes need to be made, so don’t get stressed if you need to back up and rethink your plan or use your back up plan to save your sanity. (Usually this is the plan to use coupons at a restaurant or call for pizza).
At our house Sunday is our magic day, it is the day with the least to do and the just about the only day that both of us can sit down after church and plan out the week. The first thing we do is look at the week to see what meals we will eat at home and which will able to eat a relaxing meal or when we will need a fast easy meal. Right now we are choosing to make our lunch our biggest meal of the day. Since we both work, lunch time is a set time and easier to make sure we have enough time to eat, most days.
Since it is winter and soups are our favorite comfort food, we make 2 large pots of the choice for that week. On pot of (this week it will be Taco soup) soup will be divided into 1cup servings and placed in containers that will be frozen and ready to pick up each morning. The other pot is divided into bigger serving to give away as the need arises. We have several families in our church that have health problems so to be able to bless them with a meal is such a blessing to us.
It may look like we can get a little OCD about measuring and planning head each meal but it is what works for us and it keeps up on track with our lifestyle change (diet). If I am going to have an egg & cheese for breakfast I go ahead and measure out my cheese for each day and put it in zip lock bag and store it in the frig for the week, each day taking it out as I need it. We plan out our snacks for the day, set them aside with the vitamins that have been placed in those cute little snack bags.
Dinner is our easiest meal of the day because of our schedule; we have less than an hour most nights for dinner, from the time work ends until we need to leave the house for the next appointment. We usually have some type of meat that has been prepared ahead and measured out, we steam a veggie and dinner is ready in minutes but it was filling and healthy. If we didn’t plan ahead it would be fast food most nights and that will not fly well on our healthy plan.
The biggest time saving item on planning ahead is the cleanup. On the cooking day there is a lot of stuff to wash and put away, but after that the cleanup in minor each day. So I trade one day of cleanup for 6 days off washing up the dishes we use to eat and loading the dishwasher. I think I win on this plan.
There are a lot of blogs and websites about once a month cooking and dishes that you can make ahead and freeze to use as need. I have a friend that has 12 children that does this; she spends one weekend cooking for the month for her entire family, everyone has a job to help out but the time they save through the month is unbelievable. Family time becomes a valued prize in this family on a whole new level.
This idea of making a plan and following through can be applied to so many areas of our lives and will change the way we look at how much time we waste each day. I know we don’t want to plan every minute of every day, we need time to enjoy to moment and not be worried about clock watching.
How many times have you said I can’t read my bible because I can’t find the time? Or how many people have you not be able to help even in a small way because you can’t squeeze in one more thing into your day? How many bedtime stories have gone unread because you are busy cleaning the kitchen night after night? You can never get those precious moments back; your family needs time with you. Children transfer their image of God by how they view their earthly parents, if you can’t find time for them how will they ever think that God will care about every area of their lives?
This week plan to make a plan that will help to free up some time to spend with each other but most important to spend time with my sweet Jesus. Time spent in His presence will change your life.
Love you to Jesus,