Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Menu Plan and Brown Bagging

See my beautiful coffee mug? It's a one of a kind. I received it as a gift from my best friend. She is the type who remembers to send gifts at just the right occasion, when you are least expecting it and need a pick me up. She is such a good friend :) I got the little parcel tag in the mail and thought maybe it was one of the free samples I have been signing up for. (I will wait to see if I get any before I share the link. I don't want to pass on bogus information.) So, I finally brought my little tag to the post office and got back in the van and opened up the box. Inside was this beautiful mug! Just for me, for Mother's Day. My son, seeing how much I liked it, eyed it hopefully and asked, "Aunty sent that cup for all of us, right?" In his four-going-on-five year old mind, everything I have is also, by rights, his and mostly that is true. Some things, though, are just for me. I was happy to say, "Nope, it's for me, for Mother's Day." The boys, too, spoiled me quite well for Mother's Day. This year I got breakfast in bed, a potted plant and chocolates. It was lovely. I think we Mums need things that are just for us. Whether it is a special coffee mug, listening to our girly music instead of the husband's punk, or 15 minutes alone in our bathtub without interruption. Good luck with that, I still haven't managed to find the secret to that one. I have a small family but they both seem to need my attention quite a bit, especially when I am in the bathroom and technically unavailable.

One thing I have done to make life easier is to start and stick to a menu plan. This takes care of the dreaded four o' clock question: "What's for dinner?" This way, we all know and whomever is around to cook, (usually me, but not always,) knows what to make. I keep it simple. No thinking required. We also know we have the ingredients handy because we planned the menu before we went to the store. Again, no thinking. (Just rattle those pots and pans, will ya? We're starving over here.) This also saves money because you are not just buying whatever strikes your fancy at the time that you are shopping. (Oooh, a shrimp ring! That should be good for the week...) Many times I have put all the groceries away and then somebody opens the fridge and states with disgust, "There's nothing to eat." No more. I don't plan all of the meals, just dinner. Breakfast is usually oatmeal and yogurt, or commercial cereal. Snacks are fruit, cheese or a PB toast. Once in a while I bake cookies or muffins, but those are usually gone before they come off the cooling rack. Lunch is usually soup and sandwiches for me and the boy and the husband eats dinner leftovers at work. Don't go feeling sorry for him, our leftovers are usually pretty awesome because we cook things we like to eat. Way better than a frozen dinner or a sub from the convenience store. He has a big appetite and those puny frozen portions don't hold him over all day. He would then end up buying two or three snack foods. Cha ching. He also has been bringing his own coffee in a thermos. He started this last year when I printed out the ATM statement, highlighted and added up how much we both were spending at the corner store on snack foods for work. Because we work so hard, we deserve to pay the salaries of convienience store workers? Yikes, it didn't make any sense. Of course, we both smoked then, too and bought our coffee in a paper cup EVERY morning. What were we thinking??

Whew, I'm glad we have wised up a little. We still have a long way to go to get where we want to be, but at least now, we have a plan. A menu plan.

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