Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Flexible Menu Planning during trying times


We remain in this waiting time- in a holding pattern so to speak.
I try to keep to a routine but I am learning I daily need to be way more flexible than I normally am- for whatever may pop up on any day. Mr. Steady decided last week when his dad was put on hospice care that we (He & I) will visit his parents daily. I am also helping take his mom on errands etc during her respite care time during the week and have opened my house to my sweet sister-in-law’s kiddos when needed.
We are immensely and beyond blessed to have Ms. Books to hold down the fort here at home while we are in the midst of all this.
To help her (& myself) out, I have revamped the menu plan to simple easy-to-make, 20 minutes or less to create meals for the foreseeable future. This has included a few splurge purchases to have on hand for very quick meals. What do I consider a splurge?
Breaded chicken patties
Sugary boxed cereal
Instant oatmeal packets
Breaded mozzarella bites
Lots and lots of fruit- grapes, strawberries, peaches, bananas and nectarines
 
The good stuff in my fridge
We’ve got a few canned soups on hand and some chili in the freezer also. The mozzarella bites are for a snacky supper (we’ve got some pretzel breadsticks in the freezer as well as pizza and cheese sauce in the pantry).
The other part of revamping the menu plan is easy, yet is the hardest part for me- creating a list of meals instead of assigning meals to certain days. This has to be done right now because of the flexibility we must maintain. In the past week, we’ve gone to visit Mr. Steady’s parents thinking it would be an under an hour visit, leaving plenty of time for a sit down family dinner in the evening only to find that there was help needed/things that had to be done and we were there for 3+ hours (which led us to coming home and eating cereal for a late supper instead of a hearty meal).

Flexibility has also had to extend to the mornings, our crazy evenings have led to later bedtimes and a very groggy momma in the morning. I love making homemade oatmeal but right now- in the mornings I’m too tired to think straight. So boxed cereal and instant oatmeal packets are helping me get through. We have still been able to have big family breakfasts on the weekends so far and I’m praying that continues as it’s a grounding point for us (me especially) during this time.
I was able to cook up some chicken breasts in the crockpot today and shred them. The shredded chicken can then be used for chicken soft tacos and chicken-n-noodles.
Lunches are often a combination of leftovers, sandwiches, nachos or canned soup.

Here’s the dinner list as it stands right now:
Bologna burgers, chips-n-dip
Chicken patty sandwiches, chips, pickle spears
Easy Chicken Parmesan, green beans
Italian Wedding Soup (canned from Aldi) and mini subs (deli meat on hot dog buns)
Chicken-n-noodles, biscuits, homemade bread-n-butter pickles
French bread pizza or pizza from a local pizzeria (depends on what's going on)
Snacky supper- pretzel breadsticks and mozzarella bites with pizza and cheese dipping sauce
Chicken/ground beef soft tacos (seasoned shredded chicken or seasoned ground beef topped with tomato, lettuce, cheese & sour cream)
Nachos (we've got the shredded chicken and we plan on browning and seasoning some hamburger tomorrow to have on hand)
Breakfast for supper: Scrambled eggs with cheese and crumbled bacon, toast on the side (saving aside some bacon from breakfast this weekend for this purpose)
Mini sub sandwiches (deli meat on hot dog buns topped with cheese and broiled in oven), chips and pickle spears
and my mama will be sending home some leftovers from Easter dinner with us on Sunday...

That list right there gives us 14 quick and easy meals.
I still have the original menu plan on file so if I know we will actually have an evening at home together and I've got the energy..... we can plan a more involved meal.

Also- yesterday we were blessed with a most needed, most delicious, hot, home cooked meal from a wonderful family friend: scalloped potatoes and ham plus green beans on the side. This meal was a serious God-send as we took it with us to Mr. Steady's parents house and fed 11 people from it, with some going for seconds. We were at their home until 8:30 pm so having this meal to take and eat was a priceless gift. There was enough leftover for Mr. Steady to take in his lunch today. Praise God!
And the night before, while I was still trying to figure out a better meal plan and we were off trying to run much needed family errands in a small bit of time... my mama treated us to dinner out.

One thing I'm doing right- lots of fresh fruit on hand for snacking, since I haven't been home long enough to make homemade yogurt or granola or something else yummy... we've got lots of fresh fruit and we've got popcorn and salsa and chips. That'll get us by for now.

It's the practical, every day things like buying groceries, eating home cooked meals, baking, doing laundry and such that is getting shoved out the window right now in favor of time spent with family, whether it be Mr. Steady and I visiting and helping with his parents, or us coming home after and gathering up our loves here at home and all piling on the couch with blankets and hugs to watch a mindless funny family show.... because we just need time for our minds to numb a bit and our hearts to fill with the warm, soft breathing bodies of our children. To sit there and snuggle and smell their skin and feel their beating hearts and brush back their hair... such moments that I take for granted are now, in the midst of all this- so very time capsule precious to me.

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