The following guest post is written by my dear friend Katie.
Now that the holidays are over, my life gets back to normal. Back to work, back to school, back to busy. As much as I enjoy relaxing at home and seeing my family, I thrive on schedules, routines, and procedures.
I am a teacher. My husband is an engineer. Between the two of us, we work close to 100 hours per week. The Lord has blessed us with wonderful jobs that not only provide for our family, but are fulfilling and enjoyable; however, there is much organization that has to occur in order for this house to run smoothly. I grew up in a house that boasted perfectly made beds, folded and pressed laundry, and carpets with immaculate vacuum lines nearly every day.
Over the past 4 years, I have learned that my house won’t always be perfectly clean. I will have to live with laundry sitting in the basket for more than 1 day. I can’t make perfect meals from scratch every night after a full school day, workout, and a 35 minute commute.
If there was ever one thing that needed the most help from organization, it would be food. When I think about our family and food, I think of 3 words: Healthy, Inexpensive, and Quick. Here are several things I do to keep things that way:
- Invest time on Sundays to prepare food for the week. We eat mostly skinless, boneless chicken breasts and lean ground beef for dinner, so I like to pre-cook those meats (if I can) beforehand so that they can easily be made into healthy meals (pre-baked chicken becomes low-fat enchiladas, browned ground beef becomes stuffed peppers with brown rice or tacos). If the meat will be made into a casserole, I will usually make that casserole on Sunday and either refrigerate it or freeze it, depending on when we will eat it in the week.
- Plan easy breakfast dishes that can also be made on Sunday and eaten all week. We love to switch off between quiche and blueberry apple bran muffins. Both are very inexpensive, healthy recipes, not to mention addicting (I put down 3-4 of those muffins every day. Pathetic, but at least I am getting whole grains!)
- Always plan on a meal lasting for two nights. I only prepare for 3-4 meals per week. For two people, I cook for 4. We eat half one night and have the rest the next night. Not only does this mean I don’t really have to cook the second night- it means we have to control our portions or we don’t have dinner the next night. Many times I have said, “Babe, you eat that other chicken breast and you won’t have any tomorrow”. Fork down. If you can’t handle the same thing twice in a row, alternate nights. Monday pairs with Wednesday, Tuesday pairs with Thursday, and so on.
- Make “two-fer” meals. You know, meals that allow you to make one meal and reuse some of the leftovers as a different recipe. We really like Stuffed Peppers turned into Loose Meat Sliders (a.k.a. sloppy joes).
- Make lunches the night before and prepackage things like chips and fruit in baggies for quick prep. On Sundays, I precut all of our fruit (Daniel loves pineapple and cantelope!) and bag them into their own baggies. When I am packing his lunches the night before each work day, I make him a fresh sandwich and then just grab prebagged fresh fruits. I do the same with crackers, chips, or other lunch items. We are both more likely to eat healthfully if it is readily accessible.
- Make recipes that have only a few ingredients. This will keep grocery costs down, as will only preparing 3-4 meals per week. We love Mama Loves Food’s Baked Potato Soup. We usually sub fat free sour cream and ham chunks for the cream cheese and bacon.
- Be stubborn, get creative, and stalk meat sales. I go to the store once each week, even if that means I have to go to a few stores in one day to get the best deals (Our Aldi has 1 gallon of milk for $1.99. Worth the extra park job). If I forget something, I become stubborn. We simply will not eat it if we don’t have it on hand. When I see meat on sale, I stock up. This initially makes our grocery bill go up, but I make cheaper meals the following week to make up for it. This is where being creative comes in . The other day, I found pork shoulders for $1/lb on sale. I bought two and they were each 9 pounders (Daniel got a smoker for Christmas. How happy he was when I came home with those groceries?!), which hiked our weekly bill up $20. When we cook them in the Spring, we will have several meals worth of meat- and will probably have Jenni and her husband over to help us eat it .
I hope what I do will give you some ideas to stay organized, eat easily, cheaply, and healthfully, and allow you to spend time with your family in the evening instead of slaving in the kitchen. It might seem like Sunday isn’t very restful, but it still is. In the end, you will be so thankful you invested a few hours of your time to prepare for the week. I promise!
About the Author: Katie is a Christian wife and homemaker in the Midwest, where she teaches Family and Consumer Sciences to middle school students specializing in sewing construction. She has been happily married to her husband for four years. Her passions include sewing, thrifting, saving money, baking, and spending time with family. She writes and creates at Katie.J.Gibson.
This post is linked to Make Your Home Sing Monday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Frugal Tuesday Tip, Homemaking Wednesday, Penny Pinching Party, Hearts 4 Home Thursday, Thrifty Thursday and Frugal Friday.