Have you checked out my Facebook page yet? Come on over to see what interesting conversations and posts we get into each week, and give me your virtual "thumbs up"! I'd love to reach 500 likes this year!
I recently asked this question on The Meals Maven Facebook Page:
"If you could improve just 1 thing about cooking at home and eating in, what would it be?"
There were quite a few different answers, some of them expected, a couple of them not. I picked these ones to talk about today, and the rest will be addressed over the next few blog posts.
"Having all of the ingredients on hand when I decide to make something and not having to run to the store for 1 or 2 things every time I cook." - Laurie H
"Staying organized and planning more." - Robin M
I think these questions go hand in hand with each other. And I have to be honest with you, no matter how much practice I have had meal planning and eating in, sometimes things still fall through the cracks. For example, not too long ago, I was making chili for dinner. I was far enough along in cooking that the spices, onions, garlic, and meat were on the stove, in the pot, and starting to brown. And then I noticed I was out of beans. Yes, it's true. I had to run to the store to buy beans in the middle of making dinner.
Here are a few suggestions to help improve your cooking at home experience! Make your habits work for you!
Are you inspired? I hope this helps ignite a few more ideas on making eating in a lot less stressful and easier to manage.
As always, if you want someone to plan for you, I'm your girl. Shoot me a note and I'll pass you a no-obligations survey. The best parts about my plans? They're based on flavours and foods you like, and you get your grocery list included. Yay!
Have a great weekend, friends!
As you may recall, our beloved (not old) fridge died suddenly. While we were able to get a fridge to use while it was waiting for repair, and are exceedingly grateful to have it, it is not the most user-friendly fridge. Because ours is still waiting for repair- the part is backordered until the end of February- I decided to give the fridge a makeover.
If you have a basic fridge without a lot of good storage options, maybe my search for betterment will help you too!
Some quick suggestions on a fridge and freezer makeover:
If you want to walk through my fridge and freezer with me, I'll give you a quick rundown of why I corralled things as I did. The door is the biggest improvement, I think.
Two of the shelves had lost their stoppers, so things couldn't really be kept in the door without them falling out. Dollarama baskets + rubber feet + packing tape kept those baskets in place. I use it for things we don't use too often, like the many bottles of hot sauce we keep collecting, and our salad dressings.
I found the vegetable and fruit compartments in this fridge significantly lacking in space, so I added a basket to help keep the apples in place with the berries, and grapefruit happily sits under the butter compartment. (Yes, I know that's a lot of butter. I had planned on baking at Christmas, but didn't.)
In the main fridge itself, adding a shelf and a basket to help store some items and use the vertical space available made a massive difference for us. We don't often eat condiments but we seem to have a lot, and they need a home. The upper basket holds jam, ketchup, mustard, and salad dressing. The lower holds what we use more often- cream, yogurt, and pickles. Allowing milk and juice to hang out on one side helps everyone know where the beverages are.
Underneath my fruit compartment is my leftovers, meal starters to get into the freezer, and a grease can. More condiments on the back of that shelf, and the already-prepped beginnings of tonight's dinner are on the right.
The lower shelf isn't very tall, but it's deep. Things can get lost in the back so everything on that shelf is out in the front. Earlier in the week that's the shelf I used to defrost my food, behind everything fresh. In one basket are salad greens and snap peas, and in the other the yogurt my kids love as well as my jar of yeast- I don't use it often, so it's ok behind everything else.
The freezer is much better now too. It's hard to know what you're looking at, right? The top basket on the left holds my already cooked meal starters and lunch items. The middle and right one holds purees for baking. I guess I should do some of that baking, eh?
Under the main shelf are vegetables, prepared meals (shepherds pie, chili, and meat sauce), Grana Padano chunks, and berries.
Hopefully I've inspired you to organize your fridge and freezer. If you're tired of not knowing where anything is, this may be the key to sorting out your frustration!
All the best today, friends!
Yay! It's me!
I get to be a part of a really interesting start-up that launches on February 1! For my first class I'll be doing an echo of the planners class that I'm speaking at next week. I'm so excited!
Check out The Adulting School if you want to see what kinds of courses they offer, or if you know anyone who needs a little help figuring things out- it's only going to grow and will be a fantastic resource. I can't wait to see where it goes and how I get to be a part of it!
All the best today, friends. Stay warm and take care!
Today I have a guest post from Sherry, owner of Stamped Treasures. I've known Sherry for many years in a friendship that began when we were both new Stampin' Up! demonstators. Sherry has a unique art style that creates functional items with timeless beauty, and today she's writing about the value of planners. She's got a class coming up in a couple of weeks, and I am her guest speaker!
Last week we talked about New Years Resolutions, and now it's time to talk about out how we manage to organize and keep them. Without further ado, here's Sherry!
Planning with paper and pen has been around for years. With the rise in popularity of technology, you'd think it would be a dying craft. You may be surprised to learn that the planner community and the love of paper planners are actually becoming more popular.
Planners can help organize your busy life, plan your meals, record your thoughts, and document and track your goals. Planners can help keep you on task and focused. I find nothing quite as satisfying as making a check mark next to a completed task. At the end of the day seeing that list of checkmarks makes me feel accomplished. It sounds odd, but I find being able to check a task so rewarding that it makes me stay focused on my list of to do’s. For me, that check mark has to be in the form of putting pen to paper, a check box on my phone or computer just doesn’t give me that same sense of accomplishment.
How about you? Are you a list maker? Do you love pretty notebooks, planners or calendars? Maybe you are looking for a creative outlet? Or maybe a way to document things your kids say or do that makes you smile? You’d be surprised at what a planner can do to improve your life and productivity.
If you are curious about types of planners, what all the hype is and/or how you can use a planner to stay organized, as a creative outlet or to record your memories, I'd love for you to join me at my upcoming planner class on Tuesday January 17th at 7pm. Class fee of $15 includes an abundance of information on types, styles and how to use planners, two make and takes and a brief talk from my friend Stacy from The Meals Maven on menu planning.
If you own a planner(s), please bring it along with adhesive (available to purchase in class if needed) and scissors to class.
Yesterday morning our fridge just stopped working. It was unexpected...it might be 3 years old. Luckily, family came to the rescue, and we now have a temporary fridge to use until ours gets repaired.
It was supposed to be a full day of cooking ahead and getting ready for school, with a full day today for baking and finishing up on those other little miscellaneous things to get ready for school. Just like I posted previously, though, we don't always get advance notice about those curveballs. I'll do what I can, and let go of the stress of what I can't.
Baking can wait until some down time next weekend as I've still got to finish off my cooking and household responsibilities...and add "clean out the fridge" to my list so it doesn't go nasty while we wait for repair.
This week I started practicing the discipline of daily gratitude. This was the perfect opportunity to be grateful- I'm grateful for realizing how much we enjoy our fridge, for the fact that my sister in law was getting rid of hers just when we needed to use one, and that my father in law was available to help us get it to our house from hers.
What are you grateful for today? Has life thrown any curveballs at you lately?
Simple but straightforward and easy to track, with just enough ambition to have to make an effort. Resolutions shouldn't be something you can do in your sleep. The point is to grow this year, not maintain.
There is no shortage of weight loss programs and health-related posts and stories early on in each new year. Earlier this week a story ran on the news that covered this topic, and the usual solutions to post-holiday problems were offered, with a new one I hadn't heard before- "sleep naked".
That was unexpected!
In my world as a meal planner I am just like everyone else. I seldom do it all perfectly or have it all together. There are days I fall off the wagon too, but I usually dust myself off and climb back up. I don't give up when most people would. I'm here to encourage you to try the same.
If you fell off your health and wellness goals over the holidays, know that you aren't alone, climb back up there and keep going.
Today is about "special" foods: any special diet food promoted everywhere this time of year. Everyone wants a quick fix and companies make their money on those desires.
The thing you need to remember is most of these products have fine print somewhere that states something along the lines of "in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle including plenty of water, exercise, rest, and balanced food choices"... You might lose weight when you buy these overpackaged, overprocessed, and overpriced foods. Or you might not. It depends on more than what special brand of diet food you pick today for dinner or snacks- it's all about overall healthy choices.
You will reap rewards for your health with simple, manageable changes, such as:
Have a wonderful day, friends!
The Meals Maven 2016
There's that old song I turn up whenever it's on the radio and the wisdom in one of the lines catches my attention everytime..."every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end".
So it is with each new year.
Did you know that just 8% of people who make New Years Resolutions end up meeting them?
I'll admit that my motif for 2015 kind of sucked. It was a great idea, but not terribly measurable. I don't think I set a resolution at all last year, and I think my year reflected that. Not that it was a bad year overall- I just didn't have a lot of focus.
2017, though, is off to a running start. Not only have I decided some important release dates ahead of time, I've also started working a consistent 3-day work week, thanks to a fabulous share of content care of Cailen Ascher.
Why 3 days?
3 days, because I have a family at home, and I need the focused time with all the distractions in my life. 3 days, because it allows me to have a couple of flex days each week that can be used to focus on household matters or allows me to rearrange work days if I need to. 3 days, because in those 3 days of solid, steady, consistent work I think I will find achievable, measurable gains. I'm really excited to have started my work week in spite of the fact that the kids are still home from school. It's early yet, but going really well. I can see the value.
My biggest challenge?
Discipline. It's so easy to skip like a stone across the water, flitting from this to that and never really making any progress. In fact, that defined a lot of my last year. A nugget of wisdom picked up from Cailen Ascher makes so much sense to me: "If it's not scheduled, it won't happen". I spent the last 3 weeks of 2016 deciding what my goals, deadlines, release dates, appointments and so on would be in 2017. I stumbled across the 3-day work week content share on December 28, and spent last Saturday sorting out what my schedule will look like. I'm excited and I think it's attainable.
What are your challenges?
What do you want from 2017? Make your goals measurable and attainable. It's easy to make a list a mile long but in reality it's hard to maintain that sort of momentum. Over the next week we'll talk about some possible goals relating to food and nutrition. I'll be here to help you start setting down your intentions. There's something about the new year that makes all of us a little more open to possibility.
Happy New Year, friends. You've got this!