Organization Day 7: Menu Planning and Grocery Lists

apple dumplings

Welcome to the next article in my new series on Organization.  In the last article I showed you how to incorporate Zonal Cleaning into your daily schedules and routines.  Today we’ll look at a very important and potentially time-consuming job~ Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping. I say ‘potentially time consuming’ because if you are not organized and structured in this area of managing your home, you can end up spending much more money on things that you don’t need and won’t end up using. By planning your meals and therefore your grocery shopping lists you won’t find yourself buying ingredients on a whim or wasting time thinking about what you should get ‘this time’. It will also save you fuel because you won’t have to run back to the grocery store or market because you forgot something.

If you missed the previous post follow this link to it https://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/11/20/organization-day-6-zonal-cleaning/

Menus & Grocery lists

I decided to spend one day with the help of my children to design our weekly menus for a year.  That may sound a bit scary but not really… you see I didn’t make 52 separate menus. I designed two groups of menus according to the seasons. Spring & Summer’s menus focus on the fresh produce we’re growing and that’s available. The second is Fall & Winter which features what we’ve canned, frozen and what’s in the root cellar along with what we’re still growing in the fall garden and winter hoop house. I created eight weeks of menus for each group. This allows me to rotate over two months. I keep that weeks menu on the fridge so we don’t have to think about meal prep, especially during our busy gardening and canning season. Having a menu helps in grocery shopping and meal prep every morning.

Cooking is not my favorite thing to do, but I have five growing boys that need to eat.  My daughter Taylor’s the one who loves being in the kitchen. It’s funny though… baking is her favorite thing to do, that is my least favorite; she likes to cook and I don’t mind, especially with garden fresh goodies; she doesn’t mind canning and I absolutely love it; and we’re both OK with yeast baking stuff~ although I will say, I like that a bit more than her.  But neither one of us can make a pie crust to save our lives~ honestly, we just have never been able to master that!

Taylor would be happy to sit in a rocking chair with a pile of cookbooks and cooking mag’s where I would be there with my gardening ones! We balance each other out I guess…

Anyway, lets look into organizing your life with Menu Planning and Grocery Lists.

Menu Planning

I love anything that will simplify my life in the everyday stuff that needs to be done like preparing meals for my family. Remember my P.M.S.? I’d much rather take a few hours sitting down with my favorite cookbooks to compile a couple of months worth of menus eliminating the question “What’s for supper tonight?”  Taylor and I do run out of ideas and our meals can quickly fall into a rut of the same stuff over and over again! The ‘what’s for supper’ question can quickly become spaghetti all too often without menus! I’m sure many of us can relate to that! So I thought it would be nice to share a few tips in menu planning.

*First take 1-3 of your favorite cookbooks and 2 blank monthly calendars and a PENCIL! Don’t take more than this, you’ll get side tracked!

*Be sure you take into consideration what days off children might have from school, scheduled extra curricular activities, each family members day’s off from work. Don’t plan a favorite meal for someone when they won’t even be home for it!

*I only include breakfast and supper on the menus because most of the children are at school and/or work.

DPP_0010

*Before you go into the cookbooks, fill in a few of the day’s with some meals that you know each family member enjoys. Think about the groceries each meal will take beforehand. Fill in one breakfast, lunch and supper for each family member with their favorite thing over the two weeks of menus- don’t duplicate any meal and don’t include any deserts… YET.

*Now that you have several of the days and meals filled in decide if your family wants to have a ‘night out’ meal… jot that in the appropriate box.

*Next, decide how often you want to have desert with meals… fill in accordingly.

*Now go to the cookbooks. I encourage you to try a new recipe once a week. This will be fun and will help you and your family find new favorites. It’ll also help you from getting in a rut of the same old thing.

Some extra tips when planning your menu:
*Do you have a garden? Do you shop primarily at the Farmers Market during the season? Do you have any of your own live stock that you raise? Do you have your own chickens for eggs? These should all play a factor in your menu planning.

*Take into consideration what season you’re in. Spring will hold more salads if you have a garden; summer will be the mother load of produce and will eliminate much grocery shopping for fresh produce, so incorporate meals that save you from buying ‘stuff’; fall will give you more root crops and squashes as well as it being butcher time- plan according to what you have available and growing.

*Have your family members help create the menu. This can be a fun family activity and sharing time of who liked and didn’t like what!

*You now have two whole months planned out and it was so much fun and so easy. If you feel adventurous try doing another month and plan it out seasonally.

*Be sure to jot down what the cookbook and the page number for the recipe on the calendar. I recommend using abbreviations for cookbooks. For example I would put LS for my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats. If you don’t think you’ll remember them, jot down a legend on the back of the calendar.

Include this job in your control journal in one of your desk day jobs.

DPP_0003

Grocery Lists

Grocery lists are really not complicated and won’t take up too much time when you have your menus to work off of. Here are some tips!

*I recommend keeping a magnetic note pad or grocery list right on the front or side of your fridge! Each time you run out of something jot it down or tick it off the pre-made list.

Google ‘grocery list’ and you’ll find oodles of styles to download. Keep a master in your control journal and make a copy for each week, unless you have a pre-printed note pad. Here are a few sites to try:

http://www.workingmom.com/grocerylist.htm
http://www.practicalspreadsheets.com/Grocery-List-Template.html
www.home-organization-online.com/free-printable-grocery-list.html
www.freeprintablegrocerylist.com

DPP_0007

*You’ll need to go over your menu for the next week and shop accordingly.

*As I mentioned you can save a lot of money when you grow your own or at least eat seasonally. But if that’s not an option for you shop the farmers market which is the next best thing. There are many winter farmers market as well that you can shop and support and still eat seasonally with root crops, storage crops and fresh greens.

*Stick to the list when you go to the grocery store. I’m sure most of you shop at several stores for different items.  Have a list for each store and coupons/ ad’s to go with each.

*I always make sure I have my grocery list, coupons and shopper bags ready to go.

*If you have empties to return, be sure they’re ready to go and in the trunk.

*Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry… you WILL buy things you normally don’t because ‘they look good’ at the time!

Here is a sample of my monthly menu.  Sorry if you can’t make out my ‘printing’ 😉 and abbreviations.
I hope this gives you some great ideas on how to incorporate menu planning and grocery lists into organizing your life!
Happy Day,
Jean

DPP_0004DPP_0005

Jean’s Kale and Toasted Walnut Pesto Recipe!

DPP_0009

Kale is a super food and is readily available at most famers markets year round. It is a cold hardy crop and grows in hoop houses (type of green house) even in regions where winters are cold and frigid.

For pesto lovers who long for this yummy treat when basil isn’t as readily available, try this awesome alternative! You’re sure to be pleased.

As promised, here is my yummy Kale and Toasted Walnut Pesto recipe that I taught and demonstrated at my Winter Farmers market, The Old Winery Farmers Market!  Check it for more recipes at www.oldwineryfarmersmarket.com
Enjoy friends!

Kale and Toasted Walnut Pesto

1/2 c. plain walnuts
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and ends trimmed
3 c. kale, chopped and de-stemmed
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Method:

DPP_0001
1. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, stir the walnuts until just lightly toasted, about two minutes. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes. I put them in the freezer to speed it up.

DPP_0004

2. Pour oil in blender; add garlic, walnuts, cheese, salt & pepper, blend on high till thoroughly mixed.

DPP_0005

3. Turn the blender off and put 1 cup of the kale in, blend on high; shut it off and press down and return to blending; repeat this will each cup of kale until it is thoroughly blended and it is a smooth consistency.

DPP_0007

Use your kale pesto on pasta, meats or fish. For another super yummy way to use it, check out this link at Food Network http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/damaris-phillips/squash-tartlets-with-kale-pesto-recipe/index.html

Happy Day,
Jean

Jean’s Easy Blender Mayonnaise

DPP_0004

Have you ever wondered how that make that stuff? Well a lot of times it’s a lot easier than you would think…

I thought I would share my recipe for the easiest and yummiest mayonnaise that I’ve ever made!
If you like this recipe, you can see almost 1000 more awesome recipes in my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats!  Available through PayPal by clicking this link or go to my Facebook page and Private Message me there to order by mail with a check payment.  https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=RF3LVG5Z3NEHG

Enjoy friends!

Easy Blender Mayonnaise pg. 82 in my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats
Yields: 2 to 2 1/2 cups

IMG_8459

2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil or canola oil

Method:

IMG_8461
1. In blender, put eggs and spices; blend on medium to high-speed until thoroughly mixed.

IMG_8462

2. On high, SLOWLY pour in half of the oil. If you add the oil too fast, the mayonnaise will curdle.

IMG_8463

3. Next, again slowly add lemon juice; then rest of oil and continue to blend until smooth and creamy.

IMG_8464

This tastes even better that store-bought… simply b/c there are no preservatives and it’s home-made!
Enjoy friends.
Jean

Organization Day 6 : Zonal Cleaning

DSC02172Welcome to the next article in my new series on Organization.  In the last article I explained The Walk Through and how you’ll incorporate it into Zonal Cleaning.

The cold days of winter are quick on their way here in the Thumb of Michigan and I’m anxious to finish up my homes fall cleaning. It is such a good feeling when everything is fresh and clean.  I just feel so much better when I know this task is completed and I can check that off my to-do list for the fall.

Today we are going to touch on the next item in my organization series, Zonal Cleaning.

If you missed the last post in the series here’s a link to it https://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/11/18/organization-day-6-the-walk-through/

So you walk into your child’s room and it’s a disaster. You feel frustrated… unappreciated… you blame yourself for not teaching the child properly… you slam the door shut and walk away.

How many of you have done this? I know I have… and it is an overwhelming feeling!

But is slamming the door shut, walking away and not dealing with it the solution to the problem? No! We all realize it isn’t, but what is the solution you wonder, as I have so many times… even today!

Zonal Cleaning is at least part of the answer!

“OK Jean,” you’re saying to yourself, “What is zonal cleaning?”  In the previous article I explained that the walk through was not ‘cleaning’ day,  it’s something that should be done repeatedly through the day and especially right before bed.  Zonal cleaning on the other hand is cleaning day.

We’re on day six of my organization series and so far you’ve  gotten everything down on paper and you’re ready to roll into the work… and that’s where we start today. When you were creating your routines, writing them down and putting them into your journal, you were actually preparing for today’s lesson on zonal cleaning.

You see, each room in your home is a zone and while you created the cleaning order for each room you were actually designing your plan of action to tackle the zones- each room in your home

I realize the best way to teach someone anything is to give examples.  Here’s a look at how I zone clean my family room.

duster_emailver

~Weekly jobs: (unless otherwise mentioned- like the walk through)

*Start the room with a walk through.
*Feather dust from the top down: Ceiling line and down corners of the wall; picture tops, curtains, lamp shades, blinds, table tops and any other dusty spots you see.
*Wipe down/dust any shelves in the room
*Wash windows, wipe down ledges; wash all glass- pictures, clocks, etc.
*Straighten book case- organize books that are out-of-place; any decorative elements; table tops
*Vacuum.

~Once a month tasks:

* Take down mini blinds/shades and wash.
*Take down curtains and wash.
*Wash lamp shades.
*Pull out all furniture that can be moved; clean up behind; use broom to sweep any dust from the baseboards out onto the carpet so it can be vacuumed.
*Vacuum under cushions of couch and chairs with removable cushions.
*Spot clean any spots on the furniture.

DPP_0001

~Spring & Fall Cleaning:

*Wash ceilings and walls, wash carpets.
*All the once a month chores as well.

As you can see, zonal cleaning is basically your daily routines broke down into rooms or zones.

In my next article I’ll explain to you the basics on Menu and Meal Planning and how easy it is along with a sample of one of my months menus!
Happy Day,
Jean

Garden Themes!

 

My breakfast patio is one of my quiet spaces...

My breakfast patio is one of my quiet spaces…

Have you been dreaming of a new garden but just can’t figure out what you want to do? Well… check out my new post at Your Home with Karie Engels for 4 awesome ideas!

Click the link to take you right on over!

http://yourhomewithkarieengels.com/2013/11/21/garden-themes

Happy Day,
Jean

Organization Day 5: The Walk Through

My officeWell today I thought it was time to touch base on a common statement that occurs in my home every single day… The Walk Through. “What is a walk through?” you ask. Well, it is the next step in my organization series.

The walk through is a very basic concept that I believe most of us do everyday, but never really had a name for it.  It’s easy to apply to our daily schedules and routines and it’s one that children can completely understand. The walk through is simply going through a room and picking up everything that is out-of-place AND putting it away where it belongs.  Simply eh?

In the next post we’ll learn what Zonal Cleaning is and how to apply the walk through in it.

It’s been said that if you do something consistently for thirty days, it’ll become a habit or a routine~ that works with good or bad  stuff, so be careful!  I’ve incorporated this aspect into our daily lives over the last ten years and now it’s just a normal part of cleaning up for me and my children.

Here are a few tips when going through this step in the organizational process of getting your home where you want it to be:

Basket and bag for walk through

*Each time a walk through is done, take a plastic bag and basket along with you. You’ll use the bag for trash and the basket for items that need to be put back in their proper place.

*As you go through, it’s best to start from the top down. For example table tops, book or other shelves, couches and chairs and then onto the floor. Be sure to look under the furniture. Gather up what needs to be put away in the basket, put trash in the bag.

*While you’re doing your walk through straighten things up as you go, fix haphazard cushions, re-fold any throw blankets, straighten pictures on the wall, tidy books and magazines on tables in the room as well as on the shelves, straighten any decorative objects or table clothes/ linens.

Once you’ve completed the walk through, I suggest you vacuum or sweep the floor. That gives the finished look!

The walk through is not ‘cleaning’ day, it’s something that should be done repeatedly through the day and especially right before bed. Vacuuming only once unless needed more.

I focus on three daily walk throughs- right before lunch- this is when we typically vacuum, just before supper (or just before dad gets home from work) and then before bed. There is nothing nicer then getting up in the morning and coming down to a tidy house!

Keep posted for my next topic in my organization series: Zonal Cleaning.

Happy Day,
Jean

Jean’s Cabbage Roll Caserole

DPP_0002

What do you do with cabbages like this?
Well most of it is going into sauerkraut, but I’m planning
several yummy meals of my

Homemade Cabbage Roll Casserole!

Now those are some whopping cabbages! For those of you interested in the variety, they’re Late Flat Dutch. This variety grows quite large with a flat, dense consistency and are a great storage variety!

I only use this variety to make my sauerkraut for two reasons:

  • First is because they’re ready to harvest later in the season when I’m not as busy with my other canning- convenience.
  •  Secondly, it’s very dense and tight which makes it heavier, therefore gives you more in quantity.

It also makes a mean cole slaw and my families favorite, Jean’s Cabbage Roll Casserole.  So as promised over at my Facebook page… which BTW if you haven’t been over to, click the button over to the left of this post and Like it! We have loads of fun there.

Jean’s Cabbage Roll Casserole

6 cups shredded cabbage
1 lb. raw ground beef or pork or a combination of both
1 cup white rice- I use Basmatti
1 med. white or yellow cooking onion, chopped
1 quart (4 cups) tomato juice
2 c vegetable broth or chicken is good too
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Method:

1. Chop/shred cabbage

DPP_0006

2. Add meat
DPP_0007

3. Chop onion and add into mixture.
DPP_0010

4. Add rice.
DPP_0009

5. Add tomato juice, water, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
DPP_0012

6. Mix all together with your hands thoroughly.
DPP_0013

7. Bake in a 300 degree oven on center rack for 3 hours, or until cabbage and rice are soft and meat is done.
DPP_0001

Serve with dinner buns and enjoy the flavors of fall!
Happy Day,
Jean

Organization Day 4 : My Daily Home Blessing

IMG_8382

“There is no place like home…”

In my previous post on using journals, day planners and calendars I mentioned my Daily Home Blessing and told you I’d share that with you in an upcoming post… so here it is.   If you missed the last post, here’s a link to it.
https://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/11/08/organization-day-3-using-a-journal-and-day-planner/

Some of you may be wondering what my Daily Home Blessing is and how it applies to my home and life being more organized.  Well… as a mother of six, keeping the children happy is a key to a happy home 😉 I’m sure whether you’re a parent or not, you’d agree.

My goal in the daily home blessing is two-fold:
1. To train my dear children in the fruits of the spirit and help them to apply these qualities to their daily lives.
2. …not just them, but myself.

We as wives and mothers strive to be a blessing in our homes… if you’re neither of these you’re still looking to feel peace and comfort in your home environment.

With that said, I feel that helping my children to be scheduled and strive for organization now, will help them tremendously when they have homes, garages, vehicles and more of their own.  If they don’t learn now that everything has its place and everything in its place, when will they?

DPP_0007

happy mom + happy children + organized home environment + structure
= Happy Home
… at least most of the time!

I believe that by teaching my children that they can find happiness and joy in applying these fruits to their everyday life, they’ll become happier and content… doesn’t always work right off the go, but I’m looking for long-term results.

I thought today I’d share what I did over the years with my older children. All though this practice has fallen by the way side over the last few years, reviewing it over again has stimulated me to get back into the process with my two youngest ones… and believe me, I think it’ll help!

My Daily Home Blessing
by Jean Smith

Goal: To train my dear children in the fruits of the spirit and help them to apply these qualities to their daily lives…
not just them, but myself.

Each day is assigned 1-2 fruits of the spirit (9 fruits in 7 days)

Daily Breakdown of the fruits…
Sunday, Love
Monday, Joy and Peace
Tuesday, Longsuffering and Gentleness
Wednesday, Goodness
Thursday, Faith
Friday, Meekness
Saturday, Self-control

At lunch (or supper would be fine too) we talk about that days fruit and how we are trying to apply it to our day.

We talk about our successes as well as our failings for the day.

We encourage each other on in our weaknesses’ and strengths.

We also review the verse and I encourage the children to share their thoughts about it.

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance;
against such there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

I believe that an organized and structured home provides a more peaceful environment and teaching my children to apply the fruits of the spirit is a step in that direction.

Happy Day,
Jean

Fall Harvest Recipes: Squash is on the menu tonight

DPP_0004

Fall is filled with wonderful things… including all the winter squash we’ve harvested. We’re reaping what we’ve sown and it’s time to enjoy it on our tables.  Try some of these recipes to put some adventure into your squash cooking this season!

butternut_squash_emailver

Butternut squash is a fall favorite for many. My version will add a ‘zippy’ twist to it’s traditional, smooth, balanced flavor.
Zippy Butternut Squash Soup
8 c. chunked, peeled butternut squash
4 c. chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. fresh ground white pepper

Method:
Combine all ingredients into a large kettle. Bring to a boil on high heat; reduce heat to simmer and cover.
Simmer for 40 minutes. Add additional broth if needed.
Remove from heat and let cool for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Puree in a food processor or blender in small batches, no more than 2 cups at a time, until smooth.

DPP_0021

Acorn squash is an all-time favorite for many families. Here’s a really special treat that even the little ones are sure to enjoy!
Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
3 sweet apples, peeled, cored and chopped. I like Gala, Gold Delicious or Empire
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Method:
1. In a large bowl combine apples, butter, sugar and cinnamon and mix well.
2. Divide the apple mixture evenly between the 4 halves and fill the cavities.
3. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.

DPP_0003

We love this yummy variation to squash!
Sausage Stuffed Squash
1 Sweet Dumpling Squash, halved and seeds removed
1/2 lb. breakfast sausage or Italian Sausage
1/4 c. chopped red onion
1/4 c. celery, finely chopped
1/2 c. regular bread crumbs
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. shredded co-jack cheese

Method:
1. In a large skillet brown sausage, onions and celery together; drain off excess liquid. Stir in cheeses and bread crumbs.
2. Divide the sausage mixture evenly between the two squash halves; place in a baking dish and bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes covered. Test with a knife if it inserts easily; bake the last 10-15 minutes uncovered.
When your knife slides in and out easily it is done.

pancakeWsyrup

Here is a super yummy recipe to put a twist in breakfast time!
Maple Squash Pancakes
1 c. cooked and mashed squash
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
2 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. maple flavoring
2 1/2 c. biscuit mix, like Bisquick
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Method:
1. Beat the eggs and cooked squash together until well mixed; add milk, oil and maple flavoring blend in.
2. Combine dry ingredients and stir into liquid.
3. Fry on a hot, lightly oiled skillet.

pie_lemon_photo

Pie is not reserved for apples… try this yummy variation to coconut cream pie.
Spaghetti Squash Pie
1 unbaked 9″ pie shell
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. coconut extract
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 cup cooked spaghetti squash
1 Container whipped topping
1/4 cup sweetened, toasted coconut
1 Tbsp. butter

Method:
1. Beet eggs slightly and add remaining ingredients except the squash, mix well; now stir in squash.
2. Pour mixture into un-baked pie shell; bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes; reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake 20 t 30 more minutes, or until golden and when a knife inserted comes out clean.
3. While pie is baking toast coconut in butter, stirring constantly.
4. Remove pie to a cooling rack for half hour and refrigerate. Top with whipped topping and sprinkle toasted coconut on top.
Serve chilled.

Winter squash is abounding at your local farmers markets and road side markets. Pick up a few  extra and try freezing some so you’ll have it handy all winter long.

Happy Day,
Jean