Sunday, 17 October 2010

Lightbulb moments - don't you love them!

Try as I may, I haven't been able to write down a menu plan that I am happy with - or that I can stick to! It's been driving me bonkers and I was almost ready to throw in the towel and declare 'I cannot do this!' when God pushed aside my frustration and popped a very simple answer into my mind.
Let me backtrack just a bit.
All my life I have loved lists, plans, strategies, instructions...when I was 8 I had every article of my clothing itemised on a list inside my wardrobe door and a schedule next to it with what I'd be wearing on each day for the next week.
When I was 9 I organised my own library - cataloging all my books in alphabetical and subject order, adding a library card to the inside sleeve (remember when all libraries did that? Before the techno age?), and making myself a library card book where I would 'make record' of the books I loaned myself each week. I loved the structure of planning, and implementing those plans!
Back to my menu planning. 
Most of my adult life has revolved around a plan of some sort. As a homeschooling parent who gathered together her own curriculum I was daily making plans for each subject for each child, with an overall scope & sequence for each term. Oh, how wonderful that was! I was in my element. :-) 
Added to this I had a 6 week rotating menu plan that kept me on track with meals and shopping, plus a house cleaning planner that had each room attended to on a certain day of the week, with a 'deep' clean list once every school holiday break. 
When the kids finished homeschooling and my design work 'took off', after we'd moved cross country yet 'again', after menopause hit with a vengeance - well, all those plans just dwindled away and my daily menu/cleaning/planning systems all fell apart. 
To be honest, this has its good points as well as the obvious bad ones. The good point is that I am more open to the unexpected and to change...I wake each day wondering 'what today, Lord?', and that makes my time more accessible to Him.
So the other day as I was agonising over a good menu plan, He spoke into my thoughts with this idea.
Instead of making a menu plan as I had done in years past, I should give each day a 'core ingredient' based on who will be having dinner at home that night.
For example, my 17yo has 'pizza and movies' every Tursday night with his best mate. This son doesn't like tuna, but the rest of us do, so Tuesday is now Tuna Night! I have made a list of tuna based meals, and each Tuesday night I choose one of them to cook for the rest of the family. Easy!
Monday is pasta night, so I have a *long* list of pasta meals we all enjoy and I choose one of them to make. 
And so my week continues with 'Rice', 'Potatoes', 'Seafood', and 'Vegetarian' nights. I have one night free - Saturday. That's because my husband has, after 19 years of marriage, decided to learn to cook. We go shopping together on Saturday morning and choose a main ingredient, then we go home and look through all my cook books until we find a simple recipe we can make together. I am loving this!!

Yesterday we chose to purchase green prawns. It was just $7 for 1/2 kilo, and we made a truly delicious dinner from one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks, plus a carrot and orange salad from another of J.O.'s books.
Marinate the green prawns (hubby peeled them for me) in lime zest, sunflower oil, and grated ginger for a few minutes...
...then stir fry quickly for just 2 minutes. Put aside for 30 seconds to cool a bit.
In a bowl add lime juice, chopped fresh chilli, and freshly chopped coriander leaves.
 Pour this over the prawns and serve with the carrot salad!
Carrot Salad: Grate carrots, add a good lug of olive oil, 1/2 cup orange juice, and a dash of red wine vinegar. Delish!
In the coming weeks I'm going to make myself a good menu folder with 'core' food sheets for ideas and recipes. If you like I'll share them with you. :-)
Now to enjoy some morning tea with my family - Sultana & Orange Muffins.
Healthy Hugs

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