Instilling Habits

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I love lists. I am sure I’ve mentioned it here before. Even created a “list club” in 5th grade. The club revolved around bringing fun notebooks and pens to school and making fancy lists. Any surprise I was senior class secretary??

Matt and I tend to have a regular “discussion” centered around our meal plans. For me, the subscriber to MANY food magazines and blogs, making binders of clipped recipes to try is a habit, and oddly enough, a joy. I love the unknowns of a new recipe, whether or not we’ll like the result and whether the chopping, peeling and preparing will be worth it. It has happened more than once that I neglected to read the recipe before diving in, only to find out the meat was to marinate overnight or the bread needed to rise 2 hours before baking (that MAY have been last night….just maybe…..good thing I was making FLATbread!).

Matt’s philosophy is to have a small rotation of meals that are simple and tasty, alleviating the guess work and stress. Rather than deciding what to eat and then stressing in the kitchen making something new each night, things are streamlined and easier to budget for.

Every time he brings this approach up, I cringe and feel like I am being forced into a straightjacket.

So like good opposites, opposites that are married, we have kind of reached a compromise. I have decided on a few “categories” which will be making an appearance each week—–pasta, stir fry, pizza, tacos, salad and soup. But….the creativity can shape something unique nonetheless. Tonight I attempted pizza with potato, rosemary, pancetta and fontina. Last night our stir fry was a little more Mediterranean—roasted summer veggies on hummus with a poached egg and homemade, grilled flatbread. (Thank you Chad and Kim Rodgers for that inspiration a few years back!). Fish tostadas with tomatoes from our garden and avocados…

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(tostada fixings from a recent dinner)

Despite being a list making fiend, I hadn’t considered using it for grocery shopping, planning and as a budget helper. My friend, Casey, has done this for years, and after weeks on end of tossing expired, limp and lifeless produce, I knew I needed an intervention a few years back. So, we began planning meals for the week, creating our shopping lists by category (I’ve gotten many compliments from the Trader Joes staff for my Sharpie written, colorful and organized masterpieces….haha, little do they know it is truly to make the process of shopping as quick and painless as possible with the two boys!)

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I have been wanting to take the next step of posting the week’s plan, rather than trying to dig for the little scrap of paper that tells me what meals I have ingredients for. Basically, an excuse to buy a clipboard and use colorful pens?!

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Planning allows us to look at the week ahead and plan appropriately for meals….easy meals for days that are full and will be a bit tricky, cooler meals for hot days (did NOT do a good job of that this week!!!!!), and special weekly meals like breakfast for dinner. This week was especially toasty, so we scrapped the plan one night so we could use the tomatoes overflowing off our vines and washed it down with LOTS of water.

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Alex has been in charge of the grocery list while shopping for awhile and now that he’s working on writing letters, he insisted on making his own menu for the week.

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His plan pretty much included a fruit a day…he insisted on planning healthy foods. Would be great if he actually followed through on that!!!! I shouldn’t complain—his desire to buy kale at the farmer’s market or eating all our tomatoes off the vine is something to be grateful for.

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Now that we are one week in, I am feeling like it will be a great weekly ritual for us, creating some expectations and exciting things to look forward to for Alex in addition to making things simpler for me.

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The current challenge won’t be throwing out wilted produce, but rather making sure Drew is staying out of trouble while cooking!

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(blurry picture used on purpose….)

 

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