Planning Meals for the Week

My husband recently commented about how much money we have been spending on food lately, and how we’ve been eating too much junk…then came home with a dozen doughnuts! Hah! He’s right, as you can tell by this example. It’s been getting a little crazy because I’m just not having the opportunity to cook in the evenings. And for some reason I stopped planning ahead, which I think had a lot to do with food boredom. And basically, let’s face it, without a plan, meals fall apart. And so does a budget.

I’m generally very happy with what and how our children eat. In preparing for this post I took some time and really noticed how they are eating. In the last couple days I have watched them happily chow down on cooked purple cabbage, red peppers, raw and steamed broccoli, raw sugar snap peas, raw carrots, salads, and other vegetables. Not to mention their voracious appetite for fruit. We ran out of fresh fruit in our house for three days last week. I can’t remember the last time this happened. When I got home one evening Petra ran up to me and said can you please go to the store and buy some apples and pears. The next day while at Lowes with dad, she asked if they also sold apples and pears. Her daily routine includes an apple every day after lunch. I wish I could say I did so well. And it’s so nice because she doesn’t want it cut or peeled – you just hand her the whole thing.

But back out topic. I needed a plan for the week.

Our evenings are always busy. I’m lucky if I make it home before 8 pm this time of year, and we have church and gymnastics during the week. So there are a lot of days when we just don’t have time.  So here are some of the facts going into this issue:

1) I have no time in the evening to put together a meal;

 2) I need quick, quick;

3) I need some things already prepared so if I don’t make it home from work Thomas can pull something out for the family;

4) I want to avoid processed and boxed foods;

5) I want to stick to paleo foods (no dairy, no grains);

6) I need easy packed lunches for three of us; and

7) I also have to get 5 of us fed with healthy breakfasts before 7:30 am each morning.

So I started making a plan; hopefully a timesaving plan for our meals. A plan that Thomas can pull together if I’m not home in the evenings without too much work. It is slowly beginning to take shape.

To add to our food issues, our teen foster daughter has a completely different idea of what she wants to eat. This is very normal. She comes from a completely different background and family – with entirely different eating habits. She is used to different meals, and loves eating junk and fast food. Add to it that she is pregnant and certain foods make her sick and nauseous and you have a real interesting food dilemma in our house. Choosing foods that are healthy and that she likes is a big challenge.

Here are some of the steps I am taking.

We have salad usually everyday for lunch. I usually try to make them in the morning. This week I decided to make a very big salad on Sunday evening that we can use the rest of the week.  I chopped nuts on the side and stored them separately. And I didn’t add tomatoes to the salad because they always get things soggy.

 I’ve slowly discovered over the last two months that we do best during the week if Thomas grills a lot of our meat on Sunday. I can use this meat throughout the week for our lunches, to make quick chicken salad, to use for our dinners when in a rush.

I had our teen go through a list of pregnancy menu ideas and write down anything that she thought she would eat. This gave me a much more expansive list that I can work with. Everything certainly wasn’t paleo, but it was better than junk food. Her lunch box looked a lot more nutritious today than in day’s past.

But I needed more help, more ways to plan ahead. So I opened up Google and went to work. I wanted to stick to a paleo menu as much as possible (I’ll have to work out later how to get more raw in there as well) and did a quick search. I came up with some good results.

I was thrilled to see a recent blog entry on Robb Wolf’s website, one of the leading experts on Paleolithic nutrition. One of the first ideas on this blog post was to grill your meat at the beginning of each week, not quite cooking it all the way so that when you have to reheat it for the next meal it won’t be hard and dry.

And on that blog is a link to an amazing one week menu (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with foods, recipes, and even a grocery list to show you how to do it.

My real struggle it appears is going to be with the vegetables. I am not interested in nuking my veggies in plastic. So I’m going to have to work on seeing what freezes well.

So here is a complete list of things we are going to start trying to do over the weekend for our busy week preparations:

  • Boiling eggs for the week; I love them for a quick snack at work.
  • Makings egg cupcakes, from Everyday Paleo, for a quick healthy breakfast.
  • Making and freezing morning glory muffins for the teen snacks.
  • Cooking 3 veggies dishes to have in the fridge/freezer.
  • Baking some sweet potatoes.
  • Remembering to make homemade mayo.
  • Making a large salad.
  • Grilling lots of meat that can be remade into meals and chopped up for lunch salads.
  • Chopping up veggies for any crockpot meals to cut out on time needed later.

 If you have any other ideas, please send them my way.

Hospital Visit

It’s been a rough week or two.  Jasper started having breathing problems last week and we ended up making a 2am visit to the emergency room. After 5 breathing treatments in just a few hours, and a very hyperactive toddler from all the meds, he was still wheezing. So at 7am he was admitted to the hospital and ended up staying in the pediatric ward. In total he was in the hospital about two days.  It was surprising because he hasn’t really had any asthma problems before. We aren’t sure what spurred it. It could have been related to a cold or to allergies. But we had wanted to have him allergy tested for while now so we are moving forward with that.

Despite what you are probably all thinking, Jasper found the hospital to be a wonderful and exciting adventure. Both Petra and Jasper love the hospital – which I would chalk up to the great nurses.

Jasper attached very quickly to his first respiratory nurse. The male nurse delivered about three breathing treatments to him and Jasper loved him. We were sitting in the room together waiting, because that’s what you do in the emergency room, and his nurse walked by. Jasper started yelling “That’s my man…I need my man. I need medicine!” I guess he didn’t know what to call him, the rest of the few hours he referred to his nurses as “my man” (which he only had male nurses) and was very possessive of them. Randomly he would blurt out, “I need my man.” And he just loved when they came in and talked to him. And he followed their directions perfectly and happily, even when he had his nose swabbed for the RSV virus. They were amazed at how great he was in following directions and listening.

One of the female nurses came in and spent some time talking to him and said she couldn’t believe how expansive his vocabulary was…which if you know our children Jasper is not the one you would consider the talker. But he is now speaking in sentences all the time.

Later she saw him jump and was in total shock. She came up to me and said, “Did he just jump with both feet off the ground? That’s incredible – I used to work with development needs of young children and he is so advanced.” She was really impressed when she saw him jump about 10 times is sequence with both feet off the ground. Then she asked him if he could stand on one leg – and he happily showed her he could and stood there for about 5 seconds on one leg. Of course these are all things he practices in gymnastics. She wanted to know what else he could do – so I had him show her how he could do handstands also.

So all the nurses came and talked to him. One of the nurses even saluted him! Within a few hours he was known around the ward for being very active, and also smart.

Once we made it up to the pediatric ward (this was after not sleeping any that night) he asked the nurse for some cars and they quickly found him some to play with. He really loves cars–he even sleeps with a couple cars every night.

The second day at the hospital one of the nurses brought him a wagon to ride in. So I ended up pulling him around in that wagon most the morning. And of course, he was climbing on everything and scaring all the nurses and doctors; they were so scared he was going to fall. They would probably freak if they saw the 10 foot ladders he climbs each week.

So for two days one of us was at the hospital with him around the clock. And Petra, who is used to having him around all the time (they are best buddies after all) was suddenly without her daily playmate.

We are back home now and his breathing issues are on the mend. He has daily breathing treatments three times each day. But that is only for a week, so he will be done soon. Unfortunately, I’m very sick and I think he is picking it up now.

But he is still climbing. He climbed and jumped all over a woodpile outside this past weekend. Here is a picture of him sliding down it.

And this weekend, we were all impressed to see him pick up a razor scooter and start riding it. It came so naturally to him. We didn’t have to show him how it worked at all, he just picked up and started going down the street – no problems. I wish I would have had my camera around to take a photo. It’s not often you see a young 2-year-old so mobile.

But since I don’t have a picture of that, here is a picture of him doing a headstand on his bed. I was trying to put him down for the night, he thought it was a lot more fun to flip up on his head.

Thomas took him to the doctor on Monday for a follow-up appointment. They were gone for a few hours. When they got back home Petra ran up to Jasper and said “I missed you so much” and gave him a big hug.