Monday, February 22, 2010

Just stuff about how I get things done...

I have been pretty good recently at keeping my home in check.  I have got into the habit of writing to-do lists each morning (or jotting things down in the evening for the next day if I can think that far ahead!).  Without a list my life just becomes a messy whirl of forgetfulness.
I have had to take a long hard look at our finances and am actually really pleased that I was put in that position of need.  The result has been new recipes, much more food cooked from scratch, scrumptious home-baked goodies replacing "junk", and a chance for me to earn "perfect housewife" status *grin*.
I sit and make a meal plan for the following week before I order the grocery shop online, asking my family if they have any favourite meal requests.  Some may think that getting our grocery shop delivered is somewhat  a money wasting exercise in itself, but it actually works out much cheaper for our family.  No longer are we able to be tempted by the gorgeous aromas as we pass the bakery counter, gone are the days when our mouths watered at the mere sight of those delicious (but naughty) fresh cream cakes, and the quiet subliminal voices that seemed to echo around the aisles demanding that we buy the trifle/crisps/biscuits/chocolate/jaffa cakes/expensive toilet rolls because the puppy is ultra cute...are safely a thing of the past.  I am now capable of strictly adhering to my list of necessities, without the "oh look, these are on BOGOF, it's a bargain" and ending up buying things we would never ever usually look at.  We can still make good use of any offers available of course, but usually it's things that are useful or usual for us to buy, not just because temptation was put in our way.  Our weekly grocery bill is now down to under £90 most weeks, a huge drop from the old times of £130-150.
The silly thing is we are eating substantially better.  The fruit basket is full, the vegetable trolley is healthy, and we are all feeling better for it.  Joe's skin is looking clearer too.  It could be a mighty coincidence of course but...
This week our meal plan looked like this:
Sunday - Meat joint and vegetables.  We stretched the budget a little this week and went for a leg of lamb as we were expecting my parents to join us - they decided not to - but the lamb was very much enjoyed in their absence.
Monday - Vegetable Lasagne.
Tuesday - Cottage Pie.
Wednesday - Tuna Pasta.
Thursday - Corned Beef Hash with Salad.
Friday - Crock Pot Chilli served with Rice.
Saturday - Pie, Chips and Salad.
All cheap, simple to prepare, and best of all, rather tasty :)
It's funny, because up until the overhaul of our finances and the subsequent backlash of meal planning, I didn't like food.  I have never been a foodie fan.  I only ate because I had to, and could quite happily go throughout the day without one single item of food passing my lips until 5pm.  I didn't feel hungry, and had to remind myself to eat.
Now, if I had to analyse this, I would put it down to the way I was bought up.  I'm not critiscising my mum in anyway, she did what she thought was best and cared about my eating well and gaining good nutrition, but I was one of those "you will sit and clear your plate no matter how long it takes you" children.  Thus food doesn't exactly bring forth good memories for me.  It wasn't just at dinner, I was forced to have breakfast before leaving the house, regardless of my "not hungry" whines, and for lunch? Well,  I remember having to take sandwiches throughout school whilst most of my friends had the yummy looking (and smelling) school dinners.  Often sitting alone,  I used to look at my limp ham or plain ol' cheese sandwich and couldn't bring myself to eat it.  I used to hide it (better that than risk the wrath of the dinnerlady overseeing bin duty!) knowing that my mum would go beserk at me wasting food.  Lunch was the same thing, day in, day out - having a rare bread roll instead of the floppy white bread was sheer luxury.  White bread ham/cheese sandwich, cheap chocolate biscuit, budget priced yoghurt, and an apple or banana.  Even to this day I don't like sandwiches/packed lunches much, no matter what the filling.  Funny how negative feelings towards things in childhood remain with us in adult life.  Well not funny, sad really.  Looking back, of course I should have been thankful that I had food fullstop - but somehow that didn't seem very important as a child, all that was important was that the food on offer was tasty and something I liked... 
I'm trying to break through this food negativity with good wholesome (I'll go the whole hogg and say lovingly prepared...) cooking and home-baked bread.  And do you know what?  It's working.  I have breakfast everyday, often eat *something* for lunch (usually fruit or toast with a topping of choice), and I now look forward to dinner.  I actually feel hungry too, something completely new to me.
Another plus point for all this, is that my "finicky eaters" are eating a whole lot better too. At one time Joe would only eat cheese and tomato pizza, pasta, various cereals, chips, and cottage pie as long as it didn't contain onions.  This "choosy" habit stems from when he was around 2 years old.  He was sat at the dinner table eating, and suddenly without warning, was sick all over the table (gross I know, sorry!)   Obviously this triggered something in his mind, perhaps making the connection between food and sickness.  For months after that incident he refused to eat anything other than cheese based foods - pasta and cheese, cheese sandwhiches, cheese on toast, cheese and tomato pizza (only the cheap ones with little topping). He would literally gag on anything else offered, a psychological barrier being well and truly put up and we were struggling to break it down.  We stopped trying.  We didn't force him.  We offered him new things, but alongside his favourites.  Now we are reaping the rewards.   Joe's food repetoire has increased tremendously in this past few months to include chilli, bolognese sauces, various soups and casseroles, vegetable lasagne, various fruits, tuna, salmon, - the list goes on and on.  Tiegan is following suit, taking her cue from Joe.  As a result, both are looking healthier with clearer skin and brighter eyes.  The difference to our lives is pretty incredible really.
The "loving cleaning" phase is still continuing.  What bought it on I do not know, but I do seem to get great pleasure from having a clean and tidy(ish) house. With 4 children at home practically 24/7 I am never going to meet show home standard, nor would I want to.  I believe that a home should feel lived in and be a place where love and laughter is shared.  I don't want to be one of those mums that are constantly cleaning and too busy to enjoy time with her children (yes, this resonates from my childhood memories too sadly).  I manage to get most of the "work" done before the younger 3 children get out of bed.  I'm up at 6am in preparation for Chelsea's paper round, so get through downstairs floor cleaning, first washing load, dishwashing, and often bread and/or dinner preparation before the others rise.  I like that time alone, just able to get on with things with my own thoughts.   I seem to be benefitting from the earlier nights and the early morning starts.  I used to be a real night owl, not crashing out in bed until gone 2am at the earliest, then awaking between 8am and 9am.  Now my days seem longer and more organised, and I like the change.


  1. So many things in this post I can identify with :-)

    It really sounds as though things are going so well for you all,you sound happy and content.Long may it last xxx

  2. Yes a lot of this is very familiar to me too, the cleaning the plate and sandwiches i didn't have an issue with food but deff could do with out it, until i got preg then found i love everything lol, now im the opposite and am struggling not to eat constantly lol.My two little ones are also picky with there food, it used to be a real heartache for me but im now the same if they want to eat sausages every night so be it as long as they eat, we too are now starting a new healthier more home cooked diet at the min, and the kids are really enjoying it and trying new things, they had curry and rice tonight, something i wouldnt of dreamed giving them before no, anything that was sloppy was a no go lol, i am afraid i am still a night owl though need o work on that one, lovely post :-) xx

  3. How wonderful that you have had success in cutting your food budget and creating healthy, tasty food for your family.

    Your desire for order resonates with me. I keep promising myself that I will plan our meals for the week and then time passes and I have not done it!

    We will be going on an extended holiday for the month of March down to Florida but when we return I am going to try and get this area of my life in order!

    I have also begun to go to bed earlier and get up earlier. I don't get as much accomplished in the morning as you do, I'm afraid. I like to sit and think and read my Bible and journal and then exercise. It's quiet time that I crave and need.

    You sound like a great mom and wife. I hope your family continues to thrive. :)

  4. Anonymous2:18 am

    You have really insprired me.
    I too have groceries delivered. But I tend to let the house go and sit on the computer.
    I'm going back to a to do list.
    Thank you :)

  5. It makes me really happy to read this post!
    And I love having my groceries delivered too :))))