Really? I'm flattered.
Translation? My family is pretty happy with the consistency of our new and improved household hot-meal program.
Confession: I have never been the best meal planner for the entire family.
Sure, over the last 5 years, I've overhauled my personal nutrition, and helped my husband drop 40 lbs, but at times, the focus on our health has affected the creativity of family meals. Not that family dinner needs to be a Pinterest-frenzy of perfection, but I was definitely pulling a "D", or with luck, maybe a "C+" when it came to meals last year. While there were meals, they were hit or miss in terms of balance. Yes, my family was fed. However, the variety was pretty lean.
I gave myself a bit of leniency. I was a new home-schooling Mom to a 3rd grader, and was also running a full-time business, while adjusting to life with a middle-schooler. 5:00 would come around and I'd be scrambling.
Tread water much?
This year, the 3rd grader and the 7th grader are in a small private school, I am still running a business (#payforprivateschool), and there have been hot meals almost every night since school started. With leftovers for lunch.
My family is . . . surprised.
The meals have gotten a bit more creative. Ingredients don't consist merely of a protein, veggie, and blah side. There are amazing smells wafting through the house. Whereas last year, I was able to make this happen 1-2 times a week, my batting average has greatly improved this fall. I'm on a roll.
- I started meal-planning. Not rocket-science. Or an amazing discovery. But while I've dabbled in meal-planning in the past, I did so with wavering commitment. I would lose momentum and run out of ideas. So, to help me . . .
- I opened a Making Friends with Your Slow Cooker group on Facebook, and along with the help of a colleague, gathered healthy slow-cooker recipes from all over the internet and provided weekly meal plans and tips to the 200 women who joined us. The key to this group: HEALTHY. You can take the girl out of the gym, but you can't take the gym out of the girl. No creamed soups and large amounts of cheese here. We're trying to stick to nutritiously balanced meals. With new recipes in hand . . .
- I took an hour and a half on Sunday to prepare 5 freezer meals for the week. Now, they are ready to be thawed and cooked when needed. The kids have been reminded that . . .
- In our home, one eats what they are served, and shows respect for the chef. I went soft on this last year. Due to sheer exhaustion. This year, I taught them how to cook. Don't like dinner? You are more than welcome to make your own dinner after the table is cleared. (Ask me how many times that actually happens. Who wants to clean up after dinner, make a second meal, and clean up again?)
I often tell my children, "Proper planning prevents poor performance."
And they tell me, "Awesome. You're doing much better at that."
That makes me feel good.
Evening schedules, as crazy as they can be, mean that unless meals are planned, fast-food can be the default.
No so here. Tomorrow is Mexican Pork and Sweet Potato stew.
Are you a consistent meal planner? Any tips or tools that you use to organize meals for the family?
Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!