When I first got married I never thought about meal planning. I was 40, pregnant and uncomfortable…and the last thing I was thinking about those first few months was food. But I eventually realized that my sweet husband did want to eat. As a matter of fact, he wanted to eat every day. Hungry guy!
$400.00 weekly grocery bill!
At first, it was all just a flurry of activity in my kitchen with very little thought given to meal plans, grocery lists…and a budget! But after my first grocery bill for over $400.00 – which revealed itself to my husband when the credit card bill came – I realized I needed to do something. My husband was in the early years of his career and $400 trips to the grocery simply weren’t sustainable.
It’s time to call in the professionals
I thought about my youth and how my Mom always seemed to have everything under control. When I got home from school, the house was clean, a snack was waiting for me, and dinner was already simmering on the stove or baking in the oven. I never remember any charts, lists or meal plans. Somehow she just kept it all in her head. She was amazing.
I soon realized, I was not equally amazing and needed to call in the professionals…otherwise known as my Mom. She shared with me her tips and tricks for preparing nutritious and delicious balanced dinners without a meal plan…and how to do it all while staying within her grocery budget. And the most important tip…how she made it look stress free. I’ll share her secrets here another day.
I decided to add to my Mom’s advice and search for what additional tips I might find about all of this on the Internet. Wow…clearly I wasn’t alone. I was greeted with more than I could have ever imagined. But when I delved into all that I had found, I discovered that most folks were like me. Oh sure, there was lots of advice for how to create meal plans, put together grocery lists, develop quick and easy recipes (really?), and more. But few people were actually implementing it all or if they started the process, they weren’t sticking with it. There were a host of excuses – too time consuming, plans change, tastes change, and on and on.
But then I stumbled across something that was like having my Mom by my side in the kitchen…
How you plan and prepare meals
In addition to my Mom’s wonderful guidance (love you Mom! ), I discovered a great little book titled How You Plan and Prepare Meals. My copy was printed in 1962. And what sort of book is this? Well, it’s a high school home economics text book! Don’t fret if you don’t have a copy. If you want this sort of help, any old home-ec text book will do.
This book is filled with all sorts of wonderful stuff. All the sorts of stuff I saw my Mom do. Stuff I had learned but never had to put into practice. Stuff that had rusted in my brain after so many years of non-use. I was in desperate need of a refresher course! I needed a road map. How You Plan and Prepare Meals was my road map.
This may sound all rather silly to you. And in a way it is. The last thing many of us need is another book. But there’s something I like about holding a book in my hands, thumbing through the pages. I like things simple. And this book is simple. No dust jacket, no glossy cover. It’s just the basics…both inside and out.
Much of the advice I found when I first started looking for help with homemaking was so overwhelming. There is just so much out there. And things that promised to be “quick and easy” often weren’t. The plethora of advice often seemed so hard to implement. It either didn’t fit my lifestyle or it was just too complicated – - – or worse, it set such lofty ideals that were next to impossible for me (and I suspect, most homemakers) to reach making me feel like a failure before I even began! Having an old school (in more ways than one!) book – a home-ec text – from a simpler time was…well, simple.
Did we really like the color orange that much?
So what’s inside this book. Oh, it’s a treasure! It’s filled with chapters titled Your Meals – How You Serve Them, Your Foods – How You Buy Them and Prepare Them, Your Recipes – How to Use Them. That basically sums it up. They covered all the bases from start to finish. And they don’t leave anything out. There’s even pictures on how to set the table in case you weren’t sure to which side of the plate the fork was placed. And the 1960′s pictures are priceless. I was a child of the 60′s and the pictures made me both laugh and cry. Did we really like the color orange that much?
What I gleamed from this book was immeasurable. Things I certainly knew and things I had certainly been exposed to but this textbook pulled it all together for me. I was reminded about main dishes, side dishes, side salads, bread, beverages, and desert. Most importantly, I learned what a well-rounded meal was…and what it wasn’t. It’s not just a side salad!
In future posts I look forward to sharing my favorite menus divided into four seasonal categories to take advantage of what’s selling for the best price at the supermarket as well as what will be in abundance at the farmer’s market and/or in your own kitchen garden. I’ll also share grocery lists along with lots of tips, tricks & short-cuts to keep meal time running smoothly.
See you soon.