Family life · Meal planning

Meal Management

I have a love for anything to do with the kitchen.  I love to cook and bake.  I love to try new recipes.  I love to set a pretty table. I love to work around a time schedule. I love to feed hungry people. I love to fill my table with people and good food where God is thanked and lives are encouraged just because they shared a meal at our table.

However, I know not everyone feels the same and for varied reasons:

It’s a struggle to cook a meal that everyone will eat.  

It’s hard to find the time to prepare.

It’s overwhelming to clean up the mess afterwards.

It’s intimidating to invite people over.

I Cor. 10:31 reminds us that our eating and whatever we do should glorify God.  That would include meal preparation.

What that doesn’t mean:

Everything has to be made from scratch.

Everything has to look it was prepared by a Food Network chef.

That you can’t take help from quick foods.

That you can’t ever go out to eat.

That you have to fix a different meal for everyone in the family.

What it does mean:

  1. God should be honored in your heart attitude about meal prep.  Remember Martha begrudging her work?
  2. It’s more about the people we’re serving than trying to impress them. We;re filling a need.
  3. Because we’re the managers, we must plan ahead so we’ll be able to prepare in advance.

Remember our mantra – We must plan our work and work our plan!  This applies maybe even greater when dealing with meals and with food preparation!

  1. Prioritize eating together at the table. If you’re not doing this much at all,  why not plan on having supper as a family at least three nights a week?  Or bump up what you’re doing to five nights a week.   

    Elevate the ordinary to something sacred. This simply means to make it highly valued and important. Here are a few simple ways to do that:

    Quiet hearts by turning on soft music. 
    Make the table inviting. 
    Add placemats or a tablecloth, napkins and all three pieces of silverware.
    Put something pretty in the middle of the table.  A pitcher with flowers.  A candle. Add conversation starter cards to the centerpiece. 
    Make it fun
    . Laugh at the table.  Teach manners.  Talk. Listen.  Slow down.  Sit back. Read a chapter book together at the end of the meal. Sing a hymn. Pray.

Memories are made around the table. Some of my favorite memories of my girls’ childhood revolve around events and conversations around a meal we shared together. We all remember the evening there was “blue milk” on the table (let’s just say there might have been a little too much laughter!).

This one habit can strengthen your home in so many ways.

But how do we get it done? Next Wednesday we’ll talk about the management part and how to simplify the process. But for now, will you just ask the Lord to help you make family mealtime (one meal a day) a priority? Apply one or more of the ways I shared to elevate the ordinary to something sacred.

Refresh mealtime at your house this week!
If you’ve missed any of this series, you can find the other posts here.

Fast meal · Meal planning · refreshment at home

Cook Once; Eat Two (or 3) Times!

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I love to cook, however, that doesn’t mean I like to slave in the kitchen every single day!  I love to eat good meals that are fresh and delicious, too, so that means when I AM in the kitchen, I like to make good use of that time in ways that will help me for future meals!

I thought I”d show you how I have recently cooked foods that allowed me to have DIFFERENT meals using things I cooked earlier. Say no to Leftovers! These are fresh, different meals each time they’re served!

Continue reading “Cook Once; Eat Two (or 3) Times!”

Dinner · home · Home making · Lightened Up Recipe · Meal planning · refreshment at home · Tablescapes

My Kitchen Table – Settings & Sustenance

We all have to eat.  But what we fix and how we serve it can make a huge  difference in how much enjoyment we give ourselves and those with whom we share the meal. I can remember growing up that my mom always made the table and the food a special part of each day.  I don’t go overboard on a regular day, but I try to make the food and the table inviting.  Today’s post is just a little glimpse into how I set the table and what meals we’ve been enjoying recently.

Al Fresco Dining – Once the weather turns warm, we eat outside as often as possible!  One morning recently I took breakfast outside to the front porch where the sun was shining and ate sitting in a rocking chair.  That’s even better than Cracker Barrel! Continue reading “My Kitchen Table – Settings & Sustenance”

Cooking · Family life · main dish · Main entree · Meal planning · Traveling

Meal Planning for Family Vacation

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For a fantastic ending to a great summer, we enjoyed our first Family Vacation!  We were blessed to have our daughters, sons-in-law, and grandsons all join us for a two and half day get-away!  Let me just start by sharing a few of the highlights:

  • Coming up with our hashtag for the time away!  We wanted pics to remember this event by, so we needed a hashtag for Instagram!  We settled on #hamfamvacay2017.  Some of the other running options were – #picvacay2017 #hammingitup2017
  • Having time to just be together. When you have babies in the group, it’s just easier not to be running all over, and we were happy with that!  We gladly opted to just stay near the condo and only go out one time.  We truly just wanted to be able to visit and be together.
  • Having time in the Word as a family. My husband gathered everyone together on the patio and we opened God’s Word to read a chapter and share our “Ah ha” verses.  How thankful I am that we could all contribute and share from the riches of the Bible.  I do not take for granted having a family filled with believers!
  • Meal time!  What’s better than home-cooked food, enjoyed at “home” with those you love?

It can be a little tricky feeding lots of people, but we came up with a plan that made it doable. Today I’m linking up with my daughter, Whitney to share how we managed six meals for six people, adding in the complications of two who were dieting, one who had a birthday, and one (kind of) picky eater!

Because we were staying at a Wyndham resort, we had cooking capabilities and decided we would eat all our meals “at home” rather than eating out.  Aside from being a money saver, it’s also so much easier to visit in the quiet of the resort, than at a restaurant.  But how do you bring enough food and give what everyone likes when there are six adults eating six meals?   Here’s what we did:

  1. I offered to make supper for both nights, knowing that they would be the more costly meals.
  2. I suggested that the girls either:
    ~each take a day and make both breakfast and lunch on their day,
    ~one take lunches for both days and the other the breakfasts for both days.  They chose the latter.

Another component in cooking for a crowd is dietary restrictions, or even likes/dislikes.  One of the couples was on a diet that restricted grains, dairy, sugar, and several other things.  One in our group isn’t too adventurous with foods.  We decided that we would do our best to provide a main meat that everyone could have, and then let them fill the gaps with what they could/would eat.  It can be nearly impossible to please everyone – right?  This way, the options was theirs to eat what the cook provided, or add their own items to the meal.

We were glad to be able to cook, but no one wanted to be spending lots of time preparing the food.  For my supper meals, I opted to do a grilled meat one night and an oven-prepared meal the next night.  Here were my supper menus:

Night One:

Grilled Steaks
(Adding only grill seasoning and no marinade, due to the dieters)
Baked potatoes (done in the oven)
Corn on the cob
French Bread
Cupcakes

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Excuse the poor picture, but the picture taking was low on the list at the moment! =)

For that first supper, everyone ate the steaks and potatoes, but the dieters didn’t have corn, bread or cupcakes.  We were celebrating a birthday that night, so I got creative with what I had and made a slice of a diet friendly birthday “cake” which also fell on the day of  the eclipse!

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My Eclipse “Cake!”

Night Two:

Oven-Baked Chicken Fajitas –
(Everyone could add or leave off what they didn’t like)
Spanish Rice – (The dieters fixed Sweet Potato fries)
Refried Beans
Fresh Fruit

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After everyone else left, my husband and I had the blessing of finishing out the week at the resort, so we needed breakfast and lunch meals for those days as well.  To keep things easy, I tried to get double use out of items I brought.  For example:

  • Bacon – Used for breakfast or BLT’s for lunch
  • Bread – Toasted  for Steak night, Toast and jelly for breakfast
  • Leftover fajitas for lunch
  • Fresh tomatoes and fruit – salad, dessert and snacks!

Mealtimes were a huge success!  There was no flurry of wondering where we would go or what we were going to eat.  It was laid out simply and everyone had plenty of good food!

You can go here and check out Whitney’s post to see what she and her sister fixed for the other meals!

What does your  family do to make mealtime happen on vacation?

With love from my country kitchen,

 

Dinner · entertaining · Family life · home · Home making · hospitality · main dish · Main entree · Make-Ahead · refreshment at home · Side dish

(L)Oven Monday – Successful Sunday Dinner Finale

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Today is the last post for Successful Sunday dinner.  I will continue to share my recipes and what I served at my house, but as far as the 1,2,3’s, we’re going to wrap it up and get you ready to dive into that great Sunday meal for your family!

Remember that if it’s your desire to make Sunday dinner special at your house, it’s going to take some intentional effort and planning. Here were the three crucial steps before getting the meal going:

  1. Ponder the needs –

  2. Plan the menu 

  3. Prepare ahead

  • Ponder the needs -Consider any allergies or health concerns, like diabetes.
  • Plan the menu around those needs, your time and budget.  Typically if I’m making a main dish or a bread that requires lots of time, I’ll make another part of the meal easier to prepare.
  • Prepare ahead by doing everything you can on Saturday (or before).  It will lessen your stress level!
    • Set the table
    • Chop all veggies
    • Marinate meat
    • Prepare the salad
    • Prepare the dessert
    • Get the side dishes started

Let me give you a little rundown on how my week may look when I’m hosting a typical Sunday dinner…

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Early in the week – 

Wednesday – 

  • Make Rolls and freeze
  • Check to see if tablecloth or napkins need ironing

Saturday – 

  • Prep chicken dish and  go ahead and bake it.  All it needs on Sunday is to be warmed up. I wouldn’t leave this dish in the oven during church – it would dry out.
  • Peel potatoes and place in water overnight
  • Cut up apples for salad and place in lemon juice/water mixture overnight
  • Make Vinaigrette for salad
  • Wash and slice strawberries
  • Make tea
  • Set table
  • Set out serving dishes

Sunday – Before church

  • Mix salad ingredients, except dressing
  • Put potatoes in crock pot, turn on high
  • Set rolls out to rise

Sunday – After church

  • Set out a light snack for guests, if needed
  • Warm chicken either in a large pan on the stove or in the microwave on a med setting.
  • Prep asparagus for roasting
  • Mash potatoes and keep warm
  • Bake rolls – Keep warm
  • Roast asparagus
  • Put into serving dishes

Enjoy the meal!!!

Serve dessert and then pray someone volunteers to help with the dishes!

I hope this series has helped you to see that you CAN make Sunday dinner something special and memorable.  Start out small and work your way into more complicated menus.  Do what you feel comfortable with and keep trying to improve your game plan.

 

Remember that the most important ingredient of any meal is THE PEOPLE!  Don’t make it about you and your inadequacies.  Make them feel welcome and important and they will love their time around your Sunday dinner table!

Is there an unanswered question that you have?  I’d be happy to address it!  Leave me a comment here and I promise to answer you!

Let’s eat!

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