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Thoughtful Thursday: Hate-Loss Challenge Group Therapy Thursday Week 4

Posted Jan 26 2012 6:13pm
This week's assignment was a choice between two options:   pay it forward or put yourself first .

I chose the latter.

And I began to figure out a way to pamper myself, do something just for me, or tackle a project that I've been wanting to get done for myself.  A couple of ideas flew through my mind, but it wasn't until yesterday morning that I finally let one perch.

A menu planning system!

Now at first glance, you might think, "uh, that sounds like work and not a way to put yourself first!"  But this has been something I have been trying to get to for a while.  As I was telling my husband the other day, it's not that I am incapable of planning menus on the fly.  It's just that, with all that I have on my plate right now (pardon the meal-time pun), I cannot seem to keep track of it all.  And things just fall between the cracks.  And we end up eating poorly.

Seriously.  I'm running a health blog.  I'm trying to redesign and launch a family/crafts/ideas blog.  I'm a homeschool mom.  I volunteer as the IT Director for a national homeschool organization and am prepping a new website launch.  I have 5 kids to take care of.  I'm helping to build and maintain a website for a local outdoor drama pageant.  Plus all the usual stuff--household, pets, church, cleaning, laundry, blah, blah, blah.

I.  Am.  Swamped.

But there is no way I can get through this very hectic next few weeks and months without good fuel for my body, so a deliberate menu planning system is a must for me right now.

When I first started homeschooling, I remember reading some advice from a veteran homeschool mom where she addressed the importance of taking time to nurture yourself.  She said, "You can't serve from an empty platter," and that phrase has stayed in my mind ever since.

And isn't it fitting that it has double meaning here?!  If I don't plan my meals, I'm stuck at the last minute with an empty platter.  And when I'm not taking care of myself nutritionally, I have less to offer those around me that I love.  So, in my current state, I am both literally and figuratively trying to serve from an empty platter.

Mind blown.

So the work began in earnest yesterday when I took the day off from a few other tasks.  Of course, it's a bigger project than I at first anticipated, but it is well under way.  I started by combing the Internet and scanning Pinterest for any interesting and easy to maintain menu planning ideas.  There are a lot of "pretty" systems out there, but I'm not looking to have this system match my home decor or be on display in a photo frame or win any I-made-this-with-my-Cricut awards.  I just want something streamlined, easy, and effective.

It's not done yet, but I was able to develop smarter (hopefully) and easier (definitely) methods for my own system, based loosely on ideas from the web.  I'll be sharing the finished product in the near future, but for now here are some pics of my progress so far.

After planning out  how the menu system would work, I began compiling a list of dishes from my recipe box and from some recent print-outs from online.
Making squares with: hours before meal when recipe needs to be started (because I'm notorious for wanting to cook something at 5pm that needs 4 hours to finish!), recipe title, & source.
Color coding the types of food will help me to make sure we are balancing our diet.
Each square underneath the recipe is an ingredient list for quick reference.
No more having to guess or to go find the recipe just to make the grocery list.
The two squares are then sandwiched together with a magnet in between.  When I want to see what the ingredients are for the recipe, I can just look at the back side.
These little food squares will be arranged on a metal sheet in my pantry where I can sort out meals for a week at a time (not a month at a time....all the systems I saw were for dinners family is together all day so I need three meals a day in this system).
This is nowhere near finished but the point is IT IS FINALLY BEGUN.  I so look forward to having a system in place that is mine.  I tweaked it, I molded it, I made it my own.  I took the time to work on something that, while not urgent on my calendar, is urgent for my well-being.  And now, hopefully, I will have the peace of mind that I am not only nourishing my family, but myself as well.

Peace of mind like that fills up a platter pretty dang fast.

Note:  This is the last installment in the 2012 Hate-Loss Challenge Group Therapy Thursday.  A big shout-out to Ellen from Fat Girl Wearing Thin for hosting such an amazing challenge.  I really enjoyed the ride!  And to all the other bloggers who participated, it was lovely getting to know you better.

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