Today is Jill's birthday. I woke up in a grumpy funk that I am shaking off by doing the things on my list. While this has yet to become a nightly habit, yesterday I wrote down the calls I needed to make and some action steps to take today. Yesterday I was lazy and felt very disorganized and tired. I did go for a very short walk, I also took Jill's bike out for an even shorter ride. Both things were good for me, more difficult than they should have been, but at least I did them. I rattle around in this house. There's always something to do that I don't feel like doing whether it's scrubbing floors or dusting. I'm thankful to be living here, but really need to step up my housekeeping game.
This morning I stripped the beds and turned on the fans to get the air circulating. Fresh air moving through the house makes me feel better about things. Before I went to bed last night I listened to a portion of my relaxation CD, I have it going this morning. The activities help, a goal of mine is to wake up and do this every morning and every evening. It's not long, it relaxes me, it's just a matter of having the discipline to do it. I've decided I need a bed time and a time to wake up each morning. Another thing I'd like to do is get off the sleeping medication I'm on as it makes me very lethargic. Getting back to yoga will help with that. My step-dad is going to let me borrow his very old beat up pick-up truck which is a thrilling prospect as I'm still without a vehicle.
A nice side effect of being car free is having more money since I'm staying out of the stores and not having to put gas into a vehicle. Jane has been riding her bike to school. It bothers me that she doesn't wear a helmet. Yesterday she put it in her backpack because she was hot and tired. With the sun beating down on her back while biking uphill carrying a backpack filled with heavy books and a lunchbag that swings back and forth on her wrists I'd imagine she gets very warm. She doesn't drink enough water which is another part of the problem. I wish the girls had holders for water bottles on their bikes. I have one on mine and it's really nice.
Periodically I go on a health kick where I either try a new strategy, or go back to things that have worked in the past. This time it's more steamed greens that I can put into smoothies. While I dislike thinking of myself as a picky eater, it's a fact that I detest celery. But it's cheap and forms the backbone of a lot of other things so I bought a bunch last time I was at the store. Normally I end up throwing the tops away, but since I'm trying to be more frugal and waste conscious I decided to try steaming them. The resulting smoothie was terrible. It was way too thick, too sweet, and had an unpleasant gritty texture. Normally my recipe makes a ten ounce smoothie. After thinnning it out I had enough for three smoothies, and I'm glad they are all gone.
I still have some celery left, I'm going to add it to soup or some other dish. I've learned my lesson regarding celery and smoothies. My signature blueberry spinach pear smoothie got a boost from some steamed parsley. The difference is subtle and enjoyable. Adding greens to smoothies is a ratio experience. Certain greens can overpower so I try to add greens to fruit in a 1:2 ratio. Today I was ambitious enough to make a batch of almond milk which I used as my base. I've become more conscious of how much trash I'm generating since I lost transportation. Buying almonds and making my own milk generates less garbage than going to the store and buying soy milk. I still have soy milk on hand for variety, I can learn how to make my own which is another project for me.
Probably the most significant stride I made this week was on the meal planning frontier. I grew up in a home where my mom made large pots of things like tuna casserole and goulash that was a far cry from anything you'd find in Europe. Food is fuel for her, she's an incredible baker, her rolls and bread are amazing, but I think I'm a better cook when it comes to meals, and desserts which I almost never make anymore since gluten and dairy free items typically require a lot of expensive ingredients and almost never taste like the real thing. They can be decent, but you really need regular wheat flour to get the texture right on things like cookies, cakes, and pie crust.
I downloaded a meal planning app called Mealime before I went shopping. After experimenting with other free apps I decided I liked this one the best for several reasons. First and foremost is their allergy friendly design. One of the first items on their agenda is to ask you about your food alllergies. It only has the basics, but even so I was thrilled to be able to go down the list and tick off items. After that you can go through their choices and exclude any items you want to avoid such as olives, eggplant, and peppers. It asks whether you want to make meals that will serve 1-2 or 3-4 and how many meals you would like to see. We thought we would start small, we wanted leftovers so we chose three meals that served 3-4 with the intent of having enough for lunches the next day.
The app puts together a grocery menu for you which is well laid out and easy to read. I didn't have great cell phone reception in the store and was still able to access my list. Our choices were steak with green beans and potatoes (we skipped the potatoes), pasta penne with tuna and tomato sauce, and sesame chicken with broccoli and brown rice. Being me I ignored most of the recipes and did things my way. Jane hates tuna so I made a package of pasta and broccoli, boiled some chicken tenderloins and had her take that for lunch. I made a rice dish with carrots, celery, and onions, and bought a steak. It seemed like a lot of food, a trick that works well for us is to use divvy up a large quantity of something into single serving containers that people can grab for lunch.
Most of my meals are pretty simple. The app gave us variety we desperately needed and took the guesswork out of what to have for lunch the next day which has been a source of stress for us ever since the girls started school. Doubtless people without dietary restrictions would see more meal items than we have. There are a lot of vegetarian options, but it's easy to add a meat source to those dishes and nice to see those as they are generally less expensive. The app doesn't have breakfast choices, I tweeted them to ask why, they suggested eating leftovers for breakfast which was slightly annoying, but then said they might work on including breakfast choices in the future. To me a menu includes breakfast, I understand why they don't have it, but it would be really nice if they did.
I would recommend this app for anyone who is looking for an easy to use menu plan that includes a shopping list. I didn't actually make any of their recommended meals the way they said to prepare them which is on me, maybe someday I'll try that, I can't vouch for flavor or tastiness, but they are nutritious and well balanced which is what I wanted. Another thing that would be great would be a breakdown of what you're getting from each of their meals in terms of carbs, fats, and proteins, but overall I'm more than pleased with it and would pay for it if that was my only option. Other apps we tried lacked convenience, didn't show pictures of meals, and I didn't see any allergy exclusions which was the number one feature I loved about this app.
Last night Jane exclaimed that for once there were meals in the fridge. I can throw items together to make a meal, but having everything organized in ready to snag containers that anyone can stuff into a lunchbag or reheat at the last minute reduced our stress and made her life easier which is a win for me. She tends to be a carb junkie, there were chicken and broccoli pieces left in her lunch containers, but at least she had the option to eat them if she was really hungry. I can control what she takes and have to let go of what she chooses to leave. I feel like this is saving us time, money, and energy. I like preparing a bunch of things on a designated cooking day, but can see how others may prefer to make each meal fresh daily. All in all it was a great find that I'm hoping we can continue to use and benefit from. Hooray for better better food management and fewer arguments about what to eat for meals.