The Plan

comments: 124

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Hot days, hot nights. It looks like we've been home a lot but really we've been outside, in or around water, almost daily. At home, the garden is quickly sizzling, turning from the bright greens of early summer to the pale, wispy, washed-out parchment-colors of late summer, though it's only mid. I pick the blueberries from our one little front-yard bush in the morning. Amelia comes out and takes the basket and says, "'Bye, Mummy. I going on holiday." She watches British cartoons. She eats all the blueberries before they can make it into the house.

In the kitchen, I have a new plan to start cooking things. It's called the Cooking Things plan. Yeah. It means you have to buy actual groceries and cook them instead of ordering things from Delivered Dish and/or eating out in general (getting extra salad rolls at lunchtime to bring home for dinner) or making smoothies. Yes, kitchen. You and I are going to get reacquainted. You, grocery store. I'm coming to you. And you, meal plan, YOU AND I ARE GOING TO FALL IN LOVE WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT. I will make myself love you, M.P. There is no doubt you won't even like me. At all. I've lost count of how many times I have written about this. A hundred million. I should have just copied and pasted an old post here. But this time, seriously. I'm a mother now. Mothers should be able to plan a meal more than forty-five seconds before dinnertime and do more than cut up fruit.

In no particular order, things that have to happen here include: All cabinets (not to mention all drawers and closets, but that's for another rant) need to be cleaned out and reorganized. The fridge and freezer are both in decent shape but could probably stand a swift weeding out of expired condiments and a really good scrub. My spice cabinet is completely insane, with bottles toppling and things literally stacked on top of each other, falling into pots on the stove-top (when we actually have pots on the stove-top). My pantry, my beautiful new pantry, is totally underutilized, currently holding party plates and toddler art supplies. And my recipes that I've printed out from the internet are currently in a giant ruffled (waterlogged, spattered) disorganized pile on top of the microwave and need to be curated and filed. My beautiful recipe box that I worked so hard on a few years ago actually makes me laugh-cry. I see it in the cabinet when I go to feed the dog (I do feed the dog) and it looks so long-suffering and forlorn. My cookbooks, or lord. So many cookbooks. Too many cookbooks. Get ready you, too, cookbooks. You're going to be taking a trip to Powell's very soon.

So, look above: I have tried to cook some things. I made corn salad (fresh corn kernels, a little olive oil, a diced jalapeno pepper, a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes, a quarter of a diced red onion, fresh lime juice, salt and pepper). I made blackened fish tacos (a little too blackened, dang). I made some more chocolate ice cream. I made cantaloupe agua fresca. I’m starting small. I have the Paprika app on my iPad. I have a cute shopping basket. My apron is in the laundry right now. I’m going to find a new binder. I can do this. People do this! I can do this.

124 comments

Cut-up fruit totally counts as a meal, so you've already started.

Erin Rose says: July 20, 2015 at 03:24 PM

Mmmmm, we've just gone radical vegan for health reasons so the meal plan in this domicile has just taken a crazy loop-de-loop! I feel your pain and determination. Best wishes!

The hair is getting longer and the sweaters are getting bigger!

British Cartoons - a little Peppa Pig, perhaps? Both my 4 year old and 2 year old have recently acquired an adorable affected British accent which pops up from time to time. And good luck with your Plan. I'm trying Blue Apron in hopes that I can baby step into the same Plan...

Melissa L says: July 20, 2015 at 03:26 PM

Oh bless you, dear - you have inspired me. And I'm not even a mom. And I totally think cut-up fruit and extra salad rolls COUNT. But I hear you on the spice cupboard and the Meal Plan thing. I'm right in there with you. Just as soon as I buy a new apron. That ought to take a couple of weeks, AT LEAST.
PS: Your girl is growing up so fast. She is precious. xo

One method that worked for me for awhile - I pinned recipes to a monthly dinner board so when I was meal planning and stumped, I had a seasonally appropriate quick source of inspiration. I use internet recipes more than cookbooks, so this worked for me. If you are more of a cookbook user, you could spend some time making a list of dinner ideas (with book/page) for the upcoming month so that when you do a weekly meal plan, you have a quick list. I can't stand when I have to spend more than 15 minutes coming up with my plan before I go to the store!

I have the flexibility to go to the store a few times per week if needed, so I like to plan about 3 meals at a time. Beyond that, I think things start to look a little forlorn or go to waste in my house.

Yes, you can do this! I'm rooting for you!

Decluttering & organizing your work space is the first thing. This way you can see what you have, what you need to let go of, what you can sell or giveaway. You'll feel so good once your kitchen/pantry areas are cleaned and clear.

Meal planning should be simple so as not to overwhelm yourself.

Love seeing Miss Clover Meadow...sweet pup-dog.

If she's into British Cartoons, you should see if she likes Mr Blooms Nursery. It's not strictly a cartoon but my two like it and it's actually bareable for me to watch too! Hey Dugee!, Twirlywoos and Wussycat are the favourites in our household and relatively new so I've not seen them a thousand times before! Is far too hot for cooking at the moment for some reason in summer I loose my appetite andgraze all day instead just eating bits here and there!

Oh my, her hair is getting so long!

Have a look at Sarah's fruit tart. Just published today it looks easy and divine. http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2015/07/summer-celebration-tart/

I know a thing or two about meal planning, but man, did I hit a serious rut here recently. I did all of the things you describe: culled cookbooks, organized printed out recipes, cleaned kitchen top to bottom and even painted (!) it. But what helped the most was getting rid of a lot of stuff I didn't care about/ like, and buying a copy of "How to Cook Everything Fast." It is my new favorite. Seriously, every recipe is a winner. Good luck, and I hope you get your mojo back soon!

The corn salad looks and sounds so summery and refreshing! Must try! Thank you.

Good luck! Just keep things simple; no need to go overboard!

As for spices, I've used an adjustable organizer for 20 years now. Mine's metal. Fits right in the cabinet, and I keep my spices in alphabetical order. No more stacking!
http://www.wayfairsupply.com/Made-Smart-Housewares-Expandable-Shelf-Organizer-57111-L3038-K~QUK1007.html?refid=GX79768869209-QUK1007&device=c&ptid=127654075289&gclid=CNbssITk6sYCFUeRHwodvD0AiA

Also, for recipes, I use a fat binder with subject dividers. I put all my recipes in plastic sheet protectors and divide them by category (soup, salads, fish, etc.) Makes it really easy to make meal plans!!

As always, love the pictures. You are talented!

Paprika is my favorite app. So easy to send and save recipes. Added the best blueberry muffin ever recipe today. Send me an email and. Will send it via Paprika to you!

I am spoiled by *mood-food* and other modern crutches... Plus, it's too hot to commit to the kitchen.
Don't pay any attention to me. I'll zip-it and refrain from any discouraging drivel. And honestly, if you'll share your successes and culinary-kitchenary-organizing triumphs, I will definitely take notes. Carry on, fearless leader!

You've inspired me! You go, Girl! The fish tacos look yummy!

Smiling . . .
I need a "cooking jump start" . . . in a real slump here . . .
Isn't that Paprika app the best ever . . . I think mine must be filled to the brim yet ONE MORE still seems to fit!
Love Amelia's long, long locks . . . so pretty, so sweet!

I have this binder for organizing recipes that I print off the internet or get from my mom.
http://www.amazon.com/Bon-Appetit-Recipe-Organizer/dp/0811868249
It's pretty great, has dividers for different types of recipes and has generally made my cookbook shelf neater and more manageable.

Another tip, crock pots in the summer. You don't have to turn on the oven to do low and slow. We have done chicken or pork BBQ sandwiches (chicken thighs or pork shoulder, half a bottle of BBQ sauce, low for 6 hours, top with shredded cabbage on a whole wheat hamburger bun).

Good luck! I'm not a mama, but menu planning is tough!

I like your plan a lot and desperately need to jump on the bandwagon. My family and I have been eating out or on the fly far too often and things must change. We are waiting on a house inspection tomorrow with hopes that a move is in our immediate future. Hopefully a new kitchen will inspire me.

Amazing photos as ever. Little Mimi's hair is getting so long! How gorgeous is she! Happy meal planning! I can't wait to hear more.

Yes! You can! I means something that you've been wanting and trying to do this for so long. You haven't given up; so it's going to happen someday. May as well be now, right? :)

I Love her w/ her basket:)♥
It would be a treat for me to garden and bake with her.
Look how long her hair is..perfectly long.

I meant, "it" means something (not "I" mean something.) 8-)

I love your blog so much. When you have a new post it is my pleasure to take a break and read what you've been up to. You inspire me to pause and take account of the simple things, the every day joys of mothering, the enjoyment of the hobbies we share. Thanks for sharing with us.

Beautiful photos again. Thank you Alicia. xx The best thing I've ever found for meal planning is the Paprika app for iphone, android, computer, whatever. It will give you a calendar to plan on, you can search for, and store, recipes and it will make up a shopping list for you. I hope it helps. It made me love meal plans because it makes you look like you know what you're doing. ;- )

Clean mama.com and eatathome.com great sources!

Sonia Johnsen says: July 20, 2015 at 04:58 PM

In my best cheerleading vioce "You can do it yes you can......now get that onion in that pan! Go Alicia! Fry em'...bake em'....... sauté that dinner, you can do it - your a winner! Go Alicia! Go-Go Alicia!" I'm rootin' for ya sister!

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Photography

Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.