Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Works-for-me-Wed. - taking meds correctly

With 4 kiddos we have our share of prescription medications around here. To make sure we take it correctly (and dad and I or Granna communicate on who got what when), when I get home with the medicine I get out the masking tape. One piece goes all the way around the medicine bottle and I write the days it needs to be taken with lines to check off when given (2x a day would look like Mon __ __ T __ __, etc. starting on the day we began for the right number of days). Another piece goes right on the medicine syringe at the correct level (i.e. right at the 1/2 t. mark, etc.) with the child's name. I also use a piece of tape to write in big letters FRIDGE or WITH FOOD so we don't forget. Making sure we take all our meds used to be a huge headache around here but this has been fabulous for us. It Works For Me!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Works-for-me-Wed. - perfect freezer cooking

For my debut on Works-for-me-Wednesday (so hopefully I did it right), I'd like to share my perfect freezer cooking plan. (See entry below) Enjoy! I'd love to help anyone who has questions. This has been such a blessing for us!
P.S. I LOVE all the great ideas I get from WFMW! Thanks!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Perfect way to 'freezer cook' (well, at least for me)

I've been experimenting with freezer cooking (aka OAMC) on and off for about 6 years. A year and a half ago we began the process to adopt from Russia and anticipated 2 or 3 trips to Russia and a difficult adjustment when we got home (we already had 3 kiddos - 7, 5, and 1). I took the waiting time to buy every freezer cooking book (I now own 9, I've read 5 others) I could find and find the best way to do it. I researched cooking co-ops, "BIG cooks", 'dinner station' type places, just cooking extra to build up a stock of food, dinner swaps, "make a mix" etc.

My goals were to:
1. save time AND money (sometimes hard to do both at the same time) and
2. serve things my kids (esp. my 8 year old who claims he doesn't like casseroles or sauces - we're working on it) AND my husband would eat (also difficult to do both).

My results:
1. In my ever so humble opinion, the best cookbook out there is the original (updated, though) -
"Once a Month Cooking" by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg. Of the 4 dozen or so recipes we've tried we like about 3 1/2 dozen enough to do again. They are a good mix of dad and kid friendly (not gourmet but not stuff I could have just thrown together).
2. I don't find their method efficient enough. I think it takes more time and more money than necessary.

My method:
1. Find my own recipes (mostly through the OAMC book) and cut and paste to put together my own cookbook, sorted by the type of meat and meat preparation it calls for. Ground beef (raw), then ground beef cooked with onions, ground beef browned with taco seasoning, then chicken tenders (raw), etc. Meatless dishes are categorized by their most expensive ingredient.
2. Watch rock-bottom price meat sales. About twice a month pick recipes using that cheap meat (or meats). I use this order:

1. pick recipes (if I KNOW we like it, I often double a recipe)
2. buy meat
3. come home, prepare the meat (brown, slice, etc.) and put in labeled non-generic zip-locs (a few exceptions go in a casserole dish) with name, where to find recipe, cooking instructions, "go withs" I might forget and ingredients needed to serve the dish (starred in big letters on the bag). Sharpies are your friends.
4. keep things refrigerated as much as possible.

I can do all of this in an easy afternoon then (usually the next day) I
5. using the recipes, find all canned goods and fridge items needed to make all the recipes (I put all the fridge items in a dish tub in the fridge) and make a list of all the items I do not have in my pantry (leave the others on the counter - make sure you have enough for all the recipes you want to do)
6. Shop WalMart or your cheapest store (I coupon shop separately so often have most of what I need stockpiled).
7. Finish the recipes (keeping meat refrigerated as much as possible)
8. Refrigerate until cold then freeze flat a few at a time (you can then "file" them like files in your freezer, standing up on end)
9. VERY IMPORTANT - put them on your meal calendars - I print these in pencil. I freely swap throughout the month but keep track. We try to schedule to eat everything within 2 months. If you did all chicken dishes just do about every third day and fill in the rest of the month when you do pork loin (my fave), ground beef, etc. next time (watch the repetition and put things out as far as you need to to keep a good variety).
10. The first two months may be a little rough but then it's heavenly. :)

Later I will try to post my best tips and favorite recipes. Now I'm on to tweaking my laundry system.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The first one

Um, hi...I'm new here...(sigh) (looking at ground, shuffling feet).

I've been watching friends play with this cool 'blog' thing and really enjoying reading some really good ones. I told myself that if the laundry was done today (it is) and dinner was planned (it is - Lemon Chicken and veggies) I would give it a try. Not one to read the instructions before I use a product, I'm sure I'll learn as I go (right? That always works, doesn't it?). I'm a stay home mom with 4 adorable children. I can say that because 2 are sleeping and 2 are still in the care of the local public school. I'm seeking to win the battle against the clutter and chaos that is our life and enjoy every minute of the kids when they're little. I get a lot of "wow, you have your hands full" but I'd really like to adopt more. My husband and some of my friends think I'm insane (maybe those are just my real friends and the others are just contemplating an intervention). You could blog from the "inside", couldn't you? Okay, see you tomorrow, my new blog, it's CARPOOL TIME!