Revolving Focus

IMG_6110 recipe planning

If I had a job outside the home there would be an expectation that I continue to hone and improve my skills. I would attend training to keep me abreast of current findings and research, look for opportunities to develop skills in new areas or advance the skills I already have and be continually working to progress across the board. There would be a budget set aside for training and development and a certain number of hours nominated for this purpose.

Mothering and educating my children and running a household is my full-time occupation and as such I need to set aside the time and resources needed to improve myself in these areas. What does this look like? Reading and researching from bought books, books borrowed from friends or the library, scouring blogs, web sites and picking the brains of like-minded friends, praying, thinking and planning.

I do not have large blocks of time available so I use the time that I do have. I choose one area that will be my focus for the next week or even several weeks. Usually the area that I like the least at the moment is the one that I need to focus on. Hate cooking? Get out the recipe books and get inspired. Search Pinterest, blogs and websites for great ideas and print out a stack of new recipes. Write a weekly menu. Set up a shopping list. Sort out the pantry. List the contents of the freezer and the weird ingredients that are moldering in the back of the cupboard. Buy a new tool that will help you get organised. Take a class. Set up a recipe swap with friends. Research the latest health research and try some foods you’ve never made before. Make the changes to your own diet that you have meant to do but never got around to.

I find that after a period of time of focusing, organising and up-skilling in an area I get excited about it. I look forward to implementing all the new ideas I have found and no longer dread it. I don’t want to sit around resigned to the fact that I’m just not that good at …… (fill in the blank.) If I’m not good at it, I want to get better!

After a couple of weeks fully focused on cooking for example, other areas start to scream out for my attention. The kitchen is now running well, the pantry is organised, the shopping systems are in place, the freezer is stocked with meals and snacks and I have a menu for the next week or two. Time to change the focus to the next area and use all my little minutes to make progress there.

In the business world there is a phrase “eat that frog” – from the book of the same name. The basic premise being that the tyranny of the urgent will always crowd out that large long-term project that needs doing (the frog!) and it just never seems to get started. If we spend a little time each day focused on our goal we will see progress and the frog will eventually be eaten! Now go eat that frog!!

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What’s for lunch Mum?

We’ve all heard it before; get organised and menu plan! Save time and money and get rid of the daily headache of thinking about what we are going to prepare for dinner half an hour before we should be serving it.

I have menu planning systems (weekly, monthly, shopping) and I do use them (most of the time!) but I was finding lunch particularly difficult to wrap my head around. I wanted it to be quick and easy but not just bread, bread and more bread. There were also occasions when I needed to pack lunch boxes and I didn’t want them to be nothing but sandwiches either.

My favourite lunch is what we call a ploughman’s plate. Sounds fancy, but all it means is that I pull out all the fruit, salad, veggies, cheese, left overs, cold meats or anything else I can spot laying about the fridge, cut it into pieces and arrange it on a plate. That works great when the fridge is stocked, the fruit bowls are brimming over and there is plenty of choice, but by the end of the week this is not a good option.

I decided to sit down and make a list of as many lunch ideas as I could come up with, barring leftovers and hot meals. Much of my list came from the excellent resources at Meerilinga plus a few ideas of my own.

I have printed it out, laminated it and taped it to the pantry door for inspiration at the last minute and to use when making up my shopping list for the week. You will find a printable version here.