Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Working-Mom Montessori: What are we going to EAT?

Use the tags at the bottom of this post to find the other posts in this "series". See the original post about what is happening in our home here: Temporary Change of Routine

Life while working takes a decent amount of planning anyway - if want to maintain the goals of eating properly, having a clean home, plenty of family time and that family values are being shared and enhanced.

Now throw in homeschooling.
And tae-kwon-do.
And atrium.
And maintaining 2 website businesses.
And most importantly, time with loved ones.
(or whatever blend your family has in the mixer!)

But before all of that, every member of the family needs to eat properly and have clean clothing.

When I work from home, we can kind of let things slide - there is a lot of flexibility when I know I can start dinner preparations at any time - or have Legoboy pull something from the freezer. Being out of the home - requires planning - unless we want to run to fast-food all the time (that would be a NO).

Regardless, even when home "full-time", we still use OAMM: Once a Month Meals. We use it every 3-4 months. It helps us to have things on hand - and a neat new feature on their website is the ability to mix and match recipes from their variety of menus; truly fine-tuning it to meet our family's needs.

No more breakfast in bed....
at least for a while. 
But we don't typically plan a MENU from those meals. If we know we have guests coming over, I'll prep appropriately. When we have items that are perfect for packed meals out of the home, that is where they are used. Otherwise, we go with whatever works. Over the course of any given month we get plenty of fresh fruits and veggies along with our cooked foods. The benefits of being home all day and stocking healthy food!

Now that I will be out of our home 5 full days a week, we'll need to actually plan. I'll have 4 days a week of packing my own lunch; he'll typically eat with whoever has him, but I'll want to send something for him to share with others. Breakfast needs to be quick (and we can't do cold cereal first in the morning - at least I physically can't). The evenings we have tae-kwon-do or a later atrium, we'll want items we can warm up quickly or pack to take with us or I can put in the crockpot after school and have it ready to eat when we are home from TKD; evenings we will be home can be something that takes a bit longer to prep (oven-prepped items for example). Weekends, we'll cook up something that we won't mind eating throughout the week through re-heating it (or eating it cold).

But I need to take a look at our schedule and coordinate the recipes appropriately.

Since my subbing position is a one-month thing, I think I will plan for most of the month, day-by-day - kind of OCD-fashion and NOT my preference. If this were going to be an ongoing thing, I am not sure if I would want to plan for the entire month - maybe just 2 weeks - it more depends on the reality of the situation when in the middle of it.

The goal here is to eat properly - healthy, enough, not too much - but not spend just TOO long in the kitchen because there is also family time, education, and downtime to consider. And still get in the daily healthy stuff we LOVE and our bodies CRAVE: yogurt smoothies of various blends, gelatin (real gelatin, not jello), turmeric, local honey for the boy.

So we plan the menu (Legoboy helps, yes) --- we do the shopping --- then we spend one evening and one full day doing nothing but food prep. Hm. Have to find the time to do this. A necessary thing to save SO much time later. It's worth it; just coming up FAST. In fact, we will likely be in the middle of our food preparations as this post goes live (writing it a week ahead).

This time around, I'll create a chart to show what to take with us on each day; what to take out to thaw and when; etc. Definitely too OCD for my liking. I just want the month to go smoothly, because I know what an emotional wreck this is going to try do have in me.

Oh - and here's a big one I completely forget about when talking to other people but just caught myself DOING without thinking about it:
Get a sharpie. LABEL items for when they should be consumed.

This is a great technique, too, for when you've bought some great item in bulk to save lots of money but you know (or think, or hope they won't!) you and/or family will end up eating/using more of that item than usual - and in the end, you've not really saved any money.

One time, I bought up a case of graham cracker boxes - one of those fantastic sales and I was actually able to stock up. I allotted one box per month (for the two of us) and only bought enough to cover until the expiration date on them. So they have a "use by" date and a self-added "OPEN AFTER" date as well :)

I do the same thing with ranch dressing (one of my very few remaining chemical-ridden items in my kitchen - I know there are better options, I just haven't gone there yet).

All this labeling - it really helped us learn self-control. And we don't use it just as much anymore --- but with the upcoming month, Labeling is Back.

UPDATE (prior to posting -  I just don't feel like editing) - I have to forego the OAMM plan this month because we have so much in our freezer and fridge already that needs to be utilized (when I do OAMM cooking, I need to start with a nearly empty freezer)

Part of our plan -----

  • oatmeal is always on hand; mix up a few instant oatmeal packs (with properly healthy ingredients of course)
  • I have frozen sour-dough pancakes yet I can split into serving bags - warm up and eat with (homemade) jam and (local) maple syrup. YUM! 
  • hardboil some eggs for each week or two weeks - to have one in a lunch and one for a breakfast for each of us each week
  • sausage-egg-potato mixture (can't remember what it's actually called - warm it up in a skillet with coconut oil - add some himalyan salt - and perfect morning meal!
  • hashbrown scramble (it's actually parsnips instead of potatoes) - again sauteed in some coconut oil and delicious! (it's actually only tasty when it's warm - gets cold and bleck)

  • lunch-meat and cheese sandwiches - make them a week or two ahead and freeze
  • leftovers from suppers when the sandwiches need a break
  • rotate through the fresh veggies in the fridge until those are gone
  • clementine every day
  • daily bone broth - YUM! 

Snacks (and rotate through lunches): 
  • smoothies
  • granola bites/balls
  • homemade cookies (my style of homemade cookies ;) )
  • marshmallows (homemade - all-natural - actual health BENEFITS)
  • fresh fruit
  • fresh veggies
  • handful of nuts (almonds, pistachios)

Suppers - to use what is in our freezer already: 
  • soft shell taco "packs" (baggies in the freezer - pull them out - thaw - cook - eat)
  • alfredo sauce and pasta (can mix it all together and warm up in skillet)
  • homemade mini-pizzas - just can't decide on the style.... 
  • turkey soup and dumplings (can sit in crockpot all day; add dumplings when we get home; set the table, get selves oriented and all will be ready to eat)
  • turkey/spinach burgers (because we have them)
  • something labeled "tie" (probably "thai"-something but Legoboy thought to be clever - I can't find the recipe card for it though. This should be fun ;) ). 
  • working on the rest
We do the Eastern Rite fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, so meals on those days are modified to suit. 

This week, we came home (from a week away to a very cold region) to warmth and dry roads; went to bed; woke up to 3-5 inches of snow covering EVERYthing. Winter weather warning. Right. No grocery shopping today. Good thing the freezer is more full than I thought it was - we won't need that full day cooking. Just a partial day. ;) 


  1. So when I read things about food, my mind's gears get turning to figure out how to make it as healthy as possible and minimize the chemical So your comment about the ranch dressing was pretty funny. I know what you mean because I love it too. And we make quite a bit of homemade pizza and I NEVER have ranch dressing for dipping....for the reasons you mentioned (we eat "pure" and homemade, so it's ACV/olive oil vinaigrettes for us). But my thoughts on this lately have been that I could buy the ranch mix powdered packet from the store and use my raw milk and homemade mayo/sour cream, that way at least 80%(ish) of the dressing is probiotic and healthy :). Of course this is assuming you were talking about ranch dressing in a bottle. If you were already talking about the powder packs then you are probably already utilizing something similar to what I said. Anyway, that was my 2 cents. Maybe it will help ease your fear of your ranch chemicals...haha.

    1. We make SO much of our food from scratch (when I am home! It is amazing what happens with one winter storm that slows one down for an all-day cooking and how easy it is to slip away into pre-prepared foods - or easy to eat (like bananas - we ate LOTS of bananas last month - not even in season)) --- but ranch still comes from a bottle. I've done the packets before, but not consistently. One of these days, I want to find the seasoning recipe for them and make even that from scratch! ;) I could do it easily online right now, but I know that will lead down a LONG rabbit hole (known as the black hole of the internet! ;) ).

      My dearest hope is that if we minimize our "chemicals" in other places, the few that we get won't harm us at all. Of course, I say this the morning after Legoboy got into the cupboard and brought out the triclosan soap I received for a catechist gift this past Christmas - and used it. UGH. Those chemicals never drain from the body - they sit and accumulate. UGH.

      With that said, Legoboy really enjoys making so much from scratch too - really seeing where things come from, not "wondering". ;)

  2. Yes I know what you mean. I try to follow something like a 90/10 rule. You know, where you don't worry about the 10%. Right now I'm working on sourdough bread because I cringe when I buy a loaf from the store....which is rare but even then still cringe.

    As for the ranch it is actually fairly easy to make from scratch. I just get lazy. I already do my own mayo so adding the seasoning isn't much more. The thing is that you have to "play" with it all to get it just right. The ingredients are just dried parsley flakes, garlic powder and onion powder (and salt of course). I can't remember how much of each but I play with it. And then of course just the mayo/milk. I have found before that what makes it better is sour cream instead of mayo. And I tend to add a pinch of sweetener like Rapadura or something just to soften it up a bit from the tangyness. It turns out "decent" but not like the storebought. Then again I'm sure if one plays around consistently enough you can easily make it delish once you find that right combo :). I'm just tired of messing with stuff so I was willing to find some sort of compromise for "now"...just now, because I always plan on getting to those things "later".

    I didn't realize that triclosan was one of those chemicals that never detoxes out! Yikes. I know that about flouride though but not other things. Geesh, I guess I better go back to our basic castille soaps in the bathrooms. I had gotten lazy and picked up a few soap pumps from the dollar store the other day. Those fragrances are CRAZY strong, especially to people like us who use nothing on our skin! Thanks for the reminder to stay on track. Every time I try to be a tad bit normal I learn something pertinent to the decision I just made.....God speaking to me all the time telling me to just forget all that purrrty convenient fluff stuff!