There has been much to do around the house because it is spring but each season brings on new things and as seasons change so do the things we do.
When we live an old fashioned life many of the things we do requires more time, more planning and more muscle. I have said before that modern easy comes with a cost literally.
Above I am making the laundry soap powder I use.
I grate soap and weigh what I grated and then I weigh the same amount of washing soda and add that. I also make a batch with equal weights of grated bar soap, this batch I am using kirks castile unscented, washing soda and borax. I also add some essential oil and shake it up. So I make two batches, one with soap and washing soda and one with soap, washing soda and borax. One batch is for gentle cleaning one for regular cleaning laundry.
I have been painting, cleaning, sorting and organizing as well as garden work. If you look into the middle room you may see something new. (Picture above)
I don't know if you remember my sewing cabinet but we have added a new top section of this already tall cabinet so I can store my yarns.
One day a couple of months ago Charles came home with a tall book shelf that someone had thrown out for trash pick up. He turned the truck around and picked it up. He likes to do this as recently he came home with three iron chairs I mentioned in a post.
So this past week I asked him if he could cut the top part off the book shelf and add it to the top of the sewing cabinet so I could sort and store my yarns. As you see above that he did this. The remaining bottom part of that once book shelf can be turned into a shorter book shelf.
It is good to be getting so many things done but big projects such as washing the outside of the house, under the eaves, the facial boards and such is a big job. Gardening is a big job and painting is a big job so I got off track with cooking.
People could eat out in 1944, it was not done often with the war and rationing but it could be done. So we ate prepared food a few times during our busy times to help with the cooking issue.
Charles had a busy work week, I had a busy work at home week, and Charles picked up food away from home two days in a row because I had not packed him a lunch and the second day I noticed his face was puffy and red. I knew immediately that it was from take out food.
I felt horrible!
Since doing our history project of living like 1944 meals have been an issue for me. Charles and I had to do an elimination diet to get Charles psoriasis under control so we had to choose health over 1944 menu. But all the while we were doing the elimination diet we found that we were actually gravitating more to the 1944 menu but without all the cookbook fancy meals of the 40s.
It is my opinion that most of the cookbooks in the past are books of ideas and do not represent what families actually ate. Often these recipes in the books require ingredients that we do not normally have on hand. Some cookbooks are good if they teach how to cook because we need to learn how to cook but then there are many cookbooks that are put out by big food companies.
Cookbooks of today are ideas of things to cook and the variety is head spinning. I am not saying that cookbooks are a bad thing, I just know that I can become overwhelmed quickly with too many versions of the same foods.
Sample of cookbooks that teach.
What I learned from the slight set back that Charles had recently from eating out is that I need a plan to help me not struggle with meal ideas. I have no problems cooking a meal, I am just meal idea fatigued. I don't want new ideas anymore, I want familiar meals. All the new ideas have smothered the basic good meals we ate in the past.
So I thought about what I needed to do, I did a lot of thinking about my past and how we ate and my life journey how food and eating changed. It seems like every 10 years we change. Think about it, the food from the 30s, food during the 40s, the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s, then fast food became increasingly popular. Dinning out was pressed into our minds that we owe ourselves this luxury.
We can go to the store and purchase ingredients to make most any meal from any country. I do better with less choices.
Too unscramble my head I told Charles that I "Had" to get back to basics and make days of the week meals but my mind does not work the same as it did when my children were young. Maybe I did better back then because we ate simple basic meals. I was a busy mom and we ate most all our meals at home, I worked outside the home after my children were in elementary school and I worked a job that would allow me to be home when my children got out of school. I feel we were more disciplined and had more routine back then.
I have noticed that a lot of older people eat out or eat more processed foods today. Not all but a lot of them and this could be a very unhealthy trend.
I am realizing now that when I have a meal planned out, one that I know ahead I am going to cook I do not make as big of a mess in the kitchen.
So I sat down and wrote out meals that we like to eat. I just scribbled them down on notebook paper.
Then I picked out some favorites and scribbled them on index cards. I also looked on my computer of pictures of meals since I have this blog I often snap pictures of our meals.
I printed some of the pictures and taped them to the back of index cards and on the front I wrote what was on the plate and then the ingredients to make that dish. I know that it looks like a lot of food on those plates but those are not plates, those are soup bowls we eat out of often. Also Charles and I only eat one main meal. We eat a light breakfast during the week and a little bigger breakfast on weekends, then we eat our main meal during lunch time so that is actually our dinner. In the late afternoon we have a very light meal and sometimes just a dessert.
I started taking new pictures of what we are eating because I did not need a recipe, I needed an entire meal suggestion.
Picture above is a homemade egg, ham and cheese on and english muffin breakfast. Our Saturday morning we have more time to make ham and eggs and waffles and things like that.
I made a easy meal so I can have go to easy meals. This is simply Penne Pasta, chicken broth, steamed broccoli, onions, pimentos and cheese grated over the top I could have chopped tomatoes instead of the pimentos.
Then the full meals, stewed beef, mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts. I went back to how I did many years ago and started using the serving bowls instead of dishing out the plate. This way I can put the food in the serving bowls, put a lid on them and wash the pots and pans and clean the kitchen before sitting down to eat.
We decided this would be a good Sunday meal so this picture goes on the back of the Sunday meal index card. I am working toward a two week set of cards so there will be two different Sunday meals. Right now I have Meatballs, buttered egg noodles, cabbage and carrots for the next Sunday meal.
Then the Monday Chicken meal.. Chicken, stewed squash and onions and sweet potatoes.
I decided we would eat meat 4 days a week and three non meat days. So there are only two days that are back to back meat days. That is Sunday and Monday. Sunday is Beef and Monday is Chicken.
On each card I am writing down the ingredients to make the entire meal and instructions to cook the meal in case Charles needs to step in to help cook a meal.
This is all scribbled down for now as I am working through the two weeks of meals. I will make the cards all tidy when I have it more decided.
I can tell you that each meal has been enjoyable to make because I have had no thinking. I shopped for everything last week, I have the ingredients and I don't have to think about what to cook.
Charles said he likes knowing what we are going to eat so he can look forward to "Oh, this is Wednesday, we will be eating loose meat on naan bread or this is Thursday, we will have cabbage today as he loves cabbage".
Example of card front
Back of card
What I am doing now is trying to balance out what I am cooking so there is no waste of the food we purchased so I can work in the foods that need to be used up by a certain time and such as that. Also I need to work in pantry shelf stable meals which may work in more index card meals to keep the food in the pantry rotated. We have to always keep in mind rotating our emergency food.
I also am trying to keep the meals healthy and have more vegetables.
While I am working all of this out I have one week of meals completed that I can use over and over until I have the system worked out.
Each of us eat different foods so my list would not work for everyone but the system would if you need some way to help you stay on track with cooking and eating at home.
It helps when washing dishes to have a pretty view from our kitchen window but the menu cards help because I am more organized with my cooking and clean up because there is more routine
I am much happier and less exhausted since I have this cooking routine. This morning Charles left for work with his homemade meal. I prepared a easy macaroni garden salad. It is cooked macaroni ( I substituted for the macaroni), diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, onion, peppers, salt, pepper and mayonnaise. A slice of cake for dessert. I packed it with two ice packs a hand towel and fork. I will eat the same meal at home.
We have been discussing each meal and deciding if we liked enough to put it on the weekly card or does it need to go on an alternate card.
There will be variety cards too, there are no rules here, this is just for routine.
I wanted to share this idea with you since it helped me with meal preparation. I hope this helps to inspire your own ideas for cooking and eating at home.