Too Early for Christmas? Or Just In Time

I promise to do this every year, but this year I decided to get organised for Christmas early.  I know we all cringe about how early the decorations, gifts and food come out, but if they didn’t do this how would we prepare early?  How many of us say we will save throughout the year to make the financial side of it easier, but I have never managed to achieve this.  I decided this year, starting at the end of October I was going to start picking up a few decorative items for our house, and I have started purchasing items online.

keep calm xmasThis year, as with most years our Christmas celebrations aren’t going to be at our house.  We don’t even know what we’re going to be doing yet on Christmas Day as we’re still waiting on my husbands’ roster to come out, and I have requested the day off so hope that works out ok.  But, as we work through Christmas usually it’s nice to feel the festive season at home, I like to use lots of fairy lights, and little Christmassy nick knacks.  I LOVE Christmas and seem to have converted hubby, so this year he has requested a white Christmas theme, we both love the idea of a white tree as we never had one as kids so we have plans to do a white, winter Christmas theme.

So I wanted to make this post to point out that while I do not encourage the idea of Christmas consumerism all year round, I think we should stop complaining every year about how early it is, and use it as an opportunity to stop waiting until the last minute, and chip away at the purchases.  I know a lot of people go over the top with gifts, food and decorations, we enter the silly season the closer we get to the day, as we all know deadlines are the greatest motivators, and we end up with mad traffic and crowds at the shops that we all hate to participate in but that we feel is a necessary evil.  This year, or maybe even next year lets make a change that will hopefully improve our holidays.

  1. Have a discussion with your family about what your Christmas will be this year (ie xmas is comingours is a white Christmas, we buy for the kids in hubbies family, and for couples and kids in mine since I have a small family)
  2. Make a list of the people you need to buy for, add stocking fillers, and think about food – can you delegate food if you’re hosting, or can you take a plate to share if you’re going to someone’s house
  3. Start researching online shopping now!  I have realised there are a lot of “cheap” (under $15 and under $50) items on catch of the day that would make great stocking fillers or things for people who you don’t really know what to buy for.  You could do the same with groupon, ebay…  Whatever you can think of.  Buy a few things each fortnight, decorations and even start planning menus and trialling things if you need to, you can take things to work to get feedback.

There are a heap of apps and checklists out there, but if you make a gift list, a to-do list and decoration list you can start chipping away at things now.  Online shopping will get busier as time goes on, so try and make those purchases sooner rather than later.  Most importantly try not to make Christmas bigger and better each year.  Keep it simple and it will feel better anyway.  Take advantage of the Christmas displays as they are released, it will really help.  I feel like a whole new theme this year will be expensive, but shop around, there are lots of bargains to be had, you can get lights online, from discount shops, lots of decorations from kmart, it’s such a disposable world these days, but we keep our decorations in “themed” boxes and rotate them each year.  The biggest challenge for us is going to be how to keep the cats out of the tree.

We can all leave the consumerism behind, repurpose, reuse, and simplify.  Make this Christmas one you can enjoy, take a moment to slow down and enjoy the process, instead of entering the rat race in December.  Besides, I like to decorate our house on the first of December and enjoy the atmosphere.

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How Can We “Do It All?”

In a world where it’s all about how busy we are, and how time poor we are, how are we meant to “do it all”? After talking with friends and family recently about how hard it is to “do it all”, and after them jokingly suggesting I should come to their house and help them, I thought I would post some of the strategies I implement at home.

I feel like there’s an invisible line drawn between women and mums, the elephant in the room, as mums coordinating little humans have more planning and organising to do, especially if they work as well, there are still some little things we can all do to make day to day life a little easier.  I don’t want mums to think they are destined to fight the uphill battle alone every day, there are a lot of women and men who have trouble coordinating a work/family/home balance.

My husband and I work shift work, he’s on a rotating roster and I work all afternoons and one morning every second Saturday, therefore I eat dinner at work 9 out of 14 days.  do it allWe have developed our plan of attack over the last year since we’re both full time now.  Previously when I was on my own I didn’t really do anything on my days off other than prep for the week ahead and clean the house.  This meant I could cook for the week, put it all in the fridge and run the dishwasher, I had leftovers every work day.  Apparently this doesn’t work for my other half.  He gets sick of eating the same thing all the time so I had to get creative, and even got him involved.  Now we have a discussion about what we’d like to have for the following week, I do the shopping, prep some staples, cook 2 dinners in one night where I can, he loads and unloads the dishwasher because he doesn’t really like to cook, and we share the household duties like laundry and vacuuming.  It works for us.  But, I wanted to share with you some little things that can give you a little more time in your day, or make you feel less rushed.

  1. Meal planning and prepping – yes plan your meals ahead, do your shopping for the week or fortnight depending on how you like to do it but cook two dinners at once.  This frees up your other days.  If you have to run around after school and struggle to get dinner on the table, cook extra the night before so you can have leftovers when you get home.  If the kids or even the husband are fussy let them be involved in the planning process, ask them what they will eat maybe just a few nights of the week, then if the suggestions are unhealthy or outlandish you can afford to leave the routine for a night or two.  Put one dinner in the oven while you cook another.  Another idea that works for us when trying to decide what to have for dinner is to keep a list of things we cook regularly for a quick reference.  Because I try to stay organised we almost never have fast food or take away.
  2. Cleaning and general household chores should be multitasked – When you cook dinner that has to sit in the oven/thermomix/pressure cooker/slow cooker (insert other options here) for 20mins or more, go and put the washing on, hang out a washed load, run a bath, have a shower, set kids up for homework, make lunches for the next day.  Make the most of the small times you get, as I think they are wasted opportunities we often don’t consider the potential for.  Even put laundry on the moment you wake up, and by the time school drop-offs are done they should be ready to be hung out to dry.
  3. Shopping should not be done on the way home from school afternoon pickups – at this time the kids are grumpy, hungry, you’re hungry and you will buy more than you need and fight with the kids who will want to raid all the wrong isles.  Instead see if you can do the shop after school drop off, prior to school pick up, or order online and click and collect or better still have it delivered.  This can work in well with meal planning and have it delivered in advance of when you need those ingredients.
  4. Downtime – we all need some of this and a lot of people say they don’t get any, and any opportunity they would have is then taken up by cleaning up the house after the kids have gone to bed.  Make sure you multitask wherever possible, do a quick tidy up while kids are eating if they eat alone (load the dishwasher for example), make lunches while waiting for the jug to boil.  If you have no other opportunity do a quick 10min surface tidy when the kids go to bed, then sit down with a cup of tea and a book in bed, or wind down with some tv, or just debrief with your other half if that’s what you need.
  5. Roster jobs – if there’s two parents, or even kids that can help out, then work together.  Maybe one parent does school pickup and the other can do the grocery shop, or maybe one organises kids while the other cooks dinner.  If one parent doesn’t get to sit in front of the tv and the other does how is that fair?

Just a few simple ideas that can make a real difference.  I find I’m happier if I even only cook every second day, and there are so many quick and easy meal ideas out there these days.  Unless it’s a day off I even avoid doing too many tasks in one day, for instance I’ll do laundry one day, and vacuum the next, it just depends on what works and what your time commitments are like.  But, I like to keep myself at least 30mins to sit quietly before I have to leave for work.

This weeks meal plan included:

  • Coconut curried sausages and rice
  • Tuna pasta bake
  • Chilli con carne

I prepped homemade bread, subway style footlong rolls (herbs and cheese), yoghurt with fruit compote and carrot cake balls.

No miracle cures to a perfectly organised existence.  Only little ideas to make it a little easier.

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Why Are We Finding It So Hard to Switch Off? Don’t Let Your Phone Ruin Your Day!

I was talking to a patient yesterday about the changes in some workplaces, and the generation changes.  He said that a place he used to work at no longer takes employees over the age of 55, seemingly because of the health conditions and the idea of retention.  However, this had us talking about the fact that employing younger generations brings with it a different work ethic, young adults always have their heads in their phones, they don’t want to work full time, they call in sick and go out with their friends, they have call in sick because they “just can’t face coming in today” (someone recently said this to me), and they don’t have the initiative to think about what they can do to help the next shift.  What happened to work ethics?  And, why are we all buried in our screens, why are we emotionally attached to social media and technology, and have no idea about social niceties, politeness and respect?

As a nurse I work with other nurses of all ages, and I nurse patients of all ages.  We get into some interesting discussions, and being “logged in” has become a very common one, one that we all agree on but that never seems to change.  When you talk to someone who fits into the category of addiction to being available 24/7 they realise and agree this is a social issue, but they are horrified at being uncontactable in case they miss something.  My husband is one of them.  I suggest that instead of texting other people while we go out for dinner lets turn our phones off, leave them at home or put them on silent.  The last thing I want to do is pay for an expensive meal while I watch him text other people, I could do that at home.  So I am trying to instil a no technology on date night, quality outings and with a holiday coming up I was going to suggest a daily social media window as he will want to catch up with people post photos etc.  Whereas I would rather wait until the end of the holiday and post a couple of my favourite photos on our way home, otherwise if you tell everyone on social media what you’ve been up to in real time, are we missing it ourselves, and what do we talk about when we “catch up” with people if there’s nothing to catch up because they were theoretically with us along the way.  We’re living as if we are on reality tv, big brother really seems to be watching us, only we choose the audience. But what is this really doing to us?

We already have so many pressures.  We have work, home and rest pressures leaving us unbalanced because how much rest do we really get?  We have financial stresses.  socialmediabluesKeeping up with the Jones’ stressors.  And now, we have social media stressors.  We have to display an image of our lifestyle in the posts we make, the opinions we have and the photos we share.  We feel pressure to respond to phone calls, texts and now people can see where we are when we were active and get annoyed when we don’t reply straight away.  We have been managing like this for so long, not only do we get annoyed when we can’t reach someone and get a response straight away, we also don’t know how to shut off because we think it’s so important people are able to contact us or that we know we have a message we don’t know how to stop looking at our phones or just put them down and walk away.

My plan to combat this is turn off notifications.  Once upon a time people walked around and lead a normal life having only a landline from which to be contacted, and I agree that there are times when we really do what to be contacted and know the information in real time, but we also need some downtime.  I need to be contacted if my work start time changes, or if I’m having some work done on the house, I need to be able to contact my husband during the day to ask him to pick up some milk but don’t buy dinner because I already cooked it for him, so say good luck with your interview, but I don’t need to get instant updates on Facebook directing me to a cat video, I can look at that later when I’m waiting for a coffee.  So my new tactic is to turn off social media notifications, so the only way to instantly contact me and get a response is by text messages, phone calls or facebook messenger so that I can asses the importance.  I do have a smartwatch and it’s the same obviously due to the way they notify you.  If my watch alerts me to a call or text at work I can determine if I need to leave the ward and return it, however if I was busy I would ignore it altogether, it would be best if I could even have it ignore all incoming communication while I’m working but I’m not sure that’s an option yet.

The problem isn’t that we are so attached to these things, although that is a problem.  The social mediareal issue is what it’s done to people in society.  We have a generation or a few generations who don’t have manners, are no longer polite, ethical or respectful.  I see images all the time of teens sitting on public transport while the elderly stand, I see people walking around texting and bumping into people, I see people on the phone while they order their coffee but if the cashier did that to them what would the perception be?  We have phones on us while we work, we reply to quick messages, make a quick call in the corridor, but we can’t make a conversation or be pleasant to customers in a face to face situation.

We’re all so connected all the time, yet we have so many anxiety issues, insomnia and depression.  We should all allocate some time regularly to be disconnected each week, for a few hours or a day and see how it feels.  I look forward to knowing I can’t be asked to do anything, I can’t be asked to come to work early, do extra hours, catch up with people and feel obligated to fit it all in when I’ve already planned a day to do the things I’ve been looking forward to.  Don’t let your phone ruin your day!

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Are We Experiencing Life Through a Lens – With No Evidence of our Existence?

After going away for a weekend to the Blue Mountains I realised how much of our lives are spent looking through the eye of a lens.  While I realise going to a tourist area there will be people taking a lot of photos, I wondered if we spend so much time videoing and taking photos, are we missing the experience?

Since the world of technology evolved, of having a camera on us at all times, walking digital lensaround with earphones in, and having our faces hidden behind screens all the time…  Are we missing the experience?  Everywhere we went there were people taking photos and videoing the whole experience, which is fine, we all like to document our adventures, have photos to display either in photo albums, on our walls at home or the digital wall we have on our facebook walls.  We took a few photos too, but it alarmed me that some of these people were virtually seeing their whole experience through a camera.  This made me wonder what are they missing?  Photos are meant to document an experience, but what will our memories be like in the future if we weren’t aware of experience?  If we aren’t present will we remember the smells, the colours and the sounds?  Is technology killing it for us?

I have so many memories of experiences I had that weren’t documented.  If you talk to the elderly, especially the ones with dementia the memories they have are vivid of the social mediathings they have experienced.  They remember the details of events that were special to them, without photos and without videos to look back on.  This prompts me to ask when was the last time you watched a video you took of a holiday you went on?  What do you do with those videos and photos once you posted them on social media?  They say we are the most photographed generation, yet there will be no evidence of our existence.  We take hundreds of photos, but we don’t do anything with them, we don’t print them, we don’t make albums, scrapbook or frame photos to hang on the wall.  What we do with them instead is post them on facebook on a “virtual wall”.  I have posted before about the image we try to create to present to the people we know, and this is the only place we seem to document our experiences these days.  On a virtual wall, instead of for ourselves at home on our own walls or shelves to show our children, to look back through with our grandchildren, to show them what their grandparents and parents did when they were growing up.  What is one of the first things you would grab if you had to evacuate your house?  I have always thought that one of the first things I would grab is my family photos and important documents, and of course my cats.

With this knowledge, my husband and I decided that we would document our lives and memory boardour experiences.  We bought ourselves a digital camera because we figure this is the first mistake we all make, taking photos on our phones and not printing them (although I have been known to use the Snapfish app to print photos off my phone).  I bought us a photo album, we had a plan to make an album for each year, which might seem ambitious, but it also gave us a reason to engage in activities that are worth documenting…  We get so caught up in life, work and day-to-day activities it’s easy to realise a year has passed and we haven’t done anything or have anything to show for it.  What is the point if we don’t enjoy ourselves every now and then?  There’s only so many pictures of pets and food we can take before we start to feel the photos all look the same.  Granted we don’t have kids, but isn’t this the kind of life you would want for them when you have them?  I would like to think we could plan a holiday each year, even if it has to be low budget or a weekend away if holiday leave is hard to get.  We all need something to look forward to, something that provides balance to our lives and gives us a contrast and a reminder of why we work so hard all year.  And hopefully, we will have something to show for it without sacrificing our presence.

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Our First Barefoot Date Night

So tonight we had our first barefoot date night.  We chose somewhere nice to go, although the book seems to imply a fancy place, I wanted to go somewhere closer to home, that’s still nice (turns out the food could have been better – we’ll know for next time).  We applied to open up our accounts, made a financial plan – I think this is motivating and gives us something to look forward to, and we talked about how much freedom we will have when we no longer have 3 interest-free accounts and a credit card barefoot datenighthanging over our heads.  We will already be $400 per fortnight in front from what we will be saving in repayments when we chip away at this.

I not long had a conversation with some girls at work who asked me how we managed when I had accidentally been paying too much tax for 12 months.  I had accidentally ticked a box on my tax form to say I was not claiming the tax-free threshold, plus I was still paying my HECS debt which was already all paid off, leaving me paying $600 extra in tax every fortnight.  Needless to say, I got an amazing tax return and we used that as half of our deposit for our house.  That’s one way of coming up with a deposit by accident.  It wasn’t until someone at work saw my payslip and wondered why I paid so much in tax.  We were planning a wedding during the time, and living mostly on 1 wage (minus that extra tax), my then fiance was studying and worked casually here and there, but we hadn’t committed to a great deal and I tried my best to keep things as simple as I could.  It makes me wonder how we go from surviving in those circumstances to thinking that having 2 full-time incomes was going to put us well ahead.  Instead, we ended up with more debt than I would have ordinarily thought was ever a good plan.  I can see how easy it is for people, you think about how small the payments are, and with things like easy pay now available it’s easier than ever to spend so much money we don’t even have yet.

I am motivated and hopeful that this new strategy is going to finally move us forward.  I’m 33, and when I was 30 I had a big meltdown.  I had celebrated with family, and then broke down into tears for 2hrs afterwards when I felt disappointed with where my life had gone in all that time.  A divorce, a degree and debt.  We have since been married, got out of some of that debt but replaced it with even more.  Now we have a mortgage, a car loan and a personal loan, in addition to these interest-free accounts and a credit card.  Now at 33 I am looking at where I will be by the time I’m 35.  Hopefully with only one debt left in addition to our mortgage, and that seems almost like paradise.

It’s sad to think that such a huge amount of stress and anxiety comes from us mismanaging our finances.  How do we learn to manage our money?  Do we learn from trial and error?  Do we learn from observing our parents?  I would like to think I am better than I was when I was 19.  Someone suggested saving to me then and I felt like that was such a hard concept to consider because I wanted to go shopping all the time, but where does that leave us?  With a lot of clutter but nothing to really show for our efforts.  My Dad was frugal with money, we only used to the heater if it was really cold and we already had used a blanket, after living with him and then my grandparents we knew what it was like to have to live on a budget, like so many other children do.  So why are there so many “Gen Y’s” who are in financial turmoil or wish they had been more responsible with money?  I know a few people who had strict up-bringsings, who instead of learning from that decided to rebel against it.  Thinking they would not lead the life their parents did, and instead getting work and buying whatever they want and having nothing to show for it but a good lifestyle, or so they thought.  But, would those years not be the years in which we should be setting ourselves up?  Getting whatever education we need at a younger age to get into the workforce sooner?  Maybe that’s my regrets coming out in me, there are really no right or wrong ways to get ahead these days, but I do wish I was more mature with money when I was younger.  Instead I survived minimally while at TAFE, then I worked through uni and finished my degree when I was 25, and now feel as though I could have had a few more years of working up my sleeve.  But you live and you learn.

And it’s never too late!

Since we decided to get dedicated, even before I read this book.  My husband had quit his job to study a new degree, so we went into more debt, but we moved closer to work, we managed to pay for our wedding, then the very next year we bought a house, and this year we are making small renovations and paying off some of our debts.

I guess what I wanted to share with anyone who might be reading this is that it’s never too late to get on top of things.  I understand if you don’t have two incomes or you don’t have much left over, I guess things just take a little longer – but you can get there in the end.  Mostly I wanted to encourage anyone who feels things aren’t on track or feel like you could use some help saving for a house or something that seems unachievable to give this system a look, I am planning to share our progress…  But, it even feels liberating to see on paper how much we could have saed by this time next year, or how much progress we will have made at dominoing our debts.

See how we go.

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Beginning our Barefoot Journey

I’ve just read the barefoot investor!  We have officially joined the cult.  I feel as though we were already doing some of it, maybe on a much smaller scale, and the rest we are planning to chip away at.  But, mostly I really want to share it with as many people as I can.

I have prepped my husband that we are about to be strict about things, make sure we make the commitments which might mean that from time to time we will need to prioritise on what we want more, and maybe remember what it is we’re working towards…  Being debt-free!  Although, because I manage my headspace by writing stuff down, and talking to him to ensure we’re both on the same page, he does already know what we’re about to do, I am still going to plan the weekly date nights.  We already have our super sorted so I have skipped a step, but I have kept the 4 weekly date nights to chip away at setting up our accounts, closing down the unwanted ones and planning our short-term plan.

I don’t want to give too much away, because there might be some copyright issues at risk if I say too much, but do yourself a favour and buy the book or at the very least have a listen on audible.  You should know I get no benefits from recommending this, I feel however that it is a great tool everyone should have at their disposal.

We have put ourselves in a precarious position since we met.  I had a personal loan to get out of my previous relationship, then when I met hubby he wanted to quit his job to barefootbookfinish his second degree, so I refinanced my loan to cover the shortfall of his debts that his savings didn’t cover (maybe I should have made him pay it all off before quitting – but his job made him miserable), then we refinanced to get married (again only the shortfall we didn’t have), and while trying to find a low deposit loan we were misadvised by a mortgage broker to refinance to make the shortfall for our deposit on a home loan, only to have no luck with him and find another one, with whom it wouldn’t have been necessary.  We now have the residual of that loan, a car loan (since this year I paid almost what my little Mazda 3 was worth in rust repairs), some interest-free accounts, a credit card and a mortgage!  Crazy!!!  Our debts more than double the fortnightly repayments on our mortgage…  INSANE!  No wonder I get so stressed and struggle to remember when all the payments come out etc.  When you think about how easy it is to get finance these days without ever having the sense of achievement of saving for something (other than a house deposit – if you didn’t get family assistance), but rather the relief if you ever get out of the hole of debt people get themselves into.  We are no different, we have thought about the easy way a few times, we committed to extras thinking well we have 2 incomes now and we only need 1 to survive.  However, we have come to a point in our lives where we want to start planning for the future, we want to get ourselves into a position where we don’t have to worry about our retirement.  We don’t need extravagant holidays, but we would like to know we can visit family, go out for dinner, have a trip every now and then, and use the heater without the stress.

So now we have a plan I feel more hopeful for the future.  I love that the barefoot steps don’t recommend you pour all of your money into debts and savings and that it allows for you to enjoy life now, in the short term with holidays to look forward, and you can also look at your debts get smaller and smaller until they are gone.  I might be a bit barefoot drunk right now, but I think that’s what you need to make a great lifestyle change, that is not just a change now, but a change you can sustain for the foreseeable future.  It’s like managing a great weight loss program I guess, and I know I have talked about this before.  I lost 45kgs, not by using fad diets, although I did try a few and they were hard to maintain, but in the end, I had to make changes that were sustainable, and that’s the key to keeping it off once you reach the target.  I imagine keeping ourselves in financial comfort will be the same, it’s not just the destination you have to worry about, it’s also maintaining that position so as not to end up back at the beginning again.  It’s so easy in today’s society, things are so easy to get on credit, social media put things in your face all the time and facebook makes other people’s lives look so great compared to our own, but merely because we don’t share the negatives in our lives, only the positives…  “Look at my fridge, lounge, car” etc…  Little do the onlookers know, none of which has been paid for.

We’ve decided to create pictures of what we want our life to look like, and start planning and implementing change to achieve it.  I highly recommend the book, it makes it seem so easy and shows you real results you can achieve.  All you have to do is sit down with a piece of paper and your own numbers and see where you could be.  I calculate that in 2.5 years we could have only our mortgage, and still afford an overseas holiday annually.  That gives me hope for the future, and although we are planning to start a family (that could change things for us), I know we can keep plodding along and making progress.  If you don’t have a plan to implement a set of goals, how will we achieve them?

You can find the book just about anywhere you can buy a book, but I ordered mine from the book depository and listened to it in the car on audible.

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|MEAL PLANNING| Weekly Plans & Prep

We now have twin Thermomix’s.  This is something my husband and I feel some shame about, but at the end of the day, it’s our lifestyle that has brought us to this decision.  We are both shift workers, I work all afternoon shifts 3pm-11:30pm, and he’s on a rotating roster.  We like to know what’s in our food, and both agree that the food I make in the thermies and from scratch in general tastes much better (after a lazy few weeks of cooking packet mix’s in the pressure cooker he actually asked me to go back to cooking from scratch).  So here we are, back to having 2 thermies.

I decided to make a post about our new meal planning schedule.  While meal planning is time-consuming, then there’s the shopping and the actual preparation time, it all seems like it’s too hard and it would be easier to get frozen dinners, light and easy or worst still just buy take away on the way home.  This isn’t really possible for us, either that or I wouldn’t get to eat if I didn’t prepare something before work since I have to eat my dinner at work 9 days out of 14.  My husband has high cholesterol, and with that a fatty liver, and I just like to eat better since I don’t eat a lot I need to make what I do eat count.  This year since we are both working full-time shift work we have struggled to stay on top of meals, after getting pregnant earlier in the year I was wondering how I was going to manage it all.  We have since lost the pregnancy, but the silver lining has given me an opportunity to trial and error some new ideas.

Everyone’s home/work balance is different, their routine is different and their family 20180611_1247047476449321106658475.jpgdynamic and requirements are different, and will change over time.  For this reason there no secret answer to managing a household, having a roster for the home, a shopping regime or a cooking allocation.  In our house, although I do most of the cooking, hubby will cook easier quick options (usually in the Tupperware pressure cooker where he can put everything in it and put it in the microwave, or in the thermie), however we share the rest, and he will hang out in the kitchen while I cook and load the dishwasher or handwash items that either can’t go in, or that don’t fit.  So we feel we have a balance.  However, cooking the food is only part of the process, the meals still need to be planned and the ingredients need to be bought.

We use a few tools to plan our meals.  Since purchasing a second Thermomix we now have the cook key, I will review this at a later date, but at the moment we are just implementing it into our routine.  The cookidoo recipe platform is a really good tool for anyone who has a Thermomix as it is a website you can log onto on your computer, phone or tablet from where ever you are, pick the recipes and add them to your planner where you can email yourself a shopping list.  We are finding this really good as it gives us something to look at for ideas, we have a dinners list at the moment and a “things to try” list for days when we feel like experimenting.  We then access the recipes we have chosen on the recipe platform onto the thermie via the cook key (which uses wifi to download them so we can use the guided cooking function – easier than looking at a tablet computer or phone that has a screen that times out).  Additionally, we use an app called “out of milk”, which allows us to make shopping lists that are organised into categories making it easier to work your way through the supermarket, we have also set up an account with this and can share the lists between our phones.  I often do the planning and hubby synchs the list and picks up the groceries on his way home.  We love it!

So armed with two thermies I have already set the foundations for what we hope will be a habit we can implement into our meal planning.  Hubby and I add recipes to the weekly planner on the week we want to try them and add things to the recipe lists we have created.  We do this throughout the week when we are watching tv at home or waiting for something like dinner to cook etc.  My roster works fortnightly, I have one day off one week and three off on the other, our new plan is that I will use my three-day-weekend to set us up for the fortnight, or at least the week.

Sunday: Meal planning – make the shopping lists and do the shopping
This includes dinners, implementing “leftovers” for work nights, homemade snacks, and lunch items.

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Note fridge set up.  Dairy on top where it’s coolest, veggies and leftovers in the middle and all the condiments and excess drinks in the crispers

Being an ex-Tupperware demonstrator I believe in the use of the ventsmart containers and the clear mates.  When I get home from the supermarket I cut up all the veggies and put them into containers according to how they breathe (yes they breathe), this gets weeks out of some items and a week out of others – if they last that long before we use them).  I also try to put any other items we prepare into clear containers as these are “man/child-proof” (if you have kids) and are more likely to be used if you can open the fridge and see what’s inside them.  Another trick to keeping your fresh produce longer is to store the containers in the middle of the fridge rather than at the bottom in the crisper as this is where the fridge is coolest.  We turned our fridge contents upside down, but I might leave that for another post.

Monday: Prepare – I am trying to make a savory snack/side for dinner (last fortnight it was a zucchini slice, this fortnight it’s a potato, pumpkin and sweet potato frittata), a sweet snack (last week carrot and walnut cake, this week maple bacon scrolls), and I aim to make either a dinner that night that will leave us leftovers, a layer dinner (like the steamed chicken in the varoma and soup in the bowl underneath), or cook two dinners at once.

 

Tuesday: Rest and Maintain – With the majority of the preparation taken care of, and leftovers in the fridge I try to enjoy the rest of my “weekend”.  Today I’m sharing this idea with you.  I am making my husband bread rolls this afternoon to go with the soup we made last week for his lunches in the next few days while he is on days off.  Tonight we are cooking an all in meal, and I am planning to make a pumpkin soup at the same time to cater for my week, this way when I go back to work tomorrow I can have the morning off from cooking for the next two days (also we are running out of space in the fridge).  Today is about me, rest, relax, watch tv, do some yoga, read a book/magazine, catch up on some laundry.

Two Thermomix’s may seem extreme, especially when you think about the cost, but I have purchased one at a time and since I use it all the time it really is worth it.  I can cook two dinners at once and have the next night off, or cook all day for one day and freeze half of it, whatever works in your household.  This is what works for us, but the only reason it does is that we maintain the planning process, that’s the most important part.  If you have a family of fussy eaters I suggest opening up the planning to them, take what they suggest on board and use it for your planning for the week.  If one of your kids likes mac and cheese (as my hubby does), make it a side to go with something else and throw in some extra veggies, we use bargaining as a tool to negotiate.

If you don’t have a Thermomix it’s not the end of the world, you can plan your meals and preparation around utilising different devices.  I used to cook something in the slow cooker, a dish in the oven, and while that was baking I would prepare something else in a frying pan or wok.  Then you have a stew or casserole, shepherds pie/lasagne and a curry.  Alternatively, I have had a cooking day with a friend so there’s someone to help, especially if there are kids to consider, and at the end of the day you take half each home to feed your families and you have variety.  Or cook them at home and swap later over a visit and a coffee.

 

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