Work/Life Balance

NOTE: Again, another Monday post.

It all started a long, long time ago, probably back in high school.  My days at school had to be full as they could (senior year I took 2 study halls because I had taken pretty much every class I could have and it drove me CRAZY) followed by band practice, work, and catching up on TV and ICQ.  College kept me even busier—starting work at 6 am two days a week with 5 am managing hockey practices three days a week (crazy lady, I know), taking 18-21 credits per semester, being a student leader, and spending weekends back and forth from home spending time with family and friends.  At one point for a Leadership Conference, I even presented on Time Management.  My adult life has not slowed down in the least, probably got even busier with being a mom and having a sick elderly grandmother.  Several people have commented on wishing they could have the balance I do, but let me tell you, it’s tiring.  I am so blessed to have a great husband who stays at home with our daughter and takes care of the housework and laundry.

However, there is one area where I struggle as an adult.  In high school and college, I was always able to get food whether from a cafeteria or work. There was no thought process, no planning.  When I taught elementary school, breakfasts and lunches were easy too—dinners got a little shaky but I had friends who were willing to eat dinner out OR I was so sick that it didn’t matter to me if I got an evening meal or not.  Now that I have moved back to PA and have to manage a house and work for a grocery store, it is not as easy to get meals.  Sundays, I will typically buy myself a loaf of bread or bagels to add to my desk peanut butter stash for breakfasts; however, I lack at planning lunches.  We have a café that delivers to our building, but often the options are either not all that healthy or appealing to my pregnant self.  And dinner? Forget that. The kid is guaranteed to eat a hot dog or chicken nuggets with fruit sides (we are still ferociously working on non-potato veggies and other meats, but her nickname before she was born was chicken so it has stuck with her palate apparently), so she’s an easy fix.  But for the husband and I, especially me being pregnant, we rarely can pull together a meal.

So like my good friend Amanda over at The Pantry Challenge, I have a pantry full of food that could be cooked, yet I spend $50-$70 a week on groceries.  Last year, when we blogged as a team, we’d have challenges to make meals at home and post our successes and failures.  I feel like I did pretty good, but between Arianna learning to walk and talk, Greg working at the Pizza shop, holidays, travel, and buying the house, it all fell to the wayside.  I know Greg loved when I’d cook at home, but sometimes eating dinner out is so much easier, right? Well, with a baby on the way and even with all my great couponing skills, I feel like I need something more to push us into the black for 2010 (before baby arrives and I am not working for 6-8 weeks).  For the past few weeks, I’ve been jotting down meal ideas on random pieces of paper then throwing them into a list of potential meals.  So we have our staples—I can’t do chicken right now and never was a big fan of fish or pork—and good old go to meals.  So, I am trying to plan meals based off cravings and what’s in the pantry.  There is no way I could totally pantry cook—Amanda is a hero—however, I can use what I have available to make things we really like that either Greg can have ready when I get home OR I can do up as quick casseroles for him to reheat.  (Plus, I LOVE having 2 crock pots to make anything we want sitting all day!)

This week, I have bought and prepared for five meals and planned them out like so:

Monday: Bean (or chicken for Greg) Burritos with Fiesta Taco Rice (yay rice cooker!)

Tuesday: Ham Barbeque Sandwiches and Fries

Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner (Sausage, Biscuits, Gravy, and Potatoes)

Thursday: Baked Ziti Casserole

Friday: Veggie (chicken for Greg) Stir Fry (getting a hand-me-down wok is AWESOME!)

Let’s see how it all goes down, and if we are able to keep up with the house, food, and balancing being a family with a hard working mama!

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