We’re “starting fresh” this January, completing 22 mini-challenges in 22 days for a cleaner, fresher and healthier kitchen and grocery budget. Just joining us? Read about the what’s and why’s on the mini-challenges, as well as the previous days tasks, and jump right on in!
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Benjamin Franklin is attributed to inventing the lightning rod, bicofals, daylight savings, and the odometer.
He’s also the one who said “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
A lot of meal plans have been tacked up to my fridge this past year. Many were successful. Many were not. And even the most well-laid out plans still fail.
Tacos are one of my family’s favorite meals and it’s penciled in at least once on every monthly menu. Last month’s taco night started like any other taco night.
- Pull out ingredients
- Start chopping
- Cook the rice
- Cook the chicken
- Cook the corn.
- Make the tortillas
Simple. Uncomplicated. Yet somehow, I just couldn’t get my act together that night.
I chopped everything on the counter, but every single dish was still missing something. Then I ran out of onion… and had to decide whether to omit the onion from salsa or from southwestern corn. Which would have the least impact without onion? I don’t know! Neither?
The chicken was frozen – ARGH! The rice container was empty. And what happened to the coconut milk? Fill up the rice, spill more on the floor.
Salsa is good, ready for the cilantro. CILANTRO?!
Start mixing the masa and pressing tortillas, only to have every single one of them fall apart while opening the press. This can’t be happening.
Mr. Crumbs senses my frustration and inability to GET IT TOGETHER so he lends a hand with the tortillas. His come out perfect. Every.Single.Time.
It was about this time when I realized that if my husband didn’t help (or rather take over) with dinner, we weren’t eating. The plan for dinner was “tacos.” That’s it! There was no other plan!
And that’s where the plan failed. Because even the well laid out plans deserve a back up plan.
Day 17 – Create a Back Up Plan
This should really say “two” back up plans, but if I made that in big bold letters, some of you would close the browser and never come back!
Sneaky sneaky! He he he!
The reason we all need two back up plans is because dinners usually fall into one of two categories: family, or company. So appropriately, we need a back-up plan for each type of occasion.
What a Back-Up Plan Is
A back-up plan is something that you can make for dinner in 20 minutes or less. Remember that the back-up plan usually comes into play towards the end of dinner preparation… when we realize that the efforts of the past 60-90 minutes have been futile thus we raise the white flag and surrender. We must not forget that the troops are still hungry and expecting food!
It can be made from whatever you currently (and in most cases, usually) have in the kitchen. It is easy. It is simple. It is healthy. It is nutritious.
What a Back-Up Plan Is Not
A back-up plan is NOT something that will take more than 30 minutes from start to table. Remember those hungry troops? Do you want to be the one to tell them they have to wait ANOTHER hour before dinner is ready? “Five more minutes” can only happen so many times before they catch on you know.
The back-up plan is not extravagant, nor complicated. It is not take-out. It is not dinner from a box. It is not a phone call to the nearest pizza shop.
Example Back-Up Plans
Depending on the circumstances, each of us will have different looking back-up plans. Here are some of mine:
- peanut butter & jelly, fruit
- spaghetti & homemade sauce
- seed salad
- snacky dinner (bread, cheese, veggie sticks, fruit slices, various seeds and nuts)
- grilled cheese
- spaghetti & homemade sauce
- grilled cheese
Why yes, my “company” list is lacking. I know where my challenge lies!
There are some meals that can cross over between the two categories above, like grilled cheese. On homemade bread (with lots of butter), a warm, grilled, cheesy sandwich is downright delicious. Stick with the cheese if it’s just family, but add vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, onions and maybe a slice or two of bacon for company (because bacon makes everything YUM-O!).
The nice thing about family back-ups is that they don’t have to be special by any stretch of the imagination. We’re human, and we cannot be perfect household CEO’s all the time. Our family will love us regardless of how burned the chicken is.
Company however, that’s a different ballgame. If you have any special ideas or ways to implement an ordinary and plain back-up meal, save those for company nights.
Your homework for today is to think of at least one back-up plan for each category. Remember – it must be based on what you already have, or usually have in the kitchen. Meals requiring special ingredients that are normally NOT in your pantry, or “quick trips” to the store are not allowed.
Once you have your back-up plan in place, make sure it’s accurate every time you meal plan. If you plan every week, verify each week that you still have everything you need. If you plan and shop once a month, be mindful of what your ingredient shelves looks like so that you’re not left out in the cold when the end of the month draws near and you need to implement that back-up plan.
Day 16 Update
I cleaned out all the remaining HFCS a few weeks ago and here’s what I found:
Do you see what I see? Canned soup, steak sauce, coffee flavoring and jelly. JELLY! Want to guess where HFCS fell into the line up of listed ingredients on the orange marmalade?
You’d think that the marmalade would be mostly orange, a little bit of sweet, then maybe some other “stuff” thrown in (because nothing seems pure anymore…). But NO! The most prevalent ingredient in that darn jelly is a toxin! Sheesh!
Oh yeah, and think you’re doing your body good with that Special K? Nope. Think again.
Splenda does not have HFCS in it, but it is an artificial sweetener that I had been relying on for WAY too long, so I decided to ditch it since I cleaning out HFCS anyway. You can see ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and salad dressing there too. I don’t believe those tortillas had HFCS, but more than likely trans fat. Heck, with all these clean outs, it’s hard to focus on just one thing anymore!