Monday, October 26, 2020

Midlife Menus

Last Monday I took a little bit of time to catch-up with everyone on my extended absence from Menu Monday/Keepers at Home posts. Popping out that article seemed natural... I was ready. However, as I sat down today to re-institute the promised series.... blank.

 Sort of

Perhaps it is dusting the cobwebs off of these tapping fingers. Maybe it is the screeching hault of months of ideas so excited to pour out that they tumbled into one giant blank blob! Mostly, however, it is all the big change in life since I last shared a comprehensive menu plan. I think I forgot how and where to start in this new season of different.

✓ The last of my children are all graduated.

✓ I'm not quite an empty-nester as all but my oldest have chosen to remain at home while they pursue the paths God is laying before them in adult life.

✓ I'm no longer juggling their schedules and homeschooling

✓  In an odd and unexpected course of events hubby is out of work while all kids hold various jobs and shifts. I have switched from just kids during the day to just hubby with a (grown) kid thrown in here-and-there... and what I cook in consideration of these schedules fluctuates.

✓ Hubby hit 50 and as we both pick up speed on this Midlife path, our meal requirements are transforming for health purposes.

✓ My aging mother-in-law moved in with us bringing her own dietary needs and very specific meal-times. (No longer can I just tell everyone to figure out their own breakfast or lunch, a luxury with older "kids"! Instead I am back into early parenting days where all meals and snacks need to be planned, healthy and balanced☺️(It's OK, I like my job!)

In short: no more kids to make cutesy kid things for (boy, I miss that!!) though I do sneak a childhood favorite in here-and-there.... and us olders with a more curious pallet amidst our particular diet needs.

Alas... I think I found my groove! These Midlife moments spark a different kind of liveliness in our midlife menu and, if you follow my Pinterest account, you know how much I LOVE sharing all of our foodie moments. So, here goes...

This Past Week

Each week I try to have a specific project or goal to work towards. Even without kids underfoot and homeschool soaking up time, there is always something requiring attention above and beyond the basic household duties (especially this time of year).

This past week's was Phase 1 of cleaning out a neglected corner in my bedroom and processing/canning pumpkin. Without the buzz of kids I can now usually contain clutter and work inside the daytime hours, which is a welcome change! And on Pumpkin day, I made the mess work for me! While boiling and mashers were out I did mashed potatoes which were paired with some cooked ground beef and gravy I had in the freezer for a shepherd's pie roasted in the oven. While dinner roasted, I tidied and by the time dinner was served, pumpkin jar lids were popping and kitchen messes were cared for. 

Lets have a look (an asterisks indicates a change of plans)...



Breakfast:  Leftover Omelet (from Saturday)

Lunch:  Grilled Tomato and Cheese with Chips

Dinner:  Chicken and Broccoli Bake with Quinoa and Clover Rolls

This dinner is a crazy quick and easy one. I used the last of my garden broccoli, cooked up some chunked chicken breast in butter and olive oil with garlic, onion, and parsley. Mixed it all together with a handful of Feta and Cheddar cheeses, poured into buttered 13x9 baking dish and cooked up at 375 for about 20 minutes.


Breakfast:  Fried Eggs and Sausage

Lunch:  Hot Dogs and Mac N Cheese

Dinner:  Oven Pot Roast and Veggies with Leftover Clover Rolls


Breakfast:  *Pancakes and Sausage (didn't have enough potato leftover from roast to do planned Eggs and Hash-Browns)

Lunch:  * Leftover Roast as Oven Stew (had planned BLT but ran out of lettuce)

Dinner:  *BBQ Chicken Thighs, Baked Potato, Corn and Cheesy Drop Biscuits (Wednesday and Tuesday's dinners were swapped when we forgot to pre-cook and chill the rice for stir-fry)

Tip: make extra baked potatoes and refrigerate for up to a few days to be used as homemade fries or hash-browns.      


Breakfast:  *Eggs and Hash-Browns with Leftover Biscuits (planned Pumpkin Muffins but didn't get to the processing till Thursday)

Easy hash-browns: cube into small bite-size pieces raw or cooked potatoes (or use leftover cubed potatoes from a dinner), throw into oil heated in bottom of skillet on medium-high (we like to use coconut oil for flavor and health-factor). Stir around periodically till brown, drain and serve with eggs.

Lunch:  *everyone did their own thing unexpectedly, I had planned egg salad sandwiches.

Dinner:  *hubby tried his hand at authentic Chicken Fried Rice and Mini Spring Rolls (freezer brand) (swapped night which ended up helping buy me more time on my project work!)


Breakfast:  *Scrambled Egg Bowls with Sausage, Cheese and Avocado (planned Egg Cups)

Lunch:  Leftover Chicken Fried Rice for some, Egg Salad Sandwiches and Chips for the rest of us

Dinner:  Shepherd's Pie with dessert of Pumpkin Muffins and Cream Cheese Frosting 

As I was separating out the pumpkin puree for canning, I reserved 3 cups to make a triple-batch of pumpkin bread mix. Managed 18 muffins, 1 mini loaf and 2 large loaves. The 2 large went into the freezer once they cooled, we will break them out for snacks and breakfast... as well as add to their ranks for holiday sharing!


Breakfast:  *Pumpkin Muffins and Sausage (already cooked the planned pancakes earlier in the week and had plenty of muffins leftover from night before)

Lunch:  Leftover Shepherd's Pie

Dinner:  Chicken Quesadilla/Salad with homemade guacamole


Breakfast:  This is my only 'sleep-in' day all week so I typically leave everyone to their own devices, however, made a Mango Breakfast Protein Shake for MIL and myself

Lunch:  Leftovers for some *Homemade Chicken Soup for others (we had a cold snap accompanied by mounds of snow which was making some throats feel kind of scratchy... soup to the rescue!)

Dinner:  Burgers and Chips


*** Why the asterisks? ***

Planning ahead with menus is always a good idea. It helps to stay on budget and balanced in diet... but lets be real, not every day goes as beautifully planned. I know, when I was a young wife, I found menus fascinating but was also often quickly discouraged by how hard it was to stay-on task. As I collected kids and schedules and all those unexpected demands on my time, I learned how to juggle. I like to alternate meats, spice levels and the nutritional balance from meal-to-meal and day-to-day. I also like to try 1-2 new recipes each week, though some weeks are all old favorites! I hope, seeing not just what we ate, but also how it changed, encourages you to menu plan and give yourself grace and flexibility to change it up a bit when needed! 

So that was my week in the kitchen... what does yours look like?

Happy cooking!

For an old article on one way I've done menu planning (free printables included) you can visit:

Menu Monday: Menu-Making Edition!


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