The house is in crisis. The middle pages of Percy And The Kite have fallen out. Without the mid-section, you have no way of knowing how Percy fares in the kite contest although he does look (spoiler alert) very pleased on the final page. The final page is sticky-taped to the back cover. That one also fell out and was repaired.
I look for the missing pages under the wardrobe, under the cot, under the changing table. I look in the book basket, in the toy box, in the bag of pram essentials we take with us everywhere. Jack runs around the house shouting, “Percy! Percy!” I never expected to feel so much anxiety over a green train. It isn’t even Thomas, for goodness sake.
The pages are eventually found in the laundry bin (of course, why didn’t I look there first?) and I repair the book (again) with tape that evening. It is on days like this that I am glad of our chest freezer.
Since moving out of London we have – to the envy of our friends – a garage. The garage is a place of wonder, housing the amazing tumble dryer and a bottomless chest freezer. These are the two gadgets that contribute the most to the smooth running of the house, not counting the TV remote and the kettle, which also do their fair share of helping us get through the day. I love the freezer and I’ve gone all project management-y about food and meal planning.
I’ve discovered Once A Month Meals and I’ve made a chart so that I can systematically review all the past menu planners and make a note of the ones I want to cook. I go through the site on my commute, then transfer my chosen recipe names to the monthly meal planning book. Each week, the lunch and dinner plans get transferred to the fridge door. That way, I’m always ahead of myself by about seven days and I don’t have any “What’s for dinner?” crises to deal with.
The best thing is that by making the portion sizes on OAMM there is always enough left over for the freezer. My aim is to have a pasta thing (like a pasta bake or sauce), a pastry thing (a pie or quiche), a bread thing (like calzone) and a risotto in the freezer at all times as a minimum.
It sounds regimented but it really isn’t. I swap meals in and out, change my mind, use up ingredients and flex the plan if we are out (not that we get invited or choose to go out spontaneously much anymore). It’s also really easy to put together the shopping list: review the meal plan for the upcoming week and shop accordingly.
I know this is way more planning than many families do but I enjoy it. I like feeling organised, at home and at work, and meal planning is just one more way to add enough structure and process to keep things manageable while allowing enough wiggle room for a change. Then on days where finding Percy is more important than cooking from scratch, there is the bountiful chest freezer and a grand choice for dinner.