Resolutions aren't just for the New Year...and tell me about your crock pot! - FamilyEducation

Resolutions aren't just for the New Year...and tell me about your crock pot!

August 08,2008

This summer I made two new resolutions. Resolution #1 is to give up drinking coffee, and Resolution #2 is to embark on meal planning for the week, rather than rely on our fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants approach. I only managed to come around to actually doing Resolution #1 about two weeks ago. I've given up coffee before, of course, in the months leading up to our trying to conceive both kids. This time around, I'm making the switch because I ended up drinking way too much caffeine last semester and, as a result, I think it made me jittery and less patient than I usually am. Our schedules were so crazy that I ended up relying on coffee to keep me going, rather than on healthier things, like drinking lots of water, exercising, and getting a good night's sleep (of course, as a parent, my sleep quality often depends on how well my kids sleep). I'm also trying to be more conscious of taking care of me (remember me?)--we parents tend to overlook our own needs, particularly when it comes to health.  So two weeks ago I put the coffeemaker in the garage, dusted off my teapot, and bought a box of my favorite tea.

But I've been really dragging ever since I made the switch. One morning last week, I contemplated throwing in the towel on this whole tea business, and yawned hugely in the car on the way to L.'s school.

"I don't think I can keep this up," I moaned to L. "I think I just need coffee."

"You can do it, Mama," L. said encouragingly from the backseat. And, with my son's vote of confidence, I persevered. What message would I be sending him anyway, if I caved and dragged my giant Krups coffeemaker back into the house again?

Resolution #2 has been in the back of my mind for months and months. I'm tired of grocery shopping, spending a fortune, and running out of food to cook by day 3 of the new week. Is it just me this happens to? So in an effort to cut back on our grocery bills, and to get back into my love of cooking, I've decided we need to meal-plan. We started a week ago. On Friday I sat down with my cookbooks and came up with dinners for every night of the week, right down to the desserts. We kicked it all off with a delicious stir-fry for Family Cook Night on Sunday, and we're due to round it off Saturday with spicy black beans served over brown rice, with this peach cobbler for dessert (and I can't recommend this cobbler enough--go and make it!).

This is all well and good while I'm home, but I go back to work next week and I'm having trouble coming up with quick, healthy recipes that I can put together with minimal effort, and with all the small and large dramas of weekday afternoons with the kids playing in the background. To help with this, I'm thinking of asking for a crock pot for my birthday next month, maybe this one or this one. I must be one of the few people left who actually don't own a crock pot, but I've been daunted by them, for some reason. We're a vegetarian family, and when I think about crock pots, I imagine them brimming over with beef stew or chicken parts. But there are vegetarian crock pot recipe sites out there, like this one, and even cookbooks,  like this one so I'm beginning to think it might be both fun and useful to get one.

I need some crock pot advice, though. Do you have one? Do you love it? Are they really all they're cracked up to be?