Yesterday’s Weather:  Clear and chilly.  Right around 28°.


Yesterday On The Ranch:  Jacob and Sam have been sorting steers for size in the feedlot.  In the morning Beau ran to Forsyth and met Rod Lee to pick up a “saddle” that should aid in getting the Spring Pasture waterline going again.

In the afternoon, it was absolutely necessary that I run to Billings to procure provisions for the family — so much so that before I left Beau alone with his babysitting job, I had to make a quick trip to my mom’s house to grab three diapers (she keeps emergency rations) so that Beau would have all the supplies necessary for making it through the afternoon with 2-year-old Muggins.

Luckily Walmart’s grocery pickup is saving my life these days.  Ordering my groceries online, listening to a podcast on mindful mothering while I wait for Walmart employees to load my van with all the stuff… that’s all right with me.  Of course I had to get a few items at Costco (they just can’t be beat on bread, butter, bacon, bananas, basically anything that starts with ‘B’ I guess) and — though I had sworn to Beau I wouldn’t do it — I made a very quick stop at the Dollar Store.  I don’t know what it is about the Dollar Store, but it’s hard for me not to go hog-wild in there.  I had never stepped foot in a Dollar Store until about eight years ago, but when I did I was thrilled (I continue to be thrilled) by all the wonderful little plastic objects for only a dollar each.  Ha!

Other highlights from my trip:

— On the 70-mile drive to Walmart I had a long phone visit with my friend Natasha, whom I (unfortunately) haven’t seen for a few years.  Long ago we both worked in the same building, me for Agri-News, she for R-CALF (that was before Agri-News became the Western Ag Reporter and before R-CALF… well, took the turn to Crazy Town).  She’s a ranch girl from Oregon, and since she comes from a conservative rural background like I do, we share a lot of the same opinions.  Though I am blessed with many friends, I know only a couple gals my age who understand first-hand what I’m talking about when I share stories of ranch success and heartbreak and my role in all of it, and… it’s just nice to talk to someone who gets it.

— I grocery shopped this time based on… wait for it… a 10-day menu.  All the parenting gurus say menu-writing is the ticket to financial peace, sanity, time efficiency, better food choices, and sanity.  Did I say sanity?  So.  I have dabbled in menu-writing probably every month for the last 10 years of my life as a homemaker.  But I’d never completely finished the project, I think because my thoroughness and exuberance usually overwhelm me before I can get it all organized.  Still, I truly have often wondered if following an all-out menu for our family, especially considering the facts that we homeschool and live 70 miles from the grocery store, might be the Secret to Life:  aiding in healthy food choices (too often I and the kids don’t really know what to eat and so we have chocolate chips and coffee for breakfast… again) AND streamlining my kitchen time (like, no more trying to brown two pounds of frozen hamburger).  Basically, I am suspicious that my lack of kitchen organization has been hurting me and my kids too.

So a friend recently challenged me to create a menu and truly follow through on it.  Now, of course, I’ve followed through on many lunch menus in the past, like for days and seasons when I feed lunches to big crews here on the ranch.  But never before had I written down everything I expect my family to eat in a day — breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks (two of them, because my girls need to eat every 45 minutes — ha!).  Never… until now.  I’m really truly on my way this time!  First I looked at what few groceries we still had on hand.  I created a 10-day menu which enables me to use up some of those leftovers.  Then I grocery-shopped for everything needed to make everything on the menu.  I put it all away when I got home, making an effort to organize pantry items according to days.  In the future I would love to incorporate a few hours of prep cooking at the beginning of a menu cycle.  Maybe when my kids are older I’ll be able to do that.  For now I think I better just focus on actually sticking to the menu.  And getting the meat out to thaw ahead of time.  You know, things like that.


© Tami Blake

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