It helps to be fairly organized when you live in the country…especially if you still have a job in the city and commute every day. Our drive is actually almost the same distance as we have been driving from the suburb where we were renting. The drive takes just a little longer because we’re no longer traveling 75 mph on the wide open toll roads.
I will admit, we had let ourselves lapse into a little bit of laziness at our previous house. We were tired after work, and would sit down to just chill for a “little bit”. In actuality, that translates into watching tv and playing on the computer/iPad for most of the evening. But when you don’t own the home that you’re living in, you don’t spend the time, money and energy in putzing around working on little projects inside and out. And most of our crafts and wood working materials were still packed away.
Now that we’re living on our homestead fulltime, there are chores to do when we get home. But the word chore is a misnomer because we positively love being outside tending to the garden and working on little projects all around the homestead. We also really enjoyed observing our bees (but that enterprise took a sad, sad turn – more about that in a future blog).
In getting used to our new routines, we are trying to stay organized and get as much done the night before to make our mornings a little less hectic. Last night, I got everything ready for my lunch except for my sandwich. I like to make my sandwich fresh in the morning – it’s just not as good to me after it’s been in the refrigerator all night and then in my lunch cooler half the day. This morning, I grabbed my containers out of the fridge, made my sandwich and was ready to go!
When you live out in the country, it’s a major ordeal to get one or two items for a meal. While we can make a pit stop at a store on the way home, it’s not preferred since it seems that everyone else is there too! Something I have done for a long time (and have fallen in and out of the habit over the last few years), is to make a menu for the week. I can then make a grocery list based on that menu and in one shopping trip will have everything needed to make a week’s worth of meals. It also helps eliminate the “what should we have for dinner” conversation every single day. When we have a plan, we just look at the menu and say, “Okay, tonight we’re having ___” and get busy cooking.
I also might add that the meals on our menu need to be relatively quick to prepare. After working all day, getting home and trying to get something done, the last thing we want to do is spend hours in the kitchen cooking dinner. But we also want to eat as many whole foods and stay away from as much processed food as possible. Now that we have the storage space and extra refrigerator and freezer capacity, we are buying in bulk as much as possible. For one, we believe in being prepared and ready for anything. Also, by planning ahead, we can reduce the number trips we have to take in to “town” – time that takes us away from our homestead and into crowds of people and traffic…now THAT is a chore!
Last night I got everything ready for Mexican steak and beans in the crock pot. I mixed together a can of diced tomatoes, a can of diced green chiles, several spices, and half of a diced onion. I put this mixture in a quart jar and into the refrigerator.
Then I measured out brown rice and put it in a plastic container and the appropriate amount of water in a cleaned out (and repurposed) orange juice container. The crock pot and rice cooker were set out (oh the JOY of having lots of counter space now!!) and ready for this morning.
This morning, after making my lunch very quickly (thanks to last night’s efforts), I put the meat in the crock pot, dumped in my tomato mixture, put the lid on and turned it on. Then I poured the pre-measured rice and water into the rice cooker and set the delay timer. Voilá, with less than two minutes of work this morning (and really only a few minutes more of prep work the night before) dinner will be ready when we get home! All I have to do is add a can of pinto beans to the crock pot (they just need to get warm) and serve. We really enjoy this meal. It’s quick and easy and really good. I need to get more adept with my crock pot – there’s nothing like having dinner done when you get home from work! Not to mention that we’re free to work in the garden and around the house for longer because dinner is already cooked.
Not every day will go this smoothly. But we are really going to work hard to spend a few extra minutes in the evening getting ready for the next day and keep our mornings less hectic in the mad dash to get out the door. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort - it’s all about creating a new habit.