Hello readers! I am excited to tell you I was on TV earlier this week talking about family mealtimes and menu planning. You can watch the Raising Oklahoma segment here! I had a lot of fun putting together this menu for February and I am looking forward to cooking and eating my way through a new month. Feel free to print it out and use it for your own family or cut it up and only use the parts that look good to you.
As always, the recipes have been collected on my February 2020 Menu Pinterest board.
February 2020 Menu
To help your family get out the door in the morning with minimal chaos, create a launchpad. This is an area in the home that is set up specifically to house all the things each family member will need to take with them when they leave the house for the day.
I have spent many mornings with my darling daughters asking me to sign homework, packing backpacks and searching for items needed for school or work. It’s a frustrating way to start a day. If you have a place in your home to store everything you’ll need for the next day like backpacks, keys, purses, and extraneous items for school or after-school activities, the morning will move much more smoothly! It’s best if you can set this up close to the door you use most.
Many families in the USA (rural Oklahoma included) are busier than they have ever been. Kids are often in multiple sports/activities after school and many households have both parents working or maybe only one parent. With multiple children doing multiple activities, it can put a strain on a parent’s schedule and energy. Family meals tend to fall by the wayside when families feel this crunch. But it is important to schedule in family meals. It’s important for kids and adults alike.
Family meals keep communication open for families. Dinner time might be the only time that everyone is home and together during the day. Sitting down to a meal together allows talking about what’s happening in the lives of all the family members. Children should be encouraged to share their own experiences. Just try to avoid or postpone conversations that might be embarrassing or need a more private setting so that kids will want to continue to open up at dinner.
Family dinners also contribute to healthier eating habits. When the television is turned off and people are engaged with their meal and the family around the table, they are more able to notice and respond to hunger/fullness cues. When parents model good food habits, kids will pick up those habits too. So, be sure to serve some veggies with those family meals!
Family meals help raise self-confidence in children and teens and, according to the American College of Pediatrics, family meals provide a structure that contributes to better grades and better social skills.
If you are not currently doing a family mealtime, don’t feel like you have to go whole-hog right away! Pick 2 or 3 days a week to cook and eat together as a family. Try that for a few weeks. You’ll start to see the benefits. You might find that you want to do more!
I know I write about family meals a lot, but it is important to me and to our kids. Catch me on Fox25’s Raising Oklahoma segment this coming Monday morning at 10:00! I’ll be talking about family meal planning with some great tips on how to actually get it done!
There are about 29 million people in the world with type 2 diabetes and another 84 million with prediabetes. This lifelong disease keeps your body from using the food you eat for energy and can lead to other serious health problems.
To help combat these health issues, I have been trained as a Life Coach for the Centers for Disease Control’s Diabetes Prevention Program and will begin a year-long class to help county residents reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
This research-based program has been proven to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Participants who have lost 5 percent to 7 percent of their body weight and incorporated 150 minutes per week of exercise cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes up to 58 percent. Also, this program can help lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke, improve your health, help you feel more energetic and potentially reverse your prediabetes diagnosis.
Community members 18 years of age or older who have been diagnosed with prediabetes or previously diagnosed with gestational diabetes are eligible to participate. Classes will meet 16 times within the first six months, then once a month for the remaining six months. The one-hour classes will take place Wednesdays at 12 p.m.at Lincoln County Fair Grounds in Chandler.
The first emphasis in the class will focus on small weight losses.
As a Life Coach, I want to help participants become aware of eating behaviors by keeping food journals and learning ways to make small changes. I also want to help them increase their physical activity, with the goal of reaching 150 minutes per week. At each meeting, we’ll weigh in to track weight changes and learn multiple strategies for making dietary changes. We also may do some physical activities as a group. This is a lifestyle change program that includes group support from others who share your goals and struggles.
Part of the mission statement of OSU Cooperative Extension is to improve the quality of life of all Oklahomans. By training Extension educators who are then able to present this information to their constituents is just one way for Extension professionals to meet that goal.
I’m so excited to get this program up and running in Lincoln County. As an Extension educator, and now a Life Coach, I want the best for the citizens in my county. A year-long program may sound like a big commitment, but learning new habits, gaining new skills and building confidence takes time. I want to help class participants build a support group of community people with similar goals.
If you have a front-loading washing machine, you know what I’m talking about when I say they can get stinky. Luckily, there are some things you can do to keep the odor at a minimum. The first thing is to wipe down all the surfaces after you move your clothes to the dryer. Next, leave the door open for a while after you’ve finished using it. This will give the washer an opportunity to dry out a bit. You should also be cleaning the rubber gasket when needed.
If your machine is still a little stinky, try this: Mix 1/4 C baking soda with 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Put this solution in the detergent compartment. Pour 1 C white vinegar in the drum. Run washing machine (without clothes) on hot for one cycle. Wipe dry afterward.
If you have been reading my blog for much time at all, you know I love menu planning. I swear by it actually. I think that menu planning is the most important step to healthier eating. I’m not saying that everything I feed my family is perfect and clean and healthy, but what I am saying is without menu planning, our diet would be worse.
It is so difficult sometimes to go to work, workout, get kids to and from school, deliver kids to all the activities and cook dinner every night. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would be if I had to stop each day and decide what to have for dinner. In my world, dinners are planned so far in advance that I feel like I never have to think about it. Of course, I do think about it. It is December 30th and I just finished thinking about dinners for the entire month of January. I will start thinking about February dinners later this week and will probably be thinking about the February menu for the whole month of January, but only a few minutes at a time.
Planning dinners for a whole month might seem daunting to some people. Maybe even impossible. It’s not. It might seem unattractive to some people and that’s okay. I want to encourage all of my readers to do some form of meal planning, at least a week at a time. I find it easier to meal plan with a formula. I cook a larger entree on Sunday that can be made over into something else on Wednesday. I do soups or salads on Mondays, slow-cooker creations on Tuesdays, leftovers with dessert on Thursdays, breakfast for dinner on Fridays, and Saturdays change month to month. For January, Saturday is sheet-pan supper night. This type of formula could work for a one-week menu or any other number of weeks at a time. I do not suggest planning for less than one week at a time because that would require multiple trips to the grocery store, which means more money and more time spent on dinners each week.
To get started, feel free to print my menu and use what you like. Change what you don’t like. Also, ease into this by planning only 3 or 4 dinners per week if you’re not used to eating at home every day.
My wish is for you to have a great start to 2020!
Check out the recipes on my January Menu Pinterest board.
JANUARY 2020 MENU
It’s the week before Christmas. Anyone else feeling worn to a nub? Let me tell you a secret. Taking good care of yourself is the best present you can give to your kids or loved ones. It is so important to your physical and mental health to take a little time for you. That could mean blocking out a few hours to prepare healthy meals and snacks so you don’t overdo it on junk food. It could mean making sure you get 8 hours of sleep each night. It could mean getting your 30-60 minutes of exercise per day. Whatever it means for you, do it!
There are many times in our lives that we have to say “no” to things. During the holidays, this feels more difficult than at other times but it might be one of the healthiest things you can do. Our kids want us. Our families want us. And we want our kids and families to have wonderful, magical memories of the season. Those memories will not be so wonderful and magical for them if you are not in a good place healthwise. So, do everyone a solid and make sure you are making healthy choices for yourself!
Here are some ideas:
- Set aside some time to relax and be quiet.
- Ask for help, or hire it out when possible.
- Make and stick to a morning routine. Having things done regularly in the morning can make your entire day go better!
- Choose the things you want to do, skip the things you do not want to do.
- Limit your time on social media. Comparing your own holiday plans to those of other people could potentially steal the joy from your own activities.