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Housekeeping with Maslow*: FOOD

FOOD LEVEL I: What’s for dinner? We need to answer that question every single day. It can be anything: takeout, order-in, leftovers, pantry casserole, a scratch-cooked gourmet meal, or even just cereal.
     Once you know what’s for dinner, you need a clean kitchen. If you know what’s for dinner and have a clean kitchen almost every day, you’re doing well. Kitchen cleaning should be rotated amongst family members over the age of ten. Eight and nine-year-olds can empty the dishwasher.
FOOD LEVEL II: What is for dinner all week? This means having a plan and creating a shopping list from that.  This is not difficult if you have the same thing every week. It is not boring. It frees up your mind for other things. It’s actually rather comforting, and will give your household a culinary rhythm.  When all three children were living here, our weekly schedule went something like this:
Sunday Chicken (Pot roast/red meat on the first Sunday)
Monday Leftover Chicken (or pot roast) casserole or stew
Tuesday Tuna
Wednesday Crockpot Beans
Thursday Italian Pasta
Friday Fish
Saturday Leftovers & Pizza
     If you learn to cook each of these four ways, you can go for a month without repeating a recipe, and you will not be bored. You will be free of wondering what is for dinner.
     Your schedule doesn’t have to look like this. You can have a grilled cheese & tomato soup or mac & cheese night and a burger night or a breakfast night, or whatever your family enjoys. A schedule helps calm things down because everyone knows what to expect. The kid who hates fish knows it’s only once a week, and nobody whines for pizza because they know Saturday is coming.  It’s totally adjustable; I’ve replaced tuna night with a baked potato bar and do meatless beans and pasta nights for a more plant-based diet.
     A schedule is incredibly helpful at the grocery store!!!  You can mentally go through your menu for the week and know that you need a chicken, tuna (or potatoes), beans & rice, pasta & sauce, fish, and pizza. You can stock up during sales or from bulk stores because you know you’ll use these things.
     Again, other family members can help on a regular basis. My kids all know how to make Tuna Helper, jazz up jarred pasta sauce, heat up a pizza, scramble eggs, and even throw beans into a crock pot.
FOOD LEVEL III: Try a new recipe once in a while.  Switch out the schedule for different seasons, like a salad bar night in summer and a soup and bread night for fall.  Learn to make something from scratch.
*Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological theory consisting of a five-tier of human needs, often depicted as a pyramid. Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. ( In other words: food, clothing, and shelter, in that order, are the most basic of human needs. It occurred to me that I could use this simple list to prioritize homemaking and housekeeping.

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