Category: Slow Living

Sunday Scraps – How we prep for the week ahead and what we ate this week

A big part of living low and slow is having routines, rituals and habits. No we don’t run around naked in the woods making sacrifices to the Slow Gods (although that might be fun) but we do have some things that we do on weekends that make life just a little bit simpler for the rest of the week. 

The last two weeks have been school holidays here so I must admit that routine did pretty much go out the window but we’re getting back on track now.

Our Weekend Routines

It’s tempting to sit around and be lazy over the weekend, especially when the weather is really nice (or particularly awful) but we I find that if we perform a few little rituals we can handle just about anything the coming week throws at us.

The Bed Sheet Ritual. 

Change all the bedsheets. We don’t necessarily wash them the same day but at least get them all changed so we start the week fresh. This only takes about 20 minutes if everyone does their own bed.

The Ritual Cleaning of the Sports Uniform

Takes a second or two to dump all the sports uniforms and training gear in the machine and five minutes to hang them up ( inside on a clothes horse if the weather is bad).

The Uniform Ritual

Goes hand in hand with the Cleaning of the Sports Clothes. We check everyone has clean uniforms and work clothes, organise any repairs if necessary and hang them all ready to grab and go each morning. This way you don’t have to hunt for socks or shirts or in my case, spend 30 minutes choosing which of the two work jumpers you own goes best with the blue shirt.

The Lunchbox Ritual

Takes about 10 minutes to check what’s in the fridge, freezer, pantry and fruit bowl. I make sure there’s enough for lunches and make a list which I stick on the fridge so the Teens know what they can snack on and what has to be left available for lunches

The Meal Plan Ritual 

This one also only takes about another ten minutes.  I usually already have a fair idea of what’s for dinner for the week but I do a quick double check that we have all the necessary ingredients on hand and if not I try and adjust the plan rather than run out and buy stuff. I plan mainly on a scrap of paper but I have put together and excel spreadsheet version as well. Here’s a printable version for those of you who would like to give it a try.  Weekly meal planner1

The Prepping of the Food

This one can take a little longer depending on what meals we have planned for the week. I usually spend about half an hour doing things like precutting veg or stacking the required fresh ingredients for a meal together in the fridge. I also like to pull  any meat we’ll be eating for the next few days out of the freezer and put it on plates on the bottom shelf of the fridge to thaw ( this way I don’t have to defrost it last minute in the microwave and the chance of it going bad by thawing on the bench is alleviated). Sometimes I also make up a batch of flatbreads to be used that week or put in the freezer.

If we’re home I tend to do a little baking (bread or a slice for snacks), but the bulk of our cooking gets done as needed throughout the week to avoid waste.

The Ritual Checking of the Bills & Notes

This one should probably go at the top of the list. Sometimes it takes several requests before school notes are produced or Mr Scraps remembers that the car is booked in for servicing on Thursday (this for us is also an important Ritual as we have only one car and live in the country so it needs to be kept in good condition). There’s nothing worse than a last second scrounge for a few dollars change for a note produced the morning of the school excursion or worse a phone call from the school to say your child is being left behind at school unsupervised while everyone else goes to the museum so either come pay for them or pick them up. This Ritual ensures that a) I have a chance to set aside the correct monies for any upcoming trips/bills and b) that if one of the Teens misses out on a school activity it’s because they didn’t hand over the appropriate papers when asked ( and I don’t have to rush around after them or feel guilty when I say, sorry but you’re going to have to miss out this time).
We have lots of other little things we do as well, like making sure the kitchen is clean before we go to bed Sunday night and the Threenager and I both wash our hair, but the ones above are the ones that really do make the week run smoothly.  None of these take too long. Most weekends it’s under an hour and can be done between other activities. If you have any rituals you perform over the weekend to make your week run smoothly I’d love to hear them.

What We Ate This Week

(the makings for Friday night’s Fridge Bottom Burgers) 

We were away last weekend and got home Monday night  and I had work Tuesday and Thursday plus a tonne of university work to do so we’ve had a couple of Fake-Away meals this week.

Monday: on the road home from Lakes Entrance we had toasted Ham and Cheese rolls for breakfast, stopped at a bakery (most bakeries are awesome if you are trying to avoid plastics or go zero, they use tongs to pick up pies and pop them on a real plate, into paper bag or your own containers) for beef and mushroom pies at lunch, then stooped at Rosedale for what turned out to be an undrinkable coffee (I drink my coffee black and sugarfree so might be a little more picky than the average latte drinker but this coffee was bitter and burned).Dinner was ham and tomato rolls I made before we left the cabin. Snacks were veggie sticks apples and bananas as well as some lemon slice.

Tuesday: I had toast for breakfast and packed myself a sandwich for my work lunch as well as some fruit and yoghurt. The Threenager and Teens ate Weetbix for breakfast. Mr Scraps and the mob at home ate pumpkin soup from the freezer as well as fruit and yoghurt. Dinner was Chorizo & Tomato Pasta Fake-Away.

Wednesday:  The threenager had Weetbix for breakfast. I had toast and Mr Scraps had beans on toastI made pumpkin scone bread for snacks. The Eldest Teen spent the night at a friends house so wasn‘t home for breakfast.  The Younger Teen slept in past breakfastThe Threenager had veggie sticks and yoghurt. We all ate toasted sandwiches for lunch made with cheese and veg from the fridge and dinner was baked chicken and vegetables

Thursday:  Breakfast was toast for me and Weetbix for the threenager (Im pretty sure when I’m at work Mr Scraps and the Teens skip breakfast)For lunch at work I took leftover FakeAway from Tuesday night. Mr Scraps and the mob ate toasted sandwiches, everyone had fruit and  pumpkin scone bread for snacks. Dinner was Leftovers Lasagne from the freezer

Friday:Breakfast was eggs on toast, lunch was pumpkin soup, dinner was  fridge bottom Burgers and homemade potato chips

Saturday:  For breakfast I attempted homemade crumpets. They tasted good but were nothing like the crumpets I remember my Nan making for meThe threenager and I stayed home while Mr Scraps and the Teens went to netball and foot. We had toast for breakfast, veggie sticks for snacks and boiled eggs for lunch. dinner was beef sausages and mashed potato and I made a pear and Apple flan which we ate with yoghurt for desert.

Sunday: Lunch was homemade potato chips and the last of the Leftovers Lasagne. For dinner tonight I’m making vegetable curry and rice which should have enough leftover for a few lunches during the week.

Living Low & Slow

We’ve had a few life changing moments in the past decade. Mr Scraps was injured in a workplace accident.Our household income took a major dive (due to Mr Scraps accident and my own decision to pursue an arts career and then further education rather than work in an industry that didn’t allow for much ‘family time’). We’ve lost family members, friends and mentors to cancer and other health related issues. We decided to have another child (the Threenager). Add to that, we got older and (hopefully) a little wiser.

We spent a decade in a weird kind of limbo after Mr Scraps was injured.Waiting for (or rather being bullied by) insurance companies to decide whether he was worth ‘fixing’, struggling to make ends meet, feed kids and have some sort of life (any sort) where we didn’t end up miserable, cynical, overweight and unhealthy.. 
I’m sure Mr Scraps will have his own view on it all, but I was terrified that I’d end up one of those grumpy gossipy old women you meet sometimes in line at the bank or the post office, you know, the ones that hate everyone and everything because somewhere along the line life handed them a rotten orange and they didn’t know that you could chuck the thing in the compost and go pick a new one.
Somewhere along the line we decided we didn’t want to live a rotten orange life. I’m not quite sure when. It may have been when we decided to add the Threenager to our brood, it might have even been before that or it may have been after… it doesn’t really matter when we decided, or even whether it was a conscious decision or not, it just matters (to us) that we did.

I call what we do living “Low & Slow“.

No, we’re not hippy tree-huggers living in a tiny house growing our own sprouts and vegan home-schooling our kids on bicycles (but if you are that’s so awesome and I’m a little jealous).

We live in a little rental house, don’t really garden (I try but I’ve literally killed a cactus in the past), I have a job (just started in my first graduate archaeology position), we live on lower than the Australian average household income, drive a car (it’s old but reliable and fits two adults, five kids, plus Scrap Cat and the Immortal Chicken if required), our kids play mainstream sports, we own a TV and a lot of DVD’s and love the fact that we have running water and air conditioning when its hot. All in all, we’re fairly “normal”.

But we do care about the kind of environment we’re leaving behind for our children and the attitudes that we pass on.

Living Low is really all about living with less … less waste, less cost, less environmental impact, less sugar, less chemicals, less fuss, less stress and less chance of developing any major health issues later on… 
Living with less takes some adjustment. It’s been an ongoing process and we’re still learning as we go.
What we have learned is that it’s not about never having any bills or never eating out at a restaurant ever again (we ate out over the weekend), but rather about knowing that you can pay those bills in a reasonable amount of time and have the occasional night out at a fancy restaurant without giving up any of life’s true necessities or having knots in your stomach when the waiter presents you with the bill.
By living low we’ve managed to get a little fitter, to live within our means and actually enjoy it. We’ve also learned to focus on experiences rather than things.
Living Slow is about taking the time to actually enjoy life without the hustle.
It’s not about being lazy and doing nothing, or being so perfectly organised that nothing ever goes wrong. I still go to work and do university, Mr Scraps still runs the Teens to and from sports practice, the Uni-Student works two jobs.
What it does mean is being able to take a breath between activities and appreciate the little things in life, like ten minutes in the sun with a pot of tea. 

It means being able to leave the stress of work or university or whatever else you do at the place where you do it (I know, easier said than done for some of us). It means choosing what’s important for you and your family and making it a priority, actually putting it into your schedule rather than just dreaming about it.

It’s not about living in you’re own little insular dream bubble, but making real connections, with family and with community. It’s also about appreciation. Appreciation for those connections, for the environment and about finding joy in the simple things.

For us it’s also about conscious,sustainable living. About taking the time to learn how things work and where they come from or even making them ourselves.
And there’s also indulgence, in travel, in natural, wholesome foods and in new experiences….

All in all, it’s a mindset that defines who we are and how we choose to live.
How would you define the way you live ( or want to)?