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Monday, October 9, 2017

Q&A Home Edition

A couple of weeks ago I asked you all to send me your questions, and I got lots of great responses! Today I'm going to be answering the questions related to life at home, and I'll be answering the questions related to teaching and planning in future posts as well. For each question, I've put together a video answer to go along with the written one (to accommodate multiple learning styles, of course!). If you have more questions for me, I'd love for you to leave a comment- I enjoyed hearing from so many of you and would love to do more posts like these in the future!


1. I'd like to know how you organize/plan meals. Do you have a master list of supper ideas to choose from?



Meal planning has absolutely changed my life- I have no plans to go back to the weekly/daily "what are we going to eat?" moment of panic. My meal planner for dinners is set up so that I have a master list that I can quickly choose from each week, and it has worked great for me for the last 4 years! Here's my post that explains each of my meal planning systems (yes, there are multiple), including instructions for how to make the same meal planner I use for dinners (it's super easy!):


As far as the exact recipes I use, those have evolved over the years. Back when I started meal planning when I first went back to work with twin 18-month-olds, I had a pretty strict rule of no more than 15 minutes prep total! Nowadays I can handle up to about 30 minutes of cooking, which means I have a lot more non-crockpot options ;) If you want to see some of my favorite dinner recipes, here are two of my Pinterest boards to check out:



2. What do you pack for your own lunch for school?



Until this year, my lunch was almost always an afterthought (and, honestly, it was a neverthought pretty regularly- I had to scramble to find food to eat after realizing I had forgotten to bring lunch again so many times!). Usually I had leftovers, and I also tried to keep some grab-and-go things in the freezer, like these wraps, and these patties, in case I didn't have anything on hand.

This year, though, I finally caved and bought myself a lunchbox. It's just like my daughters' but slightly bigger, with bigger and fewer compartments. I don't know why it took me so long to do this but I am so glad I did! I now remember to pack my lunch, because I pack it with my daughters', my lunches are healthier because I pack mostly the same foods as I do for them, and because of the way my lunchbox is designed, I can still pack leftovers along with some of the same fruits and veggies as my daughters if I have something from my fridge to take. It's seriously the best of all the worlds.

I share my daughters' lunchboxes usually once a week on my Instagram account, and I occasionally show my own lunch in there too (although 3 lunchboxes can be a little hard to photograph well sometimes!). Here's one of those pictures so you can see what I'm talking about:


If you want to read more about what and how I pack healthy lunches for my daughters (and now for myself too!), here are some posts on the topic (and you may want to follow me on Instagram to see weekly lunchbox ideas!):





3. I would love to have my preschooler and kindergartner help out in the kitchen, but I'm terrified that little fingers will get cut! What utensils do you allow your twins to use? 


OK, so this is something that has been a work in progress for the last 3 years or so! ;) The main thing to remember is that they'll never learn until they get to practice. As scary as it is, at some point you have to- with lots of supervision and baby steps- let them try.

So about those baby steps.

1. When the girls first started "cooking" when they were about 3, I did all of the cutting/ chopping. I encouraged them to choose meals that didn't require too much chopping, like sandwiches, burgers, and fruit that can be pulled apart with your hands (bananas, oranges...).
2. When they got a little older and had more experience in the kitchen, I started letting them use a butter knife to cut very soft things like bread, melon (with the rind removed), hard boiled eggs, and bananas. They LOVED the responsibility and it was a great way to practice without worrying about little fingers.
3. Once they got the hang of the butter knife, I started letting them use a sharper, but still small, paring knife to cut things like hot dogs, cucumbers, and even apples (this is when they were around 4.5-5 years old). When they first started we did it hand-over-hand, then gradually I moved back a little, still with my hands basically hovering just out of their line of sight ;) One of the keys at this stage, I found, was to get them to understand that they had to pierce through the initial skin before trying to cut straight through.

My biggest tip for teaching knife skills: make sure whatever they're cutting has a flat surface so that the item is stable. I will cut the apple in half first, for example, and lay the flat side down for them to cut into slices. Cucumbers they can manage now, but when they first started I would cut those lengthwise too and lay the flat side down for them to slice. It makes the hand that's holding the food less important so they can keep it out of the way.

My plan for a next step, now that they're getting pretty handy with the little knife, is to get them a knife like this to use:

True story: my daughters' preschool teacher had a brother-in-law who was a chef, and he taught his preschooler son to chop with this exact knife. 

If you want to read more about how and why I have been getting my daughters in the kitchen since they were preschoolers, here are some posts on the topic:



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I hope you enjoyed reading and watching this Q&A session- I know I had a lot of fun putting it together and reading your questions! :)

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