A Special Togetherness

When I had four preschool children at home a few years ago, there were two problems that seemed difficult to solve: how to get them to bed at night without a hassle, and how to sit down with just one child at a time I either had all of them around me or they all wanted to be playing together.

The children are a bit older now, and we have added to the fold, but after trying many methods, we hit upon one that has been successful, and I wanted to share it.

We assigned each child a different night to stay up one hour later than the others—and just knowing he would have a night to stay up during the week made him cooperative in going to bed the other nights, and gave me time alone with one child. As we kept working on the plan, a formula evolved that I couldn’t do without.

The children still have their assigned night each week, but now it’s an assigned day as well. The one who stays up late also gets to choose our breakfast menu for that day, unload the dishwasher, and set the breakfast table. It is also his turn to lead in family prayer; and when the time comes for the other children to go to bed, this child puts each one to bed with a story, hopefully a little hug, and he listens to their prayers. (I will never forget the night I tiptoed up to listen as my three-year-old put his big nine-year-old sister to bed, and heard him say to her at prayer time, “Now say, Heavenly Father.”)

Getting to know each child individually has been delightful, and we have had many happy hours together (without TV) reading books or playing a game of checkers. My husband has had as much fun building models or playing catch as the boys, and it has been an ideal time to teach my daughter to sew or crochet.

Since Mom and Dad need a night out together, we don’t include the weekends in our special nights. But the weekdays, even after family home evening, are spent getting to know and love each other on a one-to-one basis. Shawna R. Powelson, Orem, Utah

Shopping Sense Makes Cents

Most of us are convinced that saving energy saves money; but few realize that this applies to personal energy, too. If we are more efficient in carrying out our household duties, it can save money and also leave us more time to spend with our families.

I save energy in meal planning and shopping—and also pay attention to proper nutrition—by following three steps:

First, I make a list of the main dishes, salads, vegetables, and desserts that I serve. I was surprised at how many I rarely used. Most women have between thirty and sixty main dishes to choose from, so meals need not be repeated for a month or two. I keep this list handy and add to it as I acquire new recipes.

Second, from this list I plan a menu for two weeks and balance it with the four basic food groups included among the main dishes, vegetables, salads, and desserts. In order to save money, I try to use items on sale, or produce that is in season.

Third, I make a shopping list from my menu plan. Before I start, I make a mental picture of the way the grocery store is arranged and make my list accordingly. For example, if the first aisle in the market has lunchmeats, bread, and dairy products, these would be first on my list. This way I eliminate time spent looking over my list for different items and running back a few aisles for something I may have forgotten.

By following these three steps, I cut my shopping time in half, and our grocery bills are at least 10 percent less because of the elimination of impulse buying and the two-week meal planning. If you know what you will be using for each meal, foods don’t spoil and you won’t waste time on short trips to the market to pick up extras. Judie Pope, Salt Lake City, Utah

Simple Sunday Supper

You can make a tasty meal out of the cheapest cut of meat and let it be cooking while you’re at church too! Buy the least expensive cut you can find on sale, such as chuck steak. Bone it and cut the meat in thin slices. (Put the bone in the freezer to go into a soup stock another time.) Dust the slices of meat with flour, salt and pepper, and brown in hot fat in a large skillet. The browned meat goes in a heavy dutch oven. When all the meat is browned, make gravy in the skillet and pour it on the meat. You can add chopped onions, bell peppers, or mushroom pieces if you like. This can all be done on Saturday.

Sunday morning put the heavy pan in the oven, and—here’s the most important part—set the temperature at 200° F. Six and a half hours later, the meat is fork tender without the use of artificial tenderizers or laborious pounding. Any leftover gravy makes a terrific base for stew another day. Carolyn E. Wright, Oregon City, Oregon

[illustrations] Illustrated by Mary W. Garlock