Episode 149 | Back to School for Our Homeschooling Family of Nine: Curriculum, Scheduling, Meal Planning

It’s back to school season, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share with you what our family’s strategy is for homeschooling this year.  I get asked a lot of questions about homeschooling, but it’s not a topic I have really addressed thoroughly on my podcast.  Each family and child has such unique needs and circumstances, so each family’s setup will look different, but I’m hoping that by sharing what is working for our family right now, it may inspire some of you as you plan your own homeschool year.

In this episode, I cover:

  • How our homeschool strategy has changed from year to year
  • How we are setting up our current homeschool structure to fit our family’s needs
  • What curriculum we are using for each subject and child and why we chose it
  • Why we decided to stick to a stricter schedule in our home this year
  • The stronger parameters I am putting around my work hours
  • My top tips for having meals ready all week without extensive meal planning
  • How you can approach setting your days up for success no matter your situation

Thank you to our sponsor!

Toups and Co Organics uses nourishing, organic ingredients to create simple and safe skincare products.  Toups and Co is offering my listeners 10% off any one purchase with the code FARMHOUSE.  Visit ToupsandCo.com to order today.  And check out my interview with the founder of Toups and Co, Emilie, to find out more about this amazing company and their products.

Check out some of my current favorite Toups and Co products: activated charcoal face bar, seabuckthorn cleansing oil, frankincense tallow balm, makeup line

Resources mentioned

Books by Charlotte Mason

Explode the Code

Abeka Curriculum

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

The Mystery of History

Rod and Staff Science

September and Co. Theology and Doxology Cards for Little Learners

Find Awana near you

September and Co. Character Matters Cards

New City Catechism Curriculum

Christianbook.com

Crunch Labs

Farmhouse on Boone video and blog post about meal planning

Farmhouse on Boone Fall/Winter Meal Plan Book

Farmhouse on Boone Spring/Summer Meal Plan Book

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Join us in the Simple Farmhouse Life Facebook community!

Transcript

Lisa Bass All right, it is currently night and I’m trying to get enough light. So I’m standing where it’s really close to outside, so you’re hearing all of the bugs. But I’m going to be doing an episode today on homeschooling, homeschool meal prep, preparing, curriculum. This was actually supposed to be a video for my main YouTube channel, Farmhouse on Boone, but when I sat down to edit it, I had some issues with the video quality that are going to make it not work for that. And I was going to scrap the whole thing. I was like, “Okay, I’m just going to throw this way. There won’t be a second video this week,” which there still won’t be a second video this week on my channel. However, I think that this would still make a really nice podcast, so I am going to just talk about our curriculum and preparing for homeschool, organizing it, how we schedule our day, how I schedule in my work when it comes to this podcast and my blog and my YouTube channel, while also homeschooling our children. There’s not going to be a video associated with it. So if you’re watching this on YouTube, pop in some headphones, maybe fold some laundry. I’m sure that’s what people do anyways. I’m sure nobody sits there and watches me talk for an hour. But I hope that you’ll still enjoy it even without the video component. Obviously, if you’re listening on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, you’re not going to notice a thing. But this is something that I was going to just completely scrap and I’m like, “Oh, wait, I have a podcast. I don’t have to get rid of this because of poor video quality.” All right. So let’s talk about homeschool. 

My name is Lisa, mother of seven and creator of the blog and YouTube channel Farmhouse on Boone. Join me as I share with you my love for creating a handmade home, from-scratch cooking, and a little mom and entrepreneur life along the way. 

It is afternoon. I got Theo down for a nap so you can hear the noisemaker, that’s because it’s close by. And I’m going to also be talking really quietly because I don’t want to wake him up so I can get this video done. And then I have a podcast to make this afternoon. Today, I want to share with you a little bit about our homeschool and then preparing for a homeschool week. Just basically this back to school fall type of video. Now, I don’t talk about homeschool on here a whole lot. I get asked constantly on my Instagram and DMs and all that what we do for curriculum, and mostly because I’m hesitant to open up this part of my life to critique. 

But recently I was at my friend’s house. We have a little homeschool group in our area where several of us moms get together once a week. We let the kids all play. We will do something like go to the park or we’ll go to somebody’s house. We’ll bring a bunch of food. Basically, we get together for the day and we talk about things like, “What’s working for you for teaching your child to read? Or the child who struggles with math, what works for them?” And it’s so valuable to have those kind of conversations. If I was making this video for a group of my friends, I wouldn’t worry at all about it. I know that some of you out there are going to appreciate it. 

Okay, I have to talk quieter. Theo just started crying after sleeping for, like, 20 minutes, which is the worst possible thing. I got my makeup on, sat down, and then he’s awake, so that’s not good. So I think he’s going to settle, but I’m going to talk a little bit more quietly. But anyways, I know that there’s some of you out there who haven’t yet found your group of moms. Maybe you live in an area where homeschooling is not that common or you’re new to it and you haven’t found your group. I was in that situation for a really long time. 

A lot of the moms that lived locally whenever I first started homeschooling ended up sending their kids to public school. And so at some point our little group dissolved because we all had preschoolers. So we weren’t— nobody was really— you know, everybody that was with us. Nobody was in school. And then by the time kids started getting old enough to go to school, that group just dissolved. And it’s important to find a support system because we all have different issues with different learners and it’s helpful to talk through that. 

So we haven’t been the type of family that has settled on one curriculum and just used that all throughout. We’ve done different things for all these years. Our oldest child is an eighth grader. She’s going to be 14 this year, and we’ve been homeschooling from the very beginning. And what we did when we had just her has very much shifted. So she and my first two— they’re both girls. If you’re a mom of a lot of kids, you probably know that teaching girls and boys is very different. I mean, it could be personality based, but for us, the girls were a lot easier to teach certain things a lot younger. 

And now we have—after those two girls—five boys, and there’s been some challenges that were just so much easier with the girls. So we have really buckled down and shifted away from my original philosophy of homeschool. So in my original philosophy, which worked absolutely beautiful when we had a smaller family and kids that were a bit easier to teach—I don’t know how to say that because in some ways, the kids after them are actually easier to teach some things, but certain like academic things where you have to sit down are a little bit more difficult. 

And so I—when I first started homeschooling—read the Charlotte Mason books, and this was when my daughter was like three. I was really thinking, we needed to do a lot whenever you really don’t need to. And I loved the idea of teaching through literature and through everyday experiences in nature. And I even—in some ways—really appreciate a lot of aspects of unschooling. But what I have found over the years is that—though kids do learn so much when they pursue an interest, because that’s how adults work, too. Whenever I become interested in learning something— things that went over my head, I’m now laser focused on and could figure anything out whenever it pertains to my current situation. I believe that with kids, and so I love to give them lots of free time and opportunity to explore that. 

But then there are also some things we’ve noticed throughout the years that just don’t come up. They don’t come up in your everyday life, which some could argue that, “Well, then why do you need it?” But there are some things that I really wanted them to have a wide range of knowledge on, things that I learned that they weren’t yet picking up on. And so that’s why this year we are doing a curriculum—a very set curriculum—whereas in years past, we piece things together. We’ve done a lot of literature, we’ve done a lot of hands-on type of stuff. And this year we are basically— like everybody has a set of books and curriculum. 

And so I’m going to share with you kind of what we have going on and then also how I’m organizing it, because now that we have so many students— we now have four kids that are technically school age that need to get homeschooled, which is a whole different ballgame than teaching one or two kids. You can cover pretty much everything if you’re only focusing on a couple kids, but we really wanted to tighten the reins a bit this year. 

Okay, so the way that we did this is we have this hutch area in our living room and it has books on the top. There’s this little door here on the bottom, and I have just some random school supplies materials on the bottom and some books that we’re not using this year, some science books from years past and history books from years past that we’re not using this year, and then pencils and things like that. We’re going to stock this with a few more things. We realized today that we needed glue sticks and a few other things for our history curriculum. And then on the top here I have it organized by child. 

The way that Luke and I have broken this up this year— last year we did where he took the oldest four and I took the two little boys downstairs with me, and he would take the oldest four upstairs and he would do school with them. And I would keep the little two out of his hair, plus prep lunch and all that kind of stuff. This year we’re doing it quite a bit differently. We have one child that learns better outside of a group setting. He just learns very differently. He’s very creative and energetic, and in a group setting, it ends up being a little bit more disruptive and just difficult to teach the others. 

And so I am now taking him and one-on-one homeschooling him along with keeping the other three boys occupied. And we’ve actually been homeschooling this whole week and last, and that has been working really well for us. So I have his stuff first. And essentially what we’re doing for each kid— well, it’s a little different for each kid. We’re doing Explode the Code for the younger kids who need to still brush up on their reading skills. So the younger two boys. We’re doing Abeka math for both of them, so I have my son’s Abeka math and his Explode the Code and his Abeka language and his science book and history book all together. And then I have the other three kids that Luke’s doing— each of theirs all together. 

So my daughter—the oldest—has the full range of eighth grade Abeka curriculum. The reason I wanted to do that is she has all the skills that she needs to do this eighth grade curriculum, but she’s never actually had to do self-directed stack of books on her own. And so I think that’s a really good skill to have in itself. Even if she has all the concepts in there, that she has a checklist to work through. That’s something that you may need to do in some other kind of setting whereas she hasn’t really had to do that quite yet before. And so she has the eighth grade pre-algebra, all Abeka. Eighth grade vocab, spelling, grammar, and composition, literature— Abeka literature for eighth grade. 

I’m still trying to decide if I should give my two older girls the cursive handbooks. So far, we have not taught them cursive. I believe last year, my oldest daughter watched a few videos and learned how to do cursive, but she forgot it. And I’m still on the fence of if that’s necessary. It’s one of those things—in my opinion—which I’m sure that there could be a good argument made for it, in which case I’d love to hear it and consider it. But it’s one of those things where I feel like we hold onto just for the sake of “Well, we did it. You got to know it.” And then I’m like, “But do we really have to know that?” Because when do you encounter cursive writing in your life? And so it’s not a huge deal, but I may add to my oldest two—the eighth and sixth graders—the cursive book. 

So far, this amount of work that we have fits into our school hours pretty well with not a whole lot of time to spare. So we’ll see if that ends up needing to be an issue. And then for my sixth grader, I have the sixth grade Abeka arithmetic, spelling, vocabulary, and poetry. And then we also have the Abeka readers for her to do her own reading. 

Then for my first grader, which Luke also has—so he has the eighth, sixth, and first—he is doing the arithmetic one, and then he’s going through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons again. So we did that last year. He still isn’t as proficient in reading as we hope, and so they’re going to do it again. I’m not in a hurry. That’s one of those things where you’re really only worried about something like that when you’re comparing it to other kids, but you know that they’re going to learn to read and read well. And so that’s one of those things where I feel like culture wants me to be worried about it, but I’m also not. 

And then I have a set of books— so after I have each child’s books organized, I have several books that Luke is going to do with the three of them. We have Mystery of History. We’ve done this entire curriculum before, but we’re going to go through it again with at least the oldest three. So this is really cool because it teaches creation to the resurrection. So this is obviously a Christian program, and there’s a lot in here of extra activities that you can do or you can just like read it and talk about it. 

And then we’ve gone through six of these books—a whole bunch of them—The Rod and Staff Publishers science. I have to be honest, when I started homeschooling and even now, I don’t really like textbooks at all. This is just the style I never thought that I would do, but I like using them in a way of opening discussion. So you go through the lesson, you read it, you can talk about it, and it just makes things come up that would just maybe not come up. So they’re doing this science six for all three kids—God’s Inhabited World—because last year they did five. I am going back through God’s Inspiring World with my fourth grader, and I like that— like, today we did weather, and there were a lot of things that I could branch off and just talk about. So I could get the concept and then it leads to discussion points. 

I don’t know. I feel like anything that I learned from a textbook or took a test on, I don’t remember it. And so I’m really skeptical that any of this is even going to stay. But I’m hoping that by bringing it back to real world examples and discussion that maybe some of it will. If nothing else, it’s time spent with your child, which is valuable. 

Okay, a few other little things. We have this—trying to go through this with my fourth grader—Theology and Doxology for Little Learners. I think I got this from September and Co. Yes. So you can check out September and Co. over on Instagram. And also for my fourth grader— the history we’re doing— since they have this Mystery of History in their school time, I am working one-on-one with my fourth grader and doing this Our America History Geography reader from Abeka. 

And then if you aren’t familiar with Explode the Code, my friend Stephanie from Hopewell Heights here on YouTube— she had really great success with using this for her kids. So we’re moving through this first book really fast because we’ve already done the Teach Your Child Read book like a couple times. But this is really helping my child who is a little bit more energetic because there’s a lot of action in it. So there’s a lot of like reading and circling and writing. And so, so far, I’m thinking this is a lot better. Like we’re blazing through this and the reading has already improved. 

And then for Bible, my kids are all in Awana. So if you’re interested in knowing what that is— basically if you find a local Baptist church, a lot of them have Awana, which is Bible memory. With Awana, they all get these Awana books, and so there’s a lot to do each week along in the books. And so that is also a part of homeschool. 

I’m doing these character cards with my son. I really like these. They’re just each day there’s a little character trait, like something positive, like determination, eagerness, endurance, decisiveness, cheerfulness, availability. There’s just something you talk about. You read several things that you can do to be more available or more cheerful. And then there’s a scripture that goes along with it. So this just helps to open up the discussion to certain character traits that are positive that you want to instill. I like it—if nothing else—as a reminder for myself because we talk about something, we focus on it, and then throughout the day I’m thinking of it, and it’s something that I can bring up. And sometimes it’s like, “Oh, I could really improve in this. This is something I haven’t thought about that maybe I lack.” And so I like these for that reminder. 

And then we also have this New City Catechism that Luke’s doing with the older kids. Now I have one, too, somewhere, but I haven’t really been doing it with him, actually. This is something that is really important for Christians in your faith to help kids to understand why you’re here, what your purpose is. It’s a question and answer format that helps you to understand your faith and what you believe. 

Okay. I think I’ve talked about everything. We have history, science, math, reading. What am I missing? It’s all here. I took forever to plan this out. A few weeks ago at one of our mom groups, we were just all talking about curriculum and homeschool the whole time, bouncing ideas off each other. What we like, what we don’t like, what we’ve heard from other experienced homeschoolers. And I was jotting down all of these notes. And then I came home and for like three hours was poring over the Christianbook.com website and ordering everything. And so I feel very prepared. Everything is fresh and new, and hopefully things will keep going this smooth like all throughout the year. Okay, I’m going to go in my kitchen and talk about homeschool meal planning and tell you a little bit about our schedule, and hopefully not wake up Theo. 

I want to take a quick break to tell you about the first sponsor of this episode, and that is Toups and Co. Now, I just started really experimenting with the Toups and Co makeup. I’ve been loving their skincare. So their charcoal bar is one of my favorite things in the summer because my face can get a little bit oily in the summer, whereas in the winter I rely more heavily on the moisturizers and the oil cleansing because my skin is dry. Right now, that charcoal bar is really cleaning out the sweat and the dirt and all that comes with summer. I recently picked up their whole makeup line. I got an email from them about doing the contouring with organic natural makeup from Toups and Co, and I was really confused about it for a while because I’m not a person who knows how to do makeup very well. But a friend of mine—we were getting together for our weekly playgroup with our kids—she told me that you do the bronzer like a three, so you go across your head, you go under your cheekbone, and then along your jawline. Then you do the blush, then you do the highlighter. She told me that, and now I feel like my whole makeup routine is completely revolutionized. So I have from Toups and Co the primer, the foundation, the highlighter, the bronzer, and the blush. And I really feel like my face makeup is sort of coming together. I think it’s going to be a little bit better when I get a little more used to blending it because I think you guys probably noticed on the episode that I didn’t have my highlighter blended all that well, but it’s getting better and I love the makeup and feel like I actually know what I’m doing. I’ve always just been a— you know, back in the day, whenever I had time to do my makeup, I would just do foundation, powder. I never knew much about that contouring stuff, but I’m starting to really enjoy doing that. Toups and Co is an American-made organic skincare company. They have really beautiful ingredients like tallow from grass-fed cows. So you’re not looking at a bunch of fragrance oils or ingredients that you have to worry about going through your skin and into your body, because that’s what happens when you put things on your skin. I am very serious about sourcing organic, natural food in my house, and so it makes sense that things I put on my skin that will actually make its way into my body, I would also be serious about sourcing that, and that is exactly what I’ve found in Toups and Co. So if you want to support an American company with natural, beautiful products that actually work, make sure to go to ToupsandCo.com and use the code FARMHOUSE to get 10% off your first order. 

I want to talk a bit about meal planning for homeschool, but first I want to share with you our schedule. So Luke and I—a few weeks back, three or four weeks ago now—we went on a date night exclusively for the purpose of sorting out what we’re going to do with our homeschool year. Like I mentioned before, this year is the first year where we have four students. I mean, last year we had a kindergartner, but that—to me—is not all that serious. But this year we have four students, and we have our home based business, we have three toddlers—I mean, if you count four and under as toddlers—all in the same house. And we knew that we needed to figure out a system, so that we knew who was going where and what’s going on each day. 

So as many of you know, Luke is home with me. We do my business full-time, and so we have the added element of figuring out, okay, when am I going to make videos? When am I going to shoot photography for blog recipes? And so it’s a whole thing. And we really had a productive date night and we hashed it all out and figured out who was going to take who and what would work more effectively based on our experience with the last school year, and we came up with the arrangement that I already told you about, but then we thought about hours. 

So the way that we’re doing it is we are waking people up— which that might not sound all that revolutionary, but if you’re a homeschooler, you know that one of the biggest perks of homeschool is, you know, it can really be on your own timeline. If everybody was up late and people sleep until 8:00, you can get the lessons done any time. With a homestead, with a business, it just does not work. We’ve tried it, but then all of a sudden we are stressed. People are not sure where they’re supposed to be and what times. 

And so we decided, even though we feel like we really like this laid back, casual, we can do anything at any time, be anywhere we want to be, type of lifestyle. The truth is, it does not work for the amount of plates that we have spinning. We need things in very defined hours. Everybody needs to know where everybody needs to be. So what we do now is we wake up everybody at 6:45— which the baby and the toddler are typically already awake long before that, usually around like 5:30 or 6:00. Everybody is up by 6:45. Luke and the oldest three boys are outside milking the cow, doing the chicken chores, collecting eggs, moving the coop, feeding the pony, water, all that good stuff at 7:00. 

And then my oldest two and I, we make breakfast, finish the laundry, clean up any parts of the kitchen that we can, like breakfast prep, hopefully get something going for lunch, something at least prepped for lunch. Or maybe like a roast thrown in the oven or a chicken in the oven, something in the instant pot. So lunch prep, breakfast prep, laundry from the day before— catching up on that, quick tidy up, little kids dressed. I get myself dressed, and then chores hopefully are done around 7:45. Everybody has time to eat, and then home school starts at 8 AM. 

So homeschool hours—dedicated core type hours with all of the curriculum I just showed you—is 8:00 to noon, and then 12:00 to 1:00 is lunch and lunch cleanup. And then 1:00 to 4:00—for me—is office hours. So that’s where we’re in right now. And then it’s nap for the youngest two kids. And then the oldest usually are working on either something they want or something school related. So today, for example, there’s this thing called Crunch Labs and it’s a science project each month. And so there are three of them working on that over in the cottage. No, four. Four of them. 

And then our fifth child and Luke are working on farm stuff. So I think today, they’re fixing the four wheeler. Sometimes that means putting up fencing, yard care, planting new pasture, burning brush, chopping wood. There are plenty of farm tasks. And then the older two have to do their music lessons in that time. They play violin and guitar and they need to practice that. And then around 3:00—in a perfect world—the two younger ones wake up and then I transfer them outside with Luke. I finish out my last hour of office time from 1:00 to 4:00, and then it’s computers closed, cameras off, dinner, nighttime activities— like today, we have soccer—and family time. 

So that is how the schedule is going to work for us this year. We’ve already been at it for a while and it is working really great so far. There’s a few hiccups with it. Like for example, I have a podcast I have to shoot here very shortly at 2:00, and if Theo wakes up in the middle of that, I’m going to have to text somebody that’s over in the cottage—so one of the girls or Luke—somebody to come get him during that podcast. And so that’s the tricky part with the office hours. But what we really like about this is it’s creating a work life balance for me. 

So we do a very different schedule on Fridays. A lot of times we will take off on Friday or we do our homeschool group on Friday. So Fridays are different. But Monday through Thursday, 1:00 to 4:00 is my office time and that’s when I’m creating videos like this. And so that’s 12 hours a week. And so this year— I’m going to go on a complete tangent here, so this is just becoming like how I organize my entire life video. This year, that means that I have been hiring out more stuff. I already have a team of about 10 people, but I have been adding on more people. So I had a meeting last week for somebody, and I have another meeting tomorrow. In order to fit all of the work for my business in 12 hours, it is requiring me to become more of a manager of my business as opposed to someone that is doing all of it. 

And so I am creating videos during these hours and then spending some time answering emails. But the goal is that I build an organization enough to be able to fit all of the work into those 12 hours and then put everything away for all the other times. So I’m still playing with all of that because in the past I’ve done things like get my camera out while I’m making dinner and do like a what we eat in a week video. And if I want to be very serious about only working during those 12 hours, I need to make dinner during my 1:00 to 4:00 office hours and record it as opposed to getting out the camera when it’s chaotic with kids. And so that’s a minor thing that if you’re a content creator, you understand. It seems easier to just get it out during actual dinner prep. In reality, everybody’s kind of like tripping around the tripod. And if you want to include any audio, it’s challenging. 

And so that’s something I’m experimenting with this year, not actually like getting the camera out unless it’s my designated time. So there. That’s how we have decided to organize at least for this season. We’re always open to adjustments as seasons change, as babies get older. So when Theo drops his morning nap, maybe it’ll be more difficult for me to work one-on-one with my fourth grader. And as bedtimes change or different daylight hours— like, for example, in the winter, it’s going to be harder for me to get any photography or video shot. At the end of that 4:00, it starts to get a little darker and more difficult to capture the right light. So we readjust. But this is what is working for us right now. 

All right. Let’s talk a little bit about meal planning. I am not much of a meal planner. I have a whole video and blog post where I go in-depth into that. And it has helped a lot of people and a lot of people find it something that they also can relate to, that certain strict meal plans feel very restrictive. There are times, though, whenever I like to have the plan a little bit more nailed down, typically in seasons like this where there isn’t a whole lot of margin. So my morning hours, I don’t have a whole lot of time to be thinking about our meals, and we don’t really have a whole lot of prep margin time. Now in the dinner time slot—assuming we don’t have soccer or something else—there’s a little bit more time. But for the lunch, it really needs to come together pretty effortlessly. 

So I have a few tips for that. And then I also have a few resources on like where I actually collect together the meals. My first tip is to have meat thawing in the refrigerator. This is my number one tip for being able to pull together meals without being very rigid about meal planning. It’s really always nice to have something that’s quick cooking thawed out. So something like sausage or ground beef— that is something where you could pull together tacos or anything very, very quickly. Also, nice to have roasts or chickens thawed out. Of course, if you’re going to have those, you need to make sure that you get them in the oven several hours before you want to have a meal. And I realize like an hour can do it. I like to get those kind of things in the oven low and slow and just let them cook, so that way we can go about other things. 

So the way that I do this is I have a 9×13 pan in the refrigerator, and I just load it up with meat— everything from pork chops to ground beef to chicken, whatever I can fit in it. I just pile it up and then I keep it in the refrigerator. I do that in the beginning of the week, and then I can pull from it all throughout. And then, of course, when it runs out— you know, if I only put enough in for like half the week, I will then again add more meat to it. It’s best for it to thaw in the refrigerator as opposed to at room temperature. And so that really helps me. 

My next tip is to make sure you always have a big stock of staples. So for us, one of the top staples that we stock—which right now is super easy because the hens are laying like crazy—is eggs. So from that, you can throw together a quick breakfast for dinner. You can do sourdough pancakes with some eggs and cheese. That’s really fast as long as you have some starter on hand or even just some flour—you don’t even have to do sourdough—in order to pull together breakfast for dinner. You can do that any time. You can get a quiche in the oven. 

You can keep on hand a couple dozen hard boiled eggs to do like a quick, easy lunch meat, cheese, crackers, hard boiled egg type of lunch that you can just pull out of the refrigerator and not even do any prep. And then for me, a stock of root vegetables is handy for just about anything— so carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes. I always want those on hand. I can pull together a soup with the meats I’ve thawed and the root vegetables or just cook up a meat and then serve it with a side of mashed potatoes and carrots. I also like to bulk prep sauerkraut so I can pull that out as a side. And then, of course, keeping on hand large amounts of flour, oats. There are so many directions that you can go if you keep your staples on hand. 

Another thing that we like to do is prep double the night before. So last night, I made us chicken pot pie, and I didn’t have even half the ingredients for it, but I had enough things. I actually didn’t have any frozen vegetables, which would be like a staple to keep on hand. But I did have my carrot, potato, garlic, and onion drawer full, and so I just did those sauteed. I didn’t have any bone broth made up, but I cooked my whole chicken and then I just poured the juices from that into my cast iron skillets. I also added a little bit of water and then extra cream because we have so much cream from our cow right now. And salt, pepper, garlic powder. I didn’t have peas and then I made an einkorn biscuit to top it. So I altered the recipe to use what we had. And then I also doubled it. So one chicken was able to be two chicken pot pies. We ate one last night with some sides, and then I was able to throw one in the oven today during school and just let that bake. 

So basically, any time you cook anything double, triple or quadruple—depending on your family size—the recipe, so that way you have something the next day. That’s what we’re trying to do. I don’t want to waste valuable school time on meal prep, which is another reason why I’m not going to be making like what we week videos for our lunchtime meal because it needs to be something that I either threw together really easily like a cold cheese, hard boiled eggs, meat type of lunch or something that I made the night before or something I could have thrown in the oven really easily in the morning. 

Another favorite thing is to thaw a whole chicken, add some oil, salt, pepper, and then a whole rack of sweet potatoes. And then just put it in the oven and then just let the oven go and maybe put like a bag of frozen vegetables in a pot on the stove. That is something that takes all of 10 minutes—at the most—to prep, but you can just pull it out whenever it’s time to have lunch, so that way I’m not wasting precious school time on that. 

As far as grocery shopping, I like to do a weekly shop at the beginning of the week. I have the same stuff I buy over and over and over again. A lot of the things that I buy, we can mix it up to be a lot of different things with the way you combine the ingredients, but they’re all just really basic, so that even if it’s a really busy week, you don’t do anything fancy, you have food on the table. The reason I don’t like to rigid meal plan is if something is on sale or seasonal, I stock up on it and then throw it in everything. So if there is a recipe that, say, calls for peas, maybe if it’s summer, I’m going to just throw in zucchini. Or if it calls for pumpkin and a local farmer has like a box of butternut squash, I’ll be throwing that in instead. So I do like to sometimes refer to my favorite recipes, but then adjust them as is needed. 

So I keep my recipes here in my two meal plan books. I have a cold weather one and I have a warm weather one. I keep these in my kitchen printed off just for my own reference, and a lot of times I don’t ever like use them as with a shopping list and week one, week two. I just use them as a book to refer to whenever I’m needing a couple ideas. I’ll use it as a way to jog my memory and I’ll be like, “Oh yeah, I can make shepherd’s pie. Well, I don’t have Worcestershire. I’ll just make it anyways.” I will just throw in whatever we do have, whatever vegetables we have. It just gives me the idea that shepherd’s pie exists. I need cookbooks and blogs for that reason, not really so much like an exact how-to, like, cut up half an onion. I’ll throw in the whole onion or two. I don’t really care. I just like to have it to spark the idea to remember things that we like, so that way I can throw together something quickly. 

Okay, popping on really quick because I forgot to mention where you can get my meal plan. You can go to bit.ly/FarmhouseFallMealPlan. Or you can go to FarmhouseonBoone.com and just search meal plan. But I have a 28-day meal guide that has shopping lists and meals unique for each day, perfect for fall because this particular one I’m sending you to at bit.ly/FarmhouseFallMealPlan is actually a fall—obviously—tailored one, so a lot of seasonal ingredients for fall that could really help you in your busy school season to find meals that are easy to prep and that take the guesswork out of it so that you can just make something. I—like I said—like to just refer back to it just to get the ideas. I don’t always follow it to the T. In fact, I never do that. But even if you just want it for a collection of recipes like that, you can go check that out at bit.ly/FarmhouseFallMealPlan. 

If you’re more curious about how this translates into actual meals, I have a lot of what we eat in a week videos here on this channel that you can check out. I also will probably still do a lot of what we do week videos throughout this school season. I will just prep them here during these office hours, so I might make them from like 3:00 to 4:00 if I don’t have a podcast to shoot, so that way I can still set up the camera and take you along, showing you in practicality how a lot of this is working. 

All right. Well, I hope that you enjoy this video. I don’t normally do videos where I just talk. Normally, I’m more of a like showing you what we’re making type of person, but I thought this would be helpful for some of you just to see how we are organizing our school year this year. It’s going to be different for every one of you depending on your situation, depending on what other activities or priorities you have, whether you have a business like I do that requires some extra planning, or maybe you have extracurriculars or a special needs child or who knows what other type of situation you might have. 

I guess if nothing else, I’m hoping to encourage you to plan and think through things before they become a problem. So with all of this, I’m trying to think about, what do I need to soak before bed? Or what dough do I need to get going so that breakfast goes more smoothly? Or what staples do I need on hand? So that way we can have a quick meal tomorrow. What curriculum are we going to do and how am I going to organize it so that tomorrow, whenever it’s time to do school, everybody knows where they’re supposed to be, what time they’re supposed to be there, and what they need? That kind of planning is just helping everything to go a lot more smoothly. It goes without saying, but sometimes we need that reminder. 

All right. Well, thanks for listening to this episode of the podcast even though I did not mean it to be a podcast, I still hope that you found it very helpful. I get asked about homeschool stuff a lot and so I wanted to get something out there in the world where I talked about it. Some of the components of that may have been better with the video component where I was actually showing the book and showing the meal plan book and whatnot, but most of that was just me talking to the camera. 

There will be resources down in the show notes as well as on SimpleFarmhouseLifePodcast.com. There will also be a transcript and then any links that are necessary. So I hope this was helpful for you, and if you are a homeschooling mom or dad, happy homeschool year. Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you in the next episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. 

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