Thursday, January 10, 2008

Organized Thursdays

Yesterday, I was doing some reading through blogs and as usual reading one blog lead to reading another blog that was linked at the first blog that I was reading. Anyway, I stumbled across Karen's blog, Between the Worlds and found that she is hosting "Organized Thursdays" during the month of January. Last week her topic was on calendars. I have calendars all over in my house and all of them serve a different purpose! LOL Sometimes, I find myself double booking myself or forgetting to pay a bill. Well I learned something from Karen, she mentioned that she uses the calendar on Outlook as her main calendar. I thought to myself, "Cool, I have Outlook! I could use that as my main calendar and even put when bills are due so that I don't forget to pay them!" So I sat down this past week and now have my Outlook calendar in place and working for me!

Anyway, this week's topic is Cooking and Meal Planning.

I have a system that works well in my house. It is multi-faceted and some times seems complex but it works well when everyone in my family participates! I have made up my own Master Grocery List in MS Word and I print it off each month and put it on my fridge. Then when we are low or out of something that I normally buy the item gets circled or highlighted by the person who is using the last of it or says they are taking the last one. This way, I know I need to get it from the store the next time I do my shopping.

I also have a blank monthly calendar page that I printed off of the computer that I put on my fridge where I write in pencil what the dinner meal was for that day. This is to helps me in two ways: 1. I know what the oldest things are in the fridge so they are used up before they spoil. And 2. I know what order of single serving leftovers to stick in dh's lunches.

I have also made up a MS Word document for my weekly meals. I take the time to plan out all of our meals and snacks for the week. If I didn't do this, my kids would eat the same snack item til it is gone! My kids would continue their incessant question("What's for ________?") before each meal! And I would be doing the 5'oclock rush to figure out dinner and find that I forgot to pull meat out of the freezer so it will take til about 7'oclock or later before we are sitting down to the table for dinner or I just give up and order out. Ordering out though would not be good or healthy for us, esp. for dh who struggles with high cholesterol.

What I do while I am menu planning: I look at my calendar, if I am having a busy day then I make sure that lunch is something quick and the kids can get themselves, and dinner is not an elaborate meal. I look in my freezer and pantry to see what meals I can make from them. I look at the grocery ads for the week to see if there is any good sales or loss leaders that I need to purchase to complete my meals. I am one that likes to have a stocked freezer to choose meals from so that if there is a week that doesn't have good sales at any of the stores, I can just use my freezer and pantry.

There is one last thing that I have took the time to do when setting up my meal planning system is I made a "Menu Suggestion Lists". I wrote down every main dish, sides, lunches, and snacks that my family likes and then I just plug in the items on different days to make up meals and snacks. I have recently done this for breakfast items too!

As for the cooking part of my system is rather simple because I would rather bake than cook! I don't like to cook so I try to do meals that either will go well in the crockpot or that I can do from start to finish in 30-45 minutes each night. In order for me to spend so little time in the kitchen, I do some prep work after each of my grocery shopping trips. It is similar to the Once A Month Cooking method but it works better for my family of picky eaters. You can read about my version here.
So there you have my methods for cooking and menu planning for my family. See I told you it seems complex! LOL Looking for some method that might work for you go over to Between the Worlds and see what others have to say!


3rsandahug said...

That sounds like a really good system. You know, I keep forgetting to do something to remember the new meals I try that my family likes. I really should write these down somewhere! Good suggestion.


opheliag said...

I need to have a master grocery list. Thank you for reminding me of that. Maybe, that would cut down on all of my jaunts to the grocery store.