Monday, February 15, 2010

Life Simplified Tip

So, here's my Life Simplified Tip of the week...

If making a menu and grocery shopping seem more like a chore every week, try the simple method for making a month-long menu.

It doesn't have to start at the beginning of the month.
Mine starts at Feb. 14th.

Here's the easy way to do it.
It's pretty simple.
And a few steps today will save you a lot of steps every month.

Step one.
Print out or make a blank month-long calendar.
I got mine on the web and printed it out.

Step Two.
If you have any kinds of commitments or if you work at all (I work part time), put these and the dates into your calendar.
I put the times that I get off of work on my calendar so that I know ahead of time if I need a quick meal or if I have off and can spend some time making something special for dinner.
I also left every Saturday open so that if we decided to get together with family or have guests over, we have the flexibility to do so.

Step 3.
Make a chart of "Meal Groups".
My 8 groups include:
1) Breakfast For Dinner
2)World Foods (Like Italian and Mexican)
3) Sandwiches
4)20 Minute Meals
5)Crockpot Dinners
6)Eat Out Dinners
7)Mike Makes Meals (these are the dinners that Mike will make on the nights I work late)
8)New & Occasional Recipe Meals (these are the new things I want to try or the things that I only make once in a while)

Of course, you can have more or less categories, and as time goes on, you can always add more categories to the ones you have already.

Step 4.
Start with a goal of 5 meals per category.
Choose more or less, whatever you like.
Then, again, as time goes on, you can add new meals to these meal categories.

Step 5.
Plug these meals into your calendar.
Keep in mind the nights you are committed to something already and plan accordingly.
And if your family likes a meal, don't be afraid to put it into the menu more than once.
This method is nice because it allows for me not to feel like I'm making the same thing over and over again but still making the things we enjoy often enough to not forget the taste!
I also put the number of the category in the calendar. That way, if I work until 7, Mike knows that it's his night to make dinner.

Step 6.
Make a grocery list for the week and go shopping!
I make a list of the things I need and I keep a separate list of the things I already have. That way, I don't buy the stuff I already have.

Now, weekly meal planning is easy and so is weekly grocery list making!

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