At the beginning of January, I decided that I needed to work on meal planning and getting our grocery budget into some kind of shape. I read a few books. I read a few blogs. I started doing some research.
The first thing I discovered is that I plan meals ALL wrong. I still haven't totally fixed this, yet because it is going to take a little while but I'm in the process of creating a bit of a stockpile so that I can meal plan from my pantry and buy items when they are on sale.
I also discovered that being a bit more organized when it comes to the things I need to help plan meals will make it a heck of a lot easier and therefore something I'm not dreading every Saturday (because Saturday is menu planning day here).
Okay - so this week I worked on getting a binder together to help me be more organized when it came to cooking and meal planning. It's nothing spectacular - but it has already been a big help. I don't know why I didn't do this sooner.
Oh wait ~ I did....just not in a way that made as much sense.
Here is my old system:
I alphabetically listed the recipes that I had printed from Allrecipes.com in a binder and used it when I was going to make something that we liked. It was basically a hard copy of the meals we liked that I found online.
Here's how I've reorganized the binder so that it is more efficient and makes things run a lot smoother.
First of all, I downloaded Organizing Life as Mom's Ebook and used some of the forms she had to help with menu planning.
The first one is the "Meals We Like" form. When I originally saw this form I thought I would never use it. However, it has made it so much easier to make grocery lists! I try to include one or two meals from these lists every week. I basically look at the ingredients (which are listed right there) and see which one I can make without having to buy too much. I'll add that one. Plus, these are things that I know my family likes and I know that I can cook relatively easily.
The next step was to divide the recipes. I divided them by meal instead of ingredient at first. I have a Breakfast tab.
I have a Lunch tab.
Then I have a Dinner tab. I divided my Dinner section into the following:
Then I added a tab for Soups and Stews and a tab for Desserts.
I still use cook books - I have a few that I have been trying out and adding meals to my "Meals We Like" section as I try them. I've really been working on meals that are budget friendly. I've been thrilled with how this has been going the last two weeks! The funny thing is, we haven't eaten out or cooked any store bought frozen dinners for 2 weeks and we have eaten really well! Plus, we have leftovers and there is food in my freezer and on the shelves of my pantry. I'm also on budget for the month!
I truly believe that being organized when it comes to grocery shopping and menu planning is going to be a huge help!
I'm not sure what I'll be working on this coming week - but I'm thinking of sticking to the menu planning and cooking theme and maybe tackling my pantry and freezer...maybe!
Can't wait to see what you all did this week!