Organization 101 Series Day 7: Menu Planning & Meal Prepping!

“Organizing is what you do before you do something so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.”— A. A. Milne

Welcome to the next article in my Organization 101 Series.  In my last entry I I shared a sample of Zonal Cleaning and how you’d been unknowingly working on creating these in your daily schedules & routines. 

I was happy to share that with all of you on my NEW Podcast. If you missed it, here’s the LINK.

As I mentioned, today’s post will focus on menu planning and some meal prepping. This can be a somewhat daunting task to those of my friends who don’t enjoy cooking, or grocery shopping. Well friends, believe me when I say if you implement this easy task, you might just change your tune about the whole process. 

Many of the topics I discuss in this series I learned from an incredible lady named Marla Cilley, A.K.A. The Flylady. Her book, “Sink Relections” taught me how to incorporate all this lessons. It was from the inspirations from her book how I developed my P.M.S. concept! So now lets get into today’s topic!

I also suggested having your family help with this process. Even if you don’t have kids, ask your partner or roommate to join in the fun!

If you are not organized and structured in this area of managing your home, you can end up spending more money on things you don’t need and won’t end up using. By planning your meals and therefore your grocery shopping lists you won’t find yourself buying ingredients on a whim or wasting time thinking about what you should be shopping for.

BONUS to this task include saving TIME & MONEY! With gas prices as high as they are, you’ll even save money due to less running back to the grocery store or market because you forgot something.

I recommend using shopping apps as well.

PRO TIP: Keep your cart open all the time! As you use something or only have one of an item left in your pantry, you can quickly add that item by scanning the barcode of the item. Most shopping apps have a tab called Your Items or Your Favorites. Utilizing these saves time. You are not aimlessly walking around in the grocery store trying to remember what you need.

With Menu Planning, you will only shop for the items you need for the meals you plan to prepare that week, thereby saving money.

Menus & Grocery lists

There are a few ways you can plan your menus: Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, or even Annually. I’ve done about all of them. Currently I am using the Monthly menu planning as that fits my family’s lifestyle best. However I have done it for the entire year.

The process is simple!


Plan a day where you and your family can sit for about a half to a full hour. I like to do this on a Sunday afternoon as it tends to be more of a family day. I gather up my calendar and my cookbooks and we all get turns to add to the menu. I generally have a main, side, veggie and occasionally a dessert. We are not big dessert eaters, so we only plan a dessert about once a month.

Menus by the season! We attend several farmers markets throughout the season, so I adjust our menu planning according to what is growing in our area seasonally. During the market season- April through November we purchase the bulk of our vegetables from the farmers market and also grow a few ourselves. In the spring we eat a lot more salads, summer holds its bounty in just about everything, and in the fall we eat more root & squash vegetable crops.

Here is an excerpt from my previous blog where I show you how to create your menus for the year just in case you’d like to be ambitious or simply knock it all out in one fell swoop.

I designed two groups of menus according to the seasons. Spring & Summer menus focus on the fresh produce we’re growing and that’s available. The second is Fall & Winter which features what we’ve canned, frozen and what’s in the root cellar along with what we’re still growing in the fall garden and winter hoop house. I created eight weeks of menus for each group. This allows me to rotate over two months. I keep that week’s menu on the fridge so we don’t have to think about meal prep, especially during our busy gardening and canning season. Having a menu helps in grocery shopping and meal prep every morning.

Now, let’s look into organizing your life with Menu Planning and Grocery Lists.

PRO TIP: Include this job in your control journal in one of your desk day jobs.

Menu

Planning

Tips &

Tricks

I love anything that will simplify my life in the everyday stuff that needs to be done like preparing meals for my family. Remember my P.M.S.? The ‘what’s for supper’ question can quickly become spaghetti all too often without menus! I’m sure many of us can relate to that! So I thought it would be nice to share a few tips in menu planning.

*First take 1-3 of your favorite cookbooks and 1-2 blank monthly calendars and a PENCIL!

*First plan some of your family’s favorite meals before you scour through the cookbooks. Think about the groceries each meal will take beforehand. Fill in one breakfast, lunch and supper for each family member with their favorite thing over the two weeks of menus- don’t duplicate any meal and don’t include any desserts… YET.

*Have any family vacations, work or school days off, sports or other activities with special dates handy so you can take those into consideration. Don’t plan a favorite meal for someone when they won’t even be home for it!

*Decide if you will include breakfast and lunch! This may depend on summer vacation for kids, etc.

*If you plan to have a night out or order-in meal, jot those down next.

*Do you want to include desserts? If so, fill those in now.

*Now go to the cookbooks. I encourage you to try a new recipe once a week. This will be fun and will help you and your family find new favorites. It’ll also help you from getting in a rut of the same old thing.

PRO TIP: Be sure to jot down what the cookbook and the page number for the recipe on the calendar. I recommend using abbreviations for cookbooks. For example I would put LS for my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats. If you don’t think you’ll remember them, jot down a legend on the back of the calendar.

If you haven’t purchased your copy of my popular cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats, click HERE.

Some extra tips when planning your menu:

*Do you have a garden? These should all play a factor in your menu planning.

Do you shop primarily at the Farmers Market during the season? Do you have any of your own livestock that you raise? Do you have your own chickens for eggs?

*Take into consideration what season you’re in. If you do the bulk of your shopping at the grocery store, seasonal crops will be far less expensive than items shipped from across the county. Shopping at farmers markets and/or having a garden can help save money here. Spring offers more salad crops & greens. Summer will be the mother load of produce and will eliminate much grocery shopping for fresh produce. Fall provides root crops such as potatoes, carrots, onions, and squashes. If you raise your own animals, butchering time is also happening now. Do you or a family member hunt? This can be an additional source of meat.

*Have your family members help create the menu.

This can be a fun family activity and sharing time of who liked and didn’t like what!

You now have two whole months planned out and it was so much fun and so easy. If you feel adventurous try doing another month and plan it out seasonally.

Grocery Lists Tips & Tricks!

Grocery lists are really not complicated and won’t take up too much time when you have your menus to work off of. Here are some tips!

*I recommend keeping a magnetic note pad or grocery list right on the front or side of your fridge! Each time you run out of something, jot it down or tick it off the pre-made list.

*Google ‘grocery list’ and you’ll find oodles of styles to download. Keep a master in your control journal and make a copy for each week, unless you have a pre-printed notepad.

*You’ll need to go over your menu for the next week and shop accordingly.

*As I mentioned you can save a lot of money when you grow your own or at least eat seasonally. But if that’s not an option for you, shop at the farmers market which is the next best thing. There are many winter farmers markets as well that you can shop and support and still eat seasonally with root crops, storage crops and fresh greens.

*Stick to the list when you go to the grocery store. I’m sure most of you shop at several stores for different items.  Have a list for each store and coupons/ ad’s to go with each.

*If you have any returnables, be sure they’re ready to go and in the trunk.

*I always make sure I have my grocery list, coupons and shopper bags ready to go.

*Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry… you WILL buy things you normally don’t because ‘they look good’ at the time!

Keep posted for the next in the series as we look a concept I learned during a class I took. You’re going to love it.

Jump on over to my Podcast & SUBSCRIBE so you don’t miss an episode!

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Happy Day,

Jean

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Organization Day 7: Menu Planning and Grocery Lists

apple dumplings

Welcome to the next article in my new series on Organization.  In the last article I showed you how to incorporate Zonal Cleaning into your daily schedules and routines.  Today we’ll look at a very important and potentially time-consuming job~ Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping. I say ‘potentially time consuming’ because if you are not organized and structured in this area of managing your home, you can end up spending much more money on things that you don’t need and won’t end up using. By planning your meals and therefore your grocery shopping lists you won’t find yourself buying ingredients on a whim or wasting time thinking about what you should get ‘this time’. It will also save you fuel because you won’t have to run back to the grocery store or market because you forgot something.

If you missed the previous post follow this link to it https://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/11/20/organization-day-6-zonal-cleaning/

Menus & Grocery lists

I decided to spend one day with the help of my children to design our weekly menus for a year.  That may sound a bit scary but not really… you see I didn’t make 52 separate menus. I designed two groups of menus according to the seasons. Spring & Summer’s menus focus on the fresh produce we’re growing and that’s available. The second is Fall & Winter which features what we’ve canned, frozen and what’s in the root cellar along with what we’re still growing in the fall garden and winter hoop house. I created eight weeks of menus for each group. This allows me to rotate over two months. I keep that weeks menu on the fridge so we don’t have to think about meal prep, especially during our busy gardening and canning season. Having a menu helps in grocery shopping and meal prep every morning.

Cooking is not my favorite thing to do, but I have five growing boys that need to eat.  My daughter Taylor’s the one who loves being in the kitchen. It’s funny though… baking is her favorite thing to do, that is my least favorite; she likes to cook and I don’t mind, especially with garden fresh goodies; she doesn’t mind canning and I absolutely love it; and we’re both OK with yeast baking stuff~ although I will say, I like that a bit more than her.  But neither one of us can make a pie crust to save our lives~ honestly, we just have never been able to master that!

Taylor would be happy to sit in a rocking chair with a pile of cookbooks and cooking mag’s where I would be there with my gardening ones! We balance each other out I guess…

Anyway, lets look into organizing your life with Menu Planning and Grocery Lists.

Menu Planning

I love anything that will simplify my life in the everyday stuff that needs to be done like preparing meals for my family. Remember my P.M.S.? I’d much rather take a few hours sitting down with my favorite cookbooks to compile a couple of months worth of menus eliminating the question “What’s for supper tonight?”  Taylor and I do run out of ideas and our meals can quickly fall into a rut of the same stuff over and over again! The ‘what’s for supper’ question can quickly become spaghetti all too often without menus! I’m sure many of us can relate to that! So I thought it would be nice to share a few tips in menu planning.

*First take 1-3 of your favorite cookbooks and 2 blank monthly calendars and a PENCIL! Don’t take more than this, you’ll get side tracked!

*Be sure you take into consideration what days off children might have from school, scheduled extra curricular activities, each family members day’s off from work. Don’t plan a favorite meal for someone when they won’t even be home for it!

*I only include breakfast and supper on the menus because most of the children are at school and/or work.

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*Before you go into the cookbooks, fill in a few of the day’s with some meals that you know each family member enjoys. Think about the groceries each meal will take beforehand. Fill in one breakfast, lunch and supper for each family member with their favorite thing over the two weeks of menus- don’t duplicate any meal and don’t include any deserts… YET.

*Now that you have several of the days and meals filled in decide if your family wants to have a ‘night out’ meal… jot that in the appropriate box.

*Next, decide how often you want to have desert with meals… fill in accordingly.

*Now go to the cookbooks. I encourage you to try a new recipe once a week. This will be fun and will help you and your family find new favorites. It’ll also help you from getting in a rut of the same old thing.

Some extra tips when planning your menu:
*Do you have a garden? Do you shop primarily at the Farmers Market during the season? Do you have any of your own live stock that you raise? Do you have your own chickens for eggs? These should all play a factor in your menu planning.

*Take into consideration what season you’re in. Spring will hold more salads if you have a garden; summer will be the mother load of produce and will eliminate much grocery shopping for fresh produce, so incorporate meals that save you from buying ‘stuff’; fall will give you more root crops and squashes as well as it being butcher time- plan according to what you have available and growing.

*Have your family members help create the menu. This can be a fun family activity and sharing time of who liked and didn’t like what!

*You now have two whole months planned out and it was so much fun and so easy. If you feel adventurous try doing another month and plan it out seasonally.

*Be sure to jot down what the cookbook and the page number for the recipe on the calendar. I recommend using abbreviations for cookbooks. For example I would put LS for my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats. If you don’t think you’ll remember them, jot down a legend on the back of the calendar.

Include this job in your control journal in one of your desk day jobs.

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Grocery Lists

Grocery lists are really not complicated and won’t take up too much time when you have your menus to work off of. Here are some tips!

*I recommend keeping a magnetic note pad or grocery list right on the front or side of your fridge! Each time you run out of something jot it down or tick it off the pre-made list.

Google ‘grocery list’ and you’ll find oodles of styles to download. Keep a master in your control journal and make a copy for each week, unless you have a pre-printed note pad. Here are a few sites to try:

http://www.workingmom.com/grocerylist.htm
http://www.practicalspreadsheets.com/Grocery-List-Template.html
www.home-organization-online.com/free-printable-grocery-list.html
www.freeprintablegrocerylist.com

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*You’ll need to go over your menu for the next week and shop accordingly.

*As I mentioned you can save a lot of money when you grow your own or at least eat seasonally. But if that’s not an option for you shop the farmers market which is the next best thing. There are many winter farmers market as well that you can shop and support and still eat seasonally with root crops, storage crops and fresh greens.

*Stick to the list when you go to the grocery store. I’m sure most of you shop at several stores for different items.  Have a list for each store and coupons/ ad’s to go with each.

*I always make sure I have my grocery list, coupons and shopper bags ready to go.

*If you have empties to return, be sure they’re ready to go and in the trunk.

*Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry… you WILL buy things you normally don’t because ‘they look good’ at the time!

Here is a sample of my monthly menu.  Sorry if you can’t make out my ‘printing’ 😉 and abbreviations.
I hope this gives you some great ideas on how to incorporate menu planning and grocery lists into organizing your life!
Happy Day,
Jean

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