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.

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Happy Day,

Jean

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Organization Day 8: Weekly Schedule at a Glance

DSC03539The saying that time flies is true enough indeed. I can hardly believe the year is coming to an end and we’ll soon enter into the next.  Today’s the last in my series on organization and I hope they’ve helped you create a plan of action to build your own lists and schedules from.

It’s no surprise when I tell you I love to create schedules, make lists and have multiple day planners and calendars. I thrive on all things organization.

Over the years I realized I inherited this trait from my mother… who I may say even has the labels of her spice jars and canned goods all facing in the same direction and to size… they might even be alphabetized I’ve never dared look.

Her cupboards are immaculate and she never has dust. Mind you, it’s just her and my dad and she only had me! But none-the-less I’m glad I inherited this trait thanks to her… even though I never realized it while I was growing up. My maternal grandmother was also extremely organized. I remember her sewing supplies neatly arranged in her sewing box (which I now have), her fridge was always tidy and her flower beds were beautiful and manicured. So, I guess I come by this naturally thank God!

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It’s only since I’ve had a home and family of my own that I’ve realized all the important things they both taught me… or at least tried to! My ‘other’ mom, is also extremely organized. I think I’m just naturally attracted to those kind of people.  She’s been an inspiration to me tremendously, especially with sewing ‘stuff’. Her material/craft closet is immaculate and completely organized right up to type’s of fabrics and colors. Her craft stuff is always tidy and in it’s place! What wonderful examples I’ve been blessed with!

Anyway, back to schedules and lists…

Here is my Weekly Schedule At A Glance… this has really helped me over the years as my family has grown and evolved.

Please note this doesn’t include any of our farm related chores. I’m only focusing on the daily home chores that most of us face.

*Use Put Away Basket daily for my walk through’s!

MONDAY:

*Focus on what’s planned for the week through my P.M.S. list- make list of appts/calls/errands for the week.

*Back Entry zonal cleaning, Bathroom and Upstairs Hallway, stairs- Ryan

*Zonal clean Kitchen~ clean out fridge; put clean foil on stove burners- Mom

*Main floor of house- floors- Ryan

*Laundry- mom

*Fill bird feeders- Kyle/Evan

*Water porch pots on tables- everyday as needed

*All outside yard chores: mowing, weed whacking, weeding- boys

*General machine maintenance- boys

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TUESDAY:

*Laundry- bedding, dish towels and anything that didn’t get done yesterday-Mom

*Zonal Clean Pantry, Family and Dining rooms Taylor/Mom

*Moms office day- phone calls, pay bills, etc.

*Purge any old mag’s/newspapers/etc.- Mom

*Menu planning day/ create grocery list from menu- think about what’s going to be baked next week as well.

WEDNESDAY:

*Zone cleaning Bedrooms

*Sewing/mending if any.

*Baking day if no sewing

THURSDAY:

Errand and Grocery Day~

*Try to schedule all errands for today- post office, cleaners, doctor’s appts., shopping etc.

*Grocery Shop- do any budget shopping today as well.

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FRIDAY:

*This is our market prep day and we do all running for this.

*Laundry~ as needed

SATURDAY:

*We are at market all day and the boy who is home takes care of general home duties.

*Grocery Shop on way home from market

*Any meal prep for Sunday gets done today.

SUNDAY:

This is our day of rest and worship… and we never feel guilty! Praise the Lord!

One more thing I wanted to touch on today is how to remain focused on your schedule for the days. I refer to this as Focused Event Days. Here’s a more detailed break down of what we do here.

*Errand Day~ this day needs to be structured to have the best time and gas management possible.

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*I always make a list of the places I need to go and I write them down in the order I plan on going to them. When I do this I think about the direction’s of the errands and map out the best possible route to take. I try, if possible to start with the furthest stop and make my way back toward home. This doesn’t always work, but most of the time it does. I also try to do any grocery shopping last, especially in the summer because of the extreme heat that could damage the goods.

*If I have appointments to keep, I try to make those first thing in the morning where I can do the remaining errands in a timely fashion afterwards.

*I also try to spread any appointments out over the month so I do not over book myself just causing everyone frustration. Also take into consideration when making appt.s  children if it is the school season, make them after school if at all possible.

*Grocery shopping~ this is ‘typically’ done on Errand day but not always due to the fact that I like to shop at one particular grocery store that has a very large selection of Organic goods. This store is an hour away from our country home but we drive past it every Saturday on our way home from market… so my main grocery shopping is done on Saturday. The other place I like to purchase items in bulk is done at a store right down the road from us and that’s the shopping that gets done on Errand day… usually!

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*I go over the menu for that week and check to see if there is anything I need- write it down on list right away~ I would too quickly forget.

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

*My Checklist before I leave: My purse with checkbook with checks in it, debit card; all lists; Bill stubs, banking papers if needed; sale ads; mail to go out; anything else I need to meet my list.

Lists are crucial here! Another important tip when going grocery shopping is to NEVER go when you are hungry! You’ll end up buying things because they ‘look’ good at that present moment! Stick to the list and the budget.

Hope you all enjoyed… please leave me comments and suggestions!
Happy Day,
Jean