Monday, May 7

Revamping Dinner Time

With the store now closed I've been forced to return to life without my own personal grocery store; meaning, I have to plan ahead. I can't just call Matt up and ask him to bring home steak or ground beef or chicken for dinner, because there isn't any, unless I want to start dealing with frozen stuff.For this I will miss the store.

Before we had the store I had started writing up a monthly meal plan, which was really helpful, because I knew what I needed and what was coming up on the calendar. Sometimes we deviated from it, but for the most part it really helped me to keep tabs on what we had in inventory, what we've eaten a lot of, and what would be a treat.

I created a section in my Home Management Binder specific to cooking: I'm actually now using it. I've created an entire list of meals that I can cook, both with and without recipes. There's about 50 or so recipes in my arsenal ranging from meals for company to throw-togethers. Now I can plan menus for the entire month within 10 minutes.

Matt and I sit down with the list of prospective meals and what we have in the house that needs to get used up and we fill out the calendar with significant things that are going on and then plan the meals accordingly.

I can't tell you how much easier it is to not sit there every day and think "What am I going to cook tonight?" Matt always jokes that I call him for two things during the day, to see how he's doing and what he wants for dinner.

Oh, and there's a little trick I want to share with you: Plastic page protectors and wet-erase markers! I print the current months calendar from word, slip it into the sheet protector and go to town with the marker. It doesn't just wipe off, but I can easily make some changes with a damp tissue (I don't recommend your thumb with spit, it doesn't come off of skin so easily, that's just what I've heard ;-).

The other thing that planning ahead really helps me with is that I can make sure I have the groceries I need on hand. Obviously, I don't get out much: 1) The grocery stores are now 45 minutes away and 2) there is no way I can take 4 kids grocery shopping with me (I can't pull 2 carts full of kids, while filling a 3rd cart). I have to plan for someone to come over and stay with the kids for the day so that I can go out and restock.

If you're really interested in trying to plan ahead it will save you lots of time and actually some money too, because when I go shopping now it's with a mission and I only go once, so there's less chance of me buying things we don't need (like peanut butter Oreos and jars of Nutella). There's also a great book to help you with figuring out the best way to create a monthly meal plan and shopping trip.

Go ahead! Try it! You won't know if it works for you unless you do.

Do you have any tips or advice that you follow to help with the "what's for dinner" hum-drums?

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