Friday, September 14, 2012

Meal Planning....It Helps to Be Organized

 Now that I'm a working woman again, the task of meal planning and grocery shopping becomes a little more complicated. I'm blessed that my husband shares the cooking and the shopping. I have found when we aren't organized we end up running to the store almost daily. This is a money and time waster so I'm trying to get organized.

Since I've been back to school/work, I have to go to market on Saturday mornings. We try to buy as much of our food at market as we can. Since I can't just pop in any old time I want, I have to be organized by Saturday morning. So I find a Friday pm or early Saturday am date with my recipe collection to work out well. 

I recently organized my printed recipes into a binder which I hope will help streamline my meal planning. I also find that if I try to stay with one source for the week's meals it keeps things simple. This week I've chosen a Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine that I've had for about a year. It has lots of fall recipes, including several that use butternut squash which we harvested from our garden in the last few weeks. 
Here you can see the method to my madness. My mother-in-law likes to comment on the "goldness" of my personality (I like things in order) and this really showcases that side of me. But, hey, I've gotta be me! So onto my method. First I decide how many meals I need to plan for and if there are any evenings that we need easy meals or no meal due to our schedules. I generally plan for 6 or 7 meals at a time. I then just let my fingers do the walking through the recipes. I also keep in mind what is in season and what I already have on hand. We buy our meat in bulk for our freezer so that makes shopping one step easier. 

When I choose the recipes that I want for the week, I write them down along with the recipe book and page number so whoever is cooking can easily find the recipe. I then make my lists. You got it right, I make two lists. One is for market and one for the grocery store. With list in hand I make two trips and our shopping is complete for the week. 

Although I don't always feel like sitting down to meal plan, I do generally enjoy it. I am always happy during the week that the planning is complete because I certainly have less brain power to make meal decisions after work every day. 

I'd love to hear how you do your meal planning. Is there a method you use? Do you live close to a daily market and can shop fresh daily? Do you grow most of your food? Are you a monthly planner? Let me hear from you!

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