Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Things #1- #4

Things #1-4: Menu Planning

Because the idea for “52 Things” came to me just as January was coming to a close, I’ll start off with a group of four things to cover the month of January.

1)      Make weekly menu plans. Base your grocery list off your menu plan.
2)      Create a list of favorite family meals to make menu planning easier.
3)      Keep a note pad in a specified place so anyone can jot down something for the grocery list. Ours is on the fridge. Years ago I found a magnet that holds a pencil. It lives by the note pad.
4)      Have a quick and easy meal in the freezer.

My menu planner is based on an idea I found on Pinterest. (See photo.) I covered a piece of cardboard—from the back of a paper tablet—with some fabric and added a little bow to the top. Used hot glue.

Then I took my list of entree ideas and printed them out on brown paper—something I had on hand from a previous project. Then I cut them into small pieces with a single entree on each slip. I folded little envelopes to fit the slips and labeled them “Chicken,” “Beef,” “Pork,” “Misc,” and “Blank.” Yes, we are meat eaters. I do plan veggie-only meals now and then. I created a few slips that read “On Your Own” or “Leftovers.” The blank slips make it easy to add new entrees. I keep the smaller envelopes in a pretty green envelope.

I glued a heavy magnet to the back of the menu plan holder, and keep the green envelope in a large clip with a magnet on it. I use clothes pins, labeled with the days of the week, to hold the tabs on the planner.

This method makes menu planning easy and fun.

I hold my menu plan with an open hand. Life gets busy, plans change. Sometimes I have enough food for two days when I only planned that item for one. Some days I don’t have the energy to cook and so I scrap the plan in favor of a frozen pizza. But I begin each week knowing I have ingredients on hand for several meals.

I don’t think of myself as a highly organized or structured person, but meal planning is something I do regularly. It reduces that “what-in-the-world-am-I-fixing-for-dinner-tonight” stress that can creep in about 4:00 in the afternoon.

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