This little bit of information comes from ME!! It is not something I learned from someone else. It is something I have learned from:
11 years of marriage
Very little $$$
and 1 very important goal.
For 11 years, having a home-cooked meal on my table has been very important to me. I believe now more then ever that we must find time to gather with our families around the dinner table. Home prepared meals not only allow us that but they also afford us ways to save money and eat healthier.
This will be post 1 in a 4 post series titled:
"Being Prepared in the Kitchen."
How many of you have experienced this before?:
"Mom, I'm hungry. When will dinner be ready?"
"There is nothing to eat."
"Could you bring dinner over to so and so who is ill?"
"I invited so and so over for dinner."
"It's our turn to feed the missionaries, co-workers, or neighbors."
"Can you bring a dessert to this event tonight?"
you look in the pantry and you have nothing.
I. mean. nothing. to feed them.
Well... I am here to help with that.
WEEK 1: Organize
WEEK 2: Shop and Prepare
WEEK 3: Make Ahead and Prepare Early
WEEK 4: Share with others
Week 1: Organization is a huge part of being successful at anything. I am going to show you how I am successful at keeping my family and friends happy through there tummies and meal times.
#1. Clean out your fridge. Never ever come home from the grocery store with a messy fridge. It will leave you feeling frustrated and frazzled.
#2. Decide how many times a month you want to shop. I shop every 3 weeks or so, with a small trip about mid-way through for a few more fresh items. If you had a dairy that delivered this would eliminate that step.
REMEMBER: the more you go to the grocery store... the more you spend.
#3. Pick the stores that you know you will be shopping at, and get familiar with their layout.
#4. Organize your recipes. I have found it easiest to keep all of mine in a 3-ring binder. I will tell you why in the next series.
a. I have one binder for meals. This binder is divided into categories. ie: chicken, beef, pork, non-meat. I also have a sections for soup, salads, and crockpot.
b. I have another binder with bread recipes, this includes pancakes, muffins, and waffles. It is also home to my desserts, baking, sauces, and appetizers.
c. I also have a list inside my binder with some our favorites that come from my cookbooks. I have recipe name with the page number listed next to it.
#5. Now it is time to make your Menu. I pick about 12 recipes. That seems to last us the 3 weeks. I write them down on this handy dandy menu planner that I found at Michaels in the $$$ section. You could create your own on the computer.
It has a magnet on the back, and hangs on my fridge for easy reference.
a. On the side that says shopping list, I have created a spot for breakfast ideas, lunch ideas, dessert ideas, and sides. This way I won't forget to add these ingredients to my list.
#6. Once your recipes are organized, it is time to organize your store list. I have a grocery store list, and a Sam's Club list.
a. each list is divided into categories. I have filled in the categories with the items that I buy every grocery trip or almost every trip.
b. I have them printed out ready to go with the grocery on the front, and Sam's on the back.
c. I also have a list that I like to call my Cue sheet. This helps remind me of the items that I like to have on hand in my pantry. If I scan down it, I can remember, "Oh yes, we are out of this." Then I add it to my list.
#7. Once my menu is complete, I refer to my recipes for the rest of my grocery items. I just fill them in the blanks that they belong.
a. What is typed on the list are the ingredients that I usually need to buy.
b. The handwritten items are what I need for my meals.
c. The items that I cross off of staples that I usually need to buy, but don't need this go round.
1. Pick menu items that use one or more of the same ingredients, and then they won't go to waste. ie: make two recipes that call for Catalina dressing.
2. Be realistic in what your family will eat, and how much time you have to prepare. If you don't you will pick something, put it on your menu, and never end up making it. As a result, all of your ingredients will go to waste.
3. To save money, don't cook recipes with lots of ingredients. Maybe pick one recipe like that per menu.
4. Make your recipes that call for fresh ingredients first. That way they don't go to waste. Save your recipes that call for canned and frozen items at the end of your menu cycle.
5. Talk with your spouse about how much your food budget is, and stick to it. Use cash if you have to, and once the money is gone you don't shop until your next paycheck.
Now go get prepared, and meet me back here next week for tips on shopping and preparing.
If you would like a copy of my lists, please let me know and I will be happy to email them to you.