Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This is how we do it....

Example grocery list:
1. fruit (grapes, )
2. veggies (potatoes, carrots )
3. dairy (butter, milk)
4. meat (pork chops)
5. bread (tortillas, )
6. flour
7. sugar

Monday: split pea soup with corn bread
Tuesday: Shredded beef burritos
Wednesday: Spaghetti with salad
Thursday: Bean soup with grilled cheese
Friday: Shepherd's pie
Saturday: ham scramble with toast
Sunday: Pork chops steamed Carrots and roasted red potatoes

I keep a Word Document on my desk top that resembles the above layout. I use this to plan my menus and write my shopping list. I've found by keeping it on my desk top its always accessible and easy to access if I'm in the kitchen and discover we're almost out of something I can ask Steve to add (blank) to the grocery list. The grocery list is my menu and my list in one. At the top is the list of what I need to buy and the bottom is what I'm actually cooking day by day this helps me make sure I don't forget anything because I can see first what I need to buy and what I'm cooking on the same page so if I forgot to put an ingredient on the list but if I look down and see I'm making burritos and didn't put cheese I can grab cheese at the store. After I've added everything I need to make our dinners for the week I'll add anything else we need that I'm out of like flour or sugar, staples like butter or eggs and food for our lunches snacks etc. You have to think when you're writing the list about what you're making what you have on hand to make it and what you need. This requires some mental organization but it's pretty easy once you have the hang of it.
If I draw a blank on what to cook a certain day and can't find inspiration in my pantry or freezer I look at a list of dinner ideas I have and see what sounds good or I'll ask Steve what he wants usually we can fill up a week pretty easy! If we're trying a new recipe I haven't made before I'll put the name of whatever it is and a link to the recipe next to it on the list so when I'm making my list I can click the recipe link and see what I need for the recipe. When it's time to go shopping I just print the list and I only shop once a week :) We have at times shopped for 2 weeks in one trip. I imagine with some careful planning you could even do a big monthly trip with a booster trip for fresh items at some point. You would need more freezer and pantry space than I presently have though!
Now if a monkey wrench is thrown in the week like I get sick and we decide to order a pizza or something else happens spontaneously like your husband sweeps you off your feet and takes you to your favorite restaurant on Wednesday night... I try to build some flexibility into the week like a "throwaway" meal which is something I ALWAYS have on hand that won't spoil essentially a pantry dinner. I will also just shift everything down if we ordered pizza tonight the pork chops I thawed I will cook tomorrow night. Now if you know on a given night that you're doing something like a dinner with friends or a special date I put that on the menu too. Also if there's something during the week like a potluck I put that on the menu so I can plan what to make and buy for that in advance too which eliminates an unnecessary trip to the store. It's happened also that sometimes it's Monday night and I'm supposed to thaw beef for burritos on Tuesday but burritos just don't sound good I'll pull from another day say Fridays Ham scramble and shift burritos to Friday. I have everything on hand to make everything on my menu I don't have to make it in the order listed. I don't know how innovative or ground breaking this concept is... for all I know this is how everyone shops and plans. It works for us and I always know at 5pm what I'm cooking. I know on Monday what's for dinner on Friday. There is never a standing in front of an open fridge wondering "what's for dinner?" moment at our house.

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