Friday, April 4, 2014

How I Got Myself Organized for 4 Weeks of Meal Planning

We live in a small town where the price of milk is double what it is in the Cheyenne supermarkets. Cheyenne is a 45 minute drive and we make it once a month. It took a lot of organizing and planning, but it has been so so so worth it. There's many reasons why we grocery shop once a month, but here's a few...

  • Gas Prices. Making one trip saves us at least $50 a month. And $50 is a large sum while on one paycheck.
  • Time. We are remodeling our home and we want to get.it.done. The more time we spend driving to Cheyenne to shop, the less time we get at home completing our to-do list. 
  • Buying in bulk saves us $$$ each month. 
  • Meal planning for 4 weeks does not leave me guessing last minute, "Ugh. What's for dinner?" and searching the fridge for something to whip up quick.
DIY

Materials:
  • Notebook
  • Index Cards
  • Envelopes
  • Clothespins
  • Old cookie pan or a box lid or a piece of cardboard 
  • Fabric of choice
  • Your favorite meals
First, write your favorite meals on a index card (I cut mine in fourths).

Organize your meals into the categories, these are mine: Asian, beef, breakfast, cajun, casseroles, chicken, Italian, Mexican, pork, seafood, and soups (put them in the corresponding envelopes).  I keep blank cards in one of my envelopes for new recipe's (thank you Pinterest!).

To create an organized menu display like the following cover your cardboard, box lid (whatever you choose), mine is an old cookie pan, with whatever fabric you choose (I picked burlap). Label the clothespins Monday - Sunday (I also included snacks). Hot glue the clothespins on your display.
Effectively displaying the menu for the week!

When I plan for 4 weeks I use a notebook and clip the index cards to each page so I can grab them on Monday when it's time to switch out the menu display.

I labeled each card with the corresponding recipe book so I could find it quickly and put the necessary ingredients on my grocery list.

I'm also very purposeful in my preparation. The first couple of weeks are recipe's with fresh vege's and the last two weeks are canned or frozen vegetables. OR I pick dishes that I can whip up, throw in the freezer, and cook in the crockpot when the planned day arrives. Today, for example is the last day before grocery shopping and I'm making crockpot cilantro, lime chicken that has been frozen for 3 weeks. As I'm writing this I'm enjoying a heavenly scent.

Doing this cut down the time I spent meal planning significantly! Every time someone comes over I receive a compliment on the menu display and I've been saying "I'll write about how I did it." (sorry it took me so long). I love it because my hubby knows what we're having each day of the week and I know we'll have the ingredients to make each dish on the menu. It was well worth the time and effort to get organized! 

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