Friday, May 1, 2009

Another Step in My Organization Process

I have been continuing my journey back to the organizational bandwagon. Instead of cleaning out the pantry (which still needs to be done), I spent my "at home" day yesterday revisiting a meal planning process that worked well for us in my ultra-organized days. Oh, the joy! For me, 75% of the challenge of dinner every night is deciding what to cook, 20% of the challenge is having all of the right ingredients, and only 5% of the challenge is the actual making of the meal...because I really do enjoy cooking. So I have returned to making menus.

The system that seems to work for our family is for me to plan about 10 meals for every two-week period. The remaining nights we either enjoy one of David's specialties, we eat left overs, or we go out. I find that if I plan more than 10 meals in a two-week period I end up wasting food, and if I plan fewer than 10 meals I run out of food.

I have also learned that my family needs a meal plan that is not too rigid. That is to say, I do not plug specific meals in to specific days. I just plan ten meals, and then decide each day which one of those ten meals I want to cook for dinner. For my sanity, I make sure that I have a combination of low-maintenance and high-maintenance meals. This means that when I have a busy day away from the house, I can throw something together in a jiffy; but, when I have the time, I can enjoy the cooking process and go gourmet. Because my family likes variety, I also try to incorporate a wide assortment of flavors, textures, and colors of foods. And finally, I always put at least one new recipe in the mix.

Once I choose the menus for ten home-cooked meals, I go through my recipes and make a shopping list. Then I go to both Costco and Safeway in one day, and I buy absolutely everything that I need to make the meals that I have planned. Of course, there are a few produce and/or seafood ingredients that I reserve to purchase on the day I want to use them (to ensure freshness), but I try to keep these items to a minimum.

Yesterday I planned my meals and did my shopping for the next two weeks! I feel energized and prepared for the weekend and for the weeks ahead. When I make meal plans, I am more able to stay within my food budget, I waste less food, and I serve healthier meals to my family. Can you tell I'm excited? So are my boys!

I'd love to hear your system. Do you have one? How does it work?


  1. I LOVE when you blog! I look forward to each new one and you never disappoint.
    Your system sounds a little like Anne's. I do not have a plan so I'm frustrated with the whole meal planning idea. Since most days it is just me, planning seems pointless but maybe it's time to give it a try again. I know I'll need to plan when Anne and her girls are here. Got a couple of good, quick plans for me?

  2. I might try your way. I've been doing a week in advance and planning specific meals per days but since I've been injured it's really hard to tell how I'm going to feel on that day and a few times now I've planned a bigger meal than I had energy to make.

    I have rearranged days and moved something simple I had planned to a different day in the week but a ten meal day would give me options.

    Thanks for sharing this... I'll have to give this some consideration and see if it might work better for us.

  3. I can so relate! Your system sounds very much like what I would like. My problem is the sitting down to do it! LOL You inspire me.