Thursday, April 19, 2012

You've Created A Menu, Now What?

Have you praticed making menus yet?  If not throw one together quick and I'll show you what I do after I create a menu to get ready for shopping and the week ahead.

When I put menus together for my family I actually do more than the supper menus that I give you on a sometimes weekly basis.  I venture out to also figure out  what I will have for lunches, including any 'Planned Left-overs' and breakfasts.  I really can't do any weekly shopping unless I have this information also or I'm sure to not have foods available for these meals also.  It's 15 minutes to a store of any kind for me (that's over a gallon of gas) and an hour (that's about 6-8 gallons of gas) to stores that stock gluten-free foods so I HAVE TO PLAN.

As you prepare these menus you'll want to check your calendar.  Do you need more or less lunches for school or work?  Kids have vacation days or hubby off work?  Planned meals out?  Busy week and need some quick or crock-pot meals.  Of course, things happen and sometimes meals can't be done as planned so you might already have some ingredients for the meal that was planned for the week before so just move it to the coming week.

Now I do something that may sound like a lot of work to you, but for me, it's a time saver and helps to keep me organized.

I keep two notebooks in the kitchen.  My favorite recipes are typed or printed and placed in accetate holders and placed in a large notebook.  You can do this and/or make notes on your recipe list of what cookbook you used and the page in the book it is found.  I found this helps.  My favorite way is to do the notebooks. 

From the notebook I find the recipes I've decided to use for the week.  If I'm using a new recipe I'll print it off and put it in a accetate holder.  These recipes then go into a smaller notebook for the weeks menu.  This serves two purposes:
  1. I now have the recipes at hand to make do my 'pantry check' and to make my grocery list.
  2. With a busy schedule I don't have to pull out cookbooks that then have to be put away, I just grab the notebook that has the recipes all lined up in the order I'm going to use them.
Now it's time to gather your grocery list.  Have a piece of paper that you've divided into sections for Dairy, Meats, Fruits, Vegetables, Frozen, Gluten-Free, etc.  Now begin to go through recipes one at a time and note how much you need of each item (except spice amounts) and write down the grocery list.  Don't forget your breakfasts and lunches.

I found this awesome site called ORGANIZED HOME that has some awesome free printable sheets for you to use.

GOOD!  Your list is done.  Now go to your pantry and see what you have there.  For our purposes pantry includes your refrigerator, cupboards and any storage area you have for foods, etc.  Cross off the items you already have 'in stock' and you are now good to go.  The next thing you are going to do with your list is go through the advertized sales, your coupons and the products you are going to be purchasing do shop from your local farmers, right?  Make notes on where your are going to buy what with your seperate lists for each. 

Now you are ready to shop, and when you shop, STICK TO YOUR LIST.  No more, no less.

Part Two of this article, titled Preping Foods for the Week Ahead, will be coming in the next couple of days so don't miss it.  You might want to follow this blog in some way (at least by email) so that you don't miss important articles like this one and the ones coming!

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