Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Menu Book

At school, I am usually pretty organized. I can tell you where things are, or where they should be at least. I have a system that i have tweaked and and overhauled until it seems to work just right for me. Some might say I am OCD.

Home is a different story. While I am somewhat organized, there are still areas that I haven't found the perfect system for. It's a frustrating battle.

One of those areas is menu planning and grocery shopping. What usually happens is this: I ask Justin what he wants for dinner that week. He replies, "whatever." I plan out 5 or 6 meals, and make a haphazard grocery list. I usually run out of time or forget my list, so I walk into the store empty-handed. Now, here is where a sheer phenomenon happens to me. Every time--without fail--I walk into a store without a list, I undoubtedly forget everything I came for. It's like the automatic doors have special waves that erase from my brain the fact that we've been out of lightbulbs for 3 months, and can barely see to locate the sink in the bathroom! And I am a once-a-week shopper. I do not want to have to go to the store mid-week for anything, and it doesn't help that we live 15 minutes from the closest store. If we don't have it, we make do, or borrow it from my in-laws! Thinking ahead is vital for my sanity with this.

Last week, I got inspired to get this area of life under control.

 Enter the Menu Book...

I started by working up a basic form to list the meals we like {so I have some inspiration}, a weekly menu form, and a grocery list organized by department. I bought a cheap {but cute} 1 1/2 inch binder from Walmart, and used some page protectors I had on hand. I know you can purchase great books like this from Etsy and you can even find free printables from Pinterest, but I went with a very basic setup. I don't want to worry about having colored ink to make my pages look pretty. I wanted something basic, neat, and tailored to my needs. 

Then, I listed every meal I could think of that we like. {We apparently like pasta and mexican food...real shocker there.} I put it in a page protector in the very front of the binder. I referenced this list to get some inspiration for our meals for the week, then wrote them on the weekly menu which will hang on the refrigerator. My goal is to keep this menu in the binder once we're done with it this week, and reuse it a few weeks down the road. Once I have a good set of menus, I can rotate through them instead of making new ones. 

I used the menu to fill out my grocery list, which is organized into categories according to our local Walmart. {produce, cold foods (meat, dairy, etc), frozen foods, canned foods, baby, personal, household, and misc.} I stored extra menus and grocery lists in page protectors in the folder, and followed that up with recipe cards for menu items that we need still need to use recipes on. I had been given a make-your-own-cookbook for a wedding gift, and it had these page protectors that are divided into 4 sections. Just the right size for an index card! Having recipes we use frequently stored this way will keep me from having to search through cookbooks and pinterest boards to find what I am looking for. I'm sure you can find these on Amazon or in an office supply store.

So far, it's worked beautifully! Our menu is made. Grocery shopping took me hardly any time at all, and it was virtually pain-free! 

I had to share this...While gathering ideas on meals that we like, I came across this cookbook of my grandma's. The funny thing is, she had this loooonnngg before I lived in Marshall for 5 years. It's two pieces of my history in one! 

PS. Not that any of this is revolutionary, but if you'd like any of the forms I created feel free to leave a comment. I'd be happy to email them to you.

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