I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this once or eleventy times already, but I’m busy. Like all the time. And chances are, you are too. We all have our own brand of busy, with kids/jobs/pets/life/etc. I can’t stand it when people try and compare “busy” because I remember saying I was “busy” when I was 23 and I sincerely meant it. My “busy” now and my “busy” then are two different animals. That didn’t give me any more hours in the day when I was 23, though.
I will say this: my new, mom-wife-businesswoman brand of busy is like a three way duel to the death. My work takes up a LOT of my time, especially since I work proposals. But there are a few things I won’t compromise on, and one of those is having home-cooked meals on the dinnertable.
(Please spare me the rants that accuse me of belittling you if you don’t cook. Everyone chooses their battles with their busy, and if yours is dinner, AWESOME. I just feel very, very strongly about this.)
(Damn, what has the internet become if I have to preface things like COOKING FREAKING DINNER to readers?)
Okay, like I said: not a lot of time. And because my weekends provide precious, not-to-be-wasted time at home, that’s when I get most of my week accomplished. And also because I am a Virgo who loves to make lists, I give you: THE COMMAND CENTER OF OUR FOOD.
(It is fuzzy for reasons unknown. Apologies.)
The right hand side of our fridge contains everything for everyone in the household to be involved with food. (The left hand side contains bills.)
To start with, I sit down with this notepad:
I make a plan for the next five meals, taking input from everyone in the house if they have any requests, and I make sure that under “Grab Bag”, I provide a few Alternate meals. Sometimes, you come home on Thursday and decide that you don’t WANT Kung Pao Chicken. Sometimes, you just want sloppy joes instead.
So, from that notepad, I sit down with this one next:
(I got mine at Target, made by Real Simple, but I can’t find it online. You can find a similar one here.) Knowing what I’m cooking for the next several days gives me a REALLY good insight into what my grocery shopping needs to be. I’m able to come up with a concise list of groceries for the next week, and leaving it on the fridge for a day or two, I’m able to add the basic staples that I realize we’re running low on.
I take the grocery list shopping and in one trip, I know I have EVERYTHING I’ll need to cook for the next week. It makes grocery shopping a breeze. And it saves me worlds of time instead of just walking up and down the aisles and hoping that inspiration strikes me. It also helps me stay on budget. We keep any applicable coupons for the next grocery trip in the magnetic basket you see in the first picture, so it’s always in easy view and we don’t forget about them.
My favorite thing about the Menu pad is that I don’t have to be constantly barraged with the WHAT’S FOR DINNER?! question. Dude, you’re literate. Go read it. Also, if Bryan happens to get home before I do one night, he knows what to cook. (In all honesty, the Alternate meals are specifically designed for Bryan. They’re usually one-pot/easy clean-up.)
This system has made the grocery shopping MUCH less of a time drain on my weekend, and it’s crazy easy once you just get started.
I’m still working on getting the meals to cook themselves.