How to Menu Plan & Grocery Shop

How to Menu Plan and Grocery Shop

In this post I will share with you the step by step process I go through each week as I plan out my menu and make out my grocery list. I like to menu plan on Saturday or Sunday, then grocery shop later on that day. I find the process really fun and creative. I like to try to come up with lots of new, exciting and healthy meals we can all enjoy! I usually go through this process on a Saturday or a Sunday. I like to start Monday fresh with all of the ingredients that I need to create recipes for the blog and for our dinners and other meals. This is one of my favorite things to do. I sit down with a nice cup of tea, take out a notebook, my recipes books or binders and come up with tweaks to recipes that I think might work. Then, I get to work on creating my list. This is a fun and creative process. I hope that you enjoy it too. Feel free to comment on how you make up your meal plans/grocery lists as well. Do you use paper? Do you use an app? 

The first step: 

I look in the following places for food we already have: 

The freezer: proteins, veggies, fruits.

The fridge: veggies, fruits, eggs, sauces. milks.

The pantry: rice, beans, condiments, canned goods, spices, extracts. 

The second step:

I get out  recipes/ideas for  meals based on some items we already have. I make sure the recipes is using the maximum number of items we already have. I write down those meal ideas on a piece of paper and post it on the fridge. That way I already have my meal plan. I usually have 3-5 meal ideas ready to go since some dishes make enough to last 2-3 days. Also, plan for breakfasts, lunches and snacks. 

The third step: 

I write down the ingredients that I need to purchase in order to make those meals. I keep in mind items that I have not used up in the fridge, pantry and freezer when I am planning out my meals as well. This way we make maximum use of our food and don't waste as much. 

The fourth step: 

I write my grocery list. I keep in mind items that are needed for breakfasts at home, at the office, my son's lunches and snacks. I like to make only 1 trip to the store per week, so I try hard to think of everything we might need. I also ask my husband and son about things that they need or would like from the store. 

I usually put items in categories like: 

 

produce/fruit/vegetables

natural section

canned foods/dry goods

baking section

fresh items/deli (eggs, etc.) 

meats

non-grocery items

 

I list those in sections and put squares around each section so that I can see clearly what I need to look for in each area. I love this system because I am able to plan out our meals, have all of the ingredients on hand and go through the store in an organized way. I prefer to actually write down my list because it helps me remember the items better, and I don't have to try to hold my phone with a list-app open while I am shopping. 

I hope that this process helped you. Please let me know if there is anything I can help you with when it comes to meal planning, grocery shopping or recipes. 

 

Confessions of a Cookbook & Recipe Hoarder!

cookbooks food magazines and recipe notebooks

I am the first to admit that I have a problem. I am hopelessly addicted to recipes! I have 64 cookbooks, so many that I have to keep some in the kitchen and some in the office/spare room. I have about 11 three-ring binders with more than 70 recipes per notebook that are either family recipes or clipped out of magazines or newspapers. I subscribe to 4 food magazines, and really try to not subscribe to more. 

There are so many recipes that I have never tried, but I feel like I will. It may be mad or delusional to think that I could possibly ever make all of these recipes, however in my mind it seems completely possible. That is why I hang on to my food magazines for quite a while, and find myself needing to go through them carefully to clip out potentially good recipes before I recycle them or pass them on. 

In times past when a special food section of the local newspaper was delivered free every Tuesday because it contained advertisements for local supermarkets I would keep it for a quite a while, pouring over the recipes and food ideas. Then, I would faithfully clip out lots of recipes, and place them into plastic sleeves and into my binders. I do have to say I found a lot of treasures in that newspaper. 

Although it may seem crazy to some, I think that even just having all of these resources for recipes turns on my creativity. At times, if I just look at the photos, or peruse the pages from time to time, and idea will pop into my head for a recipe I could create. I think the more connections and associations you can make with a variety of materials the more creative you can become. This idea is well stated in the book that I recently read titled: "Where Good Ideas Come From" by Steven Johnson. He talks about environments that help you come up with ideas and also actions you can take, like taking a walk that can inspire your next idea. I find that if I look at cookbooks and food magazines in my leisure time during other times, like walking around the neighborhood or driving in the car- my next recipe idea will strike me. 

It is for these reasons and many more that I choose to keep all of my recipes, books and notebooks. Although I did a really big decluttering project in our home this past year, I find that it is okay to hang on to some things, like these books that spark my creativity. I can let go of extra sweaters or owner's manuals, but cooking and baking are in my heart, so I choose to keep those sacred books that inspire me onward. I look at each recipe as a beautiful piece of art waiting to be created and discovered. 

If you love to collect cook books, recipe notebooks & more, let me know in a comment below. I would love to hear from you. You can also subscribe to my newsletter. 

Chore Team- Getting everyone involved!

     The breakfast table: Set the night before by a member of our family chore team- we are up and running in the morning! 

 

The breakfast table: Set the night before by a member of our family chore team- we are up and running in the morning! 

I admit that I am a bit of a: neat freak-clean freak-schedule freak. I love to have everything put away, in its place, clean and have everything run on schedule. I even really look forward to the nine months out of the year that my life can run on more of a tight schedule. I know myself and work hard to achieve these things because it is who I am and how I operate. However, as the summer drew to a close, I knew that in order to keep up with the schedule of creating recipes, blogging, teaching cooking classes and finishing up my recipe book I would need some help. 

Asking for help is not something that comes naturally to me. I am very self regulated and usually do a really good job of managing a lot of things on my own. Lately though, I found myself needing help in order to keep things running in the household, get my business work done and still be able to have plenty of time with my family. 

I decided to call upon my dear husband and now 7 year old son for help. They gladly said yes to the plan and the "chore team" was born. 

What is chore team? 

I devised a plan where each person from our three person team would choose two chores to do per night after dinner. There are 4 daily chores that we do Monday-Thursday and two rotating chores that are done on different days of the week. 

We placed each chore on a sticky note which we keep on the inside of the front coat closet door. We dubbed this door "chore door." Every night after dinner, we all go to the chore door and pick out two chores. Since my son has 2 smaller chores to do every night he is also tasked to clean up his room every night as well so that he starts out with a clean room the next day. 

choreteamgettingeveryoneinvolved

 

Our 4 Daily Chores are: 

1. Dishes: Load dirty dishes into the dishwasher, hand wash large items & set out to dry. Unload & put away any clean dishes.

2. Wipe the Counters/Table Down: With a wet/soapy rag, wipe down the main counters and dining table. 

3. Set the Breakfast Table: Set out place mats & napkins, small plates, silverware, glasses, mugs, vitamins on the table for the next day.

4. Gather the Laundry: Get a laundry basket, go to each room/hamper and gather the dirty laundry. Put the laundry in the machine for laundering the next morning. 

Our Rotating Chores Are: 

Mondays: Vacuum one floor, Clean one bathroom.

Tuesdays: Vacuum one floor, Clean the other bathroom.

Wednesdays: Vacuum one flour, Dust surfaces on main floor.

Thursdays: Dust surfaces on 1st floor, Dust surfaces on 3rd floor. 

This system has been working so well for the past 4 weeks. We have gravitated toward our favorite chores to do. My son always picks "wipe down the counters/table" and "gather laundry". Then, he also cleans his room. 

It usually only takes us 15-20 minutes to do all of our chores. Then, if we complete all of our chores every week as a team, then we earn a popcorn party & movie together at the end of the week. Hooray! 

I think that there are so many good things about this simple system: 

  •  It creates a sense of teamwork in our family. 
  • It gets my son to be responsible for chores and keeping his room clean and things organized.
  • We all can learn to work together and encourage each other. 
  • It sets a good example of helping and teamwork for my son. 
  • I can start my day with more confidence because I know that major chores are done and I can get my business work accomplished. 

In the mornings I still do a few chores, but I am able to get them out of the way quickly so that I can get going on my business tasks. 

Here are the chores I do in the morning: 

  • start a load of laundry/fold laundry
  • unload the clean dishes out of the dishwasher and put them away/reload with dirty dishes
  • sweep the main floor
  • mop the main floor

I encourage you to start a chore team of your own. It will help you a lot and teach everyone in your family something about working together. Now that school has started we have added "making lunch" to our chore team as well so that my son has his lunch made the night before and there is no need to scramble in the morning. Another thing that I love about chore team is that we can add/subtract things to our list as needed. Sometimes we change a light bulb, or organize some things in the garage. It gives us a set time each day to accomplish things for our home as a team. 

I wish you a fabulous day and please let me know if this post was helpful to you & your family. 

If this post helped you out and took some stress away, pass it on to a friend! 

Trista