I'm on a mission lately for better time management and organization (the word makes me cringe) in my life and in our home. I have never been a clean freak (quite the opposite, in fact) but in recent weeks I've noticed that I've been able to keep my kitchen, living and dining room table clean(ish). I've determined that one of my biggest downfalls in time management is dinner. I never know what to make and once I figure it out, I either don't have all the right stuff and have to start over or what I need is still frozen. Happens 5 days a week!
So in an effort to streamline dinner, I decided to do a more extensive menu plan. (I've done this before for 2 weeks at a time. I love those two weeks. But I can't seem to "find time" to do it again once those 2 weeks are up!) So now I'm introducing the 4 week menu plan. I will start on Monday and it goes for 4 whole weeks, excluding Saturdays. Those can be clean-up-the-fridge days. I am going to try not to make more than we will eat, with the exception of maybe an extra serving for me to take to work the next day or extras to be purposely used in planned meals later in the week. I hate having a fridge full of leftovers that no one wants to eat and then they go bad. Not good money management. I also am going to try and have all meals done by 6:30. That way I know what my schedule will be. Even if Jeremy's not home (he's usually not), dinner will be done for the kids to eat. This way, I'm not tempted to feed them unhealthy, convenience foods. (I've already turned Carter into somewhat of a chicken nugget/corn dog/scrambled eggs snob by doing that.)
And speaking of healthy, while I was at it, I decided why not make it look like a school lunch menu? I've added a fruit and veggie to each menu item. I know myself well enough to know that if I don't plan for it, I won't shop for it, I won't buy it and it won't make it to the table. We all could eat more fruits & veggies. I am trying to loose some pounds so I'm hoping by integrating more good stuff, I'll less of the not-as-good stuff at meals.
I took the kids (by myself, I will add) to go shopping for ALL our groceries for 4 weeks. Including most of the stuff I'll need for Gemma's birthday party in a couple of weeks. I wasn't quite sure where my budget would end up. I tried not to be too hard on myself, only because I haven't shopped for 4 weeks worth of groceries in a really long time. I think I did ok. I had some extra stuff for the party, and a few staples that I won't have to buy all the time, but overall I think I did well. Now I kind of can have and idea of what it might be like going forward and can budget more effectively.
Side note: I put the menu plan in a sheet protector and I hang it on my fridge. If I have printed off any recipes I find and want to try, I put those in the sheet protector behind the menu plan, so everything is right there. I also have started a new menu so I can add to it as I go along, instead of having to sit down and plan 4 weeks worth of meals at one time. That's time consuming and can be overwhelming. I can also have it done and shopped for before we eat the last meal on the previous plan. You might also notice that every Tuesday is a crockpot meal. Those are my Bible Study nights and I leave home at 6:00. Not having to worry about cooking on Tuesdays is a big deal - the kids and Grandma Connie can eat and Jeremy and I can eat when I get home.
Wanna see it? Here's my meal plan for the next 4 weeks: