Welcome to the first day of our 28 day challenge! Katie and I are thrilled to start our 28 day challenge with WEEK ONE of Grocery and Menu Planning! Because, let’s face it, if you don’t eat you don’t have energy for anything else! Read to see how I streamlined our daily life all by creating an “evergreen” grocery list and meal planning for the month! All month, Katie and I will be sharing organizational tips and tricks that have simplified our daily lives. And today, I even have some free printables for you!
This Christmas break, Evan had two weeks off of work. Instead of painting the rest of the house (something that I would like to do because it is rewarding) we did the not so much fun but very good ROI (return on investment) activities like organizing our house. I have to confess that although our house is pretty organized in some areas, other parts just went by the way side. When we moved in, it was so overwhelming and I was so sick with being pregnant everything just had to be “good enough for now.” Well, 14 months later and our office filing system still needs to be figured out, the closets were a mess, the spices a disaster. So we talked a lot and developed some systems that will streamline our day-to-day lives.
1.) Grocery List Go-To
Up until now, we have always had a notepad on the refrigerator for our grocery list. We would write it down when we ran out of stuff; but, we often neglected to write down the stuff that we run out of every week (milk, eggs, bread, bananas.) While it is almost second nature to pick these up when I am at the store, it takes a lot more time and energy because not only do I need to remember what is on my list, what part of the store it is in; but I also need to remember what we need that I didn’t write down. Add kids to the mix and you have a frazzled mama who then will often resort to behaviors that I’m not proud of (i.e. pounding a Coca Cola after shopping, being short with my kids, and feeling so spent that I deserve to sit on the couch instead of be productive.)
So instead, per the advice of Chalene Johnson (I know she is a bit cheesy but she has some great advice!) we made a comprehensive “go-to” grocery list. The list includes all of the items we always buy (and sometimes forget!) Instead of constantly having to come up with the items we tend to buy every week, I simply take an inventory and cross off the items we do not need before I go. It is not every item we buy, but just the heavy hitters that regularly buy week after week. To make it easier to navigate the store (and more time efficient) the list is broken down by the area of the store (dairy, produce, aisles). That way, there is mad dash back and forth to the produce section when you forgot something and your baby starts fussing! I printed out extra lines and left some extra space so we can write in anything we forgot or things that we ran out of that we buy infrequently (paprika, garlic flakes, salt). Our grocery list is available as well as an editable free printable that you can insert your own grocery list (it is a .doc format.) Click the pink button below to download it!
This way, you can just add in your grocery items that you buy week after week. Typical grocery lists make you populate the list every single week over again (wasting your time writing, and taking inventory going back and forth from the pantry.) With this list, you only have to take the time to write the list once (and refine it if necessary.) We have changed it twice already but it’s easy because I just go back into Word and edit it. Download it by clicking on the pink button above!
2.) Meal Plan Go-To
I HATE meal planning! I absolutely dread coming up with meals for the week and being creative. If it was up to me, we would eat the same thing every day. I am a creature of habit and will literally eat the same thing over and over again until I am sick of it. Unfortunately, I married a foodie who loves to eat and be adventuresome. He is an amazing cook and I am lucky he is, but it definitely puts the pressure on. He knows my limitations though (and through years of setting the bar very low) he is happy to just have dinner made 😉 So we are in the process of creating eight weeks of meal plans in an Excel spreadsheet. We are currently one week four. This way, we can pick and choose the weeks and we have up to 2 months of food planning ready. Each week is its own individual menu plan, so there are endless possibilities as far as weekly combinations. By laying it all out, we can see if we are repeating too many meals too often (for his and B’s taste buds.) We will also have a weekly go-to meal because it is easiest (pasta every Tuesday night because that is a work intensive day for me!) By creating themed food nights, we make our recipe selection so much easier. I don’t have to start from scratch every week. I know going in that we are going to have soups every Friday night, grilled meat every Monday night, and an ethnic dish every Wednesday night.
To take it one step further, I printed out and copied all of the recipes that I have planned for that week. These recipes go behind the menu plan for the week and are on a separate clipboard. This way, I save time trying to remember where I found the recipe and what ingredients I need to add to our grocery list. I will glance at the recipes for the week before we go shopping to make sure we have any odd ingredients that it requires. Because we repeat a lot of the same recipes week after week the ingredients are already in the grocery list (detailed above) but odd ingredients that we have to buy often may have been omitted (you obviously don’t need to buy a jar full of cumin every week!)
Want more? Make sure to see how Katie meal plans and grocery shops because she is seriously an organizational ninja! I kid you not! I picked up so many pointers from her! And remember to Come back on Friday for the next four steps on how to streamline your life! Each week of this challenge, Katie and I will be breaking down the steps in the Organization Challenge.
Remember to sign up for the Organization Challenge by clicking on the pink box below:
*Second image was taken with permission from Ashley Ella Design