Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Menu Planning: Game Plan

June's menu planning was a bust, I think I tried to do too much while recovering. This once a month shopping and cooking thing is challenging to figure out, but I'm determined to get a handle on it. Time to come up with a plan.

Game Plan:

Make menu! I've discovered that this can be the most tricky thing of all. I could just choose what I want to eat...if I were single...but I'm a married gal and mama who needs to consider the needs and preferences of her family AND choose meals that we all enjoy while still easy and healthy. I'm sure that this combination is not the elusive Bermuda Triangle.

Make Shopping List. I pulled out all my recipe cards. (I'm old school that way and it works so much better then trying to pull up the recipes on my phone or computer. The only recipes I keep in my "book" are ones that we have had, that we like, that we want to have again.) Write down all the ingredients from the list on my shopping list by recipe. Then tally up how much of each thing I need if I will be doubling or more during the month. That way if the ground turkey that we always buy is on sale I know how much I need for the whole month and can stock up. If it's not on sale I also know how much I need just for the week.

Shop my Kitchen. Time to take my list into the kitchen and see what I already have on the list. I only have a normal refrigerator and that limits the amount of freezer space I have, so I also have to make sure I have room in the freezer.

Clean Kitchen. Not the quick wipe down, but the deep clean including the refrigerator and spice cabinet. This is a great way to make more room and also make sure you have all the spices and condiments you need for cooking. I like to do this the day or morning before I do my big shopping.

Eat and Pack Snacks. Oh my goodness, never ever go to the store without eating a substantial meal! And if you need to bring the kids feed them too! This includes nursing the baby before I leave. Oh and make sure everyone goes potty! Sometimes I even go twice! I also like to include some kind of snack thing on my shopping list for them that I can pick up withing the first 15 minutes of shopping or I pack something for them to bring along. Oh, and for my older two I take advantage of Fred Meyers Kids Club just about every time I go. Kid's love it. And my front pack for baby is a must when I need to fill the cart. In case you didn't know, car seats take up the whole basket!

Saving Money, Time and Sanity. I try and check my ads and any coupons that I stumble across. (I should take more advantage of those coupons!) And plan what stores I should go to in what order based on savings, time of day and distance. I don't want to waste my gas and I don't want to be shopping during nap time. Plus, if I'm going to take advantage of my Fred Meyer Kid's club I need to make sure I plan out that time for when the are open. Oh, and we are a one car family so I need to make sure that my shopping is before my Honey leaves for the day or after he gets home. Juggle juggle juggle!

Shop. Don't forget your list. Put on a smile. Take a deep breath. Smile and I try and remember all the Love and Logic I've read. And not going to more then two stores in one day. I tried three, well four but one of them ended up being a bust, yesterday and forgot more then half the stuff on my list.

Stores I shop:
Fred Meyers I like the reward points I earn and the gas discount. Oh, and did I mention the Kids Club?
Grocery Outlet I try and check them first since the selection is always changing. They tend to have great deals on organic food, cheese and wine.
Safeway. I tend to get great sale deals with my Just for U. And there Mom to Mom diapers are the best, not only for cost but substance as well. They also have gas rewards and saving money at the pump is always a win.
Win Co. Bulk organic Coconut flour. Spices, cheese and some frozen foods.
Trader Joe's Nuts. Coconut milk. Almond meal. Dried fruit. Produce. Ezechiel bread and wraps.
Win Co. Bulk organic Coconut flour. Spices, cheese and some frozen foods.
Albertsons.  I don't make it hardly at all, but last month I discovered they had a great Gluten Free selection, so I'm going to be keeping an eye on them from now on.
 Costco I have not had a membership in years so I called and asked if they had a trial membership I could use for the day and see if the savings would justify the cost of a membership. Well I confirmed this information with two different people at the store, however after I lugged all my kids into the store and waited in line at customer service I was told the information was incorrect. Customer service FAIL! No Costco membership for me.

Put the food away. If you manage to get your shopping done in the morning, cook everything you can now while you put the other food away. If I have meat to brown start with that right off while I put away the frozen food. Next, prepare produce for the week and store. And then just put everything else away.

Meals for the day. I also strongly suggest not cooking this night and making lunch super simple too. Take out? Frozen pizza? A freezer meal you already have on hand.

Next day. Cook. Cook. Cook. All those freezer or other make ahead meals you want to do. This is the day! And if you are a crock pot cooker like me, put that baby to work for you too!

So there you go. This is the advice I give my self and hope to follow as well. But don't forget that hiccups happen along the way, like your daughters diaper leaking! "Wet clean up isle one."  Yesterday. Or your baby has a blow out in your front pack. Last month. Or your daughter has an up her back blow out that ends up all over your arm and you think it might be the chocolate from the doughnut she has. Two months ago. Yep, those things they use in movies happen in real life!

Got to buzz, baby to put to sleep.