I have always tried to be a meal planner. When we moved to California, I would plan out the whole weeks meals on Sunday, we would grocery shop for the items needed and then all that was left to do was actually prepare the meals. I would sometimes pre-chop things (i.e. onions, peppers, carrots) days in advance depending on what the meals called for and place them in tupperware or zip-loc baggies. I would do themed weeks were I would make a full week of Italian or Mexican or Asian cuisines; and even a few times let the kids pick the menus for the week. This made things so easy because I knew ahead of time what was planned and knew I had all the ingredients I needed. I also was not working so I could spend all day in the kitchen if I need to do so.
I haven’t done much meal planning at all since we moved to Florida. I just kind of buy things and fly by the seat of my pants depending on the night. Before I started my new job that was a little easier to do because I had more time at home, but now not so much. The crock-pot is about to become my friend again, which I don’t mind at all as I have quite a few crock-pot recipes that are really good. However, I need to orchestrate the planning part again. Even knowing I have the crock-pot to do a lot of the work for me, I still have not planned things out as thoroughly as they should be. In the coming weeks it is only going to get busier and more hectic with the hubby in Houston and the kids starting swim lessons.
So here I am back to planning out the meals. I think it will take some stress off of me and everyone will know what is for dinner instead of me being asked as soon as I walk in the door from work. With planning the meals out, I can also feel more comfortable about returning to a regular work out schedule as I won’t have to rush to fit dinner in as well if it is already cooking (in the crock-pot) or planned and thawed.
My second biggest challenge here is my grocery list. I have a habit of just assuming what I need sometimes and well….we all know what that does. I need to be more thorough about going through the cabinets, making lists of things I already have and then processing lists for shopping based on what I have, what I have planned for meals and what is still needed. This is another technique I was using in California that saved a lot of time (and money) at the grocery store.
Now a lot of you are involved in couponing. I don’t really understand the whole thing but if using coupons can save me some money I am not against it in the least bit. I don’t want to get extreme and have stock piles of things I may never use; or buy something just because it’s on sale or I have a coupon for it. I buy a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables so a lot of time there aren’t coupons for those things; however, we have our staples and snacks that we buy that couponing could benefit. This shopping list/trip I am going to try to use as many coupons as possible and utilize as many of the in store sales I can.
So where does that leave me now, well it leaves me with a big chore ahead of me of starting in the cabinets and making a list of the items I do have, and I mean everything even spices. From there decide what meals I making for the next week or two and then compile my grocery list based on what I need versus what I have already. Once my list is complete I can check for coupons and sales at the local stores (I mostly shop at Publix). And perhaps I will start posting the weekly meals again as I did for a short while.
If anybody has any tips or ideas, I am open to them. Also, if you have recipes to share…especially crock-pot ones…I am open to trying new things and new ideas all the time.