How did last week go? Did you create a cleaning checklist and try to implement them into your daily life? I managed to integrate a few of the things into my daily schedule like unloading the dishwasher and making the beds and found that the rest of my day felt much less hectic when I did these things. It seems more realistic for me to slowly make the changes than to go all gung ho and try and completely change how I do things. But so far I am happy with these additions to my day.
For this weeks Get Organized I am going to be talking about meal planning, some of the tips and tricks I use and sharing with you a free printable to help you be more organized.
Over the years I have had a love/hate relationship with cooking. When I am organized and prepared I enjoy making dinner but when it is 5:00 and I haven’t even thought about dinner and I have already done takeout that week and the kids are hungry and… you get the picture. Meal time can be a source of frustration when not prepared so why not get more organized.
If you are anything like me having the meal plan for the week visible helps me to better anticipate what that meal requires for the day. Here is the space above my sink, a place I spent a lot of my time so it seemed only reasonable that I would have my menu board there.
When I sit down to plan I have my menu board, iPad, journal for my shopping list and a warm cup of coffee or tea. Might as well relax and enjoy the process with a warm beverage.
One of my favourite places over the years to look for great recipes is Tastespotting. It is such a fun collection of just about any type of food or drink you could think of. If you have chicken thighs you want to use that week you can search for chicken thighs and you get a list of all the recipes that have that as an ingredient. As a former food blogger I appreciate it because it is such a great link to a wealth of food knowledge from people of all backgrounds and regions who blog and not just the famous chefs most people think of.
I also love looking at Cooking Light for inspiration. I have been getting a subscription to that magazine for many years and faithfully look through them and tear out the recipes I think I will make one day. But even though I love the physical copy of the magazine I love the ease of using their website. And while I would like to think that I eat pretty healthy the reality is that I could do better, so why not try and incorporate a little more healthy eating into my week.
From there it is not uncommon for me to just start browsing looking up random recipes or visiting some of my favourite blogs to see what they may have going on. When it comes to meal planning for me it is all about my mood. Sometimes I feel like heavier hearty meals and other times I just want quick and easy and not a lot of fuss. Some weeks I am really busy so they are crockpot heavy and other times I know I am going to be home more so I can have more labour intensive meals. Whatever the week may be the cooking has to reflect your schedule. If you know you have a big day on Wednesday don’t schedule a huge dinner, instead throw something in the crockpot in the morning so you can have dinner ready without much effort.
This leads me to the best tip I could give you. BUY A CROCKPOT! Seriously it is the most amazing thing you could own when it comes to meal planning. I am what you may call a lazy crockpotter, I cut corners where ever possible. If it says to brown the meat first I laugh in their face and throw it in frozen. If there are 10 steps to a crockpot recipe I roll my eyes and throw everything in at the same time and walk away. In the 10+ years I have been using a crockpot there are very few times that my cut corners really made that much of a difference. And usually it is a roast, goodness I can’t cook a roast that isn’t dry to save my life. Apparently the step where it says to brown is actually an important step to the process, oops.
After all this looking once I find a recipe I like I look at the ingredients and add anything I do not have to my shopping list. Once my list is updated I add it to the menu board then an entry in google calendars in my dinner calendar so that I can store the recipe website. This helps in two ways, one so that when I go to make the meal later in the week I can just click on the link and it is right there without having to go searching the internet for it again and two because if 3 months from now I remember that I had a really great gumbo recipe but can’t remember what blog it was on I can search my google calendar for it and the link comes right up.
The last step to my process is to make a note on the menu board if a meal requires more attention than just starting dinner at 4:00. More times than I care to admit I have gone to the kitchen at 4:00 to start dinner only to realize that today was a crockpot meal and I didn’t start it or I needed to marinate the chicken for a few hours. By adding the star to my meal I know that I need to check the recipe in the morning to see what I need to do early so we don’t have to resort to takeout or something random in the pantry.
Meal planning has worked really well for me over the years. I find that I spend much less money at the grocery store when I go shopping for the whole week in one trip than when I was going every day for a few things. I also feel much less stressed during meal prep if I know I have everything I need on hand. Because I planned ahead I can always switch up the meals if all the sudden something doesn’t work for me or I just don’t feel like having what I planned that night.
I really hope some of these ideas for meal planning are helpful and trust me once you get in the habit of doing this every week you will look back and think you were crazy for not planning all along. It is definitely a step for me towards leading a more organized life.
Below is a free printable of my menu board if you want to join me this week as we continue to works towards a #moreorganizedlife And just like last week if you want it in another set of colours just send me an email and I would be happy to personalize it.