Saturday, January 10, 2009
Posted by Leila
Let's be honest.
This topic is worth volumes.
It's pretty hard to get it all into one blog post. It's impossible, actually. I mean, I have dished up enough grub to satisfy eleven people on a regular basis -- five of them hungry teenage boys (those were the boarder days!). I've fed my own seven children, husband, and mother, day in and day out, shopping for them with a bunch of them in tow. (Joys of homeschooling!) And I've been doing this in a semi-orderly way for about 23 years.
I've planned meals pregnant, nursing, convalescent, on the run, and under the weather. I don't always do a great job. Sometimes they've looked at me like, this is your idea of dinner? But usually it gets done, it's usually tasty, it doesn't break the bank, and those are my credentials. And I could talk about it all day!
So I am trying to limit myself at the moment with the most basic issue of this whole project, and to hold at bay all provisos and quid-pro-quos (love that Genie!). We will refine. We will get frugal. We will get fancy. We will discuss the ins and outs of deep freezing. We will discuss the true pitfall, Eating Out. But for now, let's grapple with the first step.
This step is simply not covered in any of the guides or books or manuals that I have read. Everyone starts by saying, "Make a week's menus to create a shopping list." That's like saying, "Make a dress from a pattern for the ball" to someone who doesn't know how to sew!
Or they give you their menus, which maybe you don't like and certainly have nothing to do with what's on sale at your grocery store.
So I start here, with making your menus. I call this the secret to successful meal planning.
How did I come by this secret knowledge? Well, I'm the kind of person who could be found, long ago, either serving up Farce de Porc, Pointes d'Asperges au Beurre, and Soubise, or staring blankly at a package of frozen ground beef at 5:15 p.m., wondering what the heck to do with it. Yep, that's me. Not very practical. Julia, mwah!
Then a friend told me that I simply had to know what I was going to have for dinner by 10 every morning. Good advice.
And then the long-suffering Chief pointed out to me that "we" were spending $600 a month on groceries. In 1984. For the five of us, three of whom were babies. Oh, I cried that day.
But an angel whispered to me that if I planned my menus for the week, I'd do better. And I'm here to tell you that if you do nothing else but this one little step, and shop accordingly, you will cut your grocery bill by at least a third.
So, menus. They will be your menus, and you won't have to wrack your brains every week to come up with them.
Because you will have a Master List of Menus that your very own family created, and you can consult it whenever you need to! You will be confident, knowing that when you plan out this week's offerings, everyone will be pleased, you will use your pantry and other stores well, and you will shop efficiently.
You simply ask your family and yourself what they like to eat, and write it down! Not every day, of course. But once and for all, you all brainstorm together and create a Master Menu List. Then you use that to make your weekly or monthly lists, without troubling them any further.
If you think you get it, GO! If you would like more detail, I have prepared a document, the first in a series, that you can print out and study. It's on the sidebar, under Happy Home.
And as a bonus, I will tell you that I got myself a binder like this:
--note its durability and water-proof nature...
...and some of those nifty plastic sheets to put papers in, and I made a place for all my food info. Don't worry, we'll come back to this. And remember -- yes, if I can do it, so can you!