Friday, September 30, 2016

Meal Planning with Master Lists

Good evening, friends. I hope this early autumn evening finds you well and blessed! Hopefully, you had a productive week. Did you have a project you worked on? I did!

A couple years ago, I wrote this post explaining how I plan my menu and write my grocery list at the same time. Except that my computer with the template crashed and I now write my menu and grocery list by hand, I still plan the exact same way. I still depend on that piece of paper as much now as then. In fact, I am trying to get into the habit of using my phone to take a picture of it just in case I leave home without it.

The one thing I have wanted to do for a long time, though, is to work on some master lists to make my planning run more smoothly and quickly. I don't know about you, but more times than not, when I sit down with that blank sheet of paper, I get a huge mental block. Once ideas start flowing finally, I often spend a lot of time flipping through pages of recipe books and notebooks and websites trying to find ingredients lists to add missing items to my grocery lists. Many times I have guessed at the ingredients, telling myself I would check later, yet later never came. I'm sure you can guess what has happened too many times when I tried to make a meal. We live too far from a store to just run up the road to pick up one or two forgotten ingredients. That, along with a challenge from a friend, was my motivation to bite the bullet and get it done. If there was any bad news about the process, it would be that it took me a whole day, but the good news is that it only took one day! It didn't take me nearly as long as I thought it would! I was even doing our homeschooling during a lot of it!

In case you are curious about trying it or have thought about doing it but don't know where to start, I thought I would share with you what I did. Maybe it will spark brilliant ideas you can share with me or others!

Since this is something I hope to pass on to my own daughter one day, I put a list of kitchen essentials in the front. My plan is to share it with her. I plan to buy a few items during special days such as birthdays or Christmas. She can check the items off to see what she has and still needs to add to her hope chest to be prepared for her own kitchen. It is a very basic and minimum list. There is room to add other items either of us may think of.

Behind that begins my master lists.

I have list for chicken meals, beef meals, pork meals, fish meals, soups, salads, veggie/fruit sides, and rice/pasta/bread sides. On these lists are the most common things I prepare from those groups. That way, when I sit down to plan, I don't draw a blank as to what meals to write down. I also hope that this will help keep our meals varied so that we don't fall into a rut of having the same things all the time.

I tend to struggle most with breakfast, lunch, and snack planning, so there is also a master list of meal ideas for each of those.

The longest part of this process was starting with each meal idea and listing each ingredient to make that meal or item. Finally! For the rest of eternity (here on earth, anyway), I have everything all in one place!!! I no longer have to do so much searching just to make my menu and grocery list!!! I am so excited!! My goal wasn't to have the recipes here. My goal was just to have a quick reference for the ingredients. Perhaps adding recipes will follow later...😨 much, much later...maybe never later. 😄 I think adding a note about where to find the recipe would be much easier.

I hope someone feels inspired. May my insanity be your sanity!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!