Friday, January 22, 2010

Simplicity- Step Three

How are you all doing with the idea of simplicity? It is working so well over in my neck of the woods! I have so much more free time on my hands to play with Addie, sit and chill with Brian in the evenings, blog, pursue my hobbies during Addie's nap time, read, and so much more.

Believe it or not, I originally was going to go about the "simplicity" thing in a very complicated way (go figure!). I decided to break down what I was already doing, rethink my steps, and then add to the process over time. Things stick a lot better when they are done in steps. And everyone in the house gets to learn the steps along with you without overwhelming them. They begin to fall in with the plan without realizing it.

If you are new to the blog, then before reading today's blog, I would encourage you to check out the last two blogs here and here.

Today's Simplicity point is Plan your meals at least one week ahead. From reading some of your blogs and FaceBook status', I noticed that some of you are already doing this. Great! This method has always helped me considerably in planning my day, grocery list, and budget. Let's see why and what an effective way to go about this is.

  1. I am able to look at our calendar to see what the plans are for the week, and if I need to have a quick meal, have enough time for an elaborate meal, if we are having company, or if we will even be home for dinner on any given day.

  2. It allows me to use what we have in our pantry rather than buying an entire kitchen's worth of groceries. By planning my meals, I know what recipes I will be making and I can gear them around what is already available in my pantry.

  3. I am able to grocery shop with a purpose and not without a plan. As I plan my menu, I have my grocery list beside me. As I pick out my meals, I am able to go to the pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what I have and what I need to pick up. Write down your needs immediately and precisely according to what your recipes requires. Nothing is worse than going to the store and bringing home the wrong size can or wrong amount of items.

  4. By planning ahead, part of my evening routine is to check the following day's menu to see if I need to let my meat defrost during the night. For example, yesterday we had beef stroganoff for dinner. Because it was a slow cooker recipe, I needed my meat to be defrosted and ready to go in the morning. (Side note: Reynolds sells these wonderful liners for slow cookers. By using them, you save on scrubbing the pot. A simple wash is all that is necessary. I don't know what I did without them!)

  5. By planning ahead, my husband knows what he can expect for dinner when he gets home. He loves that! And hey, he works hard, so he deserves to know that I have a great meal waiting for him when he gets home.

  6. By planning ahead, I am able to save money!!!! Planning meals based on store sales, coupons, and stackable deals (store sales and coupons- my favorites!) will help you save. Buying this and that because I may want to use them at some point will make you grocery bill larger than necessary. However, don't be afraid to stray off of your planned list if you see a great sale on something you will use (dry goods, canned goods, etc.). Last week, Publix had a great sale on Betty Crocker instant mashed potatoes (Shepherd's Pie ingredient). It wasn't on the list, but because it is an item I use frequently and it was $0.99 a box (cheaper than even Walmart's generic brand), I went ahead and pick up the allotted amount.

Planning ahead will take between 15-30 minutes of your time. But it will relieve you of stress throughout the week. You won't find yourself standing in front of your fridge, with the clock ticking away in the background, thinking, "What am I going to do for dinner tonight?"

And please remember, the number one rule of wives, mothers, teachers, and women in general... be flexible! If your husband wants to take you out to dinner one night, don't say, "Oh, I have such-and-such meal planned for tonight." Go! He is probably just trying to thank you for having had such great meals planned for him. If it is already cooked, just save it for the next night (I always keep one night as left over night since we always have left overs). If it isn't cooked yet, you can always move that meal to next week's schedule.


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