Monday, March 31, 2014

Simplicity | Step Three

The original post can be found here.

How are you all doing with the idea of simplicity? The idea of simplicity is something so many of us want to achieve, but we must also balance that with the reality of the times we live in.

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

I'm sure this is not new (or news) to many of you. You may even plan a month at a time. High five! Planning my meals by the week 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 can see what our plans are for the week.

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, I will be prepared to feed my family each day. Why plan a meal and purchase the ingredients for a day we will not even be home for dinner? By checking the calendar and planning ahead, we will be more prepared and waste less.

2. It allows me to use what we have in our pantry.

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. Again, we will spend less if we cook based on a plan, and base that plan around what we already have available to us.

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, I can see if I need to let my meat defrost during the night.

For example, last week we had a whole, little chicken for dinner. Because it was a slow cooker recipe, I needed my meat to be defrosted and ready to go in the morning. Because I knew what we were having the next day, I was able to have it ready for the slow cooker instead of looking at a frozen piece of meat in the morning and wondering what I was going to do with it.

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, our local Sweetbay was having a going out of business sale (25% of their store brand products). I went ahead and purchased quite a few things that were not on my list, but they were all ingredients that I use in our favorite recipes or that would make delicious but quick dinners. I have already figured out that I will not have to purchase dinner items (including meat) for the next four weeks!
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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