Monday, February 28, 2011
I love to cook, but when life gets crazy, cooking can quickly become just another chore. Years ago, I started planning our menus week by week, and found that it saves hours of work and lots of money. It may seem overwhelming at first, but it's not as hard as you think. Here are a few steps that will get you started:
1. Plan menus using your calendar.
I always have my day planner (a.k.a. my brain) open beside me as I plan menus. I can see which days I work late, when my husband has meetings, or when my kids have activities and plan accordingly. The days I have more time are the days I cook more complex meals. On the busy days, I find quick and easy meals.
2. Make your slow cooker your best friend.
The slow cooker is a working mom's best friend! Turn it on in the morning, and you come home at night to a hot meal - just add a veggie or a salad, and dinner's done. I use mine at least once a week, often twice a week. There are so many fantastic recipes for slow cookers! My resource page lists some of my favorite sites.
3. Plan for leftovers.
Plan some meals that will provide leftovers - one meal will then stretch to two. Soups and pastas are great for this! Taco soup is one of my favorites - not only does it make a huge meal, but it freezes well, too.
4. Post your menu.
Keep a copy of your menu handy - post it on the fridge, keep it in your planner, or put it into your phone. That way you'll be able to find it quickly.
5. Use your menu to plan your shopping trip.
Once your menu is done, you can plan your shopping list around it. Check your pantry to see what you have and what you need, and within a few minutes, you have a list ready. You can save money by buying only what you need and save time by not having to run to the store every couple of days for something you forgot.