As y'all know, I've been using the FlyLady's system for keeping house.* I've been kind of using it, bits and pieces, on and off, for a few years. Well, this past year, I really got stuck into it. She has a habit a month she wants people to get used to, and get started using in their own lives. November's...is menu planning.
I've been working on this for several years, now. And it helps. Not just with the grocery
budget (and saving for tuition), but with my energy, both physical and mental.
I have to admit, it's a lot easier to do in the winter--it's not so hot I don't want to cook. I don't have to check to see how hot it will be in the coming week before I plan meals around prep method and daily high temperatures.
Sunday suppers are usually my make-a-lot-of-leftovers meals: usually chili or tacos, during cold weather. And then those leftovers become lunches pre-packed for Odysseus to have during the work week. If there's not enough for the whole week, I'll plan a pasta night (pasta bake makes another couple of lunches). Sometimes on weekends, I'll make soup or stew, as well, and that's my lunches for several days (or, in the case of some soups which do well frozen, lunch here and there for weeks).
At the end of last month, I looked at the trending temperatures (chilly, and heading colder fast--we had SNOW before Halloween, and we're in SW MO, half an hour from Oklahoma!), and then I got the kids' November lunch menus. And I sat down and planned all the meals for November. It's not hard, and planning ahead like that means you DON'T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT what to fix when you're tired and fried from trying to keep house, write, and keep the kids focused on what they are supposed to be doing (homework, studying, etc).
Thing is, it helps. It helps with everything. It curbs the kids whining about wanting to know what's for supper--they know they can just go look at the calendar, and either eat what I fix (most of the time) or fix something for themselves. It helps with the grocery budget because I'm not buying a whole lot of stuff that I forget about that then goes bad before I fix it.** It helps us resist the impulse to eat out...or to eat junk. It helps me know how much housework I can/should do before I start supper so that I have the energy left to actually make supper (and sometimes enough left after that to do a few more things that I put off to make sure I could cook).
Life is so much easier if you just plan what to fix for supper before it's time to actually start supper. So much easier to just look at what's written on the calendar, as opposed to standing with the fridge hanging open, scratching your head and pulling a blank, while the kids are whining about being hungry.
*I heard a lot of "either do it right"--i.e., my way--"or not at all." So I never learned how to keep stuff put up...or how to keep the house clean-ish. Enough for company, at least. I'm learning, and I'm at the point that some areas take minimal daily or weekly upkeep vs. massive efforts to get anything picked up.
**I'm really bad about forgetting food...especially veggies, or stuff marked down for quick sale.
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