Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Never underestimate the power of a plan...

Hello Friends!

I have been trying to reorganize my life since I have been married. There is just TOO MUCH to remember when you have others to take care of (in my case: husband, dogs) and too many things get overwritten in my brain. The most important (to my stomach at least) is Dinner. How often have you realized 30 minutes from dinner time that you didn't take out anything to thaw or you are missing an ingredient?

As I have mentioned before, I had been reading Organize Now! for awhile now - and one of the very last chapters in the book happened to be one of the first ones that I tackled, Meal Planning & Groceries.

Here's a sneak peak at how Meal Planning and Grocery Delivery has saved me from those mental lapses!

Meal Planning 101

Here are the basics:
• Pick a day to meal plan - (best if its the same day each week - and the day before you shop!)
 (I use Google Cal for everything - God Bless Reminders!)
 Make a list of your family's favorite meals, stuff they liked, and recipes you would like to try. 
(HAVE YOU SEEN MY PINTEREST? Seriously, this list would have been massive!)
 Separate meals by Weekday and Weekend Cooking (cook time determines this for me) 
• Pick a meal for each day!

Sounds easy right? Well, my first attempt WAS A FLOP. I tried to do it all by myself - and though I was eager, I made about 4 trips to the grocery store that week. EPIC FAIL.
I went back to the drawing board and tried to perfect it - when I stumbled upon a great time saving tool....

Why do I heart Pepperplate? 
It loads recipes from the most popular sites (realsimple.com, allrecipes.com, myrecipes.com, skinnytaste.com, etc) by just copying and pasting the link into their system.
{Hint. I know that all of your favorite recipes arent going to be online at one of these sites. You can also add your own recipe manually - but I just go to MYRECIPES.COM and copy and paste or type in my favorite recipes from cookbooks, other sites not offered, my memory, etc. and once its on myrecipes.com it will populate into pepper plate.}
With a couple of clicks you can add it to your meal plan calendar. (above)
Another click will add the menu plan to your shopping list. (below)

The shopping list combines all of your like items together, gives you a proper count of what you need, and then breaks it down into what each recipe needs beneath.
It also lets you delete items that you already have on hand, and add to the list items not on the food plan (like candy bars or trash bags)
It also has a handy dandy app for your smartphone so you can see what you need at the grocery store, look at a recipe, etc while you are out and about. (or as I do - walk through the kitchen and cross off the items after ive populated my list! hehe) 

Once I am all done planning on PepperPlate - I post it on the fridge on a 2 week calendar board (it was a one week calendar board from staples dollar drawers - but I drew a line down the middle and split it into two.) This serves as my reminder each night when I am done cooking dinner, I pull out what's needed for the next day's dinner. (THAWED!)

Time for Groceries

First thing's first - to keep peace in my household, I have made a printable grocery list with all of our favorite and most purchased items listed with a little check box on the right. This list includes all of the products needed for the stuff that Dovey is responsible for - making coffee, feeding the pups, taking out the trash, etc - this way when Dovey uses the last of something, he can just check the box before he forgets. I print two copies a week and leave them on the fridge (that way if I am using one of them for any reason - he still has a sheet and wont get in trouble for not writing it down... lol) I generally pull this off the fridge once I am done Meal Planning and add the items checked to my PepperPlate list.

I used to go to the store once a week - when I meal planned that way, now I have been going once every two weeks - and it has been AWESOME. Just think what you could do with one whole weekend without grocery shopping duties! That's like 2 or 3 hours free'd up! I hurt my neck a few weeks ago, and that's when I started Grocery Delivery. It's truly been a Godsend. I get lots of this free time now!

I use VONS since there's one nearby and delivery is so easy. It's only about $10 more for delivery, and you don't have to shlep to and from the store or carry all the heavy groceries. I first go to the two different coupon menus to make sure that all of my savings are added to my rewards card - and then I knock off my shopping list one aisle at a time. I choose a delivery time that suits me (you can save money by choosing the least busy time frames - like 6$ off for Sunday from 11am-3pm... that makes delivery only $4!) Pay the bill and VOILA. Groceries just appear at your door when you want them to. They even substitute items that are out of stock with other brands/sizes so that you don't have to go to another store! {Dont worry! If there is something your keen on a specific brand/size you can mark those ones no substitutes}

So my dear friends. That is how I survive the "HOLY COW I FORGOT TO THAW DINNER AND DOVEY IS GOING TO BE HOME IN FIFTEEN MINUTES!" ordeal. Hooray  for having a plan in place THAT WORKS!

Do you meal plan? How often do you do your grocery shopping?

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