I joined a new Yahoo group for cheap cooking, and everyone is amazingly friendly. I found the group when I was playing around online on Sunday night, looking for menu ideas. You see, I decided to plan an entire month’s worth of meals in one go.
Being the geeky girl that I am, I used Excel to create a file that breaks down 4 weeks of meal ideas, including allowances for eating out and eating leftovers. I placed the leftovers and easy meals (like hot dogs) based on other things that we have going on.
For example, we try to go to the cinema on Wednesdays because we get free popcorn at our local theatre, and the tickets are a $1 cheaper. On Thursdays, I have Uni coursework due, so crockpot meals or leftovers are a good idea. And we love to have Sunday lunch out. I also placed the leftovers where I knew we’d have a surplus of food from earlier meals in the week.
Then on the second page, I broke out the weeks, and the ingredients of food I would need for every meal that week that I had planned.
On the third page, I wrote my grocery lists. There are some items on each list that are struck-through. I did this because the ingredients will be required from the recipes I have chosen for that week, but I most likely already have them in stock. But I wanted to keep them on the list, so I can verify them before I go shopping. I will just put a star next to the item on my printed list if I do actually need to get the ingredient. (i.e. I’m forgetful, and this just keeps my brain in check.)
I swear, I’m not normally this organized. But I find the more we add into our lives (house, cats, Uni), the more I just HAVE to be this organized, or I will lose my ever-loving mind.
Well, we were talking about meal planning on that mailing list today, and I offered to share my new geeky creation. The ladies were so receptive to it, I’ve decided to post it here.
This leads me to Google. Some of the ladies didn’t have Excel. And then the owner of the group, Ellen, showed me Google Docs. You know, that Google impresses me more every darn day. Here you go, friends.
I hope this can help you the way it has helped me. We’ve only been at this for 4 days so far, but we’re keeping to it, and James and I are BOTH feeling less stressed about mealtimes.