psssssst…

I wanted to tell you about something. Come closer… because I’m actually whispering.

I have come up with a meal planning idea that just might work. Just might.

Thanks to the many dozens of people I have stalked and creepily asked about their meal planning methodology, I do believe that I’ve found something that will suit our needs PERFECTLY.

Ok, you can move away now, I’m done whispering.

Here it is in black and white (because I can’t figure out how to change the color of the fonts on this silly program).

Each week I will pick 7 meals using ingredients I have or will purchase:

1 Breakfast (because I think breakfast needs a chance to be the ‘most popular’ meal)

1 Casserole/Soup ( two things I would love to make more of)

1 “Ethnic” (Curry, yum…)

1 Salad/Vegetarian ( we like to have a ‘lighter’ meal now and again)

1 Easy/Quick/Simple (for the days we spend away and get home minutes before dinner time)

1 Never Before Tried (can you say ‘cabbage rolls’)

1 Other  (sort of self-explanatory – – and if it isn’t, hang in there, I’ll explain in a bit)

So – once the meals are picked, I can arrange them through the week as needed. The nights I work we can have the casserole or easy dish, a night we have more time I could fix something new and exciting. If I have certain ingredients that need to be used sooner, that meal will come at the beginning of the week. The “Other” meal can be used for leftovers or if we eat out or just decided to have a ‘movie and a snack night’, which happens sometimes. This way, there’s always something different going on at meal time and at least once a week we’ll try something totally new. I’m inordinately excited about it.

Ta-stinking-da.

Alright, I just needed to share that.

Bye now.

20120822-184742.jpg

the menu board. in its former life it was a cheap picture frame at Wal*Mart… we made it into something Awesome with a little chalk board paint – boy howdy, I love that stuff!!

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the big binder theory

‘… zealfully attending life …’

She attended life with her accustomed zeal – and now – with organization.

The Big Book of Organization

This is my Big Book of Organization. I am very pleased with myself for having created one, but I can’t take the credit for the idea. My friend Maureen is the most organized person I have ever met. Just being around her is like being embraced by every handy, nifty, thrifty, clever, ingenious, and downright organized household trick ever conceived by man or wife. I mean, this woman has a system for *everything* from getting the absolute lowest price at the meat counter to menu planning and keeping the bathrooms clean. I’ve never been in a house that is run so smoothly – it’s almost a bit surreal. I’ve watched her cook in utter fascination as every container is marked, every recipe filed away under some encoded system that she has devised, every spice pre-measured, and I’m sitting there like, “How does her brain work?”

It’s honestly a little overwhelming, but in a good way. Every time I’m around her (which isn’t much, she lives quite a ways away) I learn something new. I’m a slow learner, a lot more bounces off my forehead than what actually gets absorbed, but it’s sinking in…

On this last trip, Maureen introduced me to the idea of keeping sheet sets inside pillowcases so that they’re all contained. Oh. My. Word. No more searching for lost pillowcases, or lone ranger top sheets – they’re right there in the pillow case. This has been invaluable advice, since we don’t have a linen cabinet in this apartment and the sheets just kind of live ‘wherever’. Now they’re in a neat stack of sheet ‘kits’, ready to be hauled off the pile and put on the bed. Viola.

She also got me hooked on the whole Binder Theory.

The theory is this: if you have everything written down and contained in one location – you won’t loose you mind trying to remember it all. So very clever. She even outfitted me with a binder (“I always pick them up at garage sales and keep them – you never know when you need an empty binder! We use them for everything…” she says.) some paper and a few page protectors – a Binder Starter Kit.

a glimpse into the secret passages contained therein

Lest I go home without anything in my new Binder, she passed along her recipe for sourdough bread (as well as the starter- which, for the record, is kept in the fridge, not the Binder… just saying.), instructions for making fertility tracking beads (people are getting antsy for us to start having kids, I’m thinking…) and a few recipes for popular condiments that can be made at home for a fraction of the cost of buying them at the store. Salad dressings, ketchup, mayonnaise – I have the recipes in my Binder and I feel like such a legit housewoman!

Oh yes. I have since added more paper and more page protectors and have set up various ‘sections’ for home, some day farm, kitchen, health, finances, and knitting. Yup, knitting gets a whole section in the Binder. Not sure why – it just does. The End.

So I’m thinking meal plans. Does anyone out there do this? Right now we go from day to day or week to week with groceries and I usually have *some* idea about what to cook next, but I would love to get to the point where it’s a monthly thing. Monthly meal plans and then just shop according. My hubs *loves* to go grocery shopping, so this will probably continue to be a weekly occurrence, which is cool, but I’d still like to plan ahead more. Is that even possible? Is that silly to do since there are just two of us?  I just think of all the brain space I could use on a daily basis if I weren’t consumed with figuring out what to have for dinner…

My thinking is this – someday, fertility tracking beads or no, if the good Lord so wills, we will have children. I’ve been thinking about that an awful lot lately, not exactly in a wishy-washy way, or a ‘tear up when I see a baby in the store’ way, but it’s almost like I’ve gone into Planning Mode. Weird, huh? Me – who plans for nothing. Who has No Plan. Suddenly – everything about my world is, “How is this going to work when we have kids?”

I don’t want to be a crazy mom who can’t stay on top of the game, you know? I certainly don’t want to schedule the fun out of life, but I don’t want to be so stressed out due to lack of knowledge and plannig that I can’t enjoy life.  I think the key is not in being perfect, not in having a spotless house, not in never having an unplanned moment, but simply Knowing What You Are About.

I have to admit, since living so far from Maureen, my ol’ buddy Pinterest has become my go-to place for ideas about getting my brain in order. Talk about organization overload! Printable meal plans, chore checklists, ideas and inspiration, recipes – it’s like an Internet Binder that fills itself -without page protectors. I’m lovin’ it.

So what do you do to keep yourself in check? Any tips? Any wives and/or mothers out there with advice to pass along to this here Pleb?

I’m all ears…

P.S. …thought I’d add some links of sites I’ve been on recently that fueled and inspired my nesting drive… more to come

Bowl Full of Lemons

The Nest Effect