Saturday, January 20, 2007

what's on the menu?

Signs: Zaitzeff Menu - Originally uploaded to flickr by LarimdaME

One of the questions I get a lot, is "how on earth do you get so much stuff done?" And the answer is: well, truthfully, I don't get so much stuff done. My projects languish for what seems like forever. And I don't do even a tiny percentage of the things I want to. But how I accomplish what I do manage to get done is mainly due to being a little crazy with my organization. And one of my number one systems, because I know you are just dying to the weekly menu!

I know there are people who think doing a menu is insane, but seriously, it has worked out so well. And if I ever let it slide meals go to hell around here fast! I highly recommend it to anyone who cooks even half their meals (just mark those other nights as "takeout" or "pizza" or "tonkatsu at Mitsuwa" or whatever you plan on eating). In case you want to give it a try, here's my system.

First, I chose a day to do the whole week's menu. For me, Sunday is best, since it's a slow day and is one day after our local greenmarket and one before our main errand day. At some point that day I sit down and type out the next week's menu, along with a list of what groceries I'll need to make those meals. (I actually plan lunch as well, although that's pretty basic. Mainly I plan lunch to make sure we don't just eat the same thing every single day.)

How do I pick out meals? I have a master list of basic and quick favorites, which is easy because I can just copy and paste them into different days. I try to also plan one extra-special meal (roast chicken or brisket, for example) and include one new recipe. Although if things are busy I may skip one or both of those. Then once I have 7 dinners picked out, I shuffle them around until I have a line-up that makes sense (i.e. we're not eating the same thing three days in a row).

Once that's all done, I make 2 shopping lists -- one for Monday which is when we do our main shopping run, and a smaller list for Thursday or so for things I don't want sitting all week (produce and meats, mainly). And then I am set for the week - no last minute trips for something I needed, no staring into the fridge willing something to magically appear, and every day I can do a quick check to see if I need to pull anything from the freezer or start something early. So, a little time spent one day a week = lots more time during the week to....not get anything done anyway! yay!

Seriously, it really does free up a lot of time and save money. Give it a try if you are so inclined! Now, if you'll excuse me, I hear some multi-sided dice rolling down the hall and I think I need to go do an intervention.


  1. This is something I would like to try doing. Two problems. 1) I don't cook. For the most part, I can't cook. Seriously. Dh can. So.. um. Yeah. 2) I've yet to figure out a good regular time to do this. Never know when I'll have a few minutes. I think if I solved number 1 tho, I could do it. I admire you, girl..

  2. I just want to point out that I was rolling multi-sided dice to randomly figure out who won the contest on my LJ. I was not role-playing as a chaotic-good elf ranger or anything like that. Honest.
    Why I actually have some old D&D dice in my desk drawer, this I cannot adequately explain even to myself.

  3. chaotic-good YOU WISH!
    lisa - well, you could use it to plan your shopping and go ahead and fill in whatever you are eating; and try adding yourself cooking once a week. Then slowly work your way up from there!

  4. You are my god(dess). And my inspiration.

  5. This is great! We'd been so bad about keeping track of our fresh food (it would often go bad before we used it) that we've started posting lists on the fridge of what's inside from our latest shopping trip, and crossing off items as we use them up. Your method seems like the logical (and much more efficient) next step towards total kitchen organization! (Not to mention a time saver.) I'll definitely try it.

  6. yeah, food spoilage was definitely one reason I started being more organized. It's pretty rare now, only if I buy something and we end up skipping a meal for some reason, usually (or, I buy way too much at the greenmarket, oops!)
    let me know how it goes, guys!


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