Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dinnertime Organized

When there's a task I truly hate, I organize it and thus, love it more. That's true about dinnertime because what I hate the most about that dreaded hour is the hour prior while I try to think of what to cook. I know, we've been here before.

I've told many people about my system for organizing dinnertime and so many people have asked me for my files that I thought I'd just blog about it instead.

Everyone (let's just say women because we're being truthful) - every woman has about 10 - 15 meals that they fairly typically rotate. You might throw a few extras in there from time to time but you generally come back to the stand-by's.

Now you have to list out the stand-by's. Name this "Page 1".
On Page 2 of your Word document, list out all the ingredients for each meal like this (add other ingredients if you regularly serve a certain side with it):

dried spaghetti noodles
spaghetti sauce
Parmesan cheese
french bread
salad (lettuce, mushrooms, cucs, tomatoes)

Put all of these lists into columns. I'll get to the reason in a minute. Next to each ingredient, insert a symbol of a small empty box so you can check it off once you buy it. This'll make more sense in a minute.Starting on page 3, make recipe cards for each of the meals. Pretend you're writing instructions for a 10 year old child with limited kitchen experience. That way, when your kids are ready to start cooking, it will be easy to teach them your stand-by's. Or if your husband wants to cook, he can just follow the instructions. Like for spaghetti, I actually wrote out the instructions to boil the water.

Now, you'll want to format the pages. Make the fonts small - like 10 or 11 pt, and the left and right margins tight. You'll want the first sheet to come off as a half page that you can tape into one of your inside cupboard doors for quick reference. The 2nd pages will need to be small enough to fit in your purse. I have several pages looped together with a ring. They're my grocery lists. I hang the pages on my fridge along with a dry erase marker and add to it whatever other things I need to buy then take the whole thing shopping with me when I go. Easy!

The last page I format as actual recipe cards for my recipe box.Now print and then take them all down to the UPS store and laminate them. This is an important step because you'll now be able to write on them and erase your writing. A useful tool especially for your grocery list!

So now you've got your quick reference meal list for when you're low on ideas. You've got a grocery list that you can go through and just highlight all of the ingredients you don't have on hand. When you shop, you just check off the things you bought. If you buy all the things that are on the list that you don't have, then you now will have all of the ingredients to make anything on your list and mealtime should be that much easier.

It's a no-brainer!

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