Saturday, June 30, 2012


Organized?  Me?  Sure!  Well, better than the average person, I like to think. Creating this blog and reading other people's blog, got me to thinking--I know, that can be dangerous.  I used to think of myself as very organized.  In my opinion, you have to be when your life is busy with your work, your children, your husband, your church, and any other things that you like to do and want to do.  That is, if you want to keep your sanity. Anyway, now that I am retired, I have let some things slip.  For the most part, I think, I'm keeping my sanity, but that might be in question some days.

Whenever we go visit our son and his family in COS, I can't help but see the calendar on their refrigerator where Sara, my dil, has written the menus.  We always eat out once or twice while we are there, so I can look at the menus and get an idea about when she had planned for us to go out. Every time I see her menus, I am reminded that "I used to do that...when I was working and the boys were home."  She has even done a post on her blog about how she plans their menus for two weeks and then repeats them to complete the month.  You can check her post out at Our Heartspun Homeschool

So when I got to thinking about getting better organized, I decided to start with something that is relatively easy for me to do since I know how to do, just have to do it.  That is plan out my menus for the month.  Yeah, I said "for the month".  

When I was teaching in CA, I was asked by the United Methodist Women at the church to do a program for them on how to plan their menus.  I didn't want to overwhelm them so I showed them how to start simple with just planning the menus for a week.  I don't know how many of them I actually inspired to do some menu planning, but they expressed appreciation for the information that I presented and the validation I received from the group made me feel good.

To begin the process, I gather several things together in my work weekly/monthly planner---I don't leave home w/o it  and my phone in my purse.  The one I am using this year, is nicer than the ones I usually use because my son, Patrick, gave it to me for Christmas.  It is bigger and takes up more room in my purse, but I think of him every time I get it out. 

I bought a new 18 - month desk calendar that begins in July.  It is a little bigger than I really wanted to use, but I liked the colors, designs, and the lines that it had in the days.  Generally speaking, you need a chart that you can write the menus on for easy assess. 

I also had an inventory that I took earlier this week of what I had in my pantry and freezer.  (That's another reason I decided to start menu planning--I need to use up all this food I have bought!) I also had my list of Recipes I Want to Try Soon. 

Once, I have all these things gathered together, I fill in the desk calendar with activities that we have for the month.  P for me and W for my husband P/W for both of us.  This is important because it will help me see the days I need to plan what to cook, how much time I have left for cooking on certain days, and also days I don't have to worry about what to cook because we will be eating out(Love those days, but we need to reduce that number, too.)  For example, we always go to church on Sunday and then eat out afterwards.  I made that rule many, many years ago, when we would come home from church, and the "guys" would sit down watching tv and/or reading the paper, while I was in the kitchen "slaving over the stove".  I decided, I wanted to have the day off, too.  So, we always eat out for Sunday lunch.

Now that I have the activities on the calendar, I am ready to start choosing main dishes for the days and writing them down.  By doing the whole month at a time, for example, I can skip around and make sure that I choose a chicken dish for once a week,  have "breakfast for dinner" once a week, plan for leftovers, grill (now that it is summer), etc. I also choose dishes by the amount of time I have before dinner to prepare it.  For example, on Thursday, July 12th, I am hosting a group of friends for Mexican Train.  Now, on Thursdays, my husband and I have a standing "date" for the "Early Bird Dinner" at Golden Corral before going to play golf in a senior couples' league from the church. We play at 5:00 and don't finish until around 8:30.  I can't wait that long to eat so.... Anyway, on this day we won't be able to get to Golden Corral before 4, so I planned to cook a whole chicken in the Crock Pot that day.  It will be ready to eat when the "girls" leave and we will have enough time to eat some of it quickly before we head to the golf course. 

Before I know it, the month is planned out.

I always write in pencil because "life happens" as they say and that's ok.  I might end up switching a dish, or maybe not even cook the dish I had planned.  Sometimes my husband gets his own ideas about what he wants to eat and even cooks so "Hey, who's going to say no to that."  Activities will come up that I hadn't planned so that will call for a change in plans.  But you have to flexible in life.

Another thing I do when I plan my menus, is I only write down the main dish.  My inventory shows all the frozen vegetables that I have and the grocery store or farmer's market may have fresh vegetables that I will want to buy.  As long as I know what the main dish is going to be, I don't have a problem finding something to go with it.  

It amazes me how much stress is taken off me when I know what I am going to cook.  When I don't plan ahead, I wait until too late in the day and then ask the $64,000 question--"What am I going to cook for dinner?"  Now that we are retired, we usually end up going out to eat and so the outcome is, I have gained 10 lbs since we moved here almost 4 years ago.  AND it is true what they say,  "It's harder to lose weight the older you get!"

So I am hoping by going back to menu planning, I will feel less stress, eat out less, and lose some weight.  I can also do a better job with healthier eating because I have more control over what is in the food I am eating.  That has to count for something.

I don't know if by writing this post, that I have encouraged any of you to start menu planning, but if I did, please let me know.  I still need validation for what I do.  ****I left the pictures smaller when I didn't think you really cared about what specifically was on the page. Just let me know if you would like to know some of my main dishes.  I don't mind sharing them and their recipes.

Read Getting Organized (Part 2)  --  Your House HERE.  A realistic and doable process for getting organized (a place for everything) in your home.  

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