I’m NOT an organized person. I love lists and charts but I rarely follow them. I am more likely to finish a job, then make a list so I check everything off. Terrible.
Now, however, Tim and I are trying to get our finances in order. We have a budget – this multi-faceted Excel spreadsheet that tracks EVERYTHING – and new priorities (actually living on what we make – revolutionary, I know). We are currently going on our second month of Budget Life. It’s been interesting to be so careful and responsible with our money. Do people really live this way all the time??
Joshua can’t believe we’re actually sticking to a budget!
I am tremendously thankful for our friends, Colin and Julee, who have helped us think, discuss, plan and get going on a real, workable budget. Colin sent me a copy of his amazing Excel spreadsheet Budget Wonder and I’ve been tweaking and adjusting it to fit our family ever since. If only adding income were as easy as just changing the numbers on my worksheet. Ah well, I tried.
I have many friends who regularly plan out their meals. Several of them even post them on their blog. Yikes! That’s crossing the line into Super Organized. Still, even while cringing, I have to admit I think meal planning is a great idea. I love the concept of having meals planned out and the ingredients in the house, ready to go. I would love to know what we’re going to eat before 5 pm in the day. I’m sure planning out meals could also help stretch our budget.
So, I decided to try it. I was determined to get some sort of a plan together by the end of the weekend. I can’t believe I never figured this out when Tina lived near by. She’s very organized in this area and could have tutored me. Tina, time to come home and help me!! Without you, I was stuck looking through 6 years of back issues of Taste of Home.
I took notes (chicken, beef, breakfast, lunch, sides, bread, etc) and included the year and page number of the magazine reference. Next I went through and photo copied the recipes. I figured that would be easier than writing it down by hand or trying to keep the magazines open to the right page. With Joshua drooling over my shoulder, I managed to come up with a nice collection of recipes. I think I ended up with something closer to two weeks than one. All the better!
Another thing I did this weekend, in my quest for Organization (with a capital O), was make up grocery lists for the major stores I frequent. A friend told me about a nice grocery list available in Word on Donna Young’s website. I used the basic form as my starting point and modified it to fit our shopping needs.
I created one for Target, Costco, Trader Joe’s, the produce store nearby, and two of the grocery stores where I mainly shop. It took me a little while but I think it is going to be an excellent resource in my meal planning (and ordinary life). I love having everything separated out as I definitely shop at different stores for different things (even within the grocery world). Now I can have the lists in a central area and people can check off what they need as they think of it. Instead of the more typical scenario where I’m standing in the middle of the grocery aisle, starring blankly at canned goods, while frantically trying to remember what it was we so desperately needed. Or trying to track down that little slip of paper that has my list on it.
I went through all of the recipes, highlighted the titles (to make them easier to find on the page), and marked the appropriate grocery list. This morning the kids and I went to one of the grocery stores (the nearby one where I do most of my shopping). This evening, after a Y workout, I went to the produce store and stocked up on fruits and veggies. Now I just have a few things to get at Costco and Trader Joe’s and I’m set (hopefully for longer than a week). I should (emphasis on should) have enough ingredients in the house to make healthy, varied meals (including some lunch and breakfast ideas).
After dinner I realized loose sheets of paper weren’t an effective way of keeping the recipes together – too easy for things to get lost, ripped, or spilled upon. I pulled out some page protectors and put all of my recipe copies behind plastic. Perfect! I found a little folder that had 3 ring binder tabs. I put the plastic protected recipe pages into the notebook. Now I have all the recipes for the week (or two) located in one spot. The kids can all help me with the meal preparation if they have time.
I’m excited to see how my new plan/organization attempt plays out. We tried several of the new recipes today. The tropical tuna melt we had for lunch was a big hit (tuna on English muffins topped with a bit of pineapple and cheese, then toasted in the oven). I wasn’t crazy about the hash brown beef pie for dinner but the cornbread muffins were delicious and everyone ate up the casserole (even with the “hearty” addition of vegetables in the mix).
All for now or I will definitely be sleep blogging here. I’ll post some more blogs along the way, to update and share how the meals are turning out. I’d LOVE to hear tips on how you plan meals for your family. If you have any good ideas, please leave a comment! If I am missing something significant, let me know!