Meal Planning

As I mentioned the other day, something I've been doing to try to manage my time better in the new year is an update to my meal planning methods.

I've been working so far this month on planning our weeks out a little better so that on the daily things go a little more smoothly. I am a planner at work and I have always been a planner at home as well, but I have managed to get more organized and it's awesome! When I have a plan, I have less anxiety about getting everything done.

Here are a few things I have done to help us.

1) Planned all our meals for January in advance.

This took a time investment for sure! I just turned on Netflix and went to town. It took me a while, but it was worth it because it has made each day since so much easier!

The first thing I had to do when making my meal plan was to focus on dinners that would be easy to cook once I got home from work. I really enjoy cooking and in the past I would pick things that are complicated and take a while and would be so upset that it was 8 pm and I was still trying to finish dinner. I finally accepted that wasn't working and isn't good time management. So for this plan I worked to make it more realistic. :)

2) Once I had the menu planned out for the month, I printed out my weekly meal plan printables that I created on my computer and wrote in the meals for each week on there. I hang these on the fridge for the current week for reference.

You can download these for free at the bottom of this post if you'd like to try them yourself. :)

3) After I wrote out each weekly meal plan - I also made the grocery list for it in advance. Then I am able to go grab all (or most) of my groceries in advance and get them put away at the house. This is the greatest help of all!! I am able to come straight home from work and not have to think about what I am going to make or what I need to grab at the store. I am able to get home and just start cooking! :) I have been loving this new process. As you can see above I'll write each item needed for each day on the right side of the meal plan.

Once I've done that, I write my list again on the shopping list below which is organized by category. It may seem redundant, but it's been very helpful for me! When I get in the store and everything is organized by category it makes the shopping process so much faster!

At the point I'm filling out my list by category, I also gather any coupons I have on hand and keep them near my list in a pouch. I don't coupon as much as I used to. I go to Publix and the rules have changed so much on what you can do, but now they offer more BOGOs each week so it's all good. :)

4) To keep track of all my lists, I put them in my household binder. Yes, I made a household binder before the new year and I love it! It keeps everything so organized and stops my paper piles all over the house, which I am really prone to do. :-S

I'll share more about the binder later. It's just been such a huge help getting our meals under control! We want to save money in this new year and by having the work done on the front end we are able to stick to the plan! :) We've only been eating out on Saturday nights and I think 1 lunch at work? It's awesome! :)

The printables with the gray stripe are part of The Household Binder I downloaded from Clean Life and Home. I purchased the download on Etsy and it was worth every penny for me! I used to keep lists all over the place trying to remember things, but this has stopped my paper piles because I am able to write everything down and keep it in here! I'll share more of my binder later, but it just has been so hugely helpful!

For example below, the binder comes with a Recipes to Try page. As I'm browsing Pinterest and a recipe catches my eye I'll add it here. I also add things that James says he'd like to have one day. Then when I am making my meal plan I can just go through this list and add things to the plan! It's great.

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There's also a print out for family favorite meals. I told James he needs to add all his favorites to this list and I'll make those more often. :)

If you also love planning your meals in advance, feel free to download one of my weekly meal plan printables! :) I made them in 3 different color schemes and may add more later. I love the rainbow one of course because bright colors give me life! But, I included a more neutral scheme though for those that may prefer it. :)

Click to Download

Keep an eye out in the weeks to come because I'm going to be sharing some of my recipe binder printables!

Have a great rest of the week and happy meal planning! :)

Kitchen Helper

I actually have a lot of kitchen helpers, but I want to talk about 1 specifically today! :)

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I have a pretty big kitchen, in my opinion, but the cabinets aren't laid out in a way that would fully take advantage of the space so I always end up feeling like I really don't have that much cabinet space. At least not for as much cooking as I do. Here's my kitchen in 2012 right before I solved my lack of cabinet space problem:

My solution was to try to find a hutch/cabinet to fit in that corner by the window. I looked on Ikea's website and found a cabinet that was the perfect size to fit the space!! I went with the Hemnes Glass Cabinet with 3 drawers.

When it arrived I was able to assemble it pretty quickly by myself (surprisingly!). I just put on Netflix and went to town.

I was amazed at how helpful it was having this extra storage space! I've loved it ever since I bought it in 2012!

Since then James changed out the cabinet pulls and I have added even more stuff to the cabinet. It's awesome how much it can hold.

We got the chrome door pulls from Home Depot. They are Martha Stewart brand. The blue drawer pulls are from Anthropologie.

I have my serving trays, cake plates and cookbooks in the upper part of the hutch. In the drawers I store my table linens - my napkins, table runners and placemats. I also store some party supplies in the bottom drawer.

So thanks Ikea for such a great cabinet! :)