Recently, a few readers have left comments asking me to write about seasonal planning, and specifically, how I fit it in with the gajillion other things I do in any given week.
Now, as you all know, I loooove talking about seasonal planning, so I'm working on a post addressing that particular issue ... but for today I'd like to talk a little about menu planning and marketing routines. It happens to be Wednesday, which is my "kitchen day," so that's where my head's at today.
(Note: I wrote this yesterday, but didn't get around to editing and posting before bed.)
First, here's a quote from a neat little book I keep on my shelf:
"To plan for a daily menu that will provide the kind and amount of food required by each member of the family is the most important part of the homemaker's duties, and requires much time, thought, and a knowledge of foods." Home Economics: Vintage Advice and Practical Science for the 21st Century Household, p. 33
Talk about pressure, lol! But this statement is very true. Sure, it might sound old-fashioned, but our responsibility for our family's food needs is timeless - and unavoidable. Whether we're whipping up a homecooked meal or whipping out a take out menu, somebody has to get the food on the table.
And usually, it's mom. ;)
So the question is, how do we feed our families nutritiously, economically, and efficiently? What about eating organically and/or locally and respecting the resources we all share? Then of course there's the dilemma of time: how do we spend it on menus and marketing, preparation and presentation - when we have so little to spend?
And let's not forget the emotional aspect in all this - providing our family with food that nurtures them body and soul. Food that not only tastes good - it feels good. And it's served in a way that expresses our love and care - at a nicely set table, with a place for everyone and everyone in their place.
Bottom line: there's a lot to consider when it comes to this area of homekeeping! So below I've outlined my menu planning and marketing routines, but first a quick disclaimer ...
Whenever I write one of these "how I do it" posts I feel compelled to point out FIRST that I am by no means an expert on any of this! And though it all looks good on paper, I don't always follow it to a tee. Also, I'm sure most of you have routines like this that suit yourselves just fine. So I don't mean to suggest I'm offering anything "groundbreaking" here, lol. I'm just like any other mom, trying to make each part of my homekeeping work as best as it can - for me and my family. :)
Ok, enough of my disclaimers - now for the nitty gritty!
I have the following items in my homekeeping binder, behind my "Menus & Marketing" tab:
- a master marketing list
- rotating dinner menus
- a list of breakfast, lunch and snack ideas
- an outline for eating by the seasons
- a "well-stocked pantry" list
- a list of local food sources
- seasonal/holiday baking notes
- general kitchen notes
- family table notes
- (I don't have a price book, but I think it would be useful.)
Outside of the binder I also have ...
- a recipe collection
- cookbooks and cooking magazines
- a shopping notebook
- a coupon file
- weekly store flyers (advertising sales)
Now, for my routine:
As I mentioned in my Turkey Day shopping post, before I go shopping on Saturday I like to have my menu plan, coupons and shopping list all organized. This makes the best use of my time, money, and energy. So in order to have all this ready to go by early Saturday morning, I work on these tasks throughout the latter half of the week ...
I clean out the fridge, freezer and cabinets, and make note of what needs replacing, and what needs using up.
I start a new planning page in my shopping notebook. (I like to call it my "marketing book" because it sounds nicer - but it never sticks, lol.)
I check the store flyers that arrive in the daily paper, and note some sale items on my shopping list.
I check the calendar and see what next week looks like - days that are busy, nights one or more of us are out, special events like birthdays or feast days, and even the weather - i.e. a cold snap, a warm spell or impending snow.
I make note of any holidays or themes we'll be working on next week.
And finally, I consider what needs using up, what's on sale and what the week is throwing at us (the fun stuff and the challenges), and then make a dinner menu plan.
(Now, some dinners are pre-set - like practice nights are always "baked ziti" because it's super-easy and quick, and Saturday nights are always something I don't have to cook - like homemade pizzas or burgers (which are Bill's forte) or even take-out if we plan for it.
I clean out my pocketbook and organize my coupon file.
(Note: I'm no coupon guru - I just use the coupons that come in our Sunday paper and match them up with sales as best I can.)
I also look over next week's planning sheet - the learning & living notes - and list any other things we'll need for our week: library books, birdseed, craft supplies, etc.
I then finalize the shopping list. (Asking Bill and the boys if there's anything they'd like to add to the list. Invariably, they'll think of something after I get home.)
I gather the cloth bags and place them by the door. (I always forget to do this!)
I head out as early as I can and do my shopping.
(Before I go, I make sure the kitchen is clean and the counters are bare OR I ask those staying home to be sure.)
Once I'm home I have the boys bring in the bags and unpack the groceries on the kitchen island. I put the food stuffs away.
I organize my receipts and enter my spending into the weekly budget.
I clip coupons found in the Sunday paper.
I bake for the week ahead. (This doesn't happen enough!)
So that's my routine in a mutli-hued nutshell. :)
As for today, I'm afraid I'm a bit behind since EB is sick and things are a little off here. I did do a quick cleanup of the kitchen, but I still need to go through the refrigerator and cabinets and see what's what. (The reason Wednesday is my kitchen day is because Thursday is our trash day.)
I did start a new page in my shopping - ahem, marketing - notebook, and so far I've written down:
National Indian Pudding Day (11/13 - a great Sunday dessert!)
"nest/hibernation week" (our living/learning theme)
"boy" shampoo (because CJ just informed we are out)
And oh my goodness, I was going to talk about all the things I have filed in the binder, but this post has gotten ridiculously long! So that will come in a future post. If you're still reading, I thank you - and I hope some of this made sense or at the very least gave you some "food for thought." Like I said above, none of this is new or "improved" - it's just my spin on the neverending challenge all we homekeepers face:
"What's for dinner, Mom?"
(Lol, how early do your kids start asking that? Mine start around 10 a.m.)
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please drop me a note below in the comments box. I'd love to hear from you!
Well, my friends, I hope your day's been a good one. Aside from EB's illness, ours was nice and fairly quiet - but the weather was absolutely glorious! (Golden sunlight, near 70 degrees!) My Earlybird is still crashed on the couch, but he seems to be feeling a bit better. (Lemonade + watermelon + a few peanut butter crackers seemed to do the trick.) Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers - I know they helped as well.
So for now I wish you all a good night ... I'll see you all again very soon.