Meal Planning

I truly believe that meal planning is an art.  I may not be a perfect cook or baker, but I can meal plan with the best of them.  It took me a few years, but I think I found the best meal planning techniques for me, and I thought I would share them with you.

As with a lot of my organizational techniques, I like to put in as much automation as possible.  So, I have themes that run throughout my week.  On the days I volunteer at the SPCA after work, I used the crockpot.  On days where I might have more time, I try new recipes that I found on Pinterest.  I always try to incorporate Tex Mex into our week (because, hello, we live in Texas, how could we not?).  And I always try to incorporate some kind of pasta (because, hello, we are Italian, how could we not?).

Then, throughout the week, I spend time on Pinterest, looking for meal ideas.  I have three Pinterest boards that I try to keep updated.  The first is my Recipe Lists.  These are all those lists that show up on Pinterest that sound interesting (100 no process crock pot meals, 10 easy dinner ideas).  I don’t always vet these right away, and they may not work, but I look at them later when I have dedicated meal planning time.

Follow Katy’s board Recipe Lists on Pinterest.

The second board is my Things to Make or Try.  These are recipes I either got from a google search, one of the recipe lists, or a pin that I saw on Pinterest.  These have been vetted a little more.  They meet all of my personal criteria which is as follows:

    1. Serving size 2-4 people, although sometimes if it sounds good I will make it and try to eat all the leftovers (but let’s be honest, I only usually eat one, maybe two days of leftovers per meal).
    2. Very few, or basic, ingredients.  I may buy the odd jar of capers, but I don’t want to fill my pantry with things that become more expired than essential to my needs. I do try to stay away from processed food (aka aisle food) but sometimes time plays a bigger factor in that night, and I need something quick.
    3. Very little time at the stove.  I don’t mind leaving something to simmer or bake in the oven, but I’m a very distracted cook, so the less time I have to stir and watch, the better.
    4. Very few, or basic, tools.  I don’t like to buy tools that I will only use once or twice (unless they are holiday specific recipes).  While I think it is quite impressive to have some special gadgets, I can’t justify using them for only a couple of recipes I might make a few times a year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Katy’s board Things to Make or Try on Pinterest.

Then, once I make the recipe, and we actually wouldn’t mind making it again, I put it in my third board, Tried it, Liked it.  So, when I have a particularly busy week, and don’t have time to sift through recipes, I go to these recipes.

Follow Katy’s board Tried It, Liked It! on Pinterest.

Another factor as to which recipes I use each week is of course what meats are on sale.  I try to keep it pretty balanced as well.  At least one day we will have fish, one day red meat, one day poultry, and one day no meat at all.  Sometimes we might double up on one type of meat depending on sales, but if I had my choice, I would eat seafood exclusively.  It’s my favorite.  Produce sometimes plays a factor, but more so as sides to the main dish than the main dish, itself.

I stick to week by week plans.  There are some nights I know I won’t have to cook very much at all, mostly weekends and the night we go to the grocery.  So there are breaks in there that I don’t have to plan.  Most of our grocery bills run about $80-90 dollars a week.  Some weeks it’s more, some it’s less.  And of course, remember that there are just two of us, and we buy our household goods (toiletries and cleaning supplies) once a month on a different budget.

One last thing that I’ve started doing, and that is saving a PDF version of the recipe to my computer.  I don’t know if you have had this problem, but on some of these recipe sites, there are so many ads and extras, that I have a hard time finding the recipe on the actual page.  I still like to use my Pinterest to pick the meals, but once it’s moved to Tried it, Liked it, then I usually will also have a back up copy on the computer as well.

What is your meal planning technique?  Do you use requirements to pick your recipes?

What has been your favorite meal to make in the last year (and you have to have made it at least twice)?

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Finally Done!

So, for one of my new year goals for 2015, I wanted to finish some projects in my master bedroom.  And now I’ve finally finished and taken pictures to show you!

So, the first thing I completed was my drawer organization.  I bought all of the baskets from Target, and I organized the sock drawer, underwear drawer and pajama drawer20151217_123843.jpg

The next thing I worked on was updating the bedding for our bed.  My pup is nicely modeling for us as well.  I finally got a duvet insert and cover, something I have been wanting to buy for years.  I also got holiday pillows for the bed.  I plan to get another cover for the spring and summer time, but that will be something for next year!

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This is the final project I worked on.  Each picture represents a year we have been together.  I had fallen behind on the frames the last couple of years, but now I’m all caught up and have a plan for the next ten. 🙂

Did you accomplish any goals/projects this year?

 

A Professional Clean

I went back and forth about whether or not I should share this.  I’m not necessarily ashamed of it, but it does have a certain stigma attached to it.  You see, recently I had my house professionally cleaned.  I don’t do it very often, usually about once a year, and usually when I’ve had several months of busy-ness that lead to house neglect.

Having a cluttered, dusty house with dogs who track everything into it raises my stress level.  And I realized that the reason it stresses me out is because having the house in that state doesn’t allow me to retreat after a day of work.  Instead, my mind starts to create yet another to do list when I walk through the door.  I actually find it difficult to focus on anything when I know that there are things that have to be done around the house.

But the stigma seems to be that if I keep my house clean, or use a professional service, or talk about organization that I’m going to judge the state of your house when I come to visit.  Let me be clear, when I come to visit, I am coming to your home for the connection, not the cleanliness.  For the nearness, not the neatness.  I think it’s completely fine to want to clean your house before company comes over, but I don’t think it should be the issue that dictates whether company comes over at all.  I think it becomes a problem when we worry so much about what other people think that it stands in the way of a relationship.

That said, I really enjoy a good professional clean.  In fact, if you are in the market for a great cleaning service, the one I just used was pretty amazing.  Most cleaning services are pretty expensive for the once a year deep clean, but this one fit my budget pretty well.  Because they were cheaper, I thought the service would reflect that, but it didn’t.  The ladies came in, cleaned the whole house in about 3 hours, leaving little touches all over the house.

MrsClean

Using a cleaning service is definitely a splurge, but it’s one that helps me have a little more peace of mind and room to rest.  And every now and then, I think that is worth it.

Have you ever used a cleaning service? 

Schedules and Organization

So, I haven’t always thought I was an organized person.  Oh, let’s face it, I still don’t think I’m all that organized.  But I definitely consider myself an organization aficionado.  However, there have been a series of events lately that compel me to share a little of what I’ve figured out about myself and my relationship with schedules and organization. Continue reading “Schedules and Organization”

Spring Cleaning Part One – Bringing in the Spring

Well, the first week of Spring Cleaning is over, and honestly, I didn’t know if I was actually going to complete this one!  The week was just super busy, but I was determined, and by Thursday it was done!  (I don’t normally do photos on Sunday, but I thought this might be fun for a little change 🙂 ) Continue reading “Spring Cleaning Part One – Bringing in the Spring”

Shadowbox Bank

So, I love YouTube.  I admit it.  I am quite addicted.  🙂

One particular addiction is a new-ish girl called Hey Kayli.  She comes up with some of the cutest ideas for holidays and crafts.  This is my first attempt at something she did, and I think it turned out pretty great!  Now I have a place for all my loose change (which used to be a shoebox.  Yea, I totally upgraded 🙂 )

So, I wanted to show you how I did mine, so here are the pictures!

I bought all of the supplies (except the exacto knife and scissors) from Hobby Lobby in one trip.  The total came out to about $20 (but I did buy two shadowboxes).  This is a cheap, cute way to store change or save up for a special event!  I hope you try it and have as much fun as I did!