Monday, October 13, 2008

Where do I start? The basics

Most mom's I know want to make cooking less stressful for themselves. They just are not sure how. I wanted to share a couple things that have worked for me.

  • Plan in advance.

Usually Friday evenings I go through my recipes and decide what I am going to make each night for the next week. I use a weekly agenda and fill in my "menu" for each night. Of course I try to pick the most easy type of meals for the nights I know we have alot going on. Use your store flyer to see what is on sale make your menu based on sale items.

  • Make a food shopping list

Once you know what you are making for the week make a list of what you need. Before my agenda that I use now I used a large index card (basic but works well)for my menu and shopping list. One side was my menu and the other what I needed from the store to make all my meals for the week plus anything else I needed. Post it on your fridge and that way you can add to it if you run out if anything and it also helps to see what meal is coming up and what you may need to defrost meat wise for the upcoming meals that week. Having a list also helps to control impulse or unnecessary buys.

If you would like a copy of my agenda email me and I will email you a copy.

  • Shop only 1 time per week.

I know too many mom's who are always running to the food store. This not only wastes time but money. When you do not plan in advance you end up buying usually food that is not on sale and not using coupons. I food shop one day a week ALONE with no one to distract me. I buy everything I need for my dinner meals, school lunches, snacks, milk, bread. If I forget to buy something it goes on the list for the next week.

  • Getting it all together

Who say's you have to start making dinner at 5pm? When my kids still napped I would always get dinner "prepped" why they napped (chopping, pre cooking). Now I usually start when the kids are eating their after school snack at 3:30 getting things together for dinner. Use a crockpot for all in one meals (great for working parents). If your kids are older get them to help make dinner and spend some time together making a family meal. Grill during nice weather. Make a casserole the night before so you just have to throw it in the oven when you get home.

  • Cook Healthy

Growing up my mom cooked 6 nights a week, the last night was "leftover night" when we ate everything left from the previous 6 days meals. The meals my mom made always included a entree (meat, fish, seafood), starch and a vegetable. I try to do the same with my family. With organization you can make more from scratch instead of a boxed, frozen or takeout meal. I also try to make healthy snacks for my kids. I do not keep unhealthy, sugary snacks in the house that way it is not an option for them.

  • Shop Smart

Every family should have a food budget. Using coupons, shopping the sales and stocking up when things are on sale that you usually use help stay on budget. I buy meats in bulk (this week pork is on sale for a whole loin for $1.49 per pound, I will have my husband slice it up into pork chops). The butcher at most food stores will slice meat's for you into whatever you need for your family. I usually like to buy meats when they are on sale for under $2.00 per pound, use my food saver to package it and put it in our extra freezer.A great site for matching sale flyers with coupons is . I buy my bread in bulk at a local Pepperidge Farm outlet for $1.89 per loaf where in the regular store would cost me $2.50 per loaf or more (many of their bread contains no HFCS).

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