1. Start with the TRASH. The trash?? Why the trash? Well, we all have a trash day. Life hinges on the trash day. If you forget to put it out, then you have to deal with the stink for a whole week. So, let's plan our menus on the day or two before trash day. For me, trash day is Thursday night, So, I have to get kickin' with this menu planning thing on Thursday morning.
2. Clean the fridge! BEFORE the trash goes out, we have to clean the fridge. It really isn't THAT BAD to clean the fridge, you know. Really. Do I have to walk you through that too? GAH.. do you need help!
Cleaning the fridge: the lazy mom's way.
1. Solicit children to empty out the fridge for you. Put everything on the counter or floor if needed.
2. While they are doing that, get some hot soapy water going in the sink. Wipe down the surfaces of the fridge, soaking areas that are really grungy. This does not need to take all day. Just get to it.
3. Having the trash can nearby, throw out stuff that needs to be thrown out. Give yourself permission already. Resolve to do better next time and move on with your life.
4. At this point, you need some paper and a pen. Start two lists: 1. groceries 2. menu ideas.
As you come across items that are left, think what you might do with them. For example, a green pepper that has about 1-2 days of good life left. Hhmmm.. chili? (use green pepper) in the menu idea list.
5. Wipe down whatever bottles you have before they go back in. You know, 5 kids using ketchup at various times is pretty yucky in only one week!
6. Make a grocery list based on the staples that your family eats every week. I can tell you what would stop the flow of harmony in our home: lack of cheese, tortillas and salsa.
7. Put it all back in. Was it really that hard? O.K. maybe it was hard, but doesn't it look nice?
Menu planning should be a little more obvious at this point. If you want to be economical about it, you try to use some of what you have in the fridge to plan next week's menu. I'm not suggesting you recycle food again and again until everything starts tasting the same. GROSS. I only recycle things once, if that. I'm just referring to obvious things like fresh produce.
8. You can plug your ingredients into the computer, and OUT will pop a recipe. Seriously, you can do this. This post has all of the sites for recipe help.
Now all you have to do is sit down and figure out what to do for the next 6 or 7 meals. Plan a grocery list, and buy what's on the list, trying not to buy a bunch of stuff that's NOT on the list. Easier said than done! Everything looks so fresh and new in the store --can't I have it all? No. Just think how crowded the fridge would be..and how expensive.. and how inconvenient... And maybe NEXT week, cleaning the fridge will be SO much easier! Alas... with God's help I can do it, so can you.
After all this, don't forget to put the trash out! HA.