I started by planning and writing out meals for the week. I do this by looking what we already have in the freezer and cabinets, and planning meals around that. For this week, here is the plan:
S: broccoli and spinach quiche, Cesar salad
M: roast chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans
T: beef stew, homemade bread
W: pork chops, brussel sprouts, egg noodles
R: beef tacos, brown rice with tomatoes and beans
F: dinner out or order in
I make sure to spread meals out so that I can use leftovers as lunches. Another thing I've done the past two weeks is take a calculator to the grocery store so that I can keep track of how much I'm spending. It's something Will and I have done in the past when we were on strict budget, and it works really well. Even though I'm making more money now and could probably afford to spend a little more, I figure there is no reason to spend money that really doesn't need to be spent. For example, last week I spent $60, and this week I spent $50. This is MUCH lower than usual, yet I feel like we got way more meal value from it. One big change is that I bought very little prepared or boxed food. Almost everything was from the perimeter of the store (produce, meat, dairy). This means more prep time, but less money, and in general, healthier food.
So once I'm home from shopping, I go through the plan and break down all of the meals into tasks that be completed ahead of time. Here was my list yesterday:
A couple hours later, I had this:
|a whole chicken, seasoned and ready to roast|
|quiche: Sunday dinner + lunches|
|banana bread: breakfast for the week|
I'm only one night into the second week, but last week it was amazing to come home from work and have delicious dinners only a few easy steps away. I get every meal to the point where all that needs to be done is put in the oven, on the stove to steam or heat, thrown into the crockpot, etc. It definitely takes time on the weekend, but it's allocating it to a relaxing day versus a rushed, tired day. I'm finding that it also makes keeping the kitchen clean SO much easier. Most of the dishes (cutting boards, measuring cups, spoons, knives) are all used in this one chunk of time on Sunday. For example, the cutting board doesn't need to be washed after chopping veggies each and every night, because I used it to chop all of them at one time on Sunday. I can run a load of dishes through, and then have minimal clean up for the rest of the week.
Will there be weekends where this doesn't happen? Of course. But it's great to know that it can happen relatively easily, with just a bit of planning and re-allocating of time.