This week we accidentally stumbled on a perfect little nugget of organization that promises to save us time, hassle, and even money! And just with a small modification to the way the house already functions!
We’re putting our menu on the calendar.
See, every week, I sit down and decide what we’re going to have for dinner every night. Breakfast is always oatmeal, or made from pantry and fridge staples. Lunch is always leftovers. It’s only the dinner menu than requires careful planning. I write my menu, then I write my shopping list on the same sheet of paper. Having the menu in the store is helpful, as sometimes I realize I forgot some necessary ingredient or other.
But by the time I get home, my list has gotten lost or thrown away. No big deal, I don’t need it anymore, right? Wrong! I always forget my meticulously planned menu and have to reconstruct it on the fly throughout the week on the basis of what I find in my pantry and refrigerator. Two things are now inevitable.
1. I need one ingredient or another to make something that I never originally planned on making that week but now sounds like a good idea. Emergency grocery run ensues. This could happen every day that week!
2. Ingredients, sometimes perishable ones, that are squirreled away in nooks and crannies go to waste because I don’t remember they’re there unless a recipe brings them in mind. If I think about them, I know I have them and exactly where they are. But how often does one randomly ponder that box of grated Gruyere in the fridge? (On a related note, Gruyere is apparently the cheese equivalent of immortal.)
So last week we started writing our dinner menu on the calendar. Himself, very thoughtfully, got me one of these nifty ‘Mom’ calendars last winter. And although we haven’t been great about keeping up with it over the summer, it was pretty useful January thru June. Now we’ve dedicated one column to the dinner menu.
And it works well so far. Last night, Himself had the split pea soup done by the time I got home, instead of wondering what he needed to start for dinner, or worse not starting anything at all. (During the school year, when we’re both at work, this is the primary factor behind our pizza consumption.) And tonight I knew we were having pan fried steak and roasted fingerling potatoes, so there’s no forgetting about those potatoes buried in the pantry until they develop sentience! And when something unexpected happens (and the unexpected happens so frequently around here that it’s in danger of losing it’s trademark) it’s easy to swap the meals around to adjust. I think this will be even more effective once the new school year has started.
There’s an insight about organization buried in this, if I could only put it into words.