Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Plan ahead and save your sanity

I might not work, but I wear many hats in the T household.
- I am the chef
- The laundry mat
- The warden
- The nurse
- The calender
- The taxi
- The Drill Sergeant
- And many more that I can't think up cute names for

With all those hats, I (and my hair) get a little frazzled by about 4 o'clock. What comes after 4 o'clock? Dinner time. When the husband and I were both in the Army and kidless, we could buy as many groceries that we wanted and I could cook whatever I wanted for dinner or just order out. But now I have kids that for some reason expect me to cook for them, like 3 or more times a day! They are soo needy.

What's a girl with tons of hats and fabalous hair to do? Make schedules of course. I have one for my dinners, and one for the chores that I *should* be doing along with everyday picking up. I loath cleaning with every fiber of my being.

Let's talk menu planning. What works for me is I pick a meat and stick it with it every single week. You might think it's gets boring, but do you know how much you can do with chicken? We can go a good 2+ months without repeating a single chicken meal, unless it's a favourite. 
So why is planning like this worth it? Well, I sit down at the end of each month and plan the next months, an entire months worth of meals. And then on the 1st of that month I shop for all the meat and frozen/canned veggies/fruits and sides that I plan on using that month. And I am done! No guess work, no thinking required. I look at the calender, pick the matching recipe card and become a zombie in the kitchen. And I don't have to drag the kids to the store for weekly shopping trips, if we run out of milk or cheese I simply go by myself in the evening and pretend that I am having a vacation. 

Meal planning like that might cost more money up front, but think of what you will save when you are not buying all those extras on your weekly shopping trips. Tons. I think I shaved over $100 on my monthly grocery bill doing this. $100 people! That's like 5 pedicures. 

But, but, but. What are we supposed to do about lunches and snacks for the kids? Well, I bet you already have boxes of snacks in your pantry right now. So just stock up at the beginning of the month and that's all you get. It might take a while before you stop blowing through 50 cereal bars in a week, but you will get there. You can better monitor your kids' eating habits this way. 

Speaking of which, you know what  I do instead of buying a crap ton of prepackaged snacks? Well, I'm gonna tell you. I make a stupid amount of snacks and breakfast foods (usually on Sundays) and freeze them. That way when my kids are hungry, I can pop a homemade muffin/granola bar/waffle/etc in the microwave and BAM 30 second healthy snack. 

And now for my least favourite thing on the planet, chores. I hate hate hate cleaning, but I also hate having a single toy out of place in my house. It's a loose-loose situation. Grumble. 
Since I kept putting off laundry to the point where I had to wear the husband's unders (don't tell him!!) I decided that I need a set schedule to get all the crap done that comes with having a home and kids. 
You know what? It's doesn't seem do daunting as it did before. I know what days I have to do the kid's bathroom and I suck it up, promise myself a candybar as a reward and get to scrubbing the toilet of a potty training boy and I don't have to think about it for a whole week. Or I don't have to feel guilty about putting it off

These things might not work for you, but I encourage you to try and find a system that works for your lifestyle and see how much stress is lifted, you might not even know you were stressed in the first place! 

How I made the charts
I found some thin corkboards at a big box store and used some heavy scrapbook paper that I had laying around and after playing with the sizes of the paper I use one as a template and went cutting crazy. 
Write your menu/chores in with a marker and you are good to go. 

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