2011.05.24 Meals and menu cards

A decade ago, I was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of three.
And, as I had always done, each afternoon I would find myself
standing in front of the refrigerator thinking "What am I fixing for dinner?".
My goal was to have dinner ready before my hard-working husband came home.

I had devoured the book for setting up a chore/cleaning system by Pam Young and Peggy Jones,
sisters, The Sidetracked Home Executives.  This book was first published in 1977.
It is still in print today and available at Amazon.
Link here:  Sidetracked Home Executives to their website.

They had also written a book for tackling the kitchen and meals (now out-of-print).
Something had to give; there had to be a better way than my seat-of-the-pants approach to dinner.

The meal planning system relies on 3x5 index cards just as their chore system does.

The system has worked wonderfully since we began using it in the year 2000.
You create a 3x5 card for each meal.  Start with your favorites.
It seems they suggested starting with 31 meals, enough for a month without a repeat.
If you're like me, you might think "I can't think of that many different meals",
but you have been eating dinner for years, so what have you been eating???
Those are your meals.

The front of the card gets the name of the main dish with side dishes listed underneath.
The upper right lists how much time the meal takes to prepare
so you know when to start making it.

The back lists the major ingredients (not the things you will always have on-hand in your kitchen).

Each week you pick the week's meals.
Then, turn the cards over and add the ingredients to your grocery list.

Each day, pick the meal card for that evening.
You'll have all the ingredients and know when to start the prep.  SO MUCH EASIER!

Once you have fixed the meal, write the date on the front of the card.
Now you know when you last ate this meal when you are picking out your next meals.
Fewer repeats.

After using this system for a while, I told one of my sisters (the gourmet cook who reads recipe books for fun) about the system of picking meals for the week and adding the things you need to your grocery list.
She looked at me completely baffled.  "What other way is there?"