If you’ve known me for more than a month, you know I can’t stick to a schedule. Every month I find a new and different way to plan something that I then end up disobeying. I love to stitch, but if I make a*goal* to stitch so many times a week, I WILL NOT HAPPEN. Deadlines inspire me, but schedules deflate me. It’s a personality thing.
I’ve been talking to my imaginary butler about it. He says that when I get around to something, he needs to have everything on hand to do it NOW because the mood may not strike again any time soon. But, if he has everything ready, I’ll do enough work to float the family for a month or more. He says, when I do it, I do it BIG and it’s easier to go with my personality than to fight it. He’s so smart.
This summer, I came up with a meal plan that my kids memorized quickly and kept me on track, but we all got FAT. (Refined carbs and propped up serotonin levels don’t mix, according to my family psychiatrist.) I tried to make up a new plan, but homeschooling is the schedule my life revolves around outside of summer. I can barely hold onto that one, much less add more scheduling to my life. So, here’s the most functional way I’ve found so far to make sure we don’t run to Little Caesar’s or get french fries on the way home from Aikido because I don’t feel like cooking.:
Deanna’s Meal Planning for Her Vicious Spontaneous Streak
1. When the cupboards are bare, I hit all our usual stores in one fell swoop, shopping for month-sized portions, if I can. Costco, Aldi, Walmart, Kroger, in that order. I buy *everything* that we can use (lots of medical dietary restrictions) that’s under the benchmark prices in my head. No meat over a certain cost per pound. Nuts below certain cost per ounce. Fruit 1$/pound or lower. I don’t worry about sales or coupons unless I hit them accidentally. That’s too much like planning. I do use a list, but it’s just a suggestion. I won’t obey it and my eyes tend to skip things on it that I need. I just accept that something will be forgotten.
2. When I get home, I put it all out on the table and look at it. What can I make with this? What other ingredients do I need to make it into meals? What did I forget to get? I send hubby to the store on his way home to get the two or three things I forgot, like toilet paper…yikes.
3. Then I start cooking. The crockpot runs day and night for three days. Roasting chicken, then the bones for stock, then some hamburger dish for me and hubby, then a beef roast, then a pork roast. Hey, I’m in the mood, so why not get it done now? I cook massive amounts of oatmeal and raisins for breakfast the next morning and freeze the leftovers. I might make grits for lunch, just cause I need piles of that in the freezer too. While I was browning the ground beef for the hamburger dish, I cooked every bit of ground beef and onion in the house. While I’m here, I might as well crumble and cook all of the sausage too. And soak the beans for another crockpot dish. Whatever strikes my fancy, I make it happen…now.
4. Once I’m all cooked out and everything that can be precooked is in the freezer, I make a *green list* of meals for which I have everything ready and post on the fridge. (I got the term *green list* term from a free e-book about spontaneous homeschooling HERE. It means projects for which have everything gathered. An “amber list” means everything is almost gathered but you’re missing a thing or two.) When it’s breakfast, I can rattle off the kid options, “grits, oatmeal, toast, eggs, shakes, granola.” Same for lunch, “You can have PBJ, hot dogs, nuggets, pot stickers, lentils, ham and cheese, bean burritos…” And when I go to look what I want to make for dinner, I have that list too. As I run out of the ability to make things, I mark them off the list.
5. Over the next month, hubby will run to the store for milk or something weird we ran out of and really need, but there’s no scheduled shopping trip. When the cupboards go bare and my creativity has expired, I start the process over.