I think next to my faith and my marriage, the thing I get asked to write about most is how I stay organized. Organized with my household, my kids, our activities. Organized is a relative word. Honestly, I’m not that organized. I think I’m surface organized. But we have a lot of people who really live in this house. And life is messy. Especially when all the kids are at home. I am also a huge fan of something I heard Michelle Duggar say years ago. “If you want to see a clean house, we’ll need two weeks notice, but if you’d just like to see us, come on over.” I think I need that on a sign in front of my house. Of course I have less than one third of the children she has, so maybe just give me 4-5 days notice for the clean house. But if you just want to see us, and don’t care about a mess, c’mon over.
In all seriousness, I do try to keep everything relatively organized. And I am a huge fan of a calendar. Not the kind on my phone. Or even an app. Not even a white board on the wall. I like the most basic calendar. Printed on plain white paper. I use them for everything. To keep track of my kids’ sports and activities. To track the days that I exercise as well as the distances I run. And for meals. I like to plan my meals on a calendar. For the entire month.
Yes, I often have to modify as the month goes on to accommodate unplanned events. Because something always changes. But there is something about knowing I have a menu that helps in those “what in the world am I possibly going to make for dinner tonight?” moments. It makes grocery shopping easier, and although it usually takes some time up front I am always thankful I did it when I get in the middle of an extremely busy day/week/month/season.
My friends can tell you that if there is anything I like more than a calendar, it’s a theme. I’m the “aunt” that once took my children and godchildren on a “trip around the world” from our very own home with a different country as the daily theme with foods, crafts, and activities to match. So in order to help plan, remember, and add variety, I have given each day of the week a theme. Try not to laugh. But they really do help in the planning.
Sunday = Slow and Go (something for the slow cooker that can be tossed in before or after church depending upon the recipe)
Monday = Mexican (taco bowls, burritos, tostadas, taco salad, enchiladas)
Tuesday = Thai (curry, Pad Thai, Thai salad, Pad See Ew, Drunken Noodles, and various other Thai recipes)
Wednesday = “Why Not Throw it in a Bowl?” (sushi bowls, buddha bowl, rice bowl, etc.)
Thursday = Throwback (old school meals from my childhood like meatloaf, spaghetti, mac-n-cheese)
Friday = “Foodie” (think food truck meals like Ramen, Pho, fancy grilled cheese with fig jam and bacon, chicken and waffles)
Saturday = Soup, Salad, and/or Sandwich (just what it says)
Knowing these themes and having a menu, makes both planning and grocery shopping faster. And easier. And saves me time. Plus, other than nights when I cross dinner off the menu and have leftovers to make space in the fridge, we have thirty mostly different meals each month.
I write out my menu on the last day of the previous month or the first day of the new month. I always write it in pencil so I can make changes if needed. I tape it inside my cupboard for reference.
I know it might not work for everyone, but I hope it inspires you to organize your meals this year. Maybe try it for a week. Come up with your own themes/ways to remember. I have several friends that always do “Taco Tuesday.” They can count on it, and don’t have to do much to plan for it. Their families eat well and they can put their focus on other things.
In this year as I choose to amplify everything good, I know that this procedure will help me to stay relatively organized so that I can focus on other things.
May He give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed. ~Psalm 20:4