Foreword: I'm an Excel girl at heart. We budget in Excel. I keep track of health and medical records in Excel. Basically any sort of list, I keep in Excel.
Now on to goal 8. I've had a long-standing problem(we are talking years) of trying to figure out a good way to meal plan, make grocery lists, etc etc etc. Nothing has worked, at least long term. Now with a very active little boy and less time on my hands, I knew I needed to figure out a good system to get me organized. Because I hate stressing every night about what to make for dinner and then finding out we have no ingredients to make that. I knew there had to be a simpler way to doing this.
I used to coupon shop and then create meals off of those ingredients. But since we've been trying to eat a lot healthier (including more produce and whole foods), there just aren't many coupons out there for those sort of things.
I have tried the plan-meals-for-a-week thing, but more often than not, I'm not ever in the mood for the meals I've planned on my schedule. Plus, it isn't as cost effective to do it that way.
I'm not sure where I heard of this idea, but it spoke to me. Cheesy as it sounds, it's true. It spoke to me because it uses Excel (my favorite!) to do the very thing that has been a daunting task for me ever since we got married.
It's been in the works for a long time, but goal 8 was to get it finalized and print it off so I could actually use it.
This is what I did:
-I created a separate sheet in Excel for each type of meal. For example, I have a sheet for breakfast, pasta, soups, salads, sandwiches, rice, mexican, and misc.
-In the first column going down, I listed all of our favorite meals that fit within that category.
-In the columns going across the page, I listed every single ingredient that each recipe calls for.
-Then I put an X where the ingredient intersects with the meal.
So this is what our soup sheet looks like:
-I went one step further and categorized all the ingredients into sections at the store, so it's quicker to add them our shopping cart.
-And I added an X if it's a crockpot meal.
-I printed each sheet off and put it in a page protector and then in a little folder. It's small enough to take with me to the store or to pull out when I meal plan.
Why I love this:
-As I'm looking through ads, if there is a certain main ingredient on sale, I can look through the meal sheets and plan to have those meals that call for that ingredient over the next few weeks. Like there are a few meals we like that call for cream cheese. So, if cream cheese is on sale, we will have the meals that call for cream cheese.
-I can stock up on ingredients that I know we use in a lot of our meals such as canned tomatoes, black beans, grains, or certain types of produce when they are on sale.
-I can pick a few meals from each sheet based on what ingredients are on sale. I won't plan specific nights to have them, but just know that I have ingredients for those meals when we feel like it.
-It will make grocery shopping much more efficient. I will know exactly what to buy and then have ingredients to actually make meals out of it.
-If I'm at the store and there is a crazy good deal on something, I'll pick it up and then can use the sheets to find out which meal that could be used for because I can search by ingredient.
-If we have a bunch of leftover ingredients in the fridge, I can just look up which meals that ingredient can be used for.
-These lists contain all of our tried and true favorite meals, but there is always room to add more or we can still try new meals here and there.
Sure it was a lot of work doing this, but I'm hoping it will save me stress and time in the long run.
Am I crazy? I don't know. We'll see if this actually works, but in theory, it sounds like it will. All I know is that my goal was to get the sheets done and now I just have to put it into practice. I'll keep you posted!