Thursday, March 26, 2009


by Robin

Wow... daily posts.... it's a miracle.

Anyhow, I don't normally share tips of organization here, but I thought if I'm having this problem, maybe others are too.

I love cooking. I love trying new recipes. My family doesn't always enjoy my enthusiasm for "exotic" foods, Giada or Paula Deen. I've noticed lately that I have had to toss several, what I call great dishes, and then one total bomb that nobody liked (including me).


So, between this economy and my family's lack of love for Food Network delicacies, I've decided to go back to my original shopping straight from certain pre-planned recipes. Now... this is where my problem comes. I get cooker's block. I can't come up with ideas. I know that sounds stupid to you because it sounds stupid to me too. However, I don't know if it is because there are so many choices or that I'm used to finding recipes online and making due with what's in the panty. I've lost my ability to plan simple, easy meals just prior to going shopping.

For now, I'm calling it cooker's block. However, I decided to make up these smaller index cards with 30 of my family's favorite meals. (I know... it's so easy a caveman could do it.) There is nothing high-tech about it. No computer involved. No googling. But, I promise you, you too can do it. If you're a homeschool mom, you probably already have a drawer full of index cards laying around.

Anyhow, at the beginning of each shopping trip (pay day), I pull out 7 or 14 of these. Yep, it's that simple. Make the grocery list around them and then attack the crowds. For me, it really solves the dilemma of what should we eat... what haven't we eaten already?

When you're done with these cards, you put them at the back of the stack.

I know... genius.

If I come to that point in the day where I'm not sure what to cook, I pull out my stack of 7 and voila.... pick one or let the family vote. No more staring at the pantry. No more wasting electricity as I hold the refrigerator doors open. No more thawing meat and then throwing it away 3-4 days later.

I think that in a month's time, I'll find that I'm throwing away less food and sticking better to my budget shopping.

I dunno. What do you guys think?


Renee said...

I think you are an awesome Mama :o)

It sounds like a great system.

Love YOU!

Connordog said...

That's a great idea! I get cooker's block too and Doug is so darn hard to cook for bc he dislikes so many foods!

Angela said...

I hear you! Daniel also does not "love" a lot of the Food Network favorites that I would make every day for myself.

I've run into the same issue too. And what works for me (at least right now) is keeping a "master list" of all the things we love. I keep it by category - includes everything from main dishes to salad dressings, holiday favorites to party food. In the list I repeat things in whatever categories they belong to, so I have ideas for every occasion. Then, I also keep lists of menus that we have tried and liked. Might just be a good combo of entree and sides, or a seasonal variation of sides. I don't yet have a great way of organizing those, but I'm working on it.

Then, during a given week, I start from the idea that I will do at least one of each: beef, chicken, fish, pork, pasta, freezer/leftovers, etc. etc. That helps unstick any cooking block.

I like your system too! Cards are probably much easier to keep track of. And I could keep all the seasonal variations of the cards together. Yum!

Angela said...

PS I do think having a plan helps save tons of $. In an "ordinary" week, where I just go to the store hoping for inspiration, we might spend upwards of a $100 and then throw stuff away later. :-( But the last couple weeks, as I've gotten back to menu planning, it's helping a ton. Yesterday's bill for this upcoming week (including lunches for every day, if I don't want to eat out) was $68. Huge difference - and that included chicken, beef, and fish.