Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Frugalicous Domesticity - Menu Planning and The Office

I went to bed last night very worried that I may have come across as some one with OCD, ADD and a slew of other undiagnosed illnesses with acronyms.

I'm just me.
What's a girl to do.

Today I did my usual morning routine. Today's room to 'clean' was the office.

What I'm becoming painfully aware of since starting this post, is that I'm really not happy with a few of the rooms in my home. I'm going to have to do some decorating. I haven't done that in quite some time.

The 'office' is what I call this room, because the computer and the check book reside here. If I ever get a laptop, I'll use this as a sewing room. This room is used for everything. Utility room, pantry, storage, office, etc. It's the most cluttered room I have, but it just sort of has to be.

I enter, and work my way around, dusting, wiping windowsills, emptying the trash.
I vacuum this room when I do the rest of the house.

Oh, go ahead and laugh at the map on the wall. It still doesn't help me know where I live.
It's a cool old Rand McNally map.

There's nothing fancy going on around here folks. Form is following function.
These old shelves were here when we moved in, and I'm glad I kept them. I just repainted them a couple of weeks ago.

Today my morning routine of chicken tending, house vacuuming, bed making and cleaning the office took 36 minutes.

Then I planned my menu.
I don't time this.
This is a pleasure to me.

A few thoughts on cooking, meal planning and the like.
I really enjoy it.
I know there are lot of you out there that would rather be tarred and feathered.
I really can't think of anything to say to change your mind, or to help you.
So, if you are reading this, and you can think of something to tell someone that doesn't like to cook, please leave a comment!

What I eat is important to me. Ya'll know my food issues, all too well.
Food evokes emotion for me.
I love people with food.
Comforting casseroles in the winter, cool crisp salads in the summer, such are the things life is made of.

I keep thinking of when my parents were in their last year of life, and we had to put them in a nursing home (can't even talk about that), I would see what they ate. I found it so sad that food was just presented to them, like it or not, it's what's for dinner. No choice in the matter.

I mentioned to Glen once how sad I found that, saying
"Can you imagine not having any choice in your meals?"
He replied..
"You mean, like me?"

Why I oughta.

So I guess I feel that there is a day coming in my life, where I may not get to eat what I enjoy, so dad gum it, I'm gonna do it now.

As with a cleaning routine, I find that a menu planning and shopping routine make life so much more simple and stress-free.

I begin by making my grocery list, and sorting it by department.

Fruits & Veggies/Dairy/Meat/Canned Goods/Boxed Goods/Frozen/Misc.
I like to try and follow the layout of the store. I hate making a random list and having to look over the whole list while your in the produce aisle, only to miss something and have to back track.

I hate grocery store backtracking!

I actually have a binder that I keep notebook paper in, and it's tabbed, and my life is rather organized in it. Under the menu planning/shopping menu, I keep this sheet. It's a good reminder of some things that may need to be re-stocked when I go shopping.

I then sit with cookbooks, and my binders of recipes and choose the week's meals. Now, don't freak out, but I rarely make the same thing twice in one year. I don't know why, I just like trying new recipes constantly. Now, I might make chili four or five times, but it will always be a different recipe for chili.

These are the binders I have in the pantry. As I find recipes online, or in magazines, I print them out, tear them out and file them in the appropriate binder for future use. If I LOVE it, then that recipe gets transferred into the Recipe Keeper folder.
If I don't like it, I pitch it.

Please know that I make this alot harder than it needs to be. Please reference first sentence of this blog post.

So here I sit, sipping tea, pouring over recipes. It's 'me' time. I don't like to rush it.

I do have a little method to my madness.
I follow this guideline:

Soup and Bread Night
Sandwich Night
Pasta Night
Asian Inspired Night
Mexican Inspired Night
'Classic' Night
Casserole Night

It's not written in stone, but it helps me jump start the menu plan, and insure that we aren't eating beef or chicken every night. It mixes it up.

I also bake a lot.

This is what's on the menu for the week:

Black Beans w/Rice & Salad
Beef Tacos w/ Chips and Salsa (I make my own chips and salsa)
Vegetarian Chili with Cornbread
Chicken Florentine Panini & Salad
Little Travelers Chopped Salad (a salad with bacon and pasta)
Asian Beef Wraps with Spring Rolls
Pioneer Woman's Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Biscuits

I'll be baking:
Cranberry Scones
The Best Cookies in the World
Three Day Coconut Cake
Aunt Donna's Broccoli Bread
Sandwich Bread

Misc things I'll cook:
Pioneer Woman's Cowboy Calzones
Biscuits and Gravy
Italian Breakfast Casserole
MeMa's Cream Cheese Jello Salad
Baked Beans

This is what it looks like when I'm all done.
I have a sheet with the menu for the week.
A sheet to take to the store.
My recipes are filed in the pocket of my binder.

I don't try and follow a budget per se.
I do buy store brands.
I shop at Aldi for the most part, and finish up at the regular store.
Tomorrow, when I go shopping, I will report to you how much was spent.

Shannan, at Flower Patch Farm Girl has some great meal planning and budget posts here under her food label. Scroll down a few blogs and you'll find her meal planning posts.
Good stuff.


  1. Good stuff at your blog too, Jayme.

    I really don't like grocery stores perhaps because I don't prepare as well as you do. Thank you for these treasured tips. I will use them this week and report back how I did.


  2. I like your office. Call me crazy, but the laundry room ain't bad, either. Must be the new camera.

  3. Oh Jayme you crack me up!! I love the one where your poor husband doesn't have a choice in his meals!!! Priceless!! Reminds me of what my dh said at Christmas. I told him I was thinking of not buying gifts this year and just take that money and donate it to a charity. He said "Yeah like I do every year?" Of course I cracked up at him too!!! He meant that he gives me his money for me to buy the gifts for everyone each year. Men!!!

    I love your idea about the list of frequently used items to be used at a glance. Great idea!!!!!

    I have got to get a little more organized in the grocery shopping/meal planning dept too. Thanks for the inspiration!!

    I am loving your blog. All your stories are hilarious!! Keep em coming!!

  4. Hey,,,I am saying this very, very nicely with all good intentions...wow..you put a lot of work into everything...it amazes me! but I'm not sure I want to follow in your footsteps. I know we are all different in the way we take care of our home and families but I like to think as I get older I want time to explore other things in life that may not be related to house keeping and cooking. Keeps us kind of interesting, I think. I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to future posts.

  5. Jayme, thanks for stopping by my new blog. I feel that I've discovered a whole new world. So many of my friends have asked me to start a blog, I just hadn't taken the time. Great post today. You are a very organized lady. Love it. Being a professional chef, I organize and plan our meals the same way I would at work. Makes life so much easier, when operating with a plan. Keep up the great work.

  6. Thanks for all of your comments girls. Welcome MaryTylerMotorHead (funny!) I've not seen you here before...

    AIn't for City Gals...I totally agree with you...totally. Between cooking and cleaning, I spent an hour, to an hour an a half tops aday, which works for me, and helps me to spend the rest of the day doing what I want to do. Before I was organized, I wasted so much time being stressed out about messes and 'what's for supper' that I didn't have nearly as much free time as I do now. I so appreciate your comment, and it does make me think and challenge me.

  7. Great post! I wish I could motivate myself to be so organized.(you're not OCD) ;) Do you hire yourself out??

  8. Nice new look around the blog! I kind of miss seeing those chickens in the grass when the header comes up first, but the new is nice, too!

    I loved the map on the office wall! I don't know what it is about maps but they've always intrigued me. The crazy part is that I have no sense of direction WHATSOEVER!

    And, believe this or not, we both have the same method of keeping recipes! One of my winter projects is to take care of this messy folder of collected recipes and get them in their proper binders! I have to say that I do make the same thing more than once in a year's time, but I'm always trying new recipes. I so enjoy trying new things and DH doesn't mind.

    Menu planning is something I'm still working on. I do think I'm making some progress though. We have, shall we say, an EXCESS of winter squash (acorn, spaghetti and butternut) to be used so my method of menu planning for a while will basically being one night of meat and veggies and the next night a squash recipe until I've made it through the week.

    I like the list that you have compiled of "extras" that may needed to the shopping list. I try to keep a running list of those things on the side of the fridge but I don't always remember to write it down. If I had that with my other things when I'm compiling my shopping list it would be a lot easier to remember what I need.

    Thanks for another GREAT post, Jayme.

  9. When I was more organized (say, about 8 years ago), that's how I would do my menu plan. I rather enjoyed it, thinking about what you make, browsing through cookbooks, cooking magazines.....
    I need to get back to being organized again. We moved into town 8 years ago and it made me lazy. Grocery stores were way to convenient.
    A year ago we moved back to the country (yay!) and now I am being challenged to be organized again. Not a bad thing at all!! Keep up the good work, Jayme!

  10. Jayme, First of all the new blog design and header are marvelous. Girl, with everything else that you do, where do you find the time?
    Second, can I come live with you and have you do all my cooking for me? Wow, is all I can say to that marvelous menu.
    I had black beans tonight, but they were from the freezer from a previous week's leftovers, and I didn't even make rice with em, we just had whole wheat rolls. (So I at least get credit for making the rolls from scratch!)
    You are amazing.
    Today all I had time to do was feel sorry for myself (not good) and play with my grandbabies (good). Now that they both are gone, I am getting on my pjs and sitting down to watch some tv with my man. I bet you are still cleaning or cooking or something equally domestic! Love it.
    Thanks for all the great ideas.

  11. Thanks again for sharing all your great info. I appreciate it more than you know :) Your office/multi-tasking room rocks! I have something similar visualized for the future. And let me just say - Glen is one lucky fella with a menu like that! -Tammy

  12. Re: the menu planning? Two. Peas. In. A. Pod. Although I really like your "Guidelines" and may have to implement asap... Oh wait, broccoli bread? Eh. I also HATE grocery store back-tracking. I have been known to throw an entire meal out the proverbial window just because I refuse to back-track. I can be impetuous and lame, that way. One more thing - you BAKE. You ain't playin'. Who on earth eats all that food? Does Helen do Ciabatta??
    ps- Thanks for the shout. :)

  13. Thanks again girls! I came in to check comments. :-) Getting ready to hang out and crochet while I watch American Idol....you guys crack me up so much!

    I do hope you like the new blog design. There's still something about it that doesn't seem 'right' to me, but I have to just walk away and think about that another day....

  14. Yea...American Idol tonight and tomorrow evening. Just about time to jump in my jammies and have an entertaining evening while knitting.

    I like you room with all that organized stuff in it. I like how you plan your weekely mean so completely. My Guy, who as you know does all the shopping and cooking, has a very casual system.

    Looking forward to you next blog post.

    Oh, yes and I really like the new banner and changes to you blog. Very creative...

  15. Love the new look, Jayme! Menu planning....must do it. Grocery list organizing....must do it. I have the ripped out recipes to try pile, I just never seem to get to it. You got it goin, girl!

  16. Yummy, I want to eat at your house!! My guys have their favorites and I am afraid they would shoot me if I cooked something new every night. I do try to cook a new meal every week, and I always rate them. o.k. Yummy, double yummy, make it again tomorrow!

  17. "Someday" when I retire, I will be much more organized! haha! I like organized and am in many ways, but I also have too many hobbies and am not very good at tossing things out. Couple this with teaching full time and this equals an accumulation of clutter!! Mix a little OCD and pack rat and you have ME!

  18. So...you make your own chips and salsa? The salsa I can do...how about the chips? Do you use pita bread cut in triangles and bake?

    Oh...and I finally got rid of 8 things out of my kitchen. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to part with a few more. lol This girl and her utensils are not too soon parted. ;)

  19. Love the new look...glad you went with the colored header :)

    I'm completely jealous of your organization, love for cooking and amazing menu.

    Chris has done the shopping and cooking (and most of the laundry and vacuuming) for the last 2+ years. I'm a domestic loser. I think I just burned out.

    I have food issues too, as in I hate to make it, love to eat it. You'd think I'd be rail thin with an attitude like that, but NOOOOO. Instead I just buy premade frozen crap full of fake stuff, transfat, salt and/or sugar. Turn oven to 350, throw on cookie sheet. The end.

    Not proud of this....

  20. Hi Jayme, (aka smile maker)

    Love how organized you are. I can certainly take some tips from you.
    I love your grocery shopping and cooking system.

    Have a great rest of your evening.

  21. I must say I've been very inspired by your last few posts as far as cleaning and such. I must admit I'm quite young and working crazy hours and find the housework slipping cause I'm so tired. But I'm vowing to make a better effort for me and my husband.

    By the way I started reading "The Backyard Homestead" by Carleen Madigan and I think you'd love it as well.

    Thanks for your inspiration.


  22. What can I say, I've been a student of yours for years, love you to pieces, have learned so much, still learning. You warm the hearts of many. hugs and kisses. me

  23. Okay, You got me here....My cooking skills and natural abilities to just sit down and make up different foods and menus are seriously LACKING. So this post was excellent information, tips and inspiration for me. I have been trying over the last year, actually, to improve on this area of my domesticity! So here we go. Keep it up! I need this...
    Thanks Jayme. I wouldn't even try to keep up with you, but I sure can follow and learn! :-) :-)

  24. WOW! You are so organized! And I know your tips are going to help a lot of people who are just starting out on their own.

    I keep a fairly well stocked pantry. But I only plan menu's for two (sometimes three) days at a time. If I really had my way, I'd shop every morning for fresh ingredients, like the Europeans do. With my family we need to leave room for some spontaneity. We live just a few blocks from the store, so it's easy to run and get what we need every couple of days.

    I read recipe books, so that the general information about how to cook things is in my head. But when I am actually making dinner I do not use recipes. (I do follow recipes to bake.)

    And I LOVE the big map in your office! "Atlas" should have been my middle name.

  25. Once again, I am thrilled to find a new idea that will help me get further organized... this time it is the binders for the recipes you find. I have binders for EVERYTHING including recipes, only I put the nicely typed recipes in this one. The problem is, I seldom get new ones in there. I've just been stashing them in a file and the file is getting BIG! Then I have to sort through it to find what I'm looking for. I've made some of them 5-6 times but haven't gotten them into the "official" recipe binder. Time to change my method. I'm going to get several binders and JUST DO IT!

  26. Me oh my, oh my oh meeee!!

    Love love the recipe storage dealio. I started the same thing in a more random, untweeked version. You helped me see where to go from here! I bought old fashioned sticky/plastic photo albums from Goodwill. I can put one to two recipes per page. I also started a Favorite Holiday Recipe binder this year.

    You've helped me tweek my shopping plan of attack also. Never thought to divide and conquer. I HATE backtracking too. I will sometimes be a stubborn ninny and just leave w/o something cause I'm rotten like that. Do you have separate lists for each store? I just put a little A next to the Aldi's stuff and the rest I know will be at my only other choice, Wallyworld.

    Thankyou for helping me be a better me.

    P.S. Pretty new page design. Love the signature.

    P.S.S. For all us unorganized girls out there, maybe we need to buy the same tea she's drinking?!

  27. I love menu planning too. I think for the most part, people that love to cook love to plan meals. Jayme, I just have to tell you that I love my new schedule. It's changing my life! Does that sound overly dramatic? It really has improved the quality of my weekdays. Girl, I'm a believer!

  28. I do my menu planning the exact same way (except for all the new recipes). I like your idea of keeping a running list of "Do you need?" items. And I like your new signature. Too cute!

  29. Holy moly, I am in awe of your menu and all the planning that goes into it. Makes me want to try harder when it comes to planning our meals.
    At least my shopping list is in categories to keep me from backtracking...

  30. This is great! I use an excel spreadsheet based on the layout of the market we use. Each column is an aisle in the store and I madeit and add to it if there are any new items that we buy frequently. I print it every week and just highlight what we need to buy based on my menu plan that week. Saves me soo much time.

    I love your organization!!


  31. I LOVE your frugality! Your menu sounds good too. I am also like you, that I like to plan the menu for the week, and are you crazy...who DOESN'T follow the layout of the store while making a list? I mean, please! Keep up the good work.

  32. THanks for the tips! Funny I should find your blog NOW because I am in the process of reorganizing my day/life with a homekeeping notebook that has pretty much everything you're talking about! Love your blog...it's inspiring!

  33. WOW...
    {I'm going to say it again}
    I do this whole process as darn tootin' close to you as I've ever seen before! That was interesting!
    However I don't cook as much misc. as you. I made choc chip cookies two weeks ago and that's about as out there- misc. cooking/ baking I get since I work!
    And sometimes I substitute my Whisky Butter Steak and Garden Squash Casserole on my menu for BLTs on long work days... :)
    But I have a recipie organizer for "need to trys" and I either pitch or put in my recipie book from there. The recipies are much marked and organized! I plan ahead meals as well!
    Good post! I quite like it!


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