Master Lists For Easy Menu Planning
The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.
~ Erma Bombeck
You can make master lists for just about any area of your life, many will help organize your home. List for the home could include a master home inventory list, house cleaning schedules, planners, budgets, family health and immunizations, checklists, and so forth. However in this article we will be focusing on master kitchen lists.
Master Kitchen Lists:
- Master Meal List
- Master Grocery Shopping List
- Master Set of Recipes – Cards, Boxes, Notebook or Binder
- Grocery Price Book – master list of staples with best prices
What can I say about master lists? Master kitchen lists help to organize your grocery shopping, your menu planning and your kitchen. They give you information at your fingertips that make grocery shopping and meal planning so much easier. Master kitchen lists are a ready snapshot of everything to do with the food in your home; what you have in the cupboards, what you buy on a regular basis, what meals your family favors and the best price for everything you use. Master lists take some thought and time but once you begin to use them you will find they are worth their weight in gold.
Trying to decide what to make for dinner each night gets old fast, especially when the family responds with the old “I don’t care, whatever you want to make” response. In spite of the frustration we manage to get the tribe fed each day so we must be cooking something, right?
Have no fear, Master Meal List to the rescue – no more dinnertime blues or boredom. A master list of meal ideas along with a simple meal planner will solve your dilemma. Start by making a list of dinners that you cook week in and week out, add some other ideas from the suggestions below; this will be your master go-to list for meal planning. Definitely make this list before you begin putting together your weekly menu plans.
You may have entrees like spaghetti, chicken alfredo, tacos, enchiladas, chili, roasted chicken, or pot roast but don’t forget your sides like Spanish rice, mashed potatoes, French bread and salad. You get the idea. You want the complete meal plan.
Here are some suggestions for coming up with meal ideas. Include meals you cook during the winter months and summer months, how about festivals and celebrations. Many of us cook a little differently for each season and when it comes to holidays we tend to make special dishes or once a year meals. Think Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Country, Crock Pot and casseroles, etc. Browse cookbooks or recipes online for fresh ideas or dishes you’d like to try. Finally include your family in the list making; they may have some fresh ideas or insight.
Which meals are quick dinners, which ones take longer? Will today be a slow cooker meal because you are so busy you won’t have time to cook later? Label your recipes so you’ll know which ones are quick meals for nights when you are super busy and harder meals on days that you have more time to devote. Can any of the meals work double duty – meaning can you make extra and freeze it for a quick meal another night?
Grab a notebook or binder; use the computer, whatever method works for you. However you decide to catalogue your list of meals I would break it down into categories for “Main Dishes”, “Side Dishes”, “Vegetables”, “Breakfasts”, “Desserts” and so on. You can then add subcategories like Poultry, Beef, Seafood, Pasta, or themes like Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Crock Pot, Casseroles, Quick, Easy, etc. or just organize in alphabetical order whichever is going to be more useful in the long run.
Once you have your Master List of Recipes, read through each recipe and write down what is needed to make each one. This will be the beginning of your Master Grocery Shopping List. Now go through your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer and add any items that didn’t make it on the list but you usually buy. You can also add the rest of the household’s needs to the Master List so you have everything in one place. Things like toiletries, baggies, trash bags, dog food, laundry soap, batteries, etc. The grocery list is one of the keys to saving time and money in the grocery store. A little work now will save you time down the road.
The next time you go to the supermarket take your list with you and note the aisle number next to each item. Another option is to ask the store manager for a copy of the store’s plan-o-gram or grocery layout. Organize your grocery list according to the layout of the grocery store that you frequent most often. When you have a list organized by department you avoid backtracking through the aisles. Be sure the frozen foods and other perishables are last on the list so they don’t melt while you’re shopping. Set off each item with a box or bullet (you’ll find this option under the Format or Home tabs) To keep your list on one or two pages, set the list in columns (under page layout). Once you’ve done the initial prep work, all you’ll need to do is print out a fresh copy of the list before each shopping trip. If you’re doing this by hand keep a master copy that you can take to a local office supply and print several copies.
Getting in and out of the store quickly is one of your goals. Studies show that each additional minute you spend in the grocery store over thirty (30) minutes costs you about $1 per minute. With your list in hand, geared to the store layout you can zip in and zip out.
Printable Grocery List Templates
Rather than making your own grocery list template you may prefer to download a basic printable shopping list.
Check out the shopping lists available on these helpful websites:
- FreePrintableGroceryList.com has a variety of free editable grocery lists.
- GroceryLists.org has a free printable grocery list mixed with a little humor.
- Vertex42.com has free printable shopping lists and more in a variety of styles.
***I recommend using an office program if possible to build your Master Shopping Lists and Master Meal List; it makes life so much easier. If you don’t have an office program you can download Open Office free, it has a word and spreadsheet program.
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