SELF CARE FOR PARENTS
Setting Up a Repeating Menu & Linked Shopping List
Making Family Life Easy 2
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Depending upon your family's tastes and schedule you can prepare a menu around what might work for you. If for example you don't get home until late during the week, having some meals already prepared might be best. Or you could have ingredients pre-prepared ready to cook as soon as you walk in.
I've included a menu I've used to show you how I did it. And while you may not like the meals I prepared, the principles are the same regardless of what your menu is.
By knowing what was planned over the next few days I could have meat thawing out in the fridge. Or I could cut up vegies in the morning, ready for when I walked in that afternoon.
I can't express enough how much difference using a repeating menu, and linked shopping list, made to our lives. Not only did it reduce my stress by heaps, we ate much better. And over years it saved us a lot of money, which we used to pay off our mortgage ten years earlier.
I've supplied a fortnightly menu I trialed below for when my kids were around 10-14 years of age. It worked well at the time, because they were both big eaters. However my current menu uses much less meat.
If you could do something once that would save you time over years, allow you to eat healthy meals on a regular basis and help you pay your mortgage off years earlier than you might otherwise, would you do it?
Creating a repeating menu is a smart way to create meals because you're doing the thinking once, rather than fortnightly, weekly or daily.
You can more accurately predict the amounts of foods you'll need, saving money
You'll have everything you need to cook the meal you want
You'll have the flexibility to swap meals around within the fortnight if needed
If you plan a healthy menu you eat better
If a menu is displayed, the first person to walk in the door can begin meal prep
N.B. You will benefit greatly from going to Stage 1 Timesavers for Healthy Meals before you proceed with creating your own menu and shopping list as it shows how to determine portion amounts.
MONDAY: Hamburger Night BBQ Meat Pattie/ Onion/ Lettuce/ Tomato/ Grated Carrot / Cheese/ Pineapple/ Beetroot
TUESDAY: Lamb Chops/ Mashed Potato/ Beans/ Carrot/ Broccoli/ Corn
WEDNESDAY: Honey Soy Chicken Sliced/ Rice Noodles/ Stir Fry Vegies
THURSDAY: Chicken Kiev/ Baked Potato/ Sweet Potato/ Peas/ Corn/ Carrot/ Broccoli
FRIDAY: Italian Sausages, Zucchini/ Fresh Pasta/ Snow Peas/ Carrot/ Beans
BOIL RICE FOR TOMORROW NIGHT
SATURDAY: Chicken Korma Curry/ Fried Rice (Bacon/Onion/ Mixed frozen vegetables)
SUNDAY: T- Bone Steak/ Onion/ Lettuce/ Tomato/ Grated Carrot / Cheese/ Pineapple/ Beetroot
MONDAY: Baked Leg Lamb/ Roast /Sweet Potato/ Pumpkin/ Beans/ Carrot
TUESDAY: Left over Lamb Curry and Brown Rice
WEDNESDAY: Mexican Steak Tacos / Salad/ Yellow Rice
THURSDAY: Spaghetti/ Pasta vegies included peas
FRIDAY: Chicken Fillets/ Chips/ Beans/ Carrot/ Cauliflower
SATURDAY: Chicken Kebabs/ Brown Rice/ Salad/
SUNDAY: Chicken Nachos/ Chilli Con Carne Salad/ Yellow Rice
If for some reason we didn't eat a healthy meal at home, I added some of the leftover vegetables into a curry.
This way I didn’t buy unnecessary vegetables or other perishables. I was able to have meat/chicken thawing out at least one day ahead in the fridge. And I also knew when to prepare other parts of meals ahead for meals on following days. E.g. Cooking extra rice ready for fried rice the following night.
You'll notice that I didn't always include fruit or desserts because I chose the fruit that looked the best on a fortnightly basis. And the reason I didn't choose desserts was I didn't want them in the house making them easier for me to access.
To begin: I worked out what I thought family portions of vegetables, chicken and meat were for each healthy meal.
Then I used the Family Menu to work out how many times over the week I used family portions of each specific item e.g. 4 potatoes or 2 carrots, etc and I recorded them in a grid on their respective days.
You'll notice that I always recorded it in family sized amounts.
It wasn’t really very fancy the first time I did it. I didn’t have the time to think about ways of setting it up to reuse over and over; I just did it simply on a piece of paper. When you scroll down it shows you how I did it.
I used a series of strokes next to food item names and totaled them up at the end.
And it doesn't matter how messy it is. This way of recording quantities is accurate and therefore reduces wastage resulting in cost savings.
My original didn’t look very good to share with you so I formalized it below by making a simple table in Excel with 16 columns (one extra wide to record food items in, and one wide to record total amounts of food items) with 44 rows below to record days of food used.
You can take a screen shot, and print it, scribble over it, and adapt it until you have time to create your own.
Or you can log in, leave your details and I can send you a PDF. All good either way.
Recording Amounts to Create Healthy Meals Including Lunch (Check how I do this to guide your own list)
Then over a period of time I expanded my non-perishable menu to be done once a month
You can become involved in a cooperative for fresh fruit and vegetables. This can give you cheaper fruit and vegetables.
I however chose not to do this because I couldn't portion plan. If you have more time available than I did, this may however be a useful way of saving money for you. Or even better grow your own vegies, especially herbs. Growing herbs can save you heaps.
I still use the same shopping list like the one above (for the Winter Menu for a family of four.) As my children left home I simply adjusted the amounts which reduces waste, while still saving my time.
The portions for the above shopping list are designed for a family of four with two teenage boys who hoover their food. If you wish you can reduce the amounts, particularly meat/ chicken if your families don't each as much. Considering my goal was to provide healthy home-cooked meals, having leftovers was preferable to them eating processed snack foods, as they were a more healthy alternative.
For example: If you choose to follow the Winter Menu, and use this provided shopping list, you could reduce your chicken fillet purchases from 8 for a meal to 6 or even 4 (if you're not feeding teenagers.)
TIME SAVER: I would always buy multiple family-sized portions of chicken or meat rather than one whole lot which I have to re bag or repackage to freeze.
MONEY SAVER: At supermarkets there can be a difference in price between prepacked chicken and in purchasing it straight from the deli. I've seen a difference of double when chicken fillets were on special ($5.49) in the deli for half the normal price, yet prepacked were the normal price ($10.99).
TIME SAVER: You can always place your order for multiple lots of specific deli items and come back at the end of your grocery shop to pick it up.
You can also easily substitute other meals instead of ones I provided.
Say instead of wanting grilled chops and vegetables, you substituted Pesto Tuna Casserole from the recipe section of this site, you'd just reduce the shopping list accordingly. Therefore, you'd need eight BBQ chops less, 4 potatoes less, 1 floret of broccoli less, 2 carrots less, 4 ears of corn less and 1/5 of a large bag of beans less.
You would instead need to ensure that you have a large tin of tuna, a bottle of pesto sauce, a bag of bow pasta, some grape tomatoes and a packet of shaved Parmesan cheese instead.
If this process saves you just 10 minutes every day, (on average,) that frees up enough time to ensure your child is reading to you daily. (Over the year that can be the difference between your child being a good reader or not.)
If it saves you just 20 minutes a day, that can give you enough time to keep your washing/folding/ironing up to date, so your weekends are washing free.
If it saves you 30 minutes a day, that's enough time for you to exercise, watch a favourite T.V. programme, keep housework up to date so weekends can be housework free.
But I found it saved me heaps more time than that.
Because I did one huge grocery shop once a month, and one supplementary one there was a four hour saving a month just there. And now online shopping can save an additional 4 hours a month.
Then, when I could pull a frozen meal, like a curry, spaghetti bolognese, stew, etc out of my freezer, that saved me at least 3/4 of an hour of food prep on those days. (3 times a week another 2 1/4 hours.)
When everything is planned like this, substitution is very easy. This process can be repeated over and over once you know your menu and quantities.
While this may seem like a lot of effort to set up you may be interested in the following.
I was really surprised to learn that if I threw out on average say $10 dollars’ worth of food every week over my working life (that passed use by dates or went off ) that would have added up to at least $15,600 dollars that I had expended for absolutely nothing. Now that's the equivalent amount of a good second car for the family for when your children begin driving.
On the days we ate fresh food, because I had vegies pre-prepared in bags, that saved me another 10 minutes of food prep, 3 times a week (another 1/2 hour.)
Add this together and it gave me a minimum of 3 & 3/4 hours free time/ week, every week.
That was 195 hours over the year. But multiplied by 35 years of a working life became 6825 hours.
And if I had been able to delegate the actual shopping to online shopping that would have been another 1680 hours.
But why am I telling you all these numbers?
By using this system I had the capacity to free up around 8500 hours, that was either earmarked for other activities, or would have been used on food preparation.
And do you know how many hours there are in a whole year... There are 8760.
I freed up almost an entire year's worth of 24 hour days over my working life.
But considering working days are usually 8 hours, (not 24 hours,) I had the capacity to save nearly 3 years worth of free time, over my working life, simply by using gifts of time and streamlining my meal preparation... Seriously.
The difference this simple time saving strategy made to our quality of life was incredible.
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