How do you do it all? This is a question I get asked a lot, and it is a question I am not 100% sure how to answer. As many of you know, I am the momma of 8 precious babies (ages 19-9 months, a Pastor's wife, I have a weekly radio show that I co-host (Growing Stronger Together), I have the privilege of running an annual women's conference(Shine Ministries), and just this year I returned to the world of teaching. So, yes, I am busy but the truth is, we all are busy. And, we all have the same 24 hours in our day. We are all faced with the same choices on how we are going to spend them. I do not claim to be an expert on time management or organization but I have learned a few things along the way so my next few blogs will be some of the things that work for our family.
This is probably my most useful tool. It not only saves time but it saves money. I plan our menus from month to month. I know that may seem overwhelming, and if so start with a week or two at a time and work your way up. Here's how I work it. First, I print a blank calendar for the month. I only plan suppers as that is our main meal. I don't usually write down the side dishes unless I want something specific. Next, I always try to introduce two new recipes to my family each month so I will start with putting them on the menu on days I know I will have some extra time in the evening. Then I focus in on Tuesdays. In the fall and winter, I plan a different soup for every Tuesday (Chili,Cheeseburger, Taco, stuffed pepper, etc.) In the spring and summer, I plan salads on Tuesdays (chef, taco, chicken, etc.) After I get my Tuesdays settled, I take it week by week, I add a chicken dish each week, an Italian dish, some family favorites, and before you know it the month is full. I do plan every Sunday as leftovers, since we get home so late from church on Sundays. It also helps clean out the fridge for the next week. Another time saver here is that I store all leftovers in glass containers so that when I get up Sunday, I take off all lids, set the oven on 200* and when we get home from church everything is ready to eat.
After I have the menu planned, I use it to write my grocery list. I do all my major shopping once a month and buy in bulk which helps save money. I also buy 10 gallons of milk at a time and freeze them. This lasts two weeks if I am lucky! I do have to make a trip back to the store after about two weeks for more milk, bread, eggs, yogurt, fruit...things like that, but it is a quick trip. I honestly feed my family for under $400 a month.Menu planning also helps with our day to day. When I get up in the morning, I already know what I am going to cook for supper. I either get things going in the crock pot or at the very least, get the meat out to thaw, and set things I need out on the counter. That way when I get home, I am already set to get things going, which helps me stick to the plan.
Of course, life isn't as predictable as we would like it to be and sometimes our plans change. It is good to be flexible and allow for this! If for some reason I end up not cooking a planned meal, I circle it on the calendar. That way I know that I already have all the ingredients for that meal and can just write it o the next month.
Goodness, I hope that all makes sense and it is something you find useful. This isn't my typical blog so I am a bit out of my comfort zone here. I guess I am writing in the spirit of Ephesians 4:9-12 says it best,
"Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
So , here's hoping this was of some use to you! If you have questions or comments I would love to hear them!
Happy Planning, Marla