I realized the other day that I could use technology in a new way to simplify my life. Like many people, planning and cooking meals is a challenge for me. Not only do I worry about providing nutritious meals, but I think about our family's budget and how to get the most out of my time and our money when it comes to food.
My husband and I agreed on a target budget that was based on our (ahem, his) income. Feeding our family of four for $600 a month was aggressive but necessary if we wanted to maintain our current lifestyle. (We had chosen to live in Boulder County, Colorado, which has pretty expensive homes, AND for me to remain a stay-at-home-mom until the kids were both in public school full time.
I came up with a method for meeting the budget:
- make a menu for the week;
- purchase food once per week, only buying what we would need*; and
- stick to the plan.
I had already started several Google Calendars to coordinate our family life including who went to school on what days and at what times, where and when extracurricular activities happen, etc. So it made perfect sense to me to have a new electronic calendar for our menu.
The hardest part of this plan is making a menu for the week that is varied, nutritious, and meets dietary preferences of the family. (I consider it good enough if 3 out of 4 of us enjoy the meal. So on lentil night I know my daughter won't eat much but my son will be licking the bottom of his bowl and my son will shun the asparagus on risotto night but my daughter will gobble it up.) Once a week, every week, I sit and wonder what I should make for dinners.
Yesterday I realized a solution to the hardest part of my plan. Since I already type my menus into a calendar, it would be trivial to make the meals "repeat" themselves. I know better than to have identical meals too frequently but once per year should be fine...right? Excited to use the technology available to me, I sat down with the computer last night and started making things repeat once per year.
By the end of the year I will have a massive cooking/eating plan for the family. I will have made the hardest part of this job much easier and have the flexibility to add or change plans as need be in the future.
I realize that this post is not at all about preschoolers, really. But it is about technology and family and parenting. And so I share it with you to use as you see fit.
*Not to say I don't buy in bulk. If we need chicken for one of the recipes of the week I buy five pounds of it at Costco and freeze what I don't use.