This post will mostly be about how I do my meal planning- something that has taken me years to figure out what works for us.  Finally I think I have it down to a semi-science, at least until or until something throws me off routine.  For now I am just really excited that with a new year beginning I can finally clear up the clutter, the dust of moving is settling, and I can begin again in our new home.
A lot of my posts from here on out will focus on my home routines- what I’m doing with my kids, homeschooling, household management, cooking…that kind of stuff.  As I grow up into my role as a wife and mama I am learning each day how to better serve my family. 
So, welcome to my home…2012.
This morning the kids ate breakfast and asked to go out and check on their garden.

We planted these way back in September…I don’t remember if they are radishes or grean beans.

pulling up weeds

 I go back inside and look up some recipes from the San Francisco Chronicle cookbook.  I promised myself that in 2012 I would try new recipes- more soups and salads- and try my hands at more upscale cooking and cuisine.  I will try– the operative word.  Beyond that, I’m happy just finding fun and simple recipes the kids will enjoy.

I did find a recipe I liked. So it’s time to do my grocery shopping today.

I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out how to do menu-planning for my family, but I think I’m about 4 years down the road of the lightbulb going off in my head and finally realizing I needed a system that worked before I drove myself up the wall. 
So- here’s my little system.
I buy these little blank calendar pads and grocery/to-do list pads from Wal-Mart.  I create a menu by the week, usually based on a bit of the prior week’s menu- just juggle up the days.  I only focus on dinner and lunch.  Breakfast in our home is a cinch.

 Now with my week’s menu all done, I need to fill in the gaps, make sure I have all the ingredients for each meal.
 I check in my freezer to be sure I’m well stocked on the meats and veggies I need this week.  And I am except for another bag of peas.

My cabinet is stocked with pastas and all the canned goods I need for my chili on Friday.

 The rest of my grocery list consists of checking each room in the home for reminders of things to add like toiletries or cleaning products.  In the future I plan to add a clipboard list for each room- haven’t gotten to that yet.

Next step, comparing my grocery list beside my coupon binder, making sure I haven’t missed any coupons for what’s on my list.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes I have an issue with staying on budget.  It’s not that I don’t carefully plan to stay under a certain amount- it’s just that sometimes you never know from week to week if prices may fluctuate or not.  I mostly do my shopping at the Commissary (for military personnel- where prices can go up and down especially on meats), and I also shop a bit at Wal-Mart and Target.  There is no Publix in this part of California (bummer).
Anyhow, to combat the budgeting issue, my husband and I have worked it out that I will only shop with cash.  It gives me a fixed and concrete way of staying on track.  Once I run out of cash, that’s it.  I calculate my groceries to the cent while I’m shopping and we’ve been able to stay on $120/week for a family of four (including food, toiletries, cleaning products, basic household and personal hygiene needs, etc.).  And of course, couponing helps.
Well, I’m off to do my grocery shopping and pick up some photos from the 1-hour photo center to send to friends.
I’ll try to do more posts about household management and how I’m trying to manage around here 🙂
I will also attempt to do some fun kiddie activity and recipe posts this year to.
Additionally, I will be rearranging the blog so that it makes more sense about the direction I’m going in.  (Unlike WordPress it’s a little messy and adding categories in a drop down menu doesn’t seem to be an option- if you have any ideas on this please let me know).
Until the next post…