One of the biggest time savers for me is a simple rotating menu. We do the major grocery shopping every two weeks. I used to have to sit down and plan the next two weeks menu every time, and it was a task I dreaded and would put off until the last minute. Then we went to an 8 week rotating menu. It has completely transformed my life!!!
Here is what I did with the help of my eldest daughter. We marked out a "theme" for each weekday. Sundays are feast days where we make something very special and more elaborate. Saturdays are Mexican, Mondays are beans or rice, Wednesdays are soup night, and so forth. Then we took and filled out for each theme 7 dishes and menus. The reason I did not pick 8 is because I like to try new dishes and so I left one night each week for experimentation. I staggered my experimentation nights over the 8 weeks so that I did not have to have an entire week of creativity that I do not have time to plan, but I still have 1 night per week that I can plan to try some new recipe.
Then we printed out our 8 week menu. If we are on week 6, then when I sit down to fill out the shopping list, I just see what we are having for week 6 and 7. I can fill out a month at a time and make any adjustments for birthday meals, special occasions, or hospitality, or serendipitous gifts of food!
What we are working on, for some time because I have dropped the ball, is to computerize my shopping list. My oldest daughter has programmed the computer to spit out a list if I punch in "Week 3", but I have not given her the ingredients list yet. That will come soon. Then all I will have to do is have the next two weeks ingredient lists printed out and compare them with what I have on the shelves.
This may seem like a simple, "no brainer" thing to do, but it has been huge for me. It will be on my list of the best time saving tips for every busy mother!
---posted by Queen Lucy