Over the last week I was hoping to work on organizing my pantry and making master shopping lists. However, all four kids have been sick with colds and sore throats, which has made the baby extra cranky, so I didn’t get very far. I did, however, realize how much I not only needed to organize and replenish the pantry but I needed to throw out old expired items. Yesterday I wanted to make quick BBQ chicken in the slow cooker. I saw this recipe on Pinterest. It looked super easy and I had all the ingredients.
Well, I had the ingredients but they weren’t exactly fresh. My vinegar was expired not just by a couple months but by a few years – as in, I bought it about three pregnancies ago! (Yeah, you can see how often I used to cook homemade.) But that was fine. I had another kind of vinegar that I could use instead. Wait, that was expired too but not by so many years. However, it had a lot of gross gunk in it and I wasn’t going to use it.
Okay, forget that recipe. There was this easy recipe that I found that didn’t require vinegar. It sounded a bit weird to mix Italian dressing with BBQ sauce but all the reviewers raved about it. I ran to the garage pantry to grab a bottle of dressing. Brian likes it so I keep an extra bottle for him. What?? I ran out? Oh. Em. Gee. What kind of pathetic kitchen is this?!?
By this time my 20 minute window of opportunity was up and the baby was crying and JP spilled his milk. Ugh! Finally I just threw in the frozen chicken in the crock pot and poured a bottle of BBQ sauce on top (it was a miracle I had that) and flipped it on for 3 ½ hours. Soooo, my pantry needs more work that I thought. It’ll be at least another week before I post about them.
I did, however, finish my shopping lists. I used to keep four post it notes on the fridge. One for each store I shopped at – Target, Costco, Trader Joe and the local market, although I usually only go to the market for quick last minute things. This made a quick run to the store easy because you grabbed the post it you needed and left the ones you didn’t.
However, once I put up my menu board, it took up too much space, so now I use a narrow magnetic notepad sectioned off into four. Since I no longer make sporadic shopping runs, I don’t need separate post its. I organize my shopping lists, check over the week’s menu and do my shopping once a week.
Since I usually always buy the same items at Costco and Trader Joe, I use my iphone Shopper app. (The ads can be annoying so I paid the $1.99 to be ad free.) I made a template shopping list for each store. When it is time to shop I take down my fridge list and mark off what needs to be purchased to create an e-list for that week. I’ve used the e-list on my phone while I shop but I usually have one of the kids with me and they like to play with my iphone so instead I email the list to myself and print it out. It makes things so much easier!
For my Target shopping, a master list didn’t work because it varied so much from week to week – from new shoes for the baby to a school notebook for Bella. A blank list worked best. However, my Target was recently redesigned and it is taking me some time to get used the new location of favorite items. I decided to make a shopping list with categories according to the layout of the store. That way I can start at one end and work my way around to the other side. I’ve used it a few time and it is so much easier to get things done.
For a larger view: View image
Well, that pretty much wraps it up. This is the system that works best for me. What works for you?
Over the next week I’ll continue working on the pantry – oh, and don’t even get me started on the bug infested wheat flour I had to throw away! Oh, well. On the plus side, the chicken with only BBQ sauce was a hit! Brian took leftovers for lunch and he said his coworker wanted to know where he got that delicious smelling BBQ chicken. If he only knew. 😉 Happy organizing.
UPDATE: For shopping list tips check out the blog Family Menu Planning Book.com by Catholic convert Elizabeth Hawbaker and her e-book Family Menu Planning: A Practical Guide to Mealtime Management. I just downloaded it and there is a lot of great info that will help me with my meal planning and shopping.