Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Spruce Up in the Kitchen: A Simple Way to Keep up With a Menu

No series about the kitchen would be complete without touching on the menu. Making a menu each week or even month saves time, money, sanity, and usually ends up in everyone eating much, much healthier. There are a lot of menu planner systems online that you have to pay for, but I found a pretty easy way to do it myself.

I used to sit at my kitchen table once a month and spend hours pouring over cookbooks, writing down menu plans, and then making up shopping lists of what I'd need each week. Not. Fun.

Then when I became the food writer for Knoxville Examiner, I did a lot of looking at food online. I would save ideas and recipes I found in my free Evernote account. Soon it was bursting at the seams. When would I make them all?

I decided that I would plot each saved recipe on a calendar so that I actually would one day make these things. 

So I open my iCal program (calendar program for Macs) and quickly realize that appointment entries have a space for a url! I copied the url for my first saved recipe in my web browser, then flipped to my iCal program, put the recipe name on my calendar on a day I think I can make it, and plugged the url into the entry. I continued to do this until my "Recipes to Save" folder was used up. 

Then I thought: hmmm . . . this is nice, but I really need to take a look at what I have plugged into my calendar now and rearrange it so that when I have a dinner with chicken one night, for example, I have something for lunch with chicken in it on the next day. You know, so I can plan economically. Who has time to redo all of those entries? Duh, Tanya. I decided to try to drag an entry onto another day. It worked! Oh baby. Just drag those recipes all around so easily! I can plug recipes right into my calendar, plug in the url so I can click on it and know what to do when I am ready to cook it, and even drag entries around if I miss something or want to rearrange. The dragging is really great because let's face it: life is unpredictable.

Oh and iCal has an entire sidebar next to the calendar for notes. I can use that to type in needed ingredients as I go, separating by week if I grocery shop weekly, and then I even have a shopping list ready to go!

iCal is the calendar program that comes with Macs. I checked to see if it would work for non-Mac users, like the Mac web browser does. Nope. But I did find a program created to basically be an iCal for windows. It is called MonoCalendar if you want to check it out. 

One last thing: You can color-code types of entries in iCal. For example, all of my recipe entries are in red, kids' appointments are in blue, work-related entries are in green. Also you can turn types of entries on or off. So if I just want to see my recipes on my calendar, I can turn off the viewing for the kids and work entries. This is a fabulous system for meal planning!

So this is one easy menu-planning idea; do you have any to share?

This post is part of the Spring Spruce Up series. Today is the last Spruce Up post but stick around tomorrow because we will have a link-up so you can add your own Spruce Up ideas or experiences! And if you missed the past two days, check out:

And for now, go check out other rooms of the house & outside at more participating blogs!:

Sprucing Up the Laundry Room | Mama’s Laundry Talk
Sprucing Up the School Room | Homegrown Mom
Sprucing Up the Craft Room | Many Little Blessings
Sprucing Up the Bathroom | Feels Like Home
Sprucing Up the Playroom | …Life’s About a Dream
Sprucing Up the Garage/Storage Space | A Slob Comes Clean
Sprucing Up the Master Bedroom | Raising Arrows
Sprucing Up Your Homeschool | Jimmie’s Collage
Sprucing Up the Kitchen | So Happy Together
Sprucing Up the Garden | An Oregon Cottage
Sprucing Up the Backyard | Successful Homeschooling

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea- I'm going to have to check ical out, as I'm a mac girl, too- thanks!