Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day 15: Tweaking a System: Meal Planning

Note: For those of you with apps and smart phones, this is going to seem quite archaic. But as you read through, see if you can think of any systems you have with "unusual" containers--which may or may not be working.
In the middle of planning our meals.

A system can break down in one of two ways:

1) you stop using it, or
2) the way you have it set up doesn't work for you.

Yesterday we talked about how I changed the way I stored my budgeting materials: a folder didn't allow me to separate the different pieces of paper I needed to access to pay my bills and keep track of my spending. That was a very clear example of changing the way it was set up for me by changing the storage container.

But meal planning? Other than talking about my cook books and how I have them on a shelf, there's not much else to say, is there?

Well, maybe. But meal planning is essentially pulling together all sorts of different kinds of information in order to decide what to eat for a set period of time. (FYI: Simplify 101 offers a menu planning course. I have not taken it.) Then, you take your meal plan and break it down into a shopping list.

I love forms. I see them as "storage containers" for information. So, a change in meal planning requires a change in forms. (For me, anyway. I think I'm probably a little strange in this regard.)

I used to plan by the month--so I needed one form  to capture all the meals for the month. I used a monthly calendar which I printed from the computer.

I used that for a while, but it was a lot of wasted space.

Then, I was thinking about starting work. I wanted a way to take my schedule into account: so I fished out an old form Aby had provided for us. I forget in which course it was originally offered. (Time Management, maybe?)

I tweaked it and made it my own, but the essential idea is hers: meals on top with a place to record activities to the side of each day, and a place for the shopping list below with items grouped by category. I added a place for notes on the right hand side.

Now, the form can completely capture the entire procedure of meal planning, for me. As well, all I need to take to the store is this one form: before, if I wanted to know what meals we were having, I had to take along the shopping list and the menu plan. I used to do my grocery shopping with a clipboard.

Looks like I need to change the heading for produce with frozen foods--I need more room to write!

Tomorrow we'll move on to the other side of this equation: habits!

ETA: You can catch all the posts in the series here.

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