Wrangling the Entropy Tip #4, I Excel at Excel

Each Wednesday of my vacation I am featuring a post by a noted guest writer (read: anyone in my family who responded to my pleas for them to pick up my slack – I’m on vacation for goodness’ sake!).  Last week you may recall that Sheepdog wrote an inspirational piece on DIY projects.  Today I am proud to introduce another character from my cast of crazies, the incredibly organized Sister D.

Sister D is in her early thirties, a stay-at-home mom to three kids (a 1-year old daughter, a 5-year-old son and an almost 7-year-old son, who is on the autism spectrum with PDD-NOS).  She has been married to B-I-L #3 (the Trash Man) for 8 years.  They keep moving around because Trash Man keeps getting promoted, but they have thankfully stayed put in Kennesaw, GA for the past couple of years now.  I just love that they are nearby.

Sister D is the youngest of the Paarz sisters.  She is creative and smart and a perfectionist.  She is a great mom and a loving wife and a loyal friend.  When she calls to catch up with me I tell my kids to leave me alone because I am on a very important call.  She is super fit because she works out and eats well.  She constantly challenges herself with marathons and other physical activities that make my head hurt.  She likes the finer things in life and she works hard for them too.  She is currently vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, which is where she intends to spend summers with her children and a Mexican nanny as soon as she can convince our dad to buy a house there.

So, without any further ado, I present Sister D and her nuggets of wisdom…

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I EXCEL AT EXCEL by honorary guest writer, Sister D

I thought for my first guest blog I’d write about my crazy oldest sister.  Oh, wait…nevermind.

I have to admit…I don’t remember learning about entropy.  I was an engineering major (for a little while, anyway), though admittedly I did attend most of my sophomore year physics classes still a little saucy from the night before.  (C’mon…Buckhead bars closed at 4 AM.  I scheduled 8 AM classes to allow for my afternoon nap.  Do the math.)  Anyway, I don’t know a whole lot about entropy, but I do know that I can get in and out of a grocery store with 3 young kids in tow in 20 minutes.  This is how I do it.

Go to your local grocery store.  If you’re lucky, you can get an aisle directory from Customer Service.  If you’re not, don’t worry…you either get to look like an idiot as you take notes every time you go into a new aisle, or you can alarm the store manager as he wonders why you’re taking pictures of the signs in each aisle.  No matter how you obtain the information, take your list of what items are in each aisle and put them in a spreadsheet that looks something like this.

Print out several copies, hang one up on your refrigerator and instruct your self/family/babysitter to write items under the appropriate aisle heading as they run out or start to run low.  I also laminated one copy of my list with all of our regular items pre-populated in the fields so I have something to cross-reference as I plan my grocery trip.

So what are you going to put on this fancy list?  If your family is like mine, they probably expect you to feed them.  Planning meals is one of my least favorite tasks, so I only did it once.  I came up with 24 meals and have sets of four meals that cycle every six weeks.  We will always have enchilada chicken the same week we have tilapia piccata, but the last time we had those meals was six weeks ago, so no one seems to notice.  I evenly distribute my chicken/fish/beef/pasta dishes so that each group of four has a good variety and leaving three nights open per week allows for a little bit of spontaneity.  I fill those spots with Daddy’s-out-of-town-so-we’re-eating-cereal, seasonal meals with finds from the farmers’ market, events we attend so they’ll feed us, or dinner out.

Meal Primary heading Secondary heading Week
Broccoli & beef pasta Beef Pasta 1
Fajitas Chicken Mexican 1
Chicken baked with stuffing Chicken 1
Italian grilled pork chops Pork 1
Enchildada chicken Chicken Mexican 2
Chicken gorgonzola Chicken 2
Tilapia piccata Fish 2
Roasted turkey breast Turkey 2
Lasagna Beef Pasta 3
Chicken stir-fry Chicken Asian 3
Chicken sausage & peppers Chicken 3
Chicken casserole Chicken 3
Chicken and veggie pasta Chicken Pasta 4
Tomato mozzarella garlic chicken Chicken 4
Lemon garlic salmon Fish 4
Turkey chili Turkey 4
Spaghetti Beef Pasta 5
Tortilla soup and tamales Chicken Mexican 5
Chicken & dumplings Chicken 5
Pork tenderloin Pork 5
Tacos Beef Mexican 6
Chicken and spinach vodka pasta Chicken Pasta 6
Chicken parmesan Chicken 6
Pepper steak Steak 6

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