Okay so I’ll shoot straight with you; I adore meal planning. My mom always meal planned because she didn’t drive when I was a kid. She relied on getting rides to the grocery store from friends and family so whenever she went, she’d stock up for 2-3 weeks at a time.
I personally prefer to go weekly but I still write out my meals and detailed grocery list. I find it saves major money and major TIME!
If you plan your meals and shop accordingly, you aren’t running to the store 2-3 times a week. So if this is something you’ve never tried or you’re just looking for some fresh ideas on how to do it, read on.
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Writing the Plan
First thing I like to do is write the seven days of the week (because I currently meal plan and grocery shop weekly) on my meal plan page for the week. I use my bullet journal to meal plan but you can subscribe to my email list and get my FREE printable meal planner and grocery list to write yours!
I recommend hole punching them and keeping them in some sort of binder or folder because it’s a beautiful reference to have to look back on; especially as the seasons change and your basic meals change. Sometimes you’ll completely forget about a family favorite meal and it’s great to jog your memory.
Next thing I do is take stock of what we have on hand. Whether it’s a freezer meal I made quite a few months ago that we should use up or a bag of spinach I didn’t get through last week, I jot down on the bottom of the page. This way I can keep my eye on them as I choose recipes. Sometimes I don’t use them that week but it’s good to have in front of me.
Now it’s time to pick out your meals. I like to pick no more than two new recipes to try a week but usually only one. If it’s going to be a particularly crazy week I only choose tried and true favorites and quick dishes.
Pinterest is a fantastic place to not only find recipes but to organize them. But I’m a huge Rachael Ray fan myself so I also love looking through my many cookbooks and picking from there.
Though I typically just select from my list of 25-30 frequently made meals. I personally think of specific meals for specific days, based on how much time I’ll have, but you can just choose any seven meals and make them as you see fit if that’s more your style.
The beauty of planning is that you’ll have all of the ingredients on hand and the only thing to think about at the beginning of the day is what meat to thaw.
At this point, I write out a few ideas for breakfast, lunch and snacks in the columns below. Writing it down reminds me to add key ingredients to my shopping list.
Writing Your List
I write my shopping list on the back of the meal plan or next page of my bullet journal. I like to make 6 columns, I have done this for as long as I can remember because I’m pretty sure this is what my mom did. Your categories may vary slightly but mine are: produce, aisle, dairy, frozen, meat and misc.
Next, I go through each meal, or reference the recipe if it’s new, and write down the ingredients we need. So if I have leftover corned beef on my list, I’ll most likely throw Reuben sandwiches on the meal plan for the next week. If I already have sauerkraut on hand, I’ll add Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing and rye bread to my list. I’ll keep going through my meals and adding ingredients as I need them.
Finally, I go through the breakfasts, lunches, and snacks and add anything we needed for them. I’ll add our typical snacks that we go through every week and fruit/veggie sides we eat with our meals. I also look at the list of my fridge and add items on our “we need” list. We have a dry erase board right on the fridge so that Sean or I can write down things we use up before we forget.
That’s it! That wasn’t too hard was it? I mean it’s definitely hard to get started in the beginning but it’s so worth it. You can also customize this plan to make it a bi-monthly meal plan as well.
If you guys would like more info on doing that, just let me know in the comments. I’ve done it before and it can be super easy if you plan right. I’d also love to know what some of your best meal planning tips are.
Taran is a self-proclaimed undomestic mom. She thrives as a stay-at-home-mom by consistently carving out time for herself and practicing realistic self-care. As a busy mom of 3, she knows that if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy! With a focus on how SAHMs can carve out time for themselves everyday, she teaches fellow SAHMs how they can do the same.