Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Meal Planning & Shopping 101

Today’s topic: Menu/Meal Planning.  I am excited to write about this topic.  It’s one I've been thinking about and planning for a while now.  I wanted to find a way that worked for me each time I went shopping and I've finally found it!  I've been using this method and these printables that I've made since the spring, with a few tweaks here and there -- I've made some sections larger and some smaller.  I've also tried printing double sided, but I’m visual and like to see both sheets at once!  Here are the printables I use & how I use them:


(Click here for a PDF version of the printables!)

These work for me for a variety of reasons:
*I don’t like to spend time grocery shopping every week, so by meal planning and making my list accordingly, I can spread my shopping trips out to every 2-3 weeks.
*Not taking so many trips to the grocery store saves money!
*By knowing exactly what I’m going to cook, I can plan my list accordingly so there’s no playing the game: "what the heck am I going to make for dinner with these ingredients."  (Because sometimes it can be like an at home version of “Chopped” and that’s no good…you’ve seen what’s in those baskets!)
*Having my shopping list by section really helps me breeze in and out of the store and brings my “shoot-I-forgot-to-get-this" down to a minimum. 
*I also can see at a glance which of my meals (or parts of) I can prep for the freezer ahead of time and I usually can get most of that done during my daughter’s nap time.
*I ALWAYS keep my menu list easily accessible.  I know what meals I can make with what I have…and I can give my husband options on what he’d like for dinner so it’s a win win. 
*By using the shopping list in sections I can easily see at a glance what the bulk of my purchase is…am I buying too many canned goods? Not enough protein to get us through a few weeks? Have in included enough fresh produce? (I will make spot trips to the store for fresh produce!)

Let’s get started using these bad boys!
1.       First, I sit down with a cup of coffee (or wine…) and scour my pin boards with my sheets at my side.  Here are some screen shots and links to my boards…

                                 What's for dinner?                                        Freezer Friendly

                                     Lunch Time!                                                Sunday Funday

2.       I’ll add recipes to my menu as I find meals that I know my family will enjoy.  I also enjoy finding a variety of meals so I’m not getting into a rut of making the same thing. 


3.       I also make note on my menu if a recipe will make two meals (x2) or if it’s freezer friendly (F) so I can check that at a glance.

4.       Once I have my meals planned out, it’s on to the shopping list.  I actually print the shopping list about a week before I go shopping so I can add extras to it as I run out (baking soda, toilet paper, etc.  Things that we need, but might not be specifically in my meals).  I sit down with each recipe (or think about it in my head if it’s one I’ve made over and over) and the ingredients I don’t have in the pantry or fridge get added to the list.

(Don’t mind my sloppy handwriting or atrocious spelling.)

On my list I’ll make myself notes like what I’m using the ingredient for or if it’s on sale at the store.  So once I have all of this, I’ll head out to the store and shop!  If I’m really feeling ambitious, I’ll print out a calendar and write down our dinners on it so I have a blueprint of the next few weeks.  But more than likely that changes anyway.  Like I said before, I do make spot trips to the store for things like produce and milk for Harp.  But this really cuts down on my trip totals and the money I’ve been spending on groceries.  I hope this helps make life a little easier for you!  I’d love to hear if you used it or how you did.  Would you make any changes to the printables? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Stay full!


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