I am sure my day looks very similar to yours: too much to do with not enough time to fit it all in. While I am by no means an “expert” in time management, I have learned a few tricks and tips to make my life a little easier. A big key to my successful weekly organization starts in the kitchen. Each week, I sit down for about 5-10 minutes and plan out what we will be eating. I then take that plan and create a simple grocery list from the meals. After trying to “wing it” for several years, I created a Menu Planner and Grocery Guide to help streamline this process. With this planning system, I am able to:
- Know what we are having for dinner instead of scrambling at the last minute
- Avoid leaving an item at the store because I forgot I needed it for a specific recipe (like when you go in for milk and get everything except milk…)
- Decrease time at the grocery store by using a easy to follow grocery list
- Eat a healthier variety of foods instead of last minute take out or fast food
- Try new meals instead of sticking to the same old routine
- Dodge the “What’s for dinner?” question (and know the answer) by having a pretty menu posted on the fridge
Here are 3 Easy Steps to planning a weekly menu and grocery list:
Step 1: Fill out Weekly Meals – use the weekly meal calendar to fill in any meals or snacks you have planned. Eating small meals throughout the day is ideal, so snack sections are included. I typically use about 5 out of 7 days on my calendar to give us the flexibility to eat out at restaurants if we want on the weekend (see meals in red). Don’t forget: crock pot meals and leftovers spread out on alternating days of the week can be a huge time saver in your busy week!
Step 2: Fill in Grocery Items – Once the meal planner is completed, fill in the grocery list by going across the meals for the week (i.e. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks) and writing down items needed from each grocery department for that category. Go through each meal category before moving to the next in order to keep your list making simple, fast and efficient. Make sure you put down everything you will need, even if an item is duplicated in different meal categories. Simply write the amount needed for that recipe next to the item to keep it organized.There is an “extra items” category for any extra toiletries that might be needed while you are out and about!
Step 3: Go Get it! – Time to pick up the groceries! Simply take your lists and go to each grocery section. Make sure to pick up all items in that section. If you have duplicate items for different meal sections, make sure to pick up the right amount (ex: Strawberries in 2 categories, pick up 2 packs if that quantity is needed).
I’m kind of old-fashioned and like the idea of handwriting my menus. For a free copy of the Menu Planner and Grocery Guide System, enter your email below. You’ll also get my bi-monthly newsletter with tips, the latest recipes, and 30-minute meal ideas to help make dinner a breeze on those extra busy weeks! Think of what you could do with all the time you’ll save out of the grocery store or trying to figure out what to eat day to day. I think I see a bubble bath in your future.
Have you used this meal planning system? I’d love to get your feedback in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org!
For those of you who are like to keep it online, check out BigOven for awesome recipe and meal planning ideas!