How many of us go to the grocery store without a single idea of what we are going to cook that week? Aisle after aisle hoping something will inspire us, but instead of inspiration, we’re left with a shopping cart full of random ingredients that will honestly just go bad in the refrigerator from not being used. Not only does this style of grocery shopping produce abundant waste, it’s doing your fitness goals no favors either.
I used to be notorious for grocery shopping with zero plan. I’d go up and down the aisles, grabbing the items I “always buy” regardless of having no plans or recipes to use them in, and wind up back at home uninspired and bored with our daily menu. NO WONDER!!! Fail to plan —> plan to fail! And I was failing BIG TIME. What’s worse, I’d buy all these groceries, be sick to death of the same meals all the time, therefore I’d say “screw it!” and head to Chipotle for dinner instead. Total budget fail.
It wasn’t until I started meal planning that I discovered a few things:
- Food can actually be tasty AND healthy by following a tried & true recipe
- I actually enjoy cooking
- I can buy more expensive items (like organics & grass-fed meats) because I’m saving money not buying random things that turn to waste
- A few hours spent on the front end saves me a load of time during the week
There are many different ways to meal plan, but this is the method that works well for me!
First, I made a spreadsheet on my computer like this one.
Then you get busy filling it in.
First, write in any events or dinners that are already planned for the week…you don’t need to worry about those meals, baby!
Next, go through your favorite cookbooks and recipes you find online, blogs or pinterest to find recipes you want to use this week. If the recipe is not found in your cookbook, print it out. (more on that later)
Fill in the remaining meal slots on your calendar.
As you write things in, make sure you notate where the recipe is located.
- If it was a printed recipe, I simply notate “recipe.”
- If it came from a cookbook, I abbreviate the cookbook title so I know which book to grab.
- Notate the page number.
- For example, Carnitas from the Whole30 book would look something like this:
Pulled Pork Carnitas
W30 p. 254
Now it’s time to make your grocery list!
Having a menu, and corresponding recipes, makes compiling your grocery list a snap. Plus, you’ll save on your grocery bill because you’ll only be buying ingredients you plan to use, leaving nothing to waste!
So, first things, first. Grab all those recipes you printed out and put them in order of when you’ll use them.
Then, go meal by meal, day by day, looking at the particular recipe’s ingredient list and write down on your grocery page what you need (that you don’t already have in your pantry!)
You can download this grocery list HERE
For example, Tuesday’s breakfast dish calls for 4 eggs, 1 lb of bacon, 1 sweet potato, 1 yellow onion, paprika, salt and pepper. I have most of the ingredients already, however, I need a sweet potato and paprika. I’d write those in on my grocery list under produce and spices. If Thursday night’s recipe calls for 3 more sweet potatoes, I’d change my number from 1 to 4 total sweet potatoes that I need. Make sense?
This system becomes infinitely easier the more you use it and get comfortable with it. There are staples that I buy every time I go to the grocery store (onions being one of them!) because I use them in abundance and KNOW I’ll easily go thru the bag by the end of the week!
Do you have a system that works well for you? What do you think of my system? Something that would work well for you? Let me know your thoughts!!