Meal Planning Made Easy

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!!

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  1. I was right there with you Tiff, going to the grocery store with the same grocery list over and over again a.k.a boring ?. Thanks to you and all your teaching and great tips I learned to organize my weekly meals (from your YouTube channel), for the past 3 weeks cooking for me has been more enjoyable and exciting. Yesterday I made the tomato and basil soup for the first time and it was delicious (thanks to the link I found on your previous post)

    1. That’s wonderful, Ruth! Isn’t it crazy how something we dread before (cooking) can actually be enjoyable when we put a bit of forethought into it. It takes the stress away and leaves us excited to cook amazing dishes!!!

  2. I already use almost the same system you do, and I really appreciate the downloads, as I always write those meal plans and grocery lists on any kind of paper… But I really like to file the meal plans afterwards for future meal planning. I often note on those used ones what recipe we liked, what I changed on them and so on… So when I’m out of ideas what to cook, I take these old ones out and look for recipes we liked in the past. Thanks for that!

  3. Thank you for all your amazing tips! Since following you on Instagram and reading your blog, I have felt encouraged and motivated to make changes (diet and exercise). I’m 32 with two children under the age of four and felt like life was passing me by, always setting up fitness goals and meal plans and failing miserably. I still have a lot to learn but you have been a huge source of motivation. Just wanted to let you know that in a vast sea of fitness people, blogs and endless Instagram accounts you always stand out to me….so THANK YOU!

    1. Eloise, I am so excited for you! Thank you for taking the time to write to me and share this! I’m feeling so joyful inside and grateful I’ve had a small hand in this! xoxo

  4. I use trello.com to create an online board similar to above 🙂 you create a ‘card’ for box. I save URL of recipes and copy/paste list of ingredients. It has an app so I can just refer to ingredients list while grocery shopping. You can re-use the cards so you have a list of previously cooked recipes.

  5. Super efficient! I do meal plan but still end up chucking stuff out as I may end up getting home too late to cook or don’t fancy what I have planned. I guess I have to look at being more flexible. I’ve only just found your blog, but it’s brilliant❤️

  6. Thank you for this. I love following you on IG and find your approach to being healthy and happy really refreshing and not overwhelming like I find so many others. You make it seem attainable!

    I tried to download your meal planner but the one to download has your examples and you can’t delete those… Just FYI… I went ahead and made my own since I needed a blank one right now.