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Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping Made Easy

I must be the spirit of the new year. You know, spending time organizing and getting back into the swing of things.

As I was doing the MEAL & GROCERY PLAN for the week I thought about how this once daunting task feels so normal and EASY to MAINTAIN now.

When we first had twins, it was a big transition going from a practically empty refrigerator and pursuing the grocery store every time we felt inclined to make a more gourmet meal to having four mouths to feed around the clock.

It turns out that with two little ones, you eat many more meals at home and you can’t tell a toddler to just wait for an hour to eat until after you run to the store to buy something to make.

And the grocery cart size and shopping time – wow – you can spend a long time in the store. Not to mention the logistics of Grocery Shopping with Twins – click here are some tips for that too!

The WHOLE PROCESS of shopping for a FAMILY was a bit OVERWHELMING.

Not to mention the stress of almost daily before and after work trips to the store.

It was TIME for a CHANGE.

So, I started meal planning and weekly online Clicklist shopping last year and I love it so much, I thought you might love it too.

First a disclaimer – I’m not a dietician. I try to eat generally healthy, but this post doesn’t cover nutrition.  This is a system for meal planning and efficient grocery shopping.  The menu is your choice 🙂

What you need to get started:

2 pieces of paper

A pen

Access to the groceries and supplies you have on hand.

Ideally you should do this at home, but you can check later or text someone to check on ingredients for you.

I know – Pen and Paper; It’s old-school. But there’s something about a piece of paper you can carry to check the fridge or spice rack.

 

5 Steps to Meals & Groceries Made Easy:

  1. Meal Plan
  2. Grocery List
  3. Enter Order Online
  4. Write Dinners on Meal Board
  5. Pick Up Groceries

Meal Planning

For meal planning I use the first piece of paper and write down dinners by day of the week for 7 days, starting with the day that I will buy the groceries.

While you plan your weekly meals, check your calendar so that you don’t plan a meal for days that you’re going out and so that you remember when you need to bring something to an event (an appetizer or post-practice snack).

Hint: If you plan 1 meal to cook from your freezer, 1 meal you can double to put one in the freezer for next week and 1 meal that you could move the ingredients to the freezer if other plans come up, you’ll be able to save time cooking after work and avoid wasting food.

Next, I check each meal against what we have on hand and write down the ingredients I need to buy next to each meal. I usually make simple dishes, but if it’s something less familiar I get out the recipe and check the ingredients.

Then, in a separate section I write down general lunch foods for the week.

Grocery List

With the meal plan in hand, on the second piece of paper I combine what I need onto a single grocery list.

Start with Staples

I write down the things that we need each week.

This is where I put things like milk, eggs, fruit, bread and our morning smoothie ingredients.

If you’re used to going to the store several times per week it can seem odd at first to see that you really need 14 bananas and 15 yogurts.

After a few weeks of seeing what you have too much of or too little of you’ll get to know your staples and the quantities your family eats in a week.

Add in Meal Planning Ingredients

Copy over the ingredients you need for the week’s lunches and dinners.

I cross them out as I copy them over to make sure I get them all.

Other Recurring Categories

I also have a couple of other recurring categories: Kids and Phone List.

Yours may be different, but you probably still have some other household items you need.

For the kids, this is usually things like diapers, wipes and pouches.

The phone list is things I notice during the week that we need. Whenever I notice something like toilet paper getting low or we use the last of the flour, I add it to a list in the One Note app (a board in your kitchen or any note taking method will work).

And voila! Your list is ready.

Enter Order Online

I choose to use Kroger’s ClickList.  It’s easy and convenient.

My next step is logging into the site and entering my grocery list. When you do it this way, you don’t have to put the list in any particular order.

I enter all of the items and schedule a pick up. I enter the order on either Mondays or Tuesdays for Wednesday evening pickup.  The hubs picks it up on his way home from work each Wednesday.

This process would work for any online pick up or delivery service.

If you prefer to shop in store (that may be your much-needed alone time!), use this step to rework your list, putting it in store order for a more relaxing shopping experience.

Write Dinners on Meal Board

I have a mini chalkboard in our kitchen where I write down the dinners for each night of the week.

Since I have 2-year-olds this is less about communicating what we’re eating that night and more about reminding me to take things out of the freezer or to start a marinade.

If you put the board or a meal list (the paper on the fridge works too) somewhere where you’ll see it each evening and morning, you’ll remember to take the Baked Ziti out of the freezer the night before so it cooks quicker after work.

It will also help you remember that you were going to make chicken but now you’re going to your friend’s house for dinner so you should put the chicken in the freezer to use another night.

Pick Up Groceries

Like I mentioned before, my husband picks these up at a Kroger store that’s on his way home from work.

If you choose to go with a pick-up, delivery or in store option, there is where you schedule time to either get the groceries or to make sure you’re home in time to unload the perishables.

Bon Appetit!

MORE TIME to enjoy evenings – or at least LESS MEALTIME STRESS!

Like any new system or practice, this take a little time to get used to.

After a few weeks of over or under-buying you’ll get the hang of it and LOVE not worrying about what to make for dinner and you won’t miss packing up the kids for last minute trips to the store.

 

Example Meal Plan & Grocery List

 

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