My oldest daughter and I were talking the other night about meal planning, food prep, and eating out. You see, she recently got married and is doing a great job at feeding her family great meals.
She told me, “I’m so glad that you taught me how to plan meals and make a grocery store list.” It turns out that quite a few of her also recently married friends are struggling with it.
This post is just a quick glance into my easy peasy way to make a meal plan and then write a grocery list based on that plan. Sure you can get more complicated and that’s perfectly fine, but if you are looking for something simple, maybe this will help.
I’ve used a lot of different worksheets throughout the years, but I keep coming back to a simple sheet of notebook paper. I shop every two weeks so I plan meals for that time period. In the interest of full disclosure, I do have to make small trips to the grocery store for veggies, milk, or something I forgot occasionally during the two week time period. Also, this is just my grocery list for Wal-Mart. I have a separate list for Sam’s. Because feeding eight people three meals a day requires a lot of food.
There are four simple steps to making a complete grocery list.
- The first thing I do is write down the dates toward the bottom of the paper. As a side note, I often flip the meals around. So I might write minestrone soup for tonight but we might have the vegetarian spaghetti instead. My meal planning is flexible, which is why I also use my menu board that is easily erasable.
- Next, I write down the grocery store categories at the top of the page.
- Once the dates and categories are written down, I begin filling in the dinner meal options for each day.
- As I write down a meal, I immediately write down any ingredients I need to purchase at the top of the page in the proper category. This way I don’t forget that I need those Italian green beans for minestrone soup and only remember when I’m assembling the ingredients. (Not that hasn’t happened a time or two!)
I don’t write down lunches, snacks, and breakfasts anymore, although I did at one time. By now, I know what I need for those meals and we often have leftovers for lunch. Well, if there is anything left over after my three, yes three, teenage boys finish dinner.
You might wonder whether meal planning and careful grocery shopping make a difference when it comes to weight loss. It definitely can.
If you are anything like I am, I eat much better when I have planned out the food for the day. It’s those days when I don’t really know what I’m going to eat that gets me in trouble.
There is some accountability to yourself if you’ve planned your meals and purchased all the ingredients you need for the coming days or weeks. Also, if you have everything on hand, you don’t need to run by the store or forget eating at home and instead head out.
This may be a basic post for some of you, but I’m hoping that it will be helpful to others. Try making a simple grocery list and see if it helps you stay on track this next week!
Any suggestions to help other people who may struggle with list making and/or meal planning? Diane