Often times the weekly grocery trip can seem daunting. What are we going to need for the week? What will we eat? And so on and so forth. Not to mention how difficult it can be to figure out what to make for dinner after running after the kids all day long. Often I don’t have the energy to go looking for recipes. How do I fix this scenario you ask? By planning ahead with a weekly menu. I am going to share with you how we eliminate some of the stress of food planning for the week by being organized.
A little side note. My husband and I have been attending a class recently called Financial Peace University designed by the wonderful Dave Ramsey. It is a great program which I highly recommend because it gets you organized with your money. He teaches you how to budget and save, etc., but I digress. Anyways, in the class you have to identify who the “nerd” is in your marriage, and who is the “free spirit”. Because I am all about planning and being organized, you can guess which one I turned out to be… My point in telling you this is, yes, because I am a nerd, planning meals is something that comes easy to me. But someone who is a free spirit could still benefit from organizing and planning meals because it will give them the free time they so desire during the week. And also this plan is not so rigid that there isn’t room for switching things up. Let me explain a little more about what I mean.
I set some time aside once a week to look through the grocery ads. This will help me determine what is on sale and what kinds of recipes to look for. (Is there a great deal on ground beef this week? etc.) Then I will look in my cookbooks or pinterest page for recipes that appeal to our tastes that week. Because I have favorite recipes from the past already flagged, I often look through those first to see if any of them sound good.
Then I will write down 6 recipes and their information (the book it came from and the page number or if from Pinterest) down on a piece of paper. This enables me to see the variety I have selected (Did I pick only chicken dishes? Have I selected a lot of Mexican cuisine and nothing else?) as well as make sure that I have enough recipes for the week. The reason I pick 6 recipes and not 7 is because I let the 7th one be a “free day”. Maybe we will go out to eat one of the days, or maybe we just feel like throwing a frozen pizza in the oven. The “free day” gives you a little flexibility.
I then split up my grocery list into 6 sections: 1) Meat, 2)Dairy, 3) Produce, 4) Frozen, 5)Packaged, and 6) Other. I go through each recipe, writing down the things that I will need to buy (also checking my inventory at home).
Doing this helps me keep things organized, but it is also extremely beneficial when I actually make my trip to the grocery store. It will make the shopping experience focused and easy to get through!
Lastly, I write out a dinner for each day of the week on a small whiteboard we keep magnetized to the fridge. This was bought at the dollar store! You could also easily make your own if you are very crafty. What I love most about this system is that it eliminates the unknowns when it comes to food. It gives me an idea of what I will be making and it lets me husband and kids know what to expect for dinner.
Do I stick strictly to our weekly menu? No. There are nights where I don’t feel like the food I had originally planned, or the recipe is too involved and I want to make something a little more simple. But the beauty of it is, all I have to do is switch things around. I already have all of the ingredients I will need for the week, so if I have to swap something, it isn’t a big deal. You can also do this with the free day.
At the end of the day, do what works for you and your family. Maybe you don’t have the time on the weekends to sit down and get everything hashed out. Maybe you have very picky eaters in your family and you have to have a plan B set in action. Take whatever you feel is helpful from this and play around with it. Everything in life requires a little trial and error. I just know that this system has really been great for us. Giving up a half and hour during the weekend really benefits me during those week nights, when the last thing I want to do is figure out what we are doing for dinner that night. I hope you found some of this useful! Whether you are are “nerd” or a “free spirit” I hope these little tips help you!