Simple Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping List
One thing I am extremely proud of as a wife and a mom, is that my family eats well. We eat very little take-out food, very little pre-packaged food, and almost no fast food. We try to eat lots of super foods like blueberries and broccoli and sweet potatoes. Our humble garden is grown partly out of loyalty to eating local and organic food. And very recently we have drastically reduced the amount of inflammatory foods that we eat, such as gluten. I am not a dietician and I’m certainly not a chef, but I do a pretty good job, I think.
Apart from ensuring the quality of what we eat, a bigger challenge is having the time to make it. There is little time in the evenings to prepare elaborate meals and get Rachel ready for bed. Plus I really only want to cook with as many dishes as I have the patience to clean. I’m lucky that Jim and I share the cooking and cleaning load (and that we’re both pretty good at both), but we still have to plan things out a week ahead of time so that all duties are covered.
Here’s what I use to try to keep it all together:
It’s a meal planner and grocery shopping list all on one page. Similar to my chore charts, I do not schedule meals by specific days of the week. I need a little more flexibility than that. What I do instead, is plan to make two big cooked dinners each week which each yield leftovers for one more dinner or a lunch, and two quick-cooked dinners. A “cooked” dinner would be lasagna or enchiladas, or something else that has multiple components and requires an hour or more of cook time. A “quick” dinner would be something like loaded baked potatoes, or pasta with veggies and olive oil, or spinach quesadillas – things that can be made in one dish and only take as much time as boiling water.
This covers four nights of cooking so the additional days we have some combination of leftovers, another quick dinner, breakfast for supper, or dinner out with friends. We can choose what we want to make each day based on our energy level, Rachel’s mood, what we feel like eating, and how much time we have.
Of course there are areas to write down the breakfast, lunch and snack items we want to have on hand throughout the week too.
Next to the meals column I include a “do ahead” column for things I can get started on ahead of time, like grate cheese or blind bake a pie crust for a quiche. This can be a huge time saver, but it can also be a trap. If my “do ahead” list is too long, I can end up with too many half-cooked meals and not enough time to finish cooking them all. Writing everything down helps me see if that list is becoming overly ambitious.
Finally, there’s a section to write down what we need to pick up from the grocery store, based on the meals we want to make, and I divide it by section to make shopping go a little quicker. Especially if you have a toddler in tow, it’s pretty annoying to go back and forth from aisle to aisle.
This helps me feel like I’m organized and still have a little flexibility to accommodate the occasional unpredictable day. Plus, I like charts and lists. If you do too, feel free to download your weekly meal plan + shopping list, and let me know how it works out for you. Happy eating!