Is your grocery budget out of control? Do you never seem to have all the ingredients you need? Have you gotten sick of the question, “what’s for dinner?” Are your grocery shopping trips taking longer than your two hour root canal? If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, then meal planning can be your ticket to a more organized meal time.

For our family, moving to Odell meant being 30 minutes from Wal-Mart. This means no more middle of the week shopping trips to pick up ingredients for lunch. Sure we have a small grocery store in town, but running down there a couple times a week adds up quickly.

After being in Odell a few weeks, I realized I was going to have to do a better job of grocery buying. I like to be organized and efficient (though I am rarely either). The best way to do this is making a plan of what we’ll eat each week, knowing the meals’ ingredients, and having the supplies on hand.
First things first, I made a Google document listing all the meals I can make, along with some new ones I had been wanting to try. In a separate doc I listed each meal and the ingredients needed to make it, sides, sauces, etc included. This was the tedious work that pays off week after week to keep me organized.
The basic steps for my meal planning process is
  1. Check what I have on hand
  2. Choose five recipes
  3. List their ingredients
  4. Cross off what we already have
  5. Write my shopping list
  6. Shop!
A printable could be super helpful for this. If I had a reliable printer, I would maybe use a printable.  You can find a bunch here from A Thrifty Mrs. I just use my phone’s notepad or a sheet of paper. When I use my phone I have the ingredient lists right at my fingertips on my Docs app, and then I know I’ll have it with me at the store. Too many times I have left my list at home which mommies know equals disaster.
 When I am ready to plan a week’s menu, I first shop my cupboards. I look at things we have on hand that I can put together to make a meal. This cuts down on our grocery bill. If you’re just starting meal planning, you probably have pantry supplies for several meals.
At our house, with Tim working nights, lunch is our big meal of day. Ivy and I fend for ourself for supper. I look at my master list of meals, select five meals for the week, and write them in on my meal planning printable. Sometimes I pick a most meals with the same meat, usually chicken breast or ground beef, if I have a big bag of chicken breast or if I’ve stocked my freezer with beef. Other weeks I mix it up for variety and throw in meatless meals, pork chops, or bacon. I don’t look at the list every week, but it does help us not get in a rut of not having the same 10 or so meals over and over.  Also I add new meals to the list after I find one we like on pinterest.
Next I mentally note the ingredients needed.  Or I can copy and paste the ingredient lists from my google doc instead of having to think of all of them on the spot.  When I just list them on my own I forget an ingredient and find myself scrambling during the week.
I then check off the ingredients I have on hand. Sometimes I have the majority of the food I need. If the menu from the week before gets messed up and we don’t make all the meals, the unmade ones go right onto next week’s list. Again, this really helps with my budget.  Some weeks I need most the ingredients for the meals, plus formula, diapers, paper towels, yikes!
here are the ingredients for enchilada pasta, another family fave! recipe post coming soon  🙂
The ingredients I still need to buy move over to my grocery list. One idea I’m trying you put into practice is listing the items from the same sections at the store together so my time shopping is more efficient. To do this you can use categories like produce, dairy, meat, breads, frozen, canned/dry goods, extras, and then others for your non grocery items.  This is great because three year olds and babies can be hard to shop with. I need to get in and out with all my groceries and at least some of my sanity!
I try to get all my planning done throughout the week, and for sure by Friday have it done. I never know if I’m going to do the shopping on Friday, during the weekend, or my least favorite option, wait til Monday.
Want to see my master lists for some meal planning inspiration? Click the links below!
I hope this post has given you some insight on why and how I do weekly meal planning. Maybe you can even amp it up and do a monthly meal plan. That one is on my to do list. 🙂

What things are you doing to create a less stressful and more organized meal time? I’d love to read your ideas and feedback in the comments below!
Like the menu board in the title pic? See how we made it by clicking the diy rustic chalkboard meun picture below!