I’ll tell you my system and I encourage you to try it. If it doesn’t work for you, then try a different one until you find one that “fits”. The important thing is to find a system that works for you. It will save you time, money and the all the last minute drama of “what shall I make for dinner?”
I have a folder/clipboard like the one pictured to the left (click on it if you want to order one). This is my “Meal Plan Central”.
On the right side of it is a legal pad like the one shown. At the bottom right, I have a list of the meals I plan on having for that week. The left side of the legal pad is the actual grocery list.
On the left side of the folder is a pocket. I keep 2 large paper clips clipped to that. One holds my mother’s grocery list since I have to buy her groceries too. The other paper clip holds the coupons I plan to use. I often won’t use them all as sometimes I have several coupons for different brands for the same item. When I actually get in the store, I’ll decide which one to pick based on the price. The coupons I don’t use are temporarily stored in the pocket.
I keep a master list in a text document on my computer of all the meals my family likes. If I try a new recipe and it’s a keeper, it’s added to the list.
I also have a bookmark label in my email and in my firefox web browser for recipes to try. When I find one online I want to try, I bookmark it. Then when I am trying to find a new recipe to try, I just browse my bookmarks under the “recipes” label.
I keep a magnetized note pad on the refrigerator. If I run out of something, I write it down on that note pad so I won’t forget to add it to my grocery list. Other family members know to do this too.
So, when I’m ready to make my grocery list, I pull off my note pad sheet of the items listed there and add them to the grocery list. Then I look at the grocery store circulars to see what’s on sale that week. You get these in the newspaper, sometimes they are mailed to you and you can even get them online. Just google your store’s name and see if they offer it online.
I try to plan my meals around sale items and check out my Master List of meals to see what will work.
Now, I go through my coupons and pull out the ones I’ll need for that week.
I also post the week’s dinners on a list on the fridge. That way other family members can look there and see what is planned.
We have a small chest freezer and one of our local stores has really good meat. They are rather expensive on a lot of their products so I rarely buy anything else there. About once a month, on different weeks, they will have a sale on steak for $2.29 a pound, or lean ground beef for $1.70 a pound or boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.99 a pound. When one of these sales are going on, I will stock up for the month on that particular meat. Often the meat is in the very large packs so when I get it home, I will repackage it into smaller sizes right for my family’s needs. I put them into freezer bags with the date it was bought written on the front. I then store these in my chest freezer.
Sometimes, I will go ahead and cook up a few packages of chicken in my crock pot and then shred it with the shredding attachment on my electric stand mixer. Then I will fill up sandwich sized baggies with the shredded chicken breast and store them in a larger gallon sized freezer bag. This makes it so easy when I need the chicken for a casserole or chicken salad. Just pop out a baggie or two.
I think I remembered everything I do for meal planning. Grocery shopping and planning on how to feed our families is a necessary evil. The easier you make it on yourself, the more pleasant it will be for everyone. I’d love to hear if you have any special tips to help you do your meal planning.