Who doesn't enjoy sitting down to a home cooked meal after a long day at work or playing with the kids? But, planning and preparing meals can feel overwhelming at times, and trying to throw a meal together at the last minute is rarely an easy task.
We at Whimsicals Paperie use our very own menu planning and grocery list notepads to help keep us organized, and wanted to share our individual processes with you. This blog will be in two parts, you can find Part 1 here, written by Martha, our assistant. This second part is written by Sarah, the creator of Whimsicals Paperie. We each share how we plan, organize and shop with hopes that it will give you new ideas and help in your own meal planning and prep.
5 Simple Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping Tips
I (Sarah) have found that planning out meals for the week in advance saves me so much time and stress in the day to day. Here is my process:
1. Start with the basics. I pull out my categorized grocery list and quickly go through my pantry and fridge to see what essentials we might be running low on and add those to my list. We don't have a large kitchen or a lot of extra storage space, so I've learned to check in week to week to see what we need more of.
- Tip: If you shop for more than yourself, have the other members of your household add items to the grocery list as they use them up. The list will grow through the week and will already contains many of the basics you need to stock back up on!
2. Plan meals. I generally plan a week's worth of meals at a time. I check in on what we have on the calendar for the week, and any food in the freezer that needs to be used, and then compare that to the long running list of my family's favorite meals that I have jotted down on a piece of paper. I use our Menu Planning Notepad and fill it in with the meals chosen for the week.
- Tip: I don't always make the meal that is listed for the specific day we are on. I choose as we go as I know I have a week's worth of meal fixings purchased and ready to go. Some days I have more time and will cook a more elaborate meal on the list. On busier days I choose a quick and easy meal option.
- Tip: We eat 95% of our meals at home, and even though there are only three of us, I make large meals (6-8 servings) so that we have leftovers. With this method, dinner usually serves as an easy warm-up lunch for the next day!
- Tip: Keep a running list of your favorite meals. This helps shave off time when making a weekly meal plan.
3. Finish the grocery list. With each meal that I add to our menu for the week, I then add any ingredients needed for that meal to our grocery list. Once all the meal ingredients are added, the list is complete!
4. Shop. If you are lucky enough to be in an area where you can order your groceries, I would highly recommend this service! Our local grocery store offers online ordering and contactless pickup for free, and I am able to place my order through my computer or the store app and schedule when I want to pick it up. I go through and add the items written on my paper list to my digital shopping order. If you prefer to shop in store, our categorized grocery lists make that easier as your list is already separated out into store areas!
- Tip: Online grocery ordering, delivery and pickup services have become even more widely available since the pandemic hit, so check around and see what your area has to offer.
5. Make it Yours. Every person, family, schedule, budget and planning personality is different, so take the tips from above that can help you, and make them yours! We would also love to learn from you! Share your favorite tips for meal planning, or drop in one of your go-to recipes in the comments!