Sunday mornings around here aren't just for church. They are when I menu plan & grocery shop for the week ahead. Very rarely does a week go by that I don't make some type of menu plan. Even if only for a couple days. I have been menu planning for quite some time now. I used to get so frustrated when I would go to the grocery store and spend, at times hundreds of dollars on a cart full of groceries, only to come home to find I didn't have all the ingredients needed for a certain meal. Unfortunately, 'winging it' is not a strong suit of mine. Nor did I inherit my mother's gift of planning an entire weeks worth of groceries and making a list ALL in her head. She was just amazing like that! To be completely honest, I kind of dread menu planning at times, but it is an extremely beneficial task for our family. It saves time and money not to mention keeps food frustration to a minimum.....unless you're 6 years old or a hormonal teenager but I digress. LOL!
I asked about menu planning last week on my Instagram stories. Several people reached out to me for help, so I thought I'd share a bit about my process here. Every Sunday morning or sometimes Saturday night, I pull out a fresh weekly menu sheet (pictured below). You can click on the photo to download a free copy for your own personal use as well.
I begin by checking our family calendar/my planner then fill in the bottom row of my menu. This is the "happenings" section, where I jot down important events or reminders for the upcoming week. For example, sports games, meetings, church activities, family gatherings or whatever else might be happening that week. Starting here helps me menu plan accordingly. Planning an involved homemade lasagna dish on a soccer game night where we won't be home until late is not the best idea. Instead, on nights when we have a sports game, I plan on 'eating out' if our budget allows or a quick-to-make meal like hot dogs and chips. On church nights, I check to make sure what they're serving is something my children like. You get the idea. Make a plan based on what works for your family. I've filled in the menu below like I would for our family to give you an idea of how it works.
While our weekly 'happenings' decide the type of meal, often times, my pantry determines what meals to make. After all no one likes to waste food! So I check my pantry and fridge to see what needs to be used up before it spoils. We are currently repeating several of our family favorite meals on a weekly basis. (Taco Salad, Pepper Steak, Spaghetti) We are in the process of doing some minor renovations to our home with the hopes of selling in the very near future. Planning the same meals from week to week keeps our cooking time to a minimum and also allows our children to help cook when their schedules allow. When our kiddos help make dinner, we are able to squeeze in an extra hour or so of home project work in the evenings. Teamwork makes the dream work! Learning basic life skills is an added bonus.
Since I work at home, I try to plan on leftovers from the previous night's dinner for my lunch. I don't write down lunches for my children because my husband makes them. He's the best!! He prefers to wing it and use what we have in the pantry and/or fridge. Of course I try my best to keep our regular go-to items like string cheese, strawberries, yogurt, fruit cups, lunch meat, bread, etc. stocked up. If all else fails, they can eat in the cafeteria at school. In fact, sometimes they prefer to do that. After all our meals are planned, I grab my grocery list and go meal by meal and write down each ingredient needed for that meal. If I know we already have something on hand, I'll double check and skip that ingredient. That is SAVINGS with a capital S on the grocery bill folks!! I use what I have before I buy more when I can. Once I fill out my grocery list based on our menu, I check on other basic necessities and write them down. We have a chalk board on the end of an upper cabinet in our kitchen where we keep a running list of items like spices, tea bags, pet food, soap, etc. This is an easy way to keep clear communication between the 4 out of 5 of us that use the kitchen regularly. After I am finished with my grocery list, I then post our weekly menu on the fridge. This keeps my family from asking "what's to eat?" over and over. The hour or so it takes me each week to menu plan is worth it to me. It allows me to enjoy the rest of our week because it removes the stress of "what's for dinner?", frees up my brain to focus on other important tasks and allows me to be more intentional with my time as a wife and momma. One last thing I would like to add, stick to the list friends! I rarely allow myself to put something in my cart that isn't on my list unless its a special occasion, I see something in stock that has been out of stock or unless I get a text from my husband saying we absolutely need something.
As an added bonus, I am offering my free printable grocery list to you when you subscribe to my blog/newsletter. Subscribing is a great way to stay up to date on all things Revived & Refined!
This is not your average lined shopping list....it is organized by store sections. Produce, Frozen, Meat, Dairy, Pantry & Other to be specific. This is by far one of my favorite things to use when I grocery shop. No more going back across the store to paper goods because you skipped past napkins on your list. No more 3rd and 4th visits to the store because you missed heavy cream & cider vinegar on your list. If this is something that would help you, subscribe below to have a downloadable copy delivered to your inbox. You can unsubscribe at any time.
That's all for now. Feel free to comment below with any tips you have for menu planning.