Before I discovered how to meal plan, my weekly routines were a disaster. I never had a plan when it came to grocery shopping or cooking meals. Each week I would go to the store with a “list” and would buy whatever I thought we might need. I was pretty much just guessing as I walked through the aisles.

Throughout the week I would struggle to think of meal ideas. And inevitably I would try to cook something and end up not having one or two ingredients.
As the week went on, all the fresh produce I had bought would start to go bad and I would end up throwing away so much food.
I never had a plan and the weeks always felt chaotic. Sound familiar to anyone else?
I knew there had to be a better way to organize our family meals. I needed a solid system that I could implement week after week to help me manage all our food needs.
That’s when I discovered meal planning.
Meal planning helps me to stay organized, stick to a plan, and save money. When I plan out our meals in advance, I know exactly what food I need to buy at the store. And I know exactly what to make for each meal. My weeks are so much more efficient and a lot less stressful.
When I was trying to get organized, I found it so helpful to see what others were doing and figure out how I could apply their ideas to my meal planning. I know how hard it can be to get organized, so I wanted to share with you exactly how I meal plan and grocery shop.
How I meal plan and create my grocery list
Meal planning can be a difficult skill to master. There are so many different methods out there that it takes some trial and error to narrow down what will work for you and your family. This is just the method that I’ve found works best for me.
**I only meal plan for dinners, but this method can work if you need to plan out breakfasts and lunches too.**
FREE Meal Planning & Grocery List Printable

The first step to creating an organized meal plan is to print out my all-in-one meal planning and grocery shopping printable. This printable lets me plan for up to two weeks of meals and two grocery trips to the store. You can grab a copy of this free printable for yourself here.
When it comes to meal planning, I like to keep things simple. That’s why I created this all-in-one printable meal planner. I love being able to plan out all of our meals and create my grocery list in one place.
At the top of the sheet, there is a two-week calendar. I’m a visual person, so I find that planning out my meals in a calendar format is the most helpful for me.
At the bottom of the sheet, there are grocery lists for each week. I normally try and go shopping once a week, but since I’m planning two weeks at once on this sheet, I added two separate lists.
Take a look at our schedules for the next couple of weeks
Before I even start thinking about recipes and ingredients, I open up my calendar on my phone. I start by writing down any events we have during those two weeks and I include notes about the events.
For example, maybe one night we have plans to go out somewhere to eat. I’ll mark that on the calendar so I know I don’t need to plan a meal for that night.
Maybe we have a crazy schedule after work one day and won’t be home until later. I’ll write down a note about having leftovers that night or eating a quick dinner. I try to include as much information as possible so that I know everything that’s going on.
It’s so important to look at your weekly plans and see what you have going on before you start planning out tons of meals for the week. While I would love to cook at home every day, that’s just not possible. I need to be realistic so I can make a meal plan that I can stick to and will actually work with my schedule.
This is also why I only plan two weeks at a time. Some people like to plan all the meals for an entire month, but I never seem to be able to stick to that type of plan. That’s because I don’t know our schedule that far in advance. I’ve found that two weeks seems to work best for us and I’m able to create a pretty accurate plan.
Browse thru Pinterest and Create a Plan
Once I’ve got everything from my calendar into my meal planning printable, I switch over to my Pinterest app and start looking for recipes. Pinterest is my favorite recipe app. It keeps all of my recipes from books, family, websites, and more organized in one place.
By having my recipes categorized like this, I avoid having to search through tons of recipes that don’t necessarily fit into normal meal planning.

Plan Meals & Create Notes
Once I find recipes that I want to make, I start filling in my printable. I look at the schedule that I’ve filled out and try to put meals in where I think they will fit.
The notes that I wrote in from my schedule help me pick which meals should go on certain days. If I know we are going to have leftovers one night because of a crazy schedule, then I try to plan a bigger meal the night before so that we will actually have leftovers.
I also add additional notes for certain recipes, like if I need to defrost meat or prep a slow cooker the night before.

Make your Grocery List

Considering what I already have on hand in my pantry and freezer, I write down any ingredients that I need to buy on my grocery lists. Once I’ve gone through all the recipes, I’m left with two weeks of grocery lists ready to go.
At this point, I add in any other things that I know I need to buy for each week.
To keep track of the food that we need, we always keep a notepad and pen on our fridge. As we notice things are running low, we add them to the list. When I’m making my meal plans and grocery lists for the week, I grab this list and add the items to the appropriate sections.
The best part about this printable is that when I am done meal planning, I just grab some scissors, cut on the dotted lines and separate the meal plan from the grocery lists. I put the calendar on our fridge and the two grocery lists go into my purse.
And that’s it, I’m done!
My full two-week meal plan is right there in the kitchen so I know what to make each night. My two grocery lists are complete so I know exactly what to buy at the store. All of the guesswork is gone!

Don't forget to follow the link above for your Meal Planning & Grocery List Printable

- If meal planning on your own is just too confusing and you would rather have me do it, membership is now open for my monthly meal plan. I provide a calendar full of planned meals along with full recipes and a grocery list too! You can subscribe and cancel anytime. 
All meals are based on a family of 4 but can easily be cut down or doubled to accommodate your families needs. You will receive the next month calendar, recipes and grocery list on the 25th of every month, so you have plenty of time to get the grocery items and be ready to go. You can sign up today here.

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