Now that the kitchen is completely organized, I wanted to streamline my meal & grocery planning process. Actually, the process works, I just needed to tweak it a bit to make it easier.
Before working on the meal planning part, I first organized the cookbook cabinet. My cookbooks & magazines are stored in the short cabinet above the microwave, between my cooking & baking cabinets. I used a bookend to hold the few cookbooks I own upright on the left side.
Cooking magazines are stored in a shallow basket on the right.
The cabinet next to my cookbooks holds all of my cooking supplies (spices, oils, etc.). I painted the doors with chalkboard paint & use it for writing out our weekly meal plan with a chalk marker. (Recipe cards hang on a hook above it…more on that below.)
I use the chalkboard on the other door to list items we need to buy (as I notice them throughout the week).
Next, I created a binder devoted to the whole meal planning/grocery shopping experience & stored it with the cookbooks:
The front pocket holds my grocery lists. I created a special list for both Kroger & Meijer with categories in the order of the store’s layout. I originally got the idea from Jen at I Heart Organizing. This has cut down on the amount of time I waste going from one end of the store to the other after realizing I had forgotten something! Click here to view or print my grocery lists.
I keep an envelope to hold coupons I plan to use at the store in front of my lists.
On one side of the grocery list is a place to plan the meals for the week. To do this, I reference this handy chart I made, which is on the first page of my notebook.
After giving each day of the week a theme (Soupy Sunday, Mexican Monday, Tuscan Tuesday, Chicken Wednesday, This & That Thursday, Freezer Friday, & Slow Cooker Saturday) I listed five weeks worth of our favorite meals under the appropriate categories.
Next, I have a list of food ideas for breakfast, lunch, & snacks. This way, I make sure we have the foods we need for these meals as well.
I have trouble remembering some of the soft finger foods the baby can eat, so I came up with a list for her too!
The next two pages list pretty much every grocery item we use. This is just another good reference item to make sure I don’t forget anything we are running low on. The original idea was to mark the items off with a wet erase marker whenever we were running low on something, but I usually never did, so now it just serves as a reference! You can print this list by clicking here.
I used some of my husbands old baseball card holders to sort & store coupons.
The pocket in the back is a good place to store coupon magazines & weekly ads until it’s time to plan the grocery list.
I also typed out the recipes for all the dinners (from the 5 weeks of meals I have charted above) we eat & printed them onto card stock & cut them. (They are basically postcard sized.) I punched a whole in the corner & stuck a binder ring around them so I could hang them in my cooking cabinet. (In the third picture from the top)
When it’s time to plan our grocery list, I grab my binder & the recipe cards. First, I plan the meals for the week & write them in the appropriate spot on my grocery list. Then, I use my recipe cards to write each ingredient I need to buy on my list. From there, I check the ads for good deals & my list of staples for things we may need.
Spending a few hours to tweak this process by typing out recipe cards, creating a grocery planning binder, & adding chalkboard paint to the cabinets will save me loads of time each week as I plan my lists. Having my grocery lists categorized with the layout of each store allows me to shop two different stores in about one hour total! I usually spent double the amount of time when my list was randomly written! I am so glad I finally took the time to do this.
Do you have any time saving strategies for meal or grocery planning? Please let me know in the comments below!