Monday, August 27, 2012

Grocery Shopping and Meal Planning

I've gotten a lot of questions about how I plan our meals and so thought I would give you a glimpse into how it all goes down around here.  I try to keep my trips to the grocery store to once a week, so I have a day set aside each week that is Grocery Shopping Day.  Not the whole day of course, just an hour or so, but I almost always go on the same day of the week.  I keep a pad of paper in the kitchen and the whole previous week I jot down anything we run out of that I need to restock on next week's grocery trip.  I write down general headings on my list (Produce, Dairy, Bakery, Baking, Shelves, Frozen) and organize what I need under the place in the store where it lives.


I imagine this might sound a little ridiculous to some of you, and hopefully brilliantly organized to others, but I really have found it cuts down my time in the store scanning through the whole list trying to find all the produce items or all the dairy items.  I'm standing in the produce aisle and everything I need to get there is grouped together on my list.

The night before I'll be shopping I sit down and on the back of my grocery list write the days of the week and under each day what I'll make for dinner that night.  I like seeing the whole week planned out and find it helps me to be sure we have a balance of meat, fish, vegetarian, pasta, etc.

As I write down each dish, I add any items I need to buy to the reserve side.

 
And the meal inspiration?  That comes from any number of places.  I'll take a peek at Food Gawker and generally love anything Deb at Smitten Kitchen comes up with (plus she's so fun to read).  I find myself turning to Barefoot Contessa cookbooks again and again.  I recently let my subscription to Bon Appetit lapse because I have boxes and boxes of back issues.  So I've started going through my old issues and tearing out recipes I want to try.  If they're good enough to make again I punch holes in the page and pop it in my recipe binder, where I keep my favorite recipes organized by genre.  If they're just so-so they head for the recycling bin.

And that's pretty much how I pull it all together each week!  The hardest part by far is sitting down to decide on meals for a week but it's completely worth it to me to come back from the store knowing I have everything I need and also to be able to spend the rest of the week not obsessing over what we're going to eat.  I just pull out my list and see what's on the menu that night.

9 comments:

  1. Great ideas! I write the list the same way for Ray. He does our food shopping. I made a spreadsheet with the labels and typed in some of the items we get every week. I got tired of writing some of the same things each week.

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    1. Great idea, Margaret. I'll often get home and think, "AH! I forgot yogurt!"

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  2. This is such a great way to do it! I can't wait to get back into menu planning. I had a good rhythm going awhile ago then just lost it! Having a night job makes cooking difficult. :(

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    1. I feel like I have to have our meals planned or we'd wind up eating a lot of cereal and pizza :)

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  3. I do the same thing but I also have a chalk board in my mudroom where I write the menu down. This way who ever gets home first (myself, husband or two grown sons)starts to get things ready when dinner time approaches. It is about 3 foot by 4 foot and is magnetic also.


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    1. What a great idea! If anyone other than me ever starts to make dinner I'll keep this one in mind :)

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  4. This is great! When I got married, this is exactly the way that my mom taught me how to do the grocery list/meal planning. Love it! :-)

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  5. Thanks so much Jennifer--this was great encouragement! I'd only previously managed to ever buy enough for 2-3 meals. But after this post, I started planning and buying for at least 5-6 meals and it's made a huge difference. So nice to wake up and know I don't *have* to go to the market. Keep up the great work!

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    1. I'm so glad it helped you! I just can't squeeze in daily trips to the store so it's helped me a ton to plan my week out like this.

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