How I Meal Plan and Grocery Shop

Today, as I was jotting down my meal plan and shopping list for the week, Lisa and Ambers recent blog posts regarding meal planning popped into my head and I thought I'd share my own process.

The Meal Plan

I usually meal plan weekly on a Friday or on Saturday morning.  A quick check in the pantry and freezer and then I try to plan some meals around what I find.

I also check in the calendar to see if we have any events that may affect our choices like, lunch dates, movie nights, sports clubs, etc.  This week we have:

  • A holiday weekend that will allow me more time to try out a new recipe, or cook something that usually takes more time.
  • Kane's indoor football that he'll want something quick and lighter
  • Figure skating lesson that will need to be ready quickly
  • My ballet that will require something quick and light
  • Ice hockey games to catch up at the weekend that would be enhanced with beer and finger food

I start with breakfasts.  During the week we usually eat cereal for breakfast and then on the weekend I like to make an egg dish, waffles or pancakes.

Lunches follow the same process.  We eat the same thing during the week and it's usually some sort of sandwich.  Kane goes for a lunchtime walk every work day and likes his lunch to be portable.  For weekend lunches I like to plan something different but we don't bind ourselves to the plan, so that if we find ourselves on a road trip or are presented with something tasty looking at the farmers market we can be flexible.  2-3 pieces of fruit are always included.

For dinners there are usually things like skating practise that needs to be planned around.  Kane and I also share the cooking and we have different strengths and cooking preferences so that gets taken into account too. 

Generally there will be something during the week will inspire an idea or I'll get reminded of something I haven't made in a while and that will get added to the meal plan.  Sometimes it's a recipe that I will follow, sometimes its a picture and I will make something that I think its like it, and sometimes its a flavour or texture that I'm craving and so I'll create something to satisfy that.  Meal plans can come together quickly, but sometimes they can take a while especially if I get side tracked looking at yummy recipes on Pinterest!

Instead of assigning meals to certain days, I usually just list 7 meals and then we can decide on the day what we feel like eating from the list.

The Shopping List

Grocery shopping usually takes place on Saturday morning, although I am thinking about trialling out going after work on Friday and it usually takes about 30 minutes.

Once I have a meal plan, I then go down the list of meals and note down what I need that I don't already have.

Next I'll write down any pantry items that needs topping up - things like tea, coffee, flour, herbs and spices, tinned tomatoes, soy milk, oil, sugar etc.  I check on the cat food supply and then the non-food items like toothpaste, shampoo & conditioner, shower gel, toilet paper, washing powder, fabric softener, household cleaners etc.

At The Supermarket

 We go grocery shopping together and pick all the things on the list.  I used to be better at arranging my list in order of how stuff is laid out in the supermarket but I found I don't save any time by rearranging it.  I used to also have my meal plan on the back in case I got stuck with why I needed a particular item or how many to pick but I don't do this any more either.

Sometimes we will see special offers for things that we would normally buy (but might not be on the list) and if it's a good deal then we will stock up, but I'm less likely to do this if its for perishable things.

A few treats usually find their way into the shopping trolley too.

Special Shops

A couple of times a year we will go to specialist food shops, like the Chinese vegetarian supermarket, and stock up on packaged and frozen fake meat products.  When we do these types of shop we just pick up things that we like the look of and we don't worry about how we will use the items until we do the weekly meal planning.

And this is how I meal plan and grocery shop!

One Response so far

  1. San says:

    Your meal planing strategy is similar to ours... we usually only write down 5 meals though to leave room for leftovers or take-out.

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