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5 Step Strategy for Meal Planning + Grocery Shopping

What's for Dinner? Dinnertime comes every day, so how is it that we get caught off guard so often? Having a strategy is important because the alternatives like fast food restaurants or frozen meals aren't always the healthiest of choices. Just like you plan for other activities at home and at work, we need to plan for dinner.

Plan Your Week

Choose a time over the weekend or what would be the better time of week for you, before your normal shopping day to put together your menu plan. Start by identifying your individual and joint family schedules and take note as to which nights you are out or the kids are busy with their activities. By doing this, you’ll get a better feel for which days you have more or less time to prepare your meals and whether you may be just reheating leftovers.

Find Inspiration

Don’t let your menu get boring. While you should keep a few recipes that are family favorites in your regular rotation, look for recipes you would like to try for those times when you can experiment. An internet search and Pinterest are a great place for some menu inspiration.

By subscribing or setting up a profile at Delish or All Recipes, you can get new recipes and menu ideas delivered right to your email. If you are making health a top priority and want a more plant-based, vegan diet, some of my favorite, yummiest and healthiest recipes are from Kris Carr's website.

Create Your Menu

For each day of the week, lay out your plan of attack and pull recipes as needed. Whenever possible, try to use repeat ingredients, like buying baby spinach for a salad on Monday and for the pasta side dish on Tuesday. Try to incorporate leftovers as a short cut, for example, making a roast over the weekend and using the leftovers as a taco filling later in the week.

Make Your Grocery List

It’s easiest to make your grocery list at the same time you create your menu so that it’s fresh in your mind. Looking at each day’s menu and referring to your recipes, list the ingredients you need. Double check your pantry and fridge as you go to prevent over-buying.

Save the Menu and List

Why waste a lot of time for no reason? Once you have a few of these weekly menu and grocery lists, save them and use them repeatedly. You can always make substitutions and small changes without creating the extra work of developing brand-new menus each week. Applications like Google Keep or Apple Notes are great tools for making and saving any type of list. Or try using Pinterest to store all of your favorite recipes too.

While these steps may take a little extra time to get used to in the beginning, they will save you a lot of stress, time, money, and energy overall, not to mention getting you to try new recipes while keeping you and your family well-fed.

Bon appétit!

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