This is my third week making an intentional effort in meal planning for the week. It’s not a natural habit or task for me yet, so I had to force myself earlier this week to actually erase the old menu plan and come up with a new one. When I actually did it, the meal plan for this week was done in about 5 minutes. 5 minutes! Granted, I’m not reinventing the wheel and getting super creative in these weekly meal plans. I’m just planning from the meals that I already know are quick and my family enjoys.
Meal Planning Series
This is the third of a series on meal planning, be sure to check out the other posts too!
Meal Planning for Beginners: Step Two, Simple Weekly Menu Plan
Meal Planning for Beginners: Step Three, Groceries and Shopping (you are here now!)
Meal Planning for Beginners: Step Four, Essential Pantry Staples
When we talk about stress free meal planning for the busy family, we need to talk about grocery shopping and meal prep.
I’m not sure how shopping goes in your household, but in ours, we are creatures of habit. We buy the same staples every week or month. I’ve noticed that many of the free meal planners have a shopping list section next to the weekly plan. I can see how that could be helpful to some, but I don’t use them.
I personally use two simple ways of using a shopping list for meal planning:
- a small piece of paper that I use to list items we need to buy next time we go shopping. This is a simple way to quickly jot down things I discover we are out of while I’m actually cooking. We have a small pad on the refrigerator that I use for this.
- my iPhone reminders app. I have two lists for the two stores that I do most of my shopping.
- The lists are great because when you purchase an item off of your list, you click the circle and it’s “marked completed.”
- However, when you need that item again in a week or two, you can touch the “show completed” button and “unmark” it and it’s on your active shopping list again. This works great for me because I no longer have to write the items repeatedly.
During the last two weeks I’ve taken three simple steps in meal prep.
- I bought a large bag of pinto beans and used this crockpot recipe. I made several quart bags of refried beans that I’m keeping frozen in the freezer. My husband and son (who loves refried beans) commented on how tasty it was. The cans of refried beans are convenient, but these were SO much tastier, and very simple to make. Thanks to my friend Abby at Winstead Wandering for the encouragement to make this at home.
- I bought several pounds of ground beef and cooked it right after I bought it, let it cool, and put it in freezer bags for future meals. They will most likely be used for tacos or sloppy joes. Having the ground beef will make the actual process of making the meal much faster. One of my readers reminded me of that simple step.
- I bought a large bag of black beans, made those on the stove top, bagged them, and froze them for future meals. I’ve found black beans to be one of the easiest dried beans to make myself.
Next time I get a large batch of chicken breasts I’ll be cooking, shredding, and then freezing for future meals. Cookin’ Mimi has some great tips and recipes for meal prep here.
These two steps are easy, quick, and simple – two steps for stress free meal planning for the busy family!
What kind of meal prep and method of shopping list do you use? I’d love to know!
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