Grocery and Menu Planning

We’ve all been there. You’ve spent the day diagramming sentences and building working, scale model trebuchets with the kids, and you look up to realize it’s almost time for supper and you have no idea what to make! The kids look at you with hunger in their eyes, and you look back with panic in yours. Yep…been there, done that!

One of the best tips I can give for avoiding this is by having a plan.

A Plan?

Yes! A Grocery and Menu plan! You see, many years ago – before the age of the internet – I was reading through a cookbook from the early 1950s. In the cookbook were several tips and hints for being a great “housewife.” One of the ideas was to plan a weekly menu. I took the idea and over the years expanded it to a system to cover both my grocery shopping and meal planning–two things that people often say they dread doing. And really, what homeschool mom has time to be running to the store left and right for dinner items or forgotten ingredients?

I realized that there were many things I purchased at the grocery store on a regular basis, and started keeping a list of my “most purchased” things. I created a word document of a grocery list that had all of my usual items and spaces for adding write-in things that I don’t usually get. I divided the list into sections and even ordered the items by the rows of my local commissary! When we moved, I made note of what items were in what aisles at the new store and simply re-ordered my list. That way as I worked my way up and down the aisles, I was getting things in the order of the list, and that reduced the chances of having to back-track and look for things I had missed.  I am anything if not efficient!


But back to the menu. You see, I go grocery shopping 2 times a month, when we get paid. Depending on the calendar, we could have anywhere from 14 to 18 days between paydays. On the corner of my grocery list, I created a space for a menu with room for up to 18 meal ideas. So a couple days before grocery shopping day, I’ll print out a new list and work on the list of what meals I will prepare during the next 2 weeks. I’ll usually let each family member request a meal or two to make the task even easier.


Once I have made the list of dinners, I’ll go through the list and check off everything that I will need for these meals. Then I’ll go through the pantry and see if there is anything I’m running low on and mark those off as well. This way I know I will have everything I’ll need to prepare all of the planned meals for the next 2 weeks or more and won’t need to run to the store at the last minute.

After I have completed all of my grocery shopping, I’ll cut that little menu from the page and stick it on the fridge with a magnet. {aff link}

Each evening after suppertime, I’ll look at the list and decide what to make the next day. I’ll get anything out of the freezer that may need to thaw so that it is ready for the meal the following day. As I prepare meals, I simply cross them off  the list.

I have used this system for years, and it makes my life easier.

You can see the list that I have made for my own use HERE, but I recommend making one that suits your tastes and the needs of your family. Do you go shopping every week? Do you have things that you always buy but I don’t? I promise, by taking the time to tailor a list for your own needs, it is going to pay you back with so much more time!

Oh, and “Pssst!” I keep my list on one of these snazzy clipboards and keep all of my coupons inside it! Everything right where I need it. {aff link}

Grocery Menu


Do you have tips or ideas to share about how you meal plan or otherwise try to save time while making sure you have dinner on the table every evening? We’d love to hear from you!

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  1. Love this Conni! I am back to meal planning for a month and trying to buy groceries only every two weeks also. Why, oh why, do I get off track and it takes such a large crane to get me back on track? Praying I stay on track for a while … makes everything flow more smoothly!! Thank you for another great post!

  2. I used to meal plan specific meals for each day but after I had kids (and I have become a better cook) we keep a well stocked pantry so we are able to make meals on the fly. We usually plan a meal or two, depending on what we are craving, and wing the rest. Works great so far! Less pressure to get a certain meal on the table on a certain night. It adjusts to our needs a little better. I love the idea of a meal plan sheet and grocery list together! I may have to come up with something 🙂

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