Guest post from Amy of Permission to Peruse
A year ago, I was running to the grocery store nearly every day. I panicked about dinner every afternoon. I’d run to the grocery store last minute, if I could even think of something to make. Many nights, we’d head for take-out.
Now, I’m grocery shopping once a week, making homemade meals nearly every night, and saving hundreds of dollars.
Here are 5 steps that worked for me:
1. Quit Assigning Meals to Days
On most traditional menu-planning posts, I see meals attached to days. My Type A, literal self couldn’t handle the pressure of cooking exactly that meal on that day.
What if I didn’t have time?
What if we didn’t “feel” like eating that meal that day?
Would the menu-planning police come after me when I switched the days around?
One thing my best friend told me last spring completely changed my view of menu planning. It’s so simple, it seems silly now. I plan out meals for the week but don’t assign days to them.
A light bulb went off!
Now, I choose an average of 5 meals for the week. I cook whatever strikes my fancy each day from that list. If I get down to the last meal and really don’t want it, I can resort to the breakfast-for-dinner trick and save the meal.
By not assigning days, I opened my Type A self to menu planning and that is the first and absolute key to shopping once a week.
2. Learn Your Regulars
The second step was to list our regular meals and learn the ingredients. I have a list of regular Crockpot meals on my blog with at most three ingredients.
Don’t feel like you’re failing if you’re having just a few of the same meals over and over. Many of us remember having the same meal every week growing up. It creates tradition, not boredom.
Once you have a database in your head of recipes, you’re one step closer to shopping once a week.
3. Quit Writing a Menu
Next, I quit writing a menu. I know, it goes against all menu planning rules, but it was key. You’ll see in the next step how I plan my meals.
4. Plan Meals Around Sales
At the store, I find what meats are on sale. I run through the meals I know and decide which I can make. I keep doing that until I get to 5 meals.
Once I have main courses, I spend the rest of the shopping choosing sides around sale items.
5. Choose One Shopping Day
The final step is to choose one shopping day — and stick with it. Saturday mornings work for me.
By carving out one day, I set family plans around shopping and know how long items need to last until the next week.
To you write-ahead day-assigning menu planners, absolutely keep doing what works! But if menu planning and shopping once a week have eluded you, perhaps these steps might help.
How do you handle menu planning and grocery shopping?
Amy is a work at home mom of two girls. She writes about faith, family, food and fashion at Permission to Peruse.