Simplified Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping Routine + Free Printable!

Grocery shopping is one of the many household tasks that I loathe. Buy me all the groceries and I’ll cook and do dishes for days on end without a complaint…but send me grocery shopping and I whine and pout like a toddler. Finding a way to streamline this process has been paramount in my sanity and in the success of my week.

I typically grocery shop once per week, however, when I worked full time I did it every other week. But now that I’m home with Rowan, grocery shopping weekly seems to be best for us. My shopping trips are shorter when I go weekly. Whereas when I went every other week they were longer. There is no right or wrong way to do this – everyone finds a routine that works best for them. Right now, weekly is what works for us! I’m sure that will change as my patience changes and as Rowan learns how to ask for something from every aisle.

I try to do my meal planning on Friday night (sometimes Thursday night) I plan for the week ahead and schedule our family favorite meals and usually one new one. I typically choose quick and simple meal ideas for the weekends that don’t take a lot of effort so that I can spend more time enjoying my family and Dusty’s downtime. During the weekday, I depend a lot on the crock pot, and meal prepping to see my sanity through the long hours Dusty puts in studying and away from the house.

We have a lovely magnetic shopping list that is on the front of our fridge. Dusty knows that when something runs out or is getting low, all he has to do is grab a pen and jot down the item. I then add it to my shopping list at the end of the week. I love this magnetic pen/dry erase marker holder. It holds the markers for our dry erase calendar and a pen for the magnetic shopping list. Also, on the side of our fridge is this week at a glance calendar, on this, I write out the meals we’ll be having for the week. I have it facing the kitchen sink so that I can glance at it at night while finishing up the dishes in the evening. I then know if I need to take out any meat to thaw or if there’s prep work to do for the crockpot. I tend to juggle meals around – which is why the dry erase board is so so nice!

When Thursday or Friday evening comes, Rowan’s in bed, and I’ve poured a glass of wine or steeped some tea. I sit down on the couch with my magnetic shopping list that Dusty and I have jotted down over the week and I use this printable to organize my shopping trip by grocery store section – talk about a HUGE time saver! Especially with a little one in tow. My friend Angela shared a similar shopping list with me, and I wanted to modify it a little bit to fit my own needs. This is what I came up with and I’d love for you to download it and use it too! I’m still a huge fan of a written out list…although I know all the cool moms are using their phones. Just call me ancient.

I’ll use the printable to map out my meals for the upcoming week…then, I’ll use the spaces below to write out the items necessary to create the meals. I really like it because it sorts my grocery items by type…which helps the grocery shopping trip run smoothly! I’ll also add all of the items from the magnetic shopping list that Dusty and I jotted down during the week…and lastly, I almost always ask Dusty if there are any other items he needs me to remember to snag while I’m out. Even though he was supposed to jot things down on the magnetic shopping list…the double check helps save any unnecessary runs later on…and I know Dusty is busy and sometimes…he forgets! As do I. We’re only human after all!

Once I have the meals planned out for the week I like to transfer them to my dry erase week at a glance calendar and put that where I can see it from my dishwashing station!

Here are some fun dry erase markers with little erasers on the ends, love them!

And there you have it. My somewhat “simplified” grocery shopping routine. My system isn’t necessarily foolproof, and for some, this system may seem like an absolute headache…or perhaps there are steps that wouldn’t work for you. My hope is that you can snag bits and pieces of what I do and insert it into your own routine and that my ideas help you formulate something that works for you and your family.

Best of luck! Happy grocery shopping!

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