How many times have we had this same conversation?
How many times have you stared into a seemingly full pantry or refrigerator and drawn a complete blank?
Or even wandered around the grocery only to come home with $300 worth of groceries but you are missing 2 things you need for tonight's recipe?!?
I am embarrassed to say that it took me WAY TOO LONG to devise a system to combat this….BUT now I have a plan.
I like to cook and several years ago we started voting on new recipes at dinner. If I tried something new from a cookbook or a magazine they would vote on whether or not that particular meal was a “Keeper”. Then, there were years where I ran to the grocery 3-4 times a week because I was always forgetting items or didn’t buy quite enough. Then, as my children became teenagers, they were starving and I had either not made enough for dinner or not planned ahead. All that lead to this system.
On Monday at breakfast, I print out a list of the Keeper meals(breakfast, Lunch and dinner) and they each get to highlight 2 of each meal and that is also their chance for special requests(shampoo, toothpaste, some special snack for their lunchbox). It is important to note that the list of possible Menu Plans is always growing. If you try a new recipe or have a great dinner- add it to the list along with all your family favorites. This is just a helpful way to jog your memory and allow the rest of the family to add their opinions.
From that, I fill out the Weekly Menu Plan complete with main dish and side dishes and salads for all the meals. If we know we will be gone for a meal, I list that as well.
Weekly Menu planner.pdf
Then, using the Menu Plan, I make my grocery list(divided up by areas of the grocery store).
Trust me, this may take you 20 minutes at home but it will save you time at the grocery and countless hours not going back to the grocery during the week! In addition, it is easy for me to look at the menu plan and say- “I’m going to cook extra chicken to use the next day or They can take leftover barbecue pork on rolls for lunch the day after we have it for dinner.” NO, this is not rocket science but it works.
Now, be flexible, you have all the ingredients for your meal plan in the house. If you don’t want Chicken Enchiladas tonight- switch Tuesdays dinner with Wednesdays. Also, I still shop sales at the grocery. If pork tenderloin are on sale, get a couple and work them into future meal plans.
I know I know- you now think I'm a grocery nerd BUT this works for me. Maybe you have a better plan, but this is a place to start for those of you that need a little direction in the dinner department.