The idea of remembering everything you need for a week of meals is overwhelming, right? WRONG. Meal planning and money saving is easy when you use a few very simple tools to organize your week (or month), making your time at the store a breeze. Here’s a few of our favorite steps and tips.
Get Out the Calendar!
You can’t successfully plan a week without looking at the week ahead. See which nights are busy and which nights are free and clear for more complicated meal preparation. Also, do yourself the favor of scheduling a night of leftovers (trust us, it’s so very satisfying). Write in meal ideas for each day with ingredients next to the menu, OR on a master list that accompanies your weekly spread.
Keep a Running List
Remember, lists are your friends. Keep a running shopping list on the fridge for staples and snacks, and then add those to your weekly meal plan items. Use a simple spreadsheet to organize ingredients for a large shopping trip or use Favado.com’s list feature to keep everything in one place from week to week. Organize by store, by floor plan, or by category (dry goods, perishables, bulk items, weekly sale items, etc), then get down and dirty with a cross-reference system to your calendar. Cross things off as you go in case things happen out of order to ensure that you don’t forget anything.
Scan the Store Systematically
Remember that the outer edges of the store are usually the refrigerated, fresh, and frozen items, so if it’s going to be a long trip during a hot day, you want to leave those items till the end. This step also ensures that a thorough list ends up being a complete list.
Keep Things Moving
If you can’t find something at one store, carry it over to the next stop’s list or check Favado to see where the best deal is before you start. If you aren't sure which brand you liked better last month, make a quick decision and remember to pay closer attention to that item this time around. There’s nothing worse than feeling worn out by inefficient use of time and energy – shopping is supposed to be fun!
Revel in Your Success!
Being prepared feels good, and you just prepared yourself for a whole week of easy meal preparation. Pat yourself on the back, eat that cookie you've been saving, and enjoy the ritual of putting your nicely planned groceries away.
In case you missed it, you can find more tips in Meal Planning 101.