Do you dread meal planning and grocery shopping? Does it feel like it takes forever just to get your grocery list together, let alone the time it takes to wander around the grocery store looking for everything on your list? That's how I was for years. Then one day I came up with the idea to create a grocery list based on the way my supermarket is laid out. A list that would not only save me time roaming around the store and spending more money on things I'd see that weren't on my list, but would also help me not forget things I needed when making my shopping list.
As a busy mom, wife, and entrepreneur, I love being able to figure out a way to save time and make things easier. Especially on a task that I loathe! Can you relate? I'm betting you can. If so, I thought I'd share with you 3 ways that I make meal planning & grocery shopping easier.
First, the grocery list. This may seem a little strange and maybe over the top for a grocery list, but I promise you you're going to love it after you get it set up. I created a template of everything I buy at the store. I did this by taking a little notebook to the grocery store with me, going up and down each aisle and writing down the aisle number along with everything in that aisle that I would possibly shop for. So for example aisle 18 might have chips, pretzels, wheat thins, cheese its, crackers, goldfish, PB crackers and graham crackers. Obviously there are a lot more items in aisle 18 than these things, but these are the items that I typically might be looking for. I went through the entire store and wrote everything down like this. Then I went home and created a document on my computer that laid out each aisle and the items in each aisle that I might possibly need to purchase.
This helps in two ways. One, when I'm making my list to go shopping I don't need to have a list in my mind of everything I should be checking my pantry for. I can just go down this list that I've printed out and remember to check to see if we need soap, for example, when I'm making my list. Before this, I was all the time forgetting things that we had run out of when I was making my list. Second, this list saves TONS of time when I'm in the grocery store. I don't have to wander aimlessly through the aisles looking for the things I need, and then backtracking 3 aisles when I get to the next item on the list. With this list in hand, I can get in and out of the grocery store in 30 to 45 minutes with two weeks worth of groceries. Maybe longer if Walmart doesn't have enough cashiers. ;(
Here is a picture of the list I use.
The second tip I have is to have a list of all your go-to meals. I added a list of meals to the backside of my grocery list. The first thing I do when preparing my grocery list is go through this list of meals and circle the ones that I'm going to make for the next two weeks. Sometimes I pass the list to one of the kids and/or my husband and have them circle the meals they'd like for me to plan for. After that's finished I can mark the items I need for each meal on the grocery list. Once I've marked off all the ingredients I'll need, I go through the list and the pantry together to see what other items I might need that are outside of the recipes I'm planning for. Snacks, lunchbox items, drinks, etc...
If I can stay focused on what I'm doing and not get sidetracked, I can get my list together in about 30 minutes or so.
My third tip is to keep a list of the meals you have planned for somewhere you can easily grab it each day. I don't necessarily plan what days I'm making which meals ahead of time. I'm too moody and never know what I'll be in the mood for. ☺ But I do keep a list of the meals I have ingredients for in my planner on a sticky note that I can move from one day to the next. That way I can easily see what my options are for dinner and not sit around trying to think of what I can make. The other way I keep this list of meals handy is by putting this grocery list up on the frig with the meals showing so I can quickly see what I've got when in the kitchen for days that I'm not using my planner much. Like on the weekends.
I have a little bonus tip for you too! Choose your meals and fill out your list just like I mentioned above. But then, instead of going to the store, use the online shopping and curbside pickup at Walmart. This tip will save you money too! By not walking all the aisles while shopping you won't be tempted to pick up a few extras here and there. Shopping online will get you only what you absolutely need that you have on your list. Walmarts online shopping and pickup is super easy to use and free. The only requirement is that you spend $35 or more. You can also mark your favorite items in the online store which saves you more time the next time you shop. You don't have to go searching for things that you buy regularly. They are all sitting in your favorites waiting on you to click the button to add to your cart. ☺
If I've sold you and you're inspired to create your own list template, I'd love to share my grocery list as a template to start your own. Here's a link to give you just that: Grocery List Template
I hope you've found this helpful. I love to hear other peoples little hacks for making everyday chores a little easier, so I thought I'd share one too. Please feel free to share this post with a friend if you found it helpful!