How to Plan Meals & Make a Grocery List Like a BOSS

Meal planning is a challenge for even the most organized person (I speak from experience here). Once you throw in jobs and kids and other responsibilities it gets even harder to find the time to plan your weekly meals and create a shopping list that ensures you have everything you need for the week.

I used to have to carve out time each weekend to sit down surrounded by my insane collection of cookbooks and start flipping through them, begging my husband for ideas (he will eat ANYTHING but could never seem to think of any meals he likes at planning time), and rummaging through the cupboards to see what I had on hand that might give me ideas. Once I had some ideas then I'd need to find the recipes to go with them and start creating a grocery shopping list from the recipes. 

Then I figured out a system that simplified this process and the task became a BREEZE. Seriously. If you need help with this part of your meal planning and list making then you might want to give this a try. It's a little old school but it works (plus you can do it on the couch while binge watching your latest favourite show).

Start by getting a pack of index cards and one of those index/recipe card boxes. Then drag those cookbooks out one more time and sit down with them and a list of your favourite meals. 

For each meal take one card and jot down the name of the recipe, what cookbook it is in and what page it's on. Then write down every ingredient you need to make it and the amounts needed. No directions, just ingredients.

My pumpkin soup card from one of the lovely Podleski ladies' cookbook

My pumpkin soup card from one of the lovely Podleski ladies' cookbook

Do this for every single meal and, as you find new recipes you like, add those to the box. 

Tip: I don't even bother bookmarking recipes I find online any more as my online bookmarks are wildly out of control (I know, ironic), but I do print off the good ones and stick them in an old sticky page photo album.

Now each week when you do your meal planning pull out the index card box and start flipping through to choose your meals. Then add the items on the recipe card to your list or online grocery app (FYI: LOVE Grocery IQ - hubby and I can both add and remove items to the same list which updates live on our phones - no affiliation, it just changed our grocery list lives and I love it). 

Once it's all on your list make sure you do a quick grocery check through your cupboards and check off any items you already have on hand, and then you're done.

I suggest you keep the week's index cards in a prominent spot in your kitchen to make sure you make the meals you planned for and the food doesn't go to waste. The bonus of keeping them nearby is that the cookbook and page are noted on the top of each card so you can just pull that one cookbook out rather than trying to remember where it is (unless you're a cooking wizard and just KNOW how to make food without a recipe, in which case, you're my hero).

Happy meal planning!