Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How Does She Do It? {Meal Planning}

One of the things I love about the online world is seeing how other women “do life” more efficiently.  Everyone has such great ideas to share and their own spin on how to make life more manageable.  I am constantly curious about other people’s habits, routines, and life hacks.  (Does that make me sound like a stalker?  I promise I am just curious about people. :)

I will be sharing how I manage some of my household routines in this series called, “How Does She Do It?”  First up, meal planning!  Selfishly, I hope you will share your best tips and tricks as well.

Since I live with four males, meals are serious business in our house.  Our grocery bill is literally the size of a mortgage payment and, although everyone has their favorites, I am always looking to mix up our nightly meals.  So my steps for weekly meal planning are:
  • Review the sales.
  • Look for new recipes.
  • Clean and organize fridge and pantry.
  • Make a weekly menu. 
  • Make a detailed list.
  • Plan coupons.
  • Shop for food.
  • Meal prep.
*Review the Sales*
I do this throughout the week as the flyers come in the mail.  For example, if my local store has chicken on sale that week, I know that we will be eating chicken sometime next week, or stocking up for future meals.

*Look for New Recipes*
I am constantly scouring magazines, cookbooks, blogs and Pinterest for new meals to try.  I usually screenshot recipes on my phone so they are handy when I get to the planning step.  Truth be told, if it goes in a Crock Pot during the week, it is moving to the top of my list.  I have a special place in my heart for my Crock Pot and could not feed this tribe without it!  One of my new favorite cookbooks is from fellow blogger, Shay Shull, Mix and Match Mama Eats.

*Clean and Organize the Fridge and Pantry*
This sounds like a daunting task, but once you get rolling with this plan, it is super simple and only takes about 15 minutes.  I do this step every Thursday because our family eats leftovers on that night.  It's super simple to incorporate these steps as your pulling out the leftovers.  We put everything on the counter and let the kids eat buffet style.  A night off from cooking!  I keep my grocery list close by during this step and make note of any staples that we are out of or running low on (milk, butter, bread, etc.).  I wipe down the inside of the refrigerator and throw out any old food.  In the pantry, I reorganize everything and do a quick inventory as well.

*Make a Weekly Menu*
At this point, I am now ready to make a weekly menu.  The shopping list sheets I use have a space for writing the menu at the bottom of the page and I love that so much!  I bought them from Jack and Ella Paper, which is a company out of Wisconsin run by a fellow "mom boss" that I found on Instagram. (Follow me @deannazehr on Instagram.  I have so much fun on there!) Seriously cute.  My motto is to only buy things that are pretty and make me happy.  So if I have to do something boring like write a grocery list, I want it to be on pretty paper.  It is the little things that make a big difference!

Our pantry door is painted with chalkboard paint and I also write our weekly menu up there as well.  No more, "What's for dinner?!"  Our typical week is Mexican Monday, new or favorite meals on Tuesday and Wednesday, Leftovers on Thursday, and we order pizza on Friday.  We usually go out on Saturday and I cook a big afternoon meal on Sunday that includes something I'm prepping for another meal in the coming week.

*Make a Detailed List*
From my menu, I now write down all ingredients that we need.  I also know what we have on hand because of my prior step.  This step is super fast.

*Plan Coupons*
When I was a single mom, I used coupons like a boss.  So much so, that I was able to feed the three of us for $300 a month.  At this phase in life, I use very few paper coupons other than the one's that the store mails to me.  I do love using Ibotta, however.  I have downloaded the app and look for coupons when I have a spare minute.  This adds up quickly.  I also download electronic coupons when available at my store.

*Shop for Food*
We are one of those families that shop at multiple stores.  For example, we may stop by our local store and grab the sale items we need when we are running a kid to practice.  However, Aldi, Kroger, and Costco are our consistent stores of choice.  I will do a future Aldi post, because I have that place down to a science!  I can't get everything there, so Kroger is where we get everything else.  We may buy household items from Target because, let's face it, it gives me an excuse to go there and see if they have anything else that's cute (and they always do!)  I avoid Wal-Mart as much as possible, but probably find myself there four times a year.  We don't go to these stores every week, they are just on our rotation.

*Meal Prep*
When I get home from the store, I wash all of the produce immediately and recycle packaging as I am putting things away.  That way if someone wants to eat grapes, they are washed and off their little stems.  When you are hungry, washing grapes seems like a super big task and it is easier to grab an Oreo. (Just me?)

I hope you have found some tips that help you plan your weekly meals.  It sounds like a lot when you write it all down, but it is just part of my routine now and saves us a ton of trips through the drive-thru.  Share your meal planning tips below.  I love to find new ways to increase efficiency and save more money.

Happy meal planning!


  1. Love this! I am a meal prep junkie (food allergies require extreme diligence and planning) and love seeing how everyone else does it!

    If you love your crock pot have you ever tried an instant pot? I am getting one in a couple weeks for my birthday and am so excited to try it!

    1. We have a little one with an egg allergy in our house so I can totally relate to that struggle! I haven't heard of an instant pot...going to check that out for sure. Thanks for reading, Sara!😘