|The start of the plan|
- Every week I go to the grocery store on the same day at the same time. This is significant because I always know on Tuesday night I need to make my weekly meal plan and grocery list. It becomes part of the routine knowing this has to be done by Tuesday night because I'll be at the store the next morning. Having a set day and time keeps me from putting it off another day.
- Get one piece of paper for your grocery list, or use a list on your phone. Get a second piece of paper for your meal plan (or whatever you're using to write down your meals that everyone in the family can see every day--no more questions of what's for dinner).
- Start with your meal plan. Write down all the days of the week and then assign dinners for each and every day, be detailed (main dish, sides, salad, etc.) about everything you're going to make. Decide on a few things to rotate for breakfast, lunch, and snacks for all the beings of your house for one week. Write those down on the meal plan too.
The dinner plan for all to see
- Now that you have your plan, start going through each meal/recipe and detail on your grocery list every item contained in the meal--spices, flour, milk, mustard, whatever, write it all down. My tip is to actually write down everything, even if you think you have enough of an item on hand, but star those items you think you have. For example, I think I have enough peanut butter to make smoothies for a week, but I write it on the list anyhow and put a star by it.
The grocery list with items starred I think I already have
- Once you have everything written down start going through your pantry/fridge/freezer and checking the amounts of the items your starred. I do this after I've fully finished the list so I'm not standing up every two seconds to check to see if I still have pepper. Mark off the items you already have on hand.
- You've finished the list, congratulations!
- ...you're not finished though. Make sure you eat before you go to the store, and I'm not talking about a piece of bread so you can say you ate. You know what I'm about to tell you--do not go to the store hungry! Hunger clouds your judgement in the land of processed sugary foods. Stay strong friend and eat before you go.
- Stick to your list. Now, if you legitimately forgot to put milk on the list, it's okay to veer off, but don't forget the milk. Other than actual necessities, don't buy it unless it's on your list. Ask yourself, can I survive without this item that I didn't need when I made my grocery list, but now I want it? If it doesn't fall into one of your pre-planned meals or snacks, leave it behind. Break this rule though if it's a fruit or vegetable :)
|Final step is to come home with delicious food!|
- Keep a pad of paper on your fridge and write down whenever you run out of an item, or if you're using a list on your phone, note it there so you don't have to try to remember when you make your grocery list
- Don't be afraid of frozen fruits and vegetables, these can be a great way to get in whole foods without worrying about the produce going bad before you can eat it. Also, frozen produce can be great "emergency" items for when you run out of vegetables for dinner before your next grocery run.
- If you live in an area where the produce won't last a week, you may need to schedule a second trip to the store for more fresh produce. Or, look into a produce delivery service for midweek.
- If you do not want to cook every night, enlist the help of the others in your house. Teens can learn to cook a meal one night a week, or you husband can muster up putting a piece of chicken or fish in the oven. Sometimes no one wants to cook, so schedule a night of eating out. It won't feel like cheating on healthy eating if you plan ahead to eat out and choose a place where you can make good decisions.
- Your list should contain as many whole foods, not processed, as possible.
- If you want to make a change in the regular items you buy that are processed, plan a little extra time at the store. You're going to want to read ingredients, and look at sugar content. This will take time to make the best decision. Go in with the mindset of finding new favorites.
- One of the ways I keep from buying extras at the store that are not on my list is by having a weekly food budget.