Menu and Meal Planning

How to make a menu plan/organize Your shopping list.

I have a simple method for making shopping lists. I generally have 4-5 menu plans that I build and then just reuse. I start with a basic “table” in my Open Office Document (I know a lot of people use spreadsheets, but I've never been able to get the hang of them) and make 8 columns and 6 rows.

I then have each of the kids pick out a recipe for their 'meal' of the week (we all take turns cooking) and that takes up 5 meals.  A few meals are always leftovers, because we almost always make more than one meals worth.

Protein Shake
Cereal & Eggs

Cheese Stick & Fresh Veggie/Fruit
Nut Butter Dip & Apple/Celery
Protein Shake
Low Fat cottage cheese or yogurt & Fresh Fruit


I list all of the meals we'll be having for the week (although we NEVER stick to the Monday-Friday type schedule, its just to make sure we have enough meals in general). Sunday is usually our shopping day and a prep day to make sure all the veggies get used and stored properly and don't go to waste. Tuesday is our prep day if we don't get it done on Sunday.

Snacks also aren't scheduled. I buy a variety of things for snacks and keep a list on the fridge for 'snacks' that they can have so that (hopefully) no one eats the last of something I need later for a recipe.

We also don't do 'scheduled' meals or snacks unless its a meal time when most/all of us will be home. Most evenings my son has basketball practice or a babysitting job, my oldest daughter is off at her job, so we don't generally have 'family dinner'... its really nice when we can, though, so we try to make it happen at least once a week. I don't care when the kids eat, because basically everything in our house is 'clean' and the kids know to eat something with both protein and fiber whenever they eat. I really feel that at their ages (10-19), they are old enough to know when they are hungry and to eat accordingly. This wouldn't be the case if we had a bunch of junk food in the house, though.

Anyway, I make my 'chart', then start with my grocery list. I tend to go to three or four stores. Aldi, because they are the cheapest, WalMart because they are still inexpensive and Reasors, a local grocery chain that has a lot of the uber healthy stuff and is still better priced than Whole Foods or Akins, our health food stores. About the only thing I get at the health food store is liquid B-12 (I could not get through my days without this supplement!! Energy, alertness, mood stabilizer, its awesome) and flavored liquid Stevia for my coffee, clear liquid Stevia for our teas and smoothies.

I save our list and chart and pull it up again a few weeks later to reuse without having to do any of the work again. I'll start putting a copy on here for those that are interested.