Meal Planning: How To Set Up A Quick & Effective System

I know, what a daunting task it is.  However, it is a task that is necessary if you plan on eating at home and sticking to a budget.   I will show you step by step on how to put a weekly menu and grocery shopping system in place.  Stay tuned to the end because I have an extra bonus for you. 

Have you ever had those weeks where you are so busy that you can't make it to the grocery store and you are literally eating peanut butter out of a jar?  Or as soon as you get home you are being bugged about what's for dinner?  The last thing you want to think about it planning a meal. Believe me, I have had those weeks until I came up with my system. 

 I show you step by step the easiest way to set up a weekly menu.  You will stay so organized and ready to head to the grocery store with a plan.  Say goodbye to the days of not having a plan.  This also comes with a FREE meal planner and shopping list.  Click through and start taking action now!

How to implement your weekly menu:

My easiest piece of advice is to just start!  

Pick up a piece of paper and just start.  Think up 5 dinners you and your family like to eat.  Write them down.  If you do not follow through, well then, start again.  It's totally fine to fall off the wagon from time to time.

My next piece of advice is to make a plan.  

Let me elaborate on that.  Your menu doesn't have to be set in stone!  For instance, if you plan on having pizza on Thursday but when Thursday comes around you don't feel like pizza, then don't have pizza, pick something else.

Pick a shopping day.

Find a day of the week that you have some extra time.  You don't have to set a Sunday through Saturday week.  If Tuesday is the day that works for you then pick it.  Just pick 1 day a week to do the bulk of your shopping.

If you want more information about that, I created a step-by-step tutorial type blog post about how to create an errand day.  By creating an errand day, I was able to save 3 hours a week and I started saving tons of money too!

Related: How Creating An Errand Day Will Save You Time & Money Each Week

Get Help From Your Family.

Have your family sit down with you and help.  I love input for the week for either groceries that are needed or what type of dinners they would like to eat.  However, my family doesn't like to add the input.  It's a running joke in the house that once mom comes out with the menu and a pen everyone needs to find something to do quick.  I have found that family support really does lead to more success.

Filling out a menu leads to fewer trips to the grocery store

Filling out your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks helps with planning a full shopping trip. This will lead to fewer trips to the grocery store and less eating out.  Money saver!!!  I know that when I do not plan out my meals I will have to figure out what's for dinner then start craving different meals than not have the ingredients.  Then I'm off to the grocery store and am spending too much for dinner.

Have themed days

I try to do "themed days" during the week.  Like "Meatless Monday" or "Taco Tuesday" I don't have a theme for each day.  Just a few, like those two.  We don't have tacos each Tuesday but I try to prepare a Mexican themed dinner for Tuesdays.  Also, I know Italian and Asian dishes are good to go to meals so I'll try them planned out during the week also.


Leftovers are your friend!  Try to plan a dinner meal where you can have it again for dinner or bring left-overs for lunch the next day!  Less work = A WIN!

Freezer meals can be such a huge help!

This can also be part of the leftover theme.  If you cook enough for 2 or 3 meals then you can put it in the freezer and you will have a meal ready for you some other time.

Check your calendar for super busy days!

My last tip.  If you know you are going to be super busy one night then make sure to plan a quick dinner for that night.  Check the calendar!  Do the kids have sports on a certain day of the week?  Will you have a late night meeting?  There is nothing wrong with having a frozen pizza in the freezer for those days when you come home late and need to not think about dinner.  Just preheat the oven, add the pizza, and toss a salad together! Remember planning ahead like that can lead to more success!

List building time!

Once your menu is planned out, it's time to start the shopping list.  By having your menu written out in front of you, you can easily look to see what you'll need to make the meals.  For example, I know that I'll be making chili and meatloaf this week so I'll need two packages of ground meat.

While you are planning out your menu, take a look at your pantry to see if you have some of the ingredients already.  I've been known to not look in the pantry and end up with 4 or 5 cans of olives, veggie broth, or something else like that.  

Another tip is to write the weekly menu down on your shopping list.  If the store is out of the main ingredient (which has happened before) that I need, I can easily see if I can substitute or if I'll need to change the meal completely.  

What about when you run out of something?  

Do you have a system in place for that?

Here's another tip:

Place a small whiteboard on your refrigerator.  That way once someone uses the last of something they can write it down on the whiteboard.    

If this is something that you struggle with and just don't feel like you have enough time in your day to add meal planning to the long list of things to do, then my friend, I want you to know that I'm here for you.  

I've been where you've been, and I created a free time saving busy mom workbook to help you save time with not only menu planning but other things that we as busy moms need help with.  Inside the workbook, there are 8 things that you can implement today that will save you time.  There is a worksheet connected to each of the 8 items to help you work through the task to make you as successful as possible. 

Click the button below to download the free Time-Saving Busy Mom Workbook!

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I hope this helps you with meal planning!  Remember, a little planning can make a world of difference!  Will this help you start a weekly meal plan schedule?  I would love the hear your thoughts!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post.  Your support means a lot.