“What’s for dinner tonight?” Do you know the answer? With just a little planning, you can master your meal prep and never wonder again! Set aside 20 minutes to build your grocery plan.

 

Start with your shopping list 

Grab a sheet of paper. In one corner, write the days of the week. In equal sections on the page, label your categories: Produce, Dairy, Meat, Frozen, Bread/Dry Goods, Canned/Jarred Goods, Other. Underline these sections. This will make shopping faster and easier.

 

Review your schedule 

Look ahead on your calendar for scheduling challenges. Note any days that you may be short on time - sports games, board meetings, birthday parties. Plan for simple, quick meals on these days. Write these scheduling challenges next to the days on your list.

 

Assess food on hand 

Review your cupboards, freezer, and fridge and see what you already have that could be made into meals. Is there a sad bell pepper? Make chili or fajitas! Use fresh produce earlier in the week and rely on frozen items later to minimize food waste.

 

Plan your meals 

Start small! You don’t have to plan every meal of every day - plan for leftover dinners on a few days! If you’ll be trying a new recipe, only add one or two each week. Plan the rest of the week with meals that you are familiar with and that you and your family enjoy. Write these next to the days in the corner.

 

Fill out your grocery list 

Now that you know what you’ll be cooking, write down what you’ll need for each meal under the appropriate category. For fajitas, you might put onion and lime under “Produce,” tortillas under “Breads/Dry Goods,” and chicken under “Meat.”

 

Add in extras 

Make sure to include any staples you may need to replace! Keeping a running list that the whole family can add to will remind you to get bread, milk, or eggs. A whiteboard near the fridge is a great way to track!

 

Post your menu 

Once you’ve completed your shopping, put your menu in a prominent place! Magnet your list to the fridge, write it on a whiteboard, or post it to your digital calendar. This will serve as a reminder to defrost anything or fire up the crockpot in the morning. 

 

Dinner time can be stressful. With just a little bit of planning, you can take the guesswork out of dinner!