How I Menu Plan and Build a Grocery List – Part One

If you’ve been around for any amount of time you know I love to share my menu plans for the week and if you know me in real life you know I’m a frugal shopper with lists galore! I used to be a couponer but with five kids and other obligations I pretty much stopped altogether a couple years ago. I still use the occasional coupon but nothing compared to what I did way back when. 

In order to make the most of our time and money I spend time each week making a menu plan and from that build a grocery list. I’ve used this method for the last seven more years and love so many aspects of it. So lets jump in and see how I make it work!

1. Menu plan in a calendar

I use Google calendar because I can share it with Micah and he can see what is on the menu for each night as well as share any other plans we have like doctor appointments, school functions, or my small group activities. I make sure I plan easier meals on nights with activities and more elaborate meals on nights when Micah is home to help cook or wrangle kids, ha!

If you don’t want to use a digital form I highly recommend using a paper calendar so you can still see everything that each day holds and you don’t over schedule yourself!


2. Have “set” meals for ease of planning

To make things easier we have a couple “set” meals that we know we will eat every week. Every Thursday is leftovers, Friday night is homemade pizza and movie night and Saturday morning is breakfast burritos. Easy peasy! I know what ingredients I need for these so there is no thinking needed.


3. Make use of your freezer, fridge, and pantry

From there I browse my freezer, fridge, and pantry to see what I already have on hand and see what I can make without shopping. It’s always nice to come up with one or two meals without any additional ingredients.

There are quite a few meals that I almost always have the ingredients for in the house. Food like pancakes, stir fry noodles, grilled cheese, and egg bake are just a few meals that we rarely run out of ingredients for around here. 


4. Check out the store ads

I love Sunday and Wednesday mornings when I wake up to brand new store ads. Yes, I’m a total dork. ha! We always shop at the same three stores for our groceries but will occasionally throw in one or two other stores if there are incredibly good deals. Sometimes I can price match at Target or Walmart but often that is either a headache or the item on sale is a store brand item so it wont work. Once in a while there is such an incredible deal at a store that I’ve made changes to my menu to suit the great deal. Some deals are too good to pass up… as long as they fit in the budget!


5. Don’t forget about other meals

There have been weeks when I have gotten so focused on planning dinners that I forget to plan for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. Lunches aren’t usually a huge deal since five of us eat leftovers most days and the two school-aged boys bring the same food (ham & cheese sandwich) every day but forgetting to have a general idea about breakfast can put me in a pinch on those rushed school mornings!


6. Build your grocery list

Now that you’ve got your menu ready you can start to build your list! Check out Part Two of this post to see how to build your grocery list and make sure you stay in budget! 


Do you menu plan? What is your method?


I’m really pumped about the new Meal Planning Facebook group I started. I think it’s going to be a fabulous place to share ideas, strategies, and problem solve with each other about feeding our families meals that are good for us and aren’t incredibly repetitive. If you want help with menu planning or have great ideas you want to share come check it out here 😀 From now on all menu plans & grocery trips will now be shared in the free private group – come join us!

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