Simplicity: Meal Planning



Wanna know a secret? I suck at meal planning. I’ve never been awesome at it, but I used to be better than I am now. About two years ago, we (Will and I) devised a system in which I would grocery shop each day for that day’s food – kind of like the European model. (What I know of the European model, anyway. I’ve never been to Europe, so my knowledge is limited to what I learned in high school French class.) We decided to take this “route” because at the time, we lived in a small town. Really small. As in no street lights and the only “grocery store” (and I use that term very loosely) carried almost nothing fresh (a few bananas and moldy peaches/strawberries/bell peppers was the extent of the produce department) and charged double what a regular store would for the packaged stuff. The other option in town was a mini-mart whose owners bought their stock from Wal-Mart and marked them up from the already-retail price. So we decided, that as a way for me to make sure to get out of the apartment each day, I should take the car to the bigger town seven miles away and get groceries from a real store.

Since we moved to a bigger town half an hour away in December 2012 (the one I grew up in, actually), we’ve kept up with the daily shopping, just because it was we’d grown accustomed to. But now, I’m starting to feel like it’s becoming cumbersome. I want to spend my time hanging out with my boys, teaching them, playing with them. Not grocery shopping.

Which is going to require a fundamental change in the way I think about our food.

But change is good, right? 🙂

So here’s my plan. I’m going to make a weekly meal plan (inspired by this one from Confessions of a Homeschooler) and buy everything we need for the whole week (possibly excluding highly perishable produce – some things really are better to buy more frequently… although I might just buy that stuff too, and chop it all up and freeze it until it’s needed… we’ll see). The meal plan will include Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, and Dinner. For every single day. (My kids will be happy about the “snack” part – we never have snacks on hand.) I will then turn that meal plan into a grocery list, and on Tuesdays, I will go to the grocery store, just me (and probably Small Fry most weeks). Why Tuesdays? I thought about this a lot, and that’s the day that’s going to work best. Will typically works out of the house on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday each week (it can vary week to week, but that’s the schedule I can count on). Sundays are a Sabbath, so no shopping then. Mondays … well, I could shop on Mondays, but this week, Wednesday worked best (he’s working from home all this week), and I didn’t want my shopping trips to be only five days apart this time.

So there you go.

How do you keep mealtime/grocery shopping simple? Help a girl out and share your tips!




  1. Sanz @ From The Mrs.

    Just when I think you and I are twin-minds…we are WAY opposite on this one! 🙂

    I hate shopping and as you know, I try to do it only once a month and get produce from a co op weekly. However, I DO think I would enjoy it more frequently IF I lived in an area where I could walk to a corner bakery and a corner butcher and a farmer’s market. But I live in the suburbs and we can’t really walk anywhere but in our own neighborhood which is just parks, sidewalks, schools, churches and homes. The time is also a huge concern for me. Even when I was shopping weekly I felt like I was reinventing the wheel every week. I’m curious to know what you think of shopping weekly and if you like it. When you were shopping daily, does that mean you didn’t really have much on hand? You were literally buying just enough food for that day? Did it seem like you were spending more money? What if you were sick (or a child was sick)? Okay, I’m getting annoying with all the questions now. Very interesting post. It is always so fun to see how other people live. I love diversity!

    • Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, but I wanted to wait until I was on the computer and could do it “right.”

      I would love more frequent shopping if we had individual stores too! There’s nothing that can beat breads and pastries from a good bakery! Since all we have is regular grocery stores around here, it was time to avoid going to them every day.

      As we get better at this whole weekly shopping thing, I’ll let you know what I think of it! Right now, the verdict’s still out. I like having a plan, but on the other hand, I kind of wonder what to do with my time now… As far as daily shopping, we did have enough on hand that I could put together some sort of rag-tag meal if getting to the store didn’t happen, but there were absolutely NO plans until the day of. It was “what sounds good for dinner tonight?” and we bought that stuff. It was kind of stressful, to be honest, because it was easy to have it suddenly be 5:00 and there was no dinner plan. That’s kind of late to be going to the store for dinner! Our grocery budget is pretty set; it doesn’t waver from month to month, regardless of how often we shop. For weekly, I’ve got $150 to work with. When it was daily, I had $20 (ish). So the money isn’t really changing. As for if someone was sick? Well, that’s the good thing about having Will work from home most of the time – we have way more flexibility than most people, even homeschoolers. I’ll try to remember to do an update in a month or two 🙂

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