The Ultimate cheat sheet for meal planning & grocery shopping
Meal planning and grocery shopping can be super intimidating. It has taken months of practice, and multiple different meal planning templates to finally figure out what works for me. Everyone is different and for me, efficiency is key.
Here’s the process I use for my meal planning and grocery shopping for all three meals plus snacks:
Each week is designated by 7 horizontal boxes, those can be broken down into three more rows (B, L, D) or, if you are only wanting to meal prep your lunches a week, the boxes don’t need to be broken down!
- I use my recipe binder and look through my pantry to see what I already have & what sounds good. There are some foods that never change in my weekly plans (ie., snacks – I always have a fruit and almonds for my morning/ afternoon snack). For breakfast, I usually choose two or three overnight oats recipes and add those in.
Snack prepping for a work week
- After filling in breakfasts and snacks, half the job of planning is already done! The only other meal prepping I do is with my lunches.
- When choosing what to have for lunches, I try to pick things that truly sound good and I won’t get tired of eating every day of the week. (This is actually really hard and I try to keep backup foods just in case!)
- Or I’ll choose two lunch options and meal prep both to pick and choose!
- Lastly, I fill dinner in with some variety (but the lunches can always be used as dinner instead). The dinner part is always the section I’m most likely to deviate from. Again, I turn away from meal planning for dinner, so I can come home and cook what sounds good (I still list on the menu so I know when to pull meats from the freezer to thaw, etc)!
- Once all sections for the week are filled in, I go through each recipe and list the items I don’t have to the grocery list provided below the calendar spots. This way when I get to the store, its easy to grab the plan and know what to get out of each section instead of wandering up and down each aisle and being tempted to buy things you actually don’t need.
The great thing about these printables is that there is enough meal planning spots & grocery lists for up to 4 weeks. The snack planning is only for two weeks, but easy to print out again and again.
Tips & tricks:
- You can fill in for the entire month, but if you’re anything like me, its hard to stick by since cravings, money, and food availability are always changing.
- Try to pick like foods during the week if you can. I make a lot of dishes that involve black beans, diced tomatoes, and the same spices. Canned goods are a great way to save money and to keep stocked in your pantry since the shelf life is long. For produce, if you buy a lot of lettuce, plan on making a few different recipes that involve lettuce or salad so you’re getting your money’s worth. Click here for my post about saving money and the essential guide to stocking your pantry!
- When snack prepping, you can cut most fruits and veggies the Sunday before your week starts and they will stay okay until Friday (kiwi’s do start to taste funky towards the end of the week but I don’t mind). This just depends on how motivated you think you’ll be once your week starts and the type of fruit (ie., avocado and apples pretty much have to be the day of or night before).
- ****When you first start prepping, you’ll want to pick a bunch of recipes that sound good and make a giant grocery haul to make the greatest lunches and dinners ever…REFRAIN FROM THIS!! I try to only implement one new recipe a week so I won’t get discouraged if one I made doesn’t end up being good. Theres nothing worse than making two new dinners and a lunch, hating the lunch and having no backup for the rest of the week (been there multiple times, it sucks)****
Click here to get access to the meal prepping worksheets!
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I am so excited for you! Comment below other tips & tricks you’ve found, I love hearing about others successes!