Shopping Lists, Your Key to Freedom!
Once you have your 13 weeks of meal plans, making a keyed shopping list will save even more time. I am going to share how I made my lists, then you can make the idea your own.
First, I made my lists in a spreadsheet, using excel. I also have my menus on spreadsheets.
Because we get paid every two weeks, I made our shopping lists for two weeks at a time.
The first spreadsheet I made was a basic list of things I would need to buy every two weeks, regardless of our menu. I separate my list into sections of the grocery store, which saves time once I’m at the store.
Things on my basic list include: milk, bread, cereal, eggs, etc. I include every staple I might need.
I save the basic list, and then copy it onto another worksheet. I label it weeks 1 and 2. At the top of the list, I list each dinner I have planned for the two week period. I assign each meal a letter, from A-J. Now comes the fun part. I go through each recipe and list every ingredient or side I’ll need. I actually list the amount right on the shopping list if it’s not something I have memorized. That way, I won’t be stuck wondering which size can of evaporated milk I need.
As I am listing ingredients on the list, I put the letter of the meal it corresponds with in front of the ingredient. For example, if I were making tacos and green beans and had assigned that meal to the letter A, my list might look like this:
A taco shells
A 1 lb. ground beef
A Cheddar cheese
A Green beans
And so on.
If an ingredient is used for more than one meal, I list both letters. If I was also making meatloaf that week and it was meal letter F, I would do this:
A/F 2 lb. ground beef.
I label breakfast foods Bf, lunch is L and snacks are S. I have blank spots for notes or last minute things I need. I also have a section where I list foods I purchase from Costco on a regular basis.
Although I do the bulk of my shopping for 2 weeks at a time, I do a second trip on the next Monday for fresh foods that can’t be frozen. So, when making my list, I put an asterisk next to the foods that should be purchased on that second trip. Fruits and veggies, a second gallon of milk, etc.
Some of my items are general, such as fruit. I will decide at the store which fruits to get based on what’s in season and on sale.
Once I have my list done, I save it as that week. Then I go back to my basic list, copy it, and start again.
Warning: On about week three, you may get really bored. I took a week to make my shopping lists and another week to revise them all when I realized I’d left things out. Now, though, I am so glad I took the time!
Once your lists are done, you’re ready to shop!
You can leave your list for the next week on the fridge so you can add things during the week. Or, you can check your cupboards quickly before you go. Either way, you can cross out any staples that are on the list that you don’t need.
Before you go to the store, take a look at your calendar. Oftentimes we’ll get paid on an odd day and I won’t need 10 dinners. Or, I’ll know we’re going to someone’s house for dinner that week. I just take my pen and eliminate a dinner for that week.
I usually eliminate the most expensive meal, unless I know my family was really looking forward to it. Now, I’m glad I took all that time to key my list. Because everything associated with that dinner can be easily crossed off my list.
Another reason a key helps is during your shopping trip. If, like me, you shop with your kids, it can be hard to focus! So if I’m at the store and they’re out of a key ingredient for a meal, or something is much more costly than I thought it would be, I can make a quick substitution.
I like to shop with a calculator so I don’t go over my budget. This helps me make the best choices in the heat of the moment.
Take notes right on your lists and save them, as you may find that you need to revise them a couple times. I ended up with a container of ricotta once and no meal that included it. You may also want to note how much that trip cost you, so you can revise weeks later if you need to.
Once you get home and start making meals, take notes on those as well. Cross out any that your husband does not like! Make notes on any changes you made, or would like to make. Put a star next to favorites that you might want to repeat in future weeks you’ll plan next year.
To make your book even more useful, considering copying all your recipes and adding them to your weeks. It takes time, but again, saves time.
Once you start cooking, you’ll probably find new recipes you want to try. I stick these in a section of my binder to add later when I revise my book.
This sounds ridiculously detailed, but I have found over the years that I work better this way. You might not need such detail, so make this idea your own.
Tomorrow, I’ll share my cleaning plan for my fellow moms that are not natural housekeepers. It’ll help you make the best use of your time and simplify your days.
Until then, let me know if any of you are trying this idea!