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I will start this post by telling you I am not a very organized person. I would show you my desk and pantry and closets but no one needs that kind of negativity! I actually would not have even started meal planning if it weren’t for my husband who was pretty much doing this every week for himself when he was single. He would plan out what he would eat during the week and shop for those ingredients once a week. That’s it. It’s a simple strategy really but it took me a while to really get used to implementing it. Now that I have, it’s one less stressor off my plate!

Oh and another confession-I really enjoy grocery shopping. No, I don’t mean the act of rushing through a store with two hangry children. But I do like wandering the aisles and checking to see what’s on sale and getting excited by $.50 eggs and $.99 boxes of generic cereal (this is MY kind of excitement in my mid-30’s). But thankfully for those who do not take pleasure in this task so many places now offer online shopping and delivery or curbside pick up. But the most romantic words my husband can utter to me are “I’ll watch the kids, you go shopping”. #Blessed

I am a very visual person so one of the tools I use for meal planning is my trusty dry erase board that I found on Amazon (like everything else), for which I also purchased fun markers after my kids let the original ones dry out…

I have to write out the meals so that I do not forget what I have planned for. I don’t plan specific days because sometimes it depends on how much time I have when I get home from work-and my schedule is different day to day. I take a gander at the board, pick from what’s left on the list, and go to work. I find it easier if I just make the choice myself, the fewer the people making the decision the less time it takes!

I know that at least one if not two nights in the week we will have carry-out. After a long work week I do not feel like cooking on Friday nights so that’s always a given, but sometimes Saturday night we treat ourselves too. If, however, we do takeout in the middle of the week due to an unexpected long work day or kid activity, I will cook on Friday or Saturday. I always plan for 5 meals for the week.

As I write down one meal I then add all of the ingredients to the shopping list right away. I do all of this standing in the kitchen so I can check the contents of the fridge and pantry to see what I already have vs. what I need. Sometimes what I have left dictates the meals for the following week. I then have a checklist for other groceries-breakfast foods, snacks, lunches. I find that thinking ahead of time and making one large grocery list saves quite a bit on money as well as time. Oh and I also LOVE saving money where I can and challenge myself to spend as little as possible at the store. Unlike my husband who doesn’t check price tags and often comes home with an $8 container of pre-cut fruit…

Chicken Pot Pie Soup from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook Cravings

Please enjoy this free printable meal planner and shopping list! It is based upon my method for planning meals, hopefully it can be of help in planning your week and cut down on a little bit of that precious time. As people in general we are too busy and too scheduled so here’s one way to save a little bit of time and sanity!

Download Meal Planner Here!

Even though I just ate I am thinking about meals and getting re-hungry…sigh. Good luck and happy planning!