Grocery Shopping & Meal Planning Hacks | Organize Your Life

The best meal planning tips and hacks - So many great ideas!SO excited to be kicking off a wonderful series this month with Annie from All Things Big and Small! She’s a fellow momma with a real talent for DIY decorating! She’s also full of amazing organizing ideas. Stay tuned each Tuesday for the month of February for a fun post from both of us on our favorite tips and hacks for getting organized!

And today, it’s all about Food!  After you read this, don’t forget to head over to All Things Big and Small to check out Annie’s best tips!

Organize Your Life series with Cup of Tea and All Things Big & Small!

Oh so many tips to share around grocery shopping and meal planning! If this is your first time here at Cup of Tea, then I share almost every Monday my weekly dinner menu plan. Confession – I hate meal planning. But I’ve learned over the years that doing a weekly menu plan for dinner saves us money AND saves me the headache of figuring out what to cook. I may hate doing it, but it really does save me in the long run.

Whether you’re just deciding to dabble in the world of menu planning, or if you’ve been menu planning for years, here are my favorite tips to make this tedious task a little easier!

Keep track of your family favorites | It makes it easy to fill a menu for the week if you have a go to place where all your favorites are listed. I have a few places. I have a recipe box full of favorite go-to meals. I also have a private Pinterest board where I save all the best pins that were big time favs. Not to mention a few favorite cookbooks that I refer to. One other fabulous idea comes from my friend Whitney at Come Home for Comfort! She keeps a handwritten list of her favorite dinners & sides. That makes it really easy to reference!

Have a set menu (kind of) | Taco Tuesday? Friday Night Pizza? Sunday Soup Night? Try incorporating a theme for a few days a week to help guide your menu planning. It doesn’t have to be the same meal every week, but having a theme gives you direction for finding a new recipe! For us, Friday nights are always soup and salad in the winter. Saturdays are leftovers. That’s 2 of 7 days planned right there. We also have at least one Mexican meal a week and one Italian meal a week.

Utilize a printable | There are a million beautiful printables online at your disposal. I have my favorite, but I have a post that features a few more. Displaying your menu on a printable each week gives your family a hub to see “what’s for dinner”.  I also make sure I jot down whether that dinner is from a cookbook (page number too!) or from Pinterest. My favorite printable also features a grocery shopping list section. I fill that in! And then, because I enjoy rewritting lists, I rewrite my shopping list on a cheap notepad to take with me to the store. And if you’re wondering why I do that… hold tight!

Reuse your menus | So all those menus I write on the printables? I save those! I label them “Fall/Winter” or “Spring/Summer” and then file them away. And because I wrote the complete grocery shopping list on the printable, I can use that to reference when I make a new shopping list weeks later. (Seriously, this was a GAME changer for me!)

Enough menu planning tips for you? How about a grocery shopping tip or two?

I’m the first to admit that I’m not a couponer, sale shopper, or super deal scouter-outer. It’s just not my thing. I stock up on regularly-used items, like canned beans, when they’re on sale, but other than that, that’s my extent of saving. But I do have a few tips that make grocery shopping quick and easy!

Organize your shopping list by section/aisle | This saves you a ton of time when you’re in the store. Not to mention it helps you not overlook something on your list! I’ve done that SO many times, and it’s annoying to be zig-zagging all over the grocery store.

Meal prep what you can | I’m not the best at this, but I do try to prep food where I can post-grocery trip. One thing I’ve learned is my family will eat more veggies and fruit if I pre-wash and slice them when I get home from the store. My toddler consumes raw bell peppers and cucumbers at an alarming rate! I’m more likely to toss them on her dinner plate if I’ve already sliced them all up ahead of time. Another prep I do? When I buy a bundle of cilantro or parsley, I pluck off leaves and lay them on a paper towel to dry, then slip them in a storage bag. They last SO much longer that way!

So that’s it! I have SO many tips running around in my head that we could easily make a menu planning post again next week.

Don’t forget to head over to Annie and see what ideas she has! So many good ones over there.

Stay tuned each Tuesday for the month of February for our favorite tips! Here’s what you can look forward to!

Organize Your Life series with Cup of Tea and All Things Big & Small!

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15 comments

  1. Whitney Jordan says:

    I love the idea of Taco Tuesday!! I always organize my shopping list by sections so that I can zip through the store. I like your suggestion of saving menus from week to week and creating a master list of family favorite meal items.

  2. Annie says:

    Katie,

    These are such good tips! You are seriously an organizing rockstar! Yes to reusing menus! You originally told me about it and it stuck! It makes it so much easier! So excited to be on this challenge with you!

    xo
    Annie

    • Katie @ Cup of Tea says:

      So glad that’s working!! Makes the horrible task of menu planning a little easier 😉 SO excited for this series!!!

  3. Whitney says:

    These are really great tips! I love your idea of themed menu planning. We usually have both pasta and a taco type dish once a week, but setting a certain night each week makes it even easier. You’re so smart to save your menus and shopping lists – what a time and brain saver! Thanks for the shout out! 🙂

    • Katie @ Cup of Tea says:

      Just having the typical genres ready for rotation make it easy to plan! And your tip was genius – so needed a shout out!!

  4. Sara says:

    Great tips! I love the idea of saving and reusing weekly meal plans! That’s genius! And organizing by grocery store set-up is something that would probably save me so much time and frustration in the store. Great tips!

    • Katie @ Cup of Tea says:

      Oh my goodness – the menu reusing and the shopping list org for the store are such time saves. I’m naturally pretty lazy (but organized… weird!) so those two tips are glorious!

  5. Sacha says:

    So true Katie, weekly food planning is a long term strategy and we have to take an action in order to make our lives simpler. I found your list very useful and actionable. Also I absolutely love the idea of having a cooking themes through the week, so much ideas can be triggered that way. Of course it doesn’t have sense to choose themes for each day, but Pasta day, or Curry Friday sounds just great.

    We used to cook fish every Saturday, unfortunately we didn’t stay on that routine. One more thing, I think having those Tuesdays and Friday would be interesting for kids, and I could use this strategy to introduce my two little ones with some new type of food.

    Thanks for the tips.

    • Katie @ Cup of Tea says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Sacha! Glad it was helpful. And I didn’t think that having “themed” nights for food genres would be a good idea for kids, but you’re so RIGHT! Genius!

  6. Sacha says:

    I’m glad you like the idea Katie, and I love it even more today. So, I am about to give it a test this week. We want our kids to eat healthy and I put lots of effort in it, still they don’t like to eat most of the vegetables.

    This is my plan: Chinese food night on Fridays. Wooden chopsticks, handmade round hats, eating on floor – could be a fun. Wish me a luck.

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