How to Populate a Shopping List from a Meal Plan!

We have a completed menu, but that doesn’t really help us when it comes to knowing what to keep in stock now does it!? Part 2 of meal planning, in my book, means that I should have a list of exactly everything I need to buy from the store to make said dishes. I also don’t want to go every night, twice a week, or even once a week. Try twice a month!

Here’s how I did it.

Month of meal plans laid out

I went back to my month and started a new spreadsheet in Google Drive. I started with day one, Precooked Chicken and frozen veggies. Ok, easy. So on my new spreadsheet, I made two columns, one for week one, the second for week two. Looks a bit like this:

BlankBiMonthlyShoppingListThen I put down the Precooked Chicken and frozen veggies at the top of column one, and kept the color coding, just because I’m a color coding type of person. I did that for every meal I was cooking for. And finally I went through each recipe, using my Recipe Master List from the first post, and filled out each dish.

bi-monthlyshoppinglist titlespopulated      FilledoutBimonthlyShoppingList

Finally I print out that list and go through my pantry, crossing off what I already have. And viola! Ready to go shopping!

But wait! There’s more! What about the other things that I need to get from the store, you ask? Well I simply printed out this handy dandy sheet and pinned it to the wall in the kitchen. Whenever we run out of something, say paper towels, my husband or myself can write it down on this list. If it doesn’t get written down, it doesn’t get bought. Tough love style!

grocery list

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Monthly Meal Planning DIY

Feel like you dread the evening because you just don’t know what to make? Don’t know what to shop for when you’re at the grocery store? Or are you just going to the store too many times a week? Well dread no more! Join me on a little adventure as I try out the monthly meal planning technique with your own meal plan!

Month of meal plans laid outbi-monthly grocery list

Here I have February all planned out with another document that has a list of what I need to shop for ONLY ONCE A MONTH!

My tutorial will take place in Google Drive, but feel free to use Word, or even go it by hand. All you need to start out with is a calendar of the month you’re in (or the coming month if you want).

I compiled a master list of recipes that I love, like, or want to try. Most of my recipes come from Pinterest, so I also provide a link to make life easy for myself. I categorized by meat type: chicken, beef and pork, fish, noodles and quinoa, slow cooker, side dishes, breakfast, and deserts. You can use whatever categories you prefer, those are what work for me.

Master List of Recipes

Start out with a blank by month calendar. You can download mine Here if you have Google Drive.

Blank monthly calendar

Next determine how much time to cook you have each night. For example:

  • Tuesday I work the longest and get home pretty late, so I make it a leftover night.
  • Mondays and Wednesdays I work until about 2pm, so I make those 30 minute cooking times.
  • However Monday is also a workout night, so he gets bumped up to a 15 minute cooking time, along with Thursday (another workout night).
  • Friday and Saturday I’m home all day so those become my long cooking nights.
  • Sunday the kitchen is closed and becomes what I call a swing day. As long as I don’t have to cook, anything goes. My husband is welcomed to cook, you’re welcome to leftovers, or soups, or sandwiches, or whatever.

Color code to suit. For some reason a traffic light came to mind while I was coloring mine.

Meal Plan Timing

Next, go back to your master recipe list and determine how long each one takes to make. Most will say, but if you run across one that doesn’t, I’d save those for your longest days to cook.

Take what you’ve found and apply it to your calendar now. I started from the smallest amount of time and worked up. So I have a small list of 15 minute or shorter meals that I can/like to make. At this point in time I really only have four meals that are 15 and under so to keep away redundancy, I rotated them:

15 Minute Meals

Next layer of time is 30 minutes or less for me, so looking at my master list, I found all of those. Now this one was far easier for me to rotate since most of my meals I’ve saved come in about 30 minutes of cooking time. I rotated the type of food (Mexican, Italian, etc.) and the meat base ingredient (beef, pork, etc.) if I could. I also kept in mind what I had listed the other nights as well so I didn’t make two types of chili in two days, for example.

30 Minute Meals

Finally is the meals with no, or more than 30 minute time limits. That list for me is smaller than the 30 minute range, so it made it a little easier. What makes it harder is making sure that I didn’t repeat similar meals or tastes. I try to not have too much of the same meat in the same week also, but that’s pretty impossible at some point.

Month of meal plans laid out

Done! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post below! Stay tuned to Part 2 of this tutorial: How to Populate a Shopping List from a Meal Plan!

God bless your week and happy planning!


Part 2: How to Populate a Shopping List from a Meal Plan!

The Dreaded Meal Plan

I. Hate. Meal. Planning. Hate it!

But I love cooking! I feel as though cooking is a tangible way to show my family love, so every time that I don’t to provide a great meal for them -a truly ground breaking fabulous meal- I feel as though I’ve failed in my role as mom. Now I know that’s bologna and cheese to set myself up that way, but I feel as though I can get close to perfection with a meal plan.

So the dreaded meal plan. There isn’t exactly a book on how to do this thing. No pamphlet on how to make your recipes into shopping lists, nor a novel on how to not cook the same three easy things over and over. I had a problem. I was going to the store at least four times a week, sometimes every day, and that’s just not gas efficient! I also missed out on opportunities to buy in bulk and to make meals that were not the same idea but in a different pot. (Too many Mexican dishes).

This was my solution after reading what other women have done: Monthly Meal Planning.

Month of meal plans laid out bi-monthly grocery list

Que the angels singing! I think I found a way that I can not think about meals for a month, but also have great meals every night!

Today is February 2nd and I’m about to leave for the grocery store to give it a try. I’ll let you know my progress on this! DIY coming soon!


Other related posts you may be interested in:

Monthly Meal Planning DIY