5. After choosing the main entrée recipes for each meal, I like to go back and add the side-dishes to the menu plan (as you can see above I added asparagus, broccoli, or green beans to the meals I felt they would complement), and then add them to your shopping list. I didn’t list a starch side since my starch side is always rice unless the meal specifically needs something else.
6. Go shopping for your ingredients. I take an extra step for grocery shopping efficiency by organizing my shopping list by aisle. After I am done writing the list I go back through and label each by aisle (“V” for produce, “M” for meat, “D” for dairy, “Br” for bread, “F” for frozen, “Bak” for baking, “C” for canned, etc.).
7. As you may have noticed by my final menu plan, I didn’t determine the exact day for each recipe. This is because my family and I find it fun to choose off our “menu” for the week each night. Occasionally I will plan a specific meal for a certain night. For example, if I know I have an after-work errand, I will plan a slow cooker meal for that night so that I can prep it the night before or morning of, and it will be ready when I get home. Another example would be if I know I am having company and need to plan a larger quantity meal for a certain night.
That’s it! For me, this system works really well. I don’t have to waste time and energy standing in my fridge or pantry each night wondering what I can make based on what ingredients I have. Plus my grocery trips tend to be pretty cost-effective as I am only buying items that I know I will be using, and not a lot of extra things that would go to waste. Mind you, there are certain things I always keep in stock (baking ingredients, frequently used seasonings, milk, bread, etc.), but otherwise, I am only purchasing the meats, veggies, and specific ingredients for meals that I am going to make that week.