Meal planning 101 at sweetmaplelane.com

Hi friends!  I’ve been back at school for a few weeks now, and I’m feeling a little more settled into our routine here at home.  The transition from summer to school in the fall can be hard, but I’ve found one thing that helps me stay organized and keep my sanity: meal planning!  Just a small time investment on Saturday morning and I’m planned and ready to roll for the week.

Here is how I do it:

Early Saturday Morning

Plan: While the kids are drinking milk and watching cartoons, I sit down with my coffee and computer and plan what we’re having for dinners for the week.  I jump on Pinterest to look up recipes and ideas, and I make a list for the next 7 days (Saturday to Friday).  I check the calendar to see if we’re out or having company any night during the week, and plan accordingly.  I like to cook a bigger meal on Saturday or Sunday and keep it easy during the week.  Friday night we always do frozen pizza and whatever veggies we have left from the week.

List: Once I’ve planned dinners for the week, I make a list of all the ingredients I need for those plus lunch and breakfast stuff. The kids eat at daycare and my husband and I usually pack sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, pretzels, or leftovers.  I make sure to check in the fridge and cupboards to see if we have the ingredients we need or if we’re running out of something.

Later Saturday Morning

I take my list, my reusable bags, and two toddlers to the grocery store for our weekly shopping.  I usually take the kids with me and give my husband an hour to be kid-free.  The kids really enjoy it, and our grocery store has free cookies for kids, so they love that. We drive around the parking lot of our local Hannaford looking for the two-seater cart that looks like a car (complete with steering wheels) and glare at any parents using it for ONE kid (moms of multiples, you feel me?)  No seriously, though, I can’t grocery shop without that cart, so I sometimes have to wait in the parking lot until one becomes available.  Ok, so I shop, use my list, and am in and out and home in record time.

The Rest of the Week

During the week, I come home with the kids around 3:30 or 4, relax for a bit, and then throw together whatever dinner I have planned.  Then we eat together when my husband gets home from practice around 5:30.  Ok, in all honesty, often my husband and I eat together while the kids play and run and scream as toddlers do.  Kids, you know?

Menu Board

Menu board

I had this chalkboard that I picked up at Michael’s with a coupon a few years back, and right before school started I decided to turn it on it’s side and hang it in the kitchen.  Now I use it as a menu board so I don’t forget what we’re having for dinner.  You can see last week’s dinners below:

FREE Grocery List Printable

I whipped up this grocery list printable to make your meal planning and grocery shopping just a little bit easier (and prettier too).  Just click below to download the free printable!

Free grocery list printable from Sweet Maple Lane

Click HERE to download my grocery list printable for free!

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