Real Food Meal Planning

An empty refrigerator can only mean one thing. It’s time to get meal planning! But first, a note about “real” food: I define real food as made in nature and not in a factory. If you define it differently, that’s great! Do what works best for your health, lifestyle and budget.

If you are on a budget like me, the first step is to review the online weekly grocery ads. In our small city we have Aldi, Kroger, Earth Fare, Fresh Market, Wal-mart and Food Lion. Skim the ads quickly because we’re looking for foods that are natural or minimally processed. List the sale items by store. I’m old school, so I use a low tech piece of paper for this step. Use ‘notes’ in your phone or a grocery store app if that works best for you.

Now it’s time for the menu. If you have go-to recipes for the sale items, list those. When I need some recipe inspiration I search my favorite real food websites. If strawberries are on sale this week, enter “strawberries” into the search box. Scroll through the recipes for something appealing and save to Pinterest or print the recipe out. I typically plan five dinners per week. This leaves room in the schedule for a leftovers night or eating out.

Bonus points if your meal uses more than one sale item!

We have a high tolerance for eating the same meal repeatedly, so breakfast and lunch are the same Monday-Friday. If that’s not you, make enough at dinner to have lunch leftovers the next day.

Once you’ve compiled your recipes, fill out the rest of the grocery list. I skim each recipe and make sure that I have the pantry items on hand. If not, they are added to the list, keeping a tally of how many of each item I need. For example, if three recipes call for garlic, total up the number of cloves needed and note that next to “garlic” on the list.

If I’m going to buy an item at a certain store, I add the store’s initial to the check box.

Now it’s time to grocery shop! I’m heading to the store(s), but if you’re using a grocery app, plug in your list or order online. I hope this is helpful to you. If you have any questions about my process let me know in the comments.

This is not a sponsored post. I am not in partnership with, nor do I own any of these websites or the recipes linked here.

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