Since launching The Meal Planning Method a few years ago, we've certainly had our fair share of grocery lists. And as you get really consistent with the habit of meal planning each week, you start to notice the same foods popping up on your grocery list week after week - such as bread, milk, and bananas.
If you've gotten to this point, and are becoming a regular meal planner, you might find a "MASTER GROCERY LIST" helpful each week. A Master Grocery List is designed to encompass foods you frequently buy at the grocery store, allowing for you to meal plan even quicker and lessen the chance of you forgetting common fridge/pantry staples each week. Sounds pretty sweet, right?
Now the exact foods that YOU should include in YOUR Master Grocery List are 100% based off of what YOU and YOUR household frequently needs. For example, my household eats oats daily, whereas yours may never touch them but every once in a while. There is no right or wrong type of "Master Grocery List". Your Master Grocery List should ultimately be a reflection of what ends up in your fridge, pantry, and freezer week after week because you eat those foods often. And it's no surprise to hear that this can only happen if you're truly sticking to The Meal Planning Method and making that grocery list before you go to the store each week! Here's an example of what our Master Grocery List looks like...
What you see here is 2 copies of my Master Grocery List on one standard-sized letter paper.
PRO TIP: For grocery list making, in general... it's good practice to include a food item and cross it off if not needed, rather than trying to remember to add it and forgetting, or worse, thinking you have enough of an item and turns out you don't. :/
Download this Microsoft Word version of the Master Grocery List template to start yours today!
Not proficient in Microsoft Word? You may want to try this simple blank version of our MASTER GROCERY LIST template that you can add to and photo copy. Download a PDF copy below!
What foods would make it onto your Master Grocery List? Tell us in the comments below, or tag us on Instagram at @themealplanningmethod!
Let's have some real talk for a sec... meal planning isn't exactly "fun". There I said it! (FUN is going to Target and buying things that you didn't even know you needed, right?!) But meal planning is without a doubt a solid strategy to streamline the food decisions in your life, giving you more time and energy to do the things you actually want to do. (Ahem, go to Target.)
Here at The Meal Planning Method, we're always trying to find ways to skim a few minutes here and there, because it really can add up during your week! This week, we're highlighting convenience foods that are not only easy to prepare, but can save you precious moments. Check 'em out!
(1) OVEN-READY LASAGNA NOODLES (aka no-boil noodles)
After I tried oven-ready lasagna noodles, I knew right then and there I would never buy regular lasagna noodles again! How many minutes will you save? 8 minutes! (That's enough time to make a to-do list.)
(2) QUICK COOK OATS
Did you know that ALL oats (quick, old-fashioned, and steel cut) are healthy choices? Quick cook oats are great though when you need whole grains fast. How many minutes will you save? If you're comparing quick cook oats to steel cut oats, you're saving 29 minutes! (That's one episode of your favorite sitcom.)
(3) 10-MINUTE RICE
We always stock rice in the pantry, but ain' no body got time to boil brown rice for 45 minutes! Instant rices are parboiled - meaning they have been partially boiled already (the most tedious part). We've used 10-minute rices in burrito bowls, sushi bowls, fried rice, you name it and enjoy the end product and the time savings.
(4) FROZEN PEPPERS & ONIONS
Bell peppers and onions are two of the most versatile veggies you can incorporate into meals no matter the cuisine you're cooking - Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean, Indian - they're great! I find that bell peppers tend to go bad quick and sometimes I use up all of my fresh onion with none left. The remedy? A frozen pepper & onion mix that's always available! We've seen these for as little as $0.99 (for 12oz) at our local grocery stores.
(5) READY-TO-EAT SALADS (including salad kits)
You're likely already enjoying pre-washed and chopped salads so don't stop now! We personally try to stick with blends and varieties that go well with multiple things -- such as baby spinach for fresh salads and also smoothies. And one quick pro tip: store your greens with a paper towel to soak up the excess moisture and keep them lasting fresh for longer.
(6) LOW- SODIUM CANNED BEANS
Dry beans can take nearly an entire day depending on how you prepare them -- 4-12 hours soaking and then an additional 1-3 hours to cook on the stove top. It's very clear that canned beans save you a lot of time come mealtime. (Pst! If you can't find a lower sodium variety of canned beans at your grocery store, simply drain and rinse them to reduce the sodium content.)
OTHER CONVENIENT FOODS
(7) SPICE MIXES
OK, OK, this one may be a teenie bit of a stretch, but we LOVE how pre-made spice blends and mixes make our lives easier! (I mean, just imagine measuring each and every spice ingredient that goes into an Everything But the Bagel seasoning, for example.) We're huge fans of the Mrs. DASH line of spice blends as their are salt-free and totally tasty.
(8) PRE-MADE SAUCES
We're pretty convinced that sauces and are the thing that elevates a food from bland to BAM! Find low-sodium and low-sugar sauces to make cooking quicker, yet just as flavorful.
What other convenience foods do you swear by that help you save time in the kitchen? Share with us in the comments below!
Happy April friends!
Over the holidays I received a Costco membership as a gift and I seriously could not have nerded out more! I mean #adultinggoals am I right? And while I grew up going to warehouse clubs with my family, I've never attempted grocery shopping there for myself and my meal plans. So, I thought I'd share just a few DOs and DON'Ts I've learned over the last couple of months in hopes of saving you time, money, and hassle when shopping at Costco for food.
(1) DO BE PREPARED FOR HIGHER PRICE TAGS
I'm still getting used to this one too, but what we have to remember is that while we're paying more upfront, we're often saving per unit. Here's an example... at Costco, I found a 2 lb. bag of seasoned organic croutons for $6.99 (~$0.22/oz), vs. at my local grocer, a 4.5 oz bag for a similar product is $1.99 (~$0.44/oz). More up front, but more savings in the long run!
(2) DON'T BUY ITEMS YOU DON'T NEED.
OK it sounds silly that I'm even saying this, but let's be honest... going to Costco is an experience. There are samples, great deals, exclusive Costco-only items, friendly associates, and even a food court to refuel you if you get the hangries. All of this is the perfect storm to act on your impulses to "Buy! Buy! Buy!" in the moment. But cut through all that, at the end of day if you aren't going to use something then you really are NOT getting a good deal.
(3) DO SHOP THE "MEMBER-ONLY SAVINGS"
The "Member-Only Savings" at Costco seem like they sales last for about 1 month so you have some time to shop and plan for your favorite products vs. scrambling to the store to take advantage of the weekly sales typically found at your local grocery store.
Are the savings worth it? At Costco, I found a 30-count variety pack of 1.5 oz Sun Chips on sale for $8.39 (~$0.19/oz), originally $11.89 (~$0.26/oz). In comparison, at Walmart, a similar variety pack is $15.28 for a 40-count of 1 oz Sun Chips (~$0.38/oz). THAT is savings I'm here for!!
(4) DON'T FORGET YOUR SHOPPING LIST.
If you're saying to yourself, "What shopping list?" then listen up! It may also sound silly to mention, but it is possible that you find Costco doesn't have what you're looking for. (I know, "GASP!") You don't want to aimlessly stroll down the aisles picking up unnecessary items AND you don't want to waste time NOT getting what it is you need for your meal plans. Sometimes, if I'm unsure if Costco carries something, I'll simply search costco.com for the item(s) before I go.
(5) DO MAKE ROOM IN YOUR FRIDGE, FREEZER, & PANTRY
Remember, we're dealing with econo-sized servings here so make sure you clean out the fridge, pantry, and freezer to make room for your new buys. See my next tip for how to easily maximize your food spaces.
(6) DON'T KEEP PRODUCTS IN THEIR PACKAGING
There's a lot of unnecessary packaging materials involved with the jumbo sizes you find at warehouse clubs so to maximize the space I do have in my fridge, pantry, and freezer (and believe me, it's NOT a lot especially living in an apartment), I take products OUT of their originally packaging and then store them away. I'll keep the original packaging, especially if I need the cooking instructions or nutrition info, but this really helps me integrate my Costco finds into my food storage spaces.
Have a pro Costco tip I missed? Tell me in the comments below!