Get a blank sheet of notebook paper. Don’t use file cards or your device — paper.
At the top of the sheet, write “breakfast”. Underneath, list meals you eat on a regular basis. Keep is simple, one or two words:
*Yogurt and fruit
Do the same for lunch:
Do the same for dinner. Don’t think too hard, just think about things you eat a lot, enjoy making, or have had recently:
Stop. Now, what period of time are you planning meals for? A week? Two weeks? If you’re going to have the same meal twice in that period, write “x2″ behind it. If you’re going to have the same thing every day (such as yogurt for breakfast) write x5 or x7 or whatever.
If you have more items than you need, cross them off. If you don’t have enough things to fill the days, brainstorm again.
Next, write ingredients to need on the line behind the word. Whatever your particular recipe calls for, write it down. For example:
*Cereal – cereal, milk, bananas
*Wraps – tortillas, spinach, turkey, cheese, shredded carrots
*Stir fry – oil, rice, chicken, cabbage, carrots, sesame seeds, soy sauce
Now, check your cupboards and cross off the items you already have on hand. Just as if you’re grocery shopping, but at home.
What you’re left with is your grocery list. Now go to the store and buy the remaining items, and the quantities you need for the number of meals. I use colored pencils or markers to color- code items, so all of the produce is green, all of the meat is red, and so on. That makes it easy to scan this scattered list while I’m at the store and not miss anything.
Post the list in a prominent place. Hang it on the fridge, re-write it on a white board, add it to a calendar, so you remember what you’re going to make and when.
I’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks, working out some of the kinks. It’s fast, but it is dependent upon knowing things we like to eat and what recipes call for.
Can you think of ways to streamline further? I’m still refining things, and would love to hear your input!