Guest Post: Once-A-Month Shopping, Menu Planning & Freezer Meals

Remember my sister’s first bullet journal?  Well she has come a long way and she’s back yet again for another awesome guest post all about grocery shopping once a month, menu planning and freezer meals in the bullet journal. So without further ado…here she is!

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Whew!  That seems like a whole lot to put into one post, but trust me, they are all related.

I’ve long been a fan of menu planning and freezer meals.  When I was pregnant with Ladybug and Peach was between 7 months and a year, I started doing freezer meals.  Let me tell you, it was SO nice to just pull meals out of the freezer, bake (or throw into the crockpot) and eat.  And after Ladybug was born, I grew to love it even more…because we all know that magical time of day when it’s time to make dinner and the baby is crying for no reason, the toddler is upset by the crying baby, mama is tired and daddy is inevitably late getting home from work.  Enter, the freezer meal!  I take the next night’s meal out before bed and put it into the fridge to thaw.  Then the next day, the prep is very minimal – some days it’s just dumping the food into the crockpot and turning it on and others it’s dumping it into a baking dish and putting it into the oven.  Definitely doable, even with a cranky baby and toddler.

THEN I started using a bullet journal and it makes it all even easier!!

Last month, we decided to try doing our major shopping just once a month and then go a few other times for fresh produce.  I think I like doing it this way but will try it for a few more months to see if it is worth all the effort.

So here’s what I do:

Step One: Plan out the month’s meals.

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I start by making a calendar for the month in my bullet journal.  I make a separate one just for meal planning – I have another one for appointments, etc.  Once I plan the meals for the month, I don’t use the calendar very much, but I like having it for the planning process.

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Then I fill in any nights I know we already have plans or if we will be out for dinner, etc.  This particular month in the photo all I knew at the beginning of the month was our weekly salad and pizza nights.

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Then I fill in meals for the month (decorations provided by Peach).  I try to plan strategically as I go.  For instance, on Sundays I make sure to do a crock pot meal so I can throw it in before we leave for church and it’s ready when we get home.  I also plan out things like using leftovers – the week we have taco salad we will also make quesadillas to finish using up the taco meat.

The check marks indicate meals I already have in the freezer left over from last month (the previous month we ended up not eating at home as much as I thought AND we had more left overs than I was counting on.  But that’s the beauty of freezer meals – they are good for several months depending on the type of freezer you have).

Step Two: Plan Freezer Meal Day

For this next step, I actually use Excel rather than my Bujo (traitor, I know!).  Having the freezer meal plan electronically is what works best for me.

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The first tab is where I put the meals I am planning to do this month.  There is a column for ingredients, the prep work to be done the day we put the meals all together, and what needs to be put on the freezer container (directions on how to cook the meals – this is so I don’t have to look it up each day AND if my husband is doing dinner that night, he easily knows what to do).

The next tab is my shopping list – this will be what I print off when we go shopping.

The additional recipes tab is for recipes I won’t be using this month, but want to keep in Excel for when I use them again  (I can just copy and paste them back to the first tab as I need them).

I added one more tab after I did the screen shot, which is Monthly Shopping List.  This is my list of things we buy each month that is not part of the freezer meal ingredient list (ie. Cereal, bread, etc). I combine the lists before printing for shopping.

Step Three: Make the List

I start by copying and pasting the ingredients column from my meal list.  I combine things and update the quantity so it becomes my master list (ie. I count up how many eggs I need in all the recipes plus add on how many eggs we would use in a month for other things).

I also have a column for the aisle the item is in at the grocery store.  I recently started doing this and it saves me so much time at the store.  I used to forget things and have to do laps around the store.  It’s also helpful when my husband comes with me, which we have to do for the once a month trips. I have a map from my local store so I can easily know where stuff is as I make my list.  The last column is titled “pantry”.  I do a check of what I have before shopping and write that down.  Then I know if I need to get something or if I can take it off the list all together.

**Note – if you are doing a recipe more than once, make sure to double the ingredients on the shopping list**

Also, don’t forget to figure in side dishes, salads and veggies for the meals.

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Here’s what it looks like when I’m done.  Items in bold are what I need for the freezer meals.

Step Four: Shop!

On a day my husband is off we head the grocery store.  We split the list in half, he takes Peach and I take Ladybug and we shop.  We get done in half the time since there are two of us…and we definitely fill two carts!  Plus its nice to have him help me put it all away when we get home.

Step Five: Freezer Meals

About every six weeks my mom and sister come over on a Saturday and we tag team watching kiddos and making freezer meals.  I absolutely love this time together.  I can share another time (if there is interest) how I do the whole process of actually making the meals.  I try to have us do this the day after we shop, if at all possible.

Step Six: Enjoy all that time you saved and all the yummy food!

Let us know if you have any questions.

Happy meal planning!

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2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Once-A-Month Shopping, Menu Planning & Freezer Meals

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