First Things, First Why Meal Plan?

How do you plan groceries for the week? Have you ever found yourself glancing at the clock, only to find it’s ten minutes to five and you have no idea what to make for supper?

So your next step is to scrounge around the fridge, freezer, and pantry looking for ingredients you can throw together and call a meal, only to find there’s nothing in the house.

If you’re anything like me, this scenario may be a little too familiar. Before I started meal planning, our house was chaotic at the dinner hour. It’s a period of time I’m not proud of.

Once I started planning our family’s meals, we started eating healthier, more consistent meals, and I saved over half on our weekly grocery budget! It was incredible.

My only regret? Why didn’t I do it sooner.

Meal planning can bring sanity back to your life and allow you the freedom to enjoy preparing meals. When you meal plan, you’re being intentional. That makes the whole household run smoother!

So if you’re wondering, how do you plan groceries for a week, it’s simple. You start with a good meal plan. If you don’t even know where to start, then check out this post first.

Creating a menu plan can be overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be. Check out the easiest way to make a weekly grocery list.

Wanna know where to get the recipes to put into your meal plan? Good question! Here are a few of my favorite places:

Find Good Sources for Recipes

Having a good place to go to go get your recipes is half the battle in menu planning for the week. If you know where to go to get good recipes, you’ll be able to plan your weekly menu fast! Here are a few of my favorites:


Pinterest is my all-time favorite to source my recipes. Why? Because I spend time on Pinterest looking for recipes that I like, (when I’m not meal planning) and organizing them into boards so I can find them later.

Here’s my favorite menu planning board. I pop recipes onto my boards and I don’t even feel like I’m menu planning. Once I’m ready to plan my meals for the week, I go to those boards and pull out the recipes. It’s super fun!

All Recipes

Allrecipes  is sort of like a little minefield for finding good meals to pop into the menu. You can search by cuisine, allergen, and so on. Spend a little time on there and you might get addicted!

Bonus: You can find recipes on All Recipes and then pin them to your meal planning board on Pinterest.

The Library

When you just wanna sit down with a hard copy of recipes, the library is a good place to start. There you can browse through tons of cookbooks that fit exactly the cuisine you’re looking for.

Don’t forget to check out the magazine subscriptions, also. Many libraries have subscriptions to food magazines and you can even browse a year or two back into the archives.

Decide How Many Days You’re Planning For

So now on to the question at hand: how do you plan groceries for a week? It may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

The first thing is to know your schedule. Before you start planning any meals, cross reference your meal planning calendar with your social and household calendar.

Make sure to write down the days you won’t be at home, as well as the days you might have a tighter schedule. That way you can easily fill in the meals you’ll need to plan for.

Now before you start thinking that planning meals for a week will mean you buy a lot of food you won’t know what to do with, remember that you’ll only be shopping for the meals you have planned, so every ingredient will have a purpose. You won’t just be bringing home a cart full of groceries that are gonna go to waste.

Plan a Few Days When You Can Double Your Meal and Then Plan to Eat Leftovers

When you’re planning groceries for a week at a time, you’ll have an advantage. Having your week of menus at a glance means that you can actually plan to eat leftovers a night of two out of the week. It just takes a little foresight and planning.

I like to group my meals by the meats, veggies, (or grains – if you’re going meatless) they are comprised of and then think about how I can combine those ingredients to either, cook them up at the same time, or buy in bulk to cover both recipes.

Additionally, I like to double a recipe or two throughout the week for the very same reason. Cooking double batches of meals will help make planning groceries for a week a little less overwhelming. You won’t have to think about so many meals, and you’ll still get the job done!

Plan the Most Perishable Items for the Beginning of the Week

When you buy enough groceries to last a week, you’ll undoubtedly wonder what to do with the produce and fresh items. In this case, it’s important to look at the meals you’ve chosen and then cook the ones that have the most perishable items first.

If you know that one of your recipes calls for green peppers, you know you can get by with waiting until later in the week to cook it. However, I’ve found things like fresh berries are good for a couple of days, and that’s about it.

A way to figure this out is to use the Inventory Tracker found in The Meal Planning Binder. Use it to track the date you bought the particular item and then the date that it ran out (or went bad). The more you keep track of your ingredients, the easier it will be to plan your groceries for a week at a time.

You’ll get the hang of it with a little practice!

Find a Good Breakfast or Two that You Can Eat Over and Over Throughout the Week

Sometimes meal planning can be overwhelming because it’s hard to come up with so many recipes. To combat this issue, I like to plan a meal or two that is repeatable.

This works particularly well for breakfasts. In our house, we’ve boiled breakfast down to (ok, bad pun) sweet potatoes and avocados for the people who need allergy-free food and cereal for the kids who can eat anything. It has helped so much. I used to scramble around, trying to figure out a different meal for every breakfast.

That got taxing when I was also trying to plan for lunches and dinners. Now that I’ve eliminated the thinking for one meal out of the day, I can concentrate on lunches and suppers so much easier. It’s made planning groceries for the week a lot less of a hassle.

Make a Budget

If you’re trying to plan groceries for the week, then it could get difficult to track your money. That’s why a budget is so important. When you know exactly what to spend each week, you’ll be less likely to overspend.

Plan your budget, break it down, and know exactly how much you can spend on each meal. If that’s too overwhelming, then just track what you’re spending each week and adjust it as you get better at meal planning.

Choose Recipes You Like

Sometimes it’s hard to fathom what you’ll feel like eating on Tuesday night when you’re planning your menu on Friday. But planning your groceries for a week means that you’ll have to think ahead and be a little less picky.

One way around this is to be choosing meals you know you and your family like. That way, when Tuesday rolls around, your chances of wanting to ditch the weekly menu plan are much less likely if you’ve chosen recipes you really like.

Organize Your List Very Well

The secret to planning groceries for a week is having a very well organized meal plan. When you take the time to organize your recipes well and have a very well planned grocery list, then it’s much easier to grocery shop for a week.

Take the time to cross reference your shopping list with the things you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. I’m always amazed at how much I can cross off of my list once I do an inventory of what I already have in the house. It saves a ton of money.

If your list is very well organized, you’ll breeze through shopping for a week’s worth of groceries. I’ve bought food for only a few meals without a list before. It’s taken me way more time to accomplish that!

Organize Your Shopping List According to the Store Layout

A helpful tip is to know your grocery store well and then organize your list according to it’s layout. This makes the duty of shopping for so many groceries at a time so much less overwhelming. I find that if I plan my list according to the store layout, I can grocery shop for a week at a time and be in and out of the store in under thirty minutes!

That’s not bad, if you ask me!

When you Shop, Keep Your Cart Organized

Additionally, make sure you sort like things together and organize them in your cart. In our house, this is my husband’s job. We always grocery shop together and he pushes the cart and guides me in where to put the things.

Without his help, I can never fit a week’s worth of groceries in one single shopping cart. It also helps preserve the fragile foods like eggs and bread. You don’t want your bread on the bottom of a cart full of groceries!

When you pay attention to these little details, you’ll make grocery shopping for a week seem a little less cumbersome and a lot more doable.

Make a Master Menu Planning Grocery List

I find that I always have several items I buy over and over again. Before I menu planned, I would wrack my brains trying to remember which items I needed to replenish.

These were the easily overlooked items that weren’t necessarily part of a recipe, but were things I needed to purchase each week. Once I started keeping a master list of those items, I found it made planning groceries a week at a time so much easier.

I just pop those items onto my grocery list and I’m good to go! (Of course I check to make sure I don’t already have them on hand!)

ReUse Menu Plans

One of the difficult things to planning groceries for a week is that every week you need a plan! That sounds obvious, but it’s true! Meal planning sneaks up on you whether you’re ready or not!

So to avoid burnout, I’ve found it’s very helpful to reuse your menu plans. Once you’ve put all the work into them, keep them. Don’t get rid of them. I store mine in a spreadsheet online on Google Docs.

That way I won’t lose them! There are always times when I’m caught off guard and I need to menu plan in a hurry. For those times, I grab my already done meal plans and quickly put together my grocery shopping list, and then I’m good to go!

Use The Menu Planning Binder to Make a Weekly Menu Plan

I know planning groceries for a week can be overwhelming. I also understand all that it takes to put together a good meal plan. That’s why I put together The Meal Planning Binder. It’s packed with helpful tools to make menu planning as easy as ordering take-out!

Check it out! You’ll be planning your meals for a week in no time!

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What about you? How do you plan groceries for a week? What tips would you add? Do you find it difficult to plan all of your meals for the week at one time? Comment below and let me know! I’d love to hear!


Creating a menu plan can be overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be. Check out the easiest way to make a weekly grocery list.

{How to} Create an Easy Weekly Grocery List