Check your calendar
See what days you’ll need meals, what days you won’t be home, and what days you don’t have much time to cook.
Choose your meals
If you can’t decide what meals to cook, here’s my simple trick to mix things up and prevent you from getting into a rut. Each meal falls into on of 6 categories: chicken, pork, beef, seafood, vegetarian, and pasta. I choose one for each, and then fill in the rest of the week (usually doubling up on one of the meats).
Write your grocery list
This seems obvious, but you can end up saving a lot of money by doing this. Writing an organized grocery list will keep you on budget, stop you from buying duplicate ingredients, and prevent you from making multiple trips to the grocery store – which we all know can lead to impulse buys.
Once I choose my meals, I go through each recipe’s ingredient list, and write down the items I don’t have.
Then, I break that list down into 4 different categories – Produce/Deli/Prepared, Dry Goods, Frozen, Refrigerated/Dairy – so that I can go through the grocery store smoothly without running all over the place or forgetting things. I even try to group items within each category together based on the aisles where they are located (but that’s really not necessary).
Schedule your recipes
Go back to your calendar, and make a note of what recipe will be cooked each day. This makes it easy to glance at the night before to see if anything needs to be prepared (thaw frozen meat, wash vegetables, etc). Then you’ll be all set to cook during the week.