So, one of my big goals for the New Year is to be WAY more consistent with menu planning. Right now, my plan usually consists of a scrap piece of paper, a few scribbled meals, and a hob-nob of assorted items on my grocery list. Most of you can relate, I’m sure. The rest of you…carry on with your got-it-togetherness. Carry on.

I started thinking about the best meal planning system. What would it look like? For a menu plan to work it has to be something I’ll actually use. It has to be FREE. It has to be easily accessible. And above all, it has to be simple!

I created this printable two week menu planner to work for me. Hopefully it works for you too! Here’s my plan of action:

  1. Plan for two weeks at a time. One month is way to long for me. I know from experience I’ll make frantic trips to the store at the end of the month if I limit myself to one monthly trip. One week is way to short. A week flies by so fast, and I definitely don’t want to commit to grocery shopping every. single. weekend. Nope. A two week plan is perfect!
  2. Stick to the basics. I’m not a chef by any stretch of the imagination, and the idea of trying to create a gourmet menu plan just gives me hives. I stick to basics like roasted chicken and vegetables, whole-grain pasta, and tacos.
  3. Add in a few new meals.¬†So in addition to the basic meals I mentioned above, it is nice to try something different every once in a while. My go to source is the Pioneer Woman because I love everything she’s ever done and we are secretly best buds. (Even though we’ve never met.)
  4. Shop your pantry first. Check what you already have to make sure you don’t buy more than you need of an item.
  5. Make a game plan for the grocery store. I love shopping at Aldi! They have amazing deals on basics like chicken and produce, plus tons more weekly specials to check out. Compare what you’ll need for your meals with the sales in your favorite grocery chain. See a deal you just can’t pass up? Adjust your menu plan accordingly. Don’t forget to think about your local farmer’s market as well!
  6. Stick to the plan! Here’s the most important part: If you don’t stick to the menu plan you created, you’ll just waste your own time and money! Resist the urge to get carry out just because you forgot to defrost the chicken. Even better, plan ahead for emergencies: put a low-priced frozen pizza on your grocery list for those “no time to cook days.”