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How I Organize My Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping {with Free Printable!}


Learn how to meal plan with this free printable. This all-in-one printable will help you stay organized planning your family meals. It includes a calendar for planning two weeks of meals and a spot for writing your grocery list too!

Want more free printables? Check out my free calendar printable, year at a glance printable, and time blocking printable.

free meal planning and grocery shopping printable download on a clipboard

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Before I discovered meal planning, my routines were a mess. I never had a plan when it came to grocery shopping and cooking meals.

Each week I would go to the store with a poorly thought out “list” and would buy whatever I thought we might need. I was pretty much just guessing as I walked through the aisles.

Throughout the week I would struggle to think of meal ideas. And inevitably I would try to cook something and end up not having one or two ingredients.

As the week went on, all the fresh produce I had bought would start to go bad and I would end up throwing away so much food.

I never had a plan and the weeks always felt chaotic.

Sound familiar to anyone else?

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I knew there had to be a better way to organize our family meals. I needed a solid system that I could implement week after week to help me manage all our food needs.

That’s when I discovered meal planning.

Meal planning helps me to stay organized, stick to a plan, and save money.

When I plan out our meals in advance, I know exactly what food I need to buy at the store. And I know exactly what to make for each meal.

My weeks are so much more efficient and a lot less stressful.

close up of a meal planning printable

When I was trying to get organized, I found it so helpful to see what others were doing and figure out how I could apply their ideas to my meal planning. I know how hard it can be to get organized, so I wanted to share with you exactly how I meal plan and grocery shop.

How I Organize My Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping

PS: Meal planning can be a difficult skill to master. There are so many different methods out there that it takes some trial and error to narrow down what will work for you and your family. This is just the method that I’ve found works best for me.

PPS: I only meal plan for dinners, but this method can work if you need to plan out breakfasts and lunches too.

close up of a blank colorful printable meal planner

Print Free Meal Planning and Grocery List Printable

The first step to creating an organized meal plan is to print out my all-in-one meal planning and grocery shopping printable. This printable lets me plan for up to two weeks of meals and two grocery trips to the store. You can grab a copy of this free printable for yourself.

Get the Free Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping Printable

When it comes to meal planning, I like to keep things simple. That’s why I created this all-in-one printable meal planner. I love being able to plan out all of our meals and create my grocery list in one place.

blank colorful printable meal planner

At the top of the sheet, there is a two-week calendar. I’m a visual person, so I find that planning out my meals in a calendar format is the most helpful for me.

At the bottom of the sheet, there are grocery lists for each week. I normally try and go shopping once a week, but since I’m planning two weeks at once on this sheet, I added two separate lists.

Look at the Schedule for the Week

Before I even start thinking about recipes and ingredients, I open up my calendar on my phone. I start by writing down any events we have during those two weeks and I include notes about the events.

printable colorful meal planner with text

For example, maybe one night we have plans to go out somewhere to eat. I’ll mark that on the calendar so I know I don’t need to plan a meal for that night.

Maybe we have a crazy schedule after work one day and won’t be home until later. I’ll write down a note about having leftovers that night or eating a quick dinner. I try to include as much information as possible so that I know everything that’s going on.

It’s so important to look at your weekly plans and see what you have going on before you start planning out tons of meals for the week. While I would love to cook at home every day, that’s just not possible. I need to be realistic so I can make a meal plan that I can stick to and will actually work with my schedule.

close up of colorful printable meal planner

This is also why I only plan two weeks at a time. Some people like to plan all the meals for an entire month, but I never seem to be able to stick to that type of plan. That’s because I don’t know our schedule that far in advance. I’ve found that two weeks seems to work best for us and I’m able to create a pretty accurate plan.

Browse Through Paprika and Find Recipes

Once I’ve got everything from my calendar into my meal planning printable, I switch over to my Paprika app and start looking for recipes. Paprika is my favorite recipe management app. It keeps all of my recipes from books, family, websites, Pinterest and more organized in one place.

If you aren’t familiar with Paprika, check out this post that I wrote. I explain all about Paprika, how to use it, and why it’s so helpful for meal planning!

printable colorful meal planner on a desk with accessories

I have different categories set up in Paprika to organize my recipes. The main category that I use for meal planning is “Main Dish.” I keep all my easy dinner recipes in here for quick access.

By having my recipes categorized like this, I avoid having to search through tons of recipes that don’t necessarily fit into normal meal planning (I’m looking at you Gingerbread House recipe!).

Plan Meals and Include Notes

Once I find recipes that I want to make, I start filling in my printable. I look at the schedule that I’ve filled out and try to put meals in where I think they will fit.

printable meal planner with text on a desk

The notes that I wrote in from my schedule help me pick which meals should go on certain days. If I know we are going to have leftovers one night because of a crazy schedule, then I try to plan a bigger meal the night before so that we will actually have leftovers.

I also add additional notes for certain recipes, like if I need to defrost meat or prep a slow cooker the night before.

Make Grocery List

After all of my days are filled in, I move on to creating my grocery list.

The grocery list is separated into general sections of the grocery store to help me stay organized while I’m shopping. No one likes to backtrack through the entire store because you forgot one little thing on your list. Having categorized grocery lists is essential!

close up of meal planning printable

There are also two lists, one for each week of the meal plan. Looking at my list of meals, I go back into the recipes in Paprika and look at the ingredients list.

Considering what I already have on hand in my pantry and freezer, I write down any ingredients that I need to buy on my grocery lists. Once I’ve gone through all the recipes, I’m left with two weeks of grocery lists ready to go.

meal planning printable with text on the paper

At this point, I add in any other things that I know I need to buy for each week.

To keep track of the food that we need, we always keep a magnetic notepad and magnetic pen on our fridge. As we notice things are running low, we add them to the list. When I’m making my meal plans and grocery lists for the week, I grab this list and add the items to the appropriate sections.

The best part about this printable is that when I am done meal planning, I just grab some scissors, cut on the dotted lines and separate the meal plan from the grocery lists. I put the calendar on our fridge and the two grocery lists go into my purse.

meal planning printable with text on a desk

And that’s it, I’m done!

My full two-week meal plan is right there in the kitchen so I know what to make each night. My two grocery lists are complete so I know exactly what to buy at the store. All of the guesswork is gone!

printable colorful meal planner

Dig Deeper

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I’m not always perfect at meal planning, but I’ve found that it’s so much better to have some sort of a plan than to have nothing at all. With a meal plan, I feel less stressed around dinner time, I don’t waste food, and I save money grocery shopping. It’s a total win!

If you have never tried to meal plan before, I encourage you to give it a try. I promise that you will feel more in control and less frantic around meal times.

blank meal planning printable on a desk with accessories

Let me know in the comments if you try this method of meal planning. And, if you have any other suggestions for how to meal plan, let me know! I’m always looking for ways to improve my method.

PS: To make my meal planning even more organized, I created a set of colorful stickers to use with the printable. I used my Cricut Explore to create and cut out these stickers, but you can print them off and cut them out on your own. All the information is over in the post…

Cricut Explore Essentials: How to Make Your Own Stickers

free meal planning and grocery shopping printable
The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!
The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!
The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!
The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!
The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!

The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!

The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!
The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!
The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!
The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!
The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!
The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!
The best way to organize your meal planning and grocery shopping - free printable included!

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  1. I have to say I have been searching for a way to meal plan and grocery shop and find the time to do all of it right. You have created EXACTLY what I need. I am even thinking about the Paprika app. I hope I can put this into effect this weekend!!! Thank u!!!!

    1. Christene Holder says:

      Yay! I’m so glad it was helpful Samantha! Let me know how it goes. Also, Paprika is sooooo worth it! You will be so happy when you get it and it’s basically the price of one coffee 🙂

      So glad this was helpful to you!
      >> Christene

  2. I love your meal planning system and I’m going to give it a try! I noticed that you color code your entries. Could you explain more about that please?

    1. Christene Holder says:

      Hi Maggie,

      There’s really no reason for the color coding, I just used a bunch of different colors to make it pretty 🙂 But you could definitely color code if you wanted. It might be helpful for the grocery list. Green could be produce, Red for meat, blue for frozen…etc.

      Hope that helps!

      >> Christene

  3. I have tried meal planning previously but found that our schedules were always changing. I am now a stay at home mom so I am going to give it another try! Thanks for the advice!!

    1. Christene Holder says:

      I’m glad to help! Yea, I totally understand the changing schedules issue. I’m not perfect at meal planning, and I definitely don’t have everything filled out right every week. But, having the printable available to use helps a lot. It’s nice to have somewhat of a structure to start with, even if you maybe don’t follow the plan exactly every time.

      Good luck with your meal planning 🙂

      >> Christene

  4. Is there a similar app for Android? This looks really helpful! I keep thinking I would like an app that can either scan all my food items and make a list for me, then generate recipes, or I can add recipes to it so it knows what we like/eat and can suggest a meal based on what I have on hand.

    1. Christene Holder says:

      Hey Jenni! I don’t have an android phone, but I did a quick search and it looks like there are a couple similar apps. From the descriptions it looks like these have the ability to import recipes from the web and save them into a digital recipe box. Maybe check these out :). Hope this helps

      >> Christene

  5. The blue pouch. I need more information. It is beautiful!

    lol also everything else is great and I’m trying your printable today.

    1. Christene Holder says:

      Lol – Nicole, the blue pouch is actually a little pouch that came with a purse that I bought at Kohl’s. I’m not sure if they sell it anymore. Pouches are so handy – I know that Marshalls, TJMaxx and Homegoods sometimes have pouches. Also, the Container Store has some too.

      Thanks for visiting! Hope you love the printable.

      >> Christene

  6. Laura Washington says:

    I love it! I am trying this tomorrow! I have been looking for something like this for a while! Thank you!

    1. Christene Holder says:

      You’re welcome Laura! I hope that you find it helpful for planning 🙂

      >> Christene

      1. Laura Washington says:

        I’m having trouble downloading the Meal Planner printable. I have signed up twice for The Library. Can you help?

        1. Christene Holder says:

          Hi Laura! I’m so sorry you are have trouble. Please send me an email at Christene@keystoinspiration.com and I can help you out and get you access.

          >> Christene

  7. With a husband & 5 kids it was impossible to please everyone everyday. I started with 5 sheets of notebook paper to become 5 five week rotation plan. I listed 3 of our family regular meals on each page ( no duplicates). Each week a child could add a meal & the husband would add a meal (again no duplicates). I would then choose 2 New recipes each week. Like you, I also planned the meals according to our schedule for the week. It resulted in much less complaining & simplified the planning process.

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