A Clean Life: Menu Planning - A simple way to organize your "What's for dinner?" plan

A Clean Life: Menu Planning & Grocery Shopping


As I’ve mentioned before, A Clean Life is about more than just cleaning. It’s about a smooth, peaceful, contented life…a life that leaves you time and energy for doing the fun stuff that you actually want to do. (Which for some of us really does include things like cleaning and planning.) 😉


And this is why I’m sharing my simple way of menu planning with you today!


But why would you even want a menu plan? Ohhhh, why wouldn’t you? A menu plan cuts down on grocery expenses (fewer impulse buys), eliminates chaos (no more running around trying to figure out if you can make something out of ketchup and brown bananas), and increases the likelihood that you’ll actually eat some fruit and vegetables every once in a while. 😉


So, let’s get to it, shall we?



Step One


Pick your day to plan.


I do my planning on Thursdays. Why Thursdays? Because I do the grocery shopping on Friday morning. By creating my menu plan on Thursday, I have a really good idea of what food and ingredients I have on hand…and that information probably won’t change substantially in the 24 hours between planning and shopping. Also, by planning the day before shopping, I’m assured that I always know the answer to that age-old “what’s for dinner” question. 🙂


Once you’ve picked your day for planning, grab a piece of paper and create a nice little list of the days of the week…starting with day that you’ll be going on your shopping adventure.


Like this:




Step Two


Mark weird days.


Before you write down a single thought about meals, mark the days that are going to be weird…weird in a way that will affect dinner. This could be anything from an event that keeps you out later than usual and cuts into dinner prep time to a dinner date that keeps you from even having to worry about making dinner.


Mark all of your weird days!


Like this:




Step Three


Keeping your weird days in mind, begin writing down the meals you’d like to have for the week. 


Some notes!

  • If you know you have a crazy evening on Wednesday, consider making something on Tuesday that will create leftovers…then all you have to do on your crazy day is warm things. Neat!
  • If you know you’ll be home late on Monday, plan a quick meal for that night.
  • If you have kids who are learning to cook, consider assigning them a night for making dinner each week…be sure to consult with them about what they’d like to cook on their night.
  • If you know you’re going to be going out for dinner on a particular evening, make a note of it on your plan.
  • If you’re having a hard time coming up with dinner options, Pinterest can be your very best friend in the whole wide universe.



Like this:




Step Four


Think about your non-dinner grocery needs and start making that list!


Some (more) notes!

  • If you make your own breakfast and lunch (or breakfast and lunch for other humans), make sure to note any items you need for those meals.
  • Take a quick inventory of household and hygiene items. If you need toothpaste or laundry detergent, make a note.
  • If you have pets, make sure you have all that they need to be happy and healthy.
  • If you’re planning any “just because” treats (or “for a reason” treats…potluck, school functions, etc.), make sure you include what you need for those things, too.
  • Break your list up into categories that make sense to you! (Thinking about the way the grocery store you frequent is laid out is helpful.)


Like this:



Once you have your list all created, paperclip any coupons you may be using right to the list…where you’re sure to have them…and not forget that you have them. 😉


Don’t throw your list away! Once you get home from shopping, you can stick that puppy to the refrigerator and have it for reference all week…and your family will be able to see for themselves what the dinner plan is.



Your Homework: Start Your Menu Planning


Go ahead and decide which day makes the most sense for you to plan your menu…and on that very day, get started with the steps.


Though I’ve done kind of a lengthy description of my process, it’s actual really quick and easy. When I sit down to create my menu plan and grocery list each week, it usually takes me less than 15 minutes to get everything planned and organized. After I’m finished, I place the list with my purse and any other items that need to leave the house with me the next day…that way I don’t end up stomping my feet and saying dirty words because I’m standing in the grocery store with no grocery list. 😉



And never, ever forget that you’re awesome. Awesome!


Looking for daily suggestions and reminders about A Clean Life? You’ll be able to get just that on the Nerd in the Brain Facebook page starting on January 29. (Along with other nifty, nerdy, silly, science-y stuff!)


You can catch up on previous Clean Life posts HERE.



Do you already menu plan? Do you find that it helps you to save money and cut back on eating “junk?” Do you use a method similar to this one…or something completely different? If you don’t menu plan, do you think this method would improve your dinner-eating/grocery-shopping organization?


If you’re having trouble getting that menu planned, please feel free to ask for help! (But please do note…I’m not a nutritionist or anything…I wouldn’t be much help in actually choosing meals that are very most appropriate for you and your family.) You can leave a comment here, email me at nerdinthebrain@gmail.com, or drop me a message on Facebook. I promise I’ll be gentle. 🙂



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