How about some ideas for streamlining your grocery shopping and meal planning? I don't want you to think that I think I have all the answers! I just know from experience that I learned a lot from seeing the way that other people do things. I'm the kind of person who learns visually. Don't spend a lot of time telling my the WHY of something, I like to know the HOW. For example, don't spend much time telling me WHY my body can't tolerate wheat, just tell me HOW to live my life without it!! Anyhow, that is why I would like to show you my method of shopping and planning. It is probably just one way in a hundred of how to do it, but maybe it will help you streamline your own method.
I began this whole process by taking a pen and paper with me to my favorite grocery store and writing down, in the order in which they appear in the store, the items that our family uses most often. For example, the first aisle I come to is the bread aisle, so in that section I have things like: bread, bagels, peanut butter, jelly, coffee. I did this for every aisle, as well as the dairy, produce and frozen food sections. The unfortunate thing is that I shop at Wal-Mart and they are FOREVER moving things around the store. Oh well, my list gives me a general idea of where everything is. I then took my notes home and typed all of this into an Excel spreadsheet. I print off a bunch of copies at once and put them into my binder on my desk. This way, throughout the week, whenever we realize we need something from the store, everyone knows to flip to the current grocery list and either circle or write in the necessary item.
I usually go to the grocery store on the same night each week. So, that afternoon, I sit down with my current grocery list and the copy of my calendar for the month that I keep hanging on the refridgerator. I then decide what dinners I will be making for the following week. I write each dinner on the corresponding day of the calendar and then enter any items I may need to make it onto my grocery list. After I do that for all of the dinners, I take a walk around the kitchen to see what type of breakfast, lunch or staple items I may need to add to my list. This does a pretty good job of making sure that I do not forget anything - although not a foolproof job. I can only imagine the number of things I would forget if I didn't have this system in place!
When I am really on a roll, I am able to plan an entire month's worth of meals at one time. More often than not, however, I work on a week by week basis. And, just because I can't stand spending half an hour arguing about what is for breakfast and lunch, we have implemented a set breakfast and lunch schedule for each day of the week (although our lunches have been off this Lent since we gave up wheat and, as you know, there is basically NOTHING to eat for lunch that doesn't have wheat in it. So, each day of Lent, lunch time has been true penance!). For example, on Monday's for breakfast we have muffins and yogurt, Tuesday is waffles, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday are cereal, Thursday is oatmeal and Saturday is baked oatmeal.
Hopefully all this talk of food has not made you hungry, but eager to get in there and streamline your own system. Or, maybe it has made you sit back with a smile on your face knowing that you already have a system that works well for you!