Meal Planning for Single Parents

When it comes to meal planning, I have a system. I’ve perfected it over time and it works. So, I’m going to share it with all of you! Maybe it will help you get organized and make meal planning and grocery shopping simple as it has gotten for me. I have it down to about an hour each week and I’ve managed to save about $100 each month on groceries too. Keep reading! You won’t want to miss these tips!

Todoist

First of all, if you’ve never explored todoist, you should definitely look into it. I’ve tried a bunch of grocery apps, but this one works just as well if not better. It’s simple. You can create projects for different lists you may have. I have a personal list, a list for my job, a grocery list, a meal planning list, and you could even have a list that you share with your spouse. You can actually put things on your spouse’s list and he or she will get a notification that they have to do it. It’s a great collaborative feature. However, I’m single. And this blog is about meal planning and single parenting, so I’ll leave that feature for you to explore on your own.

So, every week, I put the meals for the next week on my meal plan project list. I assign meatloaf to Mondays, spaghetti to Tuesdays, I go out on Fridays, etc. This is just an example. Then whenever it is Monday, meatloaf will show up in my inbox for that day. Once it’s cooked, I cross it off my list.

I also have everything I buy regularly in my grocery list, set up as a recurring task for every Monday. So, I have eggs, milk, butter, vegetables, tooth paste, and all the items I purchase regularly. I go through the list every week and if I don’t need it, I cross it off the list and it will appear on my list next week Monday to go through the following week. So whatever I don’t cross off, I need to buy that week. When I go to the store, or order my groceries online and bring them home (see below), I cross it off my list then. All I have to add new to the list each week are the items I need for upcoming meals. 

Picking Meals

Picking meals is easy. I have all the meals I regularly cook on a google doc under headings like “easy meals” or “ meals with leftovers.” Developing this list is individual. You know what you normally make. I do get regular magazine subscriptions, so I can try new recipes every once in a while that I find in my magazines. Each week, I go through and pick meals we haven’t had for a while and add them to the next week’s meals. I know that on Wednesdays and Thursdays, I have the kids and we usually have things going on at night, so I make meals from my “easy meals” list. I cook something more involved over the weekends. And sometimes I make something with leftovers that I can have on Wednesday or Thursday nights. I pick something from my “meals with leftovers” column. I always check the calendar each week when I’m planning meals. That way I’ll know if I have something going on and I’ll need an easy meal that night. 

After You Pick Your Meals

Once I pick the meals, I’ll add the ingredients to my todoist grocery list. I have taken a pic of all my regular recipes too so that I can access the ingredients from wherever I am. So, if I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, I can still do my meal planning. I’ll date the items for the next Monday so all my recurring and new items for that week fall on Mondays. You can pick whatever day you normally get groceries. Then I cross off recurring items I don’t need and I look at Monday’s list to see all the total items I need for that week. I then hop on my Walmart app and search for each item, adding it to my cart. Once you’ve done Walmart grocery pick up a couple times, every time you search for an item, the app will remember it. So, when I search for milk, the 2% half gallon always pops up first because that’s what I normally order. So, ordering all my groceries for the week on the app takes about ten minutes. I pick the groceries up a few days later after school. If I forget to add an item or think that I need something later, I just update my list on the app. It takes three seconds.

Overall, I spend about 20 minutes meal planning, adding items to my list, and ordering them on the Walmart app and it takes me 30 minutes to drive there and pick up the groceries and about 15 minutes to put all the groceries away. Hugely efficient! Plus, I’ve discovered that using the Walmart app and doing online ordering and drive up pick up saves me about $25-30 each week. It must be because I get the best prices and I don’t impulse buy. So, not only is it a time saver, it’s a money saver too.

On the nights I don’t have the kids, I don’t cook. I usually pick up a sub at Subway or treat myself to something at Popeye’s! I know, probably not the healthiest option, but it’s usually on a day I run, so I have a few extra calories I can eat!

So, that’s the system. I encourage you to try it. It’s been a game changer for me. I’ve needed to make the system as efficient as possible because as a single mom, I have very little time! It’s easy and it works. Let me know if you’d like more information about my system. Comments below about your systems would be fantastic too!

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