Back to School MEAL PLANNING Routine!

Happy Monday, friends!

Today is another “routine” post!  Let’s recap the Shull family routines I’ve already shared with you…first, I shared with you our MORNING ROUTINE and then, I shared with you our BEDTIME ROUTINE, and then our THERAPY ROUTINE and then, our Pre-Op ROUTINE.  Today, it’s our BACK TO SCHOOL MEAL PLANNING ROUTINE!

Hahaha!  That’s how I feel at the beginning of the school year 😉 .  I’m really excited about today because it’s all about MEAL PLANNING!  And bonus, thanks to a sweet reader’s recommendation, my MEAL PLANNING MONDAY today is different too!  Instead of me picking out what everyone should eat this week, I asked the five members of my family to suggest their favorite recipe 🙂 .  Isn’t that fun?  Want to see what Andrew loves for me to make?  Or Smith?  Or Madeley?  Or Ashby or Kensington???  Head HERE and see this week’s Meal Planning Monday!

Thanks to all of this “back to school” business, I feel like all the moms I know (and many of you ladies too!) are all about meal planning right now.  You know how it is…back to school is like January 1st, it’s all about a fresh start, new beginnings, goals, resolutions and all that other stuff.  My “meal planning” game is typically pretty good, but right now, it’s at its best.  I have all of that “I’m super mom and will conquer this school year” adrenaline coursing through my veins.  Anyone else?  Okay, clearly, I’m into meal planning…

…bahaha!  I even wrote a book about it!  That being said, I realized last school year that it was getting harder and harder to carve out moments to write down weekly lists, so instead, I started setting aside about 30 minutes a week to do this…

…meal plan for the entire month.  This was me on Friday afternoon working on September’s meal plan.  I’m sure you guys could make this all techy with an app or something, but I’m old-fashioned and like to just use a legal pad.  I write out all of the days of the month on a piece of paper (front and back).  Next, I go back through and add any important dates/reminders to that month’s calendar and then, I start to meal plan for the month.

I try and cook dinner five nights a week plus I make breakfast for my Bible Fellowship Group (BFG) at church every Sunday morning and then, I bake an extra sweet treat or two a week to feature on my blog.  Now, that I have a solid list for the month, it takes me only minutes to make my weekly shopping list (because isn’t figuring out what to make the hardest part?!).

Here are my exact steps to meal planning (and then, I want to hear yours!!)…
1: I make my monthly meal plan.
2: On Mondays, I build my grocery list for the week based on my already prepared monthly list and then order my groceries online for free grocery pick up at my store. I love doing this because you can “favorite” things and then quickly add them to your cart.  Things like milk, paper towels, bananas, avocados and such are favorited items, so it’s easy to add those things in along with our dinner groceries.  I also take a sticky note and write down things that I will need to pick up later in the week that are fresh.  I shop on Tuesdays, so if I think that by the following Monday, I’ll need 2 pounds of ground beef or more bananas, then I add that to my list and sometime between Friday and Sunday, I will grab those items from inside the store.
3: On Tuesdays, I go and pick up my groceries from my local supermarket and bring them home.
4: About once every 10 days to 2 weeks, I’ll stop by Trader Joe’s and pick up any fresh items I need that I didn’t grocery pick up or just to grab some things only sold there.
5: Then sometime later that week, like on Friday, I will go inside the store and grab a handful of “fresh” items that I need or anything else that has come up (should I need some more fresh items over the weekend).

And then…repeat the next week.

Now, I’ve tweaked this over time as our schedules and such have changed, but this is what I’m doing right now.

Of course, our schedule isn’t set in stone, so I do tweak things sometimes as needed, but for the most part, our routine stays very much the same.

During the school year, I’ve been typically going to Costco about once a month to stock up on lunch items for the kids like yogurt, chips, applesauce, etc. as well.

So, that’s what I’m doing these days.  What are you guys doing?  

I’m ready…what are your meal planning tips?  I’ve tried several different ways, but I’m always open to new suggestions.  Also, I love m paper and pen method, but if you just swear by an app, I want to hear about that as well!

Side note, don’t forget you can order this…

… my Meal Planner Book HERE 🙂 .

Don’t forget, make sure you head HERE

…to see what my family picked out for this week’s Meal Planning Monday!

Have the best day!! xo

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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog August 19, 2019 at 4:47 am

    My meal planning is all over the place! Still reminiscing the times when I used to do it regularly. I gotta get back in the habit!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Nicole August 19, 2019 at 5:09 am

    The closest Trader Joe’s to me is 2.5 hours away. I’ll be near one on Labor Day. Do you know when they put out their pumpkin/fall foods?

    • Mix and Match Mama August 19, 2019 at 8:41 am

      I bet it’s out soon! I would guess right before Labor Day.

  • Marsha August 19, 2019 at 5:18 am

    Instead of the legal pad, use Excel or Google sheets to create your monthly plan. Save paper and have it archived electronically forever.
    For your weekly shopping lists, there are dozens of apps that make this process easy. Sticky notes can be easily lost and are hard to keep track of.

  • Tara G. August 19, 2019 at 5:26 am

    I am a paper & {pencil} person & basically do the same. I did make a little blank menu table years ago that has room on one side to list activities & blanks to make a shopping list on the other.

  • AngieN August 19, 2019 at 5:33 am

    I also plan my menu for the month (I hate having to decide what to cook! :)). I do it the old fashioned way as well, but I print out a calendar for the month and just write what I’m cooking on that.

  • Kate August 19, 2019 at 5:37 am

    Plan to Eat is a fantastic app that I’ve used for years. My favorite part is that it generates my grocery list for me. I am a big fan!

  • Cat August 19, 2019 at 6:01 am

    We batch cook, so watch the sale cycle at the grocery store and plan accordingly (because it’s more fun to splurge on clothes and trips than… meat.). For example, we make chicken pot pie filling in the slow cooker… so when chicken is on sale, we make enough that we have 4-5 leftover meals. Same with pork or beef slow cooker recipes. Then, on busy days, all we have to do in the morning is pick what main protein we want and get it defrosting! Time AND money saving (and “pot cleaning” saving), win win win 🙂

  • Narci August 19, 2019 at 6:01 am

    This is amazing! What a great routine and such a good idea to plan monthly!

  • Danielle August 19, 2019 at 6:26 am

    Random question, why don’t you get your chicken or ground beef in bulk at Costco? We do this, it’s saved money, and then I just put in my calendar to thaw out in the fridge two days before I need it! Just a tip I have figured out over the years 🙂

    • Mix and Match Mama August 19, 2019 at 8:40 am

      I don’t like to eat meat that has been frozen and thawed. I know that probably sounds weird, but I like to get my meat from behind the butcher’s counter and eat it right away.

      • leigh August 24, 2019 at 1:01 pm

        ME too! I’ve tried and tried because I know it would be more convenient, but thawing beef and pork? Yuck. I don’t mind it with chicken breasts.

  • Sheaffer Sims August 19, 2019 at 6:26 am

    You’ve got your system down and I love it! Now I’m heading over to see everybody’s favorites. I’m going to guesss Ashby’s is like a kale salad or something. 😉

  • Jennie August 19, 2019 at 6:32 am

    I am a meal planner as well, and I try to take into account our activities for the week when I plan (slow cooker or freezer meal nights when I know I won’t be home long enough to fix an entire dinner). I also love the app Copy Me That for keeping my recipes organized and in a central location. Thanks for your tips!!

  • Dena August 19, 2019 at 7:24 am

    Hi Shay – great post and I totally agree with you that Back to School feels like Jan 1st! I noticed you said you make notes on a sticky pad – I used to do this too but now I use the Reminder app on my iPhone to create lists…..I have lists named Costco, Target, Trader Joe’s etc and within that list I add items I need to pick up. There’s a little spot to check off each item. No more forgetting my list on the counter!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 19, 2019 at 8:39 am

      Is the app called “Reminder” I feel like I should check it out!

      • Dena August 19, 2019 at 9:52 am

        Yes. It’s just on my phone not anything I dowloaded so maybe an Apple app?

      • Sara Roberts August 19, 2019 at 6:54 pm

        It’s the best app. It’s already on the iPhone. And you can say “hey Siri, remind me to do x on x date and x time” and it plugs it right in. Love it.

    • Erin August 21, 2019 at 1:06 am

      This is a great idea! I’m looking at my Reminder app… how do you make sublists? Just in the “notes” section of the task or is there another’s way? I’ve been using a different t grocery list app (Out of Milk) but it frequently deletes items I’ve added and it’s driving me nuts!!

      • leigh August 24, 2019 at 1:04 pm

        Did you figure out how to make sublists? I want to know as wel.

  • B August 19, 2019 at 7:32 am

    We do about the same here. I make our list from Saturday to Thursday. We typically eat out on Friday nights. Then, We always grocery shop on Saturday morning. Or if I use the pick up or delivery service from Kroger or Walmart.. we do that Friday. We have found we like to grocery shop as a family. My husband, myself and our 4 girls. As of now they wake up super early anyways so we take advantage of that and go and get back before 9am so our Saturday isn’t wasted. My kiddos are young so not much sports or other activities. BuT if something is going on of course we change the date or just one of us will go that week. Life happens. I love pen and paper as well. I will sometimes once everything is written out on paper, use the remainder section on the notepad in my phone and add the list of things I need so that I can go but typically we go to more than one store and have found that I just like paper and write which store above each list. My husband uses an app when he has to run in and its separated from each store.( I have no clue what the app is called, he put it on my phone and didn’t use it) I am a huge on budgets so I do price which is cheaper at each store or wait on bigger items for whichever week we don’t have to buy as much.

  • Kristin Dunn August 19, 2019 at 8:06 am

    I, too, prefer writing my lists and plans by hand! Do you have any favorite marker/pens to color code things? Thank you!!!!!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 19, 2019 at 8:39 am

      My favorite thing to use are the Paper Mate Flair markers!!

  • Erika Slaughter August 19, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Is it weird that meal planning is one of my favorite things?

  • Christine Munoz August 19, 2019 at 8:31 am

    I love the idea of meal planning for the month! I plan for Thursday – Wednesday (I shop on Thursday mornings after drop off). I usually end up back at the store for fresh items, also. Especially during the school year when my kids want more fruit after school. Glad I’m not the only one!! Hope y’all have a great week!

  • Stephanie Doiron August 19, 2019 at 8:31 am

    I’m all about meal planning also. How do you decide what to make each week? I know you sort of cook ahead of the season in order to prep your blog content but how do you decide on your 5 weekly meals? I personally try to do meatless Monday where we’ll have fish, then try to have a different protein every day the rest of the week (chicken, pork, beef…) and same with the sides (rice, pasta, quinoa…) and always add some veggies in there. Pheeew!!! I was just curious to see how you were doing it. 🙂

    • Mix and Match Mama August 19, 2019 at 8:38 am

      I try and make 2 or 3 new recipes a week (and that would leave 2 or 3 oldie recipes to make that week). My family eats out of season for the new recipes (we’re eating “fall food” right now!) and then typically, I just ask everyone what they want. I get a lot of repeats (Sloppy Joes, tacos, brisket, pulled pork, burgers, etc), so we’ll have that on those nights.

  • Francesca August 19, 2019 at 8:34 am

    What do you do if you’re not in the mood for what you planned for that day?!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 19, 2019 at 8:36 am

      Most of the time? Make it anyway. It’s just easier that way!

  • Brooke August 19, 2019 at 9:04 am

    My meal planning is pretty simple. When I go to the grocery store I pick up ingredients for 4-5 meals plus essentials. We eat that and then I do it again. Sometimes I do grocery pick up and sometimes I go in. It depends on my schedule for the week. Your Taco Tortellini Soup will be one of our meals this week. Last week we had your Pesto Meatballs. We are a family of 4 and we usually have leftovers so 4-5 meals lasts us a while.

  • Laura Fuller August 19, 2019 at 9:07 am

    I love meal planning. I use my Google calendar though. I just have an event called ‘Dinner’ every evening. With 4 teenagers, I also take into account all of their activities. I make my Walmart Grocery pick up order while I’m planning. I do it on Mondays first thing. Of course, I’m stopping at the grocery store a couple times per week for things I forgot, things for school projects, etc…

  • Erin August 19, 2019 at 9:36 am

    I have been meal planning a month at a time for years and there is no other way!! Now there are times, like Saturday when I didn’t want what I had planned and told my hubby to grab a premade pasta and wings from the grocery store, but for the most part, I stick to it! I also have been designating Thursday (since it is the end of the week and I am too tired to make anything super fancy) as eggs and waffles/pancakes for dinner. Or it is a smorgasbord of what is leftover from the week.

  • Allena August 19, 2019 at 9:39 am

    I use Pinterest and an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of meal ideas and then just look at those for planning ahead. I have found that if I try to plan too far out, things come up unexpected (my in-laws invite us over for dinner or we had enough food leftover to eat that again) and my meal plan gets messed up. So right now, a week at a time works best. I also do Curbside most of the time from HEB for picking up groceries, and I love that I can look at a previous order and just check the things I want to duplicate so I do that on our staples (eggs, bread, etc). Only downside is HEB does cost $5 for the service, but I find I still spend less even with the markup because I can’t impulse buy ha. The one thing I’ve been trying to work on is I’m not great at planning our weekends – I don’t cook a lot of big meals but then I also don’t plan enough food for us to eat (like sandwiches or soup) and then we’re scrambling, so I’ve been trying to be really purposeful – like making sure we can make mini-pizzas or whatever. I used to hate meal planning but now I enjoy it! I guess a sign of getting older ha.

  • Kim S August 19, 2019 at 10:05 am

    I monthly plan too but I use a pocket size calendar. I don’t like making the same thing two months in a row and with a calendar it’s easy to go back and see what I made last month. I double whatever I make during the weekend so we usually have leftovers Monday and Tuesday.

  • Heather August 19, 2019 at 10:06 am

    Meal Planner: Track And Plan Your Meals Weekly (52 Week Food Planner / Diary / Log / Journal / Calendar): Meal Prep And Planning Grocery List

    Just ordered this and I’m liking it so far but heck the legal pad is such a great idea too! Love your meal planning ideas and I couldn’t agree more, the beginning of the year brings all sorts of organization adrenaline to the blood 🙂
    Not sure how our family started the tradition but the first two weeks of school my two boys each get a week and they get to pick our dinners! Maybe it was because I was finally spent and delegating a job but either way they’ve loved it and so do I!

  • Kim C August 19, 2019 at 10:13 am

    I couldn’t agree more! I feel more motivated and fresh at the beginning of the school year than at New Year’s.
    My meal planning prep looks almost identical to yours. Once a month I sit with my calendar, notepad, recipe basket, Pinterest, and cook books and plan based on our events of the month. Then in my calendar’s 3rd row I put small post it lists on the days that the menu has ingredients that I don’t normally have in the pantry or that need to be fresh and make my grocery list from that every 2 weeks. We raise our own beef, pork, and chicken so that takes out a huge chunk of grocery shopping. I go to Costco every month or 2 to buy the things in bulk we use for lunches and after school snacks.
    I’m assuming from how much you love her and how cute it is that your “Boo” notebook is from Erin Condren but I’m wondering: does she have recipe books that I’m just not seeing or do you use regular spiral notebooks?

    • Mix and Match Mama August 19, 2019 at 11:35 am

      I do too!! I always think September is my “beginning of the year!”. And I just use EC spiral notebooks to write down my recipes.

      • Martha August 19, 2019 at 6:49 pm

        Me too. September is my new year, just full of possibilities. “Bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils…” 🙂

        • Mix and Match Mama August 20, 2019 at 4:36 am

          YES, YES, YES, YES! Okay, I’m watching that movie today while I work!

        • Leigh August 24, 2019 at 1:07 pm

          Martha! You took the words right out of my mouth!

  • gretchen August 19, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Love this idea! Meal planning is not my forte- and YES! deciding what to have is the hardest part! Could you give us a glimpse of the finished list? Also, wondering if you would give us a glimpse of your after school activity pick up and drop off schedule. I have two kids and the organization of rides combined with meal prep is a bear! Go Cats!

  • Kary August 19, 2019 at 10:44 am

    I ‘shop’ my pantry and freezer before I make a meal list. I try to make meals from what I already have on hand first. It really helps me stick to my plan and hopefully I won’t have any extras to shop from eventually. Ha!

  • Becky August 19, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    I use google calendars for EVERYTHING! This way my husband can see it and I can plan around his meetings/work schedule, my kids sporting events, etc. Now, I’m not sure who I need to talk to to make this happen, but I think it would be AWESOME if google somehow put the weather forecast in the calendar… I LOVE to cook according to what the weather is like!

  • Diana August 19, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    I am the worst at meal planning! Thanks for sharing your tips and yummy recipes! 🙂 I like your idea of writing out the whole month’s meals, maybe I’ll start small and try writing out a week at a time?

  • Stacy August 19, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    Cozi for calendar, meal planning, recipes, grocery lists, reminders. It’s my favorite online and app! I have been using for 6 or so years. Keeps everybody organized

  • Anna August 20, 2019 at 2:04 am

    Not meal planning but could you do a post on your favorite kitchen items/brands like cookware, bakeware etc. just things you love in your kitchen that you use to cook with a lot.

  • Samantha August 21, 2019 at 8:34 am

    Hi Shay! I have never thought to meal plan for an entire month at a time, but now I am convinced I need to try it! Beginning of the school year is a great time to start! Thanks for the suggestion & for giving us a step-by-step!

  • Alyssa Howell August 21, 2019 at 11:51 am

    This is so helpful Shay! This may be a weird question, but I am curious how you buy your meat, and what meat works best for what recipes. Do you buy grass fed beef, organic chicken, etc? Sometimes I feel lost when I enter the grocery store wanting steak for dinner- because there are so many different options. It’s just me and my husband, so I am sure I will get better at all of this once we have kids! Love reading your blog- it makes me excited to have a family one day 🙂

    • Mix and Match Mama August 21, 2019 at 12:39 pm

      I always, always, always get all of my meat, seafood and deli meat from behind the counter. I always like to ask my butcher/seafood monger/etc all the questions to make sure I’m getting exactly what I need for what I’m making. I even get my ground beef from behind the counter so that it’s fresh!

  • Laura August 22, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for so many years and I love following you and your family. I love your insta-stories so much, have you thought about starting a YouTube channel??

    • Mix and Match Mama August 22, 2019 at 2:25 pm

      You’re so sweet! I don’t think I’m techy enough (or interesting enough!) for that though. Right?! It would be a mess! Hahaha!