I briefly showed my meal planning process on Instagram Stories but long time friend Doug asked me to do a post about it so he could copy my system and he figured some of you might want to as well!
While we have a grocery store in Ridgway, it is prohibitively expensive to use it as my main shopping location. This means I have to drive 25 miles north to Montrose to do my grocery shopping. In order to avoid spending my gas money on necessities and not on play, I have to be efficient with my trips.
I use Google Calendar to do my meal planning. I created a calendar specifically called “food” and I use it to make sure that I have a way to feed myself every meal during the week. Using Calendar means that I have flexibility to shift things around if something comes up (I just eat leftovers instead of cooking a new meal, I accept an invite to go eat out with friends, etc.) without erasing or just making mental adjustments. The calendar format means I can also see what events are coming up during the week: for example, I’m phone banking Thursday night and the host is providing dinner so I don’t have to feed myself.
I’ve gotten more into cooking lately so I tend to sit down with my latest go-to cookbooks (Run Fast, Eat Slow and Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow) and pick out meals I want to make that week. In general, this happens sitting in my kitchen on Sunday night when the pantry gets a little bit low so I can scheme ways to use any leftover ingredients floating around the kitchen.
Grocery List & Google Tasks
As I add meals to the calendar whether it’s simple things like sandwiches or more elaborate meals, I open Google Tasks in the calendar window and create a grocery list from the ingredients. Google Tasks is definitely not perfect but I do like that I can have it in the same window as the calendar when I’m putting things together.
I started doing this just before school started (yay, structure in my life!) and I’ve started organizing the list by how I shop in the store so that I can shop efficiently. (You’ll note that I also put general Montrose errands on this list. Google Tasks only supports one level of subtasks so City Market doesn’t get a task but Home Depot, Jo-Ann’s, auto parts stores, etc. do.)
In Store: Google Tasks App
While shopping, I use the Google Tasks app to make sure that I get everything on my list. I am totally that person actively walking through the store on my phone because it’s my list. I have things set to not show completed tasks, that way my list actually gets smaller as I walk through the store.
Before I hit the checkout, I quickly pursue the completed items list before I leave out a key component for something by accidentally marking it as completed. The next week, I just clear all completed items before shopping so I have a fresh start that week.
This doesn’t particularly affect me but you can’t share Google Tasks between people while calendars can (although my wise friend Liz opened a Gmail account with her partner for household bills so that might be a workaround since Google Tasks supports multiple sign-ins).
I would appreciate collapsible sub tasks in Tasks as well. I think it would help me be better about forming a “Montrose game plan” if I could just see the stops I need to make.
Why it works for me
I have a bad habit of leaving lists various places or starting multiple lists. Sometimes I’ll think of something while I’m at school or out and about and like the ability to use the Tasks app to add things to my Montrose list. I like this more than the commercial grocery apps because it’s more flexible.