What Vacations And Grocery Shopping Have In Common: How To Meal Plan

grocery shopping meal planning vacations

You’ve probably never woken up on a Saturday morning and randomly decided to book a flight to your dream vacation spot for the very same day.

If you have done that, bravo to you. I admire your spontaneity.

Jetting off to the Caribbean right now without prior planning wouldn’t be the best beginning to a relaxing vacation.

It’s the same for grocery shopping.

Today, I’m giving you my four step grocery shopping process and a weekly meal planning tool to make food shopping faster and more efficient.

I’m also giving you my real shopping list I use every week to stay healthy and energized below!

If you just want the link to my weekly meal planning grid with sample meal plans, click here to subscribe or scroll down to sign up and get it in your inbox immediately. 

It breaks each meal into core components: protein, fruit/vegetables and carbs. It’s really helpful if you want to get better at building balanced meals to stay energized and feeling at the top of your game!

meal planning grid

Step 1: Look at your schedule for the next 5-7 days.

Take a look at your calendar.

Do you know when you’ll definitely be home for dinner?

Do you know if lunch will be catered at work a certain day?

Every week is different. You won’t know how much food to buy unless you look at how many meals you need to make.


Step 2: Count the meals that you want to prep or cook at home.

Here’s an example of how I do it on Sundays before going grocery shopping. B = breakfast, L = lunch… you get the idea.

This is how I do it if I’m in a rush. My meal planning tool includes snacks too.

meal prep grid

This is my super simple way of looking at my week.

I always have breakfast at home and lunch at work. You do whatever works best for you.

Pro tip: Plan the days you’ll buy lunch at work ahead of time if cooking lunch for 5 days is unrealistic for you!

Step 3: Check your pantry and fridge for what you need (or don’t need).

Pretty self-explanatory.

Always check out what you have in your kitchen before making a grocery list, instead of assuming you have items you need.

Without checking, you’ll end up with way too much of one ingredient (basically me every week with kale).


Step 4: Make your list with your grocery store in mind

Here’s a hack. You can optimize your shopping list based on the layout of your grocery store to make your trip even more efficient.

Picture the layout of your grocery store (assuming you’ve actually been to it a few times).

What do you walk through first?

Normally, the produce is near the entrance. So, if that’s the case, you put your produce at the top of your shopping list.

This way you’re not wasting time running around the store AND you’re less likely to forget stuff on your list (which happens to me more often than I’d like to admit).

Here’s an example of my weekly shopping list.

It does change every week, though.

I made this basic grocery list with my store’s layout in mind. With this method, I’m in and out of the store so fast, I can barely tell it happened. No browsing, just business.

Produce: bananas, apples, berries, mango, grapefruit, avocado, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onion, asparagus, broccoli, kale, lemons, limes, carrots

Protein/Meat: salmon, chicken

Pantry: chickpeas, black beans, whole wheat pasta

Dairy: shredded cheddar, eggs, almond milk

More pantry: bread, peanut butter, whole wheat wraps

Shopping for the week! Made a rare trip to #TraderJoes to pick up some veggie and salmon burgers.

A post shared by Talia Koren (@workweeklunch) on

Bonus hack:

Keep a piece of paper taped to your fridge and write down stuff as you run out of it.

That way you can basically skip step #3 and your shopping list is half done by the time you need to hit the store.

Try out these steps next time you food shop, and I promise it will be so easy, you’ll feel like you’re taking a short vacation to the grocery store.

Want to step up your meal planning game to motivate yourself to cook and reduce food waste?

Click here to receive a downloadable copy of my customizable meal planning tool right away.


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