It’s the end of another long day and you sulk your way into the kitchen, trying to come up with a plan for dinner.

What do I have time to make? What do we have in the cupboards? Do we have enough money to order out again?

A couple of years ago I received a simple but routine-busting tip on meal planning. It is now the heartbeat of my overall grocery plan and I’m excited to share it with you!

The best way to make a meal plan is to start with your comfort zone. Pick out your family’s favorite meals. This will probably involve asking each person for his or her input. You might be surprised by some of the answers you get. My 3-year-old son shocked me when he said his favorite meal is one that I throw into the crock pot. Bless his heart! I should give him a cookie later or something.

When you have 20-30 favorites listed, type them up on your computer. Even if it’s something simple like tacos or spaghetti and you don’t need a recipe, type up the ingredients that you need for that meal. Print out your recipes (one recipe per page) and put them into sheet protectors and then right into a three-ring binder. Mine are categorized alphabetically but you might want to do it by prep time, type of meat, etc.

Each shopping period you don’t have to fumble around with what to make. Just grab your binder and pick out the meals you want to eat! Your shopping list will be right at the top of each recipe. Each morning pull out the meat to thaw and leap into the kitchen come dinner time, ready with confidence to cook the meal you planned ahead of time!

This is also helpful when stocking up your cupboards. What do you need for your family? Just look at your binder and you’ll see which items need to be on hand at any given time. Buy them when they go on sale and feel good every time you grab something out of the cupboard.