Meal planning is all about convenience – it allows you to plan a week or more of meals ahead of time, often prepping them beforehand. It lets you see exactly what you will be eating each day of the week without worrying about it or wondering if you have the right ingredients, and also makes it easier to ensure your family has balanced meals.

Here are some tips for meal planning, especially when it comes to the details, like planning out your grocery list:

Take Inventory First

Any meal planner knows that this is the first step. You need to know what you already have for a few different reasons. First of all, many leftovers can be used for different dishes, so you don’t have to waste them. It is also a good idea to take stock so you can plan meals based around certain ingredients you have. And lastly, it keeps you from adding an item to your grocery list that you already have.

Start with the Simplest Meals First

You may only plan your dinners, or every meal of the day for each member of the family. To simplify this process, just start with the simplest meals on your list. For many people, this is breakfast. If you know you want to make an omelet every day for breakfast, you can write down the ingredients you need, and be done with that portion of the meal planning.

Make sure you not only write the meals you need for each one you are planning, but also the ingredients, and the amount of ingredients. Having more than one chicken dish? Look at the amount you need for each and get a good total of how much chicken to pick up if you have run out completely. This is going to prevent multiple trips to the store in the middle of the week.

Work on Your Grocery List

This one is completely up to you, but it does help to organize your list. You know what order you go in the grocery store, whether you start in produce or do the deli and bakery first, so that is how your list should be ordered. This is going to make shopping the fastest possible, and also avoid aisles with foods you don’t need, but are often tempting to you. Don’t need snacks? Avoid that aisle completely by having an organized list.