I don't know about you, but I used to waste a lot of time holding the refrigerator door open wondering what I was going to make for dinner. Kids are hungry, the bread winner will be home soon wanting some amazing, yet thrifty meal...Oh,the stress. That's the same time you're trying to help someone finish their homework while listening to another someone read, etc., etc.
I decided I had to have a plan of attack...
So here's what I did:
First, I made a list of all my family's favorite meals. Don't bother listing meals the kids absolutely hate. It's not worth your time and effort to waste the food anyway. Make sure they are nutritious, but tasty. If you haven't got many recipes, email or Facebook some friends and do a recipe exchange. Avoid fast food. Those are for the rare emergency. There are a lot of meals you can make ahead of time and freeze--just Google it. I love using my crockpot for busy days. There are a lot of set-it and forget-it type recipes out there.
Next, I printed out 3 blank calendars and mapped out the meals. This helped me plan more variety instead eating chicken all week long. I could plan an Italian dish, maybe a casserole, or pulled-pork. This also prevented me from repeating the same recipe too often. A 3-month rotation is about right for us. With the one-month rotation my husband felt like, "we just had this." Three months gives him time to forget. If you plan for leftovers you only have to plan half the meals.
Next, I print out 5-6 pages of the Shopping list. List your menu items for one month at a time. It may take 2-3 pages depending on how many different meals you have on your calendar. Under each menu item list the ingredients you have to buy special for that dish, don't bother listing staple items. Keep each list behind the calendar they go with so your ingredients are easier to find.
Copy your master Shopping list and mark the items needed for your next shopping trip. If your list is sparse, write it down into one easy-to-read list.
This takes some time initially to make your list and list all of the ingredients, but it takes hours off the menu planning and shopping list.