Meal Planning

I thought it might be nice to do a post on menu planning since it’s something I do every week.  I’ve done this pretty much as long as I can remember.  I used to just plan out my dinners, but I would find myself not satisfied with my breakfasts, lunches, and I would never have anything around that was good for snacks.  So I devised a new system.  I’ve played with this a lot over the last year or so, finally coming up with something that works well for me.

Why should you plan your meals?

There are a few really good reasons that you should do this. 

1) It’s less expensive.  If you have everything you are going to eat for the week planned out you know exactly what you need for the whole week when you go to the grocery store.  You’re much less likely to have to run back to the store to get one or two items.  And let’s face it, we may go in for one item but do we ever really come out with just one thing?  My point exactly!

2) You’re more likely to eat healthy if you have your house stocked up for the week with lovely healthy items!  You’re much less likely to make poor choices food-wise if you have everything at hand that you need for a nutritious meal.

3) It saves time!  You don’t have to think, “Crap, what am I going to make for dinner tonight?!”.  And you won’t have to wonder what you’re going to have for breakfast when you wake up a little late, you just look at your plan.  You even know what’s coming up the next day and you can coordinate that with your schedule in case you need to prep some items (like pre-soaking your beans or pre-chopping all of your veggies)

Getting organized…

I created a template for myself in Word.  It lists all the days and meals.  Every week I print one out and start planning away. (I’m a pen and paper kind of girl, but I’m sure there are many programs online that you can just plug it in and print it out.  This is just the way I prefer to do it)  It looks like this…




I always do it in pencil because I usually change my mind 100 times before it’s set in stone.  Or I’ll forget that I have work that evening and I will need to pack my dinner to take with me.

In the notes section I’ll write down when I have something going on a particular evening and if I need a “quick grab” dinner (this is what I call something I can wrap up and take in the car with me to eat on the way to my destination).  Usually that’s just a Tuesday evening occurrence because I have community band rehearsals that last all evening- if I don’t eat something on the way to rehearsal I’ll be way too hungry by the time I get home!

In the cookbooks/source section I’ll write down the name of the cookbook if I got the recipe from one along with the page number.  If it’s a recipe I printed out from a website I’ll write that in.  If it’s one of my creations or a meal that doesn’t need a recipe (like spaghetti) I just leave it blank.

I also don’t always write my meals out in complete detail.  Like for breakfast I might put something like “oatmeal OR english muffin OR cereal”  that way if I wake up really late and I know I don’t have time to make oatmeal I can take an english muffin or some toast to go.  And it’s always understood to me that I include a piece of fruit of some sort with breakfast (usually a banana), so I don’t really need to write it out.

Also you might have noticed my week starts on Friday…that’s because it’s my grocery shopping day and it’s payday!  I used to go grocery shopping on Saturdays but I work weekends now and I’m so exhausted by the time I get off of work that I don’t really care about groceries.


The grocery list

You need to make a list before you go to the grocery store.  If you go in there empty handed you are just looking for trouble my friend!  You will buy things you don’t need and you won’t remember the things that you do need.  Make a list and stick to it!  Your wallet and your sanity will thank you.

I also made a template for my grocery list because I like everything organized by department- it makes my trip to the grocery store much more efficient.

Here’s what my template looks like…


I tweak this template all the time.  It’s been very helpful to me!


I just finished next weeks, here’s what it looks like!  (apparently the lighting in my office isn’t very good for picture taking)





I put my templates in google docs if anyone wants to use them- just tweak them however you need to!

Weekly Menu Plan

Grocery List


Thanks for tuning in!

Till next time…



  1. I am a big advocate of meal planning for exactly the reasons you listed. Even though I still don’t always stick to my menu, I find it saves a lot of time and energy to have everything planned at the beginning of the week. I will have to implement your shopping list organization though because I usually just make a long list which results in running back and forth across the store multiple times when I realize I’ve missed items!

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