Weekly Meal Planning — How I Do It!

by Dorothy Reinhold on September 14, 2011

Print This Post Print This Post Weekly Meal Planning

I have gone through various incarnations of how to plan meals.

Some have been more complicated than this, but lately, this simple white board from Staples has done the trick.

I think I paid $2 for it, and it is gridded to be a calendar.

I find that my family likes to see what’s coming up on the menu.

It also keeps me on track. And should I change my mind or not be feeling the love for what I have planned that night, I can simply erase and move that dinner to a new night.

How do you keep track of your weekly/monthly meals? What system do you use?

From Heather Schott of CelticMommy

Heather Schott's weekly meal planningHeather has a fabulously personalized and utterly charming system. Let’s listen as she explains:

“Okay, don’t laugh too hard, but here is a week… my shorthand and lunacy might be apparent, lol!

This is a composition notebook size. I have zillions of these notebooks for all kinds of things that sit in my purse/car/everywhere. I love Sharpies, can you tell?

Sometimes you might see the name of a cookbook or author w/page number – this makes it easier to find in my library. (I sit with piles of cookbooks making weekly menus on Sundays.)

You’ll see my happenings to be aware of on the left margin… people coming over, appts., farmer’s market. You’ll see my prep to do in a.m. on the right side… I bake our bread and things 2-3x a week usually and ice cream as I run out.

Sometimes I’ll do double duty… rice made is almost always doubled for ease next day. Salad I make every other day-ish. Dressing is made whenever I run out.
What else? Oh, you’ll see things like marinades, blog ideas/recipe testing… some crochet stuff too, lol!

This is almost exclusively for dinner. Leftovers (other than rice/salad) are what I eat next day mostly.

Oh, and this is totally subject to change, obviously! I don’t change much as I shop usually Sundays/Mondays and my shopping lists are on the next pages with what I need vs. what’s in the house so I don’t over purchase.

Some of it is silly, but… oh well! :-)”

From Elisa Garza of Tercets

Elisa Garza's meal planning calendar

Elisa, who blogs about her life as mother, teacher, and writer, explains her system:

“My planning calendars tend to be messy, and since we are a bilingual family, this one has some Spanish.  I plan meals by the week, but using a monthly calendar helps me see what I’ve cooked recently, or even the previous month, since I print two blank months back to back on one page.  I can also keep track of how often we eat out.

While I was thinking about all this, I realized that using a 12-month wall or booklet calendar would be ideal for organizing a longer record of meal plans.  The only drawback would be that I sometimes carry the page with me to the supermarket instead of making a separate list.  I probably wouldn’t want to carry something bigger.
You can see that I move the meals around if our schedule changes or I don’t have as much cooking time on a particular day.  This calendar includes some breakfasts and lunches, but most of the time I focus on planning dinner.  Lunch is often leftovers and we have a set breakfast menu that is the same every week; only exceptions are noted in the meal plan.  I like Heather’s idea of listing morning preps, but I would need more space for that!”


{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Elisa Garza September 19, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Thank you for sharing my ideas on your blog. I just posted an extended version about my meal planning at http://tercets.blogspot.com/2011/09/weekly-meal-planning.html


Heather Schott September 15, 2011 at 11:42 am

Omigosh, my craziness all out there in the open! I think I should figure out a blog posting on this soon. Thanks so much for the idea and linking to me. 🙂


Dorothy September 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm

If what you are doing is crazy, then I want to be crazy! I think it is brilliant, and fun!


Heather Schott September 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I actually started it when my first son was born. I tried to do it on my iPad and computer for awhile, but I’m used to paper and writing… it works for me. It also greatly helped when I cut my cookbook collection by almost half as I was able to see what I didn’t use. My local library branch has almost all of those books and my mom got the rest.


Melissa September 15, 2011 at 1:51 am

You know, you could just hit up your friend for some meal plans! {wink} Love the whiteboard. Would love to hear more about that walking tostada recipe…


Dorothy September 15, 2011 at 5:47 am

For me, there is pleasure in planning what to make and eat. I actually enjoy jotting it down on the calendar, especially when I have found something new I want to try! I will post the “Walking Tostado” very soon! Thanks for asking about it.


Paulette (aka Girl Plus Fire) September 14, 2011 at 10:36 pm

I wish I was that organized! I plan for a living, but when it comes to food, I go with my gut. Hahaha. But seriously, I wish I could plan meals that far in advance. I wonder what that’s like…


Dorothy September 15, 2011 at 5:45 am

Ah, yes, there’s a beauty in going with the flow, though, especially when you don’t have kids. But when little birdies are sitting at the table with their mouths open, you had better have something ready! It adds too much stress to the meal-maker to wait until 5 o’clock and then think,”Oops, what do I have for dinner?” It makes the evening more pleasurable, for me anyway, to be confident that I have the idea and the ingredients in place.


Elisa Garza September 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I print out a blank monthly calendar page each month and plan meals by the week. I do keep the pages, but I don’t really refer to them later. Perhaps I should, but I tend to put favorites on the schedule regularly anyway. It does give me a record of how often we go out, which has helped us cut back on that and keep our budget in line.


Rashmi from Yumkid.com September 14, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Yup that’s how I do my meal planning too except that it is only for the week. Can never seem to plan beyond the week. One complaint though from Hubby is that it takes away the surprise of what’s for dinner… Or the other system that we seem to use is the “what’s going bad” approach that gets cooked first.


sippitysup September 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Your meal planning looks like my editorial calender for Sippity Sup. GREG


Lana September 14, 2011 at 11:46 am

I have a similar system, a dry-erase board that holds the menu for the upcoming week and the list for the grocery store that corresponds to it. We are all pretty visual, and it works:)


Dorothy September 14, 2011 at 11:48 am

The shopping list is a great idea. I have my list on paper nearby the menu board, too.


Heather Schott September 14, 2011 at 10:40 am

I have a notebook to keep track but I go by weekly lists. It’s cool to keep track so I can see what I have/haven’t made in a while and also what I want to remember. I keep track of recipes that are not my own this way too.


Dorothy September 14, 2011 at 11:11 am

Great idea! The way I am currently doing it, the calendar gets erased, so I don’t have a great record of it. Will have to mull whether I need to keep a record. Thank you.


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: