Monday in my notebook – meal planning

Let me start with a disclaimer— we don’t have kids at home and my husband will eat anything I make and say thank you. Your mileage may vary.

I have been using this meal planning format for years. I created it as a Word document. On Saturday, I add the evening activities to the planner before I add any meals. There have been times when I would be gone during the dinner hour or had to leave right after dinner and that was an important factor. Then I fill out the meal plan and post it on the fridge door. This is very helpful when there was food in the fridge that needed to be reserved for a certain night. (Nothing worse than planning for leftovers only to discover the leftovers were gone!). I am current,y using a small white board on the fridge to list meals. Makes it easy to switch things around if needed. Once I have the meals planned, I can add things to the grocery list too. This has really made my once a week grocery store outing a lot more efficient.

After I plan our meals and write them on the board, I tape the paper meal planner into my notebook. (This is a new step and is helping me keep track of what I am eating.) I don’t have to leave the house for meetings but I do have a few evening/online activities so I still put those in first. Friday night is always wine and cheese so that is easy. Then we have Meatless Mondays and Taco Tuesdays. One or maybe two nights we have some sort of bowls (Thai, burrito, curry). I try to have one night for leftovers and one night for pasta or the occasional pizza. I am working toward more plant based eating so on the flip side of the planner, I am making notes about recipes. In the box with the heart, I write down some prep ahead ideas. On Sunday afternoons I like to chop veggies and make a batch of rice and quinoa so they are ready to go. This week I made black bean burgers one night but the recipe made 6 burgers so I froze four.

Looking ahead is a huge part of successful meal planning. I love to have a salad every night but I don’t like the chopping part. When the veggies are all chopped and stored in the fridge, it makes having a salad more likely. Same with rice. If it just needs to be warmed, it takes away that “oh man, I’d want to eat now and the rice will take 40 minutes!” I also cook more chicken than we need for the week and freeze that too.

My next project is figuring out how to store my favorite recipes, I have a big pile of printed recipes and a few stacks of recipe cards. But that story is for another day. If you have notebook stories to share, be sure to visit Katie too.

9 thoughts on “Monday in my notebook – meal planning

  1. I really like your prepping ahead ideas and may steal some of them! Back when I was still going to the office, I’d often cut up things like carrots and celery for the week on Sunday afternoon so I’d have less prep to do for lunches, but now that I’m home all the time (and I have more time to cook in general), I haven’t been doing as much pre-prep. I definitely need to be better about planning meals, though, particularly as my daughter has been very vocal about her displeasure with eating the same meals all the time!

  2. love your format! I have a notebook dedicated to meal planning and tracking, it’s sloppy but it’s legible to me. I also have a section for meal ideas. I tend to have lots of ingredients at the ready and decide the day I wake up…it’s weird that I do it but it works for us. We have many dinners that are ‘get your own’ which is left overs or sandwiches or breakfast for dinner.

  3. I used to be much better about meal planning when we had all the kids at home, with just Dale and I it’s a lot more catch-as-catch-can which results in take out more often than it should. When you prep your veggies for a salad do you store them separately? Or do you make the salad and keep it in the fridge all assembled?

    1. We do something similar, and in our house we store everything separately to keep it all as fresh as possible (wetter veggies leaking, etc.). It also keeps our options open–having so much prepped and ready to grab in their own containers means we can build salads or bowls or burritos or whatever. I often dump the leftovers into a soup pot and make a taco soup or vegetable barley…with whatever’s still there at the end of the week!

  4. Sometimes it just comes down to FUN SUPPLIES for me! I was so charmed by the patterns and print-outs and labels in your picture…Seems I’m still motivated by stickers! Sounds like you’ve hit on a system that’s proven to work well for you. And I love how you have made room for notes for embracing your plant-based intentions.

  5. I am super impressed with your process! We only plan meals when there is someone else around (little boys, friends for dinner – gosh, do you remember that?!, or a house guest), and it is one of my favorite part of the planning! Looking forward to seeing what you do for the recipes. There are SO many options, I find it all a bit daunting.

  6. We have a very similar meal-planning strategy here – and I used to have a little “format” I created in Word and printed out for my calenar each week! Now . . . things are simpler and I have just set aside a column I create each week in my bullet journal. I can’t imagine NOT having my weekly menu planned out . . . 🙂

  7. Thank you for writing this post and all of the ideas in here! And I’m loving all of the comments! I’ve tried to hard to do weekend prep sessions, but can’t seem to be consistent with it. I hereby declare that the second half of 2020 is when I’ll figure out this meal planning thing!!

    And thank you for linking up!

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