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Meal Planning 101

meal planningPeople ask me all the time, do I really cook all the time? Yes I do. How do you come up with different things to make? I get inspiration everywhere. Magazines, cooking shows, something that I ate in a restaurant, other food blogs. Do you shop every day or once a week or once a month? I do a big once a month shop for cleaning supplies, toilet paper, that sort of thing and grocery shop once a week. Every Saturday I sit down with my meal planning sheet and plan out what we are doing and what we are going to have for dinner. I create my shopping list based off of the weekly meal plan. I shop on Sunday morning. I grab a Starbucks and go. The stores are quiet and I can get in and out of there in a reasonable amount of time. I know that lots of people can do this for the month or two weeks, but a week is what works for me. I look through my recipe binder or the millions of magazine clippings that I have and decide what I am going to make for the week. Remember how I told you that I spend a crazy amount of money on food? Well, that is true. But it is a lot less now that I plan out what we are going to eat each week. I buy exactly what I need and since I make an effort to buy organic, free range, etc. I make sure that we eat it. I created this sheet to help me out. Try it out and see if it works for you. Some of the surprising benefits of doing this is:

  • We have stopped eating out. Not only have we saved money, but it is so much healthier. My children have gotten involved in the process of deciding what we eat and they help me make it sometimes.
  • I save time. When I know that on Monday I am going roast chicken breasts for dinner, I roast a few extra and use it for dinner on Wednesday. When I had no plan, I couldn’t plan ahead.
  • We eat together as a family every night. Well, almost every night, life does happen, but for the most part, we sit together at the table every night and eat a meal together.

Here are some other great resources for meal planning.

Meal Planning Mommies – Great tips on how to get started and meal ideas.

Krista’s Kitchen – Krista will deliver a shopping list into your inbox at the beginning of the week.

The Project Girl –  The Project Girl has a great website worth checking out, she has some really cute meal planner downloads.

Cheap Healthy Good – Tons of resources for meal planning, budgeting, all kinds of goodies.

Is there a resource that you use that you love? How do you meal plan? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Want to download my meal planner? Click here or the image below.

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  1. Diana

    April 13th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Hey Bree! I am like you…I plan my meals weekly and go shopping (with my coupon book) on the weekend so I can go by myself and Jude can watch the kids. I also go early because there usually isn’t a crowd. We eat out occasionally…maybe once or twice a month, but for the most part, we eat dinner at home every night at 5 unless Julian has a baseball game or Jude is on duty. We really make that a big part of our day. I was unable to do this as a kid because I was raised by a single, working mom so I really love that I am able to do it for my kids. Thanks for the tips! Diana

  2. Whit

    April 9th, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Glad I am not the only one who likes shopping without my kids! Its a mommy outing for me, and this meal planner document has been amazing! I use it each week and I actually look forward to meal planning!

  3. bakedbree

    April 15th, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Not alone! I’m glad that you find it helpful!

  4. Jim

    April 13th, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    When my wife and I started doing this a few years back right after Iliana was born people thought we were crazy. My schedule is nearly identical to yours, though I do try and incorporate any really good sale items into the menu. Over the last couple of months I have also tried to pick at least one new recipe a week to try out; I had too many cookbooks that were going unused. I was always going to the same recipes in them, so by forcing myself to cook at least one new thing a week it has really broadened our palates. But I will admit that we “eat out” once a week, it is a guilty pleasure that I just can;t give up, even if it is take out from our new favorite Portuguese bbq!

  5. A Little Yumminess

    April 13th, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I do meal planning weekly as well. The other thing I do it keep a running list of things I make and have tried so when I am stuck I go back and look at it and re-do some stuff vs. make the same 10 things over and over again. I think that is a common problem – being stuck in a rut. I have telling people about our blog and when I do they always ask for new recipes and say “we are bored of eating the same thing”!

  6. Jen

    April 19th, 2010 at 10:01 am

    I do this too! Shopping once a week and meal planning Sunday evenings. I shop Monday nights so I don’t have to take the crew with me. 🙂 Although I’ve gotten out of the habit a bit. Drives me crazy though because if I don’t plan I stand in front of the refrigerator at dinner time willing something to jump out at me or we eat out. And I LOVE your sheet for organizing it all! I was just doing mine on a scrap paper, but yours is way more fun. Thank you!!

  7. MarkSpizer

    May 3rd, 2010 at 3:36 am

    great post as usual!

  8. JennEJenn

    May 10th, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Thank you for sharing … very snazzy! I definitely will have to try this out! I am trying to make that change from eating out to eating in and this sounds like a great way to implement just that! Thanks!

  9. kim

    April 18th, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Help[!! I’m 55 years old, and not tech-savvy at all. Just wanting to download the meal planning pages (read that it was available on this site but damned if I can find it)

  10. bakedbree

    April 19th, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Hi kim! I sent it to you in an email. 🙂

  11. melody

    December 10th, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    is it possible to get this in edit form so i can make one for breakfast and lunch? im all of the sudden obsessed with this idea! either that, or if you already have them made, can i get them from you? I’d love to have everything for lunch and breakfast and snacks and dinner in one grocery list, but doing it all on one sheet has been daunting for me in the past!

  12. bakedbree

    December 15th, 2014 at 1:11 am

    Sorry, I made this a long time ago and don’t have the original files.

  13. Lora

    January 2nd, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    I’m trying to do and print the page but when I click on it it says failed to load ???? I love this it’s simple and to the point… anyway I can have you email it to me please ????

  14. bakedbree

    January 6th, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    I’m sorry you are having a problem Lora, it seems to be working for me. Can you click on the picture or the link?

  15. Badger Mama

    April 25th, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Well, it’s now spring of 2016, and I want to thank you for posting this simple menu planner. I’ve been really working on planning ahead, since the New Year, and I’m so happy with how much less food we are wasting, and how much the kids are involved in planning our meals together. Thanks!

  16. bakedbree

    May 1st, 2016 at 10:16 am

    You’re very welcome. I’m glad that you find it useful.

  17. Keeping Us Fed

    April 3rd, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    […] I have found SO MANY MORE recipes! I made a recipe catalog! I started writing out my meal plans(This is my current favorite meal planner)! And, being the list-loving person that I am, I haven’t looked […]

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