It’s 9 o’clock at night. You’re exhausted. You’re hungry. The fridge is empty except for a bottle of sriracha. You have zero plans for dinner. Most likely, you’ll order in or just eat the sriracha, neither of which are particularly healthy choices. With a little meal planning, this all could have been avoided…
Today’s DIY project is so easy AND functional, it blows my mind why everyone doesn’t have one! This quick little meal planner has not only helped my family eat better, but also be more savvy grocery shoppers and creative chefs! Somewhere between pinning a delicious recipe at the office and ordering in late at night something gets lost. Maybe it’s the idea of grocery shopping that overwhelms you or messing up the kitchen, maybe no one taught you proper cooking skills. I truly believe cooking every meal can change your life, even better if you can grow your own produce! This little planner can significantly help you – but here’s the catch – you have to USE it!
- Photo Frame
- Printer* & Paper
- Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, or a similar design program*
- Dry-Erase Marker
*You don’t have to make this on your computer. Using a ruler and markers, you could make a handmade menu planner!
Much like the chore chart from 2 weeks ago, draw a grid for the seven days of the week. Label the first row with the days of the week and leave two blank narrow rows beneath. The first will be used to fill in the chef of the evening and the second will show the date – I added a backslash to separate month and day. I made ours with enough rows to plan two weeks at a time. The last row will be much wider, enough room to fill in the name of the meal for that day.
Pop it in a frame, hang it in the kitchen, and keep the dry-erase marker nearby! Make it a habit at the beginning of every 2 weeks to plan your meals with your partner/roommate/kids/whomever! In my household, we try to trade off cooking every other day, but it’s very difficult because my husband is a grad student who doesn’t get home until 10pm three times a week. Come up with whatever system works for you.
Browse pinterest for recipes everyone will love and you’ve always wanted to cook, according to your skill level! You can even create a pinterest board for each “genre” of food (e.g. Italian, Chinese, Meatless Mondays) and pick a recipe from each genre for a different day of the week. Go easy on yourself and save days for leftovers or going out to eat if it’s in your budget. Write in the days you will be on vacation or getting dinner with friends as a reminder.
When making your grocery list on the weekends, browse the ingredients list beforehand and make your paper list or virtual list using evernote or another note-taking app. I do not recommend trying to load each recipe in the grocery store on your phone, it takes forever! I find it’s easier to then organize the grocery list based on store sections (e.g. dairy, produce, grains), which is especially simple when using evernote. Again, a little planning ahead goes a LONG way!
We only use our meal planner to plan dinners. For lunches, we generally pack leftovers or make a quick wrap. You could easily add more rows for each meal of the day if you want a more comprehensive planning tool.
This project will take less than 20 minutes and drastically improve your eating/shopping/cooking habits! Bon appetit!