This week in our quest to get more organized with my Real Organized series, I’m going to show you the system I use for meal planning. It is a simple reusable system that I have used for quite a few years now. You can implement something similar at your house as well. It is fairly quick and easy and let me tell you, it helps bring sanity to my life and I’m assuming it will do the same for you. 🙂
Who is sick of the question, “What’s for dinner, Mom?” I know I was! A few years ago I came up with a system that has not only helped save my family money, but has ended the whole debate of what is for dinner or what to make on any given night, because if you are like me and there is any debate, I’m going to go the easy route at the end of the day and go out to eat. My system takes just a few minutes one day per week once you have things in place.
Truthfully, I’ve gotten lazy and while I’ve been making a plan, I skip it quite a bit. I want to get back to sticking to the plan more. Even if things remain how they have been, still having the plan in place means that I am less lazy than I want to me. 😉 While I love cooking, usually by the end of the day, I just don’t want to. I want to take the easy way out. I’m sure you know what I mean. Today I’m going to share my system that you can put into place at your home and see if it helps you as well. I promise that even though I’ve been a bit more lazy lately, this system has really helped me and saved me a ton over the years.
Let me start by showing you my current command center. I made it a few years ago. Actually, one of the first big multi-part series I did on this blog was this command center. I tend to change my look and what I’m loving quite frequently and let me tell you that while I love the functionality of this command center, I have grown to dislike how it looks.
I’m in the process of re-doing my command center. Making it more clean line and simple, less cluttered. This is close to what it is going to look like. I’m sure I will post about it when I have it done. I had hoped to have it done for this post to show you all the cuteness, but instead of finishing this, I did an overhaul on my pantry. LOVE my new pantry (and will show it to you in a couple of weeks)!
With my newly designed command center, I am going to have these clips to hold my meal planning cards, but since I’m not done, let me show you how it works with my old center.
OK. I LOVE my system! It is so simple to use and so easy for everyone to know what is for lunch and dinner. I’ve got an editable printable for you at the bottom of this post to make your own meal planning center like this.
What I did, and what you will want to do, is to create a space or a way to hang some kind of clips up. I used mini clothespins (affiliate link) here, but on my new center they will be bulldog clips (affilaite link). Have one side that is for lunch and one that is for dinner. You can edit the printable I have for you, so you can make some cards that have your favorite meals on them. Then you can create blank cards to easily write in other meals.
To create the blank cards, print your meal planning cards on cardstock. Cut them out. Laminate them. Cut them out one last time. Now you can use a dry-erase pen to write on the cards. When you have made that meal, you can erase the card and use them again.
With my system, you will have the days of the week marked so that you know what meal is for which day. For durability’s sake, print yours on cardstock, cut them out and then laminate them. You will then use E6000 or a hot glue gun to adhere them to your clips.
After you have your system in place, which can be a printable like the one pictured above that I also have for you at the end of this post. You will want to sit down one time per week to plan out your meals.
I look at my calendar for the next week and determine if there are days or nights that we need to eat out because it is just easier when we are out running around or whatever. Then, I look at my calendar for nights that I need a quick and easy meal or a crock-pot meal and add those to my calendar. After that, I fill in the rest of the meals.
The printable I have for you at the bottom of the post is fully editable, however, I love being environmentally friendly. If it were me and I were using this instead of the meal planning cards, I would print it on cardstock and laminate it as well. That will turn the printable into a dry erase board and you can fill it in each week and erase a meal as you have made it.
This system will work if you lack the time and/or space to use my meal planning cards.
I will tell you that one of the reasons I love my meal planning cards versus the full page printable is the flexibility. I used to use a full sheet printable laminated. It was hard to rearrange things and got confusing. Maybe I just don’t think the right way for it to work well for me, but with the meal planning cards, if I skip cooking a meal, I leave it in the clip. Then I can make the choice to make it the following night, but most of the time I need a specific meal on a specific night due to time constraints, so the meal I didn’t make will get forwarded to the next week or the next open night. I love that I can just unclip the card and move it as needed. So easy and saves me money that I remember I bought the ingredients for the meal.
Now, I have one more printable for you as well. I probably wouldn’t use this printable all that often. Maybe on special occasion days, but the principle with this is the same. Fill in meals for the day and follow the plan. This printable is just for one day and has all of the meals. In my opinion, if you are going to use this, you also need the weekly printable or the meal planning cards.
Like I said, I won’t personally use it a lot, but special occasions or maybe a vacation where we are sharing meal prep/planning with others. This would be really handy.
I’m telling you, the very simple 10-15 minutes per week that it takes me to plan out my meals saves me in so many ways. I swear it saves my sanity and I know it saves me money. Before I started consistently meal planning, we ate a lot of random thrown together things or just opted to go through the drive-thru. We don’t eat that way at all anymore. I know I have saved money and I’m sure it has helped me keep off the weight I lost a few years ago. All good things!
When you are ready to tackle the project for this week, here is what you need to do:
- Set aside space for your meal plan. It can be as simples as a magnetic clip on the refrigerator to something a bit more elaborate like my command center. Simple or elaborate, it doesn’t matter. Choose based on your time and space.
- Print out your printable meal planning cards or meal planning sheet. If you are using the printable meal planning cards, make up some that contain your favorite meals to make this process even faster each week.
- Pull out your calendar and your organized recipes.
- Look at your calendar. Mark down any times that you plan to eat out.
- Using your calendar, plan any meals that need to be quick and or simple.
- Plan the rest of your meals for the week.
- Post a picture of your meal plan on Instagram, Twitter, or my Facebook page. (Don’t forget to follow and tag me, too!) Use the hashtag #RealOrganized. I can’t wait to see what you are eating this week!
Yay! See, that really wasn’t so hard, was it?
Next week, I’m going to share how I keep my grocery list organized as well as how to make meal preparation a bit easier and more organized. Then the week after that I’m talking about organized pantries and sharing my pantry makeover. Can’t wait!!
What other meal planning tips do you have? I’d love to hear what is working for you! Leave me a comment below.
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