If you’re a bit like me then you probably have a love-hate relationship with meal planning. I love that when I do somehow manage to plan a week’s worth of meals, and do the grocery shopping that comes along with it, we end up saving money in the long run. I hate that I have to do it every single week. That’s why I’ve created this easy meal plan template with a grocery list option that has seriously changed the way we plan meals every single week and eliminated the stressful and annoying question of “what’s for dinner?”
In fact. That question may be one of the most stressful questions that I’ve thought about almost every single day since becoming a mom. Nearly every night when my hubby would come home or would text me and wonder, casually, “What’s for dinner?” I couldn’t help but snap at him:
“I don’t know! WHAT’S for Dinner!? YOU decide! I’ve been working all day TOO!”
And then we’d order pizza because we couldn’t be bothered to figure it out.
What Do You Really Know About Meal Planning?
What if I told you that now it takes me about five minutes every week to plan out the meals we’re going to eat and write out the grocery list without any amount of searching, or wandering around wondering, what the fuck is for dinner?
I know. Impossible. It’s not, though!
Also I’m never annoyed anymore when my husband asks, “what’s for dinner.” Which has actually improved a part of our marriage in a kind of weird side-effect way.
A Brief History of My Meal Planning Plans
For years every week I’d do a combination of one of three things:
1 - The Unorganized List Shuffle:
Spend some amount of time (usually at least 40 minutes or more) looking up recipes or trying to figure out what meal we haven’t had in a while.
Make notes in random places.
Save a few recipes to a Pinterest board or on the magnetic dry-erase calendar on our fridge.
At the grocery store I’ve totally forgotten the notes of the meals that I wanted to make, and never took a pic of the fridge board and just shop and spend way too much money on random shit I’ve pulled off the shelves totally going off of memory.
2 - Trying to Get My Shit Together with Meal Planning
Get some sort of freebie printable thing off of Pinterest (not knocking those, they’re super cute and can be somewhat helpful).
Spend a lot of time writing in recipes and grocery lists and ideas for the week.
Misplace the list. Or put it on the fridge and forget to take a pic of it to take to the store.
End up like the end of number one.
3 - Don’t Give Any Fucks About Meal Planning Because I Just Don’t Have Time or Energy!
Spend all of the money on all of the things.
Half the food goes bad by the end of next week.
Order a lot of take-out and delivery. Like. A lot.
Vow to be like #1 or #2 next week but keep ending up like #3 because I don’t feel like I have the time to do it properly and I don’t know how to fix it and have used all my leftover energy ordering take-out.
I realized that it’s not that I didn’t know what to make for dinner, it’s that…
I didn’t have a plan that I could repeat every week that was easy and simple and actually implementable.
Instead, I kept trying to do different versions of the same thing every week.
You’ll Need to Be Open-Minded About Using New Technology
Fifteen years ago if you had told me that I would be walking around with a machine in my pocket that is a calculator, a high quality digital camera, a phone, a computer, and a radio (and 100 other things) I would have told you that seems like A LOT to carry around.
Of course I’m talking about the smart phone.
At the time, I didn’t have a way of imaging how simple an iPhone would actually be. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it because I had nothing to compare it to.
And I honestly think if back then, anyone gave me the iPhone of today I would be totally overwhelmed and go back to my Blackberry because it was easier and familiar.
Learning new technology can feel sticky and overwhelming. But if you’re open minded enough to give it a try, often times you can be surprised with the results.
That’s the reason that this meal planner will be the only easy meal planner template you’ll ever need. There is new technology involved, and for some of you, technology you’ve never thought to try before.
How Easy Is This Meal Planner Template, Tho?
Just imagine having a tool that is both on your desktop and phone that can help you get super organized quickly and with very little stress that you can use and replicate the results of every single week.
Just imagine a place to store your favorite recipes, and your shopping list at the same time. A place where you can quickly add or delete items and recipes and have them sync seamlessly between each other.
This isn’t some kind of unicorn this is a real thing and it’s my favorite organizational tool called Trello.
If you’re not familiar with Trello, or if you’re hesitant about trying a new app or program, DON’T WORRY! I will help you understand it relatively quickly and easily and get you to living your best boss mom meal planning for the week life.
Meal Planning During Trying Times
I used this meal planning tool during some of the most difficult months that we’ve had as a family recently. Through the passing of my father, a wicked cold that lasted three weeks, and potty training (Ya’ll. All of these things happened within the same fucking month and yet still, I had meals and shopping on lock!)
In fact, because I had things already planned, I managed to take the stress of “what the fuck is for dinner” off the table entirely and also kept us totally on budget with our grocery bills. (An extra stress relief!)
If I can use it during really difficult stressful times, then for sure you can use it when things are the “normal” level of stress.
You Have Three Choices When it Comes to Meal Planning
1 - Keep doing the thing you’ve been doing:
Wonder what’s for dinner.
Save a few ideas for recipes.
Forget where you put them or which Pinterest board you saved them to.
Give up entirely on the meal plan and order pizza because the kids have been way challenging and you’ve had a really hard day and you forgot to buy the one spice you were supposed to buy to make that cool looking Pinterest chicken dish you saved.
2 - Don’t bother with meal planning.
Meanwhile, maybe there’s a part of you that feels guilty that your kids get take out way more than other families.
Or maybe, you’d like to learn how to cook a few different meals or try to use more variety or wholesome ingredients. (Okay maybe you don’t want to learn how to cook - but maybe you’d like to be the kind of mom who would like to learn how to cook?)
You also might notice how your grocery bill keeps getting a little bit larger every month and swear you’ll do less eating out and more home cooked meals but then the entire month goes by and you’re exactly where you were last month.
3 - You could keep doing what you’re doing AND also be open minded enough to give my simple meal planning system a try.
It’s only going to take you an additional 5 - 10 minutes a week to look it over (once you get past the initial learning curve of Trello.
The Trello learning curve: Some of you will pick this up in a snap. Others’ may take some extra playing around and video watching/tutorials.
However, at the end of the first month of having this meal planner template, it’s possible you might have had a successful few weeks of meal planning as a result of taking a chance on this new technology.
What is going to be easier for you in the long run?
Before you make your mind up, I can assure you that the good news is I’m going to help you along if you have any questions or comments or problems. Please email me as soon as you hit a snag, if you hit a snag.
And if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does!
Change What You Know About Meal Planning
Maybe you found this page because you thought it might be one of those printable sheets or maybe you’re on a specific diet (Like a keto diet or a Weight Watchers diet). The thing I really love about this meal planner template is that it’s 100% customizable to you and what you eat and what you need.
Here’s a quick peek at my list of recipes:
The thing you’ll notice is that I categorize everything by what kind of meal it is. I love to cook with the Instant Pot so there’s tons of recipes for that super helpful tool.
I also like to eat some keto meals, and have some old recipes from my days of living my best WW life. They’re all in there, and when I add a new recipe I make sure to label it for whatever it could be. So if I’m having a dinner party with a bunch of vegans, be sure my vegan recipes will be utilized (and super easy to find and track what groceries we’ll need to buy).
What was frustrating to me about old meal plans that I’d use is the second I’d made a change or something was different in what our family was cooking or eating, I’d have to start all over again from scratch.
That’s not happening here. And it will never happen, as long as you add your favorite recipes and label them for whatever you’d like to call them.
What Are Other People Saying About the Meal Planner Template Though?
Glad you asked.
This amazing review in Life Style for Real Life also includes an interview with me, and gives some highlights about why I even started this meal planning system in the first place.
But beyond that here’s some other things user’s are saying:
“I had to get past the Trello hump, but I’m so glad your instructions were there because it made it so much less intimidating! When I finally got over it I was able to plan and make meals for my hubby and I for three weeks straight and we kept saving more money each week. I could hardly believe how simple it was! ” - Amanda, Tampa FL
“I randomly found a link to this meal planner template on Pinterest. Honestly I was thinking it would be something that already had recipes in it. So I bought it. There are no recipes included! That’s okay though, Beth showed me how to quickly add recipes. I followed her advice too and only added a few every few weeks or so and now we have about 50 different recipes that we pull from (and I’m adding more whenever I feel like it). If we don’t like the meal, I just archive the card. I’m so glad I found this!”
What are you waiting for? Stop giving all of the fucks about what to make for dinner and start actually making dinner on autopilot.
If I can promise to make your day to day life easier, then will you give this system a chance?
Is this meal planner peaking your interest? Do me a favor, and pin it. Here’s a Pin you can use to do just that. Thanks!