Monday, January 21, 2013

Meal Planning Tips

Yo.  How was your week-end?  Lovely, I hope.

This week-end was all about strategy for us.  You know, dreaming about doing instead of actually doing.

Guess what that gets you?  An organization post.  Woo hoo.

I have recently shared with you my tips for a tidy kitchen.  From that post, I had some requests for meal planning tips.

Meal Planning Tips from Decor and the Dog

I started meal planning about 3 or 4 months ago so I am obviously not an expert yet.  I just pretend to be on my blog…

I have a found a few tools and tips that make meal planning easier.

1. Meal Planning Magnets

Meal Planning- Magnets for Meal Planning

The hardest part of meal planning for me is figuring out what to eat. The second hardest part is not getting into a rut and eating the same 4-5 meals for an entire month.

I made these meal planning magnets to aid me in my “What the heck should we eat?” woes.

They are super simple to make. I purchased some wood disks from Hobby Lobby. I spray painted them with chalkboard paint. I attached a magnet to the back.  (I used a weak magnet.  I wanted the magnets to be strong enough to stick to the fridge but not strong enough to stick to one another.) I then went through my recipe box/Pinterest boards and I wrote down meals that we commonly eat.  The Pinterest recipes got marked with a “P” so I know where to find the recipe…recipe box or Pinterest board.  I used a chalkboard marker instead of regular ol’ chalk.  You can still erase the marker but the writing should stay on better.  I have blank magnets left to add new favorites.

I store the magnets in this little ol’ glass container that I keep in the cupboard.  I can reach in and grab out 4-5 meals for the week.  No thinking require.  If I don’t like something I can just throw it back in and grab another.

Meal Planning Magnet Storage

I then hang the magnets on the side of the fridge to help us easily remember our options for the week.

Meal Planning- Menu Planning Magnets

We pick 4-5 meals for the week.  We don’t assign the meals to certain days of the week. This still allows us some flexibility when life happens.  The breakfast magnet rarely leaves the fridge.

As you can see, I don’t plan my meals around what is on sale.  That would require too much thought.  I just pull from the jar. I do, however, look through my coupon stash and visit Target to see if I have any coupons for the items I will be purchasing.  I feel that people sometimes spend more/buy things they won’t use just because they have a coupon.  

2. A grocery list.

Meal Planning- Printable Grocery List

A grocery list is also a must for meal planning.I recently switched to a grocery list template from Microsoft.  Google it.  They have a ton.  I typed in some of our more commonly used items.  There is plenty of space to add others.  This list is organized by sections of the store so it makes shopping easy.  I also have a space on the side to write down the meals for that week. 

We keep a stash of lists hanging in the pantry.  When we run out of something, we mark it down right away so we don’t forget.

Meal Planning- Printable Grocery List in Pantry

3. A Favorite Foods Board on Pinterest

If you are anything like me, you pin a bunch of food that you will probably never make.  I have boards for each type of food but I also have a Favorite Recipes board that I pin the Pinterest successes too.  This board makes it easy when I pull out that “Pinterest Pick” magnet.  Sometimes I get brave and try something new.  Sometimes I stick to a recently tried success.

As you can see, the tools are simple.  Now I’ll share my overall tips and advantages that I have found from planning meals.

Advantages of Meal Planning:

1. Saves time.

Set aside at least 20-30 minutes each week to plan out your meals and make your grocery list.

I used to think that this was a lot of time.  I have since realized that it takes less time than standing in front on the fridge each night trying to make a meal out of yogurt, mandarin oranges, and pepperoni.

2. Saves money.

We make one trip to the grocery store each week.  This trip provides us with food for breakfast, lunch and dinner for all meals for the week (minus 1 night of eating out).  We are less tempted to buy junk and/or items that we won’t eat.  We spend about $40-$60 per week for the two of us.

3. Less waste

We have found that we waste a lot less with meal planning.  We only buy what is on our list and we use it up within one week.

4. Leftovers

We now plan for at least 2 meals to have left overs.  No more frozen dinners for lunches. Woo hoo!

Now I’m bored.  So you are on your own.  (Reason #1983 why blogging could never be my day job).

Do you meal plan?  Any additional tips?  Got a favorite foods board on Pinterest?  Leave the link!


  1. The magnets are brilliant! We meal plan every week, but always seem to get into the rut of meal repeats. This would certainly solve that problem.

  2. I love this post - especially the "favorites recipe" board on pinterest. Another one of my friends has a "recipes I've tried" board that she pins, obviously recipes she's tried with notes about if it was good, changes to make, etc. I'm totally doing something like this.

  3. Such a cute idea. I will have to check out your favorite recipe board too. We always get in a food rut. Just an hour ago I was saying how there are millions and millions of recipes out there yet I make the same things all the time. I have got to get some new ones into my routine. Every Monday I feel hopeful that this is the week I will somehow organize my weekly menu...maybe this will be the week...

  4. The magnets are amazing. This would be a great, visual way for my husband to help with meal planning, etc.
    Must pin this!

  5. Love the magnet idea...I've always meal planned. We rotate main dishes...chicken,beef,fish,leftovers,have a homemade pizza night every Friday. Meal planning takes the guess work out and is better for a busy lifestyle. Happy Monday!

  6. These are great tips! At this point, my husband and I plan our meals on Sunday night on our way home from his parents' house (a 30ish minute drive) and then try to stick to that..."try" being the key word. Life gets in the way a lot, though!

  7. How do you come up with all these great ideas? Seriously. A jar with magnets in it. So perfect! We're trying to do more meal planning, and it helps to have a rough idea of what we're going to eat throughout the week. I'm also trying to branch out a little more because I feel like we eat the same thing all the time.

  8. I REALLY like the magnet idea!
    I'm still new to the meal planning/cooking game, so we're figuring out our favorites, but once we figure out a few favorites - I'm doing the magnets :)
    I also like the idea of moving successful pinterest recipes to their own board. Such a smarty pants.

  9. I'm all about planning and find that on weeks where I don't there is a whole bunch of nothing in the fridge. Tons of food but nothing that can actually be turned into a meal. I love the magnets as well.

  10. This is phenomenal. I love how organized you are. I severely need to do this because we eat the same things over and over and over again.

  11. The magnets are such a good idea! I meal plan but not regularly. I also like to take leftovers as a lunch--so much better than frozen stuff!

  12. The magnet idea is great! I can never decide what to make either. Pinning this!

  13. Great tips! I meal plan every Monday and then go Monday night for groceries for the week. Meal planning definitely helps me cut down on unnecessary spending. I try not to get in the rut of the same food all the time but we do have a few we always seem to eat each week - like breakfast for dinner!

  14. Such great tips! Right now we do one big shopping trip once a month, but still end up at the store during the week for a couple ingredients we don't have but need. I want to give the once a week method a try seems like it would save us from purchasing things we don't need. I also love the magnet idea it's so easy to get in a rut!

  15. I love meal planning! I hate the 'what should we have for dinner?' discussions every night. We live in the country so going to the store every day isn't an option. I like buying around what we are going to eat so I am not stuck one ingredient short of what I wanted to make that day.
    I love your magnet ideas and I am going to make a pinterest board for the recipes that I have tried and that were actually good! You so smart!

  16. Great idea!!! I just started following your blog and this is the 3rd idea I am stealing. Keep up the good work!!

  17. Good tips. I like the magnet idea. We need to meal plan more. By 'we' I mean me.

  18. Love! We plan meals every week, but I just jot them down on a weekly notepad. Which means we get totally suck in a rut - especially since my hubby LOVES making things exactly the same way time after time (after time). I've been trying to figure out a way to have a {functional} list of food options & I think the magnets may just be the solution!

  19. I'm with everyone else...the magnet idea is genius!

  20. I need to do something like this. My most difficult task is figuring out what to eat. This makes it like a game. We all know I'm like a five year old and need to turn everything into a game lol! So cute.

  21. I keep thinking about your kitchen organization post and how I need to implement it in our kitchen! As far as meal planning goes, I am decent, but I definitely need to get better at using coupons or planning meals around sales. Thanks for these tips!

  22. Your magnet idea is crazy good! I'm brutal at planning meals. We eat the same four meals until we get sick of them and then find four new ones. Ha.

  23. We're on the same page for ideas! Here's my board that I pinned the success stories to: The ones that just don't work for my family get deleted right away! Even if I loved it and it turned out, if my kids won't eat it, why fight it? I can try again in the future. Another tip I recommend: Buy a roast of some sort of a large portion of meat, when it's on sale. I managed to get over a dozen meals (for 4!) out of a turkey! Eat them throughout the week or freeze them, but it will save you time and money later. Here are some ideas for that: Enjoy!

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  25. These tips are great! I need to do a better job of using my leftovers/transforming my leftovers into a new meal.


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