Real Food Meal Planning: a free printable!

Back at the beginning of 2012, I made some not-resolutions. I had a lot of goals for all areas of life. One of those was meal planning.

I’ve never been very good at meal planning. I don’t enjoy following recipes, and I don’t like to follow rigid schedules. I like to fly by the seat of my pants. But I knew that I needed to give meal planning a shot – partly for financial reasons, to help us to stick to our grocery budget. Also to eliminate those moldy bowls in the back of the fridge filled with unrecognizable leftovers. [not that you’d ever find those in my fridge… ahem.]

There are many printables out there, but I could never find one that I liked. I usually ended up using an index card. Which, honestly, is just fine. But I decided to make something that would work perfectly for me.

meal planning + coffee

This template is for meal planning and grocery shopping. Since those two go hand-in-hand, it made sense for me to have the two in the same place. It’s pretty simple – just a space to write what we’re having for dinner each night. Since I don’t plan our other meals [because my littles want to eat PB&J] a dinner-only template is all I need. The grocery shopping list is then broken up into real food categories: produce, protein, dairy, grains, and other – with the majority of space reserved for produce.

Download the Weekly Dinner Menu Planning and Grocery Template.

After my meal is planned, I simply cut off the bottom, take my list with me to the store, and keep my menu plan in my binder. I’ve tried writing my lists on my phone to reduce paper waste, but I’m just a paper and pen list kinda girl. Can’t get around it. So my kiddos color on the back of the paper when I’m done, then the paper is recycled.

Okay, so here’s the honest truth: I used this template pretty consistently in January and February and was a huge slacker in March. Meals were a little bit more stressful, we were over on our food budget, and we didn’t use up all our leftovers. So this month, I’m back on the meal planning bandwagon.

And here’s the other thing… I’m boring. When it comes to meals, I make the same things over and over again. Even though my Pinterest recipes board is filled with recipes, I find things I like to make, and then don’t branch out that often. And I have one of the pickiest eaters So I keep it pretty simple – but good [I hope]. But we always eat dinner together, and it’s mostly unprocessed and from scratch. That’s more important than fancy schmancy meals, in my opinion. Meal planning has really helped to keep that as low-stress as making-dinner-for-five-while-three-kids-are-vying-for-my attention-and-Daddy-isn’t-home-yet can be.

a little dinner making serenade

Do you meal plan? What helps you to stick to it? I’m going to share a few of our staple meals, then it’s back to some sewing posts for awhile. I’ve gotten my sewing mojo back – woot!

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  1. this is really great! i love your template! i think it might really work well for me with the way that i already do things, but will look more organized. thanks, jess!
    you’re a pretty amazing mama.

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