Need to get back into meal planning?

menu-plan-rustDo you meal plan? Do you mean to meal plan and just sort of… don’t? Do you meal plan, and find yourself with nothing to cook anyway because you didn’t defrost that [roast/turkey/chicken] or forgot to pick up that [broccoli/carrots/shallots/weirdly specific ingredient no one ever has just laying around]? Welcome to a lot of our lives!

I keep a weekly planner in my purse specifically for meal planning. Some weeks it has a well planned out menu that I’ve specifically shopped for. Other weeks it has some scribbled notes about what I have on hand and could maybe think about making for dinner. The third option is writing down after the fact what I’ve cobbled together or, gasp, paid for take away. I hate that option. I also periodically print out my menu planner and stick it to the fridge, so everyone else know what we’re having too! 

I subscribe to a few meal planning websites (or have in the past and saved the PDFs for future use). I have used emeals.com and paleoplan.com and nomoretogo.com. I love having the recipes on hand, but I don’t always love the week they’ve laid out. So I sort of use them as a guide and make my own week. I also like onceamonthmom.com, even though I don’t really have time to prep freezer meals regularly any longer. I do prep around 30 crockpot meals/ready to throw in the oven meals once every couple of months to dole out a couple of days a week. I do a specific shop just for that and spend most of the day assembling and labeling bags for the deep freeze. Keep an eye out for a more in-depth review of OAMM, I haven’t had a membership to their system in a long, long time, and I’m super excited about their new (to me?) system. 

If you aren’t interested in a subscription service to simplify your meal planning, almost all of those sites have recipes available for you to put your own menu together. Back when I had time, I used Paprika to set up my own menu. It is a powerful database system for storing recipes that you can also use to make a shopping list and meal plan. I have over 3000 recipes stored right now, and using the cloud it syncs to both my computers, my phone, and my iPad. According to their website, it now also works on Windows, Android, Nook, and Kindle. I’m an Apple girl, and I’m pretty sure I first used it on my phone and computer, but I bet it’s just as amazing on any other OS. It’s also amazing how everything I post about these days comes back to tiny living. I’ve been slowly digitizing the recipes I use a lot from my eightybazillion (it is so a number) cookbooks into Paprika. This is in order to get rid of said cookbooks which have overflowed from the six foot stand alone bookshelf into boxes in the garage, piles of them in my bedroom, in the kitchen… It’s a sickness. I’ll own it. 

Need a printable paper planner? I have three options to download, for free!, right here. If you need printing instructions, you can find them here.

Half Page Weekly Menu Plan Penelope-Ann Double Print (1.0 MiB, 356 downloads)
Half Page Weekly Menu Plan VTC Nue Tattoo Script Double Print (951.0 KiB, 368 downloads)
Half Page Meal Planner - double print (1.0 MiB, 434 downloads)

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