Meal planners are so helpful for staying organized. There are tons of options, from simple 1 sheet printables (like mine) to sophisticated notebook-type planners with bells and whistles. I’ve used lots of different types over the years, just depending on what I need at the time.
One-Page Planning Sheet
A simple 1-page planning sheet will usually just be a calendar or list of days and a blank grocery list. They’re usually set up to plan a week, two weeks, or a month at a time. It’s really all you need if you’re doing basic Forward Meal Planning. You simply write down your meals on each day and use that to make your grocery list.
You can use a 1-page sheet with Backward planning too. You’ll just need to use additional paper to write out your pantry and freezer inventory, and possibly to jot down sales, coupons, and rebates.
Bound Meal Planners
A bound meal planner is like a traditional planner. It’ll typically have dated or undated weekly layouts that you use to fill in your meal plan, and a blank weekly grocery list. Sometimes, these planners will also have some other helpful sections, like Price List, Favorite Meals List, Pantry & Freezer Inventory, Recipes to Try, and Favorite Recipe Sites.
The best thing about this type of planner is that you have everything all together in one place. It is so much easier to stay organized and keep up with using your meal planning tools, like your Price List and your Most Common Ingredients list. And you can mark the meals that were successful so you can easily go back and reference past meal plans to get ideas while planning.
Printable Meal Planning Kits
A printable meal planning kit is the most flexible because you can print exactly what pages you need. They’re more economical than bound planners because you can just reprint over and over rather than having to purchase a whole new planner. And you can put all the pages into your own binder to keep it all organized. I think of this option as the best of both worlds.
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If you’re already using a planner and meal planning still feels like too much work, maybe you would like using a template too. A meal planning template takes so much of the brain work out of meal planning, it’s almost like your meal plan is on autopilot!