How to Meal Plan for the Week in Your Passion Planner
I started meal planning five years ago to get a handle on our food budget, eliminate food waste, and cook vegetarian and paleo recipes for my family of five.
Over those five years, I have tried dozens of different list formats and calendars—digital and print—for meal planning. Scraps of paper at the bottom of my purse and forgotten lists had me searching for a better way.
Now, I have a Passion Planner to keep everything in one place for my meal planning and shopping needs.
I am partial to the Large Size Passion Planner for easy meal planning because it provides plenty of room to write in meals.
Here are 5 ways I use my planner to meal plan.
1. Write Pantry and Freezer Inventories on the Blank Pages in the Back of my Passion Planner
First, I find a blank page in the back and create headings for the following bold terms:
- Baking Supplies: flour, sugar, baking powder, chocolate chips, etc
- Oils & Vinegar: olive oil, coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, worchestire sauce, etc.
- Canned Goods: green beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, etc
- Dry Goods: brown rice, black beans, pasta, etc.
- Pantry Vegetables: onions, squashes, and potatoes
- Spices/Dried Herbs/Vitality Oils: cinnamon, rosemary, clove, etc.
- Drinks: sparkling water, juice, beer, wine, etc.
Under each category, I pencil in what items I have on hand.
Next, I take an inventory of my freezer by creating a heading for each of these bold categories:
- Frozen Veggies
- Frozen Fruit
- Animal Protein: beef, chicken, pork, lamb, etc.
- Aquatic Protein: shrimp, cod, salmon, mussels, etc.
- Plant Protein: beans, quinoa, nuts, noodles, etc.
- Frozen Meals
Under each category, I pencil in what items I have on hand.
The beauty of keeping these inventories current is I can start with these ingredients when selecting vegetarian or paleo recipes for my meal plans. This also helps me meal prep on a budget. That way I am using what I already have on-hand.
2. Use the Monthly Calendar for Meal Planning Recipes
I like to plan meals on Fridays. I sit down with my recipe journal and the freezer and pantry inventory I outlined in step 1 above. Next, I choose 6 dinner recipes to make for the week, counting on leftovers for lunch. I also plan at least one large brunch dish that will last us a few days.
My recipe collection comes from a variety of sources: Pinterest boards, cookbooks, home cooking blogs I follow, and my recipe journal (which is basically a binder of magazine clippings). I do occasionally craft my own recipes using my palate and intuition.
I select meal planning recipes based on seasonal produce, what we have in our freezer and pantry inventory and what is on sale at my favorite two grocers.
I pencil the meal names in the boxes for Saturday-Friday for the upcoming week. I do pencil in "take-out" for one day a week. Usually, this is Wednesdays, because it is $5 sushi day at my favorite grocery store.
I like to use a pencil to write in the meal names until after I have done my shopping. Sometimes I decide to move meals around based on what I find at the store. For example, if melons are in-season at the store, I may decide to make Prosciutto Wrapped Melons for brunch this week, instead of Peanut Butter and Jelly Parfaits.
Then I come home and erase the meal planning recipe names I decide to change. I write the final meal names in marker on my monthly Passion Planner layout. This makes meal planning easy and my family can reference my Passion Planner to see what is for dinner. I keep it open to the monthly layout on our drop station in the kitchen.
3. Write My Shopping List on the Dotted Pages in the Back of my Passion Planner
Using my chosen recipes, I create my grocery list. I reference my freezer and pantry inventories first. Whatever ingredients I still need for my recipes, I write in pen on one of the dotted pages in the back of my Passion Planner. I like to conserve paper, so I pencil out three columns per bulleted page. Usually, one weekly list takes one column—using front and back.
I find it helps to have a strategized shopping list. To do this, I like to make headings for my list based on the sections of the store. For instance, I make a heading for DRINKS because we typically pick up coffee, tea, kombucha and sparkling water from the same aisle. This just helps me to focus on one aisle at a time in the store.
Other headings include:
- DRY GOODS
Once my list is complete, I take my scissors and cut out the list. A good friend of mine taught me it is helpful to put the list on a clipboard and prop it up in the cart while I shop.
Now, I am ready to head to the store!
If you’re curious about where I shop, I created a Smart Shopping Guide to help you save time on your next grocery run!
4. Keep Track of my Intermittent Fasting Schedule on the Weekly Layout Pages
Both my husband and I are former college athletes, so we are no strangers to high protein meal planning, protein shakes, intense workout plans, and expensive gym memberships. However, with three kids, two full-time jobs, and our entrepreneurship endeavors, we have limited time to focus on fitness.
We decided to give intermittent fasting a go this year. We figured, why not? We are home more and cooking our own meals anyway, so what did we have to lose—other than a few pounds?
To meet my intermittent fasting goal, I write my 8-hour feeding window into the weekly layout of my Dated Passion Planner, along with the names of my meals. This added purpose of using my Passion Planner as a wellness planner helps me to remember when to open and close the kitchen.
The bonus with intermittent fasting was it really helped us to trim our food budget during a time when I was unemployed. Plus, we have fewer dishes to do and our mornings are more peaceful not having to figure out what to eat for breakfast. We can focus on feeding the kids and getting them ready for school.
5. My Passion Roadmap Includes a 3-year Goal to Grow a Giving Garden
My Passion Planner Roadmap also helps me to focus on feeding more than my own family.
My paternal grandparents lived healthy lives into their 90's. The staple of their diet was garden produce. They were also very generous with their extra garden bounty—delivering veggies to neighbors, employees, and the local nursing home.
One of my 3-year goals is to grow a giving garden, just like my grandparents did. I want to be known in my community for feeding people with locally grown, organic produce. Especially the ones who need it most. A good friend of mine once said, "A good chunk of the world's problems could be solved with better food." I wholeheartedly agree!
In my first few Passion Planners, I often left my Roadmap blank, until I read this blog on overcoming the pressure of goal setting. This post inspired me to snap out of my perfectionist mode and make the leap on this goal. Now you will find the words "Giving Garden" written under my 3-year goals of the Passion Roadmap.
Get started this month with meal planning in your very own Passion Planner Weekly or Daily. Even if you start with planning 2 meals a week, chances are you will be saving dollars and cutting back on food waste. That's always a good thing.
What do you think of this easy meal planning system? Let me know in the comment section below.