Meal Planning

Welcome to Semi-Homemade Meal Planning!

Making food from scratch, even if it is SEMI-scratch, is essential if you want to eat a more healthy diet. In my meal planning, I choose to travel the more SEMI-HOMEMADE road…70% of what I cook is from scratch and the other 30% is SEMI-HOMEMADE.   No matter the road you travel; cooking, baking and anything-making takes time, energy and planning. Without planning, it’s hard to stay consistent at serving home-cooked meals. Learning how to meal plan is a necessity if you want to stay sane and keep food affordable, and we all need to keep it affordable these days. Having a schedule of what you’re planning to eat for at least your dinner, will help you save time while sticking to a wholesome, organic and natural foods diet.

Join me here…every week where I will be sharing MY weekly meal plan with you.  You may follow along with the linked meals if you like.  Some of the meals will be from me and a few others may be from a few of our Fabulous Four Foodie Gals!

Get YOUR system going:

Some people like to meal plan on a monthly basis.  And you can find all sorts of sites out there that will tell you how and have meal plans galore available for you.  And that’s okay for some.  But for me…a week will do!  Honestly, although we don’t have kids around the house anymore…our lives are full and I really don’t know from week to week what we will be doing or where.  So weekly works.

This also means I can check the sale ads, and visit my local farmers market to see what seasonal fruits/veggies I may want to include!  My sale ads come out on Tuesdays, my Farmers Market is everyday…so I usually have my new meal plan for the upcoming week ready to go by Friday so I can do what grocery shopping I need to do on Saturday.  Sunday is reserved for family/rest day with a little bit of weekly prep thrown in.

For those of us that are people that thrive on things being scheduled…that’s me…then a meal plan will be your best friend!  You can set categories…so everything is consistent.  And if you get bored, change them up!  Your categories are called themes…for example: Mexican Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Pizza night on Fridays.  There are a zillion different themes to choose from.

Your system may also include; Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Dinner.  That’s fine too.  For me, not so much.  Breakfasts are pretty standard and easy and we end up rotating them every day.  I usually stick with oatmeal, protein smoothies, whole wheat toast with peanut butter bananas, yogurt with granola, eggs with meat.  That sort of thing.  And for lunches we usually eat leftovers, salad, sandwiches or wing-it!  So for us, we meal plan our Dinners out.  But if you have a family, even a small one then meal planning ALL the meals may be a very important thing to do for your sanity, your energy and saving money so you can eat well!

MY Weekly Meal Plan Routine:

I spend about 1 hour every Saturday morning creating my meal plan.  Mind you, I have already looked at my weekly ads and have an idea of what I want to go buy and where.  I also have gone by my Farmers Market and picked my fruits/veggies…so I have an idea of what I need to make to use them up.  (When I am at the Farmers Market, I make sure and get our stand-by’s like salad fixins and Oranges for fresh juice).

1. I’ve gathered my sale ads and stopped by my Farmers Market.

2. I clip any coupons I have and organized them in a little box.

3. I’ve checked my pantry and freezer list and then start a shopping list that includes staples I know we need and any good deals in the circulars.

4. I make a menu using the things on my list and that we already have. This usually covers us for two or three days.

5. I fill in the menu with recipes from my Family Favorites Sheet and then go to my cookbooks or Pinterest. I usually flip through any books I’ve gotten from the library during the previous week and bookmark interesting recipes with a sticky note.

6. I add the ingredients I don’t have for the additional recipes to my list.

7. I pull out coupons for products already on my list. I also might add a few coupons that are about to expire. These are usually for things I’ve been planning on buying but haven’t caught on sale yet. I try not to add to many extra’s so it doesn’t kill my budget.

8. After all that is done, I fill in my Weekly Menu Plan, including any Prep To-do’s and then post it on the refrigerator.  That way everyone knows…What’s for Dinner?!!!


Some tips to help you in your quest to meal plan….

  1. Keep your meals and meal plans interesting. Rotate your foods, change up your foods.  Even though you may have Taco Tuesday…don’t have the same taco’s every Tuesday night.  There are a zillion ways to make taco’s.
  2. Maybe make one of your category nights “New Recipe” night.  Try something completely new and different.
  3. Find recipes from the internet, food groups, recipe groups, friends, family, cookbooks, etc…
  4. Always try and make a little bit extra when cooking.  That extra will save you time 2 days later with your meal prep.  Re-purpose your food.  Chicken night is Friday night? Grill 1 extra Chicken Breast and save for Monday which is Mexican night…ahhh…Chicken Enchiladas!!
  5. Keep an erasable list of of Freezer Items…know whats in your freezer, otherwise…how can you meal plan and cook it?
  6. Same for your Pantry!
  7. Set a budget.
  8. Don’t plan when your tired and don’t shop when your hungry.
  9. Balance your time vs. your money…what do you have more of this week? Time? Coupon clip and drive to all the stores for the deals. Money? Skip the clip and buy what’s tasty!
  10. Keep a list of your Family Favorite meals…after you have created a months worth of meals…begin rotating.  Meal planning couldn’t be easier!

Simply Meal Planning Binder

Having your stuff all in one place is a great time saver and prevention of headaches!  This binder system is amazingly simple to use:


1 Small 3 ring white binder with front pocket

Paper or card stock of your choice

Self Laminating Sheets

Post-it notes


1. Insert the Binder cover into the sleeve on the front of your binder.

2.  Print off the [easyazon_link asin=”B00006JNLQ” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”simplivisim09-20″]Post-it Notes, 3 x 5-Inches, Ultra Collection, Lined, 5-Pads/Pack[/easyazon_link] template and the two-page weekly meal plan calendar.

3.  Put a clear zip pencil bags in the front of the binder. This will store lists, coupons, a pen, and extra sticky notes..

4.  Laminate the weekly meal plan calendar pages. I used [easyazon_link asin=”B0013C7V24″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”simplivisim09-20″]Scotch® Laminating Sheets, Letter Size, Single Sided[/easyazon_link] (<-affiliate link) which I bought on Amazon for about five-seven bucks for a pack of ten. I like them because they take about two seconds to do and don’t need to be heated.

5.  Insert the laminated calendar pages into two of the sheet protectors, facing each other so that you can see the whole week at a glance.

6.  Insert four different-colored pieces of card stock into four more sheet protectors. This is where your meals will go when they aren’t on the menu. You could use green for vegetarian meals, pink for beef, yellow for chicken, and blue for pork. These are just suggestions—make these personalized and what makes sense to you.

7.  Now you’re ready to add some meals.

Adding Meals to your binder:

1.  First, make a list of the 30 meals that your family likes and eats most often. I have included below template lists for Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Dinner, Appetizer/Drinks, Desserts for you to use.

2.  This is where you need the sticky note template. Place six sticky notes on the template and line them up carefully. Make sure the stuck part is at the top so it won’t jam in the printer.

3.  Open the template with the post-it note text and type each of your meals onto a square. Each one has a space for the entree, side dishes, and the source for the recipes.

4.  If you print five pages with six sticky notes each, you’ll have your 30 meals. Sort them onto the colored pages, sticking them on the outside of the sheet protector.

How To Use This System Easily:

*Place grocery ads in the front of your binder when you get them.

*Make a list of pantry staples that you are out of and items on sale this week.

Take the calendar out of the protective sleeves.

Flip through your 30 meals and add the ones you want to eat this week.

If you want to try a new meal you’re not sure about, hand-write on a blank sticky note. If everyone loves it, print it later and add it to the binder. There is room to expand indefinitely.

Check the recipes as needed and add ingredients to your grocery list.

Place the calendar back in the protective sleeves with the sticky notes on the inside.

Put the grocery list and any coupons needed in the pencil bag. Now it is ready to just pop out and take to the store.


Click each pic below to download your template!

Meal Planning Templates for you!

To help you in your Meal Planning endeavors I have created several templates for you.  A blank Weekly Dinner Meal Planner that you can print and fill out.  A shopping list to print out.  Favorite meal templates for Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner and a few others.

And finally you can find blank recipe cards…because I am still old school enough to appreciate recipe cards and labels for your pantry and spices–FREE, on my


 This simply wonderful and easy menu planning idea was inspired and adapted to suit me and my family from One Mama’s Daily Drama.