Meal Planning.


Do you create a weekly meal plan? Before motherhood the concept of creating a meal plan (or a weekly rhythm of any kind aside from showing up for work each day) was not my thing. It was too predictable. Too orderly. To much like something my mother might have done. So I avoided meal planning (and other schedules of all kinds) completely.

But now as a mama I don't want to leave dinner to chance. Our days are full and having a meal plan allows me to feel relaxed and organized and in control of our rhythm. Our weekly meal plan has become the cornerstone of having a reasonable and joyful week around here.


This is how we go about it: Once a week I sit down with a blank meal plan, a blank shopping list, and a stack of my favorite cookbooks. (During CSA season I also grab a list of CSA veggies in my fridge.) As I jot down meals onto my meal plan I also make a grocery list. (Mine is a little geeky. I divide my shopping list into four quadrants by drawing a big + in the center of the page. Each quadrant is marked "produce", "bulk", "coolers", or "the rest". Yes, geeky. But I never have to backtrack in the store so it works for me.)

I keep all of these supplies in a three ring binder that I'll tell you about another day. In my binder I also keep a list of favorite dinners and a default meal plan incase I choke and don't know what to make.


I created the meal plan template that is shown above and thought I would share it with you. It is a simple grid with days of the week, meals, and food prep. (Because we eat allot of traditional foods, like soaked/sprouted grains, this section is critical for us. It is also the place to remind yourself to take something out of the freezer the night before or to remind yourself to bake the weeks' bread or make yogurt.).

I saved it as an Excel file (if you want to personalize it with your favorite font) and as a PDF. Take your pick. Just click on one of the links below and it's yours. (The PDf isn't as pretty as the XLS, just for the record.)

Happy meal planning!

Download Meal Plan (XLS)

Download Mealplan (PDF)


28 thoughts on “Meal Planning.

  1. Jody says:

    The timing of your posts with my life just makes me giggle! I’m heading out this morning with the kiddos for my first 2 week meal planning/grocery shopping adventure. I’ve been putting it off for a long while but I’m tired of just winging it! Thanks for the print-outs…I love them.

  2. Casey says:

    What a fabulous meal plan guide! I’m thinking this will be on my to-do list today…we’re about to make our big weekly grocery shopping trip tomorrow!

  3. Emmy says:

    How timely for our house. Grocery shopping day is upon us… again. I always feel like I’m floundering when it comes to meal planning and shopping. I love the meal plan files. Can’t wait to hear more about your binder.

  4. Cassandra says:

    Okay, this is hilarious for me too. Just last night I was just chastising myself for having a pantry full of dry goods, a fridge full of perishables (Sidebar: Most of which I bought at the Dane County Farmer’s Market last weekend. Stopped by to introduce myself to you Rachel but sadly I didn’t see you there. Maybe sometime this summer I’ll get to say hi!) and no plan at all. I seem to have some sort of aversion to planning, of any sort. Being a mom of 3 and working full time means I think about what I am making for dinner on the ride home…no prep work done. It’s time, it’s time for a meal plan! Gauntlet has been thrown down! Ha!

  5. Rachel Wolf says:

    Rock it Cassandra. Youll be amazed how much easier it is once you jot it down. Ill be at market soon. Ill be sure to post it to the LuSa Facebook page before I go.

  6. Denise says:

    Ah, the luxury to sit down with cookbooks! I used to do that when it was just one little one over here, but now with a toddler and a babe I have cut this one weekly chore/pleasure from my scene for awhile. Instead I have a 2 week set meal rotation – most of it is fairly loose (soup night, stir fry, pasta, etc) – so I can open a cookbook if I want to – otherwise we just stick to the standbys these days.

  7. Lisa says:

    I would like to read more about your binder system. I have a family binder and a medical binder. I so need a meal planner. I have three active kids and with spring here we are not inside until supper time.

  8. Meg says:

    You are awesome. I would love to see a sample meal plan. Basically because I think my gang should more or less be eating just about the same as your gang. Soaked Pancakes and Waffles rule.

  9. lisset says:

    if i dont get a meal plan/grocery list together each sunday evening i just feel lost. and not to mention the food that goes to waste from meandering around the grocery store without said list, ending up with armfuls of things we already have! looking forward to hearing more about the binder and thanks for the files!

  10. amber says:

    have to have a meal plan. or otherwise i forget things at the co-op! it turns tragic and fast. I also have a book that i have all of my personal recipes in and i have a section where i write typical easy and tasty meals. I divide that by the seasons. because sometimes i am at a loss, and sometimes i forget about my standby’s.

  11. Susanne says:

    Love this! Also, I think I have met my “Pete”. I don’t want to get too excited just yet, but I’ve been working on my manifestation skills lately. I feel like when a guy tells me he’s in the market for a dehydrator and he likes to make jam, that’s a good sign 🙂

  12. Rachel Wolf says:

    The meal plan was key when we started trying to get bone broth and fish in our diet every day or so. It saved my hide. Ill share for sure. The waffles blow my mind. They are fabulous.

  13. Peggy says:

    Great post… I’m more of a “seat of my pants” kind of cook, but you’ve got me thinking…

    Off topic… I’m so excited… I just picked up a 2nd hand Moby wrap (navy-blue, tra-la!) from another mom in the neighborhood… Now just waiting for that baby to show his sweet face in July!

  14. Meg says:

    On the topic of bone broth… why is the chicken bone broth so much more, what shall I say, unsavory than any other? My guess is the feet, but I could be wrong here. Yes, please, share.

  15. Meagan Grant says:

    I, too, as a new mother, fought hard against planning meals but then after thinking about it, it was worth the effort. Food is a central part of our life as a family and I wanted that time making and eating it to be a special time. So, yes, I am a geek, too and have very similar lists. We have also begun to involve my older girls (4 and 5) to pick their Saturday meal. I love hearing their ideas and am always so proud when they say to each other “okay, so we have a protein, now we need a vegetable, we can’t forget our vegetables!”

    As much as I fight order, there is a simple beauty in it sometimes,too.

  16. Rachel Wolf says:

    So well said, Meagan. I love the idea of having the kids help plan meals too. They are much more enthusiastic when their efforts went into the planning and preparation.

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