This is the conclusion of a 4 part series. Read part 1 (the why), part 2 (the where), part 3 (the how), first and then come back here to get the full picture of how to integrate this meal planning guide into your normal routine!
If you’re a busy mom in need a meal plan that works, you’ve come to the right place. This is the conclusion of a 3 part series on how to significantly reduce your stress, while feeding your family well. Follow the links below and kiss the 5 pm meltdown goodbye!
I’m making a commitment to myself this year to do things with more purpose.
To make a plan for the things in my life that cause me stress and time.
I may have tackled the hardest one first—-meal planning.
I’ve come up with a way to use some online tools to create a year’s worth of meals in as little as a month.
Part One was all about why you should consider developing a meal plan.
Part Two goes into lots of (painful) detail about exactly how I set up my Google Calendar to plan my meals and then have them repeat as often as I’d like.
Part Three combines Google calendar plus some great time saving websites like eMeals and Ziplist to streamline your menu planning and grocery shopping.
I guess I haven’t solved everything. That dinner’s not gonna cook itself. But for me, the hardest part is the planning and shopping. Once I have a recipe and the ingredients in my possession, I’m an armed and dangerous chopping and sauté-ing machine!
The beauty of this program is this—-there are countless ways that you can use these resources to customize something that works perfect for your family. You don’t have to do it just like I’m describing but there’s probably some online tool that you can use to make this part of your life more peaceful and nourishing.
And we all have to eat. Multiple times a day.
So, having some sort of plan at getting better only makes sense.
Now that you’ve had a few days to think about it and implement your system, I’d love to know all about it.
I’m adding links to some great recipes that will help you get started in your quest to get dinner on the table. Some are from my first list and some are your suggestions.
Thanks for all your great ideas!
Happy Weekend and Happy Cooking!
For some new ideas, check out my What’s for Supper board, along with my Breakfast, Soups, Bars and Cookies, and Cakes and Cupcakes Boards!
Marlboro Man Sandwiches (we had these today as leftovers and spruced them up by adding an egg-over-medium onto the sandwich—-I’m pretty sure my new motto in life is to add egg to everything—-it was divine!)
Lasagna Soup (one of my favorites!)
Pasta with whiskey, wine and mushrooms
Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables
Creamy Lemon Orzo with grilled chicken
Fusilli with Sausage, Artichokes and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken
Chicken and egg soup with Pastina
I’m behind on answering some of your emails and questions so this weekend, I’m gonna do a video to try to catch up.
If you have a question for me, leave it in comments and I’ll add it to what I’m already planning on answering.
The only thing you forgot to write about is an apron. I seriously think an apron has magical superpowers. If I don’t feel in the mood to cook or my meal no longer sounds enticing, I put an apron on and suddenly I’m a domestic force to be reckoned with. Everyone needs an apron. Or ten.
Marie at the Lazy W says
AGREE!!! So much do I agree with this. A ponytail, some music, and an apron… and I can be happy in the kitchen for hours. Thanks for mentioning this Lauren!
I agree about the apron. I love all these links to favorite recipes. And thanks for linking to that great post on minimal effort freezer cooking. I do something similar, but it inspired me to do it more often. I actually am about to make 5 of my whole wheat healthy chicken pot pies to freeze along with 5 turkey meatloaves to freeze. I have to keep things pretty healthy to keep from gaining back all the weight I’ve lost. But I have become good at adaping recipes and on Sundays we cook things that are special. Including a little butter and white flour and maybe a dessert : ) Sundays are for feasting. : )
I don’t have a smart phone or anything like that, and I prefer pencil and paper, so I have been using a template that I found on the blog http://www.holyspiritledhomeschooling.net . It has changed my life! I can see for a month what my options are and change it up if I want to. I am saving each months page, and will have a years worth of meal plans to refer to!
Edie-Thank you for all the work you have put in here. It is such a useful guide. I am actually looking forward go meal planning now and it was a task I dreaded previously. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the insight and wisdom you share.
Thank you so much for inspiring me to get this area of my life more organized and for all the right reasons! My husband has been asking me to do a calendar of this type for quite a while. It was super easy to set up and so far, it’s been easy to follow. Blessings!
Gina in Louisville says
Dinner is one of my major sources of stress. Your posts have definitely helped me to focus on resolving this. UGGHHHH. I just hate it. My family has no idea how much time I spend just thinking about feeding them. Even with everything spelled out, I get overwhelmed. I decided to start simple. I signed up for emeals…because at least it is a beginning. I will shop for the first week’s menu and keep what works.
I love google calendar by the way. I use it to track each person’s activities with a different color for each family member. I love that it syncs automatically with my phone.
I’ve loved this series! It speaks to my inner OCD nerdy self. I love to meal plan almost as much as I love to cook, and I read cookbooks like they are novels. Thanks for the links above. I’m already pinning them and adding some to my nifty Google Menu Plan.
Hi Edie, My aunt taught me right after I got married to plan my meals and it has helped me so much. Sometimes I do better than others but my main problem is lunch. I work outside of the home and always struggle with what to take for my lunch. I find myself running out of time in the morning and just throwing junk in the my lunch bag then I end up ordering out at work. Also, by the time the weekend rolls around, we usually end up eating lunch out on Saturdays. Do you plan your lunches also? Any advice? Thank you so much for all of your wisdom.
melissa stover says
edie you are amazing! i would have about a 7 day rotation.
I made your Cheese Tortellini Soup earlier in the week and it was HUGE, HUGE hit in this house! I’m not a huge soup-lover but the tortellini gives it a heartiness that was just to-die-for! I couldn’t get enough! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Heather's Hodgepodge says
Thank you for this series! I am an on/off dinner meal planner. It never would have dawned on my to use my computer to schedule my recipes to rotate every so often. Doh!
Would you please, pretty please, share what your family does for breakfast and lunch?
I don’t have a question but wanted to say thanks for this series. Your plan has been the closest to what I have been looking for and what I know I can work with. I went to work full time two weeks ago, and you posted this and I jumped on board. This week has been soooooo much easier than my stay at home days. Thank you.
Kathryn C says
I’m going to work out my year’s meal plan over the weekend. I’m going to divide up the year according to the seasons. Then for each season I’ll work out 25 recipes and repeat them twice in that 3 month period ( and they can be repeated in other seasons as well). Out of the 25 recipes, 10 will be meals that have leftovers for the next night. I only plan for week day, weekends are husband cooking duty days 🙂 With the 25 meals I think it will give us enough variety, room for favorites and space for new recipes along the way too. Thanks for the inspiration! What’s next?? 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to give instructions on how to sync. I just synced my google calendar to my iPhone and it was painless! I did have one question- which you may have already addressed in previous comments. Do you plan meals for 7 days/week or just M-F (I think I am going to set mine to 7 days a week because I can always skip a night)?
Again, thank you!
I can’t wait to read through this series. Meal planning was one of my goals for 2013! Thanks so much
Diana Yarborough says
I would love to know the fabric on your kitchen curtains. Thanks!
Meal planning is huge!
Edie, I’m not sure if I’ve ever commented although I’ve read your blog periodically for a couple years now. I have had a long range meal plan for as long as I can remember. I honestly don’t know how anyone does without one! I have 5 weeks of rotating menus with 6 dinners a week. I only duplicate a few meals in those 5 weeks and I don’t cook on Sundays – we eat cold cereal for dinner (which is actually a treat because the kids don’t get it the rest of the week). On Sundays I sit down and look to the next week’s menu, divide it up according to when it’s most convenient that week to fix which meal, then make the shopping list for the week. I don’t stick to it strictly – I rearrange a LOT, but it’s great to at least have a plan. But, what really motivated me to comment is not so that I could share my meal planning, I wanted to tell you that I added several meals to our rotation over the past year that I got from your blog and thank you because we all LOVE them. Now that’s saying something because there are 8 different opinions around my dinner table 🙂 Chicken and Dumplings, Lasagna Soup and Cheeseburger Soup (or flirting with your husband 101 😉 ) I even excitedly pointed you out in the BH&G magazine laying on the counter a week or two ago and was able to credit you with our favorite menu additions – how cool is that?
I can’t plan past 7 days, so I made my own (cute!) template that I keep on my fridge with a pen tied to the magnet. My husband gets paid bimonthly, so weekly works better for us. We have about 12 meals that are our favorites that are in and out of our rotation. I try to try something new every other week or so…during the summer, it’s more frequent since all our schedules aren’t as crazy and the days are longer. I split each of our dinners each week into 1 of 3 categories…something “fancy,” something easy, or fend for yourself night…usually 3 or 4 fancy nights where I actually cook something, 2 or 3 easy nights that usually coincide with an afternoon or evening where we all or some of us have an outside obligation, and 1 or 2 fend for yourself nights that is literally whatever it is you want, you fix (these are usually eaten in the living room ;). I’m a huge believer in meal planning…when I started 4 or so years ago, everything changed. Our finances got better, we threw out less food, we ate healthier, we started trying new recipes, and we actually sat down as a family more often than not! I started to feel more in control of what was going on in my own house because all day I didn’t have to think about dinner…it was in the kitchen waiting to be put together and not thrown together.
I have loved this series so much! Yay for Ziplist!!
I wondered if you would consider doing a video series about beauty products and fashion? Pleeeaaase? 🙂
Marie at the Lazy W says
Love this little series! I am actually planning to dive into the e-calendar generation, including the meal planning, ta-da!! You have no idea what a big deal this is. No questions here, but I love your sweet videos. LOL Say “bless your heart” or something!! xoxo
Tracey H. says
Thank you and thank you again for all of these great ideas of how to menu plan and keep it up:0) I’m trying to keep this going and not be frustrated at dinnertime with what to eat now:0) If you have any go to cookbooks, will you post them?? I have just started with some great ones and I need easy peasy please:0)
Just had to pop back in to tell you thank you for the recipe links. I made the Creamy Lemon Orzo with Grilled Chicken last night and the family loved it! I also have the Chicken Tetrazzini coming up in my Google Calendar next week. Can’t wait to add a few more of these recipes to my menu rotation!
The Ziplist suggestion alone is literally going to change my life!!!!!
I cannot thank you enough. I love this whole idea and thank you for inspiring us and getting me going. My family is gonna EAT this year!!! Yahoo!
Thank you a million Eddie for this post… I am not in meal planning like this but I never thought using my Google calendar and more over synchronizing it with my i-Phone for my daily life…. I have become so disorganized in 2012 that forgetting doctor appointments, even friends date was becoming usual! I was very sad of this because it was not being me. I hope with your tricks to tackle this problem in 2013! So even if it is really late, still THANK YOU!
Just stumbling on this 5 months after the fact, but loving this series. I have been looking for a meal planning routine that works for my lifestyle for months. Some of the ones I’ve seen are too complicated, but this is perfect! Thanks!
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I have my first ever smart phone, and am sorry I didn’t make the plunge earlier.
I am a ziplist user, but since my phone wasn’t smart I didn’t do the full enchilada and set up the calendar sync because it was worth it.
Now I am loving it.
QUESTION: Have you figured out how to use the Digimar Discover Icon to read and store your recipes and then get them to Ziplist from Myrecipes and then get them to the calendar, all from your phone….and
Do you have the ability to do your meal planning all from your phone? This would be so handy for me since I go from piano practice (30 minutes of downtime) and then to the grocery store from there…..Just think Meal plan and groceries in 1.5 hours.
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I don’t know what I’d do without meal planning. Just created our September plan. Thanks for all of your tips – you should add the tortellini soup to your list! It is one of our family favorites!
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Thanks for the info and directions U love Google alerts and I know the calendar is going to be awesome for meal planning. Can’t wait to gather a basic model and add it. I have to do it by portions and plain form veggies and fruit but I will look into things like the 5.00 meal plan stuff. If I can get nutrition information on there too it would be great!