I have been trying to figure out how to meal plan for my family in a way that works for us. I have gone through just about every possible way of meal planning and each didn’t suit me quite right.
Finally, I’ve found a way of organizing our meals so it’s quick and easy to create a weekly meal plan that everyone is happy with.
There are so many benefits to meal planning.
- Helps us to eat real food on a budget
- Saves time
- Lessens stress around meal prep
- Gives us a chance to take meat out of the freezer or soak nuts overnight.
I’ve tried writing out weekly menus, scheduling recurring meals in google calendar, daily themes for meals, etc. None of them worked for me. I need my meal planning system to be:
- Flexible so I can change things last minute
- allow me to use seasonal recipes a lot in it’s season and then not again until next year
- Easy to find on the wall or fridge
- Easy to choose from a pool of meal options
Thinking about all of these needs I thought of how to meal plan using magnets to choose our weekly meals. They’re easy to move so I can change meals if I need to and I don’t have to try and think of possible meals because they’re already there waiting to be picked. it’s really easy and OG likes to help move the magnets (a preschool activity!).
How to make meal planning magnets
- Colorful cardstock or paper
- glue stick
- List of your favorite meals
- Paper trimmer
- Laminating machine (optional but highly recommended for durability)
- Laminating pouches
- Roll of magnetic tape or other magnets
- hot glue gun (depending on your magnets)
Write your favorite meals down in a spreadsheet in google sheets. Be sure to leave a few blank and add a few for leftover, takeout etc. Also add tags for days of the week and breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you think you’ll use them that way.
Adjust the size of the rows and columns as you like. I recommend not going smaller than 12pt font size and adjusting the rows and columns to fit your font. You can use whatever program you want but I chose google sheets because it automatically prints a gray grid for easy cutting.
Print out the spreadsheet and, using a paper trimmer, cut each meal title out by cutting on the gray lines.
Decide how large you would like your colored paper to be (how much space around the white paper you want) and cut it out using the paper trimmer. I chose 3 cm x 6 cm for a round, easy number, though I think I would go smaller if I did it again.
Using a glue stick glue the white meal title paper to the colored paper background.
Laminate the meal tags according to your laminators instructions. I found that leaving a good amount of space between tags helped stop the tags from sliding over each other while being laminated. Cut out the tags.
Cut a 1-2in piece of magnetic tape and stick it to the back of each meal tag. Some of my magnets aren’t sticking well so I’m going to add some hot glue. Let them dry under a heavy book to help the magnet adhere to the tag.
How to meal plan using magnets
Meal planning using these menu magnets is so simple. I just go through the magnets and decide which meals we will make this week (check out this post for a 2 week meal plan). Right now I’m keeping our meals in the “Notes” section of my calendar white board but I’d like to get a separate board for my menu magnets so there’s more room to add sides, snacks, etc.
I like having a list of meals for the week and choosing from them as the week goes on. Almost all of our meals are 30-40 minute meals because I can’t handle anything more. When there is a meal that takes a lot of prep I usually choose it on a weekend or other day when I’m not alone with the kids.
If you would like, you can make magnets that have days of the week and meals of the day on them so you can be really specific and organized about your meal planning.
Once I choose our weekly meal plan I check my recipe binder (or my memory) for an ingredient list. I then check our staples and see what needs to be replenished. Getting organized allows me to find the best prices on the things we need (read more about how I save money on groceries).
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This post is shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday