Have you ever seen really well done bullet journals or just great hand-written journals in general? They’re amazing, but I don’t know where people find the time to put so much effort into, well, planning their time. I might just be too lazy, if I’m honest. Either way, when I wanted to really start getting my meal planning organized, I considered an analog planner. But I found, instead, an online way that makes sense for my brain and makes it dead easy to move things around and keep track of notes, links, and images.
Goals for my meal planning
- Keep track of my current week’s meals
- Allow sharing/viewing of the meals among the household
- Keep track of my “in rotation” meals, chronologically
- Store “to try” recipes
- Store some breakfasts, desserts, and snacks
- Current week: dinner
- In rotation: dinner
- To try: dinner
- Breakfast & brunch
- Desserts & snacks
I tried out the online app Trello, which so far has been perfect. I plan on using it for all facets of planning, but so far it’s been mostly for meals. But it’s been a great way to learn how to optimize it and I have been rolling it out into work, finances, etc. slowly but surely.
The gist of Trello is that you can create high level “Boards” which allow for “Lists” within the boards, and under that, “Cards.” So I have boards for meal planning, creative projects, work tasks, larger projects, finances, and home stuff. But we’ll focus on meal planning for now.
Under each board are lists and each list can contain as many cards (to-dos, or in this case, recipes) as you like. The cards can contain photos, links, and notes for each recipe. I love the notes feature because I can jot down changes to the recipe or storage notes, that kind of thing.
Here are the lists I have under my Meal Planning board:
The biggest list under this board is the “in rotation” list. All meals that make the cut (ie. they’ve been made, eaten, and want to be eaten again) get put into this list. Once it’s been made, it gets tossed to the bottom of the list. You can create a card for each recipe, and then just slide it down the list by dragging and dropping. Easy peasy.
Another great way to keep recipes organized is by giving them labels. You can assign names to colors (say, green for a vegetarian meal), and apply the labels to the card. Turkey taco skillet = one pot and meat labels, for instance. I like to keep the week balanced between meat/no-meat, one pot, slow cooker, store-bought, etc. This helps me manage the budget easier, too, since I can toss in a veggie meal or a slow cooker meal to save some cash.
Weekly meal planning can be a bit daunting, especially when you’re living with someone for the first time and are trying to figure out how to make a meal budget stretch and not be boring and repetitive.