Meal planning is something that everyone knows they SHOULD do, but they don’t actually do it. It seems so overwhelming and laborious. I have found a system that works for us that completely takes the work out of meal planning. It works so well that your meal plan ends up planning itself, literally!
When we first got married, I started out planning my meals week by week on paper, but once we became parents, it was tedious. I didn’t have the time to search through my cookbooks and saved recipes week after week, so I sought out a more efficient way to handle it.
I was already using Google Calendar to manage our family schedule, so I decided to give it a try for our meal planning calendar. It worked great! Once I figured out that I could repeat recipes and add recipes while I was on the go, it became a total game changer for me.
What will you love about this system?
- You can add recipes on the go – This might be my favorite use of this system. When I see a recipe on Pinterest or Facebook that I want to try, I click on the link and add it to my meal calendar immediately. I can access my calendar anywhere (computer or smartphone) so I can be meal planning while I’m waiting for an appointment to start, while I’m watching TV, or on my lunchbreak. Also, you will ACTUALLY TRY THE RECIPES! Let’s be honest, how many of you have saved a recipe on Facebook and have actually made it? This is an action step so you can actually try the recipe!
- Your recipes will always be handy – By saving the recipe in the notes, you will have it ready to go when you need it. You can also search your calendar if you’re looking for a past recipe. No more million slips of paper floating around and no more losing your favorite recipe.
- Repeating your favorites – Did you just try a new recipe that your family loved? Set it to repeat! Eventually, you’ll have so many recipes on repeat that you won’t even need to meal plan! This will take some of the labor out of your meal planning.
How to Set up a Meal Plan System Using Google Calendar
Now, I will preface this by saying that this can be done with whatever electronic calendar you use. I use Google Calendar for everything (family, work, and now even blogging) and that’s why I chose it. Google Calendar is free with a GMail account.
I created a separate meal planning calendar– it shows up on my main calendar, but it’s color coded so it’s easy to see, especially on busy days.
Once you have it set up, you can start adding your meals.
Obviously this will get easier as it goes along, but to get started, I would add what you’re planning to make for the next week. Is this something you make every week, once a month, once every few months?
Set your meal to repeat however often you make it. This is what makes the meal plan eventually “plan itself!”
Another bonus: you can easily drag and drop meals if something comes up in your schedule and you need to change it around.
Saving Recipes in the Description
I love trying new recipes, and since I’m a Pinterest addict, it can get overwhelming. If I find a new recipe that I want to try, I open the link and add it to my calendar right then and there– I find my next available day, add it to my calendar (I can do this from my computer, my iPhone, and my iPad, since they are all synced together) and add the url of the recipe to the description.
As you can see above, you can also select if you want to repeat the recipe. Once you select this, you can select the repeat interval. Since this is a new recipe, I’ll decide after we try it if it’s a repeater.
That’s it! It’s that easy. Honestly, most of the work is done initially. Once you have this piece of it down, there’s no more setup– just adding recipes!
Meal planning doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Setting up a meal plan with an electronic calendar has saved me a tremendous amount of time. It can be a total game changer for you, too!