The Ultimate Meal Planner Binder – that you can make at home.

If you broke into my house, in my kitchen you would find my current meal planner binder. It’s grey. It’s labelled. And it contains the following:

  • My seasonal rotating 4 weekly meal planner spreadsheet.
  • My shopping list for each week complete with the cost of how much I’m budgeting to spend.
  • Recipes.

If you’re planning on using an app, you can skip most of this step, and enter in the information the app needs to function to your needs. If you’re doing this the “old-fashioned” way, then stay with me!

There are many, many, many free printable’s on the web that you can download and print. Most of them are beautiful too. So go ahead and do that if you like, or if you want to continue with a functional spreadsheet like I use, I’ll teach you how!

1.Plan your meals.

black ball point pen with brown spiral notebook

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on

First you need to gather all your recipes that you have put sticky notes on from last time. If you haven’t done this yet, you can read the steps to complete it here. Then enter them into the spreadsheet. You are welcome to replicate my excel document if you like, it’s very plain, and very functional, here it is showing just one week:


If you’ve skipped to any other steps, it may be a good idea to review this post first to consider the types of meals you want to include.

You’ll need to decide which day your week will start on, and which day shopping day is. Once I’ve filled it all in (which can take a few hours – don’t worry, it’s time well worth spending to only do this 4 times a year) I like to have a look over it to ensure that:

  • I have a good variety of meals.
  • I have one vegetarian option a week.
  • The produce that needs to be used first will be used first.

2. Create your Shopping Lists

writing notes idea class

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on

Again, I use Excel to do this, and it looks like this:

Shopping lists

I type out every ingredient that the recipe calls for, no matter how small, then sort it by item so that I can add up all the quantities and have a single line item. I’ve been doing this since February, when I added up all my grocery trips and costs for January and was shocked at how much I was spending. This means that I can keep to my budget better by not buying things we don’t need. I also use a letter before each item as to where I’m going to shop now. My shopping trips are much faster using this method:

  • I tear off the week that we’re in.
  • Cross off any items we don’t need.
  • Add any items that aren’t on there – that aren’t purchased very often.
  • Go shopping – the meals are planned!

3. Recipes

In my Autumn and Winter planners I have typed out the recipes that I use for the meals. This is important to me because:

  • Everything is in one place – I don’t have to hunt for the recipe.
  • Anyone can cook.

This is what my winter recipe’s index looks like:

Contents - winter menu

There you have it! The ultimate meal planner binder. That you can make at home. Next time, we’ll talk about getting ready for your first shop using this method.

This post is part of a series, if you’ve missed the first few, you can catch up here.

Comments are open, let me know your thoughts.

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Disclaimer: this post is based on my personal opinion and experiences and may not be applicable to your individual circumstances.

Images by Pexels

4 thoughts on “The Ultimate Meal Planner Binder – that you can make at home.

  1. I admire how organized you are. I used to be much better at meal planning and such when I was feeding a family of 5. Now that it’s just my husband and I have gotten lax. I usually say what do you want for dinner and he usually say spaghetti (unless we have eaten spaghetti for the last two days) LOL. Or I’ll suggest something and he agrees. Since I still have a hard time cooking just for two we usually eat leftovers every other day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Different challenges for every life stage isn’t it? Having 2 little people and working as well it’s much more efficient for me to do it this way. Before kids my husband and I ate out A LOT. If I knew then what I know now… goodness… we probably would have done things quite differently!

      In saying that, this all came about due to my children not wanting to eat what I cooked. I remember last year my eldest who is in lower primary writing “dear God, please make mummy a better cook” or something similar to that which really propelled this whole thing. The more variety, the more likely they are to try it, and enjoy it!! So I’m thankful for the honesty there!!


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