How to meal plan + magnetised meal planner

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

A step-by-step guide on how to create a weekly meal plan that will save you time and money, plus plenty of products to help make this process super easy!

Each week I plan my meals for the following week, this is called meal or menu planning. Some think it’s not worth it, but it really is a simple task that takes 5-10 minutes to plan one week of meals. The money and time that these five minutes save me throughout my week, makes it well worth the effort.

How to use the magnetised meal planner

My magnetised meal planners attach conveniently to the front of your fridge, or they can also be framed and put on display on your kitchen bench if you prefer (I like to do this as my fridge is not magnetised).

Create your meal plan at the same time you create your shopping list. This will allow you to check what you’ve already got in the cupboard and purchase all the extra things you need (saving you from those bothersome mid-week supermarket trips).

When the next week starts, simply wipe your old weekly meal plan clean and start fresh with another well-planned and organised week of dinners.

How to plan meals

  • Nearly every family has after school activities during the week. Organise your menu around the activities knowing you can start dinner throughout the day to have it ready in time when you get home (I love my slow cooker), or perhaps an easy meal is required on these nights.
  • Glance through your fridge and pantry. Are there any food that may need to be cooked soon?
  • Have a look through the grocery junk mail and plan your meals around the meat and veg that are on special, this will help reduce your grocery bill.
  • Perhaps you may cook up a double batch and have left overs the next day. Don’t forget to include this in your planner.
  • Now complete the planner with meals you would like to cook. Don’t forget you can get some great meal ideas HERE from my blog. I post my week of meals each Monday.
  • Next write your grocery list, then you’re ready to hit the grocery store! Alternatively you can order your groceries for delivery or pick up. Check out my Online Grocery Shopping Tips To Save Time and Money.
  • To speed up your grocery shopping even more so, you can use my adorable Confetti Shopping List Notepad. The list is cleverly designed into easy-to-understand categories that will prevent you running up and down the supermarket aisles.

Benefits of Meal Planning

Saves time – By creating a grocery list from your meal plan you will purchase only food required for the week, and therefore minimise the need for mid-week quick trips to the store.

Saves money – By sticking to a plan and grocery list, you will resist impulse spending. Look at the current local grocery catalogue and organise your meals and snacks around the items on special for the week. Planning will also eliminate the desire to buy takeaway.

Eliminates waste – By glancing in the fridge/pantry and planning to use unused or left over food you are eliminating waste and again saving money.  For example, lettuce can be used with tacos this week or pasta packets in the pantry can be a side dish to some fish.

Create healthy meals – Planning menus for the week will allow you to choose a variety of food options. You can ensure you are eating enough fish and red meat, not having too much pasta and eating plenty of vegetables.

Favourite meals – Remember to include family favourites as you know your children will be happy and more likely to eat for you.

Cook in bulk – If you know you are going to be busy one particular night, prepare a meal the night before that could be stretched into two meals.  For example, savoury mince with potato and vegetables for dinner one night, and easy mince triangles, spaghetti bolognese or mince on toast the next night.

Lower your frustrations – How many times have you stepped in front of the fridge and felt frustrated when considering what’s for dinner? By having it planned and all ingredients purchased, you will make your whole evening run smoother.

Reuse meal plans – Once you have menus planned for a few weeks you can start re-using your plans so you don’t have to keep thinking of new ideas.

Busy afternoons – By planning your meals around your afternoon activities (slow cookers are perfect for these days) you are more likely not to eat out knowing you have dinner at home… saving you even more money and helping you choose healthier option.

Helpers – Place your menu on the fridge. If you’re late home from work, still out at sporting activities or at work, hubby can make a start on dinner for you – he has no excuses!

Happy Meal Planning!

More Planners…

STRESS-LESS DINNER BUNDLE – Take the hassle, stress, and guesswork out of dinner time with this conveniently bundled ‘Stress-Less Dinner Bundle pack’. This selection of products will take you effortlessly from meal planning to grocery shopping, to dinner prep and then plate, allowing you to easily create hearty home-cooked dinners for your family every night of the week.

LUNCHBOX PLANNER – Planning food for lunch boxes is essential, and makes creating a healthy nutritious lunch for your child easy peasy! Using this planner will ensure you have all the necessary types of food in the fridge and pantry. At the beginning of each week plan what food you need to add to your grocery list to fill their lunch boxes for the week. Use this instantly downloadable Lunch Box Planner to organise the school lunchboxes and also to ensure you remember to use up the food you purchased.

Alternatively you can use my physical Lunch Box Planner Pad which comes with 40 convenient pages (the perfect amount to get you through the school year!). I like to keep the old pages and re-use these again throughout the year.

BENTO BOX PLANNER – This Bento Box planner helps to ensure your lunchboxes are filled with healthy food each day and is perfect for any bento-style lunchbox or just a lunchbox with a lot of sections to fill!


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Monique Follett January 9, 2011 - 11:41 PM

Thank you!! Your website is fantastic – just the ticket for me.

I have downloaded your meal planner, and I am about to plan this week's meals. Next on my list is to clean out my kitchen drawers.

Thank you so much for the inspiration to declutter and organise my family's life!!

Katrina January 10, 2011 - 3:03 AM

Aaw, thankyou Monique, I'm so glad to be able to help you 🙂

Pip May 16, 2011 - 4:59 PM

This weekly meal planner is fantastic. It is saving us an absolute fortune each week on our grocery bill. Instead of buying things from the supermarket just because we always buy them, I am only purchasing food we will actually eat that week – if tacos aren’t on the menu, I don’t buy taco sauce, taco shells, sour cream and everything else. We have cut back from spending around $400 each week on groceries to just over $200. I can’t wait for the holiday at the end of the year that this saving will pay for!

Katrina May 19, 2011 - 9:27 PM

That’s awesome Pip, you completely understand the concept of planning!!

Vicky Moran May 24, 2011 - 8:56 AM

Have just downloaded the meal planner to ave me some precious time as well as the Family Favs! Many thanks for the freebie.

Peita August 30, 2011 - 11:22 PM

have recently had twins so organisation is key! whilst i am fairly organised your website has absolutely awesome information on it. i have just printed the meal planner to help with this weeks meals!

Debra Rowling September 3, 2011 - 4:58 AM

I downloaded your meal planner with to-do list – it’s PERFECT! I’ve been looking for a good one for a few weeks, and stumbled onto your site by a chance reference from a friend this week! You have saved my sanity! I’ve only recently become a housewife, as I was, until now, the main income earner. Now my hubby and I have moved to a new town for his work, and so I’m in charge of planning meals, which I have REALLY struggled with!
I have one suggestion – would it be possible for you to create a meal planner list that includes the ingredients for each meal, and a tick-box next to it so you can tick it when/if you have that ingredient?!

Katrina November 22, 2011 - 7:57 PM

Nikoly, sorry there is a link there to direct you to sign up to the newsletter to receive it for free, the font was very small, hard to see, I have increased it now.

Tammy August 31, 2012 - 1:34 PM

I have done meal planning on an off for several years on a monthly basis, and have come to include a column with a recipe reference. With 2 shelves of cookbooks (of course, there are about 3 recipes in each that I have ever done!) I don’t want to then get to cooking and forget where my recipe is.
I also include comments like “friends invited”, “meal for Family SSS”, “hubby working late”, “Mummy out in evening”, etc to remind myself of factors that affect who is eating when.
I also usually break it up so I know what accompaniments or vegetables I have planned, otherwise it ends up being rice and steamed veg every night.
We only have dessert 3 times a week, so I try to make those nights the ones everyone is home for dinner and there are no evening plans (usually Mon,
Thur and Sat). Again if I don’t plan dessert, it is icecream and fruit every time!
I find it is helpful to have a checklist on my menu plan for different types of meals – soup, bbq, chicken, red meat, (semi)vegetarian, pasta, stirfry, etc to help me include variety.
Thanks for inspiring me to start planning again.

Lyn Richards April 6, 2013 - 9:57 PM

I meal plan. I find it definitely means less waste at the end of the fortnight. I also chop up alot of the vegies like broccoli and cauliflower into pieces and put them in containers in the fridge at the start of the fortnight. this saves me a little bit of time when I get home from work…….it also helps to store those bulky vegies in the fridge alot better.

Caris October 18, 2013 - 12:07 PM

One thing I do when meal planning is look up the forecast for the week. If its going to be a cold night, I try and use the oven (doubles as heating for the house!) and if its going to be really hot I try to do things that use minimal cooking (ie salads) so I keep the house cool. May seem a little strange, but eletricity costs so much these days I find it helps!

venessa April 15, 2016 - 9:29 AM

Just wondering if there was a linc to your previous weekly meal plans ?

Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 15, 2016 - 12:43 PM

Hi Venessa, you can see all my meal plans here:

Mary August 17, 2017 - 1:30 AM

Reducing frustration when the thought of the word “DINNER” enters my mind is the best possible outcome! My family works hard and needs fuel in their tank(s) or I get to deal with very “hangry” individuals. Thank you for helping me ride the tide, rather than getting swamped in an undertow!!! 🙂

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 17, 2017 - 10:14 AM

Thank you Mary. Pleased my Meal Plan can be of help to you and the family

Annie February 7, 2020 - 10:28 AM

When I meal plan, I plan dinner around what my kids could take to school for lunch the following day. For example, if we’re having chicken stir fry, I’ll cook a bit of the chicken separately and put it on some skewers. If we’re having lentils, I throw a bit into some puff pastry and bake little lentil samosas. If we’re having a roast, I slice a few bits up and turn them into some version of a sandwich.
Doing a bulk cook up on the weekend doesn’t usually work for me (I prefer to spend that time with the kids), so planning dinners and lunches that use the same ingredients saves me so much time and only requires one lot of preparation and cooking. I keep the dinners that can’t easily be converted into lunch for weekends.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 11, 2020 - 3:17 PM

This is fabulous advice Annie! What a great idea – thank you for sharing 🙂

Megan K September 11, 2020 - 7:51 AM

Love these ideas! I just got some new bento boxes for my kids, so all I need now is a master plan to meal prep their lunches!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife September 14, 2020 - 11:27 AM

Hoe good are bento boxes for meal prepping the kids’ school lunchboxes?! I loved doing this when my kids were younger.

Shilpa February 2, 2021 - 11:07 PM

Love the idea of bento boxes! I love making extra for later as well!


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