For those of you who have mini planners, I have created an easy to use menu planner.
Every Sunday, I plan our meals for the week and it takes only minutes to do with my menu planner. This menu planner, if laminated, are sturdy and reusable week after week. But before I introduce these pages, here are a few items you may need. Many of these items are optional but will make putting your menu planner together and easier and some items just make it pretty. I’ve also added links if you’d like to purchase them online.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
- adjustable hole punch
- paper cutter (optional) *scissors will do
- laminator or you can take them to an office supply store that will laminate them for you or you can use #4 below
- mini binder page protectors (optional) you can use these instead of laminating your pages
- Post-It page markers (optional)* you can use a dry erase marker as well (see my example below)
For those who do not have a mini binder, you can still use these pages by punching a singular hole on the top left corner of each page and threading a keychain ring or binder ring clip through the hole.
I created these sheets so that you can print on both sides to save paper. If you are going to use the menu plan for more than one meal, I suggest printing more of the inventory sheets. After printing all your sheets, I suggest laminating them. If you don’t have a laminator, you can get them laminated at most office supplies stores where they will also cut and hole punch your sheets.
Planner Inventory Sheets
The first few pages of the menu planner consist of the inventory sheets as well as a shopping list page for when you run out of an item. These sheets are divided into proteins; grains, rice, pastas, and potatoes; fruits and vegetables; dairy; miscellaneous; and lastly beverages and desserts. Using Post-Its colorful page markers, I use a different color for each category. This makes finding items and relocating items easier to manage.
*See below on how to make your markers prettier using your printer
Creating your inventory for the first time will probably be the only time consuming part of using this plan. After that, it should only take you a couple of minutes to adjust your inventory each week, preferably after you’ve done your weekly shopping.
Daily Plan Sheets
Your daily plan sheets will consist of two days per side. On the last sheet, I created a rainy day/leftovers section which I use to plan a back up meal. It is my go-to page if we are suppose to barbecue and the weather doesn’t allow for it. Or if something unexpected happens during the week making little time to cook a whole meal, I can then easily switch out a meal for any leftovers I have on hand.
Now, if you don’t want to use Post-It markers, then you can also use a dry erase marker and write in both your inventory and meals as I have done below. I recommend using dry erase markers with a fine tip.
When planning my meals, I personally like to take out all my sheets and lay them before me. This way, I am not constantly flipping back and forth in my binder.
Making Your Page Markers Prettier
If you are an organizing neat freak like me, then here is how you can make your menu planner prettier with a consistent font on your page markers. First, get your inventory list ready.
In your word processor, format your document with narrow margins and three columns. In my photo above I only used two but three columns will save you paper. Choose the font that you like and make it bold. I used Lucida Handwriting. For foods that are 13 characters or less including spaces, I went with a font size of 18. In the photos below, you can see where some of my longer food names, like mashed potatoes, went beyond the page marker. To avoid this, go with a size 16 font and it should work. Lastly, you want to double space your page to leave room for your page markers.
After you have written all your inventory items, go ahead and print and do not close out your document. After printing, take your page markers and cover each item with your preferred color as neatly as possible.
When you are done, place your list back into your printer feeder/tray so that when it reprints, it will print on the same side of your written page. Hit print again and Voila! Your page markers will be pre-printed with your food items.
Now, eventually your page markers will get worn out as you continue to enjoy your menu planner so save your document on your computer as well as the printed version. This way, all you have to do is add page markers to the already printed version. So far, I have been using my planner for over a month and I have yet to change out my markers due to wear.
So if you are ready to try out my menu planner, click here and enjoy!
UPDATE: Click here for my free 2017 Mini Planner Cover and Year-at-a-Glance Sheet as well as the 2017 bookmark.