January 21, 2018

Meal Planning 101 – Week 2 – Meal Planning Binder & Menu Planners


Hello!  Welcome to Week 2 of Meal Planning 101!  I’m glad you decided to come back and learn more about being successful in Meal Planning!  Meal Planning takes some effort, and that effort takes some organization.  Once you have a “system” in place, it’s just a matter of input from that point on!  So this week I want to talk about creating a Meal Planning Binder and Menu Planners.  This binder will help get you and keep you organized in your meal planning efforts.

My Meal Planning Binder is something that I look at least a couple of times a day!  I know… I get little nuts about it… but I am always looking for new recipes to add to my binder.  I love to try new recipes!  I have discovered some amazing meals by experimenting with my own created recipes, along with ones that I have been given by family, friends, and those I find right here by our “GCH:What’s on Your Plate?” page, and Pinterest.

Instead of giving you directions on how to make my own binder, I’m going to reference a couple of Pinterest links that will give you all kinds of binder ideas!  It’s really up to YOU how you want your binder to look and feel.

For my own binder, I include sections that include my Menu Planner for the Month, and for the Week, along with a Grocery list, Pantry/Freezer List, and a Recipes section.  I also keep a zippered pencil holder (like they use in school) to keep all my coupons in.  Personally, I am not a big coupon person!  I like them, but I do not go crazy with them!  I pick out a few that I know I will use, for products that I know we love and use on a regular basis!  You may be different than I am.  I have seen women who have coupon binders that are in 3-inch 3-ring binders, and it’s loaded with baseball card protector sheets that hold their coupons.  Way more effort than I want to put into my grocery shopping!  We’ll talk about this further in a later blog!

But before I forget, here are the Pinterest links to the Menu Planner binders: 




Now, let’s start with the first things that will be placed inside your binder:  Monthly Menu, Weekly Menu, Freezer / Pantry List, Grocery List, and of course, your coupons.  But for now, let’s talk about your Menu Planner.

In looking through tons and tons of Pinterest links for the perfect Menu Planner, I stumbled across one located at: www.amybayliss.com.  She offers customizable Menu Planners such as the one below.  I love this because I can type this up on my computer and make it look nice and neat!  I can change it anytime I want, and create new meals each month.  Sometimes, I leave certain meals on the menu planner because they are some of our favorites!  So this is really a convenient planner for me to us.  You may choose the planner that allows you to write in the meals for the month, or the week.  Again, it’s just a personal preference.  There is no right or wrong way to do this!  It’s all about doing it, and then finding the system that works for YOU!

Monthly Menu Planner

This exact form was found on: http://amybayliss.com/2011/08/planners-goals-calendars-church-and-ministry-sections-part-2/.   I just used the “Calendar” download.  You can change the name of the month, so you have a new form to use each month.  Amy’s site offers a lot of awesome free printables!

In my meal planning, I always start by making a list of what I have in my pantry and freezer.  That way I know what I have on hand, and what I will need to purchase.

My next step is to make a list of all of the meals that we love.  Each week, I also include a “Leftovers” night and I add this to my Menu Planner!  I hate to see food go to waste!  Nothing gripes me more than to have to throw something away just because I didn’t add it into a new meal!  So I plan at least one night a week for leftovers!  Some people don’t like leftovers…again, personal preference!

We also plan for at least two nights a month for going to a restaurant.  This might include our Date Night meal, or a meal out with friends; whichever one it happens to be, it gets put on my Menu Planner.  So what that means is that I have to plan ahead for these nights.  My husband has the craziest work schedule where he works 3 days on, and 3 days off.  So we never have a normal weekend like most couples do!  We take our weekends as we can get them!  So I take his work calendar and sit down and choose one night a month for our Date Night, and leave room for at least one more night for eating with friends.  Again…put it on your Menu Planner!!

Once I have my list of groceries on hand from my pantry and freezer, and I have written down all of my favorite meals, I start making my menu for the month!  My freezer, pantry, and favorite meals lists can just be updated as I go!  This is the first time-consuming activity that you will have, but once it’s done, it’s pretty easy to maintain!  We’re getting you closer to Menu Planning success!   Trust me, once you make your binder and a monthly menu, it will make your life so much easier for the remainder of the month!  No more planning for another 30 days!

After you have completed your Monthly Menu, your next step is to break down the Monthly menu into a Weekly menu.  Here is where you will see just seven days of menus.  Write out a Weekly menu for every week on our Monthly menu.  Once you do it, it’s done for the month, and for each week; then it’s just a matter of grabbing the next weeks form to see what’s on the menu.  You can even just use a simple piece of notebook paper to do this, if you wish.  You really don’t need any special forms, etc.  You’ll be glad you took the time at the beginning of the month to do this!  Trust me!

For Meal Planner forms, do a search on Pinterest for “free weekly meal planner printables”; there are many of them out there.  I use a lot of Amy’s forms from her site because they are customizable!  I just love the way she has formatted them, and makes it so easy for me to input my own information!  Again, you will want to search for forms that are going to work for YOU!  If they don’t work for YOU, you won’t keep up with it!  So find something that works for you and one that you enjoy working with!

Now that we have our meals planned for the month and week, it’s time to put together our Shopping List.  We’ll discuss our Shopping List and coupons next week.  You will store all of this inside your Menu Planning Binder, in the proper sections.

I hope you are enjoying this series.  If you want, please share a link to the Menu Planner that you use!  You never know if someone else will find your Menu Planner convenient for them, as well!

See you next week!



A Virtuous Woman uses her time wisely. She works diligently to complete her daily tasks. She does not spend time dwelling on those things that do not please the Lord. (Proverbs 31: 13, Proverbs 31: 19, Proverbs 31: 27, Ecclesiastes 3, Proverbs 16: 9, Philippians 4:8)

If you were interested in checking out any of our online Bible studies, click HERE. Once we receive your registration, we will email you with further details.

If you would like to send a private message to Christi in regards to this blog, please email her at: Christi@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

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  1. Such the good idea to have this type of organizational tool! don't know what i'd do without mine. and thanks for they links to amy bliss' website! <

    • I have found so many wonderful things on Amy's site! I love the fact that she offers printables that you can customize versus having a pre-made form and not being able to change anything. Excellent site!!

  2. Wow Christi – you have some fantastic ideas!! I always kept my office organized in binders, but since working more out of home have not seemed to keep things as organized. I absolutely love to organize – doing this will put me back on track. I have kept recipes in binders, much easier to read and keep, but adding the sections will be great! Thanks for the awesome ideas. 🙂

    • Binders are a girls best friend!! It's such a good way to know where everything is! I do this with my taxes too. That way I know just where everything is when it's time to do taxes!! We'll soon be talking a Household Binder here on At Home with GCH, also! 🙂 Stay tuned!!

  3. Megan Smidt says:

    yikes! this is my 3rd attempt at leaving a comment 😛 I love this and plan on trying to incorporate it….. the way I struggle with meal planning is that I never know how many I will have for dinner any given night! Left overs are good, but lately, I end up throwing away a lot of food. When I make less, I don't have enough!! LOL!!! Any tips for that?

    • A couple of things for you Megan: 1) This may sound funny, but it works!! Incorporate a sign-up sheet of who is planning on being home each night of the week. It will help in knowing how much to cook. 2) FREEZE your leftovers. Use them at a later date. That way you don't have to throw anything out.

  4. Jennifer M says:

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  5. I like your meal planning ideas, Christie. It does, indeed, save money. One thing I do in grocery shopping that becomes the way I plan my meals is buy only the specials from the grocery stores in my town. I, like to cook in large quantities even for the two of us and freeze left-vers. This is

  6. I always cook extras too, Martha. That way hubby has a good home-cooked meal to take in his lunch each work day! Nothing irks me more than to see a guy go to work with a frozen box dinner for his meal. These men work hard, and they deserve a good home-cooked meal in their lunch box!! 🙂


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