Save time in the kitchen and get weekly meal planning done fast with this easy sticky note menu planning system. It includes free printables and tips.
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Menu planning is a necessary chore. But if you’re trying to eat healthy and/or on a budget, it is also the best way to manage your spending and avoid the drive-thru.
I have spent endless hours staring at cookbooks and Pinterest, expecting great ideas to just jump out at me. Finally, I came up with a solution that will save me hours of time, and I am excited to share my all-in-one sticky note menu planning system.
Menu planning guidelines
If you’re new to meal planning, my Ultimate Meal Planning Guide is a great place to start. I covered my weekly routine, my favorite time-saving tips and tricks, and a bunch of the foodie printables here on the blog.
Menu planning system
- ring binder
- clear zip pencil bag
- clear sheet protectors
- white card stock
- color card stock
- sticky notes
- peel-and-stick laminate
- printables (Download at the end of this post.)
Print the cover to slide into the front of the binder.
Add a clear zip pencil bag in the front of the binder to store your meal planning supplies, like shopping lists, coupons, pens, and sticky notes.
Weekly page spread
Print the two-page weekly meal plan calendar on 8.5×11-inch card stock.
For extra durability, I originally laminated the calendar pages. I used one-sided self-adhesive laminating sheets which I bought on Amazon for about five bucks for a pack of ten. I like them because they take about two seconds to do and don’t need to be heated.
Insert the laminated calendar pages into two of the sheet protectors, facing each other so that you can see the whole week at a glance.
When creating this system, I tried sticking this up on the refrigerator. The sticky notes didn’t stay, probably because of humidity.
There is space to write in the week, which is handy if you’re a once-a-month planner and shopper. You could definitely print multiple copies of the weekly meal plan and plan several at once.
Insert four different-colored pieces of card stock into four more sheet protectors. This is where your meals will go when they aren’t on the menu.
I used green for vegetarian meals, pink for beef, yellow for chicken, and blue for pork. That’s what I had on hand, but use what makes sense to you.
Now you’re ready to add some meals.
Adding meals to the binder
First, make a list of meals that your family likes and eats most often.
You can use a pen and paper, but I also have a pretty watercolor favorite meals list in my foodie planner inserts in the Keri Houchin Design Shop.
This is where you need the sticky notes and the template.
First, print the sticky note template on 8.5×11-inch card stock. That’s the page with the six boxes.
Next, place six sticky notes on the template and line them up carefully. Make sure the stuck part is at the top so it won’t jam in the printer. You can read more about printing on sticky notes from Tatertots and Jello.
Now you’re ready to print onto the sticky notes.
Hit print and make sure you’re using the correct printer settings. It will depend on the model you have, but in general, use the rear feed tray or specialty tray to make sure the cardstock and sticky notes will go through without jamming.
Optional: Before you print, open the PDF with the sticky note text and type each of your meals onto a square. Each one has a space for the entree, side dishes, and the source for the recipes. Get tips for how to type on printables.
Make sure if you are including recipes from Pinterest that you put the name of the blog where they really are. Pinterest is really just a visual search engine and if you put “Pinterest” on your sticky note, you might not be able to find it later.
If you’re not typing on your notes, you can handwrite the info after you print.
Sort the sticky notes onto the color pages by category, sticking them on the outside of the sheet protector.
Planning meals with the menu planning system
Take the calendar out of the protective sleeves.
Flip through your meals and add the ones you want to eat this week. Stick one sticky note on each day.
If you want to try a new recipe, handwrite on a blank sticky note. If everyone loves it, you can always type it up later and add it to the binder. There is room to expand indefinitely.
Check the recipes and add ingredients to your grocery shopping list.
Place the calendar back in the protective sleeves with the sticky notes on the inside.
This menu planning system really simplified my weekly routine after I initially created it. It has also helped me stick to our grocery budget better.
Of course, it isn’t a flawless system. I imagine that eventually, the sticky notes won’t be sticky anymore. It won’t be hard to reprint our favorites though.
Sticky note menu plan printables
Download the printables in PDF format. There are 5 pages – a binder cover, the 2 meal plan calendar pages, the sticky note template, and the sticky note text.
You may need to allow popups or give permission to download. See Printables Troubleshooting and FAQ for help. If you want to save this for later, please pin an image from this blog post instead of saving the direct link to the PDF.
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