I know all too well that meal planning can feel extremely overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you decide what you should eat each day without worrying about what you might be in the mood for?
Meal Planning is all about having a strategy.
I know that doesn’t sound like fun, BUT, having a strategy in place will make it SO much easier to meal plan!
When you have a strategy for your meal planning in place, you can look forward to;
1. Spending less time meal planning overall
2. Cut out decision fatigue
3. Enjoy creative freedom to try new recipes
4. And so much more!
Your Bullet Journal will be the perfect tool to help you create a meal planning strategy that is easy to implement, follow, and modify throughout the year.
Before we get started…
Before you jump into your Bullet Journal to start meal planning, there are a few simple steps that you should take that will help you determine what your meal planning strategy is going to be.
There are 5 steps that I like to follow when meal planning:
Step 1 – Brainstorm different meal ideas in a notebook or on a blank sheet of paper
Step 2 – Organize all of your different ideas into categories
Step 3 – Brainstorm the different Bullet Journal layouts you want to use
Step 4 – Create the Bullet Journal layouts
Step 5 – Start planning in your Bullet Journal with the different ideas you brainstormed and categorized!
Do you want to check each step off as you do it!? I have created a FREE cheat sheet with the 5 step-by-step checklist. PLUS, get 5 hacks for improved meal planning in your Bullet Journal!
Stage One: The Brainstorming
For this stage, you are going to need to grab:
– A notebook or some scrap paper
– A pen
– Your favourite cookbooks
Before you get started, grab the supplies that you will need for this process!
Stage Two: Organizing Your Categories
For this stage, you will want tools that you can use to help you organize.
Personally, I like to use different colour highlighters! The Zebra Mildliners are my favourite. You get a lot more colours than you do in a traditional set of highlighters which is perfect when breaking meals up into different categories. I find I typically need 7 to 10 different colours.
Stage Three: Create Your Bullet Journal Layouts
This is where the fun begins! Grab all of your favourite Bullet Journal supplies!
Want a list of my favourite Bullet Journal Supplies? Go here!
Now, its time to go through the steps to meal planning in your Bullet Journal! I recommend blocking some quiet time for yourself to do this!
Brainstorm Your Different Meal Ideas
For this step, I like to have some fun! Turn on your favourite music. Grab your favourite beverage. And lets begin!
There are 3 steps I like to do when brainstorming.
Start by writing out your family favourite meals!
Do your kids request the same thing week after week? Do you like to have a family dinner on Sundays? Now is the time to get all of those things down onto paper! This step should be quick and take you no more than ten minutes! (Maybe even five.)
Flip through your favourite cookbooks and flag some meals!
These can be meals that you have made before that your family liked, or they can be meals you have never tried before!
I like to use small post it notes to mark each recipe page. Then, once I am done, add the name of each recipe, the cookbook, and the page number onto your paper of list ideas.
Scroll through your Pinterest Boards!
Put your hand up if you are guilty of saving a thousand recipes to your Pinterest Boards and then never giving them the time of day. (My hand is up!) Now is your chance to try them out! Go through your Pinterest Boards and write down some of those recipes you have been meaning to try!
In this brainstorming stage, nothing needs to be neat and tidy. This is all about coming up with meal ideas that you can use on your Bullet Journal layouts!
Once you are happy with your brainstorming, you can move onto the next step!
Organize Your Different Ideas Into Categories
The next step is to organize all of your different meals into different categories!
You can then use these categories to create theme nights, create meal planning rotations, or any other strategy you can come up with!
How To Split Each Meal Up Into Their Respective Categories
There are two ways that I personally like to do this:
1. Use your highlighters to symbolize the categories
2. Create a chart on a blank sheet of paper. Each column would be for a different category.
Option 1 is my favourite. I don’t like to use more paper than I have to. This way, I can just organize my meal ideas right on the brainstorming page.
Once you choose what categories you want to use, pair it up with a colour and start highlighting!
Determining Your Categories
There are so many categories that you can use, but here are some of my personal favourites:
– DIY Pizza’s
– Breakfast For Dinner
– Slow Cooker
– Instant Pot
– Air Fryer
– Stir Fry
– Oven Bake
– New Recipe
Choose what categories will fit into your meal plan best!
You may even find that certain categories spark more ideas and inspiration! Don’t be afraid to add a few items to your brainstorming sheet!
Deciding What Bullet Journal Layouts You Want To Use
The next step is deciding how you will organize all of your ideas in your Bullet Journal.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with how you plan this stuff out in your Bullet Journal! I have used several different meal planning layouts in my own journal, and I have settled on two that I switch back and fourth between. Start experimenting with your own layouts to find what works for you!
There are a couple of things you can do to decide how you will meal plan in your Bullet Journal.
Do you want to follow a theme night style?
If yes, you may consider a layout where you create a list of the meal ideas you have for each category. You can then pull meal ideas directly from this list when you meal plan each week.
Do you want to create a routine that can be used again and again?
If yes, you may consider a layout where you can create a rotation, or “routine” of meals that you will make. Decide how many days you will rotate, and then create a layout for that rotation.
Do you want to meal plan weekly or monthly?
While some prefer to have layouts dedicated solely to their meal plans, others like to include their meal plans on their monthly or weekly layouts. If this is something you want to consider, take a look at your current layouts and find space where you can add that in!
Creating Your Bullet Journal Layouts
Depending on what layouts you have decided to make, be sure to give yourself plenty of time!
Start by sketching out your idea on your page in your journal, or creating a mockup on a spare sheet of paper. I like to take my time to measure everything out to ensure I have proper spacing.
Once you know how you want to set the layouts up, you can start drawing them!
You will notice that my Bullet Journal layouts are very basic, but you can definitely add some doodles to your layout if you would like! If you want to learn how to doodle some really cute food items, check out this round up post from CrazyLaura!
Once your Bullet Journal layouts are done, be sure to add them to your index so that you can easily find them!
Planning In Your Bullet Journal
Now that your layouts are done, it is finally time to start planning in your Bullet Journal!
If you haven’t already, start transferring the items from your brainstorming sheet into your Bullet Journal!
From there, you can start meal planning from that page, or on your weekly/monthly layouts!
You may find that you love your layouts right away, but you may also find certain things aren’t necessarily working the way that you had hoped. That’s okay! It took me a few tries to find the Bullet Journal meal planning layouts that worked really well for me.
If your Bullet Journal layouts aren’t working, first try to identify two things that aren’t working that you can change. By making small incremental changes to your strategy, you are sure to land on a strategy that works really well for you and your family!
I hope that this has helped you find a starting point for meal planning in your Bullet Journal! This step-by-step strategy has served me really well, and I am confident it can work well for you too!
To help you even more, I have created a cheat sheet you can download to your computer! Keep this on hand in case you ever find you want to start from scratch and go through each step again! The cheatsheet can be downloaded here!
Let me know in the comments how many meal ideas you were able to get organized in your Bullet Journal!