Do you have any favorite meal planning tools? The ones where you’ll just feel lost every week if you don’t have them available.
I do, most definitely! If even one thing is missing from this list, my process starts to go haywire and I miss out on the good deals and spend more money.
Maybe you don’t have a set list, or are looking for something new to add to make meal planning even easier for your busy schedule. I’ve got you! Here are my top 6 meal planning tools I can’t live without.
To be honest, I don’t use Google Docs much anymore because I’ve moved to Trello and am still testing it out (More coming on that soon!). However, Google Docs is a seriously amazing way to create a grocery list.
Just create a new document and call it “Grocery List”. From there, add a header for this week’s menu, next week’s menu (for when you start planning), and the grocery stores where you shop. From there, you can now keep everything organized when it comes to meal planning.
The best part is you can access your Google Doc from anywhere- your computer, phone, tablet, etc. And you can share it with other people in the house so they can add things to the grocery list as well. John and I used to do this all the time and it worked wonders.
Meal planning sheets
I’ve created a huge assortment of meal planning sheets to help both me and you with meal planning. While I tend to use a digital grocery list and weekly meal plan, I still use a few of these tools on paper. My favorites are:
- Master Meal List
- Inventory Sheets
- Monthly Meal Plan Calendar
I have a HUGE amount of sheets for meal planning, meal prep, and freezer meals in my Resource Library. To get instant access to these amazing PDFs, use the form below:
Does that sound weird/obvious to you? In this digital age, phones are people’s lifelines. They keep everything on their phone- calendars, messengers, etc. They literally can’t function without their phone keeping them on schedule.
I don’t ever print out a grocery list anymore. Instead, I just use my phone because it’s much easier to hold onto as I’m walking through the store. I still get that satisfaction of checking items off my list, and it’s so convenient for when I need to check my digital coupons to see what kind of amazing deals I can score.
The phone I currently use is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, but really any smartphone will do as long as you can download your apps. Here are my favorites:
Pinterest– my best friend and my worst enemy. Sure, I can find the coolest recipes and ideas. But do you know how easy it is to get lost in a sea of bento boxes and Instant Pot hacks?
I have my Pinterest boards organized by meal type, for the most part- Mexican, Pasta/Pizza, Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, Breakfast, etc. Then I have a secret board called “Meal Rotation” that has all the recipes I’ve made and enjoyed- similar to the Master Meal List sheet but in digital form!
Pinterest is basically my online cookbook- While I enjoy going to the library and getting out cookbooks, pulling out my phone and browsing Pinterest certainly is more convenient in a pinch.
Weekly grocery ads
The most important part of my meal planning process is searching through the weekly ads. There I’ll find the best deals for the week so I can figure out where I’ll be shopping that weekend.
While I do check the entire ad, my main focus is on the front page. In case you didn’t know, this is where all the best deals are, the “Loss Leaders”. Loss Leaders are items that are priced so low, the stores don’t make a profit from them. Their hope is that along with buying those, you’ll buy other items that are not on sale to make up for the loss.
Bottom line: If you want to save the most money, shop the front page of all grocery ads!
Wait, you can use Facebook groups for meal planning? Absolutely! Groups are amazing resources for finding grocery sales you might not have seen in the ads. If you do a quick search for your favorite store, I bet you’ll find at least a few groups.
My favorite part about using Facebook groups is that people will post screenshots of an item that’s on sale, plus a coupon that you can use with it. This is how I’ve been able to score some awesome finds recently! They’ll also post whenever there’s a new coupon for a free item.
Here are the groups that I frequent almost every week when I meal plan:
I hope at least one of the above tools will help you tremendously when starting next week’s meal plan! And I love hearing your stories, so leave me a comment with your favorite meal planning tool and which of the above you’re going to try!