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Check out these beautifully designed free meal planner templates: plan out your weekly meals ahead of time to eat healthy food, save money and reduce your stress!
Can meal planning really change your life?
Have you ever had that feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day to stop and breathe? Let alone have the time to cook a healthy meal!
Whether it’s because you are working too much like I used to or because you are running around your kids or traveling all the time, organizing your kitchen can prove a difficult task.
I’ve been there.
I know what you are thinking: “I haven’t got time for this.”
But hear me out: living a healthy lifestyle is so important. And prioritizing what you eat cannot be underestimated.
It took me a while to figure out how to organize my grocery shopping and my meals, but I now have a system in place that allows me to use very little time to plan, helps me to save money, and lets me cook delicious meals every day.
And if you tried meal planning before or think it’s too complicated, you are in the right place.
By using these templates and creating a meal plan every week, you can finally create an accurate grocery list of all the things you really need and come up with ideas for delicious and healthy recipes ahead of time.
It’ll mean fewer trips to the grocery store, less time wasted thinking about meals, and ultimately more time for you!
And after you picked the perfect template, I will share some simple step-by-step instructions to get you started with meal planning!
4 Beautiful Free Meal Planner Templates
I have to admit, I still love the feel of paper. After many years of going fully digital, there is something quite special about handwritten recipe plans.
That’s why I created these weekly meal planners. I find them so useful that I want to share them with you for free. Just click on the links below to get your PDF copy to print at home!
And if you subscribe to my newsletter below, there’s a SECRET OFFER waiting for you!
1. Minimalist Weekly Meal Planner
Sometimes simple things are the best to use.
This gorgeous minimalist design is perfect if you love uncluttered and clear shapes! Just print out this weekly meal planner and store it in your favorite binder!
2. Floral Weekly Meal Planner
This enchanting floral design is elegant and beautiful! Perfect if you love class with a little charm.
3. Meal Planner Worksheet (Google Sheets)
This editable weekly meal planner is perfect if you want to be able to save your meal prep recipes online and re-use them over and over again.
I love to be able to open this up in my Google Sheets App on my phone and edit it on the go!
Its design is inspired by the minimalist Weekly Planner Template, and it’s super simple to use! You can add links to recipes, notes on ingredients, and cut and paste recipes easily between weeks.
4. Meal planning calendar: plan with Google Calendar
How about using a calendar to plan your meals?
If you are looking for a free meal planner calendar, Google Calendar is the perfect solution! I’ve been testing Google Calendar for a few weeks, and it’s great!
I use Google Calendar all the time: for work, planning holidays, for any reminder…you can ask Dan, I plan his life too with it lol.
But it never occurred to me to use it to plan my meals until I read about it in a Facebook group.
As soon as I did, I thought:
Google Calendar is a great paperless alternative to printables and easy to open anywhere. And the amazing thing is that you can share it with the rest of your family, and whoever gets home first can help to prepare dinner.
All you have to do is set up a separate colored calendar. Then, no matter where you are, you can add your breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas on the go.
What I love: recurring meals on set days of the week!
As much as I love experimenting in the kitchen (I blog about food after all!), I am a creature of habit when it comes to my meals. One of the things I really like about Google Calendar is being able to set up my favorite recipes as recurring events so that I have the whole week of meals ready in advance! And if I get bored with a meal, I can replace that recipe with another by changing the “event” details on a specific day.
How to use notes in Google Calendar
Can you remember where you saved your favorite pasta recipe? I am so bad at keeping track of what I cook that Dan saves a picture of every delicious meal he likes so that I don’t forget to cook it for him again. Smart!
But another great way to remember your favorite meals is to add a link to the actual recipe in your Google Calendar notes!
Once you are ready to cook, all you have to do is click on the link and follow the instructions!
How about a ready-to-play Google Calendar Meal Planner?
If you want to test out Google Calendar for your meal planning adventure, I put together a week worth of delicious meals for you, with links to quick, easy, and healthy recipes. Each entry has healthy options for omnivores and vegetarian and vegan friends!
MAKE SURE YOU DOWNLOAD THIS ON YOUR DESKTOP PC OR LAPTOP!
How to install your Meal Planning Google Calendar
1. Download my ready-to-use Google Calendar here.
2. On your computer, open Google Calendar (remember, this only works on Desktop)!
3. Create a new calendar by clicking on the + sign on the left-hand side:
4. Pick a name for your Meal Planner Calendar and click “Create Calendar.”
5. Go back to your calendars and make sure your new calendar is there! You can also pick a new color to make sure you can easily spot your meal planning calendar.
I picked “Banana!!
6. Now you are ready to import! On the top right, click the Gear icon and select “Settings.”
7. On the left, click on “Import calendar” in the “Import & Export” sections. And in the dropdown menu, make sure you select your newly created Meal Prep Calendar. In my case: “Sara’s Meal Prep Calendar.”
8. Now click “Select file from your computer” and select the file you downloaded from Gathering Dreams.
The file should end in .ICS or .CSV.
9. Click “Open.”
Go back to your calendar, and you’ll see all your events in place. You can find links to my favorite recipes, amend them with your own and share your calendar with the rest of your family.
All events are set as recurring events. You can easily change this by editing each one.
I love this Google Calendar, and I am sure you’ll find it useful too!
Why meal planning?
If you are concerned about the food you eat but have very little time, meal planning can upgrade your life! Meal planning can help you change the way you eat and improve your food buying habits in many different ways.
1. Buy, prepare & eat healthier food
If you find it difficult to buy healthy food when you go shopping, thinking about what to cook and buy before you go to the grocery shop can be a game-changer! Plus, by knowing what your plans are well in advance, you won’t be tempted to eat out as much or order unhealthy (and expensive!) takeaways.
2. Save money
When you plan your meals, you become much more organized and aware of the money you spend on food each week. You will finally get into the habit of buying what you need instead of buying what you fancy.
3. Reduces your stress!
What about that stressful feeling of having to go home to prep dinner but not knowing what to cook? Most of us have busy lives, and rushing out of the office to buy food for your next meal shouldn’t be one of your daily problems!
If you plan your meals for the week, you’ll stop panicking about what to eat for dinner every night. And you will finally start developing healthy eating habits that will help you stop dieting and start enjoying your food every day.
So how much can you save using a meal planning template?
By planning your meals, you can easily save at least $500 a month for a couple. And you can save much more if you have a bigger family.
Plus, you’ll be able to save invaluable time and stress.
How to use a Meal Planner: Step-By-Step instructions for beginners
You want to start your meal planning journey, you are ready to go, but what’s the first step? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Follow these easy tips, and you’ll leave this page knowing exactly what to do!
1. Pick one: download your favorite free meal planner template!
2. Start on a Friday: planning your meals over the weekend will kick off your week the right way. Pick your meals on Friday, shop on Saturday, and set aside an hour on Sunday for meal prep.
3. Let’s be real! Be realistic about how many meals you can prep every week. Look at your schedule: are you working late any day? Are you meeting friends for dinner? If so, cross off the days where you’ll be unable to meal plan. No point in buying extra groceries if you are not around!
4. Start small! If you are just starting, don’t prep more than 2 meals per day.
5. Start easy! Pick easy meals for lunch and breakfast, and avoid changing things too much until you get comfortable with meal planning. Repeating meals during the week is fine! Cereal for breakfast and leftover for lunch can help you make planning a lot easier in the first few weeks.
6. You can eat out. Not all your meals need to be home-cooked! It’s fine to plan to eat out once in a while or to order pizza! As long as you know in advance, it will still help you to plan your shopping.
7. Easy is key. Choose easy dinners that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes, with only a few ingredients. I picked some great recipes for you to get you started. Once you have decided what to cook, fill out your meal planner template for the week. This shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes. And after a few weeks, it’ll take you much less!
8. The list! Once you have planned all your meals, write down on a separate piece of paper (or on a separate tab in Google Sheet) all the ingredients you need before you go shopping.
9. Once a week. Limit your shopping to once a week! This will save you time and money.
10. Once a day. Every morning take a minute to quickly check your meal planner to make sure you have everything set for the day ahead (this will give you time to remove items from the freezer or add items to your grocery list).
Want someone to plan meals for you?
If you want to ease into meal planning, you might want someone else to put together a delicious meal plan list for you. While looking for a solution, I came across Erin and her amazing $5 meal plan. For just $5 a month, Erin will send you a delicious meal plan where every meal will cost about $2 per person or even less.
If you hate spending money and spending time thinking about what to cook, Erin’s meal plan gives you the best solution: you can get your meals ready much faster by having tasty recipes planned out for you, and the recipes are healthy, delicious, and cheap!
Don’t miss out! Try the $5 meal plan for free:
$5 Meal Plan: let Erin help you with your weekly meal planning! You can try it out for free for 14 days! It won’t cost you anything. If you like it, you can keep getting amazing recipes for $5 a month. If not, you would have discovered more tasty recipes for free!
Try it now by clicking here.
Ready to take action?
Download your favorite meal planner template and get started now.
And remember, don’s stress out too much, especially if you are just starting out. If something doesn’t go according to plan one day, it’s ok to change things around. Meal planning is a work in progress, and the important thing is to slowly transform it into a habit.
Last thing to do! Subscribe to my newsletter for a SECRET OFFER, too good to miss!
SOME GREAT MEAL PREP RECIPES TO INSPIRE YOU:
If you are into meal prep, here you can find some more great ideas to help you with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!