how we meal plan: the meal planning kit & giveaway


i believe the commitment to our home & the work of our hands should be beautiful, creative & enjoyable. 

i love making our own laundry soap because it saves us money & i get to put it in a pretty jar when i am finished. i don't mind sweeping our kitchen floors because the broom has a well-made wooden handle & looks like one my great grandmother might have used. i get a little giddy when i sit down on sunday evenings to meal plan because my paper meal planner inspires me.


above is the usual scene you will see when i am meal planning: a pretty bouquet on the table with a candle lit & a cup of coffee in hand. my homemaking binder continues to be a work-in-progress (i hope to share that with you sometime soon!), but it is filled with all-natural home product recipes & the loveliest meal planner pages


i have used a lot of meal planners in my day from scraps of paper to free printables online. they were all fine, but they didn't exactly fit the needs of our family & i wasn't left inspired. when i came across amy j delightful's meal planning kit, i jumped on the opportunity & purchased one. it is full of helpful pages from a freezer inventory to printable recipe cards. 

i specifically love this meal planning kit because it includes a space for every meal. i noticed that when i didn't plan my lunch, i made a poor choice & simply ate leftovers or whatever i saw first (i.e. tortilla chips with cheese melted on top). this meal planner allows me to plan our breakfast, lunches & dinner. i can now plan & enjoy a big salad when it's written on the meal plan & i have purchased extra greens. 


i also love the grocery list. i print it out, put it on a clipboard & walk around my kitchen writing down foods we need. i bring that same clipboard to the store with me & cross off items as i shop. 

would you like to win a meal planning kit from amy j delightful? i am so excited to offer one today!

simply- 

2. comment below with your email address & one meal planning tip

i'll choose a random winner on monday & share the winner's name here!
love,
natalie

++ GIVEAWAY CLOSED ++ 
congrats to lovecakesoup for winning the giveaway! I will email you shortly!

80 comments:

Lydia Rehrman said...

Hi Natalie! I love this post. I am not that good at meal planning, though I have been trying more. One tip that I have is to leave room in your meal planning for fresh fruits and veggies that might be available at your farmer's market. My e-mail is lrehrman@yahoo.com. I would love to win this!
Lydia :)
http://thehealthywaymama.blogspot.com/

Living on Love said...

Lovely! Not really a tip, but I try to never repeat a meal (unless it's a fav!) Keeps me searching for new recipes and forces me to be creative! :)

philandlacy @ gmail.com

Lauren Casper said...

beautiful! I love Amy's shop (such cute illustrations!!) and I would love to win the meal planning kit! With two little ones at home I try to plan well, and one thing I've learned is to only plan 6 out of 7 dinners for the week because there will always be leftovers and one night is set aside to eat them all. ;)

Melissa Lyon West said...

Cute! The thing I find most helpful is to include snacks! When I don't plan for them I find myself dipping into ingredients that are needed for meals. Which then leaves me short on those nights and I end up sweet talking my husband to run to chipotle :p. I find the more time I spend and plan every detail the more likely I am to stick to the plan and the budget.

melissalyonwest@gmail.com

ashnlilsmom said...

I started meal planning several months ago & it has saved our family time & money. My kiddos love that they can ask what's for dinner on a particular day & I already know. My tip is to plan around what you may already have in the kitchen first & then plan your other meals. It's also good to utilize leftovers for another recipe (I.e. leftover sautéed veggies could be added to an omelette for breakfast the next morning). I would love to win this kit! My email is ashnlilsmom@gmail.com

sewstylish said...

Great post. I try to think of the schedule for the week ahead like sports practices etc etc and plan meals accordingly. On busy nights I like to have something healthy going in the crock pot so there's no excuses of being to tired to eat healthy on those later nights.
My email is jlfquilts@roadrunner.com

charlee said...

My husband and I have recently been convicted to be better stewards with Gods money. We want to be more generous to others and live a blessed life. We also have been trying to eat healthier clean meals. We have learned buying organic fruit and veggies helps us because it seems to be more filling than the injected wax balls we were buying. I would love to win this kit to help us stay on the right track. :)
cjdunn2010@aol.com

Hannah Pasquinzo said...

Cute kit! And looks really useful! :) I have tried very strict meal planning, and it sometimes leaves me feeling trapped. What if I don't feel like tacos when I get home on Tuesday night? So I still write it all down, but I leave myself the freedom to switch it up if I want to - eat Thursday's meal on Monday, etc. Also, I only plan for about 4 nights out of the week. I know from experience that our family will inevitably run through somewhere after soccer practice one night or run over to a friend's house for an impromptu BBQ on a Friday evening. So flexibility is key for us! We live right by a grocery store, so that helps. :)

hannah@hannahpasquinzo.com

Laura said...

I would love to win. One tip is to not reinvent the wheel. Instead of spending hours online trying to find new recipes, I have 10-12 favorites that I rotate through each month. With leftovers and dinners out with friends, I don't need to plan for a ton of new meals each month.

Living The Young Life said...

I love to meal plan! The biggest tip I have is to shop my cabinets. Look and see what I have and can come up with that and just add to those items to make meals. Also I ALWAYS! buy meal flour and sugar at the start of every month that way I always have at least 1 bag of each on hand. Don't you just hate to start cooking something and realize you don't have any sugar? What if the neighbor doesn't have a cup? lol

Nikki Lyons said...

I love to try to keep up with meal planning, it makes the week go smoother for me so I don't burden by what to cook after a long day. My tip would be try cooking extras if grains and beans, they take longest and are so versitle( not to mention the protein ;) They can really make a salad great at lunch time.
Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Hi Natalie! I love your blog! I love getting ingredients together a night ahead to put in the crockpot the next morning. I work fulltime and there's nothing better than remembering in the middle of a hectic day at work that there is something ready for dinner when I get home!!:)
kahwingate@yahoo.com

Tonya said...

Adding beans to taco meat, or any meal always stretches our grocery budget giving us plenty of leftovers. tschmidt8@yahoo.com

Amy said...

How cute. Amy's shop is so cute.

We have a large family so meal planning is crucial for us. I like to do my planning for two weeks at a time because it coincides with my husbands pay period. :)

Thanks for the giveaway.
Amymwelborn@gmail.com

emily o. said...

Often when I'm making something like beans, soup, or casserole, I will make an extra to keep in the freezer. emilykoneal@gmail.com

Amanda said...

I love her shop! So cute! I meal plan around sale at our local store as well as what I have on hand. We try to keep our grocery bill as low as possible while still eating well. AS a family of three (about to be four) on one income it is a necessity.

Anonymous said...

Great giveaway! My meal planning tip is to double and freeze -if I Make one meatloaf, two is just as easy. Helps on those busy nights.
Thanks for considering me. Denise

dajweber@aol.com

KatieRae said...

I just got married almost a month ago and have started learning how to meal plan, but I could definitely use MUCH more help. But I have learned that grocery shopping early Saturday mornings allows me to take my time, cross everything off my list and make more wise (money conscious) decisions. My email is katelyn_hirsch@yahoo.com

Sara said...

I do so love your meal planning posts! I've started meal planning in 2014. I cook mostly for myself, so I tend to choose a theme for a week, and make sure I use each ingredient fully. I'll cook a whole chicken or batch cook whole grains.

My tip would be: Cook once, eat twice (or three times!)

saraefk @ gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I love this week's post Natalie! This kit looks absolutely adorable!

My meal planning tip would be to frame your meals around what is in season at the market. That way your food will have optimal nutrition and freshness, it will typically be a lower price, and your body will be more in sync with nature's natural rhythms and fulfilled by food that it needs during that particular season.

jenniferpoolwarren@gmail.com

Kara said...

What a nice giveaway! I have long planned our family's dinners, but lunches always were catch as catch can. My meal planning tip is jarred salads. I make a whole batch on Sunday and hard boil some eggs as well. A huge mixing bowl of salad topped with a chopped egg is a delicious lunch, and I feel great that I am not waiting until dinner to get my greens in!

Suyai said...

Thank you for the giveaway! :)

My tip would be looking in your pantry and fridge before you meal plan and include the stuff you have left before buying so that you really use everything and not waste food. x

Jody said...

I love her kit, this is the second time someone I follow has posted it. It's sad to say with such a large family as mine, I've failed to do meal planning, and I know it costs us hundreds of dollars a month because of that :-( I would love to win this! Jodycarr96@gmail.com

emilyj. said...

Love Amy's shop! When meal planning I start first with what I already have and then build from there based on ingredients than can span a few meals. I also plan in 1-2 meals each week that I know will provide plenty of leftovers for lunches and/or a night off from cooking. ejcronk@gmail.com

Anna @ A Good Home said...

I'm the worst meal planner in the world! I can use any help I can get. I have no tips, but I could sure use some!

Kathy said...

What a beautiful meal planning kit! I would love to win it. :)
kathleen.m.mullins@gmail.com

One of my meal planning practices is to try to think ahead 2 or 3 meals. If I'm baking potatoes for dinner tonight, I make extras for lunch tomorrow and turn the last ones into fried potatoes with breakfast the third day. If I make extra potatoes and eggs that morning, I turn them into breakfast burritos for the freezer!

Amanda said...

Im not a good meal planner but I am working to do it and do it well :) thank you for the encouragement! My only tip I guess would be to check the stores ads beforehand.. when I planned meals around the sales I saved SO much and it was fun! :)

Amanda.dturnbo@gmail.com

shannon said...

Hi Natalie (: I'm not very consistent with our meal planning each week. The weeks I do plan are the evenings I most enjoy because its one less thing to think about and more time spent enjoying my family! Thanks for doing this great giveaway! sgtabor@netzero.com

Casey said...

Caseybarley@yahoo.com
I love meal planning and i find when i am consistent i save our family alot of money. We also tend to waste less food. I think a tip i would share is that meal planning allows me to go to the grocery store less often.. Which keeps me from being tempted to buy things we dont need or treats we shouldnt be having so often!

Vanessa said...

vanessa.s.marcos@gmail.com

I've tried different ways to do meal planning, but i guess it's easier if you go first to the supermarket and buy the things you need after the promotions that you find around there.
After that, at home, with my products i do i meal planning.

Stacy Miller said...

I've always had a hard time with meal planning (especially lately!). One "tip" I have is to try and plan multiple meals around similar ingredients. I'll make a stir fry one day, and use the extra rice to do "fried rice" the next! (I can never get enough "chinese" food!).




smiller1591@gmail.com

Andrea @ Hey Mama, Rock Me. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrea @ Hey Mama, Rock Me. said...

I'm the same way - I love for anything around our home to inspire me, and my husband makes fun of me for it sometimes (like "Andrea does it really matter what our broom looks like?!"), but I know he appreciates the beauty in our home as well. I think the best tip I've found for meal planning is to dedicate a specific day of the week/specific time to meal planning and plan the entire week, all meals and snacks right then. If I just plan a few meals and have a 'we'll figure it out attitude' it leaves room for just going out to eat when we don't feel like cooking. But if you know you have food at home, you feel a bit guilty and are more likely to be disciplined. Great giveaway though - I would love to win some cute meal planner pages! :) I'd also love to see your homemaking binder! I've been working on one since my husband and I got married like three years ago and I just can't get it together the way I want it.

Natalie Ryan said...

I love this giveaway! We always try to stretch ingredients as far as possible. We usually buy a whole chicken and manage to make 2-3 meals from it for the week.

Natalieryan13@hotmail.com

alongthedirtroad said...

I love it and I totally think that you have the right idea. I need to apply this to meal planning too. I kind of do in my head...but I'm thinking that on paper...where I could see it...is a very good thing. btw: I love your little flags! ~k.

whitney swanson said...

This is so ironic! I follow you on Instagram and yesterday I finally looked at your blog for the first time. I was reading all of your homemaking tips which are fabulous! I do a fairly good job of prepping food for the week, but not so much the whole meal itself. I went home last night and made a list of all of our favorite meals, I would love this kit to help me out (which I've had my eye on because I also follow Raising up Rubies and Amy J Delightful on Instagram!)
My tip is if you know you will need ground beef or chicken throughout the week, cook it on Sunday so you have less mess the day you make the actual meal!
swansonwa@yahoo.com

Madilyn Broxham said...

I always get so inspired by you Miss Natalie! Thank you for your encouraging post, both on Instagram and on your beautiful blog. You really are touching lives. I am a 19 (almost 20) year old Army Wife and am constantly wanting to make the best decisions for my hubby and I when it comes to our meals. I love getting super creative and making enough for leftovers (gotta be resourceful!)

I LOVE categorizing my shopping list by sections of the store (produce, dairy, meats, etc.), then down to aisles. (I've clearly gotten my commissary down. Lol) But pretty (and organized) paper by Amy's Shop would brighten up any kitchen and shopping trip! :)

madilynbroxham@gmail.com

Candace said...

As a young mom of 3 kiddos I try my best to keep the grocery budget down.. I love Thursday when I get flyers. I try my best to make sure I plan my meals around sale items as much as I can.

Hales.candace@gmail.com

theloveapartment said...

Taking one evening a week to do food prep is what keeps me on track with healthy eating. I wash and cut all fruits and vegetables, hard boil eggs and make a pot of brown rice or quinoa to use during the week. It makes it so much easier when I get home from a long day to throw together a healthy meal.
Tayloreyoung@gmail.com

Rebekah said...

I try to plan meals around making sure we have certain grains and veg every week for dinner.

Katelyn said...

What a beautiful kit! I find it helpful on our wallets to learn to cook using staples from the home instead of buying a random list of items needed for a recipe and feeling free to leave out some more obscure ingredients from a recipe. That has been a huge help to keeping to a food budget! I'm glad I found you're blog! katelynstenersen@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Love this meal planner! I would not survive meals if I did not plan everything out. With a family of 6 it helps us to stay on budget! My tip would be plan well and only go to the store once a week...it will save you $$$. Thanks!

jdgough@hotmail.com

tara said...

I've been debating getting a meal planning kit, and these pages look so helpful! My tip is to check the weather when meal planning. I find that I like a nice hot bowl of soup on a cool day but not so much on warm day!

Michelle said...

Wow! Amy has some seriously beautiful stuff in her shop! Thanks for introducing me to her work. The nesting dolls and/or woodland animals clip art would seriously spruce up my kids' chore charts. :)

One of my most helpful tips is to have a tentative plan for a full month, as well as to keep my last two weeks on hand. I found that when I DIDN'T do this, I would get into ruts and plan the same meal a little more often than my husband or kiddos really wanted it.

Anonymous said...

I like to meal plan a day before I go shopping, this way it allows me to take the time to account for extra meal events and plan well. :)
jaharder@gmail.com

sk said...

ummmmm heck yes! I really need to get organized. looks like a great planner!

kelly said...

My favorite meal planning tip is surprising: join a CSA! For an indecisive person like me, it's overwhelming to select recipes for each week. There are just too many choices! But, with a CSA, I know what fruits and veggies will be coming to my door (our CSA sends out an email one week in advance). This gives a starting point for my meal planning-- and also pushes me out of my food comfort zone!

Chelsea said...

What a great system! Her illustrations are adorable!

chelsea.a.cummings (at) gmail (dot) com

Lucy said...

Wow, her clip art is adorable! Amy is really talented.

I don't know how I survived before I started meal planning. I also started feeling constricted by a strict meal plan, so now I simply make a list of meals for the week and let myself choose what sounds good each day. Giving myself the freedom to switch things up was a simple move that thankfully kept me from giving up on the menu planning.

Ann Carman said...

Hello! Great ideas! I always make sure to check store's weekly sales ads and plan my meals around foods that are cheaper that week.

ann.carman@gmail.com

NikkiR55 said...

I use pretty paper to keep me inspired and check sales, coupons and what I have already at home that needs to get used up before I plan.

nikkianddavey@gmail.com

Janis Scobee said...

Forget the recipe! Be creative by using what you already have on hand and make something new!

Susan said...

I shop the sale items and plan my meals from that, ten fill in from my pantry. LOTS of fresh fruits and veggies!!
Thanks for offer.
mombenson(at)comcast(dot)net
Susan @SugarBeans.org

Elise said...

I don't know that I so much have a meal planning tip, BUT one food-related tip...I boil my chicken carcass and strain the broth from it, then freeze it for future use.

I need to meal plan and I absolutely LOVE your blog! The black bean and sweet potato burritos are a constant in my freezer now, too!

Thanks so much!

athomeelise@yahoo.com

Meg said...

I'm a new reader of your blog... I was just here last night reading your meal planning 101 because I really need to make some changes! These are so cute! What a great tool to help run a successful kitchen. My one and only tip (I need help afterall) is to make a list of what meals you like to make that you can glance at when you can't think of anything to eat. I too often resort to chips with cheese as well. Thanks for sharing such great information! naturallymeg at gmail.com.

Jane said...

what a fabulous tool & being gorgeous too just makes it all the more motivating!
my meal planning tip is to leave room for leftovers within the plan, as well as like you said planning lunch. knowing I have a yummy lunch planned I'm less likely to snack!
thank you so much for sharing this!!

Samantha said...

I think my one tip for meal planning is to find a few quick meals you enjoy and always keep those staples on hand.
Amy's shop is beautiful!
skurviee @ gmail.com

Becky Hughston said...

I would LOVE this meal planning kit :) Everything's more fun when it's pretty!

I've had ambitions of meal planning every week since I got married(9 months ago), and I have yet to really do it successfully. I usually try to plan out my meals, but if it takes too much time I just end of going to the store, getting all the basics, and hoping for the best throughout the week that I'll be able to throw a good meal together haha!

When I am on top of my game, I cut up my fruits and veggies when I get home from the grocery store. I also put snacks into individual baggies, or lunch items into tupperware. I've learned from experience that the more prep work I do when I have time/am in the mood, the better! If it's easy to grab and easy to prepare, I'll eat it! This helps my great intentions of eating healthy, rather than letting a grouchy/lazy mood deter me to junk food!

My email is beckyhughston@gmail.com

Kerry @ Made For Real said...

Poppin' over from Amy's...your blog is adorable, off to check out your shop next!

We have a family of 7 so we have some staple meals each week that we can rely on like taco night, pasta night, homemade pizza (when we run out of bread! We make our own), soup nights, crock nights...etc. this helps us categorize meals and leave days open for new recipes as well. The staple meals also help as my olders are learning to cook!

Crystal said...

I love these meal plans! I would really enjoy using them. My tip was probably mentioned already, but the best thing I do when meal planning is to check for things I need to use up before making my plan for the week. That keeps extra veg and fruit from going bad, and helps me make my way through surplus pantry staples. My email is crystalbethjones @ Gmail.com

Aimee said...

Love this! I literally just sat down to meal plan and I simply use a pen and graph paper...would love to prettify it :)
Tip? Plan Crockpot meals for the busy days of the week. A simple chili or lasagna can be mixed together quickly and left to cook all afternoon. This is helpful when I know I will be exhausted at 5pm and not want to make something no matter how planned I was.

Chris said...

When cooking a meal I double or treble the amount I make and freeze the extra portions that way when you know you will have a busy day it is easy to defrost and reheat. Also instead of a slow cooker use a wonder bag and the meal will not burn if you are delayed

lifeinthewyldewest said...

oh yes! finally I figured out to leave a comment. I was going through Bloglovin and it wouldn't allow me to leave a note. I adore your blog. It inspires me and I just wanted to tell you that.

Love Tracie (lifeinthewyldewest)

foreverambie said...

Hi! The pages of this kit are just gorgeous and the ideas from your blog came just in time! My husband and I are trying our best to save money and we realize meal planning is the best way to do it! (foreverambie@yahoo.com)

foreverambie said...

Hi! The pages of this kit are just gorgeous and the ideas from your blog came just in time! My husband and I are trying our best to save money and we realize meal planning is the best way to do it! (foreverambie@yahoo.com)

Anonymous said...

Lovecakesoup@gmail.com
I have been wanting to meal plan in such a way that I can cook enough on one or two days for the week. And each evening has a certain theme to help my son flow through his days.
My tip would be to save veggie remnants and make broth! Also chicken carcasses and getting bones
From local farmers
For chicken and bone broth to add nutrients to whatever meal you are preparing.
Thanks for the opportunity!

Sarah said...

Hi! This is my first visit to your blog... I found you through instagram. Congrats on Calamity's babies! Anyway, my tip is this: I cook large portions using my crock pot or Dutch oven and freeze extra meal portions for busy/lazy days. The trick is to refrigerate the portions before freezing them; it preserves flavor and prevents freezer burn! Yours, Sarah
Subtletytales@gmail.com

Carrie said...

Hi! My meal planning tip is to wash veggies right after you buy/harvest them so when it's time to use them in a meal, you save a little time.
Carrieanna76@gmail.com

Sara said...

These seem so helpful and beautiful to boot. I don't know if it's a tip exactly, but I try to scrounge and scrape to get by with what is in the pantry and fridge before going shopping to try not to let anything go to waste.

sarbearreeves @ gmail.com

sownwithlove said...

I love the meal planning kit! I haven't meal planned for the last few years and sometimes that means I just end up having pasta for dinner. Would love the chance to be inspired by this beautiful paper so I can go back to taking the time to write out a menu. Coincidentally I am working on our crop plan so I can even estimate what produce will be available when :)

My meal planning tip is to make at least three meals a week that will yield leftovers so I don't have to make something new for lunch or dinner the following day!

Kelly said...

i'm so glad to learn about amy's shop her items are great! i had a meal planner before, but it got lost when we moved in may. (i still have a few boxes to go through)

the tip is always like to give when asked about meal planning is: go through your fridge and cupboards to see what you already have and try to built meals around those items first. and Pinterest is always good! but thats not news. ;)

pick me!

flywithmeblog@gmail.com

Ferko said...

This would be so helpful for me, I'm totally disorganized haha. My tip would be to make food that you like and then keep those recipes on hand :)

Ferko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kay H said...

I love this! Meal planning is one of my favorite "chores" to do, I find it so relaxing as fun.
I don't know if I'd call it a tip, but I find that having themed days makes it easier to plan out the week/month so make sure that we don't repeat any meals or sides. (Like, chicken on monday,taco tuesday, crock pot recipe wednesday, etc.) We always have pizza on Fridays and Saturdays and usually for leftovers!

whitetrashfairytale@gmail.com

xo,
Kay
www.whitetrashfairytale.com

Kelly said...

I love Amy's Shop...really cute things. My tip is that I plan all our meals and then prepare my grocery list.
Thanks for the giveaway!!!

dbr311@bellsouth.net

Kate Alexander. said...

Amy's shop is adorable! Thanks for the giveaway :) I've found one way to cut down on meal planning time is to document our favorite meals (it changes every few months with kids) and rotate them. It's frustrating to plan a dinner then have the kids turn their nose up at it.

Anonymous said...

Helpful tip is to vary your meals by making categories like cheese, meat, beans, veggies and then try to fit few meals each month into a main category. Keeps us from eating cheese based meals all month long. :) my e-mail is gracenpeace2u@hotmail.com

Linh Nguyen said...

Hi Natalie! What a beautiful design job on your meal plan :) We (me and my husband) also started planning our meals after we did a 3 week sugar detox - we just had to get disciplined with eating healthy, because we're expecting our first baby now :D In 3 days we finish Diane's 21SD (on timreviews.com/21daysugardetox) and now we're already on the lookout for a new plan.
My tip: Get rid of all sweets and junk food at home, in your car, and fill up your fridge with healthy but tasty snacks :)
Linh

linhnguyentran@gmail.com

Amy H said...

Love love love this!
I find it helpful to have a master list of go to's that I can plug into my planning list as needed.
Rasberryamy@aol.com

Sarah Clayton said...

Beautiful little shop! I would love to get our family organised with the kit!!

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