An easy meal-planning hack

29 April 2020

My 2020 goal of streamlining meal planning is ticking along nicely. It’s satisfying to feel like I’m making real progress on something when so much feels out of my control – AND it’s something that’s making my daily life better right now! Progress has taken all different forms, but today I wanted to share one simple hack that’s been so helpful for us with meal planning.

June school photos!!!

Emphasis on simple. We hung a magnetic dry erase board on the side of our fridge and use it to track inventory of our freezer stash. Now, I can easily see what we have on hand without rifling through our cold storage. This is helpful for both deciding on our meals for the week – what’s in the freezer that we can base a meal on? – and for assembling a grocery list – what do we already have that we don’t need to buy?

You could certainly do this with a pad of paper, but the dry erase board is a neat solution. To note: we don’t include EVERYTHING in our freezer on the list – mostly just ingredients that are relevant for meal planning. For example, you won’t see frozen cookie dough on the list above, but rest assured we are always well-stocked :)

That’s it! A simple meal-planning hack that’s helped us plan more efficiently and waste less food.

I’d love to hear: what meal-planning hacks do you swear by? Also, a question: with my recipe binder pretty much complete, I’m curious if a video flip-through would be of interest? I could give you some commentary on my favorite recipes? I’m not really much of a video person, but thought this could be fun. Let me know what you think!

P.S. If our dry erase board is sold out, this one looks very similar! Ours is fine but nothing particularly special, so don’t worry about going with a different one :)

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
April 29, 2020 7:20 am

I would LOVE a video flip through!! We actually made a recipe binder a few years ago, and I’m curious to see how you tackled yours and if there are any recipes I should add to mine!

April 29, 2020 7:23 am

Would also love a video!!!

April 29, 2020 8:26 am

Yes!! This is almost identical to something we’ve integrated into our meal planning/grocery ordering/kitchen organization, now that we have four adults at our house for the time being. It’s made it so much easier and more streamlined to know what meats we have (in the freezer and in the fridge), what meals we can easily throw together when we’re running low on groceries, etc. I’ve been meal planning lately like never before, and this has been so helpful for us, too! I’ve even been using my Powersheets to keep lots of ongoing food/recipe/grocery type lists these days.

April 29, 2020 9:14 am

Love this! I keep a notepad handy for this very purpose and it’s been so helpful. I’d love to see a video flip-through of your recipe binder! :)

April 29, 2020 9:25 am

We use a shareable app called Our Groceries where we create “stores” and add items to each list. I recently added Pantry, Fridge and Freezer and did an inventory of each. It has helped with meal planning and food purchasing.

April 29, 2020 12:46 pm

We used Google Sheets to track our weekly meal planning and freezer inventory. I find it makes planning so much simpler. The freezer spreadsheet is really easy to update! Usually, I update it once I move items for the upcoming week from our upright freezer to the fridge freezer and again if we purchase anything that is stored in the upright freezer. I also appreciate that we both always know what we have on hand (and which meals to plan for) since the spreadsheets are in a shared folder.

April 29, 2020 1:18 pm

I also have a dry erase board but use mine to list the daily dinners (hey, sounds like the Daily Double! :)
This is SUPER helpful because we meal plan and make the grocery list/dry erase board list at the same time. Then, I do not think “what’s for dinner??!” again until the next week. This is helpful too because my husband makes dinner before I return home from work, so he just consults the board.

April 30, 2020 9:15 am

Great idea! We have a spare freezer in the garage that the previous oner left behind and it’s been great, especially now that we have a decent food stash. But it is so easy to forget to check what’s back there!

April 30, 2020 10:32 am

Love this idea. Brilliant! Yes, I would love to see a video on your recipe binder. I do something similar to the whiteboard but just use paper. On the side of my fridge, I keep a list of favorite meals for the season so when I’m meal planning I just look at the list and pick some meals from there but I love the idea of a whiteboard. Thank you!

April 30, 2020 2:18 pm

Love this idea! We have a similar dry erase board on our fridge. We use it to write out a list of meals for the week and to keep track of items we need to add to our grocery list. That’s been super helpful to keep us on track with what we have and what we are planning for dinner in a given week. I will definitely be incorporating your tip into our system! We have so much in our freezer (and pantry!) and I have no idea what is there!

April 30, 2020 3:24 pm

Ok but June’s photos though!!!!

Jenny Reeves
April 30, 2020 8:20 pm

I would love a video flip-through of your recipe binder! Creating one is something I would like to do and I would love to see yours! Also – I’m always interested in recipes other people love!

May 4, 2020 2:11 pm

I am working on my recipe binder this month! I have a monthly dry erase calendar on my fridge where I put my meals on. I also have a list of what is in my freezer.

Shannon Adamczyk
May 4, 2020 2:39 pm

Quarantine has really made us rethink how we are meal planning also! I went ahead and am trying the free trial of the Plan to Eat app and it helps so much creating a weekly grocery list. Because I married a wonderful gentleman who has green bubbles (Android user), I created a shared grocery list in Asana that has been wonderful for both of us to throw whatever things we run out of onto, and then dump the generated grocery list made from Plan to Eat. We can be on opposite sides of the store but have a live updated list of what to grab (OR no more questions of “I’m headed to the store, do we need anything?”). Looking forward to learning more on how you tackle this big goal!

Linda Rufi
August 17, 2020 6:14 pm

I love the dry erase board for the fridge. Meal planning is a big problem for me. I will take some more time to read this article all the way through. Thank you for all the tips.