Weekly Meal Plan Organizer (And Free Printables)

If you’ve been following my epic budgeting series, you’ll know this is step three in my journey. First, I had to sort through the emotional junk that comes with budgeting. Next, I created a beautiful and functional budget binder that I made available to you. Now, it’s time to tackle the grocery budget.

The Professor and I realized our grocery budget seemed to be the area where money constantly seeps out. Does this happen to anyone else?  

As we looked at our schedule and our pattern of over spending, we noticed several things were happening. On Saturday, I’d plan our week’s meals and go buy the ingredients. But then as the week progressed, I’d forget what that bell pepper or that can of tomatoes was for. Heck, I’d forget what meals I was planning on cooking period. Then I’d open the fridge to a confusing sea of ingredients and come to the conclusion that we had absolutely nothing to cook for dinner. Logical, right?

Please, please tell me I’m not alone in this vicious cycle!

There were a lot of victims to my failed endeavors: the many bunches of cilantro that never realized their life’s zesty purpose and instead turned to stinky goo.  The salad dressing ingredients that were left dusty on the shelf.  The once-crunchy cucumber that finally succumbed to the moldy pocks covering its skin. But hands down, the biggest victim was our budget.  

Once we realized the first problem, another issue surfaced. I would plan meals – not elaborate meals, but from-scratch, 30-40 minutes prep and cook-time meals.  On nights when we were both busy, those meals were too difficult to make, so we would end up grabbing Thai food or burgers. And it only gets worse from there. I take almost exclusively leftovers for lunches. No dinner means no leftovers, which means eating out for lunch too. It’s a one-two-three punch that left us realizing why all our money kept disappearing down the drain…or to the back of the produce drawer.

Not good for us. Not good for the budget.

The Professor and I decided to go through our weekly routine and designate which evenings needed a quick dinner, which could have a sit-down dinner, and which nights we needed to fend for ourselves. With this schedule, I could more specifically plan meals.

There was also the matter of forgetting what I bought at the store.  I needed to solve that problem. And then, as if through divine intervention, I had an idea. Like all the best ideas, it involved ingenuity, a bit of elbow grease and chevron stripes.

Budget Dinner Plans 6

This is our weekly meal planner. It lives on the fridge. It has a pretty frame. It works with dry erase markers.  And I love it.  After literally dozens of tries in different lighting, I can’t get a great photo of it. Sorry.

The meal planner has helped immensely. The Professor and I both know what’s for dinner during the week. We can quickly change plans and reorder when we need to, and now we know why there is cilantro in the fridge. It also allows me to use a lot of a certain ingredient in different ways. As you might guess, the week photographed here started with a pack of chicken breasts.

It also lets me sneak in some of The Professor’s less favorite meals. He doesn’t like my sushi rice bowl recipe, so I cooked it on a night he was out. I got my sushi salad and lunch for the next few days, and he didn’t have to eat it. 

Budget Dinner Plans 3

For the paper backer, I didn’t want it too frilly, but I also wanted it to be custom and fun and special. With that in mind, I used a script font with fancy glyphs and a simple sans serif font for the days of the week and details. I also wanted it to coordinate with my budget binder, so chevron stripes were a natural choice in a background. Everything is bordered within an 8×10 inch box that can be cut out and used with any 8×10 inch picture frame. 

The days of the week include details specific to our schedules. For the free printables, I left off our details but didn’t adjust the spacing. If you want to add your own details, you have room to either write them or type them in using text boxes. I used Clemente Font for the body text, which you can download for free here.

meal planner | www.accidentalokie.comNext, it was time to find a frame. Hobby Lobby has these gorgeous shaped frames I’ve been swooning over for a while. They’re in the wall frame section, not the stand-up frame section. I got one during one of their many half-off sales, making the frame around $10.

Budget Dinner Plans 2

To hang a big picture frame on your fridge, you need a big magnet. In my first attempt, I hot glued a bunch of those tiny super-strong magnets all over the frame. That was an epic disaster. Luckily I have several Container Store Spot-On Magnet Hooks for such moments in life. This is seriously a great magnet. It. Does. Not. Move.  And it’s pretty cheap. Buy one. No buy three.

Budget Dinner Plans 6

This little project has already saved us so much money and sanity and cilantro. I hope it helps you organize your life and budget, too!

meal planner | www.accidentalokie.com

I’ve created two options for you.  The pink, which has been shown throughout this post, and a very chic yellow and gray version.

Yellow Weekly Meal Plan Organizer Free Printable (PDF)

Pink Weekly Meal Plan Organizer Free Printable (PDF)

Happy {reluctant} budgeting!

Oh, and I showed you several products from several stores, but they didn’t sponsor this post. This is just me telling you all the things that have worked for me!

Sarah…The AOK


  1. This is excellent! I love the idea of a dry erase!

  2. Hey, I just want to say that I have a budget binder and it bored me to death! This is so cute thanks for taking the black & white and giving it some color!

  3. I just want to say Thank you sooooo much for these helpful tips and above all providing us the PDF files. You are the best!!!!

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