Let’s talk about meal planning. I know, not very exciting but, trust me, it is something that you’ll never want to stop doing once you give it a go. I have been meal planning for years now and I have tried pretty much every method you can think of: wall planners, as part of my bullet journal, I used meal planner notepads and even spreadsheets (I am a geek, alright?). Anything that gets you planning is great but, for me, nothing beats Trello and today I want to show you how you can get started too. Not only will meal planning help you eat healthier and reduce unnecessary food waste. It will also save you money, time and, especially for families, it will reduce the stress caused by having to find a recipe that you all enjoy.
Benefits of using Trello for Meal Planning
– With this system, I no longer have to dig out all my cookbooks or browse through numerous websites for inspiration. All our favourite family recipes and other meal ideas are already there – I just need to assign them to a day of a week! This also means that I don’t necessarily need to be home to get the weekly plan sorted.
– Thanks to the Trello app, I can access the meal plan and shopping list at all times. No more lists to write up on paper and to forget at home. Also useful if I’m out and about and I want to check what’s for dinner to ensure we have everything in.
– It’s incredibly easy to make changes by simply dragging and dropping recipe cards.
– Less paper. Plain and simple.
So let’s take a look at how to get started…
1. Create a Trello account & download the app
First things first, head to the Trello website and sign up for a free account. Once you’ve verified your e-mail address and the account is up and running, download the Trello app onto your phone. I tend to do the weekly meal planning on my laptop but, as you’ll see below, the app will come useful for when you go shopping for ingredients.
2. Create a Meal Planning board
Log into your account and create your Meal Planning board. You can keep this private, set it as public (so that you can share it with others) or invite other Trello members to meal plan with you by using the Team function.
3. Setup your board and add your meal ideas
Now it’s time to start adding your lists. To keep it simple, I recommend you start with:
– A list for each day of the week
– A list for recipes you want to try
– A list for those tried and tested recipes that you love
– A list for your groceries
Now, this is a very basic setup just to get you started. You’ll probably see that as time goes by and you add more and more recipes, this may no longer work for you and you may want to split your recipe lists by type, seasonality or course. But, for now, let’s keep it nice and easy.
Once you have your lists, it’s time to let the fun begin and start populating your board. You will find that your Favourite Recipes will most likely be a mix of:
Favourite meals without a recipe – those dishes that you’ve made so many times you no longer need a recipe or those meals that are so easy they simply don’t need one. In this case, just add a card with the dish name and you’re good to go.
Recipes from your favourite cookbooks – add a card with the recipe name, then click on it to record the page number and book you got it from in the Description. This will save you lots of time in the future, especially if you use cookbooks a lot like myself (by the way, that River Cottage book is absolutely fantastic!).
Online recipes – in this case, add a card with the recipe name then include the link and a photo from your computer (this is totally optional) by clicking on Attachment.
This is really an ongoing process. Add enough cards just to get you started and get into the habit of adding new recipes as you go along. This way you’ll never feel stuck for ideas or end up cooking the same things over and over again if you don’t want to. I know a lot of people like to use Pinterest for meal inspiration – I do too – and that’s ok, the two things are not incompatible. In this case, you may want to forget the Recipes To Try list and browse through your Pinterest boards for inspiration each time. However, this takes a bit longer and I do recommend adding the recipe to Trello once you’ve tried it and liked it anyway. The main goal here is to simplify meal planning and the key to achieve this is to have a good list of reliable recipes right there for you to use, without having to browse multiple websites.
4. Create your weekly meal plan
So now there should be plenty of meal ideas in your board for you feel inspired and get planning for the week. To add a recipe to a particular day of the week, just click on it and use the Copy action. Done! It really couldn’t be easier.
As well as recipes, you can also add cards for when you’ll be having leftovers or eating out.
5. Create your grocery list
Finally, once you have your meal plan all done, compile the ingredients that you need for the week. If you do your shopping at the supermarket, make you that you have the Trello app on your phone. No more paper lists and easier to add items on the move.
And this is it – it’s an incredibly simple system and I hope you will enjoy using it as much as I do. You can follow the instructions above to start from scratch or you can use this board template by clicking on Show Menu > More > Copy Board (you need to have an account and be logged in).
Do you already meal plan? If so, what method do you use and recommend? If no, what’s stopping you from giving it a try? Let me know in the comments.