Our Readers’ Favorite Meal Planning Tools

updated Aug 20, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

The first step when it comes to meal planning is having a place to, uh, actually meal plan. (Because your brain already has enough to remember!) Curious how everyone else is doing it, we asked Kitchn readers to tell us where you put your weekly meal plans. While some people use special meal planning apps, lots of you like to actually write down the list. (Funny enough, studies find that we’re more likely to remember things if we’ve written them down.)

These are the tools Kitchn readers say are most helpful when it comes to meal planning.

Credit: Amazon

1. What’s for Dinner Magnetic Meal Planning Pad with Grocery List, $13

There were two key points we heard again and again. For starters, it’s helpful to get a pad with magnets so that it’ll stick to the fridge. And second, many of you like a structured template where you can assign meals to certain days, but also have the freedom to shuffle things around, depending on your mood or how the day is shaping up. “I use what I plan — just not necessarily on the days I plan it originally,” one of you said.

Credit: Amazon

2. AmazonBasics Legal Pad, $10

Some of you said you go “old-school” and use a Word document and some of you go even older and opt for a legal pad. “I usually sit down with a legal pad and a ruler and make six or seven boxes for dinner plans, and a large rectangle for the shopping list,” says one reader. “I try to only plan three or four meals a week, because life is [busy] and, anytime I try to plan a full week, things get screwed up.” So true!

Credit: Target

3. Ubrands Aluminum Frame Magnetic Dry Erase Board, $10 at Target

Keep a large magnetic dry-erase board on the fridge and not only will you have plenty of room to write, but it’ll also be pretty hard for anyone in your family to miss. This way, your son will see that Thursday is meatloaf night and he’ll have extra incentive to be home and at the dinner table in time. Note: This is a go-to method for many Kitchn editors, too, and we like to take a photo of the board once it’s filled out, so that it’s in our phone and easy to reference while we’re out and about.

4. Laminated Meal Plan Templates

A bunch of you suggested the free download from Project Meal Plan, which you then laminate so you can reuse it again and again. If you want something with a little more design to it, Etsy has lots of inexpensive printable options you can try. We love the subtlety of this one from EmmaStudies and the sweet flowers on this set from ThePrintedPeachLLC.


Credit: Minted

5. Notebooks

Who doesn’t love a good notebook? Many of you said you use a dedicated notebook, which you can then flip through to see what you made during previous weeks. We love these notebooks from Minted for a few reasons: They have a sturdy plastic cover that keeps pages from getting torn up in a bag, the lined pages have lots of room to write, and the whole thing sits flat in case you want to work across the spread. Plus, you can choose from nearly 400 customizable designs.

Buy: Pineapple Pattern Notes, $16 at Minted

Got something else to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!