With Bullet Journal meal planning, that daily dinner dash will become a thing of the past. Now you can relax! You’re going to discover how to take one convenient notebook and use it to combine your meal planning, recipes, grocery lists, and food budget.
The more serious we are about eating healthy and saving money, the more details we have to keep track of when planning meals, buying ingredients, and preparing dishes. Meal planning is a great way to curb poor eating habits — and your food budget — by becoming more aware of what goes into you and your family.
1. So, What is Bullet Journal Meal Planning?
Bullet Journals have become all the rage for those of us who still enjoy keeping our lives organized via the old school pen and paper method. It’s a planner in which you use a series of distinct bullets to organize and connect multiple lists. You use short phrases to keep it more manageable. Bonus tip: you can do all of this in any old notebook, though dot and graph paper is most popular.
If you think about it, Bullet Journal meal planning consists of a list full of lists, such as:
-a list of meals to prepare for this week,
-recipes for those meals,
-a list of ingredients,
-a list of steps (and cooking tips),
-a separate list of the ingredients you need as opposed to those you already have,
-a list of where to get exotic ingredients that you can’t find in a supermarket,
-finally, a list of how much it all costs.
Wow! That’s a lot to keep on top of, but your system doesn’t have to be that complicated. Make your Bullet Journal fit your style, not the other way around. Keep reading to find out how a Bullet Journal will turn these lists into one easy system.
2. Meal Planning
Think of a typical week’s worth of meals you would like to make. Choose meals you’ve been craving, meals you already have a bunch of ingredients for, or whatever. Start with your first meal and list all the ingredients. Use a distinct bullet symbol for those you need to buy more of. (In this example, I used an “*” or star as my “buy more” symbol.) Repeat for all other meals. When all your meals and their ingredients have been listed, make a note of quantity for each ingredient next to the distinctly bullet pointed items. That way, you can quickly see which items, and how much of them, you’ll need to buy.
Here is an example…
*Chicken Breasts (4)
*Chicken Broth (4 cans)
-Frozen Bell Peppers
Broccoli Chicken Bowls:
*Carrots (Big Bundle)
3. Recipes and Preparation
Capture recipes that you want to try, or old favorites you want to put into heavy rotation, in your bullet journal. Write a recipe on a 3×5 card or cut it out of a magazine, then washi tape it to the page, either in a meal planning section or a “recipe to try” or “favorite recipes” collection.
As an example, here’s a spicy soup recipe that I’ve been meaning to make, inspired by my time living in the southwest. I’ve craving soup to keep me warm during a snow storm.
Santa Fe Pumpkin Soup
Ingredients (serves 4 to 6):
4 cups veggie stock
1 cup half-and-half
3 3/4 cups canned pumpkin puree (30 oz can)
1 tsp cumin (ground)
1/2 tsp chili powder (add more if you like heat!)
1/2 tsp coriander (ground)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (ground)
Grind sea salt and peppercorns to taste
Pour stock and half-and-half into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk together pumpkin and cumin, chili powder, coriander, and nutmeg. Reduce heat and simmer until soup thickens slightly (about 15 minutes). Ladle into bowls, and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or a swirl of coconut cream.
If you’re like me, you often run across clever cooking tips that you can’t remember when you get into the kitchen. Not this time! I wrote down this tip and taped it next to the recipe so that I’d be ready: “Do toast nuts in the microwave instead of in a skillet on the stove. The cooking will be more even.”
And what do you know? It works. I started with 30 seconds, repeated, and the nuts were perfect in only a minute. Serve in a cup as a simple starter soup or in a large bowl (like shown) as a main course, accompanied by a side salad and crusty roll.
Use your Bullet Journal to note advance preparations that you need to make, such as “thaw meat,” “marinate,” and “chop veggies.” Writing the day of the week you plan to make each meal serves as a quick reminder for what to do each morning before work. You can also note substitutions for allergies and preferences. Write the recipe steps with your changes under the ingredients list, and then they’re easily accessible the next time you make that dish. Also, use a distinct bullet symbol for the steps you need to do in advance.
4. Budgeting Money and Time
Do you go to the trouble to cut coupons but forget to bring them with you to the store? Use your Bullet Journal to note ingredients you have coupons for and ingredients. Keep your coupons inside your journal, and keep your journal where you keep your keys. Reserve a separate page at the back of your journal for listing brands you prefer, stores that do not carry frequently used ingredients, stores where pricey ingredients tend to be most affordable, and other tips you gather along the way that will prevent you from making too many trips or overspending.
Or, if you see an appliance or dishware that you’d like to buy, note that in your BuJo, too. I discovered these artisan ceramic bowls at the Renegade Craft Fair at the holidays, and was instantly smitten. (No more bowl tipping to get the last drop of goodness!) I taped a business card in my notebook, and once home went to LukeandLucy.com for details.
Dave Collins, industrial designer and co-owner, invented the Channel Bowl when he saw his father struggle with scooping food after a stroke. Not anymore. A special interior “channel” and exterior dimples makes the bowl easy to handle, allowing you to feed a hungry toddler with one hand while holding a baby with the other.
Check out the Channel Bowl in action, above and below. A small, sustainable family business, Luke and Lucy is an example of what makes Portland, Oregon, such a foodie and artisan town.
5. Continue to Bullet Journal Meals
The two advantages of using a Bullet Journey for meal planning are: you get to tailor it to your own organizational style, and you have everything you need in one place. No more wondering what you did last time to make the sauce thicker or standing in the middle of the aisle, searching through multiple recipes on your phone to figure out how much butter to get.
The more you use this system, the more uses you will find for it!