How to Make a Meal Planner: A Beginner's Guide

With the cost of living steadily rising and fewer groceries to be found on our shelves, finding ways to eat well whilst saving money and managing expenses, is more important than ever.  

For anyone who is currently racking their brain for daily nutritious and delicious meal ideas, at the same time as struggling to balance the grocery shop budget……then hello to the fabulous world of bullet journaling!

This beginner's guide will show you how to create an effective meal planner diary using nothing more complicated than a simple note book.  It doesn’t matter if you choose a dotted bullet journal, a lined journal notebook or a blank notebook, whatever you pick will help you become a master family meal planner!

Ready? Let's dive in!

Why a Good Meal Planner is Vital

The bottom line is that you will save time and money AND eat better!  What’s not to love?  That’s because, when it comes to family meal planning on a budget, there’s nothing quite as effective as creating your own meal planner notebook. 

Your personalised bullet journal allows you a highly flexible and creative approach to meal planning; becoming a truly effective resource, not just as a food planner, now and in the future.

Here’s a quick overview of how easily bullet journaling can help you save £££s amidst seemingly never-ending rising costs:

  • Smart Grocery Shopping:

A well-organised prepping and meal plan journal helps you create a precise shopping list.  Something as simple as this really does help prevent you from making impulse purchases or buying unnecessary items.



This in turn can lead to substantial savings, especially when the cost of living is high.

Additionally, you can use your meal planner book to keep track of sales and discounts.  This will help you make the most of promotions and further reduce your grocery expenses.

  • Reducing Food Waste:

If you’re anything like us, there’s nothing more frustrating than coming across rotting food at the bottom of the fridge that you’ve inadvertently forgotten.  A bullet journal meal plan helps you devise meals according to the ingredients you already have, ensuring nothing goes to waste.


By keeping an inventory of perishables in your journal, you’re far more likely to be mindful of using them before they expire.

You can also give your leftover game a boost, by listing every scrap of food you have left and then incorporating it into your daily meal planning.  This not only saves money but also helps the environment by reducing waste. 

  • Meal Prep and Batch Cooking:

Bullet journal note books can help you plan meals that can be prepared in advance or cooked in large batches, saving both time and money.

By cooking larger portions and storing leftovers for future meals, you can reduce the overall cost per serving and make the most of bulk-buy discounts.

  • Tracking Expenses and Budgeting:

You’ll find it much harder to overspend on your weekly food shop if you dedicate a section of your bullet journal to tracking your food expenses and monitoring your monthly food budget.

Keeping a food planner diary allows you to regularly review your spending habits.  It helps you identify areas where you can cut costs, such as switching to generic brands or opting to buy seasonal produce. This in turn can lead to better financial decisions and increased savings. 

Tools to Help you Get Started:

It’s the personalisation of layout that makes bullet journaling such an effective tool.  It means you are able to create a useful tool that is 100% tailored to you own needs. In short, YOU create the bullet journal meal plan of your dreams.

You can have a lot of fun gathering the bujo supplies that will inspire you on your meal planning mission:

Choosing the Perfect Notebook:

Your first, and most important tool, is a good notebook / journal.  We always say that the better the quality, the more likely it is to withstand rigorous use and be something you can refer to for many years to come.  

Whether your preference is an A5 Size Journal or B5 Journal will depend on how big your writing is, or how much space you prefer for your planning pages and spreads.   

Next you need think about whether you like a dotted paper notebook, or is a lined journal notebook or a simple plain paper notebook more to your taste?  It really doesn’t matter – it’s whatever works best for you.

Personally, we find an a5 dot journal or lined journal is an excellent size for a meal planner notebook.  It provides ample space for all daily and weekly bullet journal spreads and planning outlines. It’s also a convenient size to carry around.

A B5 dot grid notebook, whilst offering more space, is slightly bigger and heavier, so a little less portable!  But if you just want to use your journal at home, this is an ideal size.

A blank note book is for the most adventurous and creative journaler – as it offers an entirely empty canvas for your meal prep planning adventure.

Choosing the Perfect Pens:

Invest in quality bullet journaling pens – these are more likely to give you a smoother writing experience, richer colours and less likely to smudge.  They also tend to last longer!

Your most important tool is a good black writing pen.  It’s a must in our view!  We like the sakura jelly roll or micron pigma pen.

If you want to get creative and introduce vibrant colour to your meal planning journal layouts, then you can’t go wrong with a Tombow brush pen – in the colour / colours of your choice.  Then if you like emphasising important notes and points, a midliner highlighter is ideal, whilst metallic markersare perfect for adding a pop of bold colour – especially on black paper journals.   

 For an additional touch of creativity, why not choose some fun washi tape designs – they are great for sectioning out pages, or adding a touch of fun.

Meal Prep Journal Inspiration:

All the gear, but no idea! OK, so you’ve got a lovely new notebook and all the pens you need, but don’t know where to start when it comes to setting out your pages.

You can draw inspiration from many different sources, to find a layout that works best for you and helps make your journaling experience more effective.

Here are just a few ideas to help you find the perfect bullet journal layout so you can embrace all food-related cost-saving strategies:

  • Social Media Platforms:

Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are treasure troves of bullet journal inspiration. By searching for hashtags like #bulletjournal, #mealplanning, or #budgeting, you'll come across numerous ideas for layouts and designs.


Photo: Pinterest

You can also follow accounts dedicated to bullet journaling, meal planning, and budgeting for regular updates and creative inspiration.

  • Bullet Journal Blogs and Websites:

If social media isn’t your thing, then there are also a huge array of blogs and websites dedicated to bullet journaling.  Here you’ll find a great mix of articles, tutorials, and free printables to create the perfect layout for your meal planner.

Some popular bullet journal blogs include Little Miss Rose, Page Flutter, and Little Coffee Fox. Browse these resources to find layout ideas tailored to meal planning and budgeting that appeal to how you want to set out your own journal.

  • Bullet Journal Communities:

Then there are the online communities, such as Facebook groups or Reddit forums dedicated to bullet journaling, where you can share your ideas, ask questions, and seek inspiration from a fellow journaler.

These communities are a great way to connect with like-minded people and discover new approaches to meal planning and budgeting.

Getting Started:

Now there’s one thing left to do!  Get started!  There is no right or wrong when it comes to what you do, but the trick is to actually take those first steps and get going!

Here are four easy starting points to help you on your way to creating your perfect bullet journal meal plan:

  1. Start with a weekly spread:

Begin your meal prep journal with a weekly bullet journal spread, divided into sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Make sure to leave space for a shopping list and any notes.

  1. Compile a go-to meal list:

In your bullet journal go-to meal section, jot down you and your family's favourite meals for easy reference when planning.

  1. Budgeting:

Keep track of your expenses in a dedicated section to ensure you're following your family meal planning on a budget.

  1. Personal touches:

Add a few fun elements like stickers or doodles to your meal plan journal, making it a delightful note book to use.

Final Thoughts:

Here are a few final tips to ensure you get the most out of your planner:

  • Don’t forget to add new recipes or adjust your budget as needed
  • Be flexible - your food planner diary should be a helpful tool, not a rigid schedule. Allow for changes and adjustments as life happens
  • Involve the family! Get everyone involved in the meal planning process, making it a fun and interactive family activity

To conclude: finding the right bullet journal layout inspiration and incorporating effective meal planning strategies can help you save money amid rising costs of living.  Embrace the creativity and flexibility of bullet journaling to create a personalised meal planner that supports your financial goals and keeps you on track with your budget.

So, grab your favourite journals and pens, and embark on your meal prepping and planning adventure today! Happy journaling, and bon appétit!