SimpliFried’s first Meal Plan

I’m happy to present the first SimpliFried meal plan!

A few notes about the plans:

  • The meal plan is written for one adult, however the recipes are usually for two or more people. I’ve done it this way to indicate serving size. I was afraid someone might read “4 c Cereal” and think one person was supposed to eat four cups instead of four people having one cup each.
  • Obviously, if there is something on the list you don’t want to make, swap it out for something you do.
  • Before going to the grocery store, compare the shopping list with items stored in your pantry. You likely already have many of the ingredients in your cupboards (honey, vanilla extract, flour, vinegar, etc.).
  • Also, if you have chosen to delete a recipe from the plan, cross the item off the shopping list. Check first, though, to make sure the item isn’t used in other recipes you do plan to make.
  • A number of times in this meal plan I have referenced using frozen vegetables. I buy non-salted frozen vegetables. If you buy vegetables with salt, you will want to reduce the salt in the recipe where the vegetables are used.
  • This meal plan requires two trips to the store, the second trip on Saturday to buy fresh fish and a few other items. It is best to buy non-frozen fish the day you plan to cook it.
  • If you are allergic to tree nuts, try hot wasabi peas as your morning snack (assuming you’re not also allergic to wasabi or peas).
  • Both weekend breakfasts and lunches are open. Use any recipes you love in these spaces, finish up some leftovers, or treat yourself to a meal out with friends.
  • The breakfasts, lunches, and snacks this week are really simple. I didn’t want the meal plan to have the world’s longest shopping list.
  • Inevitably, there are mistakes somewhere in the meal plan or shopping list. If you find one, please post it in the comments so we can all learn about it. Please be nice, though. Remember, this is our first meal plan — I’m sure we’ll get better over time.
  • Questions are also welcome in the comments. I’ll try to get to them as they arise.

Download as an Excel file (there are two worksheets — the meal plan and the grocery lists):

Download as a PDF:

32 comments posted

  1. Posted by Zarah - 01/14/2011

    I love how detailed this is! I have been working on meal planning too, but I always forget something. I love how your plan has reminders for the next day built in. Also, I have a tendency to only plan dinners (and therefore only buy dinner food). Leftover for lunch are fine but sometimes I run out of food!

  2. Posted by cng - 01/14/2011

    Woohoo, thanks Erin! I’ve been refreshing the page all day waiting for the meal plan to arrive! I start a new job on Monday and this is exactly what I need to help my family adjust to a new routine. So excited to try it out!

  3. Posted by Jaime - 01/14/2011

    This is fantastic! I love the ‘Evening Prep’ section–my difficulty with making side dishes other than tossed salad or steam-in-the-bag veggies has always been figuring out what to cook in what order. Thanks!

  4. Posted by Janet - 01/14/2011

    I love this! However when I try and print both versions the print is sooo small. I have a hard time reading it even with my old lady reading glasses on. Is there anyway to make the print larger?

  5. Posted by Erin Doland - 01/14/2011

    @Janet — Simply change the print settings. Go to “Print Setup” or “Page Setup” and make it however you want it to be.

  6. Posted by Abby B - 01/14/2011

    I think the idea and the menu are great! However, the formatting for the menu doesn’t really lend towards usability. I think that the recipes need to actually be hyperlinked, and maybe bold or italicize the name of the recipe to make it easier to see. There’s just a ton of information on the menu and it can be kind of overwhelming, especially for someone trying to do menu planning for the first time.

  7. Posted by Erin Doland - 01/14/2011

    @Abby — The links are hyperlinks in my Excel version … or, at least they were. I need to figure out how to save them as hyperlinks in the PDF format. It didn’t automatically save them like I thought it would. Next time on that one …

    Regarding too much information … You can always go into the Excel version and delete, bold, italicize, etc. any of the information you want. It’s an editable document.

  8. Posted by Alan LaMielle - 01/14/2011

    LOVE this post. I’ve been looking for something like this for a while. I love to cook (and eat obviously), but the hardest part is selecting recipes and figuring out what to buy at the store each week. This is a great idea, thanks for posting. Looking forward to more posts in the coming weeks.

    A few suggestions: Instead (or in addition to) posting a link to an .xlsx, could you push these up to a public Google Docs spreadsheet/document. This has a few advantages, including the option for allowing public corrections, a chat box on the side to discuss, embedded links to recipes, etc. Your readers can make these meal plans even better (formatting,…) if you enable public read/write. I really recommend writing these up in Google Docs originally, really makes life easy.

    Thanks again!

  9. Posted by Erin Doland - 01/14/2011

    @Alan — Great idea about Google Docs … I don’t like post Excel documents because they often carry viruses, etc. (Mine doesn’t, but I understand how people are weirded out by them.) Google Docs is a great alternative. Thanks. I’ll definitely be looking into it for future ones.

  10. Posted by Jan Brasted - 01/14/2011

    What a great thing to discover on your site–just in time for weekend meal planning.

    Even if i substitute several days’ dinners, this format got me thinking about other options. Having an easily edited document directly on my computer (where I do most of my planning) is a gift as well.

    Thanks, Erin!

  11. Posted by Julie K - 01/15/2011

    Wow, thank you! This is a fantastic resource and will be especially appreciated when school starts back up in a week!

    Google docs does sound great as well. It has been a great resource for sharing documents amongst fellow students. The only problem is that formatting seems to be really inconsistent depending on the type of computer each person has.

  12. Posted by Marcia - 01/15/2011

    Could not open Excel sheet – I have an older version of excel.

    The PDF is way small, but I can’t find a page setup to modify.

    I like the idea of Excel or some other editable format, so we can size how we need it.


  13. Posted by Erin Doland - 01/15/2011

    @Marcia — In your PDF viewer, you should see a magnifying glass in the tool bar above the page. Click on the one with a + inside of it to enlarge your view.

  14. Posted by susanintexas - 01/15/2011

    Great format for meal planning.

    One suggestion. Cereal does not all come in 1 cup servings. One serving of Cornflakes or Kashi Go Lean is 1 cup but a cup of Kashi Heart to Heart is 1 3/4 cups. A serving of Fiber One and Grape Nuts (since they are so dense) is actually 1/2 cup. A serving of Whole Grain Total is 3/4 cup. I’m not trying to be picky, but as I’ve been trying to pay more attention to my diet I’ve learned the hard way to pay attention to portion sizes as they vary wildly.

  15. Posted by Ann Marie - 01/16/2011

    I also like the “evening prep” aspect of this meal plan. It will really help me save time in the mornings when I’m assembling breakfast/lunch for me and the husband.

    We’re both completely vegetarian, though, so some of the recipes/prep aren’t applicable to us. I’ll look more closely and see if I can approximate the meat recipes with those that work with our favorite meat substitutes or beans.

  16. Posted by Stephanie - 01/16/2011

    Just a tip for those who have trouble with the Excel document and/or have a ye olde version of Excel… you can open the document using Open Office. It’s free. I switched to it when my ancient version of Word could no longer open documents because of the .docx extension.
    If you open the Excel document, then save a copy to your computer, then you can go in and edit it and also copy and paste the links into your browser.

  17. Posted by Alan LaMielle - 01/17/2011

    For anyone who was having trouble opening the .xlsx file, I’ve pushed it up to Google Docs. View it here in a browser instead of a desktop application like Excel or OOO Calc:

  18. Posted by WAB - 01/17/2011

    Not to be a Negative Nancy, because I love the idea of this site, but does anyone else find this meal plan TOTALLY STRESSFUL?! Both visually (there are just so many boxes, with lots of text!) but also to lay out all the work that will go into each of the meals somehow to me is more stressful rather than cobbling something together at meal times from what’s around in the fridge and pantry. I wonder if I’m alone in that…

  19. Posted by Julia - 01/17/2011

    I’m impressed. This as actually totally doable – even for me.

    Thanks Erin!

  20. Posted by Julia - 01/17/2011

    And WAB, I’ve been looking for meal plans for a while. I’ve also tried creating my own. This one is the simplest that I have yet to see.

    If you’re overwhelmed, try using it for one meal a day. For me I’ll probably start using it to plan breakfasts because that’s the meal that I have the least time to improvise with.

    You can also open the excel file and delete anything that is distracting to you. I suck at cooking so I need all the extra information.

    A few years ago it was also less stressful for me to just throw something together. But I have much less energy than I used to and I’ve been trying so hard to save money and eat healthier. I just can’t seem to do it without some planning.

  21. Posted by Molly - 01/18/2011

    I’ve been using your blank meal plan excel doc for a while, now. It has been a huge help to me.

    For me, it also helped to add fields in which to list food that is already in my pantry, fridge and freezer. I plan my meals and grocery list around those items, and I end up wasting far less food (and money) than I used to.

    A big ‘thank you’ to Erin!

  22. Posted by Stephanie - 01/18/2011

    Also in response to WAB… I’ll echo what Julia said. I will be using this meal plan just for dinners and snacks. We already have a breakfast routine, and as a stay at home parent, my lunches usually consist of leftovers.
    It might be worthwhile to remove the distracting info and try it for a week, to see if it really is in fact a stressful setup for you or if it’s just the document that’s intimidating. :-)

  23. Posted by Stephanie - 01/19/2011

    Just wanted to post a follow up… I made the mac & cheese with frozen green beans (because I knew broccoli wasn’t going down without a fight in my house :-) ) and it was really good.
    Tonight we’re having the scampi… I too omitted the vermouth, but I used white wine instead, which I found to be a tasty substitute.

    Two thumbs up!!

  24. Posted by AmiDawn - 01/20/2011

    My sister sent me a link to this post – i have been looking for a meal plan exactly like this! i love the grocery list (the grocery store and i have a love-hate relationship) and the spreadsheet format is great for my engineering-brain. i’m going to try it next week and see how it goes… thanks!

  25. Posted by wrennerd - 01/22/2011

    Deleting constructive reader suggestions without responding to them on- or off-line is a sure way to lose readers and alienate subscribers.

  26. Posted by Erin Doland - 01/22/2011

    @wrennerd — 1. I haven’t deleted any comments from this site yet except for one that was spam, and it wasn’t from you. Are you sure your comment posted initially? Quite possibly it never went live. There are dozens of tech glitches a day that eat comments.

    2. I have no issue whatsoever with deleting comments from the site. I do it all the time on Unclutterer. If someone is complaining for the sake of complaining, making personal attacks, promoting their personal website, spamming, acting like a troll, if it’s clear they didn’t read the post and are just promoting their personal agenda, or are generally being nasty — I don’t allow it at all. I wouldn’t let anyone say such things in my presence, so I won’t allow it in the comments. We actually DON’T want haters and trolls on our site, so I’m okay with upsetting them and keeping them off the site. I don’t write this site for them, and the other readers don’t come here to read their nasty comments. This site is to help people experience less stress surrounding mealtimes and meal preparations — it’s not a place for hate. And, thankfully, 99.9% of commenters are awesome and respect each other and don’t spread nasty grams. I regularly receive thank you e-mails from readers expressing their appreciation for the civil discourse present in our comments.

    My guess is, though, that your comment probably just got eaten by a tech glitch. It’s very common.

  27. Posted by Halona - 01/22/2011

    HAH! This meal plan could only be written by a person with a blog on removing clutter! I love it!

  28. Posted by Ranjani - 01/26/2011

    Thanks, that’s a wonderfully well-organised plan and a great base to modify to suit one’s lifestyle… I would also recommend Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute meals ( for people facing time pressure around meal times… Wonderful full meals that can actually be prepared within 30-45 minutes, and straightforward instructions that even cooking novices like me can follow.

  29. Posted by Julia - 02/01/2011

    For future meal plans, please backsave to a format with .xls extension (not .xlsx).
    Simply do a “save as” and select the most recent file type that ends with .xls.
    This file type is accessible to people with older versions of excel, other spreadsheet software (like Open Office), and still accessible to the most current version of excel.
    Excel will warn you if there’s formatting that won’t work in the older format.
    Thanks for putting this together Erin!

  30. Posted by Rae - 02/02/2011

    Short and simple: This is awesome! I love it and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time and effort to create this and share this with the rest of us.

  31. Posted by wrennerd - 02/07/2011

    Okay, trying this post again:

    I agreed with WAB that the shopping list seems extremely long. I’ve been impressed by the ladies at E-Mealz (search on that term), who have turned the meal plan/recipe/shopping list into an art form — they’ve perfected the format. However, I’m not terribly impressed with the recipes themselves, mostly because I don’t follow recipes very specifically. You can view samples of their format without actually subscribing to the plans.

    However, just last week, Bea over at the Zero Waste Home blog (again, search on that term) posted her meal plan (see February 2011), which is a brilliant list of items “elastic” enough to be different every week and yet easy to create with a few standard pantry items and some fresh produce and other toppings. I think the “elastic” recipes from this site might be added to her list to produce a list of meal plan/options that is never the same and yet easy to create from items that are on hand. As a bonus, she also has the most uncluttered house I’ve ever seen!

  32. Posted by Lana - 03/13/2011

    I found this meal plan back in January, and have yet to try it out, but wondering if there are others? I don’t see any other comments since mid-Jan and find only the one meal plan. Any suggestion of others to peruse?

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