Setting up for weekly success

I have had many different planners over the last twenty years. While their format, color, and size may have changed, one thing has always remained the same.  My weekly planning time.  Every weekend I carve a little time out just for me to plan the upcoming week.  My weekly planning has happened while we were out and about in the car, in the stands of a sporting event, while waiting for the teen to finish their job, or even on a friend’s dining table while we visit.  Most often my planning happens at the dining table while I cook dinner on Saturday or Sunday night.


I start with my blank week in the planner.  I have a few stickers that I use to track things each week.  First I add in my meal plan stickers, blog tracker stickers, and a few pretty background stickers.  I like to leave plenty of blank space for adding in appointments, lists, and inspirational quotes throughout the week.

Once I have those put in, I start to fill in the appointments and reoccuring items for the week.  Anytime I make an appointment I write it on the monthly view of my planner.  This week, I only had a couple of appointments that needed to be filled in.  I love easy weeks!  Then I look at my meal plan and choose meals that fit with our schedule.  If the day is full of appointments and things to do, I choose a crockpot meal.  If I know I’ll have plenty of time for cooking, I’ll choose a more involved dinner to cook.  Then I look at my blog plans for the week.  I like to have a reminder for well thought out instagram photos and facebook posts.  I don’t want to be obnoxious, but I do want to get my blog out there!


This week, I had plenty of white space left.  Throughout the week I will add in inspirational quotes that I see, funny memories, and lists of things to do.  I also love to draw zentangles and mandalas.  I use my planner to draw and sketch in.  I often use my planner as my journal.  I love going back to previous years planners and read what was happening in our lives.


By the end of the week, I will have filled in most of that white space.  Some weeks will be completely filled.  Others will be like this one, with some blank space still available.  A planner is a personal thing.  Each one is going to look different and that is how it should be!

As a final thought, I’d like to talk about the expense of a weekly planner.  You don’t need a fancy desk with glorious pens, stickers, and washi tape.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money on Etsy for custom stickers.  You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy planner.  My current planner cost me only $25.  I have had more expensive planners.  I enjoyed them greatly.  However, I want to be clear that this is not just a hobby that I spend money on.  I really do enjoy my weekly planner time, and I do view it as a hobby.  For this week’s layout, I used all free downloadable stickers that I printed and cut myself.  I admit, I like a pretty planner.  Just remember your planner is for keeping your life organized, not just displaying pretty stickers and layouts.

Come back next weekend when I’ll be talking about different types of planners.  Finding the right planner for you is really important!  If you don’t like it, or it isn’t formatted for your needs, you won’t use it.  That would be sad.

Menu Planning Without Stress

meal plan focus

I have a busy family.  Two teen boys that are always starving, one teen daughter that is super picky, two full grown men with appetites to  match, and one busy mom trying to keep it all together.  I don’t meal plan for breakfast or lunch.  For breakfast, I just keep stocked with cereal, oatmeal, cream of wheat, and snacks I know my family likes.  Lunch is always leftovers.  After school snacks for the teens are easy to prepare box pasta, rice, and more cereal.

Dinner requires a bit more time to plan…..

If my husband had his way, we would eat “grilled steak three times a week, followed by grilled salmon and sausages for the remaining days”.

If my daughter had her way, we would eat nothing but pasta and cheese.

If my boys had their way, we would eat enough food to feed a small African country for a month, every week.

If my brother-in-law had his way, we would eat out every night.

I just want to be able to make dinner in an hour so I’m not spending my entire weekday evening in the kitchen.

Spending just a bit of time before I go grocery shopping really does save me time, stress, and confusion when it comes to what is for dinner every day.  Once you have your lists made, the rest comes easy!

The first thing you need is a list of meals that your family likes to eat.  I want everyone to be involved in this part so that I know I’m not forgetting someone’s favorite.  I asked each member of my family for their top five favorite meals and their favorite dessert.

L – steak, steak, steak, steak, fish. Favorite dessert: cheesecake

J – enchiladas, chicken and dumplings, taco soup, chicken fried steak, fried chicken. Favorite dessert: carrot cake

C – chicken alfredo, burritos, country fried steak, mac n cheese, french dips.  Favorite dessert: lemon bars

K – willapa whoppers, steak, steak, steak, green enchiladas.  Favorite dessert: cookies (any kind)

E – burritos, hamburgers, potato boats, spaghetti, steak.  Favorite dessert: apple crisp

H – potato soup, roast with vegetables, brats and sauerkraut, pancakes and eggs, kung pao chicken.  Favorite dessert: cheesecake

At the end of this list, I added a few meals that I know are well received when I make them and a few that I know are super easy to put together for those busy nights.  This gives me enough meals for three two-week lists.  I go grocery shopping every two weeks.  I am able to rotate through my lists so that we aren’t eating the same thing all the time.

Once I have my meals broken down into two week lists, I start making the grocery lists to match.  I list every ingredient that is needed to make those meals.  This will be my master list for that set.

meal plan
Full meal plan

It does take a bit of time to put the meal lists and grocery lists together.  Once they are done, I use the same lists for about a year.  At the beginning of the new year, I poll my family again and get some new lists.

When it is time to go grocery shopping, I grab my meal plan for that two weeks and check the kitchen to see what I need.  I make my shopping list based on that.  My menu plan may say that I need 2 cans of enchilada sauce to prepare all of the meals.  If I already have 1 can in the cupboard, I’ll only put 1 can on my shopping list.  I do try to make a dessert once a week, so I’ll check my baking cupboard to see if we are low on anything.  Once I have my meal plan ingredients on the list, I check our stock of breakfast and snack items to add onto the shopping list.  Then I move to looking at household supplies like laundry soap and toilet paper.

When I go shopping, if there is a good deal or I have a coupon for an ingredient I know we use a lot, I’ll stock up at that time.  Otherwise, I stick pretty close to my list.

Come back next weekend to see how I work this meal plan into my weekly planner so that I always know what is for dinner before I go to work in the morning!


Starting The New Year Right!

Hello, my name is Heidi, and I am a planner addict.

I’ve used a personal planner in one way or another for the last twenty years.  My addiction to planners started when my cousin gave me a Day-Timer personal planner as a high school graduation gift.  I never looked back.  As I went through different phases of my life, I always had a planner as my partner.

One of my favorite New Year’s activities is to get our new calendars for the year all set up.  As a busy family of six, our calendars see a lot of action.  Not only do I have my personal planner, but we also have our family calendar that lives on the refridgerator for all to see.  While I love decorative picture calendars as much as the next planner addict, the squares just aren’t big enough for us.  This is why we use a desk blotter size calendar as the family calendar.


Using a desk blotter size calendar ensures that we have enough space for all the games, work schedules, chores, events, appointments, and celebrations that we can throw at it.

My personal planner this year is a Happy Planner from Me And My Big Ideas.  I take my planner everywhere with me.  This one has all my personal lists, information, ideas, brainstorms, well everything!  My family calls it my “brain”.

January Setting Up

When setting up the New Year’s calendars, you will need just a few supplies.  I make sure I have my personal planner, my family calendar, a few good pens, any school or work calendars, and last years calendars.  I like to go month by month to fill in what I know is coming up.

I start with all the calendars on the same month.  First I fill in birthdays and annual events.  If you like to send out snail mail cards, now is the time to write that you will need them in your personal planner a few weeks before.  I also like to write myself a note to purchase any gifts or make travel plans a few weeks or days before the actual date so I don’t forget.

Second, I look at last years calendar to see if there are recurring events that are likely to pop up again.  Things like sport schedules, yearly medical exams, vehicle tabs, etc.  If I already have the event scheduled, I’ll add it in.  If I need to be scheduling it in the future, I’ll add the event into my todo list for the month in my personal planner.

Third, I look at work and school schedules.  I am a teacher and we have three teenage children.  So, I have two different school calendars, plus my husband’s work schedule and my brother-in-law’s work schedule to track.  Now is when I put in the skeleton of our schedules.  All those holidays off, staff work days, and regular scheduled work days go onto the calendars.

Once I’ve gone through all twelve months, I have a great start on keeping our family on track for the new year.  Each weekend, I spend time with my calendars.  I set up my personal week to come with to do lists and events.  I add anything that didn’t make it on to the family calendar while I was out and about.  This habit keeps us all on the same page no matter how many directions we are moving in.

January’s focus for modernbygone will be planning and managing your household.  Come back next week to see how I set up my meal planning and grocery shopping lists!

What is your favorite New Year’s activity that helps to set you and yours up for success?