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Keeping a Food Journal did a few things for me when we first started eating Clean. All of them good :) As Moms, I think we underestimate how tiring the constant ‘what shall I make for dinner?’ never ending cycle really is. I find it exhausting, really. And it’s easy to see how so many of us fall into the take-out trap, even when we start the day with the very best of intentions. This Printable Food Journal can help you too, like it did me. Keep reading, I’ll tell you how!
Printable Food Journal
Keeping a track, or a record or whatever you want to call it is gold. It really is. Without a food plan, things in this house tend to go to seed. I didn’t know what was in the fridge, the freezer or the pantry at any one time and so when dinner time rolled around as it did with alarming frequency, I’d open the door, stare inside and then have to try and concoct something vaguely edible from whatever I had. It was super stressful!
A food journal changed all that. These days, after a lot of starting and stopping, I meticulously make a meal plan every-single-week. Why? Well, this is how a Food Journal helps me:
- I know what we’re eating – Gone are the days of staring aimlessly into the depths of the fridge wondering if I can scrabble something together.
- I save a small fortune in the supermarket – I used to keep a track of the money we were saving, it was motivating and spurred me on to save more, to plan more. But the fact is, no matter what way you look at it, meal planning saves cash. There’s no impulse buys (or very few!), you buy only what you need and it’s super easy when you’re planning ahead to bulk out a meal and turn it into two, one for now and one for the freezer. Clean eating can be more expensive when you switch from a heavily processed diet to a Clean one, and planning ahead is a great way to make that price increase a little less harsh on your purse!
- Trust the science – Science tells us you’re more likely to stick to a plan of any kind if you actually make a plan and write it down. And I found this to be true. Whether this was in my head or not is debatable, but whatever the reason, writing things down and knowing what I’m doing and when kept me (sort of) sane. I have a big family. They all have different likes and dislikes and if I’m not organised, it all falls apart :)
Food Journal Template
I’ve made this printable food journal as a template. Feel free to change it up, add lists where I haven’t and generally make it your own.
This is what works for me. I’ve made enough so that one print will last a week, perhaps with a few extra grocery lists and notes pages and you may not need them all.
I know of some people who plan ahead their meals for the month. This is a little too much for me and I prefer to do it weekly. If you’re someone who loves to read cookbooks (guilty!) then weekly allows you to add in those things that take your fancy without having to wait the month out, but do what works for you. What I have included for the month, and also for the quarter is a goals sheet. If you love a goal, plan right ahead…where do you want your families diet to be in 3 months? 6? 12? Write it down. It’s more likely to happen!
- Clean Eating Food List – This is the basic list of foods that are Clean, as I see it. It’s not an exhaustive list of everything you ‘can and can’t’ eat. Two reasons for this. One, I absolutely do not agree with can’t eat foods. We do our best, mostly that works, sometimes it doesn’t. And that’s just fine. No banned foods around here, only foods we choose not to eat very often
- Freezer Inventory – Anyone else have a freezer that seems to know no end? I love my freezer inventory. Dull? Yes. Helpful? More than you’d have ever believed. Try it. You might just be surprised!
- Pantry Inventory – Ditto the freezer. Know what every one of those 489 cans are and when you’re going to be using them
- Weekly Meal Plans – Save money, save time, save squabbles and save your stress. What better reasons do you need to start meal planning?
- Grocery lists – Hand in hand with meal plans go grocery lists. Not making one means you’re more likely to fall victim to those, frankly, genius supermarket marketers, who know just where to place things to make us buy them. Even when we don’t want them. Take you list, stick to it and they can’t get you :)
- Monthly goal setting – Need to save $250 on groceries this month? Setting yourself goals like this gives you a chance to plan on how you’re going to get there. If you bulk out 4 meals and turn them into 2 meals for another week…etc. Planning ahead allows you to reach other goals in your life that need some extra cash!
- Quarterly goal setting – Try 10 new vegetables this quarter. Only use in season produce this quarter. Only have 2 takes outs this quarter. The choices are all yours
- Food price tracker – Isn’t it annoying how you buy something in a store and then see it half price somewhere else. Track the prices of the things you buy the most often and make sure you’re paying as little as possible with the food price tracker
- Daily schedule – In between all the cooking, we’ve all got other things to do, right? This handy daily schedule will help you stay on top of it all
- Week review sheet – What went well? What do you want to switch up next week? Knowing what worded and what didn’t is key to making this successful. Keep a track of it all with the weekly review sheet, it’s a good time to reflect on it all
- Monthly plan – Work around events coming up this month, see them at a glance and know what’s ahead. Nothing’s gonna sneak up on you again!
- Habit builder – Changing the way we eat’s a habit like everything else. And the more we do something the more it’s going to become a habit. I’m told it can take anywhere between 18-254 days to create a habit. Track it!
- Seasonal meal planner – I love eating seasonally. It’s cheaper, it’s good for you to eat food in season locally to you and can sometimes get to go and pick it yourself. Know what’s available to you and plan your meals accordingly
- Notes pages – List lover? Me too. Write them here until your heart’s content!
How To Use A Food Journal
My food journals start out as strictly food, and then morph as the weeks go on into a lists, thoughts, don’t forget-to’s and anything else that pops into my head. If I see a recipe I think Mmmmm about I’ll make a note of it so I don’t forget. It can get a bit messy, yes, but it’s all there, out of my head and onto paper.
Use your journal in whatever way suits you. What looks chaotic usually makes sense to someone, so I try not to be too ridged in how I use my journals. I really like starting over each week: There’s some serious hope in that brand new page.
I also keep all my meal planners. I look back over them sometimes and forget something I made the kids went crackers for, or I remember a food that caused a meltdown. However you choose to use it, if it’s working for you, keep doing it. If it’s not, everyday’s a new day!
I’ve made this planner so that it’s pretty ink efficient. Ink’s a bit pricy where I am, so I’m never keen on printing off realms of full color sheets. Here’s what I do to keep the printing costs down:
- I use a B5 size to print this food journal. If you set your printer to fit to page, this will print at whatever size you like
- I have a clear folder I keep all my food journals in. If it doesn’t come to coffee shops etc… with me, I end up writing on scraps of paper and that defeats the point, so I use this. It’s a few dollars and so far mines lasted for a year or so before needing to be replaced
- I set the printer to print on both sides of the paper. Because of this I use a slightly thicker paper than we usually use here, so the ink doesn’t bleed through to the other side.