I’ve been meal planning for some time now, and it’s made my life so much easier. But it’s not something fun that I love to do. Rather, I sit down with my meal planner and kind of sigh and whine as I scroll through recipes on Pinterest and scratch out my grocery list. A few months ago, I told myself that there had to be a way to cut down on meal planning time. I decided to try planning for an entire month at once.
You guys. Meal planning for a month does not take much more time than meal planning for a week. It’s awesome!
It has decreased the time and money we spend grocery shopping, reduced meal planning stress on the weekends (when we’re trying to scramble and get a menu together so we can go shopping), and made our lives easier.
I’m sure we all have slightly different methods to our madness, but this should get you started if you want to learn how to meal plan for a month. I’ll break it down into steps.
1. Use a monthy calendar. Before I start planning, I write in any upcoming holidays, evening soccer practices,family get-togethers, etc. so I can plan accordings.
2. This is optional, but if you want to make it really easy, assign a different type of food to each day f the week (you can modify as necesary for holidays and whatnot). For example, for April, every Tuesday was a crock pot night, every Wednesday pasta, every Thursday leftovers, every Friday eat out, etc. (I coordinated crock pot meals and leftovers with the nights I knew I’d be gone at Zumba). This way, I was able to easily search for new recipes and quickly fill in the calendar. Example: I needed four pasta dishes – we had spaghetti twice, and then I used Pinterest to find two new pasta dishes. And because pasta night was on Wednesday, we had easy-to-serve pasta as leftovers on Thursdays.
3. We like to buy meat, snacks for the kids, and other staples at Costco. I make a Costco shopping list and look over the meal plan for the month. I write down “chicken” (or ground beef, or whatever) and then just tally how many chicken dishes I have planned for the month. I do this for all meats, pasta, and rice dishes. I just add snacks and everything else I want to pick up at Costco to the list.
4. I also break it down weekly, but this is super easy to do because the meals are already planned. It takes about ten minutes each week to write out the weekly menu and grocery list. The grocery lists are usually pretty short. Because we bought all our meat (and most snacks) at Costco, it mostly consists of produce, milk, eggs…that sort of thing. I stick the menu on the fridge and take the list to the store. Doing a weekly breakdown also gives me a chance to make adjustments if things come up for the week ahead.
I probably spend an hour planning the monthly menu and shopping list, and much less time on the weekly menu and list.
I use one of my Meal Planners (you can see them here), but all you really need is a calendar for the monthly planning and a sheet of paper for the weekly breakdown (and I have bunches of free meal planning printables here if you want something cute to plan on!).
Have you tried meal planning for a month at a time?
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