Do you ever feel like meal planning is too much work? And you can’t even imagine planning out what you are going to eat for the month! If this sounds familiar, then we have the solution for you. In this blog post, we will discuss 5 easy steps that can be used to help plan meals for an entire month without a lot of effort.
You know that planning healthy meals is important, but you always end up skipping the meal planning step and just winging it. You may even believe planning meals for the whole month is hard (psst – it’s not as hard as you think!!)
My guess is you’ve struggled to meal plan in the past and the way you’ve been doing it takes too much time – and planning for a whole month? No way. You have so many things to do, you don’t have time to spend hours planning every meal of the month! I get it.
The problem is that when you skip the step of meal planning each week, making good choices becomes harder because your food options (and often your time) are limited.
And then you find yourself struggling when it comes time to prepare your meals – or you end up grabbing take-out.
I’ve come up with a simple system that will allow you to plan out your monthly meal plans in just 5 easy steps. This way you’ll be able to save money and enjoy tasty home-cooked meals each week without having to worry about what’s on the menu next week.
Plus, my 5-step meal plan will help you avoid mealtime mental overload by giving you a clear game plan for each week so that your food budget and healthy diet stay on track all month long!
There are so many benefits to monthly meal planning. Not only does planning your meals for the whole month save you money, but it can also help you feed your pickiest eater and save your own sanity (remember that mental load you’re carrying around).
I promise you, meal planning is so worth the small amount of time it takes to do it!
There aren’t a lot of rules to meal planning – after all, you can choose your meals and what to cook and when – but there are a few tips and tricks I’ve come up with in my 30+ years of raising a large family.
I’m excited to share these 5 easy steps that have worked for me in this blog post! And, if you follow these simple steps, I’m sure you’ll understand why I love meal planning so much!
What You Need to Know Before Creating A Meal Plan For the Month
In case you don’t know, I’ve raised (and fed) five kids of my own, have four step kids, and a whole lot of grandkids. So when I say, meal planning is a sanity saver – I know what I’m talking about!
That’s why I love sharing my top tips with other moms.
Tip #1: Know what your family likes to eat.
Planning for a whole month of meals is made a lot easier when you choose tried and true recipes – those recipes you know your family will gobble up with no complaints. It’s okay to try new foods but plan to make most of your meals foods that you already know your family loves.
And if you’re really new to meal planning, it’s a good idea to stick with those tried and true favorites until you get used to planning all your meals. Then, you can start adding in new recipes.
Tip #2 Plan days for eating out
When you go to plan your meals out for the entire month, be sure to include a few days to eat out. If you have soccer practice on Tuesday evenings and you know you’ll be pressed for time, if it’s in your budget, go ahead and plan to grab take-out or a pizza on that night.
#3 Determine your budget and stick to it
One of the reasons creating a monthly meal plan is such a great idea is that it helps you stay within your food budget for the month! When you set a budget, you’re more likely to work hard to stay within that budget and choose meals that help you reach your financial goals for the month. It can also help you keep the number of trips to the grocery store to a minimum.
Okay, so are you ready to get started making your own meal plan? I’m sharing my best tips on how to create a successful meal plan for the month below!
How to Create a Monthly Meal Plan in Just 5 Easy Steps
Creating a meal plan for the entire month in one sitting isn’t hard and it doesn’t have to be complicated (I promise!!) so go ahead and set aside some time to get it done.
If you are super new to meal planning, it may take you a little longer than it will when you’ve been doing it for a while.
#1 Check Your Pantry and Freeze
This step may feel tedious, but it doesn’t have to! And this is one of the best ways to waste less food and save more money on your food budget!
I highly recommend you give your pantry and freezer a quick look over to see what you already have that you can use in your monthly meal plan. You may even find the ingredients for an entire meal (or more) are already in your pantry.
Or you may discover foods you had forgotten about – or realize you are out of a family favorite staple like taco shells and spaghetti.
#2 Plan easy meals you can repeat.
I know you know already that cooking meals every day for your family can be a challenge – especially on busy days! There’s no reason to make your life harder by planning meals that are complicated or take a long time to prepare.
That’s why I recommend you choose meals that are easy to prepare, you know your family loves, and that you can repeat on a regular basis.
This way, you have a meal plan that is guaranteed to keep your family’s bellies happy and full.
#3 Plan for busy days you don’t want to cook.
If you have a pretty regular weekly schedule and you know that Tuesday nights are extra busy with extracurricular activities, soccer practice, and ballet, you don’t want to come home exhausted and have to rush to cook something from scratch.
And there may be those days when life hits hard and you just don’t want to cook. We all have those days! Make a plan for those days. Some options are:
- boxed or canned soup and grilled cheese
- pull out a freezer meal you previously made
- eat leftovers
- utilize your slow cooker
Knowing you can pull out a prepared freezer meal to thaw in the morning or that you can dump a few ingredients in the slow cooker and come home to a ready made meal is priceless on extra busy days! But that only works if you plan and prepare ahead of time.
Plus, it’ll help you avoid pulling into the drive through to grab take out – saving your budget and keeping you healthier in the long run.
Pro tip: Plan for snacks that you can grab and go to prevent you from feeling famished and stopping for take out just because you’re hungry right now.
#4 Write down your meal plan for the month.
The next step is to write down your entire month’s meal plan and stick in a place where you and your family can see what meals are cooking. I like to hang my on the fridge. It helps me remember to thaw freezer meals, prepare meals in my slow cooker, and just know what we’re eating each day so I don’t have to bear that mental load all day long.
I simply check the meal plan before bed the night before or first thing in the morning and make a mental note on what I need to do to make sure we have a meal on the table for supper (and when I need to start preparing).
Options for displaying your meal plan:
#5 Go shopping with your list in hand.
Once you’ve taken inventory of the food in your pantry and freezer, planned out meals for the entire month – including easy meals you can repeat and meals you can make on busy days, it’s time to make that grocery list.
Check your planned recipes for the ingredients you’ll need and make note of how many of each ingredient you need (for instance you may have more than one recipe that calls for onions or milk, etc.).
I know this might seem tedious, but, believe me, it’s an important step if you don’t want to make extra trips to the grocery store this month! And I promise, once you get this monthly meal planning thing down, you’ll find it gets so much easier and you can plan a whole lot faster.
Why You Should Meal Plan for the Month
There are so many great benefits to monthly meal planning. So let’s talk about some of them!
Homemaking and taking care of your family can be a lot of work. Simplifying the processes you have ultimately makes your life easier. Meal planning makes your life less stressful and simplifies your life!
#1 Your Mental Load is reduced
When planning meals for your family ahead of time for your family, it frees up your mind to focus on other things instead of having to give brain power each day to what you’ll be cooking.
The pressure of feeding your family three meals a day every single day can be mentally taxing. You won’t have to walk in the door and immediately think hard and stare into the pantry or fridge trying to figure it out!
#2 It’s Easier to Plan Around Special Diets
If you have people in your family who have food allergies or special dietary needs, having a meal plan can help you ensure everyone is getting what they need to eat to be healthy. Having that meal plan already planned out helps you stay on top of diets, leaves you in control, and again – reduces your mental load.
#3 Having a Meal Plan Helps You Stay In Budget
If you are working toward financial goals, are on a limited budget, or just want to save more money, making a meal plan is one of the best ways to do that. Why? A few different reasons:
- less random trips to the grocery store
- less impulse shopping at the grocery store
- food is one thing you can usually cut back on expenses
- cooking from scratch costs less
You can choose to eat less expensive meals on some nights while splurging on a favorite meal one or two nights.
Free Printable Weekly Meal Planner
How to Download
- Just click the button below to get instant access to my free printable weekly meal planner!
Ultimately, you need to find what works for you when it comes to meal planning. Creating a monthly meal plan with these five easy steps is a great way to plan your meals each month. Remember to plan meals your family loves, stick to your shopping list buying only what you need, and you’ll see how easy it is to plan your meals and save time and money in the long run.
I hope you found this blog post helpful and that it’s given you some good ideas for how to plan your household’s meals. Thanks for reading! Be sure to share this post with the buttons below so others can find out what makes our monthly meal planner so amazing!