Fall In Love With Monthly Meal Planning!
Hey! Hey! Momma! I would love to chat with you today about Monthly meal planning! I KNOW I can hear that groan of “OH NO! Why would anyone do that?!?!?”
I will give you a few reasons!
Less food waste
Never standing at the fridge at 4:30 PM and not knowing what to cook!
How can you save money? You can buy in bulk which saves money, but also, I know that when I go to the store each week, I always buy stuff that is NOT on the list. When I do one colossal shop and then a few smaller ones, I am on a mission and don’t grab extras!
How can you reduce food waste? If you plan a meal for baked chicken with steamed veggies and rice, you could use leftover chicken cut up in a salad for lunch. By planning ahead, you can use elements from your meal for other meals.
Who NEVER wants to stand in the fridge cooling the room down and not knowing what to make? ME!!!
#1 First Step in Monthly Meal Planning – Check the Calendar
Look at your calendar! Do you have therapy appointments on Thursday afternoon? Do you visit your family on Sundays? Do you have a day of the week that you really clean and know you never want to cook that night?
Look at all the appointments and events like that first! It will help you to plan ahead so you do not have a feast plan on your cleaning days. I hate cooking on nights when I have been busy all day! Especially shopping days! If we have the funds, then that is Pizza Night.
#2 Make a List: Themed Meals (Taco Tuesday) and Favorite Meals
Next step, make a list of ALL your favorite meals and add meals like Taco Tuesday. Most people have things their family loves. My family loves pasta.
We have spaghetti more than once a month. We also like lots of veggies, so we usually have a lot of salads too! It is an extra good dinner if we have a side salad with spaghetti and some freshly baked bread!
(Who would have guessed!?!?! I had my very own picture of our favorite dinner)
#3 You Need Paper or Digital Means to Keep Record of Your Monthly Meal Planning
Are you technically challenged or a whiz kid? You know your own strengths better than anyone! Do not download a fancy Excel sheet if you will not use it, and don’t plan on flowery stationery if it will sit at your writing desk forever!
If you like paper, I have got the perfect solution for you! I am in the process of making a new monthly meal planning kit for a course I am taking, and I decided to share it with you here first!
If you want to try a meal plan already made for a busy family of four, check out the offer attached! I have devised a program based on 2300 calories daily, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a healthy snack attached to the lunch sheets. Each meal comes with a recipe written on its own page.
I plan to move over to these beautiful sheets I am making next month, but for this month, I still have my handy Excel sheets that I print and stick up on the fridge so everyone knows what’s for dinner each night. I plan out four (or five) of these at a time and display them for the week.
# 4 Bring it All Together in One Big Plan!
Sitting down once a month and working this out sounds yucky! It might seem to you that it will take hours, and you just don’t have time. It won’t, and honestly, it saves SO much time!
Here is how
Do it once, and it will be done
You can reuse the plan repeatedly with some tweaks each month
You will not stand at the fridge trying to figure out what to cook
It saves you from long shopping lists and trips
Plus, the added benefits of saving money and reducing food waste!
Sit down with your chosen method, paper or computer, calendar, and favorites list. Please do this when you are not hungry or in a hurry!
Start with your favorite meals, and determine, based on your events, when would be a good night to make your favorite dinners or themed meals.
Some families do Mexican night instead of Taco Tuesday so as not to get bored. You could have Taco Tuesday in week one, week two could be burritos and refried beans, week three chicken fajitas, and week four could be Taco Bell on a day you must go out. Fill these days in first.
Next, look closely at that personal calendar again and select all the nights that will be busy and plan something easy or even an eat-out night for those days. Your monthly meal planning is filling out nicely!
Then you want to find times when you want to experiment! Look around for new recipes that you want to try out for yourself and your family! I will give you my secret weapon! Allrecipes.com. Seriously! I LOVE this website! You can find almost everything from fancy to simple on this site.
Lastly, just fill in the rest. There really shouldn’t be too many spots left at this point. I usually make a mixture of new and old meals and try to keep things interesting.
#5 Adust your Plan for Healthy Choices and Variety
Review the plan before you are done! Look to see if you have too many starches in a week or if you accidentally planned to eat chicken two days in a row (not in the leftovers kind of way either)
Plan a variety of meats and vegetables to keep things exciting too. No one likes to eat green beans at every meal. (Yes, I am picking on myself here because now my family hates green beans!)
Here is where you can make sure your family is eating healthy! You can see by scanning each week if the meals are balanced. It is recommended to have a good balance of proteins, carbs, and veggies.
Here are some additional things to think about
Plan leftovers, and use parts to make other meals or lunches.
Plan leftovers as a meal (on purpose). If you cook every night, you will get a packed fridge. Keep it from being wasted.
Buy in bulk. If you plan a few chicken meals, buy a larger package and freeze it in your portion sizes.
Plan to use an entire container of something. If you buy a bag of potatoes for a stew, keep the bag from going bad. Plan for mashed potatoes later in the weeks to come.
Conclusion to Fall In Love With Monthly Meal Planning!
It just takes a little bit of work to make a successful monthly meal plan come together! All that time we waste wondering what to make each night can be used to spend extra time reading your favorite blog! (HAHA) but seriously! You can do something else with your time!
I do not always look forward to this task, BUT I am thrilled when it is done! Oh, I almost forgot! Once you have that favorites list be sure to add any of those new recipes that your family loved!
And don’t feel wrong about reusing your monthly plans. I keep a folder on my desk of old plans, and if I get stumped, I just look at those and steal ideas from them. Once, I did the entire month over again from a few months ago, and no one knew it but me!
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