This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure.
This post about learning how to meal plan for an entire month is the first in a series of homemaking posts that will be going live over the next several days.
All of them are linked below and will be available once they are live.
- How to Easily Meal Plan for an Entire Month in Just 15 Minutes
- How to Not Spend Your Evenings Cleaning
- Easy Meals for Crazy Nights that Every Mom Needs to Know About
- How to Keep Floors Clean with Little Kids
- How to Make Sure Your House Doesn’t Stink
- How to Set Up a Command Center + 15 Inspiring Ideas
- How to Clean When You’re Overwhelmed by the Mess
- 8 of the Best Ways to Make Your House Feel Like a Home
Learning how to meal plan for an entire month at a time was a GAME CHANGER for me.
I started back when I was pregnant with my second child. I had a 1-year old and was waddling around like an unbalanced duck.
Going to the grocery store on a weekly basis was torture and I was looking for a way to do something better.
That’s when I figured out how to meal plan for a month at a time and also shop for a month at a time.
If you still want to shop weekly, bi-weekly, or whatever, this method will still work for you.
I’m just so much happier only having to grocery shop once a month, especially now that I just do it all online (HEAVEN!).
Oh, and I now have 3 children all under the age of five, so yeah…grocery shopping is not on my list of “fun things to do”.
Benefits of Having a Monthly Meal Plan
Some may wonder why it would be worth going to the effort of creating a monthly meal plan. I mean, isn’t it restricting?
First of all…no. I still mix things up whenever I want. It is a meal PLAN, not a strict set of rules.
But there are also a few other compelling reasons to consider planning your dinners on a monthly basis.
#1 It Lessens Your Mental Load
The mental load that motherhood brings is intense. I think it was one of the most challenging things that I faced when I became a new mom.
So here’s why I love meal planning on a monthly basis, and meal planning in general:
It lessens my mental load and I bet it’ll help lessen yours as well.
There’s no “what shall we have for dinner?” thoughts.
Or, “Oh bummer! It is 5 PM and I haven’t even THOUGHT about what we should have for dinner!”.
I’ve totally been there and it sucks.
Having a meal plan means that you can just look at your calendar first thing and know exactly what you need to do to prep for dinner.
#2 Meal Planning Increases Healthy Eating
I mean…it does if you choose to cook healthy meals.
But seriously, if you’re prepared for dinner then you’re far less likely to pull together an unhealthy meal out of necessity.
Or, resort to ordering takeout (totally guilty over here).
Healthy meals can take a little more prep work, so knowing ahead of time what needs to be done will help you to get organized.
#3 It Decreases Your Food Bill
Takeout is more expensive than cooking from scratch. It just is.
Meal planning will help you to be more in tune with what is already in your pantry and what you ACTUALLY need to purchase from the grocery store.
You can also plan meals so that you only buy produce that is in season which will also end up being more cost effective.
I try to plan my meals so that I can use leftovers from the night before to create another meal the next night.
Or, I cook a double batch of meat and make a quick and easy meal the night following.
How to Create a Monthly Meal Plan
Creating a monthly meal plan may seem overwhelming, but it is not nearly daunting as you might think.
Here’s how you get started:
Write Down 21-28 Meal Ideas
The first step you need to take is to write down 21-28 meal ideas. It is totally okay to repeat a meal or two…or three if you’re okay with that.
Once upon a time most families ate the same 7 meals every week.
Anyway, do what works for you, but think about meals that you will actually cook.
Don’t put down stuff that you don’t like or that you know will take a lot of time to prep and cook.
The whole point of this exercise is to streamline the whole process.
Chances are that you’re reading this because you’re strapped for time and really want to make life easier for yourself.
So make life easier by choosing meals that are quick and easy to put together.
- Mac n’ Cheese
- Chicken Casserole
You get the idea.
Think about the recipes that you use time and time again and add those to the list.
If you get stuck, search on Pinterest for ideas. Trust me, there are plenty.
Print a Calendar & Add Your Meals
Once you’ve got your meals written down, go ahead and print out a calendar to add them to.
Or, use a planner. I am IN LOVE with the Mom on the Go Planner and have been using it for 3 years now.
It has everything I want in a planner and MORE. Check it out HERE.
I try and plan to have super quick and easy meals on the nights that I know are going to be tough (like when everyone is just cranky and tired).
But let’s be real for a second…in the stage of life I’m in (so many little people!) every meal needs to be quick and easy!
Anyway, think about what meals will work best for each night and how you can make a meal stretch if you need to.
Write up your meal plan and that’s it for the ENTIRE month. You’re set and now you can write your grocery list knowing exactly what you’re going to have to buy.
Rotate the Meals Every Month
Once you’ve written out your meal plan once, it is super easy to write it out the next time because you just rotate the meals.
It’ll take you all of 10 minutes to have your entire month of dinners planned out.
It is kind of amazing!
Create Seasonal Meal Plans
Another thing to do is create seasonal meal plans that you can switch to in order to change things up and also save money.
I like to have two different ones. One for the warmer months and one for winter/fall.
We typically eat a lot more casseroles, stews and soups in winter and grilled meat, stir fry’s etc in the summer.
It makes sense to just have two different meal plans to rotate through.
But that’s about it. Meal planning for a month at a time is something that I’ve been doing for 3 years now and have no intention of stopping any time soon!