In most households, the bulk of the meal planning becomes the mother’s responsibility. And you know what it sucks!
I won’t lie—hate meal planning.
Every week it’s the same thing–work out what’s for dinner, try to avoid cooking something you cooked a week ago and try to please everyone.
For such a basic task, it can be draining!
So, let’s help take some drain out of the task and look at how to plan a month’s worth of meals!
WHY START A MEAL PLAN?
Regardless of how busy your day is, there will always be one thing that every household needs to do, and that is to eat dinner.
Meal planning allows you to create a menu of meals that you will cook during the week or month (or however long you have planned for).
Once you have created your meal plan, for the rest of that period you need not worry about what is for dinner, instead you just buy your groceries in bulk based off your pre-planned menu.
THE BENEFITS OF MEAL PLANNING
Meal planning comes with so many wonderful benefits. Regardless of how long you pre-plan, these are the rewards you will reap from your planning.
Meal Planning saves you time
Sitting down to write out your meal plan takes some time, but it saves much more in the long run.
Once you have your meal plan, you will no longer be rummaging through your pantry looking at what you have available.
And you definitely won’t be wasting time running back and forth from the shops because you thought spaghetti was a simple idea, just to realise you had no pasta.
Meal Planning saves you money
Yep, you can save money with a meal plan!
After you’ve written out your meal plan, you then write out a corresponding shopping list. This list has everything you need for the next week.
Having a focused shopping list allows you to buy only what you need, and limits your excess spending on those random purchases that seem good at the time.
Meal planning for an entire month also allows for you to buy in bulk. Having sausages 4 times in that month? Find a store that sells in bulk and freeze what you need for the rest of the month.
It also saves money on excess fuel. Not having a clear idea on dinner can have you running to the shops for missing ingredients and those last-minute meals.
Meal Planning reduces waste
Have you ever opened your fridge and seen a mix-match of random ingredients that never seem to come together to create a meal?
Meal planning is an excellent way to prevent this and help you use your ingredients accordingly.
Before you start your meal plan, always check what you already have and need to use. You’d be amazed what meals you can come up with for the month!
Meal Planning can make you healthier
When you are planning your dinners, it reduces the chances of getting those “one off” pizzas or ducking to McDonalds for dinner because you had no ingredients.
Over the long run, planning out your meals will make your entire family healthier and ultimately happier!
HOW TO PLAN A MONTH WORTH OF MEALS
Now that you know all the amazing benefits of meal planning, I’m sure you’re eager to get the show on the road!
We will take our meal planning beyond the usual week and plan an entire month of meals.
This may take more time than planning just a week, but as I mentioned above, this can ultimately lead to saving you even more time and money.
Things to do before you start your meal plan
Before we plan our meals, there are a few important steps to take before we start.
- Check your calendar
Have a look at your calendar for any dinners and events. This will allow you to plan accordingly – no need to plan for days, you won’t be eating at home!
It is also good to have a quick look at your work schedule, if you have any exceptionally long days planned then it is best to plan simple quick meals for those days – or even designate a special occasion take-away night.
- Understand your budget
As much as we would all love to eat elaborate top-quality meals, it doesn’t always work that way.
Before you plan, make sure that you are aware of your grocery budget so you can plan accordingly, within your means.
- Do a fridge & pantry inventory
The last step before we get started is to do a quick inventory check.
Make a note of ingredients that need to be used ASAP and plan meals, including those first.
(our ultimate home bundle has an inventory sheet to help with this!).
Planning your Meals – A Step-by-Step Guide
To help you on your journey to a stress-free month, we have some free printables for you!
This meal plan method is fantastic because it gets your household involved.
Which means that you need to bare less of the weight, and you can also ensure that you will be planning meals your family will enjoy (great for those with fussy kids!)
[Step 1] Get input from your household
Before you start your monthly meal planning, ask each member of the household to list 2-4 meals they love.
Look! You already have a bunch of meals to add to your list, without breaking a sweat!
Write down these meals on your free printables and move on to step 2 (Don’t forget to include your own favourite meals!)
[Step 2] Write out the staple meals
Every household has staple meals, ones that occur almost every week. These commonly include things like pasta or meat and veg, but every house is different. You’ll know what your staple meals are!
So think of all the staple meals and make a list of them.
[Step 3] Start adding it to the calendar
Now that you have these meals listed, both family favourites and staples, you can start adding them to your calendar.
Try to space them out evenly, and fairly. Don’t bulk all of one family favourite in one week, we don’t want any arguments!
An excellent way to do it is to include one meal from each family member in to each week. It doesn’t have to be on a specific day for each family member, but if that works easier for you then go for it!
[Step 4] Get Creative
If you want to learn new recipes or try new things, this is a brilliant time to add those in.
Look up any recipes you’ve been meaning to try to write them down in your calendar.
(Don’t forget to save the recipe and make a note of the ingredients for your shopping list!)
[Step 5] Fill in the gaps
Beautiful, we’re on the way to a successful month of meals!
At this point you will probably have gaps in the calendar, so let’s fill them in. It doesn’t matter if you have a few or a lot once we work at filling them all in you may never have to write one of these again!
TIP: When filling in the gaps, be sure to add in “Left over” days, this allows you to reduce waste even further and make use of your leftovers.
The best way to save leftovers is to freeze them and store them for those leftover days, if they are further than a day or two away.
You’re done! Check the list, then display it
Check over your list and then once you’re satisfied, stick it somewhere you (and everyone in your home) can see it.
[After Planning] Shopping lists
Now you can start writing out your shopping lists for each week using your solid meal plan.
You don’t need to do the entire month of shopping now. You can do it week by week.
Just remember that this new meal plan will make it easier to shop, so don’t throw out that list!
We have a free section that contains a free printable shopping list. Make sure you check it out!
Now you have a month of meals!
This process is aimed to help you sit down and create a monthly meal plan, one that you can reuse every month until the end of time!
This process is aimed to help you sit down and create a monthly meal plan. From here you can either re-use your month of meals or tweak it as needed.
After the first month, you will have a solid foundation for all future meal planning.
Then you can write it out and stick it on the fridge. Whenever someone asks you what’s for dinner, you can direct them to the fridge and let them find out for themselves.
It also makes shopping a lot easier, it means you can write out set shopping lists for each week and not have to strain your brain wondering what you need to buy!
Don’t forget your free worksheets
Make meal planning even easier with your free meal planning worksheets!