I love to be organized! I am calmer, happier, and more productive if I'm organized. Mealtimes can definitely be stressful, but they don't have to be. If you try out my monthly meal planning, it just might make all the difference.
Why plan dinners for a whole month?
I like to do the entire month because then it's done! I spend about an hour or so planning all my dinners for the month and making shopping lists. Then, I don't have to think about it for 30 days! Bliss! Also, once you do a month or two, you can simply go back to the previous month and copy all your favorites and just switch up a couple dinners. Just try it!
What do I need?
I love this monthly calendar. It's nice and big that I can put all my meals on it along with any activities that are going on. Typically, those activities dictate my meals. For instance, on swimming lessons days, I usually go with leftovers or something super quick and easy and save my bigger meals for days that have no activities. The other thing you need is that awesome recipe binder I told you about last week. If you didn't see that post, click here. If you don't have a recipe binder, just pull out all your recipes to make your grocery lists. But seriously, making the binder makes this process so much easier.
Let's get started!
- Start off by putting in all your activities so you know when you have time to make larger meals.
- Then, fill in your regular meals, ones that you cook all the time. For us, I do a big veggie meal once per week: vegetable stir-fry, pasta primavera, salad bar Sunday, rainbow roasted veggies (usually with smoked sausage). I put one of those meals in each week. Then I fill in our usuals: tacos, chicken soup, chili, pepper steak stir fry, burrito bowls, Hawaiian bowls, beef lo mein, baked chicken and rice, cauliflower chowder, spaghetti, BLTs, etc. I typically do 3-4 meals per week and then fill the rest in with leftovers or the occasional night out. I will throw in a new recipe a couple times per month as well. By planning monthly, I can make sure we have a nice variety.
- Grocery list time! Ok, so I make one large list for all the items I will need for the month that's not produce. Think pasta, rice, meat (freeze it), canned goods, sauces, frozen goods, etc. Then I make 4 weekly lists that just consists of the fresh produce I will need for that week. So the first day, we buy all the non-perishables for the month, plus the first week's produce. After that day, we only have to stop at the store once per week to pick up the produce, bread, milk, and eggs. The best part is you do all your thinking when you are planning, and then you are done! No worrying about what to make for the whole month!
You are done thinking about dinner for the whole month! And here's what's great, next month, you can use this month's plan and just tweak it if you want. Typically we do more cozy soups and stews in the fall and winter and then switch to more lighter, grilled meals in the spring and summer. Monthly meal planning may seem crazy to some people, but just give it a shot. You'll be amazed how much simpler you life is what dinner is all figured out. It keeps you from hitting up the drive thru too! Meal planning makes sticking to a healthy and budget friendly lifestyle so much easier.
Do you meal plan? Do you have any tips for easy meal planning?