Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How I Plan a Month of Meals

The monthly meal planning post got a nice response. Thank you to everyone that commented here and on IG. The feedback was great and I enjoyed hearing everyone's responses. A few of the main comments were:
  • "I could never do a monthly plan."
  • "Do you really do this?"
  • "It seems like a lot of work."
The answers to these questions are:
  • Yes, you can.
  • Yes, I do.
  • It kind of is but not really. I'll share how I do my planning and maybe it will help you. 
This is our January dinner meal plan. I do not normally type it up and make it look all fancy. That should make someone out there feel better. On the last day of every month I sit down with the previous month(s) plan and I begin to create a new month of meals.

Step One -Make a Calendar/Chart

The first step in my planning process is to draw a calendar on a piece of notebook paper. If I run out of space I flip the page over and put the last few days on the back. Normally my squares are always too big. I'm pretty sure that someone more artistically inclined can make a better looking chart.

Anyway.

Once my chart is made I label the days to reflect the calendar for that month. Easy, right?

The "X" means we've already eaten that meal.

Step Two - Fill in the meals

The next thing I do is fill in all of the Sundays. Sunday meals are important to me so I square those away first. Next I think of any days that will be busy for us. If I know in advance that we have long days of errands or appointments I automatically plug-in a crockpot meal on those days.

 Then I look at my previous plans to see what meals my family really enjoyed and what meals they didn't like as much. I always take into consideration that on Fridays I don't really ever feel like cooking so I try to put my "easy" or "fun" meals there.

After that it's just a matter of using some of the meals they enjoyed from the previous month(s) and finding new recipes to try on Pinterest. I also really love AllRecipes and the Food Network.

Don't forget to throw in a couple "Eat Out" days or days where you can expect leftovers.

Step Three (Optional)

Transfer your meal plan to a prettier calendar if you'd like. Make your grocery list based on the meals you've planned. I also make a weekly produce list at this time too. I put the weekly list in my purse so I always have it when I'm ready to stop at the store.

This whole process might take me about two hours. It really depends on how often I get asked to make a cup of milk or a snack while I'm trying to get it done. I haven't gotten to that point in my life where I save things like this until after they've gone to bed so I do this during the day.

So. It's not that much work and yes we really do follow the plan. As you can see we skipped Prime Rib night but we'll be having it one day this week. The plan always seems to work itself out even if you have leftovers you weren't expecting or if you skip meals due to your taste for that day.

I hope this answers a lot of your questions. Please let me know if you need me to clarify anything. I always respond to the comments.

Do you feel like you could try this out now? Oh. And by all means give yourself more breaks than I do. We're just not eating out much these days to save money. Gotta love a saving season!



8 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you shared this, I'm going to try this out soon.

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    1. I thought it might be helpful. :-) Let me know how it works for you!

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  2. Now that you actually listed out your steps, it really doesn't seem all that bad. Seeing the list all typed up and pretty made it intimidating, lol. Thanks for this. I will definitely be trying this out.

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    1. Aw, I'm glad it helped! Yeah, I def don't do the pretty version every month. I just did that for blog purposes, LOL!

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  3. I used to meal plan, but for some reason i stopped. I need to get started again because I find myself making similar meals every week and I need to change it up a bit. I'm going to use your method and plan for next month! Thanks chica!

    Evon Von

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    1. That's one of the reasons I started monthly planning. I got tired of eating and cooking the same meals. Making a monthly plan helps me see what we're eating and how often we're eating something. It keeps our menu nice and balanced. I hope it works for you!

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  4. ??? Do you actually cook them in that order or do you pick and choose the morning of our the night before. I plan for the week but not that actual day.

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    1. I do cook them in that order. The only time I switch them out is if I'm not feeling a meal that day. There's a method to how I order the meals so I try to make/eat them in order.

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Thank you for taking the time to chat with me!