Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monthly Meal Planning Made Easy!

I have been cooking for my husband for close to three years now, and I feel like now I've finally got the hang of it! 

I used to plan meals on a weekly basis. I'd pull out a few recipes, make my grocery list, and be on my way! But then, at the end of the month, or weeks that were extraordinarily busy, we'd both look in the pantry and wonder what happened! Where is all the food? 

No worries! We can just hop in the car and 15 minutes later have some brown-bag, or cardboard box, take out meal. Convenient, yes. Cheap or nutritious, no!

Hence, monthly meal planning! 
I've found that we don't argue as much about "but there's nothing in the fridge" when I monthly meal plan. We also aren't as tempted to go out to eat when food is slim. 
There's no guessing or planning during the hectic work week. Everything is ready to go! 

Wanna know how I do it? Here's my secret... 

  1. Start off with my "Monthly Meal Planning Made Easy!" worksheet. Here is where you can start filling out each of the categories of different types of food for the month. 
    • New Recipes: something from a new cookbook, ideas from Pinterest, etc
    • Family Favorites: food you love! i.e. chicken fajitas, chicken parmesan Those recipes you don't need to follow instructions for you've made them a million times. 
    • Slow Cooker or Grill Food: challenge yourself to use that crock pot or grill! I usually make these meals when I have more time (day off of work or the weekend)
    • Frugal Meals: yep, we have to stick them in somewhere! We usually do soup and grilled cheese, pancakes for dinner, spaghetti and meatballs.
    • Chef's Night Off: you deserve it! Let your husband or the kids take a night to plan something! They need to hone their skills too!
    • Planned Events: here's where you can fill in the days you'll be out of town, have a dinner date planned, etc. Yay for a night off of cooking!
    • Recurring "Themed" Nights: Does your family always order pizza on Friday? Or have a Taco Tuesday? I would encourage you to create a new habit! One (healthy) idea includes Sunday Salad night. We also do Leftover Thursdays!
  2. Once you've come up with all of your meals (should be about 28 to 30 meals), you're ready to start planning! 
  3. Grab the "Our Family Meals" worksheet I've created and start using your sheet from step one to fill in each day. 
    • Start off easy with your Planned Events and Recurring days. 
    • Then schedule your Chef's Night Off days! Wohoo! 
    • Work through the rest of the categories til you're all done!
  4. You can shop for your monthly meals on a weekly basis, or a monthly basis. I tend to do a little of both, to make sure I have the freshest food. 

Let me know how it goes! Happy cooking y'all!

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