You can do it! Planning a month of meals at once isn’t that hard! If you follow these three easy steps, try it out for a month, you will be so surprised how much time you save and especially all the money you save! Don’t forget to grab your free meal planner template to get the job done even faster!
Have you noticed lately how I am completely obsessed with my monthly meal plan? I have been a fan of a meal plan in general for a while now. I would say I first realized how helpful it could be when I became a working mom.
Creating a weekly meal plan is great! But if you want to save even more time and save even more money then you need to try pulling together a monthly meal plan!
Here are the three steps I take in preparing my monthly meal plan. Hopefully this helps you in getting started and of coarse, help you save money!
4 Steps to Preparing a Monthly Meal Plan
1. Print your FREE monthly meal planner
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2. Use what you have
Now that you have your monthly meal planner it is time to figure out what you want to eat! Before you start looking at sales, before you get out the cookbooks, the first thing you need to do is look through your cupboards, fridge, and freezer and see what yummy stuff you already have. It might even be a good idea to write down an inventory list. Not necessary, but it will make the menu planning process a little easier.
3. Plan meals around sales
After I have taken inventory of the food we already have on hand the very next thing I do is get out all of the weekly flyers and see what’s on sale. Don’t forget to stack coupons on top of the sales for even more savings! I promise, couponing will only take you about 15-30 minutes if you follow my easy Casual Couponing 101 tips.
If you are worried about missing sales because you will only be shopping once a month here is a tip for you! Make room in your budget for Sale/Coupon Shopping.
I set aside $20 for each pay period (that’s all we can afford right now) to shop the sales. Buy things that are nonperishable or can be frozen. Then when next month comes around, you plan your meals off of what you have already bought on sale. See how that works? Leave me any questions you might have down in the comments. I would love to clarify anything for you.
4 . Get on Pinterest and get out the cookbooks
Does Pinterest overwhelm you? It doesn’t have to! This is my favorite part of the monthly meal planning process, choosing what to eat! That’s the best part of being the meal planner. You get to choose!
If you don’t already, you will want to follow me on Pinterest for super delicious and cheap recipes!
So go through your recipe boards, dust off the cookbooks, and find something delicious! One of the reasons I love Pinterest so much is because you have the ability to search. Do you have a bunch of ground beef in the freezer, search the key words ground beef. Wa-la, recipes at your fingertips.
Now start filling out your FREE monthly meal planner. You really only need 5 meals planned a week.
Bonus Monthly Meal Planning Tips
I have found that leaving room in our weekly menu for movement helps a lot. Plans change and so do your family’s appetites. I don’t set an exact meal idea for each specific day of the week. In the morning or the night before I look at the week’s meal plan and decide which one of the 5 dishes I am going to make tomorrow. Keep within the weeks plan, but what I am saying is you don’t have to have a set meal for each specific day of the week.
Only 5 Planned Meals a Week
You only need to plan out five meals each week. Plan to make enough dinner so you have leftovers. That might be easier for smaller families. In our family with two adults and two little ones (plus a baby) it is pretty easy for me to make a full casserole one night and have plenty of leftovers.
Leftovers are great for lunches the next day or to spice up for a leftovers dinner night. My family loves leftover night because everyone gets to choose what they want to eat that night.
Don’t forget about date night. Budget it in! It’s important! You don’t always have to spend money on it though. Here are some fun cheap date night ideas!