Meal planning (and grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning up) is my least favorite adulting activity. So if there is any way to make dinner time less painful I’m all for it! Here are some tips and tricks I use to make a months worth of meal plans in 10 minutes or less.
First things first, grab a notebook and number the days of the month. This is your meal plan to start filling in. I like to highlight Mondays so it’s easier for me to visually separate the weeks but this isn’t a necessary step.
Now that your list is ready to go, it’s time to start planning. When sitting down to plan the month ahead, always start with your calendar. Note the nights with kids activities, meetings, outings, and events. Those are free nights, yay! Also, if you tend to accumulate leftovers, it’s a good idea to plan for a leftover night each week.
I like to keep a list of family favorite recipes. These are easy wins the whole family enjoys that we can put on repeat. Pick one to two of these recipes per week.
I also have an events favorites list. This makes planning hosted events quick and easy too!
If you are a serial Pinterest-er or fan of new cook books, monthly meal planning is the perfect time to sprinkle in a few new recipes. Try creating a Pinterest board for recipes you want to try. Once tried (and liked!) you can move it to a different board to keep things organized. Or if you prefer cook books, try color coding bookmarks to notate recipes to try vs. recipes you love. Depending on how adventurous your family is, add a new recipe to your meal plan each week or month.
Progress check – now that you’ve filled in your nights out, family favorites, and new recipes you’re probably at least half way done. Feels good right?!?
Now that the easy part is done, the rest of the month takes a little bit of creativity. One way to simplify it is weekly theme nights and I’m not just talking about Taco Tuesday. There are so many ways to plan for a variety of meals in your week/month. Here are a few nightly theme ideas:
- Proteins (each night is a different type – chicken, beef, pork, fish)
- Slow Cooker
- Instant Pot
- Ethnic Cuisine (ex: Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Greek)
- Breakfast for Dinner
- Stir Fry
- Freezer Meal
- Charcuterie/Grazing Board
Monday nights were busy for our family in the Fall so I started doing grazing boards. They made dinner fun for the kids (and me) and for the most part let everyone eat on their own schedule. Here are some of the boards I put together:
I hope these ideas help make your monthly meal planning easy and quick! For even more efficiency, check out the monthly Meal Planner in the shop, featuring favorites lists, monthly plans, grocery lists, and event planning pages.
For your pinning pleasure: