Monday, September 04, 2017

Monthly Meal Planning

I mentioned in my rather long multi-faceted planning post that I did my meal planning on a monthly basis. I also promised that I would be back with a detailed post on how and why I do this, so here it is.

I've been meal planning for years and it serves two purposes, the first being that it helps me keep to a budget. I know exactly what I need to buy in my grocery shop and therefore don't go putting things into my shopping trolly that are not needed.

Secondly, I know exactly what we are going to be eating each day, I don't have to think about it at 5 o'clock after a long day. I guess it saves on brain power and gives me peace of mind in this area. As mom's we are always thinking of what to feed our family so by meal planning I am cutting out a lot of needless thinking 😁.

I do my meal planning the day before my husband's salary get's paid into our account so that's usually around the 29th or 30th of each month. I'm going to lay out my planning process so here goes:

I use a calendar to plan out my monthly meals and this calendar hangs in my kitchen. The first thing I do is gather my calendar, favourite recipe books, recipes I've printed off in the past and I have my Pinterest board up with stacks of recipes that I have pinned and want to try out at some point.

I then fill out our 'regulars' for example, Fridays are homemade pizza or burger evenings. We alternate, one Friday it's burgers the next it's pizza. Every Sunday it's a roast dinner. So that's already 9 days out of 30 (in the case of September) planned for.

Next, I open my planner to the month @ a glance and see if there is anything I need to be aware of. This month we have friends coming over for dinner a few times so using a brightly coloured pen so that it stands out I write that into my meal planning calendar. I, therefore, know that I need to sit down and plan out a menu for that evening.

Still using my planner I check to see which are our busy days and therefore require an easy crockpot meal. I take into account activities that might have us out of the house in the afternoon. We have some favourite crockpot meals which I have shared the recipes for in my Crockpot Chronicles series of posts if you are interested to see what sort of things I cook.

Once that's done I plug in some family favourites. I try to keep Saturdays as a pasta night because it is easy to throw together if we have been out enjoying the day. It's also one day in the week where I choose something easy and quick to reduce time spent in the kitchen. My 'day off' so to speak. 

That brings me up to needing to find 4 more meals. So far every meal except the roast dinners and pizza/burger nights have not been repeated. So we have a varied and exciting menu that no one should get tired of.

With only 4 more meals to plan for, I refer to my Pinterest board and find some new things to try. This month I'm going to try 'Low Syn Chicken Korma', 'Beef and Potato Pasties', 'Grilled Apple Cider, orange and thyme Glazed Pork Chops', and 'Meatball Bombs'. I mark all the recipes that I use from Pinterest with a 'P' on my calendar so I know where to find the recipes.

Finally, I use some of the other columns on my calendar to note down things I want to bake in the month, freezer meals I want to make so that I have something to pull out should the wheels fall off my day and a list of lunch options that I can draw on for those of us who are home during the day.

I then pin up my calendar onto the inside door of my grocery cupboard so that I can easily refer to it each day. It's as simple as that. That whole planning session took me about 30 to 45 minutes and is going to save me hours of 'wondering-what-to-cook' time. 

Last note on my meal planning. There is flexibility in this plan. I will swap and change meals from within the same week if, for example, a day has turned out to be a bit busier than expected and we need something quick and simple to cook. Because I shop weekly and my shopping lists are drawn up from my meal plan I know that I have all the ingredients for each meal that I have planned for that week so swapping out meals is no problem for me.

Wishing you every blessing today...


  1. Thank you for this post, Shirley! I have been very happy with my meal planning process, having recently tweaked it. I plan two weeks at a time. But this has given me ideas I have not thought of - the spreadsheet is a fabulous way to lay it all out and I especially like the additional columns. I will be trying this! Thank you!

  2. I used to plan our meals when the girls were living at home and I do when they visit. Now there is just Gerard and I we are a little more flexible.

  3. I love your way of using the calendar! Brilliant😋

  4. I like this post. After years of being a homemaker (I'm now 60) I finally began menu planning last week, just to see how it differs from my usual way of doing things. I will be adding a few of your tips to 'tweak' my process.


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