meal planning

Meal Planning: The Easy Way

Meal planning can be a pain and take a long time. I have been meal planning like this for years and it saves time, headache, and money.

I’m not sure about you but I am not the biggest fan of meal planning. There are things I love about it and things I do not love about it. Today I’m going to spill the beans on how I meal plan.

Hint: It takes less time than you think. You’re welcome. πŸ˜‰

Meal Planning: Step 1

I meal plan a month at a time. Yep! That’s my big secret. I got so sick of doing it weekly. Then looking for coupons, and going to the store. Forget it! I was over it.

So I decided to do it less and have it take less time as well. Win, win! Now that you know my biggest time saver let me teach you how.

Meal Planning: Step 2

Take a few minutes WITH YOUR FAMILY and make a list of at least 20-30 meals that you all like. Having a master list has come in handy when I can’t think of anything to cook. You can do two things with this master list:

  • Remake these meals over and over again each month. There, meal planning SUPER easy!
  • Use some of these meals each month and make some new meals.
meal planning

Meal Planning: Step 3

Now that you have a master list of meals your family will eat you get to make your monthly meal planning list. At the beginning of the month or the very end of the previous month sit down and make a list of meals that you can have for the month.

I use a simple sheet of paper and write down my meal categories. My categories are:

  • Meat
  • Beans
  • Pasta
  • Mexican/Asian
  • Breakfast
  • Easy

Since I am a vegetarian I don’t cook too many meals with meat. I aim for once a week. This helps us save money and eat better. Within each category write down 4-5 main meals.

meal planning

I leave this monthly meal planning list on my fridge under my weekly meal planning board. (Which my 4 year old decorated with red Sharpe marker.)

This is another trick, only write down the main part of the meal. Every once in a while I’ll write sides. This will help with a step down below.

At the beginning of each week I look at my monthly meal planner and see what sounds good to eat. I try to use one from each category during the week.

Meal Planning: Step 4

Now that I have a months worth of meals I make a super big shopping trip to the grocery store. I go through each recipe to see what we have already and what we need to buy. I buy everything that will not perish soon (canned, freezer, long term fridge, etc.).

This will help you be able to have pretty much any meal anytime during the month. Who hates it when they see what was planned for dinner and they are not feeling it? Me!

By having a months worth of meals you have plenty to pick from if one is not sounding good or you end up busier that night and do not have time to make what was planned.

At the end of the month I usually have meals that I didn’t get around to making. So I use these meals for the next month and have to plan and buy even less.

Note: We have Sunday meals with Eddy’s family or mine every Sunday. We usually just bring a part of the meal. So I hardly ever have to plan for Sunday meals.

Then there are times when we have left overs or end up being at one of my parents and eat with them (I know, we are truly blessed!!). We try to plan at least one or two times we go out to eat.

Also, we have some very different tastes and likes in my family. I’m vegetarian. The rest of my family is not. I love cut up things (onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc.) but Eddy and my son do not. There are times when I cook what I want. There are times I cook it the way they like. And then there are the times I can separate the main dish and make everyone happy.

Meal Planning: Step 5

Once you have all the main ingredients for the meals you can easily see what you have for sides. Rolls in the freezer, rice, things for a salad, cooked veggies, fruit, etc.

When I’m at the grocery store I see what produce is on sale and buy that. This will give us the chance to have more produce in the house and not spend as much.

When dinner time rolls around you will have the main dish planned, many sides to pick from, and hopefully a happy family with a full stomach.

So I plan my grocery trips for the rest of the month I look to see if any main dishes need certain produce and make sure I get it close to when I plan on making it.

This means, my first grocery trip of the month I spend more then the rest. It also means that if for any reason I don’t make it to the store as soon as I thought I can always make a meal by having the ingredients for the main dish on hand and some sort of produce I can use for the sides.

I mean, can it get easier? πŸ™‚ Meal planning made simple and easy for busy moms, dads, and families all around!

Shameless plug… Like the shirt in my video??? You’re in luck! Click here to get yours. Free shipping in the USA.

Like this post? Please share and spread the word on how easy it can be to meal plan like a champ. πŸ™‚

Xxx, Steph
meal planning

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  1. I would have never thought to meal plan for an entire month! That seems daunting but at the same time so much easier! I just worry that I will no longer want the meals I plan for.

    1. I totally get it!! That’s one reason why I love it (and have on hand most things I need for every meal) because I can adjust according to our taste. And sometimes something never sounds good so we just save it for later and make something that we have all ingredients on hand for. Good luck!!πŸ€

  2. Great tips! Life sure would have been easier using meal planning such as this when my six kids were still at home. I’m an empty nester now but still can benefit from planning meals. Thanks!

  3. Well I am certainly doing a lot more of this these days. I do not cook and hate doing it so this is probably the most challenging part of quarantine for me. We have four in the family and none of us like any of the same foods. We have 2 that we all like and that’s it.

    1. I feel you! It’s so hard to have such different eaters. This is my motto: sometimes I’ll cook it the way they like it, sometimes I cook it the way I like it, and sometimes in the middle. πŸ˜‚

    1. Yay for having fun your hubby be the cook! And to being vegetarian. It’s just me in my house. I wanted my kiddos to make that choice on their own, so far they like meat. 🀣

  4. This is a great idea – never thought to do this in a month cause you are correct, doing this every week stinks!

  5. Ooooh this seems like something that someone needs to challenge me to do! I meal plan weekly currently and do not enjoy it either but planning for the month seems like it would be too hard on the brain… I need to experiment with this and take notes on how I do. Somebody challenge me please! =)

    1. Joy, I challenge you! πŸ™‚ Game on! You can do it, just follow my steps and adjust to your needs and what makes sense. Keep me updated! πŸ™‚

  6. Fixing dinner at your house this week was really easy for me because you had it all planned out ahead of time and all the ingredients on hand. You never know when you will have an unplanned broken bone so another good reason to meal plan.πŸ˜‚

    1. Oh I’m so glad it was easy! And I’m so glad you were able to come mom! Haha, yes, I guess that’s another reason to have meal planning done this way. 🀣

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