How to Meal Plan For a Month

Meal planning is an easy and efficient way to save both time and money by reducing food waste! Additionally, meal planning enables healthier meal choices while eliminating drive thru options!

Start by reviewing your family calendar. Make note of any events that could impact dinner plans (doctors appointments, sports practice or grandmas visiting) and plan accordingly.

1. Make a Calendar

Your options for creating a calendar or spreadsheet include using either a printable calendar or creating one in Microsoft Excel (I’ve provided a Google Sheets template below, while Microsoft offers additional online templates as well.). Simply open up the calendar and choose your month!

Once you have reviewed your family schedule for the month, take a close look and write down any specific nights you anticipate you’ll be out, days when kids eat free at restaurants or meet friends, any regular takeaway nights and so forth. It is also useful to note any nights where something extra special might take place – whether that be date night, homemade cake for friends or slow cooker meals during busy workdays so that you can plan accordingly.

Consider taking an inventory of what’s already in your pantry and freezer to identify any ingredients that can be reused. While you may still require purchasing certain items, by cutting back on food waste by only purchasing what is necessary each time you shop you could save both money and effort!

Once you’ve created an initial plan for your meal plans, it is advisable to go back through and reassess them midway through the month. Take stock of how the family calendar looks; ensure any ingredients set to expire are used up prior to that (such as Greek pasta salad feta being used in Kale Salad with Blueberries Feta Walnuts & Balsamic Vinaigrette on week 2). As needed, adjust accordingly; depending on what ingredients are on hand and which recipes your family enjoys eating most!

2. Take Inventory

Meal planners understand the significance of taking an inventory prior to grocery shopping; doing this helps prevent overbuying items already present and helps avoid repeating meals too frequently. Inventorying monthly meal plans is equally essential; especially if only planning one shopping trip at a time instead of weekly trips.

Check your pantry, freezer and cupboards regularly for items you are close to running out of in order to save money and reduce food waste. With any luck, you may even have enough ingredients left over for several more meals!

Once you’ve taken an inventory, decide if you want to do a major grocery haul or shop regularly throughout the month. If shopping regularly is your plan, set aside an amount from your monthly budget specifically for items that must be replaced regularly or replenished weekly.

For those who prefer a single large grocery trip, stockpiling on items you use regularly such as flour, salt and sugar can save both money and make meal planning simpler in the long run.

As a fun challenge, try planning an entire month’s worth of dinners using only items already found in your house. It will force yourself to cook more frequently or use up items before they perish in your fridge, plus help get kids involved with meal preparation and save time at the kitchen counter!

3. Pick a Few Easy Recipes

Make time and money savings through monthly meal planning! Plus, reduce food waste! Instead of wasting hours every week making weekly plans and shopping lists, creating one long list will save time and energy over the month – it may seem tedious but is actually quite manageable!

First, gather a calendar and pen or pencil. Begin filling in appointments, family events and any other important dates that could impact your dinner routine throughout the month – this will enable you to determine how many meals need to be made each week.

Make an inventory of what’s in your freezer, fridge and pantry. Jot down what items are present as well as their quantities left. Keep an eye out for items nearing expiry; try using up what remains before they spoil to reduce clutter and waste in your fridge and pantry.

Once you know exactly what food supplies and supplies you have available to you, select some easy recipes for each week based on family favorites, meals that interest you or even new recipes that you are eager to cook. Remember to leave at least one “free” night in the plan where meals can be changed or taken care of easily without resorting to takeout options.

As you plan your meals, aim for meals with ingredients that overlap where possible to reduce grocery costs by purchasing bulk and decreasing waste. For instance, if Greek Pasta Salad requires feta cheese as one ingredient (for instance it would taste wonderful in Greek Couscous Salad with Blueberries Walnuts & Feta!), plan another dinner that incorporates it (e.g. Greek Couscous Salad with Blueberries Walnuts & Feta!).

4. Make a Shopping List

With your calendar and any special considerations (‘husband out late – plan on using the slow cooker’ or ‘kids at Grandmas – dinner is on them’), you can begin creating a monthly meal plan. This can be as detailed or basic as necessary; some people like to stick with one specific plan each week while others find more freedom with meal selection is better for them.

Take an inventory of what’s already in your cabinets and fridge – this can help reduce food waste while saving on grocery costs! Make a note of any products about to expire, then incorporate them into meals so there will be less trash at the end of each month!

Once you know what’s already in your pantry and freezer, create a shopping list. Include pantry essentials, fridge/freezer items and any other ingredients required throughout the month on this list – such as dairy, produce and other essentials. Organize this shopping list into sections so it will be easier for you to locate exactly what you need quickly; such as dairy, produce or other essentials.

Some people choose to do all their grocery shopping once every month, which may be beneficial if they live far from their nearest grocery store, or simply don’t enjoy building out weekly meal plans and going grocery shopping each week. It may also help those with religious-based food restrictions that restrict what foods can be eaten during specific months or years.

5. Go Shopping

Once you’ve created a meal plan and recipe list for the month, it’s time to go shopping. Make sure that before going out to purchase groceries you first take an inventory of what food exists in your pantry, fridge and freezer to use up what might soon expire or save money at the grocery store.

If your pantry contains foods that can be used in multiple meals (like canned tomatoes and pastas), planning your menu around these items could be useful if some family members have picky eaters or dislike specific types of food.

As you make your way through your pantry and refrigerator, take note of everything necessary for meal planning – this may include eggs, meats, grains and vegetables. Think ahead about which meals are planned for this month so that the ingredients needed match those already available to you.

Clean out the fridge and pantry before coming home from shopping to ensure all of your groceries have a place. Check to make sure there’s enough room for everything you’ve purchased, while not leaving leftovers from weeks ago taking up precious space in your fridge.

Once your pantry is full of food, it is time to create your meal plans for the month. Be sure to reassess your plan midway through to ensure all necessary ingredients remain available for preparation.

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