Awhile back I made the decision to switch to a monthly meal planning system. Planning a different menu every week was starting to stress me out. I would find myself scrambling on Tuesday night at 11pm to plan a week’s worth of meals so I could make a shopping list to use first thing the next morning during my weekly shopping trip. I was spending way too much money on groceries because I wasn’t taking the time to plan properly.
I have been meaning to start a monthly menu plan for awhile but it really seemed like so much work. I kept putting it off and moving it down my to-do list. But honestly it doesn’t have to be a lot of work. It doesn’t have to be complicated or have 20 steps to complete. I needed a simple, easy to use, monthly menu planning system. Once I identified what I wanted to get out of my system I was able to make one that fit me and my family.
After I organized all my recipes and worked out what I wanted to accomplish with my monthly menu plan, it was easy to create a system that would help me plan a monthly menu while still staying on budget. The first thing I did was make a spreadsheet where I separated all my dinner recipes into lists: Crockpot, Chicken, Pork, Beef, Seafood, and Pasta. I also made a list of our family favorite recipes that I make every single month. After separating the recipes on my spreadsheet I listed the total cost to make the dinner next to it. I have a strict monthly grocery budget and I have to plan my menu around that budget.
As part of my menu planning I found a monthly menu printable to put in my Household Management Binder. Once a month I pull up my spreadsheet to plan our menu. The first thing I do is enter our family favorite recipes onto the monthly menu sheet. Next I go over what I have on hand in the fridge, freezer, and pantry and see what meals I can plan around those items. Then I check out my Pinterest recipes to try board and the recipes saved in my Magazine Reference Binder to find 2-3 new recipes to try that month. Finally I fill in the other days using my spreadsheet lists. I have a set weekly total for dinners so as I add a dinner I subtract the cost from that budget. This method makes sure we don’t end up eating 5 Chicken based dinners in a row or going over budget by $20 one week.
Since starting my monthly menu planning I haven’t gone over my weekly grocery budget once and we have had a home-cooked meal almost every night. In our house, that’s a huge win!
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